Writing in the Online World: Changes for Authors:
• Traditional publishing, self-publishing, hybrid publishing: so many choices: Writing used to belong to a select group of recognised authors who were chosen and supported by gatekeepers, the traditional publishers. There have been some self-publishing options, but too often these were “vanity publishers” who charged a high price for a low-quality product that looked “home-made” and lacked the quality and respectability of books from “real publishers.” Now, with the growth of many more publishing houses and the ever-increasing options in self-publishing and hybrid publishing, including the ability to quite easily produce a professional-looking product with a few technical skills of one’s own, or with the help of freelancers for specific aspects of the publishing process, almost anyone can become an author. In fact, over a million new titles are published each year in the USA alone.While this sometimes leads to the production of poorly-written books, it also makes it is much easier for good writers to produce their own quality work or find a niche publisher who will look at their manuscript.
• Social media, blogs and websites, e-books and e-zines, writing communities, and more: Because of the internet, anyone can write short pieces—ranging from 140 character “tweets” on Twitter, to somewhat longer “statuses” on Facebook, to article-length posts on blogs, websites, and e-zines, to e-books ranging in length from reports and novellas to full-length epics. And these writers can market their productions just as successfully as full-length book authors of the past were marketed. This has resulted in a tremendously larger competition among authors for readers. These changes have also resulted in a demand for shorter length books with a more concise writing style. Even the “big 5” traditional publishers have set quite strict word limits for the different genres. And readers, seeing the great variety of offerings in the book world, like to be able to “sample” the writing of different authors before committing to spending traditional book costs.
• Variety of media formats: The variety of online media formats is also very attractive to authors. For writers who are also illustrators or have other graphics skills, online publishing is a great attraction, as they can produce books that are highly illustrated, graphic novels, books with video attachments, and so on. These types of books are generally quite expensive in traditional book format, and the e-formats allow potential readers to purchase at a more reasonable cost.
• Multiple format marketing: Authors (and bookstores) can often make more profit with a well-marketed, popular e-book than with a traditional paper book, and can also sell their books in multiple formats (traditional books, e-books, audio books) as well as taking advantage of other writing-related marketing opportunities such as video production, merchandising, blogs about their writing, short e-books, e-newsletters and so on.