5 Reasons Writers Need To Embrace Technology

iStock_book with mouseMany people I meet say “I don’t like computers” or “It’s too hard to use all these sites” when I mention words like ebooks, social networking, online author platform and blogs.

But if you are serious about your career as a writer/author, think about these 5 reasons you need to embrace technology (by which I primarily mean the internet!).

  • People are online. Those people could buy your book. Even if you don’t like consuming ebooks or on mobile devices, millions of other people do and more join the fun every day. You want to reach them so you need to be online or at least have your information available to be found. If you are engaging on social network sites, providing information on your blog or producing your work in podcast audio format, you are more likely to get readers of your work than if you just wait for a publisher to find you, or bookstores to stock your book.
  • It is the best way to build an author platform. The author platform is now critical for everyone except the top authors and famous celebrities. It means people will find you, hopefully engage with you and then be interested in your writing/books or business. The old way of building a platform was through traditional media and PR (which costs money), or through 1:1 contact/networking as well as speaking. All of this is still relevant, but if you also have an online presence you will reach people globally when they are searching or browsing. You can also utilize word of mouth online which can boost your platform much faster and much further.
  • The tools have never been easier and they are free. You don’t need to know how to program to have a website or blog now. You don’t need $20,000 to have a website. You can have one for free. You don’t need to know much except how to drive a mouse. Point and click is all you need for most of these tools plus the confidence to try them out. The recent list of the most influential websites in the world included Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, all of which are great tools for platform building and all very easy to use. For more ideas, check out my free Author 2.0 Blueprint which contains other free sites you can use.
  • Mobile devices are exploding and the internet is going mobile. You may not know people with an ebook reader, but how many of your friends and family have a mobile device? Most of them? All of them? In fact, 1 billion mobile web users are predicted in 2010. Some of these people absolutely love what you do. They want to know you, connect with you and read what you produce. You need to be online to connect with them. The exciting thing is that this opens up the market to millions of people in countries who can’t afford a computer but who can surf the web on a mobile device. Wow! A whole new world of readers.

Check out this video if you need convincing, it’s a brilliant look at this mobile, connected world.

How can you embrace technology and not go mad?

Pick a site and start somewhere. Grow from there. That’s it! Here are the most influential websites online – they include some great sites to start playing with technology including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

If you are overwhelmed, start with these 3 : Decide on your goals. Set up a blog. Start on Twitter. [Read the whole article here].

Yes, you will get frustrated. You will find it a bit hard to get started. You will have to play around, spend some time with it, and you may get it wrong. But the rewards are endless!

Please do let me know any questions you have on this. I’d like to help you!

Personal note: I am an IT consultant, but not a programmer. I am Gen X and was not brought up with the web or computers in general. I got my first email account at 21. My degrees are in theology and psychology, not IT. I am a geek but I have learnt this stuff, it doesn’t come naturally. So this is something I am still learning myself! Come and join me!

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  1. says

    This entry has been really helpful and confirmed my fears that in order to spread my wings and create a wider range of followers I will eventually need to re-address my technological skills and update my own blog. Not only that creating spreadsheets in order to keep track of my work and submissions, and researching for articles and short stories etc.

    Thank you for sharing and making me want to step it up a gear :-)
    Take care
    Kate Collings

  2. says

    Your first three bullets deal with the web, which is misleading to me when your headline is about technology. Sure, the internet is part of technology; but why not more bullets about ereaders and less about websites and tweets?

    How about a bullet on ways a writer can save paper, by writing on certain software programs over others? Or examples of authors who use typewriters and not computers because they like that crunkle of paper?

  3. says

    Thanks all.

    Ari – you’re right. I need more on technology as a whole. I will consider your points in another post. I have started investigating the various writing software, but have yet to find one that suits.

  4. Steve says

    Hi Joanna,

    I actually am a computer guy, although I’m “old school”. I know more about things like database management and small-office networking than about social media – although I have some exposure.

    Recently I have become an aspiring YA novelist. I’ve thought a lot about going online with perhaps a blog, and/or a character blog. The thing that has stopped me is this. The Internet is vast, and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. The information overload facing a potential audience and the difficulty one has in being noticed by that audience has been memorialized in phrases like “Everybody will be famous to 15 people”. “Drinking from a firehose”, “A needle in a needlestack” and my own contribution “Finite human bandwidth”.

    Yes I could build it. But would they come? Creating an online presence is easy to do badly. If I were to do it, I’d want to do it well. which requires a substantial time investment. What assurance do I have that anybody would even notice? Looking at stats for number of blogs, etc. the odds would seem very against any one effort being noticed.

    The rock is thrown into the pond. . It sinks, without a trace. The waters close over it. The ripples die out quickly. How do I avoid such a fate.

    Anxious to hear your thoughts,

  5. says

    Hi Steve, there is of course no guarantee that you will be found online but you definitely stand a better chance than if you are nowhere to be found at all!

    I have written a lot on this as I am a convert myself. I was where you are 18 months ago – with a book and no audience, and now my blog is getting some attention and I have readers (and listeners to my podcast). Yes, I put in a MASSIVE amount of time, but I have a day job so this blog doesn’t need to pay and I am investing in my writing future.
    I have a lot more books in me and I am building over time – this is my year of the novel and I have a much better chance of getting published, or getting readers for my self-pub book if I build a following here. It is the same for you!

