The Wattpad Experiment: Week 3

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Did you know I was a writer?

I have now posted three short stories to my Wattpad site, and the response has been—how shall I put it?—underwhelming. This is mostly my own fault. I only just figured out that it might be helpful to my would-be readers to provide a teaser/summary of each story so that they weren’t simply presented with a title and a blank page. My other problem is that I’m just not willing to badger my friends on Facebook, or set up a Twitter account, or otherwise compel them to join Wattpad to see my work.

Here we have, in essence, the dilemma of the modern-day writer. For all my experience with publishing and, indeed, publicity for other authors—whose work I can trumpet until even they beg me to shut up—I find it monumentally difficult to do the same with my own work. At one level, this modesty may be becoming. At another level, it’s not only self-defeating but even arrogant—as if one imagines that one’s work should transcend the filthy business of telling those one hopes should care the most that you have, in fact, produced something they might be interested in.

Yet I have very real concerns about the way every aspect of our lives is now mediated through screens, and how so many of the sites that we depend on to communicate with one another not only want access to our personal data but to those of our friends and associates. If you want to comment, or “like,” or in some way register your approval, you’re obliged to sign up and display your life on yet another platform. The three-dimensional book is such a user-driven object—”pick me up or leave me be,” it says. The blog and other e-scripts, however, insist on being thrust into the inboxes and news feeds of others—without those others asking. Sure, they can be ignored as completely as a book is on a shelf (assuming it’s lucky enough even to get there). But they’re noisier and more obstreperous, and thus more annoying.

At some point, gentle reader, I’m going to have to face up to my own reticence and let folks know that, yes, I’m a writer as well as a publisher and a runner, and that that first part of me is as important (and, I might hope, as accomplished—or at least as disciplined) as is the runner and publisher. Until then, however, you may want to pop over to Wattpad and take a look. . . .

Posted in Editing—Publishing—Writing, Short Stories, Writing | Tagged

Twelve Tips for Successful Crowdfunding

Janell O'Rourke's painting, from her Housekeeping series. Part of THE ART OF THE ANIMAL.

Janell O’Rourke’s painting, from her Housekeeping series. Part of THE ART OF THE ANIMAL.

For decades, publishers have avoided finding out whether their readers want the books that they painstakingly and expensively produce. We’ve conducted no customer surveys or marketing, and have relied instead on editorial hunches and the occasional word from our sales reps about what genre or works are exciting the general public.

Now, however, publishers have not only a means of not only determining just whether anyone is interested in the book we’re thinking of producing, but of removing the risk of producing it in the first place. We can now ask readers to invest in the book’s creation. This is crowdfunding, and it has opened up new possibilities for publishers everywhere.

My publishing company, Lantern Books, has now used crowdfunding—in our case, Indiegogo—to produce four books. The first, We Animals by Canadian photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur, was a 208-page, full-color hardcover, the production of which (from writing the text to distribution) we budgeted at $35,000. After a 60-day campaign, 680 individuals bought 1280 copies and we raised $51,007. This allowed us not merely to cover the costs of the creation of this book but to print 1250 more copies than had been pre-ordered. These copies were effectively cost-free, and their subsequent sale through the usual book-distribution outlets allowed us to generate enough revenue to cover the costs associated with a conventional printing of another 3000 copies. We are currently selling down this inventory through standard publishing–retail means.

The second and third titles—American Icarus and America on the Couch by depth journalist Pythia Peay—were also budgeted at $35,000. Although these were not photo books, they required substantial editorial and production work. Once again, we made our budget, although we relied on a couple of large donors at the end of the 60-day campaign to take us over the top. These books are currently being edited and will be available in Spring 2015.

The final book is The Art of the Animal, edited by Kathryn Eddy, L. A. Watson, and Janell O’Rourke. Like We Animals, Art is in full-color; unlike with We Animals, we assumed a much smaller market for the book, and so the budget was less: $13,500. We ran a shorter campaign (45 days) as a means of intensifying interest, and pulled in $14,190.

Before the advent of crowdfunding, none of these books would have been feasible for a small, independent press such as Lantern. Certainly, the greater availability of short-run printing and higher-quality print-on-demand technology now make it possible to produce few, full-color books. But the creation of these works still requires editors, designers, and typesetters, all of whom need to be paid. Simply put, these titles’ size and complexity would have made them too expensive to produce.

