Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shiny New Toys for Authors

What more can Amazon come up with to change the publishing landscape? 
(I hear you whimpering.) The Kindle, Subscription reading, CreateSpace, Audible, GoodReads... Taaa Daa.... Amazon Charts.
No more wondering what book is the biggest seller... No more wondering if anybody has even read the bestseller or if the publisher bought the slot. Now every Wednesday you can find out... and that’s not all everyone in publishing is talking about. Porter Anderson takes a look at the first list.

Reedsy has published a white paper where they examine the take up of editorial freelancers to Traditional Publishers. With everyone outsourcing for editing, design, formatting, proofing etc, in publishing, is everyone on a level playing field?

Scribd has finally ‘fessed up to how big their subscriber base is... and they have added newspaper subscriptions... so is this where we are headed? Instead of subscribing individually to news outlets we subscribe to a service and have a buffet from everyone?

Digital Book World takes a close look at why audiobook growth is soaring.

Along with The Creative Penn podcast I like to drop in to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing podcast. This week, the team were the interviewees. This was a great listen on what they are all individually doing to market their work. (After all they’ve learned from their guests....)

Kris Rusch continues her branding series of posts with a meaty article on the first things to define when you are sorting out your brand. This is a writer must read. Even if you think you know what you are doing, take the time to read this.

Jane Friedman has an interesting post on how mainstream media outlets sometimes highlight the wrong thing in a publishing story... She uses the latest publishing news about Amazon changing the buy buttons on their site as an example. Are 3rd party operators really that bad if they bid for and get control of the buy button on your book?

If you are wondering about how you can get the word out about your book... Check out The Book Blogger List... It is an amazing resource of who’s who in the Book Blog review world.

How to form an Indie Collective (There she goes again... Seriously, why wouldn’t you?) Take a look at all the different ways you can use each others expertise.

In The Craft Section,

Choosing the right protagonist- K M Weiland- Bookmark

Two great posts from Now Novel- How to write a classic and Writing Suspense Cliffhangers

How to write better endings- Writers On The Move

Writing subtext- Forever Writers- Bookmark

Romantic Subplots- Writers Write

In The Marketing Section,

How to write an author bio- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

Amazon ads for indies-Frances Caballo

Children’s Book covers-Penny Sansevieri

Optimizing your back cover- Bookworks- Bookmark

Using Goodreads effectively- Barb Drozdowich- Bookmark

To Finish,

Jami Gold has rounded up some interesting resources for the cash strapped author. Oooh Shiny Shiny... and I’m not just talking about the way to put glitter animation on your book cover...


In my monthly newsletter I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces. When you subscribe you will also get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes. Thanks everyone who hit the coffee button this week. I appreciate the virtual coffee love

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Your True Self

Brand seems to be the flavour of the month.
Everywhere I look I see a reference to author brand.... Some writers think that branding is a dirty word. (A marketing term that they shouldn’t sully themselves with.) But there are some astute writers who are taking a second look at author branding.
Kris Rusch is dedicating a series of articles to it and the importance in a writers life of getting the branding right.

Anne R Allen has a great guest article from Carmen Amato on 3 mini strategies to jumpstart your career. Branding is at the top of the list. This is a must read. Do you know your one true reader?

How do you know when you are getting the wrong advice? Jami Gold has a great post on how to recognise advice you should ignore.

Susan Spann takes this a step further in her guest post looking at publishing contracts. Do you know when to walk away from a publishing deal?

Recently Becca Puglisi (one half of The Emotion Thesaurus Team) wrote a guest blog on a writers business plan. I found it really interesting as I am trying to organise my thoughts around what I want for my own writing. Take a look at this excellent article.

Chuck Wendig has the perfect brand of wise advice wrapped up in irreverent and word vomit humor. Once you get used to his style of wordplay you can focus on the message and see the gems at the core of the molten lava facade. Here are his thoughts on the business of writing.

This week The Guardian decided to look at the rise of Indie writers and how they are starting to be noticed by the movie studios. The Indie brand – cool... fresh... exciting... new...
Of course that is how all of us see ourselves. Or Not. William Kenower talks about a writers worst fear.

