FINDING NEW VOICES
DEFINING NEW GENRES
I woke this morning to a rather wonderful tweet from the gifted Aksania Xenogrette, a writer and artist who often combines words so beautifully it gives me brain bliss (for the record you can catch Aksania’s tweets @gadgetgreen). Aksania sent me the following, calling it ‘a lovely vision of our intrepid locomotive’ and I wanted to share some of it with you all as it seems so pertinent to the future of our beloved industry:
(Writers Readers Unite)……”Our actions mirror our aspirations, which means the future of publishing will be determined by our collective and sometimes competing aspirations. Readers are our gatekeepers. I challenge you, my dear writer, publisher, or reader, to take charge of your future. Imagine a brighter and better future ahead, where the culture of books reigns supreme, where more people are discovering, reading, purchasing, publishing, selling, and profiting from books. Imagine a future where more readers than ever before will enjoy a greater diversity of books than ever before. Imagine a future where the power centre of the publishing business shifts from traditional publishers to ordinary writers where it belongs”
At a time when bookshops are becoming rarer than hen’s teeth – another 400 bookshops closed in the UK alone in 2012, and B&N is hardly looking healthy in the States – and many publishers, agents and authors alike are taking a defensive stance and battening down the hatches, you’d think the future for books was pretty bleak. But the joy of a creative industry is that is fed by a creative force – and now is a time of unique opportunity and change. I consider myself a reader, publisher and writer – in that order – and above all else I am a devoted disciple of words, whatever their form. What we all need to do is remember our own love of books, whether creator or consumer, and combine forces to drive innovation and ideas. Why did Aksania’s tweet strike a chord? Because with Remember to Breathe we tried to take a few tentative steps towards a genuinely collaborative book development process, publisher and author working hand in hand to create not just the best book possible but a whole suite of ideas and content to support it and offer a creative smorgasbord to hungry readers. What drove the collaboration? Me, as publisher, wanting my pound of flesh and shackling every part of the process (and investment) to minimise risk? The author demanding guarantees but essentially being unceremoniously distanced from the book’s development once he’d delivered a script? Far from it. The book’s creation was driven first and foremost by two readers who wanted to get the book in front of other readers, and our roles were only defined by who took on responsibility for taking forward particular ideas. Most importantly the collaboration continues just as strongly now, a few months after publication, as we continue to develop the book and its suite of goodies to attract a wider audience. Do I want to sell loads of copies and make it a bestseller? You bet! Will I achieve that by being a ‘traditional’ publisher, not willing to go beyond ‘what I know’ and hoping the regular processes and channels will make it work? No. Absolutely not. As publisher and author we have combined our roles and responsibilities and continuously ask ourselves the same questions – we’re readers, what do we want from our books, how do we want to read them, and how can we get them? So far it has stood us in good stead, and made the publishing process a darn sight more fun!
Every single book is different. And every single project demands a different approach to not only produce a brilliant book, but to ensure that book is discovered by its potential readership. To make that happen we, as publishers, writers and readers, have to pool our knowledge, pool our skills, pool our creativity and enthusiasm, and work together to develop new and exciting ways to create content, deliver words and share our love of books. In a world of self-published bestsellers, worldwide audiences ready to read at a touch of a button, and where discover-ability has become the new priority for every publisher and writer, it is going to take innovation, bravery and collaboration to deliver the brilliant books of the future. Personally I think that’s an incredibly exciting world to create in. I’ve got my ticket for the ‘intrepid locomotive’. Join me.
PS why not take a look at Aksania’s latest creative words here http://fictionaut.com/stories/aksania-xenogrette/emily-has-a-crush