Author adrift?

Every 21st century author's dilemma: 'Where's the start? Where's the finish?'

Every author I work with these days seems to be struggling with two issues. The first: ‘how do I start?’ is as old as writing itself. The answer’s as easy and complex as breathing itself, so I’ll skip that one, as this is a brief blog, not a book, and go on to common question #2: ‘when am I finished?’

The honest answer is never.

Never, that is, if you’re interested in reaching as wide an audience as possible with your work. Never, if you can wrap your head around the notion that once you’ve completed the manuscript, the fun’s just begun. Not only will editors and designers, printers and binders, marketers and distributors, reviewers and readers all lay a hand (or a thought or a comment or a boot) on your original intellectual property. These days if you stop at the book, — no web presence, no social media outreach, no seminars, teleconferences, workshops, speeches, etc. — you’re likely not going to teach all those eyeballs you were hoping the reach.

Why?

Because increasing numbers of your potential audience are looking elsewhere for their literary/info fixes, looking (and listening and watching) to your competitors on other platforms, many of them virtual, some of them live.

The good news though for all of you out there who dream of one day being published, who love the smell, the touch, the weight, the sheer implication of the book, is that it — the book — remains, at least psychologically, the single most important arbiter of taste, intelligence, wit, knowledge, and who’s smart and who isn’t in the world.

You’ve written a book on pig farming in Saskatchewan? Watch those invitations to speak at 4H conventions come rolling in. Be ready for lots of interviews on programs like Good Morning Moose Jaw and Canada A.M. The simple point is that authors today should consider the book the first and necessary step towards carving out an expert position on whatever it is they’ve written about. Sex. Drugs. Rock n’ Roll. The Tea Party. Labour & the Trade Unions. Whatever.

In order to accommodate this broader approach to what it means to be an author, naturally what we consider publishing must change, must broaden its horizons as well. Publishers need to start treating authors as sources of multiple intellectual properties (including the author her/himself). Think of the book as a pebble and the world as a pond — traditional book publishing creates the pebble and tosses it into the water. The new publishing approach needs to ensure the pebble is shaped and thrown so it causes ripples when it hits the surface.

Ripples=publishing success; sinking straight to the bottom, not so much.

This will of course fail to register with most traditional publishers. And most POD (print on demand) “publishers,” who aren’t really publishers at all, are too busy stealing candy from babies and sucking checks (and cheques) out of trailer parks to care.

So something new will emerge. It always does. And somehow, somewhere in this newness, a model will emerge that is going to revolutionize the publishing business, revolutionize it in a way that is obviously, honestly, transparently good for writers and readers (and listeners and watchers and audiences) alike.

Just keep your head above water and keep paddling, all you authors out there. I suspect rescue is near.

Is the Internet threatened?

PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and  House, and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting “creativity”. The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites– they just have to convince a judge that the site is “dedicated to copyright infringement.” 

The government has already shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or much of what sites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter regularly do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill. These sites would have to begin censoring every individual contribution, or run the risk of having the whole enchilada shut down.
As an author and songwriter, I’m certainly sympathetic to efforts to protect intellectual property rights. But I also believe we need to be very, very careful not to throw babies out with bathwater. The Internet has proven itself to be one of the most astonishing engines of communication and interaction in human history. Given some of the companies backing this legislation, and what we know about the caliber and integrity of many folks on Capitol Hill, I’m extremely leery about this bill.
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s what a group that opposes the proposed legislation has to say:

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would cost us $47 million tax dollars a year — that’s for a fix that won’t work, disrupts the internet, stifles innovation, shuts out diverse voices, and censors the internet. This bill is bad for creativity and does not protect your rights.”

