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Loughborough Literary Salon

8 November 12 words: James Walker
Can Twitter, Mobile Apps and eBooks offer financial survival in the digital age?


Mike Matas discusses his ideas for the future of the digital book at TED
The days when a writer could spend months locked away in the garret penning that bestseller and sending it off to a publisher are over. Why? Because the publishing industry is a ruthless cutthroat trade that is slowly being swallowed up by a few conglomerates. This month has seen Tindal Street Press finally give up their independence and the disgusting marriage that is Penguin and Random House destroy any hope of competiveness in an industry that should be renamed ‘Starbooks’ Those fortunate enough to find an independent press are now expected to market their own work and engage with readers via social media platforms. Therefore the Loughborough Literary Salon could not have come at a more appropriate time with a series of discussions themed around ‘digital survival’ which offers creative professionals hope as well as more diverse means through which to engage their readers. Kerry Featherstone and Melanie Ramdarshan-Bold explain why…         
What’s the Loughborough Literary Salon? 
It’s new! This is the first literary salon in the East Midlands and offers a delightful evening of literary discourse, debate, and performance at Loughborough University. It is intended to be the first in a series. The Salon is a collaboration between the Department of Information Science and the Department of English and Drama at Loughborough University, in association with The Institute for the Future of the Book and Writing East Midlands.
What kind of people would benefit from attending?
Writers, authors, publishers, creative industry professionals, students, and literary enthusiasts. The idea is to network, share, learn, and open the doors for collaboration over a glass (or more...) of wine.
Who will be speaking? 
An accomplished array of guest speakers from around the country will discuss the issues that surround writing and publishing in the digital environment. These are: 
Allan Guthrie (Edinburgh based author, literary agent, and digital publisher)
Pigeon Park Press (Birmingham-based e-publishers)
Dan Simpson (spoken word poet)
David Varela (transmedia author)
Pippa Hennessey (author and publisher)
Ben Galley (self-published author)
Joanna Ellis (the Literary Platform)
Chris Meade (if:books)
Simon Groth (if:books Australia)
How important is it for authors to embrace social media to promote their work? 
In a publishing environment with decreasing marketing budgets it is vitally important.
There are loads of social media platforms. If I embraced them all I wouldn’t get any writing done. Is there any advice for striking a balance between writing and promotion? 
There’s a difference between using social media to promote something (i.e. a new publication) and keeping in touch with people/promoting news and events. Keeping up-to-date with news shouldn’t detract from writing activities; however, it’s important to plan time for promotional activities when you have something to promote.
Self-publishing has increased rapidly in the digital era. Is this something that is now being taken seriously? 
The stigma surrounding self-publishing has certainly decreased and it does allow authors to compete on a more equal footing. In the music industry unsigned musicians have always recorded and produced their own material in order to gain an audience and it’s clear that authors such as Amanda Hocking have used this strategy successfully. We have a successful self-published author, Ben Galley, speaking at our salon and he’ll be on hand to give insights into this process. 
Digital equality? Amanda Hocking, a self-published author who has sold over 1.5mil books  
What advantages are there for e-books over physical books? 
Enhanced e-books, in particular, have interactive elements that can appeal to a different demographic of reader. For example, some readers appreciate the enhanced visibility of the text; for young readers e-books can be an enjoyable step in learning to read.
Does e-publishing spell the death of the physical book or do you think that as we become increasingly digitised it will create a desire for tangible, beautifully produced books?
No, in the same way that pot noodles did not spell the death of the restaurant.
How can Apps help promote literature?  
By offering an insight into a longer text and its author that the reader can then explore further.  Effective apps are interactive, content-rich and deliver interesting material in a way that differs from a conventional website.
What are your views on the future of publishing in the digital era? 
It makes publishing more democratic, by offering the technologies that are necessary for the production and dissemination of literature, to small, regional, independent publishers and their authors.
In 140 characters, tell us how an author can benefit from using twitter?
Twitter offers a world of info as well as a platform for authors. Be part of the conversation as well as listening to it. #digitalsurvival
The Festival of Words will be launched in February 2013. As part of their promotion they’ve started a twitter novel (@Nottwords. You can join in by using #wordsnovel.) What are your thoughts on multi-collaborative projects like this? 
We love them.  Kerry has worked on collaborative poetry, and a long multi-authored poetry showcase. It’s a great way of bringing different voices to a piece of writing, and changes the traditional model of the lone writer.  Twitter can be used for call-and-response writing as well as collaboration and chain-writing. It can mean new readers as well as new writing.   So why not make use of it?  
Martin Hall, Loughborough University, Friday 16 November, 6 -9pm, Tickets £10 (£5 concession)
James Walker and Paul Fillingham have recently created a Mobile App called Sillitoe Trail for The Space which is available as a free download. 

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