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Publishing Industry

 

Korea’s Writing Platforms

 

2022.07.04

 

In the book Writing Space, Jay David Bolter says that writing technologies realize the writing space. In other words, the writing tools, materials used, cultural selection, and social customs significantly impact the writer’s writing style and content. As a result, changes in writers’ works will be more evident in a different environment in the long run. After the Digital Revolution, people write about their daily lives more on screens than on paper, and people are moving from offline to online at an astoundingly fast pace.
With changes in writing space, the pathway to publishing books is also changing rapidly. In the past, writers won literary awards, submitted to publishers, or were recommended by acquaintances before publishing their works in paper books. In contrast, writers nowadays increasingly publish their writings on online writing platforms first, get found by editors, and release paper books or e-books. Diverse writing platforms are established because the online environment provides easy-to-use tools to writers, and readers can consume content through various sources, including smartphones, tablets, and PC. Platforms are forms of digital publications and are also the gateway for paper books or e-book publishing.
With the advent of writing platforms, writers’ scope of activities widened. Many hybrid writers share their work through platforms and gather readers to publish books, release books and sell them directly to readers, or use both measures. The recent increase in book-band or online bookstores adding descriptions of how popular the writing is on online writing platforms tells one thing. The number of online writers will soon surpass that of conventional writers who became a writer through the school system, literary circles, and journalism.

 

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Logos of Munpia, Joara, Naver, and Kakao

 

 

There are diverse forms of online platforms in Korea where users can publish their writings, drawings, and comics and communicate with readers. Social media platforms, such as Blog, Cafe, Tistory, Facebook, and Instagram, and content platforms, like Naver Series, KakaoStory, Joara, BritG, Ohmynews, Brunch, Ssm, and Alookso, are well-known platforms people use. There are also newsletter platforms, such as Stibee, Maily, and Mailchimp, and open market platforms, including Postype, Kmong, Class101, Taling, and Soomgo. Most platforms allow different forms of writing, such as novels, comics, and prose, and writers use those platforms to publish their works through postings, subscriptions, e-books, social funding, and paper books. Therefore, defining the scope of the writing platform is no longer a simple matter.
For ease of discussion, the ‘writing platform’ will be limited to platforms that provide text-based content through support, subscription, sales, or affiliation. Existing social media platforms, such as blogs or Facebook, are to be excluded from writing platforms. Social media is excluded because it is losing grip as a writing platform. Other platforms are gaining popularity because digital content’s paid usage and subscription models are growing. The trend is evident from the publishing industry standpoint.

 

The spread of the Internet is accelerating the movement of writing from offline to online.

 

Web novel platforms are the most activate ones among diverse writing platforms. In the 2000s, web novel platforms started as Internet novel serializing sites, such as Munpia and Joara. Those platforms showed steep growth in the late 2000s when paid business models began to settle with the advent of large Internet portal sites, including Kakao and Naver. According to The Korea Creative Content Agency, the web novel market amounted to 600 billion Won at the end of 2020. Kakao acquired Radish and Wuxiaworld, and Naver acquired Wattpad to advance into the North American web novel market and become a global web novel firm.
The two companies only allow existing writers to update paid serial novels. New writers can join and post on the following web novel writing platforms: Munpia, Joara, Novelpia, Naver Webnovel, and KakaoPage Stage. Though the scale is not as big, genre literature publisher Goldenbough also built an online novel platform called BritG. Korean writers who brought sensation to Korean genre literature, such as Shim Neoul, Cheon Seon-Ran, and Lee Hee-Young, started writing on the platforms above.
Writing platforms relevant to writing non-fiction are Brunch, Publy, Ssm, and Around. Serials are uploaded on Brunch, a writing platform operated by Kakao. Among these, Brunch is one of the most popular content sources in the Korean publishing industry. One unique aspect of the platform is that a user must gain approval to be registered as a writer. Unlike blogs, Brunch encourages writers to post works under specific topics, making collecting and publishing posted content effortless.