And here’s a brief video that states the opposition’s case:
Finally, if on balance you feel this bill should not pass, here’s a link that lets you send that message to Congress: fightforthefuture.org/pipa

Five Hot Tips on How to Be a Happier Guy

Five Tips on Becoming a Happier Man -- click on the link below

www.manupin10lessons.com

Someone just sent me a video clip of Mitt Romney denying he has lobbyists associated with his campaign… Perhaps someone could send the link to this video to Mitt’s campaign — he might find it useful, especially the part about the importance of “truth.” For everyone else, here are a few tips based on questions men have put to me recently, on subjects ranging from courage to happiness.

 

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

"Man Up" this holiday season!

OK, many of you have told me you’d like a copy or two of Man Up in time for Christmas this year.  Your wish is my command.

To order physical books, just go to my publisher’s web store (click here). The price is $16.95 until the end of the year, then goes up to $19.95 — so save a little money and order your copies now! To give us the best chance of ensuring the books reach their destination in time, be sure to select the “fastest” shipping option (and for those of you who want lots of copies, email me [randy@netidea.com] or call [250-353-2853]  so we can select the best shipping option for your order).

For orders that look borderline in terms of books making it to their destination by Dec. 24th, I’ll send off an official Man Up gift card, so at least there’ll be something manly in the recipient’s stocking this year!

And for those of you looking for an ebook version, there are several to choose from. You can find Man Up in the Apple iTunes store, at the Amazon Kindle store, and at Barnes & Noble.com (note that the Nook-ish folks at B&N seem ready, willing and able to provide you with a version of their ebook, regardless of what device you’re using:

Barnes & Noble's Nook -- something for everyone...

Note that wherever you go for an ebook version of Man Up, it’s only $2.99! (Hey, no dead trees, no delivery trucks or overloaded sleighs — it makes a big difference!).

And finally, for those of you who do opt for an ebook, be sure to write a review when you have a chance — thanks!

eBook fans rejoice, MAN UP has arrived!

The eBook versions of MAN UP are now available!

For those of you who have made the Great Leap from the world of Gutenberg to the world of Jobs and now proudly tote around an iPad or a Kindle or a Nook wherever you go, glad cyber tidings!

The eBook versions of MAN UP, for iPad, Kindle, and Nook are now available, for the ridiculously low price of $2.99!

Here’s the MAN UP description on the Amazon Kindle store page:

To download a copy of MAN UP to your Kindle, click here.

To download a copy of MAN UP to your Nook, click here.

To download a copy of MAN UP to your iPad, just go to the iTunes store, type in “Man Up” in the search window, scroll down to Books, and there it is.

Be sure to write a review once you’ve had a chance to read your spiffy new eBook (especially if it’s positive!). And pass this on to all your cyber friends and family, via Facebook, LinkedIn, email, Twitter — hey, even word of mouth!

Thanks!

Author! Author!

PNWA's Author

Every month the PNWA publishes a fantastic web resource for writers (and readers), called, quite simply, AUTHORHere’s the most recent installment. It’s full of really interesting video interviews with authors (I particularly like the interview with Cherie Priest, who tells an amazing tale of how she found a publisher), writing tips, and literary news. Pour yourself a cup of java or a nice cuppa tea, click here, and enjoy!




“Men will be… what?”

Who's the weaker sex now, man?

Real men are becoming an endangered species. We’re not quite up there with spotted owls and white-headed woodpeckers yet, but we’re rapidly closing in.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m an alarmist? And besides, what the hell is a “real man” anyway?

Let me tackle the reasons why I’m pushing the gender panic button.

For the first time in history, women hold the majority of jobs in the U.S., still the world’s largest economy (and the source of endlessly fascinating statistics like this), Of the 15 occupations likely to grow the most over the next decade, women dominate 13 of them. We still rock as engineers and…wait for it… janitors. Fact is, while it may have escaped your notice (if you’re a man, odds are it has), we’re in something called the 21st century now. If you live in a relatively developed country, then you’re living in an essentially post-industrial society, dominated by a post-industrial economy. “Post” – in addition to being a cereal brand, this means “over and done with;” kaput; sayonara. Size and strength hardly matter in the new economy. Intelligence (especially social intelligence), communications skills, the ability to shut the hell up, sit still, and focus, do. And none of these are what we might call typical manly virtues (if you’d like to argue the point re. sitting still and focusing, I’ll put you in touch with my friend who teaches 5th grade – she has 25 kids in her class, 18 of them boys; she doesn’t teach them, she herds them).

