A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – August 2013

Posted August 2, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Building Your Own Website, Conference/Workshop, Hodgepodge Newsletter, Marketing, Publishing, Writing

Contents of this Post

Posts that share a common theme — Bookstores, Kids, Social Media, etc.—are in ALL CAPS.

Sorry ’bout this, but the Hodgepodge for August (and possibly September) will be somewhat light for news ONLY because I have to move. My sweet gig has come to an end, and the people for whom I’ve been housesitting need the house back to sell it which means that the procrastinating I’ve been wallowing in is biting me in the ass. I’ve got a houseful of stuff to lose and a new place to find, so I can’t put in the time I normally do for the Hodgepodge. Once I’m settled, I’ll work on catching back up…

In the TOC (to the right), posts that share a common theme—Bookstores, Kids, Social Media, etc.—are in ALL CAPS.

In General

Amazon.com

Amazon Discounting Books in War with the World of Booksellers

Amazon is doing some deep discounting on books, including big bestsellers. In fact, John Austin wonders “Is Amazon Shedding Its Sheep’s Clothing Too Early? – Could Be Their First Major Mistake” as it looks as though Amazon is going to war. The current theory is that Amazon is feeling omnipotent between its “victory” in court against Apple and the traditional publishers and its “cozy” relationships with the Obama administration.

Bit of a conundrum here. My first thought was wow, really cheap books!. Then a post from Publishers Weekly noted that this discount war could be a death knell for indie booksellers… Hate that damn rock and hard place…!

Judith Rosen at Publishers Weekly notes that “Overstock Goes After Amazon” and intends to discount their books at least 10% below Amazon’s discounts. Check out the comparison Rosen does with prices at Amazon, Overstock, B&N, Walmart, and Target.

Jeremy Greenfield adds his bit at Digital Book World, and I’m with him. Both sides have their point. And not. Publishers Lunch points to Obama having taken his daughters to a number of indie booksellers while Greenfield notes that if it weren’t Amazon per se, it would be a similar company. As for the jobs creation moan, Amazon hired some 54,000+ employees between 2010 and 2012, but Greenfield’s data also recognizes that big corporations have only created 0.75% of new jobs. Companies employing between one and nine employees added 16%; those with ten to forty-nine employees added 31%; and, those with fifty to 249 added 33%. BUT he also notes the organizations that REALLY add to the economy. It’s a good read for those of you interested in the Obama-Amazon controversy and the economy.

Obama’s Speech at Amazon Pisses Off Booksellers

Claire Kirch and Judith Rosen report that “to date, the American Booksellers Association and two regional booksellers associations, the New England Independent Booksellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, have weighed in on” President Obama’s speech which was intended to “focus on … his proposals to ‘jumpstart’ private sector job growth and to strengthen the manufacturing sector”.

The associations’ objections are concerned with “Amazon’s business practices” … as … “actually harming small businesses and the American economy.’ Referring to Amazon’s announcement Monday that it is hiring 5,000 employees in 17 fulfillment centers and another 2,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers in four customer service centers, the ABA alleged that Amazon has caused the loss of many jobs, due to driving out of business numerous small businesses that can’t compete with Amazon’s heavily discounted prices. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the ABA pointed out, for every $10 million that shifts from bricks-and-mortar stores to Amazon.com, 33 retail jobs are lost.”

Sounds like the ABA and company have reason to be annoyed…

Meanwhile, frustration levels continue to rise as evidenced by Daniel D’Addario’s post at Salon, “Amazon is worse than Walmart” as Amazon’s “war on bookstores and book culture is increasingly supported by, yes, the Obama administration”. I can see his point as Amazon continues to lose money by undercutting the price of books and Wall Street keeps ending their stock soaring. This seems more like the robber barons of the late 19th and early 20th century than a caring corporation of the 21st.


Textbook Wars

Google Entering the Textbook Wars

Laura Hazard Owen at Gigaom reports that “beginning next month, Google will sell and rent digital textbooks through the Play

store “in a move that could help it compete against Amazon’s Kindle textbook business,” paidContent reported.”

“Google is ‘working with the five largest textbook publishers’ for students ‘to purchase digital textbooks or rent them for up to six months’ at prices up to 80% off print list prices, ‘which is the same claim that Amazon makes on Kindle textbook rentals,’ paidContent wrote.”

Publishers Counter the Used Textbook Market

Stephanie Simon and Madeline Will have a post at NBC News on how publishers intend to reap some value (oh, yeah, as if they weren’t already making students’ wallets bleed!) as “publishers like Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education are turning to a new model: Creating online versions of their texts, often loaded with interactive features, and selling students access codes that expire at semester’s end.”

I agree with some of the student comments regarding “the touted special features of digital textbooks, such as embedded quizzes, electronic flash cards, or the ability to share notes online”. Links to online sources, databases, and primary sources would be of much more interest to me. Then there’s the whole cost issue. The publishers will “allow” the students to essentially rent the book for a semester. But as an eBook, that cost can’t be recouped by selling it.

Consider the widely used textbook, Biology, by Sylvia Mader and Michael Windelspecht, published by McGraw-Hill. The ebook costs $120, a steep discount from the $229 cost for a new print textbook.

But savvy shoppers do better. The same book in printed form can be rented for $36. It can also be bought used for $102, and later resold on the secondhand market for up to $95, according to the website CheapestTextbooks.com.

There are, of course, advantages to eBooks. Which just makes the whole issue rather depressing…

Just for Fun

Awards

2013 Thriller Awards

The 2013 Thriller Awards were presented by the International Thriller Writers at the Grand Hyatt in New York City on July 13, 2013.

PEN/Ackerley Prize

“Richard Holloway won the PEN/Ackerley Prize, which recognizes a literary autobiography of excellence written by an author of British nationality, for Leaving Alexandria: a Memoir of Faith and Doubt.”

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award

Denise Mina has won this award for the second year in a row with her 10th novel Gods and Beasts (Alex Morrow, 3).

The Daphne du Maurier Award

This is awarded for excellence in mystery/suspense for the Published and the Unpublished authors.

