May 12, 2013

QF32Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a conference in Hawaii with my husband. The theme was ‘Anticipation’ and it opened with a compelling keynote presentation by Captain Richard de Crespigny, and his extraordinary account of the fateful day on 4 November 2010, when flight QF32 left Singapore for Sydney and came within an inch of being one of the world’s worst air disasters. Shortly after takeoff, an explosion shattered an engine on the Qantas Airbus A380, the pride of the airline’s fleet. Hundreds of pieces of shrapnel ripped through the wing and fuselage, fuel was streaming out of ruptured tanks and 21 out of 22 of the plane’s vital operating systems were affected, many of them shredded. In lesser experienced hands, the plane might have been lost with all 469 passengers, but a supremely experienced flight crew managed to use all their knowledge, training and experience to save the lives of everyone on that flight. They anticipated the worst and came through. We had the opportunity to dine with Richard, who has written this book about his experience.

IMGRichard referred to the incident as a ‘black swan’ event. One you couldn’t see coming because it had never happened before. The plane’s checklist system for failures fired too many instructions for them to follow. So contrary to the system’s advice, they had to make decisions based on their training and experience. ‘It’s like a bushfire; just when you think you have it under control, the wind shifts and it all changes direction.’

Although in much less dangerous terms, that quote got me thinking about my experiences in the publishing industry over the past ten or so years. The wind has certainly shifted with the drift toward electronic devices, e-books and the ability for writers to skip the traditional publishing line altogether. When I began my self-publishing journey, there was still a stigma attached to going it alone. Now many writers choose that path, turning down multi-million dollar contracts from publishers or retaining their digital rights. And who are these successful authors? Aren’t they the ones who anticipated the changes despite all suggestions to the contrary and changed their direction with the shifting winds?

‘Adapt or perish’. That was one of the main points Richard brought home in his address. While the winds continue to shift in the publishing industry and the number of contracts available from traditional publishers lessens, the opportunities for self-published writers continue to grow. All they need to do is grab hold of them and fly with it. I am about to release my 4th self-published novel and I am still filled with excitement by the anticipation of my readers’ responses. 

‘Invert the logic’ – another piece of invaluable advice from Richard when most of the systems weren’t working. Don’t focus at all the things that aren’t working. Focus on those things that do. I could have spent many more years parceling off my manuscripts to traditional publishers, filling my drawers with rejection slips because my books didn’t fit their ‘current list’ and believing I just wasn’t good enough. Instead, I listened to my readers. They liked what they read. They wanted more. So I focused on fulfilling those requests and moved ahead with what was working, putting less time into something that wasn’t.

As a writer, each of us has a special gift. It is the gift of imagination. And it’s a gift we deserve to share with the world. As I anticipate embarking on my own series of presentations where I am about to share with writers how to have the courage to take that first step into self-publishing, I reflect on your courage Richard and thank you for your inspiration.






5 Responses to “Anticipation”

  1. Laurie Smith on May 19th, 2013 5:49 pm

    Hawaii eh? Good to see you back. It may take a while for the reading public at large to adapt. I still get the ‘does something smell’ look when I mention self published. Then again it could be my writing. Tastes change with time, authors are just not publishers. The time will come when indies will be respected as authors.

  2. Judi McNair on May 19th, 2013 5:50 pm

    wonderful article!

  3. Tina Smith on May 19th, 2013 5:51 pm

    Is the stigma gone? Not entirely, trust me I avoid mentioning it if I can. Yet I am stocked in every major book store in Adelaide (both books).
    I think wiith titles like Shades of Grey, Amanda Hocking and now following suit titles like Promise me Darkness which has hit the New York Times best selllers list – I think times are changing fast. Avid readers and the younger generation now consider self published books the norm but the other half of the world is dubious. But if great novels keep coming out (I don’t mean the above two in this comment) the stigma will loosen. We are getting back power.

  4. Lea on May 19th, 2013 5:54 pm

    Wow, Tina. You are an inspiration to all indie authors! I managed to get into the major independent bookstores in Brisbane, but not all of them.
    I think you are right. Our time is coming.

  5. Michael "Duke" Davis on May 21st, 2013 3:31 pm

    I think self publishing has come a long, long way in the last two years. No longer do I get that “Oh” when I say yes, I’m self published. People now usually ask where they can download or order my books as I have some in paperback and some on eBooks.
    When you look at the really big names that are now getting onto it it tells you we must be doing something right. The money drives the market,
    The Dukester

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