Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bologna Bologna Bologna

Say Bologna to anyone interested in children’s writing and the response back is a dreamy far away look that goes with the heart felt phrase “wouldn’t it be heaven to be there.”
I was seriously jealous reading my twitter stream this week as agents were heading to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and talking all about it.

New Zealand has always been known as a country that ‘punches above its weight’ in the global political scene.  We were in on forming the League of Nations and the UN and for any Americans that believe Argo is actually NZ was hiding Americans but we don’t talk about it....
Yesterday at Bologna to celebrate 50 years of the fair...everyone voted on the Best Children’s Publisher In The World by region. Six regions. Six winners. Our little Gecko Press from Wellington won their region. To stand acknowledged by your peers at the biggest children’s book fair in the world as one of the best publishers in the world...after only eight years of mind boggling. 

Congratulations Julia Marshall! Well Deserved!

So what else is happening at Bologna?
This year in the Tools of Change conference, that starts the day before the fair at Bologna, Bowker had an extraordinary presentation. Porter Anderson discusses the data from the slideshow which Bowker have made available and it does turn perceptions about children’s publishing upside down... for instance the biggest buyers of YA are...adults for themselves! If you are involved in children’s publishing take some time to go through the for thought all over them.

Joe Wikert, also at Bologna, is looking at the rise of children’s e-publishing. He profiles the winners in the interactive e-book awards. There is a video that is a must watch so that you can see why these books won! Great to see Michael Morpurgo’s book in there...and what a fascinating non fiction winner that is!

Outside of Bologna....
Barnes and Noble pull of Simon and Schuster books over their refusal to pay the new prices to have their books displayed is the hot topic of the week. Guess who are the people hurt in this one....

Novel Rocket is getting the comments after posting an article saying you should only write in one genre...

Courtney Milan looks at the New US Supreme Court ruling about First Sale Rights and the death of geographic rights...and checks out what it will mean for fiction writers...This is for all those writers who have ever wondered why their book is priced differently in different countries and whether they can order cheap copies from one country and onsell them...

Selling POD into bookstores...This is an interesting guest post on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog.

Project Middle Grade did a survey about what kids actually looked at when sizing up a new book...Writers...You may have to change your focus!

What are Asians really interested in reading? Topical with everyone wondering how to get into the Asian market.

Diymfa on online writing communities...where do you get your support?

The Telegraph has published 30 things writers should know...a guest article from Matt Haig.

In Craft,
The funniest query to an agent...tip don’t do any of these.

In Marketing,
Indie friendly Book exhaustive list...(must keep)

To Finish,
Dean Wesley Smith’s article on sales from his Think Like A Publisher series is getting a workout on Twitter. If you haven’t read it check it out...coz from little things grow Bologna opportunities....

Happy Easter!


pic: The Magnificent Julia Marshall of Gecko Press at Bologna.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Under The Spotlight

Around the world governments are pulling in their belts and trying to budget better to cope with the depression following the banking crisis. Sadly Educational publishing, which provides resources into schools, has taken a hit with money shaved off here and there or dropped altogether. 
Children learn to read on specially designed books and discover an amazing world of knowledge, adventure and dreams that enthuse, delight and challenge them. The best days as a teacher are when you can see the light bulbs switch on over kid’s heads. They can make sense of the squiggles on the page. They can read words!
The people who produce these books are often paid peanuts and still turn out top quality work because they have a passion to create life long learners, to start a child on the road to finding out knowledge for themselves. It is a great gift to give and children’s writers and illustrators know they are privileged to do it. They demand the best of themselves, to give the best to their young readers.

For some reason writing for children is seen as adults not directly involved in it. Simple words on a page... anyone can do it.  In fact it is a very specialised skill...the smaller the book the more specialised. 
When I first sat down to write for children, I brought home 20 readers from my school and analyzed them. On average they had 50 words. They told a funny story with a pay off at the end. The funniest one I analyzed had 47 words. There were only 11 different words used in the story. Margaret Many, the genius, became my benchmark. My ambition to write a funny 50-word reader (and boy was it hard,) became by default my writing school. There was huge jubilation when my work was accepted two years later on the 30th submission to the School Journal. I felt like the child in my classroom... the squiggles finally made sense! I was flying. I could do anything. Of course after that it got harder.

This week the NZ children’s writing community has been standing up and asking what is happening with the School Journal? Is it going to be a victim of a budget cut? 
This iconic part of NZ school life provides the major resource of our literacy teaching. It is provided free to schools, four times a year, at four levels throughout the school and is the envy of many countries. New Zealand children’s writers earn a good portion of their income from the Journal, which with its 105 years of history is the longest serial publication for children in the world. The illustrators, many of whom work exclusively for the journal and related resources are world famous in the NZ classroom and unknown outside of it. Our best and brightest talents have started with the School Journal, often continuing to contribute work long after they ‘made it big’ in trade.

We are pleased to say it is still here with us after the uncertainty of the last week. The loud voices, letters to ministers and media attention have hopefully shown the government that even the rumour of a threat to the School Journal will bring a swift response. Educational publishing should not be a victim of a short sighted budget cut. The children will lose out. New Zealand writers, illustrators, designers and editors will lose out and the Government will lose out. 
No government will want to be known as the One That Cut The Journal. It would be like banning Pineapple Lumps or Jaffas.

In the rest of the world...Children’s and YA publishing is holding up the rest of the publishing industry with the latest figures out.

DigitalBook World looks at Mike Shatzkin's predictions that soon most people working in publishing won’t be working for publishing companies...

