Start with a website. Add forums, blogs, live chats, ways to share, discover and discuss new content. Sounds like a simple enough recipe – but there’s a whole lot more to creating and maintaining successful writing and reading communities. What does it really take to make communities of writers and readers work?
Join moderator Sophie Rochester as she sits down to chat with three veterans of the literary “community” culture to explore how communities come together, and what makes the best communities thrive.
Sophie Rochester worked for publishers 4th Estate and Jonathan Cape (Random House) before moving to the digital agency GT London in 2000. She then moved to Colman Getty working on the Man Booker Prizes and the Hay Festival, before setting up her own consultancy in 2007. She founded The Literary Platform in 2010, a website dedicated to exploring new platforms for literature, which now offers consultancy services for publishers, literary organisations and digital agencies. She is also Director for Fiction Uncovered, a government-backed initiative which helps UK fiction writers find wider audiences.
Liz Edelstein is the senior manager and editor of HeroesandHeartbreakers.com, Macmillan Publishing’s romance community. Liz is responsible for editorial direction, SEO strategies, marketing and list growth, social media, and e-book acquisitions for the site.
Prior to launching Heroes and Heartbreakers, Liz started her career in high-tech as a product manager at Netscape Communications and wrote thirteen romance novels published under the pseudonym Liz Maverick (which she is now self-publishing as e-books). She is currently writing the interactive e-book YA fantasy series Arcania for Coliloquy using Amazon’s Kindle Active Content platform.
Jacob Lewis is the co-founder and CEO of Figment, an online community for teens and young adults to create, discover, and share new reading and writing. Figment enables it’s users to read amateur and professional content and generate their own unfiltered creative writing to share with peers on web and mobile networks. Jacob is the former Managing Editor of The New Yorker magazine, where he worked for more than twelve years, and of Conde Nast Portfolio.
Colleen Lindsay is part of the business development team at Penguin Group (USA), where she is community manager of BookCountry.com, a new online workshopping community where genre fiction writers (science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller and romance) can upload original work for critique by their fellow writers. Launched in May of 2011, the site has already resulted in a success story for BookCountry.com member Kerry Schafer, whose community-workshopped book BETWEEN was acquired in a two-book deal by Berkley this past January. Colleen served as the director of publicity for Random House’s Del Rey Books for five years, where she specialized in the creative promotion of SF/F, licensed media, pop culture non-fiction, and graphic novels; most recently she worked as a literary agent focused on debut genre fiction writers. Colleen has called the book industry home since 1984.
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