Digital Book World 2011: Day 1

What an AWESOME day; what more could I expect from Day 1 of Digital Book World, the publishing conference hosted by F+W Media (where I work!).

It is sort of surreal seeing in person all of the publishing “icons” that I follow on Twitter, and it’s even more mind-blowing getting to workshop and theorize with them. Hearing the thought processes of some of the most innovative people in the business got my wheels turning in anticipation of some big ideas for the future (hopefully I can pan these ideas out and share them with you soon!).

The two workshops I attended dealt with content strategy and transmedia. For those interested, I’ll break it down:

  • Dan Blank – Content Strategy: Dan proved to be a fantastic workshop ¬†moderator, engaging the audience just enough… which is perhaps why he was so perfectly suited to discuss content strategy and how it captures target audiences. He enforced an idea that I’ve stood behind for a long time: the idea that a company (no matter how prestigious or lucrative) should evoke personableness. By taking on a personality, clients (or authors) know that they are dealing with actual people. Amid discussion of content creation, Dan outlined some fantastic blogging strategies (plan, focus, fufill) and also touched on the importance of helping your audience, not just selling to them … which really is what we all hope to do in the end, isn’t it?
  • Allison Norrington – Transmedia 101: Any fans of Sleepless in Seattle out there? Let’s say, for instance, the plot of Sleepless in Seattle was brought to you, as a publisher, as the concept for a book… how do you market this using transmedia? Well, according to Norrington: create a blog where Sam [male protagonist] mourns his dead wife; create your own version of the Baltimore Sun [the newspaper where Annie, the female love interest, works] as an opportunity for user generated content; create a blog for Annie [female protagonist] so we can see her emotional thought process throughout the story; create weekly podcasts that replicate the story’s radio show; stream a YouTube channel starring Victoria [Sam’s girlfriend who “laughs like a hyena and dresses like a ho” … that character would SURELY bring views]. All of these things strengthen an audience’s emotional bond and literal relationship to the characters, contributing to what Norrington calls a “storyworld.” This facet of marketing and creation helps bring experience to the story. In a world of viral-video phenomenons and increased user engagement, Norrington’s approach is dead on.

The night continued with cocktails (who doesn’t like free drinks?) and the Publishing Innovation Awards (results here). My favorite part of the Opening Ceremony, though, was 7x20x21, hosted by Amy Greko and Ryan Chapman. Seven speakers are allowed a presentation of 20 slides, each of which is broadcasted for no more than 21 seconds. Sweet concept, amiright?

Sarah Wendell‘s 7x20x21 presentation stole the show; it’s hard to beat a woman who outwardly professes her love affair with chick lit by personifying romance novels via Fabio. She has a book coming out in 2012 that I will absolutely be checking out, and if you, like me, have a secret obsession with Jane Austen (romance nerds unite!), then I suggest you do, too.

Day 1? Awesome. And this was only the pre-conference. I can’t wait to see what the next 2 days have in store!

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