Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Guest Post; The Impact of the Internet on Today’s Authors by Cassie

Cassie is a tech blogger who spends all her free time reading. She’s most interested in the way technology has changed the book world for readers and writers alike. Follow her on Twitter

Reading and writing are some of the oldest pastimes. For generations, stories have lit up our lives and helped us share important ideas and messages. This tradition is no different in the modern world, with one key exception: technology. The Internet has revolutionized the way authors produce books and stories. 

However, whether these changes have been purely negative or positive is debatable. While technology has undoubtedly afforded us new writing opportunities, there are some unavoidable downsides. This post documents the good and the bad of how the world of writing has changed.  

The Way We Read

Perhaps the most obvious transformation in the modern literary landscape is in the way we read. There is now a plethora of formats available where once the only option would have been a physical book. For authors, this means endless new ways to get their work to readers.

Audiobooks became the first significant technological development for the industry and allowed readers to engage with their favorite novels without actually reading. Story tapes were an incredibly popular medium for helping young children sleep. Apps such as Audible have provided the opportunity for prospective readers to get involved no matter where they are.

Similarly, the e-book format has instigated a revolution is its own right. Not only have these virtual downloads slashed the costs of publishing, it has also encouraged readers to buy more than ever before. While many claim an e-reader such as Kindle can never replace the holistic experience of reading a physical book, it still has some undeniable advantages for up-and-coming authors.

The Way We Write

Authors worldwide have benefited significantly from the global literary community the Internet provides. Where once prospective writers would have had to lobby for investment and publishing facilities, it’s now possible to get work to its audience with no intermediary. 

Self-publishing has given the power to many new up-and-coming and independent authors, and it’s easier than ever to get your voice out there! Using any of the available online resources, you can devise, write and publish a story for minimal cost. This is an incredible advantage for writers and readers alike.

Some excellent sources to consider when self-publishing include:

·         Book Aggregators. These online resources, such as Smashwords, support you through the process of publishing your work on numerous platforms.

·        Editing Software. Apps such as Grammarly are a great support for self-editors.

·        Formatting Tools. Services such as Pressbooks allow you to format your manuscript for publishing.

The Way We Sell 

Today, the bookshop/library culture of yesteryear is almost entirely gone. Except for the few literature purists, most of your customers will come from the internet. Thankfully, distributors have made it easy to sell your work. It’s now possible to upload your manuscript to a variety of online bookstores no matter where you are. Your readers can have physical copies sent to their doors or download any e-book in a matter in of minutes, making it more likely for them to invest in your product.  

The access this has allowed authors is infinite. No longer do you have to go through exclusive and expensive publishing houses. Similarly, your readers don’t even have to have a dedicated e-reader to benefit anymore. Many apps provide cheap downloads straight to a phone, tablet or any other device.

The Risks We Face

While the benefits of this digitalization are numerous, some unfortunate new risks have come along. Before the Internet, if you insinuated there were threats associated with writing books, you would have been viewed as crazy. Now, the risk factors involved with e-commerce and making sales when on-the-go are much more prevalent.

Kindle Fire has already been criticized for its lack of protection when purchasing books on public WiFi networks. These insecure hotspots allow hackers to intercept credit card details, and users are advised to install security software. For writers, this threat extends to all computers, phones and tablets used remotely; you don’t want to lose your manuscript to a virus or hacker.

As more and more of our lives become digitalized, cyberthreats like these are essential to consider! It’s one of the most negative repercussions of the online literary culture. 

The Way We Share

Last, but by no means least, the book community itself has seen a dramatic transformation. As the Internet has allowed us to share further, easier and more often, it has meant the literary society has expanded in ways unlike every before. 

A fantastic example of this is Goodreads, the book review site. This platform, alongside many others like it, has allowed readers and writers access to multiple in-depth reviews on different books. Similarly, the many recommended book lists on the site can help authors market their work to the right target audience.

The blogosphere has also had a significant hand in sharing books over the Internet. Online book blogs allow authors to engage in niche communities where they can discuss, share and promote their work.

The Internet has completely revolutionized the life of an author. Every single element of literature has been affected, and things do not look to be reversing anytime soon. While many bemoan the downsides of digitalizing books, it’s undeniable the impact it’s had on those who write them is unmatchable.

What are your thoughts? Do you love the opportunities the Internet has afforded writers? Or has it taken something away from the purity of writing and reading?

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