Thursday, July 2, 2020

Learning To Get Better…

It’s July… when did that happen?
Earlier in the year, there was some hope that the pandemic would be done and dusted by the Northern hemisphere summer and that things might be back to normal.
Ah well, it looks like this might be the new normal for a while.

The Frankfurt Bookfair has finally decided that it will have to be online this year and now they are asking everyone what they would like to have in a virtual book fair. If you have a bright idea for a seminar or webinar with a worldwide audience check out their call for proposals.

I was reading Publishers Weekly and came across this headline- Upcoming YA novel pulled by Author. Naturally, I clicked over to see who had pulled their novel and why and I found an interesting letter from Publishers Weekly saying why they weren’t going to tell us who it was and why. This is very responsible of them. Sadly, I wish they had thought of the implications sooner. 

While I was looking at the news on Publisher Weekly, I was interested to see this publishing company expanding its list. I wondered how their first book would go as there had to be buy in from all the rights holders to the hit music. Take a hit song… now pair it up with a great illustrator and launch it as a picture book for children. (Kiwi’s, imagine Welcome Home as a PB… sigh)

Has the world got you down? Are you struggling with your self-worth as a writer? Yes, it’s Imposter Syndrome time again but with a Covid spin. Elizabeth Hartl has a guest post over at Writers Helping Writers on how to beat this lurgy.
And for another bracing talk check out Ruth Harris and her latest post on 5 ways Authors stand between themselves and success. These are both great posts to shake you up and get you ready for the next 6 months.

This week Kris Rusch was musing about the writers who have come to her for advice about missing money. In this publishing environment, everyone is chasing down money to keep the lights on and the wolf from the door. Sometimes this means that money promised to the author doesn’t make it into the bank account. Check out what Kris has to say about how to track down missing payments.
Kris and Dean are also making their workshops half price for writers who are stuck inside. Check out all the great courses they have. 

Jami Gold has a great post on how to learn and improve writing skills. If you do a deep dive into self-editing then you can figure out what you need to learn. Read this outstanding post first to get some pointers on what to look for. You might want to check out Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s collection of writer tools as well.

In The Craft Section,

Identifying your characters fatal flaw- Becca Puglisi - Bookmark

Free Picture book templates from Inkygirl- Debbie RidpathOhi- Bookmark

10 ways to reach the end-Elspeth Futcher

Self-edit your novel- Kris Spisak- Bookmark

We Are Unsafe- Donald Maass- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

2 great posts from Penny Sansevieri-Timing your book launch and Promoting before the book is published- Bookmark

5 powerful principles on human behavior- Book marketing Bestsellers- Bookmark

To Finish,

In a little fishing village in Portugal lives a wild Irish Rover who lives online as a guru for writers. David Gaughran has been updating his great Writer Help books over the last 6 months or so. He has just made one of his best book marketing craft books FREE. Let’s get Digital was one of the first books I ever read on ebooks. David revised it three times always updating it. Now he has virtually rewritten it and made it available for Free. (and available from all the major ebook stores.) This is not just the primer on how to create an ebook but the whole encyclopedia- Let’s Get Digital 4th Edition is a Must Get.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?  When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Surviving 2020

Sometimes I feel like every month lasts a year. It seems so long ago that we were brightly predicting what might happen in publishing in 2020. Boy, were we wrong…

In publishing news this week....

This week Bertrams, the second largest book distributors in the United Kingdom went into receivership. The Bookseller shared the news and its possible impact on the book industry for the UK going forward. Monopoly anyone?

Subscription services are getting a lot of love in this Covid 19 era. One monthly fee – Unlimited Entertainment but how can we find out how our books are doing in there? Bookbeat is a subscription service in the Nordic countries and they are offering publishers all sorts of data- like where do readers stop reading? What trends are the best-selling? Could be a watershed moment says TNPS

Publishers Weekly have been taking a look at the way publishers have been tackling their business throughout the pandemic. As was predicted some are ditching their New York offices, others are getting creative to get the word out about their books. It’s going to be an interesting next six months for the publishing industry.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has been looking at the facts and figures of self -publishing and the impact this has had on the overall book market. The last decade has completely changed the publishing landscape… and we are not finished yet with 2020. 

When you see all your writing friends succeed it can be pretty hard to feel positive about your writing life. Meg Dowell has written a great post on the 10 survival tips you need to cope with your friend’s success.

