Two Weeks of WD's Brave New World

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It's been just a little over two weeks since Writer's Digest was re-organized within F+W Media as a community-category (rather than as separate media/business units). Hands down, it's the most exciting time I've ever experienced at WD (and not because of the frenetic energy and craziness of Q4 environment in a poor economy).

Here are the major projects I've been working on these first 2 weeks:

  • Releasing our books with new-media tools, delivering the same information or concept across all Writer's Digest-related properties in a way that makes sense for each one
    (see Donald Maass example below).
  • Launching new educational sessions (live webinars) through WritersDigest.com by end of year.
  • Planning an all-new writers conference in Fall 2009 that focuses on the business of being a successful author in a time of great change.
  • Developing a business plan for digitizing all of our backlist books so that writers can choose, chapter by chapter, what content they want and personalize it for their needs.
  • Creating a unified brand identity that helps everyone immediately recognize any kind of Writer's Digest experience.
  • Designating an Online Brand Editor who oversees and creates a strategy for our online content, no matter what its source (magazine, book, event, community/forum), and makes sure it all works in concert with each other. (And also evaluates what YOU visit and enjoy!)
  • Evaluating WD magazine's editorial plans for 2009: what should our feature packages be and how should the columns/depts change?
  • Launching of a new community site at community.writersmarket.com (kind of like Facebook for writers), for subscribers of WritersMarket.com

The immediate benefits I've noticed:

  • We're starting to use our content in smarter ways and distributing it in different ways
  • We're making better use of our internal talent (editors), who can contribute and be involved across all writing-related properties, not just their formally designated piece of the pie
  • We're beginning to develop a more integrated and valuable online strategy that better serves writers

I think one of the best examples of our brave new world is how we plan to launch Donald Maass's new fiction-writing book next spring, Fire in Fiction. If this book had released a year ago, we would've run a couple ads, maybe scored an excerpt in the magazine, and that would be it.

Today, with WD run as a community-category, here's what's slated:

WD Magazine
Original article on fiction writing from Don to run in spring/summer 2009

WritersOnlineWorkshops
Original online courses (regular courses plus brief webinars) built around the book, offered in the months prior to and following the book's release

Digital Products

Simultaneous Kindle and other e-book editions

Online at WD.com
Sneak preview chapter posted before publication
E-launch party on WD.com blogs/forums, featuring exclusive live chat with Don

WD Newsletters
Free chapter download and advance purchase incentive (buy book early, get access to exclusive online chat)

Conferences
Feature Don as a speaker for at least one event in 2009

Of course, all this change doesn't come without its challenges, and you'll no doubt get to experience a little of that rough road with us, as we figure everything out. As we boldly move forward, I hope you will come to our aid with ideas and suggestions (and perhaps a sprinkling of patience).

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