A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – November 2013

Posted November 1, 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.

  • Building Your Own Website
  • The Hodgepodge of Bits & Pieces is a bimonthly link round-up of articles and posts I’ve run across online which I thought may be of interest to writers and readers. I’d appreciate feedback on any of the bits or pieces which spoke to you—good or bad!

    In General

    WHSmith and Kobo

    Said the Spider to the Fly

    Porter Anderson has a guest post at Writer Unboxed, “Said the Online Retailer to the Entrepreneurial Author“, which addresses and reflects upon the WHSmith/Kobo disaster. What’s truly sad is Kobo’s kneejerk response in sweeping every single eBook from their shelves. It certainly provides an excellent reason to have your own author website…

    Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has a thoughtful response to Anderson’s post with his own look at “6 Things An Author Should Look For in An Indie eBookstore” with the idea that self-published authors need to develop other selling platforms besides Kobo and Amazon.

    There are a couple points to be pondered from both sides of the fence per Mercy Pilkington’s post, “Petition Circulates Demanding Fair Treatment for Indie Authors’ Works” at Good eReader:

    “…Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble are not refusing to sell these titles from their own platforms, and that the self-published titles have not been removed from every international market. It is also important for authors to understand that in many countries, there is simply no ‘right to publish’, and that the ‘gift’ of publication can be revoked according to their laws.

    For their parts, the authors who are concerned enough to petition for readmittance to the ebook stores do raise a valid point: erotica has become mainstream fiction. Why are the erotica authors the targets here, and not crime thrillers or horror fiction writers, for example? And where does this level of pseduo-censorship stop? Will we see retailers refusing to sell books that have profanity within the text?”

    If ever there was a reason for having your own author website… Are you sensing a theme here…*grin*?

    Jeremy Greenfield has a guest post at Forbes in which he points out that one-third of the self-published books are erotica while only one percent of the traditionally published eBooks are erotica, and he doesn’t see Kobo stopping a revenue stream that great.

    Kobo and the Metadata

    In response to WHSmith shutting down its website and pulling books off shelves, Kobo has responded with the following:

    Today Kobo responded directly to its Writing Life authors with an email explaining in part, “Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.”

    In a statement to DBW, Cerys Goodall, Senior Director of Public Relations for Kobo clarified the company’s actions with the same message the company shared with its Writing Life and self-publishing partners:

    As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo is taking immediate action to resolve this issue which is a direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

    In order to address the situation Kobo is taking the following steps:

    1. We are removing titles in question from the global Kobo platform.
    2. We are completing a thorough review to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by authors and publishers. As a result we are quarantining and reviewing additional titles.
    3. During this process, we have removed all self-published titles from the UK store. We expect titles that comply with our policy to be returned to the store within the week.
    4. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.

    We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible. Our goal at Kobo is not to censor material; we support freedom of expression. Further, we want to protect the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. While some may find our measures extreme, we are confident that we are taking the necessary measures to ensure the exceptions that have caused this current situation will not have a lasting effect on what is an exciting new channel that connects Readers to a wealth of books.

    The Literary Darknet of Independent Publishing

    Aaron Stanton has a post at Digital Book World on “The Literary Darknet* of Independent Publishing“. This post is an analysis of erotic books whether self-published or traditionally published, particularly in e-format and of the percentage of incestuous or bestiality themes. I had intended to read to find out what the Darknet is and found the statistics interesting.

    * I had thought the Darknet was an illicit publishing underground. Instead it’s an underground world of websites that allow you to purchase drugs, places “where people go to conceal their identities, kiddie porn, black market weapons, dissidents and journalists to evade government censorship and surveillance, and more. Criminals use it, but it’s also used for a number of legitimate purposes, such as by journalists to conceal sources” (Meghan Kelly). Adrian Chen at the Gawker goes into greater detail.


    Unsubscribing From Email

    I decided recently to clear out and unsubscribe from a few blogs and services and ran across an annoying problem: Unsubscribe pages that don’t allow me to unsubscribe. This is contrary to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (visit their Compliance Guide). To report violations, start with the FCC’s Complaint Form—ignore any fields that don’t apply. Be sure to click “Email”—and eventually you’ll come to a selection of choices which includes the bit about not being able to “opt out”.

