The balance has shifted

BalanceChessboard-ScotlandCommonsFlickr240wI was approached by a major publisher last week to write a book. Flattered, I asked what they had in mind. I figured they had a series of books that had a hole my expertise could fill.

Their reply? A generic book proposal form. “Here, think of something that you’re getting asked alot. Or something you want to write about. Then fill this out and we’ll see if we’ll work with you.”

Thanks but no thanks.

The shift is about access

I’ve written seven books now, two with publishers and 5 self published. It used to be that publishers had the access to readers. It was like that in every area of media:

  • If an author wanted to reach readers, they’d go through a publisher.
  • If a DJ wanted to reach listeners, they’d go through a radio station.
  • If a TV personality wanted to reach viewers, they’d go through a network.

Now that has totally changed. Authors can reach readers for free through blogs. DJs through podcasts. TV personalities through YouTube. Not only reach them, but grow a base of fans.

This shift has been going on for a while now. Since before I started blogging in the late 1990s. But it’s even more prevalent now.

Still a role for the “legacy” systems

There’s plenty of room for all of us in this game. One very important role for publishers, radio stations, and TV stations is filtering. Some call it “curating.”

Just because anyone can create content doesn’t mean all the content is great. Publishers and others can respond to the shift by focusing on credibility and trustworthiness.

To the content creator, they can emphasize the credibility they provide. Sometimes that is internal. It’s great to know I’ve been published by a publishing house. That makes me feel more “legit.” And there is still the external credibility, that to readers, of having a publisher’s name on your book. That is the trustworthiness. Legacy systems could say, “You don’t need to sift through the chaos of information out there. We’re saving you time by doing that for you and bringing you only the best.”

But I’m not seeing that shift yet. Instead, I’m seeing legacy systems trying hard to make what worked last century work today. And being surprised to find that it no longer works.

It used to be that they held the upper hand. It seems to me that we’re now closer to being peers. But I wonder how the legacy systems will adjust to realize they now need to market to both the content consumers and the content creators.

Much is about marketing

I wonder if that is the key. If much of the shift in balance has to do with marketing rather with access. Access alone isn’t enough. We all have access to each other. But only those who market well get heard.

If the legacy systems like publishers were good at marketing, then going through them would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, they’re not. A couple years ago, I was excited to write a book with a publisher because I wanted to learn how to launch the book. I knew there had to be a system for marketing books and I wanted to find it.

I did work with three rounds of editors. That was an important process for me to experience as an author. But the “launch” never happened. Rather than having a marketing system, they seemed to be making it up as they went along. All that access I thought they had? They appeared to think I’d had it all along and were looking for me to give them access to my audience. Worse, I don’t own the content I created with them and they won’t even send me copies of my book despite repeated promises. (Copies I’d be charged for.)

Still room for a mix

I still believe there room for a mix of legacy systems and whatever we call the new reality. Micro-publishers? Content creators? Free range publishers?

But it needs to start with us playing the game more as equals. What about you? Have you found legacy systems that realize the shift of balance has changed?

Would you help me build a 2014 “over the top” love playlist?

Frederick Beuchner on God's astounding loveThis quote from Frederick Buechner was on one of my Facebook friends streams around Christmas. (Sorry I don’t remember who’s!)

The full quote is:

“Once we have seen Him in a stable, we can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths He will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of men.” – Frederick Buechner

I love the phrase “ludicrous depths of self-humiliation.” I too often forget this about God. This Hosea-like seeking and giving second chances over and over again. This love that makes you look totally foolish.

That’s our God. And I want to remember that in 2014.

Crazy love playlist

Honestly, it’s an aspect of God that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’m reminded of the line in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, about Aslan being good but not being tame. But I think David tapped into it when he danced his clothes off.

How would I live my life if I was firmly convinced that God is crazy in love with me? That he delights in my quirks and individuality? That, like Zepheniah says, He will rejoice over me with singing?

To help me remember this in 2014, I’d love to build a Spotify playlist. Would you help me? I’m looking for songs that celebrate this aspect of God’s love for us.

I immediately think of songs like John Mark McMillan’s “How He Loves” with lines like “He is jealous for me” and “Heaven meets Earth like a sloppy wet kiss.” Especially: “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us.” Kim Walker and David Crowder have also done versions of this.

