Thursday, February 22, 2024

Jumping Off With Your Eyes Open


 

In Publishing News this week.


Just after I posted my blog last week the news broke all over the publishing blogosphere that Findaway Terms Of Service had changed and they were doing an all in rights grab. I figured that instead of posting breaking news I would wait and see what happened and tell you this week. So, to recap for those in the back, Findaway was a nifty little startup that authors could put their audiobooks on without the punitive contracts and royalty grabbing that Amazon Audible locked authors into. Yay. 

They grew fast and everything was good and then Spotify bought them. Wow, said their authors, we’re playing with the big boys. Audible took a hit. Everything was fine, until Findaway’s TOS changed last week. The screams were deafening. 

Check out Author Beware for just what the terms are now and whether you should accept them.

Spotify/Findaway shouted, it’s all a mistake, all’s well, nothing to see here, as they quickly backpedaled most of the terms. 

Except, canny pundits said- Aha, we were waiting for this. They screwed musicians and now they are coming for us. Kris Rusch breaks this down and lays out the pros and cons.

What to do? 

First, Take a deep breath. Decide what you want your audiobook platform to be. Discoverability, a little money on the side, all in formats, human narrators, AI narrated shorts…

There are other discoverability platforms out there for Audiobooks- Many have ditched Spotify for Author Republic, who distribute to 50 other retailers including Spotify. (I hope they have looked at their terms of service well.) 

If you have a high traffic website of your own – Bookfunnel now delivers audiobooks. 

However, if you see the world in Entertainment- Subscription streaming is where movies and TV shows are. Spotify has all but captured the music business and are making big inroads into podcasts and now Audiobooks. If Netflix has your eyes, then Spotify has your ears. Can you afford to ditch them or do you play them like a lute- giving some of your content to Spotify and encouraging your fans to go to you direct.

If anything about the last week has taught authors, it’s that corporations who rely on creative content for money don’t care about the rights of the content providers. Read the TOS carefully and go in with your eyes open. 

 

In Other News...


TOR Books (Big SciFi publisher) has been caught using Ai images in cover art. They said they bought them legit but the artists whose work it is say that Ai’s ripped off their work. So even the legit Ai platforms are dodgy- who knew? 

 

London Bookfair has been announcing their programming. Publishing Perspectives details the special guests and what extra book events they have on offer.

 

Late January is when the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators have their Winter conference. They have a great blog where they write up key moments and presentations from the speakers. Children’s Book Illustrator Debbie Ohi has a great post on picture books behind the scenes- excellent for new illustrators with tips of the trade.

 

The Week has a post on Romantasy - the hot new genre. Hmm I’m not sure it’s new, its been around for a while- think hot romance inside a fantasy novel.

 

Jane Friedman has a guest post  from Tiffany Yates Martin on why and how you can sabotage an important reveal in your story. It’s all about context.

 

Anne R Allen has a super post on action, dialogue, and business. Action is not violence it can be anything. But if you have too much action you can bore the reader as well. Use your action wisely.

 

In The Craft Section,

Perform your own developmental edit- WrittenWordMedia- Bookmark


3 kinds of Story Fuel, goal desire, and search- Barbara Linn Probst- Bookmark


Scene structure- September Fawkes


Tension suspense and conflict-Lynette Burrows- Bookmark


How To find Beta Readers- Now Novel

 

In The Marketing Section,

Amazon A+ Content Sandra Beckwith – Bookmark


Social Media and the author platform- Rachel Thompson- Bookmark


What is a Book discovery platform - Alli Blog


How to go viral on TikTok- Hina Pandya


Booktok tips for writers- Sue Coletta- Bookmark

 

To Finish,

Platform. Your platform. Their platform. Publishers platform. Distributors platform.

You can be forgiven for thinking it is all too much - let me hide.

The most basic understanding is how you are represented online. It could be a webpage, a website, an email contact, Amazon Author page. Whatever it is you need to be aware of it and be in control of it. Colleen Story has 5 reasons to update your author platform. It doesn’t have to be hard. Imagine you are an enthusiastic reader- how could you find out about your favourite books?


