Thursday, January 31, 2013

Burning Up

New Zealand is experiencing a heat wave. We are flocking to beaches...diving for water bottles or staring stupidly into the sky and saying what is that yellow thing?

Over in the publishing blogoshere there is disquiet...Sony has a nice little promo going on with the 20p (38cNZ) ebook and Amazon matched it coz that’s what they do and Sony doesn’t look like stopping this anytime soon....Ummm. This could have a major effect on everyone’s bottom line. FutureBook looks at the race to the bottom and the millons being squandered/earned/ redistributed...amongst the publishers who signed up for this promo.

Burning up Twitter this week is the news that Barne’s and Noble, America’s largest book chain is beginning to close stores and tightening their bricks and mortar footprint. By the end of the decade they will have slimmed down by a third. Mike Shatzkin takes a look at the implications.

In Amazon’s latest earning figures they forgot to put in the figures that everyone wants to know. Ebook sales means how many units over/under print ? and What about the bite Apple is taking in illustrated books because everyone really wants an iPad for kids books? and What does this all mean for hardware...and content providers. PaidContent check out the answers to these burning questions.

If you sign up for anything Amazon writer aware The Amazon orb can burn you if you are not careful. This is a post about one writers baaad journey with Amazon and the lessons learned.

Mark Laurance was faced with a difficult situation on Reddit earlier today when he explained exactly what lowly income a writer gets and was told by several readers that they were now going to buy one of his books after discovering him through pirated books. Check out this fascinating stream of comments where readers defend piracy and Marks response.

Agent Rachelle Gardner looks at the tricky topic of story vs craft in her latest blog post which has racked up nearly 100 comments within 24 hours. Acquiring editors are all over the place with whether they want a great story and hang the writing craft or whether the craft has to be just as tight as the story before they will look at it.

Jody Hedlund looks back at life when she had one book published....and life now (5 books) and What She Wished She Knew Then.

If you could, would you distribute your books through the largest UK book distributor? Did you know it is now McDonalds? Publishing Perspectives  takes a look at McDonalds UK move. Could we do it here and who would lose out?

Joanna Penn is back in love with print! She tells why she came back to it and why for her it makes financial sense.

IndieReCon has released their schedule for the free online conference happening from 19th Feb. Everything you wanted to know about independent publishing...three days... 39 speakers....Inspired by WriteOnCon...

In Craft,
Raising the stakes in your novel in the first 50 pages... When you get into the planning stages you need to have a good handle on complications. A good post on what you should be looking for.

Adding complexity to your characters...Why do your villains act the way they do...

Tracking time in your novel...If you don’t do it you can come to a very sticky situation...Here are some tips to keep up to speed.

How is your voice? This great post looks at refining your writing voice. Some great exercises here.

Karen Woodward is taking a close look at the StarBurst way of writing...In this post she tackles the classic heroes journey and the significance of Obi Wan Kenobi.

In Marketing,
How do you discover your books brand? And then what do you do....

The Market Within is a nice blog post for Children’s Writers to contemplate...after all their target market doesn’t buy the books so how do you engage with the buying wallets....

How do you know when you are a success? Angela Ackerman of the Bookshelf Muse has a great post detailing the signs...You could be a success and you don’t even know it...

Futurebook has a nice post on ways to optimise and monetise your social strategy in 2013. It sounds dire but if you have a business then this is very much worth a look. Immediately applicable to writers....

To finish,
11 ways to support a fellow writers book...I’m proud to be guilty of a few of these. Last week I was in a big chain bookstore carefully looking for fellow writers books so I could turn them...and found some other writer must have got there before me....They were all shining, face out, to the buying public.

Check out this interview with short story writer George Saunders on the Colbert Report...why short? Doesn't America only want Big Stuff? Gotta laugh!


pic: Fire  / Ben Watts  Flickr

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Being A Hybrid

The Digital Book World conference is over and attendees are digesting the big issues. 
Their comments and ongoing discussions about where publishing is heading in 2013 range from ‘we are over the worst of the transition...things are settling down’ Batten down the hatches... this ride is only just beginning!
It does behoove* the author to keep an eye on what is happening in the wider world.

including What authors want...Hugh Howey...and Hybrid** is your new model.
More authors are being offered Wool like deals! News filtering through Twitter today. (oh joy...maybe this will be the big happy news for authors this year.)