That said, crowdfunding is not a sure-fire means to raise adequate revenues. Indiegogo, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and other sites are full of  projects that didn’t get anywhere near their goal (at which point, they either forfeited nine percent of the revenues they earned or, in the case of Kickstarter, didn’t receive any of the money pledged). So, what have I learned in these campaigns that might help you lessen the chances of not making your goal?

  1. Set a reasonable target. Unless your project is very high-profile with a huge built-in fan-base, be very hard-headed about how much you can raise. If in doubt, only use crowdfunding for a part of the project. It’s better for your morale, for your customers, and for your bottom line to meet the smaller goal than fall far short of the bigger one.
  2. Orient the campaign toward a thing. Kickstarter began as a way for artists to raise money for their albums, books, shows, and so on. If you make the goal vague or numinous, it has much different expectations. To that end, therefore . . .
  3. . . . Don’t think of your campaign as charity. Yes, folks may want to support you in a general sense, but you need to think about the campaign as delivering a product. Use words like pre-order, investment, buy. Resist using words like donate, charity, give. Change your attitude, and that of your customers. They are getting something, and not just being kind.
  4. Make a movie. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a movie (three minutes or less) that explains your project—where you’re talking directly to your audience and making your pitch clearly and concisely—is fundamental to a campaign’s success. It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production, and it absolutely should not be long, but it helps. Here, here, and here are some good examples of what to do.
  5. Consider your audience carefully. Is your community enthusiastic but poor or hard-to-reach but rich? How is your product generally valued in the marketplace? These considerations will enable you to choose and price accurately the perks you offer, in addition to branding the product in a way that speaks to your audience’s aspirations and self-image.
  6. Make the perks count.  The “perks” are those items or services that people can purchase in addition to the thing you’re trying to create. In our experience, you need to offer people a way to send you a small amount (because they want to be involved) as well as a large amount (because they want to feel like a sponsor or patron). Some campaigns, such as this one, rely on lots of small purchases; others need a blend of $30 and $500 ones. On the one hand, you need to ensure you can earn enough through the simple acquisition of the product and not rely on the big buyers. On the other, it’s advisable to provide folks with the option of purchasing something expensive.
  7. Budget for distribution. Your biggest headache is likely to be fulfillment. People are going to order your item from all over the world. Lantern’s solution has been to estimate shipping at one rate: the relatively many who live nearer your distribution point will pay more to compensate for the relatively few who live further away, who will pay much less. We’ve found that the costs work themselves out in the wash. Another option is to charge more for overseas shipping.
  8. Have a back-up plan. Use your credit card; engage a wealthy relative to step in; bring in some really amazing perks half-way through the campaign that are guaranteed to get you over the finish line. You do not want to fall short in your campaign.
  9. Send bulletins. Regular messages describing the campaign, expressing thanks, and telling folks about how the production is coming along are essential. Just because somebody’s already paid for something doesn’t mean they won’t buy another copy or let their friends know about their campaign. Don’t bombard your backers with messages (that’s irritating), but coddle your customers.
  10. Don’t just use social media to get the word out. In our last campaign, nearly half the money came from those who had been emailed, as opposed to accessing our campaign through Twitter, Facebook, and so on. That suggests two things: (1) people want to be approached directly; and (2) crowdfunding is now becoming so common that people are zoning it out. You need to be persistent, polite, and persuasive. Targeted emails may take longer, but they may be more remunerative than generic blasts or posts.
  11. Don’t do it all yourself. Make sure you have a group of folks responsible for reaching out to the community—preferably people who are networked to people in networks. In the case of The Art of the Animal, three well-connected and committed individuals were responsible for a third of the purchases made. In the case of We Animals,  the author could tap into organizations who knew her work and were willing to spread the word about the campaign to their networks. This meant that our outreach grew exponentially.
  12. Be positive. People don’t want to see your panic, smell your desperation, or hear you moan about a lack of support. They have plenty of other things to spend their money on. Make them feel part of something bold and exciting.
Posted in Editing—Publishing—Writing, Publishing | Tagged

My First Ultramarathon: The NYRR 60K

60K will do this to a man.

60K will do this to a man.

Throughout my seven-year running “career,” as I’ve clocked off seven New York City marathons in early November and two Brooklyn marathons mid-way through the month, I’ve noticed lurking within the race schedule a little jaunt once called the Knickerbocker 60K and now known more simply, if less entertainingly, as the NYRR 60K. The race, put on by the New York Road Runners (NYRR), consists of a brief 1.2-mile out-and-back along the East Drive of Central Park starting from 90th Street and 5th Avenue followed by nine, four-mile, clockwise inner loops of the Park from the 72nd Street Transverse to the 102nd.

