Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Revolution Will Be Self-Produced

We are living in a revolutionary time. The internet and new technologies have democratized the creative industries and now anyone can make their own movie, record their own CD, or publish their own book.

Several decades ago, Hollywood was ruled by the studio system. Actors were essentially owned by a studio, and groomed by them into a marketable product. The studio system is long dead but until fairly recently, movies were so expensive to make and distribution so elusive that studios still controlled the film business. But now, actors and writers and directors who are sick of waiting can gather a group of industry contacts, shoot digitally, edit on Final Cut Pro, and publish on the internet (If you've never watched a webseries, check out Somebody's Basement and introduce yourself). BTW, I filmed a role in a webseries that will be coming out soon and I'll be sure to mention it on here once it's available.

Instead of shelling out thousands for studio time, bands can record their music with Garage Band. I've done this! (If you're curious, you can hear my demo CD at Warning - I am a terrible music producer, but I think my singing and songwriting skills are good.)

In the last few years e-books have taken off, to the point where e-sales recently outpaced "real" book sales on Amazon for the first time last year. It used to be, if you wanted to publish a book you wrote, you had to first query for agents, eventually find an agent who would find a publisher, and they would publish your book and you'd get a royalty (and even then, you could languish in obscurity). If this system failed for you - as it often would if you didn't have the requisite connections - you could self-publish by paying a small publishing company to print a few thousand copies of your book, which you would then be tasked with selling. But now, you can publish your book as an e-book, make it compatible with the Kindle, Nook, iPhone, and iPad, and sell it in paper form on a publish-on-demand (POD) basis.

If you're a blogger, you're part of this revolution. Maybe you have a DIY personality, like I talked about a couple weeks ago, or maybe you just need a creative outlet. Many healthy living bloggers have written their own recipe e-books, like Kristen. I mentioned being embarrassed about blogging yesterday, even though I'm really not. I just feel a little strange sometimes when people I know read my blog. All kinds of self-production have their detractors - people who wonder why you would make your own webseries or publish your own e-book. But the fundamental link between all self-producers is that we have something to say, and we don't need permission to say it. And I am excited and proud to be a part of that movement.

The reason I'm writing about this today is that I've decided to self-publish a book I wrote. I've been a writer for a long time - I wrote my first full-length screenplay at 12, several short films (which I also directed, produced, and starred in) during high school, hundreds of songs, and one full-length book called Let's Travel With Erika: Europe. I wrote it after my seven-week trip to Europe in college, and it's really the book that I wanted to read before I left. I wanted to read the story of someone else who had backpacked around Europe, and I wanted to know how they had done it. Every book I found was either a how-to guide with no story, or a story of a trip most people could never do (i.e. The year I took off work to be a hobo in France). So I wrote and re-wrote the book a dozen times, wrote a kick-ass query letter and book proposal, and started researching literary agents. And in the past couple years, I've submitted to a bunch of agents. I've gotten some responses and generated some interest but it always ended with "Sorry." So recently I started thinking - what is it that I really want out of this book? I always had a dream of going to the Borders in Bloomington, Indiana and seeing my own book on the shelves. But you know what? That Borders just went out of business. That's what made me realize that I don't need a bookstore to get my book to the people who need and want to read it. And I want to get it to them now, so the information is as relevant as possible.

And I want to put this picture on the cover:

Wouldn't you read that book? I totally would!

And the cool thing is, I already have a follow-up half-written: Let's Travel with Erika: China.

(That's me at the Great Wall)

I'll keep you updated on my self-publishing adventure. And then when I finally self-publish, I will hassle all of you to buy my book.

Links of the Day: The Cri de Coeur Charisma boots I blogged about last Fashion Friday are on sale for one more day!

So, what do you think? Are you into self-producing? Are you excited about the democratization of creativity?


  1. I love this post! How interesting (of course, I didn't know about the studio stuff)...I am totally into self-producing and definitely have a couple books on how to self-publish, etc.
    I feel the same way about blogging. There are very few people in my real life who know about my blog.
    Your book sounds great, and I love the cover pic :)
    Go for it, Girl---I'll buy your book.

  2. Yes, I'm excited! How could you not be excited? And you made your first sale already! I agree with Lisa -- You go for it, girl!

  3. I'm a HUGE fan of the democratization of creativity! HUGE! I think it's great that you're doing this, very excited to see how it goes!

  4. Thank you all for the encouragement! It means a lot to me :)

  5. That's fantastic, Erika! Congrats and good luck!