I also think of songs like Alanis Morissette’s “Everything.” I can’t help but think of God when she sings about how human she is and then sings, “…you’re still here.”

What other songs should be on the playlist?

If you were building a playlist about over-the-top love, what other songs would you add? Worship music, pop music, I’m not really particular where the songs come from.

Leave them as a comment here, tell me on Twitter @marcapitman, or send me an email marc@fundraisingcoach.com. I’d love to know the song, the artist you prefer, and the reason you think it fits.

After it hits 5 or 6 songs, I’ll share my list on Spotify. I plan on continuing to add to it throughout the year.

(If you’re on Spotify, check out my “Kingdom in Unexpected Places” playlist. It’s a list of songs that remind me, unexpectedly, of God.)

What if this Easter celebration is real?

Easter sunrise service

Easter. The day that splits people.

Many appreciate Jesus. His life. His teaching.

And feel sorry that “the man” or “the machine” killed him.

But ressurection? For so many, that’s going too far.

If that’s you, this Easter try something different. Rather than scoff, mock, or feel sorry for those of us otherwise sensible people that believe in this raised-to-new-life thing. Rather than chuckling at this notion of Jesus not becoming zombified but actually becoming a new, more real creation.

What if?

Why not ask “What if it’s real?”

What if the pagan rituals of spring were just echoes, pantomimes, hints of a much deeper truth? Like the deeper magic Aslan releases?

Happy Easter!

However you choose to commemorate today, I wish you a happy Easter!

Gooey Brownies: My Three-Minute Fiction That Didn’t Make It

Logo image Three-Minute Fiction Contest - Round #9
I’m a writer. I’ve been blogging for about 14 years and have written 6 books. But all this writing has been nonfiction.

Ever since I read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” I’ve wanted to try my hand at fiction.

Last fall, I tried my hand at NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction.

All the direction NPR gave was:

For Round 9, guest judge Brad Meltzer asks you to send us original fiction that revolves around a U.S. president, who can be real or fictional.

Mine lost. It didn’t even merit an on-air mention. But I console myself knowing that there were around 4000 submissions. 🙂

Here’s what I wrote:


Gooey Brownies

by Marc A. Pitman

BAKE    SALEAs Ellen watched the young women’s hesitant approach, she thought long wait behind the table was about to be rewarded. But then the woman reached insider her jacket and seemingly out of nowhere a man in the dark suit lunged at her, pinning her to the ground, knocking a single dollar bill she had been reaching for out of her hand.

Ellen sighed. She knew Sam meant well but was overzealousness. As she lost her third sale of the day, her mind went back to daydreaming. For years she’d hated bake sales, so it was odd that she’d been looking forward to this one. She’d felt like she was being delivered a subpoena when her daughter Katie had come home with the school’s photocopied announcement that all parents had to contribute to the class’ fundraising event. Didn’t she already pay enough in tuition to Sidwell Friends? Taking time to bake something that would be sold for a quarter seemed a waste. Didn’t they know how valuable time was?

But she’d missed most of Katie’s school events since taking this new job. The six years had flown by. Katie was no longer a cute seven-year-old second grader in pigtails; she was now a maturing young woman. A teenager almost in high school. With only two more years left in this position, Ellen realized she needed to seize all time she could before Katie was out of the house.

So she’d determined to make changes. Starting with this silly bake sale. Her staff hadn’t taken this decision well. They fussed about the appointments needing rescheduling and the people that might feel slighted. But Ellen stood firm with the resolve that had brought her to this position in the first place. She was a pioneer, this bake sale was yet another case of her blazing a new trail.

She and Katie had a blast. She’d insisted on not letting the cook help beyond making sure the ingredients were at hand. Using her grandmother’s “Gooey Brownie” recipe she felt the weight of her current responsibilities to melt away, reconnecting her with a simpler time when answers were easier and love tasted like fudge brownies straight from the oven.

Ellen smiled as she remembered Katie’s shocked reaction to her first bite of Baker’s chocolate. “Isn’t this supposed to be sweet?” she’d asked. And Katie’s whooping with laughter at Ellen’s futile attempts to crack eggs with one hand. Good thing they had a dozen!

