The Royal Flush of Content: The Writer as Queen—Part 1

Went to three conferences last week, which is why you haven’t heard from me.  Storyworld which was about transmedia–telling the same story across different media platforms; the PublishersLaunch conference about E-books; and the New Media Festival. They were all excellent, and I will tell you more about them. But in this post and the next two, my overall
impressions and takeaways with great news for writers.

The accelerating revolution in communication made possible by technology in the hands of the growing number of people around the world is transforming the world. Intel CEO Paul Otellini says that “Computing is undergoing the most remarkable transformation since the inventions of the PC. The innovation of the next decade is going to outstrip the innovation of the last three combined.” By 2020, there will be 15 billion mobile Web-enabled devices. Anywhere, anytime access to all information and entertainment, along with the ability to communicate about content and collaborate on it are a writer’s dream.

Mike Shatzkin, the visionary co-founder of Publishers Launch, writes “The Shatzkin File,” a blog that’s essential reading. Mike believes that the age of top-down broadcasting, whether
it’s four television networks or six publishing conglomerates, is dying. The creation and success of content will be bottom up. Audiences will help create content and share what they love. Content will be Queen.

But because of word of mouse that can go viral, community will be King. Crowdsourcing ideas and responses to your work will help ensure you write what your fans want to read. You will still have to trust your instincts and common sense, and use what works and forget the rest. But your success will depend on your readers’ fingertips and the tips of their tongues. Engaging your community by connecting with them as often and in as many ways as you can will be essential to building your career. Writing helps build community; maintaining your community helps builds a career.

Are you ready for an easy-to-use smart TV that has all of the stations in the world? It was Steve Jobs’ vision, and it’s in the works. Theater attendance is declining, in part because we’re already starting to live with three screens: a computer/tablet, a smart phone, and a television. MTV viewers watch all three simultaneously, so MTV is providing three screens with different content about the same show. Viewers can use split screens if they wish and will soon able to move what’s on one screen to another.

Adapting stories you can tell in movies and on television, computers/tablets, and smartphones as well as in books, games, and three-minute webisodes is the promise of transmedia, and it’s starting to happen. Audiences want great stories, but they use different media to enjoy them. The challenge is to create scalable stories that can be repurposed in as many ways as possible. But you can still write that first draft with a No. 2 Ticonderoga, so have at it!

The rest of the Royal Flush of Information: Marketing will be the Jack, and passion will be the Ten. The Ace? Control of Content. More about that and why all you need is an audience of one in the next post. I’m thinking about the rest of the deck, but the cards are stacked in your favor.

[Formatting anomalies not in draft. Suggestions welcome.]

I write the blog to help us both understand what we need to know about writing, publishing, promotion, and agents. I hope you find it worth reading and sharing. Rants, comments, questions, corrections, and ideas for posts greatly appreciated.

The 9th San Francisco Writers Conference / A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community / February 16-20, 2012 / / [email protected] / / @SFWC / / 415-673-0939 / 1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / San
Francisco Writers University / Where Writers Meet and You Learn / Laurie McLean, Dean / free classes / / [email protected] / @SFWritersU


  1. Good blog. I got a lot of great info. I’ve been watching this technology for awhile. It’s fascinating how it keeps varying, yet some of the core factors remain the same. Have you seen much change since Google made their most recent acquisition in the domain?


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