When most people think of transmedia, the first things to come to mind are the massive transmedia campaigns of major franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek. These campaigns are great examples of the ways that transmedia can enhance the popularity of a story or series and involve their very loyal fanbases. From action figures to video games, these series remain two of the most popular examples of how companies can use transmedia. But these two franchises have a great deal of money behind them. How could a small press possibly be able to utilize transmedia with even a fraction of their success? Transmedia doesn’t always have to involve movie deals and mass amounts of fan fiction. There are many forms of transmedia that small publishers can use to engage their pre-existing fans and create new ones.
Various forms of social media are inexpensive and less time-consuming ways to create a continued interest amongst fans. Using social media is a great way to keep content fresh. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are two examples of social media that can be used for free. With these free services, a publisher could create accounts for characters from their more popular books; this could be especially effective for young adult books that have characters with strong and distinct voices. The publisher could use this account to post updates about the character using the character’s voice. If a series has ended, or if it is in between books, the characters from the books would be able to interact with readers through social media. Not only would this provide further insight into the characters that readers care about, but it would also ensure that there is continued interest in the books.
In the same strain are blogging sites like WordPress.com and Blogger.com, which publishers can use for free. These blogs can be utilized in the same ways as the Facebook and Twitter, but they encourage a longer format over the short snippets that Facebook or Twitter allow. This way, the story can continue for those readers who want to know what happens to their favorite characters after the books are finished. This would also be a great way to keep readers’ interest between books in a series, or to flesh out characters that may not have been the focus before, but may play more of a role in coming books.
Why stop at writing? What about video? Even with a small budget, publishers could create videos that would accompany the works they publish. YouTube is filled with examples of people who have had great ideas for video blogs or vlogs. For example, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries has quite an impressive following of over 237,000 subscribers. This modern-day adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes the form of a vlog by Lizzie Bennet. Not only did the creators retell this classic story through a modern lens in a way that appeals to longtime fans, but they also created new fans of Jane Austen’s work. Small publishers could do something along these lines about the characters from their own books for a relatively small amount of money, depending on how elaborate they choose to be.
Even though transmedia may seem like something that isn’t doable for small publishers, with a little bit of creativity, transmedia can definitely work in a small publisher’s favor.