Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Freedom To Read

 


 

In Publishing News this week,

 

This week the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) issued a statement on The Ongoing Violation of Children’s Rights in Gaza. IBBY is an international organization dedicated to celebrating and promoting reading all over the world. Every two years they award children’s literature’s highest honour, The Hans Christian Anderson Medal (often referred to as The Little Nobel.) Publishing Perspectives highlights the statement as not casting blame or fault. An exercise in deft diplomacy, calling everyone to work together on behalf of the children.

 

Down here in the Pacific, we watch the political moves happening around the pond. This is also true of the Book Fairs that have been gaining more prominence down our way. 

The Beijing International Book Fair has just kicked off with 71 countries attending this year. Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard looks at who is attending and speaking. All eyes will be on the AI in publishing event happening at the fair.

 

Publishing Perspectives highlights the World Expression Forum which recently met in Norway and dedicated a portion of its programming to how the freedom to read is tied up with democracy. They caution that the publishing industry can’t be complacent.

 

Not complacent is the American branch of Oxford University Press, whose workers are picketing outside the office. 

 

GoodeReader highlights a new piece of tech aimed at the educational market. A foldable eReader tablet you can read and write on, from ReadTych. Is this what we have all been waiting for? 

 

Two fantastic podcasts caught my attention this week. The SPA girls interviewed Maggie Marr, a specialist contract lawyer and writer. This is a great insight into contract language, negotiations, and best practice. Everyone should listen to this. 

Joanna Penn interviewed Steve Pieper on click testing and selling direct. Steve looks at how click testing works and why you should do it. Check out the podcast or read the transcript.

 

Are you looking after your health? It’s the Winter season down here and I’ve been simmering chicken soup most of the day. While the house is smelling wonderful, I’m also reminding myself that I need to follow the advice for writers in caring for your health by Emily Young.

 

The Mary Sue published a list of the greatest Young Adult reads of all time. Any list is subjective, but they may have nailed it with this list. What do you think?

 

Choosing names for your characters is often fraught. Sometimes the right name is elusive, and you can’t quite get a handle on the character until you have the name sorted. Ginny Moyer likens it to naming a child. It means just as much.

 

In The Craft section,

10 tips on writing a fantasy novel- Lucy Hay- Bookmark


Finding your story's throughline- Mythcreants


Avoiding headhopping- Anne R Allen – Bookmark


Scene structure and transitions- K M Weiland – Bookmark


Redeeming your villain- Becca Puglisi

 

In The Marketing Section,

Why you should care about library distribution-Draft2Digital


Direct sales strategies- Bookbub- Bookmark


What’s in a title- Jane Corry – Bookmark


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


Learning to love Amazon’s freebies- Caroline Howard Johnson

 

To Finish,

How often have you closed a book and decided not to finish it. I used to force myself to read the rest of the book hoping it would get better but now I shake my head and put it down. Amy Bernstein has a great post on Jane Friedman’s blog on making sure your book doesn’t fall into the DNF book club. 

With so much news on the ways to stop people reading, you owe it to your reader to give them the best reading experience you can.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter? You can subscribe here to join our happy band and get the best of my bookmarked links and other extras.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Publishing: The Irony

 


 

In Publishing News this week,

 

Oh, the irony.

The Guardian reports on a Florida school book ban. Yes, they have banned a childrens book about book bans. Imagine if the kids knew that they could protest against book banning.

 

Publisher’s Weekly reports on the Ukraine Book Festival. Yes, they are still managing to celebrate books in the midst of the war. However, one of their biggest printing plants was targeted which has destroyed the books printed for Summer release. 

 

Elsevier, science publishers have just published their report of gender diversity in scientific publishing. It’s been twenty years since the last report, has anything got better since 2004? They have a breakdown of countries who are publishing their woman scientists.

 

Elsewhere in Europe, Publishing Perspectives reports French editor Arnaud Nourry has formed a collective of independent publishers. This might not sound so exciting but collectives can amplify everyone involved. And in a canny move Arnaud has made some first look agreements with some very big publishers. A model of publishing to keep an eye on.

 

Draft2Digital has partnered with an international rights broker. If you are a D2D author you now have a sweet deal on foreign language translations and rights selling.

 

Convertkit is a premier email service that many authors love. They are shaking up their email service by providing a free tier especially for newsletter builders. Check it out. 

 

Dan Holloway has an article on publicity costs and how the big authors are now having to pay for their own publicity.

 

The Alliance of Independent Authors has a roundup of the latest scams and phishing attacks targeting authors. Check out the list for a heads up.

