Showing posts with label websites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label websites. Show all posts

Thursday, April 14, 2011

6 Facts About Children's Publishing Now.

The recent Spinning Tales conference for New Zealand Children’s Writers and Illustrators highlighted  some important need to know facts about the state of children’s publishing here and overseas. As I research for this blog, every week I come across articles and discussions that support the 6 most important facts.

1. Writing for children is a business. It is not sitting down and tossing off a gentle story about clouds and raindrops and having a publisher fall on their knees to have the chance to publish it for all the little kiddies to read.
It is a hard slog to write a good story and harder to write a good children’s story. The little kiddies are web savvy and digital literate.  Your story must drag them away from T.V, cell phone, Xbox and YouTube.  Good Luck There! Janice Hardy has an excellent post on making the reader care.

2. Writing For Children has to be commercial so that the publishers make money and stay in business...but look out there are others too who want to make money off you.
Publishers print lists are contracting. E publishing is expanding. We are not authors any more we are content providers.  The 10% that content providers get and the 7% they get for e-rights (overseas) is not worth it for the author or the publisher unless the print run is sold out. Add into this the changing nature of publishing contracts and the implications of epublishing on contracts. 

The author must be contract savvy or have an agent who is. 

It helps if you know what the scams are out there for unwary authors.  Larry Brooks has a writer beware publicity scam (?) where TV stations want to make a buck off you.  Publishingtrends highlights the Kindle swindle.  Watch out for copyright scammers who make ebooks from your  web content.

3. Publishers are being challenged by new technology. Everything is changing. Everyone is scared. 
The ease of digital publishing and printing have authors questioning whether they need the traditional publishers. Arguments for and against are everywhere on the web. 
Joe Konrath interviewed Bob Mayer about his move to have his own publishing company, then Joe threw down a challenge to his traditional publishers (ouch!) Jody Hedlund and Jami Gold have taken an opposite view.  

The stakes are high. 

Here in New Zealand, publishers are digitising their back lists...this will make it harder for an author to get their rights back if the book is not selling because ebooks are forever, unlike print.

4. The author must do the bulk of the publicity. 
Publishers are not sending writers out on tour unless they are big sellers! There is no money in publishing to spend on promotion which means the book doesn’t get promoted unless the author does the job. Sellingbooks has a good post on publicity made easier, and 10 buzz building secrets every writer should know, takes it to the next level.

5. You must have a web presence. You must be searchable. Your internet presence must promote your brand. Your brand is your writing. You must make it easy for your readers to find you and buy your book.

Groups of writers have gathered together to help each other promote and publicise their work. This has become a very good way to get noticed and share the load for the average introvert writer. 
Readergirlz annual teen literacy week is just about to start and the Diva’s have linked into some very big names. Take the time to trawl their site and think of the implications for shared publicity.

6. At the moment there are no E publishing gate keepers here in NZ. The reviewers I know haven’t been forthcoming when I have asked if they would review ebooks. It is too hard. The take up of E readers here at the moment doesn’t warrant it. New Zealander’s quickly become enthusiastic adopters of new technology so the ebook explosion will happen quite quickly.

This is probably the time to strike if you want to get into ebook reviewing.   We need filters and trusted reviewers to say this is worth the price. Although as I have been reading lately the small price you pay for an ebook means if it is a dud you haven’t lost much.  
Quality writing for children in an ebook format is likely to get lost in the crowd unless....See Number 3 and 4.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Dean Wesley Smith gives the full Uni Course On Cover Design.

eBook Conversion Comparisons...for when you create that ebook.

Agents –You Gotta Have A Contract! - Read it, Weep and Be Warned! See Number 2

The Periodic Table Of Storytelling....geek cool

The Top 5 KidsLit Agencies

To Finish,

Get out there and share the love because our words have the power to change lives....

Question: Any more facts children’s writers should know? Write a comment.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Comfort and the Reader

I have been contemplating the power of well written genre fiction. 
It can comfort, challenge or make sense of the world. At different times I find myself reaching for my old book friends because I need their comfort or challenges to help me process what is going on in my life. None of the books I reach for are Adult Lit Fic.  My comfort/challenge books span across the genres with the exception of Horror. I have never seen the need to frighten myself to know that I am alive.

