Writer 2.0


Pagan The WEbook Guest Author Series continues with Pagan Kennedy, author and editor of the website Writer 2.0, which is dedicated to tracking the death and re-birth of the publishing industry.

Pagan has written ten books; contributed to The New York Times MagazineThe NYT Book Review, The Village Voice, among others; and taught at writing conferences, Boston College, and Johns Hopkins. Currently, she is the Visiting Writer in Nonfiction at Dartmouth College.

Pagan was nice enough to give us some background on Writer 2.0. Take it away, Pagan!

Soon after I arrived at Dartmouth College, a girl appeared at my office door. “Professor, you don’t know me,” she said. “But I absolutely have to talk to you.” Her voice quavered, as if she might cry.

“Sit down,” I said, and gestured to the armchair near my desk. She flopped into it and dumped all her equipment around her. Then, she leaned toward me, fiddling with a strand of her long blond hair. Her cheeks were still pink from the cold. “I absolutely have to become a writer,” she moaned. “I want it so badly.”
Almost all of my adult life, I’ve made my money from books, articles, journalism, and film options. Now, in 2009, Dartmouth College had hired me for a year-long stint as a professor. The students knew I had managed to transform words into paychecks. And they wanted to do that too.

This girl turned out to be just the first in a parade of students who came to me. Over and over, the students asked, “How did you get started?”
 I’d sigh, and say, “The way I got started doesn’t exist anymore. When I was just out of college, I wrote for the alternative weeklies, like the Village Voice.” I would explain that the Voice used to be as fat as a prime steak, and so heavy that it made a huge “thunk” when it hit the floor. It paid. It hired hundreds of writers.  Once upon a time, thousands of us had worked for the alternative weeklies in America.
But now that was gone. Poof! Gone with the internet. And writing books had also paid a lot more, once upon a time, but now the industry had been ravaged. The Old Media was dying. New forms of literature and journalism would rise up, eventually. It would be like when a fire rages through a forest, and then, in the charred wasteland, new shoots sprint up, and baby trees take root. A new publishing industry would arise – and it would pay people. But we weren’t there yet. We were still in the charred-forest, wasteland period.
“So what should I do?” the students would ask, when I told them they couldn’t follow my path.
“You have to figure out what the publishing industry will look like in five years, and then go in that direction.”
During my year at Dartmouth, I repeated that sentence over and over again. And then, one day, I realized that I, too, would have to take the advice. Part of my job as a working writer would be to figure out what a book would look like in the future—would it be paper, a text file, a phone app, or an audio file, or all of these? And who would sell books?  Ditto newspapers and magazines. And so, I began compulsively researching the industry—and thinking hard about the way we will read and write.
That led me to start a web magazine about the future of publishing, aimed at writers: www.writer2point0.com.
I welcome readers, contributors and comments. Please come by and join the think tank! 

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  1. Interesting, and there are many who are attempting to come up with viable future alternatives. The traditional school text book is one area that is rapidly changing. Because information is disseminated so rapidly these days, the old-fashioned, bound paper and ink text books become obsolete almost before they are published! To that end, children's book author, JEAN GRALLEY (http://www.jeangralley.com) has created a completely new type of publishing company called BlueShift (http://www.jeangralley.com/blueshift.swf
    This new form began as way of teaching young children, but is also branching out to include text books in public schools, because schools can no longer continue to purchase new books each year as budgets are being cut, etc. Digital books can offer up-to-the minute information in all areas of education - especially since more and more public schools are moving to computers in the classroom and at home for each child. Wonderful innovation, and a great way to plug in to the publishing industry of the future. CHECK IT OUT! You'll be glad you stopped by her sites. (I am not Jean Gralley, nor her agent, just a fan!)


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