Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ch...Ch...Changes. (No.150.)

Three years ago, when I started this blog...the world did not know about the huge change in publishing just around the corner. 

Print was still king. E rights in contracts - do we really need to worry about them? Promotion...isn’t the book launch enough? Oh and book trailers, skype author tours, elending  and the demise of the newspaper... that is way in the future... isn’t it?

Over the last three years I have learned about author marketing, publishing trends, the rise and rise of independent publishing and the alternatives to the printed page. I’ve probably bored you silly with yet another link to Mike Shatzkin, publishing futurist and predictor of the trends that frighten you, that you hope won’t come true, except they do.

Kevin Kelley (of The Long Tail fame) has taken this even further and sees books existing in the cloud of web computing able to be mashed up into all different 20-30 years. His commenters take issue looking at the downside of ‘rogue’ governments controlling what people read or how they are informed by who controls the cloud and access to it...(or big business - Amazon and Google.)

With the huge upswing in epublishing in the last two years...authors becoming publishers, print publishers beginning to digitise their back lists, you could be forgiven for feeling a little shell shocked at the speed of take up. The key is to learn as much as you can before jumping in.

Three years ago you wouldn’t have considered book design important, or where to buy an ISBN number or whether you needed one before you flicked up your writing on the internet.

You wouldn’t have known about the importance of marketing and how to automate what you do, to make promotion easier.

This information is now becoming need to know and understand and presents a challenge to the writer who thought all they had to do was write.

Writing good stories has not changed in three years.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify page) I have links to articles on

Movie studios are looking for more YA books

Publishers obsession with the iPad elitist...(it’s big in the West but what about the East?)

To finish,

I leave you with a video showing the emotional stages the writer goes through when writing that novel.

And a neat little spoof video.


pic...something yummy (Slainte)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

4 Implications Of Publishing In The 'Now'

This week I presented my report on The Spinning Tales conference to my peers here in Wellington.
 As I have been writing the report over a few weeks, carefully deciphering scribbled notes up, down and sideways, I have also been looking out for articles and commentary to do with the main themes discussed at the conference.

Last week I gave you the six need to know facts about children’s publishing that were uppermost in my notes as I pulled them together for the report. This week it is the implications of some of the publishing trends of ‘now’ that authors must be aware of.

1. We are becoming a screen society. This has implications for writers, we have to be at ease writing content across all the screen mediums. (N.B. If you don’t believe me answer these questions. Do you reach for the yellow pages or access the internet? Does your child know what the yellow pages are?)

Mike Shatzkin of Ideologue discussed the furore over his reported comments that it will be hard to find a Library in fifteen years time. He makes some very good arguments...and he says we will need librarians more than ever.

2. If you are niche you are unlikely to find a publisher for your work. If your work is too short or too long you are unlikely to find a publisher. Large publishers lists are contracting and they have to have a commercial focus to survive. Small publishers are inundated with submissions. You might need to take a hard look at your publishing options and decide whether you want to stay in the game.

Roz Morris looks at what you need to decide when you keep getting positively rejected. (that is they make nice encouraging noises about your work but it is still a rejection)

3. If you are not business savvy you will be someone else’s cash cow. It happened in the music industry where mega performing stars discovered that they owned no rights to their own music and indeed owed music publishers (record companies ) millions when an album underperformed.

Check contracts for everything! Kristin Nelson talks about the rights in perpetuity clause in an agents contract.

Mike Shatzkin talks about Amazon moving to take print rights (the new subsidiary rights) from the ebooks it sells. Just flip this over and you find a big six publisher taking ebook rights off print books or no deal.

4. Independent Publishing is just as hard as traditional publishing but you own the process (and the bills and the profits.)
Bob Mayer posted a comprehensive list of things his publishing company is doing to promote his new book project. It is eye opening!

Good writing may not get noticed but you owe it yourself that anything with your name on it should stand out.

The Blake Snyder beat sheet has been retweeted all over the internet in the last week. It is excellent.
Liz has adapted it for the novel in a spreadsheet.

Erika Holt has written a must read post on standing out from the slushpile.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Ad supported Kindles....are they a good idea?

What Stops The Agent Reading

3 Late Blooming Writers

Em Dashes and How To Use Them.

To finish,
It is Easter...and we should celebrate...So here are two gifts for you.

The absolute comprehensive list of free tools for writers. Read it and go waaaah.

An article in the writers guild magazine written by J K Rowling...(for those still thinking about shelling out for the HP DVD this Easter.)


Thursday, April 14, 2011

6 Facts About Children's Publishing Now.

The recent Spinning Tales conference for New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators highlighted  some important need to know facts about the state of children’s publishing here and overseas. As I research for this blog, every week I come across articles and discussions that support the 6 most important facts.

1. Writing for children is a business. It is not sitting down and tossing off a gentle story about clouds and raindrops and having a publisher fall on their knees to have the chance to publish it for all the little kiddies to read.
It is a hard slog to write a good story and harder to write a good children’s story. The little kiddies are web savvy and digital literate.  Your story must drag them away from T.V, cell phone, Xbox and YouTube.  Good Luck There! Janice Hardy has an excellent post on making the reader care.

2. Writing For Children has to be commercial so that the publishers make money and stay in business...but look out there are others too who want to make money off you.
Publishers print lists are contracting. E publishing is expanding. We are not authors any more we are content providers.  The 10% that content providers get and the 7% they get for e-rights (overseas) is not worth it for the author or the publisher unless the print run is sold out. Add into this the changing nature of publishing contracts and the implications of epublishing on contracts. 

The author must be contract savvy or have an agent who is. 

