Showing posts with label melinda szymanik. Show all posts
Showing posts with label melinda szymanik. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Finding The Words

 In Publishing News,

Remember that court case? Simon and Schuster is still up for sale. Publishers Weekly looks at the corporates who might be tempted.


Mark Williams has been doing a bit of sleuthing and he has uncovered some big plans by Storytel for expansion into Africa. Audiobooks could be on the menu before print…or even bookshops.


Yesterday I had to admit to my teen that books get banned. She was disbelieving. How can anyone ban a book? It was hard to answer. I was left remembering a local author’s comment when his book was banned in the US. “It did wonders for my sales.” So here are the most banned picture books in the last 2 years. In other banned book news, Tanzania has banned Diary of a Wimpy Kid.


There is lots of chat around AI and its use or misuse. Writer Beware has an article on the Findaway Apple clause which is very interesting. There is some confusion about what happens to your book if you ask Findaway to tell Apple you don’t want your book to be part of its machine learning programme. (Narrators rights, see last weeks blog.) Some authors are waiting to see if their books will be pulled from Apple as emails indicate that this is a possibility. 

Chat around the author water cooler (Twitter) indicates that AI is a tool – You get into problems when you outsource your creativity to AI. Don’t fall into the trap of asking AI to generate a book everyone has seen before. Check out the list of overused tropes here. 

Here are a few articles that will get you up to speed on current thinking about AI and creative writing.

AI reveals the most human part of writing- A PHD researcher looks at the tools out there.

How AI can help or hurt your writing- Rachel Thompson has an interesting list of things that AI can help with written by AI. A great breakdown of AI as a tool.

Joanna Penn has a step by step article on how she has used AI when writing and publishing a short story. She has screen shots on all the different steps she used. This goes from ideas to editing to titles to art to using AI’s that we all use in editing. 

If you haven’t noticed, even your email uses AI to generate words or phrases for you so it’s here to stay.


Kris Rusch has added another post to her series why writers fail. This one is about learning and taking risks. Sometimes the very thing stopping you from succeeding is the fear of taking the next step. 

If you are wondering what rules there are for writers to bend a little- Check out this article from senior editor, Robert Lee Brewer at Writers Digest.


It’s been a rotten old week down here in New Zealand. A cyclone ripped through the North Island and caused immense damage. Devastation and trauma are almost instant creativity killers. If you are struggling to find emotional calm or space to let creativity flow, you are not alone. Take time out or change your focus to learning or improving your writing craft. As Melinda Szymanik says in her excellent article, Sometimes the good thing you wrote will get its moment at some point down the track. Or maybe it is a step you needed to take to get to the thing that will fit with the publisher's aims. Whatever you do, don't throw it out. And keep going.

Barbara Linn Probst has a great article on Writer Unboxed – What Actually Makes You A Better Writer?


In The Craft Section,

Tips for how to slay your bloated wordcount- Suzy Vadori- Bookmark

41 Character prompts- Kindlepreneur

5 similarities between your hero and your villain-Sue Coletta- Bookmark

Do’s and Don’ts of writing a series- Kassandra Lamb

Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writers- Terry Odell- Bookmark


In The Marketing Section,

5 important reasons for using YouTube for Marketing- Sandra Beckwith- Bookmark

How author platform connects to Author Brand- Jane Friedman- Bookmark

How to talk about your book- Karen DeBonis-Bookmark

Top 10 ways to market your book in a month- Rachel Thompson

6 tips for choosing the right book marketing service.- Penny Sansevieri


To Finish,

Wherever a disaster happens there are acts of heroism. There are many acts of kindness unnoticed, unsung, and often under the radar. The shine of the human spirit in the darkness can be the glimmer that leads another out of a very dark place. We have seen a lot of heroism in the last week both here in NZ and overseas. As writers we need to write and celebrate the little acts of heroism as well as the big ones. Donald Mass has a checklist of other ways to write a hero. 

