Every so often, an article is published that sets fear into the heart of writers. The article will point the finger at the digital age and blame it for a range of issues confronting writers. Some recent articles are:
- Val McDermid’s statement that she would be a failed novelist if she’d started today, because writers are expected to have big first or second books and publishers are no longer patient with the writer who takes more time to find their feet
- Lionel Shriver outlining in hilarious detail exactly what is expected of a successful author these days, which mostly isn’t writing; it’s about performance
- A piece from the Australian Society of Authors about why spending time on building a personal brand, which we are all told as authors is important, could actually be a waste of time
- The Wheeler Centre’s piece on bookstores closing down and the strategies bookstores are using to “survive the digital age”
- The Guardian’s analysis of Amazon’s launch of an Australian kindle store and it’s dominance of the Australian market as an ebook retailer
I know that all of the points raised in these articles are valid. But isn’t there also a positive side to the digital age for writers? Aren’t there also reasons to be optimistic?
A Special Event
A very special event that’s happening today tells me there is reason to be optimistic. Author Annabel Smith is launching her third book, The Ark. After traditionally publishing her first two books, she decided to self-publish her third because she couldn’t get the publisher interest she needed to go down the mainstream route. Ten years ago, her options would have been limited. Today, she’s been able to bring her book to market.
And The Ark is a book that goes hand in hand with the digital age. It’s a fabulously designed e-book that also has an interactive app to go with it. You can check it out here.
Opportunities for Writers in the Digital Age
And it’s partly seeing what Annabel has been able to do, and it’s partly a result of a shift in my thinking but, eighteen months or so ago, I was the author reading all of the articles about the doom and gloom of the digital age for writers and I was worried. I saw it as a threat, something that would destabilise my future.
I’ve come full circle to become an author who views the digital age with excitement. Without the digital age, I wouldn’t have been able to develop my online Scrivener course that has been selling beyond my expectations (thanks to everyone who’s bought it so far!)
I have so many other ideas up my sleeve, things which wouldn’t have been possible for me to do a few years ago. I won’t bore you with all the details here but look out for more online courses and hopefully some writing e-books over the next year or so, depending on when I have time to put all of my ideas into action!
So I encourage all writers to look for the opportunities we now have, opportunities to have more control over the kind of work we produce, when we produce it, how we produce it. We also have huge opportunities to create ways to thrive financially and creatively as writers by developing other products that go hand in hand with writing books. I’m truly enjoying being able to use my entrepreneurial skills, as well as my writing skills, and having more than one trick on my trapeze!
What Do Other Writers Think?
I’ve joined forces with my lovely band of writers for this post and we’ve all written a response to the idea of writing in the digital age.
- Amanda Curtin revels in the ease with which writers of historical fiction can access research information, something I’ve also loved when writing my New York book.
- Yvette Walker, a new addition to our group, reminds us that to really be a writer, we need to value alone time, something which is at odds with the cacophony of the internet.
- Sara Foster reminds us of how far we’ve come as writers by telling us about her experience of seeing Jane Austen’s hand-written manuscript.
- Dawn Barker shows us how the internet can allow writers to connect with others and form relationships in a way that was impossible fifteen years ago.
- Emma Chapman takes us on a time travel through her life on social media.
- And Annabel, well today is all about Annabel and her wonderful book so I’ll let her tell you all about that and her experience of using the digital age to its fullest potential.
As a writer, what do you plan to do to take advantage of the digital age? Are you excited or nervous? I’d love to hear your ideas!