At Write Nonfiction NOW! I’ve recently published a few posts (here and here) about becoming a change agent by writing about change. I think when you write passionately about causes that concern you, you touch people in such a way that hopefully they are moved to take action. When you propose solutions to problems–especially problems that concern many people–I believe you have a high likelihood of successfully publishing your work. In the process, you create change in the world.
It doesn’t matter how you publish; you can do it through a blog, an e-book, a self-published book, or a traditionally published book. You will reach readers.
Author and literary agent Mike Larsen not only has an enormous amount of knowledge about the publishing industry, he’s a strong advocate for writing for change. In fact, he and his partner, Elizabeth Pomada, created a conference specifically for writers who want to be change agents called Writing for Change. Additionally, he has been one of my valued mentors and friends. Today, I’ve asked him to provide a guest blog on this topic. I hope he inspires you to put your passion and purpose into action and to write to create change in the world.
Are Writers Our Best Hope for the Future?
By Michael Larsen
We Americans write our own history. And the chapters of which we’re proudest are the ones where we had the courage to change. Time and again, Americans have seen the need for change, and have taken the initiative to bring that change to life. –Al Gore
If luck is ability meeting opportunity, you are part of the luckiest generation of writers who ever lived. If you want to write about creating change, you have the biggest opportunity writers have ever had. The problems our communities, states, country, and planet face continue to grow, as does the gap between what government and nonprofit organizations can do and what must be done to ensure our future.
Writers are needed urgently to provide the hope, vision, guidance, and inspiration to act that humanity needs to thrive. Writers have the creativity, independence, and the ability to
- research, organize, and write about their ideas
- test and promote their work
- build communities of people eager to help
And they have the power of technology, the greatest gift to writers since the printing press, to accelerate and amplify their efforts. Al Gore did a thousand talks in high schools before An Inconvenient Truth was published or the film about it was released. A Vice President has access to audiences and the media that new writers don’t, but writers can use all of the media to communicate their message. Gore’s efforts changed the public’s perception of the problem and led to new initiatives to solve it.
What nobler challenge can writers ask for than helping to solve the problems that threaten our children? Readers and publishers want books that foster change. Small houses, niche presses, and university presses are less concerned about an author’s promotion plan than big and midsize houses. You may want to self-publish your book, if only to test-market it. Sell enough copies and publishers will coming looking for you.
If writers don’t do all they can, who will take their place? So find a need and help fill it. Pick a problem you’re passionate about and dig in. Contribute to the most vital conversation on earth. You can accomplish far more than you think you can. And as Thomas Friedman wrote in Hot, Flat and Crowded, you have just enough time if you start now.
Many thanks in advance for sharing this blog with activists and with new and published writers!
About the Author
Michael Larsen is a literary agent and consultant to nonfiction writers. He and his partner Elizabeth Pomada are co-directors of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change Conference. He is the author of the third editions of How to Write a Book Proposal and How to Get a Literary Agent, and coauthor of the second edition of Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 Weapons for Selling Your Work.
The Third San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Changing the World One Book at a Time / November 13-14, Hilton Financial/Chinatown / www.sfwritingforchange.org / Keynoters: Dan Millman (Way of the Peaceful Warrior) and John Robbins (Diet for a New America)