PUBLISHED

UNPUBLISHED

  • Series: Shielded Hearts by Susan Spaulding
  • Historical: In A Sea Of Change by Deborah Uchida
  • Inspirational: Raw Nerves by Bethany Mcmanus
  • Paranormal/Time Travel/Fantasy: Identity by Tina Gower
  • Single Title: Rogue’s Escape by Sharon Wray
  • Mainstream: The Art of Deceit by Mary Ann Corrigan
  • OVERALL DAPHNE Unpublished: Sharon Wray

When Proper English Fails…

Oh, man, this is just too funny. Go read these text messages over at Publishing a Book is an Adventure for a good laugh. You can weep later…


Bookstores

Discover a City Through Its Indie Bookstores

Drew Limsky at Yahoo Travel suggests checking out independent bookstores when you travel—he provides eight indie stores to get you started. And I’m ashamed to say that I lived in the San Francisco-Bay area for well over ten years and never did get to City Lights… Ah well, I had to save something for later…*grin*…


California

Joe Fitzgerald with the San Francisco Examiner notes that “Marcus Books seeks landmark status to help avoid closure. (Their woes were first mentioned in the mid-July Hodgepodge.)

Village House of Books is scheduled to open in Los Gatos on August 14 when it will become the community’s only general bookstore.

Camille Baptista reports in the Berkeleyside that “the beloved 51-year-old toy store Mr. Mopps’ is preparing to open a bookstore this fall just two doors down from its space on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Rose Street.

Maine

The Wall Street Journal notes that the Books-A-Million store in Portland is getting an Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books. “BAM CEO Terrance Finley said that the machines will give customers ‘access to a virtual inventory of seven million titles instantly available to them. Our customers will also be able to print their self-published works or any user generated content, photo books, recipes, etc., in a matter of minutes and pick it up in our store.'”

Massachusetts

Thomas Grillo with Boston Business Journal reports that Barbara’s Bestsellers in South Station, Boston, which closed in April, will reopen soon next to the new Tavern in the Square.

Missouri

Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly reports that the Book House “located for the past 27 years in a 150-year-old renovated Victorian house in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill will move approximately three miles east to what owner Michelle Barron describes as the “the heart of the Maplewood Historic District.” The store will remain in its current location through September and is tentatively ascheduled to re-open sometime in October in the new space.”

New York

A cause well worth abetting! Matthew J. Perlman at the New York Daily News writes of the travails of Monroe Brown, Jr., and his True South Bookstore. Brown has suffered a major heart attack and couldn’t open the store, which means that it’s short of money to stay open. Y’all know how difficult this economy is and how horrible health care coverage can be. True South celebrates black heritage and sells books.

The community has rallied, and if you’d like to help, the shop has until the end of July to raise the money to stay in business. True South Bookstore, 492 Nostrand Ave. between Hancock and Halsey Streets, (347) 425-7330. For info, visit https://www.facebook.com/monroe.brown.92. (I know this is coming out after the end of the month, I’m feeling hopeful…)

Pennsylvania

“Aaron’s Books in Lititz … is expanding by creating and managing a campus store for its neighbor Linden Hall, the oldest independent girls boarding and day school in the country. The as-yet-unnamed campus store will open on August 23, just before the first day of classes. It’s certainly a different idea!

Texas

Half Price Books has opened a new, 9,200-square-foot location at 9900 South IH 35 in the Southpark Meadows shopping center in Austin.


England

Lisa Campell at The Bookseller notes that “U.K. bookshop chain Foyles will open a seventh branch, at London’s Waterloo Station, in November and “will have a ground floor and mezzanine and serve the 125 million customers who pass through the station on an annual basis.”

Singapore

Borders bookstore will be coming back to Singapore and opening in Jurong by the end of the year.


Libraries

Montgomery County, MD, Pioneers Call for Fair E-Book Prices for Libraries

Yeah!! Another county government ticked off at the publishers for their highway, er, e-way robbery!

Dylan Scott at Government Technology reports that unlike Connecticut which is only calling for an investigation, “Montgomery County [is] one of the first state or local jurisdictions to make more equitable e-book pricing a formal policy.

What Douglas County Has Discovered

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader reiterates these points and learns that the library system in Douglas County “found that only 12 of the USA Today bestseller list were available as library eBooks” with nine of them listed up to five times higher than their list price. If you agree that this is highway robbery, contact your state’s attorney general and ask what stance they’re taking on this issue of publishers charging libraries over list price for an eBook. As Hoffelder points out, “…libraries positively affect the community…”


Kids

15 Quotations from Children’s Books Help Parents Choose Books

Brian Galindo at BuzzFeed has a post of 15 quotations from children’s books, and while I did enjoy the quotes, they didn’t seem substantial enough to pass on. But then…yes, then I saw them in a different light…as books you might want to choose for your children to read, to be inspired by, to encourage them to grab onto life…

Inspiring Teen Promotes Reading

Vanessa Pellechio with The Evening Sun writes of 12-year-old Isadora Dukehart and her mission, via her blog, to take up the budgetary shortfall for her district’s school libraries in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. “In the three months the site has been active, more than 200 books and audio books have been donated to the district by publishers such as Random House and Tantor Audio.”

If you’d like to donate, the suggested address is:

Spring Grove Area School District
ATTN: “Because I Read So”
100 E. College Avenue
Spring Grove, PA 17362

ReaLITy Books for Teens from MacMillan

The publishing house, MacMillan, has put together a group, ReaLITy, which deals in “realistic literary fiction for teens. These titles feature strong writing, important themes, and memorable voices. They are pathways to discussion about topics that impact the lives of today’s young adults. These are real books for real teens.” And they aren’t kidding. Joy Peskin of MacMillan says the titles aren’t issue-driven, which I would interpret as not hitting news-driven events, but ongoing real issues which are problematic for teens AND are addressed in “literary, meaty reads”.

If you have teens who are having problems (or you are having problems dealing with their issues), you should consider giving this site a look.

Shelf Awareness has an article that highlights previous and upcoming publications including:

  • Freakboy, coming out October 22, by Kristin Elizabeth Clark is written in free-verse about transgender issues
  • Brother, Brother, coming out August 20, by Clay Carmichael about mysterious family ties and a strong sense of place
  • Second Impact, coming out August 6, by David Klass and Perri Klass (sister, pediatrician and journalist) is told through alternating blog posts about head injuries brought on by contact sports
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson on surviving sexual assault and was a National Book Award Finalist and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book (Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly reports that Speak will be developed as a graphic novel)
  • My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt and written in free-verse and is a chronicle of child prostitution
  • When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes is about a young man trying to improve himself only to be shot down
  • Before You Go by James Preller is about the disaster that has marked his and his family’s lives, and how out of control it truly is

Sex Questions You Don’t Want to Answer

Due for release August 27, 100 Questions You’d Never Ask Your Parents: Straight Answers to Teens’ Questions About Sex, Sexuality, and Health (the eBook version anyway; the paperback came out in 2007) may well be the answer to a parent’s prayer…

Read what Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly has to say about it.

