The ultimate irony is that my new novel (West of Babylon) is only available in electronic form. I didn’t merely get hoisted by my own petard—my petard fell on me and shattered my skull. There will be zero chance I’ll ever see anybody reading my book. Zero. It will never, ever happen. I will never be able to sign anyone’s copy. (There won’t be a copy!) I’ll never experience the sheer delight (it has almost reduced me to tears) of walking into a bookstore and seeing a novel I wrote prominently displayed on a table in the front (or rotting away in the H section on a shelf next to Ernest Hemingway and Herman Hesse). There will be friends of mine who, because they’ll never buy an e-reader, will never read the book at all.
But what’s crucial, what gives me some infinitesimal measure of hope, is that this book I wrote and slaved over every day and obsessed over for years will still be out there. Wafting in the either, zipping across USB cables, flickering on screens, bubbling up to the surface of the world. The book will be somewhere.
10. Self-publishing brings happiness. Publishers have long assumed that only if nearing professional standards could a self-published product bring any satisfaction. My research has revealed the opposite. It seems self-publishers approach the process confidently, are well-informed, and aware of how much the process will cost and how long it is likely to take. They emerge both keen to do it again and likely to recommend it to others. Finalising a project you have long planned feels good, and the process builds in the possibility of future discoverability.
I picture novelists of the future as the literary equivalent of home brewers, coming up with small batches of craft brews geared toward a specific taste. The challenge for a novelist lies in connecting our work with those readers who have an appetite for it. I’m starting to catch on to the importance of building that base through an online presence. It’s an enormous joke on us writers: Collectively, we’re an almost comically introverted bunch; yet in order to find readers, we’re compelled to morph into crack marketers and self-promoters.” (Bettina Lanyi, “the aspiring novelist”)
“When I was looking for an agent, all I really wanted was someone to save me from all the marketing and logistical hassles of producing and selling a book. I just wanted to be the shy writer and let everyone else take care of me. Today, I am actually grateful I didn’t find one.” (Cerece Rennie Murphy, “the self-published author”)
“I never anticipated that, when I became a professional writer, I’d also become a marketing strategist, publicist and entrepreneur. But in order to keep being a professional writer, I need to show my publisher how hard I’m willing to work. And I need to connect with my readers in as many creative, absurd and unexpected ways as possible.” (Jennifer Miller, “the novelist-entrepreneur”)
The argument about paywalls — and copyright and the value of content — is the wrong argument. It’s an argument about trying to preserve old, industrial media model in a very different technological reality.
The discussion we should be having is how better to build valuable relationships of trust with people as people, not masses, and then how to exploit that value to support the work they want us to do. We can’t force them to do what we want anymore. For now, media are voluntary.
Book culture is in far less peril than many choose to assume, for the notion of an imperiled book culture assumes that book culture is a beast far more refined, rarified, and fragile than it actually is. By defining books as against technology, we deny our true selves, we deny the power of the book. Let’s restore to publishing its true reputation—not as a hedge against the future, not as a bulwark against radical change, not as a citadel amidst the barbarians, but rather as the future at hand, as the radical agent of change, as the barbarian.
Keeping up with present-day costs is as tough for a publisher as for an author, and there does not seem to be an end towards the increase.
I’m not a businessman – I’m a journalist. I don’t want to be a businessman – I want to be a journalist.
I’m a writer, you’re a reader, I give you something – pay me back!
Creatively, success is freedom in making a great product and continuing to please your readers.
Brian Stelter talks to Andrew Sullivan about the Dish experiment – a brave new world of ad-free journalism supported directly by loyal readers. Help make it work here, and hear more about alternatives to ad-supported media here.
I don’t see an ethical line being definitively crossed here – just deliberately left very fuzzy. Maybe I’m old-fashioned but one core ethical rule I thought we had to follow in journalism was the church-state divide between editorial and advertizing. But as journalism has gotten much more desperate for any kind of revenue and since banner ads have faded, this divide has narrowed and narrowed. The “sponsored content” model is designed to obscure the old line as much as possible (while staying thisclose to the right side of the ethical boundary). It’s more like product placement in a movie – except movies are not journalism.
A book is an amount of knowledge that I feel good about finishing. … A book is a clump of knowledge that goes together.
Although most academic research is funded by the public, universities all but force their scholars to publish their results in journals that take ownership of the work and place it behind expensive pay walls.
Centuries ago, when printing and mailing paper journals was the most efficient way to disseminate new knowledge, a symbiotic relationship developed between scholars, who had ideas they wanted to share, and publishers, who had printing presses and the means to convey printed works to a wide audience. Transferring copyright to publishers, which protected their ability to recover costs and profit from their investment, was a reasonable price for authors to pay to further their disseminating mission.
But with the birth of the internet, scholars no longer needed publishers to distribute their work. As NYU’s Clay Shirky has noted, publishing went from being an industry to being a button.
Had the leaders of major research universities reacted to this technological transformation with any kind vision, Swartz’s dream of universal free access to the scholarly literature would now be a reality. But they did not. Rather than seize this opportunity to greatly facilitate research and education, both within and outside the academy, they chose instead to reify the status quo.
REDDIT Q&A WITH DAVID CARR
Q: As a fledgling journalist, I’m constantly having conversations about breaking into the field during these “changing” times — the internet makes reporting today way different from reporting decades ago. Say you graduated from college this past year and were trying to break into the journalism field. Do you think this hypothetical career trajectory would be the same as your actual one? Not exactly comparable, but I’m interested in hearing how media today could’ve affected or changed your development as a journalist.
A: Right now, being a reporter is a golden age. There may be a lack of business models to back it up, but having AKTOCA on — All Known Thought One Click Away — on my desktop, tablet or phone makes it an immensely deeper, richer exercise than it used to be.
And the velocity of change is only increasing. Right now, I can talk to my phone and tablets and it knows what I am saying. What happens when it knows what my sources are saying and renders real-time transcripts? We are getting very close. And what happens when speech becomes text on the Web. One of the barriers to entry has been that you have to type what you are thinking to blog about that. What happens when that barrier goes away? Content is going to further explode, and I can’t figure out if that is good or bad for those of us who are in the Signal vs. Noise business.
Q: I’m a freshman in college right now & journalism is a career that interests me. Is there any advice you can share on being successful in journalism?
A: You have to make stuff. The tools of journalism are in your hands and no one is going to give a damn about what is on your resume, they want to see what you have made with your own little fingies. Can you use Final Cut Pro? Have you created an Instagram that is about something besides a picture of your cat every time she rolls over? Is HTML 5 a foreign language to you? Is your social media presence dominated by a picture of your beer bong, or is it an RSS of interesting stuff that you add insight to? People who are doing hires will have great visibility into what you can actually do, what you care about and how you can express on any number of platforms.
In his fantastic Reddit Q&A
, The New York Times’ David Carr
offers young journalists some priceless, no-bullshit advice – a fine addition to our ongoing archive of sage advice
More than half (58%) of respondents aged 9-17 said they will always want to read books printed on paper even if there are e-books available