Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bad Actors

Today I was perusing Twitter for interesting writing links and I noticed that there was an online chat with Victoria Strauss from Writer Beware. What a super site. Victoria mentioned that it was started in 1998 with the late Ann Crispin. If you put #bookmarketingchat in the Twitter search box you can get a great rundown on the shonky clauses and bad hat operators out there in publishing land from today’s chat.

Chuck Wendig published a thoughtful piece on a trend he is seeing that he is NOT OK with. The soliciting of blurbs from authors for unpublished novels or novels on submission or before they have been edited. Blurbs for editors to take to acquisitions meetings??? So they’ll only publish if you’ve got fancy writer friends? (Not to mention shady opportunities.)

Agent Janet Reid has also highlighted a problem with agent persona theft that is happening.
If an agent is contacting you first… check up! Are they bona fide?

While we’re on bad ideas… Hugh Howey recently published a blog article where he describes the inertia of bad ideas in the writer’s room. He is taking part in a writer’s room for screenwriters at the moment and watching what happens when a writer gets an idea that proves to be bad and how everybody can get carried away trying to make it fit.

Kris Rusch has an interesting article this week on learning from watching horrible performances. What worked? What didn’t? Where was the point that the audience was lost? Now, how could you apply lessons learned in your manuscript?

Apparently, Google Play have made it easier to publish on their platform. After making it really hard last year that many aggregators gave up on them. I went hunting for an explanation and found this article by Publish Drive on how to get yourself into Google Play.

Meanwhile over in Sweden, The New Publishing Standard has a remarkable post today on the tipping point of digital versus print in their publishing landscape. The subscription model in the Nordic countries might be breathing life into the backlist but what about the printers…This makes the recent meeting of printers and publishers in the US have a lot more meaning for the future of print publishing.

Scribendi has put together their list of the 30 best writer’s websites in 2020. Take a look. There are some tried and true sites that have featured here over the years and some new ones you might like to explore.

Written Word Media has published a list of the top ten trends that 2020 will bring to publishing so be prepared. 

Have you heard of a Mary Sue? Do you know what it means? Are they the kiss of death in your novel? Litreactor takes a look at this writer/superhero stand in.

James Scott Bell is one of the better writing craft gurus around. This week he looks at the themes of The Kings Speech and what writers can learn from the way the beats were used to mine emotion in the film.

In The Craft Section,

Mapping story settings – Sara Letourneau

The a-z of novel writing- Writers Digest- (very creative)

In The Marketing Section,

Author websites- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

The perils of also boughts – Penny Sansevieri

A marketing roadmap – Insecure writers Support group – Bookmark

To Finish,

Write On Con is on this weekend! If you are interested in writing for children you need to check out this online conference. It is affordable… $10 and the range of presenters is top notch. The all you can eat feast of craft, workshops, pitching opportunities, marketing, illustrators, writers, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all schedule is here. (US eastern time)


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Pic: Salvador Dali- Not a Bad Actor but I couldn't resist that moustache! (photographer Phillippe Halsman 1942)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

How To Take Care Of Your Writer

This week the fallout continued with The Romance Writers Association of America. Things have gone from bad to worse in just a week with the current board resigning yesterday and calling for elections for an interim board. Many writers have resigned their memberships and many chapters have also tried to distance themselves from the ongoing mess.
With the high level of angst, anger and frustration around Romance land it’s time to look at writer self-care. Do you make time for yourself and incorporate it in your writing routine?
Shelley Wilson has a great article on understanding what writer self-care looks like and building it into your writing day.

Yesterday I saw a plea from an experienced writer who was asked to comment on a contract. The writer ended up spelling out what the contract was asking for. 
The term of the contract was the term of the copyright of the book, which (in NZ) is the life of the author plus fifty years. Don’t do that. Give the publisher first printing rights in English in North America, or limit the terms to something reasonable like five years not the rest of your life plus fifty years. 
The contract gave the publisher first option on any future books by the author. Seriously. Do you want to go back to that publishing company every time you write or are thinking of writing another book to see if they want to publish it?
The contract was not just for first printing rights, but for all derivative rights. Everything. Not just ebook. All languages, all countries, all formats including print, ebook, audiobook, film rights, everything. Another paragraph said that he basically didn’t get any say in what other editions were prepared- additional printing, book club edition, library edition, abridgements, adaptations, etc. 
The author was expected to provide contact info for famous people who would give blurbs, provide cover images, have the manuscript professionally proved before submission, etc.
Contracts are negotiable. Many writers are so happy to get one they never think about what they are signing. Kris Rusch pointed out in this week’s business post the problem of an IP holder going back over their assets and making an anthology audio book, twenty years later, without looking at the contracts of the anthology contributors.- Would writers even know that they were owed money?

