TOCCON Wednesday round up

After having Friay and a whole weekend to get over my jet lag, I still haven’t. And it means that I still haven’t blogged about the Wednesday of Tools of Change.

If you’ve been interested in these posts, you should follow @toc on Twitter. It has great links to round ups and articles about the conference. You can also watch various videos. No matter who you are, I strongly suggest watching LeVar Burton’s opening keynote for inspiration about the future of storytelling.

First thing on Wednesday, I watched a demonstration of the most amazing software. It took a bunch of numbers, processed it, asked the data a bunch of questions and then popped out a story. (Have you read Roald Dahl’s THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR?) Rest assured, authors, this wasn’t fiction. The program relies on having lots of numbers to compare, so imaginative stories aren’t under threat. But it can then write narrative copy about things like the real estate market in a certain area, the performance of a company or a round up of a sporting event. Anything where there are stats, this program can tell a story.

The next talk was about new ways to sell books: subscription models and advert-paid-for stories. (What do you think about either of those options?) Then I went to a talk about new ways of bringing a book to market — releasing parts at a time, having a decreased price for early adopters, offer parts for free and then upgrade to the full product, or paying for continued access to a conversation with an expert. All of these were based on non-fiction and it’s very interesting to think of what could work for fiction. The book recommended was EVERY BOOK IS A START UP. And, like music to my ears, the one thing that was completely pivotal in all of this was THE AUTHOR and what their stories want and need.

I saw a demonstration of a product that will build animation in an app without knowing any code (DemiBooks) and heard a pitch for apps that were being sold door to door, along with other physical products (InkPad Press). I saw mind boggling things happen with complex math visuals (Wolfram Alpha Pro) that, thankfully, in my line of work, I will never have to try to understand.

All in all it was an awesome experience. My next step is to prepare a talk for the Hot Key team summing up my 43 pages of notes into an hour!


6 responses to “TOCCON Wednesday round up

  1. I like the idea of subscription based stories that will be delivered by website or apps. There’s been some interesting posts on Brave New World/Martyn Daniels about subscription and how digitalisation means that publishers don’t have to factor in the size of the work when working out costs etc for digital work. (

    I think subscription-like-periodicals would be a good way of building a following and finding things that are popular.



    • Have you seen Safari Books Online? It pays royalties on a real-usage basis, per page read.

      • No, I had not. It looks good, especially as I remember buying all those expensive Uni Computer Science text books and only reading a few chapters from each.

        I think it could be a successful model for both fiction and non-fiction.

      • It’s funny — I’m in the business and hadn’t heard of it — but I suppose it’s because it’s so educationally/non-fictionally focused. That’s really what I’m excited about — trying to find ways to bring things that are working in non-fiction to fiction.

      • It’s aimed at my day-job industry so I was surprised I hadn’t heard of it. Might be spending too long reading about writing though… looks quite interesting. Not sure about paying for membership as a writer and it’s a shame it is just an iOS app (for them as well given the current market share breakdown of devices) at the moment.

      • I love the idea of bite-sized fiction to your mobile phone, and Ether Books does look interesting, but I don’t like that you have to pay to submit. Sure, it’s a small amount, but no traditional publisher or agent would ever charge for submission. Ether do have a “free version” for submission, but there is never any instance in my career where it was okay to charge writers to submit their work. Publishers make their money from the rights we choose to license, not from a writer’s hope of a distribution deal.

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