During this time, no matter how much I tried to ignore this race, it kept on sashaying into my consciousness each autumn. I found myself wondering what it would be like to run 37.2 miles, and in a circle no less. If I was going to venture into the unknown territory of ultramarathons, ran my fevered brain, the NYRR 60K held a lot of advantages. It was conveniently and cheaply gotten to by subway from my home in Brooklyn; it had a simple bag drop and easy access to medical care in case of emergencies; I knew the course (!); and I might be able to prevail upon my friends in the South Brooklyn Running Club (SBRC) to join me in a loop or three. So I signed up. I’d already acquired my Boston-Qualifying (BQ) time at the Chicago Marathon on October 12th; I’d run New York as a training run on November 2nd. It was now 13 days later, and I’d recuperated and was ready. Now I just had to show up.

The temps on Saturday November 15th were barely above freezing as Francis (an SBRC colleague who was running the race as well) and I met at Borough Hall and took a number 5 to arrive at the NYRR HQ on 89th Street and 5th to pick up the bibs and clear plastic bags for our food supplies. I’d brought some bars and GUs as well as a packet of salt to keep my sodium levels up. We walked over to the start, used the portapotties, dropped our clothing bags at the bag check and our food bags near the food table, and chatted to a few experts and newbies like us. Thankfully, unlike the gusty NYC Marathon, there was virtually no wind that morning, and it was shaping up to become a beautifully sunny, if frigid, day.

I was chatting with Francis when I suddenly heard the horn, and we were off. No fuss, no hoopla, just a kind of giddy amazement that we were all about to run 37 miles in a circle—and no walls of any Biblical city would be disturbed by our efforts. My aim beforehand had been to try to keep a 9:30 pace and come in at around 5:52, with a bit of lag for bio breaks. As it turned out, I set out fairly conservatively, and began to tire on the 6th and 7th loops. My time wasn’t helped by a couple of portapotty encounters and a knockdown battle to open my salt packet (which I won). I crossed the finish line in 101st place (out of 300) in 6:05:58, which is a per-mile pace of 9:51.

But that’s not the real story. In fact, for all my hopes before the race about getting in under six hours, I’m not that bothered about my time. This, I understand, is a common experience for ultramarathoners. The distances are so absurd and the number of people engaged in these kinds of activities so few in number, that a loop-y ((literally, in this case) brother- and sisterhood is formed. That I was lapped at least twice by at least three people became, instead of a humiliation, a marker of the inevitability of completion. We kept on seeing the same course marshals (and they us), and their extraordinary enthusiasm amid the russets, ochers, and mustard yellows of the trees beneath a cobalt-blue sky endowed the day with more color than it had any obligation to display.

The other signature appeal of the experience was the companionship of my colleagues, one or more of whom joined me for all but one of the loops. I suppose some competitors may have had the comfort of a phone or other device to occupy their time playing music and/or listening to podcasts or audiobooks, but another human being beside me made this event special for yours truly. To have my friends Marcus and Ted amuse and inform me for the first five loops and then Dan and Birgit flank me for the final three, and count down 10K . . . 5M . . . 4M . . . 5K . . . 2 . . .  1 . . . before we upped our pace on the final straightaway—well, to be honest, that’s what running is all about.

So, what would I counsel for anyone thinking of running the NYRR 60K?