Children’s books are seen as a genre but within them they span the whole genre range... mystery, adventure, science fiction, romance, historical, fantasy, horror.  There are exceptionally well written books in all these genres within Children’s Writing.

From Ingrid Laws mid grade Savvy and Scumble (just brilliant writing) through to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series* (the power of the storytelling) and these are only two examples that spring to mind immediately. In another hour I could have two different ones...(the whole list of NZ Children’s Book Finalists...and some that didn’t make it.)

If you want to write children’s fiction you must read children’s fiction. You must seek out the best...the most current...the books being published by the editors you want to work with...the books you hear about through the grapevine...the ones that booksellers try to hand sell you... the books that librarians recommend....

Kate Hart has taken a look at the last 12 months of Publishing Deals in YA to see if there are any genre trends to take note of. Of course I can hear you all saying paranormal but Kate has discovered differently.... Hot off the press to add to these numbers...The funny and talented Tahereh Mafi has signed a wopping deal for her Y A dystopian trilogy including 13 foreign rights and a film. Yup couldn’t happen to a nicer blogger. (first book too)

Victoria Mixon has delivered a brilliant guest blog on Storyfix this week on the differences between the Amateur and the Professional writer...and no it is not about whether they have been published...(Some of the literary lions could do with reading this.)

As you research good writing you should be researching agents. Janet Reid has written a plea to writers to do this and save everyone some grief. (Read the comments too for some good tips)

Mary Kole of has added a new blog to her bow (ok really mixing the metaphors here.) Kidlitapps is dedicated to looking at digital publishing content for...Kids. And this week she has a focussed her attention on what should be in an App and what should not be...This Is A Must Read! (Yes, even for sceptics out there.)

James Scott Bell has decided to Epublish. This is big news. Epublishing was (stupidly) seen as only for those who couldn’t get a book when established authors turn to epublishing you need to take another look at this. Randy at Advanced Fiction Writing asked James why and got some interesting answers.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Harpers ebook Lending Policy Gets Trashed...(librarians revolt)

Why Book Design And Editing Matter (print or web)

Sci Fi Author declares War On Lit Fic....(yeah!)

Important News For Authors With FB Fan Pages (it’s change time on Facebook)

Linking Cover Pics To Shopping Carts (for when you sell your own books)

Alicia Gross has been interviewed on the website about being a rebel rule breaker. This is a great interview and she finishes with this.

The book you should write, should be the book that you want to read. It shouldn't really be like any other book out there. It should be your own, unique thing. This is where being a rebel comes in really handy. Instead of being an imitator, write a book that a few years from now everyone else will be trying to imitate.

It is St Patricks day so I leave you with a feel good video featuring Irish Dancing as you have never seen it before. Simon Cowell the judge commented at the end that making the audience feel good is the goal of entertainment. This is especially true with great books. 
That is why we write, to make the reader feel good about reading our story.



* Cassandra Clare is touring New Zealand soon. Her fifth book in the Mortal Instruments Series will be out next month. If you haven’t read any... DO!   

pic is from brilliant bookcases

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Game Changing and Piracy

On the side of my blog I have a list of must read blogs. One of those is Jane Friedman’s There Are No Rules. 

Jane is one of the touchstones in the blogosphere on publishing and change. She has been a keynote speaker at many big conferences on publishing and will be speaking at SXSW soon. Jane has a round up every week of what she thinks are among the best articles of the week (often I have already filed some of them for you) but I always pay attention to her list.  This week Jane highlighted a critical must read article by Kristine Rusch and yes I think that it deserves that status.

Kristine Rusch is a bestselling, award winning, romance, mystery and science fiction writer. She has been writing a series of articles on change in the publishing world. This week she has seen such a significant game change in self publishing that against all her previous advice she now believes that beginning writers should look seriously at self publishing...and not only them.