 

Should you show your Work In Progress to your friends and family? Anne Allen talks about the pitfalls involved in sharing your work with people who don’t really understand what you do. She has advice for how to survive the drama.

 

Sandra Beckwith has an article on how to get kicked out of Facebook groups. This is list of don’ts if you really want to stay in them, which is pretty much why we are still on Facebook.

 

Jami Gold has a super post on backstory. How can you structure your story when you need to get a lot of backstory into the front story. 

 

Suzanne Lakin has an interesting post on theme. Ask yourself why you are writing the story? Therein lies your theme. Suzanne has 3 ways you can infuse your story with theme.

 

In The Craft Section,

How symbols can support your writing- Lisa Tener- Bookmark


How to write non mean barbs or banter- Chris Winkle


Increasing the emotional impact of your story- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark


Outline your book 10x faster- Dale Roberts - Bookmark


Picking the right names for your characters- September Fawkes

 

In The Marketing Section,

Tips for event bookselling- Sharon Woodhouse- Bookmark


Advanced reader engagement strategies- Dale Roberts


Can introverts market effectively- Rachel Thompson- Bookmark


Things to bring to book signing events- Michelle Millar


How to pick topics for your blog or newsletter- LA Bourgeois- Bookmark

 

To Finish,

Booklife has an interesting article from Brooke Warner, an editor/publisher about how the constant layoffs are changing the culture inside the big trade publishers. When the people who still have a job, have to do 2 or 3 other jobs as well, you get delays all along the pipeline. However, Brooke thinks there is an upside for publishing. The real energy and innovation is happening right in front of us with the publishing professionals that were laid off.

Ironic huh.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter? You can subscribe here to join our happy band and get the best of my bookmarked links and other extras.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the free Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Slogging Forward

 


 

This week in Publishing News,


The Guardian published an article on the latest survey of children’s reading habits. Woe. Children are not reading as much as they used to. And the books they are reading are not challenging enough. They particularly bemoan secondary school students who are barely reading at all in the UK and Ireland. There has been some talk about the falling sales of YA but I don’t think we are in crisis. It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere and they are gearing up for an election. They need lots of drama to fill the newspapers.

 

Meanwhile, the finalists for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults were announced this morning. What a super line up! Congratulations everyone. I have judged these awards and I know how hard it must have been to come up with this shortlist. It is also great to see more books being entered, we’re only a few books short of the mark to have a long list, like the adult book awards. 

 

Publisher’s Weekly reports on the layoffs at Hachette. They have let go editors at Little Brown. When the publishing industry is under scrutiny to be more diverse in its people hiring, these particular layoffs don’t look good.

 

Audiobooks continue their upward trajectory in sales. They made over $2 Billion in sales last year. The survey from the audio publishers association reports that listener demographics are also on the rise with more children listening to audiobooks


The Textbook companies have got together to sue Google. At issue is the way that Google ads promote pirated textbooks to poor students. They are enabling scammers say the textbook publishers.

 

Dan Holloway of The Alliance of Independent Authors keeps an eye on publishing news and he recently reported on the willingness of media companies to do partnership deals with Open AI. If they’re not doing deals they are suing Open AI.

The Alliance also has some great podcasts on all things writing related. Check out Sacha Black and Michael La Ronn on marketing children’s and YA books and other interesting advice on their Q& A. They have transcripts of their podcasts.

 

Anne R Allen has an interesting blog post on changing up the author bookshop event. She got together with writer friends to have live theatre reenactments of scenes from their books. Think of the possibilities….

 

Two great writing craft articles caught my eye this week. James Scott Bell on writing and showing character emotion. A super post with great advice from the master.

Sarah Hamer writes a great post on the Story Triangle. She boils down structure to 3 essential must haves for a strong story. 

 

In The Craft Section,

Structuring an ensemble cast- September Fawkes - Bookmark


Tips for writing multi author series- D Wallace Peach- Bookmark


10 tips for writing steamy scenes- Gwynn Scheltema


Characters and writing race diversity- Gwen Plano


A Scrivener trick to use in Word- Debbie Burke- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

8 unique venues for children’s author visits- Chelsea Tornetto- Bookmark


Talking pre publicity- Sam Missingham- BOOKMARK-Print Out.


7 creative ways to sell more books- Fussy Librarian


6 savvy book promo ideas- Indie Author Central


Understanding Author Brand- Reedsy- Bookmark

 

To Finish

There is a great quote about writing from Elmore Leonard- ‘Try to leave out the parts people tend to skip.’

When you are faced with writing drudgery it can be tempting to skip over these bits, promising yourself you will fill them in later… and later doesn’t happen.

