Following up…this was very cool! Well-done, I liked the structure for a free “digital conference”, four manageable and diverse panels over the course of a day, and I appreciated the broad spread of topics and great panelists /moderators
Here’s a bit of summarizing / takeaways / prompts for further discussion, from each of the four main topical panels from the conference:
Connecting the Future: Publishing and Technology
- Idea of words being a “foundational technology” and the layers on top as an “implementation detail” — lots of things you can do with those words!
- Some talk of subscriptions, licensing vs. purchasing / owning
- Possibilities for writing collaboratively?
- Idea of books as “evergreen” but typical marketing NOT evergreen…how to think beyond e.g. one-time launch; better leverage the backlist?
- Some very interesting tools shared; e.g. this looks great: https://www.hederis.com/
- Predicting more publishers continuing to step out of their comfort zones and experiment e.g. with web technology
- A rise of “non-book book-y things”; other possible models that can make sense; a spectrum of value for readers
Radical Representation: Creating an Inclusive Publishing Industry
- Lots of types / definitions of diversity; also different levels of acceptance / rates of change
- Interesting to consider the economics around publishing + diversity
- Working within a “possibility space”
- Important idea of “multiple marginalizations”
- Making me think of ways to ensure I’m reading diversely (will come back to this…)
Paying the Way: Economic Sustainability in Publishing
- Discussion of traditional economic structures in publishing…big publishers vs. indie can be very different worlds!
- New solutions often involve trying to cut out various parties, though most fulfill pretty vital functions
- Thinking about exploring different non-book revenue streams for authors: paid newsletters, members-only blogs, etc. — not only novel funding mechanisms but new modes for distribution and creating ongoing audience relationships
- Also, seems like there are many writers making making $ now in different ways who may not even consider themselves authors at all
- Nice point about monetizing “need to know” vs. “nice to know” info / content…the former (example: industry newsletter about oil spills) can command way more $ than e.g. poetry chapbooks
- Lots of exciting thing afoot, possibilities for experimentation…particularly realizing the value of community (people related to a niche, don’t want to aim for “as broad as possible”)
- A lot of this means engaging a smaller subset of audience as a core fan base…important to really know your audience! Literary agent on the panel: “I keep driving my writers to start newsletters”
- Interesting question re: managing expectation of free content; freemium models (e.g. Substack) are a very interesting direction
Cultivating Community in Publishing
- Lots of interesting literary communities! Examples: Bronx is Reading; Brooklyn Book Crawl
- Challenges of building community in a sustainable way, avoiding burnout, toxicity, etc.
- Finding new readers (parallel to finding new voters in politics); need for reaching out more
- How to find a community? Look both local and online…and if it doesn’t exist, create it!
- To get started building a grassroots community: do research, ask for help on social media
- When it comes to community moderation, important to keep track of everything (e.g. misbehavior)
See anything above that stands out? Any particular topics you’d like to chat about re: future of publishing?
I’m always interested in the intersection of alternative economic models and possibilities for community engagement (which I’ve posted about e.g. here: Independent bookstores and patronage possibilities).
Also very into indie websites, newsletters, forums, and other experiments in content management and distribution. This whole site definitely aims to be an active exploration of this kind of thing!