Thursday, June 21, 2018
It has been a challenge keeping calm this week with the political news dominating the media. Many writers are stuck. Do they try to steer a middle path or ignore what is happening or make a comment. I have seen writers being attacked on Social Media for daring to have a political opinion and voicing it. They are being told that their work is entertainment and to stick to that and not point out anything different, because as one fan said 'I want a small corner of sanity where political views don't intrude.'
So to put your mind at rest I will not be commenting... I will leave it in Chuck's capable hands to tell you what writers should be doing
Anne R Allen has been seeing red lately over people not respecting Book Bloggers or any bloggers in the publishing blogosphere. I understand how she feels. I don't have the readership that Anne has but I get at least two appeals a week to write guest posts or highlight someone or update a post with new information. It is annoying because it clearly shows they don't read my blog. I ignore them including all the 'follow up' emails. Anne has great points to make if you are suffering the Troll Blues.
This week Geraldine McCaughrean won the Carnegie Medal for her novel Where The World Ends, a mid grade- early secondary book. She used her winner's speech to highlight the problems of publishers dumbing down language for children. She has direct recent experience of publishers asking her not to write long words. What happens if we don't stretch our reader's minds? Read the Guardian article on Geraldine's speech and find out.
With the biggest publishers of content in the world (*FAANG) taking over the interface between the creators and the consumers what is next for the poor content creator. Alli director Orna Ross published an article on the Alli blog looking at Self Publishing 3.0 -direct sales between authors and readers. We have the means. We have the technology. What is stopping us?
Last week I highlighted Kris Rusch's blog post on author learned helplessness. The Passive Guy - contracts lawyer in real life- added some learned commentary on Kris' article backed up with some recent discoveries of his own. (If you haven't read Kris' blog post, you are missing out on a valuable learning opportunity.) This leads on to an excellent article about the growth mindset of authors by Jennie Nash. Do you have a growth mindset? It may make all the difference to your career.
In industry news... a wrinkle. Audible (owned by Amazon) has started making audio first deals with writers. This has some major implications to rights sales and contracts. Melville House Publishers saw it as a tricksy problem for publishers. Read their blog from a writer's perspective before you make up your mind.
Should you start an author newsletter before you have a book contract? The writer chicken and egg problem. Tamela Hancock Murray suggests that you should and moreover she details just what you should put in one too.
Rebecca Monterusso has written an intensive breakdown of what a scene actually is, on Jane Friedman's blog. "They should do the same thing your global story does: upset the life value of the character and put them on a path to try and restore it."
This is a great article on the basic building blocks of story. A Bookmark Post.
5 tips for writing good prose- Roz Morris
What should your characters talk about - KM Weiland
Spice up your Amazon Book Pages- Joanna Penn - Bookmark
How to update without losing your reviews- Kate Tilton
Combating release day stress- Elizabeth S Craig
Self publishing marketing strategies- Indiereader
8 cover design secrets- Derek Murphy- Bookmark
Agents Tips to use on Social Media- Bookbub- Bookmark
In our house we have extroverts and introverts and people who sit squarely in the middle. This can make for challenging conversations when it comes to attending Book Launches. The introverts would rather have a quiet celebration dinner. The extroverts a full on party! So what happens when an introvert has to launch a book with a splash? L L Barkat has the introverts guide to launching a book.
Congratulations Prime Minister on the birth of your baby girl- I'm sure children's writers all over the country are wrapping books for you.
*FAANG- Facebook Amazon Apple Netflix Google (finance speak for media stocks)
Pic: The Scream - Edvard Munch
Thursday, June 14, 2018
O what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.*
The more authors dig under the cockygate saga rocks, the more slimy practices are being exposed. They seem to be going in a circle as David Gaughran has sleuthed a connecting rod from one chancer to another. Book Stuffing - a scam to fool the page read algorithm so the author can grab more from the pot of money in Kindle Unlimited gets a close look.
Following closely on this is the bribery and the bullying tactics being placed on readers. This hurts everyone in your genre. We want to nurture our readers not pillory them.
Kris Rusch has written an interesting post on learned helplessness. Do you suffer from it? Have you got fixed in your mind that you need to have help to achieve in your writing career? Many writers actually suffer from it though they might not know it.
