Learning to Kiss Change on the Lips

We owe a lot to Thomas Edison. Were it not for him, we’d all be watching television by candlelight.

–Comedian Milton Berle

A high-tech innovation can transform two guys in a garage into billionaires. The irony is that the big companies they build can’t innovate. No matter how profitable they are or how smart and creative their employees are.

Fear, size, jealousy, competition, how companies work, and the creative destruction of existing products and services help explain why innovation is hard for technocracies. So they buy innovation instead.

Thanks to techno-auteur Steve Jobs, Apple is an exception.  It’s driven by the vision of one demanding, relentless, irreplaceable man. Google understands the need to innovate or die, but its string of innovations have less impact and alienate companies whose territories they invade. Both companies also buy new technologies.

Technology used to advance in stages. There would be an innovation in trains, planes, and automobiles, and then they would remain at that level until the next innovation came along.

Today, we’re living on the vertical slope of technology trying to thrive during a time of accelerating change. The torrent of high-tech innovations is transforming publishing just as it’s transforming other media. But the larger any business, organization, or institution is, the harder it is to adapt.

In the eighties, writers were early adopters of computers. It took far longer for publishers to computerize. They had to create systems that were capable of both running a large business and carrying out the unique, complicated tasks involved in publishing every book. Publishers also had to integrate their systems so they could function together, a huge challenge that took years to accomplish and continues as technology evolves.

Paul Otellini, the CEO of Intel observed that: “It’s a lot easier to change when you can than when you have to.” As a multimedia, multinational conglomerate of one, you can innovate by changing what you write about to whatever

* most excites you

* is most salable

* you can most effectively connect with your readers about

You can change directions faster than publishers can, and you have more ways than ever to test-market your work to make sure you’re on the right track.

You have to balance building your visibility and credibility on subjects that you enjoy writing about and promoting with the need to be ready to take advantage of the next big thing.

You also have to balance change with stability, a growing challenge on the fun, scary, bewildering, exhilarating, accelerating ride during history’s most exciting century.

If you hang on tight, you can experience the thrills and spills as they happen and perhaps make a living writing about them.

Changes and innovations threaten the status quo, but they can also be an opportunity for

* changing how you work

* finding new ways to reach readers

* generating new sources of income

The future of writers who best communicate the perils and promise of life on Spaceship Earth is assured. I hope you’ll be one of them.

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10 Responses to Learning to Kiss Change on the Lips

  1. That’s interesting. I have to admit what drew me into your article was the laugh-out-loud title and what prompted me to comment was the eye-opening quote by Intel’s Paul Otellini (although my comment has nothing to do with it).

    I’ve been thinking about this writer thing lately, and how technology has changed the landscape. I’ve read writers’ blogs, tweets, advice and how-to books. Read chat transcripts, interviews and followed conversations in forums. It seems writers today have to focus on everything BUT the actual writing of a novel, short story or article. They have to market themselves, promote their pieces, register on social networks and set up a presence on every imaginable site available to the public. Makes me weary. No matter who the author is, it’s all the same. Makes my eyes glaze over.

    I’m not convinced it’s all good for the creative process but it does increase opportunity. And sometimes that’s all a writer needs.

    Enjoyed your post. It will be interesting to watch what happens to words on Spaceship Earth and what container will best protect and preserve them.

    • The title is a phrase I came across years ago, attributed to a “Texas ad man.” Your goals are the key to deciding what to do about your work. There are more books and authors than ever to use as models. The more successful you want to be, the more effort it will take. But it’s your call to make. Promotion interferes with the creative process, but it’s how you build sales and a career. Your goals and your passion for your ideas and your books have to sustain you.

      Forget the presence on every site. Contribute to blogs and groups, be active on Facebook, Twitter, and the next best site for your book; try to get your blog on blogrolls, and give visitors reasons to return to your site. Do these things as your time allows.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The means of communicating with readers will continue to get better, which is great news for writers. After the glaze dissipates, pesevere!

      The title is a phrase I came across years ago, attributed to a “Texas ad man.” Your goals are the key to deciding what to do about your work. There are more books and authors than ever to use as models. The more successful you want to be, the more effort it will take. But it’s your call to make. Promotion interferes with the creative process, but it’s how you build sales and a career. Your goals and your passion for your ideas and your books have to sustain you.

      Forget the presence on every site. Contribute to blogs and groups, be active on Facebook, Twitter, and the next best site for your book; try to get your blog on blogrolls, and give visitors reasons to return to your site. Do these things as your time allows.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The means of communicating with readers will continue to get better, which is great news for writers. After the glaze dissipates, pesevere!

    • The title is a phrase I came across years ago, attributed to a “Texas ad man.” Your goals are the key to deciding what to do about your work. There are more books and authors than ever to use as models. The more successful you want to be, the more effort it will take. But it’s your call to make. Promotion interferes with the creative process, but it’s how you build sales and a career. Your goals and your passion for your ideas and your books have to sustain you.

      Forget the presence on every site. Contribute to blogs and groups, be active on Facebook, Twitter, and the next best site for your book; try to get your blog on blogrolls, and give visitors reasons to return to your site. Do these things as your time allows.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The means of communicating with readers will continue to get better, which is great news for writers. After the glaze dissipates, pesevere!

      The title is a phrase I came across years ago, attributed to a “Texas ad man.” Your goals are the key to deciding what to do about your work. There are more books and authors than ever to use as models. The more successful you want to be, the more effort it will take. But it’s your call to make. Promotion interferes with the creative process, but it’s how you build sales and a career. Your goals and your passion for your ideas and your books have to sustain you.

      Forget the presence on every site. Contribute to blogs and groups, be active on Facebook, Twitter, and the next best site for your book; try to get your blog on blogrolls, and give visitors reasons to return to your site. Do these things as your time allows.

      Glad you enjoyed the post. The means of communicating with readers will continue to get better, which is great news for writers. After the glaze dissipates, pesevere!
      larsenpoma@aol.com

  2. Simon Hay says:

    Hi Michael. This is good stuff. This quote – “To reach people no one else is reaching, we must do things no one else is doing.” – Craig Groeschel, inspired me to share my work. Social media is a great way to showcase our work. It’s the easiest way to communicate with potential readers. It’s an exciting time to have something to say.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • Many thanks for the great quote! A blank screen waiting for us to fill it with words that people will want to read is one of life’s great opportunties. Social media put the world at your fingertips, and they’re only going to get more powerful in their ability to spread your words. So write as much as you can, but in as few words as it takes to do the job. Best of luck.

  3. Larry Revene says:

    Thanks Mr. Larsen for your inspiring comments, wisdom and whit. You certainly give a clear picture of both rejections and rewards of publishing. Also insightful and valuable information about the leading edge of the business. I feel I have learned a lot.

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