It helps if you know what the scams are out there for unwary authors.  Larry Brooks has a writer beware publicity scam (?) where TV stations want to make a buck off you.  Publishingtrends highlights the Kindle swindle.  Watch out for copyright scammers who make ebooks from your  web content.

3. Publishers are being challenged by new technology. Everything is changing. Everyone is scared. 
The ease of digital publishing and printing have authors questioning whether they need the traditional publishers. Arguments for and against are everywhere on the web. 
Joe Konrath interviewed Bob Mayer about his move to have his own publishing company, then Joe threw down a challenge to his traditional publishers (ouch!) Jody Hedlund and Jami Gold have taken an opposite view.  

The stakes are high. 

Here in New Zealand, publishers are digitising their back lists...this will make it harder for an author to get their rights back if the book is not selling because ebooks are forever, unlike print.

4. The author must do the bulk of the publicity. 
Publishers are not sending writers out on tour unless they are big sellers! There is no money in publishing to spend on promotion which means the book doesn’t get promoted unless the author does the job. Sellingbooks has a good post on publicity made easier, and 10 buzz building secrets every writer should know, takes it to the next level.

5. You must have a web presence. You must be searchable. Your internet presence must promote your brand. Your brand is your writing. You must make it easy for your readers to find you and buy your book.

Groups of writers have gathered together to help each other promote and publicise their work. This has become a very good way to get noticed and share the load for the average introvert writer. 
Readergirlz annual teen literacy week is just about to start and the Diva’s have linked into some very big names. Take the time to trawl their site and think of the implications for shared publicity.

6. At the moment there are no E publishing gate keepers here in NZ. The reviewers I know haven’t been forthcoming when I have asked if they would review ebooks. It is too hard. The take up of E readers here at the moment doesn’t warrant it. New Zealander’s quickly become enthusiastic adopters of new technology so the ebook explosion will happen quite quickly.

This is probably the time to strike if you want to get into ebook reviewing.   We need filters and trusted reviewers to say this is worth the price. Although as I have been reading lately the small price you pay for an ebook means if it is a dud you haven’t lost much.  
Quality writing for children in an ebook format is likely to get lost in the crowd unless....See Number 3 and 4.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Dean Wesley Smith gives the full Uni Course On Cover Design.

eBook Conversion Comparisons...for when you create that ebook.

Agents –You Gotta Have A Contract! - Read it, Weep and Be Warned! See Number 2

The Periodic Table Of Storytelling....geek cool

The Top 5 KidsLit Agencies

To Finish,

Get out there and share the love because our words have the power to change lives....

Question: Any more facts children’s writers should know? Write a comment.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Children's Publishing Business...

It has been a big week in Children’s Publishing! 
First up Tools of Change Bologna followed by the Bologna  Children's Book Fair and then Spinning Tales....

Where, oh where, to begin.

I’ll go backwards.

Spinning Tales brought together over 115 Children’s writers and Illustrators from around the country to Auckland for the second National Conference of New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators. This was a great learning and networking time for all of us. 

If you didn’t make it to the conference you must try to make the next one in two years time. The opportunity to spend time with others in the field is invaluable.  Learning from the speakers and the chance to talk with publishers is also worth gold. Each speaker was carefully selected to add value for the conference attender and any opportunities where you can sit down and pitch an idea to a an amazing plus.

The FaBo Team met for the first time. This was an historic occasion. We have been working together for a year on our online story and we finally met the whole team...except for Brian but we’ll forgive him being in Australia. Plans were made for FaBo 2. New members... new secrets to keep.

My personal take aways...The literary feast...and the art work it inspired. Gosh we have talented Illustrators who can draw and incorporate food in their drawing in new and innovative ways, not to mention the wonderfully entertaining stand up writers.

The wonderful, amazing, Katerina Mataira who challenged us all with her statement at the Kaumatua Panel. ‘I am nearly 80....I am publishing ebooks and selling my work online and on websites...If you have a niche, forget Traditional Publishers and do it yourself!’

And that is what Tools Of Change, Bologna was about. 
How can we continue to tell stories in today’s world? Read this excellent post by Bridget Strevans, an Illustrator, who attended TOC. It is an overview, a challenge and a guide to helping us navigate our way through the changes in publishing.

Bookman Beattie linked to the Bookseller overview of the Bologna Children's Book Fair. It is a must read as it quickly encapsulates the state of Publishing Worldwide right now. Vampires are sucked dry, Dystopian is still in and heading towards us...Time Travel is about to be HOT.
If you want to spend a little more time on getting a sense of Bologna, Nosy Crow has two excellent posts on Tools Of Change and the Book Fair. Well worth a read!

In the tips and tricks basket this week,
Mediabistro has linked to a great page on understanding Story Arc by Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt used these grids in his lectures to explain how a story should grab you emotionally.

The great Larry Brooks of Storyfix has a wonderful post on story architecture. How and when you should build in those plot points.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Making Money On Author Websites

Pitch Week with MG/YA Agent

Words Of Wisdom From Famous Authors

In the news this week is the speculation about the price of the eBook rights for Harry Potter. This is being negotiated  at the moment and reminds me of comments made by the publishers at Spinning Tales about eBook rights being non negotiable or deal breakers here in NZ. 
The margins are so slim here at the bottom of the world that eBook rights and world rights are the only way they can make money and if they don’t get both they may as well pass the project.... This is a good reminder to Writers and Illustrators...They are in a business and they need to know all the ramifications of the contract.


The pic is the golden moments of going to a Kid's Lit conference... Every encounter is gold....

The following video is 60 seconds of Bologna....

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