Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Publishing Soap Opera

This week in publishing news…


The DOJ and PRH wrapped up their closing arguments after nearly a month in court. Now the judge has to decide if the sale of Simon and Schuster will go through or whether the DOJ can successfully block it. There were many popcorn moments. Among them, opposing lawyers not wanting to grill Stephen King because they wanted their books signed and the PRH CEO thinking everyone gets large advances and marketing budgets. 

Publishers Weekly has a breakdown of the closing arguments, or as they say- we’re right back where we started. It makes fascinating reading.


While everyone looks at the money that is supposed to be swimming in publishing, the reality is looking different for the actual workers, let alone the writers. A survey of publishing professionals' workplace stress indicates that burnout and low pay is causing many to leave the profession. It makes grim and sad reading. The death of starry-eyed dreams is never pretty. Something has to change.


Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard points out that the recent American Publishers report of falling eBook sales doesn’t account for the huge payouts Amazon has been giving to authors from Kindle Unlimited during the same reporting period. So where is all the money in publishing? At the same time as everyone is looking at the numbers, Amazon is too and pulling back from restocking its warehouses. It’s just a blip they said to Publisher’s Weekly, but for how long?


Over in the UK the association of publishers are not happy with the government which has decided that data mining copyrighted work and creative IP is ok. The government is about to pass a law to make it easier. They want to welcome huge data firms to the UK. Guess who will lose out?


Mark Williams likes to remind everyone that publishing is a global business. This week he looked at the rising cost of printing that has seen the Bangladesh publishers scrambling to stay afloat with costs for ink, paper, and printing jumping by 50%. What to do? Mark points out that with over 75% of the population online, maybe they could make a digital book. Radical thinking for conservative publishers.


Joanna Penn interviewed Ryan Dingler from Google Play Books on AI narration. Whatever you feel about the spoken word and narration it is worth keeping an eye on with the big moves in audio publishing. It’s an interesting interview. Check out the links to Google’s voice library, the AI voices are getting very good. When they get full cast functionality, which Google are promising soon, that’s when it will seriously change audio publishing.


Anne R Allen has a big post on the latest scams which I touched upon last week. Anne goes into more detail about how these scammers are stealing agent identities and how you can sort out the fakes from the real offers.


Kris Rusch continues her posts on the business of writing. When is your art not a business? 

I kept thinking of the poor young publishing professionals being told to grab audio rights their company has no intention of doing anything with when I was reading this.


BookBaby has a big post on serial writing sites. If you want to figure out where the best place is to publish your serial soap opera- check out their recommendations. 


Now Novel has a comprehensive post on Thriller writing. If you have been wanting to try out some ideas in the thriller genre this is the post for you.


In the Craft section,

How to write a good blog post- Rachel Thompson

3 mistakes to avoid with your side characters- Sacha Black- Bookmark

Plot emerges from characters- Scott Myers

5 character tools you need to know- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

Beyond character goal and motivation- Foxprint Editorial- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

8 creative ways to launch a book- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

How to launch a thriller- Interview with a thriller writer.- Sandra Beckwith

Infographic on writing promo-related dates for September – Penny Sansevieri

2 great posts from Dave Chesson- How to build an about the author page and a nifty print formatting template generator- Bookmark both


To Finish,

If you are looking for some courses to do around writing craft, punctuation, publishing, cover design etc. Udemy has a big selection. Dave Chesson has pulled together a useful list. The big news is that Udemy is having a sale for a week with all their courses over 85% off. You can pick up a course for less than $20. So if you were looking to learn new skills or deep dive research into artisan cheese making for your soap opera serial cowboy hero… now’s the time to sign up.




It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter. If you want the best of my bookmarked links and other bits and pieces come on in and subscribe.

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


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Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Danger of Words



In Publishing News This Week


The news that Salman Rushdie was stabbed at a literary event shocked the world. The death threats against him had faded from the public mind. Rushdie spent ten years in hiding and when the death threats weren’t actively being promoted it seemed that he was being left alone. Not So. His plight highlighted author safety, the problems authors face when they speak out, or up, or hold dissenting views. The right to Free Speech is held up everywhere as a feature of a functioning democracy. You have the right not to agree with their views, but you can’t deny them a voice. This week The UK Society of Authors chair Joanne Harris has been accused of not sticking up for authors who hold dissenting views, which she denies. The argument is being reported in the media and there is an open letter in support of Joanne from authors in the UK. While all this is playing out the recent survey on writers’ safety is warning that threats against writers are on the rise.


