Updated: 06 Jan 2012

Publishing World Looks to the Future With Pioneering Blook

30th January 2008

A best-selling author who has launched her fourth novel as a 'blook' - a book hosted on a blog - as part of an innovative University course has been invited to talk about her cutting edge project at a prestigious international publishing conference next month.

Alison Norrington, acclaimed author of Class Act, Look Before You Leap and Three of a Kind, launched her fourth novel Staying Single as a blook as part of the unique online Masters Degree in Creative Writing & New Media at De Montfort University (DMU) Leicester.

After 16 weeks, 5,000 site 'hits' and 600 email subscribers 'Staying Single' attracted a legion of loyal readers worldwide and Alison has now been invited to present the project at the 'O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York, 11-13 February.

Other speakers at the conference include Harvard Business School Publishing, Penguin USA, Microsoft Corporation, Newsweek, Hearst Magazines, Lulu.com and Publishers Weekly.

Novelist, freelance journalist and new media writer, Alison starts a PhD at the Institute of Creative Technologies at DMU in April, researching emerging platforms for writers with gaming, machinima and blogging amongst a host of up-and-coming ways to deliver and read stories.

Staying Single is delivered as blog entries for the fictional character Sophie Regan, at www.sophie-stayingsingle.blogspot.com and is updated daily with new instalments/chapters, encouraging reader action and interaction.

Coined by Australian cross-media publishing expert, Christy Dena, this story is "Sex & The City meets Second-Life", as Sophie's character appears in the virtual world Second Life for weekly 'meet-and-greets'.

With chapters delivered through email and SMS, mini-documentaries featuring on Sophie's blog based on the fun and pain of chat-up lines and reasons men give for dumping women, 'Staying Single' is lots of fun and has raised many question marks over traditional print-based publishing methods.

Alison said: "I wanted to bring my readers into the story and welcome their comments and participation. Why should it only be me having all the fun of deciding what my characters do?"

As part of the DMU team that ran the world's first wiki novel with Penguin last year, Alison knows the constraints of collaborative writing, so she didn't invite readers to join in the writing of the blook but to share their opinions, and gave them the opportunity to 'meet' Sophie, to help map her future and to laugh and cry with her.

Alison said: "Reading online can be undeniably boring and I've learned through my studies that stories on screen need to be written differently. Digital fiction requires a new way of both reading and writing and for publishers to simply digitise their back catalogue for upload to e-readers is like recording your old vinyl onto cassette to 'listen to in the car'.

"There has to be more of an experience that can marry the possibilities of the internet with the international love affair with reading. Giving an author and their writing an online presence is like watching the DVD, and then enjoying the 'extra scenes' where you can find out about where and how the film was shot and the behind-the-scenes production sagas."

Staying Single will be updated daily until completion. See the story so far at: www.sophie-stayingsingle.blogspot.com and view Alison's other work at www.alisonnorrington.com or www.bluffworx.com .

Alison said: "I am overwhelmed to be invited to give the presentation, entitled 'Fictional Blogging: Can Web 2.0 translate to Publishing 2.0' at TOC and I'll be talking about my techniques for writing for an online audience, preferred methods of receiving digital stories and online and offline marketing processes through which I've garnered a loyal audience through a variety of delivery systems."

See the full abstract for Alison's presentation at O'Reilly Tools for Change in Publishing Conference 2008 at en.oreilly.com/toc2008/public/schedule/detail/53 .

For further information or to be kept informed about IOCT activities, please contact:
The Director, Institute of Creative Technologies,
De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH
Tel: (+44) 0116 250 6146
Email: eedmonds [at] dmu.ac.uk

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