TOC New York 2013 Call for Proposals

Call closed 11:59pm 02/22/2013 EST.

Call for Proposals Now Open

It’s midsummer, and we’re already working on the seventh annual Tools of Change Conference, happening February 12-14, 2013 in New York, NY. In the months since TOC 2012, we’ve been witness to (and part of) some incredible publishing innovations. These inspiring ideas, projects, and the people behind them share one common uniting principle—they place optimizing the user experience above all else.

For TOC 2013 (and beyond), we want to make that focus on user experience our rallying cry. No matter what category of publishing you are in, no matter what media—crafting a quality user experience in every aspect is a goal that everyone in our community aspires to.

With this in mind, we invite you to submit your program proposals for our TOC 2013 program. The 2013 theme of “Connect/Explore/Create” is the “how” to our community mission of creating the best possible user experience. In addition, we’ll be placing a great deal of emphasis on all things “open” (such as platforms, standards, and systems) and shining a spotlight on the concepts of collaboration and connection—within the industry, and across industries; authors to publishers/authors to readers/publishers to readers.

If you have a presentation you’d like to make or a session you’d like to lead, we’d love to hear from you. Topics we’re especially interested in include publishing-related advanced technical sessions, in-depth explorations of successful experimental publishing models, and the latest research from industry experts.

Topics and Themes for 2013

The following list is what we’ve been thinking about for TOC 2013, but there’s no need to limit your proposals to the topics below. Ultimately, we’re interested in what most interests you.

  • Open publishing
  • Optimizing discovery
  • Digital-first authoring/editing tools
  • Collaboration within/across industries: case studies
  • Trends and forecasts in ecommerce
  • Accessibility
  • Content strategy
  • Reader engagement
  • Taxonomy
  • The audience as collaborator
  • Digital archiving
  • Persuasion marketing
  • Content customization
  • The latest in digital design and production
  • Shifts in business models and modes of delivery
  • Capturing and understanding consumer data
  • Meeting (and anticipating) consumer demands
  • Digital book design for screens, including touch functionality
  • Best practices for sales and marketing in app marketplaces
  • Metadata, metadata, and more metadata
  • Selling into the global marketplace
  • The implications of mobile
  • Developing digital content across a wide variety of devices and platforms
  • Understanding and addressing digital piracy
  • Direct-to-consumer sales
  • The growing importance of strong branding in a global digital world
  • New revenue models—advertising, subscription-based, etc.
  • Ebook pricing
  • UX design for screen-based books
  • Search
  • Cloud storage
  • EPUB
  • Ecommerce
  • HTML5 for publishers
  • Digital financial models that work

How to Submit a Successful Proposal

We’re looking for presentations and sessions that will help our attendees:

  • Get up-to-date information on new technologies
  • Understand the latest developments in publishing, including how their businesses may be affected
  • Develop and improve their technical skills

Tips for a good proposal:

  • Tell a unique story. What lessons can only you share? What insights are you uniquely qualified to explain? We’re far more interested in your experience and ideas than your credentials.
  • Provide a clear description of what attendees will learn. Whether your proposed session seeks to explain an emerging trend or teach a critical skill, you must provide a direct, concise description of what attendees will learn. We can not emphasize this enough—be very clear in your proposal about what you will be presenting.
  • Focus on lessons learned, NOT the benefits of your product or service. Product pitches are automatic rejects. Lessons learned from building or running your product, however, can be invaluable.
  • Skip the jargon. The more buzzwords you use, the less we think you have something interesting to say. Proposals about “branded content engagement platforms” are automatic rejects.
  • Include people we don’t see often enough at tech conferences. Does your presentation have the participation of a woman, person of color, or a member of another group often under-represented at tech conferences? As we seek to broaden our speaker roster, diversity is one of the factors we seriously consider when reviewing proposals. We also very much want to hear from voices that are new or relatively unknown in the technology and publishing communities.
  • Propose it yourself. The vast majority of proposals we accept are submitted by the presenters, not by PR firms. Most of the lowest-rated proposals we get come from PR firms, which makes us skeptical when we see that the proposer is not a presenter. If you’re a PR person, improve your chances by working closely with the presenter(s) to write a jargon-free proposal that’s got clear value for attendees.

Video Clip of the proposed speaker(s) in action

Submitting a video clip of the speaker or speakers with your proposal is mandatory this year. Proposals that don’t include a link to a video clip of the speaker giving a talk or somehow showing us their presenting skills will not be considered. If you don’t have video of the speaker(s) in action at an event, please create a very short clip (2-3 minutes) of the presenter(s) proposing his/hers/their session. We don’t care at all about the quality of the video; we care about the quality of the speakers. Feel free to use your phone or Flipcam to take the video, and don’t worry about editing it in any way. If your video isn’t already online, post it to a third-party site (YouTube is fine), and then share the link with us.

Session Formats

We’d love to see proposals that go beyond “talking heads” panels and speech-style presentations with slide decks. Tell us how you plan to organize and present your information; keep in mind we are especially interested in presentations with a conversational or interactive format. We encourage you to propose topics for debate, as well as round tables or “ask the expert” sessions.

We are currently accepting submissions for:

  • 45 minute sessions – these can be solo presentations, interview style discussion between two speakers, DIY/“Maker” type presentations (think: “build a book”) or a panel discussion or debate with more than two presenters.
  • 3 hour workshops – these extended format classes are designed to give participants hands-on, practical, in-depth guidance in using new technologies that are critical for publishing in the 21st century.
  • 1.5 hour workshops – workshops goal of informing and supporting participants to grasp and apply innovative principles and practices.
  • Keynote presentations – These are high level talks that frame the visions of publishing’s future into a meaningful picture

Ignite & Startup Showcase Information

We’ll be doing a separate call for Ignite talks and Startup Showcase companies later this year. Make sure you are following us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and are signed up for the TOC email bulletin to be notified when they open.

A limited number of speaking opportunities are also available through conference sponsorship. Contact Scott Harvey at (617) 499-7574 or for more information.

Other Resources for Writing Your Proposal

  • See the list of sessions and workshops chosen for the 2012 program and read their descriptions
  • Watch video from last year’s keynotes
  • See speaker presentation files from 2012
  • Watch the video, “”" class="external">Things Every Presenter Should Know"
  • Read the Clay Johnson article, “”" class="external">How to Prep for a Presentation"

The submission deadline for all proposals is September 6.

Important Dates

Proposals due: September 6
Proposers Notified of acceptance: Early November
Registration Opens: Early October


Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Scott Harvey at

Media Partner Opportunities

For media partnerships, contact mediapartners@

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at

Contact Us

View a complete list of TOC contacts