Anne R Allen has a bracing post on how to cope with a bad review. I am a member of a high powered writing group on Facebook and not a day goes by when someone isn’t celebrating a bad review. Yes, you read that right. Read Anne’s post to understand why.

Jami Gold has written a great post on choppy writing and how to fix it. I’ve been staring at my manuscript lately and wondering if the writing is bad because I’m going backward and forwards with dictating or whether it’s my unconscious mind picking up on the state of the world. ( or it could just be bad…) This is a must-read to get some craft perspective.

In The Craft Section,

Getting past Hard To Write Scenes- Janice Hardy- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

13 ways to increase your email open rate – David Gaughran- Bookmark

Amazon discounted my book – why this is a good thing (Brilliant ideas here)

July unique content ideas from Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

To Finish,

As I was looking over my selection of articles for you I was thinking about the theme of Survival. Who could predict 10 years ago which publishers, bookselling chains, or distributors would still be around in 2020? When the dust settles on the other side of Covid 19 how will the publishing landscape have changed? Is it survival of the fittest or the most nimble? How can writers be creative in the midst of unrelenting negative news? Kristine Rusch has a timely look at survival and forgiveness for writers. This is a great post to mull over and apply to your own writing life. 


I round up the best of my bookmarked links and other assorted tips in a monthly newsletter.
Go on and subscribe and you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sometimes you just need coffee

(to stop you reaching for the bottle…)

This week the Cilip Carnegie and Cilip Kate Greenaway medals were announced. These awards are for the best children’s book and best illustration published in The United Kingdom. There were two things that stood out for me when I read about the winners.
The Cilip Carnegie went to a dyslexia-friendly independent publisher- Barrington Stoke for Lark by Anthony McGowan. This is a win for all those publishers who take publishing risks to make books accessible to children who struggle with reading. The other winner caught me by surprise- I am so used to seeing Shaun Tan’s brilliant work that I thought he had probably won it before. Not only is he a first-time winner of the illustration prize but he is the first winner in the history of the prize to be a person of colour. (Fill in your oath of surprise here.)

The Black Writers Guild sent an open letter to UK publishers, this week, making specific requests to tackle inequalities and representation in the publishing business. It was signed by over 100 Black authors. The publishers have responded with many saying that they will do better… 

Meanwhile across the pond – The Department of Justice is suing Senator Bolton over his forthcoming book in an attempt to halt publication. You can’t buy this kind of publicity and Simon and Schuster know this…They are promoting three books with all their free publicity, including a tell-all from the president’s niece and a biography of the president’s wife.

Mark Coker of Smashwords writes an annual crystal ball prediction at the beginning of each year. Today he released a crystal ball prediction for life in publishing after Covid 19.

Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware has updated her post on 6 things to watch out for in contract clauses. It is a very good guide for how to spot red flags. I watched a twitter exchange today between two big Science Fiction Authors about contract negotiations and saw one advise the other to get limited terms. This means when the rights revert back to the author. Savvy authors are now putting this into their contracts- although it’s a fight. Many writers are asking for Limited Terms for Rights Reversal for a period of way under 10 years. 

Jami Gold is taking some time to reassess how much time she puts into her blog. As much as she loves to write one of the best writing process blogs around she also needs to watch her health. This is a timely reminder to readers of her popular blog. Are you doing too much and neglecting your health? Cutting back is better in the long run than falling over completely. 

Derek Murphy of Creative Indie has written some interesting workaround posts over the years. Here he takes a look at the review policy of Amazon in particular the ARC’s review policy. How can you work around their rules to get reviews?
Along with interesting posts, Derek also makes available great tools to help writers. Here is a free novel outlining template for Scrivener. (Derek is also the guy behind Free DIY Bookcovers and the 3d book cover generator)

Mark Tilbury has a great post on the mirror moment in your writing. If you aren’t sure what it means check out the post. He gives a shout out to James Scott Bell’s Book – Write Your Novel From The Middle- which is superb.

In The Craft Section,
 2 Great Posts from Angela Ackerman – How To Avoid A Half Baked Idea and How to describe a location you’ve never visited -Bookmark Both!

A-Z of Character Archetypes- Wordhunter- Bookmark

Determine your raison detre as a writer- Katherine Grubb

Weaving The Backstory- Anne Hawkinson

In the Marketing Section,
2 great posts from Penny Sansevieri -How to market a book with a virtual event  and The ultimate guide for authors on SEO- Bookmark Both!