Just don’t have mind boggling Terms Of Service for your fans!


Maureen

@craicer 


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If you like the blog and want to shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. It feeds my caffeine addiction. Thanks.

 

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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Living Your Unique Public Life

 


 

This week in Publishing News,


I thought this was very last century but here it is again… Let’s put clothes on any illustration for children that might even hint that they are naked, including fantasy creatures. Yes, there are teams out there drawing clothes in books. Because In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak is worse than gun violence in American schools.

 

While we shake our heads at the above story – The Arts Council of England is laying down the law. No political statements. But isn’t it an artistic right to speak truth to power? And what kind of political statements do you mean? The Guardian has the artists reaction.

 

Publishing Perspectives reports on the dates for the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair. They are working with Bologna Children's Book Fair and their creative team so it will be interesting to see how this develops. 

 

Publisher’s Weekly reports that the Lawsuits authors have brought against Open AI for using their work have hit a snag with the judge.

 

Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard looks at the news the Spotify is paying out millions to authors. I haven’t heard of anybody getting a payment yet, but Spotify say they are paying rights holders… so you might want to check with your publisher and see if they are passing on this money.

 

Joel Pitney writes about publishing red flags on Jane Friedmans blog. He goes into the type of language used and how to spot the bad actors. This should be shared around your writing groups. There are publishers out there who are out to fleece your wallets while feeding on your dreams.

 

Writer Unboxed has their monthly Book PR blog slot and what you should focus on this year. Being authentic without being sleezy.

 

Orna Ross of The Alliance of Independent Authors talks to Joe Solari about the Author Nation conference- which replaces the 20booksto50k conference. Joe talks about what is changing and what is still going to be the same for the biggest writer conference in the world. 

 

Katie Weiland has a great post on how to rediscover the joy of writing if you are suffering from Writer Business Burnout.

 

Quill Magazine for journalists has an interesting article on Ghost Writing.

 

Book Riot shares the latest romance writing trends and Sarah McIntyre has a great article on Curtis Brown's website about what it takes to be a Picture Book Illustrator.

 

In The Craft Section,

How to develop your unique writing style- C S Lakin


Four must haves in your first two paragraphs- Suzy Vadori- Bookmark


Dumb little writing tricks that work- Scott Meyers


Crafting the sidekick character- Victoria Grossack- Bookmark


Deepening our story theme- Jami Gold- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Stop quoting yourself in social media – Sandra Beckwith


Your unique writing proposition- James Scott Bell – Bookmark


Have you found your best book marketing niche- Colleen Story


How to create tag lines and slogans - Judith Briles.- Bookmark


8 tips to entice readers- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


 

To Finish,

 

Have you got a brand? How big is your newsletter? Do you have loads of Social Media followers – Do Publishers really care about these questions?

If you are feeling tired and annoyed reading these questions- there is a small rainbow. Jane Friedman has a great post addressing the fact that author platform is not a requirement to sell your novel or children’s book. That said, an understanding of how to present yourself  and your book in public is a good thing. Don’t be like the author who recently asked Social Media influencers (mostly Young Women) to feature his book in nude photos. (See Writer Unboxed link.)


Instant Career Burn.


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 shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

 

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Thursday, February 8, 2024

Buying Books

 


 

In Publishing News this week...


Another year, another big publisher on the sales block. This time it's Hachette. But there are differences. Their parent company is dividing the group into four and putting each group on the share market. Publishing by stock market dividends. I can’t see any problems with that model. Can you?

 

The director of The London Book Fair revealed he didn’t know much about the Global Book Business when he declared London was the first Bookfair of 2024. It isn’t and it’s not even the biggest. Mark Williams does a run down of the figures to educate the LBF director.

 

Publishing Perspectives are still filling their news pages with the International Publishing Association conference in Mexico. It’s getting bigger and with more star power- They have a top UN speaker and will be devoting a big chunk of programming to Climate Change issues.

