Why Aren't the Railroad Companies Running Airlines?

by Guest Expert

One of the recent discussions in the eGurus Community has been about whether e-books need as much pre-publishing work - editing, proofing, layout, and so on - as printed books. The topic was raised by one of my clients, Maria Carlton, who runs an excellent membership site of her own, "Idea to Author-Ity".

I won't go into all the details of my contribution to this discussion. But it led to a spin-off discussion that I think is relevant for all of us as speakers, trainers, consultants, coaches, authors and thought leaders.

Let's start with a question (which is not original, but is very relevant):

Why didn't the U.S. railroad companies a century ago also become airlines?

A hundred years ago, they were the first choice for cross-country transport in the USA. So they were ideally placed to take advantage of the new "flying machines".

But they didn't.

Why? Because (presumably) they thought they were in the railway business, not the transportation business!

A hundred years later, we face a similar situation - if we think of ourselves as "speakers", "trainers", "coaches" or "authors". You might be a speaker, trainer or author - but you're much more: You're a messenger. You have a message to share with the world, and it just so happens you're doing it right now as a speaker, trainer, coach, author, and so on.

But that doesn't mean you'll always do it that way. Unless you look at delivering that message in other ways, you'll fall behind - just like the railroad companies did.

Let's take books, for example ...

Not so long ago, being a published "author" meant you had a book in print. Note the words: "In print"!

Then we had audio books, initially produced in the 1930s with the vision-impaired in mind, and now produced for a much wider audience.

More recently, we've had e-books as well, and it's Amazon.com's Kindle that has brought this to the masses.

Now when you hear of somebody "reading" a book, it could be a printed book, an e-book or an audio book.

And Apple's iPad and the slew of netbooks will broaden the definition even more.

But that's just for starters ...

What if you stopped thinking of yourself as an "author" and started thinking of yourself as a "messenger" ...

If you're a fiction author, you're not in the business of selling books; you're in the business of selling stories. Stories are told and sold in books, movies, music, board games, toys in cereal packets, new clothing lines, interactive Web sites, on-line discussion forums, cult followings, etc.

If you're writing non-fiction, it's not about books; it's about spreading messages. Again, the messages can take many forms: Books, e-books, audio programs, e-courses, on-line discussion groups, study groups, video, quizzes, interactive games, keynote presentations, coaching, mentoring, hosting conferences, webinars, teleseminars, etc.

THIS is our future!

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