Thursday, April 02, 2009

Multimedia Publishing

In today’s issue of Doing It Write, I use an article called “The New Storytelling: Multimedia Children’s Publishing” for the “In Case You Missed This” section of the newsletter. I found the Publishers Weekly article so interesting, I thought I’d blog about it today.

Lisa Holton started a new book packaging company called Fourth Story Media. Her idea is to take the book well beyond print. If she can do it, and it looks like she may well be able to, both publishers and writers will be happy. Holton is no neophyte. She’s the past president of Scholastic Trade. Now, she’s at the helm of “a deep multimedia YA series called The Amanda Project that HarperCollins is launching this fall.”

She’s focusing on kids because they’re more likely to accept books delivered in multiple formats.
The series, which she calls a “Rashomon-style” tale, follows a high schooler named Amanda who, after showing up as the new girl in town, disappears. Each book, penned by a different author (à la 39 Clues), is written from the point-of-view of a different student—all part of an enclave searching for Amanda. The online component—built heavily around girls' interest in social networking and creating their own content—is the fascinating part. Readers can go to an ancillary Web site to discuss (and create) potential fates for Amanda, and HarperCollins plans to publish storylines contributed by readers.

The meticulously designed look of the site along with the depth of its functionality—it will allow users to create online alter egos, to blog and to create and share artwork, among other things—is the product of many hands, including Web developer Happy Cog, and various designers, coders and architects.
Holton spent the last year of her life, she says, researching the possibilities, including attending game conferences.
She sees her company as a conduit for publishers that want multimedia properties but don't know how to bring them in-house or build complex digital add-ons.
We’ll see how many publishers will embrace the new technology. It’s expensive, so the payoff will have to be worth it.
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  1. It sounds like a fascinating premise for a story.

    It makes sense to have an physical book as well as an online component as kids are drawn to that, judging by mine. He's an above average reader but loves reading things on the computer. Some of his friends write little stories and tales and he's always enjoying that. He also likes the animae/animated stories. So having a story in a book with part of it online, even part of it animated would be popular. It's different and new. I think kids would love it.

    It will be interesting to see where they go with this.

  2. Sounds like a genius idea to me. I'd love to get people hooked on a whole series of mine that way. First I need to write the series.

    Morgan Mandel

  3. I think it's a great idea and will follow with interest how well it works - could be a good model to follow.

  4. Excellent idea--and this is buzz that feeds both sides of the coin! It promotes greener publishing technologies as well as the series itself. Very clever.


  5. Clearly, this instance has a big backing and will be huge. But it seems that even a new author could learn from it and try to build a presence on the web, and a more established author, even without a backing like this, could try to make her/his site an interactive experience for kids or readers. They might need ten more hours in the day and more promotion monies though.

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  7. Fascinating post. Going to be interesting to see how well it works. And these new technologies get cheaper all the time.

  8. Sounds like an interesting concept. I'm anxious to hear how well it is received. I wonder if readers will receive credit or some sort of payment if they contibute a storyline that is eventually published by HarperCollins.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  9. I'm ready for the future and all these exciting new changes. Bring 'em on!!


  10. Can anyone say "FanFiction?"

    Tapping into FanFiction is a brilliant idea! There's so many sites out there devoted to this type of writing. Enticing readers to write the ending is a smart idea.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  11. My guess is, if the publisher can get people to write for free, they'll do that. A lot of fans will.

    It is getting exciting, isn't it Jenny!

    Also getting time consuming. How could one person do all this? You'll have to hire help or have a publisher who can amass the talent to do it.


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