Thursday, May 29, 2014

Observing the Battlefield

This week the publishing blogosphere has been full of Hachette vs Amazon...and the fall out on authors which doesn't look like ending very soon. 

Everyone has an opinion. 

In the last two days Amazon released a statement, encouraging readers who wanted a Hachette book to buy from other suppliers and (in a cunning move) offering to partner with Hachette in an author’s fund to compensate the authors on lost earnings.  This morning Hachette released a statement in reply...It’s not our fault that Amazon sees the book as just another commodity and when we solve this we’ll think about that author fund.

In the mean time... Opinions are flying thick and fast around the blogosphere helped along with a new Author Earnings report and this week the analysis on Traditional Authors income vs Debut Authors Income from Hugh Howey.

Passive Guy puts his lawyers hat on and gives a succinct overview of the impact of Hugh’s report on Authors, especially Hachette Authors, who may well be contemplating making some changes in their future...

Dave Gaughran observes that the whole thing may just be a PR exercise for hearts and minds.

Mark Coker urges all authors to pay attention because after the Hachette negotiations with Amazon are over, the rest of the big 5 will be going through the same negotiations. Indie authors had better be spreading the risk.

Bob Mayer reminds Authors that this whole mess is about Rights and who has them and how they use them and what they should be doing about it.

Careers are on the line here. This dispute could be the tipping point for a lot of authors to start the move towards a more hybrid career with a mix of Traditional and Indie publishing.
If you aren’t a publishing accountants dream 6 figure deal... then you may as well band together with some like minded author friends and set up your own publishing house. You will have just the same opportunities as any of the big 5... according to Hugh.

In the Craft Section,

How to save on Editing (Killzone blog.)

In the Marketing Section,

Kickstarter lessons...with Sean Platt (honest assessment)

Joanna Penn on Evaluating the Market

CreateSpace vs Ingram comparison. (Handy info for outside US authors.)

To Finish,
Jane Friedman, all round publishing blogosphere goddess, has an in depth look at 3 Insights that lead to a Successful Writing Career.  (Stephen Pressfield book, The War of Art is a must read!)


Thursday, May 22, 2014


Each week I look over my collected links to see what an over arching theme for the blog might be. Sometimes it’s a stretch to link up the content but this week everyday there was something about writers being connected with readers and the disconnect from publishers and distributors with writers.  This is nothing new. I have been observing this for the last five years. However it is interesting to look at this within the context of this week’s headlines around the publishing blogosphere...

Libraries are where the readers are.

Last year two ebook library subscription services models kicked off, Scribd and Oyster. For a flat monthly fee subscribers had unlimited access to ebooks across formats. The big publishers sat back and watched developments and are now jumping on board. Today Simon and Schuster added their 10,000 book backlist to the services, following HarperCollins earlier this month. This is a bid for reader’s affections. All You Can Read buffet for $8:99/month. The publisher gets a cut when a book is lent... Mike Shatzkin is predicting that the biggest publisher of them all, Random Penguin, will start their own global library. (Or will there be a nice buy out in the future...)

Smashwords has just partnered with OverDrive the biggest library database system in the US to make all their books available. This model is interesting. If the one copy of the ebook is checked out customers have the option to buy their copy through the library...a win/win for libraries. And what about the chance for celebrity curated lists of books just for librarians to recommend.

The Amazon vs Hachette fight doesn’t look like it is winding down... Mike Shatzkin looks at the power play and how publishing has been flipped over with the power now belonging to the retailer who has the customers.
If you are an author in the middle of all this what can you do? Take control where you can of your own reader engagement. (get in the libraries...sell from your website.. reader fan email databases...)

Hugh Howey brought out another Author Earnings report this week. The howls that once greeted these one day snapshots of where the money is going in the publishing world have become muted... Everybody is scratching their can this be... the same figures again... Is Hugh right? If you are traditionally published this could be a game changer for you.

Joe Konrath has practical advice for how you navigate this changing world...(a bookmark post!)

Bob Mayer also tells you to take responsibility for your own work. Complaining is not a business strategy!  Change your mindset!

In the Craft Section,

Chuck on Writers Block (Trigger warning for your ears)

Stealing from other writers (it is not a bad thing....)

Elisabeth S Craig on developing thematic ideas

In the Marketing Section,
How to create the perfect trailer. (useful for book trailers)

Slideshare book marketing from Joanna Penn

How to Make WOW blog images with Pic Monkey (from the amazing Jami Gold)

Dave Gaughran has discovered a new site, Noisetrade, which aims to build your fan base. They have just branched out into books from Indie Music.

