The Digital Revolution: Writers Becoming Content Creators

The digital revolution is changing the way we publish books. With iPads and e-readers, blogging and the internet, the way in which we receive content is changing every day. Agent Rubin Pfeffer spoke at the 2010 SCBWI LA Conference to address this very topic. In his opinion, we should all redefine how we see ourselves, we are not simply writers and illustrators, we are content creators.

Notes from Rubin Pfeffer’s Keynote Speech:

Let’s Clarify…

  • When talking about digital books and publishing in new media, this means “NOT INSTEAD OF, BUT IN ADDITION TO…”

What if SCBWI was SCCC:

  • SCBWI (as a name) is functional – yes.  But sexy? No!
  • The word society has a foofyness to it. A tea party sound.
  • When SCBWI created its name branding wasn’t (then) what it needs to be now.
  • SCCC = Society of Children’s Content Creators: Perhaps it is time for a moment of self examination. Where could this organization go?
  • SCBWI has 22,000 members (globally) as of 2010. We are a global force!

What Does It Mean to Be Relevant In the Digital Age?

  • The digital future has become the digital-NOW!
  • We are in a world commanded by e-retailers. There is no more “on ground” stores. Amazon is the number one retailer for trade book publishing!
  • Reading devices used to have a fast turnover rate, but the iPad has become the big game changer.
  • 70% of adults have not been in a book store in five years! They have a store in their poket/purse. It’s called an iPhone.

Agents as E-Publishers:

  • In response to the digital revolution certain agents are now becoming e-publishers as well. These pioneers include Richard Curtis and Scott Waxman.
  • Odyssey Company (e-publisher).
  • If you compare a $10 paperback to a $10 e-book, the author will get 80 cents per paperback book, and $1.75 per e-book.
  • E-publishers have talked about royalties as a high as $3.50 to $7 per book.  (These are theoretical and may not be uniform.)
  • APO = Alternate Publishing Options

An Opportunity is Upon Us…

  • Books in print will always be here, but they are not the only way.
  • This is a time of revolution and opportunity!
  • Why shouldn’t there be larger profits for you the content creators?
  • The opportunities are to be found in new formats.
  • The lexicon of formats are expanding – animation, phone apps, twitter, etc.
  • Look at the iPad as a dry sponge hungry for content with many multi-media possibilities.
  • We must remain high above the poor quality material that is published on the internet.
  • “Just because we can publish, doesn’t mean that we should.” -?

There is Fear in the Unknown…

  • Traditional publishers are scared that the way books are read is changing on a fundamental level. The book is presently going through a radical reinvention right now!
  • Think about how music changed over the years (in terms of the format in which the music got to  you). Originally it was live, then recorded on a record, then 8-track, cassette, CD, and MP3. The music is still good, the form we get it in has changed.

A Great Article on the Market…

  • “Publishing The Revolutionary Future.” New York Times Review, March 11, 2010

Rubin Pfeffer is an agent with East West Literary Agency. Prior he has worked in Children’s book publishing for many years as SVP of and Publisher of Simon and Schuster and overseeing the imprints of Anthem, McElderry, Aladdin, and Paula Wiseman Books.

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4 thoughts on “The Digital Revolution: Writers Becoming Content Creators

  1. Ingrid, sometimes it seems as if things are changing too fast. But it’s good to know that some things are always in demand. Good prose and writing will always have it’s place. Yes, digital has shaken up the customary way things are done and the good that can come out of that is that more people will be exposed. Writers simply have more choices.

    Best of luck with your future writings.

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