Hen&inkblots: A Literary Blog

A Time of Change for Authors and Readers (guest blog)

February 9, 2012 by Erzsi Deak

Today henandinkblots welcomes guest blogger Mercy Pilkington, a young adult author and a staff writer for GoodEReader covering ebooks and publishing. In real life, she’s an English and science teacher at a juvenile correctional facility.

There hasn’t been a better time to be an author since Gutenberg figured out how to make duplicate copies of a single page without requiring clerks and scribes to hunch over desks with feather quills clenched in their arthritic fists. But just like in Gutenberg’s day, the one thing that is making the work of being an author more rewarding than ever before is technology.

When e-reading devices first became the literary It Girl back in 2006, critics called them a flash in the pan while supporters argued that it was finally going to be the end of paper. Everywhere, people either hailed or despaired of the death of the publishing industry as we know it.

As the dust has settled a little on digital reading, we are finally able to clearly see that digital and print are probably going to survive hand-in-hand. There are great reasons for both, as well as established reading audiences for both. But now, there are also writers for both formats, authors who have the know-how and desire to self-publish their works electronically, as well as authors who support the digital editions that come along as a way to reach out to a broader audience through their traditional publishers.

Something we can always count on wherever technology is involved is change: bigger and better equipment, flashier formats, new concepts to enhance our lives. And reading is no different. Enhanced ebooks incorporate unlimited full-color graphics and videos into a book, audio embedding means an author can weave a soundtrack into the book as it is read, even juvenile content now offers interactive features that teach reading and vocabulary while narrating a story.

And the technology hasn’t just taken over the books, but the work of being an author as well. Social media gives writers a share some of the work of building a fan base and promoting titles. Blog tours translate into greater access for developing an online presence. Even now, book signings don’t have to mean setting up a card table in a bookshop and waiting for fans to buy print editions of your works; now, a four-way recorded video chat allows fans to “meet” their favorite authors and ask questions while buying highly personalized digital copies and having them streamed instantly to their e-readers.

These changes have given authors so much more to do in terms of choice and control throughout their careers. The real benefit to the wealth of change taking place in the industry as a whole means the technology of books has made this era in publishing the best time to be a reader as well.

Check-out Mercy’s blog at LorcaDamon.com.

If you are interested in being a guest blogger on Henandinkblots, please contact info [a t] henandink.com

About Erzsi Deak

Erzsi Deak is the founder of Hen&ink Literary Studio, a writer, and an editor. With nearly 30 years of experience on the international stage, she is most happy connecting individuals around the globe who can make things happen – no matter where you find yourself or what hat you are wearing. She is an editorial agent, pushing her authors and illustrators to go the extra kilometer to achieve sometimes surprising insights and results. A two-time SCBWI Member of the Year awardee, she speaks on craft, “the market,” and current industry topics. She is pleased to announce that the new MAB Media will publish PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS as one of its launch books in 2015. Her first picture book, PUMPKIN TIME! (Sourcebooks, 2014, illustrated by Doug Cushman) has just been picked up by the Scholastic Book Clubs. Thanks to technology, she can work from France and be in New York and London at the same time.

Get in Touch with Erzsi:

Hen&ink profile page

Homepage: http://www.erzsideak.com

21 thoughts on “A Time of Change for Authors and Readers (guest blog)”

    1. Thanks for reading! My role model in publishing is Dominique Raccah, who is absolutely on fire for books. She can’t hold still when she’s talking about them, even during our interview, because she’s so animated for the content no matter what form it comes out in.

  1. I understand book sales are up significantly due to e-readers.

    Itunes made huge changes to the music industry (arguably ‘saving’ it from the massive amounts of piracy it was experiencing) and I see ereaders having a similar profound and beneficial impact on the publishing industry.

    1. You’re right. There are often comparisons being made between the music industry and the current state of the e-reading world, but so far most of those comparisons are about how books are still digging their claws in and avoiding the changes that the music industry finally adapted to. Either way, it will be great to see how it plays out! Thanks for reading!

      1. I hope the ebook world gets more flexible. I love being able to stash a few–or more than a few “)–books in my purse as I head out the door. I am also buying more books at the lower price of ebooks. It isn’t such a large investment so I am more likely to take a chance on a new author. Btw, I loved your book, Lorca!

        1. That’s true, I think this is a great time to be a debut author. Publishers are rightfully having to be cautious about taking a chance on a first-time writer because bringing a book to market is a lengthy and expensive process. There are a number of worthy books out there that would never have seen paper, simply because there has to be a known audience for it. Ebook publication is perfect in those instances.

  2. As a self-published author myself, I rely heavily on the technology you mention in this post, Mercy. Bravo! I’m so grateful for the changes that have occurred to the publishing industry over the past five years. Those changes have allowed the dreams of many authors to come true. It’ll be very interesting to see how things continue to evolve over the next decade!

    1. That’s great! I love when authors and readers are “excited” by what’s coming, instead of scared of it. Of course, I can’t imagine the concerns that the publishing industry might feel since they’re the ones who have to adapt to changes while still producing marketable books that actually sell. It can’t be easy, I’m sure.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Mercy. When I read about this ‘either, or’ debate that is still going on, I shake my head. It’s such a black and white, reactionary way of thinking, when embracing change is what’s required here.

    As a successful self-pub’d eBook author, I’m thankful for the opportunities digital affords me. Which isn’t to say I’m in any way against print or traditional. There’s a synergy in all of this that sometimes gets lost in the rhetorical arguments: readers are smart. They buy what they want.

    1. That has been the biggest relief to me since I began covering digital publishing. I cringed over the animosity between print fans and digital fans! We can have both, readers! It’s a great time to be involved with books.

  4. I totally agree with you. Technology tends to send us for a loop until we get used to the changes, but I can’t imagine making it through a day without my cell phone, my laptop and now my Nook e-reader. The only constant in life is change…you can either embrace it, or watch it pass you by.

    1. Interestingly, I don’t think the publishing industry (given its age!) has never had to adapt to technology. I interviewed Dan Poynter, who was the first person to send an entire manuscript to a publisher via FAX MACHINE!

  5. It could be the “fan girl” in me but I think that having additional tech is great. I love the idea of soundtrack embedded into a story- or “Easter Eggs” left by the author. It really enhances the experience for me.

    1. Interesting. I’ve interviewed a small number of companies who develop audio soundtracks for embedding in an ebook. It’s not really my preferred style, but there’s obviously a market for it given the number of startups and their successes.

    1. Like my comment to Erica earlier, the publishing industry can obviously respond to change, and digital reading technology is just one more advance that they will eventually find a place for. I don’t think there’s any one correct method of publishing or of reading, it all depends on the specific title, the intended audience, etc. Thanks for reading!

    1. I think that’s the one thing that nearly everyone must agree on. Regardless of the debates of print-vs-digital or traditional-vs-indie, access to books (and affordable books, at that) is at an all-time-high.

  6. Dude, “audio embedding”?! You’re so cutting edge, I read your shit and I’m stubble-free. I’ve never even imagined readers hearing it while they’re reading it…but man, I’m picturing it now! My memoir revolves on the axis of cock rock–Stones, Floyd, Zep–and that audio would take my writing to 4-D. But wouldn’t this trample ill copyright turf?

    Back to the topic: I was a staunch eff-e-books gal until my hubby gave me his kindle fire. Now I eat humble pie for dinner. Love that thing so much, I just got a droid so I could have a mini-kindle in my pocket at all times.

    Still, though, I lugged 30 pounds of hardcover books outta my local library yesterday.

    Bottom line: I second what you said. And he said. And she said. E-book and paper? Happily coexisting.

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