Thursday, August 27, 2020



This post is numbered 600. I’m in my 13th year of weekly roundups. When I started the blog, I didn’t know what the future would hold. How long I would be doing this- Where it would take me. I started the blog to share what I had found out about writing. Along the way, I had a ringside seat at the launch of the Kindle and online publishing, Print On Demand and subscription-style consumption of entertainment. I’ve seen the humble beginnings of what now are huge online careers and little publishing ideas that turned into global resources.

Tonight, the family speculated about reaching one thousand… an impossibly high number in my head. That will be another eight years and who knows what the future will bring for publishing. I hope to still be in my little corner writing what my friends call The Weekly Homework Sheet that they have to read. 

To everybody who has commented, emailed, followed, bought me a coffee or just stared at me in a writer gathering saying ‘You write that blog,’ Thank you for the encouragement. 

To the international writers who have picked my brains or asked advice- thanks for thinking I am worthy of the ask. 

To my writer friends- online and IRL – Thank you for being there.

It’s been a rocky road at times but the one constant has always been my weekly appointment with the blog and the 11:59pm deadline. Cheers.


And Now To The Reason You Are All Here…


Recently Savannah Cordova from Reedsy wrote a blog post on Writers helping Writers about the predictions for publishing in the next half of 2020. Will dystopian ever become fiction again… 


This week Kris Rusch has been looking at the art of the pivot…when things go belly up what can you do? First, you need to have a plan. Kris details how you can remain nimble in your business dealings.


James Daunt new CEO of Barnes and Noble has been thinking that the pandemic might be a good thing as he uses it to streamline the stores. But he also has found another side to Barnes and Noble Digital Book Sales… didn’t they have an e-reader? The Nook may be saved.


Dean Wesley Smith has been discovering that many writers have got book covers and not got contracts for the artwork. This could be problematic in the future. I have seen an instance where the writer had to junk several thousand dollars of covers because the designer had ripped off another artists work. It does happen. Be Careful.


I love Penny Sansevieri’s monthly roundups of interesting days to use for content post ideas.

Penny has got September sorted… but you can also download a years worth to put on your wall.


David Farland writes about the mental toughness that authors need to develop when they are writing to deadlines or to other stressors. How do you cultivate the right attitude to get you through? Yesterday I listened to The SPA Girls podcast on empowering women- Their guest was talking about strategies authors could use to make a difference in their productive lives- What are your body’s resistance tricks?- Brilliant podcast!


How is your writing going? Mine is inching along. Some days feel great, the words flow and other days I feel like I’m getting nowhere or going around in circles. I came across this article, How to write a marketable genre fiction series and wondered if I was doing everything all wrong… although all is not lost…. 



In The Craft Section,

Line edits- How to do them- Writelife- Bookmark

Scene sequels- K M Weiland- Bookmark!

The biggest writing craft issues new novelists face- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

How to thread backstory into your narrative- Heidi Croot

Common reasons protagonists are unlikeable- Mythcreants- Bookmark

Worldbuilding tips- NowNovel- Bookmark

Why lack of structure is killing your characters- Lucy V Hay


In The Marketing Section,

Author collaboration- Emma Lombard- Bookmark

How to approach book clubs- Jenn Hanson dePaula

Social media tips- Frances Caballo

Nine digital book marketing ideas- Hayley Zelda

Amazon ads keywords- Jay Artale- Bookmark

Timing your book launch- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark



To Finish,

Nate Hoffelder has an informative article on Zoom tips for authors. As we look into the next few years of dealing with this pandemic we all must get comfortable with using this sort of technology to interact with readers and peers. And then there’s Instagram… many authors are on there – take a look at this article on making a home photography studio… Get creative.


Here’s to the beginning of the journey to the next milestone…





My monthly newsletter with loads of bookmarked links and tips will be going out this weekend. 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 virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Pic: Flickr Creative Commons- Tim Green

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Publishing - Always Learning.

In publishing this week,

There has been a mixed reaction to a publishing company releasing books written under male pseudonyms with their correct gender name. The publishing company is promoting a special collection of books, however, others are asking, is this what the authors would have wanted? Just because we can – should we?


The rapid growth of Amazon (40% over lockdown) has caused more disquiet in the publishing industry. Publishers Weekly reports that American publishing leaders have now written to the American government to get them to curb the tech giant’s growth before it destroys the publishing industry.


