Media as Social Function

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

Well worth your valuable time to read Neal Gabler’s article in the Los Angeles Times, on what he perceives — probably correctly — as a lack of interest in old movies on the part of so-called millennials and subsequent generations. By “old,” he means more than five years into the past.

His analysis as to the reason for this is a little… um… unnerving. Quote:

… MTV did conduct a study recently of how young people relate to contemporary films, which found that movies are deeply embedded in the social networking process. Young people begin tweeting about films in anticipation of their release and continue discussing them after the release so that the buzz is now more sustained than it has been. In effect, movies, new movies at least, create an occasion for an ongoing conversation.

What this points to is that movies may have become a kind of “MacGuffin” — an excuse for communication along with music, social updates, friends’ romantic complications and the other things young people use to stoke interaction and provide proof that they are in the loop. A film’s intrinsic value may matter less than its ability to be talked about. In any case, old movies clearly cannot serve this community-building function as they once did. More, the immediacy of social networking, a system in which one tweet supplants another every millisecond, militates against anything that is 10 minutes old, much less 10 years.

Not good for historic film conservation projects, is it? What struck me, however, is what the implications might be for other media, i.e. books. If you substitute the word “books” for “film” or “movies” in the quote above, you might very well have an explanation for so-called “phenomena books” (i.e., Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey, etc.), which sell such incredible numbers more because of the network effect surrounding them than any other reason. (Though Rowling’s stuff is of course far superior to that E L James dreck.)

The difference with books, of course, is that they can be commercially viable at the midlist and below level, with far lower sales figures than movies’ equivalent ticket numbers. Even low-budget films have a vastly larger capital investment than just about any book you can name. Also, with the advent of indie e-publishing and the “long tail” retail effect of a writer being able to leave his or her titles up on Amazon.com and other online retailers virtually forever, books don’t have the increasingly smaller window of opportunity to earn significant money that movies are saddled with.

So in terms of marketing, yeah, maybe the way to have a megabuck-earning bestseller, especially with the younger book-reading audience, is so find some way to turn it into a social event. But at least for the time being, an indie e-publishing writer might be able to survive and even prosper without doing that.

Kim Oh 4: Real Dangerous Place — Ready Now!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 14, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

Okay, here’s something I’ve been impatiently waiting for about five or six months to announce:

The new Kim Oh Thriller is available now.

Kim Oh 4: Real Dangerous Place

I had to take some time off to move the vast K. W. Jeter E-Publishing Empire’s base of operations from one continent to another, but as soon as the production line was up & running again, I dived right back into chronicling my gal Kim’s adventures as a young & aspiring female hit man (Hit woman? Hit lady? Whatever.) I had missed her so much while I was away, that it’s been a real treat to get things rolling with her again.

Here’s the promo copy from the Amazon.com webpage for the new book:

No easy answers. No big international spy secret bank accounts. No superheroes or magic. Just her wits, guts…

And a very large gun.

L.A.’s a new world for Kim — until it turns just as deadly as everywhere she’s been before. Caught in a violent hostage situation — trapped on the freeway in the middle of the city, with fiery explosions in front and in back of her, surrounded by a terrorist mastermind’s assault-rifle-toting henchmen on all sides — an unarmed Kim has to fight to save both her brother Donnie and herself. And all the while, she’s unaware of how much is really at stake — a revenge-driven scheme to unleash an apocalyptic weapon, horrifying beyond description…

Hard to convey everything about a book in a few lines, but my alpha pre-release readers tell me that this might be one of the best in the series so far. I hope you enjoy Kim Oh 4: Real Dangerous Place.

Click here to purchase for your Kindle.

A Loving Husband & Father

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

I was reading the liner notes to the pianist Roger Woodward’s excellent recording of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Twenty-Four Preludes & Fugues, and was struck by the following anecdote concerning the composer’s experiences under the Stalin regime:

In February 1948, Shostakovich was denounced by the Communist Party chairman, Andrei Zhdanov, for political incorrectness and although rehabilitated three months later, it was the composer’s second reprimand in just over a decade. His official standing and income was reduced and he was dismissed from the Moscow Conservatorium.
In his Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, the composer recounts Stalin’s ensuing five-year period of terror during which Shostakovich frequently lay awake in the small hours, listening to NKVD officers knocking on doors throughout his apartment building, wondering when it might be his turn. Given the fate of neighbours and colleagues who were either deported to remote Arctic labor camps, whose careers were terminated or who simply vanished, Shostakovich spent many nights camped outside his apartment door, bag packed in readiness for the secret police to arrive, so as to avoid the impression that an impending arrest might inevitably have on his family.

(I’m aware that there’s some long-standing controversy over how much of Testimony was written by Shostakovich himself or by his biographer Solomon Volkov, but this anecdote is consistent with well-documented accounts of Shostakovich’s life, so I’m inclined to believe it’s true.)

