Thursday, July 18, 2013

Her Majesty's Voice

I’ve been thinking about Voice lately. 

Voice is that ‘something’ that informs the reader about the style and motivations of the characters without actually being visible on the page.

There is nothing superficial, however, about voice when used in the context of writing. Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.

This is the ‘something’ that writers struggle with. 
Do they have the same voice for every protagonist? Is every book they write in some way autobiographical from their deepest being?  
Ah the big questions. 
If somehow this is come nobody picked the distinctive voice of J K Rowling...after all we have been told by literary critics that she is not much of a writer, using all those adjectives and not writing tightly enough...or did the fact that she had a male pseudonym fudge the fact that it was quite a good story...moved along ok... did everything a detective novel should. The cynics are out saying great PR by her team and now you can only buy the hardcover on eBay at hugely inflated prices. The Passive Guy has a look at the Robert Galbraith (aka JKR)saga.

Porter Anderson has been looking at agent relationships this week. In two articles for Publishing Perspectives he examines the agent/writer relationship now in this Hybrid/Indie revolution. How close can it be? The Agents who have cannily enrolled best selling Indies to manage print deals and the Agents who-have-become -Publishers...He takes a close look at Rogue Reader...and very interesting it is too. 

David Gaughran has sharply criticized particular the RandomPenguin washing of Author Solutions. Author Solutions began as a vanity press that did everything for you at a huge cost. They are facing a class action lawsuit because of some of their questionable practices and you would think that maybe they would pull back...but no. This is a Writer Beware story that will make your writer heart shrivel a little.

The New Yorker has an opinion piece on the decline and fall of the book cover...and Bibliocrunch checks out virtual writing group hangouts using Google and Skype

Chuck Wendig has a distinctive voice...and a distinctive turn of phrase that occasionally makes your hair curl up and spontaneously combust. His latest 25 things post looks at Story Stakes...very good. And a superb little post on ten stupid writer tricks that might actually work.

In Craft,
The character therapist examines an archetype on the therapists couch. These are always interesting.

In Marketing,
From The Book Designer, two great articles, 7 strategies of Blog Marketing and

Amazon Algorithms (this is all the latest on metadata Amazon style - a must read.)

Another Must Read is what this author is doing right across the tech spectrum...his character has taken this the future?

Website to check out,
This list has a solid helpful link for every creative you know...There is literally something for everyone working in the publishing industry here.

To Finish,
One of my favourite adult fiction authors Jenny Crusie (who has a fantastic voice) has written a great post on Sharknado. This film, shown on US cable this week, had my twitter feed fill up with writer reactions. The premise is so off the wall that there are very jealous writers out there wishing they had thought of a tornado that sucks up sharks and dumps them on a town in a hungry and vengeful mood. Jenny writes about high concept, going with your gut, ideas that are so off the wall and the courage a writer has to have to grab something like this and make it work.

I’m out and about around the country next there won’t be a blog post...but by then Twitter will be filled with Royal Baby news and the cynics who don’t just as well I’m taking a break...heheheheh.


Tweet from Agent Jennifer Laughran...talking about MG this week on Twitter. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rabble Rousers

Last week I referred to the media frenzy surrounding Into The River, which won Senior Fiction and Book of The Year at the New Zealand Post Children (and Young Adults) Book Awards. The media frenzy revolved around concerned groups of people calling for the book to be banned and stripped of its award, because in their view there is explicit content in it not suitable for children. As I stated last week the book is for Young Adults and is aimed at 15+ and reporting knee-jerk reactionary comments from people who have not read the book is sloppy journalism.

The media has moved on to cover other things...however the vitriol surrounding this book has not. This last week many Children and Young Adult Authors have been concerned about the level of personal attacks being made on Ted and the Award sponsors, New Zealand Post, on social media sites. The authors who have stepped in to defend Ted have also become targets with hate filled comments being left on their own websites and on public social media platforms.

The hurt being done, by a small number of vitriolic people with a deeply conservative viewpoint to the New Zealand Children’s Literature community is very palpable. These libelous slurs live on in social media, forever searchable. 

There are many things wrong that we should be taking the time to debate like the high suicide rate amongst our young people, the high youth unemployment and teen pregnancy figures, the ease of access to harmful drug substitutes at our local corner stores. These are very real threats to our young people in New Zealand. Why is there such a negative focus on a book that may help teenagers understand these issues and find solutions safely? 

This is why the children’s writers have been defending this book. With bile all over the award sponsors social media sites, will the children’s literature community lose its pre-eminent awards because of the actions of a small group of uninformed people who have not read the book? 

I Hope Not.

Overseas the news that the judge found Apple guilty of collusion in price fixing is starting to make waves.