Go Local first for book publicity- Joan Stewart- Bookmark

Blurbing and being Blurbed – Barbara Linn Probst

To Finish,
From time to time I mention author book collectives and how the power of a group can supercharge your writing success. I have mentioned Triskele books before but recently Roz Morris interviewed the founders for an in-depth look at what makes their collective work.
Last week I had fun doing dictation into my word document although I noticed that I was mostly writing dialogue. Bang2Write has a great post on writing 1000 words before 9 am. Not quite sure how they say you can do it without coffee tho.


My monthly newsletter will be coming soon. I round up the best of my bookmarked links and other assorted tips.
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

All Aboard

This week in the publishing trenches… 

Marches are still ongoing to highlight BLM. This week there was a frank interview with two Young Adult writers about Police Brutality, Y A Literature, and the Nuances of Black Storytelling. It is a sobering and candid interview about all the expectations the writers carry and how their work is made invisible in the publishing world. Along with this interview, I saw another which highlighted that publishing, dominated by a particular world view, perpetuates the stereotypes because that’s what they think the public understands. A writer who was writing a factual account of her experiences in prison found that because her story didn’t fit the stereotypical story she had difficulty getting published. 


Can the reading public cope with stories selected from outside a narrow band of white university-educated middle-class gatekeepers? A data analysis that came out this week on the New York Times Bestsellers list which answered this question. The figures are confronting.


The inequality in publishing was again highlighted this week with the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe.

Here writers were asked to lay out their publishing deals. This was brave of many and the numbers confirmed what many writers suspected.


With all the focus this week on publishing deals, Jane Friedman pulled together a list of questions that writers should be asking their editors or agents about deals. As you run your eye over it think about the deal in a business way. If you substitute the term “book” for a “super new gadget” wouldn’t the answers to these questions be the bare minimum in a business deal? How many writers even have these conversations?


With writers in the firing line, behind the firing line, or fueling the fires, a couple of articles tried to make sense of the turmoil.

Barb Drozdowich had an interesting article – Who are your readers? Do you piss them off?

Kris Rusch wrote an extra article today on Speaking out. Do you stand up for what you believe or play it safe in public?


Anne R Allen has been annoyed once too often this week on scammy online marketing solicitations. This fueled a blog post rant on why content marketers can really miss their mark with bloggers. I completely agree with her. I don’t get as many solicitations in a week as she does, but I do get them. In 12 years of writing this weekly blog, I can think of only about five times that I got a solicitation that I actually used, and three of those were from Reedsy when they were just starting out and proved that they read my blog. 


After all the battering to a writer’s mental health this week, it was interesting to read an article about caring for your back. This is timely as I write this curled up on the couch, my back not as supported as it could be. You don’t want to get writer’s back!


Gabriella Pereira of DIYMFA is in the middle of a virtual conference with a long list of writing interviews over two weeks. There is something for everyone in her guest lineup.

In The Craft section,

4 ways to make the most of your supporting characters- Shaun Leonard

A deep dive in points of view- Amanda Bennet- Bookmark

10 ways to keep writing when you would rather be doing other things- Meg Dowell

Script analysis – Knives Out- Scott Myers

Making a good first impression with our characters- Jami Gold- Bookmark

Writer Igniter- Writer prompt app for brainstorming- DIYMFA- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

How to pitch radio and become a talk show guest- Sandra Beckwith

Take your career to the next level- Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn – Bookmark

How to promote your books right now- Rachel Thompson

How to use your book cover for marketing – miblart- Bookmark

6 tips for marketing on your author central page- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


To Finish- on a positive note

Every now and then you come across an offer that looks too good to be true. Nick Stephenson sent an email out this week with a link to the latest infostack bundle for writers.  He is part of it but he took the time to investigate everything on offer… and over $4000 of products were in the bundle which is only $49 this week. So head on over and check it out.




Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?

When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 

If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Pic: Titanic 


Thursday, June 4, 2020

Promoting Good Ideas

This week has felt like a year. The protest marches in solidarity with the BLM movement have gone around the world. Again, questions are being asked of the publishing industry about how diverse they really are? Author Celeste Ng is sponsoring publishing internships to help address the lack of diversity in publishing and is calling on other authors to speak up.
Meanwhile, Frances Caballo has written a great blog post on using a variety of races in your social media posts. Have you taken a look at your default colour perspective? Can you lead by example?

