I Bring You…A Gift–A New Era for the Digital Age Artist
I know I have been driving you guys nuts for months about this gift I had in store for you. Well, my business partner Ingrid Schaffenburg (the ballerina) and I been working 16 hour days 6 days a week since February. We’d wanted to space out your gifts, kinda like Hanukah or the 12 Days of Christmas, but we had a lot on our plate.
Even though a lot of the WANAs helped us—and we totally could not have done this without them—we’re still trying to change the world, which is a HUGE deal. So instead of Hanukah, you guys are getting the “Mommy’s working two jobs so she stayed up all night wrapping your gifts in Happy Anniversary paper and here they are…all of them.”
A Small Speech First
Hey, stop whining! You’re getting all your gifts at once. Stop pulling up the edges of tape. We see you O_O.
Welcome to the Digital Age. It is an amazing time to be a writer. There are so many opportunities to succeed, and, for the first time in human history, it is actually possible for a fiction author to not only make a living, but earn a good living.
For the first time, an author’s work ethic and training truly count. In the Digital Age, it ain’t over until we quit. In the old paradigm, countless good books failed to to thrive because of a number of factors outside the artist’s control. Additionally, many excellent works were never published for factors that had more to do with the market than the quality of the writing.
In the olden days, in the face of rejection, a writer had only three choices.
1. Stuff the work in a drawer and keep writing and hope the market would want the rejected work one day.
2. Keep shopping the work forever hoping he could hassle enough people until someone saw the genius in his work and would take a chance.
3. Quit and go back to evil day job and rue the day he was foolish enough to want to be a writer.
4. Get plastered and type drunken messages on the publisher’s Facebook page.
Okay, four choices, but I would totally avoid that fourth one.
These options, of course, are still available to all of us. Ah, but in the Digital Age of Publishing we have new options and more options. Self-publishing is now a viable career path.
Many agents are now looking for clients among the self-published successes.Why? Because they are a tested commodity, but also many self-published authors come with a strong platform and excellent business skills. They are able to write good books very quickly to keep pace with demand from the fans.
In fact, many traditional publishers are now requiring their authors to have a social media platform, to blog, and to do book tours and digital launch parties…even the mega-authors. Last year I helped NYTBSA James Rollins throw a digital launch party for The Devil’s Colony and this year we are back at it with Bloodlines.
So this idea that traditional publishing will allow us to sit in our cave and listen to Enya and write books while they do all the marketing is urban legend.
Yes, urban legend like Mr. Rogers was never a Marine sniper, there was no mermaid body found on the beach and the whole Richard Gere Gerbil Incident? Never happened. Sorry. Agent and publisher that does all our business stuff is a myth…much like Monkey Boy.
I was bummed too.
So the modern author has a lot of options and a lot better chances of success. Ah, but here is the catch.
Success in the Digital Age
The modern author has to be leaner, meaner, faster, hungrier and be able to telepathically communicate with dolphins. Okay, I totally made that last part up, but it would be a cool power, right?
Here is the deal, writers need to learn a lot more stuff. This notion that an agent is going to adopt us and do everything for us is another urban legend…like the man-eating snake.
Problems of the Digital Age
We Need to Know More….A Lot More
Back in the old days, all we had to know was how to write a really awesome book and lick a stamp. These days? We need to know how to use Scrivner to help us organize our novel and Excel to help us track expenses and then there is One Note to keep us on top of what we are doing for the book launch. Then we need to know Facebook, G+, Twitter, Flikr, Pinterest, Tumblr, Goodreads, Klout, Squidoo, You Tube and on and on.
Of course maybe we don’t need to know all of those, but how can we know the best fit for our platform if we don’t know what all these sites do? But how can we know what these sites can do if we don’t take time to check them out? But where can we find the time?
We’re already working a day job and writing while keeping the toddler from eating the dog food and checking to make sure our elderly mother hasn’t used the Easter egg dye on her hair again and…it…is…all…too…..much.
Technology Changes So Quickly
We need to know a lot more stuff, but to add another level of interesting, it changes all the time. We just about figure out how to use Facebook and they New and Improve us with Timeline.
Thanks, Facebook. You seriously suck.
