A collection of musings, articles and news about romance fiction.

Techno Nerd vs Techno Turd

Digital Publishing

For those of you who know me, this won’t come as a great surprise. Not even a mild one. I’m a TT – Techno Turd. I’m crap at this technology gig. I wish I was a TN – Techno Nerd.

But I’m not.

These two positions are in a constant state of flux, just as the continuous advancement of technology is. A TT can still become a TN by learning more, talking with others, and seeking out experts. A TN can become a TT, particularly when a new gizmo or gadget becomes available to the market, and they don’t adopt the new technology.

My novel, Viper’s Kiss, has some technical aspects to it. It involves Trojan Horse computer viruses, malware and spyware, surveillance technology, and (##beware, spoiler alert###) an invisible suit. It all sounds a little James Bond – but not as absurd as one would think. During the research for this novel, I was stunned to learn that there are universities actually investigating invisibility. I was also surprised to learn how sneakily creative hackers can be, and how prevalent they are. Suddenly, the fantastic becomes the possible, the just-around-the-corner innovation becomes the standard. Remember Captain Kirk touching his chest and saying “Beam me up, Scotty,” and Scotty would hear that command and, well, beam him up? Back then we called it Science Fiction. Now we call it Bluetooth.

But the one standout I’ve discovered with this novel is digital publishing. Viper’s Kiss is released through Harlequin’s Digital-First imprint, Carina Press. Viper’s Kiss is an e-book.  Have you ever heard a TT try to explain to the uninitiated what an e-book is? Lots of hand gestures, lots of technical terms, such as thingamajig and whozeewhatsit, and then curiosity as we both figure out what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, an e-book is, to put it simply, a book in electronic format. You download it, read it off your computer or e-reader device of choice, as opposed to buying the hardcopy and reading the paper the words are printed on. (Notice, there was a slight shift for me there, from TT to TN. Okay, it was a tiny shift, but I’ll celebrate it!)

At the Romance Writers of Australia Conference there was a lot of talk about the Digital Age, a lot of it conflicting. It’s going to kill The Book, it’s the best/worst thing to hit publishing, booksellers will be the losers/winners, readers will have access to more books, better books, rubbish books; authors will lose out/win big –it’s the death of an age/the dawn of an age…

The one thing I have realised is that while there are fantastic Techno Nerds out there who understand the current technology and are benefiting from it  – you only have to look at the quantity of e-reader devices that restrict sharing and limit reading and access to specific formats – but that’s a topic for another day! When it comes to what the future holds, we’re all Techno Turds. Nobody knows what effect the digital age will have on publishing, on writing, and, more importantly, on reading.  But are we really at the ‘sink or swim’ stage? If we don’t embrace the technology and ride along with it, will we be left behind?

Bob Mayer mentions in his Write it Forward workshop (presented at the same conference), that anytime you react strongly and negatively to something, that’s your greatest defences at work, and your greatest defences are built around your weaknesses, your uncertainty and fear.

Face the fear, and work through it, Bob says.

Confront it.

Well, there are already a number of publishers doing just that. Harlequin, for one, with Carina Press. Avon have launched their digital imprint, Avon Impulse. Now Australia’s Pan MacMillan are about to launch their digital imprint, Momentum.

The key is to remember that all technology was new and frightening, at some point – for example; the telephone (yes, I realise those bills still make it frightening), medicine, electricity – I’m sure that Noah’s Ark was viewed with equal parts derision and fear, much like e-books. Well, wouldn’t you rather have been on the ark than watching it float past?

What do you think? How do you think e-books and digital publishing will effect reading, writing and publishing in the future?

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