Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Convergence and Avoiding Echo Chambers

This is a rare cross post with my other blog, The Happy Accident (where this appeared first, actually, due to my blog-scheduling miscue). I had planned to be speaking at KidLitCon today... but plans change and I'm not there. I miss the great folks there, and the thought-provoking information that always flows freely. And I'm bummed because I don't get to deliver my "angry presentation" as I dubbed it.

That's a bit of a misnomer, as neither the presentation nor I are angry. I love my fellow bloggers, in fact. Yet I think we have a tendency to get insular in our profession (children's literature or writing/publishing, your choice)... and I think that when we do that, we really fail to take advantage of the best the social web has to offer. We sell ourselves short at a time when it's critical that we don't.

To me, convergence is about more than what's going on in the publishing world. Yes, our business is changing rapidly. Ebooks are here, self-publishing is newly viable, authors/illustrators are shouldering more of the promotion load, agents are exploring becoming publishers and editors and publishers are figuring out how they can offer value in the new world.

At the same time, the way people can come together online... how we can connect based on what we love and not just where we work and live... leads to different convergence.

In both the business and online worlds, this means there's opportunity. We creatives can find new ways to make money, can make fans with our platform, and can interact with those fans in a way we never could before. Yes, we can increase sales, yet we can do even more: we can connect.

Folks who don't necessarily create the work but support it or use it and love it - reviewers, librarians, teachers, literacy advocates, and more - can also connect with new groups that converge online. Sure, not everyone needs to read every review out there, but we all wear many hats on the web... and your friends in a group of cat lovers are parents, teachers, grandparents, librarians, and book buyers of all ilk. In other words... we can connect.

We talk a lot among ourselves, and that's a good thing. In fact, I wish I was in Seattle talking with my friends there right now. But it's not enough. We need to be "out there" in the world, telling stories and reminding everyone of the power of story.

There is opportunity for everyone in this new publishing and reading world. No one knows exactly how it will play out or even who or what will be left standing 10 years hence. Except I'm sure that stories will still be being written and illustrated and shared with kids. And I'm sure opportunity is everywhere for all of us, individually and collectively. So...

Think bigger. Reach wider. Tell the story. Connect, converge, and diverge, too.

And I'll see you at KidLitCon another time!

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