A phrase that’s been buzzing around the Internet lately is “transmedia storytelling.” But what is it? And how does it affect you as a writer? Transmedia storytelling is the technique of telling a single story using multiple platforms and technologies in order to expand your audience through multiple avenues of engagement. For example, a YA novel may have a video game, a series of webisodes, and an iPad app. A TV show may have an alternate reality game, a series of graphic novels, and a live event. Kids are getting interested in Star Wars through Star Wars Legos and Star Wars Angry Birds games. Then they are watching the movies. Even Amazon’s Whispernet falls under the transmedia storytelling umbrella. Buy a Kindle e-book and then subscribe to Audible to download the audio book. Read a few pages and then hop in your car, where the Audible app on your iPhone will pick up where you left off and read the story to you.
Media companies are using a long list of platforms to engage readers/viewers in the lives of their characters. Authors are doing the same—doing live performances, making book trailers, and creating iPhone apps and Facebook pages for the characters in their novels. But how you use transmedia storytelling to get your story out there?
Last month I attended a talk put on by the Book Promotion Forum on transmedia storytelling. As Reid Mihalk, a “sex and relationship role model,” put it, “Leaving a comment on a blog isn’t enough anymore.” Here are 15 ways you can use transmedia storytelling to expand your story’s audience, followed by a list of 25 different media you can use to tell stories.
15 Ways to Engage Your Audience
1. Design smart phone and tablet apps to engage younger readers in your story.
2. Turn a mystery book into an online scavenger hunt.
3. Create YouTube videos about your characters.
4. Be a curator of content. People will follow you to stay up-to-date on a topic.
5. Get news coverage by helping others.
6. Serialize your fiction. Serial fiction is making a comeback.
7. Join Facebook and Google+ groups related to your topic.
8. Help your community find you (Reid wears Sex Geek T-shirts).
9. Give stuff away for free. People will then pay to have all that information in one handy dandy place.
10. Get readers invested in your project through a Kickstarter campaign.
11. Give a percentage of your proceeds to a charity.
12. Read Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday.
13. Ask questions. Get people to participate.
14. Treat people who email you like gold. They may become that true fan who tells everyone about your book.
15. Remember that transmedia isn’t about being goofy. It’s about being aspirational and inspirational.
25 Ways to Tell Your Story
3. Print journalism
15. Smart phone apps
16. Tablet apps
18. Graphic Novels
19. Video games
20. Flash mobs
23. Board games
24. Fan fiction
I’ve made a list of ideas to promote my own book, including quizzes, an iPad app, a board game, and videos. What about you? What clever transmedia storytelling techniques have you seen authors use to engage their audiences? Have you tried any yourself? What works and what doesn’t?