INTERVIEW: Tee Morris on Blog Talk Radio’s Breakthrough Business

I’m starting to get my groove back (like Stella) in producing ideas, writing (seriously), podcasting, and playing with Sonic Boom. This road has been difficult (and no kidding, a blogpost is written, but I am not ready to drop it just yet. Bear with me…), but I’m taking everything one step at a time, one day at a time…

One of those positive steps is getting back into the interview circuit. Recently, Que Publishing contacted me concerning All a Twitter. The book is being featured again in Barnes & Noble Bookstores everywhere, and Que is hoping to get the first Twitter guide written from a user’s perspective (and when my byline says “written by Tee Morris” it means it!) into new readers’ hands. They asked me “Whatever you can do to get the word out…” and so I sent out a query to my Twitter networks.

Meet Michele Price. She queried me before I tweeted!

Michele is the host of Breakthrough Business, and on her BlogTalkRadio show we talk about Twitter, about my job at Intersections Inc, and about approaches that go against the grain of the marketing books. We talk about how “old school marketing” just doesn’t work with Social Media, and how businesses need to understand that Twitter (and Social Media, on a whole) is about people.

We had a blast on this interview, and there are more slated for the month. The geekier ones I’ll feature here, but if you want to hear more about the Social Media, take a trip to Imagine That! Studios for the full blogosphere-podosphere interview tour!

Write, or Go Home!

As you may know by now (provided you subscribe to Imagine That!, or follow either of my Twitter accounts), I’m working on a new book: All a Twitter, from Que Publishing. I’ve seen the tweets and also taken some heat from other DC consultants (and here’s a shock – these consultants are NOT on Twitter, but will give an opinion nevertheless…) concerning books about Twitter. I am still very optimistic, nay confident, nay cocky, that All a Twitter will be unlike the other books hitting the shelves between now and the summer.

For starters, my book will be written from a user’s perspective. Other titles (that I am aware of) are being written by people in Marketing, meaning the underlying intent of these books will be “This is the way you leverage Twitter in order to monitize your Social Networking experience.” I could go on a tear about that…another time. This isn’t what my rant is about. It’s concerning another quality of this future book.

All a Twitter will say on the cover “by Tee Morris” meaning the book will be written by me.

This is what my rant is about.

My revelation that people claiming to be writers but in fact are not writing books even though their names are on the cover, started at the beginning of the year. In a social setting over good food and good wine, the subject turned to how much work goes into a book. I pulled from my own experiences with the For Dummies crew, which really blew away those at the table. I told them the breakneck schedule of writing computer books was not uncommon. That was when I turned to another author, one I had just met that had written a book on Twitter. I asked the author “How long did it take you to write your book on Twitter?”

The author looked at me as if I had asked the question using the Lothlorien Elvish dialect. The (self-proclaimed) best-selling author scoffed and said, “I didn’t write the book.”

“But your name is on the title?” I asked.

“Yeah, it is, but I didn’t write the book.” The author then told me, with an alarming amount of pride, “I went to my network on Twitter and asked my followers what they wanted in the book. They wrote what they wanted, I took what they sent in, and put it together.”

Say what?!

Yes, I know, ghost writing is nothing new. Happens all the time. You have people helping others behind the scenes (as Wikipedia states with Alan Dean Foster writing the novelization of Star Wars, but handing credit to George Lucas), so I know that bylines may not always be as honest as they should be. Where I call “Shenanigans!” is when the books in question are “How To” books.

When you pick up a “How To” book and look at the title’s byline, you make a strong assumption if not conclusion that its author is an authority on the subject matter. How much confidence, then, would you have in an author if they were to tell you they farmed their work out to other experts, and then granted it a cursory eye once it came in? So let’s set the scenario: An author, based on their expertise and a proposal they have put together, is hired to write a book. Instead of researching their expertise further and actually writing the manuscript, these authors-under-contract have others write sections or chapters for them. They then shape the content in a fashion that fits their own needs, and then send off to the publisher the material under their name, not the individual who actually wrote the chapter.

Allright, that doesn’t make you a writer. That makes you an editor. An Acquisitions Editor. Barely. This was a similar process I followed as an Acquisitions Editor for Ben Bella Books’ So Say We All with one major difference: The individual chapters all carried the author’s bylines so you knew who wrote that particular essay.

When I agreed to write All a Twitter, Que Publishing sent me a list of guidelines and this is their standing on Citations:

Such use should be limited. Readers are paying for a book that shares your practical experience of the subject and they expect that the material in the book has not been published before.

“Readers are paying for a book that shares your practical experience…” Huh, what a concept!

The business behind “not-really-writing-a-book” I also have to wonder about. At Jeff Pulver’s Social Media Breakfast in Washington DC, I mentioned that I had just taken on All a Twitter. One of the attendees asked me “So you’re actually writing the book?” It turns out he was approached to write a chapter for another Twitter book being produced this year. His reply to the offer was “What’s in it for me?” A valid question, seeing as he wouldn’t have a byline in the final published work. The “author” of this Twitter guide didn’t reply to his query.

What. A. Shock.

These “smoke-and-mirror writers” take questionable business tactics one step further as, with byline under their belts, they bill themselves as experts and sell seminars to conventions, expos, and special events. Money – in some instances, big money – is now exchanging hands. I’m not sure who makes me angrier: the people claiming to be authors and taking credit for work that isn’t theirs, or the organizers of these events who don’t take a few minutes before planning their schedules to evaluate a speaker’s street cred. When you carry around on your blog, website, or resume a publishing credit, there is a measure of trust involved that a book carrying your name on it was written by you. I doubt if I could sleep soundly betraying that trust because I believe in the “Put Up or Shut Up” ethic. If a book is going to carry my name, I’m going to be the one held accountable for it so I’m going to make sure the words are truly my own.

Chances are, with this blogpost, I’ve effectively painted a bulls-eye on All a Twitter, and on anything else with my name on it. Critics, nay-sayers, and maybe a few guilty will hold my work under a magnifying glass. And you know something? I’m okay with that kind of attention because I can stand by what I write. Oh, I did ask for some help here and there, but you can be assured those who helped me out will be given salutations and citations.

You can also be assured that when a book says “by Tee Morris” on it, that is the truth. So keep an eye out for All a Twitter this summer. It’s written by Tee Morris.

Seriously. It is.

An interview on “Conversations with Coach Ian Scott”

Coach Ian Scott connected with me through my work on Podcasting for Dummies, both the podcast and the book. (No, the PFD Podcast hasn’t faded. It’s just been difficult to get to on the priority list.) I have been working with him on fine tuning both his podcasts, and as a way to say “Thank you” Ian invited me on his interview show “Conversations with Coach Ian Scott” which is a talk show featuring creative professionals from around the world. From his website, Ian says about our interview:

We talk about Tee as a podcaster and author. Podcasting: How and Why organizations, corporations, and individuals should be utilizing the power of podcasting. Social Networking, the CES 2009 Expo of January 8 – 11. Projects Tee Morris is currently working on, and a new book on Twitter to be launched around the Summer of 2009. Oh, and we had some fun along the way!

We most certainly did that! In this interview, I give one of the reasons I have not been on Twitter recently. (It’s a good reason, trust me.) I also have a few announcements to make after I return from Farpoint. Enjoy the interview and please leave Ian a comment on his blog concerning the interview. He’d love to hear from you!

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