Never before have so many people been reading and writing as they are now. With Facebook and Twitter everyone is an author, and an audience is far more readily available than it was in the time of paper and pen. 

The key change is that people are now looking for connection. Rather than being passive consumers of a story, readers are looking for a relationship - to produce content, engage with it and share it. Some say this development is the death nail for the book, but instead the advancements of technology have transformed the shape of book production and publishing into a new more instant form. 

One of the key companies to undergo this evolution was Wattpad and with 40 million readers its success has been enormous, with stars such as Margaret Atwood and Dan Brown among their writers. According to Margaret Atwood: “In my view, Wattpad is not a replacement for publishers, but a gateway leading to them.”

The situation is far from bleak. Publishing companies have learnt new routes into capturing the attention of their readers. Bookbub’s method, which has involved pursuing an audience (mostly through Facebook advertising), then sending out targeted emails tailored to the particular consumers interests, has been particularly popular among publishing companies as a means of pushing their publications. HarperCollins’ BookPerk has also made use of emailing lists to exploit all commercial opportunities. 

But we are also seeing possibilities of building new revenue streams, developing new models and leveraging existing content and assets in the world of publishing. In some cases, such as BookGig there are drives to support bookshops, libraries and literary festivals which simultaneously support and bypass the publishing process. There is even evolution in the nature of the book - the introduction of book apps for example generate a more interactive reading experience which is particularly popular for children, whose concentration span is more limited.

The success of companies like Canelo’s The Abandoned Bookshop, as well as crowd-funding also gives new up-and-coming writers cause for positivity. Welcoming submissions for books with gripping narratives, memorable characters and popular appeal, The Abandoned Bookshop is great for picking up obscure pieces which have not gained the recognition they deserve. The imprint looks for a mixture of copyright works, re-issues and originals, whether they are long lost classics, undiscovered masterpieces or cutting-edge new works. 

The rise of crowd-funding as a means of driving forward projects also gives completely unknown writers, who may be wrestling with the financial struggle of starting out as a writer, the platform to pitch their stories and raise the money to complete their untold narratives. It also can start a writer off with building a community and a readership, which is so important in this new age of reading. Crowd-funding can be the beginning of your career path to success, as was the case with authors such as Seth Godin, Angela Miller, and Janna Leyde.

Do not be shy also of choosing a smaller publishing company. Although the larger companies are seen as familiar and reliable to readers, there are a number of benefits of submitting your work to a smaller company. Because they are not swamped by publications, smaller publishing companies can give you a generous amount of their attention and publicity, they will have greater time to educate you about the publishing process

They’re also much more prepared to take risks, which means that if you have a new cutting-edge idea it may have more of a chance of acceptance. You may find that the publisher’s readership is more likely to chime with your book anyway and as part of a smaller publishers you would also become part of a community of like-minded authors.

It is even possible to set up your own publishing company. Raffaella’s mother’s publisher Black Dog Books is an example of a company which was originally set up in 1996 by Peter Tolhurst as a self-publishing venture to produce his book East Anglia: A Literary Pilgrimage. But in response to its success, Peter Tolhurst has extended the company to establish a reputation as one of East Anglia’s leading independent publishers specialising in literature and the arts. Among his best publications are Knowing Your Place with a foreword by Richard Mabey and Dog Days: Selected Writings by himself and Elspeth Barker.


Of course, before reaching this stage, or if you’ve tried this and had trouble, the best thing to do is a creative writing course. Here the expertise is readily available to guide you as a new, or developing writer and you will also come into contact with those who know the best ways to start creating and promoting a brand as a writer. 

The UEA’s creative writing course is top in the UK for its tuition and support of new creative writers, and as a student there you may get taught by Raffaella. But for those not able to dedicate a year or three to study, or would prefer to get direct contact with Raffaella, she has now announced a creative writing course which she is running in Italy in May. Why not get 2017 off to a fresh and positive start by booking onto this wonderful retreat? Set in a luxurious Italian villa, not usually accessible to the public, in the stunning hills near Sienna this is a once in a life time opportunity to take some time out and get creative with Raffaella. See the poster below for more information.


Raffaella's Books