    “If a company violates the act by refusing to unsubscribe recipients from email messages on request, you can file with the FTC. Note that the FTC does not resolve individual complaints, but stores all complaint data for use by law enforcement (Parson).

    In my hunt to find a way to report the violators, I ran across this interesting bit of news:
    “Do not respond to unwanted texts or emails from questionable sources. Several mobile service providers will allow you to forward unwanted spam texts by simply texting it to 7726 (or “SPAM”) to enable the providers to prevent future unwanted texts from the specific sender.

    Check with your mobile service provider about options to block future text messages from specific senders (FCC).”


    Apple Price-Fixing News

    Lawyer Bob Kohn is at it again. He has filed a 27-page document with the U.S. District Court claiming that Amazon was engaging in predatory pricing practices prior to 2010 when publishers and Apple signed agency: pricing agreements and that this alleged behavior is relevant to the now decided ebook price-fixing case. No! Really?

    Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly reports that “a revised filing from the plaintiff states and consumer class made public this week puts the total damages in their lawsuit against Apple over fixing e-book prices at more than $307 million”. Naturally, Apple disagrees…

    Just for Fun

    Bookstores

    Baen’s Free Library

    Baen has a free library where you can download a variety of their eBooks. Grab while it’s still there! Be sure to write a review when you download a free book as a thank you!

    California

    Bay Books in San Ramon, which sells new, used and rare books, is for sale.

    The Merced Barnes & Noble bookstore will stay open on a month-by-month basis instead of closing in January 2014. Seems that breakdown in communication has been patched and both parties are negotiating.

    Colorado

    Anthology Book Company in Loveland closed October 23, 2013 for lack of custom.

    Connecticut

    Amazon starts collecting sales taxes in Connecticut November 1, 2013.

    Florida

    The countdown is on as to when Amazon will begin to collect sales taxes from residents in Florida. It all depends on if they’ll start as soon as they break ground on one of the two fulfillment centers Amazon is building in Ruskin or Lakeland sometime in the next two years or if Amazon will wait until the first package rolls out the door.

    Illinois

    Books Kinokuniya has opened its eighth store in the U.S. in Arlington Heights in the Mitsuwa Marketplace Chicago (the Marketplace specializes in Japanese food—food courts and related shops, giving you double the reason to visit). The focus is on Japanese titles and related products, although the store carries some English-language books.

    Maine

    Letterpress Books, a new family-owned indie, opened October 21 at the Northgate Plaza in the North Deering section of Portland.

    “Thanks to the support of longtime customers, Storybook Cove on Route 53 in Hanover in the upper level inside the Merchant’s Row Shopping Center will remain in business for the foreseeable future” due to “the efforts of many loyal customers”.

    Maryland

    Amazon will start collecting sales taxes in Maryland in 2014, so be sure to use those Christmas gift cards by New Year’s Eve.

    Massachusetts

    Amazon starts collecting sales taxes in Massachsetts November 1, 2013.

    Michigan

    Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly reports that Marwil Books in Detroit is closing at the end of Wayne State University’s semester this coming December. The cause of its demise is a cross between Amazon and the cost of textbooks.

    Pennsylvania

    Let’s Play Books, a children’s bookstore located at 376 Main Street in Emmaus, is scheduled to open no later than December 5, but the “goal date” is Small Business Saturday, November 30.

    I do like “the bookstore’s mission: “Through play, engage children’s interest in story books, while fostering creativity, embracing diversity, and promoting stewardship for our shared world.” Owner Kirsten Yauch Hess also called Let’s Play Books “a business that focuses on engaging children to WANT to read, by giving a child a role in literature…”

    South Carolina

    Harborwalk Books in Georgetown whose building was among several in the town’s historic district destroyed by fire last month, has opened temporarily at 105 Screven Street. They’ll move back when the shop is rebuilt.

    M. Judson is a new indie bookstore in the planning stages for downtown Greenville.

    Texas

    Barnes & Noble opened a new store in El Paso at the Fountains at Farah, 8889 Gateway West. This replaces their existing Eastside location.

