With the abundant digital information, we can all imagine that it must be a tough time for print media and book publishers. However, unit sales of print books were up 3.3 percent in 2016, influencer books are topping the charts, and books about productivity, success, and working culture are booming.
Will the position of the writer change in the years to come? Is it still possible to be just an author? And why would you write a book in a time where writing online is so easy? We spoke to four authors who’ll be speaking at TNW New York in December and picked their brains.
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Change the title from writer to media producer
Jon Levy, Author of The 2AM principle
There are two reasons to write a book these days. It’s less about making lots of money, and more about creating a platform to distinguish yourself. When you fill 280 pages it suggests that your ideas carry more value than something that can be summed up as a listicle on Buzzfeed or inc.com. They are fully thought out comprehensive concepts and stories.
Another reason to write a book is both digital and nondigital media networks are constantly looking for content to create new shows. Having a published book makes your content much more appealing for acquisition.
I do think in the future it will be important to change the title from writer to media producer. A writer may have a web show, popular Instagram account, or a Facebook Live channel. All of this ties together and provides audience and reach.
For me personally, writing augments my income. It’s not the main source. It serves as a creative outlet and forces me to refine my thinking, from complex ideas to the simplest and most effective way to share an idea. It also provides a platform to share those ideas with the rest of the world.
The bigger the community, the easier it gets
John Sanei, Author of What’s your moonshot.
In today’s world being an author isn’t enough to make an impact in the world.
When readers are surrounded by so much content, writing a book is just not enough to grab attention. Modern authors like Robin Sharma and even Elizabeth Gilbert are also keynote speakers and do vlogs. In the modern world writing a book is just another channel to teach your message, you really need that multimedia approach.
For me personally, I basically had two major essays to write. The reason to write a book was just that I had to get it out of me. I wanted to make an impact on the world with these books.
When you’re trying to get your message out, you need to speak about it as often as possible, whether that’s in keynotes or as a writer. The bigger of a community you’ve built, the easier it becomes profitable. All the things I do help each other out. If my keynotes get more popular, my book becomes more popular. It’s a vicious cycle.
I think it’s important to only write a book when you have a burning desire to get something out of you. I would never have an energy to write a whole book if I didn’t have that.
If I do have important things to say, I could possibly write more books, but maybe not on paper. Maybe in the future I could work with VR or AI. Maybe we’ll all have a chip in our prefrontal cortex and I don’t even have to write a book anymore, you’ll all know what I’m thinking.
From data design, to writing a book, to being sold in MoMa
Giorgi Lupi, Designer, Artist and Co-Author of Dear Data
In general writing about my work and talking about my work over the years through interviews of many kinds has helped me build a community of people who know about what I do and understand it: there is only so much attention that you can gather from merely publishing design artwork, if the reasons behind it and for it are not explained.
Therefore I believe that – even for designers – it is mandatory to make the effort and the time to write, publish and express via words what they are working for: their aims, their processes and even roadblocks and failures along the way.
After the Dear Data was published we’ve seen thousands of people who learned about the project and wanted to experiment on themselves.
We’ve also been contacted by the Museum of Modern Art, and finally our original set of postcards were acquired by them as part of their permanent collection. That’s definitely another nice and unexpected outcome that wouldn’t have been possible without the actual book.
Writers are becoming inspirers
Geoffrey Colon, Author of Disruptive Marketing
The interesting thing about the web is it has changed how we read. Not how much. I think people read more than ever and want to learn more things than ever but we read in short bursts.
Do we read books from end to end still? Yes. But many might read a chapter here or there, put it down, read a little bit of another book, read articles online and then return to the original book. Knowing this I wrote my book where you could literally read a few pages and get some takeaways from it.
I think being a writer becomes more of a role of being an inspirer more than a knowledge exchange. Teachers may not be the most advanced when it comes to hard skills, but the ones that inspire you to learn stick with you forever in your life. I can name the teachers to this day that inspired me. I think this is what will happen to writers. It’s not about just talking about what you know and teaching but really inspiring people to make change.
Writing books doesn’t earn you money unless you sell millions of books and that requires sparking manipulated outrage so people who are trying to burn your book because they hate what you wrote are actually helping to sell it to those wondering what it is that’s causing a fuss. It’s a common tactic that goes back centuries but is ever popular in our internet social web age.
Writing a book literally allows me to get booked as a speaker where I really enjoy connecting with others. I learn a lot from others more than I think they learn from me.
If you’d like to speak to Jon Levy, John Sanei, Giorgia Lupi & Geoffrey Colon in a round-table session, apply here for TNW New York tickets. Click here for more info on event, the amazing speakers and the venue.