If you haven't heard of the Institute for the Future of the Book then you better mark the Institute on your list of must read websites for writers. The Future of the Book US, The Future of the Book UK and The Future of the Book Australia have some fantastic blog entries and projects aimed at exploring the future of the written word in today’s digital world. Having been a fan of If:Book (as it is known) for a while, I was flattered to be offered a position of guest blogger on the Australian site to rehash my QR Code knowledge. Feel free to check it out:
Next week I shall also be posting some great tid bits from my interview with the heads of If:Book UK and Australia, Chris Meade and Simon Groth, on the future paths of the written word.
I am also very excited to share with you my first published piece in the Australian literary journal Voiceworks the 'Pulp' edition. It is, naturally, a reflection on how e-books have been received in my area of the world. A brief excerpt is below:
One would think the main lesson to be learnt in a digital publishing seminar is how to self-publish a novel using zero mullah and one internet connection. Or many publishers might say, learning how to satisfy one’s vanity by forcing drivel onto the literary stage. Yet the main lesson I learnt was not how to force a dull book to the top of the bestseller list, or even to rudely extend various dexterous appendages towards the publishing community as my book debuts on Amazon. What I learnt was that young writers have hope. A blind, unyielding faith that their work will be picked up by a publisher, sooner rather than later, and that their words will become famous. This stems from the belief that their work ‘speaks for itself’ and is capable of storming the tightly held gates of the publishing houses with the mere touch of a single word. By ignoring this seductively lofty voice in my head, I discovered that like most of the world’s faithful, young writers were calmly cocking the trigger and shooting themselves in the foot.
My first clue came from the seminar room of the South Australian Writers’ Centre itself. Trickling down the walls like some colourful Matrix code were book covers mounted on plaques, one hundred and ninety-seven in total. Each cover proudly declared the success of a South Australian author. On closer inspection it became clear that many I had never heard of, never seen in a bookstore, never spied in a local library. Only three names jumped out of the covers: Sean Williams of Star Wars, sci-fi and fantasy fame, Gillian Rubinstein (also published under the alias Lian Hearn) and finally Mem Fox, author of the beloved children’s book Possum Magic. These three names had several covers clinging to the beige wall. However the majority of the names appeared only once on the wall and, presumably, only once in the bookstores.
At the time I gave little thought to the limited success of an author. Alone in the large room, the evidence all around me, it should have been clear how few of the lucky get published more than once. Fewer still can afford to drop mundane day jobs and be supported solely by their words.
Bare minutes was all it took for the second clue to turn disinterest into curiosity and finally to understanding. Patrons began slowly to fill the room. The term ‘slowly’ is not used to denote time, but rather to denote age. I was surrounded by a sea of salt and pepper, bowling ball shine and meticulously dyed, shoulder-length locks. Every person who entered that room – short, tall, stout or rake thin – was over forty. Later I would find that at twenty-three I had been the youngest person to attend the seminars (twelve in total around Australia), beating the pants off the next youngest in his early thirties. The audience had been doing the publisher dance for years and by the looks of it they were willing to try something, anything else. This was also my first inkling that as a young writer, if I kept following the norm, I might be in a spot of bother.
The article is continued in the most recent edition of Voiceworks, 'Pulp'.
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