What’s Changing For Writers? The Need For New Curators
From the writer’s standpoint all the changes I’ve been enumerating contain a lot of good news/bad news. The more-level playing field that the Internet has created also means almost a complete absence of standards and an enormous lack of (or opportunity for) credible curators to bring the best new work to the attention of receptive audiences.
To be sure, this is a complicated issue. Publishers (and, in particular, book editors) are still performing this task along with literary critics. But they also do not command the degree of consumer attention they once did, and so are less determiners of what gets read or discussed. Simultaneously, the culture has shifted considerably, and being a published author does not necessarily command the attention or confer the gravitas it may once have.
Change is messy. New curators are emerging, and more will undoubtedly build followings, command attention and earn permission in the coming years. Similarly, new authors are emerging, who can command the attention of considerable audiences not easily or otherwise swayed by big publishing’s imprimatur.
An excellent example of one of these new curators is Seth Godin. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s unlikely that you haven’t encountered his ideas about marketing and particularly his ideas about permission marketing and the disruptive power of eBooks.
For the past year, he has been conducting The Domino Project with an eye toward seeing what he could accomplish publishing the works of others. He has now published, “twelve books, twelve bestsellers, published in many languages around the world.” Here’s a link to The Last Hardcover, one of his latest blog posts that talks specifically about what he’s learned from the experience. I suggest it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the changing publishing landscape. And while I’m at it—here are useful links to two of his blog posts on marketing directed at writers: Advice For Authors #1 and Advice For Authors #2. These also are not optional reading.
His last hardcover book is a short poem by Sarah Kay, which she presented at TED in 2011. Sarah’s entire TED talk below runs a little over eighteen minutes, but I’m pretty sure you’ll not only be thoroughly charmed, but feel it’s been time well-spent. If all this is starting to feel like something new, fresh, relevant and quite a departure from the familiar past, then you and I are in violent agreement.