by Penny MitchellCommunications that Matter – Co-author of Going Global – Technology made Simple

One of the most difficult books to sell online is the one I have written with my friend and fellow author, Sue Trollip, Going Global – Technology made SimpleGoing Global. And yet it is one of the most needed books for those unfortunate readers who don’t know how to get onto their computer let alone surf the internet. It’s a short read.

Gone are the days when we had the luxury of sitting down on a weekend to read a novel. An hour or two with a short story, or a couple of nights to read a skinny-back, are far more practical and equally satisfying. Fatter novels are holiday books for those fortunate enough to take weeks of people-free time now and then. The rest of us take tweeks.

In this world of instant media, long reads and wafflers gather dust for retirement with in-between naps, or die in the wake of visual media and the internet. Blogs, tweets, Facebook, instant messages, etcetera keep us up to date with what or who is important to us. Google, Podcasts, YouTube and the like are much faster than a weekly trip to the local library. And you can even read or watch on your phone.

Why do more people watch TV series, movies and DVDs for leisure than read newspapers, magazines and books?

Simple – you can get an elephant-sized story into unforgettable bite-sized episodes, or a movie.

We bemoan the fact that many students either don’t read or don’t learn to read properly, but seriously, do they have the time?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good read. After all, I’m a writer. I’m also a Kindle fan, but there are hazards.

Just about anybody can publish a book online. Authors who have been around since pre-internet days are now publishing through online bookstores such as Amazon.

Readers beware! Some writers are simply dumping stuff online that was written years ago and isn’t selling, or is so badly written that nobody would publish it. They are capitalising on the fact that consumers don’t have time to pick the book up in a bookstore, flip through and walk out without buying. Ancient rule of thumb – a book has to be a certain number of pages to be worthy of the title and the price you pay for it.

One of the key techniques a writer learns is how to hook the reader in the first few lines and then the first few chapters. So those samples you can download can be misleading.

I have just finished reading a Kindle edition of a non-fiction book, first written twenty eight years ago by a faith teacher. After a great first chapter, I spent hours digging through a whole lot of waffle to find nuggets of helpful truth. This man wrote better with his tongue than he did in his books. A good editor would have reduced the whole book to one chapter, but of course it wouldn’t have been long enough to fetch the asking price.

In short, fellow writers, it’s time to write what we’ve time to read and make each chapter worth every precious moment.