Was just sifting through my twitter feed the other day and came across this from kids’ author Barry Hutchison: http://www.indiegogo.com/darkandsinister. Everything about this venture embodies the wave of innovative start ups embracing the digital future.
At this year’s Hay Festival I attended a talk by John Thompson (Cambridge Professor, author of Merchants of Culture) about the Digital Future of Publishing. He wasn’t simply talking of Ebooks, but rather, he questioned how the publishers of now and the future will get involved with the current digital revolution. Dark and Sinister gives an indication of just that; in it’s infancy the use of indiegogo, I think, is quite clever but it’s ultimate course and goal is what I find more interesting. It’s the fact that Hutchinson wants to go beyond the boundaries of paper, or even the digital page. So his stories can come alive and can be extended through other mediums, whether that be through an app, a game or a podcast. The fact is the next generation of readers are continuously looking for more; they are looking for a fully sensory experience. The digital world is able to give them that, and publishers will need to understand how it is possible.
What does this mean for the children’s/YA author? Well, it allows for them to further explore their created world and will give their reader a more immersive experience. It will also be interesting to see how an author’s writing will adapt to incorporate the possibilities of new technologies. But on a basic level, it will give the author new routes into publishing their works. It’s no longer the case that whatever the big publishing houses says, goes. There is now room in the market for the smaller and more adaptable to eek out those authors who may not have fitted into the old publishing mould and give them a platform to publish their story.
But there is a word of caution; with all these cool and wonderful new technological gidgets it would be really quite easy to bypass the thing which is most important. The Story. There was a brilliant post from The Book Machine the other day, which highlights just how easy this can be done and there could be a danger of getting so carried away with how to fit in with the new, that the basics will be forgotten.
Effectively though, I think the companies appearing through the digital gates are something to be excited about. Authors (new and old) should really take the opportunity to explore, what I can only imagine will be considered in the future, this publishing renaissance. And of course, the world of children’s publishing is waaaaay ahead of the curve…
p.s good luck with Dark and Sinister Mr Hutchison!