This week Jami Gold wrote about reading recently published books in your genre. Are you doing this as part of your research? It sparked a lively discussion on her FB page. How recent is recent asked one person… I have seen agents say (this week) comp books must be under two years old. You should keep an eye on what is getting published in your genre just so you know what is being overdone.

Jonny B Truant and Sean Platt are the mouths of Sterling and Stone an indie powerhouse story studio. Recently they were interviewed by Forbes Magazine about their writing model. Take 15 writers and 150 books… This is another twist on the collaboration model.

Have you come across the ten commandments of writing? This is a nice mantra to share around your writing groups.

In The Craft Section,

In The Marketing Section,

To Finish,

How are your New Years resolutions writing goals going? Did I see a wince?
Debra Eckerling has a great post on rebooting your writing goals. Remember every day is a new day to begin something.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Pic: Flickr Creative Commons – Heather Kaweck

Thursday, February 6, 2020

History Lessons

February is Black History month in the United States. With diversity or the lack of it in publishing on everyone’s minds there are numerous ways publishers and booksellers seek to show they are listening to the people at least in one month. Unfortunately, sometimes they can get it so wrong. Barnes and Noble and Penguin Random House believed the world was ready for classic white literature to have new diversity style covers…. PR Disaster.
As POC writers pointed out, they could have just highlighted or even published our books!

Elsewhere in the world, the Taipei bookfair has been postponed. This week more than half a million people would have been attending one of the largest literary events in the world. The New Publishing Standard points out that this will probably not be the only casualty to the Corona Virus.

London Book Fair is still on… and they are ‘amping up the profile of audio books and all things audio related at this year’s fair. Publishing Perspectives looks at what is on offer. They also have a report on how many Wattpad stories have been picked up for film, television and book deals.

Anne R Allen has a timely reminder that some readers will persist in believing that you wrote about their lives in your books. This is upsetting for everyone. How can you solve the problems when life imitates fiction?

Kris Rusch has been writing about optimism and the writer. This is a great read for the writer who maybe staring at the bank balance and wondering why we do this thing called writing.
Jami Gold looks at editing and life challenges and puts the two on the same level. An interesting shift in mindset here.

Iva Cheung beautifully demonstrated a problem, in comic form, that she is seeing in publishing houses. Many new editors have no idea what a style sheet is. Her comic does highlight a basic knowledge gap. For a dive into what style sheets are check out this post from Ruth Harris.

Two interesting posts caught my eye today on craft. James Scott Bell on the curse of expository dialogue and Copy Blogger and their tools for editing – take 3 highlighters. As I was reading this, I was reminded of P G Wodehouse’s style of editing. He would pin each page of the novel onto his study wall in rows. Good pages went to the top row. All the others would move up and down the rows depending on how much editing he thought they needed. He wouldn’t send a book off unless every single typewritten page was on the top row.

In The Craft Section, (Bookmark All of them!)

The ultimate guide to creating characters- 1000 day MFA-Shaunta Grimes BOOKMARK

In The Marketing Section,

To Finish,

Today is New Zealand’s commemoration day. We remember the treaty that was signed between two very different peoples in 1840 and the subsequent ups and downs of this relationship. We are really only now coming to terms with the legacy of injustice. Now, after 180 years, it will be compulsory to teach our own history in schools. Having studied a little bit of New Zealand history in university this is going to be a wake-up call to the general population. If you want a quick primer on what the treaty was about check out this fabulous graphic novelization that was made for children by Toby Morris.

Ina kei te mohio koe ko wai koe, I anga mai koe I hea kei te mohio koe, 
kei te anga atu ki hea.
If you know who you are and where you are from, then you will know where you are going.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Grapes Of Wrath

Another week in publishing… another meltdown in publishing. Hopefully this is not a sign of a new normal for 2020.
So what is it this time? 
The novel American Dirt got rave reviews pre-publication. The book was compared to a modern Grapes Of Wrath and so it has come to pass that wrath has been visited upon the author for writing a story of Latin immigration - without being Latin.
The furore has been public and vitriolic. The author has disappeared. The publisher has tried to calm the waters, not sure if he just poured petrol on the fire with this press release.
Publishers Weekly is reporting the cancellation of the book tour in favour of Town Hall style meetings about the book. Is all publicity really good? (Can’t help thinking this would be the classic author nightmare.)
* Just edited to add in this great post from Jami Gold -What Do the Calls For Diversity Mean For Our Writing

Meanwhile in other publishing threats, The White House is trying to pull a book because of revealed national secrets that may be in it. Anybody who is close to National government has to have their manuscripts approved for release. Apparently this one was… weeks ago…

Also in a banning frame of mind is Digital Book World. They have banned Macmillan from attending the Digital Book World conference because of the way they are treating libraries. Is this a publicity stunt, a highlighting of the Macmillan/ Library issue or the building of barricades for the revolution…

This week Lee and Low published their annual baseline survey on diversity in publishing. Is the publishing world hiring a more representative band of people?