    Washington

    Ada’s Technical Books and Café, a science-obsessed bookstore in Seattle (ya gotta love it when “science” includes cooking and coffee!), has moved to a new space up the hill to the old Horizon Books house on 15th Avenue East and is having a grand (re)opening party Saturday, November 2, 12-3 p.m. Paul Constant at The Stranger says “this could very well be the new most beautiful bookstore in Seattle.”

    Wisconsin

    Not a bookstore, but a Bookworm Gardens as Greg Zimmerman from Book Riot explains in “Cool Bookish Places: Bookworm Gardens“. Located in Sheboygan, Bookworm Gardens is a theme park with free admittance (and exists on donations and memberships) and is “totally dedicated to children’s literature. The park has six ‘Gateways’ organized by literary theme, including Woodlands, Animal Gardens, Memory Gardens, etc.” Zimmerman’s article has a map and more for you to explore with your child.

    Mequon is getting a Book World Inc. when it opens at 10920 N. Port Washington Road around November 23.

    Canada

    The building in which Toronto’s The Cookbook Store is/was! located on Yonge Street has been sold to developers who are turning it into condos!?? “A major supporter of the Canadian food-publishing sector, The Cookbook Store is looking for new possibilities.


    Libraries

    No Bundling For Libraries

    Over at the Library Journal, Francine Fialkoff bemoans the fact that libraries are, again, shut out of the deal. In “The E-Bundling Challenge“, she discusses some of the maneuvers publishers are going through to ensure that libraries can’t claim their free eBook even though they’ve already paid through the nose to buy the print book.

    Alternative Libraries

    Derek Attig at Book Riot has a post on “Finding Libraries in Unexpected Places” with some unexpected and lovely locations.

    Who Decides What to Buy For the Library?

    Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World does raise a disturbing point in “Libraries and Ebooks: Spending Big on Fifty Shades of Grey“, and as much as I couldn’t stand the series, I would hate for someone to say that my reading preferences don’t justify buying those books I want to read. Althoughhhh, I would prefer the library not buy quite so many copies of a poorly written book…

    Maureen Sullivan (ALA past-president): It’s not for us to decide that the public needs Gone Girl as much, more, or less than any other book.

    New eBook Buying System for Libraries

    This is an interesting idea from Gale with their New Purchase Model for E-books based on how popular an eBook title is in a library’s system.

    The Truth About American Libraries

    Jennifer Davidson at NPR writes of “Turning A Page Inside A Rural One-Room Library” is a peek into what many of us in metropolitan areas aren’t aware of: “that nearly half of America’s public libraries are rural, and many of those are staffed by only one or two people.”

    Considering that for many “the library is the only place in a small community that people can go to access technology, to fill out job applications, to continue their learning,” says Tena Hanson of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries.

    …libraries in remote places are lifelines for rural communities because the Internet doesn’t always reach towns with rugged terrain.

    This article is also an excellent recommendation for social media as Rachel Luster supplements the taxpayer money the Myrtle library receives and uses social media to garner donations from people around the state. She’s already secured about 1,000 new books. Woo-hoo!

    Macmillan Publishers Opens Entire eBook Backlist Catalog to Public Libraries via Axis 360

    Woo-hoo, “Macmillan’s entire ebook backlist catalog of more than 11,000 ebooks are being made available to all public libraries using the Axis 360 digital media platform.


    Boston to Make the Literary Visible

    Beth Teitell with The Boston Globe reports that Grub Street, the creative writing center, “the Boston Public Library, the Boston Athenaeum, the City of Boston, the Drum, and the Boston Book Festival” are working together, “Creating a literary district in Boston“.

    They are using a $42,500 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to develop a proposal for a literary cultural district in the city, which The Boston Globe said may be the country’s first such district and “would likely include the Boston Public Library; the Athenaeum; Washington Street, former home of literary magazines and newspapers; Beacon Hill, once home to poets including Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes; and, the Public Garden, with its Make Way for Ducklings sculpture. District activities could include walking tours, literary-related street art, interactive installations and promotions of literary exhibits.” I like the idea of Kindle charging stations, LOL.

    Awards

    2013 Man Booker Prize

    “The [£50,000 (about US$79,987)] prize, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008 after launching in 1969, aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. To maintain the consistent excellence of the Man Booker Prize, judges are chosen from a wide range of disciplines, including critics, writers and academics, but also poets, politicians and actors, all with a passion for quality fiction.”

