Writers have always faced the challenge of the imbalanced power dynamics between them and publishers. NFTs primarily represent digital art, but they can also offer writers utility. Read on to learn about literary NFTs and how they can benefit writers. 

What Are Literary NFTs?

Literary NFTs are works of literature minted on the blockchain as non-fungible tokens. The NFT can be the digital collectible version of a novel, audiobook, short story, essay, poem, or script. 

A literary NFT may not necessarily be written literature. It can be a bonus to the literature piece with functions such as exclusive community access or a digital collectible of a character. This offers writers additional ways to earn revenue and interact with their audiences. 

How Do They Work?

Like other NFTs, literary NFTs result from a minting process that tokenizes digital assets. You can tokenize literature from various sources such as audio, video, images, and text. The minting process adheres to the terms of a smart contract that allows storage on the blockchain. 

A freshly minted literary NFT can then be listed on a marketplace for sale. The literary NFT’s buyer becomes its owner and can exercise certain commercial rights as specified in the smart contract. 

For writers, smart contracts can include additional ways of revenue generation. Some examples are proceeds from resale and a percentage of income from the literary NFTs’ commercial use.  

Benefits of Literary NFTs for Writers

For most writers, publishers influence their creative process while enjoying the bulk of the work’s revenue. Literary NFTs eliminate the need for publishers, so let’s look at some benefits writers can enjoy under this structure. 

  • Connection with the readers: Literary NFTs offer writers great flexibility regarding the perks they can offer NFT holders. They can tailor experiences and interactions with their readers. The writers can also use the NFTs for a collaborative creative process where they give the community a say in the work’s direction. Fans become emotionally attached to the product because of the sense of ownership. 
  • Creative control: Without a third party determining what suits the market, the writer has control over the entire creative process. Getting rid of publishers through literary NFTs eliminates censorship and other limits, allowing creativity to thrive. 
  • Updated royalty structures: Under the existing structures, most writers earn little from royalties, with the distributors and publishers taking the lion’s share of the returns. Literary NFTs have their smart contracts granting the writers a cut on every trade. Provided there is always demand for the book, the literary NFT ensures the writer continues to earn from it.

Drawbacks of Literary NFTs

With the NFT market still trying to recover from the steep drop in interest since the 2021 NFT hype, literary NFTs may struggle to gain traction. Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of this relatively new concept. 

  1. Few people know about literary NFTs: The majority of the NFT market comprises digital collectibles and art. Not enough literature consumers know about NFTs. Consequently, writers must create their audiences and sell them on literary NFTs. 
  2. Reading tools are not NFT compatible: Currently, only the LIT project is readable on OpenSea. Most readers are used to the convenience of existing e-readers such as Kindle. At this early stage, the tools and platforms to utilize literary NFTs are unavailable, which may dissuade many from buying them. 
  3. Concerns on the NFTs’ cost: One of the common NFT features is their rarity. It drives prices up, with those who can afford to meet the asking price enjoying the bragging rights. While that may be good news for the writer, it may translate poorly for readers unable to access their works. 
  4. Concerns on environmental impact: The energy required to mine literary NFTs on the blockchain may raise concerns in the literature community regarding the carbon footprint. The argument might be that literary NFTs don’t solve a pain point pertinent enough to warrant the energy consumed to mint the NFTs. 

Literary NFTs offer a solution to the publishing industry where writers can reach their audiences directly. Conceptually, they show promise and can help writers fully benefit from their work. However, given the current state of the NFT market and the need for a more user-friendly ecosystem, the adoption of literary NFTs may prove challenging.