Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Love

Where were you twenty years ago?
I was teaching and scribbling stories at night. We had just got internet and I found a great group of UK writers on a listserv. One night the discussion turned to word of mouth promotion.
‘There’s a great debut story just published, everyone is talking about,’ said one UK author. I went to my local specialist bookseller (who passed away recently,) While he was stacking on the counter the pile of books he thought I should read to my class, I asked him about this book, Harry and the stone... He put Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the pile saying- ‘my last book, it’s a good read.’ I finished it at 2am and started reading it to my class that day. 
It became the most talked about book in the playground. I was seeing in real time the power of good storytelling transporting children to another world. Teachers and parents would stop me and ask about the book that even the non readers were talking about.... 
That’s the holy grail of writing when the reader can’t bear to close the book. It has nothing to do with clever phrases or perfectly executed grammar. It grabs you by the throat and demands your attention. You can’t sit down to intentionally write a story like this. The magic can't be forced.
This week is the 20 year anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Di Dickenson looks at the criticism leveled at the book series and asks is it justified.

Kris Rusch has her next post on discoverability. This weekshe looks at brand loyalty. This series is cracking along. Kris always gives you plenty to think about.

Brain Pickings has a great post on different styles of great writing. Are you an explainer, an elucidator or an enchanter? Which should you aim to be?

Orna Ross has been thinking about the underlying prejudice towards self publishers in the wake of the recent Byte The Book debate. Why is self publishing still seen as vanity publishing when the reality is very different. Is traditional publishing the new vanity?

R L Stedman has an interesting post on rights. Do you know all the different rights that you have in one piece of work? This is a great reference and eye opening for the new writer.

If you are an illustrator or know one, point them in the direction of this global award for illustration. Entries close in a few weeks and the prize is quite nice...

Jami Gold has been struggling with burnout. She writes an important article on writer self care.

A group of grad students have got together to pool their talents and set up a research group for writers to use. Check out their new weekly blog. If you need a grad student to do some research for you this could be a valuable resource.

Litreactor has an interesting blog on book reviews, specifically why they don’t look at 5 star reviews. This is a really interesting read about how important the 3 and 4 star reviews are to people looking for the next book to invest time in.

In The Craft Section,

4 reasons to outline your settings K M Weiland - Bookmark

Write better fiction- Killzone blog

Better book titles- April Davila- Bookmark

Check out Writing excuses podcast. This weeks episode –outlining

In The Marketing Section,

Getting book reviews- Book marketing tools

3 best practices for marketing- Kevin Tumlinson- Bookmark

To Finish,

I met a composer friend yesterday and I was lamenting that I couldn’t make up my mind on whether to take up the offer of a piano to replace our keyboard. It means moving some bookcases to make room. He laughed and noted that I could always put the books on top of the piano... win/win.
It’s not that I hoard books... um they are just good friends... all of them... (over 2000.) But I’m not a true hoarder. These famous people had much more extensive collections....


Pic: The first cover. Ours is a patchwork of spellotape holding it together... but nobody in the family wants a new edition. The magic is still in the old one.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Writing Heroes

 photo tumblr_lztpueZx1u1r5uzsdo6_250.gif

It has been a turgid time in the house recently. (Now you have to check I used turgid correctly... clue British dictionary.) ¾’s of the household have been hit with an awful viral cold. The only trips out for about a week have been to restock on tissues, cough syrup, tissues, honey, tissues and chicken (for soup.)

When you are sick, your thoughts can go spiraling down into the pit of despair. You can suffer from comparison-itis,  FOMO disorder and subjectio. Amanda Palmer shared her thoughts on this insidious type of thinking for creative people. It is well worth a read and reality check.

This week my Twitter feed started to fill up with comments about a Byte-The-Book debate in London between Joanna Penn and Euan Thorneycroft on The Author as Publisher -Opportunity or Vanity. By all accounts it was a wonderful debate. Some very interesting points were raised over the future of reading.

This week, writing hero, Jami Gold had an interesting post on the Heroes journey... how are we applying the lessons we make our characters go through to our own lives. Are we real life heroes? 
Jami raises interesting points about personal growth.

Recently Debbie Ridpath Ohi was interviewed on how she manages her online life and her work as an illustrator of children’s books. One of her secrets... it helps to be an introvert. (whaaa???)

Katie Weiland shared her 5 stages of writing process from conception of idea to revision. It is a standout post from a writing craft legend and a MUST READ.

In The Craft Section,

The 3 tiers point of view technique-Writer Unboxed- Bookmark

Emotion amplifiers- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

Character driven plot- Rachel Geisel- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

3 steps to know your audience-Digital Book World- Bookmark

A plan for finding new readers- Book Marketing Tools

To Finish,

Jane Friedman published an article today on a writer’s guide to fair use and permissions and got 123 comments in very short order. This is a hot topic with accepted practice, internet freedoms and legal requirements all rolled up into one confusing mess which Jane does her best to straighten out. This is definitely a bookmark post from one of the online heroes in the publishing world.


