Over the past few weeks, I have drawn attention to just a few of the many writers who are doing their own thing. By that I mean that they are publishing their own books and publicising them online -- a process which might reasonably be described as participating in the digital revolution.
(See, for example, my mentions of Tom Evslin, Ken Ratcliffe, and Sheldon Goldfarb. I have also, by the way, mentioned the impact of digital developments in the movie business.)
Yesterday's Times carried an interesting article about a British rock band called Arctic Monkeys. What has happened, in short, is that these four lads have promoted their music on the web, on a strictly DIY basis. So successful have they been at this that they now have a number-one hit, having knocked the Sugarbabes off the top spot. The Sugarbabes, it seems, are a 'traditional' pop group whose record company have spent the traditional small fortune on publicity.
It seems that the Arctic Monkeys are worrying the established companies in the music business. Could they be the start of a new trend, in which pop stars are no longer puppets created by the in-house publicity machine, but are instead smart kids who make themselves into stars and then, if they feel like it, dictate terms to the record companies who are queuing up for their business?
This isn't the way the world is supposed to be, surely? So hadn't we better pay a bit more attention to this new-fangled internet thingy?
My point, I hope, is obvious. But before you start dreaming about winning the Booker with your self-published masterpiece, just remember that the Arctic Monkeys have managed to provide one essential element. If this DIY digital strategy is going to work, you have to create something that absolutely knocks the socks off people, to the extent that they tell all their friends about it and start acting as your unpaid but highly motivated p.r. persons. How many writers are there who can do that?