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.
Actually I was really one of the lucky ones as an indie. The platform I’ve built, I’ve kept really positive and strongly focused on paying it forward and helping folks with my experience. I didn’t get out there and argue that self publishing was the new and only way, and while I absolutely commented on the assorted asshattery of traditional publishing in the last couple of years, I made a really strong effort not to burn any bridges. Of course it helps that the bulk of my writer peeps I hang out with are also indie, so flak may have been thrown and I just missed it cause I was too busy chowing down on a nice, ooey, gooey cheese and mushroom pizza. If anything, I suspect I may catch a little from signing with an agent by those who don’t realize what a unique position I find myself in being able to take advantage of BOTH worlds.
By the way, Kristen, you wanna be my new publicist? Cause you’ve doubled my blog traffic this week!
Strangest thing I ever ate is a tie between deep fried rattlesnake and barbequed bear. And there were a couple things I ate in Japan that I don’t wanna know about.
I think we have fallen into this antagonistic relationship, this US vs. THEM mentality and there is no need for it. All types of publishing offer different advantages and disadvantages and, as we grow and our career grows, sometimes we need to change. I love that you have an opportunity to be an indie ambassador to the trad. world…a bridge between two peoples LOL. Hey, I love bragging about you because, 1) You’re awesome. You’ve supported me since Day One, 2) you are talented and work hard so you deserve increased success, and 3) you prove that WANA does work. You are a great success story and I am blessed to know you. Thanks for letting me share your testimony 😀
It’s a really exciting sort of position to be in, and I’m thrilled Laurie IS so forward looking that we CAN kind of pioneer this new kind of relationship between author and agent to see exactly how this hybrid indie/traditional route can work. And I love that I’m in a position where I can afford to say no to New York if they offer crappy terms, because I’m proving that I can do quite well on my own and they’re gonna have to up the ante to get me to board their train.
Love Fridays! Off from work and I get to read your posts early in the morning.
I definitely feel like the early adopter. I seem to need that little push from an innovator to get my brain working and then I’m off! Kait and Susan did that for me and continue to be enormously helpful with advice and encouragement. I found this blog and got your book because of Susan!
As usual Kristen, a great post.
I only hope I can be that brave when I get to the point where I’m actually finished with a manuscript and ready to start the scary stuff.
As always, thanks for a wonderful, thought-provoking post.
Okay, Kristen, I ate a mushroom. It had purple spots on it ((starts seeing visions of royalties)).
I signed up for both of the March classes at Write It Forward.
See you there…
Shellie ((sitting in a corner with a silly grin on her face))
Hey, Kristen, I wanted to crawl out of the cave of my self-imposed internet exile to say thank you very much for mentioning me today. And since I’ve been ALONE for days, I’ll have to leave more comment before I crawl back in again.
What you said above about US vs.THEM really resonated with me today. I have my reasons for deciding to go indie, but everyone’s got a bazillion variables of their own. One thing I’ve been trying NOT to do in my online interactions is to piss on anyone’s dream. Seems obvious. Who’d want to do that? And yet…
I recently read where someone whom I really respect as an author and a teacher, someone whose blog and books I’ve recommended, wrote some things that just rang so of typical indie prejudice that I couldn’t help but be sad about it.
I agree with you that there’s really no need for all the divisiveness that’s out there right now, and running around alienating people doesn’t seem like the WANA way. (And for nostalgia’s sake, and because it seems to fit so well, a post about me getting upset over that kind of stuff and realizing in the middle of it how WANA was really working for me. Link.)
I totally want mushrooms for lunch now.
My attorney has advised against telling you about some of the things I ingested in college. Apparently she’s concerned about “ongoing investigations” and “pending litigation.” Whatever that is.
I’ve always been drawn to mushroom eaters even though I never called them that until now. But I know this one thing. From now on all advice I give about anything will begin with your sage counsel: Don’t eat the butt.
Awesome post as always and seems to come right on time when I need to read something like this!
At this point in time, I’m eating a ton of mushrooms! LOL. Last year my writing group and I decided to self publish our books together under a collective, small press name. I have NEVER published a book, let alone help run a start up company and help build it’s platform (and mine!). It’s nerve wrecking because you don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know if it’s going to work, or if you will succeed beyond your expectations. But in the end, you have to remember your passion, you have to remember your motivations everytime you’re trying out a mushroom, like you call it (and still remember those things when it turns out to be really disgusting!).
I have to admit though that at the end of the day, I’m growing, learning, and doing what I love. It’s takes a lot courage to make yourself and do what you love!
I think one of the benefits to eating this particular variety of mushroom is that you really educate yourself (or you should because you’ll fall flat on your face if you don’t) about aspects of the industry that authors have typically been kind of in the dark about before. And having more knowledge puts you in a position of greater strength moving forward, whether that’s on an indie path, a traditional one, or somewhere in the middle forging your own.
Here’s to mushrooms!
You are so right! I’ve had to learn marketing, social media, writing, book design, publishing company models, etc. and it’s unlike anything (nor any mushroom!) I’ve ever encountered before. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right!
Here, here on the mushrooms! 🙂
Oysters are so good! What I want to know is who’s the weirdo who decided it would be a good idea to suckle a cow?
You have so many pithy sayings and quotable quotes in your blogs. You should consider a bathroom reader of Kristen Lamb’s quotes. Title it Don’t Eat the Butt.
Such a great post. Thank you for being a positive, innovative voice in an otherwise somewhat discouraging industry.
I absolutely endorse this plan. I’d buy one!
Okay, so the title of my next book will be, “Don’t Eat the Butt–The Writer’s Guide to Survive and Thrive in the Brave New World of Publishing.” 😀
It should come with a little puffer fish keychain ;D
Yeah we have already approved the new writer battle cry, “Don’t eat the butt!” Maybe we can write that on the puffer fish keychain LOL. I need to have my own line of Crappy Excuse Troll dolls, Procrastination Pixies, and puffer fish “Don’t Eat the Butt” keychains, LOL.
I’d be interested in the companion quote a day calendar too.
It’d make the bathroom trip much more relaxing. 😉
I just laughed so hard at the mushroom analogy, I am so happy I was not drinking something right now.
Brilliant post and I so like to add “Mushroom-Eater” to my blog, even if no one else will get it.
Great post, Kristen! ROFL at that puffer fish.
I’m not an adventurous eater. The craziest thing I ever ate was a daddy long-legs (I was two). Eww. But taking risky steps toward publication? Heck, I’m out on a limb by being a writer, anyway. I may not be in that first wave of mushroom-eaters, but I can learn from them.
What would you suggest to someone who already has an agent but hasn’t gotten an offer yet? Manuscript has been revised, almost ready for round two of traditional editor reads. My agent’s terrific, but I don’t know how to talk with her intelligently about trying less-traditional avenues, what the fall-out would be regarding her commission, etc.
Are there any publishing houses that are more digitally cutting-edge (and are looking for historical mysteries)? Or is it only unagented authors who should be trying these methods?
K.B. “I-ain’t-eating-that-butt-you-go-first” Owen
I’m not eating the butt by getting today’s post written before the kids have to be in school AND including a link to your blog in it! BOOM, social networking! And, thanks to your encouragment over the last few months, that new post will be featured on my facebook page and tweeted (with different hashtags) a few times over the next week. I’ve also encouraged a friend of mine who’s publishing a vegan cookbook (How to cook FOR vegans, not how to cook vegans…) to link to my Facebook page so I can add my network to her publicity machine. It all helps, right? She’s publishing the trad way, and so is concerned that her sales have to cover the advance and , preferably, a bit more.
I’m not a mushroom fan but I have tried a few weird foods. lol
Great advice! Sometimes you have to suck it up and leap.
Don’t eat the butt. I love it. 🙂
I’ve always wondered about those first people to try bizarre-looking foods, so I love your analogy. The weirdest thing I ever ate was buffalo tongue. Not sure if that’s weird enough to get me in the mushroom-eating category, but I should at least qualify for early adopter, right? 😉 And since it’s not an us-versus-them, can we still be on the same team?
We HAVE to be on the same team or we are toast. That’s what is so cool about The WANA Plan. We work together and just use our strengths and collectively butress our weaknesses. If you think about early pioneers (as a parallel), they had a better chance of surviving and carving out new settlements if they worked together. Publishing doesn’t have to be an antagonistic endeavor. I could look at every author as my competition. If I promote them, then someone might not buy mine. Or, I can work WITH my fellow authors and trust it will all work out :D. Thanks for the comments!
