Thursday, February 27, 2014

In The CON Zone.

I’m just popping up from the world of virtual conferences to write this blog post.

Conferences have been the main topic of the week for me. It started earlier in the week when I had a book association meeting and on the agenda (officially) was conference 2015. Yes I know that is next year...yes I know that it is probably last third of next year... Yes I know that is 18 months away. But when we planned the last National Conference of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators we started 18 months out. You have to if you want a good Keynote speaker... and other great faculty presenters. You have to if you want a good venue... You also have to find out from your potential attendee’s what they want to learn about. **

Twitter was full of NY2014 SCBWI chat about how awesome it is and was. The great thing about the NY and LA Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is the live blogging that goes on at these events (great for us writers on the other side of the world.) So instead of feeling envious of Kyle (pres of NZSA) getting to go (his choice, he paid for it, he deserved it) you can live vicariously and go visit the blog and scroll down on the right, dropping into those presentations that interest you. (Alternatively you can buy Kyle a couple of beers and pick his brains next time you see him.)

IndieReCon is happening now. 3 days of awesome virtual conference which is free. There are quite a few kids writers on the faculty of this conference which is Genre Writing orientated and very practical for writers looking into Indie publishing. There is lots of info on marketing, book production, agents etc. I started, yesterday, listening to a webinar on Fear and Writing with the Awesome Susan Kaye Quinn. I had already bookmarked her Marketing Indie Mid Grade books post to share here...(Read It!)

In the story that doesn’t die...more commentary on the Author Earnings site and the talking/hand wringing that is going on.
Brian O’Leary on The Empire Strikes Back – if Trad publishers would get past the handwringing and realize the game has irrevocably changed and what they can do about it.

Eoin Purcell on understanding the technology shift where writers have moved quicker than publishers.

Passive Guy (who is also presenting at Indie ReCon) on Mark Coker’s, guest column in Publishers Weekly (subscribers only) this week, reaction to the Author Earnings reports...yes I know that was long winded... (badly worded, it’s late..) just read the link...Passive Guy quotes extensively from the article.

In the Website of the Week
I want to highlight two.
Writer Unboxed is a website that has a large list of contributors. It is like a classy magazine with long form essays exploring some aspect of writing or publishing. The contributors are publishing and writing veterans. Jane Friedman contributed a long form essay from her new magazine Scratch on serial or episodic writing which is fast becoming a reader favourite. This is an examination of what it is and how to do it and who is doing it and why.

Today was #MSWL day on Twitter. Manuscript Wish List. If you type #MSWL into the search bar all the tweets from editors and agents come up of what they want to see. If you have a story that fits that criteria...when you query, following their individual website guidelines, you must put #MSWL in the query. It makes for interesting reading.

In the Craft section,

Larry Brooks on The Bermuda Triangle of Storytelling (Bookmark this!)

In the Marketing section

Check out IndieReCon....

To Finish,
The Daily Dot has an article looking at the restarting of an authors career in Kindle Worlds...The Kindle Fan Fiction site...ho hum you might think until you find out that the author is L J Smith who was the original writer of Vampire Diaries who found her rights to her own work cut out from under her when she was fired from the TV show of her own creation...

**If you have any ideas for topics to learn about or conference wants... either comment here, on Facebook, or through email. We are preparing a short survey which is coming soon.

To finally finish....Hank Green, Brother of John (half of the Vlog brothers) posted a great Video today on books...its a rant really but only the vlog brothers can be...


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Creating Plan B

Last week the blogosphere was filled with reaction to Hugh Howey’s new website in aid of authors. Hugh got what he wanted, lots of dialogue...lots and lots of dialogue.
Discussion was everywhere. Porter Anderson took a look at what was being said... all sides of the report are being debated (tho interestingly very few traditionally published authors are saying anything at all.)

Last week Hugh’s first report looked at the top selling genre’s. This weeks report he takes a whopping 54,000 sample snapshot and looks at the other genres including childrens books (not YA)
Ebooks are not big in the children’s publishing world, compared to the numbers you see out there for adult genre titles, so it is interesting to get a little look into what might be around the corner.

This week, a friend who teaches in a not very affluent school, down the road, noted that all her kids had ipads and she was looking for good reading apps to download onto them. I would be very interested in seeing the numbers of Educational and Story Apps out there... and I wonder if Transmedia is where children’s publishing may be heading rather than an ebook take up.
Print is still king in the children’s publishing world despite what Hugh says. 

Interesting times...

