Thursday, May 28, 2015

Either … Or

This week the theme of my weekly roundup seems to be which ever path you choose... choose wisely. 

Jane’s Friedman has a great post on whether self publishing will get you a traditional deal. This has become a bit of a Cinderella story in the last year and a lot of people seem to be racing to self publish because they can... but whether they should is another story.  Porter Anderson takes a close look at the overselling of self publishing.

Kris Rusch has a great blog and is well worth reading frequently. This week she comments on writing by committee. It is a great read and I found myself nodding, having experienced it in the educational publishing world. Some times the ‘team’ can kill the storytelling aspect of the story. Kris then lists what you need to do to succeed as a writer. First get a reader, not a writer, to read the finished draft.

Joanna Penn has been at a crime writer’s conference and she was asked about the pro’s and con’s of self publishing. Joanna outlines honestly what she is thinks is the good and the bad and has advice for those people trying to make up their minds.

Jane Friedman has a post up on her blog about literary self publishing. Can you even do this? It seems to be accepted that the literary genre is steeped in the traditional publishing model. But really literary is just a genre and you can self publish it if you are careful about it.

James Scott Bell continues his series - Is our writing culture in mortal danger? This week he looks at whether it is a good time to be a writer. He says yes and then tells you why. Long live storytelling.

A great storyteller, Susan Kaye Quinn has a nifty post on the 5 tips for success as a self publisher. Susan has straight forward advice which can also apply to traditional publishing. Susan will be a Keynote speaker at Tinderbox 2015 and I’m looking forward to talking with her on her publishing career. Check out the webinar at the end of her post. (hint: It’s another keynote theme.)

This week Google pulled books out of Google Play because of the pirating issues. But how come it took a huge Dutch collective to make them do something about it.

The Passive Guy has an interesting discussion this week on whether you should respond to negative reviews. Should you even respond to the good reviews? The comments are always where the discussion is.

In the Craft Section,

Story descriptions and depth in stories from the incomparable K M Weiland

How to develop your theme – Janice Hardy

Staying in character – the convergence of POV and voice – C S Lakin

Fun writing exercise – Joe Bunting- Bookmark

How to justify your writing time – Julie Duffy (Bookmark)

In the Marketing Section,

10 tips for choosing the right book title –Anne R Allen This is a Bookmark post!

Email marketing for authors- Tim Grahl (Bookmark)

If you are really serious about writing for the market, check out this piece of software.

Website of the Week
Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi started a little website (The Bookshelf Muse) exploring words that described emotion. Then the Emotion Thesaurus was born followed by The Positive Trait Thesaurus and then The Negative Trait Thesaurus. These books are fast becoming the go to indispensible books on the writer’s desk, right next to the dictionary. Angela and Becca have just launched their fourth book The Emotional Wounds Thesaurus... and it looks just as great as their other books.

To Finish,
A few weeks ago I had a link to standing desks... these are designed to help the writer be less sedentary and healthier. Writer Bruce Brady asks whether writers really know what a good back support system is. He gives examples. Today on Twitter this exercise regime was being passed around. Either you take care of yourself OR you face the consequences.


Pic: Flickr /Creative Commons – Dave Lenker

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Taking A Stand

This week my Twitter feed began filling up with comments about that Game Of Thrones episode. Quite a few writers castigated using violence/rape against women, as a motivating factor in advancing the story or the character of the hero, as lazy storytelling. Chuck Wendig compared how the latest MAD MAX film and the GOT episode treated violence against women as a motivating factor. He makes excellent points and my hat is off to him for raising this issue.

Should Illustrators be credited in the Nielson ratings? This question has started a lot of comment, mostly along the lines of  Whaaat? You mean they aren’t? or It’s about time! or This is a debate? Porter Anderson takes a look at the issue and held a #futurechat on it this week. Nielson claim it is too difficult to credit illustrators. It is all about the metadata, folks.

Are literary journals in trouble?  Jane Friedman examines the way literary journals are run and whether they will still be around in a decade. Can they afford to rest on their laurels as print gatekeepers in today’s digital age? The comments make interesting reading.  Would you accept rejections for 10 years until they took one of your pieces?

Kris Rusch wrote this week about what it is like to stand up for yourself as a writer to your agent or editors. When you have to burn the bridges to get out of a toxic relationship that will harm your career. She has great advice and is well worth reading from a writer beware point of view.

James Scott Bell has responded to a post by Porter Anderson on the proliferation of writing services to authors. Are they worth it? Can writing be taught? Is the digital revolution, widely trumpeted as the best time to be an author, like the gold rush? The only rich people on the gold fields were the guys selling shovels. Lots of comments on both these provocative posts.

Mike Shatzkin has put a stake in the ground. He lists what Publishers need to do if they really want to tackle digital publishing. Although he is focused on Traditional Publishers his list of important points are good for Indie Publishers to take a look at.

In the Craft Section,
K M Weiland has two great posts on finding the perfect midpoint of your novel and the story climax.

Janice Hardy has a great post overview on what a good YA should have and Hugh Howey tackles YA from a different perspective.

In the Marketing Section,
Penny Sansievieri has a great post on timing an Amazon preorder.

Anne R Allen has a must read post on Reviews - Don’t pay for them and what is considered payment – this surprised me. (Bookmark)

Kristen Lamb has a post on pen names. When do you absolutely need one?

DBW is analysing 12 publishers websites. If you want to see how your website stacks up take a look at the criteria.

Publishing Crawl has a post on author photos. How to choose the best shots.

