As the book industry evolves, authors are challenged to use online tools to help build their audience. In a panel at the eBook Summit called, “Perspectives on Writing in the 21st Century,” journalist Jon Fine, said that the era of getting a big advance and using it to map out book tour, is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you have to have a blog and a Twitter feed, he said, particularly if you write non-fiction.

Fine also noted the way that blogs can help authors generate their book content. He cited a project by author/blogger Colin Beavan called No Impact Man, in which the writer created a blog about becoming carbon neutral as the basis for his book on the subject. Fine also pointed out that you can have blog readers help you shape the story.

In the same panel discussion, author/journalist/professor Adam Penenberg said blogging and Twitter are important, but finds it challenging. He said that the catch is that when it comes to Twitter, it is easier for authors and personalities who already have a known presence to build a large following.

Penenberg also said that the roles in publishing are changing these days. He said that while in the 1980s editors were focused on finding great talent, today their job is to think about marketing and selling books. From Penenberg’s perspective, agents are now tasked with discovering good talent.

What do you think the role of blogging and Twitter is for authors?