  1. Run it with a friend or friends. If nobody will run it with you, ask a friend or two to cheer you on (as I was lucky enough to have with Hannah, Matt, and Caitlin).
  2. The runners assembled covered the gamut of body types, age, and ethnicities. As long as you’ve completed a marathon, you should be able to finish 60K. And I’m a pasty-faced, middle-aged, vegan Englishman with bad running form.
  3. NYRR wants to ensure you do not die, since that would place a damper on proceedings. There’s lots of food—bananas, GUs, salty bagel halves, and other stuff—at the main table you’ll pass every four miles, and gatorade and water at that station and its sister-stop mid-way between. I brought too much of my own food to eat. In the end, it was the bananas and salt that kept me going. But . . .
  4. . . . don’t stop eating and drinking. Yes, you may need to use the portapotties and your hands may get sticky from banana peel, but I didn’t cramp and that’s good.
  5. I was advised to walk through the water-stations and make sure I got a good amount of fluid. That was good advice. I did.
  6. I started off slow and got slower, but finished pretty strong. Francis went out fairly fast and had a wretched final 12. I was probably too conservative; he was too ambitious. I’ll leave it to you to determine your race strategy; but know your limits, and pace yourself properly.
  7. I can’t say that a 37.2-mile road race is a quintessentially different bodily experience from a marathon. It’s just longer. You have to be patient and relax. Enjoy the sights, smile, and have great (and preferably loquacious) company.
  8. It was just a little too cold for full comfort (hat, two shirts, gloves, and leggings). Ten more degrees would make it delightful. But the Park is in its autumn beauty at this time of year. It’s also full of random people cheering you on and wishing you well and joining in the conspiracy: You all know that what you’re doing is kinda goofy, so embrace the improbable and enjoy it.
Posted in Running | Tagged , ,

The Wattpad Experiment: Week 1

About a week ago, I decided to follow the advice of a publishing friend of mine and join Wattpad. (You can read my thoughts on signing up here.) As a publisher and a writer, and as someone committed both to maintaining standards and quality in publishing and writing yet who also believes that the walls of the literary establishment require some storming every now and again, I’m fully aware that Wattpad presents me with challenges and opportunities.

Even the most cursory look at the site reveals that by far the most numerous and popular work is genre fiction: particularly that associated with vampires, the undead, and fantasy—and that much of that work is geared toward teenagers, particularly women. In that regard, Wattpad reflects the culture at large. These genres lend themselves to serializations, fan fiction, and the kind of immersive experience that is also reflected in the culture: witness, conventions dedicated to comics and fantasy worlds, and online gaming and role-playing, etc. As such, Wattpad offers a perfect platform for open-ended stories that can be engaged with, elaborated on, and entered into by fans. The writer, as such, is “reduced” to being a curator of a world in which the barriers between author and reader, and the originating text and fan fiction, are blurred or broken down.

For me, who can appreciate the possibilities of, and passion aroused by, genre fiction, and yet who has little interest in reading it, Wattpad offers a stark reminder that most writing (and the selling of that writing) takes place far away from literary magazines, independent bookstores, and the Sauronesques eye of Strunk-&-White overseers. The writing is fast and sloppy, demotic and expressive.

Yet it is undoubtedly popular. Consider Sydney Ellis’s “Stolen Jerseys,” in both the “Romance” and the “Short Story” section. I’m not sure when this story was posted, but it’s now been read 98,272 times, and received 1,979 votes, and garnered 89 comments.  The tagline “she stole his jersey everyday before practice” failed to fill me with confidence that I was going to receive a top-notch literary experience (“everyday” should be two words), but I decided to chill out and not worry about little things like spelling, grammar, and the sequence of tenses. I made it to page 2.

My one short story (which only has two pages), has now been “up” for a week. It’s been read 17 times, with no votes and no comments. Frankly, I’m astonished it’s been read as much as it has. I’m also fully aware that this experiment will be a long, hard slog, and that the only way to ensure a greater readership will be to engage with the Wattpad community and read more literature in it. In other words, there is no room for ivory-tower snobbery or literary shyness in the flattened, democratic space of online writing.

I’ll let you know what happens. In the meantime, here is short story number 2. It’s a little number that plays with the tropes and ideas I see in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

Posted in Editing—Publishing—Writing, Short Stories, Works: Fiction, Writing | Tagged ,

10 Things You Need to Know about Running the New York City Marathon (That Have Nothing to Do with Running)

I’ve run the NYC Marathon six times—2014 will be my seventh. It’s a terrific race, and if this is your first time, you’re going to be in for a treat. No doubt you’ve scanned every single article/blog and watched every single video about how to run the course, and so on. I also assume you’ve read about making sure you have all your items ready the day before, so you’re not frantically trying to find that bottle of vaseline the morning of. Good job. I’m here to give you a few pieces of advice that you may not have come across and that I (natch) think you’ll find useful.

1. The Staten Island Ferry time you’ve been given is not a deadline. So, you’ve booked your baggage/no baggage thing, and clipped your toenails and packed your goo, and you’re (rightly) going to use the SI Ferry to get to the start. You’ve been assigned a time with your registration form and it’s on your bib, and you fear that there are people at the terminal ready to turn you away if you take the 7:00 a.m. ferry when you have a 6:30 slot. Don’t worry. Everyone’s way too sleepy and there are far too many other runners streaming on to the ferry for anyone to check. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the “correct” ferry. Why? Not because the ferry might sink because there are too many people on it (don’t be silly!) but because of Thing #2. . . .

