Archive for the 'future of publishing' Category

Digital Book World 4

A new study from
Digital Book Word and Writers Digest

I wasn’t able to attend this year’s Digital Book World conference in person because of the kid’s tonsillectomy. (It went well!) But at the last minute someone sent me a link for live streaming and on-demand access. I haven’t made my way through all the sessions yet, and it’s already been worth the money. I especially like the ability to pause, rewind something interesting and watch the sessions on my own schedule.

The “What Authors Want” study from Digital Book World and Writers Digest was a really informative piece, and several of the smaller sessions have led to ideas for new projects and investigations.

 

Margaret Atwood talks about dead authors and the cheese sandwiches they will never again eat

tee
The “Dead Author” T-shirt by Margaret Atwood

At Book2Camp in February, I attended a discussion about book blogs attended by Margaret Atwood. (Just so you know, The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite books, ever.)

I was a total shy fangirl, in awe that Margaret Atwood and I were in the same audience. And the highlight of the camp–not to knock all the wonderful conversations and ideas that were discussed about building reader communities, piracy and the definition of the book–was when Ms. Atwood carefully noted a list of book blogs and took special care in repeating “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.” Teehee.

So when I was reading through Guy Gonzalez‘s blog and saw the link to Margaret Atwood’s TOC keynote address, I clicked, and watched, and laughed and took some notes.

I’d recommend anyone interested in writing, publishing, editing or ebooks watch the whole video, below. It’s worth your time.

Here are the key editor-related things I took away from Margaret Atwood’s TOC talk:

** The most important thing a good editor can do is provide encouragement and validation to an author, although not every day because that would become tedious.

** The #2 thing an editor or publisher can provide is a trustworthy name. So a reader may say, ‘if they thought it was good, then I will trust that there is some merit in the work, most of the time.’

** The final thing good editors provide is guidance, by catching unintentional mistakes via copyediting, line editing and developmental editing.

** If authors want to go the “United Artists” way, there will still be a place for editors. Trained editors are out there, and ready to be hired.

Here’s the talk:

Clips from Brian O’Leary’s speech: “containers limit how we think”

I was perusing my neglected RSS feed and came across Kassia Krozser’s fabulous recap of TOC, which I didn’t get to attend this year.

Through her links, I found the text of Brian O’Leary’s “‘Context first, revisited‘” keynote address.

It’s thought-provoking, and I recommend you read the whole thing. But if you can’t, here are a selection of my favorite quotes from the speech:

….we [book publishers] are no longer selling content, or at least not content alone. We compete on context…

Digital has made convergence inevitable. Marketers have become publishers; publishers are marketing arms; new entrants are a bit of both. Customers have become alternately competitors, partners and suppliers.

The challenge is not just being digital; it’s being demonstrably relevant to the audiences who now turn first to digital to find content.

When content scarcity was the norm, we could live with a minimum of context. In a limited market, our editors became skilled in making decisions about what would be published. Now, in an era of abundance, editors have inherited a new and fundamentally different role: figuring out how “what is published” will be discovered….

To manage abundance, we can (and do) use blunt instruments, like verticals, or somewhat more elegant tools, like search engines.
But when it comes to discovery, access and utility, nothing substitutes for authorial and editorial judgment….

Anyone want to discuss how convergence in the daily publishing workflow (not just in the marketplace) affects the editorial role? Editors already do a little marketing. As project managers we create titles and copy; we inform and approve cover art. As author liaisons, we help authors’ marketing efforts blend with company marketing efforts. Will there, necessarily, be more convergence, with other departments? (Choosing new, more specific BISAC codes for each book? Editing pages and chapters not just for story, but so they are easily chunked or searchable?)

Or, can anyone share details of what it means to use editorial judgment to improve discovery, access and utility? (I’m thinking this is about meta-data and understanding the way a user interacts with material when using a digital product like an ebook, but I’m not sure.)

As always, Brian brings up lots of interesting concepts for discussion!

The view from here…

DBW seminar
The view from the lobby at today’s forum.

Today’s Digital Book World forum, Digitize Your Career: Editorial and Marketing, gave me a lot to think about. Ideas for me, ideas for my company and lots of notes. (Did you doubt the last?)

But the two parts I can share right now, while my kid is getting ready for bed, are: 1) The view from the 50th floor lobby is GORGEOUS. Skyscrapers, Central Park, the rivers and the GW Bridge highlighted by spring greenery. How the receptionists keep from staring out the gigantic picture windows all day I don’t know. 2) The folks who presented at and attended today’s session were awesome, entertaining, thoughtful and full of practical advice.

If this is the future of publishing, I like the way it looks.

My picture is in the “paper”!

original photo of TOC
(Original photo courtesy of James Duncan Davidson)

When I was a kid, my family used to squee when anyone got their picture in the newspaper, no matter the reason.

