Incredible Creative Opportunities

by Penni L Smith on May 11, 2013

Fanned pages of a bookThis is a wonderful time to be creative.

In mid-April, bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright David Mamet announced that he will self-publish his next book. He’s not completely going it alone; this is a service his literary agency is now offering. And he’s not the only big-name writer to go this route. Still, given his literary status, it’s a major step.

Why would he do it? He’s not a unknown author sitting around with a stack of rejection slips. He’d have no problem getting his book published. He’s doing it for two main reasons, according to the news reports. One is that he wants more control, and the second is that “nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”

The rise of the digital age has caused a revolution in artistic access. Before recording devices that permitted mass distribution, artists of all types had limited exposure. The printing press enabled books, papers, and magazines to reach broader audiences, but that only helped writers. Musicians and actors might play for their communities, or in a traveling show, but only those actually present could enjoy it. With the advent of recording devices–photographs, records, tape, film, television–people far and wide could encounter an artist’s work.

The problem was that these processes were expensive. Printing a book took a lot of money. So did recording an album or filming a movie. So the star culture was born. Authors longed to be published, actors longed for a role, musicians longed for a contract. Very few were able to make it.

The desire to become a star is stronger than ever, but for those who care more about their work then the spotlight, this is an incredible time. Want to be involved in a movie, as an actor, director, camera operator, or almost any capacity? All you need is simple camera and some people to work on it together. You can publish it yourself on YouTube (or your own site). A musician can use some simple software and basic equipment to make recordings, which could be assembled onto a CD or offered as individual downloads. Authors can format and publish their own writings, either as ebooks or print-on-demand.

Though the access is now readily available, the danger is that quality can suffer–and it has at times. Artists should maintain high standards and not let the ease of doing things cheaply lead to shortcuts. For authors, that means spending money on editors and graphic artists and other assistance as needed. People making videos should get the best cameras, equipment, and talent they can. Same thing with musicians.

For many, just having their work available to the world will be enough. Others may at least earn enough to live doing what they enjoy. A few will have a breakthrough and truly make it big. Publishers are now watching for self-publishing successes that they could make offers to. This is also happening with music and video.

For too long, author, musicians, and others were hostages of an elusive dream only available to a lucky few. Now those who want to expose others to their art–and maybe make a little money–have an opportunity like never before. No longer does being self-published mean you can’t make it any other way. It means you are in the company of Pulitzer Prize winners.

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