Writing on, and about, an island

Posts Tagged ‘ebooks’

The Portable Career

In Career, Writing on February 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I plan to go into more detail about my concept of the ‘Portable Career’ at a later stage; for now, I’d like to touch on the two things that make the Portable Career something to aspire to. With a Portable Career…

  1. You can work anyhow, anywhere, anytime (a bit like The Goodies!)
  2. You can change your medium to suit your message

What is a Portable Career?

It’s my term for working with total independence and flexibility – not only in location, but in the medium. In the 21st Century, it’s what everyone should be considering – to create less dependence on external forces beyond your control (hello, GFC 2.0).

“It’s not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change.”            (Charles Darwin)

A Portable Career is about adaptability, it’s about freedom of time and space, and freedom to flow from one way of expressing your message to another, according to the situation.

Work anyhow, anywhere, anytime

This is the obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career. More than any other time in history, we have the ability – thanks to the internet – to make the conscious choice to work when, and where, we want. It goes beyond the conventional concept of ‘freelance’ – which still imposes financial/corporate system restrictions on the individual – and enters the realm of ‘whatever you can imagine, you can create’.

For me, a Portable Career is one that’s inherently based not on fixed products/services – ie tangible objects that are vulnerable to external forces – but on unfixed products/services – ie intangible objects that can fluidly adapt to the marketplace.

So, for example, selling online products (such as ebooks) or services (such as webinars) in a sustainable way from a no-fixed-address to an infinite audience is far preferable to sitting behind a desk, doing the 9-5, selling your skills to someone else and having a cap on your earnings and influence.

Change your medium to suit your message

This is the less obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career, but it is the most profound one.

I change jobs and job titles often, and I have an ever-expanding eclectic set of skills, experiences and interests. I have struggled my whole career with the concept of job titles, struggled to pin down what it is that I ‘am’, and what it is that I ‘do’ – because everyone else expected me to do so. Not only have I failed to define my career in simplistic terms, so have others (I get introduced as some pretty weird things at parties!).

At times, I’ve felt on a different planet to friends and colleagues who all seem to have a chosen career path. I was alternately jealous of their certainly, and smug about my ability to be a chameleon. I’ve felt unfocused, and had a niggling sense of dissatisfaction that I couldn’t put my finger on, no matter how successful I was.

But two things happened to change that.

First, I realised I was a Scanner. Second, I read something that prompted this gob-smackingly simple, yet awe-inspiring thought:

You are not defined by the medium you work with; you are defined by the message that matters to you.

Wow. So – and without wanting to sound too self-helpy – this translated into “I should stop trying to define myself a ‘writer’ or whatever. Instead, I can view writing as simply one of the many mediums I use to communicate my message.”

By liberating yourself from conventional, restrictive and outdated job titles, and allowing yourself to change your medium to suit your message, a whole new way or working opens up. It is, I guess, the ‘intellectually portable’ approach.

So, what’s your message?
Your message = is your life purpose.

Once you’ve worked out what your message is – and make that the foundation of everything you do – you are free to change the medium as much as you like.

Time spent thinking about your life purpose is a priceless investment. I recommend Steve Pavlina’s famed method of defining your true life purpose. According to him, you’ll know when you’ve worked it out, because it’ll make you cry… This is what I got halted at, at attempt #75…

To treasure my unique voice, to tell the truth in the face of non-truths, to create with courage, to live with freedom, to love my children and to leave something for them to be proud of once I’m gone.

How do you put a Portable Career into practice?

A Portable Career means thinking laterally about my skills, talents and experiences. I do not restrict myself by conventional and accepted career paths or choices; just because I write, doesn’t mean I’m locked into being ‘A Writer’ ­– I can choose to be an entrepreneur, for example, with writing being just one channel. It’s big-picture thinking.

Now, rather than being a writer, or a journalist, or a stylist or a magazine director or a [insert job title here], I consider my self to be working to express my message, through whatever medium is appropriate. My message informs my decision on what jobs I take on (or not), how I relate to clients and what way of working I am ultimately aiming for. If you always keep your message in mind, everything flows much easier. There’s no forcing something that’s not meant to be.

It’s amazing how much focus that gives you.

A Novel Decision

In Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on January 20, 2012 at 10:12 am

People will think I’m mad (nothing new there) but, after thinking long and hard, I’ve decided to self-publish my crime novel. There are a variety of reasons for this:

1. I’ve edited and published lots of books for other people, and worked as a book publicist at one time, as well as working in-house at Random and freelance for HarperCollins and Murdoch Books… ie, I know what I’m doing.

2. I have an April deadline I want to meet for plot reasons – going the traditional path will mean I’ll miss this deadline.

3. I’m not publishing a novel to make money – I’m doing it because I want to tell a story. Breaking even would be sufficient!

4. I have a large network of people who I can tap into for assistance and support – creative friends for cover design, for example, and also the media (my colleagues).

5. I’ve recently won a Scarlet Stiletto award for a short crime story, and now’s a smart time to leverage a novel off that.

6. And I have come to the realisation that trying to fit myself into the conventional publishing model was sapping my inspiration and just feeling plain wrong. I just couldn’t get interested in it, it was frustrating me, and I realise it’s one of the reasons why this project has dragged on longer than I wanted it to.

But mainly, this decision is all about cutting out the middle man. I’m over having to give away my power to people who are gatekeepers of contrived conventional processes. Just because I’m told it’s the way to do things, doesn’t make it right or true. Thanks to the magic of technology, I can do things my own way. This is not to denigrate traditional publishing, by any means. Traditional publishing works for many, and it’s an industry I’ve loved working in – but I know it’s not for me when it comes to my book(s).

So, I’ll be selling my book online – both as an ebook and as a physical hard copy. Maybe I’ll sell it through a couple of bookshops (but then maybe not, as I’m not that keen on giving them 40%).

I’m very curious to see how things go.

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