Student Post: Embracing the Golden Age of Publishing

by Rosalba Ugliuzza 

We are currently in the “Golden Age” of publishing. With the inventions and popular sales of tablets, apps, and mobile devices, this “Golden Age” is more than just holding the power of a red pen in your hand. It’s more than just the text in a book or magazine.

I grasped this knowledge after attending the “Trends in Digital Publishing” panel discussion on Monday, March 24. Moderated by director Anne Converse Willkomm, the featured panelists were some of the most extraordinary intellectuals in today’s publishing industry: digital content producer and Rosemont graduate faculty Thomas Hartmann, digital publishing consultant Scott Chappell, writer and Wild River Review social media director Don Lafferty, and Publisher’s Weekly senior news editor Calvin Reid.

I enjoyed the panel discussion so much that halfway through the seminar, I stopped taking notes so that I could absorb the words of wisdom. Their background and experiences are different yet extraordinary. They provided very insightful, informative, and thought-provoking opinions about the digital content and the future of the entire publishing industry. They took turns defining content and who owns it. On a social media outlet, you are a partial owner of what you write. Content is all around us. It’s a delivery vehicle. A book can be a combination of many things, not just a solid object.

The panelists were profoundly optimistic that change in the publishing industry is a good thing. Traditional publishers are joining the bandwagon of applying the digital aspect to their business model. Not only will digital publishing help the consumer masses grasp up-to-the-minute information with one easy touch, it will also encourage the well-rounded producers – such as authors – to come up with more than one way to publish their latest work. For example, if an author opts not to use or gets rejected by a traditional publisher, he or she can still publish work through Amazon, social media outlets, or blogs.

With the latest changes and upgrades, we must not be preoccupied or scared. Curiosity is the key to educating ourselves in order to stay on top of the publishing game.

Director’s Post: eBooks on the Move

by Anne Converse Willkomm

While on Twitter today I came across an article on Digital Book World on the top selling ebooks of 2013.  As I scanned the list, it brought me back to one of my first Push-to-Publish conferences about 5 years ago. Self-published authors were scarcely considered human. They kept to themselves, and the traditionallypublished authors made little effort to engage. The boundary between these two camps was not nearly as defined a year later, and even less loosely defined the following year. In 2012 and again last fall, no real line existed in the sand.

According to Digital Book World’s article, numbers 7, 10, and 17 in the top 20 of the 2013 bestselling ebook list were self-published. That’s 15% of the list – pretty impressive, given there were no self-published titles on the 2012 list. According to an article written by Jeremy Greenfield on Digital Book World, self-published books took the No. 1 spot on the Amazon ebook list four times in the first quarter of 2013. As the first quarter of 2014 winds down, it will be interesting to see if this pattern holds true. It appears that it will, as Amazon reports an increase in self-published ebook titles. However, it is important to note that from self-published titles in Amazon’s eBook genre best-sellers list, the self-published titles represent only 3% of the total daily revenue.

What does this mean?

Self-published authors are forces to be reckoned with, and the E.L. James and Hugh Howeys of the world are not merely statistical exceptions. It might indicate that self-published authors are putting in the time and effort they were once accused of bypassing, i.e. to write and create the best book possible versus writing and uploading with little to no editing. It also means that self-published authors are becoming savvy. They are learning how to market themselves and their books. Self-published authors are taking advantage of price shifting and manipulation to get their books into the hands of readers and reviewers. During 48-hour ebook giveaways, self-published authors can get their books onto readers’ phones, tablets, and ereaders. Some of those readers will write reviews, which will further promote the book. Traditional publishers do not practice this. They release a book and maintain a consistently higher price than most self-published authors. But are the traditional publishers making lots of money on ebook sales? Not yet.