2. The bus ride from the ferry might take thirty minutes or more. You are going to leave the terminal and it’s going to be cold. You’ll make your way to a line of (school) buses that will fill up with people just like you and drive you to the starting area. In recent years, New York Road Runners has been trying to shorten the time it takes, but it’s still a trek. If you’re a worrywart like me, and you don’t want to waste energy getting nervous, take an earlier ferry. The ride is beautiful, and the sun (you have already creatively visualized a beautiful day) will be rising over the bridge you’ll be running over in a few hours. It’s your day; make the most of it.

3. Be prepared for the Village experience. I’m not talking about Greenwich Village or M. Night Shyamalan’s execrable movie. I’m talking about the place where you will be spending the next couple of hours, once you get off that bus. You have been told it is cold and to bring lots of old clothes that you can throw off ecstatically. Do that. What are you being brave for? I’ve bought an old sweatshirt, hoodie, and gloves from Goodwill just for such purposes. The clothes you throw away will make it back to Goodwill, and may be ready for you the following year!

4. Bring a robust black trash bag. Cut a hole beforehand in the bottom for you to put your head through and then slide it on once you get into your corral. You’ll be amazed how warm (and dry) you’ll be once you’ve gotten rid of all your other clothes. If you want, you can cut holes in the sides to slip your arms through, but if you’re like me that might be too fashion forward for your taste.

5. Use your old heat sheets. Remember that heat sheet they gave you at the end of your last marathon or half-marathon that you put away in a draw as a memento (hopefully after washing it)? Why not honor your last effort by using it to keep warm before the race? Don’t worry: they’ll give you another one at the end of it.

6. Bring a broken-down cardboard box to sit on. It’ll be wet or dewy, even muddy, as you sit on the grass listening to the polyglot recorded message welcome you over and over to the athletes’ village. You need to keep your bottom dry, and a cardboard box is just about the only thing you can bring to the place that security hasn’t prohibited as an offensive weapon.

7. Talk to people. Yeah, I know it’s early and it’s cold, and it took you fifty minutes to get coffee from the Dunkin’ Donuts stand. And, sure, you wanna get in the zone and psych yourself up. Plus, you bought six copies of The Economist that you haven’t read yet. But, you know what? You can’t concentrate and you’ve got plenty of time to get your game face on. In fact, your aim should be to psych yourself down so you don’t find yourself speeding through Brooklyn alongside a willowy Kenyan and crashing into The Wall before you leave Queens. Perhaps you think everyone else around you is too cool (temperamentally speaking) to talk to you. They aren’t. They’re just as nervous, excited, cold, and freaked out as you. Find out where they’re from; practice your Swedish; give and take some advice; wish them luck. If nothing else, conversation will eat away at the many, many minutes you have to wait.

8. There are portapotties everywhere.  You will need to pee. A lot. A combination of nerves, unnecessary amounts of pre-dawn energy drink, and necessary amounts of coffee will make you want to use the bathroom. DO NOT WORRY. There are toilets at the ferry terminal (Manhattan side). There are toilets on the ferry. There are toilets at the terminal (Staten Island side).* There are portapotties before you get on the bus. There are portapotties when you get off the bus. There are portapotties in the village. There are portapotties in your corral. You could spend the entire time lining up for portapotty after portapotty if you wanted. The one place that matters is your corral. For which reason: Thing #9.

9. Get in line for the portapotty as soon as you enter your corral. You’ll be in this densely populated area for perhaps 30 minutes before you move toward the bridge, so you want to avail yourself of the facilities. You could hop into a portapotty further toward the front once you start inching forward to the start, because that corral will have moved on, but that means you’ll lose your place in the line up, if that concerns you (which it shouldn’t). Why does any of this matter? Because beyond the corrals, that’s it: no room or place to pee or anything else (apart from off the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge itself, but that’s another story).