    2013 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

    Graeme Smith’s The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, “journalist ’s account of his disillusioning years of reporting in Afghanistan, won Canada’s richest nonfiction prize, the C$60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.”

    2013 Canadian Children’s Literature Awards

    2013 Ernest J. Gaines Award Winner

    The award for literary excellence is given to an emerging African American author and comes with a prize of $10,000.

    2013 Winner for Harold U. Ribalow Prize

    Sponsored by Hadassah Magazine, it honors an author who has “created an outstanding work of fiction on a Jewish theme”.


    Kids

    Safety First!

    Okay, this is not a books- or education-related link, however, I do have this thing for kids, and I like them to be safe. When I read Shivani Cotter and her Trending Mom‘s post on “A Social Media Alarm System“, I wanted to pass this information on to those of us who use Facebook and other more social networks. I’ve read too many books in which the bad guys find out about people to hurt or rob through their Facebook page! And then I read her post, “Sharing Life’s Moments“, and it seemed a good idea to let parents know about the safety issues that can put their kids at risk on social media sites. Momentage sounds like a good site to explore and still allow parents to safely share snippets and photos of the kids. So take a minute and check these out…put my heart to rest!


    Iceland, Where Near Everyone is a Writer

    I love it! Rosie Goldsmith with BBC News writes of “Iceland: Where one in 10 people will publish a book. Taxi drivers who declaim their poetry, three writers in the house, park benches with barcodes…a nirvana for writers and readers!


    Flicks & TV

    Bitten Trailer

    Heroes and Heartbreakers shows the first trailer for Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten. The series will air in 2014 on SyFy in the U.S. and on Space in Canada.

    Charlie Hunnam Drops Out of Fifty Shades of Grey

    Megan Frampton with Heroes and Heartbreakers warns us that Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy has dropped out of Fifty Shades of Grey, and she cites several possible reasons. Maybe he finally read the books… Chiderah Monde at the Daily News reports, however, that Jamie Doran has been cast in the Christian Grey role.

    More Outlander Casting

    Heroes and Heartbreakers reveals more casting for the Outlander TV series: Laura Donnelly as Jenny Fraser Murray; Annette Badland (an alien on Doctor Who) will be Mrs. Fitzgibbons; Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan; Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh Fraser; Gary Lewis as Colum MacKenzie; and, Graham McTavish as Dougal MacKenzie.

    Orson Scott Card to NOT Profit from Ender’s Game?

    Sounds like scrambling to me with what Andrew Pulver of The Guardian is reporting on “Orson Scott Card ‘won’t profit’ from Ender’s Game film“. The dilemma is all about Card’s stance (and monetary support) of anti-gay bills and organizations. A boycott of his film, Ender’s Game, has been called and the moneymen are scrambling. Sure, the books are great. I’ve loved everything I’ve read of Card’s. I just wish I’d known about his anti-gay beliefs before I’d read them. And no, I’m not saying he doesn’t have the right to his own beliefs (as wrong as I may believe they are!). What I am saying is that I have the right to know if any money I’m paying out is supporting a belief so contrary to my own.


    Illinois Supreme Court strikes down ‘Amazon tax’

    Hmmm, the Chicago Tribune writes that the Illinois Supreme Court decision that the 2011 “Main Street Fairness Act, informally dubbed the Amazon-tax law”, is unconstitutional and cannot supersede federal law has interesting ramifications. If other state supreme courts side with this decision, all those whose affiliations with Amazon were struck down could well go back online.

    “Consumers who live in sales-tax states, such as Illinois, owe state sales tax on their Internet purchases, whether they pay it during virtual checkout or when they file their state income tax returns. But few pay unless tax is collected at checkout. That has the effect of making online purchases cheaper than those at bricks-and-mortar retailers.

    It expanded the meaning of a merchant’s physical presence to include that of affiliate companies”, which meant that “some large Internet retailers, including Amazon.com, cut ties with affiliates in Illinois, which one trade group said numbered about 9,000.”


