The World of the Mushroom-Eater–Learning to Embrace Risk
We have been talking a lot about the future of publishing, how e-books and indies and self-publishing are all changing the landscape that has been so familiar for a long time. It’s kind of like that earthquake that irreparably alters the mountain range that seemed to withstand time, itself. Change is frightening, but thanks to the mushroom-eaters it is getting less frightening by the day :D.
Mushroom eaters? Yes. You heard right. Come on. Haven’t you ever seen someone eat a raw oyster and you wondered, “Who was the first?” I guarantee you it was a group of cavemen, and someone lost a bet. Who ate the first sea cucumber? Or determined that snails actually were quite tasty with some butter and garlic? Squid? Are you serious? Fish eggs? Are you high?
Back to the mushrooms. There are 100,000 known species of mushrooms, and only 2000 of these are edible. In fact, many mushrooms are toxic, even deadly. So how do we know which ones to eat? Risk. Someone, somewhere took a risk. Why is publishing immune? We are entering an uncharted Age of Information!!! In the New World (of Publishing) we–writers, agents, publishers, editors, bookstores–are explorers landing on an alien beach, pioneers traversing unfamiliar territory.
Someone, somewhere has to test the mushrooms if we are going to survive.
I am reading a really cool book called, The Barbarian Way, and the author, Erwin McManus is actually who brought up this whole idea of mushroom-eaters, which got me thinking. Mushroom-eaters are the ones brave enough to try a bite. Innovators are the ones who eat the poisonous mushroom and die, whereas early adopters are the ones who watch and learn. But, as McManus states, “Someone has to be willing to take the first bite!”
Maybe we won’t die. Maybe, instead, we can take a bite, throw up and hallucinate and actually live to tell others…yeah, don’t eat the orange ones with the spots.
It’s great to be an early adopter, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, if there are no innovators (mushroom-eaters), then there is no one taking risks that pave the way for the early adopters and friends to follow suit.
I would like to believe that I have been a mushroom-eater with social media. Ouch! I’m getting a cramp from patting myself on the back. But, the truth is, there are a lot of mushroom-eaters out there who just continue to impress me.
I remember when Bob Mayer and Jenni Holbrook-Talty told me that they were launching Who Dares Wins Publishing. I was floored by the simple brilliance of a well-known author creating a publishing company, but the risk was enough to make your heart leap out of your chest. Being a seasoned sky-diving adrenalin junkie and known masochist (writer), I quickly begged for them to look at my social media book.
Get me a Mountain Dew. I wanted on board.
When it comes to WDW Pub, I don’t know if I was a mushroom-eater or not. I was their first outside author, and willing to risk my debut book. I was present before WDW Pub launched. I think Bob and Jenni just discovered a patch of pink toadstools and…
I’ll eat one if you *giggles* eat one. No, you first *giggle*
Bob, by far, stood the most to lose, but he was a Green Beret so he was used to this kind of stress. Jenni? She’s a hockey mom, and blood doesn’t faze her. I was the one trailing behind asking if they were seeing double yet.
The point is that people like Bob ate the mushroom so the rest of us could stare and see if he started convulsing. We stood there, mushrooms in hand and knew that we could just as easily be dead before we hit the ground. We did at least have the foresight not to wear matching jogging suits and Nikes.
I presented the WANA Plan on Monday, and many of my suggestions are standard operating procedure at WDW Pub…which is EXACTLY why I wanted to be on board. I wanted to be an innovator even if it made my tongue grow fur. By being a part of the WDW Pub Team, I think I have learned to embrace to role of the mushroom-eater, and think like a mushroom-eater and continually ask, “Why not?”
Now, The WANA Plan had a few of my own unique suggestions and original ideas, but would I have been blessed with this perspective had I not walked among the WDW mushroom-eating clan? Could scientists have invented chemotherapy had Marie Curie not died asking questions? No such thing as a totally original idea. The WANA Plan surely stood on WDW Pub shoulders.
Self-publishing has a stigma, but that is changing. Some authors knew that self-publishing could mean career death, but they dared to wonder if maybe they could slice it differently. Think of the puffer fish. There is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.
Herb: Hey, this kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over*
Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.
Kait Nolan, a friend and loyal follower, charted off on her own, determined to make her way up the indie mountain…and it earned her the admiration and respect of an agent who saw her comments on THIS blog. This agent, also happens to be a super cool lady and a perfect fit for Kait and her work. But, before an agent came calling with an offer, I’m sure Kait caught a lot of flak that she wasn’t doing like everyone else.
Query. Rejection. Eat chocolate. Sugar coma. Repeat. Query. Rejection. Drink heavily. Repeat. Query. Rejection. Vow to give up writing. Repeat.
Kait was a mushroom-eating maniac and was willing to take a bite, chew and swallow…no matter what could happen. She studied where other writers went wrong (I.e. Didn’t take time to build a platform), and took steps to do it differently (Built platform using WANA methods).
In short? Don’t eat the butt.
Not everyone is meant to be an innovator, but perhaps we should at least strive to be early adopters. Pay attention to what the risk-takers are doing and be willing to take a leap of faith. We gain nothing of value if we aren’t willing to risk failure.
The more we risk, the greater the success…or failure. But we puke in our shoes, ride out the visions of Mr. Peanut with a Thigh Master and, like Bob and Kait, take notes. Don’t eat the butt.
For all you guys out there hiding behind monikers, afraid for people to know you’re a writer, maybe it’s time to walk among the mushrooms ;). There are a lot of publishing options out there beyond traditional publishing. Some of you are scared to go for it, believing (mistakenly) that this will shut the door on a traditional deal. If you are a solid writer and build an equally solid platform, just because you take the scenic route doesn’t mean the agent won’t find you. They have a nose for roasting portabella :D.
So who are your favorite mushroom-eaters? I already told you some of mine—Bob Mayer, Jenni Holbrook-Talty, and Kait Nolan. But I would like to add members of the WDW Pub Team, Amy Shojai (brilliant pet expert) and Joy Held (Writer Wellness expert). They were willing to take a risk too, and it has been awesome to work with such great people. Susan Bischoff, a friend and indie author, recently celebrated 10,000 sales in six months (she used WANA, too). I was also very impressed by Amanda Hocking, a self-published author featured in USA Today who sold 450,000 books last month alone. WOW. She credits her success to a strong social media platform (hint, hint ;)).
I want to hear about your mushroom-eating experiences. Or, do you have mycophobia? Fear of mushrooms. I had to look it up. Heck, feel free to share the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten. It counts! I’ve eaten conch, alligator, rattlesnake and some other things that I suspect were ookie parts of a goat (lived in Syria for a short bit). What’s your theory about the first person to eat a raw oyster?
I want to hear from you. And, to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention WANA in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel.
Also, I hope you guys check out my guest post at Writer Unboxed. Bring Back that Lovin’ Feeling–What to Do When You Feel Burned Out.
Until next time…
In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.
Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.