Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts: Embrace Change

Yesterday I was part of a art show and talk by John Katz, a writer and (more recently) photographer who lived near me in Hebron, NY. He and his wife, Maria were doing at art show featuring affordable art - that is, high quality art at prices regular mortals can afford, at Redux, an art and antique shop in nearby Dorset, Vermont. (that is it, housed in an old barn, in the picture.)

There was a festive feel in the air, as many of the people there are fans of Katz, who was a warm and engaging presence. Before the show began, Jon gave a talk about writing and the changing nature of the publishing universe.

His message of change was, I thought, spot on, and a powerful one for artistic sorts who have avoided the machine that has been traditional publishing or art sales. The internet and the various outlets it has, like facebook, blogs and twitter, have changed everything.

These new outlets have changed our ability to reach an audience. For some "unpublished" artists, it can build an audience, sell works, create conversations, all without the traditional outlets.

In the past year, for instance, thousands of you have visited here, and read poems and taken in photography. A few hundred of those have bought my first hardcover book of poems. Some visitors have gone to my web site and bought photos, or the rights to photos that have ended up on books, restaurant menus, magazine articles, T shirts and who knows what else. From visitors here, I have gotten commissions, and chances to talk. All without traditional agents, publishers, etc, hawking my wares. Some of you who visit here.

And for authors like John Katz, already established and in place, it has provided a new outlet, a new way to reach readers on a more personal, and thus more engaging, medium. We all read particular writers because there is some connection, and these new outlets make that connection more personal, cementing the bond between a writer and those who read him.

That's powerful.

Something else that is powerful, on a deeply personal basis. Some of you here have become more than readers, you have become friends. We have written each other, shared troubles and even prayed over each other. None of us would have known the other existed without the discovery of each other over the internet. Talk about using power for good!

If there are people reading this who write, and have either pushed into the publishing/agented world of writing with rejection after rejection, or simply are not the personality to persevere in the traditional art marketing world, then embrace this change and make it work for you. There are people waiting for your art, and you can get readers, patrons, clients and more by embracing it.

It's no more instant than the traditional methods of publishing or selling art, but over time, and no more time than the traditional methods, it works. There is an inevitableness to it. And there are people waiting for your affordable art.


PS - the picture was from John Katz's Facebook feed. He has been very generous in saying others could use his Facebook pictures and I took advantage of that to illustrate this entry. Alas, every shot I took had a head suddenly appear on the foreground. The white barn in the background, is Redux and the border collie is Izzy, a popular real live character in John's books. You can click on it for a larger version.


Derrick said...

I'm glad you found a paying audience via the internet, Tom. For writers I think there can still be a reluctance for the audience to buy when they can enjoy for free! But there's certainly pleasure simply in being read!

Tom Atkins said...

I feel like I have the best of both worlds Derrick - a chance merely to share, and the knowledge that some people like things I do well enough to pay for it. I doubt I make a living as a poet (few do), but I do like having a supplement doing what I love.

FireLight said...

Tom, this is such an important message. I am going to direct several writers I know to read this. I read your poetry over and over sometimes here, but the best part is having an opportunity to have a dialogue with you and your creativity! And, I can say the same about Derrick. He just keeps turning out the most interesting pieces...and he talks abou them. Such a rich literary table right here! I have not had to the courage to post any recent work, just a couple of older poems. However, you will be the first to know when I do!!