Thursday, August 25, 2011

Imagination Overdrive

Another Crazy Busy Week. 
Storylines was the usual mad crazy happy experience...with hundreds of kids watching, listening, imagining, making, eating, playing and loving children’s books with author’s, illustrators, storytellers and performers of one kind or another.   It’s lovely to turn around from welcoming a visiting author and introducing them to an audience to find a young fan who wants to talk to you about your book and have you sign it.

Chris Morphew was the international author this year. He arrived in Wellington to visit schools and be our guest at the evening seminar. You could feel jealous about this 26 year old who learned to write on the job producing 12 of the Zac Power series  for 6-8 year olds before beginning to write his young adult series, however he’s such a nice bloke so we’ll say Good On Yer Mate....

In amongst the busyness I took a look on the blogosphere this morning to see what the hotly retweeted articles were....and discovered these gems.

Kristen Lamb has two great posts up on her blog this week. The first deals with how to break your addiction to the little darlings in your manuscript and Kristen offers an hilarious 12 step programme to help you Kill Them. 
The second is a great article looking at marketing fiction...and how to get new readers for your work...You need to look at this if only for the truly weird picture she has chosen to portray inbreeding...hmmm stuff of nightmares....

Bob Mayer has been visiting down under. He presented at the Australian RWA and last week end was one of the keynote speakers at New Zealand’s RWA. He has some wonderful things to say about both conferences and he is handing out accolades to us down under. Check out his article posted today on his experiences...and then have a read of another article posted this week where Bob has talked about The Myth Of The Backlist And The Dramatic Change In Publishing...lots of comments on this one about the spaghetti stick model of publishing.

Mediabistro has a great article linking to a nifty set of instructions about converting PDF’s to Kindle files or epub files. This is particularly timely with Kindle about to be released time for Christmas.

For something fun to do with your imagination and a pen...check out 3 Ways To Reinvent Vampires

Over in the Craft Corner...

The Kidlit team have a great article on overwriting...and how to spot it....and how to fix it!

Daily Writing Tips has a great article on Brainstorming for writers and 5 strategies you can use.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have a link to an article

Using Video Effectively...this is a great article looking at tips and tricks to enhance your website with video.

Today Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple. Immediately the share price dropped. However he will still be involved in other ways while he still can. This is one of those watershed moments in technology. Because love him or hate him he has changed the face of technology and the way we use it...from our iPods out running to our iPad on the bus...not to mention the mobile phones, iTunes, the Pixar movies, animation technology we take for granted now...  The Wall Street Journal gathered an impressive list of quotes over the years from Steve. Look back and see what he thought the technology world would do and be as he began to unleash his imagination and drive on our digital world.

next week back to normal, I hope...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brain Gymnastics...

This week the weather in New Zealand has been extreme. 
A polar blast hit the country bringing with it major dumps of snow to places that don’t see snow in fifty to one hundred years. At the same time it is the last planning week for Wellington Storylines. The 3 day weather chaos resulted in cancelled meetings due to extreme weather conditions and ongoing worry about how family members were going to make it home with cancelled trains and buses, disrupted school and power cuts. My week has been a busy, fractured, distracted, topsy turvey, COLD exercise in adaption to unforeseen circumstance.

So...This week’s blog post will be a short look at what caught my eye amongst all the drama of other events.

Jane Friedman talked with Amy Stolls on how book marketing had changed since 2005 when Amy brought out her first book and now. Amy has some interesting things to say on how her publisher guided her on marketing then and now. Now it is essential to generate word of mouth. Check out Amy’s journey and then compare it to what her publishers told her in 2005.

Justine Musk has written a marvellous blog post on compelling branding. In it she details what the author should be doing...It all boils down to your secret word...

Forbes explores who the world’s highest paid authors are and why and looks at the rise of ebook sales which have tipped the scales in this years income.

Mike Shatzkin has written two very compelling posts this week. The first looks at the irony of being a publisher today. He explores the agency pricing model and examines the implications of Apples move into publishing and how it will impact on the big 6 publishers and Amazon the 7th and biggest player.