My monthly newsletter is finally out. (helped along with plenty of tissues...)  If you want to get the best of my bookmarked links and other goodies you can subscribe here. (No germs will be shared... )

Pic: How many of you can name the show, episode, character.... (shiny)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Story; Ears, Eyes, Heart.

Have you ever felt like your head had been taken over, hollowed out and then filled with cotton wool? I have been going around in a foggy daze for about a week. When life throws lots of big events your way it’s hard to find time to write or even generate much energy to create anything. (My cooking suffered as well.) This week we celebrated a family wedding and then got the news that a revered book colleague had died. For several days I drifted around the house never being able to settle. Life is a series of stories told through heart beats.

Many writers will beat themselves up for not creating something every day so it was with relief that I read Janice Hardy’s brilliant post why you shouldn’t write every day. Not only did it give me permission to rest my mind but it made me feel more positive about getting back into the writing grind.

Dan Blank took a close look at how Traditional Publishers marketed their books at Book Expo and drew some interesting conclusions for Indie Publishers. You don’t really need a fifty foot banner to draw attention to yourself.

How many of you listen to audio books? If you listen to podcasts you are more likely to listen to audio books. Can you guess the demographic that most listens to audio books? Publishing Perspectives has a great breakdown of the latest figures from this fast growing book market.

In a game changer for the audio book market which has been dominated by ACX, (*coughAmazoncough*) Draft2Digital has rolled out an exciting new service and it’s worldwide and non exclusive!

Book Marketing Tools has a great interview with Mark Dawson on Facebook ads. (He is often referenced as the Facebook ad guru.)

Editor, Sue Copsey has a fabulous post on what she sees when she gets a manuscript. Voice and heart makes a Manuscript stand out.

Frances Caballo has an interesting article on The Book Designer about the 5 necessary skills a writer must develop. While you are over on Joel’s site check out the new book design templates he has recently added.

Kris Rusch continues her Branding series. She has such interesting articles. This week she looks at brand image. You are what you write, aren’t you?

5 ways to write a perfect first draft by Katie Weiland examines the mental work your subconscious is doing. You may be writing a near perfect first draft and not recognising it

In The Craft Section,

Filter words and phrases to avoid- Kathy Steinemann- Bookmark

Indicating the passage of time – Jami Gold Bookmark

Story Genius- Joanna Penn and Lisa Cron- Bookmark

Develop your writing intuition- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Improve your query letter- Jane Friedman - Bookmark

To Finish,

Last week I gave you a link to the Alliance of Independent Authors website where there is a load of great content from their Indie fringe conference. There are heaps of videos to sample. Alli have their own YouTube channel so hop on over to see all the  short Publishing 101 videos Paul Teague has been putting up. Here is one to get you started. 

R.I.P. John McIntyre: Book Ambassador and Hero

My monthly newsletter is a bit late this month. It will be going out soon. If you want to get the best of my bookmarked links and other goodies you can subscribe here. Come and join our happy band.


Pic Flickr Creative Commons /David Locke (Totally cute dog.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Navigating the Writing Road

This week was Book Expo.
What used to be the biggest Book Fair in America has been slimmed down. The fair was split into a Book Con and a Trade Book Fair.  Porter Anderson rounds up the key takeaways from the Book Expo conference on Wednesday. A big focus was children’s publishing and library trends.

Not everybody was impressed with the new look Book Expo. Independent publishers were being shunted off to the side and all the innovative Book Marketing companies are starting to court the Traditional publishers. Brooke Warner of She Writes Press examines Book Expo from a small publishers point of view.

Alongside Book Expo was Indie Author Fringe. This 24 hour conference was put together by the great folks at Alli - Alliance of Independent Authors. The conference theme was book marketing and there are some standout presentations up on the Alli blog. I have been dipping into them all week. Just chock full of brilliant advice. For a taster check out Chris Well's presentation on Media Kits for Authors.

Joanna Penn has a great interview with Nick Stephenson on managing time and it is really worth taking some time to listen or watch her podcast. There are so many ways to automate what you do.

Another great podcast to drop into is SFF Marketing. Lindsay Buroker and co hosts Jeff Poole and Joe Lallo  talked this week about all the hot tips Joe learned from Book Expo on Book Marketing.

Bookbub also pulled together a great roundup of 7 marketing takeaways from Book Expo.

Jami Gold has put together a great roundup table of contents for all her indie publishing series of posts. This has been a mammoth series over two years. It is more than a 101 course... more like a Masters degree.

