Writing in the Digital Age

Recently I attended a symposium on digital publishing organized by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI. I learned about the proliferation of e-books, POD, and apps, as well as interactive books and transmedia (multiple media).

Lisa Rutherford from Coliloquy taught us about active fiction, and a new concept (at least to me) of “living books, not static files.” She also talked about new kinds of engagement with the reader: personalization, unlocking and changing content, tracking the number of times a book is read, or a scene within a book is read, serialization of books, and fan reaction.

Rubin Pfeffer, from East West Literary Agency, discussed the explosion of content, the trend toward screens for reading, and the positioning of e-books to surpass print books. The rise of indie e-books, some becoming best sellers. “Zombie books”—a new term to me, which refers to out-of-print books authors are putting out there in digital form. This was no surprise—I have writer friends who are doing this.

All this brings new opportunities. To quote Mr. Pfeffer, “New technology always creates new content.” Each writer has to decide what will work for the story she wants to tell. E-book? Enchanced e-book? Book app? He cautioned that “beautiful content doesn’t need bells and whistles.”

Lin Oliver, author and Executive Director of SCBWI, urged us to “accept and embrace new media and not resist it.” All the speakers emphasized that writers should focus on creating beautiful content, but perhaps Lin put it best: “How to tell a story matters. Is it relatable to your audience, in your voice? What we create remains true no matter the form of distribution.”

How do you feel about digital content? Ready to embrace it? Or are you taking a more cautious approach?



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