Thursday, May 27, 2010

Author Websites and the Personal Brand....

I’m over rain...and yes I know we were all praying for rain two months ago when we were facing a country wide drought but all those collective prayers seem to have been answered this last week in constant downpours so that we are looking at floods.
So now that we are stuck inside, our attention turns to Social Networking sites...coz I’m researching them for a little project.

As part of your brand profile publishers expect you to be social networking as well. Now some authors engage with their readers very well on facebook but it is a time suck. After all the business of being an author is writing. So before you set up your facebook fan page, your twitter account, your blog, sit down and make up a profile plan. Where do you want to spend your time?

Dan Schawbel of Personal Branding Blog has written an interesting article that has been posted all over the web this week entitled R.I.P Facebook. He has some pertinent things to say about personal branding and one of them is devote your energy to YOUR website not someone else’s!

So with this in mind I am revisiting author websites.

What should an Author website do?

Yael Miller has a guest post on Tony Eldridge’s blog about good web design for authors.

 Publetariat has reprinted a page from Joanna Penn about a great example of an author website. Make sure people can buy your book!!! That is the big message but there are lots of other important little snippets as well...profile... engage readers...FAQs...flash stuff....

Writer Tools

Joanna Penn is a great source of advice. She has successfully self published three books and has a huge following for her blog and website.  On her blog, thecreativepenn, this week she has a guest post focussing on 22 websites every writer must use. It is a great list. There are some great new sites to check out. Two from the list are 3D Animated Avatars for your characters and an Emotion Thesaurus (this is a wonderful resource compiled every Thursday by children’s writer Angela Ackerman.)

Icyte is a great bookmarking site that takes bookmarking to a whole new level. Your bookmarked web pages are always available stored with your highlighted tags and comments so you can access them on other computers or servers. This is especially interesting if you are researching or working collaboratively on a project.

For more ideas on author websites check out my Marketing 101 series. 

In the Blogosphere this week.

B.E.A. (Book Expo America) is underway. Check out Alice, in the sidebar-she's blogging from it. 
Galleycat has links to hot topics at the Expo including  this little video where the CEO of Figment Publishing talks about their latest initiative to bring cellphone novels to American teens.

There is a lot of comment flying thick and fast over Neil Gaiman getting 40K to speak at a library.
Neil is bemused by it and his blog post on the subject is very interesting. I always knew he was a great guy!!! More power to him I say...(holding signed copy of The Graveyard Book close to chest and sighing...)

Over on Craicerplus (myAmplify page) I have links to articles on

The Konrath effect - Will technology ruin new authors?

Ask The Publishing Guru - Choosing a title for your novel. (This one started some interesting comment on facebook)

The Feckless Goblin - 9 unsavoury characters traits of real authors (ouch)

From Victoria Mixon – 7 reasons to be glad that you are a writer. (ohhhhhh)

George Orwell, Mills and Boon writer: Taking literary mashups to the next level (ideas for your next masterpiece)



pic is the master himself... Neil Gaiman

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Number 100

It’s that time of the year again when the great and the good gather together to witness the awarding of the ultimate prizes in Children’s Literature in New Zealand. Last night they gathered in Auckland for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2010.

The annoying thing about the awards is that they can’t give great cash prizes to all the finalists...because they were all so good.

Every year Children’s Choice seems to up its profile and that is as it should be because we write for the children.

This year the Children’s Choice overall  winner was Wonky Donkey  By Craig Smith Illustrated by Katz Cowley

The winner of Children’s Choice Young Adult was Brainjack By Brian Falkner

The winner of Children’s Choice Junior Fiction was Friends By Joy Cowley Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

The winner of Children’s Choice Non Fiction  was Dear Alison edited by Simon Pollard.

As an interesting side note none of these books took out the top prize in their respective category.

Thanks to the power of text and friends I was kept up to date as the awards were announced in Auckland and due to the power of email and friends the results were soon posted up on The Wellington Children’s Book Association website...almost in real time!!!

A nice golden glow was provided by Mandy Hager, her book ‘The Crossing’ was launched at Spinning Gold last Year and who won the Young Adult category.

As I have said before we must celebrate the brilliance, not only of the winners, but of the finalists because it was a truly hard task to separate them out.