Website of the Week: August Wainwright has collected the 50 best Indie resource sites around. Many of these are on my regular check list. (one stop shop)

To Finish,
How are the successful authors out there navigating on the publishing sea. Russell Blake a publishing phenomenon is interviewed on how he has gone from 0 to 500,000 sales in a couple of years. (you may hate him after reading but you can't ignore him…) MindBodyGreen checks out 10 things successful writers do differently.

Engage the reader... Make it easy for them to find and buy your next book... SIMPLE. (DUCKS…)
(There are lots of links in the Craft and Marketing sections to help you.)


Friday, May 16, 2014

After The End, What’s Next?

Sorry for the day delay in posting... There are some big articles in my round up this week, so grab a large drink and settle down for a brain expanding session.

‘Which leads me to, as my final point, the only real prediction I have made today. It’s one I made earlier: I think most existing publishers will disappear over the next decade or two.’

The quote is from Baldur Bjarnason who had a keynote address at Publishers Forum last week in London. As you can imagine the above comment coming towards the end of his address would be pretty novel given his audience. However as you read through his speech published on Publishing Perspectives, you find yourself nodding. For Authors, it is life as we know it. For Publishers it may be too late.

In the wider publishing world...News Corp buys Harlequin for not much over Harlequins annual revenue. How could it be so low? (another tick from Baldur’s speech)

Amazon and Hachette are having a fight... and low and behold Hachette’s books are delayed in shipping. We have seen it all before. Who gets hurt? The author.

After these three hit my brain I was on a mission to find some good news.
Blogger Middle Grade Ninja who has a nice blog interviewing Agents (mostly for children’s books) revealed his disquiet over some agents practices which have been disturbing him and that he hoped were one off’s until they became too frequent to be ignored. (part two)

Scarlett Johansson is suing a French author claiming he stole her image when the novel is about a look-alike getting into a mess. Implications for authors who reference pop culture in their books could be alarming.

Dave Gaughran, on how to increase piracy... which explains why it is happening and what we can do about it.

Author Solutions which was supposed to be cleaned up after Penguin bought it...ummm This is a read and share...

By now you may be feeling punch drunk. (time for a refill.)

Where is the good news!?

Agent Jonny Geller on his top 10 tips for being a literary agent. (yes, there are some good ones out there.)

The amazing interview with Jane Friedman on Money, Writing and Life by Joanna Penn. Take your time. Transcript under the podcast. This one just fills your heart with zing. (possibilities are endless.)

Hugh Howey once a month talks about how he is running his mythical publishing house NewHarperCollins. Prepare to have your mind blown. Here he looks at IP and worldbuilding. I watched Cassandra Clare do this with her YA author buddies in the last year.  She grabbed a few friends, went on a writing boot camp holiday where they all wrote short back stories featuring one character from her Mortal Instruments series. Then they released these stories, one a month, digitally. By the fourth month they were hitting best seller lists. (so it is being authors!)

In the Craft section,

Ava Jae on Twitter chats. I tune into a couple every week #kidlitchat and #indiechat

Excellent article from Jami Gold on Character Internal Journey.

In the Marketing section,

How to create a self paced email course...this is really interesting!

Website of the week.
Gigaom. This tech/ publishing/ catch-all magazine website always has interesting articles and is run by very savvy people. Laura Hazard Owen looks at publishing startups and how they go head to head with Amazon and Apple. These startups change the face of publishing... until they get bought and incorporated. Check out what’s next on the block.

To Finish,
Last week I referenced a project that Mark Coker was involved with e-publishing kids stories with teachers and librarians.
This week I see that High School teachers are making up their own text books using iBooksAuthor to directly support their students.
Everyone has the potential to be a publisher... Baldur just pointed out current reality to the publishers.


Pic is from the cartoonist/illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi (AKA Inkyelbows) whose cartoons on the writing life are so funny.  Love seeing them pop up in my Twitter feed.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014


It is a long time to have such dedicated sponsors for Children’s Books and although we in the New Zealand children’s writing community are very sad that the sponsorship has come to an end we are also very mindful that we have been so lucky to have such a wonderful sponsor promoting and encouraging children’s books. Thank you New Zealand Post for being our champion!

Book Awards and their publicity are an easy way for the general public to find out what is being published every year. NZ Post also sponsored the traveling road show of finalists visiting schools in far flung areas of the country in the lead up to the awards. Schools enjoyed the visits...authors enjoyed the schools... positive publicity all round for literacy. Book discovery did not have to rest on a chance encounter with a book on a back shelf in a small chain store, the harassed book rep at school or book club flyers. We may have to get more creative in our visibility in future.

