Nov. 8 Event to Teach UK Writers the Ins-and-Outs of Digital

In Guest Contributors by Guest Contributor

By Kate Pullinger

Kate Pullinger will host the November 8 event for writers in London.

On November 8, The Writing Platform, a day-long event for writers interested in finding out about digital publishing and innovation, will take place in London. Hosted by The Literary Platform, a specialist organisation that looks at the intersection between books and technology, the day will provide opportunities for writers and publishers to network, find out about new trends, and think hard about what it means to write into digital spaces.

The tweets from TOC Frankfurt this year were both excited and exciting; publishers are moving on from obsessing about digitising workflow systems and beginning to think more fluidly and creatively about what digitisation can make possible for the industry.  Readers already understand that access to digital platforms and devices offers them both convenience and choice. But, for writers, the picture is less clear.

Many writers, both established and emerging, find the rapid pace of change baffling. There is little guidance or advice on offer and, besides, much of the available advice is contradictory: if I self-publish my own e-book, I’ll sell a million copies and be snapped up by a large conglomerate; if I self-publish my own e-book, no “real” publisher will ever look at my work. Even agents, those dispensers of wisdom, the gatekeepers’ own gatekeepers, are confused, with some agencies moving into publishing their clients’ backlists electronically, while others insist this represents a conflict of interests.

Future of Publishing conferences proliferate; publishers seem to like nothing better than getting together to show each other their latest platform, tool, or app. Publishers are also increasingly adept at collaborating with technologists to create projects that readers really do want to buy.

In this shifting and somewhat feverish environment, writers need to take action. It is still possible to function as a writer without engaging in things digital; at the end of the day, the right book at the right time with the right publisher remains of paramount importance to the trade. But writers need to find ways to survive in a landscape subject to continual change. Seminars, workshops, and conferences aimed at writers have begun to take place; The Literary Consultancy hosted the Writing in the Digital Age conference with The Literary Platform earlier this year, and The Writing Platform poses another opportunity for writers to get together to learn, discuss, and debate.

My teenaged son did his work experience in a record shop this year; the owner told me he adapted to playing vinyl records on a turntable well on day one, but it wasn’t until day two that he realized you could turn the record over and discover more music on the other side. I’ve no idea if one day reading a bound book will require a teenage boy to think really hard before he figures out how to open the cover and read what’s inside; but that boy is one of our future readers and we need to inhabit the digital space in ways that appeal to him as much as more traditional readers.

For real innovation in the field of writing and technology to take place — hybrid forms, new ways of finding new audiences, approaches to storytelling that no one has even dreamt of yet — writers need to be in there, talking, thinking, experimenting, creating.

For more information about The Writing Platform at Rich Mix on November 8 click here.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.