Stephen Pressfield is writing a new book on the writers journey. He's writing it as a serial on his blog first. Stephen is pretty famous for his writing book, The War of Art, which is a fabulous read. Take a look at some of his serial entries.
Now that Book Expo is over, the analysis of the new format begins. Separating the rights area off from the main display hall might have been a sound idea in theory but in practice...
Publishing Perspectives looks at what they got right, what they got wrong and where to next for these big book expo's.
The Author's Guild is like the American version of the Society of Authors. They have been changing their way of operating to make it more responsive to its members needs. Regional chapters and a help desk with a direct line into Amazon have made writers sit up and take notice.
There are rumblings and rumours about whether Amazon is winding down Createspace in favour of KDP Print. Nate Hoffelder takes a look at what might be happening within the world of Amazon Print On Demand.
As the Northern Hemisphere slides into summer, thoughts turn to all the big writing conventions that happen over summer. Gail Carriger has the must pack list for authors who are planning their professional development trips.
In The Craft Section,
Are sneaky plot holes lurking in your story- Jami Gold- Bookmark
What to do when there is no clear antagonist- Janice Hardy
In The Marketing Section,
Turning your readers into fans- Bookworks- Bookmark
5 tips for getting a non fiction deal- C S Lakin
6 book marketing lessons from the big guys- Bookbuzz- Bookmark
5 ways to build your local market- Indie Reader
Kate Krake has listed 52 fears of writers. Who knew we were such a fearful lot? Naming your fear and confronting it can help. Spending too much time worrying about your writing fears can paralyze you.
Check out this post by Ann Kroeker on filling and stilling your mind so that you can cope with your writer fears.
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 also get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes. If you just want to say thanks for the blog you can hit the coffee button up top... Thanks.
* Walter Scott
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Throughout the week I have been watching the same old issues make the publishing news... I thought we would be over #cockygate by now but NO we got #tiffanygate. A judge heard the opening arguments over why the trademarked word cocky should stand... and ruled against but it doesn't stop there.
Jami Gold writes why every author and reader should care about this case and it does make sobering reading. You do need to read what she says.
While we are in the realms of people not playing nice with others, David Gaughran, (tireless justice warrior of the oppressed author) has taken a look at the new rules that Amazon has just rolled out over how much promotional material should be allowed in books. To save you scratching your head... promotional materials are extras outside of your actual story. If you include a chapter from your next book... sign up pages, pictures of all your other books... bonus chapters... whole complete other books the reader wasn't expecting.
The new rules are an attempt to stop story stuffing- where savvy or unscrupulous authors stuff hundreds of pages into their books to gain more page reads and game the page read payout system. However Dave points out some scams that Amazon seems to have overlooked.
Anne R Allen has highlighted a few more scams that are targeting authors so take a look and be prepared to warn newbies about them. Because we are all nice supportive members of the publishing community aren't we....
This leads on to something I have been closely involved with... the announcing of the shortlist for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. I am one of the five judges this year who have been reading all the books submitted since December. And it was really tough. The two authors on the panel of five were left in awe of just how good the writers are in New Zealand. When you see book after book at such a high standard it makes you look at your own work with a more critical eye. Which is only a good thing. Settling on the shortlist was not easy. It is an experience I think all writers should do at least once. Either that or make it a priority to read the shortlist books and a few extra in your genre to see what I'm talking about. It is an education in the craft.
Over the years of the Indie publishing rise and rise, Traditional publishers have hung onto their flagship authors almost as a last bastion of their castle walls. Indie authors who have had great success, after being dumped in the great contraction of publishing houses earlier this decade, have warned that it was only a matter of time before Amazon snagged a big writer. So Patricia Cornwell's move to Amazon took some people by surprise but not the Indie community- A new flagship series is on the cards for her fans.
Debbie Young of The Alliance of Independent Authors blog has a plea for all the writers out there. Don't neglect to learn your craft. Marketing won't save a bad book. She details what you should be looking at in your own writing to work out how to improve.