Two fantastic articles tackle this situation. Katie Weiland looks what might be triggering your resistance to writing and offers some great tips for getting through the drudgery.

Susan DeFreitas identifies the problem as your inner storyteller not knowing enough about your story/scene to write it. Both these articles have great tips to help you when the story writing becomes a slog.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter? You can subscribe here to join our happy band.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Challenging Times

 

In Publishing News this week,


The Romance Writers of America has filed for bankruptcy. For many years this association was the biggest writer organization out there. They had huge conferences which were the industry standard. A series of scandals in the last few years has seen their membership dwindle from over 10,000 to around 3000 or less. This means they can’t pay for hotels which they used to book 5 years in advance for their big conferences. The bills are due. There is no money leading to the filing. It is not the end of the association, but tight times are ahead. Meanwhile, the way things have been left has annoyed some writers. 

 

When Simon and Schuster was up for sale, Meta (Facebook) was interested in acquiring it. Good E Reader reports from recordings shared with the New York Times that they didn’t want the publishing company really- only the content. This is a heads up for any other publishing companies going up for sale. You could get bought for AI training purposes.

 

Publishing Perspectives reports that Bloomsbury have bought the academic publishers Rowman Littlefield. This is their biggest ever acquisition and doubles their footprint in the US. Richard Charkin’s monthly column on the good and the not so good aspects of publishing has academic publishers in the profitable section, so an excellent bottom line for Bloomsbury. Academic publishing has a captive audience- much to the annoyance of academics.


Dan Holloway of The Alliance of Independent Authors has a quick rundown of the opposition by some of the corporate sponsor behind the Hay Literary Festival. Do you take the money and close your eyes to where it has come from? Can literary beggars be choosers?

 

Lorna Fergusson writes about getting the balance right when you go on a writing retreat. She has a list of very good advice to consider from planning to expectations to the type of experiences that could help or hinder the benefit you might get from it.

 

Christine Webb writes for Writers Digest about balancing humour and emotion in your books. Going too far one way or the other can wreck the reading experience.

 

So what does fear have to do with bad writing? Ruth Harris answers this question in her monthly column on Anne Allens blog. Is fear stopping you from what you really want to write?

 

Do you let your characters fill in backstory? John Kelley has an interesting article on Writer Unboxed about letting your minor characters fill in information. Stories within stories.

 

Suzanne Lakin has an interesting post on inner conflict. How well do you know your characters motivations? She has a series of questions to ask your character that reveals their inner conflicts and can give you great pointers on where to take the character in the story.

 

 

In The Craft Section,

How to use white space And How Did I Get Here - Sue Coletta- Bookmark


Crafting compelling backstory- Michelle Barker- Bookmark


Steadfast arcs vs flat arcs- September Fawkes


Introducing your characters- K M Weiland- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Using universal book links – Draft2Digital- Bookmark


Marketing forever mindset- Podcast- ALLI conference- Bookmark


Marketing to agents- Karen Whiting


5 tips for building superfans- Rachel Hanna- Bookmark


15 book promo ideas- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark

 

To Finish,

It is always interesting to drop into Joanna Penn’s podcast. This week she has an interview with a former mental health nurse, Adam Beswick, about planning for success. Adam has a bestselling dark fantasy series using TikTok videos. He talks about going from being terrified to video himself to viral videos. It is an interesting interview on mindset and being open to new experiences. We send our characters on challenging journeys- shouldn’t we be challenging ourselves too?

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter? You can subscribe here to join our happy band.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

Photo by Michał Robak on Unsplash

 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Belief In Your Voice

  


In Publishing News this week,

 

There were accolades and ‘I remember’s’ all over Social Media when Alice Munro died this week. Alice was a ground breaking short story writer awarded the 2013 Nobel prize in Literature for her work and was often cited as one of the finest writers in the last 50 years.

 

In audiobook news, Bonnier books joined Spotify’s audiobook premium offer. Publishing Perspectives reports that Spotify has over 200 million premium subscribers and they are listening to backlist audio books. With Harper Collins move into AI voiced audiobooks for their backlist (in the blog a few weeks ago) the publishers have found another pot of gold to exploit.

 

Meanwhile, The Bookseller reports on a hybrid first- mixing real narrator, digital voices and AI into an audiobook.

 

The EU has signed their AI Act into law and it will be in effect from June. It is more comprehensive than the United States law or the UK. The fines are whopping. Keep an eye out for expert commentary for how the law will affect publishing going forward.

 

Dan Holloway reports that Open AI, the tech firm behind ChatGPT, have disbanded their risk team. This seems particularly short sighted as a risk team might have alerted them that Scarlet Johannsson was about to launch a lawsuit against them for copying her voice.