    Vatican Needs Editor

    LOL, as the Sydney Herald points out in “Lesus Christ! Vatican misspells the Son of God’s name on coins to commemorate Pope Francis“, even the Vatican needs a proofreader as when a commemorative run of 6,000 special coins honoring Pope Francis’ first year in office is found to contain a spelling error.


    eReaders

    NOOK’s Specially Designed Kids App Is COPPA Compliant and Features a Curated Reading Experience for Children on XO Tablets

    In a press release at Digital Book World, Barnes & Noble has announed that the XO Tablet has a specially designed app for kids which is COPPA Compliant and fully interactive.

    The XO Tablet features an educational curriculum with lessons that draw from the top names in education, including Oxford University and Discovery Communication, and is built with parental dashboards that track usage and learning styles, allowing parents to better understand their child’s development. OLPC’s proceeds from XO Tablet sales are reinvested to further OLPC’s global mission, update and expand the XO Learning System and subsidize the distribution of XO Tablets and Laptops to children in need throughout the world.

    NOTE: COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

    B&N Releases New GlowLight NOOK

    Barnes & Noble released a new version of its Nook GlowLight, featuring a sharper screen and a $119 price tag. It’s an “update to a device released in 2012 that was meant for nighttime reading”.

    Baen eBooks Now Available on NOOK

    Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader provides notice that Baen DRM-free eBooks are now available on NOOK. Sci-fi readers rejoice! Even better take advantage of Baen’s once-a-month book bundle deal and get six to eight titles for $18!

    Tor Forge Books DRM-Free Since 2012

    Hoffelder reminds us that Tor Forge books went DRM-free in 2012.

    Kobo Aura HD Scoops German Design Award

    EBook Magazine reports that “Kobo Aura HD Scoops German Design Award” for Lifestyle.

    Easons to Sell Kobos

    Joshua Farrington at The Bookseller reports thata “Kobo partners with Eason” in Ireland. Irish readers can access Kobo e-books online.

    cNet Survey Assesses Kindle Fire

    Brooke Crothers at cNet looks at how a “Survey Cites Amazon Kindle Fire Likes and Dislikes with some fairly major reasons on both sides of the fence.


    Creative Book Marketing: Awesome Bookstore Signage Edition

    Alison Peters at Book Riot has a great post, “Creative Book Marketing: Awesome Bookstore Signage Edition” which you must read if only for the laughs.


    Book-O’-Lanterns!

    A day too late, but I did enjoy the find by Rita Meade at Book Riot who found some great jack’o lanterns with reading themes in “Book-O’-Lanterns!” I’m torn between the Harry Potter and the one that says “READ”.


    An Interactive Résumé

    Y’all just have to go and check out Robby Leonardi‘s interactive résumé! Simply use the scroll bar to move through it…you’ll have fun…and be awed.


    Giver Applications Still Open for World Book Night

    There’s still a bit of time left to apply to give away 20 copies of one title of a book on World Book Night (WBN) on April 23, 2014.

    I am hearing rumors that WBN is changing the rules on titles, numbers, and more…


    eGift an iBook

    PanArmenian.net explains a new patent Apple is filing in which a reader (or viewer or listener) can gift an eBook, video, or music on the fly and personalize it with a snippet from the item being gifted. Great way to share the joke or the sentiment without allowing second thoughts to spoil it!


    Launch of Weekly Printers Row Journal

    In an interesting turnabout, Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune notes that the paper “is launching Printers Row, a membership-driven initiative featuring the Printers Row Journal, a 24-page weekly supplement with interviews, author profiles, reviews and special reports on Chicago and Midwest writers. In addition, members will receive benefits like VIP access to authors during live events, members-only forums and online discussion.

    The ‘first phase’ of Printers Row Journal will be available February 26 to the newspaper’s current subscribers (for a $99 per year membership) and new subscribers (for $149 per year, which includes a subscription to the Sunday print edition). Nonmembers can purchase single e-copies of Printers Row Journal for $2.99 each on Amazon.”


    BIG Biographies This Fall

    Scott Porch at Salon reports on a number of biographies being released this fall, including the definitive Beatles biography. I don’t normally write about books I haven’t yet read, and my reason for posting on this is that the Beatles bio is being released in two different ways. For those of you who are die-hard Beatles fans, you may want more information on how to spend your money as the British publisher is issuing a two-book set with the American publisher putting out a much leaner single. Yes, Porch does peek in at a number of biographies, not just the Beatles.