Publishing Perspectives recently highlighted Ukraine’s publishing industry woes as publishing in that country has taken a big hit. The New Publishing Standard looks at the global publishing industry. How well, or not, is publishing doing in other markets? This week TNPS published an article on the book trade in Europe. What can we learn from other markets? Will they be saved by the undead also? (YA vampires saved the book industry once…  Midnight Sun rockets past a million copies sold in its first week.) Meanwhile, everyone keeps one eye on the American market.


A piece of news that made me gasp today was a hint at the possible disruption of the audiobook industry. There has been speculation about what this company could do to the audiobook landscape.  TNPS saw the job advert and put a few things together. Enter Spotify…


I am always fascinated by where science and Artificial Intelligence is going. This week I listened to Joanna Penn and Mark Lefebvre have a conversation with voice doubles. It was uncanny… and the possibilities for its use slightly scary. On the other hand, imagine pressing a button at the end of writing your manuscript and having the whole thing read back in your own voice- edit on the page… and then upload as an audiobook.

The Alliance of Independent Authors has been looking at copyright. With rapidly improving AI, copyright is not keeping up. If an AI can write a book in the style of another author who owns the copyright? 


Barb Drozdowich has an interesting article on Anne R Allen’s blog about the psychology of selling and the superfan in book marketing. Limiting choice makes a big difference in selling your books. Angela Ackerman also looked at marketing this week with an examination of FAR marketing. Focus, Authenticity, and relationships.  They are both excellent articles.


Reedsy has updated their book editor and it is pretty spiffy. Check out their free writing program.


In The Craft Section,

How to stay on point in your plot.- Jennie Nash

9 ways to originalise your story idea- Becca Puglisi- Bookmark

Story description- Lynnette Bonner

Transitions- James Scott Bell- Bookmark

How to create a blockbuster- Story Grid- Michael Finberg

Character development-shadow- Antonio del Drago- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

4 secrets to book marketing- Frances Caballo

2 articles from Penny Sansevieri - Pitching to be a guest blogger and 

How to connect with influencers on Twitter

How to repurpose audio and video content for social media- Social Media Examiner- Bookmark

Guide to social media image sizes- Social Media Today- Infographic

Must-Do steps for Amazon ebook campaigns- Judith Briles- Bookmark


To Finish,

Recently I congratulated Joanna Penn and the SPA Girls for achieving significant milestones in their podcasts. It takes a special commitment to keep showing up every week to share thoughts and ideas with an audience. Often the audience has no idea what hurdles you have overcome to be present in that time and space. Kristine Rusch is also celebrating a milestone with her publishing business posts. She talks about the time when she thought there was nothing more to say and then the world changed. It’s a great post from a great voice in publishing. She has done it all and has wide-ranging knowledge of the publishing industry. Learn From The Masters, people. 





P.S. This is blog post 599

It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter with loads of bookmarked links and 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  virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Pic: Flickr Creative Commons- Alan Levine

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Getting Creative


This week in publishing news…

Publishing Perspectives reports on Penguin Random House India’s moves into the European market. Take one branch of a worldwide company… add a big distributor … Stir… and bake a new revenue stream.


This week I attended a virtual awards ceremony for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was an odd experience as groups of us gathered around the country to watch a semi-live streaming event and cheer on our colleagues and winners. There was a tremendous outpouring of love for our finalists online throughout the week. It was bittersweet to not be there in person. Kate Reed Perry wrote a recent article on how virtual book events need to change to bring in some magic. Let’s get creative with our events.


The Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli) has pulled together a big post on Lockdown lessons for authors. With countries tentatively making a break from lockdown authors share what they learned and how they would do things differently. 


How much does the rest of the world know about the Asia Pacific publishing region? Mark Williams from TNPS has a roundup for Alli- Did you know that 50% of the people online in the world are in this region? What devices do they read on? Who caters to them? How do you reach 886 million online readers?


Have you been looking at your writing software and wondering whether you are missing something crucial? Author Media has a round-up of the writing software authors are using in 2020. Tech Crunch reports a new kid on the block aimed at creatives. Circle brings all your community engagement, courses, extra creator content into one space. Put together by the team behind Teachable.


How often have you seen a movie based on a book and wondered what happened?  There was a Twitter storm when the first pictures of BBC America’s The Watch, based on Terry Pratchett’s beloved books, were released this week. Not what the fans wanted at all.  Kris Rusch continues her look at licensing Intellectual Property and how they are working with a games company to take her books and characters into the gaming space. How much control should an author have over the product? Is it like films?