Penny Sansevieri has a great post on Amazon keywords. How do you find the right keywords for your metadata... and should you use keyword strings?

This week I read an interesting article about reading being something that now happens on phones. Surely not I thought. I didn’t make the connection to myself until I realised that I had just read a podcast transcript on my phone.  Prerna Gupta, one of the founders of Hooked, talks about how she got ten million teens to read on their phones. This is a fascinating look into a reading future near you.

In The Craft Section,

A cheats guide to writing a synopsis- Sarah Juckes- Bookmark

How to use cause and effect in stories- Martha Alderson- Bookmark

Fiction Critique checklist- C S Lakin- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

2 interesting posts from the Bookbug blog- Reasons books are rejected from Bookbub and Ideas for more Bookbub followers.

Getting book reviews- Reedsy - Bookmark

How to build your author brand from scratch- The Book Designer- Bookmark

To Finish,

Once in a while you come across someone who has such a passion for life that you stand back in awe of their energy and drive. They live a life of not compromising on what they love. Every meeting is a joy of laughter, robust opinions and new ideas. When you think their name, scenes from past meetings fill your mind and you find yourself grinning.

One of the champions of the New Zealand Children’s Writing Community left us last night. We are all feeling a little lost today. Barbara lived a life filled with story. She wrote, she reviewed, she assessed, she collected children’s books. Her knowledge of books and writers careers was second to none. A librarian, a mentor, a lover of children’s books, to the very last month of a life, well lived. 

R.I.P. Barbara Murison.


Pic: From Barbara's blog. A treasure trove of book reviews and events.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Your Writing Dream World

Just before I wrote this I was watching a YouTube clip about a teen who was on Britain’s Got Talent with an amazing voice. Simon Cowell hit the golden button and she was showered with golden tickets... It was her dream come true.
Here in writing land we all secretly wish for The Phonecall or The Surprise Party from the Movie Studio... or even that someone else makes dinner so you can stay in your imaginary world.
Living in your writing dream world can be a great escape from the real world at the moment. But it is always wise to keep one eye on what is happening in publishing outside your study door.

So did you hear about Amazon changing the Buy Button links on their book pages? Any 3rd party vendor can bid for that link. The publisher doesn’t necessarily get the sale. The Independent Book Publishers Association is not happy. Does this open the door to pirates?

The Outline talked with a few publishing exec’s about what effects cutting some of the best seller lists from The New York Times would have on publishing overall. It was a bit grim for debut authors. Consolidated and Conservative is not what you want to hear.

Kobo has a nifty new feature starting up called Kobo Plus. And it looks just like... Kindle Unlimited except without the exclusivity.... Is it a dream come true for authors?

Molly Greene had a reader contact her about her books. After a conversation Molly asked the reader to write a blog post for her about what readers want. This is a fascinating glimpse into the power reader mindset.

David Gaughran is a sharp cookie and he has a standout post on data. How does the ‘also boughts’ on your book page affect your sales. Who is Amazon pointing to your book? Sometimes it’s not your dream audience.

Anne R Allen has a great post on career mistakes. She’s made them so you don’t have to. It’s always wise to find out what not to do before you jump in to what looks like the dream pool.

Jane Friedman has a great post on how a book can become a bestseller and a post on Author Collectives... I keep saying this is the way to go... Get your writing friends together, you might be the next Bloomsbury!

Kristen Lamb touches on a topic that has been worrying some authors. There are many predators out there wanting to sell you a course promising great things for your writing career. How do you tell the good ones from the bad ones? Before you flick out your wallet check out what she has to say.

Alli – The Alliance of Independent Authors, has another excellent Indie Fringe online conference event coming up.  Check out Orna’s talk with Porter Anderson on why Book Expo America has changed its name and dumped its successful Indie hub.

You have found the most amazing song that fits your book so well... BUT what is the thinking around using song lyrics. Check out this post before you unleash a nightmare with your book.

Angela Ackerman, besides researching her great Emotion Thesaurus line of books, often finds other cool reference sites for authors. Here she lists her favourites and they are awesome. 

