Book Review: Transmedia 2.0

Transmedia 2.0 book cover

Transmedia 2.0 book coverWe live in world where, increasingly, the devices we use to enjoy media no longer define the media type. We switch between books in hard copy and digital formats; watch videos on tablets as well as TVs; access email and social media on our smart phones while standing in line at the grocery store. It’s a word ripe for stories that span across multiple media channels–in other words, a world ripe for transmedia stories.

I’ve been blogging about transmedia storytelling much of this summer: what it is, why it’s effective, and how authors can use transmedia storytelling to reach and engage readers.

Well, if you’re thinking about attempting a transmedia storytelling project of your own, you’ll want to check out Transmedia 2.0: A How-To Guide for the Would-Be Transmedia Storyteller by Nuno Bernando. Bernando, of beActive Media, has been pursuing transmedia storytelling since 2003. This book shares insights from over a decade’s experience creating multiplatform stories, drawing examples from both successful and unsuccessful transmedia ventures.

Who It’s For

At first glance, Transmedia 2.0 seems to be targeted to producers and small production companies rather than individuals. It would take a team to implement all the strategies and ideas Bernando provides. So is this book a valuable resource for the independent author/creator?

My answer is a resounding YES.

Whether you’re considering a project that’s large or small in scope, Bernando’s book provides a clear overview of the principles underlying effective and engaging transmedia content.

“To my mind, true transmedia describes a storytelling process that imploys individual, complementary media that permeates the daily life of the audience and allow for personal interaction and participation. To achieve this sort of active engagement, transmedia incorporates a range of entry points across various platforms; each entry point provides the viewer with a unique perspective of the overall story.”

What It Covers

The book also provides content creators with a smorgasbord of ideas for implementation of effective and engaging transmedia content…and implementation includes far more than a bullet list of devices and social media platforms for use in transmedia tales. Check out the Table of Contents and you’ll see that Bernando covers the nitty gritty of topics such as how to finance transmedia projects, marketing strategies, and monetization of transmedia content as well as the how-to’s of storytelling and world creation.

  1. The Transmedial Approach to Entertainment Branding
  2. Financing Transmedia
  3. Building Your Storyworld
  4. Planning Your Release
  5. Marketing
  6. Monetizing Digital Content
  7. The Future of Transmedia

My Take

I came to Bernando’s book expecting to learn strategies for keeping an audience’s interest and insights into what makes for a great transmedia storytelling experience.

“Even with a relatively straightforward plotline, well-developed, ‘true’ characters are what sustain a project across multiple platforms.” –from “Creating a Brand: the Essentials,” Chapter 1

The book absolutely delivered on those things. It also helped me to think about which media platforms to use in my current project…

“Whatever technologies you choose to employ, they should serve your story and make it more immersive.”–from “Engaging Existing Communities, ” Chapter 5

…and gave me food for thought in countless other areas as well.

I may not have a team of programmers, writers, and producers at my disposal–and I’m guessing that most of you reading this don’t, either!–but Transmedia 2.0 helped me see which of those hats might be worth donning. Ultimately, transmedia storytelling is about telling a bigger story than would be possible using a single media platform. As an independent author/creator, I love the array of possibilities this book provided me–but even more, I value the fact that I feel better able to prioritize which of those possibilities to pursue. My copy of the book is highlighted and dog-eared with use. If you’re serious about trying a litte transmedia storytelling of your own, I’m sure yours will be, too!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book, which I used for my review. If you decide to purchase your own copy based on this review, I’ll receive warm fuzzies and happy points, but no other compensation. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Media Options for Transmedia Storytelling

TRANSMEDIA2

TRANSMEDIA2 Last week, we kicked off a series of posts on transmedia storytelling–what it is, how it works, and how you can use transmedia storytelling techniques to reach more readers and provide readers with a deeper, richer story experience. (If you missed last week’s post, you can check it out here.)

Multiple Media Options

Transmedia storytelling uses multiple media platforms or channels to communicate a message or story. To get specific, that means transmedia storytelling can include pretty much any communication method you and your target audience can access. Social media? Check. Web content? Sure thing! Posters? Stickers? Fictitious ads or announcements? You bet! The table below lists some of the possibilities, but your options are limited pretty much only by your imagination.

Print Materials Digital Content Direct Communications Social Media
  • Books & magazines
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Postcards
  • Stickers
  • Comic books
  • E-books
  • Website content
  • Fan fiction
  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Video games
  • Text messages
  • Chat or instant messages
  • FAX
  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Fan fiction and other forums

Are you getting the picture? Transmedia can deliver messages to your audience in lots of different ways!

Of course, no single transmedia project will include ALL those communication platforms. Often transmedia stories will be told primarily in one format (film, video, comic book, etc), with additional content available in another format for those who want to dig deeper.

