The Tech-Empowered Writer (AWP Panel Resources)

AWP 2012: Tech-Empowered Writer

This week I’ll be in Chicago for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual conference. I’m a panelist on “The Tech-Empowered Writer” on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. This post serves as a handy resource for anyone who attends the panel, plus all of you who will miss it.

Think beyond the [analog] book

  • Traditional authorship focuses on the traditional publication of books or articles, with everything else viewed as ancillary. This is very narrow or limited thinking when considering how many ways a message or story can be spread in today’s tech-driven world.
  • How can your story or message be adapted, expanded, or shared across a variety of media?
  • Think broadly about your strengths to reach and engage with readers across a variety of channels.
  • The future of reading does not equal the future of print. Don’t limit yourself to books/articles/text. Consider how you can offer diverse experiences.

Diverse experiences might involve:

  • Videos
  • Podcast / audio
  • Livecasting
  • Screencasts, webinars, and online tutorials
  • In-person events or experiences
  • Online education and curriculum
  • Online communities
  • Websites and blogs
  • Electronic newsletters and serials
  • Mobile and tablet applications
  • Digital downloads
  • Wikis

Brainstorm questions

  • How do people typically or conventionally experience your writing or teaching?
  • Where and when do they typically experience it or consume it?
  • Could your work be adapted into mediums that are more convenient or powerful for your readers?
  • What kind of interaction or customization is possible?
  • How could your content be amplified or expanded online?

Video & audio

  • YouTube is the No. 2 search engine. Think about that for a minute. Nearly all major companies have their own branded channel on YouTube. You can too.
  • Most people will not watch a video more than a few minutes long. For long videos, provide timestamps of when certain questions/issues are discussed.
  • Anyone can distribute a podcast for free via iTunes. Consider: There are many people in this world who consume their content strictly via audio (due to a long commute and/or active lifestyle).
  • Live shows can be produced through BlogTalkRadio.

Other content/multimedia tools to consider

  • Blurb Mobile. Tells stories through photos, video, and audio that you’ve captured through your iPhone.
  • Cowbird. Tell stories like you’ve never told them before. (You’ll have to go experience it; not like any other storytelling tool I’ve seen.)
  • Jing (Screencast). Record what’s happening on your screen, along with audio.
  • PressBooks. Create e-books that live online and/or create books that you can export as EPUB files (standard e-book format).
  • Slideshare. Share slide-based presentations.
  • Ustream. Stream video live from anywhere (even from your smartphone).
  • PBWorks. Create a wiki to collaborate with others, either publicly or privately.
  • Scribd. Easily share or distribute PDF documents, either free or paid.
  • MailChimp. Start a professional looking e-newsletter, for free up to 2,000 names.
  • FourSquare. Create themed lists of places you love, anywhere in the world. Must be a FourSquare user.

Easy site-building tools

Click here to read my e-newsletter on this topic. Three helpful tools you should be aware of:

  • WordPress (can support a full-fledged website, but easy enough for a one-page site or simple blog)
  • Tumblr (lightweight and easy)
  • (for a splash page)

Curation: Sometimes a better option than creation

  • The world’s information is doubling every two years. Sometimes, it’s better when we avoid adding to the noise, and instead make sense of what already exists.
  • Kevin Sablan: “Curation is not simply the act of collecting disparate items and sloppily slopping theme together.”
  • Curation is a service. It provides context and analysis, and helps people discover things they might not have found on their own. It should probably save people’s time, or otherwise entertain and delight.
  • Everyone is a curator to some extent. Think about what you choose to post on Facebook or share on Twitter. You’re making selections for a specific audience.
  • Specific and popular curation tools: Tumblr,,, Pinterest

Some of my posts that might help you

Check out posts by the other panelists

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Posted in Conference Takeaways, Digital Media.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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