My thoughts are with the families of the heroes. While their loved one is helping others, their family is backing them up by getting on with their own acts of bravery, coping in a natural disaster without them. Two of our first responders gave their lives. 

Sometimes there are no words.




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

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



Pic: Pete Thomson/NZStuff

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Talking Tough

In publishing news this week,

The Booker longlist is out and this is when the judges make some sort of statement about the industry. The chief judge has called for translators to get royalties. This isn’t the first time that translators have been highlighted by the Booker judges. The Booker, one of the most prestigious English language literary prizes has made a point of noticing that their long lists have books that rely upon top-notch translations to get into contention. They argue that translators should get co-billing with the original author, or at least their name on the front of the book. 


Publishers Weekly reports on a Caldicot winner setting up a writers retreat for children’s writers. It looks amazing. The retreats are to be themed with 8 or so people at the time across the children’s literature spectrum. 


Bologna Children’s Book Fair is on the horizon and Publishing Perspectives details the new events happening online for attendees and free talks you can drop into. 


Meanwhile, further over in Europe, publishers are helping out struggling Ukraine publishers by taking books mid-production and finishing them off on behalf of their colleagues. There is a real push to provide small books in their own language to all the displaced Ukrainian children who have ended up in different countries. It is great to see publishers working across borders to help out.

Edit: When I originally posted this blog I edited out a paragraph that I couldn’t back up except with a general Twitter thread that was being talked about and shared, the mass exodus of publishing staff because of burnout. It’s a huge problem. So now I’ve found an article about it. 

This week Amazon apparently opened up advertising on traditionally published books by authors. If you have a traditionally published book you can run Amazon ads to it from your dashboard, not your publishers. (Of course, the sales will be good for your publisher…) I haven’t seen a direct link to a statement from Amazon about it yet but it is being talked about as having been slipped into Ad eligibility.


Another week, another Brandon Sanderson comment. Kris Rusch takes to task the thinking behind the sour grape comments about Brandon’s success. It is not down to his publisher's work. Quite the contrary. 


Here in NZ, a publisher has announced they are hosting a new prize for a commercial fiction novel. This has caused a lot of comments about why our books aren’t seen as commercial… or read as widely in our own country. Is it cultural cringe? Across the ditch in Australia they have a thriving Read OZ literature scene… why not here? Melinda Szymanik shares her thoughts on the subject. (Mine would get my mouth washed out.)


Written Word Media have an interesting article on how to dictate a book and Writer Unboxed has a great article from Sophie Masson on story strands using varied narrative forms- she touches on Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s YA books The Illuminae Files which are a tour de force if you want to see narrative forms used in all sorts of ways. 


In The Craft Section,

Writing secondary characters with purpose- Barbara Probst- Bookmark

Trimming tricks- Scott Myers

The role of failure in your character arc- Becca Puglisi- Bookmark

Being a hybrid plotter panster- Zoe McCarthy

How to know whether your story is a Horror, Mystery or Thriller- Lucy V Hay- Bookmark

The 3W’s of scene orientation- Kathryn Craft


In The Marketing Section,

9 uses of Free -David Gaughran- Bookmark

Twitter Spaces for writers- Rachel Thompson- Bookmark

Author Platform-7 manageable ways to start from scratch- Brooke Warner- Bookmark

6 marketing myths for writers- Lisa Hall Wilson

Strategies to improve your website – Penny Sansevieri- Bookmark


To Finish,

Anne R Allen celebrates 13 years of blogging this week, or as she puts it, survives. What a treasure trove of interesting and thoughtful articles about writing, the craft of writing, scams, attitude, mindfulness, creativity, the whole 9 yards as we used to say. Drop in and have a trawl around. It is a blog well worth the visit. Congratulations Anne (and trusty co-blogger Ruth Harris.)





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.


Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Getting Creative

Last week I was urging people to look for the silver lining. A lot can happen in a week. 
Sadly, I am seeing many people in the arts industry who have had their jobs disappear, launches canceled, speaking gigs (that pay the rent) postponed or stopped. Then I saw booksellers struggling and the layoffs of staff have begun.

