Thursday, July 27, 2023

Writers and Readers


In Publishing News this week,

I received a couple of interesting emails this week pointing to interesting moves by companies working for publishers and readers. 


Draft2Digital has acquired continuing their quest to be the everything store to Indie / Trad publishers. They bought Smashwords last year and are busy amalgamating the best bits. They introduced print (POD) to their eBook store. Now they have an Indie Book Cover Designer marketplace. 


The next email was from my local bookstore. They have partnered with to market audiobooks. This was news as the bookstores email to me came out at the same time as I found a reference to it on a global publishing website. are inviting indie bookstores to partner with them in return for a slice of the subscription pie. promises a portion of your sub can go to your favourite bookstore and you get to own your audiobooks instead of just a one time listen. Win/Win


Publishers Weekly highlights the movers and shakers in the Trad publishing world and they think Simon and Schuster may have a buyer. It’s all in who is making the big cash moves in publishing.


Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of America’s book banning court cases, booksellers in Texas have clubbed together to try to defeat a new Texas law that wants Bookshops and Publishers to rate their children’s books on a sexually explicit rating scale. The scale isn’t set out. The famous I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it judicial statement may be used here if the court case fails. On the other side of the pond, France is grappling with its first book ban of a children’s book over sexuality. They haven’t banned it just made it an R18. (I wonder how the sales are going, probably very well.)


Mark Williams from The New Publishing Standard pointed out that the UK’s much improved print sales numbers were hiding some unwelcome news. Numbers were down. Prices were up.

Mark also looks at the UK’s Independent Publishers Guild offer to help publishers navigate the AI landscape by delivering training sessions in how to ‘harness the power of AI driven technology.’ 

Remember AI is a tool. It is not a creative replacement.


Kris Rusch continues her great posts on niche marketing. This week she gives examples of thinking small to nail the niche market.


James Scott Bell explores writing rules and why you should know them and the reason for them before you break them- and then break them creatively. This is an excellent post from a writing craft master.


In The Craft Section,

How to create a scene outline- C S Lakin- Bookmark

What is an inciting incident – September Fawkes- Bookmark

How to meet cute in romance-Lindsay Elizabeth

Find characters energy motivators – Deborah-Zenha Adams

The Rhetorical Triangle for Writers- Sue Coletta - Bookmark

Improve your writing in 5 minutes- Mini videos-Angela Ackerman Becca Puglisi- Check it out!


In The Marketing Section,

8 things book promo companies wish authors understood- and 8 mistakes you are making on your website- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

Who are your key influencers- Sandra Beckwith - Bookmark

Have you checked your author goals lately?- Judith Briles

Using Books2Read as a Marketing tool- Terry Odell- Bookmark

Nothing matters until something matters- Jody Sperling- Interesting!


To Finish,

Readers and Writers. Writers are Readers. The two are wound up together in mutual need relationships. Need to read. Need to write. Need to read in order to write. 

Written Word Media have the results of the survey they asked their reader newsletter subscribers on how they pick their next book. It’s not the cover….

Gazebo Girl, Christy Cashman, talks about the struggle in finding the right place to write and why sometimes you need to change it up.

Jerry B Jenkins writes about the author career. Did you know how many careers are out there that are writing but have another name? How do you plan a writing career? Has any writer planned one? 

Sometimes I think The Alice in Wonderland story is a metaphor for the writing career. Going down rabbit holes, taking suspect potions, ending up where you didn’t want to be or ending up somewhere completely different from where you thought you were. Add in the weird characters you meet along the way and it’s time for a lie down. 





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Pic John Tenniel Illustration

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Getting Caught In The Rush To Publish


In Publishing News this week…

The news of the layoffs at Penguin Random House have hit the industry hard. It seems no one is safe, with Pulitzer Prize winning editors suddenly finding themselves without a job.

PRH is not the only house laying off… Publishers Weekly report key editors at other publications are also being shown the exit door.


The Guardian recently wrote about the mental health crisis of new writers not being supported by the publishing industry, but the very people who are supposed to be doing the supporting are on shaky ground themselves. They are trying to hang on to their jobs. And what about the people who haven’t been laid off? They get to do double the work – I bet they won’t get double the pay.


In the AI section, the Writers Guild of the UK has released a policy statement on how they see AI impacting writers. The AI tools are out there but they are only as good as the data set they are trained on. This is where another big campaign is being waged as thousands of authors urge the AI companies to stop using their work to train AI’s without permission. 

