Yesterday I attended two workshops, each purporting to show how to write and publish in these changing times. The two events could not have been more stark in their perspectives.

One was run by a publishing company which, I remember, began publishing ebooks over a decade ago, when they were still highly unfashionable. Their presentation yesterday showed that while they were ahead of the industry, at the time, their move back into paper-based publishing, albeit with options of inexpensive downloads, was not just a step back in time, but a quantum leap backwards. Their dependence on the often fickle attention of bookshops and distributors who are now either in, or about to go into liquidation, shows that authors need to take the ‘Business of Writing’ very much into their own hands, if they want exposure. The way this is achieved depends clearly on whether you want to try and make money from your writing, or whether you are doing it for more personal reasons.

The second workshop was much more clear about the need to use internet-based social networking effectively. Combining and cross-linking effectively optimised web-pages and blog sites with facebook, you-tube, twitter, linked-in, etc, establishes a self-perpetuating cycle of linkages which enable the construction of a personal web. This, in turn, links with others internationally. Staging your writing from blog entries, to articles, to smaller ebooks as a series of ‘tasters’ in the lead up to the publication of your paper-based book, and the effective placement of these bite-sized pieces, will build momentum.

One example of how to achieve this can be seen in how ‘Quakebook’ has evolved.

The Quakebook project is an example of the rapid evolution of the publishing industry where books now appear, literally, overnight. It also shows what can be done when the mainstream media fail the people most affected by disasters, by not telling their stories, by focusing on the wrong story (nuclear leakage rather than the humanitarian crisis) then moving on to the next front page, far too soon.

Started by ourmaninabiko, an anonymous blogger, the Quakebook project rapidly became a global movement of people wishing to help all those affected during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He put a call went out across Twitter for contributors to create a book to raise funds for the Red Cross, Japan. The idea was to share the stories and experiences of people actually on the ground during the earthquake, whilst raising funds for the Red Cross.

Completed in one week, and in the final stages of publication now, the contributions include photographs, personal accounts, drawings; each telling their own tale. Notable contributors such as Yoko Ono have lent their support to the project.

As every penny from sales of the book goes directly to Red Cross, Japan, you are urged to buy the book, buy a copy as a gift, promote it, share it, tweet about it, review it, blog about it, link to it, etc.

The tale of the evolution of QuakeBook can be found under the hashtag #quakebook on Twitter.