Thursday, October 27, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different.

The week has been full of change.
I went away for three days writing...that was a change.
I am tweaking my website...warning change can be addictive.
I am reading about writers who are making big changes in the way they publish, market and portray themselves online.

6 prescriptions to cure the heartbreak ofbeing published....Yes, you read that right. Ruth Harris looks at the downside of the newly of which is when you hate the cover the publishers gave you.

Shelftalker, an indie children’s booksellerhas a rant on book covers that are coming out. I must have missed the tween goth revolution...but all the covers for this age group look like YA covers and they all only use vampire palettes...

Mary Kole from interviews Daniel Nayeri, kids lit author, on the off the wall marketing he does to promote his books...and the fact that his latest book is a collection of novellas. Even the book trailers...commercials break all the rules (were there any?)

The wonderful Catherine Ryan Howard has become my latest must read blog. Catherine has built a steady following self publishing while waiting for the big publishing deal and her blog details her journey. This week she examines why she might not ever print publish again.  

And then... 
Sarah Billington said ‘I want to give away a copy of my new midgrade eBook....’
A midgrade eBook?!That’s new...So I asked Sarah some questions and we cooked up a little competition for you.

Everybody is talking about eBooks. Writers are being encouraged to look at self publishing their work as the eBook phenomenon turns the print publishing industry upside down. When did you decide to dip your toe in the water and why?
I had been hearing about eBooks for a little while, since the start of the year really (2011), hearing the astounding success stories such as Amanda Hocking and J.A Konrath, how big name authors were turning their backs on 500k publishing deals in order to self-publish their work. The royalty rates offered by ebook distributors like Amazon and Smashwords are SO MUCH higher than traditional publishers are capable of offering due to the overhead costs involved in running such large businesses. Plus there are only so many slots available in any given publisher’s schedule. This means that there are SO MANY great books languishing in drawers and on hard drives, not because they aren’t brilliant and readers would love them, but because there just isn’t room for them in the print schedule.
And there are so many genres that don’t sell in big enough numbers to make it worth a publishing house’s investment, but certainly have an audience who want to read it. Now authors of niche topics can get their books straight to their readers. Like short story writers!
I am currently studying a Bachelor of Writing & Publishing and as part of my course this year, we had to do a major project on a form of digital publishing. I decided what the heck. It gave me the perfect opportunity to teach myself how to create an ebook. I planned to make one short story ebook for the assessment. Instead, I made 5.

How did you decide which of your stories would be best as an eBook? Did length play a part?
As initially it was just an experiment, length definitely played a part in my decision. Even as an indie author now, I dream of being traditionally published because I do still believe there is a future in it and they can reach a much broader readership than I can on my own, so I decided to first off only publish short stories. And they sell. I am amazed that I am earning income from 1,500 word short stories. I now too have an upper middle grade novel for sale, Life was cool until you got popular which you can win here today! (Details below).
What I choose to write for e-publication is definitely being influenced by the trends I am finding with my sales figures. For instance, my thriller The Runaway (which can be found under my pen name, Edwina Ray) outsells all of my other stories by 10-1 so I am keen to write more thrillers. I do love writing comedy, though. And though it sells well in print books, the IT genres in the ebook world are definitely thriller and paranormal romance. If you write those, then ebook publishing is a good fit for you!

What has been the most satisfying aspect to producing an eBook?
Seeing positive reviews of my work from book bloggers, friends and colleagues I admire and random happy readers! I always ask for an honest review, regardless of whether I know the reader or not and am thrilled that people are enjoying my work.

What has been the most difficult thing about preparing an eBook?
Finding the time to do everything – write, design a cover, format, come up with a blurb, promote, change tactics if something isn’t working. I haven’t received any income from my works as yet, partly because the international banking requirements sound like an absolute nightmare and I keep putting it off. J Yet something else I need to do!
There is definitely less writing time available, as an indie author.

You worked on your covers yourself, What was the most important thing that you learned about cover design for an eBook?
Cover design for ebooks require very different things to print books. At a bookshop, your book needs to stand out from the crowded shelves, and have an eye catching cover. For ebooks, yes these things are important, but the most important thing is that you use a large font for your title and author name. Why? Because readers see ebooks as thumbnails on their computer screens. If the title and author name are not legible when the cover image is so small, then you’re unlikely to have potential readers click through to view its blurb, reviews and buy it.

