This post, by Steve (Stephanie) Nilles, of Booknook.biz, originally appeared on the Crime Fiction Collective blog.
Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced books for over 750 authors and imprints.
This week’s entry is from our Social Networking Genius extraordinaire, Steve (Stephanie) Nilles, who holds down the fort on Tweeting and Facebooking, Pinteresting and other "stuff" over at Booknook.biz, and has taught me all I know about Twitter, et al. She will be guest blogging for me while I recover from a shoulder problem, and to provide a different perspective than I usually have. Take it away, Steve:
I’m not an agent, publisher, or aspiring novelist. I’m a working musician. About a year and a half ago, while taking a month-long break from the road, I happened upon part-time work for a well-established and traditionally published mystery writer who was just starting her own e-pub company. I have since edited manuscripts and provided marketing assistance for an ebook producer, as well as for mystery, science fiction, romance, children’s books, and nonfiction authors, ranging from the seasoned and well-known to the obscure writer pushing his very first novel. Predictably, my work in publishing has drawn enlightening parallels to my work in the music business. In short, publishing seems to be about 20 years behind the music industry, at least in terms of adjusting to a preference for digital. And as an outsider temporarily peering into a world of energetic bordering on frantic writers and publishers, I’ve found the clamoring for the magical marketing plan that will give birth to the next Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory, or John Locke to be … amusing.
The obvious explanation for what now makes being a musician or author nearly impossible is that “everyone can do it.” Perhaps screenwriter Aaron Sorkin put it best in a particularly wry interview: Interviewer: "Look, I don’t want to step on your toes, you don’t want to step on mine. We’re both writers." Sorkin: "Yes, I suppose, if we broaden the definition to those who can spell."
As technology provides limitless tools for distribution, self-promotion, and even production of the artform itself, the internet has, as Mark Bowden puts it, "replaced everyman with every man." From art of every medium to the once revered science of journalism, press critic A.J. Liebling’s 1960s fear of a dystopia with only one newspaper, "a city with one eye," has been replaced by a city with a million eyes.
Much like a writer, when I tell a stranger that I am a "musician," I’m painfully aware that my self-proclaimed title conjures up images of a dramatic and self-medicated kid, sulking in her bedroom and writing break up ballads in her diary. I am a 28-year-old that has spent 23 years playing music, 15 of those years nearly 5-10 hours a day. I’m on the road 8 months out of the year. I play 150 gigs a year. So imagine my displeasure at sharing the semantics of a vocation with an overnight YouTube sensation who recorded a 4 song EP in a basement with a Fisher Price tape recorder.
My 28 years notwithstanding, I think I’ve amassed an interesting cross section of experience witnessing the worlds of music-making as well as book publishing, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that what works in music works in publishing–whether you’re writing what one of my clients calls The Great American Novel or the next paranormal romance Kindle millionaire-maker. If we define "success" as "consistently selling books" (and I have yet to find a better definition), the most successful authors I’ve worked for have one and only one thing in common: they spend all of their time writing more books. And each book is better than the one that came before it.