In The Craft Section,

5 steps to building a plot outline- Casey Griffin-Bookmark

Character Archtypes and How to introduce Characters- Now Novel- Bookmark Both

Who owns the scene- Storydoctor- Bookmark

Writing Blurbs- Rayne Hall-Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

5 tips for using swag- Jesikah Sundin- Bookmark

Two Great posts from Penny Sansevieri- Common pitfalls for Indies and

  Hot New Amazon keywords – Bookmark Both!

To Finish,
Darcy Pattison an Indie Children’s Book author recently had a guest post on The Highlights Foundation Blog. In her article she listed the 50 things Indie Publishers had to do for each book. You will need a lie down... but like all dreams they can come true with hard work, perseverance, knowledge, whiskey...

Maureen Crisp

In my monthly newsletter I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces. To say Thank You for subscribing you get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes.  Make sure you subscribe to check out the book.Thanks everyone who hit the coffee button this week. I appreciate the virtual coffee love.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Barmy Weather

There are two words that describe the weather at the moment in my home town. Balmy and Barmy. You never know what you are going to get when you step outside the door.

The news around the publishing world is similar.

Are the screenwriters going on strike? (You would think the studios learned from the last time.)

Are there less eBooks being published? (Is everybody copying fake news?)

What’s happening with the bestseller lists? Penny Sansevieri has some hard truths about them.

Who had the bright idea of adding eBooks into the PLR in Britain... (I can hear the cheers from down here –yippee.)

Who knew that everyone would be listening to podcasts on their phones... which has fueled the podcast market and now audio books are going gangbusters. Joanna talks to J Daniel Sawyer about all the changes in audio. (balmy)

Written Word surveyed 1000 Kindle readers and found out some startling facts that authors need to be aware of. This is a must read!

Some things stay the same. You need author friends. Joanna Penn talks about how to find these valuable guides on the writing path. (balmy)

You need to keep learning the craft. Michael Hauge has a fantastic post on how to change your critique group so everyone is learning and growing in the craft.

The Rocking Self Publishing podcast had an exceptional episode with Kevin Tumlinson who talked about the ways to use a UBL – Unique Book Link available from Draft2Digital- free

Darcy Pattison has a must read post on Amazon ads... (go on... dip your toe in...)

Ruth Harris has a stand out post on rejection and failure and how to put them into perspective. (We must be barmy to do this writing thing...)

In The Craft Section,

Two great posts from K M Weiland Don’t write expository dialogue and
Overly complex plots -Bookmark Both!

Making your characters jump off the page- Angela Ackerman and James Scott Bell. (I have this book and it is awesome!)

How not to start a novel!- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Promoting series books- Daniel Arenson- Bookmark

To Finish,

Sometimes you just can’t find the right title no matter how hard you try. Tara Sparling has the answer. She has a collection of nifty title generators for the struggling author. You would have to be barmy not to check it out....


It’s nearly time to write my monthly newsletter. I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces. If you want to want to check it out and join our merry band of virtual coffee drinkers, make sure you subscribe. Coffee is the fuel for the blog so I’m thanking all the people who hit the coffee button this week.

Pic : Flickr Creative Commons/ Chenelle J- When the weather can’t make up its mind...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Good Villains

Ssssh You can’t tell anyone but someone with your name left a large amount of cash in a bank account and died with no heirs....
Straight away I knew the letter was a fake.
Several things tipped me off. No letterhead. The appeals to greed, tastefully alluded to, inside the letter. Some of the sentence structure was clunky. (Barclays Bank can afford to hire people who can write.) And my mother rung me up to say she had received a letter just like it earlier this week.

Can you always spot the scammers though? I have been watching Victoria Strauss (@victoriastrauss), co founder of Writer Beware pointing out  a series of questionable practices to a small publisher on Twitter. The publisher feels that they should be treated like a plumber and get paid by the writer to publish the work. (Hint: they have a license to publish your work under strict conditions... that’s only for fixing the leak... not the house and contents.)

After reading Kris Rusch’s latest blog post on dealing with editors who want to be paid to pass on information to the writer. Along with writers who don’t know what rights they have given up so are missing out on reprint rights because their agents can’t be bothered or don’t know what rights they sold either... I’m not surprised that Kris had a melt down. Know your business! Everybody should read this blog post and be educated.

