What I Learned About the Publishing Industry from Porter Anderson

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Community

Porter Anderson is a journalist, speaker, and consultant specializing in publishing and its digital disruption. “Writing on the Ether,” his original weekly column on the industry, appears every Thursdays at JaneFriedman.com. His “Ether for Authors” column appears every Tuesday at Publishing Perspectives, the international site supported by Frankfurt Book Fair. A third franchise, London on the Ether, was inaugurated during the 2013 London Book Fair – with which he was a Media Partner – and was carried by TheBookseller.com in London. Anderson regularly speaks and teaches at writing and publishing conferences and covers them with his unique live-texting reportage as @Porter_Anderson on Twitter. You can also find him at his website

If you haven’t already subscribed to Porter Anderson’s twitter feed, let me take a minute to explain why it’s one of the most important twitter accounts to follow in the publishing realm. Porter is certainly prolific–between 50 and a 100 tweets every day. He also live-tweets from several conferences each year, and following his Twitter feed can be the next-best-thing to being there yourself.

These are both good reasons, but the most important one is this: if you want current information from an objective source, then Porter Anderson is the person you need to follow. His tweets are about the world of publishing, and the future of publishing, but they’re written with a focus on writers, not industry folks. He tweets links to blog posts on writing, book release news, key conference information and much more.

He also shares where to find his own writing online, because his articles could be on any number of websites. And trust me, if you think his tweets are useful, you don’t want to miss his posts and articles. Reading them is like the online equivalent of sitting down with Porter over a glass of wine (or Campari) and having a smart–sometimes even heated–discussion about publishing.

Porter says his favorite part of his job “is keeping a constant stream of information going out–and by traveling and appearing at conferences and other events in many parts of the world in publishing–I’m able to synthesize a highly focused look at just what’s working, what isn’t, and who’s leading at any moment.” I’m so glad he does this job because when he shares this information in articles and on social media, we all win.

This is why, when I was looking for someone to speak about the publishing industry at Lit Loft, I knew it had to be Porter. I go to a lot of conferences and at each one I hear at least two or three talks about what’s new in our industry. The problem is that these talks are usually given editors, agents, publishers or other people who have a vested interest in the system. After all, wouldn’t these people have a stake in the matter that might lend a certain bias?

Porter Anderson navigates the industry without being of the industry. This means he can look at the issues from multiple angles and give a comprehensive perspective. And don’t get me wrong, Porter certainly shares his opinions from time to time, but what I love about his writing is that he presents the facts and lets the readers decide for themselves. And just because his reporting is detailed and evenhanded doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining too. Have you read either of the “Ethers” lately? Porter’s voice can make even the most complicated, head-spinning business topics (agency pricing anyone?) into a fun read.

For instance, his recent account of Franzenmania is not just smart and informative, it’s also hilarious. And the best part is that Porter always manages to relate even the most seemingly-removed topics to something that resonates with writers. The Franzen article isn’t just about Franzen, it’s about the crazy things writers will do when book sales are on the line. In fact, Porter’s quote at the top of this profile comes from that article.

So, what advice does Porter have for writers?

Slow down. The biggest mistake most writers are making is rushing to market simply because, thanks to digital, they can. Real writing and top-notch production take time. And the industry will get only better as the digital disruption works its way through publishing. Hang on if you can and don’t publish quickly or lightly. The market is glutted with books. We can wait until yours is truly ready.
–Porter Anderson

Patience is a trait we could all use a bit more of. But especially when it comes to writing it’s better to put your–and your book’s–best foot forward. I’m delighted that Porter Anderson will be speaking about the publishing industry at Lit Loft. He’ll be sharing insights and debunking some industry myths so you don’t want to miss this.



Porter Anderson will be speaking at LitLoft 2013.
Registration closes Thursday so sign up today!



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