Expand Your Author Brand – Transmedia with Karen Snyder
I was quite comfortable with my writing routine, thank you very much, and entirely uncomfortable with the tech world. Therefore, I found Karen Snyder’s recent course, “The Power of Transmedia” (RWA U) thought provoking and often well beyond my skill level.
Snyder has plunged where no romance writer has gone before — into the deep end of the transmedia pool. An author, director, and transmedia producer, she is currently producing the world’s first transmedia historical romance series, “The Elements Club.”
When I signed up for the week-long online course, I had only a vague notion of what transmedia entailed or how it could boost sales of my Young Adult series, The Teen Wytche Saga (Spell Check, Book 1, Spell Struck, Book 2, and Spell Fire, to be released in November 2013).
Snyder defines transmedia as:
“…transmedia is a form of storytelling that involves relaying a story across at least three different media platforms with each platform offering unique content rather than repurposed assets.
Transmedia stories exhibit the following four properties:
1. all platforms (mobile, web, TV, print, etc.) are considered from the inception of the project as valid vehicles to support narrative;
2. different platforms are used to tell different aspects of a story;
3. participation and sharing is (sic) encouraged (but not necessary);
4. while users are encouraged to draw connections between platforms, stories can exist separately from one another in the fictive universe.
In the example of The Elements Club, the story is spread across ebooks, interactive ebooks, casual video games, online episodes, website and social media. Each media offers a deeper level of engagement with the world of the club…”
For Writers – the Heart of Transmedia
Authors can extend their brand, assets, and fan base by creating cross-platform stories. These are not re-purposed works, but rather new, related, and often, interactive content. In other words, the author creates a mix-media franchise. Snyder challenged her students to imagine spin-offs for their books, including video games, Behind-the-Scenes books, graphic novels, music CDS, YouTube videos, and more.
Disney is a master of transmedia. From each hit movie, they’ll spin books, musicals, CDs, clothing, dolls, ice shows, coloring books, and more. Film series such as Star Wars and the Matrix have similarly extended their brands. Popular television shows, including The Walking Dead, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Nikita, have created interactive video, mobile, and social media games, related talk shows, and other cross media platforms. Snyder used The Walking Dead as a prime example of transmedia success.
Transmedia – the Long Game
Mix-media franchises take time to develop. Snyder’s The Elements Club, set in Victorian London, follows the lives and loves of its various club members, with new segments released every six months. According to Snyder,
“A segment is a group of products that focus on the romance of a specific couple in The Elements Club series. Products include epub eBooks, interactive ebooks books, casual video games, online episodes, live events and over time, ancillary products.”
Some of these big-budget, tech-savvy ideas will require financial backing for many mid-list and indie-published authors. But others, like posting related content on social media platforms, are within everyone’s grasp.
For me, with a recent publication (Spell Struck) to promote and a third book (Spell Fire) due to release in November, the thought of adding transmedia is both daunting and intriguing. Now that Karen Snyder has planted the transmedia seed, there is no turning back. The trick will be to expand within my skill set and budget. The ideas are percolating. Game on.
© 2013 Ariella Moon