Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are we driving some of our content creators underground?

Today we “officially” released the results of the Captive/BitTorrent promotion: over 400,000 downloads in about two weeks…globally.

I wrote a book, got an agent, got frustrated, tried to find a new agent, got even more frustrated, went with a small publisher (instead of looking for an agent any more), then partnered with BitTorrent. I now have a global audience and a lot more options.

I wasn’t the first “artist” as part of BitTorrent’s new artist program. They’ve had bands, movies and now an audience funded series. The resources available to new artists are staggering: sites that promote or aggregate them with a built in following; drastically cheaper equipment or options for filming, recording, printing, distributing, editing and marketing; social networks and peer to peer communities; and even Kindle with it’s tiered pricing. I could go on with the last sentence but what I wrote says enough.

Contrast that with the “traditional” media world. They are supporting and promoting fewer and fewer new artists preferring to play it safe and stick with established “names”. Not that I necessarily disagree with them. The content world is notoriously hard to predict and studios, publishers and other promoters have lost money on too many artists (new and old) over the years.

But (see above) part of my “I got frustrated” was hearing too many times that the audience only wants celebrities, vampire books and lite chic lit. 400,000 plus downloads proves otherwise (there are lots of free book downloads that don’t build such an audience).

Isn’t it time to interact more with the audience and not force them into “alternative” media? The artists are already there with options for those who want more than celebrities, vampire books and chic lit.

What will I do with the sequel? Don’t know yet; hopefully, finish it (should be writing that and not this…). But the options only continue to expand.

Why are we not building and promoting new artists more in the traditional media world? The costs are so much lower… Some studio or publisher needs to question why they really need to spend so much in this day and age to launch a new artist.

My favorite example of how we can’t so easily define quality content, YouTube’s Annoying Orange, just got a television deal. Watch it and tell me the cost structure to launch those videos online was material in any studio budget (my kids love Annoying Orange so that isn’t a critique! Also, my son loves Superskamory…a 17 year old who makes Mario walkthrough videos…favored over any TV show in his world).

What fun we’ll have watching new artists as they build audiences outside the traditional spheres! I do believe that the traditional studio models will evolve to match the new reality that they’re no longer the only option for a talented new artist.

This piece is a companion to the one I wrote on my investment banking blog; on whether we’re driving part of our audience underground.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Today I wrote about desire…

Should it be a sin? Or is it perhaps pure at a level we/I never considered? Desire isn’t about gaining or controlling something, is it? No, desire is about admiring and not knowing if you can touch. Dare you?

What about when you desire but know that you can never achieve the object of your desire? So many factors can interfere. Timing, past decisions, physical or other limitations, fate and, yes, God. Isn’t the resulting emotion reverential and self sacrificing? Does that pain feel good or does the knowledge that you’ll get past it suffice?

To desire. We all do. Yet of all the confessions I’ve ever heard this sentiment is the one I’ve heard the least about. Perhaps what we desire defines who we are (and how many people will we trust with that bit of information).

Can you overcome desire? Of course! But you pay a price. At least that’s what I wrote about today.

I like the word. Desire. So many possibilities.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Digital promotion highs; blank page lows

During the BitTorrent/Captive promotion I loved watching the digital download numbers soar. My Facebook and Twitter numbers jumped. I got direct emails from readers…thankfully positive... After sitting in front of a computer screen or hard copy printout for so long writing the book seeing some actual proof of readers is gratifying.

But each day, no matter how exciting or interesting an outward directed event is (even positive feedback from readers!) we are all still responsible for our own work product.

Writing is creative, very much so. But it’s also work. And unless I’m writing I’m not a writer, but a dreamer. Can you force creative work? Absolutely! A friend of mine tells me repeatedly that I should be writing X number of pages a day, even if I have to throw them out. I tune his number out since he’s much more optimistic about what I can complete in a day than I am.

But his point about the discipline is important.

I threw out almost a whole draft of Captive’s sequel. I was writing it to meet someone else’s deadline and I hadn’t done the requisite research to start writing. Clutter and mess. But know what? That first draft, now in the trash, helped me puzzle through the new book - which is so different yet clearly the next step.

All of that time writing helped the draft lead me to where it needed to go. Much as I regret those hours of typing bad fiction they made me a better writer. Now, I still need to continue researching (I need to stop writing these research heavy books) but the story line’s clarity simplifies the process.

I wrote Captive late at night, when my son was napping/daughter at school and occasionally in the car pulled over by the roadside to jot ideas down. Now, sometimes I’ll sit inside my house and stare at the beautiful Santa Monica weather all Sunday afternoon, even when friends have invited me to do something fun, writing. I hate that part. But I do feel proud of what I finish by the time the sun goes down.

The blogs are easy. Tip tap and they’re done. The books are a true commitment of attention and time. Yet when I finish one it contains a whole new world of my creation.

Thank you to my new and old readers, BitTorrent and all of those who listened to me jabber on and on.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Democratizing media: update on the Captive/BitTorrent promotion

Democratizing because Captive reached a large, global audience, and so quickly. As of a few minutes ago the completed download total is over 350,000 in under two weeks. I can't comment on BitTorrent's traffic but I can comment on the percentage that clicks through to my sites. Thus far my traffic comes from all parts of the world: Africa, Asia, the USA, Europe, Latin America and Australia/New Zealand. Countries include Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, Iran, Tunisia and Algeria where I doubt Captive would have a chance of getting published.

One simple thriller and all of those people! I'll be writing more about my experiences with the audience and BitTorrent over the next few weeks.

The picture is UCLA early this morning.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Juggling things when you get busy

My week has been crazy!

My children are on spring break (meaning no school); the Bittorrent promotion has bee ongoing (and going well). I had my Coro class this week (executive education in public policy). How to juggle the practical realities of life when they are all thrown at you at once.

Please tell me...

I draw from yoga and my classes at Maha. "Breathe," Steve Ross, one of my teachers said to me when I went to his class at one of the absolute lows of my life. It was the best advice I've ever gotten. Overwhelmed, lost, confused, scared, scatter-brained or in pain. Breathe.

Mostly I did that this week. I also ate too much candy, snapped at my kids and went to bed way too early only to not sleep. But overall, the week was magical. I connected with so many people. My kids, my classmates, friends, readers and more. Ultimately, life is about people.

Monday, when my kids are back at school, I'll be back at yoga.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Captive and Bittorrent: Democratizing media?

We’re early into our two week joint promotion but I’m amazed thus far with the international buy in. I’ll write a short posting now as I’m spending the night with my kids (and supposed to be making dinner). But the response has been global.

On my site (which gets about 1% traffic wise as does Bittorrent ( with the download, I’ve seen amazing traffic. The hits have come from every continent except Antarctica. And, I’ve gotten real, meaningful traffic from countries not known for free media: China, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt and others.

Media is global now. It’s also democratized. This one posting (rare) will go on both my blogs. Please continue supporting out efforts to create a real community. Much appreciated.

The message really does belong to the street and not the elite.

Photo from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena.