POWER TO THE READER
or The author in a world of digital media - Part 2
On nostalgia and autonomy.
Upon entering cyberspace as an author, leaving the world of old school media behind me, I wrote an essay, a Personal Digital Manifesto (PDM), called POWER TO THE READER or The author in a world of digital media.
Now, 7 months after I moved my activity as an author into cyberspace from the world of old school media, resettling here in the digital universe - opening office, so to speak - I am more than ever convinced that I have chosen a path that leads to the future. The eBook will soon be upon us. The new Kindle reader is closing the gap to the good old books of paper. When mp3s and other downloadable formats arrived, some claimed that people would want the cover, the vinyl, better sound; the mp3 was bound to fail.
They were wrong. Downloads, both legal and illegal, are, as I write this, closing in on the competition. iTunes and mp3 are taking over the charts, and and Spotify or last.fm and YouTube are our new radio and TV.And the pocket book, the second edition, the reprint, the thriller, the romance novel, they will most likely be downloaded onto a Reader, illegally og legally, but it will come.
Some might perhaps suspect that my enthusiasm is due to the fact that my entry into Cyberia as an author has been very fruitful indeed, it's been very good for business. For my writing as well: I have "recruited" a handful of experts for minor areas of my forthcoming new novel, just to mention one example. But the number of Friends; the Pages I have made and the Groups that others have made in honour of books I have written and records I have made; the gigs I have been offered; the jobs I have secured; the contacts I have made ... It has been a little overwhelming, actually. It is called spin.
But no, it is neither the sale of backlist nor the many compliments I have received for my work(s), that makes me dead set on sticking to my plan. Because most of all the abovementioned good news is related to my previous work(s), and as such they are yesterday's river. What I definitely am pleased with, however, is the fact that I now have a network of Friends and fans and contacts that make me more or less independent of mainstream media and the old school world of paper.
Not only have I established a rather - at least to me - impressive network, but my relationship to my readers, even though it is several years since my previous book was published, has never been better; one might actually be temped to call it close, even intimate. Those of my readers who are on Facebook and/or other networks and sites, PM and chat me up all the time, asking for information. Two of the appreciation Groups that has been established for some of my works, have been initiated by a guy that lives 50 km from me, that I probably would never even have "met" as a result of old school literary activity. Norway is a small country with a population of just 4.8 million, and if I allow myself to look at my newborn network from a per capita perpective, if Norway was France, England or Germany, all with a +50 million population, I will be able to reach - in some sense of the word or other - as many as 50 000 people, directly or indirectly; in the US, the number would be +250 000.
Now, that is a serious network. And since my network is constantly expanding, and even accellerating in some areas at that, when my next novel is ready, I may have a network for communication and marketing that by the click of a mouse will set me in direct contact with 0,5-1 % of my homeland's population.
For an ambitious author like myself, who is contemplating e.g. selling his backlist, i.e. those of my books that are out of print, based on print-on-demand on maybe Amazon.com, it is extremely encouraging to see his (i.e: my) network also expanding abroad. Print-on-demand means maybe, like 250 % more money to me per book.
It smells independence, even autonomy. Maybe it's just me, but I see the author being torn out of his mystical ivory tower, by facing his or her audience directly.
But in order to maintain that closeness to my audience, I will have to serve my readers. I will have to give the reader what the reader used to obtain from the old school world of media: factual information. It also demands of me a certain "objectivity". The reader will not trust me for information if I depict my works with narcissistic glorification, nor will he or she accept mere marketing, spam or censorship from me.
I other words, I will have to surpass, even outshine the traditional media when it comes to information. My readers must be able to feel that the natural place to seek information about me and my works, and reliable information at that, even "objective", is my cyber spaces, whether it be Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, YouTube, blogs or other sites and networks.*
Occationally Friends and fans alike ask me questions like these: "Why aren't you writing on your book, instead of being on Facebook? Why are you making photo series from the past, videos of your old bands, fan Pages for your backlist? What's this nostalgia, are you living in the past?"
I'm not. What I am doing, however, is establishing an archive, an archeology, a "data base" of my previous work, so that any reader, who does not have a clue who I am, has someplace to go for information. There the reader will find thorough and detailed information about me and my work(s). No need for "interpretors". I am taking control over my own biography.
Yes, it smells autonomy, it wears the tantalizing scent of independence, it carries with it the promise of freedom from any middle men or women that comes between me and my readers. My former dependence on press coverage and the marketing efforts and the budget of my publisher in order to reach potential readers has, if not evaporated, been confortably weakened.
Of course, I could also tell them that I have started submitting and contributing abroad, as a result of my activity in Cyberia. I could tell them that the first publication to accept a submission of mine is not just a net publication, but will be printed in no less than 100 000 copies as well, and I have other offers and invitations pending.
So now, as autumn approaches, I will start focusing on submissions and invitations abroad, mostly through my English Facebook profile, as my Norwegian network is more or less complete. The net is the artist's new arena, and the net knows no nationality. We are better off here, dear colleagues. We're free - free at last!
Oslo, August 4, 2009.
You will now find me e.g. here:
Reverbnation (songs for download)
Flickr (to be replaced by Photobucket, due to Flickr's unappealing max monthly download limit.)
YouTube (vidz, mostly slide-slow DIY)
Part 1 ligger her.
Jeg har forresten presentert bloggen min på Bloggurat.