LEVERAGING TECH AS AN AFRICAN WRITER

LEVERAGING TECH AS AN AFRICAN WRITER

Technology, simply scientific knowledge that is put into practical use to solve problems has advanced over the years. Most importantly, it is a potentially useful tool for writing. Writers in Africa have moved from writing on wooden writing boards, scrolls, paper, typewriters to typing on laptops, tablets and even on their mobile phones. It is a possibility that in the future, African writers will be able to work alongside robots who are programmed to create stories, essays and any other form of writing. Technology is the future for the world: writing will follow. It is no wonder that writing has evolved this much. In 1992 when personal computers were in vogue, Sven Birkets predicted that the printed book would decline and he was right. A 2015 Canadian study revealed that a whooping 93 percent of publishers had begun to sell eBooks. 31 percent of customers bought only eBooks while 61 percent bought a mix of print and digital titles. This shows that the world of writing is changing fast, especially for African writers.

Adaptation is the only drug for change: African writers can only leverage on the benefits that technology provides by constantly being willing to learn more about technology and utilise technology based platforms that will help their writing careers grow. For instance, Okadabooks is a mobile technology based platform that helps writers publish their books in Africa. With over twenty seven thousand books and more than three hundred thousand readers, the platform provides an audience and source of income for many African writers. Other platforms such as Bambooks, Smashwords, Amazon, Lulu, Payhip help authors sell their books and reach out to a wider audience. Writers in Africa can leverage on these platforms and make more money in their writing careers if they stay informed on the available platforms and adapt their work to better suit these platforms.

Social media is internet based technology that helps people share ideas, thoughts and information amongst individuals, organisations and communities. For writers in Africa, social media goes beyond sharing ideas and information with others. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest alongside other social media platforms help writers in Africa to connect with other writers as well as readers of their work. Social media is also an avenue to identify writing opportunities such as contests, jobs, internships, fellowships and trainings. African writers can take advantage of social media technology by connecting with publishers, magazines, writers, readers and mentors who can offer assistance in their writing careers. It is important to note that for social media, consistency in posts and in tone is very important. Branded content is more likely to be viewed by older viewers and more people use social media than you think. For instance Facebook boasts of over two billion users and Instagram has over one billion users. Many readers use social media, hence the importance for African writers.

Writing tools have evolved from pen and paper to applications such as Microsoft Word, Grammarly, Twords, Evernote, Google Docs, Draft, iA Writer, WPS, Polaris Office amongst others. These applications offer free and paid options: they provide good templates, text, formatting and editing for writing. African writers can take advantage of these platforms which will help them churn out quality work. Scrivener, ConvertKit, WordPress, Sumo are best used for blogging and they help writers deliver quality, search engine optimised, plagiarism free blogposts. It is likely that in the future, robots could be able to write articles on their own without human assistance. Until then, African writers can take advantage of the available mobile applications and software that assists writers in improving the quality of their writing.

In conclusion, technology has brought about advancement in all spheres of life, especially writing. The speech to text function, the online publishing platforms, social media and writing software are many ways writing has been made easier for African writers. It is important to stay aware on the latest trends and technological advancements that make writing easier. For African writers who work from home, freelance writing applications provide a way to earn money. Mobile applications such as Fiverr, Upwork, Guru and Freelancer provide a remote work environment for writers. Gadgets such as tablets, laptops, Bluetooth keyboards and smartphones make the life of a writer easier. These gadgets may cost some money, but they increase the pace of work and quality of results. African writers are strong, resilient and powerful. To leverage technology as an African writer, you need to stay aware and ready to adapt.

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