Bob Mayer was one of the first to comment (no surprise he agreed with what she said.) This week, on his own blog, Bob has an article about what he has learned in his writing life.  And it is a good read too. Bob breaks down the lessons he has learned since writing his first he says... the more you consciously know about writing-the harder it gets!

However, to help you in this difficult creative endeavour is Mike Fleming and Elisabeth S Craig. Together they have sorted out a solution for storing all those links on writing... The Writers Knowledge Base.

This week Agent Mary Kole answered the tricky question...Would you turn down a book you loved but you knew you couldn’t sell? This is a good look at what agents are faced with...

Last week I asked the question, Who will be the digital ebook reviewers we trust?
I pointed you to Kristen Lambs blog post...this week also answering this question is Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books. Morris reckons that groups of writers will band together and become the new gate keepers...and then turn into writers guilds with too much power etcetcetc (check out the comments)

The Huffington Post has an interview with Annik LaFarge on effective author websites this is so full of information that you will probably need to set aside a long coffee break to take it in.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Writer Envy...The Rejectionist- Dear Superior Person

The Rules of Sci Fi...(don’t spare the red shirt guy)

The Best Writing Mistakes and How To Make Them

The Espresso Book Machine...This is a book printing robot in a NY book store which prints books 
immediately....Go and take a look at the video!...opens up a whole new world....

To Finish
The best article on story structure I have seen from the formidable Larry Brooks over on Storyfix, How to Learn Story Structure in Two Minutes or Less.

I leave you with Neil Gaimen talking on how Piracy helped him...


P.S The Jane Friedman that Kristine Rusch refers to is not the Jane Friedman of There Are No Rules. There are two Jane Friedman's in the publishing world.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 Links of Christmas...

School is out today and I’m eating juicy summer strawberries trying not to look at my very very long 'To Do' list that has to be done before we head away for the Christmas holidays on Sunday. 
No rest for the they say...I think ‘they’ have got it wrong coz I’ve been good all year...honestly!

Looking back over the year online...I expanded my online presence....

I joined Facebook on a Tuesday and two days later got swept up into the amazing  FaBo Story Project. I had a blast with my fellow writers as we developed a children’s online story. I was in awe of the kids who chose to get involved and am looking forward to FaBo 2...which has started, and will ramp up into another way out story next year. The first chapter being written by our winning child author. (Can’t really call him a child author he writes absolutely wonderfully-check out the final winning chapter.)

Twitter has taken over as my first Go To Research Tool. I am constantly amazed at how much people use twitter in real time emergency situations. I was following some of the up to the minute requests on twitter from the rescuers at the Pike River Mine. I knew that it was a powerful resource when my husband came back from the office saying that one of his colleagues had started a twitter English Spanish translation service for the worldwide aid community to deal with the huge aid requests coming out of Haiti last year. It would be interesting to know how quickly Kiwis have taken up tweeting.

On my blog, the search box has got a work out and Craicerplus (my Amplify page) has got its own followers. 
I was surprised and touched to find so many of you take the time to read my weekly blog post when I discovered that I was closing in on my 2000th reader this year. That is quite staggering when you think about it....Thank you everyone!  And a big THANK YOU to all those who took the time to comment on the blog or started Facebook discussions about what interested you.

So onwards to this weeks interesting links.

Seth Godin is about to turn publishing on its head, again, with the launch of The Domino Project. As one of the biggest influencers on the web, where Seth goes today, will be the norm by this time next year....

Scholastic issued their top ten trends in Children’s writing this year and many commentators are lining their own lists up and comparing them. Things we know...paranormal is still huge...things we should be aware of, Humour is coming back....was it ever away???

Larry Brooks (yes he is that Larry Brooks) has a great post on his Storyfix website. 8 moments you absolutely need to deliver to your readers and 1 that you should hope for.

For all the small business owners who read the blog...(writers, that’s you too) Marketing Experiments Blog has a great article on Facebook marketing...when you read it, substitute the word facebook for website and the same things apply. Great Advice!

If you are looking for a great Christmas present, Don Miller has listed the 7 best books to read, to make you a better writer. I have read (or own) most of the list. I would add two more... Story by Robert McKee and How To Tell A Story, by Gary Provost and Peter Rubie.

