Writing for Online Publishing
Digital writing is the term used to describe those who write online, for any reason. But even digital writers need to follow a set of rules and protocols. They must know the latest developments in the writing world and keep abreast of these changes; know what is new in the digital world and understand what is expected of them. For example even the writing of the word ‘ebook’ is controversial – how should it be written? This may not sound important, but according to recent research into clicks on internet advertising, it does matter (‘clicks’ are the amount of times someone accesses - clicks - on an advertisement or content within a website).  In the important world of advertising (which generally pays the writer), research suggests that the term ‘eBook’ although preferred by many in the writing world had the least amount of paid advertising clicks, whereas Ebook and ebook came up with the same number of clicks and out-performed the term eBooks by far. So if you are using advertising that pays per ‘click’ then using the term eBook isn’t a good approach.  If a writer knows this then they can keep this in mind when writing advertisements. This may of course vary according to the situation for example another thing to consider is that some publishers’ writer’s manuals prefer the term e-book, others Ebook and yet others eBook and many language authorities say the correct term is e-book. This is just an example of how quickly things have changed, and how we must understand the right terms to use, or know the terms preferred by the people paying us.

Other digital writing skills
Writing "sound bites" for an online magazine requires a different form of writing skill to a writer who is writing romantic fiction.
Look at social media, such as linkedin, twitter and facebook. With twitter, only 147 characters are allowed in a “tweet”. This has led to a new "language" developing, a short hand for those using twitter. But many people using twitter still write in “proper” words, so this requires a writer to be able to write in a sharp, punchy way. This is such a different style to writing a long description of something, perhaps in a travel article or wildlife article. 

A writer on twitter is often writing to encourage the reader to look elsewhere – at their blog, their adverts, their book, their website, their newsletter, their products and so on. 

Many writers will also write blogs. As we said earlier, this can be for personal use or to encourage a reader to visit their website, buy their novel and so on.  Again, blog writing requires a different skill to novel writing.  Blog writing usually uses an informal, chatty, style of writing. This is because chat suggests intimacy; people think that they are closer to you and therefore it encourages them to keep following you. This way, and by varying your blogs to keep people interested, you can build up a considerable number of ‘followers’. Blogs should include clever and lively headlines. You can also include evocative lists or bullet points (this keeps your writing concise and punchy) it also means that people can see at a glance what you are trying to convey rather than wading through heaps of text – the blog reader’s attention span can be short! Well laid out text is a must; make sure you include paragraphs when appropriate (for example) and make sure your grammar and spelling is correct, or you will lose readers fast. As with any good writing, don’t overuse exclamation marks but do use emphasis on text such as bold and italics to get your points across. Remember though the content of your blog is the most important thing – it is what will keep people coming back for more.
Legal Changes
Many of the media laws of the past (in developed countries) were designed for a media industry that was primarily broadcast and print media, operating within state or national borders.

With a rapid growth in electronic media and shifts in the nature and scope of other media, law makers have struggled to keep up-to-date. Governments are really not equipped to react quickly to change but with a world that is changing faster than ever - difficulties keep emerging for professional writers for example:

  • It can be hard to keep “news” as something that comes solely from newspapers. In 2010 and 2011 (in the UK) several high profile celebrities took out super-injunctions to stop the press from reporting their private affairs. But this didn’t stop the general public from “outing” things that these celebrities were doing (such as having affairs), on social media. The public took the “news” into their hands.
  • Plagiarism is another difficulty for the writer today. Information is available at the touch of our fingers, on our computers. We can find out information about anything we want to know quickly.  For example, if someone wanted to write an article about the law in America, they could find an article written by another person and simply copy it. There are literally millions of websites out there, so the chances of being caught are quite low, so some writers will copy others and in the process plagiarise. If caught however, there can be legal consequences, but these will vary from place to place. For example, Deepak Chopra, a famous writer on well-being, was sued for plagiarism after apparently copying excerpts from another person’s manuscript.  Plagiarism is rampant, and too few resources are available to police laws protecting intellectual property, or to modernise those laws as fast as needed.
  • As the writers’ market place becomes increasingly global, the protection of intellectual property becomes increasingly complex - for example, the time at which material enters public domain in Australia or the UK is likely to be different to other countries.
Unfortunately, plagiarism has in some parts of the world, become less frowned upon than in the past.  With a growth in plagiarism, a laissez-fare attitude seems to be becoming more acceptable in some quarters.

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