Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vanity Fair?

This week the big news in publishing is Harlequin. If you are a Harlequin author or know one then the amount of emails in your inbox this week about the future of publishing, Harlequin style, will probably have topped 500.

Every major blogger in the industry has commented on the situation and every one of them has had record comments wading into the fray. (Read Jane Friedman for an objective overview)

Harlequin is a HUGE publishing company. Last week it launched an e-publishing arm Carina Press.

One of the first of the big publishers to do so...showing they were forward thinking etc etc (Harlequin have always been innovative and the Romance authors are amongst the most business savvy writers you will ever meet.)

This week however Harlequin stuffed up. They launched Harlequin Horizons...their vanity publishing arm.

So if we are looking at purely business, they have the staff, they have the resources, why should they select the best manuscripts...why not just charge the writers fees to publish their book and split the royalties....

The backlash from the authors and writers associations has been huge with Harlequin changing their Harlequin Horizons website hourly and today abandoning it altogether for a different name. They are definitely trying to distance themselves from their vanity publishing mistake...unfortunately...the mud is sticking.

If your manuscript gets rejected by Harlequins regular imprint you have the chance to still get published provided you pay for everything up front.

Now if you self publish you are in total control of the whole process. You own everything.

If you vanity publish, someone else takes control over the process because you don’t have the time or the will to do it yourself. You pay all the bills but you don’t fully own the finished product as the publisher takes a cut of the royalties.

So if your book takes off (a rare thing with vanity publishing as the publisher has no incentive to market your book because they have already been paid their fee upfront, so it’s all down to author marketing making the difference) the vanity publisher then takes the credit and a chunk of the royalties...and you paid all the bills....

You have to go into this with your eyes wide open and that is the Harlequin authors concern, along with the devaluing of the Harlequin brand. (After all they have standards don’t they?)

The authors (and agents) are right to be mad...(actually mad is rather mild for what is happening out there.)

At the beginning of this week Harlequins new imprint Horizons was promising that the books would look the same and be bought everywhere that you could buy a Harlequin book. There would be no difference... now they are trying to drop Harlequin altogether from the imprint...aware that they have blundered.

And while everyone is feeling sorry for the Harlequin writers out there...the Christian writers got caught as well in the same sort of horror story....who will be next?


pic is a pair of vanity could kick with them, throw them, see if they fit, choose one over the other...lots of associations with the post...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Researching... the good bits

Tony Eldridge has a book marketing blog which has a loyal following. He has posted an article which is all about creating an army of people to go out there and market your book.

This message is something that John McIntyre of The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie always says to the guests at a Book Launch. Go out there and promote your friends book!

So in the spirit of friendship... I have just finished Banquo’s Son which I bought for New Zealand Book Month and was holding as a present for finishing the CNZ report...which I haven’t finished and it is all Tania’s fault. I opened THE BOOK.

I love researching, writing the books are hard but the researching is fun. I have and still have a fascination for Mars and I hope that when I finish writing the current novel the fascination for the research will come through the story the way that Tania (T K Roxborogh)has managed to put eleventh century Scotland into her tale of love and loyalty.

It is the little touches that show through, the way a character refers to a home county which led me to figure out the clan system. Useful to know when your clan is McKenzie...and that you could be in deep trouble if you met a Highlander...Yup. The Highland Martial arts with claymore and dirk also get a look in, as do wolves and why they survived so long up in Scotland.(ick but understandable.)

So I hope that I can weave some interesting facts into my story about Mars and exploration...the hardest part of writing a story set in the near future...well in 50 years... is the speed of technology now. I took a break from Mars to work on the conference and assorted other things and that meant that I took a break from the research so diving back into it this week and getting back up to speed with new inventions etc I discover that I will have to tweak the story yet again to take into account new discoveries.

Sometimes I wonder if I have set myself too hard a project and then I find another bit of juicy information...

I think it is fascinating that all the things we take for granted now, cell phones and the morphing of these... computers and the morphing of these into interactive devices, were all born from the Apollo Space Programme.

So what will we get from the Constellation Space Programme?

Just as I think I have it figured out they invent it...touch screen technology has gone virtual and you don’t need to wear funny glasses to use it... With SixthSense now anything can be a computer interface, your fridge... your newspaper...your cereal packet...just aim the little laser projector at any flat surface and push those virtual buttons... and now the developers are working with Samsung to put it into a phone...dang...back to the inspiration board.

How interests can run away with you...

Back to the topic in hand...being is Nanowrimo - National Novel Writing Month.

My international board has gone very quiet as everyone disappears to write that novel...that means that in the next two months publishers are going to be swamped with all those while everyone gets excited about pulling all nighters to write their daily 10,000 words you could spend this time in applying for grants....

I have just stumbled upon a reference to Mira’s List...and it is worldwide...yippee for us in the southern hemisphere.

Alexis Grant wrote this about Mira and then went on to interview her.

I recently discovered a fabulous blog, Mira’s List, which helps writers, artists and other creative thinkers find grants, fellowships, residencies and more resources. Who’s the woman, I wondered, who compiled this valuable information for free and shared it with everyone lucky enough to stumble across her site?

Alexis gives us a great insight into this interesting woman, who is quietly going about the business of changing the artists and writers world for better,

And finally I heard through the grapevine that ASB were most impressed with the entries into their WordBank competition and that over 3000 letters were received for over 100 Kiwi children’s authors and illustrators.

Good on yer mates!


four views of the planet....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Being Social...the latest trend...

This week I have been mulling over trends. As the mailbox begins to fill up with junk mail advertising pre Christmas sales and this years hot trends for presents. To live a fulfilled’s all about having the latest gadget...I was interviewing children this week about Christmas and they basically quoted their want list from the Dick Smith catalogue, starting with a new laptop and cell phone...these were 9yr olds!

I remember thinking at nine that a holiday would be fantastic and maybe a new book...

This week Publishers Weekly came out with a very comprehensive survey on What Teens Want based on a took with over 3000 teens. There is some surprising information in this report and some very valuable information to authors- for instance this little quote

We asked teens how they like to interact with their favorite authors. More than eight out of 10 (85%) visit the Web sites of their favorite authors for information about upcoming titles, and 65% would like to interact with an author at an in-store event. Other choices: library events (55%), book festivals (54%), in-school events (44%) and blogs (32%); and book and reader blogs (31%). Social networking sites like Facebook, Good Reads and My Space come in at 19%, lower than we expected

The kind of information that this article is stuffed full of should be passed around among all the children’s lit authors. It is invaluable.

So if you were wondering about whether you need to up your game in the online world the answer is Yes because generally where the teens lead the mid grade follow...after they get over the interactive fairy and pony web games.

You do need a website and some sort of interactive presence. Social media sites? Maybe a presence there, but not an all consuming live my life daily there presence, according to how I am interpreting the report.

Here in New Zealand we are lucky in that we do have time to mull over what we might do, and or how to approach this social media online public lifestyle. Our teens generally follow on a bit later from North American teens.

The speed of change means that we need to be giving some serious thought to our online presence.

Colleen Coble, multi published author, wrote a guest post on Michael Hyatts blog about using Social media to build the author brand. She has an interesting list of things that she is doing with social media and how it is impacting her visibility in the world. She has some good advice which is worth taking the time to think about. And the following video shows the speed of change that we have to be aware of....

In another trend, yesterday, Random House announced that they had bought Longacre Press.

I saw the press release on Beatties BookBlog...No one saw that coming a month ago.

It does change the shape of children’s publishing here in New Zealand, with only one independent left.

Much food for thought this week...


pic is the cover of my business card...blurry is the barred spiral nebula.

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