Frankfurt Book fair looks like it is back to the old numbers of pre covid days. 4000 exhibitors have registered to display their books and I note that Spotify and TikTok are among them. Publishing was changing fast before the Pandemic, but I don’t think anyone predicted that either of these two influencers would be at Frankfurt Publishing Fair.


Cory Doctorow has a new book out that shines a spotlight on punitive contracts in the creative economy. Chokepoint Capitalism- How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win Them Back. Cory has many popular writers supporting this book and because he names Audible as one of the worst for contract terms, he is having a Kickstarter to get the book recorded outside of that ecosystem. 


Writer Beware shines a spotlight on the scammers who prey on authors. If you suspect an offer is too good to be true check the website to see if your fears are realized. The latest scam to come across their desk is offers from agents whose identity has been impersonated. If the offer comes from an agent out of the blue…check into it. Your email query for legitimacy might be a heads up to an agent whose name and reputation have been targeted by scammers.


The dreaded writing critique workshop has scarred many a participant. For many prestigious creative writing courses, the Iowa method or the Milward method is the way to conduct a critique workshop. Tor’s guest editor S L Huang found out that this method was pioneered by a deeply flawed poet deeply immersed in the cold war rhetoric. There are other ways to critique creative writing and ripping the author to shreds as some sort of rite of passage is based on warped thinking. If you are interested in workshopping read the article and send it on to your writing tutors.


Kris Rusch brings a dose of common sense to the writer who believes other writers are competition in her latest post in her series on how writers fail. 

Sandy Vaile brings hope in her excellent post on how to have an enduring career.


Two interesting posts caught my eye this week. A Youtube channel that compiles writing music for authors and an interesting post on toxic productivity that afflicts writers.


Joanna Penn interviewed Becca Puglisi on the new Conflict Thesaurus that Angela and Becca have just released. This is volume two. Becca has some great ideas for levels of conflict in your writing. It doesn’t have to be a huge conflict but it does have to be there.


In The Craft Section,

Two great posts from Angela Ackerman. Does conflict belong on every page and How to build a flesh and blood character- Bookmark Both

The What When and How of character backstory -Cheryl Burman

Four steps to create perfect plot twists- C S Lakin- Bookmark

How to do a scene by scene breakdown- Scott Myers


In the Marketing Section,

How to create a book publicity tip sheet- Sandra Beckwith -Bookmark

How to get book reviews with special promotions- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

Do you need to copyright a character or title- Anne R Allen blog – Bookmark

How to make your book newsworthy- Reedsy

What makes a book cover work- Ingram Spark


To Finish

Last month everybody was talking about the rise in AI picture creation. There was speculation about whether AI scraping pictures was breaching copyright. Derek Murphy decided to look into an AI Picture generation site as inspiration for his characters. The results are stunning. Derek discusses the moral ambiguity of using AI images. As a cover designer himself, he sees it as another tool but not a replacement. AI hasn’t taken over yet. 





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 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 or here. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


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Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Popcorn Sideshow



This week in publishing news…

The court case over whether Penguin Random House can buy Simon and Schuster has become a compulsive watch spectacle for many in the publishing industry. The CEO of Penguin Random House gave testimony along with agents and other heavy hitters in the respective companies. However, the words the CEO was saying had people scratching their heads wondering if he knows what actually happens in publishing below his executive floor. 

Publishers Weekly are updating a list of articles they have published over the last week on the utterances in court. You can follow live tweeting of the issues being discussed. 

Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard has some hard-hitting comments on the way the CEO of PRH has been hurling numbers around without checking if they make sense. PRH is the biggest publisher and wants to get bigger. The CEO believes they are the only knight standing between the reading public and Amazon's unlimited digital subscription models for books, which is why they need to get bigger. But there are other publishers out there too. Surely five knights are better than one knight. Swallowing up other publishers reduces the competition. Isn’t this court case about publishing monopolies?


In other news, The Authors Guild pulled off a win against Netflix on behalf of screenwriters in court. The writers have not been paid against the negotiated standard. The court found in favour and now Netflix has to pay 42 million dollars in back pay to writers. It pays to belong to a writers union.


Jane Friedman has a guest post from two agents on how books get picked up to be adapted for the screen. With so many streaming services looking for content the word is shopping agreements for a limited time.


Cory Doctorow has a huge post on copyright laws and how much things have changed over the last 20 years. First, it hit the music industry with sampling, mix tapes, Napster- these events changed the way people understood copyright and now practices that began in the music industry are moving into print publishing.


Litreactor has an interesting post on why great opening lines work. They have analyzed 10 examples to find what makes them stand out.


