When I was sent the proofs of a book in the 1980s it was the first time I’d seen my manuscript properly typeset and replicated. Now authors established and emerging sit at their networked desks from which they can amplify their words directly to a growing circle of followers via blogs and social media. They can publish what they compose in the font of their choice and in a form that includes any of the digital illuminations and interactions their laptop makes possible. We need writers to embrace these possibilities undefensively, and to bring brilliance to the reading screen.
The amplified author doesn’t wait for a publisher to decide if his or her work deserves a readership or not. Before considering sending a manuscript to a traditional publisher, the writer may have tested out their ideas on a circle of readers via a blog, drawn new readers in through Twitter and a variety of online networks. Acceptance from a quality publisher gives a boost to profile and reputation, but the amplified author doesn’t need to cede control to any one gatekeeper.
A writer who has one book bought by a conventional publisher might want to self publish the next one, freed from the constraints of editors and marketing departments who have a view on what kind of book they think they can sell most effectively. And this approach can be adopted by writers at all levels, from emerging writers to global bestsellers.
Amplified authors aren’t prey to vanity presses selling them a pretence of publication; they study the analytics and comments to find out who actually reads their work and what they make of it. Few ‘conventional’ authors make anything like a living wage from the books they publish, yet labour under the belief that they should do. Amplified authors know they don’t need cash up front to put their work into the world, and can develop techniques to expand their readership and market their wares if they wish, buying in design, editorial and promotional skills when they choose. Amplified authors drive their own careers forward.
The Amplified Author in the Local Unlibrary is a day conference at Hornsey Library, North London, where if:book is setting up the first UNLIBRARY, a co-working space for readers, writers and businesses. Our aim is to explore the writer’s relationship with their locality and how the Unlibrary could become a hub for all kinds of authors, from newcomers to bestsellers, as they use the web to take control of their writing lives. And then there’s the implications of this shift for publishers…
The day is open to all – it’s about the role of local wherever your local is. We still have a few places remaining, but spaces are limited so if you’d like an invite, please email [email protected] with a line about you and why you’d like to come.
Andrea Levy is our special guest, plus an array of experts on bookselling, social media, narrative and games, cross-platform and collaborative writing, self publishing and more. We’ll also be debating the role of local with a panel including Big Green Books, Apples & Snakes and Shreela Ghosh, Director of the Free Word Centre.