Notes on 2 Transparent Responses to Current Economic 'Climate' for Writers and Journalists

by David Miller Jan 22, 2010
Given this is a moment when journalism school graduates are unable to get jobs, and publishers don’t have enough money to send authors on traditional book tours, here are two transparent responses:
1. Jason Paul living off Craigslist

Jason Paul has started living off Craigslist. In his own words:

… Jason Paul, a recent graduate from American University attempted, like many from the 2009 class, to secure a job. After applying for over 180 journalism jobs in over 35 states, Jason decided to pursue a blog/book idea of his own.

Right now, unless he is sleeping, Jason is doing something related to For those of you who do not know what Craigslist is, it is basically a classifieds page from the newspaper. The site is in 570 cities in 50 countries and allows users to post ads, with the exception of a few categories, for free.

Essentially, Jason is living off Craigslist.

This means food, housing, jobs, entertainment, friends and anything else you can possibly imagine.

So far he has traveled from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, found housing, found a job and is beginning to make friends.

Jason blogs about everything he does in a transparent way. He includes the texts of emails within his blog posts. He blogs about training to work at Denny’s. He blogs about living in a basement.

The concept of livingcraigslist reminds me of thru-you in that Jason Paul is able to construct his artistic ‘product’ based strictly on different elements of social media and online communities.

2. Stephen Elliot Do It Yourself Book Tour

Stephen Elliot is the author of The Adderall Diaries, and half a dozen other books. In recent NYT essay, he explains how, instead of an underfunded, depressing, cheap hotel room-style book tour to “large coastal cities,” he put together a DIY book tour that took place at people’s houses.

He explains:

Before my book came out, I had set up a lending library allowing anyone to receive a free review copy on the condition they forward it within a week to the next reader, at their own expense. (Now that a majority of reviews are appearing on blogs and in Facebook notes, everyone is a reviewer.) I asked if people wanted to hold an event in their homes. They had to promise 20 attendees. I would sleep on their couch. My publisher would pay for some of the airfare, and I would fund the rest by selling the books myself.

What is most interesting to me about this is the effect the readings had. As venues were not bookstores but people’s homes, and audiences were not typical literary crowds but just friends of whichever reader hosted the event, the readings became long and intimate discussions. Stephen found that “In a weird way the readings began to feel like an extension of the book.”


1. Both writers / bloggers are using the internet to coordinate their ‘offline’ life, whether it’s promoting / organizing a book tour (S.Elliot) or ‘everything’ (J. Paul).

2. Jason Paul is essentially transforming his offline life into his online ‘art’.

3. The way they are leveraging their work on and offline represents an ethic of transparency.

4. Both writers’ responses facilitate the building of community both on and offline in ways that wouldn’t have happend had they followed traditional paths.

Community Connection

What other transparent responses to market pressures on writers and journalists have you heard about or experienced? Please share in the comments below.

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