The amazing has a great post for all the author/illustrators out there...How agents rep author/illustrators.

Over on Craicerplus ( my Amplify page.) I have links to articles on

Get Your Opinions Off My Stuff -Why Not All Critique Is Equal...(excellent rant!)

The Worst Mistake A Writer Can Make....(good advice)

Facebook Tips For Writers...(read with pinch of salt)

10 Tasty iPad Apps For Writers

6 Questions NOT to Ask A Writer

The Pie In The Face Writing Method.

And now we come to the link presents...

The Twelve Days Of Christmas For Writers and Famous Inboxes. (my geek self loved Captain Kirks inbox but Elizabeth Bennets is the best!!)

and the Christmas video...


P.S. I will be back in the New Year...You can catch up with me on facebook and twitter and I will drop in from time to time with interesting links.
pic is Pukeko In A Ponga Tree by Kingi Ihaka. Illustrated by the great Dick Frizzell

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh to be a Rockstar...

Yesterday the New Zealand Children’s Literature community heard the wonderful news that there will be a new award for Illustrators. 

In the roundup today of interesting links for you all I couldn’t resist sharing this insightful post from Janet Reid (agent) How to Find Out If Your Agent Is An Idiot....(Let’s be careful out there.)

Laurie Ryan has been posting an excellent series for writers on using Excell.  This week she is looking at setting up programmes to help research Editors and Agents. Take a look and trawl back through her other posts on submission tracking and manuscript construction.

Daily Writing tips have a post looking at the High Concept. If you have always wondered about this term go and take a look...who knows you might have a Jaws on your hands.

 If you are thinking over the summer that you would like to revamp your website...take a look at Author Tech Tips. They have just posted 7 Tips for Amazing Author Websites.

Jonathan Field posted an article on his blog about viral serendipity and how to use it on your blog. Justine Musk is looking at the two sides of marketing and who actually buys your books. These are both very good articles on the business of being in business as a writer.

Over on Craicerplus (My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Hope And The Aspiring Writer

Your Writing May Be Good But...(good advice from an agent)

Advice To The Writer (great quotes from Great writers lol ...would make good Christmas greetings for the 
crafty amongst us.)

Also on a Christmas theme....16 drinks Named For Authors and Their Books. (Try only if you want to have some of the same out of head experiences....)

 We are now into the Christmas round up season.

Next week, School is out and life will get more chaotic than it is at the moment...Hopefully I will get another Blog in before Christmas....


Apologies for being late in posting. The Wellington Children's Book Association Annual Children's Literature Christmas Quiz was so good last night that I fell into bed instead of posting my weekly blog article. The National Librarians scrambled to the fore in a very close contest!
Fantastic to see Dylan Owen back on his feet and as sharp as ever as Quiz Maestro...What a tricky mind that guy has....

pic is the New Zealand  Illustrators  current Rock Star - - Ann Mallinson

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Impressions....

Ah Facebook...such a time waster sometimes, and sometimes not.

This week Facebook friend, Sarah Billington, posted on her blog what it is like being an intern at Black Dog Books (Aus.) Sarah is a writer herself and as part of her Uni course got to look at life on the other side of the desk. Sarah has written a small series of posts about being an intern at Black of the takeaways this week was her comment ‘that if you say you are a published author, they will google you.’

I am sometimes told by writers here in NZ that we don’t need websites. Sarah’s comments in her blog and facebook are timely. Yes, writers down under, you need a web presence! (And remember to spend some time making your web presence interesting.)
‘Send them to my Blog, Maureen,’ she said...So I am sending you....

You have slaved over the query letter and now you send it in...You are hoping to make a good impression... Rachelle Gardner commented this week about receiving a query letter that starts thusly...

“To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been written. Ever. It is utterly fresh, mine and complete."

This is a good list to look at...and check your work against, before you craft that important query letter.

Before the query you need to make sure your manuscript is as good as it can get. This post by Douglas Van Bell is a must read. The most Comprehensive and Totally Universal Listing Of Every Problem A Story Has Ever Had...(warning strong content...heheheheh I did warn you...)

