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The Writing Platform: arming writers with digital knowledge

Over the past decade many discussions about the future of books, the future of publishing, the future of reading and the future of writing – the future of all things related to our industry – have taken place.  We are witnessing a period of enormous flux and change within the world of books, and the pace shows no sign of slowing.  From libraries to retail, from digital formats to self-publishing, all elements of the industry are in the midst of a process of technology-driven transformation, including that revered old reading device, the book itself.  Many writers feel somewhat battered by the strong wind that is sweeping us all along.

Are you a writer? We would like to hear what information you think The Writing Platform should be providing

Take this survey: The Writing Platform Survey – for Writers and email us any thoughts at [email protected]

Writers have a tradition of outsourcing their knowledge of the publishing industry to their agents and publishers.  We do this so that we are able to focus on the task at hand – writing.  As a result of this, many writers are remarkably under-informed when it comes to the industry we inhabit; most of us don’t even have access to up-to-date information about our own sales figures.  While self-publishing is a remarkable trend, it’s no coincidence that these writers are called ‘self-publishers’; to be successful they need to understand a complex, evolving, mix of editorial, production, distribution, retail, and marketing – they need to understand publishing.  In this, they have an advantage over writers who do not self-publish.  The fact is that all writers, whatever route they take, need access to neutral, balanced and accurate information and informed debate about the industry of which they are a key – the key? – part.

It is this need for writers to be better informed so that they can make the best decisions about their own careers and participate fully in shaping the industry that is, after all, so reliant on them, that inspired us to set-up the Writing Platform – a new Arts Council England-funded initiative run by The Literary Platform, with me in the role of Editor, in association with Bath Spa University.

The Writing Platform will be a website and live events series focused entirely on the writer. We held the first Writing Platform event earlier this month at Rich Mix London, a day-long series of talks and networking opportunities for writers and organisations as diverse as Wattpad and Words of Colour.  One of the key themes to emerge from that day was the demand for more events like it; writers are hungry for information that is relevant to them.

The website will launch in mid-February. It will include contributions from many other writers; crucially, it will be shaped by writers telling us what they need to know.

The Writing Platform will give practical advice for writers, from providing the basics, like how to get an ISBN number for that backlist title you are thinking of re-publishing yourself, to more complex issues, like why reader-focused metadata keywords could prove to be the real future of bookselling; it will look at innovation in both publishing and writing as books morph from bound objects to e-books to web-based, multimedia, ‘containerless content’ and beyond.

We live in interesting times; the rapid pace of change creates many problems for writers, but it also creates many opportunities.  The Writing Platform aims to become an invaluable sounding-board and guide for writers whether established, emerging, traditionally published or self-published, and everything in between.

Read the full Press Release here.

Are you a writer? We would like to hear what information you think The Writing Platform should be providing

Take this survey: The Writing Platform Survey – for Writers

and email us any thoughts at [email protected]

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