    But don’t just take it from me – here are some posts from agents and publishers who work the business.

    I hope that helps. The best advice I have is to start – get a blog, get tweeting as well as writing and persist and it will build. No guarantees but after a year, you will definitely have more of a platform that someone who doesn’t start now!

    Thanks, Joanna

  6. Steve says

    Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for the response. Hope you don’t mind a follow-up. I’m wondering if anybody has studied the question of how a blog (or other online presence, but I want to focus on blogs because that’s probably what I would do first) – how a blog is discovered by its audience. Are there any tips out there that are aimed at the question of how to grow an audience of blog readers?

    I could see getting maybe 3-10 casual visitors just by mentioning in other online locations that the blog exists, and good content would bring those people back. I could also see getting from (say) 50 to 200 through virality. Those numbers may be off, but somewhere around 50ish feels like a good critical mass for the jump into the low hundreds. (Again, assuming great content). But the first few casual visitors may well not include anybody that would refer others to the blog, even if they themselves like it. So how do you make it to 50?

    Admittedly, I’m throwing around numbers and assumptions here without knowing what I’m talking about. But I’m wondering if anybody out there actually knows – and if they’re talking :)

    Any resources that you can suggest?


  7. says

    Hi Steve, re growing traffic and subscribers, there are lots of great sites out there that can help with this.
    My favourite sites for blog tips are:
    Both these sites have loads of information on these topics, including a ton of case studies as well as podcasts on Entrepreneurs Journey hosted by Yaro Starak. (Yaro is my blog mentor!)
    If you like video, I recommend Traffic Cafe for blog traffic tips http://trafficcafe.tv/

    I hope that helps, Joanna

  8. says

    @Joanna – As I’m sure you know, I couldn’t agree more, and I look forward to the technology follow-up!

    @Steve – There’s tons of great advice out there. The best thing is just to go and and do it! You will learn by doing and get better as you go. As Joanna said, it will take time, but it will come back to you if you’re diligent.

    Best of luck!

  9. says

    Hi Joanna,

    I am curious as to your thoughts on products such as Dragon’s Naturally Speaking that allows the user to speak rather than type to author their pieces. I have seen this advertised and am curious as to others’ opinions prior to purchasing. I struggle the most with writing dialogue, and I am considering this product for this reason as well as efficiency.

    I just found your site – great posts!


  10. says

    I am completely convinced that ebooks are the way to go–I’m already reading most of my books on my iPhone. As an author who now has full rights to a couple of her books, it’s my intent to edit and release them as ebooks. My question is: how does one go about that process? Are formatting and selling two separate actions–i.e, first produce in eformat, then hook up with sellers? If so, can you recommend sources for ebook formatting? Any other advice to someone who already has the text, the platform, the etc –and needs to develop the e-product and negotiate to w/ sales/distribution entities? Thank so much!

  11. says

    Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for the great post. I have just started a blog to document a project I am doing and on Twitter. Everyday you learn something new about it and this post has added a few more reminders for me. Thanks!


  12. says

    Lisa – I have actually blogged about recording your book before as I think it’s a great idea. Here’s the post: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/02/13/record-your-book/
    I haven’t used Dragons myself but have heard it is quite good.
    I personally use transcription services for some of my interviews for my Author 2.0 product as well. It’s very handy.

    Joy – you can actually convert your ebook yourself into HTML and upload it onto Kindle http://dtp.amazon.com/
    Or you can use http://www.Smashwords.com and load a Word document which is converted into multiple formats including Kindle format and more. This is a free site and gets you onto so many platforms. If you need specific formatting help, then I recommend Joshua Tallent at http://www.ebookarchitects.com
    In this free ebook, I go into the Ebook setup in more detail – http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2009/12/12/best-of-the-creative-penn-2009-free-ebook-and-survey-results/

    Tara – best of luck with the blog!

    Thanks all.

  13. says

    Hi Joanna:
    I couldn’t agree with you more! Building an author’s platform has been drilled into my head over the past year and I am now a convert! Started my blog 11 months ago. Just had my website redesigned by a pro, am active in Linked in groups, am nearing 1,000 followers on Twitter (since July) and am soon to launch my own Facebook Fan page for my upcoming book. It takes a lot of time to maintain an online presence, but you and others have convinced me that it’s necessary. Thanks!

  14. says

    Doreen – that’s great that you have embraced the idea and you are seeing results! I also find blogging and social media rewarding in itself, not just as a means to an end.

    Stan – It’s definitely getting easier all the time to do this stuff yourself. But I don’t agree – if you want to take the world by storm, all you need is time online and persistence and a strategy, not money. @garyvee video blog didn’t cost anything and got him global fame on the net.

  15. says

    Great post. Earlier, I thought it was all about the words and the story. But I have come to realize that it’s actually a lot about business as well, connecting with other people and sharing information.

    It’s probably close to impossible to become a successful writer today if you keep yourself locked inside a room with a typewriter.

    Technology is free (or at least cheap) and it’s starting to become easy to use as well. I have several blogs and use Twitter and Facebook (and many other websites as well), and I don’t know much about Technology I’m just going with the flow :)

  16. says

    Hi Jens, yes, you are so right. Successful writers these days are also out there promoting themselves – it really helps to enjoy this stuff!
    The story is obviously important, but publishers also want an audience. Embracing technology is the only way to stay ahead of the pack.
    Thanks, Joanna


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