And if you are feeling worn out with fixing all those little mistakes here is an inspirational post on keeping the momentum going...The secret is all in the first thing you do each day...

Mike Shatzkin is looking at the serious money being put into enhanced digital books for children. Companies are scrambling to be first in the new wave of publishing that is going to transform children’s books....Will they be called 'books' in the future?

Pimpmynovel has also been looking at the future and what it will mean to publishers very soon....He predicts the rise of the Indie bookstore...check out what he says about agents...

Greg Pincus interviewed Holly Cupala about all the innovative ways she is using to market her books. Holly has kept the audio rights and is making her own audio versions using her own narrators, etc. This, and making episodes available as podcasts, has generated huge interest in her print books. A must read if you are interested in podcasting and retaining your rights.

Over on Craicerplus ( My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on,

What do Self Publishing Success Stories Have In Common (marketing)

ePublishing All You Ever Wanted To Know.

Anatomy of A Best Selling Novel -Structure Matters (very very good)

5 Things Every Writer Should Know About Rights-(the great Jane so a must read.)

The Great Semi Colon Debate...(do you use them )

And back we go to the first place I mentioned in this post, Facebook. Allison Winn has a very good post on what writers should be thinking when they are on Facebook Personal Vs Professional.

I’ll leave you now, senses reeling from all that valuable information....with the first in a great YouTube series by the Plot Whisperer...If you are looking for novel help (NaNoWriMo people) check this out. From this video I realised I have a plot hole in my Mars Project...crater sized...back to work!


pic is from a website looking at neural first iimpressions

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Going Up...

This week the country waited with baited breath to find out if The Hobbit will be filmed here. 
Wellington is a small city chock full of creative people. Everybody knows somebody who worked on Lord Of The Rings...or a Peter Jackson movie, or a WETA production so the uncertainty has had Wellington particularly on a knife edge lately. Wellington is a happier place this morning.

With the speed of time, (why does it always feel faster as we get towards the end of the year) November is just around the corner and for those of you who are thinking about NaNoWriMo (writing a novel in a month) and throwing up your is a link to writing a novel in three days. The secret is all in the planning.

Publishing Perspectives has an article up on Online Writing Communities. Chris Vannozzi has co founded a website that puts you in touch with other writers to form critique groups etc. Chris thinks this model is much better than going back to Uni and doing a creative writing programme...Have a read and tell me what you think....

Rachelle Gardner has a plea to writers to understand their business...that writing is a business and she has a list of books in her article to help you with this notion. As always I urge you to read the comments...because there are some additions to her list and some good advice in there.

Justine Musk has written the second part of her series on multiple revenue streams for writers. This is a comprehensive article on where writers can develop their niche expertise and also how writers can think outside of the small box. It is a good jumping off point to think about who you are, who does your audience perceive you as and how can you help your audience to fund you directly...(a nice little lead in to...)

By now regular readers will know that I am very interested in where publishing is going in the future and what the impact will be for writers. Mike is a publishing futurist. He also has the publishing street cred and his last years predictions for publishing into the future are coming true...The speed of change is almost at lightspeed. Today Mike is commenting on the pick up by Hollywood of vertical  publishing. Mike was warning publishers at the beginning of the year that they would have to look at moving towards vertical publishing.

For the average writer tho, a look at this article on 6 Things Your Website Should Tell Book Reviewers About You And Your Book is a timely link to vertical publishing individually. (add a cafe press store for merchandise and ebooks and you are there really...)  

Over On CraicerPlus ( My Amplify Page) I have links to articles on

Plagiarism...Writer Beware

Kindle Singles...Short fiction for ebooks

Top 5 Free ebooks For Writers (Check this out...some of these writers I have referred to in this blog they are 

Mashing Up Children’s Books With Monsters (Dick and Jane and the Vampire....)

How To Write One Page Per Day

The Ultimate Retro Laptop

Five Ways To Make Your Novel Inescapable...(the great Victoria strikes again)

On Launching an Online Community and Micro Publisher from Scratch...(and the lessons herein)

Of course you have to write something....


pic is from popupcity

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The five reasons to do it....