    Giveaways for NaNoWriMo Participants

    Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer is giving away a Kindle Fire, iPad Air, or one of 20 Other Prizes, Save 30% Too on Book Design Templates, tools and services to help authors publish or pitch their books. All you have to do for a chance at winning one of several prizes that will be given away each week is participate in social media, so register at BookDesignTemplates.com for your chance(s)! Do read Friedlander’s post as there is more information and discount codes!!


    The “Inside Story”

    “This weekend, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, in conjunction with First Book, is launching its first international Inside Story events at selected independent bookstores, including Alamosa Books in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois; Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida; Bank Street Bookstore and Books of Wonder in New York City; the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah; Mockingbird Books in Seattle; the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Massachusetts; Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, California; and, three stores in Australia. (Click for scheduling and addresses.)

    The idea is “to provide an opportunity for young readers, teachers, librarians and children’s book lovers to become acquainted with new releases, and to build traffic and sales for independent bookstores, where authors and illustrators will have a brief time to share the ‘inside story’ behind their recent publications.”

    There will be prizes for attendees and First Book will donate a book to a child in need for every book purchased at an SCBWI Inside Story event.


    Price of eBooks Expected to Plunge as EU Orders Britain to Cut VAT From 20% to Zero

    Okay, I’m not sure how eliminating the VAT is going to cause eBook prices to drop. It’s simply a tax on a product. I can see where it would make buying an eBook and not having to pay taxes on it cheaper…but Neil Craven at the Financial Mail says that “The price of ebooks in Britain is expected to plummet following a vote in Brussels this week that could cut VAT on them from 20 per cent to zero.

    In Britain, printed books are free of VAT but ebooks attract 20 per cent. In other EU countries ebooks already have lower rates of VAT. In France, for example, printed books and ebooks are taxed at 5.5 per cent, and in Luxembourg both are 3 per cent.

    The vote is expected to harmonise VAT on ebooks with printed books throughout Europe.”

    The fantasy is that the online retailers will pass on the savings…yup, I still don’t get it…


    Where to Find Out-of-Print Books

    Sara Keating at the Irish Times writes that “Digital imprints rescue writers from the hole of history” and tells of “three new digital imprints dedicated to reviving out-of-print work by (occasionally) well-known and (more frequently) forgotten writers”.

    Bedford Square Books has fewer than 20 titles and offers a print-on-demand service for those who find themselves seduced by its titles. Denis Forman’s Good Opera Guide might be one to take advantage of as first editions go for more than £100. The second digital imprint is Bloomsbury Reader with Pan Macmillan the third. Keating does provide more interesting details with details on some of the books she’s found.

    Sadly

    Obituaries

    James A. Emanuel, Poet, Educator, Critic, Dead at 92

    This article by William Yardley at the New York Times reflects on a loss for poetry: “James A. Emanuel, a poet, educator and critic ‘who published more than a dozen volumes of his poetry, much of it after his frustration with racism in the United States helped motivate him to move to France,’ died September 28. He was 92.

    Michael Palmer, Dead at 71

    The Associated Press reports that Michael Palmer, a physician and bestselling suspense author whose novel, Extreme Measures, became a movie of the same name, died Wednesday. He was 71.


    Censorship

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    eBook Stores Deleting Erotica

    “Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield talk [yes, you’ll have to listen to an audio file] about the hottest topic in self-publishing right now: the bulk deleting of erotica content from major eBook stores.”

    3 Simple Censorship Rules Can Safeguard Self-Published Ebooks

    Richard Stephenson at Digital Book World writes of “3 Simple Censorship Rules Can Safeguard Self-Published Ebooks” “as Amazon and Barnes & Noble scramble to remove titles listed by the technology news site The Kernel, the books and magazine retailer W H Smiths in the UK has shut down their entire website to block access and their notice states they will not be displaying any self-published books when it returns until they can be entirely satisfied with the content. So what are the implications of this sudden turn of events and why has it suddenly arisen?”

    No incitement to violence, no adult content and no copyright abuse.

