If you feel lucky to have been an author at all...

By John-Paul Flintoff

If you still get excited by books
If you still get excited by writing
If your income from books is abject
If you’re a bestseller now and always have been
If you’re one of the many in between
If you know the statistics and find them depressing
If you don’t know what statistics we’re talking about
If you are bursting with indignation
If you can’t bear any more moaning, and think we should just get on with it
If your book has been made into a big movie, but you’re still broke
If your book has been made into a big movie, and you loved every frame
If you wish you could apply your creative sci-fi brain to change this world
If your accountant is unimpressed by your book awards
If you wish you understood all the fine print of the contract but have always been too shy to ask
If you wonder why people want to read you but don’t want to pay you
If you don’t know why writers talk about money so much
If you know you can’t sell a book without an agent
If you don’t have an agent and don’t want one
If you are an agent
If you would like to form an author’s cooperative and publish each other
If you have had it with self-publishing
If you think the good times are over, forever
If you don’t think there ever were ‘good times’
If you fear collaboration, and loss of control
If you are a publisher, or an agent, and you think we don’t want to hear from you
If you believe that conversations can lead to real change
If you believe technology has triggered a revolution in how authors connect to readers
If you want to “give something back”, to help the new authors coming up after you
If you are scared of leaving your usual routine even for one afternoon
If you want to turn “why?” into “how?” and “when?”
If you are looking for help
If you are looking to help

…then we want you with us.

And if the idea of being in a room with other authors fills you with dread, we need you even more. We need this to be for everyone who cares about writing and publishing.

What is this?

This list of Ifs is an early draft of the invitation I sent out, along with Dan Kieran, to the first Did Anybody Ask The Author event – in which we aim to bring authors together and reinvent the publishing industry (no point in doing anything less).

To keep the invitation simple, we decided not to use the list – but I’m posting it here because it makes clear that we genuinely want to learn from the people we’ve invited.

At this first event, a half-day conference, participants won’t be talked at – you’ll be doing the talking, using a format (Open Space) that was designed by people who realised that the best bits in most conventional conferences are the self-organising coffee breaks.

Everybody will be there on equal terms – bestsellers and beginners alike. Experience and expertise can be shared generously, with no strings attached. As a result, we get to create a passionate community, determined not just to talk but to DO SOMETHING about publishing.

On the day, we will make a big report of where we are, and where we want to go. It will be created by, and sent to, everyone present, and anyone who wants to read it who couldn’t make it on the day. Then we can put our ideas into action.
If you aren’t sure what open space is, read this. And if you are coming along, read this account of my own recent, thrilling experience of open space.

Posted: April 21, 2015