How the Internet has Influenced Writing, Reading, and the Publishing Process

Over the past few years, there has been a real surge in how the internet and technological advances have affected the world of writing. The publishing industry is constantly changing and the way we purchase and read books isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. If you are a writer, it’s important that you keep up to date on these developments and use them to your advantage. As we all know, writing itself can be totally time consuming, but add in the need for online promotion and website maintenance and you’d be surprised if you had time to do anything else!

The internet has unleashed so many tools for us as writers, but at the same time, it can often feel as if we are the tiniest little fish in a gigantic ocean of other tiny fish, all fighting to be noticed! How can we get others to pay attention to us? We don’t have the powers of the big publishers who could get our book to the front display in Waterstones. It’s all on us to get as much promotion as possible! I personally find it liberating, but at the same time, totally intimidating!

I love the new ‘do-it-yourself’ aspect of self publishing. I have complete control and I enjoy the challenge. At the moment, I’m yet to fully dive into that world again, as I am still working on streamlining my book into something I am totally proud of, but I look forward to it. I think that if you are a self-published writer, then rather than allowing the process to overwhelm you, you should step up to the mark, research all the different ways of promoting yourself, really get creative and see what you can come up with.

There are a lot of writing forums out there which allow writers to share their work and read others, offering feedback, encouragement and criticism. This is also a great way to spread the word about any new publishing houses, agencies that are open for submissions or details of short story contests.

This is another great way of getting your name out there as a writer. Entering the world of anthologies and short stories is a wonderful method of promoting yourself and adding another notch to your belt. It may also provide a small break for you if you have been working solidly on a novel, and will allow you to explore other genres and develop your writing technique.

There is definitely a new convenience within the world of publishing, but with this ease could it be that the market is in danger of becoming oversaturated? Literally anyone can publish a book now, and though I would love to support and read the novels of all those people who have self published, there are so many titles available that it would be totally impossible!

So what can you do to set yourself apart? Do what you can to establish yourself. Make your name known on writer’s forums and set up your own blog and website. It’s easy to become disillusioned if you feel like nobody is listening, and it can be difficult to promote yourself when there are so many like you, so it’s a good idea to read up on various social media techniques. This can sometimes feel like the furthest thing from what you are about as a writer, but in this day and age, I believe it is important in getting yourself out there, especially if you have self published.

Be careful of putting yourself out there too much though. For example, if you have a twitter page and all you do is post tweets about your book, then it is likely people will get bored and unfollow you. Whilst you should definitely promote yourself, make sure you show support for others. Select some of the books you come across and take the time to read and review them. The writer will certainly appreciate your support and will likely show you the same.

Obviously the most important thing which I will always reiterate is to make sure you have written the best book you could possibly write. I am constantly reading and writing to improve myself, researching other authors and their writing techniques. Other people’s advice is priceless, and it’s worth remembering that there aren’t many authors who found immediate success, but they kept at it and wrote something wonderful and original.

That is the first thing that I always keep in mind. As much as I like to take inspiration and influence from some of my favourite authors, I believe that it is important to come up with unique ideas and themes. I have endless stories going round in my head; in fact I have pretty much dreamed up my entire writing career. Perhaps I am building myself up for a fall? Who knows? What I do know is that right now I have a lot of control over where I can go and I think that is very important to remember at low points. The internet could drown you and you’ll sink without a trace, but you also have the option of continually building yourself up, if you take the time to research and utilise the tools that are out there.

Books are now very easy to download, and you can send them straight to your ereader or smart phone. Find your target audience, start networking through your blog, twitter, facebook page, etc., and come up with some captivating promotion. Most fans of a certain genre will give any book a go, but more so if it comes with some great reviews and a fantastic looking cover and website. Use the internet to build up some mystery and excitement around your book. Make friends and immerse yourself in the writing community. Work hard and embrace the freedom you have at your fingertips. It’s not always easy, but as writers we are persistent, so keep your spirits high and see what you can do for yourself!

Christina Crook