Ready to read on all major e-readers. Learn more about Guardian Shorts
Collected in handy, concise ebooks on a wide range of topics...
Great content from Guardian journalists and archives...
PLEASE NOTE: This competition has now closed.
UGC. User-generated content. It’s all the rage these days. From YouTube to newspapers, videos, photos and words produced by the outlet’s users - rather than its creators – serve an ever-growing number of purposes. Providing breaking news reports from dramatic news events; submitting remarkable photographs, such as these taken by an Australian grandfather as his family sought refuge from the bushfires; or simply entertaining office workers around the world with yet another cute cat doing something cute – user-generated content carries an impact felt only in reporting that comes from the heart of the action (even it that’s just being the observer of some feline behaviour).
Digital media lends itself well to user-generated content. Publication is both quick and easy. So what about digital books?
User-generated content and books have been flirting with each other for longer than may perhaps be immediately obvious. Back in 2006, the US branch of Pearson – the parent company of Penguin – announced We Are Smarter than Me, a collaborative UGC project which was published in 2008. A US not-for-profit, The CK-12 Foundation, does some very useful things with user-shaped digital textbooks that they call Flexbooks. Then there are the related phenomena of both fan-fiction and self-publishing. But the vast majority of books that we want to pick up and read for entertainment, escapism, understanding – books which are published by conventional publishing houses – follow the normal publishing process.
So this is why we’ve launched the Guardian Shorts ‘Protest!’ essay writing contest. We are inviting readers who were involved in protest in 2012 to record their experiences in 5,000 words. We want to know what was being protested about and why – what were the politics and triggers behind it? What form did it take and what was it like? And, importantly, why did you take part?
We’ve left our definition of ‘protest’ as broad as possible – you may have been campaigning for your local library, marching for equality or protesting in the face of government oppression. The protest too can have taken place anywhere in the world. People rallied around all sorts of causes in 2012. We’re interested in the human stories and the reasons for action.
There are lots of writing competitions out there of course. What makes our one different? Well, we want to properly take that idea of user-generated content and integrate it into our publishing programme. The winning entry will be published in the Guardian Shorts series of ebooks. It will have all the same marketing and promotion as any other title, and we will split the revenue 50/50 with the author.
In a way, book publishing has always been about UGC – publishers receive pitches from independent writers, and then work with them. We are simply taking this further and opening up the access for anybody who wants to write within the broad brief. Publishing digitally allows us to work within shorter forms of writing that are more suited to exploring a single issue or giving a personal account of an event.
We’re looking forward to reading the entries. We hope it will bring UGC and book publishing closer together.