Technology for Writers: Introduction

Welcome to my blog. I better get this thing started right:

Now that my blog is properly christened, onward to equally important matters.

While I am just beginning to explore the publishing world, my first discovery is that it feels like a place that would rather exist without modern technology. The literary universe longs for the musky smell of a printed page and finds comfort in the familiar creased spines of a filled bookshelf. On the other side of the spectrum, our digital-crazed culture covets reading devices that are sleek and multifunctional.

Not long ago, while the publishing industry cheerily meandered down a dirt road in a horse-drawn carriage, Amazon launched its Kindle and quickly captured 90 percent of the e-book market. Eventually, with increased competition from iTunes and Barnes and Noble, Amazon’s share of the digital content market fell to approximately 60 percent, but not without great cost to the publishing industry. The lesson was clear: adapt to modern advances in technology, or die by them.

As a whole, the publishing industry seems pessimistic about its future, and views digital content as an unfortunate reality. This logic is insanity. Utilized correctly, new advances in literary technology will open additional revenue streams, lower marketing costs, allow for interactive books, and make distribution more efficient. To take advantages of these benefits, the publishing industry needs to embrace modern technology. Hide your e-reader in a recycled book if you must, but accept that we’re gradually transitioning to a world without hard copies. And that’s not completely terrible (okay, mostly terrible, but things will get better, at least on the business end).

Perhaps the ease with which a novel can now be “published” has flooded the digital content marketplace with mediocrity, but for talented authors it has also multiplied the pathways to publishing success. For example, author Ryan North, represented by Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company, recently used Kickstarter to pre-sell his novel, a choose-you-own-adventure version of Hamlet, to the tune of $580,000. How’d he do it? North made a small investment in the creation of an entertaining video that described his project and demonstrated why his book is unique. Other innovative authors could do the same, especially when backed by an agent and publisher. More than ever before, the publishing industry has an opportunity to attract new readers–do so, and our independent bookstores will survive and thrive.

Many amazing books were written with quill and parchment, pen and paper, typewriters, and word processors. Utilizing new technologies does not change the content on the pages; rather, technology makes life easier for writers, and it should make life easier for agents and editors. However, the personalities who cherish the cracking sound a book cover makes the first time it is opened often live in a different land than the technology nerds who seek out modern society’s ever-changing gizmos and gadgets. I simply happen to love both of these worlds, making me a rare double-whammy: a book geek and a technology geek.

Through a series of posts on technology for writers, I’m going to bridge the divide between our literary and digital planets. Sure, everyone has their device preferences, but read my suggestions and you’ll be able to make more informed decisions regarding literary technology. And don’t worry, they’ll never take our chocolate and coffee. 

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