Ooh, love the updated photo – “Professor” Lamb! Lookin’ good!
I once killed a snake, cut it up and cooked it on the side of the road in a fire I’d made with pine straw and kindling. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. It didn’t taste that bad, though I wish I’d have brought some Old Bay with me. We used the rest of the snake for bait…lol
I akin this whole social media thing to any other skill. At first, it’s a little hard and confusing, but after you’re at it for a while, it becomes way easier. Good post Kristen!
I was an early enough adopter on the self-pub thing that I caught my share of hallucinogenic mushrooms. I didn’t know many indies when I started – all my buddies were on the trad. track, so they didn’t understand my decision, for whatever reason (and some still don’t), and many of them wouldn’t support my work if I was going to self-pub. I sort of felt flung into the “us vs. them” situation just by virtue of daring to be different. I haven’t always dealt with that very well, and I dare say I’ve burned my share of bridges along the way, which is unfortunate, but it is what it is. It’s easy to get defensive when you’re struggling to move forward through that same fear that’s holding everyone else back – and they don’t understand why you’d want to keep going.
The great thing is, once you get to a certain point, self-confidence returns (or it has for me) and it’s a lot easier to shrug off the snide comments and just do your thing. Heck, you might even start to like some of those hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then people start asking you which mushrooms are safe, and which ones will give a good buzz…and I try to help with that when I can.
I like your post.
To add to the discussion, I do software engineering to pay the bills. Yesterday I came across a blog post on a tech blog that is relevant to what you say here:
The thrust the post is that entrepreneurs should be willing to recognize constructive failures, or intelligent failures, even celebrate them to some extent. It’s often precisely because someone before us failed that we can then learn from the experience and eventually succeed.
For some reason in Italy, we were served a lot of veal. And I’ve eaten squid and oysters. I happen to love mushrooms, so I’ll keep being as brave as I can while I work my way towards being a writing-mushroom-eater.
The first mushroom eater that came to mind for me was Julia Child. I read her autobiography last summer and she really impressed me with how many new languages she learned, occupations she tried, countries she lived in before she took the food industry by storm, and she did it all in her 40’s! Although I think I need to find a mushroom eater closer to my age so I don’t subconsciously give myself a 20 year time frame to finally impress someone. Must act now!
What haven’t I eaten? Being originally from the Philippines, I’ve eaten all sorts of food growing up. My favorite was the duck embryo, which was still inside the eggs. I also ate blood stew, liver, and beef tongue (though now that I’m a pesco vegetarian, I stick to fish, eggs and dairy). Coming in the United States, I’ve enjoyed the taste of Japanese foods (I love sushi and sashimi), and Chinese foods. My motto is to try everything at least once (I have to modify this because of my diet change but I would eat almost anything).
My favorite mushroom eater would be Thomas Edison. He didn’t give up when he fails. He tries until he succeed, even if it takes 10,000 tries.
I really liked this post but I can’t think of anything to say because I’m still trying not to cringe over some of the accompanying images. Please don’t ever post such gross pictures again ahaha. 🙂
I’m not a brave eater, however, I was in China on business & didn’t have much “normal” food to choose from. The strangest thing I ate was shark fin soup, which was similar to warm jello with floaters. Not my cup of tea!
I’m not a mushroom-eater, but I thrive on being inspired by mushroom-eaters. I’m drawn to them and their stories. They impress me! My blog has been up for a little over 2 months and I had not told any of my family or friends about it. Just yesterday, I told someone and forwarded the link. Made me very nervous!! But, it’s a step in the right direction.
Go, Mushroom Eaters! I must confess to being an Early Adopter…shrooms scare me!
First of all, LOVE your new picture! You look like a brightly smiling, bombshell, genius. Second, I’m thrilled I can learn something from a highly addictive blog, while simultaneously laughing my ass off:) The mushroom, puffer fish, and even ooky goat references had me rolling.