Yet Another Way to Read Aloud to Your Kids

Okay, this sounds promising. Judith Rosen at Publishers Weekly writes of a new way to ensure that someone is reading out loud to the kids with Sparkup Magical Book Reader. It’s a reading device “developed in Israel that clips on to a book and then ‘reads’ it aloud” using “computer-vision technology – a small camera scans the page and matches the text and illustration to the audio. It can work with any book in any language as well as braille titles.

Founder and CEO, Amir Koren says that “Reading-age children can practice reading to themselves aloud, and kids with special needs can also get extra help and validation.” Sounds like a win-win to me.

If someone tries this out, let us know what you think…

Fat Angie is For At-Risk Kids

Well, not exclusively, but “E.E. Charlton-Trujillo has chosen to promote her third novel, Fat Angie, which Candlewick published in March, in a novel way. Like most authors, selling books is not at the top of Angie’s agenda. At every stop on her At-Risk Tour, which kicked off June 27 and will last through the summer, she is using the themes of her novel – among them bullying, self-image, friendship, war, same-sex relationships, family, and self-harm – as a springboard for conversations with at-risk youngsters, including those who are economically disadvantaged, bullied, and LGBTQ.”

Why Teachers Should Read More Children’s Books

Well, beyond the obvious that kids’ books are fun reads, Jo Bowers and Dr. Susan Davis with The Guardian report that “a research project has found that teachers who read for pleasure have better book knowledge and feel more confident, calm and stress-free in the classroom“. Sounds like a winner to me!

I love the following quote from this article…

“One of our students summed it up nicely: ‘Books are like best friends during stressful times.'”

A Kenyan Perspective for YA Readers

Karanga Kariuki with All Africa has a post about “The Master of Kenya’s Young Adult Fiction: Emmanuel Kariuki with 17 titles, “nine children’s readers and four novels for young adults, three pre-school books and one photo novel”.

One of his young adult fiction titles, The Salem Mystery, won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in the adolescent category in 2003; its sequel, The Red Coat, was nominated for the Impac Dublin Award in 2010.

15 Board Books to Buy for Baby

Casi Densmore-Koon at Babble lists 15 Board Books to Buy for Baby. They’re the ones their baby son loves the most.

Negatives of eBook Apps

Amy Friedlander at Digital Book World reports on some of the negatives of eBook apps in her post, “Ebook App Trends: Delayed Gratification for the Instant Generation“, saying that “the very added extras that create frustration, interrupt the narrative flow and affect comprehension. These are the primary reasons some educators have doubted book apps – and they weren’t shy to share these industry grievances at a recent EdTech conference I attended on ‘Tots and Technology’ in Texas.”

Friedlander notes that “it is no secret that children love tapping screens. The cause and effect relationship of seeing things instantly happen when they touch is fantastic. But, in interactive storytelling, this isn’t always the best way to get the most out of the experience.” She does, however, go on to point out ways around this. If you think an eBook app for any genre of book is in your future, you might like to take a peek.


FanFic: A Different Harry Potter Ending

Harry Potter fans, you must read Ailsa Martin’s own epilogue for the ending of the Harry Potter saga, “Twenty Three Years Later: I Try and Write A Better Harry Potter Epilogue“. It does have a warmer ending that I did enjoy, and I thought you might like a read as well.


J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith

J.K. Rowling in “Drag” as Robert Galbraith

Well this is just sad. All the brouhaha over Rowling publishing a book under a different name. No big deal you’d think. And in most respects it’s not. Sure, I get that Rowling wanted her book to sink or swim on its own merits, she wanted to explore a different style without anyone judging it based on who she is—it is funny that so many publishing houses rejected it. The sad part is the law partner, Chris Gossage, having no clue what secret means.

Liz Bury at The Guardian tells Rowling’s side of her Robert Galbraith alter ego.

There’s an interesting guest post at the Language Log by Patrick Juola on forensic stylometry, the science of assessing how people use language. It’s a combination of explaining stylometry and explaining how it was applied to The Cuckoo’s Calling by J.K. Rowling. It’s mostly for fun…

Alice Philipson with The Telegraph reports that Rowling has accepted a damages settlement with the lawyer and his blabbermouth friend. A settlement that includes a donation to The Soldier’s Charity.

Reviewing Rowling’s Book, The Cuckoo’s Calling

Mark Lawson at The Guardian reviews J.K. Rowling’s recently revealed latest book, Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling.

Ben Child at The Guardian reports that Hollywood is chasing Ms. Rowling…oh, what it is to have that platform…! And Joel Friedlander chimes in to reinforce the need for a platform.


FREE: Five Years of TOR.com Short Stories

A free download of the last five years of TOR.com’s short stories. Don’t bother trying to download the MOBI file, it just comes up junk. The PDF works, though.


Fight Club Sequel Confirmed

While a Fight Club sequel has been confirmed by the author, Chuck Palahniuk, the sequel will be a graphic novel.


8 Authors Who Crossed the Gender Line

Adelle Waldman discusses in “8 Authors Who Crossed the Gender Line” the books written by one gender with their main character of the opposite sex. It’s a short and interesting list of those books which spoke to her.


Neil Gaiman’s New Video Game

Adam Popescu with Mashable notes that Neil Gaiman has released his first video game, Wayward Manor. And it sounds like fun!


Binc Awards $100,000 in Scholarships

“The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation has announced the recipients of their 2013 Academic Scholarship Program. Thirty-two students, who were either booksellers, former Borders employees or dependents, received nearly $100,000 in scholarship funding for their continuing education.”


Flicks

New Harry Potter Being Filmed

A mini-movie, it is intended for Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park and Universal Studio-Orlando as well as two new parks in Japan and Los Angeles. Check out the gossipy video on it.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Matia Burnett at Publishers Weekly reminds us that “The clock is ticking down to the August 21 release of one of the most eagerly anticipated YA novel-to-screen adaptations this side of Panem. City of Bones, the first book in Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.”

Artemis Fowl Coming, Finally, to the Big Screen

Jenni Miller at Moviefone reports that Harvey Weinstein and Disney are partnering up to produce an Artemis Fowl flick.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The upcoming movie, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, is scheduled for release on August 7. Check out this fun online featurette to get your juices flowing! Be warned, if you watch it, you’ll wanna see it…


August is Read-a-Romance-Month

Barbara Vey has a post on “August is Read-a-Romance-Month“, and damn, even I couldn’t read every author on this list in a month. Well…not and write a review as well, LOL. I also suspect I’d go into overload with all the new series I’d wanna read.