In The Craft Section,

2 Great posts from K M Weiland 13 rules to be a better Beta Reader and

Misconceptions about In Media Res. Bookmark Both.

How many scenes does it take to tell a story- Sarah Hamer

How to tell if your story is a Mystery or Thriller- Lucy Hay

Dialogue tags- Kellie McGann

The art of colour coding a manuscript.- Cathy Hall- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

10 tips for more author blog traffic- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

5 reasons your ads aren’t working-Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

9 tips to build your following- Lucy Hay- Bookmark

How to tell if you’ve found your marketing niche- Colleen Story

Republish vs update- Dave Chesson

To Finish,

Every now and then I drop into Dean Wesley Smith’s blog for his interesting take on the writer business. This week he has been writing about all the ways to freely advertise your book. He started listing ideas, and over two blog posts people added their best advertising strategies. So read all the comments for some great book marketing plans to try out. 

With PRH telling the court all their authors get large marketing plans and many of their writers wonder how and why they missed out on the marketing largess… the only way is to learn the author's hustle. 





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 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 or here. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


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Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Publishing Business- unlike any other.


This week in the publishing world


At the moment the eyes of the publishing world are fixed on the court proceedings where the U.S Department of Justice is trying to stop the sale of Simon and Schuster to Penguin Random House. The live twitter feed from observers on how the court is trying to understand the publishing industry is illuminating… So, a midlist book isn’t as important as a front list book which you paid a lot of money for. Why do you have them then?

Stephen King testified for the State over the shrinking nature of independent publishing houses. S and S are his publishers, his books are just one of the reasons why PRH would want the sale to go through.


Staying with PRH, they have just published their diversity report where they look at their business and see whether it reflects the diversity of the country. They divided the workforce into warehousing and publishing. I wonder if other publishers would put themselves under such a spotlight.


I try to keep an eye on what is happening with new digital technologies as it relates to publishing. Recently Joanna Penn had a podcast interview on the blockchain and what it means for copyright and and intellectual property. Her guest was Roanie Levy, a lawyer who specializes in copyright and IP and is working in the blockchain field. If you are unclear what blockchain is and how copyright and smart contracts are going to change in the future, check out this great interview.


While authors are coming to grips with new technologies like NFT’s (limited editions of digital products) some publishers have figured out how NFT’s can make them money. Remember back at university and the huge price of textbooks? Many students buy second-hand textbooks or thirdhand. Academic publishers have figured out they can make money with these subsequent sales if they publish their books as NFT’s. (Will the author of the textbook get a cut?)


I am reminded of the words of a retiring publisher here in NZ. The business of a publisher is to stay in business. This week Kris Rusch puts on her publishers hat and examines the ways a publisher could be making money for their business. 


PEN America has issued a press release over a Utah school board banning 52 books under a new state law allowing books to be removed because of pornography issues. But what is pornography? When you look over the list you will be scratching your head like PEN.


Oh to have books to ban. Mark Williams looks at the difficulty faced by African nations just getting books. Digital books were supposed to be the answer but not if the publisher still sticks by regional rights. It is a reading desert out there with hope centered on the Middle East publishing community. Mark is hand making books for his school and they are one of the lucky ones.


Ruth Harris takes a look at decision fatigue. Just being a writer means making many decisions in your writing, let alone anything else. Ruth has some strategies for when it gets too much. 


Bang 2 Write has a great article on 5 examples of story structure. There is more than one way to understand the steps of the plot. 


In The Craft Section,

The intersection between Plotting and Pantsing- Litreactor- Bookmark

How to structure stories with multiple main characters- K M Weiland -Bookmark

Elements of a story- Reedsy – Comprehensive

Using backward design to plan your story- Angela Ackerman

Managing point of view and distance of time- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

Backcover copy formula- Sue Coletta- Bookmark

What to do instead of a writer blog- P S Hoffman

How to use Amazon to market for free- NY Book editors

Getting your work noticed- Liza Taylor- Bookmark

Author strategy for Bookbub ad bidding- Bookbub- Bookmark


To Finish,

Carmen Machado has an interesting article on taking the time to write when doing an MFA. So many writers are focused on trying to get an agent or a deal while doing their MFA that they miss the point that having time to write is the best thing you can do for your writing. One of her students forgot this and is now mired in a plagiarism scandal. Write first. Polish it until it gleams, then look for the deal. 





It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter. If you want the best of my bookmarked links come on over and subscribe. You will also get a nifty mini book crammed 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 or here. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Pic: Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

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