Monday, January 28, 2008

Tools for authors: Scribd widgets -- Dusk Peterson

Those of you who are authors may have heard of Scribd (pronounced "scribbed," with a short i). It's a "YouTube for text," allowing authors to upload documents for free. Readers can peruse the document online, and, if the author permits this, download the document in various formats. Scribd has all the usual social networking features: Friends, Groups, tags, and the ability to easily bookmark the document at various directories on the Web.

If an author is primarily concerned with print sales, they can give away an electronic version of their book for free in order to attract attention to the print edition. If they're interested in electronic sales, they can make the whole book available at Scribd but not downloadable, or they can make a sample chapter available.

One of the nicest features of Scribd is a widget that allows your document to be embedded (previewed) at your Website, social networking profiles, blog, etc. (You can see an example of the Scribd widget in use at my MySpace profile.) The widget operates through the same flash technology that online videos use, so if your readers can watch YouTube videos, they can also see the widget. Like all advanced Web features, it's probably best not to put this on the front page of your Website, lest you cause loading problems for slow-modem users, but it's perfect for places like MySpace where your readers expect to see something flashy.

Dusk Peterson writes fantasy stories on friendship, gay historical fantasy tales, and contemporary gay fiction. Occasionally, a heterosexual love story will appear as well. Peterson's stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. Romance and friendship, especially male friendship, are recurring themes.

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