Some great booksellers are keeping their staff on full pay and giving them vacation time. Others are coming up with innovative ways to stay relevant in the community. A friend who does a regular storytime in a children’s bookshop is now doing an online version for the store. (They also have a mobile EFTPOS machine so they can go out to cars with your phone in order.) Other bookshops have started a delivery service. 
Now is the time to get creative to weather the Covid 19 storm. 

With the canceling of so many festivals, some kid’s authors got together to hold an online book festival for kids. Check out how they are doing it and share the idea around.

Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and others are relaxing their licenses so teachers can use their books and crafts in videos for children who are unable to go to school. Authors who have their own licenses for this may be able to offer something similar. 

Librarians overseas, are arguing that now is the time to relax the fair use rules on copyright. This is tricky as authors should still be paid for their work. It is their livelihood.

Amazon is priority shipping- anything not a priority for Covid 19 is getting delayed. Unfortunately, books are not seen as a priority. However, that doesn’t apply to KDP print and ebooks. (silver lining)

In the middle of all this Macmillan ended its library embargo. Everyone told them you don’t mess with librarians, but they had to find out the hard way.

Kristine Rusch talks about Black Swan events and how the world and business change forever at these times. This is an interesting read and something to ponder on as we look at our author business. Dean and Kris are also offering big discounts on all their courses for authors who are stuck inside. 

Nate Hoffelder is noting that most of the Book Fairs are talking postponement. He has a blog post on what to take if you are planning to go to a fair as soon as everything gets back to the new normal.

Orna Ross of the Alliance of Independent Authors has a very useful article on how Indie Publishing might be able to weather the Covid 19 storm.

In The Craft Section,

4 tips for creating Villains- Sacha Black - Bookmark

Ways to add depth to settings- Jordan Dane- Bookmark

Taking the first step towards writing- Shanna Swendson- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

Packaging your book- Keywords, metadata, and selling points- Nicolas Erik- Bookmark!

Increasing discoverability- Facebook Goodreads Twitter- Ingram blog

Change your author blog into a website- Nate Hoffelder- Bookmark

To Finish

In this time of uncertainty with the news constantly changing around us it can be tempting to lock ourselves away and go back to comfort food, books, etc etc. If you know anyone contemplating plans to write that picture book, ‘because it’s easy to write a kids book’ send them over to read Melinda Szymanik’s blog- The picture book gospel. 

Now is the time to be kind and to think outside of the box, to get the word out about books and reading. Write reviews, talk on social media about favourite books, share your process, invent words games, social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Writers are already ahead of the rest of the world in these skills. It’s time to show them off.


It’s nearly time for my monthly newsletter of the best of the months' bookmarked links.
When you subscribe you will also get a nifty mini book crammed full 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. I appreciate the virtual coffee love. Thanks.

Pic: Flickr- Creative Commons – Bill Smith- Girl Scout cookies 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Leaping The Fence

This week I’ve been dipping into the wonderful content from The Alliance of Indie Authors Online conference held last week. There are some really outstanding sessions so if you haven’t checked it out you must do so.

With Amazon tightening up on reviewers (throwing the baby out with the bath water) Anne R Allen has written a thoughtful post on Reviewers and the Amazon problem and why Reviewers are leaving. This post has been updated twice with new information since she wrote it earlier in the week. This is a must read.

Today was a DV pitch day on Twitter for children’s books. #DVpit is for writers who are pitching #ownvoices manuscripts to agents. Recently Bran Ayres guest posted on Jami Gold’s blog about the #ownvoices movement and what it means for authors and readers. (I learned a new word/term- catfishing.)

I try to watch or listen to a podcast a day as part of my own up-skilling in the publishing industry. Joanna Penn’s podcast this week was on The London Bookfair and what’s coming in the future... or next week. Joanna is a futurist and she has been pretty spot on over the last decade. Be aware that publishing always thinks in the long term... so you need to be thinking long term for your career too.