The second post this week from Mike is the analysis of Tim Ferriss and his Hardcover deal with Amazon which was announced yesterday. The game changes...along with Amazon giving a seven figure advance to Tim for a non fiction book. Mike has done the math and Tim Ferriss stands to make 105% royalties....This has serious implications for the rest of the publishing industry...Can they compete?

Writeoncon 2011 has been sucking my eyes these last two days (when it has been freezing.) This is a free online writing conference for children’s writers. It is global... it is brilliant... and there are many great things to take away. If you are registered you can take part in the live chat events with agents editors etc. Or you can lurk and suck up heaps of knowledge. Sometimes the time difference works for us...and sometimes not...but as the transcripts from all sessions stay up in the forums set aside some uninterrupted time and be prepared to stretch your brain to take in all the learning you will be doing.

To finish,
A nice roundup of the ten commandments for the happy writer....and a plug for a huge event that a dedicated team of Children’s Literature enthusiasts have spent months preparing.

Storylines National Festival kicks off this Sunday in Wellington at the Town Hall. This is a free family event celebrating literacy with some of New Zealand’s finest writers and illustrators. There will be live performances of loved books, crafts to make, talks by celebrated authors, book demonstrations (we have chefs and gardeners getting hands on...) and how to draw comics with some of NZ’s finest graphic novelists. It’s a mad crazy day and we love it.

Every year the festival seems touch more places in New Zealand so check out the website to see where your nearest full day event is happening. Chris Morphew, of Zac Power and Phoenix Files fame, is our international guest and he will be speaking at an evening event on Tuesday in Wellington. All details on the Storylines website.

See you there.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Committed To Publishing

Last night as I was racing to a friends book launch I was thinking about the commitment my friend had made to following a dream and the hard work and sacrifices it entailed. 

My friend has been around the publishing industry in one way or another all her working life. She is married to a book designer. As a reviewer and writer she knows how hard it is to get a book in print and that is the easy job compared to getting marketing, reviews and ultimately sales for that book. 

Last night John McIntyre of The Children’s Bookshop correctly stated that all those present at the book launch must become the publicists for the wonderful book Johanna and Walter have created. The Fly Trap Snaps. (book one)

The book is beautifully produced as befits a couple of very hands on creative types and is very funny. It rockets along with the hero, Spencer Fogle, outwitting wrestlers and wrestling with genetically engineered carnivorous plants, feckless parents and a Mr Nice Guy former child star who is not very nice at all. The illustrations Sabrina Malcolm has provided sprinkled throughout the book add the finishing touch to a mystery thriller just right for confident readers 8 thru to 12.

I take my hat off to The Hinterland Press Team, Johanna and Walter, for their courage and tenacity in following their dream to bring us a new midgrade hero...(heroes...Dion the talking Venus Fly Trap has my vote as well.) I wish them well and may they have many sales!

Roni Loren has written a great list of ten things she would do differently (and why) if she was starting out to build an author platform now.

Joel Friedlander has written an interesting post about authors getting into video blogging.  He has some compelling arguments about why we should and lays out step by step how to do it. It opens up a whole new world for the children’s writer....I was recently talking with a school librarian who told me that Book Trailers were one of the biggest selling points for a books popularity in her school library...just let your mind dwell on that for a moment and then go read what Joel has to say.

Jami Gold has written another thought provoking post on whether children’s books should have a rating system. I sit on the fence mostly on this one. However there are some books that eight year olds, no matter how advanced their reading is, should not be delving into because they lack the life experience to make sense of what they read....and usually they find this out pretty quickly. I wish parents would think about this before they encourage their very bright reader to tackle a young adult book because they can read it!

The Great Jane has another good post looking at ebooks. 5 things beginners need to know about epublishing. Jane has written a quick overview of terms and how to’s.

The SCBWI LA conference has wrapped up and again the conference bloggers did a marvelous job of blogging the whole conference. For a wonderful conference experience drop over to their conference blog go down to the bottom and work your way up. If you are an illustrator make sure you look at all the illustration links....there are some superb illo’s and interviews with the best in the business. If you are a writer, check out the in depth interviews.

A  key note speech I wish I had been there for was the great Bruce Colville...Check out this wonderful report where Bruce talks about the Ha Waah Yikes method of story crafting and what makes a good story.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Agents As Publishers- Mike Shatzkin has taken a close look at this issue....he says they have no choice....

