I have come up with 13 ways for an author to use Google tools that will enhance your productivity and the final product. I first wrote about writers using Google in 2012. But Google’s array of tools has grown and my needs as an author continue to morph, so I realized it was time for a new list. As you read through my list of both obvious and clever ways to put Google to work for you as an author, keep an open mind that you may have 13 additional ideas. Feel free to share! [Read more…]
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I’m not getting paid by Google to write this and I use a variety of production tools besides Google – some more helpful than the Google counterpart. But just familiarizing yourself with the array of Google products can add productivity to your work as a writer. Here are a few obvious and not so obvious ways that Google can increase your productivity and quality as an author.
1. Docs. Upload and share working document with peer review groups, co-writers, editors, publishers, and anyone else you are asking to make your writing better. Google Docs will soon become Google Drive with more space and features.
2. Calendar. The obvious use of Calendar is time management – and I also use it to sync my appointments between devices – but I also found it incredibly helpful to create a specific calendar while writing a novel to keep track of days, weeks, and months for the events in my storyline.
3. Maps. Want to add authenticity to the addresses, streets, cities, and other places in your writing – Maps even has pictures of the landmarks at street level.
4. Blogger. It’s the absolute easiest way to set up an author website with simple push-button publishing. I’ve used it for years and recommend it – though I know many authors like WordPress better because of the SEO advantages.
5. YouTube. Set up a channel to serve as home for your video blogs to promote your book. I use YouTube as the main video source for my blogs on this website.
6. Translate. Want to add some phrases in another language to your book? Translate is an unbelievably easy and valuable tool to use. Now includes 50 languages.
7. Web Search. I never felt the need to switch to Microsoft’s Bling. Maybe it’s better but I find that hard to believe. No one has helped more people find the information they are looking for faster and more accurately than Google Search. You have an entire library at your fingertips.
8. Groups. Create mailing lists and discussion groups to promote your writing or interact with like-minded creators. This feature might be falling behind and fading fast – but I predict they replace it with something rivals the leading apps in the near future. (Edit: Hangouts arrived.)
9. Specialized Search. Did you know that Google has tools to help you examine search trends – content of blogs – content of scholarly papers – and more? They do. Keep clicking.
10. Analytics. Keep track of what and how people follow your v/blog. And as a bonus way that Google can help you – if you have a growing online following, you don’t want to be without Google Ads to generate income from page views. It takes an enormous amount of page views to add up – but better to set it up early in your online writing career.
You can use iGoogle as your homepage and set up your Google apps – and other apps – just the way you want to see them as on online dashboard – plus a whole lot more.
Google has a great array of products that can help you focus on what your best at, maximizing the value you deliver. And whether your prefer other tools over one or more Google apps, their suite will at least alert you as to what is available to make your work easier and more focused.
I am mostly done with moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. Look around my site and you will find there is still a lot to update. But I’m far enough along to feel reasonably comfortable in inviting you to stop by. (No housewarming gifts needed, but thank you.)
So why did I make the move from Blogger to WordPress? I must have seen a need to change. And why did I wait seven years? I must have found reasons to stay where I was.
If you are a blogger or considering setting up a blog, my experience might help you understand the best platform for to use and a little of what goes into making a change if you determine that is the best course for you.
EASE OF SET UP
There is nothing easier to set up and run for a blogger than Google’s Blogger platform. I write. I don’t program and design. Blogger was the perfect place for me to start. It was so easy I actually had time to learn the features and customize my website to a reasonably attractive and professional degree. (I did pay a few bucks to a designer to create my own custom header.) Building and changing the layout and adding or moving features was as simple as dragging elements around. Because the layout templet was visual, you knew immediately and exactly what you were going to see with each change.
Another thing that made Blogger easy was it was free.
WordPress requires an immediate decision. Self hosting (.org) or free hosting (.com). If you choose free hosting, you are restricted from adding plugins or widgets like AdSense that monetize your blog. If you do the self hosting you have to install WP into your hosting service before you start setting up and designing your blog.
With WP you next decide on whether to use a free template or a premium template. Either way, the dashboard view is not nearly as intuitive and visual for building your layout and adding features. I’ll quickly note, after the first four or five hours of arranging and rearranging elements, WordPress has gotten quite easy to work with.
I chose the self-hosting option to have the most control and flexibility over my blog, whether or not monetization is a big issue for me. I chose a premium template from a company that has been developing templates for years. I think that provides better insurance that my template will always be up-to-date with the newest version of WP. [Read more…]
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Q: Will e-books ruin book publishing?
A: Of course not.
Okay, let me qualify that. If by ruin you mean “bring an end to” and if by book publishing you mean the “careful and professional preparation and dissemination of long form intellectual property expressed in words” then I stick by my answer and say, of course not.
Now if by book publishing you mean the above definition but specifically and predominantly in a paper, ink, and binding medium, then I guess the answer is possibly. Probably not, but possibly. Maybe the readers of the world will gradually or spontaneously decide that we don’t need to kill any more trees and that electronic dissemination and acquisition is the only way to go.
But paper and ink aren’t what make a book. As has always been the case in book publishing content is king and packaging secondary. So if paper, ink, and binding do some day go away, I would simply say, no big deal. I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon as the latest research (the PubTrack program from Bowker) indicates that 82% of Americans – who represent one third of the book publishing market – still prefer printed books exclusively.
For updated stats see my blog How Many People Are Reading on E-Reader Devices, which shows much more robust numbers for e-readers – but still indicates that paper and ink will be around a good while!
In his book Business At the Speed of Thought Bill Gates asserted that we tend to overestimate the amount of change new technology will cause in its first two years but underestimate the amount of change that will occur in the next five years. How long has Amazon had the Kindle and Sony its e-book reader in the market? If Gates was right then it will be 2012 or 2013 before we have a pretty good idea where e-books are going.
Now if by book publishing your definition is closer to “long form intellectual property expressed in words” no matter what media is used to distribute the material then I would say for that to come to an end some entirely different dynamics other than an e-book reader would have to be involved. Mike Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson and my former boss, raised the question of what the Internet is doing to our brains in relation to its impact on long form reading. He cited Nicholas Carr’s article in the Atlantic Monthly, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr’s observation is that as the Internet has become his universal medium, concentrating on longer pieces for more than a couple of pages has become increasingly difficult. Carr says:
I’m not the only one. When I mention my troubles with reading to friends and acquaintances—literary types, most of them—many say they’re having similar experiences. The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.
Since an e-book, at least in its most popular hardware expressions, is designed to essentially look, feel, and behave like a a paper, print, and binding book, you can’t blame it for any for any widespread impact on people’s ability to apprehend long form content just because it’s in a digital format.
Again, citing the most up-to-date research from Bowker’s PubTrack data, in 2007, 164 million Americans over the age of 13, about 75% of the population with discretionary spending power, purchased at least one book. Book consumption is greater with age but still relatively constant. And for those who assert that junior readers simply won’t read unless the content is wrapped up in a digital sight, sound, and interactive experience, I’d simply point to the Harry Potter phenomenon where seven- and eight-year-old kids could suddenly read 800-page books! There is an ongoing voracious appetite for books across ages and within all the niches of the human marketplace. And America won’t always account for one-third of all book consumption.
So will e-books ruin book publishing? Absolutely not. Will they change book publishing? Over time, most likely, but not in its essence.
So is book publishing, a medium brought to the masses by Johannes Gutenberg through his invention of mechanical printing almost 600 years ago, safe for at least another millennium?
Now that’s an entirely different question! Give me a sec and I’ll see if I can google an answer!