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The lovely folks at Hot Key Books hosted a Women In Digital Publishing event yesterday evening at their London offices and thanks to the divine Liz de Jager putting a head's up in the British SCBWI's Facebook group, I picked up a ticket and moseyed on along to check it out.

The moderator was Sara O'Connor, the Editorial Director (Print and Digital) of Hot Key Books and panellists were:

- Tishna Molla, the COO of Power To The Pixel. Tishna explained that her background was in film and explained how Power To The Pixel works on stories that operate across more than one platform;

- Helen Kogan, the Managing Director of Business and Development at Kogan Page, an independent business and management book publisher. She explained that digital makes up 15% of Kogan Page's current revenue and said that they've spent a lot of time looking at its digital supply chain in order to make digital scaleable and easy to access, which has seen a change in the company's culture;

- Rebecca Smart is the CEO of Osprey Group, a niche publisher whose imprints include Angry Robot; and

- Annie Auerbach from Flamingo International, who looks at global socio-cultural trends and works on youth and technology projects.

Hot Key Books recorded the event yesterday and will be putting it up on their website so anyone wanting to check it out should go here. Because the whole thing will be available on-line, I'm going to set out the main things that I took away from the evening.

- Annie rightly pointed out that women in business really suffer from the image that successful women are bitches and ballbreakers, but although women are good at social media, there is a sense that to be successful on social media you have to have strident opinions and stand out when this isn't necessarily the case.

- There was a fascinating exchange on how publishing is doing digital differently to other industries. I was particularly interested in Tishna's point about how the internet can help producers to reach different audiences but not all publishers are embracing the change and some do not see it as a positive thing and heartened by Helen's remark that strict text is not dying out - rather publishers are finding new ways of developing and exploiting intellectual property with enhanced books. Rebecca spoke specifically about how Osprey had recruited Amanda Rutter to head up their YA imprint, Strange Chemistry because although she didn't have a publishing background she was heavily involved in young adult fiction through blogging and talking to YA readers and authors. Annie concluded by pointing out that there will be multiple platforms for an author and the challenge is to have an appearance on each platform without the content being too homogenous because content should be platform-appropriate.

- Helen and Rebecca each discussed ventures in digital publishing that had not gone well and how they had used those experiences to learn from them. A good point was made by both that because digital is so new, it means that you have to try different things and know that not everything will work.

- Particularly mind-blowing for me was the fact that all 4 women pointed out how children under the age of 13 have grown up with computers and the internet and so it's completely intuitive for them but they also don't differentiate between different platforms, they're capable of adapting.

- Book cover design is less important than understanding your audience and getting the price right.

- Asked to predict what might be next for digital publishing, the panellists pointed to the possibility of greater event publishing and serialisation, viral advertising campaigns and the importance of including children within the publishing process to understand what they want.

- Author participation and social media presence and engagement is becoming more important. However being part of a group can be more effective than doing it individually.

I'd like to thank everyone at Hot Key Books for a really interesting event that's left me with a lot of food for thought.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2012 08:50 am (UTC)
Great round up
A great round up, Caroline, and it was lovely to see you there! Thanks for asking your question about authors. Do you mind if we link to this post on our post of the event, once it's up?
Jun. 23rd, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Great round up
Thanks - it was a great event and lovely to see you again. Very happy for you to add a link to the post on your site.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )