Yesterday, I finally caved and bought an Amazon Kindle Touch. I held out for so long, but at the behest of my reading partner (who often orders books for us off of Amazon), I decided to research the eReader craze sweeping the literary world. I have to admit that I was skeptical; I love my physical books and the places they live (libraries, bookstores, etc.). I don’t want to see these places close or never be able to hold a book in my hands again.
However, I must say I really love my new Kindle. I was most drawn to the eInk technology that renders the page as softly and practically as clearly as a printed one. There is no backlight, so my eyes never felt strained like when I look at my laptop screen for too long. The slight refresh when you turn the page seemed off-putting at first, but it’s really not that bad and quite responsive. Even typing on the onscreen keyboard is a fairly easy task.
I’ll always have a soft spot for traditionally bound books, but I tried to console myself by thinking of all the materials I’m saving by using electronic books, now. And the cheaper price of eBooks is a nice boon for a bibliophile like myself.
I’ve been reading a lot about electronic publishing, and I have to say, based on what I’m hearing, the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. As a writer myself, I am intensely interested in my possibilities for publication, and with the soaring popularity of the eReader format, it looks like self-publication via sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and Apple afford authors a lot more control over the process and royalties earned for their book. It also democratically reforms the literary world because now the readers have more access to the content they want to read, since the gatekeepers of traditional publishing are no longer an issue for authors seeking the self-publication route.
Of course, an eReader is worthless if you don’t have an eBook to read on it (or 3,000, like my new toy purportedly holds). One of my first orders of business was to order We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by blogger Kristin Lamb. I’ve followed Kristin for a while, and her blog has been nothing but helpful for me as a writer, so I knew it would be a worthwhile christening purchase for my Kindle. Plus, it’s only $4.99 for the Kindle version, which is a steal (not to mention, Kristin will be getting 70% of that, so I loved being able to pay her back in a small way for all she’s done for me).
The book is a quick read, and Kristin’s usual conversational writing style makes it feel as if she is sitting with you in a café, coaching you personally with her renowned wit and expertise. She teaches you a bit of basic marketing (which is really just how to tap into the humanity of others) before giving a very detailed action plan for how to establish your platform as a writer across the four major social media sites Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and WordPress.
For a young whippersnapper like me who has practically grown up using these technologies, some of the explanations seemed a little extraneous, but for anyone who is striking out into the overwhelming world of social media, Kristin does an excellent job of leading you by the hand as you establish your brand and synchronise all four outlets to work for you when you eventually need them. My one other (minor) complaint about the book is that her instructions for these websites are actually so specific that when I walked through them today, I realised that some of the steps she includes in the book (which was published in 2010) are slightly outdated already. A couple of the graphics in the book did not match up with the new formats on MySpace and Twitter, but for anyone who can use the internet and has a passing familiarity with how these sites operate, this is not a problem.
Overall, what really enamored me to Kristin’s method is her attitude of approaching social media “with a servant’s heart.” I realised long before I discovered Kristin that one of the biggest addiction factors of Facebook (the site I use the most often) is the feeling of validation you get when you receive notifications, but especially genuine interaction from your friends, not just alerts about various activities in your Newsfeed or adverts from your “Likes.” Reading Kristin’s book opened my eyes to just how backwards I had been approaching social networking all along (and how I suspect the average user does, as well).
In a sense, social networking is all about me, me, me; and yet, it is actually more about others. The reason I feel so empty most of the time when I use Facebook is precisely because I don’t put much in, nor do I follow many other blogs on WordPress. As they say, what you give is what you get, so now, I’m determined to follow through with her techniques and improve my etiquette in the online world.
The ironic thing about all of this is that you are witnessing Kristin’s book in action by reading this blog post: I found out about her blog via a hyperlink somewhere on WordPress, and I read enough of her posts and witnessed enough of her genuine interactions with her readers to know that I could trust what she had to say in her book. I’m not normally someone who will impulsively drop $5.00, but because I felt like I knew Kristin, I was happy to help her out with my purchase, and now, I’d like to pass it along to you, the readers of my network.
Thanks, Kristin! We most certainly are not alone. Now, I’m off to go add her to all my Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. feeds and really start social networking! You guys should, too– swing by her site and look around, and if you mention that Ed sent you her way, so much the better!