Is it time for writers to stop blogging? Jane Friedman asks if it is really worth it. And she also spotlights five industry trends that every writer should be aware of.

Is Hybrid the new buzzword for agents...This article looks at the rise of expanded literary agencies.

On Craft,
Story Openings: Hook or Seduction

On Marketing,
Writing and making a Success of Serial Fiction...this is a podcast...and it is really interesting. Iain Broome talks to Sean Platt about writing episodic serials... every week a new Episode up on Amazon.

To Finish,
Rachelle Gardner takes a look at what writers have to do to earn some money.... It’s a simple list but shines a small bright light....


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Go Forth And Seek

It has been a busy week in the publishing blogosphere. Following on from the emphatic statement (in last weeks blog post) by the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers association over the shonky nature of the new eBook imprints from Random House. Random House protested, got laughed at and backed down.

Writer Beware broke the news with the new changes to the imprint contracts and John Scalzi of SFWA details how those changes should work in practice...and what he personally thinks about them.

*Late addition. Dave Gaughran has put the new contracts under the microscope...and it still is not pretty. If the ebook is selected for print...the author will bear all the costs. Check out his very comprehensive post on this and other Big 4 vanity press ideas being slid past unsuspecting authors.

In other news here in NZ the registrations are open for Golden Yarns- The Children’s Writers and Illustrators hui to be held in Christchurch on Queens Birthday Weekend.

Melinda Szymanik had an interesting blog post this week on how we as writers have changed. Along with our interest in publishing digitally we have become adept at finding our writing friendships online. 

How far we have come from the writer in the garret struggling over a typewriter. Today information on writing and publishing is at the end of the modem cable. The writer needs to go out and hunt it down like a stray comma. I do my bit by providing a weekly roundup of good things I’ve come across but sometimes attending a writing conference fills in the gaps and reminds you that you are not alone.

Hugh Howey has written a tell all article that has been bouncing around the blogosphere all week on how he got that publishing deal for Wool. In a surprise move his print publishers are releasing AT THE SAME TIME hardcover and softcover editions of Wool.

Paidcontent reports that there is some disquiet over rumors that Amazon are tying up the new domain suffixes like .author and .book.

Joel Friedlander has an excellent article on 5 top legal issues for writers.

Dean Wesley Smith has made an excerpt of his book free entitled thinking like a publisher... and yes it is a must read.

The issue of writing for free got a workout in the blogosphere last week after a journalist had his material for a publisher repurposed and wasn't paid for is Ernie Smith from the Future of Publishing blog on owning your work.

Agent Rachelle Gardner has a post on writer’s rights and responsibilities.

If you are mulling over translation of your work.... read this post so you understand all that it entails.

Larry Brooks from Storyfix has a great post on how to move your concept from good to great.

In Craft,
Writersinthestorm have a must read post on how to use your logline tag and pitch before you start writing! (I’m just in the process of figuring this out for my next book.)

In Marketing,
Mathew Turner (AKA Turndog Millionaire) on five things he learned in 2012 about self publishing.
Bookriot on how to sell like Charles Dickens...this is an interesting article on serials.

To Finish,
Last year I linked to the video of Neil Gaimens commencement speech on freelancing which became a viral hit. Media Bistro have announced that HarperCollins is about to launch the book of the speech. Check out the details here along with a link to the speech if you missed it. The secret knowledge is out there...


Thursday, March 7, 2013

UN - Natural

Autumn... and the summer weather goes on and on...and so do the list of provinces now officially drought stricken. As I write this half the North Island has been declared officially in drought. The flow on effects of a drought are not obvious now but will come back to haunt us later in the year, with a shortage of food as crops dependent on water won’t be sown. There is an extreme fire risk.

In the publishing blogosphere, this week, a similar disquiet is being felt with the news of class actions and shonkey contracts from reputable publishing houses.

For those authors in the lucky position to have a self published book picked up by a trad 6...5...4... publishing house. It is not all a bed of roses as this cautionary tale illustrates...Amazon contacted the readers who had bought the Indie published book and said they were withdrawing it and if the customer wanted a refund they could get it and a new copy of the book. But who is paying for this? The Author...who didn’t know anything about it. OUCH.

A New York Law firm is gathering data to bring a class action against Author Solutions and its owner Pearson for scamming authors... People check the contracts before you sign them!

Today the association on Science Fiction and Fantasy writers alerted everyone to the major problems with Random’s Hydra eBook imprint contract. John Scalzi, head of this association, publically stated that anyone publishing with Hydra will not be eligible for membership. He spells out all the problems in the contract. This is required reading! The hooks are large...and YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Kris Rusch looks at the Death Of Publishing...and after the last three posts you might well think it...however Kris is upbeat and there is HOPE....

Bob Mayer takes it another step with his Survival For Writers and Rachelle Gardner details what Agents are working on now in the Brave New World and why they are still relevant.

Joel Friedlander has a great article on the progression of writer, author, publisher, marketer....

Susan Kaye Quin takes a look at hiring your writing business team.

If you have a Kindle you may want to take notice of this backup technique just in case Amazon pulls another swifty.

In Craft,

In Marketing,
How to use Mail Chimp. (that’s for your email newsletters)

To Finish,
Hugh Howey has a thoughtful post on the reality of publishing now. You would think Hugh has reached the top of the mountain but as he says it is only just beginning...his thoughts while shelving books in a bookstore...Yes, this is his day job.


pic from Koshyk Flickr Creative Commons....Imagine opening that pea pod.
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