Monday News: New Models for Success?
How to Write a ‘Big Book’ -I’m still trying to figure out if this blog post by Lev Raphael is a joke. The subject – ‘how to write a big book’ – is also its central argument: to write a ‘big book’ in traditional publishing you have to write a ‘big book.’ With an anecdote about a writer friend whose editor told him he needed to write longer books. The end. Satire? If this is meant to be serious advice, has it gotten to the point where you can just throw out an assertion that appears to stand for itself?
What special talent does it take? What magic do you need?
Well, it’s essential that the book is physically big.
500-600 pages is big book big. It tells a reader they’re buying something that the publisher has invested lots of time and money in. Think The Historian, Mystic River, The Secret History, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Books that size inspire confidence in many readers. –Huffington Post
Will The Internet Just Fix Itself? – Reading John Herrman’s piece on the Internet and the question of whether its increasingly centralized infrastructure will ultimately decentralize or whether the centralization can itself be a disruptive force, even as it is attempting to put down long-term stabilizing roots. Take, for example, companies like Uber, which rely on the labor of freelance drivers, which seems to build in freedom for labor, but which requires increasingly corporate strategizing for management to sustain its advantage in the marketplace. Will the Internet help facilitate this dual model, empowering both the monopolist and the disrupter?
If the internet, as well as the part of the economy managed fully through its infrastructure, increasingly amounts to an expression of the wills of a small group of companies and people, then it is creating a scenario that could—or should—give rise to a new sort of labor movement, one that uses the tools of the new software industrialists to check their power. It is no coincidence that the most vocal proponents of the 1099 economy as a boon to “flexible” work schedules are the companies that stand to benefit from the normalization of insecure labor. These jobs are only meaningfully “flexible” to people who can afford to treat them that way, and only for as long as the jobs tasks they create are worth doing on a part-time basis. Their goal is to sell the labor of people who most definitely aren’t their employees to people who most definitely are their customers. Their goal is to do this at the lowest possible cost while eventually making a profit. This is what they are optimizing for, and it is reflected not just in their management and goals, but in their software. So why not entertain the idea of an algorithmic labor union? Some sort of organization that might pit software optimized to serve Uber’s interest against software optimized to serve the collective interests of its drivers? –The Awl
The New Making It – Speaking of new models of labor, check out this piece on how success is being redefined by a new approach to creativity. Rather than distinguishing market from art, these creators are embracing both and pursuing multiple avenues in business and their artistic ambitions to both make ends meet and maximize their options. Illustrator and ceramics artist Kenesha Sneed is a great example of this dual approach, and then there is Robyn Schneider, who exemplifies the current power of YouTube in ‘making’ stars:
Robyn Schneider writes fiction for young adults. She is also on YouTube. ‘‘There’s a huge overlap there, obviously,’’ she says — referring to the fact that so many Y.A. writers, chief among them John Green, the author of ‘‘The Fault in Our Stars,’’ are building their fan bases on the video site. She has about 18,000 subscribers to her channel, which she started in part because of Green. ‘‘I’m like an echo of John,’’ Schneider says. ‘‘He forged the path.’’ Throughout graduate school, she says, ‘‘if I was bored for, like, two hours, I could make a video.’’ Those now make maybe $3,000 a year. For several summers, she also wrote books under a pen name and sold them — making the equivalent of a decent paid summer internship. Then she took her novels to market under her own name, and they sold for a lot of money (six figures). Though she had never been serious about the YouTube thing, she realized that her success was, in part, because of this audience. That’s how it works: You build a following, then monetize it.–New York Times
Andra Day, the voice behind the Serena Williams Beats ad, is the latest born-on-YouTube star – And speaking of YouTube, check out this piece on Andra Day, whose song provides the background for the new Serena Williams Beats advertisement. As the article notes, Day is on the cusp of real stardom, and “[h]er career path to date follows a model that’s becoming more and more common—groomed by pros, raised on YouTube.” Without question, YouTube has become very important in the rise of many new young artists, not all of whom actually sing or write (although Day can clearly sing). In fact, the very concept of the “artist” is evolving, and one of the things that ties together all of the articles I posted today is that they’re all about trends that may or may not prove to be “the path” for everyone. Write a big book, get a following on YouTube, be backed by pros, multitask your talents – there is so much advice out there and so many assertions that X is “the way,” that it will be interesting to see, in, say, 20 years, whether the mix of factors that create success are so substantially different now than they were 10 years ago, and will be another 10 years from now. Or whether we’re just better connected and paying more attention to how people succeed. I mean, having powerful people behind you seems to be an enduring formula for success, whether it be on YouTube or the boob tube.
Day is no amateur, however. After getting discovered at a performance by the wife of Stevie Wonder, the San Diego native was introduced to Adrian Gurvitz, a Grammy-winning songwriter-turned-producer. Gurvitz, along with Jeffrey Evans at Buskin’ records, helped her produce the videos, which eventually caught the attention of Warner Brothers Records, one of the biggest labels in the music industry. Her album debut was released on August 28th—just days before the Beats commercial hit. –Quartz