In The Craft Section,
Examples of foreshadowing- Harvey Chapman- Bookmark
The Writers Spice cabinet - James Scott Bell
Use Theme to determine subplots- Amanda Rawson Hill-Bookmark
Crafting characters- Jean Hall
10 simple tips for plot twists- WritersEdit
Two great posts from Reedsy How to recognise Chekovs Gun and a Character profile template.- Bookmark
How to craft high impact scenes- Go Teen Writer
In The Marketing Section,
Creative ways to use images- Bookbub- Bookmark
4r's of ranking a book with category selection- Draft2digital
Podcasting for authors- Suz Kelman
When and how to change your title- Dave Chesson (Dave has a great podcast too)
Simple tips to create video content- Penny Sansevieri
Sometimes you just need to get back to why you are writing in the first place. An inspirational quote can put things in perspective and help you refocus away from negativity. Now Novel has collected some wonderful quotes to challenge and inspire you.
Go forth and conquer....
In my monthly newsletter, coming this weekend, 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. If you just want to say thanks for the blog you can hit the coffee button up top... Thanks.
Pic: Flicker Creative Commons- Elliot Brown
Thursday, May 31, 2018
This week the arrest of a literary agency accountant for embezzlement had many authors checking their records. For 17 years the agency accountant was skimming money to his personal use. This has resulted in one famous author being close to bankrupt. As you can imagine Kris Rusch has a few timely things to say, including what happens to the other authors at the literary agency. I had no idea that they lose the rights to their books if the agency bankrupts.
How to spot self publishing scams –Bookbaby’s CEO Steven Spatz has written a quick guide to help you spot the scammers out there. Scammers are active in all parts of our industry. They prey on the dreams of budding authors. Share the article around to help others be vigilant.
Book Expo (America), one of the biggest book fairs in the world, is on now. Every year the question gets asked... Where are the readers? Publishing Perspectives interviewed Austrian book consultant Rudiger Wischenbart about the panels he is chairing and the wild ride he is predicting for publishers. BEA always has an active Twitter stream with comments from all the keynote speakers being discussed. This caught my eye this morning -1 in every 3 teen girls in the U.S are on Wattpad. No wonder Wattpad is moving into TV and film. Are publishers even aware of this, asks Rudiger.
The Publishers Association in the U.K. are calling for their government to follow the E.U’s move and abolish the 20% VAT on eBooks. This makes interesting reading because they are quoting stats of 80% of children needing to read digitally because they can’t afford print.
Aussie children’s author Jacqueline Harvey has written a plea for the labeling of books for boys and books for girls to stop. She is bringing out a new series with covers that are neutral. Take a look.
Dan Holloway puts together a weekly roundup of news for the Alliance of Independent Authors. This week he updates Cockygate. (The anthology he talks about hit the USA bestseller list this morning.) GDPR also gets a revisit with non compliance suits being taken against some of the biggest digital names out there.
I enjoy dropping into the SFF Marketing podcast every week. The team recently interviewed Damon Courtney from Bookfunnel on selling direct from your website, cultivating a rabid fan base and other timely topics. This is one of those brain exploding episodes that if you are an Indie publisher is a must watch/listen.
Long time readers of the blog will know that I am a fan of author collaboration and always look out for new ways to do this. J J Toner has an interesting article on the Alli blog about a successful marketing collaboration.
In The Craft Section,
So you think you know how to write a sequel?- Fonda Lee
5 editing tips you need to know- C Streetlights
The ultimate checklist for Chapter One- K M Weiland – Bookmark
How to make an index for nonfiction- CMcMullen
Resurrecting a shelved manuscript- Writer Unboxed- Bookmark
In The Marketing Section,
4 tips to change your mindset on selling- Joanna Penn- Bookmark
How to make a good author website – Nathan Bransford
How to create a compelling bookcover-Joanna Penn- Bookmmark
How to write brilliant blog posts- Aliventures
How to get free book reviews- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark
How to grow your author platform- Catherine Bigwharfe- Bookmark
Some could say that the happenings in the blogosphere I have listed this week are a sort of karma on the unworthy. They might not have sacrificed to the right writing deities or have let greed trump common sense. To get back on the right path your writing office needs to have good Feng Shui.
Anne R Allen has a great post on fantasy and reality in a writers life. How the fantasy keeps us going. May all your writing fantasies come true... off to find fairy dust now.