In the print world the print publisher may (if you are lucky) have a publishing campaign around the release of the book. What do you do when you have an eBook?
You do it all yourself! Getting book reviews are key to the success of an ebook. They don’t have to be glowing 5-star reviews, actually a couple of 2-3 star reviews add a bit of credibility to all reviews! Cold-emailing book bloggers, organizing book tours, blogging about the topic of your book (my blog post about the different types of zombie is my most popular blog post EVER – buy I, Zombie today! J) and getting people involved are key. Constantly tweeting or Facebooking how awesome your book is and that everyone should buy it is a complete turn-off to readers though. I am a reader, and I get annoyed by these overzealous authors so I simply don’t do it.
Also, run giveaways, as we’re doing here today! The point is not to make any income from the experience, but to reach new readers who might tell their friends, or pass it on to others. Like traditionally published books, exposure, letting readers know that you and your book even exist is essential.

You have a range of different genres that you play in...Zombies, Young Adult, MidGrade, Do you have eBooks in all of these genres?
I do. J I can’t help it, I love them all. I like variety and write every other project in a different genre lately, to keep me on my toes. However, so as not to end up with a twelve year old fan of Life was cool until you got popular reading I, Zombie (a rather gruesome black comedy told from the zombie’s perspective), and assuming it would be appropriate for them, I publish my darker works under my pen name, Edwina Ray.

Ebooks are rapidly gaining ground but mostly in the adult fiction market, Do you see a trickle down effect to the younger ages? How do you market a book to the younger reader?
I do believe there will be a trickle down effect to younger readers, as more and more receive ereading devices for Christmas and birthdays. Childrens and middle grade ebooks at the moment mind you, are definitely not the big sellers. I like to think that I’m getting in on the ground floor. Marketing ebooks to younger readers is a difficult one. Young adult fiction readers are different, as young adults and adults who read YA scour book blogs and book communities, but children – not so much. To be honest: I haven’t figured that part out yet. At present, I think it is much easier to get a traditionally published middle grade or children’s book in front of kids, through bookshops, libraries and book fairs.

Will you release print versions of your eBooks?
I do have plans to, yes. Definitely Life was cool until you got popular is in the works. I have hired a graphic designer to make a sparkly new cover for a print version. I won’t be publishing the short stories individually as print books, but once I have enough in the same genre (eg. thrillers, or comedy etc) I will think about creating themed anthologies.

Tell us a little bit about your midgrade eBook...

Sure! I have been told that my middle grade and young adult fiction writing style is very reminiscent of Louise Rennison, who writes the super-hilarious Georgia Nicolson series (though you won’t need a glossary in the back to understand my terminology). I am thrilled beyond belief to be compared to Louise.
This is what Life was cool until you got popular is about:

Thirteen year old Kaley’s best friend Jules is an alien clone. That has to be it. Because Jules wouldn’t dress like that or act like that…and she definitely wouldn’t be friends with Meg-a-bitch.

Kaley can't wait to start at her new school with her best friend Jules. Jules was away in Europe all summer (worst summer of Kaley's life!) But it's cool, now school is starting and everything is going to be awesome. However as the school bus pulls up on that first day, Kaley barely recognizes the silky hair and glossy lips as Jules gets off with the cool kids and with their arch-nemesis Meg, the popular girl (God only knows why) who made Kaley and Jules's lives miserable in elementary school. In Europe, Meg had somehow won over Kaley's best friend and Kaley finds herself frozen out.

Life was cool until you got popular is a first person novel told through Kaley’s eyes, chronicling the initial pain and incomprehension of what happened to destroy their friendship. But that doesn't last long. Kaley decides that underneath the bleached blond clone with the personality transplant, Jules is still in there. Somewhere. And she is going to get her best friend back!

Life was cool is available through:

And wherever else you might find it!

You can find Sarah at

The Sarah Billington Blog:

How To Win

Halloween is happening in a few days so...Here is how you can win a copy of Sarah’s eBook Life was cool until you got popular
Add a great Zombie Name in the comments...and the best ones will win...simple.

aka Brains R Fried.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cautionary Tales

The theme today is Cautionary Tales...
It didn’t start out that way but as I researched in the blogosphere some ugly stories began to be talked about.
Was there a secret pact to get promo as a lead up towards Halloween?
Were they all fiction?
Sadly no. These were genuine stories that had train wreck consequences on authors and their careers.

In business there is the motto Caveat Emptor, Buyer Beware. Writers are not immune and they are in business. Make yourself aware of the pitfalls so you can recognise the signs if it starts happening to you.

First up, Libba Bray, after carefully keeping quiet because of the ringside seat she had,vented her spleen on the debacle surrounding Lauren Myracle’s book being pulled from the National Book Award shortlist. One thing from her rant that I kept thinking about as I read was her comment.
*at the center of all this was a real live human being, an excellent writer, whose work and reputation were being dragged through the mud as if it were no big thang while the ruffled feathers of injured egos were patted down in a backroom somewhere.

And how often have we witnessed this.

