Interview with the author of the first Facebook-novel “Zwirbler”

On the 1st of July 1 in 2010, the Viennese author TG started Zwirbler, the first Facebook novel, and thus invented a “completely new form of literature: interactive & real-time. Conceived and written on the Social Network, together with 16,000 fans. Condensed in status messages with a maximum of 420 characters”, that how the kladde buchverlag describes it. In 2014 – together with the author – the publisher launched and successfully completed a Crowdfunding campaign on German platform Startnext. Meanwhile, a few years have passed and it is about time to ask the author what happened to Zwirbler after the Crowdfunding.

Wolfgang Gumpelmaier-Mach: TG, please introduce yourself and your novel Zwirbler.

TG Gergely Teglasy: I am a drug-dealer. I deal with creativity, inspiration and communication. This is my material. For the distribution of the material I teach, I write, I start new things and I start companies. Sometimes I manage to infect people with it and encourage them. And that can be addictive. I am convinced that we all need more courage. Me included. Only when we stop being comfortable, go beyond our limits and make mistakes, we grow.

Zwirbler, the world’s first Facebook novel, also starts with this thought. Also, because I didn’t know if the experiment to write a novel on Facebook, would work at all. That’s why the first status message says:”Zwirbler is convinced that you learn much more from your failures than from successes.”

Wolfgang: In 2010 you started with Zwirbler on Facebook. Why did you launch a Crowdfunding campaign four years later?

TG: I wrote Zwirbler for four years on Facebook. Mostly at night. My task as an author in the background was to weave and tell a strict plot from the innumerable comments. Each status message with 420 characters became a part of the story, which was then followed by more than 16,000 people. At some point, my readers expressed the wish to read Zwirbler again, but in its entirety. Although there were offers from publishers, I wanted to try something new. Like unusual forms of publication. Together with the incredible Zwirbler fans. Hence the Crowdfunding on Startnext, which had a target of EUR 15,000 to make this all possible.

Wolfgang: The Crowdfunding campaign for Zwirbler was successful and the novel has been published on paper. What happened after the campaign?

TG: Zwirbler is not only available as a beautiful, lovingly designed book, ebook and audio book, but also on toilet paper: the novel on 3 rolls of finest toilet paper in a design pack. By the way, the toilet-theme was an essential part of the campaign and provided plenty of press coverage. We have clearly positioned it this way: Zwirbler for the loo, literature for more depth on the toilet and the possibility to wipe your butt with Facebook. People especially loved the Crowdfunding-video and the thank-you notes and with those, we created a comprehensive coverage: from the Salzburger Nachrichten to the ARD Nachtmagazin. Together, with kladde buchverlag we then produced everything and delivered it – as promised – on time for Christmas. Many supporters gave Zwirbler away as a present: The 1st Facebook novel on toilet paper is a sensational gift, which brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Wolfgang: Is the book still selling?

TG: Yes, of course, Zwirbler is still available as book or eBook, audio book and toilet paper. You can order directly from the publisher, but it can also be ordered in every bookstore and of course you can purchase it on Amazon. There I recently discovered a “used” Zwirbler toilet paper. It was a little cheaper, but I don’t know if anyone dares to buy it ;)

Wolfgang: Will you continue writing Zwirbler?

TG: At the moment I’m still quite busy with Zwirbler. I gave several lectures and a TEDx Talk about Zwirbler. The world’s first facebook novel is regarded as groundbreaking in literature and I am particularly pleased to have written history with the fans. I have just been invited to the University of St. Gallen as a speaker at the conference “Literature and Culture in the Digital Age”. Besides, I’m covered up with many new projects and have never really planned a continuation, but as Zwirbler says:”Life never goes the way we imagined it.”

Wolfgang: Would you recommend Crowdfunding to authors and publishers? If so, what are your tips for them?

TG: Yes, I can recommend – if you are willing to invest enough time and energy. Crowdfunding only works with great dedication. And with an existing fanbase. We already involved the fans very much in advance. So Crowdfunding is a lot of work, but you can expect a lot of coverage and an increase in awareness in return. And if you make mistakes, nevermind – we grow with every mistake!

Wolfgang: Thank you for the interview!

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