Evil Monkey: So you’ve been less silent this week. Still working on the novel.
Jeff: Yeah, I am, but had some other deadline stuff, post-Shared Worlds, to take care of. How’ve you been?
Evil Monkey: Obsessively surfing the intertubes. Scratching myself. Jumping people in dark alleys.
Evil Monkey: What was it like being off the internet for awhile?
Jeff: Peaceful. Getting back on was like standing in front of a fire hose going full blast.
Evil Monkey: You didn’t like that whole thing about some bloggers wanting publishers to pay them to do reviews?
Jeff: Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the book business and of where the internet is going. Very entertaining.
Evil Monkey: But they should be paid! Poor misunderstood bloggers. Hitting a ceiling on their daily hits. Hitting out at others to get more hits. Me want money! Me deserve fame! Entitlement rules!
Jeff: Is that you still in character, or…?
Evil Monkey: That’s me wanting money and fame. Seriously, though–why shouldn’t they get paid?
Jeff: I’m reminded of the dad who tells the kid to go out and get a real job.
Evil Monkey: You do a blog. You list books received. Why not ask for payment?
Jeff: I get books because I do reviews for a multitude of paying publications. I do reviews for paying publications because I went out there and worked in the trenches and then proactively sent my clips to said publications, and now I get paid by them to write reviews. Ergo, I get books in the mail. And I get paid. I did not sit there and do reviews on my blog and wait for fame and fortune to come to me.
Evil Monkey: What about publishers buying ads on blogger sites?
Jeff: That’s already old-school, Web 2.0 thinking. Web 3.0 is all about how connectivity, authenticity, and transparency lead to other opportunities. People don’t want blogging sites to turn into formal websites, paid for by the Man. And some bloggers are fidgety because they kind of subconsciously understand that blogging isn’t enough creatively–it’s as much a means to an end, as the end itself. This is why so many are getting squirmy. The blog begins to feel like a trap. Pouring all of this energy in, not getting enough out. But they forget that by its very nature a blog is a transient thing, a series of spikes and troughs in reader attention, with each spike forgotten after about a week or less. (I thought Wheeler’s post was dead-on.)
Evil Monkey: That’s a bit harsh.
Jeff: Yeah, maybe. I mean, I self-identify in part as a “blogger” and I read a lot of blogs and enjoy them. So the basic questioning and discussion of what does it mean to be a blogger I think is very valid. It’s just the way some of it came out–which, again, is a function of blogging. Sometimes you blog something that’s bothering you without really thinking through the root causes for the irritation.
Evil Monkey: What do you think a blog is for?
Jeff: To me, the leverage a blog provides is so you can do more permanent creative projects, for the most part. If you cannot rejuvenate your blog through having books, videos, movies, or other actual things out in the world, then you are always going to hit a kind of electronic ceiling. Frustrations can multiply along with an inflated sense of entitlement without there being an additional creative outlet. All of your eggs in one bloggy basket, so to speak.
Evil Monkey: I’d rather jump people in dark alleys than continue to talk about this.
Jeff: Fine by me. One thing I realized while offline is that I want to stay offline more often.
Evil Monkey: What about that Prime-Cisco controversy? People who were never going to sell more than a thousand copies complaining about not selling more than a thousand copies? You must’ve seen that.
Jeff: Sure. Although I thought Cisco, who is a supremely talented writer, had some valid points about author-publisher communication. It would’ve never gotten that far if Prime had had transparent and professional communication with the author. But here’s the main point, Evil–in part because of this Prime is dropping its POD program and concentrating on 16 offset titles next year. That’s good in one way because the main problem has always been Prime personnel being overworked. But it means the end of an era because hardly anyone doing POD put out such nice looking books, which meant a lot more attention for Prime’s POD titles than almost any other POD imprint. Prime bought books that no one would ever have taken a chance on through offset. They bought a ton of great story collections. So now who is going to publish those authors? Who is going to fill that gap? Because no one else out there, for anything you want to say about Prime, would’ve taken the chances Prime did. People don’t seem to realize that. What you’ll see now is many of those authors in limited edition hardcovers no one ever sees or in amateurishly designed PODs from micro presses that can’t, for example, get attention from Publishers Weekly. Unless someone steps in… Evil?
Evil Monkey: Sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. I was surfing the internet.
Jeff: No worries. I got sick of hearing myself talk, too.
Evil Monkey: I think I hear you saying you hate the internet. Even though you were just happy about the Bullington thing.
Jeff: No, I don’t hate it. And there’s a lot of good that comes out of it. But I think there’s a growing imbalance. Being online should be a controlled part of one’s life, not a 24-7 habit.
Evil Monkey: Aren’t you just talking about yourself?
Jeff: No. In general. Right now, we have all conversations occurring online, even ones that would be more productive face-to-face. We have little or no editing on most blogosphere reviews, resulting in more factual errors than I’ve ever seen before. These errors become magnified by the need for blogs to perpetuate their brand by linking to content–content that they often haven’t read, thus becoming indifferent portals for both quality content and non-quality content. And, despite the internet holding a collective memory, there are also more posts than ever before starting from scratch–people writing about topics where they haven’t even bothered to google the main points to see what’s already out there. Thus creating repetitive deja vu discussions that are incredibly tiresome for anybody with a memory. We have flame wars through posts or comments threads that in most cases tend to obscure mutual understanding and which, by their very nature, do not solve the problem they’re meant to address because of our shorter attention spans. We also are fragmenting our attention spans to the point that books that even a decade ago would’ve been considered perfectly normal are now considered “difficult.” If you can’t sit down and read a serious novel from beginning to end without checking your email several dozen times, or just can’t sit down and read a serious novel period–chances are it’s not the novel’s fault. If we don’t deal with these issues, individually and communally, we negate all of the good things the internet brings us.
Evil Monkey: Again, surfing. Didn’t hear most of that. But I’m sure it was excellent.
Jeff: Not a problem. Everybody’s doin’ the surfing thang. But here’s the main point: the creative people who will be most successful going forward will be those with the discipline to curtail their hours on email and the internet. Because those are the people who will not get trapped in a revolving whirlpool of tactical demands on their time–they will be able to focus on strategic goals. They will be able to manage their time to be more proactive, not reactive. They will not respond in Pavlovian haste to every email that enters their inbox every hour, or every Facebook request, or instant message that pops up…because they will be too busy planning and organizing for the future.
Evil Monkey: Hey–what about you? You’re sitting there typing this all up into your blog. What’s up with that?
Jeff: Good point. I’m writing this after a long day of mostly being off the internet. I walked through a nature park. I went to the gym. I checked my snail mail. I wrote a lot. I worked on a long-term goal. And now I’m getting right back off the internet again.
Evil Monkey: You know what would be good?
Evil Monkey: If I could upload myself to the internet and just be this pure energy being that inhabited all of the many intertubes! Let every blog post, every website wash over me. To be every post, every website. Simultaneously.
Jeff: Nite monkey.
Evil Monkey: Nite, o you bastard stepchild of New Hampshire, o you tarded dumbass luddite.