One of the challenges of a digital landscape is being discovered. Betjeman’s ideal of people standing around the water-cooler discussing what they all watched last night on the BBC is long gone. There’s just loads of stuff everywhere.
A current buzz-word is ‘bundling’. We’re used to this in music concerts, where they slip something obscure into a programme that also contains known crowd-pleasers. Now, books, programmes and films are being also sold as bundles.
With books, we had the old 3-for-2 deal at Waterstones, where you could make your own experimental choice. Where we’re offered bundles chosen by someone else, what will they choose for us? And – as agents and writers – how can we get our cool but less-well-known stuff included?
Two possible answers are: write stuff that is quite like something else (‘If you enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll love Proctologists of the Caribbean!’). Or, write something cult-y (‘We’ve got to sell this somehow!’).
This may be idealistic of me, but I think it’s got to come down to good writing. If a producer, publisher, sales agent or retailer is going to think about what to bundle something with, they’re going to choose something they feel deserves a wider audience.