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Yes, I Love Technology…

By Caren Stewart

When you’re a writer, loving technology can seem like somewhat of an oxymoron. However it’s also a necessary part of every writer’s life. The trick is to figure out how to use it to your advantage.

I’d like you to think for a minute about any magazine you may have recently looked at. Did you notice anything about the advertisements? It used to be that relatively unknown models were selling us products, but now very well-known actors are selling us products…and singing in bands…and writing books! Why the change? Because actors have a bankable reputation and publishers know that. Even popular authors today are serial writers, meaning they have published more than one book in a series, or more than one book in a collection of similar topics.

So how can an amateur writer develop their own bankable reputation? By using technology! And it can be easier than you think. The key is to establish a web presence, and in the process, develop an online reputation.

One way to do this is to upload your entire book to a site like SmashWords, CreateSpace, or Lulu where people can download it for a fee that you set. There’s also a free app that I recently found out about called wattpad. It’s sort of a hybrid between an e-publishing website and a social community.

Blogging is another way to get noticed. Websites like Blog.com, Blogsome, Blogster, Blogger (or just about any derivative thereof), Tumblr, or WordPress are just a few places to start. They are easy to use and will typically walk you through the set-up process plus people have actually gotten book contracts that way! Another good resource for starting a blog is Blogging for Dummies. It’s an easy read and chock full of information.

Technology can also come into play in surprising ways. For instance, I recently won a poetry contest and was asked to create a video of myself reading the poem to be posted on the sponsor’s website; naturally it ended up being quite an ordeal. First I tried using my “old” video camera, which is not quite old enough to require VHS tapes, but old enough (about 4 years to be exact) that my computer didn’t recognize the software.

Next I tried using my iPhone. Now the only reason I actually have an up-to-date phone is that my cellphone company offered it to me for free. Some customer service agent must have been looking at my records and saw that I had a very “basic” phone (we’re not talking flip phone, but close) and took pity on me, feeling it was their civic duty to usher me into the latest era of technology.

However when I tried using my iPhone the file was too big. I tried texting it, emailing it, and even looked at the air drop feature which allows you to drop the file into someone else’s iPhone; the catch being that they have to be standing close to you–not exactly the most helpful feature in this case.

Feeling desperate, I complained to my 13-year-old daughter about it. Her response was, “Really, Mom, that’s so easy.” Then she proceeded to quickly download the file to my computer and email it to the sponsor. Although somewhat detrimental to your self-esteem, having a 13-year-old daughter can come in very handy at times. They do know just about everything there is to know about current technology, including social media. In fact, she probably could have written this article if it wasn’t so boring (and she didn’t have the attention span of a Cocker Spaniel).

If you don’t have a kid of your own, you can always borrow someone else’s–just be sure to return them when you’re done–and if there aren’t any kids around, you can always try the library. Many times they have introductory computer and internet classes. A local college is another good place to try. Or look into taking an online class for free at Coursera or Open Culture.

But to take advantage of these websites and fully develop your web presence, you really will need to make sure you invest in at least some current technology. That old Commodore Vic 20 just ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

Ultimately though, you need to remember that, although there’s a potential to make big bucks as a writer, you probably won’t. Remember the point is simply to write because it brings you joy.

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