Here we are in March 2010, and this year is shaping up to be a watershed in the media world. The move to digital is speeding up and writing opportunities are changing too.
The iPad is a bellwether of these changes.
The iPad is changing publishing
I'm sad, and a little angry, at the current state of publishing. Sad because newspapers and magazines are dying, and I know that few will survive in their current state. Angry because the changes that the Internet would bring to publishing were evident 15 years ago, but publishers thought that the world would stay the same for them.But will the iPad really change publishing, and with it, the world of writing?
Yes, because although iPads were selling at the rate of 25,000 per hour when Apple opened pre-orders, the iPad isn't alone in the world of e-readers. Many other slates/ e-readers are coming to market this year.
The reason is simple: paper publishing is just too expensive. Books and other publications are going digital because the global financial crisis has hastened the end of paper and ink publications.
I haven't seen an iPad, and because I'm in Sydney Australia, I won't see one before the end of April. However, since (as numerous commentators have pointed out) the iPad is just an out-size iPhone, it's pretty clear how easy and simple (and how much fun) the device will be to use.
The iTunes app store currently has 150,000 apps for the iPhone -- all of these apps will run on the iPad. Many of these apps are ebooks, and ebook readers. People enjoy reading on the iPhone, and since the iPad's iBook app has such a gorgeous interface, no doubt they'll enjoy reading on their iPads too.
Magazines are frantically creating iPhone/ iPad apps for their magazines, and book publishers are converting books to the EPUB format which is used by both the iPhone and iPad. All these publications will be sold via Apple iTunes, and they'll be sold by publishers outside iTunes too.
Publishers of newspapers, books and magazines see e-readers like the iPad as saviors of their businesses. They're entering the era of digital print at a flat-out gallop.
So, what does this mean for writers? Let's look at some opportunities. I'll give you the gist in broad outline.
No one knows precisely what the opportunities will be.
Digital media opportunities for writers
1. Writers will be needed to provide more articles and booksOver the past 20 years, editorial content (articles) in newspapers and magazines has been shrinking. Advertising pays for editorial (and everything else) so when advertising shrinks, so does editorial.
In the digital world, there are no limitations. The rise of the content factories prove that content is profitable, so publishers will be looking for many writers to step up and provide lots of content for their digital publications.
(Not to push my own barrow, but if you've been hesitating about joining Sell Your Writing Online NOW (SYWON) to get the web writing skills you must have, it's time to jump aboard. Or be left behind)
2. Writers will be needed to script iPad gamesIf you love fiction, you'll find a good home with the developers of iPad games. Create some game stories now, and start contacting developers.
3. Writers will be needed to script iPad moviesDitto, just as with games. Promote yourself as a scriptwriter now, and get first-movers' advantage.
4. Writers will be needed to write lots of CONTENT of all descriptionsWhere there's advertising, there's editorial content.
Here's a quote from Ars Technica, about advertisers buying ads in publishers' iPad apps:
Ads are running anywhere from $75,000 to $300,000, with higher prices buying exclusivity. FedEx, for instance, has three-month deals to be the exclusive advertiser for Reuters' and Newsweek's iPad apps. Time is charging $200,000 for a single spot in its first eight issues designed for the iPad. And WSJ has four-month deals with several companies that cost $400,000.I encourage you to gear up now, to get content and copywriting gigs; they'll be plentiful.
Here's another little tip: remember that the iPad is NEW. If you've got any creative ideas you want to put into action, the time to do it is now.
What about entrepreneurial writers, who want to sell their own ebooks and other digital publications on the iPad?For you, I have one word: EPUB. EPUB is the ebook format which can be read on the iPhone/ iPad and other e-readers.
Since the EPUB format is basically just a form of XML, and EPUB editors are available now, converting your current PDF ebooks to EPUB is simple. PDF ebooks will continue to be sold (and of course readers can read PDFs on their iPads.)
I'll have more to say about the EPUB format later in the year, once the iPad is selling.
OK. So that's where I see the bright new world of writing in 2010 and beyond. I hope I've managed to get you thinking. There are immense opportunities, and it's up to you to act on them.:-)
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