It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter where I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces. Get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes free, when you subscribe!
Pic: Flicker Creative Commons- Fredkatvox
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Today I met some writer friends for coffee. This is a monthly ritual where we leave our writing caves or hectic lives and check in with each other. There is the usual round robin of what are you working on... advice sought or freely given and stories told. I have been thinking about writer tribes and how important they are. Joanna Penn has an excerpt from her Healthy Writer Book where she explains the health benefits of a writer tribe.
Earlier this month Jami Gold had a standout post on the cockygate saga. Her conclusion was the author didn’t have a writer tribe. Anne R Allen looks at the fall out of this and examines the author brand and 10 things that will tank it. This should be required reading for all new authors.
What happens to author rights when a publisher changes to a subscription model? In a surprise move, education publisher, Cengage is moving to a subscription model for students. It’s business as usual says Cengage. Not so says authors, How come our royalties have become non-existent? Publishing Perspectives reports on two authors who are going to court in a test case to get legal scrutiny on the changes. If you write for the academic or education markets this article is a must read.
Amazon is giving money away... if you want to design Apps to play with Alexa. One company has secured funding from Amazon for an Alexa App that adds sound effects to children’s books. In April I linked to a little video doing something similar. Writers might like to think about the whole audio production of stories when they are writing to take advantage of these the robot apps.
The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander has been doing some nifty things lately like designing the ultimate writing journal but he also has an interesting blog with lots of guest posts. This one caught my eye. Selling out: Going wide or going exclusive to Amazon by David Kudler
Critique groups... Do you love them or hate them? Litreactor has an interesting article about the 3 things they are good for and the 3 things they really aren’t. Does your critique group stack up?
Janice Hardy has two great posts on questions to ask when you are writing scenes and the difference between a revision, a rewrite and a redraft. These are Bookmark posts.
In The Craft Section,
Writing prompts- Writepractice
Self editing- Merry Writer
How to deal with the passage of time- Jennie Nash- Bookmark
How to read a screenplay- Go into the story- Bookmark
Deep dive with emotion- Christina Delay- Bookmark
Who decides if a writer has talent- Randy Ingermanson
In The Marketing Section,
Createspace vs KDP Print Interesting breakdown.
Does a fiction author need a blog- Anne R Allen- Bookmark
Agents and self published books- Jane Friedman
Elevator pitches- Standout books
Twitter hashtags for writers- DIYMFA
5 quick ways to ramp up your Amazon central page- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark
Kris Rusch muses on the books we want to write but others have written before us. Do we still write them? After all everyone’s tale is unique or do we nod and move on? This is a great article on the influences of writers... sometimes they are other writers. Does our tribe subliminally influence what we write?
I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces in my monthly newsletter. Get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes free, when you subscribe!
Pic: Flicker Creative Commons- David Rosen
Thursday, May 17, 2018
There were rumblings earlier in the week and then the emails from Amazon started coming out. The Zon bots were on the rampage and no one seemed safe. Reviewers lost reviews and accounts. Authors got pinged for too many sales- Amazon accusing them of sabotage – and then the hammer fell on Kindle Worlds.
Yesterday the notices went out to all the writers who wrote sanctioned fan fiction that gave the original creators some money as well as the fan fiction writers and Amazon. It’s been an interesting experiment and no one is quite sure why they’ve shut it down. Copyright of the stories remains in the authors hands but then the world and the characters are under the ownership of the originator.
I foresee a scramble as writers try to figure out what the contract rights reversions will look like.
The many niggles of a less than satisfactory experience with the worlds biggest eBook publisher have triggered many authors to review their marketing strategy going forward.
Kindle Select authors (publish exclusively with Amazon with page reads also counting towards sales) are starting to pull out and go wide. That means establishing a presence on Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Publish Drive etc. Some are even thinking of going back to Traditional publishing. The author has more choices now. A great article from Eldonna Edwards puts it into perspective.
Middle Grade and Young Adult writing agents were recently asked what they saw as new trends and what they want to see more of...
Amy Collins was recently at a conference and watched some train wrecks in motion... Know your genre... know what is selling... research is the difference between an author and a writer.