To take advantage of publishing's current state of flux...authors are thinking Hybrid is the way to go. (A mix of Traditional and Self/Indie publishing.)
Dean Wesley Smith has been saying it all along...Dean wraps up a series of blog posts looking at crunching the numbers of the new Hybrid world and how you should approach the business of writing. As always check out the 97 comments!!

The next big talking point was Why online book discovery is broken and how to fix it...This article from PaidContent has many people quoting, dissing, upholding...but no one is ignoring it. I have been seeing it quoted all over the publishing blogosphere along with Brett Sandusky’s Elephants In The Room post that I linked to last week. Lots of other juicy posts in last week's blog are still being chewed over.

Also being hotly discussed...the Tools of Change conference coming up and a keynote issue  Piracy, Does It Really Harm The Author?

Roberto Calas has an in depth look at how to work/write/live Kindle Serials on Lyndsay Buroker’s blog...Boy oh Boy...this is a post that will have your head spinning...but incredible A++ for effort! Dickens followed this model of publishing...(I think he may have been a hybrid...) so maybe we're just going back to the good old days of 200 years ago...

Agent Sarah La Polla has a look at Literary vs Commercial and the reasons for figuring out where your MS lies.

In Craft,

If you are in the synopsis business...check out this great how to do of the best I have seen.

In Marketing,
Maximising the potential of your Facebook Author Page...some very interesting strategies here.

Catherine Ryan Howard looks at Book Distribution and how she has made an important discovery...Hybrids take note!

To finish,
Two posts that rocked me today...You can decide whether I was Buoyed up*** or Aghast****
and The New Yorker on Slicing and Dicing The Content of Books...The new model of discoverability....coming soon to a Search Engine near you.

Oh and if you want a nifty little post to bookmark...try this one 5 other online dictionaries...***** effort!

*To be necessary or proper for: It behooves you at least to try.
**Something of mixed origin or composition.
***become more cheerful
****Struck by shock, terror, or amazement.


Pic: This is a Hybrid Plumeria...Isn’t it beautiful. Image courtsey of

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Going Into Battle

Last week the blog post you would have got didn’t happen because I was traveling unexpectedly for most of a day. Arriving back to where we were staying at 10:30 pm was not a great time to start writing you got a week off.
I have finished traveling up and down the country and so there are no excuses this week.

January continues to be the month of setting writing goals for the coming year in publishing along with planning or attending conferences to beat the Winter blues in the Northern Hemiphere.

Here in the Southern Hemisphere the weather is changeable from wet to frying. The kids are still on holiday and for me getting stuck into writing, battles with, finding air conditioning or towels to mop up the sweat or the rain or the puddles from the kids tracking through the house and sorting out the fights from overheated kids or bored kids or manuscripts that won’t play nice!

The battle for predicting a clear direction for writers to follow in 2013 continues with commentator Brett Sandusky on how this is the year that publishing must address the elephants in the room. Brett names seven elephants. Among them Agents and Amazon.

Social Media Examiner has the Social Media predictions for 2013... the ongoing battle for your attention...

Victoria Mixon has decided to repost her last years rant because she still feels strongly about the non artistic people running publishing who over the last 30 years published work of low artistic quality (because it brings in money quickly) and what that means for the rest of us. This is an interesting read and you will find yourself saying ‘so that’s why....’

Jane Friedman touched a few sore spots as she examined self publishing and the rush for genre commodity over literary quality. This is a great essay which weighs up both sides and their future. Will epublishing help one over the other...118 people have an opinion so far. Jane also asks the question, How long should you (battle) keep trying to get published?

Once you are published it is only the start of the uphill slog to stay relevant and in the game. Melinda Szymanik tells the honest truth about being a children’s writer in New Zealand and how much it costs. Hats off to Melinda for telling everyone just what it takes to stay in the battle for hearts and minds and damn good writing!

