Rewriting the Reality of Gen Z Publishing With Teresa Buzzoni
Have you ever considered book publishing and its evolutionary change throughout time? For young writers and authors, or those of any age trying to break through right now, it can be tough. But sparks of resilience and thought provoking incidents seen through other creative's experiences make the idea worth while and is inspiring.
Today's blog post is the first article for the Community Spotlight!
I am so excited to start up this amazing concept and share with all of you in more accessible ways than just the podcast about the chronicles and voices of those in the industry. Today's spotlight is Teresa Buzzoni, an amazing young reader and writer. Through the eyes of aspirations and creative passions I hope this article, written by Teresa herself, inspires you to write and create more.
Rewriting the Reality of Gen Z Publishing
Nearly six months ago, I was sitting with my boyfriend at the time. We had both gotten on somewhat of a reading kick and were reading books like they were going out of style--two or three a week. With our lives on somewhat of a balmy hold for the summer, this boy looked over at me and said, “I bet you could write a book.” My mind recoiled. Immediately I shot back, “No way, really?” But his sincere nod was enough to begin the churning of my mental gears… Could I write a book?
I am enough to say that yes. Absolutely anyone can write a book. Whether you’re a college student
juggling classes, or a young professional starting their first job, the only thing that it takes to write a book, short story, or even blog or podcast for that matter is time and a little bit of grit.
When you were younger, perhaps you dreamed of being a veterinarian, or astronaut, or author, but those dreams became more unrealistic to you as you learned the world, and people told you that those ‘one-in-a-million’ professions wouldn’t be for you. Everyone says that they’d want to write a book someday, but when it gets right down to it, only around 12-15% of the US Population have started, nearly a half of those people get halfway through (6%), but Barnes and Noble is still in business, so we’ve got authors who finish books every day.
There are a million of reasons why you might (for a spell) become a part of the twelve percent, or the six percent. You think that your book could help someone, or perhaps that it’s not going to be worth finishing if you couldn’t get published. Or perhaps classwork just makes it feel like you don’t have enough time. Or perhaps someone laughed when you told them and made you doubt yourself. None of these reasons are reasons to believe that you are not good enough. Why? Well, mostly because none of these people or reasons are greater than your ambition, idea, or talent.
Every great author to be published has been rejected and simply refused to stop trying.
On the other hand, writing a book can be incredibly intimidating even before you get to publication. For me, the concept of completing a manuscript was terrible. I would finish plan after plan, and carry around completed plot arcs ready to be told, but then never be able to finish them. I fell into something I liked to call the “sixty-percent-slump” because that’s exactly how far I would get before giving up.
How do you solve these problems? If you’re a college student your free time could be spent studying extra for this class or that, spending time with your friends before graduation or break, but how in the world can you commit that time to pumping out a three-hundred page work of art? In Oliver Burkeman’s book, Four Thousand Weeks, he says that the “most productive and successful among them [authors] generally made writing a smaller part of their daily routine than others…they wrote in brief daily sessions--sometimes as short as ten minutes…[they] acknowledged their limited control over the speed of the creative process.”
Now, I understand that we’re not concerned about the meaning of writing, but Burkeman makes a good point: in order to find time to write, you need to make time, and thinking of writing as a small process that happens for less time than it takes to read a chapter of any book, you can consistently peck away at that dream until it comes true.
So, now you’ve written your grand masterpiece and you're wondering if other people might read it too…
Publishing is scary.
I think that it’s only scary because we’ve been taught so many false things about what it really takes to get published. I took my manuscript last fall to see if any publishers might bite. Here’s the hard truth. For most first-time authors, publication looks like you paying a large sum of money to a publisher for the following:
printing/distribution, an ISBN number (so you can legally sell a product under the FTC), book and cover design, marketing and social media, book and bio cards (which feel a little outdated), and potentially media relations.
When talking to publishers, these deals including some, but not all of the aforementioned services could cost anywhere from $3,000-15,000. Some publishers that I talked to said that they would have deals during the holidays to publish for $1,300 or so, but then the deals would skyrocket right away. The same publishers would say that publishing a manuscript that you’ve spent a year on would never get anywhere if you went through a self-publishing route, say with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishers.
Here’s the problem.
These publishers forget that we’re members of one of the generations with the most grit to ever be seen, aka Gen Z. We’ve survived pandemics, protested, made real change and have a command of how to use the internet like no one else. If anyone is going to rewrite the rules of publishing, it will be us. So, how do I think that we should go about this?
Well, whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably got the skills to market a book or your work yourself.
Let’s talk about TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter. It takes one spark of a good idea to go viral, and a little bit of maintenance to translate into sales. Look at Alex Aster, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Lightlark. She’s onto her second book, and it all started because of her viral concept. I understand that most of us won’t go viral, or even have the guts to share our first book. But that doesn’t mean that the road is over. As Gen Z’ers we’ve also got this talent for workarounds. If your first foray into the world doesn’t work, start seeking out community.
There are thousands of Bookish creators out there, like the incredible Livi here, or others who are working on their novels behind the scenes, but are sharing their passions, experiences, and ideas. Every single one of those posts, conversations, or book shares might be the one thing that someone else needed to see to start creating.
So, I’ll leave you with my last impression of the publishing and book industry: I believe that the right book will find you at the right time in your life. In the same way, I believe that your idea, no matter if it’s your first or four hundredth, will work as long as you stay committed to finding and writing it. Your ideas are in your expression, interpretations, and sharing, so whether you’re committed to being published by the end of this year, make that dream happen and never allow yourself to be told that it can’t.
"People out there will want to read your work, you just need to get it to reach them."