We are treading deeper into a new era of publishing. There is an explosion of new writers and journalists, and a democratization of news and social commentary. Sites like Associated Content, Constant Content and Helium, to name just few, are changing the game.
Many traditional publishing barriers have been knocked down. Others remain but are effectively invisible due to new technologies. It remains hard work to become a famous author or journalist. It takes skill and dedication to write compelling stories that people want to read. But if someone told me thirty years ago that I could write a story one evening, that story could be viewed by the entire world the next, and that I would be paid accordingly…
This is good news for readers. Local observers of an event become credible journalists. Commentary on national and world events streams in from every corner of the world. Local events go global. The change is not limited to news. It involves all types of writing: fiction, non-fiction, prose and poetry. It also includes music, art, video and other forms of media.
Online publishing has changed the game for authors, publishers, advertisers and readers. What has changed most drastically is that the production, marketing and distribution parts have gotten easier or been eliminated. There is no theoretical page limit on the Internet. Online publishers can feel free to publish as much information as they want. The trick for publishers the same as it has been since Gutenberg: how to find the best authors with the best material.
The downside: there is a glut of things on the Internet that are not worth reading. The upside: there is much good to be discovered. The Internet allows the cream to rise to the top on its own merit. There are still marketing strategies to execute, keywords to ponder, promotion to be done, but these tools are in the hands of the author, not just the publisher’s marketing division.
It makes sense that this new form of publishing is funded by advertising. The ads are largely non-intrusive, but in this brave new world, advertisers can target ads to their most likely customers with near laser precision. An article about green technologies can be paired with an ad for a hybrid car; or an article on songwriting with an ad for guitars or pianos. This has been done for years in the print industry to the extent that it could be, but its effectiveness is magnified exponentially when real-time analysis is being used with every page turn combined with every available bit of data about the reader.
It will be fun to observe the continued evolution. Much of this is not new to those of you who may read this. But things happen so quickly it’s sometimes fun to state the obvious. At least it is a “new obvious”. For all the changes, one thing remains true: the more things change, the more they stay the same. The art is the same as it was in the days of the cave paintings. It is the oldest art. The art of storytelling.