 

Spare a thought for the Spanish language publishers. Their children’s books are in hot demand, but they can’t get them picked up in their own countries. If the book comes from America, it is a different story. Publishers are resorting to opening American offices so they can get American ISBN’s. Publishing Perspectives reports on the conundrum.

 

Anne R Allen has a great post on genre, comps and categories or where does your book belong on the shelf. This is an excellent rundown on why subcategories are important in marketing your book.

 

Dave Chesson has a must read article on the importance of making sure you have licenses for the fonts you use. Just because it’s on word doesn’t make it free to use in your print book or eBook.

 

Lisa Gardner has an interesting post on the 10 things she has learned as a crime fiction writer for 30 years. 

 

Sandra Beckwith has 9 writing tools and resources she can’t do without. Mug warmers anyone?

 

How are your endings? Katie Weiland has a great post on troubleshooting your endings to make them the best they can be.

 

Angela Ackerman is guest posting on Jami Gold’s site with a great article on the inner character arc. How do we get resolve the inner conflict and give the character layers?

 

In the Craft Section,

Character failure responses- Angela Ackerman


Writing for your readers-Linda Clare


The first million words are practice- Draft2Digital


How to avoid reader déjà vu- Jami Gold Bookmark


The three rules of point of view- Gabriela Pereira- Bookmark


Novel writing words of wisdom- Dale Smith- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Powering through the unfun parts of the job- Becca Puglisi- Bookmark


Types of videos authors can make- Rob Bignell


Book marketing strategies on a budget- Dale Roberts- Bookmark


Human centered book marketing- Joanna Penn talks to Dan Blank-Bookmark


Converting Word docs to ePub- Jane Friedman

 

To Finish,

How do you know when you have a big enough story to tell? This is a question that can send the writer into a spin. Some compensate by throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the story. Others can’t write the story because it doesn’t feel compelling. Jane Friedman has an excerpt from Robin Finn’s book on self belief and the limits we place on ourselves when we are writing.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

Do you want the best of my bookmarked links in a handy monthly newsletter? You can subscribe here to join our happy band.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

pic Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Friday, May 17, 2024

Opening The AI Box



Regular readers will notice that the roundup is a day late this week. It is Graduation time and we have been attending ceremonies and celebrating the achievements of a new graduate in the house.

 

In Publishing News this week

 

The first quarter stat shot from the AAP shows book sales were flat. If you get into the weeds of the stats, eBooks were up and everything else was down or just ticking along. Here in my city an independent bookseller said that after a flat first quarter they had hopes that book sales would be picking up. Of course I was helping their bottom line by buying books.

Meanwhile, Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard was reminding readers that the statshot doesn’t show all the sales of books. Amazon is still doing quite nicely as they are on target to get $1 billion in eBook revenue.

 

If you are a children’s writer you will be noticing the pleas for more midgrade books, and where are the midgrade books, and why don’t we have more breakout hits for children. The questions and end times statements are everywhere. Mark Williams was particularly incensed with an opinion piece stating it was phones that brought about the downfall of midgrade reading.

 

Richard Charkin has an interesting look at the new A to Z of publishing terms and buzz words. This is a good snapshot of the things that concern trade publishing in 2024.


In happier news the Dream Team, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have launched their latest Emotion Thesaurus book, Emotion Amplifiers. This is a revised and expanded companion to the book that began their one million sales thesaurus journey. 


James Scott Bell looks at the recent strike down of the Non Compete clause and how this clause will no longer be enforceable from September this year. The non compete clause started the practice of using pen names at different publishing houses. This could tie into book advances. 

Does this mean the end of the advance too? 

 

If you have been trying to get a handle on marketing, you will have come across the terms list builder promotions. List builders are for promoting the benefits of joining a newsletter list. One author found out the downside of list builder promotions and sounds a cautionary note on Jane Friedman’s blog.

 

Jaire Sims has a guest article on Anne R Allen’s blog on what she wished she had known about self publishing before she did it. First research your subject.

 

Sandra Beckwith has ten tips for writing an op-ed article or essay about your research, or non-fiction book.

 

Are you a writer that keeps your current work in progress close to your chest or do you share every step of the process? Julie Johnstone writes on Writer Unboxed about Sharing your work too early: The soft tissue principle.

