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The Future of Media

There’s a fascinating post by author Daniel Pinchbeck at Reality Sandwich about new independent media. He’s currently my favorite writer in any medium – non-fiction or fiction – for his willingness to take on far-out ideas with some well-reasoned sobriety. He manages to be both eloquent and concise. All in all, his writing is a huge influence on my own novel. The piece basically condenses my own worldview and why I think self-publishing is so dynamic and important.

In the piece, he talks about releasing an independent film in this new climate:

In the new model that is still emerging, the creative energy of the filmmakers no longer ends with the completion of the film, but continues to be drawn upon for the entire life cycle of the project. The distribution and marketing of the film become a direct extension of the process of making it, and the creativity extends to every aspect of promoting, marketing, packaging, distributing, and showing it. On one side, this means that the artist can no longer be naive about business, or distanced from it, and hope to survive.

While artists have to become business savvy, on the other side, the business people have to become more like artists, sorting through all sorts of radical possibilities that didn’t even exist a few years ago. In the film world and other cultural areas, business is becoming more like art, and art is becoming more inseparable from business. Art purists may feel this is a bad thing; although it is a bit exhausting for the creative person who might like to retreat to his studio, I like these new developments and find them promising as well as exciting.  We are in a new kind of Renaissance – a creative entrepreneurial gold rush….

We see the new landscape, in which the creative innovator can now reach directly to a huge audience without need of a corporate intermediary, in those Youtube phenomena where an unknown puts out a series of comedy sketches or conspiracy theory videos and suddenly attracts an audience in the tens of millions, or more. Not just videos but new forms of social media and interactive technologies can rapidly explode.

Nevermind the problems with distribution or advances, the attraction to self-publishing for me is the philosophy of self-publishing – the dissemination of ideas. Without the outlet of self-publishing, so much information wouldn’t see the light of day, and as they say, “Information is power.” Of course, a boatload of crap is released by this system, but no system is perfect.

It’s what makes self-publishing detractors like Pimp My Book or the post linked here seem so staid.  What exactly are they protesting against?  Certainly self-publishing can be difficult, and certainly people get ripped off, but the fundamental premise behind self-publishing is a good one and should really be celebrated.  It’s why more and more the detractors don’t get under my skin as they once did.  It’s hard to get offended by people who are looking backwards.

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  • About Henry Baum

    Author of three self-published novels and one traditionally published (Soft Skull Press, Canongate, and Hachette Littératures). Recipient of Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival, the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction, and the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Spain. He's the founder of SPR.
    • http://www.zoewinters.org Zoe Winters

      I like what you say, Henry, about how it’s hard to get offended by people who are looking backwards.

      I admit I waste a lot of energy still arguing the issue. I try to do it less than I once did it but I sometimes still get sucked into the “I’ve got something to prove” game. And it’s really very silly.

      I think I need to try very hard to keep my focus on what I’m doing and publishing and marketing my work.

      Of course, then again, a lot of debates and discussions I’ve gotten into on this topic on blogs and forums have won me fans. (It’s also won me a few detractors. I’d say “haters” but I highly doubt anybody cares enough about what I’m saying to be a full-on “hater”.)

      I think what people are protesting against mainly is this idea that people are “giving up their dreams by self-publishing.”

      I think that’s silly because that presupposes you know what somebody’s “dream” even is. And not only that, but statistically speaking, most people just won’t get published by a major publisher and a small pub is unlikely to be able to do more for a savvy author than they could do for themselves at this juncture.

      I think people are hung up on the need to “earn the right to publish.” But it really wasn’t about being “good enough” and earning the right to “be published.” It was about economics.

      The economics of the situation has changed.

    • http://podpeep.blogspot.com Cheryl Anne Gardner

      Amen to that Henry. I got my own rant going today over at the peeps site, which was sort of a backlash from commenting on Zoe’s post. But I think it’s good to talk about the detractors because it makes our philosophical position all the more relevant and important.