…Well, a few things.
Straight up, I’ll be filing my final Sunday Life column this week.
Almost 130 experiments in how to make life better…you’d hope I’d have found an answer, hey?? I kinda have, but that’s for another time.
A publisher once said to me, “Never do a column for more than two years. The first year you find your feet, the second you find your voice and after that you repeat what you said in the first two years.” I tend to agree.
And as many of you who read this blog know, I’m not one to hang on to things. I like to move where my voice keeps fresh.
So, from the New Year, I’ll be working on a bunch of new projects (TV and print), as well as ebooks.
I’ve been really rather thrilled with how rewarding ebook publishing is.
Ebooks are a direct conversation. They help directly. They share authentically. They deliver what I want to share straight to where I want to connect.
Ebooks are new – according to Darren at Problogger, who is something of an international expert in this kind of thing, there are only about 20 or so bloggers making a living from ebooks here. So no one really knows where it will wind up. I’m the first “traditional” journalist to enter into it…I’ve been told.
Some general thoughts:
Media – and life in general – is moving faster than ever. Everything is speeding up. Flux is our permanent state now. I find this exciting.
They call my generation the bridging generation. We Gen Xers…we’ve had to bend and straddle and dance back and forth as we adjust from the ways of yore to, well, this new multifaceted, layered, messy, instant, constant, technology-based way.
I hand wrote my law essays at uni, but was the Tech Head in my office when the internet arrived while I was doing my newspaper cadetship at News Ltd. Throughout my career, as it has been for so many Gen Xers, I’ve been there, grappling, straddling, bending, learning, adapting – in the fray of it all – as media, and life in general, has gone through impossible-to-pin-down, technology-driven changes over the past 15 years or so. We didn’t study this stuff at uni. We had to learn on the job, faking it to our Boomer bosses ’till we made it.
I was editing Cosmopolitan as the internet came and savaged advertising revenue and readership. I was a TV host when Twitter was finding its feet and experienced firsthand how snark unleashed works. (Prior to that I was in the US, before Twitter hit Australia, and wrote a feature for Good Weekend on these new online hustlers; I thought it was a brief fad.)
Now, after 15 years in journalism and 12 years writing columns in various newspapers and magazines, I’m here again, ensconced in the fray witnessing what’s happening to print media – mags, newspapers etc. I don’t use words like “collapse” or “death of”. Good reporting, conversations, research and opinion will always be important. We’ll just consume and interact with (this being the more future-oriented term) them differently.
And just as an aside…good journalism and writing is becoming MORE coveted during this time of flux. Populism is becoming more…heartening.
Watch how we “unfollow” people on Twitter or blogs who don’t share well researched, considered stuff. And journalists like Annabel Crabb, Mark Colvin and Leigh Sales have huge “fan” bases.
But how we interact has shifted. And it’s all, to my mind, about opportunity.
If you have something to say, you can do so more authentically, more helpfully than ever before.
There is room and appreciation of all kinds of voices. So long as they’re real and authentic. We don’t have to worry about frauds or the “death of” information. Faccid journalism and pretenders are sniffed out – and torn down – immediately in this online arena. Aren’t they?
Finally, I say above we’re in a time of flux, as though the balls in the air will one day land, nicely, solidly. No they won’t!!! This is it. Communication is a 100% flux-y thing now. We just move with it…taking our content, knowledge and care with us.
Which is a mild meandering.
Regardless. For me, ebooks and blogging have become opportunities to do and be what I want and to connect in a way that thrills me.
There’s a nice timing to this end of a chapter. A lot of changes are going to play out in the lifestyle media arena in the next few months…more sections and magazines closing, new ventures starting, new media operators appearing. We’ve seen Wendy Harmer’s The Hoopla take hold. And Mamamia has been striding forth, making lots of waves and is rumoured to be undergoing some big, bold, exciting shifts. Hoorah to that (and the chick factor going on here!).
THIS IS WHAT IS EXCITING: those with something worth sharing will win out.
The way media and technology works now, chaff is sorted, naturally.
People who don’t have “big names” can rise to the top. Nastiness and vapidity and ignorance doesn’t last. We share. We share things for free. We’re more open.
For some extra background reading:
As of May this year, Amazon now sells more ebooks than print books and has just started publishing books as well – cutting out not just the bookshops, but the publisher and agent, too. As one Amazon exec in the feature said,
“The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader.”
What do you think of this?
Amazon has started giving its authors direct access to highly coveted Nielsen BookScan sales data. Authors, then, can steer things, work out where they need to go for book “signings” and so on. More contact, more open, more sharing.
Seth Godin is the trailblazer in this field and is all about offerings direct to readers or fans. His interview here is interesting…his thoughts on giving your “art” generously have possibly been the most influential in my time writing 130-odd columns.
Mumbrella has also posted an announcement on his industry site.
Here’s to 2012 and fresh voices!