The other night I was talking to my husband about my current state of overwhelm and this sticky note which has been above my computer all year. “No new clients” because I don’t have the time to take on long-term clients. And last year several people I really admire who are really big names in personal finance asked me to help them and I said yes which meant I then had to scream into the void, I had to write this note. No new clients. No matter how big the name or exciting the project. No new clients. So I was talking with my husband about this and I said offhand the only person I would break this rule for would be Taylor Swift, obviously. And then I had to follow that up with, you know in this made-up universe where Taylor Swift is deciding to write a book and self-publish it and of all the people in the world she could go to for advice it would be me.
But… it actually makes sense. The writing the book and self-publishing part. Here is how I got there…
Okay so she probably won’t come to me for advice, but I actually think she will write a book and if she does she is absolutely going to self-publish it. Here’s how I know…
- First and foremost Taylor Swift is a storyteller. She is also the music industry right now. But she is a storyteller. Her current medium is music and lyrics, but it is clear from her ability to create across mediums and genre that she could easily translate her storytelling to long-form with novels, short stories, etc.
- She writes poetry. As well as lyrics. But she has included poems in her cd liner notes and that Getaway Car intro video for the reputation tour. Look What You Made Me Do started out as a poem. She could easily publish a book of poems, or volumes of poems.
- Chapters and Songs. So if you have followed Taylor as long as I have, you know she is bookish. Love Story is based on Romeo and Juliet. The Story of Us has chapters in it. Long Story Short. Sweeter Than Fiction. Also, she has been releasing chapters of her song with different themes. The All Too Well short film was a book, the book from the end where Taylor plays the author. We know she loves her easter eggs and she has been planting them.
- Another title. We know Taylor is a songwriter and musician and singer. But she has recently expanded into directing and producing her music videos and even the Miss Americana documentary. With her very long list of titles, do you really think someone with this level of storytelling ability, creativity, and clearly an inability to turn off her brain and creative well is not going to add “author” to that list?
So we know it is a matter of time until she pens and publishes a book. It may not be this year or even next with her re-recordings. But she will write and publish a book. I have no doubt. But, self-publish? I mean come on MK, she is Taylor Swift any of the Big 5 publishers would sign her in a second. Heck yes, those publishers would love to have her on their list of authors, but would she want to go with them?
- No one owns Taylor but Taylor. Going back to the re-recordings for a minute. She is taking years to re-record her music to ensure she owns the masters because because when her masters were purchased by someone she actively did not like, he said “I own Taylor Swift.” He later resold them and that owner offered to sell them back to Taylor. But she was clear, no one would own her music but her and she had the ability to rerecord her masters in her contract. Taylor understands the importance of owning your creative work, not letting someone else have any ownership over it, and obviously reading through her contracts.
- Traditional v Self – Pub. So that leads me to believe that Taylor would never sign a standard traditional publishing contract. They usually want worldwide exclusive rights in all languages and all formats (existing now and in the future) for the life of copyright which is her life span plus 75 years. So even with her ability to negotiate and her power, I don’t see how a traditional publishing house could adjust their contract to the point that she would accept it. Now she might, which would be a huge shift in the publishing industry. She has clearly negotiated new terms with her current distribution company for her music. But she hasn’t released a book before and traditional publishing doesn’t seem to be able to adapt. So without one of the major houses in play that would leave a small indie press and honestly, she could become her own small indie press.
- 13 Management. So Taylor has 13 Management which is a management company she owns completely. This is how she is able to promote her music and her brand. So she could create a publishing arm of this company and become her own indie press. She already has a PR and marketing system that works for her. She already has fans and a large potential readership. She has the means and connections to find the best editors and designers for the books, especially as more professionals from trade publishing turn to freelancing to pay bills. The only thing she doesn’t already have is distribution which she could get access to by hiring maybe 1 or 2 people for this publishing arm of 13 management.
- Distribution for her small press. Now I certainly don’t think Taylor is going to log in to her personal Amazon account and hit upload on a book to KDP. She is going to need large offset runs of her books. She is going to need to be in many book stores globally, anywhere people buy books. She is going to need to be able to process orders on her own website. She is going to need to fill bulk orders. None of this is available through KDP and even with IngramSpark, she would still lose significant amounts through print on demand. She needs offset runs and distribution. Well, with Ingram Publisher Services, Independent Publishers Group, or Simon & Schuster Distribution and the like she would have access to these massive distribution networks. Mostly they cover US and Canadian markets so she would need a good book co-agent to handle translation rights. But that’s not that difficult to handle. Again, she already has the marketing and fans. She just needs distribution.
- Amazon. These distribution networks all have access to Amazon, which most authors are eager to get their book onto. But Amazon usually requires a 55% wholesale discount as well as an additional 5% and 6% for different marketing programs that they never release data on to the distributor. So I don’t see Taylor looking at those clauses and saying, “oh yeah sure, let’s have Amazon just gut my profits.” And for her, she doesn’t NEED the money. But I think she’ll quickly see how Amazon is choking the publishing industry. Most authors are making maybe a dollar or two per book sold. It takes a lot to earn back the investment to produce the book. Taylor won’t have to worry about that, but she didn’t take on Spotify and Apple Music because she wanted more money, she realized smaller artists were getting screwed on their pricing. Taylor isn’t taking on the entire music industry over masters rights because she needs the money, it’s because artists should own their work. I could see Taylor making a similar stand on the horrible pricing and get them to rethink their policies. But first, she needs to write the book and publish it and get their attention in that regard.
So we know she will one day write a book or books, it seems inevitable even if it won’t be for a while. She has the ability and power to create her own personal indie press through 13 Management to control her distribution and reach. So she becomes a self-publisher. But what would she even write? Honestly, she writes music cross-genre so I don’t see why she wouldn’t do that for her books.
- Genres. She could easily write children’s books that include her amazing lyrical ability. She could publish her poems in a collection. She could obviously write amazing romance novels. She could write mysteries (um hello, No Body, No Crime.) She could write a roman a clef about a young artist coming up in the music industry while finding love and fighting horrible paparazzi headlines. She could do it all.
- Lyrics. Oh my gosh, she could actually quote her own lyrics in her books and not need to write anyone for permission. We authors can’t put lyrics in our books unless we get permission. But she owns her stuff so that would be great. Just do it because you can!!
- Easter Eggs. So in addition to the potential clues she may already be dropping about her intent to write a book, holy moly, do you realize how out of control her easter eggs would be with her books. She would be able to plan clues through the books themselves, or from her songs into the books, or just on her social media. Like, swifties get your notebooks ready!
- Space to create. As authors, we know how hard it is to refine our work down. We need to revise and revise to really drill down our message. Well, Taylor has 3-4 minutes to tell stories and she does it amazingly. A great example is the original 10-minute version of All Too Well that she had to pare down for the original Red release. She revised and the song was a classic. But then she gave us even more and we all loved that. Imagine if she did write the novel version. Holy moly! Just amazing.
Okay so, authors what do you think? Fellow swifties, thoughts? And as a reminder, if your name is Taylor Allison Swift and have questions then let me know (or Tree Payne or whoever at 13 Management is watching this)
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