I get a little stuck in my habits, and though I spend (and waste) plenty of time online, I forget to find new reading and writing blogs to keep me connected with what's going on in the literary world. (Here at 49 writers, we can only do so much!) Some of my old favorites died off or went away, and I haven't found many substitutes.
So I'd like to ask you: help us freshen up. What blogs have you discovered? Are you using online sites and social media in a different way lately? Talk to us about the AK perspective on this, or just share your thoughts. Innovators, mavens, and Luddites all welcome.
To warm up the dialogue: Earlier this week I discovered "The Quivering Pen," David Abrams's blog, which includes book reviews, book giveaways, literary reflections, and a weekly feature called My First Time, "in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands." Abrams, who lives in Montana and calls himself a "book evangelist" (gotta like that), is a reader of this blog and a graduate of the UAA [correction: UAF!]MFA program. He has a forthcoming novel about the Iraq war, called Fobbit (Grove/Atlantic). Abrams also writes for January Magazine.
There was lots of talk at the recently-concluded Frankfurt Book Fair about the digitalization of the book and increasing potentials for interactivity. All over the world this month, people seem to be talking about the idea that the most important relationship will not be between the writer and the publisher, but between the writer and the reader. People are buying more books online and doing more impulse-purchasing of books (especially easy with ebooks), and Amazon continues to rattle its mighty chains as a force for swifter and more direct delivery of content to consumers. As the NYT reported four days ago, Amazon has stepped up as a publisher and will bring out 122 titles this fall in both physical and ebook form. They're even paying out some big advances -- $800,000 to actress/director Penny Marshall, for starters.
Amazon isn't the only one flexing its muscles. Readers seem to be doing the same, championing their own roles as taste-makers and critics by posting their own reviews at Amazon and Goodreads, for example. (Old news, yes, but not old news when it's starting to change who gets published, and where, and for how much money.) Readers can track down their favorite authors on Facebook (I know I've "friended" several of mine) and Twitter, and will expect more and more direct access to enriched content, to authors, to opportunities not just to read, but to somehow engage with the reading process in more social ways.
And finally, starting today, the writer will get a kind of power previously limited to publishers: fast access to sales information. As the LA Times reported, Amazon announced it will give authors access to previously expensive and essentially inaccessible Neilsen Book Scan data, which tallies about 75% of overall sales. Now, an author can sweat over their book sales in closer-to-real-time terror! More significantly, seeing where copies are being sold and when can help authors tailor their own marketing efforts, both physical and virtual, and monitor if certain experiments (an online book tour or virtual book discussion, for example?) had any real effect. What will authors do with that information? As one author who has felt left in the dark on many an occasion, I'm fascinated to watch.
My question for you: Are any of you actually seeing any of this happening? If you're an author with a book coming out soon, what are you doing to fit into this changing social media world? If you're a reader, are you starting to demand more? What aspects of this Brave New Literary World do you love, and which do you loathe?