Welcome 2018! Time to open a new chapter on books

(This post is echoed from my Boy From Under blog. If you want to see what my version of a Direct-to-web book looks like visit BoyFromUnder.ca)

Back in November, when I relaunched this web-book, I posted a blog explaining why I believe ‘books’ as we know them have to morph into new forms. expanding the boundaries of what we consider to be literature. Two months isn’t a lot of time to forge ahead with an experiment to that end, certainly not enough to prove so ambitious – perhaps audacious – a point. And if the financial fortunes of writers were the only, or even the most important measure of success, I would certainly not be posting about my progress so far!

But I can say without hesitation, I am excited at the prospect of continuing the project into 2018.

The Boy From Under has given me experience with the obvious features of Direct-to-Web publishing. As a medium for promoting, distributing, selling and reading books, web sites are fantastic. Of that I have no doubt. I’m not  denigrating print, eBook or audio editions by saying so; every reader has his own preferences, and most feel more at home in a print edition right now. That may be the case for many years to come, and anthing that brings readers and writers together is the right thing as far as I’m concerned.

However, web-books certainly can be offered as a viable format in the mix, and as readers and writers become familiar with the potential for web-books to expand the boundaries of literature, I hope many will want to enrich their internet experiences with links to literary fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry.

As well as being an excellent medium for publishing and distributing literature, Direct-to-Web books offer writers and readers opportunities to connect, collaborate, and create in ways that have never been available before. Those 3Cs are literary dimensions I want to develop more in 2018, beyond the technicalities of setting up a web-book. Some of my ideas might seem farfetched, outside the bounds of what most readers are looking for. Again, that’s okay. People can ‘get into stories’ any way they choose; adding to the range of choices doesn’t take anything away from those who simply want to curl up with a mobile phone or tablet and read.

For instance, if I invite people to:

Adopt a Character – Follow a character’s development and actions during the writing of a story, and comment from an engaged perspective in the realism of the character’s role.

Comment on an Excerpt – Provide feedback on pre-publication excerpts shared through social media or an email list.

Join a Set Piece Enactment Group – Set piece enactments are theatrical bridges into literature. Participants, taking on the roles of characters in a story, pose critical scenes and are photographed. The photographs can then be used as literary illustrations – special edition chapter headings for example, or artwork for book trailers.

Attend a WIP Reading – As an author I can really get a sense of reader’s reactions to my story in a reading. It’s more important, really, that I respond to that feedback while I’m developing my story than after it’s set in print (a web-book is never ‘set in print’, but the way).

Participate in a Book Trailer Workshop – Web-books allow writers to draw in readers in ways that are not possible through any other medium. They also allow audiences direct links to a work from a targeted book trailer beamed to them through social media or email lists. I envision a group of writers or poets coming together to do readings that will result in individualized book trailers… after a thoroughly enjoyable activity.

Delve into Side Story or Backstory – One of the wonders of web-books is the ability to include links. All of a sudden a book can have multiple dimensions, a main story, that includes side story and backstory links readers – now participants – can follow to their heart’s content.

Help with Research – There are people out there who know things that will help me understand my own stories. Inviting them as contributors, wherever they may be, is one of the most valuable possibilities that open up to authors who engage people in the creative process from the very inception of a book…

I could go on. These are just some of the possibilities that await, if a community of readers and writers can come together online in the creative cycle of writing a story, and I am prepared to expand my role as writer to an almost orchestral approach, engaging and making this audience part of my creative process. I am only beginning to imagine the kinds of experiences I as an author am going to have, and my audience of readers and contributors will share, if this vision gains traction.

That’s the big picture for me. It’s a role literature can step into better than any other art form because it emphasizes literature’s best strength: making audiences part of the imaginative and creative process that reveals a what I like to think of as real fiction. Follow me along this path by any of the modes on my Out of Bounds contact information page.

All the best in 2018!

CSW