Today I had lunch out, without a child chaperone, with two author friends. It was wonderful just briefly feeling like a human being - able to enjoy lunch in a cafe without that nagging my child going to throw up... be impossibly demanding... hog the conversation...spill something across the table.... Of course the other authors are mothers too but they weren’t bringing their kids along for a working lunch in a cafe...and neither today was I. Yippee.

So at the end of the working lunch, one author leans over and says...” Pippa you have another book coming out... you need a website...” (the famous words that Fifi said to me 18 months ago)

“I’ve been thinking about it,” came the reply. This started the discussion of author websites.

“I blog every Thursday,” I said

“Its Thursday today, what are you going to blog about today?”

“I have no idea,” I replied, but the conversation started me thinking...

Over the last year of learning about marketing for authors these are my five essential points to putting together an author website...and how you go about it...

1. Research.

Have a look at what other authors are doing, especially in your genre. Decide what you like and what you don’t... Make a list. Some things you will need straight away...some you can work up to...

Have a look at my link list on the right. In the cool websites lists... there are a range of authors who are doing a superb job with their websites. Take a tour...

2. Who is the website for? Children? Adults? Other writers? Potential publishers and agents?

As Pippa is a children’s author... the content and language of the website matters as children researching her and her work will be ‘googling’ her name first. This is not the place to be showing pictures of your holidays at the Sunshine ‘au natural’ park.

3. Have a budget. It could be zero or thousands.

If it is zero...look at the biggest impact you yourself can do...learn techniques on free blogs. Blogging software is simple to use, it’s drag and drop technology. You don’t need to know any computer languages. You can play in private while you get the skills to put a website together...or play in public which is what I do...(coz I like learning)

If you have money, talk to a website designer about what you want...but be careful. A site that has lots of flash and whizzy stuff can take ages to download. Studies show that people are prepared to wait only about 7 seconds for a site to download...and many not even that....If you need a degree in website design to upload new content on your site it probably isn’t for you. Clean (uncluttered) easy to navigate around works every time.

3. Authors must have...names of their books, what they are about, where to buy them and some way of being contacted.

Remember that this is your public brochure to the world. If you are waiting to be published then find some other point of difference which will be of interest to a potential publisher who might be ‘googling’ you after they see your manuscript.

If you write for the Young Adult market consider having a myspace page as well. This is all part of your marketing. I recently heard of a YA author who was turned down by a publisher because they had no ‘social media’ presence. If myspace is where your readers are... that is where you should be.

A free email address can be the difference between getting a paying workshop job or making a manuscript sale.

4. When looking for a dot com name...look around for the best deals available.

You can set up a free blog and change the domain name to a dot com for very little money. There are deals out there for ten years for around $10 US...and with the exchange rate at the moment that’s almost $1.20 NZ a year (worth thinking about) If you invest some time in a free website and get a domain name, It doesn’t look any different from one that has been designed costing lots of bucks...Check out Ribbonwood designs ( to see what I mean. (hi your site)

5. Be committed to updating your site regularly.

Old, out of date information is a real turn off. It shows your readers that you don’t care that much about them.

Tell them where they can buy your latest book...have competitions or extra content just for them or recipes...songs...etc that inspired the about the hidden meanings in chapter 5... Make your site fun, interactive and interesting. Not only does this show the reader that your books might be just great to buy... it keeps the search engines noticing that your site is updated, which moves your page up the rankings on a general search....Would you rather be on page 1, of the google search on your name, or page 20?

Here endeth the lesson

On another note - The Spinning Gold team are very excited for three people who in the last week have had their manuscripts accepted for publication as a result of the Pitch Slam at the conference.

We are toasting you all...


pic...the seedling...because it's the beginning of a new life...(online life)

P.S. Jon from CBICLUBHOUSE put together this video on how easy it was to get started yesterday... great minds think alike... so take it away Jon....(and to think that when I started blogging 18 months ago posting video was so out there......)

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