In contemporary music the digital revolution has resulted in a heavy decline in profits from CD sales. Musicians must therefore find new incomes sources, for instance, with live appearances. Literature cannot expect a similar revolution, yet even writers are thinking about how to fund their lifestyle (apart from literary grants). Revenues from book sales are generally not enough.
Readings and live performances offer new earning opportunities. In spring 2015, Swiss writer Tim Krohn launched an innovative and interesting idea. To save time and money for a larger book, on the web platform ‘wemakeit’ he offers his readers a deal that makes sense for both sides. The mission statement “I write for you – and with you – a story that can only be created for you” enables readers to order a text for a commissioning fee – and this includes one reading, depending on the fee. The basis of the selection is a list compiled by Krohn of 777 human emotions – from slickness and weirdness to flightiness and cynicism. His plan for the first two years is to work on 111 of these themes.
Yet, Tim Krohn has higher aims for his project than a series of short narratives on demand. During this project he would like to try to develop characters and to arrange narrative themes leading beyond the specific story and to combine them to form a greater whole. This is fascinating in terms of content, conceptual ideas and aesthetically. It is literature ‘on demand’ versus ‘opus magnum in progress’. With 2–5 pages that are meant to form a narrative, this project should generate 777 stories and a considerable body of work.
What is feasible based on this concept? This new form of classic serialized novel is certainly thrilling, not least because it wins the loyalty and attention of a group of subscribers in a highly original way – not to mention the advertising impact of this first endeavour.
“40,000 – that’s the minimum goal”, writes Tim Krohn on ‘wemakeit’ and he goes on to say, “Since I’m certainly going to work for a whole year on the 111 stories and I have a family to feed, we are of course happy if more stories emerge.” And precisely that is what has been playfully created in the first round. Now we’ll see and read how the experiment continues on a literary level. Affaire à suivre.
Translated by Suzanne Kirkbright
This blog was originally published on ELit Literature House Europe on 9 July 2015.