Publishing industry futurist Mike Shatzkin predicts that 2008 will be, among other things, the Year of the Author (Publishers Weekly, January 7, 2007, p. 22-23). Many of the large publishing houses are currently developing speakers bureaus for authors, and meeting authors in person continues to be one of the most popular programs the library offers for adults. Check out the library calendar of events for upcoming author visits, and don't miss Chris Bohjalian's appearance on May 19, as part of Whidbey Reads 2008.
Shatzkin predicts a self-publishing effort by a major author, similar to Stephen King's Riding the Bullet project. Riding the Bullet was published in 2000 exclusively as an electronic book available via the web. The download was free of charge for the first week or so, and the load on the servers hosting the story was so high that they became totally inaccessible. The story was later published in 2002 as part of a collection called Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. Who will be the next major author to publish online?
Many authors currently have blogs which are accessible to the public, and several allow access to fiction as it unfolds. The Authonomy Web site being developed by HarperCollins and Google is designed create an "author" Wikipedia of sorts. Authonomy will initially be rolled out by Harper Collins UK in early 2008, with the intention of it becoming global in the future. The site will connect unpublished authors with readers, and allow anyone to participate. Readers will be able to support their favorite manuscripts, with HC guaranteeing to consider the most popular for publication.
Amazon Connect provides access literally thousands of author blogs. From the Amazon web site, type in Amazon Connect to set up a free online account. While the Amazon site is generally a one-way communication, many authors list their email address or web site for readers to use. Amazon urges authors to observe "dinner party" etiquette, participating in "tasteful conversation using thoughtful, interesting and amusing dialogue while avoiding profanity, excessive negativity or insulting comments." Sounds like good advice for readers, too.
Here are some other sites to check out:
http://www.authorsblogs.com/ a listing of blogs kept by published and aspiring authors and www.internetwritingjournal.com/authorblogs/ some of the very best blogs by authors.