Somehow, working in the kitchen making the brownies had brought them closer than they’d been in years. And working together on the brownie recipe, it seemed like her grandmother was right there with them. They knew, just knew, that these treasured family brownies would be a huge seller.

But that was still yet to be seen. As a blushing Sam picked the flustered young woman off the ground, he turned to Ellen shamefacedly saying, “I’m sorry Madame President. I thought she was about to harm you.”

Ellen sighed. With the Secret Service just doing their job, she wondered if the school would have been able to raise more money if she’d stayed at the White House. Was her really worth it?

But just at that moment, Katie came running down the hall, throwing herself at Ellen with one of her huge bear hugs and shouting, “I’m so glad you came! Thanks for being my mom!”

“Yes,” thought Ellen. “This was definitely worth it.” Being the leader of the free world was an amazing honor. But being Katy’s mom was even better.


Are you checking the roots?

Camas Root (Camssia quamash)
I love the beginning of the calendar year. It feels like a fresh start. A chance to begin new habits and try new systems.

But today during quiet time with my wife, I was beginning to worry about change not happening quickly enough. Almost immediately, I saw a hand pulling up a plant to see if the roots were growing.

I got the message. It’s just the second non-holiday week of the year.

So here’s to a day, and a season, of doing the right things and trusting the new plants are taking root!

My first surprise birthday party

Entryway Normal
This is how our entryway normally looks.

This is how it looked when I got home today.
Entryway OperationSurpriseMarc

My wife took me out to see Les Miserables at the cinema. I balled my eyes out.

Then we were going to go out for drinks. But she checked in at home first and, told me, that our youngest felt a bit sick and wanted us to check in on her.

When we drove onto our street, I started to feel a bit put out by the neighbor who apparently was having a party. Why couldn’t they park their cars somewhere else? Not in front of our house. In our driveway.

I can be pretty slow, huh?

You see, in my 17+ years of marriage, I’ve never had a surprise party. Ever.

My wife and my kids are amazing. They’d been orchestrating a surprise party for most of the week. They were even sharing a Google doc to do the planning without me knowing!!

I was blessed to have people from so many different parts of our life in our house. With lots of adults and over 20 kids.

What a wonderful way to celebrate more than four decades on this planet. (I turn 41 tomorrow.) And being part of a wonderfully cool family. 🙂

Now to drink through the multiple gifts of beer that people gave!

Setting Goals for 2013

image of the cover of The MagnetGoals Goal Setting Program WorkbookI love this time of the year. These next two weeks are a time of family, fun, introspection, celebration, work, and goal setting.

I’m one of those people that have been setting goals since I was a teenager. Probably even before that.

Now that I’m 40 (41 on January 6th!), I’m thrilled that goal setting has become a habit. I’ve gotten to do some pretty amazing things so far. I firmly believe setting goals helps me seize the opportunities that Life (I’d say God!) puts my way.

Reviewing 2012’s Goals

Each year, I write out at least 100 things I want to accomplish or do in the coming year. You read that correctly: one hundred.

I find the first 10 or so are relatively easy. But to get to 100, I really need to dig deep. And to dream.

This morning I reviewed the 100 I wrote for 2012. I accomplished about 50% so far. (There are still 8 days left in the year!) I still get thrilled to see those 50%. Some of them seemed so pie-in-the-sky twelve months ago!

Some of the things that haven’t yet happened will probably make it to my 2013 list. (I still write “Be favorably interviewed on Oprah” even though she’s no longer on regular network TV.) But others were worth the process of working on. I’d hoped to speak profitably in Poland in 2012. Those plans fell through. But the relationships I created or strengthened as a result of the trip planning are priceless.

Will you join me in 2013?

Will you join me on this journey? I call my process the “MagnetGoals Goal Setting System.” It’s my take on a couple of decades of studying goal setting. (Yes, I even studied goal setting as part of an official leadership program in college.)

You can get all the steps of the process as a free e-course (classes delivered by email) by going to http://fundraisingcoach.com/magnet-goals/. Or you can buy the PDF, complete with printable worksheets.

MagnetGoals isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a way to accomplish more in 2013, it just might be for you!