Thursday, August 10, 2023

When Whack-A-Mole Feels Like The Only Game In Town



In Publishing News this week…

The news that Simon and Shuster has been sold echoed around the publishing blogosphere like a thunderclap. The buyer KKR is an investment fund. The news has split the publishing world into two camps, This is a good thing for publishing and The sky is about to fall in.

Which camp you are in seems to be whether you are a student of financial history or whether you think that publishing needs to change the way it does business.

Mark Williams looks at it as a beacon of hope, an interesting take on how he sees the future playing out.

Cory Doctorow sees the sale as another nail in the coffin. Cory has been writing excellent articles recently about tech business issues and this sale fits right into some of his core concerns.

KKR have got a great deal- cheaper than PRH was offering. Simon and Schuster are an IP prize and their sales have been very good lately although they do have a Trump court case looming. (The winners will always be the lawyers.) 


In other court case news, Amazon and the FTC. The case of breaking up Amazon got a little closer recently. Will there be a future without Amazon? Don’t count on it coming soon. This case is going slowly. Meanwhile, although the judge threw out the colluding eBook prices with the big 5 publishers court case she did find that Amazon needs to front up over its monopolistic practices.


Jane Friedman is spitting mad and no one can blame her. If you are a popular and trusted name in the publishing world and some unscrupulous person decides to capitalise on your name recognition by publishing AI scraped books with your name on it, you would be too. However, when the websites hosting these bogus books then turn around and say so what, you haven’t trademarked your name, you reach Defcon 1 in mad. The post went viral and some backtracking was soon evident. But will this happen to others? Constant Vigilance.


Meanwhile, in other AI scraping news, The website Prosecraft which was set up to help authors refine their writing was closed by its owner when news broke that to make the site work they had been scraping popular authors work without permission. When you unleash the AI, letting it roam through 24,000 authors books isn’t a good idea.


Kathleen Schmidt a publishing industry blogger looks at the latest problems besetting the publishing industry and asks if publishing is now broken. 


Even though Jane Friedman is wrestling with AI trolls she still finds the time to have brilliant guest posters on her popular site. This week Matt Holmes has a very interesting study on Facebook ads and how he is using the FB algorithms to do something completely different which is also making him money.


Tonight I had the privilege of being at The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was great to see many friends in the industry and to celebrate the finalists and the winners. I have judged the awards and it is always a nerve wracking time for everybody. You feel the weight of your choices and wish that you could give everyone a prize for just getting to the finals because of the tremendous amount of work, sweat, tears, and years of the author and illustrators lives wrapped up in the pages. 


If you are wondering about this writing gig and feeling down about your work… read this great article by Kathleen McCleary on Writer Unboxed on Forward Motion.



In The Craft Section,

The secret to writing your first book faster- Suzy Vadori

Vulnerability -the key to compelling relationships- Angela Ackerman

Do you have too much dialogue- Janice Hardy- Bookmark

Two tricks to build suspense- K M Weiland- Bookmark

Multiple points of view – Anne R Allen- Bookmark

How to write middle grade fiction- Stephanie Willing


In The Marketing Section,

Book Marketing Buzzwords- A good index from Sandra Beckwith

Why writers shouldn’t care about the numbers of Social Media followers- Colleen Story- Bookmark

70 tips to sell books – Kindlepreneur

The Marketing Mind Shift- Joanna Penn with Ricci Wolman of Written Word Media podcast/transcript- 


How to make the new Author pages on Amazon work for you- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


To Finish,

It’s been a while since I linked to a post from Chuck Wendig. He is still around, still doing his wild crazy thing but this week’s post Forgive The Writers Because We Are So Tired resonated with me as I was researching the blog. Publishing, and Discoverability problems, and Book Banning, and AI scraping, and Scammers and… and…. 

It often feels like we are playing whack-a-mole with the problems of being a writer in this current age. Everything around you conspires to take away your joy in the process, and the imagination, and the dream. But there is joy in the well-crafted story and that somewhere in the midst of the doom and gloom there is a new reader just waiting to escape into your imagination. 

It is a bonus if your peers think that your work stands up and adds to the taonga/treasure of your country. The sweat and tears are worth it.





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Pic Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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