In the olden days, a writer hoped to catch the eye of an aristocratic patron who might supply a well-placed word of endorsement. The Gutenberg press wrested authors free from this feudal condition, only transfer writers’ indenture to publishers, who by owning the means of [re]production acquired the final say regarding what volumes would and would not land on store shelves. This gatekeeping privilege of publishers largely survives to this day, and depending on how well you think they do the work, we might celebrate publishers as Stewards of Culture or lament the state of a Literature Held Hostage.
Now digital media and the Internet propose to devolve the means of [re]production upon authors themselves. Any would-be novelist can flog his work in a digital format over Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and other open outlets for textual works.
Brad Abruzzi — Berkman Fellow and practicing university attorney — is one of those would-be novelists. Ten weeks ago, without any word of encouragement or assent from Big Publishing, Brad released his novel, New Jersey’s Famous Turnpike Witch, on Amazon. And now, for Brad, the age-old question recurs: where are my readers?
Brad leads a discussion about self-publication, author independence, and the prospects for a literary culture fostered by reader criticism, rather than publishers’ whims.
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More info on this event here.