 

Publishers Weekly sat down with some top Children’s editors and agents and asked what the themes of 2024 were. Hands up Romantasy. Manga is still looking good. Everybody is still waiting for the next Harry Potter (holy grail) book. Many have tried and failed. Perhaps HP is the last of the ‘once in a generation books.’

 

LitHub recently published an article by a New Zealand writer about what it’s like to have a successful story and then get told to Americanize it, when the publishers bought it because it was so edgy and cool. Who knew other cultures had their own versions of the English language? Can readers not understand different English words? SIGH.

 

Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy has an article explain the new changes to email which are rolling out this month. If you have a mailing list you will need to take note of the new requirements.

 

Kathy Steinemann has a great article on how to spot publishing scammers and fakes. Everybody should read this- even if you think you are very good at spotting them. Then head over to Writer Beware and take a look at the latest scams out there, like a cloned version of Macmillan Publishers.

 

Jane Friedman has a great guest article by Claire McKinney on why you need a press release and how to write one. This is a print out and stick on the wall post for marketing purposes.

 

The first rule of Write Club… Cathy Yardley has a super post on getting into the thick of writing, digging deep and channeling the things that speak to your passions then pouring them out on the page. And don’t forget about the last rule of Write Club…

 

Sue Coletta has a great post about how to write a dance scene. Like fight scenes they need some choreography and attention to surrounding detail. 

 

How do you know when you have too much dialogue?  And is it a bad thing? What about when the dialogue is authentic? Can’t you keep it? Anne R Allen has an excellent article on how to spot overuse, over authenticity and chatter going nowhere. 

 

In The Craft Section,

Scene Structure Basics - Lewis Jorstad- Bookmark


Vision board for writers- Sarah Rexford


All you need for characters- Writers helping writers- Bookmark


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


What is overwriting and tips to avoid it- Edie Melson

 

In The Marketing Section,

Writing the perfect synopsis- Randy Ingermanson- Bookmark


ISBN’s all you need to know.


Creative Indies resource page- Bookmark


March Promotion opportunities-Sandra Beckwith- Bookmark


How to promote your book- Reedsy


3 creative ways to use your book2read account- Draft2Digital


To Finish,

As a teacher, I’m always interested in ways to get kids reading and unlocking the power of story. In Ohio a couple of schools have invested in Book Vending machines which are being used as rewards for good behaviour. The lucky kids get tokens to spend in the machine. Of course, you could see all the ways this could be problematic but still anything that gets kids holding books must be a good thing.

 

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 shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

Pic Photo by Streetwindy on Unsplash

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Are We Really Scoring?

 


In Publishing News this week...


The fall out from the Hugo Award controversy has continued (see last week) and now members of the committee have been pushed out the airlock. Locus Magazine has the news release on who and why the award committee members have got the chop.

 

Gobbling up smaller publishers is still a menu item. Publishers Weekly reports Greenleaf partnering with Wonderwell. Partnering implies equal status … No. If you read between the lines they’ve dumped everyone, kept the name and boss to ‘run’ the imprint and terminated the authors. 

 

Goodereader has an interesting article on Spotify paying tens of millions to audiobook publishers. Everybody is waiting for someone to announce they got paid from Spotify streaming their audiobooks. Any numbers? Is it worth it? Mark Williams has his usual acerbic take on whether Spotify is good for publishing- If it takes chunks out of Audible he is all for it. Meanwhile, Audible and Storytel are tightening belts.

 

Lithub comes out on the side of Lana Bastašić who had a blistering response to a German Literary Festival dropping her letting over comments about the war in Gaza. They reprint the letters in full. Ouch!

 

Simon and Schuster are celebrating 100 years in the business. In 1924 they started with a crossword puzzle book to take advantage of the puzzle craze sweeping the world. They are profiling the most influential books they have published in 100 years. (Their founder, Richard Simon also gave the world Carly Simon - So they can be vain this once.)

 

Debbie Burke reminds us there is always more to learn about publishing, right when you think you know it all. Elizabeth Craig has a great article on Keeping up with Writing and Business. You can’t have one without the other so figure out how to use your time. She has great tips.