AI is out of the box. The best thing writers can do is work out how to use it and protect their creative process. I recently listened to Orna Ross and Joanna Penn discussing this and I recommend their podcast on the topic.


I seem to be writing about a court case every week. This week it's Amazon taking issue with the EU calling them a Very Large Online Platform. They think they are not. At issue is the new strict rules on transparency, content moderation and risk management. Amazon recently upset their advertisers with the new rule change based around this. Account owners will be identified as the advertiser in any ad they run on Amazon. This has Authors in a bind as they can’t hide behind a pseudonym and be an advertiser. 


TikTok’s publishing arm is starting to approach authors directly about signing up on their platform. One author relates what they are offering and it doesn’t look like a good deal. 


Anne R Allen has an excellent post on learning to be a writer. You don’t really need to get into debt for that MFA.

Dani Abernathy has a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog about The Forgotten Element of Story – The Author. How much of you are you putting in the story. 


Kris Rusch continues her niche marketing series with an interesting look at how different books in your writing catalogue lend themselves to very different approaches to marketing them. One marketing size does not fit all.


Angela Ackerman asks if writers are breaking the cardinal rule. This is a good wakeup call. You don’t need to rush. Take your time. Get all your writing and publishing goals in a line.


Now Novel has a great post on what to think about when you are planning a series of novels.



In The Craft Section,

The difference between author tone and author voice- Laurel Osterkamp- Bookmark

How to write fight scenes- Glen Strathy- Bookmark

Creating believable characters- Ane Mulligan

Why cinematic technique in fiction is important – C S Lakin- Bookmark

Rising Action definition and examples – NowNovel- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section.

How to promote with a press release- Penny Sansevieri

2 interesting posts from Draft to Digital- Selling with promo stacking and Choosing a title to hook your reader- Bookmark both

How to write a prologue- Bookbaby

How to find your book marketing niche- Colleen Story- Bookmark


To Finish

Writers need readers. We could just write for ourselves but there is a special thrill of knowing someone has read your story and liked it. We need to be promoting readers and reading wherever we can. New Zealand has a new reading ambassador. A children’s librarian who is passionate about reading. A child who reads will be an adult who reads and buys our work. Alan Dingley has a great post on this that you might like to share around.


I recently came across a company making Short Story Dispensers. You can get free short stories printed out on a receipt style role. Just right for libraries and learning institutions. You can load them up with local short stories or a wider selection. You just need an account, and a dispenser. I didn’t see a way of protecting author copyright and compensation. But that’s an easy fix isn’t it? 





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Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Book Brand


In Publishing News this week,

Recently there have been calls for the publishing industry to start using more sustainable practices. Taylor Francis Publishing have opted to send out their journals with paper wrapping instead of shrink wrapping. Read how they found the experience.


If you have been wondering if the subscription model will kill publishing you must be living in the United States. Mark Williams takes a look at the rising figures of subscription and wonders how long it will take for book publishers to change their tune.


Another day, another AI lawsuit. Google has been hit with a lawsuit filed by the same firm that filed against Open AI. They are alleging that Google ‘scraped everything ever created and shared on its platform’ to train its AI bot. DUH!

Meanwhile, Shutterstock, having embraced the Open AI model on its website, is now expanding its AI tools. When you can’t beat them, be at the forefront of the new technology.


If you are still wondering about copyright and AI check out Kelly Way’s recent article.


Publishers Weekly reports that book sales are down in the first half of the year. Backlist is propping up everyone’s bottom lines. 

Goodereader has an article on the massive cost of book piracy. Latest figures have the cost to publishers topping $300 million.


Berritt Koehler publishers recently published an article on the 10 awful truths about book publishing. While their 10 awful truths are awful they have at least shown how you can manage and market in this challenging industry with some good strategies.


It’s half way through the year and Colleen Story thinks this is a perfect time to stop – and look at your writing and publishing goals, are they on track? Do you need to change things?


Kris Rusch has some advice to consider. Think small. In the next interesting instalment of her niche marketing series she examines how small is big in the niche world. 


How much attention do you pay to the file formats you write in? Do you have the source files of your published books? What happens when your publisher disappears? David Wogahn writes an interesting article on Jane Friedman’s blog about protecting the files that make your books.