I have been thinking lately that it is about time New Zealand woke up to the fact that we have world class GENRE writers  in this country  who quietly get on and do the business and never get acknowledged by the literati or CNZ....This would be a great profile push for New Zealand Book Month. 

Who are our unsung heroes in GENRE FICTION in this country? 

A good pointer to the answer can be found in the nominations for The Julius Vogel Awards for New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Nalini Singh has two novels and a novella entered...She is a New York Times Bestselling Author and Yes she is one of our top Romance authors. If you look down the Julius Vogel list you will see familiar names from the New Zealand Post Children’s Book finalists this year.

OK rant over (...well muted)

In other news... recently Booktalks was launched. This lovely initiative was sparked and germinated at the Spinning Gold Conference last year. The website, where Schools, Authors and Illustrators can hookup through Skype is up and running. New Zealand yet again is among the leaders in using this technology. This week I came across a great little blog Picturebook Junkies (five PB authors) extolling the virtues of Authors skyping into schools in the US and thought yep we’re doing it... only we are more organised.

Nathan Bransford has a great little poll on his blog at the moment - Which fictional land would you like to live in? No prizes for guessing  the most popular...although quite a few authors were extolling the virtues of their own created fictional worlds...heeheehee....

On Craicerplus (my Amplify page) I have links to articles on

Defending Teen Fiction

The Big Digital Issues in 2011

Humanoid Robot in Space...Go R2 (a nod to my geek side)

The Children’s Lit Conference murderers, sexism, Pulman and fairytale fallout (this one has generated a few comments on Facebook)

The pic is The New Zealand Post Children’s Book of The Year 2010 Old Hu Hu. Congratulations Kyle Mewburn and Rachel Driscoll.

I can't think of a better pic to celebrate my 100th Blog Post.


So which fictional land would you like to live in? If you said Middle Earth we'll make room for you in Central Otago where Kyle lives....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Changing the world

During the week I amplified an article by Joanna Penn on Google and what the new search terms for authors means. Google in the last week has changed the search terms so that along with your page showing your search results they have a list of social media sites to check and their new online bookstore Google Editions to buy e-books on the subject...

Yesterday I watched an online news cast from the Wall Street Journal interviewing Jeff Tractenburg of Google where Jeff said that any Google Editions e-book would be available to read on any reading device including latest releases.

Joanna has a identified what this means to writers and offers good advice to utilise this massive change in publishing on the web.

Here are two massive developments from Google this week that you need to know about. From looking at these together, it seems clear that Google search will bias books on the Google publishing platform.

Another site that is making waves is Bookbuzzr. This site was developed when a software developer was talking to his friend who was trying to market a new book. The friend speculated that really he wanted a way to show his book off, just like a print book, but on line. His software friend came up with a virtual book widget which has an excerpt of the book inside the cover pic. This widget is exportable to any a Youtube video and it is free.

Online publishing is getting smarter and the changes are coming so fast that closing your eyes is not an option.

Alice Pope of Children’s Writers and Illustrators Marketplace has left the publication after eighteen years but she hasn’t gone far...For the last two years Alice has headed the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference blog team. This has proved a tremendous link up to writers world wide who can’t get to the L A Summer Conference or the New York  Winter Conference. They can hop over to the blog and join in virtually. Alice has now moved over to SCBWI and is blogging for them full time...So I have changed the link in my blog roll...Gotta keep up with Alice.   

L Diane Wolfe at circle of friends has posted a great Do’s and Don’ts list for meeting authors...(lots of authors agree they wish they could hand out the list at signings...)Authors have commented on her list adding their own horror stories...

Three great writing sites to visit

If you are looking for advice on character...From childrenspublishing,  This has to be the most comprehensive list of links to character development  tools I have ever seen.

Cba-ramblings has a great article on pitching

And Nathan Bransford shares his thoughts on voice...always good to get an agents perspective.

On Craicerplus (Just click on the amplify button on the right) There are links to...

The TED commandments 10 rules every speaker should know

Seth Godin on what publishers are doing wrong

Google Editions and Google search

Crafting the pitch in 25 words or less

12 Life lessons from Warren Buffett on being a more compassionate writer.


PS Congratulation to Adele Broadbent who launched Too Many Secrets this last week...(first up from Spinning Gold)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Thursday Vibe...

