Pre-publication and publicity

24Jul12

It’s been a quiet month on the blogging and writing front, as I’ve taken a break from Complex TV to undertake the big move from Germany back to Vermont, and take some time for family vacation. But I hope to return to the book later this week to respond to comments, post new chapters, and finish writing the manuscript over the rest of the summer before the pressures of teaching & chairing (and the continual parenting priorities) take over my time. So stay tuned on the book’s site, and please catch-up & leave feedback on the chapters already posted!

But I wanted to break blog silence to post a link to a new essay in The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum’s long piece on the history of the cliffhanger. Emily is a friend in the contemporary digital sense—we’ve never met in person, but have many mutual friends (both having graduated from Oberlin, but never overlapped there) and chat in the same online networks on Twitter and Facebook. I’d enjoyed her television criticism & journalism for years when she wrote for New York Magazine, and was thrilled when she got hired as The New Yorker‘s television critic, as it brings a more television-centric perspective to a magazine whose brow often scoffs at popular media. She’s one of my favorite people to offer “expert quotes” to, both because she uses them very well in her writing and she’s so fun to chat with.

I wanted to call attention to this piece on cliffhangers, not just because it’s a great essay, but since it speaks to one of the great benefits of open access academic publishing and the online pre-publication process I’m using for Complex TV. When Emily contacted me about this topic, I was able to not only Skype with her to discuss these ideas, but also send her links to chapters of my book that seemed relevant to the topic. She could then quote from the book, despite it not being “published” in any conventional sense (although the magazine’s fact checker was a bit mystified on how best to reference the book, eventually settling on saying that it was forthcoming). I was also able to recommend my friend Scott Higgins as a expert source for the study of film serials, sending her a link to his research project that has not been published anywhere except his blog. Such online publishing upends the normal timeframe of academic/journalistic influence, as the press can now read & reference academic work before it’s locked down to the slow timeframe and closed access of academic publishing. It highlights how the concept of “publicity” is built on the root of being “public,” a facet of scholarship underserved by conventional publishing.

And one last note about this piece: The New Yorker has diligent and hard-working fact-checkers, which is seems quite uncommon in this era of downsized journalism. In talking with them, it made me appreciate what they add to the process so much that I decided to subscribe to the magazine for the first time. (As a native Bostonian, The New Yorker always felt like it wasn’t speaking to me, except in doctor waiting rooms…) So kudos to the fact checkers!

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One Response to “Pre-publication and publicity”


  1. 1 Self-publishing: Marketing and Publicity | Musings and Marvels

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