Read Libba’s rant. Punch the air...and be extra supportive of any writer placed in this position. There by the grace of God goeth I

Second up, the sad tale of a respected small press who has publically had a melt down due to mismanagement. This case has been brewing for most of this year as disquiet grew over the affairs of the press and today The Passive Guy (lawyer, writer and popular blogger) linked to an explain-how -it-all-happened blog post by one of the editorsinvolved. 
This post is a Must Read and Learn From so you are not caught in anything similar.

My thoughts go out to the many people hurt, (careers and health) by this bad mismanagement and bad business practice. 
If you are working with a small press keep an eye on their business practice and draw their attention to this so they can assure you that nothing like this would happen to you.

By the time I got to this post I thought surely the week couldn’t get worse...
Plagiarism reared its ugly head.

Ok, we know that there are plagiarists out there...some of them respected authors(well not any more) but this one takes the cake for the hurt caused to others.

When an entire reputation is built on repeated plagiarism of others and then to begin a career purporting to help and advise others, AS AN EDITOR, based on a plagiarised reputation... you are moving into SLIME MOULD TERRITORY.

Thankfully The Rejectionist posted a sly bit of humour that had us laughing and nodding and thinking about pretentious writers who look down on others...and what we’ll do come the revolution (which many think is upon us now)

I have long been interested on how authors can collectively work together to raise their profile or to make an impact in their genre. A new author collective just getting off the ground is Reader Rules Check out the reasons behind it.

When thinking about your author platform be careful not to make these blunders says Kristen Lamb who is guest posting today over on Jane Friedman’s popular blog

Over in the craft section...

Drop into Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) and check out the article links there

To finish,
Facebook is changing again. I still haven’t come to terms with the status changes from last month...and now they want to roll out Timeline. Check out Nathan Bransford article on it and think seriously about whether you want your online life collected up in an album...It puts a whole new meaning on privacy.

I’m off on a writing retreat which is why this post comes to you a day early....

Sorry that this post has mostly been full of depressing links. To make up for it I have a link to a happy video guaranteed to have you singing away...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Doing What We Do

The news around the blogosphere this week has been one of disbelief. 
No it wasn’t delayed reaction to Steve’s death. 
Several prominent bloggers and agents have come out to say the blogosphere is getting crowded and unless you are getting around 15k visitors a month it is not worth it.

So why do it?

The reaction has been swift and many bloggers are sitting down and examining whether they want to go on a blogging holiday like Joe Konrath, who has one of the most heavy trafficked blogs around, or to keep going in the hope they get to the magic number....

And then there are prominent bloggers who say the argument is seriously flawed, because your blog is where you as a writer can interact with your readers, or your community, by either writing a great blog that shows off your writing voice or writing a blog that adds value to the sum of knowledge out there. 
Roni Loren has written a great breakdown about blogging addressing the issues raised this week and putting all the rants into perspective.

Bob Mayer has taken a hard look at indie publishing with his post, The Sustainability Of The Indie Author. He doesn’t sugar coat and some of the points he makes could choke you....As always, read the comments to get a sense of the discussion this post has started...and breathe deeply.

Mike Shatzkin has been looking at the other side of this with his interesting post on whether traditional publishers can maintain their primacy as eBookpublishers.... Magazines and other media are beginning to publish their own eBooks...but will they stop there?

This week Jane Friedman posted two excellent interviews on her blog. The first was with Scott Sigler and looked at how Scott is using new technology and a new service to get his self published books into as many hands as his bestseller trad books do. Read and be inspired...I’ve told you before there’s merch and audio and limited edition and.....

The second interviewis with Sean Platt who started out as an entrepreneur and then moved into writing. Sean talks about the mistakes he made but also what he has found works in marketing your book.... Both these interviews can give you some concrete goals if you are feeling a little bit battered by the first links.

Angela Ackerman of the wonderful BookselfMuse also has a guest post with Donna Gephart. Donna is a great mid grade writer and she talks about how children’s writers are promoting their books and that you don’t have to go crazy over marketing.

Socialmediaexplorer has written a warning post on social media contests...There have been law changes and bloggers could find themselves in legal hot water if their contests break the new rules...and if you think it doesn’t apply to you because you are in different country think about where your website is hosted...Yes, it may apply.

The popular blog YA Highway has taken a good hard look at writing mid grade. In particular they have looked at nailing the mid grade voice.

Over in the Craft Section

Storyfix has a popular series of posts looking at ten important tips to nail your NaNoWriMo. This weeks post is on the first 12-15 scenes...the set up (NaNoWriMo is next month).

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

Future Proof Your Digital Publishing...This is an important article about the changing formats of epublishing.

Suffragette Steampunk...a match made in heaven?

Digital Rights...Do you really know how many you have?

To finish,

There are posts on gamers needing storytellers, eLearning futures where Taiwan is leading the way, Books meeting games...

It is where we are heading...Are you going to be still there? 


pic is from here

Thursday, October 6, 2011


This week I have been contemplating the future of the modern book launch. 