Here in New Zealand, the news today was the announcing of the shortlist for the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adults Book Awards. It was a great moment when I counted up that our biggest Maori Language publisher had scooped the most finalists. As a former judge, I know how hard it is to get our indigenous language books published at all. I am happy to see so many great stories getting their moment in the sun. It is also neat to see the new breadth of Indie publishing houses popping up. Now we just need to promote them!

Kristine Rusch looks at the background of book promotion and muses about the death of the traditional book promotion. What do we do now? 
Dean Wesley Smith, (Kris Rusch’s other half) goes further and takes a critical look at whether Traditional Publishing has moved on at all.

In global publishing news, The New Publishing Standard is taking a critical look at the Frankfurt Bookfair. The big publishers are running away- Can the book fair really carry on?
Publishing Perspectives have got the numbers for what happened in publishing in Europe over the last four months or so. Who knew that reading habits formed during lockdown are still continuing as everybody struggles out the other side? Non-Fiction is a winner in the reading stakes.

Joanna Penn has added another article on the basics of an author presence. This is turning into a nice little series of solid practical advice.
If you are struggling with distractions that get in the way of writing take a look at the fabulous tactics from the Prolifico writing coaches. 

Ruth Harris has a must read post on patience and persistence being the key to the writing life. This post is resonating with a lot of writers. Take a look and inhale the goodness.

In The Craft Section,

100 questions to evaluate your manuscript- September Fawkes- Bookmark!

Ask yourself WHY- Terry Odell- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Grow a more fertile author platform- Eldred Bird- Bookmark

Using keywords in your kindle description – Dave Chesson – Bookmark

Who knew there was a national mud day? Unique content ideas for June – Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

To Finish,

I was thinking a few days ago about how often authors have to perform for marketing purposes. Children’s authors are particularly saddled with this. They are invited to Book Fairs only to entertain children, not really to talk about their work or process. It is hard to switch on the performer when for most of the year you are in your own head. Scott Myers has a great post on Pitching- which is about finding your in-public persona that can take over and pitch the story. Find the courage to step out of the comfort zone and act the performer to promote your ideas. Be Like Bowie! 

A note about the picture above. 
This was taken at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis over the death of Eric Garner in 2014. Eric’s last words as he was held down by police in an arm lock around the throat- ‘I can’t breathe’. Sadly, six years and many more deaths later the story repeats again. Same actions. Same words. This time George Floyd died in Minneapolis. There are worldwide protests this time. It is past time for a change in the treatment and value of the lives of all people of colour.


Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter?
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Friday, May 29, 2020

What Lies On The Other Side?

I’m sorry this blog is late… One of those times when the computer wouldn’t play nicely. Hopefully, it’s all fixed now.

This week I have been listening to commentators talking about how the world of work might change post Covid 19
A lot of people have discovered working from home has some benefits. Many report being more productive. With no commute time to the office, the day has a smoother start and finish. Of course, there have been people feeling the opposite. This morning I heard that central city businesses were desperate to have the office workers back as their cafes and shops had hardly any customers. How will publishing change in the post Covid 19 world?  

The New Publishing Standard reported a Canadian publishers lament that they were facing a deluge of returned books. This highlighted how broken the returns system in publishing is. Would it really be bad if there was no returns system? I can think of a benefit straight away. Less wastage in the system. The ability for Indie Bookstores to source books instead of waiting and waiting until big chains return the books so they can get access to them. We’ve got the ability to Print on Demand with many printers doing short runs. You can even use a Book Expresso machine in a book store to print single copies. I first linked to this technology back in 2012. If you aren’t sure what a Book Espresso machine is check out this video.

Publishing Perspectives have taken a good hard look at Publishing in the U.S. going forward. Will publishers need those fancy New York offices now that everybody can work from home? Will the rents fall for bookstores now that so many businesses have gone to the wall? How has having a supply chain of printers in Asia impacted the book industry? What will be the next best thing to publish? It all gets a look in this big article.

White Fox Publishing gathered five experts together to talk about how they see the publishing world post Covid. This is a great post and has some important things to think about. They cover publishers, agents, editors, bloggers, and marketing for their thoughts.

