Jazz Historian Takes Work to the People


By Neal Comment

devra-hall.jpgDevra Hall saw our item last week about writers accepting no-advance contracts, and although that approach is “all well and good for best-selling authors,” she says, “or writers whose books fit the fad-of-the month, or for hobbyists who have a different career and write in their spare time… it is not of any help to those who need to be paid for their work in the here-and-now.” Including herself in that category, she’s decided to try something different while she works on her biography of composer/orchestrator Luther Henderson, and has become the first author to register with ArtistShare, where fans support artists directly in exchange for a window on the creative process.

Hall’s “People on the Page” venture, launched at her new website SnapSizzleBop.com, will give paying “participants” a “part behind-the-scenes look at the creative process of writing a biography, part memoir of her life as a writer and the issues with which she grapples as a biographer, and part exploration of what readers and writers of biographies think about.” Now, since she’s doing all that research to write the Henderson bio (which will eventually be published by Scarecrow Press), she’s effectively supporting that book by creating a whole new project. Although the ArtistShare model has only been tested by musical performers so far, Hall’s confident that it can work for writers, too—she’s already got plans to create another book, a tribute to jazz musician and manager John Levy. If this scheme works, it could give a whole new meaning to the term “literary patronage”… at least for those writers talented enough to attract a generous fanbasse.