Rachel Thompson has an interesting article about self-publishing now and how authors have to understand all the ramifications of choosing this way of publishing. 


In The Craft Section,

How to write, and what not to write about the family, in your memoir- Sharon Harrigan- Bookmark

2 great posts from Angela and Becca- 6 tricks to layer on the stakes and Conflict thesaurus- Losing one’s temper- Bookmark Both

Begin at the beginning – or maybe not – Barbara Linn Probst

The trials and tribulations of DIY audiobooks- I popped this into craft because it has audio craft tips.- Andrene Low


In The Marketing Section,

Social media might not mean what you think it means-Sadie Hartmann- Bookmark

Book Cover redesigns- Alexander von Ness

A deep look at reader guides- P H Solomon- Bookmark

7 Book Marketing mistakes authors make- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

4 top book formatting mistakes to avoid- The Book Designer


To Finish,

We were doing so well… and then, as a friend said, Covid bit us on the butt again.  New Zealand goes back into lockdown. So to all those writers stuck back at home with the kids and the spouse and the pets and the mayhem… Here is the hacks guide to writing while the kids are at home.


Stay Safe. Be Kind. (Let’s rock those masks…)





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: Flickr Creative Commons- Curran Kelleher Venice Mask


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sunshine In The Gloom

This week there were two podcasting milestones. Joanna Penn reached 500 episodes of her podcast (11 years) and The SPA Girls reached 250 episodes of theirs, (5 years) These podcasts are super informative about publishing craft and marketing. They are must listens every week. If you haven’t checked them out at least once you are seriously missing out. They both have an extensive backlist of episodes… they have pretty much answered every question in publishing. Congratulations Joanna and Trudi, Cheryl, Wendy, and Shar.


Jane Friedman looked at the publishing stats from the U.S. Is there some silver linings in the gloom? Yes, print and ebook sales are up. We’ll take every ray of sunshine we can…


What is courage? Writers moaning about how hard it is to publish now, pushed Kristine Rusch’s buttons this week. If you are moaning instead of doing- This is a nice wakeup call to check your privilege credentials.


WorldCon is over. The first virtual event of its kind had some teething troubles. There was a huge commitment behind the scenes to getting it up and running. Hats off to the NZ Sci-Fi community for slogging through. However, the virtual community was left wondering where the NZ content was…. It was there but not prominent… or as this article says how NZ’s best sci-fi and fantasy writers got shafted on the world stage.


The New Publishing Standard published an interesting news story on its blog today. They were taking a look at why video can be streamed in subscription packages almost globally but books can’t. With Africa pretty much online through mobile phones, the ability to get subscription books is pretty low. What are publishers doing wrong? (I write this as Disney announces the new Mulan movie release streaming on their channel.)


This week many authors winced when the news that a reference to a dye recipe in an historical novel was uplifted from a google search that was a fake recipe. John Boyne’s new historical novel has now had loads of extra publicity but is it the right publicity?


Scott Myers has a great post on Deep work vs Shallow work. How often do you sit down to write and have about five tabs open on your browser at the same time? Clear the decks first.


In The Craft Section,

How to create tension in writing- Now Novel- Bookmark

Dumb little writing tricks that work- Scott Myers

2 great posts from Mythcreants- How do I describe fat characters respectfully and Introducing otherworldly elements.

When you have extra POV characters- K M Weiland- Bookmark

A quick reminder on Transitions-Elizabeth Spann Craig- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

What should go on your Copyright page- Bookbaby

Book proposals – what should they have- Jody Hedlund

Two interesting posts on Book Titles- Good story titles from Ride The Pen and Picking a bestselling title from Barbara Delinsky- Bookmark

Email newsletter for authors- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

3 reasons authors need a content strategy- Abbie Mood


To Finish,

Next week is the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. I was privileged to be a judge two years ago. It is a big night in the small world of New Zealand Children’s publishing. However, this year it will be a virtual ceremony. This decision was made some time ago before we came out of lockdown. We still need to celebrate so I’ve been part of a team organizing a local bookstore live streaming party. The next best thing to joining with your tribe and celebrating altogether in a big venue. Angela Ackerman pulled out of the archives a post on the 6 smart ways authors can collaborate for marketing. This type of advice is gold in 2020 when there are so many virtual book events in the present COVID-19 publishing world. Go and gather your author friends… let’s get innovative in our celebrations.


Kia Kaha Beirut- Stay Strong-


Hiroshima- 75 Years- When will we ever learn…





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: Flickr Creative Commons- Mark Lee


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