So I loved that my face showed up in a digital “paper,” Publishing Perspectives, this morning. See, here I am, circled.

circled at TOCCON

Squee!

Also, the Perspectives discussion piece poses an interesting question. Are the many recent book conferences creating a “paywall around best practices” to keep the democratic means of production (read: publication) out of the hands of the masses? Or are the conferences the result of old industry leaders paying for the seeds of new industry innovation so they don’t become obsolete?

Maybe it is an attempt at the former, but the tone of the sessions leaned toward the latter. I learned a lot of specific and useful information, but I also heard a lot of ego-stroking (e.g., the new way needs you and your content) and pitches for products aimed at the pub biz market.

Several of the sessions and keynotes were from folks who had innovated at somewhat of a distance–or even completely separate–from the business. If they can do it with sweat equity, why not anyone else?

The tools of change are out there, free for the learning. A conference is just a filter, a way to cut through some of the noise on the way to finding out what you want to know.

My personal TOC

There are a lot of solid wrap-ups for the Tools of Change for Publishing conference making the rounds today. DBW’s webinar chose TOC Take-Aways as today’s topic, though technical problems and catch-up work prevented me from listening. Mark Coker had a piece, as did Publishing Perspectives. [Update, 2/27/10, a few more TOC links: an insightful observation about the value of chance and open-mindedness at conferences from Debbie Stier; Kirk Biglione’s DRM slides; Don Linn’s observations; and a summary of Tim O’Reilly’s speech on Teleread.]

I’m still working my way through my notes, which are way more detailed than usual, thanks to typing them instead of writing them. But I do have some personal take-aways from the conference.

1) It’s really fun to take your computer into a room with free wifi and interesting speakers. I took notes, looked up URLs as they popped up on the big screen, added books to my Goodreads to-read list as they were mentioned and had my RSS feed right there for reading should I get bored, which only happened once or twice. I wish actively using your device was socially acceptable at every conference.

2) Social media is the new SEO, especially when it comes to selling more books via word of mouth. I found the panels by Bob Carlton, Chris Brogan and Angelina Ward to be immediately applicable in my daily business.

3) Analytics will become (or have already started to become?) the new sales numbers. The amount of information that will soon be available…I mean, you can actually know if the book was bought and not read. Or, if the reader started, but then lost interest at page 20. As one presenter put it, you’ll know the multiple differences between those who read at 2 am in bars and those who read at noon during lunch. Talk about niche markets.

4) Technical guys who can create their own version of xml, automate all of their publishing systems (e.g., turn a 2-day process into a 37-second process), publish all of their royalty data for everyone to see and make money…well, they make me wish I could write a book about code and publish it with them right now.

5) I don’t like to feel that my content is brought to me by sponsors. I found suspicion creeping in every time there was a product related to a presentation, even when some of the products were ones I want to try.

6) Mobile is everywhere, even in emerging markets. The coverage is only growing. So who needs ebook readers?

7) And the most important point: It’s all about the customer–know them, meet them, talk to them, engage them, give them all the information you can, give them their choice of devices and formats, add value for them. Then maybe you can publish what they will pay to read.

How has the Internet changed the way you think?

Via Kevin Kelly’s blog, I found this thought-provoking group of essays answering the question “How has the Internet changed the way you think?”

Today, I don’t have time to read all 172 responses published on Edge, though I am tempted to try fitting it between manuscripts and loads of dirty dishes. In aggregate, the essays make a 132,000-word document. This should count as an ebook I can review on Goodreads. Maybe I’ll put it into the system.

From my cursory Saturday afternoon reading, here are two stand-out quotes:

From Kevin Kelly,

The whole ball of connections — including all its books, all its pages, all its tweets, all its movies, all its games, all its posts, all its streams — is like one vast global book (or movie, etc.), and we are only beginning to learn how to read it.

Knowing that this large thing is there, and that I am in constant communication with it, has changed how I think.

From Clay Shirky,

It is our misfortune to live through the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race, a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity. Scarcity means valuable things become more valuable, a conceptually easy change to integrate. Surplus, on the other hand, means previously valuable things stop being valuable, which freaks people out….

As we know from arXiv.org, the 20th century model of publishing is inadequate to the kind of sharing possible today….

The beneficiaries of the system where making things public was a privileged activity, whether academics or politicians, reporters or doctors, will complain about the way the new abundance of public thought upends the old order, but those complaints are like keening at a wake; the change they fear is already in the past. The real action is elsewhere….

We could [use the Internet as] the communicative backbone of real intellectual and civic change, but to do this will require more than technology. It will require that we adopt norms of open sharing and participation, fit to a world where publishing has become the new literacy.


DISCLAIMER

I work as an editor at Harlequin, but the posts on this site are all mine and don’t represent my employer's positions, strategies or opinions.
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