Writer Beware has a new collection of scams hitting the newbies and its Pay To Play or in this case pay to get profiles on magazines… sadly Publishers Weekly may also be in this camp.

Jane Friedman has updated her guide to Writers Conferences so if you are thinking about attending one this year – take a look.

I came across two great posts on plotting this week. An oldie but a goodie from Chuck Wendig and Story Arcs from Write Practice.

In The Craft Section,

Story Structure – Heroes Journey- Karen Woodward- Bookmark

15 keys to writing dialogue – Ruth Harris – Bookmark 

7 rules to cliffhangers- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

How to write a mystery novel- Huge collection of links- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Unique content ideas for February- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

Nates big list of promotion websites- Nate Hoffelder- Bookmark lots!!

Jacketed case printing – Ingram Spark’s new shiny 2020 goodie!!

To Finish,

As I come across interesting publishing links during the week I pass them on to people who are working at the coalface of any issue currently of concern. Our NZ Society of Authors is having a battle over what copyright means with government advisors. This week Joanna Penn had an interview with Rebecca Giblin on the importance of contracts and what to watch out for in publishing clauses. The interview is well worth a listen for the breaking news that an AI has been granted copyright. 
2020 is going to be an interesting year.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Pic: Henry Fonda

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020, Ready or Not

It’s 2020… another year in the always fascinating world of publishing and writing beckons. So what happened over the Christmas break while everyone was supposed to be drinking eggnog and contemplating the end of one decade and the beginning of the next?
This time, just as the offices are shutting, is beloved by governments and organisations who want to get something controversial or sneaky out in the open, secure in the knowledge that when people find out it will be a done deal. Enter the Romance Writers Association of America with an edict censuring one its most prominent members just before Christmas. Unfortunately for them members were still active on Twitter on Christmas Eve. There was nowhere to hide as the biggest romance association publicly crumbled. The last month has been a public relations nightmare of epic proportions. For a comprehensive rundown on events as they unfolded read Jezebel and then read Jami Gold for her ideas on how to fix the mess. (Today RWA has appointed a new executive director so hopefully they will be looking at the other suggestions as well.)

Of course being the beginning of a new year the predictions are out for what might be coming down the track for authors and publishers.
Written Word Media have ten publishing trends for authors which makes interesting reading.
Joanna Penn and Orna Ross got together to look out into the next decade and see what is coming down the train track towards us. Forewarned means being prepared to surf the change instead of drowning in it.

Kris Rusch writes a careful post of what happens in an election year to sales of books. Like it or not, American news has a ripple effect on entertainment sales. (That’s us, BTW)
Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware looked back over 2019 and the scams and shonky deals that proliferated. She warns that the old scam artists are up to their tricks again… so do yourself a favour and glance over the list of what to be aware of going into 2020.

What happens when the publisher and the fans don’t want you to stop writing a character? Lee Child has been trying to get rid of Reacher for a while… and this time he may have made it stick by handing it all over to his brother….

Last year Audible got taken to court by the big publishers over publishing captions for their audio books which was seen as ebook publishing by another way… So what happened in court… They settled.

Meanwhile the ongoing stoush between libraries and Macmillan is continuing. Macmillan stopped new releases to libraries as they claimed it hurt their sales. (Libraries have to pay very top dollar for the books.) Libraries responded. Who is hurting the most? 

Meanwhile in your New Year planning you should be looking at business plans says Jane Friedman. Janice Hardy cautions about making the same old self-publishing mistakes.
The 100 best writing websites have been rounded up again...

In The Craft Section,

How to write a killer villain-Christina Kaye- Bookmark

Authentic dialogue – Chris Fox

In the Marketing Section,

How much copy should you write on your homepage- Infographic- Barb Drozdowich- Bookmark

Content Marketing - David Gaughran – Bookmark

Build a street team- Angela Ackerman

To Finish,

Anne R Allen takes a look at Bookbub and discovers it can be just like Goodreads only much nicer! Remember the days of writing a review and recommending books?
Get your 2020 off to a great start and write a review for someone’s book. Good karma awaits.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.
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