Among the debates around the reports are the increasing recognition that Hybrid authors (who straddle Trad and Indie) are doing OK. Jami Gold takes a look at this in a very interesting post on hybrid authors and small publishers. 
Julie Muesil guest, Alex Cavanaugh looks at the small publisher side of the equation.

Yahoo Finance blog also weighs in with a publishing is not dying post.

Writer Unboxed has a must read post on Plan B when the career/contract/book dream seems over.

Chuck has written his final post on the subject of selfpublishing... and the report. (usual warnings) He has a great conclusion  We should demand the best and most beautiful of one another. Not encourage the worst and ugliest.’

Passive Guy took some time out to look at a contract story that had the publisher say to the negotiator – You don’t like the contract –self other words, I aint gonna change it. This brings up all sorts of issues- Take a look.

In Craft,
Elisabeth S Craig looks at the pro’s and con’s of outlining. (I agree with her)

K M Weiland looks at the Antagonist needing a mushy moment...(say what?)

Janice Hardy Looks at what a good proof reader can do for you...(yes yes yes)

Archetypes Vs Stereotypes and Do you know the difference???

In Marketing,

The incomparable Kris Rusch (who’s Retrieval Agent story I just raced through) has Part 9 on her 
Discoverability series of marketing blogposts and it is a bookmark is all the others in her series.

Janet Reid Lit Agent explains (begs) how to do a book comparison in a query properly.

Website: The 2nd Indie ReCon Free Online Conference is on next week. 10,000 people dropped in last year... and it was an amazing line up. Check out this years line up and try to catch it. Everything Indie.

To Finish,
Creativity is the one thing we fall back on in our writing... we need to be creative.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hugh and Cry Revolt

Last week, buried in the middle of my blog post were these lines.
Yesterday Icelandic author Baldur Bjarnason wrote a great piece on ethics in publishing. This is a great observation on what a lot of commentators are seeing as the great divide between the two different publishing communities.
Hands up those people who can tell me what the two communities are....hmmmm.

Today, in a breaking news bombshell, those communities just got wider with a new website launched and funded by Hugh Howey looking specifically at crunching the data on publishing stats and earnings for Self Publishing and Hybrid authors. 
For those of you who don’t understand what this means...
If you have a Traditional publishing contract. Your book gets may get an advance. You may get up to 10% net of print price or up to 25% ebook price. You may get a quarterly statement on how sales are going but no other information. The marketing window for your book is usually 6 months...that’s 2 months before publication and 4 months after. After that the publisher is onto the next book and any blip in sales comes from author promotion. In the fine print of your book contract there may be a non-compete clause, you can’t publish with anyone else or anything else except the publisher. Your rights may be held in perpetuity (US law is the lifetime of the author plus 70 years) with no rights reversal clauses.
If you choose to self publish you may get up to 70% of ebook price with Amazon and whatever you set the profit of the book, after your costs have been taken out, on print. You do all the marketing work for as long as you want to.

In both models the author doesn’t really know what they are doing right or wrong with marketing. Data on what works and how different publishing models are successful is very thin on the ground.

From time to time surveys come out with data that says how well self publishing is doing against traditional publishing. I have linked to a few over the last few years in my blog. 
The ebook market where most authors self publish has been on the up. 

Today Hugh Howey’s report was released looking at raw data that crunched the numbers of the biggest selling genres (romance, sci-fi/fantasy and thriller/suspense) on Amazon on one day. 92% of the top 100 genre bestsellers were ebooks. Indie authors were outselling Traditional Big 5 authors in these categories. 

There are many bombs in this report. Porter Anderson does a good job of looking at them and extrapolating ideas but you should read the report for yourself. Hugh is the leading voice in the Indie author community at the moment. He is advocating a change to fairer contracts for authors and a partnership model with publishers. Below is his mission statement for the AuthorEarnings website.

Welcome to AuthorEarnings, where our purpose is to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions. Our secondary mission is to call for change within the publishing community for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts. This is a website by authors and for authors.

Two weeks ago he made it very clear just exactly what he thinks author contracts should consist of and what he thinks author societies should be advocating.

So after a few hours digesting The Report, Digital BookWorld weighed in with their analysis and they took issue with the one day data and the extrapolation thereof... however they also agreed that there was something rotten in the state of ....

Now Hugh is the first to say that this is one day...on Amazon... in January... and he is keen to have that dialogue from other authors on their experiences (see the website for ways to contribute to the discussion.) Steve Moseby takes up the challenge, he looks at the figures from The Report and wonders whether they are true based on his UK print figures and annual income after only one days data.