Sue Coletta has a great article on Mindset- writing is like turning an elephant… 

 

Ruth Harris has an interesting article on Sex. When should it be used? Is it overused?  Should you just leave the door closed? 

 

In The Craft Section,

How to write Fantasy Characters- Krystal Craiker- Bookmark


Picture Book Critique questions- Mindy Weiss


Characterize with clothing choices- Becca Puglisi


How to generate powerful story conflict- Angel Ackerman- Bookmark


How to show emotion in characters who hide their feelings- Eldred Bird- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Improve your book rank by updating book descriptions- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


5 key areas to check to boost sales- Top Author


7 simple steps to start building your brand- Chase Neely


Book marketing overwhelm- Sandra Beckwith- Bookmark


Back cover copy formula – Sue Coletta - Bookmark

 

To Finish,

Recently Draft2Digital hosted a heavy hitters podcast looking at the publishing world of 2023 and forward into 2024. Mark Coker, Orna Ross, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn and Dale Roberts all shared their thoughts about the big things to think about in publishing and the changes occurring. Joanna termed 2024 as Year Zero. It’s a great podcast to get you thinking about your writing and publishing career going forward.

 

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 shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

 

Pic Photo by Joppe Spaa on Unsplash

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Writing or Reading - There’s a cruise for that.

 


In Publishing News this week

 

There has been head scratching and disbelief in the Science Fiction community over the Hugo awards being held this week in China. Prominent names inexplicably didn’t get recognition for their work. Then the rumours started - Did China ban these books from the ballot? The Guardian tries to find out.

 

Staying in the East, Japan awarded a prestigious literary award and then the author confessed to using AI. Consternation. The book was described as flawless. How much AI is too much? Mark Williams adds his acerbic take on the situation.

 

Mark also writes about the huge take up of the ad supported Netflix streaming platform. If people are comfortable with ads then they shouldn’t have a problem with ads in books on streaming subscriptions. Any takers?

 

Booktok was surprised when an influencer who doesn’t read was sponsored by a publisher to go on a cruise and … read. Publishers Weekly reports how that worked out. (Pick Me for reading on an all expenses paid cruise.)

 

Publishing Perspectives reports on the Kids Media trade fair that is happening alongside the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It’s not just the books getting deals- think Merch!

 

The Ghostwriters met in New York for their conference. Josh Bernoff reported in Jane Friedman’s blog on the main talking points. They are anxious about AI and the fees that some ghostwriters are charging. $50,000 is too little. 

 

Lithub reports why all the publishing firms see March as the best time to publish books this year. It’s all about when elections are happening. They also have an interesting article by Laurie Frankel on why she threw away over half her book in revisions. It has to do with Re- Vision.

 

Colleen Story has an interesting post on 7 things you should give yourself permission to do if you are a writer. Angela Ackerman has the one rule you shouldn’t break!

 

If you would like to try listening to podcasts on writing, AJ Yee has rounded up 25 of the best podcasts around. I listen to at least half on this list and they are very worthwhile. (Shoutout to the fabulous SPA Girls!)

 

Katie Weiland has a great post on writing multiple storylines- everything you need to know. I have done this with points of view and it was a great exercise in creativity at the same time as a great headache. Multiple plots is lifting the bar again. 


In The Craft Section,

How to use internal and external conflict- Ali Bumbarger- Bookmark


6 tips for writing a compelling first sentence- Deanna Martinez-Bey


Finessing dialogue- Stephen Geez 


How to write a short story- Hannah Yang- Bookmark


Failure in Fiction- Sue Coletta - Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

A guide to the avatar target reader- Bookmark


2 Great posts from the Alliance of Independent Authors -Successful rapid release strategies and Money basics for authors.


How to sell books to bookstores- Penny Sansevieri


A super easy way to add amazon reviews to your website- Cori Ramos- Bookmark

 

To Finish

January is often the month where you get to grips with new projects. Sometimes taking yourself on a writing retreat can get your creative juice moving. Take a look at the Writing Retreat Directory for fancy retreats all over the world. You can check out free or low cost residency programmes for writers as well. Why not grab some writing friends and make a weekend of it. It could be just the boost you need to get into your new project. Or you could see if a publisher will sponsor you to read books on a cruise. 

