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Authors use the web

17 November 2003

It's hard to attract the attention of an agent and get your work published. Recently writers have been coming up with some innovative ways of grabbing the attention of the publishing world. Take David Little, younger brother of Christopher Little, J K Rowling's agent. Even the family connection didn't help with getting his novel published, so Little, an advertising veteran, launched a website,, inviting the world, and particularly all his famous friends, to come to the site to read extracts and post their comments. He believes that word of mouth is the best way to sell books. But he's potentially a self-publisher too, so you can sign up to buy his book, if it does eventually get printed.

Using the Internet to launch yourself as a writer is an interesting new model, although you'll need famous friends to get the publicity which will bring people to your site in the first place. But the success of Rev Graham Taylor, now the bestselling author of Shadowmancer, suggests that it may be better to self-publish from the start, because then you can put the book into people's hands right away and you can sell your work. The huge technological advances offered by print on demand are a boon to self-publishers, who can limit their costs by ordering just a few books to start the ball rolling.

But even if you've got a publisher, how can you make sure that your book gets maximum publicity? A recent innovation means the web can help with this too, as Dennis Hensley, author of Screening Party has shown with his virtual web tour, which linked him with bloggers. Kevin Smokler of the Virtual Book Tour, who organised it, said: 'Bloggers are driven, information-hungry people. The publishing industry hasn't embraced the Web at all... The idea has been received staggeringly well. The Web community has responded in droves.'