In his article, author Garth Risk Hallberg discusses the process of creating and releasing his “exuberantly book-y book…replete with color photography and typographic mayhem”, a mere two weeks before Amazon released the first generation Kindle, then promptly sold out of them within a day’s time.  Unfortunately for Hallberg, the book he and his publisher had spent time and money producing was not at all compatible with this new and popular device. Hallberg, with the help of his therapist and to the chagrin of his accountant, was able to see the silver lining of his otherwise disappointing situation. With a self-declared nostalgia for print he has, albeit unintentionally, avoided the growing pressure on publishers and authors alike to go the route of e-publishing. He adds to his personal experience with a short list of clever and amusing ways in which fellow writers can avoid having their work turn digital. The suggestions range from the practical- play with type, add colour and illustrations, to the more avant-garde- designing the book to be read nonlinear, having the reader take scissors to the pages to create a “Mobius Strip.”

Hallberg’s suggestions are quite clever, but I have to wonder how likely it is that a publisher could be convinced to intentionally go ahead and produce a book in a format that has no chance of becoming an e-pub (at least for the present, who knows what the future of this technology will be able to do?).  It is appealing to imagine some old-school writers and their publishers taking a stance against newfangled technologies, defending the physical book with a charming, literary martyrdom. However, if this already difficult industry is to survive, it is crucial for authors and their publishers to ride the technology tide instead of fight against it; if the music industry has taught us anything, it’s that technology is the likely winner in this situation.

When I first heard of e-books and e-readers, I was pretty skeptical. Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book? The way it looks, feels, and even smells is something that is both familiar and exciting, and is a big part of the experience for me. I’ve since realized something though; I firmly believe that there is a place for both the physical and the e-book. Just because a reader uses a Kobo or a Kindle does not mean that they will abandon their physical book collection, I think the more likely result is using both to fulfill different roles. When I am on my busy commute to and from school, I would much rather have my light as air and totally portable device; but at the end of the day as I crawl into bed, I will still reach for my beautifully designed, familiar smelling print book.

Author Susan Landis-Steward has written an article for Novel Publishing Group advising fellow writers on how to improve upon their online social networking skills. It is exciting to see a writer who understands not only the importance of developing these skills, but also sees the opportunity to raise awareness and increase sales of their work- free of charge. Social media does indeed present a golden opportunity within the publishing industry, and though it is still too early to accurately understand how effective these platforms are at marketing an author and their work; the risk of missing the boat on this opportunity has far greater repercussions. It is especially important for writers and publishers who are more niche driven, or who don’t have a large marketing budget, such as Landis-Steward who writes lesbian mysteries. Landis-Steward herself has been selling books through Amazon, and has successfully sold 50 books in two weeks, not an astounding number “but not bad for a beginner and newbie to social marketing.”

Landis-Stewart’s advice is also quite good, realistic and uncomplicated. She lists various platforms that offer different services, from forums where other writers can critique and review your work, to tools such as twitter, goodreads, and blogs that make plugging your book and interacting with fans an easy and free endeavor. She presents the reasons for social marketing positively, and advocates a certain quaintness when interacting with fans and colleagues, “It’s about building relationships, not just selling your books. Make new friends. Engage in discussions. Crack a joke. Relate. Trust me. It’s fun.”

In my opinion, this is one of the most promising ways in which social media can benefit writers and help in the marketing of their books. Social media creates a platform where people from all over the world can come together, discuss and share opinions on a multitude of topics. It can help fans relate to an author, to form a relationship with them and help to foster a loyalty that lasts. I remember emailing an author a few years back, and receiving a detailed reply that absolutely solidified my love of her book. I plugged it to numerous friends and family members, and to this day I still buy and give the book as a gift. I feel a connection and a loyalty, and it didn’t cost the author or her publisher any money to get that from me. Social media is clearly a wonderful way for authors to self-promote and promote their books for no cost, and even though it can seem daunting, it can be as simple as Landis-Steward’s 12-step program.