If you enjoy romances, you might want to look at Vey’s calendar. At the least, it’ll keep ya outta mischief…!


More Hotels Adding Libraries as Guest Amenities

Hmmm, it’s almost enough to make me want to hit the road…except I’ve got so many books at home in my own library. Amy Zipkin with The New York Times reports that hotels “are increasingly stocking books in a central location, designating book suites or playing host to author readings. While the trend began at boutique hotels like the Library Hotel in New York, the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Oregon, and the Study at Yale in New Haven,” and now “it is expanding to chain hotels.” Read Zipkin’s article for information on those hotels…


Social Reading Sites

BuzzFeed Has a Books Section, Sorta

Andrew Beaujon at Poynter mentions that BuzzFeed has a books section which seems to be evolving; I’m hoping to find the time to explore and discover just what they mean.


The Kindle Has Turned Me Off Paper Books

Another one of those that could be fun or sad. I adore my print books, and I suspect they will always be my first choice. And yet. I totally understand where Rick Gekoski is coming from. He’s a rare books dealer who has discovered how very much he loves his Kindle.

Sadly


Snowden’s Revelations Worry Readers

With all the excitement lately surrounding Snowden’s revelations about government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, the Campaign for Reader Privacy is hotting up again. Read up on “how Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act threatens the privacy of your bookstore and library records“.


Obituaries

Barbara Robinson, Dead at 85

“Children’s author Barbara Robinson, ‘whose beloved and irreverent novel The Best Christmas Pageant Ever describes how a church play is hijacked by a Scripture-ignorant and all-around troublesome set of six siblings,’ died last week, the Boston Globe reported. She was 85.”

Virginia Johnson, Widely Published Collaborator in Sex Research, Dies at 88

…the other half of the famous Masters and Johnson team. Margalit Fox at The New York Times briefs us on her life which can be summed up with “Virginia E. Johnson, a writer, researcher and sex therapist who with her longtime collaborator, William H. Masters, helped make the frank discussion of sex in postwar America possible if not downright acceptable…”

Leighton Gage, Dead on July 27

Leighton Gage, crime novelist, died on Saturday, July 27th. Read what his editor has to say about him.


One Way to Drive Amazon Out of Business

Evan Hughes at Salon has a point about the correlation between bookstores going out of business and Amazon’s readers buying fewer books, “Here’s how Amazon self-destructs“, and it ties into Kasmira Jefford’s and David Carr’s posts in the mid-July Hodgepodge.


Lonely Planet On the Downhill Slide?

Andrew Bender has contributed a post to Forbes on “Layoffs At Lonely Planet: Writing On The Wall For Guide Books?“, and it doesn’t sound good.


Russia Cracks Down on Gay Rights

Well, that’s the sad part. And in spite of it, Olga Khazanjul with The Atlantic writes of Daria Wilke who still chose to release her YA “novel, The Jester’s Cap, that prominently features a homosexual character … and his struggle to find acceptance in the country”.


Library of Congress Falling Behind

Peter Brantley at the Publishers Weekly blog has a post on “Preserving Less of the World’s Literature” which is one of those happy/sad articles. It’s wonderful that the Library of Congress (LOC) (and all libraries!) are excited about the explosion in publications. It’s not-so-wonderful that this web- and self-publishing explosion is leaving the libraries in the dust.

It doesn’t help that the Library of Congress‘ website is behind the curve. If they’re truly concerned, the LOC needs an easy-submission, possibly free, policy whereby self-published eBooks and print books can be sent to them for their archives.


Pathetic Performance by Fox News Interviewing Reza Aslan

Meredith Blake at the L.A. Times writes of Lauren Green of Fox News’ video interview with Reza Aslan about his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. W. T. F. She obsesses about the fact that the guy is Muslim writing about Jesus and completely ignores the fact that he’s a religious scholar who has degrees in RELIGION. It’s obvious she never even cracked the book and merely looked at the title! Oh, and the fact that Aslan is Muslim. Omigod, he’s Muslim. Eek, the sky is falling. WHAT is the woman’s (or should I say, Fox News’) problem???

I wanna read the book if only because Aslan comes off sounding intelligent and reasonable…I’ll pass on watching Fox News…


The Real Problem with Apple’s eBook Pricing Debacle

I went in all bristling to read James Bridle at The Guardian on “Apple should be breaking new ground – not the law” and promptly smoothed down those bristling hairs. Bridle makes some good points such as “The literature industry’s fear of technology is what really sits at the centre of this debate. There have always been two complementary and effective ways of countering Amazon’s dominance, and neither has been taken up in the (English-speaking) publishing world: these are investing in building national ebook stores, as has been done in France, Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere; and relaxing the ferocious demands of Digital Rights Management, which make purchasing an ebook from anyone but “verticals” like Amazon and Kobo a virtual misery.” Be sure to read the last paragraph in this post.

Andrew Albanese a Publishers Weekly reports that “DoJ Seeks Comprehensive Injunction in Apple E-book Case” with some fairly broad but seemingly reasonable requirements of Apple. Read the decision here.


Censorship or Protection?

A controversial book about a teacher seducing her 14-year-old student is making waves in Australia. Some bookshops are selling it, some with disclaimers, and some won’t accept it. This is one of those situations I hate. I accept that people have the right to choose whether it’s the KKK or the Hitler Youth (ack!!!), that we can’t prevent people from making their choices, and it doesn’t mean that I must agree with those choices. On the other hand, I do hate when what I perceive as wrong is promoted. Read what Blanche Clark and Fran Metcalf at the Herald Sun have to say in Aussie bookstores ban sexually explicit novel“.

Writing Tips

Research

Evolution of the Crime Story

The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime by Judith Flanders, a social historian who became interested in how changes in 19th century England including the rise of huge urban centers and improved mass transit led to a fascination with stories about crime and detectives. If you need inspiration for a story or an angle, this might be useful. It certainly sounds intriguing…


Kira Lyn Blue is Keeping It Fresh

Kira Lyn Blue is continuing her quest for Keeping It Fresh with
Antagonize the Hero” and the four basic types of opposition from which you can create your hero’s opposition and get ideas for the conflict you need. She continues with “What makes an intriguing magical system in fantasy fiction?” and how magic is introduced into a storyline and what will grab your reader’s interest. It’s a starter post, so don’t expect much in this, but there are more to come.

Her “Favorite Magic Systems” countdown begins with #5, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, and Blue explores Rowling’s creation and depiction of magic from the reader’s and writer’s perspectives.