Meanwhile, the Romance Writers of America have done away with their flagship romance awards. They are introducing another set of awards. ( hopefully without the baggage from the causes of RWA meltdown) Time will tell if they can reinvent themselves successfully.

Nate Hoffelder has a nifty little project for anyone who is interested. He is designing an author website in a box. It’s free if you want to take a look.

It is the last day for grabbing the Story writing bundle of craft books. Check out what’s on offer but move fast we are in the last day to get this great collection.

In The Craft Section,

What do readers want from a POV- Jami Gold Bookmark

2 great posts from Anne R Allen’s blog- Improve the action in your story and 15 keys to writing dialogue- Bookmark.

In the Marketing Section,

5 easy ways to increase your book sales – Dave Chesson- 
Bookmark and check out Dave’s Amazon book description 
generator- Bookmark it too

Setting up amazon author pages- Tony Riches- Bookmark

To Finish,

Recently Joanna Penn and Orna Ross of the Alliance of Independent Authors got together to talk productivity tools.
They referenced a wide range of tools that they are using or have used- Check out the list and while you are at it listen to the podcast. 


If you want the best of my bookmarked links in a monthly newsletter go on and subscribe. You will get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

To Market, To Market...

As we tentatively move onto the streets and look around at what is now our new normal life, there have been a few articles trying to make sense of the statistics of bookselling in a coronavirus era. 
Everybody is busy trying to reassure themselves and others that bookselling remains viable. If you factor in the printers, sales reps, warehouse and supply chain along with book designers, editors, illustrators, cover designers, formatters, not to mention the poor old author in this list, you can see a lot is riding on maintaining or shoring up the publishing industry.
So, what are the trends coming out of lockdown?

The Guardian reported a rise in people reading. (Thank all deities) And the popular genres of crime and thrillers were to the fore. With kids stuck at home children’s books also had a nice uptick.

Publishing Perspectives report that French Publishers Association surveyed its members to ascertain how bad the hit was to their members. More than a quarter are looking at heavy losses but there was some encouraging signs in the changes in reader habits.

Jennifer Kovitiz has written two big articles on what independent presses can do to survive. Part One. These are comprehensive reports so set some time aside to read them and take them in. Part Two.

Nate Hoffelder reports that Kobo Plus may be making some moves. They have been trialing their subscription model for a few years in Europe. With the rise and rise of subscription models for consuming entertainment… Keep an eye on your Kobo dashboard and inbox.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have a new Writing Thesaurus to add to their popular series. It’s the Occupation Thesaurus- Coming very soon… Angela also has a great article on giving yourself a creative kick in the pants.

If you need to get stuck into upskilling writer learning as a way of shaking you out of lockdown blues, here is a comprehensive list of FREE writing courses from around the world. There is something for everyone in the collection of 98 online writing courses from Couponchief. 

I get sidetracked on Font sites… yes, I admit it. I’m fascinated by the subtle way a font can change the emotional message.  

Rafal Reyzer has a guest post on The Book Designer on how your font choice, when writing, can change your writing mood.

Kristine Rusch has an interesting article on what’s happening to the film and television industry. How does it impact authors you wonder. What happens to all those options and contracts when something big like a pandemic hits? What about the writers stuck in the middle?

Anne R Allen has a great article on what to do when you realise that your novel has far too many characters. Do you really need to provide a backstory for everyone? Can you get away with not naming someone? Check out her great tips.

In The Craft Section,

What is an epilogue?- Jerry Jenkins- Bookmark

How to write dystopian fiction- Now Novel- comprehensive!

How plotlines add dimension- September Faulkes- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Five marketing skills you have already- Gabriela Pereira- Bookmark

New Tool on the block.
If you publish wide check out WideWizard. A free tool that publishes your metadata to all your sites. Fill it in once and click a button.

To Finish,

Last week I mentioned David Gaughran (All round nice guy and champion of the little battling author) in the To Finish section and here I am linking to him again. He has been almost nonstop filling his YouTube channel this week with detailed looks at different marketing ideas. David is unleashed. If you are realizing that authors must market their books check out his channel and get hypnotized by his epic lockdown beard and his wealth of information on book marketing.


My monthly newsletter goes out this weekend. If you want the best of my bookmarked links go on and subscribe. You will get a nifty mini book crammed full with marketing notes as a thank you. 
If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, hit the coffee button up top. I appreciate virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Pic: Flickr Creative Commons- Martin Hearn 

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