A book launch is a celebration and a promotional opportunity for the author, bookseller and publisher to highlight a creative achievement and to get the printed story into the hands of readers. Pre the book launch the reviewers would have been given advance copies to review, hopefully favourably, to generate interest. People would be awaiting the launches are great affairs where the writing community gets out in support. A good book launch can propel a book onto the best seller list which then gets it noticed more....

I have attended many fabulous Book Launches at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie where John and Ruth McIntyre have been proud Godparents (and sometimes midwives) of some very special books... They were wonderful Godparents at my own book launch 3 years ago and have been encouraging and commiserating with me as my midgrade novel Craic repeatedly gets so close to the acceptance bar. Today it was announced that they have been awarded the Betty Gilderdale award for Services To New Zealand Children’s Literature and they are worthy recipients! As the current Convenor of the Wellington Children’s Book Association I am proud to announce our co hosting of the Award ceremony for them at Turnbull House on the 21st of November. (it’s nice that I can now blab this secret as well.)

With Amazon commenting last week that they were selling 2 eBooks for every 1 Print Book...the future of the book launch, the count down to the day you hold the book in your hands, has changed.
An eBook launch is a different beast altogether. You can still have the party but the signing table will be empty...the cash register won’t be ringing in the background.

Melinda Szymanik was telling me that the launch of her eBook, The Half Life Of Ryan Davis, was an email from her publisher with an Amazon gift certificate for the book attached and a celebratory glass of wine with the publisher. There will be a party when the print book comes out later in the year tho!

Three years ago the printed book would have been launched with a splash then later in the year, unheralded, the audio book and the eBook. Now the eBook comes first with the book trailer then the audio book and, if you want, you can have a print book...either P.O.D. or traditionally.

Reviewers slot in all along this process so the three months or so of new book publicity can be dragged out to a year if you are a canny marketer....A quick look at a new publisher on the New Zealand block, Pear Jam Books, shows that they understand this very well. (Great acronym use of the word PEAR! )

So here are some more great writers who are launching eBooks this week and how they are doing it.

Jane Friedman has a great guest blog from Roz Morris on her experiment of the serialisation of her novel on Kindle. Roz talks about what works and what didn’t. This model of publicity made Dickens famous...

Victoria Mixons second book on The Art and Craft Of Story is getting great reviews around the blogosphere. You can check out free samples of the practitioner’s manual here on a bookbuzzr widget or over on Storyfix where she has a chapter up on science and story in a great guest post.

Victoria also has a fantastic interview with Joanna Penn about her very successful ePublishing career and why she chose to publish this way.

The Huffington Post has spotlighted Self Publishing this week with an interesting guest post from Felicia Ricci entitled How to self publish (and seem like you’re not.) If you are looking for a step by step guide check this out!

In marketing the eBook you need to be just as careful in your planning as you were in formatting it. Tony Eldridge has a revisited a link to an article about how not to use Print On Demand (worth rereading for the tips on how to do it better.)

Tony also has a popular resource of the week series. Check out YouTube creators for help with that book trailer and Paypal tips for getting the money flowing into your account from your website.

Of course you will have a website to promote your book, eBook or trad...Bookmarketingmaven has a punchy post that reminds writers of what should be on their website...(hint; it begins with B)

Publisher’s Weekly has put the spotlight on Children’s publishing this week with an indepth article on YA publishing and where it is at. There are great quotes from agents and editors in here.
I received my copy of the 2012 Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market book this week and this article backed up all the agent interviews in the book.

Chuck Sambuchino, who edited this years CWIM, has a great interview on his blog where an agent pulls apart a successful query letter and shows why the novel got picked up which subsequently launched a successful career.

Another great interview to catch my eye was Johanna Knox’s interview with Mandy Hager on Tim Jones’ blog. Mandy is an accomplished writer and here she talks about how her Blood of the Lamb trilogy has unsettled Americans and how her scriptwriting skills came in useful...

Over in the Craft section,

Agent Mary Kole has some timely advice on how not to use Social Media when looking for agents and editors.

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

Konraths E predictions in 2009...This was Joe talking about what he thought would happen in the future...check out the comments about where we might be heading to now!

Writer Beware – Bad Publishing Clause series...ouch!!!

Make Books Easily for the iPad

To finish,

As I have been writing this blogpost, news has come in of the passing of Steve Jobs, one month after he stepped down as Apple’s CEO. He was a visionary and an extraordinary man. He could polarize a room and inspire it the same time. His commencement speech for Stanford University, just after he was diagnosed with the cancer that killed him today, is one of the most viewed speeches on YouTube and a superb testament to the power of one man who changed the world.


P.S. From time to time I put up a video as a Thank You for someone who has sent quite a few Readers over to Craicer. Melinda the following video is for you... 

Related Posts with Thumbnails