Earthshaking is how Mike Shatzkin describes the latest figures coming out from Hachette in the UK. More than 50% of all sales, print and digital are being made online. This article is a must read for authors on the future implications to the publishing industry. With B&N pulling out of Nook it seems that the publishing world that we are getting used to may be going south very rapidly.

Last week Sci Fi author and out going president of SFFW, John Scalzi, posted his manifesto for attending Sci Fi Con’s (something often built into Sci Fi genre authors contracts.) He won’t be going to a Sci Fi Con(vention) unless they have a published anti-harassment policy. Over 1000 authors have signed his manifesto, however it has also raised questions about limiting income for authors. One author writes why she won’t be signing the manifesto...with John’s support.

Jane Friedman’s article on Optimizing Metadata and its importance in marketing is being widely shared around.

Media Bistro have an infographic detailing where books were most abandoned in the reading.

The Guardian has a great article where they asked the editors of the finalist children’s books in the Branford Boase Awards to write their top 5 tips to authors.

In Craft,
Two fabulous links from Janice Hardy, 10 Questions To AskWhen Choosing A Setting and You Need More Scoundrels In Your Life. (My epiphany - all my favourite reading heroes are Han Solo’s)

Jody Hedlund has a great article on The Most Important Edit You 
Can Give Your Book.

In Marketing,

Joanna Penn has a new marketing book out and she is doing excerpts of it as guest posts on different blogs...Check out Dave Gaughren’s blog for her take on Marketing Myths.

Goodreads shares a slideshow about Using Goodreads for publicity and marketing.

Nicola Morgan has started her own author shop. If you think about the ramifications of merchandising it seems a logical extension of the Author Brand. Check out what she has planned...

Cool Website link to visit. on Random Place and it will take you to a wonderful setting...where you can imagine writing a story...or just long for a lotto win so you can go there.

To Finish,
One of my wonderful author buddies found this great video comment by Young Adult author John Green when he found his debut book was being challenged as inappropriate for children...The reasons sound very similar to what is happening here in New Zealand and John’s answer to the critics is beautifully put.

FYI: NZ Children's Authors are sending letters of support to Ted and NZ Post.


pic from Flickr/JvL 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Knee Jerks

The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards are usually news for a few hours in the morning after the award ceremony. The only people who seem to care are Booksellers, Librarians and the Kid Lit community here in NZ. Not So This Year.

This year the Public have been warned that the winner of Book Of The Year and Senior Fiction (that’s Young Adult) is a smutty book with naughty language and deviant drug behaviour not to mention (gasp) the sex.

The media frenzy over a bookseller refusing to stock it, a conservative political party denouncing it, and an editorial in a major Sunday paper declaring it a waste of space is really sad. In the quotes and comments that the journalists chose to focus on, it was clear that the people doing the loudest complaining hadn’t even read the book but picked up that it might be ‘questionable.’
As one children’s writer commented...’have they forgotten that the Children’s Book Awards cover Young Adult fiction and this book is aimed at 15+

Into The River, by Ted Dawe, is a hard hitting book. It is aimed unapologetically at the hardest to reach demographic in our society. It shines a spotlight on something the wider public would rather not acknowledge...the disenfranchisement of young Maori men. 

Bernard Beckett, The chief judge of these awards has finally been asked why it was chosen and he makes a clear case for the importance of this book.

Emma Neale one of the early editors also makes an impassioned plea for the book. They are two who have read it and thought about the issues and so they have some authority to judge. 
Reporting knee-jerk reactionary comments from people who have not read the book is sloppy journalism.

The rest of the Kid Lit community here can’t believe Ted’s luck. All this publicity means the book should be flying out book sellers doors. Add in that it was self published and the world definitely changed in New Zealand’s Publishing landscape last week.

Across the world the rumbling of disquiet over Barnes and Nobles decision to stop making the Nook e-reader had pundits scrambling to explain what it would mean.

Digital Book World has taken the demise of the Nook and focused on where digital content may be heading...along the way they take a look at the children’s book industry.  

Futurebook looked at the rise and rise of Book Apps and mobile media and wondered why Apple was not connecting the dots on this in their digital publishingmarketplace. 

This all makes interesting reading about publishing futures when you add in Amazon’s latest news the patenting of e-book extras...or enhanced e-books.

In Craft,

Shortstorywritinggroup has this week’s story writing exercises

Badlanguage looks at research tips

In Marketing,

Bestsellerlabs has a look at the marketing maze and how to navigate it.

To Finish,
John Scalzi has laid down the law on his future appearances at Sci Fi Cons. As he is a draw card and attendance at Cons is built into Sci Fi publishing contracts...this is putting a firm stake in the ground on the side of anti harassment of his female colleagues. Of course he is getting dissed for it.

The Bookselfmuse has a great guest post on weathering reviews and taking criticism, something that might come in handy if you’ve had a week like Ted’s.
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