Mastering the Storyteller’s Body of Knowledge

We must align our dream and vision for our craft with the body of knowledge relevant to the creative-business environment of the new paradigm of publishing.

As digital storytellers, we need to see the big picture of the creative/disruptive business environment in which we operate, and the process we must follow to be successful in this environment. We must align our dream and vision for our craft with the body of knowledge relevant to the creative-business environment of the new paradigm of publishing. We need to know far more than how to tell a compelling story.

Actually, being able to tell a compelling story or write a great narrative is basic. It’s a given. We need to evolve our ability to discern and critique the ideological apparatus of the marketplace so we’re not intimidated or swallowed up by it. We need to know what publishers know – how to sell books. We need to be a little tech savvy: We need to know about, and also strategically and disruptively embrace the technologies that power the internet – that channel through which we distribute our ideas, messages and intellectual products, and receive the audience engagement and purchases by which we can achieve and measure our success. We need to develop a large measure of competence in deploying resources like social capital and financial capital.

Knowledge makes the process simpler. The more we know about our processes, the easier it becomes to master them. In business parlance, this knowledge is referred to as human capital, which is an investment in knowledge through which people are empowered to reap economic returns. The term refers to one’s education. It also refers to one’s management, industry, entrepreneurial or startup experience, and can include one’s personality traits, creativity and self-efficacy.

General human capital refers to general knowledge acquired by entrepreneurs through both formal education and professional experience, and is broad in application (Seghers, Manigart and Vanacker, 2012). Specific human capital is education and experience directly related to the profession of publishing, and which directly affects the storyteller’s future decision making. The storyteller’s specific human capital includes, but is not limited to, five knowledge areas.


  • Setting up a Business: The ability to set up a business in order to convert the story into a product, commercialize it and put it on the market, and this includes
  • knowing how to register a business,
  • knowing how to write a vision statement and a mission statement and
  • knowing how to write a business plan.


  • Raising Capital: The ability to raise capital to invest in the business of publishing a book, including
  • how to raise capital for a publishing business by collective financial empowerment through
    • ISUSU,
    • Investments and
    • Crowdfunding, as well as
  • how to apply for grants.


  • The Writing Process: The ability to take an experience, idea or body of knowledge and convert it into a story through
  • knowledge of basic and advanced grammar, sentence structure and mechanics;
  • knowledge of the development of a thesis, theme and structure for business and technical writing; and story arc, plot, characterization, dialogue, atmosphere, palette, narrative voice(s), pace and mood for creative writing;
  • knowledge of how to produce formal outlines and chapter by chapter outlines and
  • knowledge of how to use the conventions of business, technical and creative writing to create a narrative or story.


  • The Engagement Platform: The ability to set up and use appropriate social media platforms in order to make significant connections with an ideal audience and this includes
  • understanding how to set up and use the WordPress blogging platform,
  • understanding how to set up and use author websites and landing pages,
  • understanding landing domains and hosting
  • understanding the social media platforms and the engagement conventions and
  • understanding analytics and data gathering.


  • Publishing: The ability to publish a book and put it on the market by
    • learning how to publish with CreateSpace or digital publishers like Ingram Spark and distribute with Amazon,
    • learning how to launch your book and
    • learning how to liaise with the news media to publicize your book.


I know all this may seem intimidating, but remember, knowledge makes everything easier. Let’s break the process down into three stages in the storytelling timeline: the pre-writing stage, the writing stage and the post-writing stage. Any storyteller who has taken a college foundation writing course knows about these this timeline. However, within the digital publishing environment, the timeline has evolved. A lot. But before we break it own, let’s look at the storyteller’s checklist.