How easily are you distracted from your writing? Daphne Gray Grant has an article that helps you figure out how to be distraction free and productive in your writing time. First – halve your goals…


In The Craft Section,

9 Common Dialogue problems- Anne R Allen- Bookmark

Discover what your character fears- K M Weiland- Bookmark

5 common problems with background characters- Mythcreants-Bookmark

How to figure out which writing advice suits you best- Trisha Loehr- Bookmark

How I zero drafted a novel in 6 weeks- Kelsey Allagood- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

Best practice for selling more books - Elizabeth Craig- Bookmark

When is the best time to release a book- Sue Coletta- Bookmark

How to get a more successful launch- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

How to get your book into libraries- Roland Denzel and Mark Lefebvre

How to write a book description- Bookbub


To Finish

It has to happen. The world needs another cute digital reading device that will be the next must have item. Introducing immersive reading in virtual reality… with a pair of sunglasses?


While authors are wondering if they can get their book published, publishers are embracing the merch opportunities to influence the influencers. The influencers can have their pick of totes, caps, journals, bags, sweaters, mugs, limited edition prints… and on and on. Do they get the book too? Will we see Book Branded Merch shows on TikTok?




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Thursday, July 6, 2023

Standing Up



In Publishing News this week,

The death of the Ukranian writer Victoria Amelina stopped the publishing world for a moment. Everyone reflected on the life of courage and commitment to the truth this writer embodied in her professional life. Victoria had just come back from Norway where she had accepted an award on behalf of another friend, children’s author Volodymyr Vakulenko, tortured and killed by the Russians occupiers. Victoria was using her writing skills to document war crimes. She had just finished a day of presenting at the Kiev Bookfair when the restaurant she was meeting other writers in suffered a missile attack. R.I.P.


Publishing Perspectives reports on the opening keynote by Hugo Setzer at the Contec Mexico publishing conference. This conference is dedicated to sustainability, translation, and audio publishing. There were some heated challenges to the wider publishing industry about the need to walk the talk on sustainability practice in publishing.


AI is back in the dock again this week with the news of a class action against Open AI from authors whose work was recognisably scraped by AI. 

Mark Williams from The New Publishing Standard looks at the arguments in this case and draws some pithy conclusions. Is the demise of the author a valid argument in this case?


While the courts are looking at AI- news is breaking that Amazon is using AI to summarise product reviews. So far this hasn’t extended to book reviews but it can only be a matter of time. Will you be able to trust a book review in future?

Meanwhile, Amazon is going to have to do something about the proliferation of AI written books in the bestseller lists. Somehow the bots got in and gamed the system. Amazon did crack down, but not fast enough. To add to their woes Amazon is in court for unfair practice surrounding their Prime subscription model. Their defence lawyers will have to do an amazing job as their client even named their dubious practice after the story of the trojan horse.


Joanna Penn revisited AI and the Author in another great podcast session with Nick Thacker this week. This is a great discussion on using AI as a marketing tool. Nick and Joanna talk about how important it is to have a human be the creative brain behind the words.


The Alliance of Independent Authors has a deep dive into the seven processes of publishing. This week they are looking at marketing. This is a comprehensive article about mindset and the differences between promotion and marketing books.


Kris Rusch continues her excellent series on Niche Marketing. This week she examines what niche really means to the writer and how you can benefit from it.


Lithub traces the evolution of the celebrity memoir. 

Now Novel has a great article on using story planners to get the bones of your story down. 

Kathy Steinemann has a nifty redundancy quiz- Can you identify the redundant words in the sentences? A good craft quiz for warm ups.


Donald Maass has another cracker of an article on Writer Unboxed. What are your promise words? He takes a dive into the words used in the opening chapter that should signal what the story is promising the reader.



In The Craft Section,

2 Great posts from K M Weiland How to trim your word count and

Think about the lie your character believes- Bookmark

Turn the tables on popular tropes in fiction- Liz Kerin - Bookmark

A guide to writing Romance- Now Novel-Comprehensive!

Subterfuge in dialogue- Becca Puglisi

Can a novelist write like a screenwriter- Anne R Allen- Bookmark



In The Marketing Section,

How to write a good book description- IngramSpark

2 interesting posts from Penny Sansevieri- Quiz your book marketing knowledge and How the current tsunami of books reshapes book publicity- Bookmark

10 tips to get a Bookbub featured deal- Draft2Digital- Bookmark

Author newsletter data- Bookbub- Bookmark


To Finish,

Recently the BBC publicised another author getting a first publishing deal in her 70’s. What is interesting is this author has been signed for a 5 book deal and she is 77. Writing is for every age group and it is never too late to start. The only pre-requisite is that you have an entertaining story to tell.





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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: The poster for the Kyiv Book Fair


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