Joan Stewart talks about Author experts. You might be an expert and not even know it. Check out her great article.
Jane Friedman recently wrote an article on the modern website - A smarter author platform for the digital age. This is an info rich article on what works and why - from one of the experts in the field.
Where do you get your ideas from...? I don’t know any author that hasn’t been asked this... Here is a possible answer tho - from old newspapers! Check out this article on a great treasure trove of ideas.
In The Craft Section,
Punching up your prose- Janice Hardy- Bookmark
Questions to ask Beta Readers- Sara Letourneau
Give your hero a hard time- Writer Unboxed-Bookmark
Writing a compelling book series- K J Waters
In The Marketing Section,
Nates big list of analytic tools- Nate Hoffelder- Bookmark
How to sell a series on Amazon- Alli Blog- Bookmark
Publicity mistakes that ruin a book –Reedsy- Bookmark
Jami Gold has an interesting post this week that really struck a chord with me. How do you know your writing is any good? This is particularly interesting as I am getting into the sharp end of book judging and these questions have been haunting my sleep.
I know that I have more expertise now judging my own projects than I did before...
I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces in my monthly newsletter. When you subscribe you will also get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes.
If you appreciate the blog, you can hit the coffee button up top. Thanks.
Pic: Flicker Creative Commons- Alan Cleaver
Thursday, May 10, 2018
What a week in the publishing blogosphere.
Cockygate and the GDPR have filled my news feeds. They both have some important takeaways to consider.
Cockygate is the term writers and industry pundits have applied to a situation involving a romance writer who has trademarked the word ‘cocky’ in relation to her romances. Yes, a word can be trademarked. Will it stand up in a court... that’s the big question? The can of worms has got bigger because in addition to the trademark the author has been sending cease and desist notices to other authors who have the word cocky in their titles. It all gets very emotional with authors and lawyers and lawyers and authors and RWA and lawyers etc. Jami Gold boils it down to branding- The right way and the wrong way - This is a must read.
G.D.P.R. is the new regulations from Europe, which take effect on the 25thMay and affect anyone who has or operates a mailing list. That includes authors who have newsletters and mailing list sign ups on their websites.
Seth Godin has written about the GDPR and the marketer’s dilemma very neatly and succinctly. This gives you an overview. Nick Stephenson engaged a lawyer to talk him through what changes he had to make on his website.
Another excellent resource is Mark Dawson and James Blatch’s latest podcast which goes in depth on the topic.
Now armed with all your knowledge of GDPR you can read Nicholas Erik’s huge post on everything to do with mailing lists.
Joanna Penn is talking about critical mindsets this week. Do you have the right mindset for your author business. And yes, if you are writing it is a business.
Kris Rusch takes it one step further looking at growing the author business too fast and not having the right people in place to help you when you need it.
And have you ever thought about copywriting... In the Alli blog this week was an interesting post about fiction writers making money on the side with their writing skills.
Natasha Bajema talks about creating 1000 reader superfans from zero. In the article she references David Gaughran’s new book. (I think it’s 5 star)
Anne R Allen features a lot in this week’s blog... mainly because she consistently puts out great stuff. Check out this post on 10 tips for getting your novel off to a good start.
In The Craft Section,
The eternal question- what should I write- Chuck Wendig
100 scripts to download and study- Go into the story- screenwriting - Bookmark
3 writer guide sites examined- Writers Digest
How to measure your success as a writer- Bibliocrunch
9 ways to keep your writing safe- Alexa Bigwharfe- Bookmark
In The Marketing Section,
Seven new books for writers- WrittenWord Media
Platform building and related terrors- Draft2Digital
Bookbub ads readers want to click- Bookbub- Bookmark
Not sold in stores- ways to excite readers- Bookfunnel- Bookmark
Chris Fox is an Indie Publisher guru and so I was interested in his short video about shortcuts... and how sometimes they are a massive mistake for the writer. This is an excellent motivation video. Let’s be careful that we are dotting i’s and crossing t’s.
My monthly newsletter is due out soon. 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. If you appreciate the blog, hit the coffee button up top and feed my addiction LOL.
Pic: Flicker Creative Commons- USFWS Mountain Prairie