Thu 21 November 2019
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Myths of the near Future
"Despite set-backs or supposed set-backs, I feel positive for my generation of young writers. While I mourn the loss of traditional outlets and access to Literature – and suffered redundancy from Borders, there are inspiring and aspirational things happening, and much of it is coming from the grass-roots up."

Borders has gone. Waterstone’s is struggling. Supermarkets carry a limited range of mainstream Literature. Agents and publishers are becoming more cautious; advances are becoming more modest. Many fear the rise of eSales and the disruptive effect of the internet on traditional distribution models. A bonfire of the taste-makers. Older, established writers like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Carol Ann Duffy and Ian McEwan seem not to have ready made replacements. Or at least on the same scale.

Despite these set-backs or supposed set-backs, I feel positive for my generation of young writers. While I mourn the loss of traditional outlets and access to Literature – and suffered redundancy from Borders, there are inspiring and aspirational things happening, and much of it is coming from the grass-roots up – revitalising a spirit of independence. Reports of the death of the printed book or suggestions the novel lacks relevance in the modern world are greatly exaggerated. While the industry adapts to emerging technology and markets, while it evolves to suit web 2.0 connectivity, increased digital sales and the continuing strength of Amazon, new opportunities are arising.

The internet provides us with a great variety of content. Not all of it is good. Not all of it is relevant. It can be hard to find what you’re looking for. With more to choose from, people don’t abstain from judgement, they become more discriminating. Reputable outlets of curated links and critical opinion – be it from a talented blogger or an established reviewer, critics are as vital to inform our judgement as they ever were. This is why the Young Writers’ Hub is publishing original news stories from our writers, but also reproducing relevant articles and viewpoints from across the internet. We are providing valuable access to the critical mood and the know how of industry specialists. We can help sift through the data and create new niche information streams. People don’t tend to read websites like newspapers or magazines; they won’t always spend half an hour on you alone, so we have to make our news fluid, provide it regularly and enable users to Facebook and Tweet items, allow the Hub to be an energetic contributor to a network of networks. This way we’ll keep people coming back to us – to find the information they’re looking for and by those new to us coming in through these extended networks. Curated data is becoming strong currency in an digital age. We can be as useful to national organisations as much as a pre-published author trying to get started.  

We have a “favourite book” option. Enabling young writers to tell their contemporaries what they’re reading. And why. Word of mouth on a global scale. It can be fascinating to see the sorts of names that pop up. Saul Bellow? Philip Larkin? Haruki Murakami? We have a profile page to give the lo-down on young writers in their own words and the projects that work to support them. We have interviews with young writers alongside industry experts, thought leaders, literature development workers and leading writers like Toby Litt and Tibor Fischer. In our interview with Tibor, he claims to have ‘ran Martin Amis out of the UK’. Already the Hub is generating eyebrow-raising news for a real readership.

We are open to news from emerging markets. The industry is changing and outlets like mobile publishing are steadily growing. We’ll bring open up to games developers who are increasingly looking to writers to supply them with the sort of narrative sophistication the games industry requires. For instance, we’ll help people find to right people to help them make apps  – and help them distribute their work to news audiences in new ways. It’s not just new developments we’re open to – publishers, booksellers, competitions, and good old fashioned open mic nights still provide the bedrock of Literature development and we will go on bringing the news.

Whether people find out about us via a tweet or a teacher, whether they enjoy our interactive content like the Ask The Hub feature or a supportive chat with the Young Writers’ Coordinator, the Hub is providing a new and vital resource for emerging writers in uncertain times. While we can be sure the sector and the industry are going to change; we can’t be sure of what that change will be. But it’s important we can make the best of any situation, and despite hard times ahead, the writers of a new generation are writing, making networks, creating readerships and finding new ways to get their work read. Whatever happens, we can be there to support that.

In decades to come, it’s my hope that the Hub continues to grow and can carry the respect of the industry and develop a significant readership. The more readers we have, the more exposure we can give to young writers, and the more we can do to support and sustain our illustrious tradition.

Wes Brown is the NAWE Young Writers' Coordinator


 

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