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How newsletters and crowdfunding are improving the prospects for book authors

Craig Mod shares some amazing insights for people in all professionals who want to make a living from words. The primacy of the newsletter in finding an audience is the most reassuring. Having a direct channel with one's readers doesn't necessarily lead to big income, but it does lead to crucial connections and feedback that fuel a writing career. 

Wired: The 'Future Book' Is Here, but It's Not What We Expected, 2018-Dec-20 by Craig Mod

Crucial Tech for an Author: Email ...

Almost every writer or artist I know has a newsletter. One way to understand this boom is that as social media has siloed off chunks of the open web, sucking up attention, the energy that was once put into blogging has now shifted to email. Robin Sloan, in a recent—of course—email newsletter, lays it out thusly:

In addition to sending several email newsletters, I subscribe to many, and I talk about them a lot; you might have heard me say this at some point (or seen me type it) but I think any artist or scholar or person-in-the-world today, if they don't have one already, needs to start an email list immediately.

Why? Because we simply cannot trust the social networks, or any centralized commercial platform, with these cliques and crews most vital to our lives, these bands of fellow-travelers who are—who must be—the first to hear about all good things. Email is definitely not ideal, but it is: decentralized, reliable, and not going anywhere—and more and more, those feel like quasi-magical properties. [end Sloan quote]... 

Newsletters as Books

In 2008, WIRED co-founder and technologist Kevin Kelly predicted how the internet and email would allow creators to be independent. He called it the 1,000 True Fans theory of market building. Now the payments and funding and production pieces are in place to allow someone—given 1,000 fervent and supportive fans—to reliably publish for fun and profit. Stratechery is just an archetypical example of Kelly’s 1000 True Fans theory in practice.

Folks like Ben Thompson are effectively writing books. Take a year of his essays, edit them for brevity and clarity, and you’d have a brilliant edition of This Year in Tech. And so in a strange way, Stratechery in paid newsletter form is as much a Future Book as a bounded Kindle edition.... 

For a “book” is just the endpoint of a latticework of complex infrastructure, made increasingly accessible. Even if the endpoint stays stubbornly the same—either as an unchanging Kindle edition or simple paperback—the universe that produces, breathes life into, and supports books is changing in positive, inclusive ways, year by year. The Future Book is here and continues to evolve. You’re holding it. It’s exciting. It’s boring. It’s more important than it has ever been.