I LOVE technology! It's made my life so much easier as a writer…among other things. I remember the days of writing my novels on yellow, lined legal pads or typewriter (yes, I know, I'm dating myself) and then came the awesome personal computer: My first being a Tandy 1000. Sure, it was DOS based and monochrome, but HOLY COW, no more white-out or retyping a page!
Then the development of the Internet and WHAM! the world of writing exploded in so many ways. The best part about the Internet, as far as I'm concerned with writing, is E-MAIL SUBMISSIONS!! The days of packaging up that 250+ page manuscript are over! YAY! The latest technologies of tablets and eBook readers just makes my head spin when I think of all the possibilities! Apple announced it's two newest features for the iPad, and it inspired me to write this blog entry to chat about ten things writers can do to take advantage of today's technology to either write or promote their writing. E-mail, computers, and the Internet in general are givens, so I've thrown out some options that incorporate those. Here they are (in no particular order):
- Blogging – An obvious one, since you're here reading this blog entry. Blogging is a great way to put samples of your writing out there, but also promote what you write. It's a nice, personal platform to announce to the world your wonderful talents! Not only that, but blog tours are a fabulous way to get around without catching something! (What?! You know, colds, flu, etc.) Check out some of the more popular blog web sites: www.WordPress.com, www.Blogger.com, www.TypePad.com, and www.LiveJournal.com. Most are pretty easy to set up and customize, with templates and color schemes that fit any personality.
- Resources – Never have an out-of-date dictionary, thesaurus or etymology reference ever again. Not only that, just visiting your favorite search engine (e.g., Google, Yahoo!, Ask.com, etc.) gives you access to MILLIONS of pages of information. Be sure to check SEVERAL sources on a topic, though, as not all information out there is correct. Of course, the amazing Wikipedia.org is one of my favs, but I still check other sources. My favs: Dictionary.com & Etymonline.com.
- Self-Publishing – If you have a personal pet project that you'd like to see published and share with family and friends OR if you're brave enough to put your work out there and do all the marketing and promoting for your book to generate sales, then self-publishing may be an option for you AND it's very inexpensive thanks to current technology. CreateSpace.com and Lulu.com are a couple of popular Print On Demand (POD) options that make self publishing not only affordable, but it looks pretty darn professional, too. My mother and I self-published our children's book Where Art Thou Unicorn through CreateSpace.com (she did the artwork) with GREAT success. I'll be setting up book signings in the local area over the next few months.
- eBooks – As writers, we must do LOTS of reading…for research, to develop our craft, read what we love to write (so we're on top of the current market), and just for plain fun! As such, eReaders help me carry lots of books around and not have to put strain on my back. Some of my favorite eBooks sites are eReader.com, The Wild Rose Press (I'm not biased, I swear!), Ellora's Cave, AllRomanceBooks.com, More importantly, for the writer, electronic books opened up the way for small presses to open their virtual doors. That translates into more opportunities for us to get published! Personally, I think it's one of the best ways to break into the industry (that's another blog post). Don't forget, you can get your favorite writing magazine on your eReader, such as Poets & Writers & New York Times Book Review.
- Networking – Writing is a lonely occupation–save for the constant companionship of our characters' voices inside our heads–and keeping in contact with other writers, readers and people of the industry is important. Why? So we don't develop our stories in a silo and wax cliché. The Internet has allowed us to find networking venues for writer's associations, conventions and conferences, writers groups, social networking (such as Twitter, Facebook & MySpace) and mental health professionals (hee hee). Here are some of my favorites: Meetup.com, WriterSpace, Yahoo! Groups, Writing.com, WritingForums,
- Reviews – Writers, take advantage of the plethora of review sites out there! Readers want to know if a book is good or bad before they buy it and there are so many resources for them to visit in the way of book review sites. Since I'm a romance novelist, my resources mentioned here are for that genre…however, you can easily visit your favorite search engine and look up review sites for your genre. My Favs: Romantic Times, Eye On Romance, Night Owl Reviews, FreshFiction, Between Your Sheets, and OMG there are so many more!
- Writing Web Sites – This deserves a category unto itself. I won't list a ton of them here – just the ones I frequent – but visit your favorite search engine and look up “writing web sites” (or click on the heading for this item) and I'm sure you'll have plenty to visit and decide for yourself which ones appeal to you. My favs: Writing.com, FreelanceWriting.com, WriterSpace.com, Writer's Digest Community,
- Freelance Writing Online – Getting paid to write these days is easier than ever. There are soooo many web sites that are looking for article writers on specific subjects, how-tos and many more (e.g., eHow & Suite101 are a couple). This site gives you a whole list you can check out: 101 Best Web Sites for the Freelance Writer.
- Contests – Contests are a great way to get your work out there and viewed by industry professionals and award bragging rights boost your credibility as a writer. Though this venue has always been around, the electronic age has paved an easier–and less-expensive–way of submitting your material. Writer's Digest has a slew of them–short story, self-published, annual, poetry. Visit the Freelance Writing web site to see a long list of other writing competitions in which you can participate.
- Writing Challenges – Giving yourself a challenge on a regular basis helps you keep your skills honed and pushes you to do better. Here are a few writing web sites I like to visit and take on their challenges: Write Anything [Fiction] Friday, A Day in the Life Of…. Just search for “weekly writing challenge” or “monthly writing challenge” in your favorite search engine.
I know I didn't get them all, but that's a good start. Do you have a tip or resource for writers? What did I miss? Leave a comment to share with others!
That's my two pence…