Jami Gold has an excellent series of blog posts on Indie Publishing that I am working my way through. Her post on long term goals got me thinking. Do you have a master plan? (For world domination...)

Two weeks ago I linked to two important blogs discussing whether author newsletters were a good idea. (Anne R Allen’s blog post and Kris Rusch’s.) This topic has caused quite a stir in the online publishing world. Kris wrote a new blog post refining her thoughts on this. Anne’s blog post had 125 comments.

Writers Digest recently had a blog post about the importance of finding your tribe. That’s all your writing friends... and then Writer Unboxed had an interesting guest post from Kate Brandes about what a debut writers collective did for each other... (I keep saying this is the way of the future...)

Nate Hoffelder writes that Audible are dropping their credit gifting to the dismay of their fans.

Dean Wesley Smith has an interesting post on how to make money from short fiction pieces.

John Doppler has a must read post on the Alli blog about visualising the best sellers. Just how many Indies are in the top 100 by category.

Lit Reactor has a great article on 13 ways to support an author without spending a cent. (Spread the word and be a hero!)

Roz Morris has a fascinating blog post about opening up Book Reviewers to Indie published books. The discussion from book reviewers in the comments is well worth a read.

The fabulous K M Weiland has gathered up her recent series of blog posts based on Marvel movies. The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling according to Marvel. This is an excellent resource for every writer. (Her latest book on characterisation is amazing as well!) I Have been obsessively watching Avengers Civil War and seeing all the plot points!

In The Craft Section,

Checklist to improve your writing- Writers Write- Bookmark

How to Refine your novel- Martha Alderson

Creating your remarkable villain- David Villalva- Bookmark

How to use writers intuition- Colleen M Story- Bookmark

5 qualities of a brilliant story- Roz Morris- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Marketing a new book in a series- Julianne MacLean - Bookmark

International author central on Amazon- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

To Finish,

Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy knows that I am a sucker for a fabulous infographic so he takes the time to email me and send their latest one. Everything you wanted to know about dynamic characters... in a handy chart!
Sara Letourneau has been taking a break from blogging recently. Here she explains why in a great article, Seven Steps to Honoring Your Reality. This is how you become a writing hero...


I have a monthly newsletter. It is a collection of the best of my bookmarked links plus other news about my writing and what I am personally learning about book marketing and publishing. I don’t spam or push any products. You can virtually meet me for coffee every month if you subscribe. (Thanks to everyone who has bought me a coffee by hitting the Kofi button.)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Who's Counting...

Ten years ago this week I started this weekly blog. I had no idea what I was doing but decided to learn as much as I could about this writing industry. 
I have seen so much change it’s hard to remember that I started blogging just as the first Kindle was launched. That one device started a revolution. Books became digital products and went from being read on dedicated Electronic Readers to Smartphones. 

Publishing went through a huge revolution along the way. Ten years ago I couldn't have predicted the loss of established publishing companies and book stores. Now 70% of all books are being bought online and we see the rise of Independent writer publishers. Over the years collaboration amongst other writers for education and publishing opportunities have been vital to understanding this brave new world we are working in. From writing in isolation to being globally connected to writing tribes via Facebook and Twitter to virtual publishing houses it has been a fascinating ten years.

I have been following Joanna Penn’s writing odyssey with three other writers in New Orleans and reflecting on the nature of collaboration. Joanna likes to look at her career in writing in Olympic bites, every four years, to remind herself how far she has come.

Hot off the press about to start their journey is a new publishing house for children’s fiction in New Zealand. One Tree House. This is a welcome addition to the shrinking children’s book publishing island. Hopefully this is the beginning of a great trend.

Bologna was a busy fair according to Publishers Weekly. There wasn’t a break out hit this year. But everybody wanted feel good stories. I wonder why?

Penny Sansevieri has an interesting article on break out bestsellers and what you need to do to reach the dizzying heights of Number One.

Joanna Penn looks at deep diving into analytics to find out how to improve your sales on Amazon. This is an interesting read.

There is a new writing craft Storybundle out. Kris Rusch has put it together and there are some good books on offer in there. I’m still working my way through the great Storybundle from Christmas. If you are on the lookout for good textbooks on writing then take a look.