Website of the Week
Storybundle is a website that offers curated bundles of eBooks. These bundles mean that authors get a bigger share of the pie, they also support charity and you get some great reading. The bundles are up for a limited time. This week Kris Rusch has curated a bundle of writing craft books. Included are some I have had my eye on for a while. So now I own 10 for the price of the 4 I was thinking of.  A present to myself for my 350th blog post.* 

To Finish,

Alex Cavanaugh founded the Insecure Writers website which has grown from strength to strength. All writers suffer from insecurity at some time or other. She has a great post on taking small steps to conquer insecurity in your craft and move forward and maybe take a stand…

* Thank you for popping by every week to read. Thank you for all the comments over the years either on the blog, Twitter or Facebook.  I really appreciate it.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Great Communities

This week I have been thinking about writing communities. There is the small community of writers that you meet with regularly, then the larger community of writers that you know of in your genre that you see occasionally at events. The engage-with-only-online community and the global community of writers. There is a wealth of online information for writers but make sure you meet up with other writers for face to face interaction. It is an important part of feeling that you belong in the community.

Jane Friedman posted an interesting article on her website on the importance of community to an author. You cannot promote into a vacuum. 

The UK publishing community got together recently for their association AGM and heard some straight talking from their guest panel on changing publisher perceptions. Publishing Perspectives reports on the speeches that must have made uncomfortable hearing while any author in the room would have been silently cheering.

Claude Nougat has a blog post saying that Newbies should not be self publishing. The game has changed so much it is a waste of time. It is an interesting point of view and she makes some good points. All communities need robust voices.

Zetta Elliott has an article in the School Library Journal that makes the call to change the publishing community from the 89% white to a more diverse lineup because surely this would result in more diverse publishing. She has to self publish to get important black stories out there for children. It is an amazing article and echoes indigenous issues in publishing here in NZ.

An interesting comparison was recently examined in the Huffington Post on book launches.
A self published author and a traditional published author compared notes. It is an eye opening read. I keep thinking that authors grouping together to tackle this would be the way to go.

Over on Twitter there is a Twitter Fiction festival contest happening. A J Walkley talks about how to participate and how Twitter helps writers. #TwitterFiction

In the Craft Section,

Joanna Penn talks screenwriting with Lucy Hay and how it can help authors.

In the Marketing Section,

Do you have a publishing plan- Jami Gold (Bookmark)

Website of the Week
If you haven’t checked out Alli (Alliance of independent authors) you should. There is a ton of information on their website and blog including this gem for how to make pre orders available on CreateSpace books... and how you need a good writers retreat. A great example of a writing community.

To Finish,
Chuck Wendig (warnings on language) is master of the descriptive sentence that explains a writing truism. Here he explains the writing journey for experienced writers to a newbie writer in his Chuck style... a nice example of community. (choking with laughter warnings)

As I have been writing this my region has been undergoing flooding and roads have been cut off all around. People have been opening up homes to stranded commuters all across the city. Half of my family are sleeping in a strangers home tonight. A great community celebrates its members and also reaches out and supports its members in times of crisis.
Thank you Wellington.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Content Collaboration

I’ve been thinking about content lately. 
Content is the new word for story. Container is the new word for form that the story comes in. It could be digital or print or images or audio or interactive game… 
A creative project I’m involved in is creating a found artifact which takes the form of a journal. This is to be part of a larger art project looking at different ways artists and writers collaborate together. I seem to be coming across content collaboration everywhere.

Porter Anderson reports on an opening keynote speaker at the recent Publishers Forum held in Berlin. Author Kathrin Passig gently told the publishers that they were using outmoded technology when they worked with authors. Had they ever heard of collaboration?

Joe Wikert has been thinking about content too. Specifically how he thinks publishers could improve the e-book sample and be better at converting samplers into buyers by working with authors.

Joanna Campbell Slan talks about serialising a novel on her website and what she has learned. Is this controlling your content or letting it go? I know of other authors who do this in other canny ways.  (If you can’t wait for the next installment you can go buy the whole book...)

The latest Author Earnings snapshot is out. You may have heard that e-book sales are declining. Author Earnings gurus Hugh and Data Guy have discovered that this is happening only to Trad publishers who raised their prices after negotiating new deals with Amazon. Check out the Author Earnings website for other interesting news from the 6th snapshot.

Joel Friedlander has an interesting guest post up. Short is the new black- your shrinking reader attention span. This is spinning your content in another way.

Mandy Hager recently had to give a lecture on Dystopian Fiction so she posted it on her blog. What does an author have to think about when constructing a dystopian world.

With the suspension of NZ Book Month... A group of writers have taken to Twitter to promote NZ Books. #NZBookMonthMay A lot of us are posting a NZ book a day so check in for your next great read.

Tinderbox 2015 has a website. We are getting ready to post delicious tidbits about the conference.

In the Craft Section,

2 great posts from the Emotion Thesaurus team. Moving Beyond 

Screenwriting tricks has a story elements checklist.

Why you should put your book on Wattpad (this is a quick intro to Wattpad.)

In the Marketing Section,
Making a living from your writing – Joanna Penn (Bookmark)

Kameron Hurley (popular sci fi author) has posted an in depth article on why Patreon is better than Kickstarter for writers. If you are interested in crowd funding this is a must read!

Website of the Week
Last week I linked to Dave Gaughran talking about Author Solutions. Indie Publishing Magazine has a link to the class action depositions (testimony from the other side) and what I read had my eyebrows achieving liftoff. I am honestly amazed that Random Penguin would be associated with this outfit.
SFWA, who sponsor Author Beware, have a link to the list of DISREPUTABLE publishers out there.

To Finish,
Brian Pickings always has interesting long form articles. This week they look at Delacroix’s journal notes about the need for writing in solitude. If you had to go away to collaborate on content, how about going to a castle which is a dedicated library and hotel...


Pic from Flickr/ Creative Commons- Butch Delisay

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