Monday, February 13, 2006

In Praise of Blogging

The advice from the publisher of A Story Blook that I discussed in the previous post started me thinking of the many ways a book published via a blog differs from a traditionally-published book.

For a start there's the obvious difference whereby the reader can contact the author at any time in the reading process. Which is a somewhat more dynamic than the old way of sending fan/hate mail via the author's publisher and waiting months for a reply.

Even more novel is the way the author can immediately respond to the reader's comments.

But it's what happens after that where the new medium really gets interesting. Take the observation by the guy who publishes A Story Blook that the ending is the weak part of A Half Life of One. Assuming I accept that proposition what can I do about it?

Obviously I can write a different ending. Or maybe a series of endings. For example, a happy ending, a surprising ending, a romantic ending etc etc. And then the reader can choose one or more as they wish. Or I could even turn the book over to my critic and let him/her write an alternative ending. It doesn't have to be just endings either. The reader could intervene at any point in the process.

Or I could write several versions of the same book based on readers suggestions. Sounds crazy? Probably. But I seem to remember that many years ago what were then called avant garde writers tried to do this sort of thing but were constrained by the medium in which they operated. B.S. Johnson attempted to get round this by publishing one of his novels in a box where the readers could rearrange the chapters to suit themselves.

Being somewhat old-fashioned I think that for the time being I'll stick to the old way of doing things whereby I author the book myself. That doesn't mean to say though that I don't welcome suggestions. I do. Receiving readers' advice and feedback is definitely one of the biggest benefits of the new way of doing things.

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