For those who want to self-publish, this technology changes constantly and it is a time-investment of trial and error to figure it out. Time you don’t have!
Conferences Have Limits
Writing conferences are some of the best investments we can make in our career, but they only happen once a year. Also, unless we happen to live in the area, we have to travel and travel is grossly cost-prohibitive. But there is so much to learn. We need writing classes and social media and technology classes and EEEEP!
Our Budget and Schedule have Limits
Conferences can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, so obviously it isn’t like we can attend one a month. We need classes that are affordable and that fit within our busy schedule.
Social Media Taught by Social Media Experts
Yes, I list this as a problem. A HUGE problem. Why? Because social media experts are not artists first. They are social media experts. Many of them don’t understand that we need time to do our art.
Also, many of them don’t understand that traditional marketing does not sell books. Period. Never has and never will. What works in Corporate America does not work for books. For those curious as to why, go here.
It isn’t enough to know how to use a certain social platform. We have to know how to use it in a way that sells books. WANA works and that is why I openly share WANA success stories like Author Jillian Dodd who made over $100,000 last year and donated $10,000 to her favorite charity. Before WANA, she’d sold 36 books. Same book. Same work ethic. Different approach, a WANA approach. Also, she had time left to write more books.
Jillian is amazing and she truly embodies the WANA spirit. She not only does her own stuff, but she stops to offer help to new writers. She is never too successful to pay it forward.
To Be Successful, We Have to Write Good Books Quickly
The indie and self-published author has to be able to write a lot of books to make the big money. If we look at all the indie authors who are making a good living, they either came to the table with a traditionally vetted backlist (Bob Mayer, Barry Eisler) or they just were super fast writers (John Locke, Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory) who could keep pace with the demands of the fans.
Even traditional publishing is making authors pick up the pace. They used to only require a book every other year. Now? A book a year and they are requiring authors to release novellas to prime the pump for the main release. So a book and a novella a year. And, as the indies gain more market share? Expect that pace to pick up.
Kristen STOP! We need a paper bag and a prescription of Xanax!
No, you will be fine. In fact, you will be way more than fine. You are gonna be AWESOME. Get your shades cuz the future’s so bright you gotta wear shades cuz it could fry off your corneas.
That was actually the original lyric to that song, but nothing rhymes with “cornea.”
Anyway, back to your gifts…
Gift #1 WANA Learn?
WANA International–Empowering Artists of the Digital Age
WANA International is here to help the artist of the Digital Age. We have over 40 instructors all over the world. We offer holistic training for the artist.
We have craft training from some of the top authors in the business—New York Times Best-Selling & USA Today Best-Selling Author Shirley Jump, Nationally Best-Selling Author James Scott Bell, award-winning author and revered writing teacher Les Edgerton, Vicki Hinze (RITA Award Winner who has over a million books in print). These are just of the few talented individuals we have to help you guys learn to be faster, better, cleaner writers. From plotting to dialogue, we have you covered.
Want to finally learn how to use some of those programs you paid good money for? Not only do we have the best technology trainers, but they are all artists. They are all using the technology for their writing career. They speak your language!
Need a platform? Need to learn to blog? Want to learn how to use Pinterest, G+, Goodreads, Tumblr, Flikr, Twitter, etc.? Not only does WANA International have a class, all our classes are taught by writers using the technology successfully. Our instructors are not from a PR firm or “marketing experts” with marketing/promotion companies and services to sell.
Our instructors are all writers who understand marketing and promotion using social media, and they are using it successfully without using automation, form letters or spamming people. Our instructors all use WANA methods.
I can only learn so many social platforms, but with my WANA team? We’ve got all the bases covered. Learn the WANA Way for any platform you choose, and, if the platform makes a major change? *cough* *Timeline* WANA will have you covered.
Balanced writers are happy and productive writers. Our lifestyle, attitude and health affects our art, so we need to learn ways to manage all these new roles we’ve gained in the Digital Age. At WANA, we care about the whole artist–mind, body and soul. This is why we offer training for time-management, setting boundaries, and nutrition for maximum productivity, just to name a few.
When should writers become an LLC? What about taxes? What should writers look for in a contract? How do we decide when to go indie versus traditional? How do we land an agent? Write a query letter? What do we look for in an agent? Do we still need an agent even if we are self-published? How can we succeed using KDP Select? When do we need a web site? What advantages are there to book trailers? How do we find the right cover design? How do we do a book launch? A blog tour? Score a book review?
