The ritual

Last month Publishers Weekly covered "Indie rock's lessons for publishers: Musicians who self-publish books find the two forms strikingly similar". Written by Alex Palmer, a freelance journalist who lives in Brooklyn, the article uses the experience of a musician, Todd Colberg, to draw some parallels between independent musicians and self-published authors.

Colberg told Palmer that he had to overcome "two main sticking points: finding the time to do the final writing and editing, and letting people know that the book exists." His band had broken up in 2006, long before Colberg began working on Self Booked, a profile of his eight years with The Spinns. So he turned to Kickstarter, the band's (aging) e-mail list and YouTube to get the word out.

While the parallels between indie musicians and self-published authors are loosely drawn, Palmer offers four primary lessons:

  • Barriers to entry have fallen for both musicians and authors
  • 'Creating' and 'managing' are hard to balance
  • Discovery is a persistent challenge
  • Depth of connection with a vibrant community can make the difference

Toward the end of the article, Palmer captures a hopeful exchange with Scott Collins, also a musician and published author. Riffing on the recent resurgence of vinyl as a medium, Collins observes:

I think it’s because it’s kind of a ritual— pulling something off the wall, putting it into a machine and playing the thing; there’s a process. I think for reading too—a lot of this is going to come back to that ritual, to people doing things because it’s an investment.

In creating a parallel with vinyl, Collins also offers a bit of pining for the physical connection. That's something that e-reading has yet to create. Then again, try to take an e-ink or tablet device away from a heavy reader and you'll see the power of a new-era ritual.

Brian O'Leary

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.

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