 

The Craft Section,

2 great posts from Angela Ackerman -Throw rocks at your characters-and How symbolism adds depth to a story - Bookmark


Understanding tone- Reedsy Blog- Bookmark


Settings that crawl under the skin- Jaq Evans


Writers guide to romantasy- Alexa Nazzaro- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Author education- a crucial investment- Penny Sansevieri


Creating an author press pack- K M Allen- Bookmark


Bookbub ads- Bookbub- Bookmark


Goodreads, the ultimate author playground – Corina Amos- Bookmark


Marketing with a blog- Karen Cioffi

 

To Finish

Dan Holloway reports that ChatGPT 4 has been folded into the free programme from Open AI and is available as an app. Many writers are using ChatGPT for help with writing tasks and research, now they have access to next level bells and whistles.

Bloomberg reports AI voiced books topping 40,000 on Audible averaging 4 stars. This technology is here to stay. Authors need to develop some ways of dealing with the opportunities and challenges of this rapidly advancing technology. The Alliance of Independent Authors has compiled a MUST READ list of practical steps for writers to consider how they interact with AI in their work.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter If you want the best of my bookmarked links you can subscribe here to join our happy band.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

Imposters, Frauds, and Dodgy Dealings

 


In Publishing News this week,

 

The United Kingdom writers are not happy. This week the UK Publishers Association blasted the UK government over their response to their own governmental committee’s recommendations for dealing with copyright issues regarding AI and Large Language Models. Even the head of the governmental committee is using strong language about the government’s response.

Meanwhile, The UK Society of Authors held an extraordinary general meeting to put to the vote three issues, fossil fuels, AI, and Gaza. The results of the vote have caused an uproar in the wider author community. Many writers are publicly resigning their membership. Mark Williams offers his take on where it all went horribly wrong.

 

Over the pond in the United States, the dissenting authors from Pen America’s award ceremony (mentioned two weeks ago) have got together to hold their own show and a fundraiser.

 

Publisher’s Weekly reports that Simon and Schuster have been shopping and bought a large Dutch publishing company. Their private equity fund bosses have been promising expansion and with this purchase they have a subscription company, an audiobook company and a few other goodies.

 

Dan Holloway, news editor at The Alliance of Independent Authors, has been looking at the news that OpenAI is going to pay the creators of the content they have been using to train their AI. This is based around the financial arrangement they are making with publishers to use their content. But how will they do it? 

 

Kathy Steinemann is annoyed that she is being forced to lie when asked if she is using AI. Have you stopped and thought about how much you use AI in your writing? It might surprise you.

 

Anne R Allen received a dodgy complaint about her writing this week and discovered it was a bot. But why and how did the bot discover her writing? She writes about the reality of the trollbot inquisition.

 

This week, long time publishing commentator, Mike Shatzkin popped out of retirement to make some interesting observations after meeting with long time publishing professionals. The three stages of publishing, Gutenberg, Industrial and now Digital. Each one marking distinct times in human history.

 

Joanna Penn interviewed Chelle Honniker this week and it’s a great interview. Chelle talks about all sorts of tools to help automate your business. Chelle is also a programmer for Author Nation- the replacement conference for 20Books Vegas- she has a quick rundown on what’s on offer. Very exciting.

 

Podcast Review has a list of the best writing craft podcasts around. If you are a podcast listener, take a look at these. You will recognize familiar names from past weekly roundups. After sixteen years of weekly blogging about writing and publishing, I must have heard everybody.

 

Katie Weiland is looking at the Enneagram again but this time from the writers point of view. She has four numbers profiled this week and finishes next week. I can’t wait to see what she says about my number.

 

In The Craft Section,

Crafting fantasy characters- Prowriting Aid


Making scenes work- Karen Cioffi


3 signs you’re writing misplaced modifiers- Colleen Story- Bookmark


Stuck? Change your story- Janice Hardy


Ten tips for DIY editing- Debbie Burke- Bookmark


10 steps to writing a better novel- K M Weiland- Bookmark

 

In the Marketing Section,

What is a newsletter- Comprehensive


Embrace public speaking- Jim Acevedo


Why authors should be accessible- Katie McCoach- Bookmark


How to announce your book- Sandra Beckwith


How regular should your updates be- Rachel Thompson- Bookmark


What to post beside writing content- Emily Enger- Bookmark

 

To Finish

Imposter syndrome hits us all. Sometimes it creeps up on us and does a number on your mental health. Sometimes you can recognize it as plain old envy. Either way it is important to understand it and do something about it before it cripples you. Rachel Toalson has a must read article on Writer Unboxed on how to overcome the feeling you are a fraud.

 

Maureen

@craicer

 

It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter If you want the best of my bookmarked links you can subscribe here to join our happy band.

If you want the weekly blog in your inbox subscribe to the Substack version.

If you like the blog and want to buy me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

pic Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

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