Barnes and Noble (very big chain store in the US) is having some problems and Agent Rachel Gardner looks at what might happen if they follow Borders into liquidation.... It is not all doom and gloom.

Mark Coker, of Smashwords, shares an interesting publishing project that librarians, teachers and students have been working on with him. The poetry book the students wrote designed and uploaded with Smashwords has become a best seller. Mark would like to encourage other schools to try out this form of publishing with their students.

Jane Friedman was the Keynote Speaker at the Boston Muse and the Marketplace writers event which was held last week. A lot of erudite people came together to look at the changing nature of the marketplace for writers. Jane shares the reactions and expands on her very good keynote address -Be Optimistic About Publishing. Take some time to read this.

Last month I linked to an article about writers and game developers meeting at the London Book Fair. Publishing Perspectives talks to a UK publisher who is exploring this new path of collaboration.

Porter Anderson takes a look at the cost of ISBN’s (they’ve gone up in the US) and why you need them (it’s all about metadata visibility.) Just a reminder if you are a Kiwi author you can get them free from National Library... but you have to lodge copies with them for reference.

In the Craft Section,

Janice Hardy – on fixing episodic mistakes

Story-a-day – creative writing prompts

from the fab team of Ackerman and Puglisi

Agent Donald Mass on Plot vs Heart

Jami Gold - Raising the stakes

In Between...


In the Marketing Section,

When the agent rejects a MS (which was subbed for their MSWL) Why?

To Finish,
Interviews with two writers which may be of interest Jo Nesbo who talks about his children’s books...the ones he writes when he is not writing hard boiled detective stories... and Scott Nicholson whom KOBO recently profiled as one of their self publishing success stories.

I have been thinking about Keynote Speakers for our conference next year and the criteria I need to evaluate who would be of most value to the average attendee. (KSWL) On my Wish List. Children’s author... who is doing new and exciting stuff... is available... can inspire and teach across the newbie and professional spectrum... is cheap... (factor in flights to NZ etcetcetc) Or can get up in the middle of the night for Skype.... Susan Kaye Quinn ticks a lot of these boxes. Check out this little webinar… drop me a line and tell me what you think (and she is a rocket scientist... of course that wasn’t a deciding factor…:)


Pic: Discovery Shuttle

Photo Credit: NASA/GSFC/ Rebecca Roth

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Being Diverse.

This week I have been reflecting on the rise of self publishing and small press in our small pool of children’s books published in New Zealand. I popped into The (Award Winning and Independent) Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie and had a chat with co-owner Ruth about how many books were now being author published. We then had a look at the finalists of the New Zealand Children’s Book you can’t pick the self published books on this list. The strength and depth of the stories from the finalists*, the production values and attention to detail of all the books and that half of them are from small press.’ shows a very good snapshot of what is happening in our publishing industry.

(*and boy was that hard to pick as several phenomenal books I thought would be automatically on the list were left off.)

Last week I highlighted the hot button issues exercising the minds of the publishing industry. These issues are still being talked about. Porter has a roundup over the boys and books debate and Jonathan Emmett which was the subject of last weeks Ether Issue chat.
The Diversity button continues to be pushed as the panelists for BookCon for the KidsLit were announced, (4 white dudes) and then this was followed up by John Green (white dude) being named as a Y. A. prophet in The Times 100 most influential people (much to John’s discomfit) and this caused howls about how JG should be using his influence to highlight...Diversity.  Book Riot have started a campaign asking people to highlight #WeNeedDiverseBooks in various ways. Librarians and authors across the spectrum have jumped into highlighting this issue, including Chuck Wendig (the no holds barred version.)

In the Grab A Big Cup of your favourite beverage and hunker down to read...
Chip McGregor answers author’s questions on his Lit Agent blog... a good resource here.
Jane Friedman asks questions about issues I covered last week, including Mike Shatzkins big change of tack.
Joanna Penn on productivity for authors and fighting overwhelm. (Great article)

In the Craft Section,
5 common problems I see in your stories...(great post by Chuck!)
What killed it for me...#8 in this list of when the reader stops reading.
Using macros to show vs tell...amazing post from Jami Gold

In the Marketing Section,
Author website checklist from Darcy Pattison
Running a business as an author – excellent article from Joanna Penn

To Finish,
Elisabeth Spann Craig is one of my favourite Go To writers for practical help around all things publishing. She is one of the duo behind Writers Knowledge Base but also she is not afraid to show how she is coping with the Hybrid publishing journey. In this excellent post she looks at her mistakes and procrastinations and so of course you can’t help loving her more as she reveals the very human side of being a writer.


Pic from Oakland Library for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.
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