Someone who is definitely thinking long term is Marie Force. She is gathering together a group of Indie Authors to advocate on behalf of Indie Authors. Check out the new Indie Support Network

While we are on futurist ideas, this little video crossed my path this week. Drama audiophiles this is for you... Once you watch it... your mind will open up to all sorts of possibilities.

From voice to video, where Diana Wink recently guest posted on Joanna Penn’s blog. Diana explains how to make a book trailer like a Hollywood director. If you are thinking video is too hard- take a look... maybe the time is right.

Two authors I have huge respect for are Kris Rusch and Melinda Szymanik.

Kris recently had to move towns for her health and found herself floundering in the upheaval. That’s when she made an important discovery- schedules and how important they are to the full time writer and why.

Melinda has been thinking lately about the barriers to writing. What barriers is your brain putting up and why? She offers some solutions and some practical advice... read it and conquer!

In The Craft Section,

The destructive power of the lie- Angela Ackerman- Bookmark

Deepening story theme- Jami Gold- Bookmark

Emotional Shielding- Becca Puglisi- Bookmark

In The Marketing Section,

How to connect with book clubs- Funds for Writers

What marketing is- Career Author

Write a Killer Amazon Bio- IndieReader- Bookmark

How to produce Book Promo Video- Writers Digest- Bookmark

To Finish,

I have recommended Canva every day this week to someone. After the third time I began to take note. All the requests were differently phrased so it wasn’t a hot new problem that needed a Canva solution but just general stuff... and Canva was the best solution. David Gaughran thinks so too. He has a great post on making killer promo graphics in Canva. If you haven’t checked it out- you should... best of all ... it’s free.


I round up the best of the bookmarked craft and marketing links as well as some other bits and pieces in a monthly newsletter. When you subscribe you will also get a nifty book crammed full with marketing notes.

Pic: Flickr Creative Commons / Alan Levine

Friday, December 11, 2015

Raise A Glass To

This is my last blog post of the year and it’s already a day late. I have lots to share with you so grab a Christmas beverage and we’ll start.

This could be the drown your sorrows part of the blog...
Writer Beware has a look at some insidious new clauses making their way into publishing contracts under the guise of being nice.

Anne R Allen’s post on 5 scams targeting writers is being shared all over the web. Read and Beware.

Heather Alexander writes about the frustration of friends referring friends to you because they have book ideas. (We have all experienced this!!)

Melinda Szymanik has an excellent post on Writers Block - and The Write Life has a way you can beat it.

This is the Raise your Glass - Cheers part of the blog!

Joanna Penn has an excellent post on Productivity For Authors. If you are looking for other productivity tips check out these productivity hacks.

China wants to see more English language children’s books. – That’s the takeaway from the  Global Kids Connect conference held this week in New York.

Digital Book World has an excellent post on Amazon and ways that Publishers can use some Amazon tactics.

This is the fill-‘er-up-what-will-they-think-of-next, toast to innovation part of the blog...
Check out the story of this App, where a traditional publisher is harnessing indie authors to deliver novels in serial form, weekly... (you may need another drink to get your head around it.)

Self Publishing and Indie Author Imprints- This is a must read post if you are an indie author.

Refill Your Glass!

In the Craft Section,
11 top articles on Writing Characters- Bookmark! Some of these I’ve linked to before but this is a craft books worth of great writing.

Tips for writing acknowledgements by Julie Musil Bookmark!

Reedsy has an excellent post (and infographic) on Editing (which is what NaNo people should be doing in December.) Bookmark it!

Men with Pens has a great post on how to recognise Passive Voice and get rid of it.

In the Marketing Section,

Sue Coletta – Pinterest for authors- This is an amazing post! I never thought of this way for authors to use Pinterest.  Bookmark!

23 Pinterest tips for authors. (makes more sense after the above post.)

In a Toast to Christmas...
I recently recorded my second podcast with Writers Island where I talked about great gifts for writers. (see sidebar) As Christmas is nearly upon us you might like to check out these amazing gift lists.

