Boskone 46

Boskone 46, 2009

James Patrick Kelly

James Patrick Kelly

Thank you Jim Kelly. Oh, and yes, the others on the panel, “New Publishing and Marketing Technologies”. I have had an epiphany.

The future of writing is virtual, electronic, perhaps with never a tree contributing to it. Like it or no, we are seeing a generation coming which scorns books. That doesn’t mean they don’t read; they just read on devices. Downloadable fiction is cheap, accessible, and doesn’t leave a trail of corpses, that is, stripped paperbacks, and spines lined up in cardboard boxes in yard sales and library book sales, a quarter apiece (a bag for two bucks).

James Patrick Kelly posted his novel Burn, the book that later won him a Hugo award, as a podcast on his website, free and downloadable under Creative Commons. Although he admitted he has mixed feelings about giving his work away for free (It sets a bad precedent; writers and artists want to be paid for their work, too) it succeeds. When it’s free and easy, people read it, share it, and if it’s good, it can go viral. Better publicity that what most publishing houses offer their non-best-selling authors.

The panel warned, “Don’t try to make your own podcasts if you aren’t a good reader. Get an actor.” In my case, no problem. Anyone who has heard me read my work aloud knows that. They also warn that you need to use good equipment if you want it to sound professional. Again, no problem, thanks to my husband who is a composer and has all the recording equipment and software one could need.

[I have since recorded Archimedes Nesselrode (both the short story and the novel versions as audios.]

So what happens when the market begins to become flooded with self-published fiction? When the podcasts begin multiplying like, well, pod people? Fictionwise, for example, is chock-a-block full of stuff. How do you sort the good from the bad, what you want and what’s a waste of your time? The panelists had the answer to that, too. The future belongs to the Gatekeepers and the Navigators, reviewers and facilitators, the folks who help you find your way through the Web Maze to your goal, connecting artist and writer to audience.

Could this be a job for ArtSpider?

Saturday night, I wandered around looking for something to do. There seemed to be nothing going on. Couldn’t find any parties. So I stumbled into a room with these folks wielding an assortment of instruments, singing these really off-the-wall songs. I was sucked in. I stayed with them until two in the morning and they kicked us out of the room. I had discovered filking.

At the Arts Exhibit I discovered the genius of Charles Lang. He has virtually no web presence at all, and as near as I can tell has done quite a few covers of zines like Cemetery Dance. I adored his display of canned goods served in the Miskatonic University cafeteria, including “Cream of Cthulhu Soup”.

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