 

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Logos of BritG, Brunch, and Book Journalism

 

 

As of 2021, the number of registered writers was around 47,000, and 4,200 books were published after being posted on Brunch. In addition, the platform encourages paper book publishing by running the annual Brunch Book Publication Project with publishing companies’ editors. By finding new best-selling authors, like Lim Hong-Tek, Jeong Mun-Jeong, and Ha Wann, the platform also encourages the participation of new writers, creating a virtuous cycle of its own. Brunch also provided online editing tools for e-book publication, including cover production, work introduction registration, list organization, and book finish rate analysis.
Publy and Book Journalism are digital publishers that create and release content. Both platforms also have an approval process like Brunch if a user wants to be a writer and post content. Ssm gives users daily life topics, encourages them to write 500 words every morning and afternoon 500 words, and helps them grow their writing skills. In addition, users can subscribe to others’ writings. Alookso is a writing platform that mainly deals with political and social issues. Through the Compensation feature, points from activities can be withdrawn in cash. PenCake is a good platform for reading and writing short pieces. It enhanced editing features by providing different fonts. Steemit and Around pay in cryptocurrency for the writings users upload.

 

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Writer Lee Seula’s Daily Lee Seula

 

 

Lee Seula, an unknown writer in 2018, released Daily Lee Seula, a paid subscription sent through email at 10,000 Won per month, and gathered thousands of subscribers. She became a famous writer with tens of thousands of fans from an unknown writer waiting for publishers or media outlets to shine a light on her. Since then, all her newly released books have become best-sellers. Her case is a representative case showing the possibility of the paid subscription content business. After Lee Seula, many writers and publishers opened content subscription services using emails. Newneek, Uppity, Book Journalism, LongBlack, and Somewon are exemplary startups that emerged as subscription content companies. Magazine and newspaper companies are also joining forces with the trend of content subscription models. Examples are newsletter platforms like Stibee and Maily, which send newsletters, manage subscribers, and help convert users to paid services.

 

* K-Book Trends Vol. 39 - Interview of writer Lee Seul-Ah

 

There is still controversy over whether to consider newsletter platforms as writing platforms. However, it is worth considering the new model as a writing platform. The platforms support anyone to start writing and collect subscribers; the postings are often uploaded to be published as books; the platforms are maturing as a new publishing model with paid services.
Stibee is a service platform that helps write and send newsletters and supports running marketing activities. Newspaper outlets like Chosun Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Kyunghyang Shinmun, and many companies use the platform to issue newsletters. Content creators also use the service to deliver their works to readers. Examples include Yoon Sung-Won of Somewon Summary & Edit, who summarizes and delivers core business materials, and Lee Sula of Daily Lee Sula. Maily is a newsletter platform that has been rising recently. It helps writers generate profit by providing paid content to members.

 

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Logos of Stibee, Maily, and Postype

 

 

Postype, Kmong, Class101, Taling, Soomgo, and other open market platforms are not dedicated platforms for writing. However, the number of people using talent sharing and sales platforms to write and publish e-books or paper books is increasing. Also, companies like Taling founded their own publishing company to actively engage in publishing paper books. In that sense, the above platforms can be broadly considered writing platforms.
Postype is an open market platform that uploads diverse forms of creative content, like web novels, essays, and knowledge, and puts a price on the content to generate profit for writers. As of April 2022, 340,000 creators posted content on Postype, and content creators with sales experiences on the platform surpassed 75,000. Knowledge publication markets, such as Kmong and Taling, where individuals sell knowhow in the form of electronic files, like PDF, are examples of a newly emerging publishing market.

 

As anyone can be a writer in this era, new content is increasing drastically.

 

With the spread of the Internet and the online world opening up, the spotlight on content creation and consumption moved from papers to screens. The scope of the writing platform is unclear yet, but anyone can write, communicate with readers, and publish books to become a writer through diverse platforms in the current era. Of course, content that focuses only on casual topics, emotion, or practicality can flood the market and make it hard to find ones that require intelligent and rational thinking. Regardless, as the diversity of content increases, new content that can give life to characteristics of publications as minor media outlets is rising at the same time. There are enough reasons for publishers to show interest in new platforms. It is time for the publishing industry to consider unconventional options, like how they can use writing platforms to find writers or sell content directly through platforms.

 

 


Written by Jang Eun-Soo (Head of Editing Culture Laboratory)

 

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Jang Eun-Soo (Head of Editing Culture Laboratory)

#Writing Platforms#Lee Seula#Web novel#E-book
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