Online Writing Community Launches Updated Site

Clare Swanson with Publishers Weekly has a post about “Book Country’s updated site (online writing community introduced by Penguin in 2011) “opens up … to over 60 categories, including nonfiction and young adult, which were among the most requested from early users”; a new online bookstore where “members’s books will be sold through retailers such as iBookstore and Amazon. … Other features new to the updated site are the capability for members to privately message each other, as well as a tool that allows users to either upload their own cover art, or overlay text on a member-chosen image or one provided by Book Country. Barton also “cherry-picked” services provided by self-publishing vendor Author Solutions, Inc., which Penguin acquired in July 2012, including cover design consultation, line editing, and promotional features such as book stubs (gift cards for free downloads of a particular e-book).”

CAVEAT: I’d be cautious about selling through Book Country as Author Solutions has a VERY bad reputation for screwing over writers, and Book Country may be affiliated with it somehow.

Do read the article for more details, including the bit about authors being able to contact others within their particular subgenre (those categories). I got the impression you could provide fellow authors with feedback and vice versa. Although, there are plenty of writers’ groups where you can get the same aid without worrying about getting sucked in to Author Solutions.


On Failure…

Kristen Lamb has a brilliant post on “The Personal Apocalypse—When are We REAL Writers?“, and she discusses all the failures of her life. And if this isn’t enough to make you buck up…I don’t know what will!


Gobsmacked! Roald Dahl’s Thoughts When Writing for Children

I almost passed on including this recollection by Stephen Roxburgh, Roald Dahls’ editor on The Witches, but as I read, I realized that it does provide great insight for someone writing for the children’s market.


Horrifying Two-Sentence Exercise

This is very clever by Reddit, and Meredith Woerner of io9 has listed a few of the results of Reddit’s recent request of their users: “What’s the best horror story you can come up with in two sentences?” And their responses were terrifying! Who knew we could be so scared by such small stories? It’s absolutely brilliant and here are a few of our favorites.


Characters

Overly Nice Characters

Jane Friedman has an extremely short post, “The Problem With Overly Nice Characters“, that I think is intended to make us think and includes a couple of links to other authors’ thoughts including E.A. Durden on “Against Decency: Leading Your Characters Astray” and an interview Annasue McCleave Wilson has with Claire Messud about Messud’s book, The Woman Upstairs in which she wants to know why anyone would want to like her characters, LOL.

Writer’s Block and the Antagonist

Kristen Lamb has a post, “The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block Might Not Be What You Believe“, in which she describes a breakthrough in her writing when she realized she had to know the antagonist almost more than she needed her protagonist. There were too many issues that couldn’t be created let alone resolved without one!

Lamb offers up a list of books to read (in place of the antagonists online class she offered last week). I’ve read two of them, and if the rest are as good as those two…!

No Boring Protagonists

Kristen Lamb in her post, “The Stuff of Legends—Creating a Character Apocalypse“, discusses what makes a good protagonist and includes inspiration in finding your hero’s baggage and prevent your book from wilting under a boring protagonist.


Quality versus Quantity

Not the usual post on writing, publishing, or even about books. Instead Poppy Balser is writing about production. Whether it’s achieving the one perfect story or painting or learning your craft. Trust me on this and read through to the end; it’s worth it.


Brave New Publishing & Attack of the Feral Plot Bunnies

LOL, I wasn’t sure if I should pop this into “Writing” or “Marketing”, as it could go either way. And it’s not encouraging…or then again, maybe it’s very encouraging…? Kristen Lamb’s “Brave New Publishing & Attack of the Feral Plot Bunnies” is a two-part post. The first half points out that those authors who are doing so well, the ones we want to emulate, i.e., make the same kind of money? That they’ve been working their butts off for years and have a backlist! Dang, why couldn’t it be easy?! (Relates right back to Quality versus Quantity.)

The second half addresses plot problems, creates a solid core story problem, and generates “good” antagonists. The successful authors bit is interesting, but the real meat is in the plot bunnies. It’s a good read…

“Our stories can get so complicated we need a team of sherpas and a GPS to locate our original idea. This wastes time and makes it hard to keep writing more books. Thus, to combat this, writers must…”


Famous Authors’ Advice – Wrong or ??

C.S. Lakin has an interesting post on “Words of Advice from Famous Authors That Are Just Wrong” some of which I agree with and some I don’t. Naturally y’all’ll have your own ideas on it.


A Developmental Editing Interview with Alan Rinzler

Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer has a video interview with Alan Rinzler and discusses developmental editing—the in-depth type of editing that can turn your manuscript upside down and make it better than it or you knew. Ya know, the expensive one, LOL. In this interview, Rinzler covers:

  • “Developmental editing can sometimes start before the book is written
  • The aim of editor and publisher should be to deliver a book that people buy and read
  • The earlier an editor is involved, the better
  • Some of the biggest problems Alan sees in the manuscripts he receives
  • A better way to think of your outline than you were taught in 3rd grade
  • The one thing that helps guide authors through the writing process
  • Why it’s important for authors to ‘do their homework’ about the publishing business
  • The reason you need to know an editor’s track record
  • What you need to know about how editors charge for their service
  • The kinds of books Alan won’t edit
  • Alan discusses his ‘obsessive’ work style
  • The hallmark of a great book”

When is It Fair Use?

Brad Frazer (he’s an attorney) does a guest post at Jane Friedman’s blog, “Is It Fair Use? 7 Questions to Ask Before Using Copyrighted Material“, that provides a checklist of sorts. This is another one you want to bookmark!

“…the only way to know for sure if something is ‘OK’ is by getting sued and then winning that lawsuit. Then, the judge has told you, in essence, ‘Yes, your behavior is OK.'”

And, no. Attribution is not permission…eek!

The lesson I’m taking away from this is “10 words or less”…


Mini-Memoirs: A New Writing Trend?

Anna Baddeley with The Observer has a post at The Guardian on a new writing trend: “The mini-memoir: a new and welcome ebook trend“. She notes that Mark Haddon and Howard Jacobson are just two of a number of authors taking advantage. To be honest, it sounds more like a collection of short stories, rants, essays, and whines.


‘Serious’ Authors Who Have Written Y.A./Children’s Lit

“None of these writers began writing for children because adult writing proved too difficult. Rather, they wrote for a younger audience simply because that was the correct form for the ideas they wanted to express.”

