Advertisements for Yourself – The Big Money
People in the book business rarely agree on much, but no one disputes that the long-suffering industry is slogging through one of its worst periods ever. Editors are freezing their acquisition budgets; publishing houses are shrinking; booksellers are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The proliferation of digital media that is arguably the biggest threat to traditional publishing also offers authors more opportunities than ever to distribute and promote their work. The catch: In order to do that effectively, authors increasingly must transcend their words and become brands.
I disagree with some of the things that the article lays out in terms of what “branding” means — I think that’s at least partly because the author didn’t really seem to know, either — but I agree that a successful author today does better by creating a kind of community around themselves and their work — once that community hits a certain tipping point, it grows on its own, creating a bigger and bigger audience. There are authors who can transcend or ignore that, but they are few and far between.
The main point of that article — or the part that caught my attention — is the way in which New Media (to borrow a term from Obama’s presidential campaign) is both a threat to traditional publishing and a chance for authors to reap benefits and enjoyment from their own work far more directly and understandably than they can via the impenetrable system currently in place.
I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the change in the way people are reading, accessing, and acquiring books today is a death-knell for the publishing industry, but it is a beach, and today’s (really, yesterday’s) publishers are — all of them — sea-dwelling mammals; very large sea-dwelling mammals. Their future survival necessitates being able to get up out of the water, onto the beach, and into the trees; some of these fat, slow bastards will not survive that evolutionary imperative.
Kate’s been posting some interesting stuff about the way the publishing industry is, and how it’s possibly changing in the future. Today’s post is a chunk of Google Talk conversation that she and I had on the subject, about which I am more than a little opinionated — said opinions grown partly from my dealings with the industry, but mostly from simply watching what Kate and her peers have to go through simply to keep the whole bloody, broken mess working.
The post is here, and links to yesterday’s post as well. By all means, check it out, post your thoughts, and tell me if I’m a Big Stupidhead.
There is a specific type of activity in role playing games (which are, by design, social gatherings) that is importantly and essentially NOT a social activity, and it goes back perhaps to the very start of roleplaying gaming as a hobby.
Speaking broadly, this category of activity encompasses a lot of solo activities that sort of surround the Actual Playing Of The Game, like space trash around the Earth — as a player, it includes things like writing diaries or journals from your characters point of view, drawing sketches of them or the people they know, painting up a miniature for them, devising complex back stories, or simply sitting around and ‘generating’ new character after new character … all of whom will probably never get played, et cetera — as the person running the game, it involves stuff like the above, as well as developing complex societies, environments, ecologies, history, and various bits of fiction… hell, whole worlds that provided the backdrop for the story of the game… most of which no one but the person running the game would EVER KNOW.
As I said, it’s a standard element of classic roleplaying games. Sometime in early 2006, a gamer on the Story-games forum coined a name for this kind of activity, referring to it as “lonely fun”.
Before that point in time (and, in fact, long before there were role-playing games), it had a different name: “writing”.
I’ve never been very good at Lonely Fun. Along the same vein, I’m having a hell of a time with my current W.I.P. because, unlike most of the stuff I’ve done before, I’m writing it alone. (My wife, who has been subjected to various excerpts from the ongoing story, might argue this point, but compared to my previous efforts, writing Humorless has been like working for a solid month inside a sensory deprivation tank.) No partner, no secret-blog that a couple dozen people can read as I go… nothing. My only reader is myself, and the only interaction I get with the story is my own.
I don’t care for it much. Frankly, I’ve created a lot more fiction as part of a group of creative people (read: gaming) than I have solo (read: writing), and that’s the activity that pushes all the good endorphin buttons in my brain. Maybe that’s because I’ve conditioned myself to work that way over the last twenty years, but there it is.
Going to take a long time to break that habit.