10. Breathe. Before the national anthem is sung, before the elites are introduced, before the cannon goes off, and before Francis Albert requests that you start spreading the news, just take a second. You are about to run 26 miles and 385 yards, accompanied by tens of thousands of other runners from all over the world, cheered on by more than a million people, serenaded by scores of bands of all types and abilities, and on a course that takes you through neighborhoods that encompass virtually all of humanity’s countries of origin and language groups. You might feel overwhelmed or you might be jazzed by all the hoopla. Don’t matter now. It’s your race, your moment. All those training runs, the plyometric exercises, the track work, and days when it wasn’t even light out when you were tying your shoelaces (oh, by the way: double-knot those laces!): this is what it’s about. This. Right now. Right here. So, breathe. And then go have a blast.

* It’s early on Sunday morning, and they may be closed.

Posted in Running | Tagged ,

The Wattpad Experiment

A few weeks ago, Catherine Clyne, a long-time publishing friend of mine who’s worked for several years as an editor of romance fiction, mentioned that she (and other acquisition editors like her) often trawl self-publishing websites (such as Smashwords, Wattpad, and others) to look for promising material. What they mean by “promising” is that not only can the author string a sentence together, but she does so regularly (even prolifically). She should also be building an audience and interacting with them. Cat noted that these sites provide a very useful metric for writers (and thereby potential publishers) to measure whether they have an audience, what that audience does or doesn’t like, and whether they have the appetite to engage with the general public and stomach to adjust their work to fit the audience’s expectations. (An added bonus is that this audience might be both more honest about and more supportive of the author’s work than the author’s friends and family.)

This model works very well for genre fiction. The question is whether it can work for literary fiction, or poetry: the kind of writing that, all too often, ends up lost in a review or journal that few read, or, even more likely, rejected from a review or journal that few read—either because the author lacks an MFA, or the piece is too short, too long, too full of compound adjectives, or (horribile dictu) humorous. As with most creative writing, the goal cannot be to make money; instead, one aims to reach people who might enjoy, appraise, and respond to your work, and thereby (1) give you the satisfaction of being read, (2) make you a better or even more accurate writer, and (3) allow you, eventually, to come to the attention of an editor or publisher who wishes to collect your work between the covers of a three-dimensional book.

For twenty years I’ve been writing short stories—all of which are under 1,500 words. This procrustean arrangement has forced me to expand and contract stories, to discipline my natural verbosity and coerce me into writing characters and not sketched outlines. That said, I like to think that the twenty-one I’ve now composed (most of which haven’t been read by anyone) are not simply exercises in style, but have something to say about the human condition.

Over the next five months, I’m going to post one story a week on Wattpad, and use this blog to analyze (as a publisher, editor, and writer) my experience in this form of communicating, and perhaps to offer an analysis of the story itself. It goes without saying that I need you—yes, you!—to make this work. So, indulge me (and yourself) if you will and enjoy my first story: “The Squeeze.” (Note: this piece, virtually uniquely in my oeuvre, contains language that some might find upsetting, but which I find hilarious.)

http://embed.wattpad.com/story/25276878

Posted in Editing—Publishing—Writing, Publishing, Writing | Tagged

The Future of Publishing

Ten years ago, I was asked (along with others) to form a panel on writing and publishing for an animal advocacy conference. The panelists and I were so gloomy and downbeat in our presentation that we were never invited back again! What a difference a decade makes: I’m actually very positive about the future of book publishing. The reasons why are contained in this fine extended essay from The Economist (kindly sent to me by Cassandra Greenwald), and which is worth reading in full. There are, however, three  paragraphs that distill just about all the “wisdom” that I impart to would-be authors, which are worth me quoting in full. In the future:

While there will be more books, there may be fewer people who can make a full living as writers and publishers, says Mike Shatzkin, an industry analyst.

This too could be in part seen as a return to previous eras, when people did not expect to earn a living by writing books but used books as a means to advance their career or as a creative outlet. It is clear that most self-published authors are not doing it for the money they can reasonably expect to get—they are doing it to leave a mark, if only a digital one. Those who make a living too may increasingly be the ones who become marketable personalities online, on the festival circuit and elsewhere, rather than just being faded pictures on the inside back cover.

And writers who are not also performers may find that new opportunities arise. People with an idea for a book they cannot afford to take the time to write no longer have to go to a publisher. They can offer something like old-fashioned subscriptions to prospective readers, either on generalist crowdfunding sites, such as Indiegogo, or through specialist firms such as Pubslush and Unbound. Many will not get funded; some will succeed beyond their dreams.

 

 

Posted in Editing—Publishing—Writing, Publishing | Tagged