Courtney Sender at the Los Angeles Review of Books writes about crossover authors. Big-name authors whom we would recognize as writers for an adult audience who are found in the YA sections. And Sender does write some lovely prose about these and in more detail on a select few.

I love this…

“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown-up, to admire the grown-up because it is grown-up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish – these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence.” – C.S. Lewis


Stephen King on the Hook

Joe Fassler at The Atlantic interviews Stephen King and learns what King thinks of the hook, why he spends months and years writing opening sentences. And, wow. Just wow. I’ve never heard (read *grin*) this perspective on the hook before and King’s explanation of voice makes much more sense than most of the definitions I’ve read in the past. King also provides a number of authors whose first lines he likes…I think you’ll enjoy this.


Upcoming Writing Contests

These are contests which are soliciting entries; I’m not endorsing these, I’m simply relating the information.

Deadline Prize Contest Requirements
Begins Aug 2 One overall winner gets a brand new laptop.

6 prizes of £100 worth of fabulous books for each of the six authors’ categories.

Creepy House 2013 Writing Challenge “To celebrate the launch of Creepy House, the 2013 Summer Reading Challenge, six top authors have been asked to begin a short story written in their own fantastic style, which will be added to summerreadingchallenge.org.uk over the next few weeks. Now it’s over to YOU to finish the story – and share the glory!”

“Check out the Creepy House website to find all the details and enter the Finish the Story competition, and you can write an ending to … Cressida Cowell’s story ‘The Woods Were Full of Whispers’.”

Upcoming Writing Conferences

I’m not endorsing these, I’m simply relating the information.

Date Location Conference/Workshop About
August 15-16, 2013
$??
ABA members eligible for discounted tuition.
Northville, Michigan Deciding to Own a Bookstore Two upcoming workshops for new bookstore owners and those considering getting into the book business are sponsored by The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates (Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman will facilitate) and the American Booksellers Association. Guest booksellers and trainers will also share their expertise.

Will teach attendees how to estimate their start-up investment and potential earnings and how to compete in a bricks-and-clicks retail world.

For more information, contact Paz & Associates or call 904.277.2664.

Sept 9-12, 2013
ABA members are eligible for discounted tuition.
Amelia Island, FL Managing for Love & Profit Specifically for new owners and managers of bookstores, as well as those who plan to open a store within the next six months. The program focuses on competitive advantages, store design, retail buying and inventory management practices, and marketing.

The workshops are facilitated by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates. Guest booksellers and trainers will also share their expertise.

For more information, contact Paz & Associates or call 904.277.2664.

Sept 27, 2013
All access price is $599 from July 20-Sept 26

$699 on-site price beginning September 27

Explore for more options

Los Angeles Writer’s Digest Conference West You’ll make real connections with fellow writers, experience the thrill of pitching your work to literary agents and editors, and get practical publishing-industry advice and writing inspiration from successful authors.

It includes a daylong conference-within-a-conference on self-publishing where Jane Friedman will be moderating a panel with Amazon’s Jon Fine and WriterCube’s Kristen McLean.

Oct 8, 2013
$??
Frankfurt, Germany CONTEC Frankfurt 2013 CONTEC gathers stakeholders from across the publishing ecosystem – from STM and trade publishers to service providers and tech startups – in one arena to redefine and redesign the experience of publishing, and provides the opportunities for each to take the next steps forward together.

Jane Friedman will be moderating on the implications of self-publishing for traditional publishing.

The Publishing Business

Joel Friedlander’s Book Interiors Services

Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer explains how his new book design and formatting service, Book Interiors, works. This service is different from his DIY Book Design templates product.


Publishers

Penguin’s eGalley Nightmare

Publishing Insider at Boing Boing has an inside look at “Penguin’s insane policy on electronic galleys for authors” and if you’re hoping to get signed on with a traditional publisher you might want to read this over to discover yet more pitfalls for the hopeful author. I gotta admit, my reaction to it is can they do that?

Changes at Guideposts

Lynn Garrett at Publishers Weekly notes that “Guideposts Disbands Trade Books Program” due to the lousy economy, effective spring 2014.

The company will continue to publish fiction and nonfiction, but it will be sold only direct to consumer.

Book Shepherds

Sharon Goldinger has a guest post over at Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer on what a book shepherd is and what they can do for you in part 1 with part 2 following.

The Small Press Option

Shirley Hershey Showalter has done a guest post at Jane Friedman’s blog on “Better Than Fall Back: The Small Press Option“, which explains, using three case studies, why publishing through a small press can be the best option for a writer, as opposed to simply a fall back option. The first is Richard Gilbert and the Michigan State University Press, and his reasons why he realized a university press was ideal—he has praise for joining the Authors Guild as well; the second is Eleanor Vincent who experienced hardcover with a press that closed, and the options she explored along with the attendant pitfalls until she fell in with Dream of Things [their primary interest is narrative nonfiction, including memoir and personal essays, in case that’s your field of writing!]; and, the third is Shirley’s own experience with Herald Press, another small press, for her own memoir along with a list of all that they did for her…pretty wow.

Shirley includes three links to lists of small presses.

“With a big press you get visibility; with a small press you get love.”


Why Publishers Are Making a Push for ePub3 Now

Bill McCoy at Digital Book World explains the fuss about moving everyone onto ePub3 since “the vast majority of eBooks selling today [which] are fiction and text-centric nonfiction titles that don’t have a clear need for the multimedia and interactivity associated with HTML5” as more of a short term practicality as it would eliminate authors/publishers having to create different files for the various eBook formats—one for Kindle, another for NOOK, yet another for smartphones and tablets, and… Well, you know the drill and how confusing it can be.

“ePub3, the “latest version of ePub, the widely used open standard format for digital publications, is based on the latest Web Standards including HTML5 [which ePub2 is not].”

“ePub3 can be viewed as having four major feature clusters:

  1. Styling and layout enhancements (general CSS enhancements, enhanced font/typography support, and fixed-layout support)
  2. Global language support (vertical writing, R-L page progression direction, phonetic annotation, etc.)
  3. Rich media and interactivity (audio, video, scripting)
  4. Accessibility features (better semantics, pronunciation hints, synchronizing pre-recorded media with text display, mathematics, etc.)”

McCoy points out that “many people think of HTML5 … as being all about the rich media and interactivity. … [But] in some areas, ePub3 has gone beyond the browser baseline, such as in enabling global language support and accessibility.