In Other News
Passive Guy sends out a warning over a contractual clause where any future law changes in any territory in the world will be the problem of the author. This, after an author was accused of blasphemy, following the passing of a law in India after her book was published. It all hinges on the word ‘will.’ He follows that up with another post on contracts. (As he is a lawyer he doth know what he speaks of.)

Cassandra Clare is tired of the constant carping of some who keep asking why she is still writing her book series ... she notes that male authors don’t get asked this. A thoughtful restrained response from a YA author.

In the Craft Section,

5 big screenwriting mistakes and 5 fixes...(this is a bookmark post!)

In the Marketing Section,

To Finish,
Hugh Howey again... He responds to a writer who has decided not to be tainted with self publishing because the goal is to emulate his heroes and publish the same way. A very interesting read and response by Hugh.


 Pic is from Passive Voices new range of tee shirts...check them out and chuckle... and maybe buy one or two.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Debating The Issues.

My daughter has been wandering the house singing ‘Happy Birthday New Zealand’ loudly as I try to collect my thoughts to put together this weeks roundup of opinion tips tricks and trends in publishing.

The collecting my thoughts bit has been haphazard over the last year with different things happening in this very busy... occasionally chaotic... household. My elder daughter back from Uni observed...Mum you don’t have a dedicated writing space anymore and put her finger on something that has been niggling me. So this week I got the chance to join a writing friend for four hours a day and just write...well write and plan a new children’s writing project that is as light as I can make it and a great challenge if I can pull it off. 
Writing with another person in the room is interesting... there is a mental whip hanging over you... the other person will see if I don’t keep at it. When we take a break for lunch we talk over something frustrating us in our project and bang the answer seems to be crystal clear coming from the other writing head, who is finishing a memoir project.
Another interesting side arriving ready to work. The twenty minute journey on a good day down the motorway...has me shedding, with each kilometer, household concerns. When they are all gone I can begin to think of my writing project and in pops something that I really need to take notice of.
Russell Blake puts it well with his great 3 D’s blog post onwriting.

Rebecca Smart wrote in her opinion piece for The Bookseller an interesting observation about publishing in Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Publishing must become flexible and agile to stay afloat. This post has been resonating through the blogosphere as it comes from a publisher. 

Porter Anderson looks at the continuing debate over Mike and Chucks opinion pieces, that I profiled last week and how the debate has widened and almost polarised people into two different nations.

Bob Mayer has looked at the debates around self publishing over the last few weeks and written his perspective about being agile as a publisher. How he is walking the talk and bridging the gap between both sides.

Last week I mentioned the #EtherIssue debate on giving percentages to all collaborators in a self publishing project. Porter Anderson published an excellent roundup of the Twitter debate and has set the topic for the new debate. (5am our time tho)

News making waves across the blogosphere Hugh Howey has re-signed with Random House (UK) to bring out his print books. ( They are more agile than US publishers…)

Yesterday Icelandic author Baldur Bjarnason wrote a great piece on ethics in publishing. This is a great observation on what many commentators are seeing as the great divide between the two different publishing communities. (Traditional and Self Publishing)

Elisabeth Spann Craig has written a great post on her self publishing mistakes that have her readers saying Bookmark this!

Dean Wesley Smith has written a great post on publishing schedules. Always something to learn from Dean!

Publishers Weekly has highlighted the 6 best blogs to read if you want to keep up on what is happening  in publishing.

In Craft,

Rachel Gardner on thinking of your muse as a puppy that needs training and Good first drafts.

Writers Workout looks at divorcing the draft.

In Marketing,

Bibliocrunch on using Dropbox to review epub files and what your epub file size should be for each outlet.

To Finish,

Today is Waitangi Day, or the day we commemorate the signing of a ‘mutual respect’ treaty between two nations which began the ‘establishment’ of our country 174 years ago. Our biggest selling newspaper shot itself in the foot in my opinion by using a stupid fist raised logo to advertise there were no pictures of protests in today’s coverage of the annual commemoration ceremonies. Waitangi Day should be a day when we, as a nation, look at ourselves critically. 174 years ago Maori Chiefs sat down and debated among themselves for three days about whether they would sign a treaty. There were protests and arguments and very pointed questions aimed at the British about what was in it for them. Protest and debate shine a spotlight on what is not working well in a partnership. In the last forty years the watershed moments in our nation’s history (Land Marches, Nuclear Free ... ) were all aired at Waitangi. Denying that there is protest is not responsible or ethical journalism.

PS This post was supposed to be up last night…the computer ate my homework….

Pic from Dylan Horrocks…His Logo Fix for the NZ Herald.
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