In the wake of publishing two picture books for German language learners I became aware again of how how the Internet is the perfect roadbed for fresh ideas. Both of these publications have become instant best sellers. Did I need expensive equipment to produce them? No. Did I have to pay a gatekeeper? No. Did it take years from the first idea to the final product? No.
I went straight from idea to application, to publication, all in just a few hours.
Am I saying that it’s dead simple to publish a bestseller? Certainly not. It’s still a lot of work.
But the playing field has been significantly leveled.
Perfect Is The Enemy Of Done
Did you ever meet someone who’s great at drawing, making music or anything and you said: “Wow, that’s great, why don’t you share this with a wider audience?” and then the person said: “Well, I just don’t think it’s good enough, yet.”
Now, this is not to say that there’s a sleeping Beethoven or Shakespeare in all of us. (If there is, he has to be coaxed out with some serious work or by the right environment.) Maybe some things really shouldn’t be published.
On the other hand, there is indeed lots of mediocre stuff out there. And much of it is by no means the product of people like you and me but backed by corporate capital. If you take any engineered pop starlet of the day and scratch the glossy surface, beneath there’s just mediocrity. Mediocrity all the way down.
They just slapped on so much make-belief make-up that we don’t bother to look twice.
The Entertainment Industry’s Fear Of Risks
Maybe, Hollywood and Co. aren’t in a crisis because of the Internet. Maybe, it’s not piracy that keeps their sales down, but mediocrity. How often does a big label sign an unknown artist just based on his gut-feeling? How often is not a great idea but simply extensive marketing research the raison d’être for that next Blockbuster or thinly clad “diva”?
The entertainment industry, despite all of its apparent evil, is also “just human”. They don’t want to take big risks. If there are millions at stake it’s better to be on the safe side than to do something new and ground-breaking. So they’re just busy rehashing whatever worked the year before. The result: increasingly boring books, movies and music.
An Army Of Ideas: Just Pick One
On the other hand of this spectrum, there’s people like you and me. We don’t have access to expensive equipment or mountains of cash to dominate production facilities and distribution channels.
But we don’t have anything to lose. And our ideas are legion.
Shifting away from physical goods to digital goods, online production and distribution are just a click away and often free.
Whereas movies are still difficult to make without a lot of funding, making music has become available to almost anyone with a computer and a bit of recording gear. Writing and publishing books seems to least depend on the technology: Theoretically, anyone with access to a keyboard can write a bestseller. But in practice, it all depends on that one idea.
If you got one, go for it! If it succeeds, great. If not, get up and try again!
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