Sep 29, 2012

Future of Books and Emerging Authors

The future of books... but first:
This week Australian Women Online feature an article on Emerging Australian Women Writers, by journalist Belladonna Took. I am very humbled and excited to be included in this article with talented emerging authors, Kymberley Gaal, Emma Gibson and Karen Tyrrell. If you'd like to read the article, click here.

I signed up for 'Book Camp unconference' a little uncertain of what to expect. I mean, what's an UNconference? The theme of the day was to question and discuss the future of books and emerging authors and technologies. I like to question and discuss, so I was up for it.

The day was hosted by author Simon Groth from if:book and we were asked to volunteer to lead sessions. I love this upside down module. 

Looking at the model of the traditional book, what it has now emerged into and where it could go was something most participants were curious about. The traditional pathway of author to publisher to reader or even author to reader may change. The reader is not necessarily the best client for your product. One scenario raised was with choose-your-own-adventures that are locality-based. This method was trialled at an Adelaide festival with posters and QR codes. This storytelling involved the 'reader' to walk the streets of the story while finding the codes for the next part. In this example only about ten people finished the story. If your goal is to do something different, experimental then there's no problem, but if you're wishing to earn an income from your skills... well, you can see the problem with only ten potential customers, but it's important to acknowledge many authors require an income from their skills. This requires rethinking the author to reader model. You could consider a commercial or government client, such as the Department of Tourism. They would have the capacity to market this type of activity to readers/visitors. Or, you could make location-based stories containing QR codes that provide information on the localities, you wouldn't have to be present in the location (I see this being a good alternative for famous locations like the Eiffel Tower, The Great Barrier Reef, etc).

Craig Mod led a discussion about the affect of digital on our sense of living. The point was raised that if we do not post our experiences on social media in many ways they don't count as real, they become disconnected with our understanding of experience. We live in the instagram era, as soon as we see, do or taste it, we upload a pic.

The issue of quality from self-published authors and service providers was enthusiastically discussed. The days of appreciating free crap is over. Readers want product that lives up to the promises.

And the thing that stuck with me most was on the necessity of social media for authors to reach readers. There are many examples of great authors that sell millions of books with no online presence. It was generally agreed that if you are an amazingly talented author, you don't need to interact with the public. Lucky for me I actually like social media!


  1. I don't like the idea of 'free' either. Sending a free copy to a 'reviewer' is much different than giving it away to an amazon customer who may or may not like the genre, but who writes a review based on a partial read just because they can.

  2. I agree whole heartedly about the "free" issue.

    One thing I do enjoy is interacting with my friends and bloggers and the public. I've gotten to know some super sweet people because of social media!

    Thanks for this informative post!

  3. Free...I feel mixed about it. I believe if you do it sometimes its okay.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. I should clarify my meaning was free is not an excuse to push unprofessional products. Even when choosing free products now readers are becoming more particular. I actually think short-lived free promotions for your book or free material on your blog is a good thing.

  5. I often feel our being at the dawn of the new tech makes it very hard to know which avenues will be successful. A few years from now it will all be much clearer, I expect.

    Moody Writing

  6. Congratulations on being considered an emerging writer. That must feel good.

    Sounds like the conference created lots of good questions.

    Take care and thanks for the info.

  7. The whole idea of an "unconference" sounds fun, turns the usual model on its head.

  8. After reading your latest tweet, I came to check if there is word verification here. I'll find out very soon ..:)

  9. I agree with Yolanda. Getting Free on Amazon means a reader who doesn't read and understand the genre gets it and gives a negative review.

    On the hand, it does get it into the hands of new readers!

  10. Interesting discussion. I love the concept of those location-based choose-your-own adventures. I really like the ideas of overcoming limited readership.

  11. I love social media, though it is extremely difficult to get the balance right. I know a lot of fairly successful authors who choose only two three mediums and stick to only that. In my case, it would be blogging, twitter, and Facebook. I'm on Google+ but I must admit I find it confusing. But as I edge closer to publication, I am now considering how much information about myself I should share on Facebook.

    I agree with the general consensus that if you are an amazing author you don't need social media in the same way - your name alone sells your books. For the rest of us, it is all about promotion and writing well.

  12. Congrats on your recognition as an "emerging writer"...
    Interesting post!