Combine all three and go on a cruising writers retreat. Yes Writer – there is a cruise for that.

 

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 shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Trends, Predictions, and More of the Same

 


And we are back… sweltering in the sun and through hot nights wondering if we can avoid the plague of jellyfish at the beach to go for a swim.

 

2024 – Where the predictions for writers and publishing are more of the same with bells on.


Lucy Hay has a THE post on what your writing resolutions for 2024 should be.


Anne R Allen has her regular publishing predictions post from Agent Laurie McLean. She talks about the trends she is seeing and the AI specter that looms over the industry. Let’s be Human out there.


Orna Ross backs this up with her predictions for the Indie Publishing community for this year. A great read from the Alliance of Independent Authors.


Written Word Media takes a look at the marketing predictions for authors in 2024. This is a comprehensive post looking at the 10 trends that they predict will be ones to watch this year.

 

In Publishing News this week


Ex Children’s Laureate and all round good bloke, Michael Morpurgo has gathered his fellow laureates together to demand a greater investment in early childhood reading. Every writer should be saying the same. If we don’t create readers we won’t have book buyers.

 

Publishers Weekly reports the creation of a nonprofit aimed at giving certificates to AI Copyright friendly entities. So far a lot of associations have signed up in support. I’m not sure whether they will eventually manage payments for licensing content to AI which some industry commentators think is where the AI trainers need to go.

 

Mark Williams reports on the landmark ruling of AI copyright law in China. If a human gave the AI a prompt then the human has copyright. This law only applies to China but as countries start to grapple with making laws everybody is watching to see how other countries are handling AI. New Zealand has a similar understanding according to a recent copyright workshop that I attended.

 

However, if you prompt your AI tool using known copyright and trademarked examples be prepared for the lawsuits. Spectrum has an eye-opening post on Midjourney and the Marvel movies it has scraped using very easy prompts. 

 

Jane Friedman has an excellent excerpt from Stephanie Chandler’s book, The Nonfiction Book Marketing and Launch Plan. Avoid random acts of content.

 

Dave Chesson has updated his comprehensive keyword strategy article again - ready for 2024. (Dave seems to be doing this every 6 months.)

 

This is the month for fresh beginnings so check out this article on productivity with a writing space make over.


Sharon Woodhouse has an interesting article on making every activity you do in your author business fall into the 3:1 ratio. It must do a minimum of three jobs for you.


Katie Weiland has an interesting post on 2023 and how it mirrored the flat arc for her.

 

Kathryn Craft has a great article on Writer Unboxed about fresh perspectives that sell. If your idea for the next novel seems far out that might be just what they are looking for.

 

In The Craft Section,

Smooth scene openings- Lisa Poisso


Words of wisdom on Short Story writing- Dale Smith-Bookmark


The moment of truth- K M Weiland


7 steps to writing a smart mystery- John Fox- Bookmark


Turn your readers into detectives- Marissa Graff- Bookmark


8 ways to hook readers at the end of chapters- Becca Puglisi- Bookmark

 

In The Marketing Section,

Two great posts from Rachel Thompson- How to market a book that doesn’t exist yet and Boost your marketing success-Bookmark


15 smart author marketing strategies for 2024- Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


Does your newsletter live up to expectations?- Collen Story - Bookmark


Where should I sell my book – Sandra Beckwith- Bookmark

 

To Finish,

As we start another year in the publishing trenches the old noggin stares at the proliferation of Social Media sites that sprang up after the dumpster fire of Twitter/X and wonders if it is all worth it. I waited to see where the publishing people I follow went and they scattered like pigeons surprised by a cat. So, I picked two new alternatives and stuck with them. I didn’t close down my Twitter account because I wanted to keep control of my (hopefully,) trusted name in that boiling pot. Roland Denzel has a great post about not quitting Social Media but quit using it. And he’s right. You don’t have to spread yourself thin, just use it strategically. 

 

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 shout me a coffee, I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.


Pic:Photo by Lanju Fotografie on Unsplash

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