Since 2000, the U.S. has lost almost six million manufacturing jobs, representing more than a third of the manufacturing workforce, and the vast majority of those lost jobs were held by men. Want a better job? Or at least a new job? Then you’d better have at least a BA, or you’re pretty much screwed. And these days fewer and fewer men are getting university educations (fully 60% of the Masters degrees awarded last year went to women).

David Gergen, CNN pundit and the director of something called the Center for Public Leadership, recently pointed out that “women are knocking on the door of leadership at the very moment when their talents are especially matched with the requirements of the day.” And men, by contrast, seem to be walking out through the same door, their pockets turned inside-out, wondering what the hell hit them.

Hanna Rosin, in an Atlantic article titled “The End of Men,” warns, “whether boys have changed or not, we are well past the time to start trying some experiments. It is fabulous to see girls and young women poised for success in the coming years. But allowing generations of boys to grow up feeling rootless and obsolete is not a recipe for a peaceful future.” Hmmm….

Both our political and popular cultures seem to be reflecting the erosion of old school male supremacy, and with it, any clear sense of what is required these days to function as a reasonable, honorable, happily contributing man.

On the one hand we have the Tea Party, full of angry white guys who aren’t gonna take it anymore. Behind the bluster and anger lie, of course, nothing less than confusion, anxiety, and plain old-fashioned fear – of virtually everything, it seems, but fear of the future in particular.

On the other we have Hollywood cranking out films (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Greenberg) and TV series (Last Man Standing, Man Up!), featuring hopelessly indecisive, weak-kneed male caricatures, none of them with the vaguest idea of what it means to be “a real man.”

Men seem to even be losing it when it comes to sex. Katie Rophie, in her book The Naked and the Conflicted, notes that American male novelists have virtually given up using sex as a means for their (male) characters to assert their essential manliness. Why? Because these characters apparently have no clue how to be manly. “The current sexual style is more childlike; innocence is more fashionable than virility, the cuddle preferable to sex,” according to Rophie.

So in the end, what is a real man? Or at least, what are some of the general requirements for Real Manhood these days?

I’ve written an entire book on the subject (shameless self-promotion alert: it’s coming out soon, you can read about it here: http:www.rgmorse.com/books), so I won’t repeat myself in detail. But here are a few tidbits.

First, a real man needs to be conscious, conscious in the sense of being aware of what’s going on, within him and without him, to quote the late, lamented George Harrison. A real man needs to practice daily courage, the kind of courage that allows him to face all those small, daily concerns that immobilize so many men. Throw in a measure of self- love (that’s right, I’m serious), a dollop of (positive)passion, some honesty, a bit of compassion, the ability to focus on things that trigger happiness, a commitment to taking action (as opposed to endlessly hemming and hawing), a willingness to embrace the notion of creativity, the guts to opt for adventure when it presents itself (hey, Bilbo Baggins did it), wrap it all up with some style, et voila – you’ve got the makings of a real man.

Seriously, I’ve come to the conclusion we should be teaching this stuff in school (I know my 5th grade teacher pal is jumping up and down, yelling yes, yes!). We don’t know what we don’t know, and so many boys are growing up these days bereft of any decent male guidance or role models. I can see a series of classes that start in 1st grade, all designed to give boys and young men the tools they need to move healthily and happily through life.

Beats metal shop.

Dare to be you!

The Oregon Kid, aka John Gottberg Anderson (Barba Gonzalez Photography)

The problem with many men is they grow up.

