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I am heading to bed to grab three hours snooze before getting up at 2:30am to watch the Inauguration live. (Curse Australia and it’s proximity to the international date line!)
So, instead of a thoughtful, considered blog post, you get literary sadmasochism, courtesy of Write or Die!, a friendly little web app that punishes a writer for not making their word count.
The idea is to instill the would-be writer with a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement?
Negative Reinforcement “strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided as a consequence of the behavior.”
- Gentle Mode: A certain amount of time after you stop writing, a box will pop up, gently reminding you to continue writing.
- Normal Mode: If you persistently avoid writing, you will be played a most unpleasant sound. The sound will stop if and only if you continue to write.
- Kamikaze Mode: Keep Writing or Your Work Will Unwrite Itself
(Thanks to The Book Oven for the heads up)
I’ve been too busy with Clarion South to be able to write longer posts, so here’s a round-up of a few interesting tidbits I’ve seen around the interwebs lately.
Winnie the Pooh to the Rescue
Apparently a Pooh sequel is in development. PersonaNonData quotes a Times article: “Michael Brown, for the trustees who manage the affairs of A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard, said that he had been hoping to give the green light to a sequel for a very long time.” This intrigues me since I was fairly sure A. A. Milne’s works entered the public domain in 2007.
Self Publishing Continues to Grow
Martyn Daniels over at Brave New World comments on the continued rise of self publishing as an option for authors finding it hard to be published. It may be cheaper and easier than ever before. But watching my members’ experiences with POD and self-publishing at QWC, it seems the only ones making money out of it so far are the service companies Daniels mentions, like Authors Solutions.
Canadian Wine Meet Canadian Content
Mark at Index//mb has a nifty marketing idea: pair Canadian books/authors with Canadian wines. Mark, Australian Coriole Wines did a brilliant promotion using exactly this idea a few years ago with Adelaide poets. Poetry and poet bios on the labels, attractive limited edition half-cases with royalties to the poets, and even “Poets in the Vineyard” events with readings and music. I hope Canadian wineries can follow the example!
There are two fixed points in the cultural economy of books; the writer and the reader. Everything in between is up for grabs. And everything in between will need to earn its piece of the action by providing valuable services to writers and readers. Publishers especially have shown little regard for readers and most will need a radical change in culture in order to create a strong enough service culture.
So folks in a 2019 publishing office will be connecting writers and readers with passion, elan, humility and respect. Or not at all.
One of the key perception shifts that publishers need to make, then, is about the book as ‘product’. Whilst the book continues to be viewed as a definable object within covers, as a singular ‘unit’, publishers will continue to limit their role in its production and distribution, and this is a sure fire way for publishers to write themselves out of the future of content creation and dissemination. There are two areas of activity in the linear progression of a text between author and reader which have previously remained hidden to the reader: the development of the text itself; the writing and editing process, and the sales, marketing and distribution of the text. Readers have traditionally had no role in the former and only a limited role in the latter, through word of mouth recommendations or viral marketing. It is likely that today’s digital natives, who have become ‘prosumers’ (producer / consumers) with alarming speed and perhaps even more alarmingly different levels of proficiency, will expect a great deal more involvement in both of these areas of activity if they are to be engaged by texts. Witness two main stream examples, the Star Wars films and the Harry Potter books and films, both of which have developed massive prosumer (or ‘superfan’) followings, and both of which have seen conflict between the film companies and the fans that are creating content.
This segment has echoes of Sherman Young’s The Book is Dead, but also emphasises the fact that the nature of reading and writing as cultural activities are also changing and merging. Loyd points out that the obsessive focus of publishers (and the writing sector generally) on the “book as product” has led to digital strategies that are about turning a printed artefact into a device, such as an e-book, when in fact there is already an established and pervasive culture of digital reading (and writing) that is constantly growing. This reading and writing is taking place on websites, blogs, mobile phones and other media.
I eagerly await the rest of this blog series!
I can’t believe I missed this. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, I didn’t have Gary Kemble’s blog in Google Reader. I hardly ever remember to visit friends’ websites so it’s always best when they’ve got a blog or something I can subscribe to. I fixed that now.
Anyway, Gary linked to World War 1: Experiences of an English Soldier on his blog a while back. It’s letters and postcards between an English soldier and his family during the first World War, posted exactly 90 years after they were written.
We are not doing so bad for food out here it would be better if we got paid more regular we have only drawn ten lires in a month that is equal to five shillings in English money, so I think we shall have a bit to our credit, we get plenty of fruit out here oranges and apples etc. It will be Willie’s birthday this month 21th but I shall not be able to send him anything. We see some fine scenery out here we are quite close to the mountains some of these take about five hours to climb and they are not the highest. it is different to flanders being out here.
When I was about 14 I remember seeing Ken Burns’ The Civil War. The pieces I loved best were the letters and journal entries by regular soldiers and townspeople. They were always simple and honest, but incredibly emotional, perhaps because of their simplicity and honesty.
I can’t wait for the rest of Harry’s letters.