Sunday, November 8, 2009

J.C.Hutchins, 7th Son Descent Author Discussion

I attended a talk today sponsored by the Florida Book Writers Association, and the speaker was J.C. Hutchins, author of 7th Son: Descent. A four-year-old boy has assassinated the President of the United States. Surprise, the President was a clone, and his memories were implanted. He shared these memories and his genes with seven others, plus the psychopath that was the master template. After the author’s reading, I was hooked. I just purchased the book, and it has been placed at the top of my reading list.

While his book has just been published in print format, it has experienced an electronic life for a couple of years. Unable to find a publisher, Hutchins initially released his book as a series of podcasts on the Internet. As podcasts, the book developed a rabid fan base, and forced traditional publishers to take notice. St. Martin’s Griffin picked up the publishing rights. Because of his successful innovative marketing techniques, Hutchins has garnered other opportunities. The world will soon be hearing more from Mr. Hutchins.

In previous blogs, I have discussed the use of medium and structure in presenting the message. I have also discussed the electronic challenges that traditional book publishers are facing. Hutchins’ website exemplifies both these concepts. Unable to break into the traditional print media, Hutchins built a web site and provided his content for free. He used podcast, hyperlinking, blogging, and email to develop a fan base. According to his talk today, he gets about 50,000 hits a month, and his podcasts have been downloaded 5 million times. This popularity has occurred because of persistence, hard work, and electronic word of mouth – social networking such as Facebook and blogs.

I would like to emphasize two points from Hutchins’ success. Publishers need to be concerned by the changes and challenges of the print industry. Even though Hutchins success and popularity occurred via audio downloads – podcasts, he had a difficult time convincing the publisher of the necessity of publishing the book in audio format. Publishers need to recognize the changes in their industry and adapt. On the other hand writers need to recognize the opportunities that exist in the electronic format, and market their works accordingly. The book shelves, both brick and mortar and electronic, are packed with millions of volumes. The writer needs to catch the reader’s attention. Web sites, blogs, discussion groups, and book signings have to be done in order to become a successful author.

Now that his book has appeared in print, a few changes occurred in the text, and in his words – make the book better. As result of these changes, he will be redoing the podcasts to include the new material. These podcasts will then be released as an audio book.

I want to finish by saying I was impressed with the sincerity of Hutchins, and his respect for his audience.

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