“Grow up” in the sense they have somehow learned over the years that it’s not OK to let their hair down; that it’s verbotten to play, that it’s unseemly to let that inner little boy out to romp around, rip the knees of his jeans, and generally whoop it up.

The result is a world full of men who take themselves far too seriously (why does an image of Mitt Romney keep popping into my head?). Ironically, I suspect this usually is because they lack self-confidence, rather than suffer from too much of it. Having the courage to be you, coupled with an overwhelming conviction that the main reason we’re all here, the original Prime Directive, is to be happy, is a state of being worth striving for.

Which brings me to the photo above. I happen to know this guy. I went to South Eugene High School with him. If John Gottberg Anderson ran for President, I’d vote for him.

As long as he campaigned dressed like this.

Pissing off a woman isn’t always a bad thing…

Jay Leno may or may not have manned up, but some of his audience members certainly have...

American popular culture isn’t exactly brimming with examples of men behaving well. Or at least, men behaving as honorably and sensibly as possible (I almost wrote, under the circumstances here, but I agree with George Bernard Shaw, there are no “circumstances,” we simply create situations, then deal with them).

Apparently (I have this second hand from an author pal of mine — I don’t watch The Tonight Show) Jay Leno recently wandered into the audience, looking for women willing to reveal their most embarrassing first date. He zeroed in on a lady who raised her hand and told the following tale.

She’d been invited to go skiing with a guy in the mountains outside Salt Lake City (no, as far as I know this wasn’t Mitt Romney‘s former girlfriend), just a day trip you understand, this was, after all, a first date. They had a good day’s skiing, had a nice time generally, and were driving down off the hill late that afternoon when the woman realized she had to pee. She alerted her companion, who urged her to hang on, as they were driving down a relatively narrow, winding mountain road with enormous amounts of snow on either side — no rest stops or roadside gas stations for miles.

She crossed her legs and held on for as long as she could. Finally, she told him it was either pull over, right now, or he’d have a serious upholstery problem on his hands. He did as she asked, and stood discretely outside the car, looking away from her, ready to warn any oncoming traffic there was a woman at work here, while she dropped her pants and leaned against the back bumper to relieve herself.

Mission thankfully accomplished, she began to pull up her pants. As she did so she started to stand, and quickly noted to her complete horror that her butt was stuck to the bumper. It had frozen to the metal like a Minnesota schoolboy’s tongue to a playground flagpole in January.

Mortified, she told her date what had happened, starting to laugh halfway through the description of her dilemma. They agreed that, while absurd, this could easily morph into a serious situation — clearly they had to free her, asap. To do that without leaving behind large patches of her skin attached to the arctic Detroit iron, they would need something warm. So ( I’m skipping some stuff here in the interests of brevity), she covered herself as best she could and shut her eyes, while her rescuer proceeded to… wait for it: pee on her butt and the bumper.

This worked like a hot knife through butter.

You may want to file this anecdote away for future reference; you really do never know.

Now this, it seems to me, was a truly manly thing for this guy to have done. Lesser men  might have shied away from such a delicate task. Less manly men might have tried using, I don’t know, some engine oil, or spit or something. But this guy knew that instant action was required, and proceeded to do that which needed to be done, with style and grace (and, apparently, remarkable accuracy).

By the way, the woman married him. I mean, what else could she do?

 

Style Matters

The manly sky is falling...

For any of you who feel “style” has nothing to do with being a real man, I cordially invite you to visit the following alarming website: Men of WalMart.

I realized, after writing chapters on subjects like courage, truth, and action, that no book intending to help men become better humans could ignore the subject of style. The general lack thereof is a fundamental reason so many men fail (miserably) to measure up to minimum standards of civility and sophistication. Since so much of modern male culture seems to celebrate the LACK of style, I intend to strike a blow for being stylish.

What the hell does that mean? The answer’s coming soon, in MAN UP!

In the meantime, do check out the sobering (as well as hilarious) site above: consider it a visual cautionary tale…