The writing business has become a whole new level of complicated. But no fear, WANA is here. We bring you literary agents, entertainment lawyers, and the top experts in publishing to answer your questions and train you to be an Artist-Entrepreneur.
We will be using Go-To-Webinar technology to make learning easy and fun.
Gift #2–WANA Family? A Community? A support network?
One thing that WANA does differently is we won’t cut you loose to sink or swim. We not only teach you, but then we plug you into a community to help support you and nurture you during those early days when your career or platform is in its infancy. We give you better than a family, we give you a TRIBE.
I knew that artists needed a support network almost as much, if not more, than training. This job is hard, it’s lonely and we need creative energy to thrive.
My business partner an I were inspired by the movie Midnight in Paris and we thought it was so cool how writers hung out with other creatives. The Paris salons were filled with writers, dancers, actors, painters, filmmakers, and it was this glorious cross-pollination of imagination.
Then I, being the social media Jedi, thought, “Why can’t we recreate that digitally?”
So, we did. We built you your very own social network, WANATribe.
WANATribe is the modern salon. We aren’t Facebook and aren’t trying to be. We are only for the creative professional. No matter where you turn on WANATribe, you will find friends, because everyone is an artist just like you. WANATribe is free of spam and automation because on WANATribe? I am GOD and will smite them and cast them to the unholy depths of the recycle bin.
No more bots! On WANATribe, you can be yourself and talk about your art because we care.
WANATribe is integrated with Twitter and Facebook so you can still connect with coworkers, family and schoolmates, and we also have all the functionality of the major social platforms. Upload photos, music, video and even customize your own page to express your uniqueness in a way that FB doesn’t offer.
I’ve been running a beta version for the past six weeks and we already have a growing population of writers, artists, videographers, graphic artists, designers, etc. Connect with all kinds of creatives. Now networking is a whole new kind of fun.
Sign up today and please invite all your
crazy artist friends. The more the weirder merrier.
Gift #3–WANA Mascot?
When we began WANA, we wanted a symbol, something that embodied what WANA stood for. I happened to notice that the eye of the peacock feather was an inverted heart wrapped with what looked like a W.
I’ve always referred to WANA as The Love Revolution because we aren’t founded on marketing or promotion or selling stuff. We aren’t founded on self-serving objectives. We are founded on the principles of love, service, and community. It’s why WANA works and it’s why it thrives. It feels right. So the fact that the peacock feather had a heart and a W was just kismet.
Also, the peacock is revered in cultures all over the globe. It has been a symbol of art, beauty and resurrection for thousands of years. How perfect is that?
Once we decided on a symbol, I dusted off my art supplies and drew us a mascot. I drew Francis in all his splendor, a mascot for all artists.
But Francis didn’t always look like this. Like most of us, Francis has a story…
We are all Francis. The night I drew Francis I had a dream. Francis told me his story and I woke up upset…no. I woke up heartbroken. I pulled out my sketchpad and I drew out his story. When it was complete, I knew it had to be shared. We knew we were launching WANA International and WANATribe, but we needed this final piece. So we contacted an animator in NYC and scraped together the funds to tell Francis’s story…because it is my story, and likely it is your story, too.
Artists live in a world that doesn’t value their contribution the way it should. Many artists get discouraged and give up. WANA is here to change that. There are many wonderful resources to help artists, be we want to help the whole artist. We will give you the skills and the support to reach your dreams.
We are not alone.
Thanks for being patient and I hope you will go check out your gifts. Go browse WANA International. Francis’s debut film is on our home page, so check out his short film and then come back here and let me know what you think :D. Here is your invitation to WANATribe and I am super excited that I can hang out with you there.
Also, two of our WANAs are going to be throwing us a Twitter party! *happy dance* Join us on FRIDAY if you #WANAParty. There will be fun, prizes, digital mojitos and the World’s Largest Twitter Twister Board. We will be giving away free webinars, consultations with literary agents, and all kinds of cool stuff!
You guys are awesome and I am so thrilled to be a part of your success. THANK YOU!!!