 

Director’s Post: Content, the New Buzz Word

by Anne Converse Willkomm

What is content? Content is anything and everything we read and listen to online or in print. Content is the expression of thoughts, ideas, and data presented through various mediums, such as text, audio, video, animation, and graphic images. Content is created, curated, and managed. In today’s digital world, content is everything!

content blog post

Before the digital wave, content existed as text and images on a printed page. There was only one time-tested way to create the words, ideas, and images: through the author’s imagination and contribution. An author came up with an idea, an author wrote the words on the page, the words were edited into a meaningful and functional form, an author sold it to a publisher, and a publisher published it for a consumer to purchase.

Today, however, content is created and used across mediums we couldn’t conceive of 20 years ago. Sure, there are still printed books – and in my opinion, print books aren’t going away (as Stephen Fry said, “The book is no more threatened by a Kindle than stairs are threatened by an escalator.”). But today there are ebooks, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, podcasts, webinars, blogs, and so much more. Every word, image, audio clip, graphic, and video is content.

In this digital age, it is incredibly easy to create content. I can set up a website in a matter of minutes. What I put on that website is content. I can upload a novella and create an ebook in minutes, too. The ability to get content into the world for the consumer – or the “target audience” – is quick and easy. However, do not confuse ability with quality, creativity, or accuracy.

Whether creating a website to promote an author or a car, those who create the content must strive for the three goals mentioned above. The creator must understand the target audience, the product/company mission, market, etc. And that content cannot be left to stagnate. Content must be continually updated so the consumer (a reader, a viewer, a listener, or an actual purchaser) has something fresh and new to consider on a regular basis.

Authors, publishers, and other companies often have dedicated content curators who gather and cultivate content that others create. This can, and often does, create authenticity. Content curation is what content managers do to drive and enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which ultimately makes it easier for consumers to find a website. Managers work closely with marketing and sales teams to develop the appropriate balance of free content versus paid content. Newspaper companies forced to go digital have struggled with this dilemma.

The ease of creating content has formed new job positions and will likely create more. New issues and questions will arise: Who owns the content? Who should receive monetary compensation? Companies, such as Google, MySpace, and Sony, struggle with these legal issues. I am certain there will be more concerns regarding intellectual property and liability laws as we all struggle to define, understand, and manage content.

Event: Panel Discussion on Digital Publishing

trendsdigipost

Trends in Digital Publishing, a panel discussion with Thomas Hartman, Scott Chappell, Don Lafferty, and Calvin Reid, will be help in Rosemont College’s Lawrence Auditorium at 6:00pm on Monday, March 24. The event is free and open to the public! To register your RSVP, please click here. For any questions or concerns, contact Anne Willkomm at awillkomm@rosemont.edu.

Director’s Post: Exciting News for Rosemont!

Greetings from Seattle, Washington! Today will be close to 60 degrees, far warmer than the “Polar Vortex” temperatures we have been enduring in the Philadelphia area.

I am in Seattle for the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ annual conference. The folks at AWP anticipate more than 11,000 attendees. Last year’s conference, in Boston, surpassed 10,000. What does this mean? It means that books, writing, reading, etc., are not dead! The written word is more alive than ever before. What makes this even more fascinating is that the written word has so many different pathways to make it into the hands of the reader. Today, that written word is known as “content.”

I am excited about AWP because the College has a booth, I am presenting with other program directors on publishing programs, there are engaging panels to attend, and it is always a great opportunity to network. This year we have 10 students joining us!

I am also excited because I am unveiling a new double degree and a completely revised certificate:

  1. MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing
  2. Certificate in Digital Content and eLearning for Publishing

The double degree program will allow creative writers to gain practical skills to enter publishing as a career and it will allow closet writer publishing students to pursue their creative sides. The certificate program is also quite exciting! This certificate is designed for the publishing professionals who are looking to move forward, break out of the print paradigm, and mid- to senior-level acquisitions editors and marketing & sales managers who know the landscape is evolving, but lack the necessary skills. It is also for mid-level professionals who work in complimentary industries, who serve publishers, or who are looking to make a move into digital publishing. I have also added one additional class: Digital Publishing for Authors & Entrepreneurs. This class is specifically designed for those individuals who want to self-publish their book.

There is a great deal to look forward to this year! Keep following us on Facebook, Twitter, and via the College website for more information about the Graduate Publishing Programs.