Over the last two days writers have been quietly seething on Twitter with the hashtag #ThingsOnlyWomenWritersHear. It’s funny and sad at the same time. Diana Gabaldon reported that her publishers said they couldn’t put her degrees in her bio because it would intimidate her readers... umm

Chuck has written an entertaining list of 25 things he has learned in five years and twenty books. (That is a huge workload...) Warning it is Chuck so go in braced and be prepared to laugh..

Erinna Mettler has an interesting article on working with the crowdfunding publisher Unbound. Ten years ago I couldn’t have seen this kind of publishing platform.

In The Craft Section,

How to write love triangles – Roz Morris -Bookmark

Are you choosing the right protagonist? -  K M Weiland-Bookmark

Give your characters the courage to change- James Scott Bell- Bookmark

Using Twitter for research- Becca Puglisi 

In The Marketing Section,

What are your subsidiary rights?- Janet Reid-Bookmark

Book Cover design- Reedsy- Bookmark

Two Great posts from Frances Caballo How to get your emails opened and

Making yourself the brand- Draft 2 Digital

To Finish,

Have you ever been in the situation of not having the cash to buy the shiney new book but wanting to support the writer and/or illustrator. Debbie Ohi has a lovely list of things you can do to support your favourite writers besides giving them chocolate... (Chocolate is always welcome tho...)


Thank you to all my regular readers. It has been a wonderful ten years. I have learned so much. Thank you to all those who have shouted me a coffee... (virtual or real!)
If you want to get a collection of the best of my bookmarked links plus other goodies make sure you subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Marketing The Writer

This week all the different ways to market seem to be discussed everywhere. Authors are always stuck when it comes to marketing. Marketing is a mindset and suits an extroverted personality. A lot of authors are introverted so marketing books can be a real trial let alone marketing themselves.

Kris Rusch responded to a question about author newsletters this week with a thoughtful blog about why she feels uncomfortable about them. You might feel the same way.

Anne R Allen also was thinking about author marketing mindsets and wondering if a blog was a better way than a newsletter.

Donna Galenti explores some of the rookie mistakes that authors make when they first try to market themselves. Tip. Start before the book launch.

Writers know how to write but do they know how to write marketing copy? Joanna Penn has a great interview with Joanna Wiebe on tips and tricks to help you write marketing copy for your books.

Sonja Yoerg wrote a guest post for Writer Unboxed unpicking the love-hate relationship many authors have with Goodreads. Is Goodreads your friend?

Buffer had an interesting article on Google Plus for marketing. People often forget that this website is a direct link into a Google search engine.

Chris Lavergne’s publishing business is directly to young mobile professionals. He explores the way his business has been growing in a great article on Techcrunch. Short books are the way to go... and Print is for luxury books with an appropriate mark up. This seems to be flying in the face of publishing accepted practice so how come his business is expanding in leaps and bounds? Porter explores what Chris is doing and offers his perspective on it.

Alison Morton recently wrote on the Alli blog about what constitutes a marketing success. Are writers guilty of only seeing traditional publishing bestseller numbers without understanding what a break even point might be. Maybe it’s not too hard to get a bestseller after all.

In The Craft Section,

Common writer entry level mistakes- Larry Brooks- Bookmark

Writing habits we can’t fix- Jami Gold- Bookmark

How to right size your book- Ruth Harris on Anne R Allen's excellent blog.

Writing voice lessons- Paula Munier- Bookmark

April – a month of story ideas- Scott Myers- Bookmark

Improve Book Descriptions- Jane Friedman-LBF17- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Sorting out your media book pitch- The Book Designer- Bookmark

Joanna Penn’s keynote at LBF17 on making money with your books- Bookmark

To Finish,

Are we guilty of snobbery when it comes to Book Marketing? Is our mindset a build it and they will come attitude? Does it work? And what about the writers who think that other genre writers are somehow a lesser breed? Mandy Hager, one of New Zealand’s best writers for Young Adults puts her finger right on a problem that many writers pretend they don’t have. Are all writers equal? Is it a fault of marketing?


My monthly newsletter is out. If you want to get a collection of the best of my bookmarked links plus other goodies make sure you subscribe.Thanks to all those who have fed my caffeine habit by hitting the Kofi button.

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