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Digital Storytelling: Is this the Future of Publishing?

Hey, everyone! Today, I’m going to look at a topic that has recently grabbed my attention: digital storytelling. Now, I’m not talking about the eBook market or anything. I’m talking about interactive storytelling through digital media. You can use it to build your own adventure story, play games and quizzes, or just add overall texture to your story via illustrations. At Book Summit, a publishers’ conference, I attended a panel that discussed this matter and I was really intrigued with the general idea of how storytelling is evolving and the impact it has on the publishing industry. I just had a few concerns about this area of storytelling.

One is that while I see the appeal of interactive digital storytelling, especially for children to garner interest in reading, at the same time I’m wondering how this is any different from just playing a game. Sure, I loved seeing Inanimate Alice on the screen that day and I’m not saying that it isn’t viable as a product; I’m just expressing my concern on its labeling. Inanimate Alice, an interactive story about a girl who wants to be a games designer, seems a lot like a video game rather than an actual story. If this is the case, shouldn’t all games be labeled digital storytelling? What would happen to the publishing industry as a result?

Also, in the panel, there was a discussion on augmented reality research and using it to tell stories. Instead of just reading the text itself, you can use other devices to illustrate images that would move alongside the text and the person’s reading. My problem with this form of storytelling is that you would need another device to read the story in that manner. It doesn’t seem appealing to need more in order to engage with the text. Maybe if it was optional and already available on certain devices, like a smartphone, then it would be a smarter decision… My first thought after this panel was “Is this how people felt when eBooks first came to be?” That there is no use for this medium and why fix something that isn’t broken?

To sum it up, this was an interesting topic to learn about, but I’m not sure all of it is ready for the publishing world. Maybe once there is a need in the market, like advanced technology being owned by a lot of people who can use these methods, then it might be more popular to use. Well, that’s all I have to say on the matter! Thanks for reading!

-Sumaya

Social Media as books?

Well, it started out with texts being and direct messages being included into books, like the  Internet Girls Series by Lauren Myracle and  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, to the OMG Shakespeare Series that are made up entirely of texts…. Now it’s a whole new mode of publishing with Social Media. Instead of integrating digital communication into the story, the story has been taken from online sources of communication, like Twitter, Instagram, blogs, etc. Publishers are now actively scouring the web for stories they might want to publish. Some of these books include Hot Dudes Reading, from the instagram account @hotdudesreading, The First Wife by @thefirstwife, to Hyperbole and a Half, based on Allie Brosh’s blog.

Since the digital age has progressed, the mode of acquiring books has had to evolve with it. Efforts have been made by publishers to actively search the web for unique and desirable content, like The Great Tumblr Book Search, pairing Tumblr and Chronicle Books together.  There’s also the fact that the popularity of someone is translated to the number of likes or followers they have and thus, easily trackable by publishers. It is easy to assess what would work based on the person’s writing and the amount of attention they receive for their work.

However, there is a downside to publishing Social Media entries. Should we actually pay for reading Social Media, something that is supposed to be free? Sure, it’s in a condensed and packaged format, but the information isn’t anything I couldn’t get online for free. Paying for a Social Media book seems to be like paying for the sidewalk: a ripoff. That is why it is important to differentiate the account’s content with the book’s. An easy remedy to that would be to dislodge one medium for the other. In other words, delete the free content for the revenue of the book. Another solution would be to offer snippets of content, rather than the full version, enticing readers to buy the full novel once it reaches retailers. Overall, books based on Social Media can achieve success depending on the packaging or the type of content offered as well as the demographic it is meant to reach.

-Sumaya

Swoon Reads and its Impact on Publishing

For those of you who don’t know, Swoon Reads is an imprint of Feiwel and Friends (which is also an imprint of Macmillan) that was established in 2014. It is similar to Wattpad, but instead of it being a community that is based on noncommercial writing, Swoon Reads clearly has the goal of publishing in mind. Prospective authors of Young Adult romance are encouraged to submit a manuscript online, where it will then be assessed by an online community of readers in these categories: heat, laughs, tears, and thrills. Readers also have the option to write a detailed review of the novel they have just read, which the author then receives. If the publisher believes that the story has enough popularity, then they will publish the story in both print and eBook format. Some of the books from Swoon Reads include A Little Something Different, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, All the Feels, Been Here All Along, and so much more!

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The impact Swoon Reads has on the publishing industry is that it allows discoverability of certain stories by an online community of readers. This allows people from all over the world access to Swoon Reads’ submitted manuscripts. Additionally, Swoon Reads forgoes the barrier between publisher and reader, with the publisher using reader reviews to determine which titles are worth publishing based on an established platform of readers willing to support its release. Not only does the publisher have direct access to readers’ thoughts, but writers can also interact with readers before the editing process. Swoon Reads allows writers to receive feedback from readers before the book is considered for publishing. If nothing, submitting a manuscript at Swoon Reads is a learning experience, teaching writers via constructive criticism. What’s great about Swoon Reads is that there is no downfall to submitting a manuscript, seeing as worse-scenario is receiving criticism for the work while best-scenario is gaining popularity and being published.

However, while Swoon Reads is a great way for books to be published, there are still a few minor adjustments that can be made. One is that the Swoon Reads tech team should work on an app that writers can use to monitor their views and comments as well as readers being able to save and read books from there. Even though people can read from their mobile through a browser, the book is not saved indefinitely. Once an app is developed for Swoon Reads, it will create more ease among users who contribute to the feedback of an author’s work.

Overall, Swoon Reads is a great place to start for people with YA romance manuscripts and has an advantage that most publishers don’t: a direct link to the reading community. It shows that this imprint is dedicated to bringing readers the stories that they want.

-Sumaya

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