Who are your writing stakeholders? Kate Gale suggests you won’t succeed unless you have some of these on your side.

Have you tried a stand up writing desk?...this could be the solution for all those niggling pains writers get...

In Craft,
Tami Cowden has the 16 Villain Archtypes....(after all you need someone to battle against)

In Marketing,

Unexpected battle moves in publishing ...
Variety reports that a film media company has moved to get an exclusive first look at all new titles from an epublishing only publishing house. This is a new move for acquisitions and film rights and something authors and agents should take note of.

Agent Mary Kole becomes one of the first children’s publishing agents to offer a few other extra services in addition to agenting. This is a move that some see as a logical response to the current state of publishing and others as the thin edge of the legitimate Agent wedge. Take sides now.

The figures are out for 2012 and children reading ebooks. Passive Voice takes a look at what it all means as the numbers are higher than predicted...and Scholastic releases their own ebook reader numbers.

The battle for children’s electronic eyes is upon us.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Raise A Glass to 2013

Predictions for 2013 have been circulating the publishing blogosphere over the last week.

Will we be down to 3 mega publishers by years end?

Will Amazon drop free?

Tablets over e-readers over print?

What kind of gatekeepers will be around for the new new new publishing order?

With the publishing business going through a revolution every other week...most predictors have thrown up their hands saying we can’t predict anything!

One person who has stuck his neck out is Mark Coker of Smashwords. Mark has a unique position to comment from. As an author and Bright Guy behind Smashwords he straddles not only the publishing distribution side but also the trenches of the content providers bearing the flag for small publishers and indie authors. He has 21 predictions and an in depth analysis of why he thinks each one will happen. (grab a big coffee)

Kristen Lamb has also stuck her sword into the ground and put together some interesting comments on what is coming in 2013. She has some great ideas on how you can use different ratings on different editions too. Great food for thought in 2013. Kristen had a huge 2012 establishing the international WANA Tribe community along with a busy writing and speaking schedule...(Raise a glass to her)

What will happen to literary agents in 2013...their role is changing as rapidly as publishing.

For other writers...the emphasis is not on what they think will happen outside the walls of their study but what they should be focusing on inside.
Dean Wesley Smith is always a quality read...he has his list of what writers should be thinking about going into 2013. This is GOOD ADVICE. (take with a nice boutique beer)

For those that want Chucks take on 2013 and writing....take a deep breath and plunge in. (warning it’s Chuck! You could need a stiff drink!)

The NY Times has even started their year with a look at publishing...but of a different sort. A book designer fed up crappy covers on classic books has taken books he loves but can’t find new editions of and is redesigning them and publishing them himself under the Whisky Priest label. (cool label!)

e Singles burst onto the publishing scene last year. PaidContent looks at why and what this year may hold for eSingle writers.

Passive Guy has an IP lawyer talk about legal issues in much can you quote? (share out the rest of the Christmas cake)

Catherine Ryan Howard has written a great article on ebook pricing and why she is moving all over the place with it...(too much espresso? LOL)
Catherine uses Gumroad on her website to sell her books and this intrigued me so I investigated. Pretty nifty outfit similar to PayPal but it means buyers don’t need to belong to PayPal to use it and sellers can get shortened links to embed directly into websites.

In Craft,
The brilliant K M Weiland has been continuing her examination of scene structure. Take a look at story scene structure part three and four and it will be completely obvious why a major publisher has asked her to take some classics and apply her magnifying glass to their construction this year.

Editor Lyn Price has a close look at the multifunctional life of dialog tags used right.

In Marketing,
It’s time to look at author websites...Have you cleaned up your website?

To finish,
Joanna Penn also had a huge 2012...She looks back at her achievements and how she is working on a refined plan for this year. Plan A: indie career, working with her agent, continuing her series, starting another one, audio books, podcasts, her online courses, speaking schedule...
(Pass out in envy overload.)

photo from Flicker/ Dinner series. (Mojitos...yum!)
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