To Finish,
Raise a toast to Kristine Rusch ...
In November Kris was on fire with her great business for writers blog posts which I linked to in several blog posts. She has been receiving some push back for her comments about writing what YOU want to write as the key to your career.  This week she replies to the criticism and explores the nature of writer as artist. I think this is an amazing post and one for authors to reflect on as they take their post prandial beverage and contemplate the coming year.

My gift to you – the 12 cocktails of Christmas and the annual Christmas video!

See you in January!


Pic from Flickr Creative Commons/John Morgan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Productivity and Risk

Last week the writing blogosphere was up in arms about that MFA dude and his comments about students doing MFA’s and their talent or lack of it. When people calmed down there was some great writing about talent. Do you need it? Is hard work enough? Melinda Szymanik has a great comment on this.

Kristen Lamb looks at the evolution of the writer from Neophyte to Master and all the stages in between.

Cathy Yardley looks at the publishing cycle... What happens when you get the next big thing? With the publishing lag to bookstore sometimes taking two years how will you know if your genre will still be hot? She has also got a great post on how to prevent publishing agony.

Publishing perspectives has an interesting article on whether US and UK publishing is getting stale. Is this why they are mining the Asian and European market for stories they can translate?

Over the last year Mike Shatzkin (publishing futurist) has had a straight up learning curve on the disruption of the publishing industry. Here he identifies the ways publishers need to change their ideas about marketing.

Victoria Mixon has an interesting article about copyright.Yes it applies to blogs. Self publishers need to be very aware of the risks of copying content.

In the Craft Section,

If you have ever wished for writing prompts Reedsy is for you. Every hour a new one.

World building and the freedom, or not to do this in speculative fiction.

In the Marketing section.
Joel Friedlander takes a look at the different ways to publish now.

Website of the Week
Joel Friedlander is The Book Designer but if you trawl around his site you find out so much more... from interesting articles on fonts to his amazing Book Design Templates.

To Finish
Jane Friedman has put together a survey for Authors about how they are feeling about their publishers... early indicators are in. It might surprise you. Do you want to risk not knowing?


Friday, August 22, 2014

Spinning the Truth

What has been happening this week in the publishing blogosphere...

The open letter signed by over 900 American authors to Amazon about the ongoing dispute with Hachette has now got an international flavour with a German version springing up. Amazon is in dispute with German publishers about eBook prices... and over 1300 German language authors have signed an open letter. Porter Anderson takes a look at the two sides of this ongoing story. Which truth should we subscribe to?

Maggie Stiefvater delivered a keynote address at SCBWI that wowed people... She has published an excerpt... about writing being thievery... Excellent reading.

WriteOnCon is nearly set for takeoff... They have posted their list of agents dropping in. It promises to be a huge weekend. Take some time to check out what is on offer in this free online children’s writers’ conference.

In the Craft Section,

In the Marketing Section,
Joanna Penn continues to break new translation ground. She details how she has approached the German edition... and gets her translator to talk about the process. Fascinating reading.

Joel Friedlander has a guest post on planning your blog posts around your book.

Elisabeth S Craig has updated her database collection of editors, designers and illustrators for free lance projects.

Kris Rusch has added a new post to her discoverability series, which will shortly be turned into a book.

Self Publishing - three links

Jan Ruth (romance) on how to make the most of it.

Trevor Richardson on his journey which involved getting his rights back and starting a literary magazine.

To Finish,
The lovely Melinda Szymanik has packed a lot into her six month writing residency... if you can’t get away to another city maybe you could try organising a writing retreat when you can’t afford to go on one.  This could be handy if you want to combine it with the excellent WriteOnCon free children’s online writing conference... Or maybe you could dream about the most excellent writing studio... where you can contemplate writing your own truth.

maureen (late again…sorry. I am getting better….)

Related Posts with Thumbnails