5 Simple Steps To Create An Audio Book...this is a great resource.

Building Conflict One Cruelty at A Time- Chuck Wendig....this is a great list of how to’s (Warning...Content but you knew that when I said Chuck...) 

4 Steps To Unlocking Your Creativity...Step one unplug yourself....

In the Craft Corner,
Time to examine your fears people....

To Finish,
Helen Lowe is having a Thornspell contest on her website. You get to suggest one of her characters and why they should have a stand alone story written about them...three judges get to pick the best one...and she has to write it. Winners get a copy of Thornspell...It’s a great book too...think sleeping beauty then tell it from the princes point of view but add some twists!

Helen is living through the constant earthquakes in Christchurch and although times are tough down there she is hanging in there writing and publishing from the very shaky city....That’s commitment!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eyes Wide Open

Today I was discussing the concept of ‘The Hybrid Writer’ with Melinda. 
For those of you wondering about what a hybrid writer is...the term has been used lately to describe a writer who has some Traditionally Published work, some Indie published work, some Digital only published work, a mixture, in other words, of publishing outlets for their creativity. Hybrid can also describe a mix of print publishing outlets, Big Press, Small Press and Indie Press.

A writer is a small business of One selling creative works to interested publishers. Some publishers are huge corporations with a commercial focus, some publishers are passionate small businesses with a niche focus and sometimes the publisher is the author who just wants to find a home for a good story. (Yes, it is a business.)

A writer has to be very aware of how each publisher works and what the advantages and disadvantages of each one are to the writer. If you are a regular reader of Craicer you will know that I have linked to many writers discussing the current upheaval in traditional print publishing and why writers must keep informed of the current changes and the impact this will have on their careers.

Roz Morris has two agents and decided to self publish a book with their support....she discusses this move and why she loves the term Hybrid Writer.

In the blogosphere writers are still discussing the implications of agents moving into publishing. Passive Guy who is a lawyer as well as a writing blogger has some interesting comments to make on the Bookends Literary stoush (I linked to last week) and the legal implications for writers and agents. As always please read the comments as they add a fuller picture to the current discussion.

Bob Mayer takes it a step forward by weighing up whether an agent should step into the publisher’s shoes. His arguments are well reasoned and the comments are very meaty. There are lots of issues for the writer to think about. Step Into This World With Your Eyes Wide Open!

Laura Paulin discusses with her readers the impact of vanishing shelf space in her local chain bookstore. As the bookstore becomes increasingly filled with novelties and not books, what impact will this have on the writer?

Kris Rusch explains how carrying less books in a bookstore leaves writers with less time than ever to promote their book before it is pulped. Even the big name authors are hurting...when you can’t find any earlier books by them in the bookstore, something is up.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware detailed this week the cruel hoax perpetrated on a new writer who was led to believe they had a reputable agent and a book auction in three days...except the agency had never heard of her. 

Anne R Allen is sharing the load over at her popular blog and in the post introducing her new blogging buddy she shares 6 things that writers won’t miss about the big 6 ‘when they’re gone’

Jane Friedman has taken issue with Adrian Zacheim’s blog post on The Myth Of Self Publishing. If you  are thinking about this take a look at the arguments put forward.

Over in the craft corner,

For all you closet comic readers out there, superheronation has defined 17 stock plots for getting Bruce Wayne into and out of trouble.

Harry Potter For Writers takes a look at how the final battles of Deathly Hallows were crafted and what writers can learn from the twists and turns of the story arc.

Jane Friedman has posted her worksheets for writers to help them become pitch ready.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

New Book Anaylytics App

Finding Qualified Book Reviewers

Q R Code Mistakes

To finish,

If you are thinking about dipping your toe in the water with ebooks, Sarah Billington has set up an ebook project management business. Sarah has expertise in cover design editing and formatting. Check out her site and her unbelievable rates.....

SCBWI  LA summer conference is about to start. You can attend it virtually by hanging out at the SCBWI blog...I have done this for the last two years and although I get a case of writer envy there are lots of little bon mots to share. It all helps to keep me informed about what is happening in children’s publishing.

How are you staying informed?


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