Shostakovich’s first wife Nina Varzar didn’t die until 1954, so he would have been living with her and their two children during this period — his daughter Galina was born in 1936 and his son Maxim in 1938.

Not a physically imposing figure, Shostakovich was prevented from serving in the Russian army by his notoriously poor eyesight, though he served as a volunteer fireman during the siege of Leningrad (and was pictured on the cover of Time magazine in his fireman’s helmet and thick owlish spectacles.) We live in a world now in which cartoon supermen, steroid-toxic wrestlers and heavy-armament-toting special forces too often provide our definition of “heroes” to us. But I find something deeply moving in the mental image of this slight figure, bundled up in his overcoat against the Russian winter, sleeping outside the door of his apartment, all to spare his wife and children from the sight of him being dragged away by the secret police. Heroes do what they can, I suppose.

Another image enters my mind: Shostakovich’s oldest child, his daughter Galina, would have been twelve years old in 1948. It’s hard to believe that she didn’t know what her father was doing, sleeping outside the apartment door. Given how close oldest daughters are to their fathers, I wonder if there were nights when Galina wrapped herself in the blanket from her bed and slept on the other side of the door, the thin wood panels all that separated her from her father.

Kim Oh 4 Just About Ready

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

My production team and I are in the final stages of getting Kim Oh 4: Real Dangerous Place, the latest book in the Kim Oh Thriller series, ready to go live on Amazon.com. In the meantime, here’s a peek at the cover artwork:

Kim Oh 4: Real Dangerous Place

Early word from my alpha readers is that Real Dangerous Place might be one of the best in the series so far.

Of course, if you’re not up to speed with my gal Kim yet, here’s where to start:

Kim Oh 1: Real Dangerous Girl

Kim Oh 2: Real Dangerous Job

Kim Oh 3: Real Dangerous People

Another Couple Hard-to-Find Stories

Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

After a few months devoted to all the megillah of moving overseas, the epic K. W. Jeter E-Publishing Program is well underway again. In the next few weeks, one of my long-out-of-print thriller horror novels will be available again for the Kindle, plus a completely new novel as well. Soon as they’re ready, I’ll send the word out.

In the meantime, a couple of short stories of mine that were always a bit obscure are now up on Amazon: Candy in the Sack and Layover.

Candy in the Sack Layover

Both stories originally appeared in an anthology from a small press publisher which was kicking off an erotica series designed for married or otherwise committed/monogamous couples. This seemed like a good idea to me, or at least an entertaining one, and I enjoyed writing them. So in many ways, these two stories represent some of my most light-hearted fiction.

Probably not anything I want noted on my tombstone, but if anyone else enjoys them as well, that’s good enough for me.

In This New World, Shouting Makes a Difference

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

I’d highly encourage both writers and readers to take a look at this article from David Farland. (As is often the case, my attention was directed to it via the always useful The Passive Voice blog.) Quote:

In the past few weeks, I’ve been getting dozens of pieces of fan mail about my latest release, Nightingale. I suspect that for every ten pieces of fan mail that I get, only one person will mention it on Facebook, or put up a review on Goodreads, or mention it in a blog.

Mr. Farland’s article ties in with a lot of the points that other indie e-publishing writers, including myself, have made. In this new world, things are different for both writers and readers. In the old world, dominated by the print publishers, there really wasn’t that much readers could do to help a writer whose books they enjoyed, other than literal word-of-mouth, passing their dog-eared copies on to a friend, etc. But now, readers’ abilities to help writers are tremendously magnified by the same forces that make it possible for those writers to bypass the old print publishers and bring their books directly to the readers who would enjoy them. As Mr. Farland suggests in his article, there’s a lot that readers can do now, to help promote books they’ve enjoyed: tweeting, Facebooking, reviewing, and just general getting the word out.

The upshot is that the future of writing is now, more than ever, in the hands of both writers and readers — if they’re ready to grab hold of it. More and more writers are choosing to do so; I imagine more and more readers will choose to do so as well, once they see the increased influence they can have. Whether you’re a writer or reader, or both, you should think about becoming one of those who have moved over to this new world.

Recognizing a New Medium — Dvorak on Kindle

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2012 by K. W. Jeter

Always worthwhile perusing The Passive Voice, but I’d particularly like to direct your attention to this posting. Do click on the button to read the comments, as there’s an interesting discussion going on about the issues raised.

My two cents? John Dvorak is absolutely correct about the Kindle and other e-reader devices being essentially a new medium, and not just the old print medium ported over to an electronic device. The differences are so significant that it’s going to change things for both readers and writers, in ways that we are just beginning to perceive. And as I maintain in one of my comments in the Passive Voice discussion, a new “rock ‘n’ roll” environment is being created, in which some writers are going to flourish and which other writers will not be able to handle.

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