Kris Rusch continues her branding series with a great post on Brand Identity. If you have been wondering how to straddle genres or just what exactly is author branding you need to check out this article.

With the introduction of Amazon Charts there has been some discussion about the worth of bestseller lists. Amazon breaks up their charts by Most Sold and Most Read, they are not the same and there is no distinction on genre. (New HP Covers anyone?) Polygraph Lit Magazine’s new imprint, Pudding, takes a look at gender bias on the bestseller lists and in MFA programmes.

Publishers Weekly interviewed the outgoing chair of the Independent Book Publishers Association about his radical idea for Bookstores.Why don’t they have Book Espresso machines and other goodies... They could be a hub for the community... and sell ... BOOKS.

If you have ever thought about owning your own bookstore... It is now possible with Aerio. Have a curated list of books on your own website and get an affiliation cut if anyone buys a book from you. Judith Briles tells you how to do it.

This week I have been hearing about the rise of audio books and how this section of the industry is taking off. Savvy authors out there are holding onto audio rights. But now the big publishers are waking up to this gold mine. Michael Sullivan posted a breakdown on his wranglings with his Traditional Publisher Del Rey and why they are parting ways. Audio rights was the break point. This is a must read for any traditionally published author.

In The Craft Section,

Making unlikeable characters likeable- September Fawkes- Bookmark

Three types of Character Arcs – Sara Letourneau - Bookmark

Are you a writer or a storyteller- K M Weiland- Bookmark

Hiring an editor-Anne R Allen- Bookmark

Collaboration mistakes to avoid- Joanna Penn and J Thorn- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Newsletter surveys- Kate Tilton

No one is born famous- Penny Sansevieri

Marketing your books as a group (another author collective idea)-Bookmark

To Finish,

Navigating your way through all the advice on writing is almost a fulltime job. But have you thought about the journeys your characters are taking on the page. Writer Unboxed examines Google Maps and how you can plot out your characters journey in real time.


In my monthly newsletter I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces.  Get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes when you subscribe. Thanks for hitting the kofi button this week. I’m living on caffeine as mother of the bride.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Writing Rules

Thou shalt read the writing rules... well they are just guidelines because every writer is different. 

However there are some rules that you can’t break. 
1. Don’t send a manuscript out to a publisher in Comic Sans font.
2. Don’t submit your child’s drawings as illustrations with a picture book manuscript.

I’m sure you can think of a couple more.
Ruth Harris has a comprehensive post on writing rules and guidelines, which is well worth a careful read.

Kris Rusch has another stellar post on brand and defining your target audience. I always struggle with this. Kris has some great advice. This is a timely read.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are two rock stars in the writing blogosphere. They have a great post on helping authors succeed, because we are all in this together. Angela has put together a list of actions that everyone can do to help others. They have a pay it forward mentality... so of course they also reached out to promote Kristen Lamb’s first fiction book. Kristen has a great post about running your own race in your writing career but choose carefully who your running buddies will be.

Jane Friedman has an interesting post on FOMO (fear of missing out) and how it can cripple your productivity. How do you stay focused on the writing prize?

Danica Davidson has an inspirational post on 7 things to do when you want to give up. (Instead of giving up.) When you read she started submitting novels as a teen you realise she does know what she is talking about.

Penny Sansevieri has a must read post on book sales. It’s not about how many followers you have... it’s about engagement. Think super fans and micro influencers....

Derek Murphy likes to change things up by breaking rules or guidelines....  Recently he wrote about the weird ideas he does to write and publish bestsellers. He starts from the cover....

Julie Munroe Martin was writing recently on Writer Unboxed about putting together a survival pack if you are a writer. (No. Not a pack full of wine...) A way to keep you hitting your writing goals.

This weekend is the second 2017 Indie Fringe event run by the Alliance of Independent Authors. This free one day online conference has the focus of book marketing and some great topics will be covered check out the speakers!

In The Craft Section,

9 things your Main character needs- 10 minute novelist- Bookmark

Legal myths debunked for authors- Bookworks- Bookmark

Ways to start your novel- Now Novel- Bookmark

How to strengthen characters- Jami Gold - Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Two great posts from Book Marketing Tools, Put calls to action in your books and Loglines – how to write them. – Bookmark Both

Three Keys to writing back copy- Chris Syme- Bookmark

14 Book Cover sites- Nate Hoffelder- Bookmark

Optimizing Blog posts- Rachel Thompson

To Finish,

Reedsy has pulled out another great infographic. This one is on copyright. This is a comprehensive fact filled How To and Go To guide on the subject.
Copyright is one rule you should not break!


In my monthly newsletter I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces.  Get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes when you subscribe.

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