Transmedia Storytelling Examples

Sherlock

Take BBC’s Sherlock TV series, which I mentioned briefly last week. The primary storyline is told in the TV episodes. If you want to dive more deeply into the Sherlock universe, though, Dr. John Watson’s blog adds details that you can’t get just from watching the show.  

The “blog” contains other media elements as well–photos, a slideshow of Watson’s wedding photos, commentary from other characters (including a “hacked” blog entry from Moriarty), and the occasional video content, such as this news spot reporting on Sherlock’s return from death:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Another great transmedia story, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, is told primarily through vlog (video log) posts, with additional content that unspools via Twitter, Instagram, and Lookbook. (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modernized retelling of Pride and Prejudice, in all its glory. If you’ve never heard of it, watch a bit. Now. You’ll get your giggles for the day!)

There are lots of other great transmedia storytelling examples out there, which use lots of different types of media to expand their story worlds. We’ll look at more in the coming weeks.

What transmedia elements appeal to you, as a storyteller or a story consumer? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Fun Publishing News

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My friend and fellow writer, the fabulous Anna-Maria Crum, announced the release of her new interactive picture book Monster Numbers. It is SOOOO cute! This is an app for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The program will read the story and count the monster parts—or you can record your own narration for a personal touch.

imageI’ve purchased a few picture/photo books for the Kindle and been sorely disappointed. The Kindle format is great for text, but isn’t kind to a book’s layout—resulting in picture books where the pictures are divorced from the relevant text and captions and graphs are difficult or impossible to read.

I love Anna-Maria’s book/app, because it takes advantage of the medium to accomplish more than a picture book could. It’s not a game, though—it retains that picture book feel but adds an interactive touch seldom found in an actual hard-copy book.

Plus it’s easier to pack :).

Another successful book-for-iPad effort I’ve seen recently is Bats! Furry Fliers of the Night, by nonfiction children’s book author Mary Kay Carson. This book/app is written slightly older readers, but it’s so filled with fascinating facts, illustrations, text, and animations that my high school kids confiscated it to read. This book, too, takes advantage of the medium with panoramic screen shots that give you the feeling that you’re flying through the forest. “Callouts” offer sketches, additional facts, and photos.

I’ve never seen a book experience quite like this one…but then again, I’m not an expert in the growing electronic picture book world.

Have you seen any great book apps for the tablets, smart phones, or other devices? Any features that work especially well for the electronic format?

Five Ways to Find the Right Publisher for Your Book

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The (Almost) Shortest-Ever Blog Series

In today’s news…I’m announcing the conclusion of the shortest-ever blog “series”—if you can even call it a series when it includes only five posts.

SteveD-period

I like the idea of featuring different publishers who accept unagented submissions, but the more time I’ve spent on it, the more convinced I’ve become that this series wasn’t the most effective place for me to put my time.

The problem is that I don’t feel like I have a lot of value to add. It’s not actually that difficult to locate information about publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. With a little digging, you can come up with editor interviews, Amazon rankings, books published, market needs, etc.—and even if I sum up that info here, because this is the kind of information that changes from week to week. You’ll need to do your research anyway.

So: today’s post marks the official end of our series on small publishers. I won’t be profiling individual publishing companies from here out. I will, however, leave you with this list of how to find and evaluate publishers when you are ready to start submitting.

Five Ways to Find the Right Publisher

image1. Big Six Publishers

  • A few accept unagented submissions, but your manuscript will fall into a huge slush pile and may never emerge again. Be forewarned.
  • Increase your chances (and up your odds) by meeting editors at conferences.
  • Get to know the imprints and how they differ from one another.
  • It’s okay to submit to two different imprints at the same house, but probably not at the same time.
  • It’s NOT okay to submit to two different editors at the same imprint—a “no” from one is a “no” from all of them.
  • Many will respond only if interested.
  • Many will only look at agented submissions or submissions from authors they met at writing conferences. This means they have fewer manuscripts to wade through.

2. Start with a list of publishers’ websites, like this list of children’s book publishers, to streamline your search.

3. Start with a market guide, such as the 2012 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

4. Peruse bookstore shelves for similar titles to find publishers that might be interested in your work.

5. Finally: always, always, always check the publisher’s websites. Market information changes quickly; just because a third-party website says that a publisher accepts unagented submissions doesn’t meant that they still do. Find their submission guidelines. FOLLOW them. Trust me, editors do NOT appreciate cutesy tricks such as singing telegrams, confetti, or pastel paper.

Each publishing house and imprint has its own personality, so just because a publisher accepts young adult fantasy doesn’t mean they will appreciate all young adult fantasy. Look at their most recent catalog. Pick up copies of their recent books at the library or your local bookstore, or download the free samples on Kindle. (Note: you don’t need a Kindle for this—you can run a Kindle app on your laptop or desktop machine)

If you take time to research different houses and different imprints, you might just find the right home for your manuscript!