The “limitations of e-ink devices” have predominated over the past five years, and as tablets and smartphones start to replace these devices, the possibility for the fun new features increases. However, McCoy also points out that “it’s not clear that even on tablets that novels and narrative nonfiction, which form the bulk of the sales for most trade publishers, will benefit from video or interactivity. So that key feature of HTML5 is definitely not driving the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and other stakeholders to push ePub3 adoption. Nor is it about global language support – in Japan, where ePub3 is already widely used, vertical writing and related features have been critical but for English-language publishing these features are not necessary”.

Digital Book World reports that the AAP Supports Ambitious ePub3 Plan, a.k.a., “the ePub3 Implementation Project, its goal is to rapidly advance the adoption of ePub3 by publishers and retailers over the next six months and have publishers release a large number of titles to the marketplace that use the standard in the first quarter of 2014”.

What is driving U.S. adoption is the styling and layout enhancements which gets around ePub2 limitations and allowing “for, say, a reflowable romance novel,” eer line break and hyhenation control, including vector graphics within content as well as between paragraphs, including more metadata, using the font of your choice, sizing issues, TOC problems, support for complex content (maths, high-design textbooks) and multiple style sheets (yeah!), and accessibility. (Accessibility refers to making content accessible to people with handicaps of some sort and are required on websites.) EPub3 practicality can be applied to textbooks and government publications and “will eliminate the need to produce a second digital version using a specialized format like DAISY DTBook”.

In other words, you can produce one file, and it will look good no matter what device it’s opened on whether it’s “iBooks, Kobo, Google Play Books, VitalSource Bookshelf, and Sony having significant ePub 3 support – and other distribution channels, including Amazon via KindleGen, supporting some ePub3 features”.

Retailers with proprietary formats like Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK
1
3, Apple’s iTunes
1, Kobo
1
2
3, and Sony
1
4 are hesitant to leap on board as it opens the readers’ market to whoever has the best price as you could download an eBook from anyone. (All of the major ebook retailers have reading software that supports some elements of ePub3, with Apple leading the way. But the standardization of major retailers accepting one common file format may be a long way off.)

  • 1 Have made motions toward ePub3 support.
  • 2 In December 2012, ePub content formats evangelist at Kobo, Jim Dovey, said that Kobo would fully support ePub3 by the third quarter of this year – essentially, now.
  • 3 Not yet responded to a request for an update.
  • 4 Sony announced in March that its new children’s ebook platform would support ePub3.

Do read the rest of McCoy’s post as he dives into more about textbooks,”comics/manga, how-to books, children’s books, and magazines”.

Read More About ePub3:


5 Common Tactical Errors in Self-Publishing

I do have to agree with Kristen Lamb in her post, “5 Common Tactical Errors in Self-Publishing“, and I think it’s the number one error for authors who self-publish:

“I’ve received contest winners whose first pages were filled with newbie errors. Yet, when I sent them my critique filled with pages of corrections, I would then receive a reply telling me that the book had already been self-published.”

I too have received already-published books from self-published authors that just make me cringe with embarrassment for them.

Lamb’s five points are: Publishing Too Soon; No Prepared Platform; Believing that, “If We Write it They Will Come” (my biggest problem!); Misusing FREE! (huh??); and, Shopping One Book to DEATH (oh, yeahhh…!). And the points Lamb makes in each of these are very good. Some I’ve heard before, a few bear repeating, and some were new to me. Read it and find out which are new for you…!


FREE: Printed Book Design

Joel Friedlander and BookBaby have put together the loveliest book, Printed Book Design 101, which is a 12-page summary in PDF format which quickly clues in the author who is self-publishing as to the components of a print book, design suggestions, and cover clues up the wazoo!

Go. Now. Download this.


Publishing 3.0

James Altucher’s post, “How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0 says the “distinction now is between professional versus unprofessional publishing”, and not traditional versus self-publishing. Altucher tells you “…what I did step-by-step with my latest book for the first month since publication”.

If you are writing a book, you really want to read what Altucher has to say. I hated bits of it, agreed with other bits, and…sigh…I think he’s hit the mark. Just go read it.


Publishers Courting Authors!

Barbara O’Neal at Writer Unboxed writes about “The Sea Change of Self-Publishing” as per her experiences at the Atlanta conference of Romance Writers of America. And, yeah, it’s scary. And it’s exciting with all sorts of horizons opening up before us. Just remember what another writer said, I can’t remember who, but you don’t have to be the mega-millions author. If you can make a decent living that will pay the bills, buy the groceries, and pick up some lovely extras each month, you’re doing well…


Sadly, a Caution When Signing with a Publisher

Rachelle Gardner answers a question on “Getting Your Rights Back From the Publisher” which discusses reversion of rights. The post primarily applies to writers who have had books published, and likely were published some time ago before eBooks came into existence. However, there are some good cautionary words in here of which even new writers should be aware. Read every bit of a contract before you sign. If you don’t understand even one tiny aspect, talk to an intellectual property rights lawyer. Preferably one who knows the publishing business.


Kristen Lamb’s Stance on the Indie Writer

This is too funny as Kristen Lamb sounds off on traditional publishers and the self-published, making use of Independence Day. She did crack me up AND make an excellent point about the indie publishing trend operating as a feeder for the traditional publishers. While Lamb does veer to the side of the self-published, she’s reasonable in her points. Read it, and enjoy.


Friedlander’s Children’s Templates

Joel Friedlander a The Book Designer has just released “five new templates in a coordinated series for children’s book authors. There are wo different designs for chapter books, two for pre-teen fiction, and one picture book template that comes complete with 5 different page layout styles.

These five new templates will be on sale at 40% off, during August.”


Marketing Ideas


Keywords & Analytics

Tweaking Your Keywords on Amazon

Penny Sansevieri has a guest post at The Book Designer on tweaking your keywords on Amazon to increase the chances of readers finding your book…always a good thing! The post, “Keys to Understanding Amazon’s Algorithms“, is a step-by-step, so it’s easy to follow. Although, you still have to do the hard work of coming up with the words and phrases that describe your book AND come up early in search results. Thank god you don’t have the hard work of figuring out the results, LOL.

Sansevieri has a longer variation on this post at The Huffington Post, “Sell More on Amazon.com: Understanding Keywords, Categories, and Amazon’s Algorithm’s“.

Headline Analyzer Generates an Emotional Score

I dunno if it’s effective, but I thought I’d pass it on and see what y’all think. Try it out and let us know if you think this Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer works for you.

