RSS, Podcasting, Blogging, Print-On-Demand, eBooks – Connecting with an audience.

The world of mass media has changed, and if you’re not keeping up with the new technology you’ll miss out on some amazing innovations that could put you and your book in the spotlight.

Blogging, or more simply “blogs”, are a form of website that is updated frequently with links, images, commentary, or anything else you like. New items go on top and older items flow down the page. Blogs can be political journals, personal diaries, or business related; they can focus on one narrow subject or range across a plethora of topics. For the author – blogging offers the potential to connect to, or develop a broad readership base in a timely and cost-efficient way.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (depending on who you’re talking to) and is a format for syndicating news or other user definable content – known as a “feed” – that can then be viewed using a reader application – also called a news “aggregator” – such as NetNewsWire for Mac or FeedDemon for Windows users. Simply put, RSS lets you the author quickly share your thoughts and ideas by publishing to the web, while giving readers the convenience of grabbing these news feeds and viewing them together in a simple, ad-free list (that can be keyword specific) instead of having to navigate through multiple websites to find the information they’re looking for. This ability to zero in on only the articles that interest the reader by entering a topic keyword into the RSS search field is highly addictive for those of us who have become dis-enchanted with much of the crap being served up by the major search engines.

This technology is a new twist on RSS syndicated content feeds, only instead of pushing text from blogs and news sites to various content aggregators, podcasting sends audio content. This allows individuals to create their own radio shows and deliver them over the Internet to be played on listeners computers or mobile devices such as Apples hugely popular iPod and even on mobile phones.

While not exactly a new technology for those of us who have been using it for the last few years, and the so-called vanity presses have flooded the market with stigmatizing books using this printing model; it remains a brilliant, fast, and cost-effective method to test market new titles, or publish titles with limited niche market demand. Traditional publishers are using it, and it makes sense for the self-publisher too.

Like print-on-demand, eBooks aren’t really “new” anymore, but new things are being done with them so it’s time to take a fresh look. Simple to make and distribute, eBooks are growing in popularity. eBook sales have been growing in double-digit numbers; a total of 419,962 eBooks were sold in the third quarter of 2004 alone – an 11% increase over the same period in 2003, during which time 377,095 units were sold. With this growing acceptance, eBooks are also becoming an innovative way for authors to reach their fans directly and deliver new material without the wait and expense of traditional book publishing.