On Book Writing

I was in a client meeting a few weeks ago. I suppose I was more articulate than usual that day because one of the meeting participants asked me when I was going to write a book. A nice compliment but a very tough thing to do. I started my career in book publishing and I saw first hand how hard it is to complete a manuscript. It’s not for the faint hearted.

That’s why I loved reading today’s opinion in the New York Times. Timothy Egan hits the nail on the head.

Most of the writers I know work every day, in obscurity and close to poverty, trying to say one thing well and true. Day in, day out, they labor to find their voice, to learn their trade, to understand nuance and pace. And then, facing a sea of rejections, they hear about something like Barbara Bush’s dog getting a book deal.

Writing is hard, even for the best wordsmiths. Ernest Hemingway said the most frightening thing he ever encountered was “a blank sheet of paper.” And Winston Churchill called the act of writing a book “a horrible, exhaustive struggle, like a long bout of painful illness.”

I could not agree more. With limited funds to advance to authors, publishers have to choose between literature and pop culture. Unfortunately the money’s in pop culture.

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Blogging 101

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I’ve put together a great program and panel called Blogging 101 for the next Silicon Valley Social Media Club meeting. It’s an ambitious overview that covers everything from consuming blogs to the future of blogs. The event is FREE and will be in North San Jose at the NBC11 studios.

Date

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time
6:00 pm PT – 8:00 pm PT
Location
NBC11/KNTV
2450 N. First Street
San Jose, 95131

The evening’s panelists to blogging from a variety of perspectives but enterprise experience is one thing they have in common. The panelists are:

  • Tony Bove – author, journalist, publisher, blogger, musician, consultant, technophile, WordPress Guru, blogger
  • Elisa Camahort – Blogher co-founder, author, marketing executive, consultant, vegan, blogger
  • Jeremiah Owyang – PodTech web strategist, innovator, consultant, Ustreamer, blogger
  • Lisa Padilla – BlogTalkRadio VP Marketing, podcaster, technophile, narrowcaster, blogger

Here’s the outline:

Where’s the value in the blogosphere?

  • Another marcomm channel…
  • What about PR…
  • Touching customers and partners…
  • Workgroups…
  • Market intelligence…

Thinking about your Blog

  • Audience
  • Messaging
  • Engaging the conversation

Consuming blogs

  • Finding relevant blogs and bloggers
  • Feeds and aggregation
  • Alerts and updates

Starting a blog is easy

  • Tony will create something in WordPress
  • widgets
  • customization.

You have a blog, so what?

  • The role of strategy
  • Where are the relevant conversations happening?
  • How to engage
  • The communication channel mix

The future of enterprise blogs

  • Blog as website paradigm
  • Is it really a CMS?
  • The multimedia blog (and new applications)

Hope you can make it. Be sure to RSVP at eventbright…we need to know how much pizza to order!

Silicon Valley SMC Launch

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NBC11 in San Jose hosted last night’s inaugural meeting of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Social Media Club. The local NBC affiliate generously provided a meeting room and snacks in their studios for over 50 attendees from traditional and independent media. A fair number of PR practioners joined the discussion as well.

The meeting followed the World Cafe format. About 10 tables for 5 were scattered around the room, given a question to examine, and report back to the room the results of the discussion. Then, the groups changed tables and examined a new topic with a new group. There were three rounds of tabletop discussion that allowed a group gestalt to emerge along with individual observations. It was the first time I attended a World Cafe style event and it was a welcome change from the typical “panel of experts” presentation because everyone had a chance to participate. The overarching theme was examining the impact of new media on local news. In other words, how can vlogging, blogging, and podcasting enhance the coverage of hyperlocal news.

The audience wasn’t interested in the typical Silicon Valley issues (What’s the business model? How do we monetize?). Instead, their concerns focused on content quality and trustworthiness, copyright and journalistic ethics. The discussion also revealed some current experiments in open source reporting. Jay Rosen‘s New Assignment is one example of how traditional media can tap into independent media for additional coverage and perspective on particular events or issues. New Assignment is also involved in Assignment Zero, an interesting experiment in crowdsourcing news coverage. Both experiments are relatively new and will be interesting to watch, and maybe participate in as well.

Last night’s meeting was a refreshing change from similar gatherings of bloggers and journalists last year. There was far more emphasis on collaboration rather than competition. There’s a willingness on both sides of the media divide to create something new and sustainable that is capable of capturing the scarcest resource of all…human attention.

The Social Media Club, Silicon Valley will be meeting again next month, time and date to be announced. NBC11 has offered to host the meeting again and committed to becoming a mainstay of our local chapter. Lots of interesting things are going to come from this collaboration. Stay tuned.

Times are changing at Time, Inc.

Ann S. Moore

The New York Times reports that Time, Inc. is laying off nearly 300 staffers from the editorial and business side of their top magazines. They are also closing their news bureaus in Washington, Miami, Chicago, Austin and Atlanta. The restructuring and cost cutting is being given a positive spin by Ann S. Moore, the Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer of Time, Inc. She says the moves will allow them to “sustain our progress” and expand their online efforts as the Internet continues to disrupt old media business models and advertising revenues.

The problem is that Time, Inc. has not made enough progress to date to make a smooth transition to digital properties. By progress, I mean ad sales. I’m sure they can fill in the editorial with stringers and freelancers, but who’s going to pay for the salaries? A quick look at Time.com or People.com revealed only empty sidebars with an Advertising header, but no ads. I find this to be remarkable. Adding insult to injury, Time.com is a co-production of Time and CNN. That means a revenue split. That’s not what Time needs.

It may be impossible for the old media types to reinvent themselves. Reproducing the print version online doesn’t add value. The publications need to be rethought from the point of view of the capabilities that are inherent in a connected social medium. Out with the old model, in with the new.

Add this to the long list of transitions on Time Warner’s plate. From AOL to Warner Brothers, their world is being rocked. I hope they rise to the challenge.