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EMG News for July
Cyberfunded Creativity In Contextby Elizabeth Barrette
New developments always rest on older foundations. In this case, cyberfunded creativity connects with trends in online activity, conventional publishing, and evolving business models. Creators and patrons alike can increase their satisfaction with CFC by studying these other factors and processes. Some blogs and other websites are beginning to track these connections. I started the LiveJournal virtual community Cyberfunded Creativity as one venue for exchanging information and discussing experiences.
Cyberfunded creativity relates to other trends in cyberspace. People value interactivity. CFC makes it easier for patrons to influence what kind of literature, artwork, and music gets produced. This also makes it easier for writers, artists, musicians, and other creative people to find out what audiences want, what they’re willing to pay, what changes they’d like to see, and so forth.
Electronic commerce is also drawing more and more financial transactions online. It has even spawned entire virtual economies. People enjoy the convenience and privacy of shopping online. Unlike most stores, cyberfunded creativity frequently offers customized goods and services to patrons who wish to commission something unique.
The rise of social media has made people more aware of and more interested in their connections with other people. Cyberfunded creativity rewards a rich social network with high sales and a generous selection of things to read, listen to, and watch. It also enriches the experience by fostering personal connections between creators and consumers, rather than the impersonal exchange of traditional distribution models.
Cyberfunded creativity also relates to trends in conventional publishing. Hardcopy magazines, caught between rising costs in paper and postage, are struggling to survive. Mainstream book publishers are also struggling to retain readers. Some small presses have managed to increase their market share by treating writers better and by taking bigger risks in publishing more ambitious, less conventional material than the major publishers. Other small presses have taken a different approach, cutting out expenses such as author advances and services such as professional illustrations, for a leaner and cheaper business model putting out books that might not otherwise see print. Cooperative and subsidized publishing, in which the author pays part or all of the expenses, also continue to compete.
Similarly, independent music is benefiting from creative marketing approaches while the major labels lose ground. Individual musicians and bands are experimenting with such perks as giving away free MP3 files to attract new listeners, and inviting fan donations to fund studio sessions. So creative people and consumers may turn to cyberfunded creativity in addition to or instead of more traditional models that don’t fully meet their needs.
Creative and Business Implications
By stepping outside the mainstream business models, we do lose some of the conventional benefits. Writers may want to hire a freelance editor to help polish their work before posting it or self-publishing a chapbook. Artists or art buyers may need to hook up with a framer. Some venues are allowing or encouraging people to post what services they need or offer.
This fits with a wider economic trend towards more freelance services, as businesses cut corners. They don’t always offer as many services or products as they once did, which may leave consumers looking for more. Stagnating wages and reduced hours leave many employees seeking additional sources of income.
“1000 True Fans” by Kevin Kelly
“1000 True Fans” by Elaine Cunningham – analysis of Kevin Kelly’s essay
“15 Trends to Watch in 2008” by Mike Shatzkin – discussion of changes in the publishing industry, including self-promotion and self-publishing by authors.
“Applying the Long Tail to Online Fiction”
“Less Is More” by Moonrat
“The Problem with 1000 True Fans” by John Scalzi – analysis of Kevin Kelly’s essay
“The Stories That Editors Won’t Buy” by Elizabeth Barrette – discussion of the bottleneck effect of traditional publishing and how cyberfunded creativity circumvents it.
Tools of Change for Publishing
“What Have You Done for Me Lately?” by Kassia Krozser – discussion of publishing trends that may threaten the traditional publishing model.
Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality. Recent publications include the short story "Clouds in the Morning" in Torn World and poem "The Forest of Infinity" in Star*Line. She serves on the Canon Board, editing and selecting material at Torn World. She hosts a monthly Poetry Fishbowl on her blog, The Wordsmith’s Forge (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com), writing poems based on audience prompts. She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee-jumping and spelunking in other people's reality tunnels.
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