The internet has made the world of publishing – and more specifically, the world of readers – more accessible than it ever had been. No longer would authors be the mystifying, or perhaps mythical, souls whose name is on the front and picture on the back of novels at the bookstore. New communication opens up for dialogues between author and audience and includes people further in the process of their favorite books. Even the publishing companies have found value in appealing to the little people. In a deal with LibraryThing, for example, some companies will send out advance copies of their books in exchange for an LT review of it. Yes, this still may be a corporate money-grubbing ploy, but still, how cool. People like me could get to review books like we’re people who matter. It’s a different way of operating than the exclusive and insular world that its seems like publishing has been. Authors also have to be connected on all the hippest social networking sites, either maintained by themselves or a lackey, as suggested in this article. Every friend/fan added extends their network a little further and would increase exposure of their work a little more, so it’s a practical business decision. But it also leaves authors open for their fans, who can leave comments – like talking to a real person! – and get cred for having cool “friends” in their Top 8. Everyone wins. But full websites and blogs are really where the action is. The pinnacle of this phenomenon, Neil Gaiman, simply breeds fangirls over at his journal – syndicated by Livejournal, where he probably gets the most attention. All in one his journal humanizes him and his craft, and keeps fans updated on the actual books. JK Rowling (who, granted, doesn’t need the exposure, but that makes the fanservice all the nicer) has a highly interactive site, answers questions on it, and has praised fansites. Jeanette Winterson maintains a fairly pretentious site with a monthly column and a link to her Myspace. And Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, writes his own newsletters for fans. I’m always more willing to pick up a new book that I’ve kind of heard of than a complete unknown – even if the only connotation I have is “Hey, the author seemed pretty cool and down-to-earth on LJ.” Publishers and authors indulging their fans is a mutually beneficial deal; they build loyalty and exposure, we get a privileged and different look at our books and authors.
A Small, Small World