Today I was stopped twice by people who said to me ‘My friend has written a book and wants to know what they should do next....’

Is it because it is Thursday and subconsciously I am sending out vibes that say I need a topic for my blog today?

I don’t think I am, as I often have 8 - 10 links already to talk about when I sit down to put it all together.

Maybe I’m sending out a vibe on super busy Thursday that says ‘stop me rushing off to the next appointment and ask me a question about writing.’  

My answer both times was ‘Tell your friend that now you must research!’ The internet is full of great sites that can point you in the right direction and the library is full of great books on the craft of writing, so you can make sense of what you have created.

So in that spirit, here are a few places to look.

Jenn an Intern at the Elaine English Literary agency this week posted a great little article on synopsis which outlines what a good synopsis should have.

A synopsis can make or break your chances. After your query has been accepted, it is your first chance to make a good (or bad) first impression. You have to find a good balance between saying enough and not saying too much.

Mary Kole of has a good article about knowing your category. This is good advice from an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

For example, and this is from my own imagination, not a recent submission: what do I do with a 5,000 word fiction picture book about world politics? Or a 5,000 word middle grade about a baby puppy who goes on a naptime adventure? Or a 300,000 word YA starring a talking salmon? Maybe a 10,000 word YA about a character’s messy divorce?
If all of those examples weren’t immediately funny to you, you need this post. When I speak at conferences, I tell people all the time that booksellers will not build you your own shelf at their stores just because you want to do something different.
Tony Eldridge has a great article this week on his Marketing Tips for Authors Blog about off line marketing specifically teaming up with a fellow author to present workshops.
 I want to suggest a different approach. Why not team up with another local author and do a free "workshop" for writers and aspiring writers? Think of the benefits of presenting a joint presentation:

He outlines some useful ideas to help you think about how to structure the workshop and make it be of use to you. (As I am in the middle of planning some workshops for later in the year, this is very timely.)

Last week I linked to Jane Friedman’s article on Writer Unboxed which discussed blog content and how much unpublished work you should put on your blog. There has been lots of talk in the writers blogosphere about Jane Friedman and Chuck Sambuchino’s different points of view on this topic.

Jeannie Ruesch looks at both arguments, boils them down to their essential points, then she offers her opinion on the topic and some good ideas to mull over.

Their posts seem to have a slightly different focus on what “your work” qualifies as, in regards to this topic.  Sambuchino focuses on your fiction summary, your high concepts as most important to keep off the web.  But ultimately, the point that both make is to establish WHY you are putting your work–whatever it is– out there for the world to see.  What is your objective?

Jeannie is right - for your blog or your website you must have a plan.  The Illinois chapter of SCBWI has a great newsletter called Prairie Wind and their contributor Margo Dill looks at three very popular blogging writers and talks to them about their blogs and their styles.

In the big wide world this week.

The Wall St Journal reported Google’s announcement of its new e-book  service  which will be ready to roll in the next few months. And so it has begun, the dividing up of the digital publishing world, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

Google says users will be able to buy digital copies of books they discover through its book-search service. It will also allow book retailers—even independent shops—to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue.
The company would have copies on its servers for works it strikes agreements to sell. 
Personanondata a publishing industry blog has taken a look at the e-publishing world of the Now and what may become the industry norm in The Future with it’s article entitled Content Farms....yes think of all the connotations... then read this article.
Demand Media’s approach is a “combination of science and art”, in the words of Steven Kydd, who is in charge of the firm’s content production. Clever software works out what internet users are interested in and how much advertising revenue a given topic can pull in. The results are sent to an army of 7,000 freelancers, each of whom must have a college degree, writing experience and a speciality. They artfully pen articles or produce video clips to fit headlines such as “How do I paint ceramic mugs?” and “Why am I so tired in winter?”

Over on Craicerplus (Just click the amplify button on the right) 
there are links to articles on...

The cost of quoting lyrics in your book

A great article on loading first impressions of characters

Twitter – a book addicts paradise

Parent problems in Young Adult Literature

What writers really mean...

7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion

Jodi Picoult - All she wants is respect!

I feel bed vibes...


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