I've been lurking on the NFT phenomenon for a while now. I wish I'd say I've been lurking since 6 years ago, when the first ones were minted on the ETH blockchain, but that would be slightly inaccurate. I was aware of the NFT back then, as a technical possibility on a supporting blockchain, but any other details were obscure to me.
Well, for the last 6 months, though, I've been watching it closely, experimenting a little on OpenSea and watching the weekly drops on Mintable. Since fees on the ETH ecosystem are still obscene, I also watched closely what's happening on HIVE.
What follows is my experience with making your work, as a writer, available as an NFT on the HIVE ecosystem.
Preamble And Getting Approved
My experiments are, for now, with tokenizing some of the articles I've wrote. The goal, though, is to be able to publish princeps, or limited edition of some of the books I'm working on now. I know that the biggest part of the NFT market is occupied by visual arts, but I do believe there is a significant opportunity for writers too.
There are at least two main reasons someone would like to own a specific piece of writing, being it an article, an essay or a book (or a series of books).
First one is immutability: you will always make sure what you own wasn't modified. 10 years ago I wouldn't even think that someone will care about that, but the recent cancel culture in which entire parts of our heritage are obfuscated in the name of a very twisted activism, well, that made me think.
And the second one is originality: you will always make sure what you own is coming directly from the author. You own something genuine, not a re-print, or re-interpretation, or a censored version.
With that being said, let's move forward to the process of getting approved.
First, you need to make an account on nftshowroom. Then you want to go to your profile and submit your application as an approved artist on the platform. They seem to want to curate that and I agree with them, to a certain degree. I see a need for pseudonymous artists to use the NFT space, and that kinda contradicts the idea of a public identity. There are, obviously, ways around this, so let's cross that bridge when we get there.
You will most likely be contacted (via the Hive chat) by someone from NFTShowRoom and you will get asked for a portfolio. At this point, you should state that you want to participate as a writer, because this category doesn't exist yet.
Creating The Content
Hopefully, you get approved (in my case, the process lasted less than 48 hours, including communication). At this point, you want to issue a token. That means you are creating an NFT record, and you associate it with a piece of writing.
Here's where it gets a bit tricky. In the initial interface, you can only add a thumbnail and a file, like this would be a piece of visual art. Since we're not submitting a painting, we need to take a different route. So, the cover of your article (which may be the featured picture, for instance) will be the image, and we will add the actual PDF file in another step. So, go ahead and add the cover of your article, essay, book, and, in the place where you would add the actual painting, add a PNG file resulted from the export of the PDF file in PNG. On a Mac, you want to open your PDF article in Preview, choose export, and then choose PNG. It will export a sequence of files (the pages of your PDF) packed in a PNG file. It will be rendered as an animated gif, but that's ok.
In the second step, when you decide to sell or create an auction for that token, you will also add an unlockable file. This would be the PDF that contains the book.
So, the two step process is:
- add the thumbnail as the cover of the article, and the file as an exported PNG from PDF
- when you decide on the price (or auction) for your article, add the PDF file as the "unlockable" file.
So far, you got to a point where you added your writing as an NFT, and it is ready to be sold.
Auctions And Experiments
I chose to mint only 8 tokens for my first article, The Stupidity Map. Which means there will be only 8 distinct copies of that piece available as NFTs. I slightly edited the copy for this and I made a separate PDF file, which ended up being 8 pages long. It's like a short essay now.
For each copy I set up an auction, which will last 15 days (starting today). The minimum price is 5 HIVE, and each auction has a certain ceiling as the BUY NOW PRICE, which is the price at which the article will sell immediately. There is a ladder there, with the first copy having this price at 50 HIVE, and the 8th copy (or edition, as the call it) will be immediately available for 250 HIVE.
The article is part of a collection, which I intend to contain 8 or a multiple of 8 articles, hopefully related. I will make sure to announce when a new article will be added to this.
In order to mint a token, you need to pay a small amount. For the actual minting, you will need SWAP.HIVE, and for the unlockable content or the auction setup, you will need BEE. Both are tokens that you can buy on the hive-engine.com layer 2 infrastructure. For minting, you will pay 5 SWAP.HIVE for the first edition, and then 1 SWAP.FIVE for the following. So 8 edition took 12 SWAP.HIVE.
That's it so far. It's just the beginning of what it would hopefully become a weeks (or months) long experiment. I would try to iterate as fast as I can, based on the feedback I get with each token I mint, the goal being to be able to publish short essays or books that weren't previously available anywhere.
But we'll cross that bridge when we'll get there.
I you want to have a look (or, who knows, even participate in one of the 8 auctions), here's the link for my first ever tokenized content on the HIVE blockchain: