Literary magazine 2.0

The third section of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto includes a chapter, "Communities of writers", written by Jürgen Fauth of Fictionaut. In it, Fauth describes how he evolved an early experiment with an online literary magazine into Fictionaut, a literary community that combines elements of a social network with a self-selecting literary magazine.

Fauth outlines the problem he hopes Fictionaut can help solve:

"I’d long harbored a sense that the ecosystem of online and print literary magazines wasn’t adequately serving writers, readers, or editors. Too many writers submitted to magazines without having bothered to read them. Readers were confronted with a bewildering array of choices, while editors were overwhelmed with submissions. I had experienced this system firsthand from all angles, and I was hoping that Fictionaut, using a variation of Flickr’s “interestingness” algorithm, might be able to provide an alternative."

By the time his chapter was written earlier this year, Fictionaut had gathered 5,000 writers who had contributed a total of more than 20,000 stories. The business model currently relies on advertising, although both subscription and product sales (the new publishing?) are being considered. Bootstrapped, Fictionaut has had to start small, and sign-ups had not been opened up widely when Fauth's chapter was published.

I've written a few posts lately that invoke the idea that, in an era of push-button technologies to disseminate content, the role of publishers is evolving to focus on organizing communities. Manifesto includes several chapters that explore that theme, including: "Web Literature: Publishing on the Social Web", by Eli James; "A Reader’s Bill of Rights", by Kassia Krozser; and Fauth's chapter.

Revisiting the work we edited for the book provides certain pleasures and benefits, not the least of which is a chance to find where good ideas started. With Hugh McGuire, my co-editor, I've learned more from those who contributed to the final work than I can ever fully convey. 

About Manifesto: You can now read Fauth's chapter online, where it is hosted on the PressBooks site. The complete book can also be purchased in print, digital and bundled formats through O'Reilly Media and in print and digital formats at major book retailing sites.

This is the last profile I'm writing of the 11 chapters in the third section of the book. As I've noted in previous posts, the royalties for the book are being used to fund the development of PressBooks, and for that reason I encourage you to consider buying the book.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.