Justine Musk, met via Zoetrope, on how being an author has changed, bringing up agonies familiar: what your cover looks like (just watched a friend prevail with her ideas for a better one); where they shelve your book (this one, originally a struggle for us, may be again and which persists in digital world as the category they "shelve" you in); and how people come to know about your work (radically different when a mere mention can replicate in seconds across multiple networks, when you-as-author are writing constantly, not just in books--status, posts, comments, likes, tweets...). Great lines here, ital mine:
An author-brand used to be a kind of object: an unchanging set of assumptions and expectations about the kind of book that the author produced, defined not just through the writing itself but the artful packaging of the books and where those books were placed in the bookstore (“fantasy” or “science-fiction” or “romance” or whatever).
What happens when we don’t buy books based on the covers anymore? When we don’t even go to the bookstores but buy them quite literally out of thin air?
As an author, you are defined through the ongoing experience that you provide for the reader. That is how you will catch new readers and maintain old ones. This experience has been severed from the physical forms of books and now exists as a kind of energy that moves between you and your readers via cyberspace, which will eventually become so integrated with daily life that it will no longer be referred to as ‘cyberspace’, or a separate kind of space at all. Your author-brand becomes a living thing that streams out to your readership who then reflects it back to you who then streams it back to them and so on and so forth.
What kind of experience will you provide for your readers?
How will they experience not just your novels, but you? How will they experience you in order to find your novels in the first place?