Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Media Marries Old: A New Model for Books and Authors

Are the new media a threat to the old? Not if you can find a way to marry the two to give more value than either of them alone, says writer Jurgen Wolff. He's done exactly that with his new book, Your Writing Coach, published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London and Boston.

Here's how it works: when you buy the book, you discover that each chapter ends with a code word or phrase. If you go to the book's web site, and type in the code word on the "chapter extras" page, that unlocks a wealth of bonus material, including video interviews with Robert Cochran, co-creator of the hit series, "24," agent Julian Friedmann and novelist Michael Ridpath.

"I wanted to find a way to combine the value of the written word with audio-visual material," Wolff says. "I'm a total bookaholic, but I also love seeing and hearing experts sharing what they know about writing, so this gives the readers the best of both worlds."

The site's bonus material helps to make the principles in the book come alive. One of the chapters is about how to get support for your writing from family and friends, and the bonus is a video conversation between Philip Harland and his wife Carol Thompson, who are both writers. "They're wonderful to watch," Wolff says, "because with great humor they reveal how they've learned to be supportive of each other, even though they have very different personalities."

Another advantage of this mix is the ability to add to and update material quickly. "Usually there are at least a couple of years between editions of a book, but of course you can update a website anytime, and it's my goal to keep the site growing in usefulness to writers." Additionally, Wolff posts frequently on his podcast,, and offers a free monthly creativity e-bulletin (available by request to BstormUK @

As well as interviewing other experts, Wolff, who divides his time between London and Southern California, shares his own experience (which includes over 100 hours of produced television, half a dozen books, and plays performed in New York, Berlin, Los Angeles and London) via the site as well as the book. He mentions one more great benefit of mixing media: "Now I hear from people all over the world, who have read the book and want to comment on it, ask a question or share their success. That's tremendously rewarding, since we writers normally work largely in isolation. There's nothing better than hearing that a reader used the information in Your Writing Coach and the website to help them finish their novel or sell their screenplay."

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