More of Those Online Analytics

Nishant Datta discusses “Online Media and Analytics: Attracting and Engaging New Readers” at Digital Book World. And it’s dull enough to put me to sleep. Oh, not really, it just confuses the heck out of me, and I’ve been avoiding the whole issue. Not a very practical approach. So we’ll just have to learn together…you know what they say about misery liking company…bwah-ha-ha…

Analytics are used to find out what “titles and headlines getting the most attention, traffic by date, duration of engagement…(how long a piece of content generates audience views), page movements, the time readers spend on a story and domain referrals, to name a few”. It only gets more complicated when you consider how many different sites you use—Twitter, Facebook, your blog, guest posting at someone else’s blog, YouTube, Goodreads, sites from which you sell or promote your books, other social and bookmarking media, mobile sites, IP TVs, etc., etc., etc. Each one of those has information for you.

“By using real-time dashboard reports, writers can tweak those headlines, titles, and content to increase traffic, encourage retweets, and increase the number of followers and/or members.


Social Media

Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform?

Kristen Lamb has written a post on screwups—a Facebook friend and Kristen’s response to it, which leads right into…

…Have a Care in Your Social Media

Not your typical marketing post, but Kristen Lamb’s post on “Facing a Social Media Apocalypse? Sometimes We Need to Mend the Hearts We Hurt” is definitely a good reminder to be careful of being too passionate on the Internet. As she says…who thought celebrities and medicine could be so volatile!

10 Tips to Build More Web Traffic From Social Media

Jon Rogernud has a post, “How to Build More Web Traffic From Social Media (10 Tips You Can Use Right Now)“, which discusses why timing is so important with the ideal number of tweets or Facebook posts per day and all the places you need to be posting; be passionate; deals to offer and when; how and when to interact with your followers; staying abreast and the sites that’ll help with that; using hashtags (that’s been a common theme lately!); using infographics; being mobile friendly; ask questions; and, be engaging. It’s not really that hard…once you get a routine going.


Twitter

BookVibe Turns Twitter Data into Book Discovery Tool

Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly talks about BookVibe, “a natural language search technology that allows users to search their tweets and extract the books that are being discussed by the people they follow on Twitter. The service is free to use for consumers and is looking to generate revenue by mining the data for book recommendations and book discovery and offering the relevant analytical information to marketers, publishers and authors.” Another intriguing idea… Has anyone tried this yet??

7 Reasons Every Writer Needs to Be on Twitter

Marcy Kennedy has a guest post at Kristen Lamb’s blog on “7 Reasons Every Writer Needs to Be on Twitter“, and she explains how Twitter is not “full of spam and celebrity stalkers” and “how to use it to its full potential to build an author platform. When used correctly, though, Twitter can be one of the best tools for meeting new readers and increasing traffic to your blog”.

Part of Kennedy’s post goes back to an article I had read some weeks ago which pointed out that different people like different social media. If you want to build your brand, you can’t pick and choose…hmmm, actually you can, if you don’t want to reach the widest possible audience…which social media to play on. It all depends upon your market research, which includes knowing who your target audience is. What social media are they likely to prefer.

Do remember, however, as Kennedy points out that “This is true even if you write children’s books or YA. If you write for kids, your readers might not be on Twitter, but their parents and aunts and uncles and even grandparents are, and your books might just be the perfect gift they’re looking for.”

Kennedy also points out the research and feedback possibilities, the support network, the most current news and tips, the bit about making you a better writer. I can certainly attest to restriction making you tighter! LOL, although you couldn’t tell from my book reviews!


Goodkindles, a Promotional Site for Kindles

If you don’t know about this site, you may want to look into Goodkindles as a Kindle book promotional site. No, I don’t know anything about it. If you do…let us know! It’s not free, so you may want to do some homework before you leap into it.


GR Author’s Experiment with Kindle Giveaways

Dave took Sara up on a question she had about the best days for giving away a Kindle book on Amazon, and he has some useful information.


Joanna Penn’s Premium Q&As

Joanna Penn is “doing bi-weekly premium Q&A audios on book marketing which includes any questions from members, as well as my take on the most recent book marketing news. There’s already 130 minutes of audio and more coming …

I’m passing this information on because the introductory “price of $47 for 1 year access … [is] … going up to $97 next month. Penn does good work and has a good reputation, so you may want to check her audio marketing subscription out.


Building a Successful Blog or Brand

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income sent me an email on “A ‘Rewarding’ Tip for Building a Successful Blog or Brand”, and he has some great tips on rewarding followers/fans/top 1%/best customers, however you like to refer to them and what you can do to thank them—and encourage them! Seeing this, Flynn notes that it will begin to dawn on those “who are not as active will begin to see that you do recognize those who help out, and they might want to help out too” and more.

Flynn points out the “kinds of things can you do to pay your top community members back”:

  1. “On your blog, a simple reply to a good comment can go a long way. Also, if you really wanted to take it a step further, remember who they are (write it down or bookmark their own website, if they have one), and see if you can incorporate their website in one of your posts, and make sure to mention publicly that you’re thankful for this person.
  2. If you have a membership website, if you see there’s a couple people who are extremely active in your forums who are going above and beyond to help others, surprise them with free lifetime membership, or a free bonus or something like that. They’ll continue to do what they’re doing to help, and it’ll help keep your forums active and keep retention rate in your course overall at a high percentage.
  3. Social media platforms are great for recognition and paying it back. On Twitter, I like to retweet tweets from those who I know have helped me in some way, or sometimes I’ll just link to one of their posts on their own site if appropriate.
  4. On Facebook, I recently installed an application called Top Fans by Booshaka.com, which allows me to see who is most active on my Facebook Page and I can even recognize the top 10 fans publicly on the page as well, which is pretty cool.”

Digital Production Schedule Aid

CP+B, an advertising agency, have also produced a free download of Producer’s Mixtape which contains an interactive digital production checklist to help streamline the production process and a custom 3D printable case. Ann-Christine Diaz talks about it at “The Producer’s Mixtape: How Not to Let Bad Work Happen“.

Building Your Own Website

Timing It

Wouldn’t it be nice to just type the date and time you prefer (e.g. “sunday night”, “next week tuesday” or “15 minutes from now”) instead of selecting the hour, day, month and year every single time you use a service? Matthew Mueller’s Date for Humans is a JavaScript library that takes care of that. Your users can “write” a date like a normal human being would, and the date will be determined on the fly. And if JavaScript doesn’t work, there is still a “classic” fallback with the calendar that we all know and use. A nice enhancement for an otherwise tedious and annoying task. Be warned. This is a sparely written page, and you’ll have to use your imagination!

If you enjoyed this newsletter, do me a favor and share it with friends by tweeting it.


2 responses to “A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – August 2013

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