Okay, now to the serious stuff…I am most certainly, mycophobic (glad you suplied the word) I am not the first to eat the mushroom. I am a follower:(
I suppose that’s a good thing in some regard…I won’t ever be the first one to pop the pink speckled fungus umbrella into my mouth, so I won’t ever be the first one to have a frothy mouthed, apoplectic attack.
That being said, I suppose discovering and then chowing down on some mutant strain of mushroom that causes humans to sprout wings and fly isn’t going to happen either. Poor me. I’ll miss out on all the fun unless I can man up, get some courage, and be a bit more adventurous.
That’s why I love this blog so much. It helps me realize what’s out there, freak toad stools, ooky goat parts, puffer fish butts. And in reading the many comments, I see I’m not the only one learning and evolving.
You asked what the craziest thing we’ve ever eaten was. Well, like I said, I’m not very adventurous. I love all kinds of food, but I’ve never been anywhere exotic and have no bird nest soup, or Anko fish eating experience. But my neighbor, a lovely Italian woman, who’s extended family lives in different houses in the neighborhood has a sweet little uncle who, coincidentally, farms and forages for mushrooms in the woods behind our homes. One day I caught him rummaging in the pine bark beneath our playgym. I went out and asked, “What ya lookin’ for Uncle Luigi? He grinned, yanked the biggest cluster of orangy, brain-shaped mushroom from under the slide, and said with a strong Italian accent, “Dinner, face bella!”
He offered to share the bounty…but I decided to take the early adopter route, sit back, watch, and learn 🙂
You are fantastic Kristen! I truly enjoy every word you write.
Have a great evening!!!
P.S. P90X kicked my butt too:)
Great post Kristen! I’ve always loved mushrooms and have eaten a few mushrooms that weren’t really shrooms, at least as far as I can remember… The information on your site and Bob Mayers could be transformed into a college level class on writing and publishing. My wife, an NF old masters art blogger has been using the WANA concepts to build a platform for her work and just after a brief amount of time is starting to see positive results. I’ll not be far behind her and it is all because of the great work you and Bob are doing. After spending years staring at the mushrooms of publishing its great to see others surviving and thriving in the middle of the toadstool ring.
Love the new picture and congratulations to Kait Nolan, you are truly inspirations to us all!
I’ve often wondered who was the first to take things, like who could look at a prickly durian, get past the smell and actually want to taste it? I’ve wondered how many have died along the way. I loved Barbarian Way.
My list of mushroom eaters: Eve Ensler. Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye). Mike Foster (founder XXXChurch and People of the Second Chance). My son, Joel, who came out during his Jr. year at a conservative Christian school.
Great post and a lot of useful information. I have read a novel by Kait Nolan and it was wonderful. She is a hard worker and I hope rewards continue her way.
Aww, thanks Regina!
Oh I am a risk taker. The latest was my misadventure in trying alligator! I’ll put it to you this way–and I’m ripping off Jim Stafford–“I never met a handbag I didn’t like”. Puffer fish, butts and mushrooms…I’ve eaten mushrooms–love ’em. Thank you for a wonderful (and funny) post Kristen…I shall now go and keep recuperating from the alligator experience.
I have to say you’ve inspired me! I’ve been wrestling with the decision about self-publishing, listening to all the negativity about how you’ll never make it if you don’t start with an agent and I’ve really been anxious over the whole decision. I’ve got a great support team and a lot of positive feedback on my work and I feel like it could really do well. I don’t want to give up my rights and freedom to a publishing house. At least not yet. I want to get it out there and into the hands of readers. I know I’d be sacrificing a lot but after I’ve thought about it I feel like it’s not as much as we’re led to believe. If people like the book and you’ve spent the time necessary to make it work then you will see returns. There’s a reason so few self-published authors don’t sell as many books, they weren’t trying to. Most self-published authors fit a particular niche and didn’t care if their work appealed to the mainstream. I know there are others who dreamed big and failed but I still feel like there’s a place in the world for authors to share their work with the world without having to hide in the shadow of a big publisher. You’re right about one thing, the world is changing. We either get on board or miss the boat to the new world. Thanks for the post, I needed it!
There are a lot of wonderful self-pubbed books, but a lot of self-published work is pure crap too. Make sure you get someone professional to look at your work first. There are a lot of great reasons to be excited, but self-publishing works best when we do it the smart way :D.