Best,
Anne Converse Willkomm

Event: Talk with David Chemidlin

blog conde nast

Condé Nast is home to some of the world’s most celebrated media brands. In the United States, Condé Nast publishes 18 consumer magazines, four business-to-business publications, 27 websites, and more than 50 apps for mobile and tablet devices, all of which define excellence in their categories.

David Chemidlin is Senior Vice President and Corporate Controller of Condé Nast and General Manager of the company’s shared services center in Wilmington, Delaware.

Chemidlin is coming to campus to talk about the business side of magazine publishing. The event will be in Main Building, Tuesday, November 12 and it begins at 6:00. For those in class on Tuesday evening, please begin your class in Main and then return to your classroom after the discussion. The event is open to the public!

Student Thoughts: Managing Stress

by Laura Crockett
Scribbles & Wanderlust

For as long as I can remember, my schedule was packed. From music lessons to rehearsals, school and after school activities, honors societies and work, I was constantly on the go. Somehow, some way, I managed my stress just fine in those days.

But graduate school is a whole different ball game. The classes are fun and interesting, so the workload doesn’t feel like a burden. Working 40+ hours per week can be exhausting, but if you’re like me and you love your job, you don’t mind the hours. I blog for Quirk Books whenever the idea actually makes it to a word document and is sent to their editors. And this semester, because I’m always curious about writers and their word babies, I’ve edited and looked over two manuscripts for our MFA students.

The thing is, I love doing all these things. I love learning, I love working, and I love editing. So why does graduate school feel so much more stressful than any other time of my life? Well, I don’t have the answer to that, but I can certainly help you figure out how to manage it!

We all need some prescribed ice cubes.

We all need some prescribed ice cubes.

Remember: You’re Not Invincible
Everyone has their limitations. Once you start realizing you’re losing sleep, not eating properly, and on the verge of some sort of mental breakdown, it’s time to cut back on things in your life. What’s absolutely mandatory? What can be made more flexible? What can wait till the winter holidays?

Find a Way to Express Your Stress
Whether that’s wailing into your pillow, all woe-is-me and making your neighbor very concerned, or calling up your parents and listening to their voices, or even writing it all down in a journal, notebook, or on a sheet of paper — vent your stress. Talk to someone. You don’t necessarily need them to solve your problems. What you need is a way to get all those thoughts out of your head and in the open. You’ll feel lighter, liberated, once you’ve expressed yourself.

Make a Happy List
This sounds so cheesy, but it’s immensely comforting. Create a list of things that make you happy, things that aren’t related to school or work. Finger painting, rolling down a hill of leaves, a nice hot meal at a restaurant, watching a movie with a friend, you name it! Write it down — then go out and make it happen. You deserve that mental break.

Self-Care Days Are Important
A friend of mine is getting her PhD and she told me last year that I must schedule a day of the week for self-care. “You’ll go crazy without that one day,” she said. Last year I made sure I had everything done by that one day of the week I didn’t have to work or go to class. And on that day, I was reading for fun, chowing down on nachos and popcorn and cookies, watching BBC dramas with friends, catching up on TV shows. I forgot to do that this semester, and immediately felt the effects. It’s not a happy place, folks. Schedule that day of rest, that day of fun. You’ll feel so much better for it!

Learn to Say No
You’re brilliant, intelligent, hard-working, and wonderful — everyone can see that, everyone admires that. So of course, they think you’re invincible (I repeat: you’re not) and pile on more favors. “Could you edit this? You’re so great at it!” “I love your design — could you help me with mine?” “My manuscript needs some development. Could you look at it?” You want to help, you really do, and you’re interested in these tasks — but you’re overwhelmed. Say no. It’s kind of like turning down a date: It may break your heart at first, and you may feel really guilty initially, but say it anyway. Tell the person you’d love to but can’t, you’re already swamped with other things. They’ll understand. The world won’t end. One day you may find time to help them and maybe they’ll return the favor — but that day is not today.

How do you handle stress? Any tips and tricks you’ve learned over the years?