    Stephenson goes on to point out that “Age verification is very difficult to police and particularly on large aggregator sites such as Amazon or Kobo with millions of books available in all genres. These identified poisonous writings can turn up in search results made by children and are not secured behind a gated area as they have not been identified by the systems as harmful. This is site architecture and safeguards and not a simple patch, and so it seems that W H Smith saw the only responsible option was to shut down.”

    New Mexico

    Oh brother…another instance of one parent freaking out… Michael Johnson at the Alamogordo News reports that Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere has been “temporarily removed” from the Alamogordo Public School system’s English curriculum—it’s an erotic scene on page 86, if you’re curious.

    Yes, parents should never be afraid to speak up for their child, however, the Kids’ Right to Read Project notes that “while parents are free to request an alternative assignment for their children, they have no right to impose their views on others or to demand that otherwise educationally worthy materials be removed, merely because they consider them objectionable, offensive or inappropriate. To go further and remove the book potentially violates the constitutional rights of other students and parents. What’s more, the practical effect of acceding to any parent’s request to censor materials will be to invite more challenges, and to leave school officials vulnerable to multiple, possibly conflicting demands.

    Then again, the parent does make a good point. Schools do require parents to sign off on a PG-13 or higher movie, so it seems fair that they should be required to sign off on a book that contains swear words and erotic scenes. Of course, if that means the child can’t read the book until a parent signs and/or reads it. And so many parents seem to expect schools to teach their children about proper values…

    Then again, where does one draw the line? Parent or school district? Parents may become upset with scenes that promote immorality, scenes that may upset the child or the parent, scenes that question their particular religion. The child may feel left out amongst his/her peers…and y’all know how much your kids want to fit in.

    One issue I do have with this particular situation is that Nancy Wilmott didn’t bother to go to the teacher. Nope, she went straight to the administration. I wonder how often she pushes her own agenda on others, including her child?

    This is a book which has been taught in the Alamogordo school system without issues since 2004, and, well, it’s Neil Gaiman… Hullo??

    Would You Change Your Book to Appease Chinese Censors?

    Dennis Abrams at Publishing Perspectives wonders “Would You Change Your Book to Appease Chinese Censors?” as he examines numerous examples of authors who have acquiesced or pulled out from a capricious system.

    Banning Mexican Histories

    Independent bookstores have joined the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and other organizations to protest the banning of books used for the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. It seems that Arizona passed a law that says public schools can’t teach “anything that promotes racial or ethnic ‘resentment’, or that is designed ‘primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group’ or advocates ‘ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals’.

    My first reaction is: so? With all the flap over the past few years regarding Mexican immigrants and our experiences in Denver when they were waving the Mexican flag, I suspect I’d be in favor of this law. And then I read further. Now, I’m assuming that the books mentioned below are being taught in history classes, and this is as it should be. We should not be re-writing history to make ourselves look better. How do we improve unless we have something against which to measure improvement? How do we change and become better if we don’t know what was wrong? Why is it okay to read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West and Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation about how the white man treated the Indians, but not about how we treated the Mexicans? Are we supposed to ignore cultures other than white?

    Among the titles being removed from classrooms are Critical Race Theory by Richard Delgado; 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures edited by Elizabeth Martinez; Message to Aztlan by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales; Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement by Arturo Rosales; Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo Acuna; Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire; and, Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years by Bill Bigelow.

    It makes perfect sense to me when “Joan Bertin, executive director at the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) wonders how this affects ‘students and their ability to have discussion in school about historical and contemporary events touching on race and ethnicity.” Read more and more

    Huh, I wonder if these people so intent on banning these books eat Mexican food? Chinese? Thai? Ethiopian? Portuguese?


    The Squeaky Wheel, A Consumer Complaint Site

    I was so tempted to dump this under “Just for Fun”, but then thought how sad this was that such a site was necessary. Still, with a sense of relief, I’m telling you about The Squeaky Wheel, a site where “Consumers Fight Back”.

    Bad service? Crummy products? TheSqueakyWheel.com gives individual consumers more power than ever before. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — it works to make sure that complaints cannot be ignored.

    How does it work? An unhappy consumer simply fills out a complaint form, clicks OK, and the complaint instantly gets turned into a web page that is available to more than 100 million Internet users. And just to make sure that each complaint gets the exposure that it deserves, complaints are automatically submitted to Google, the Internet’s largest search engine. When someone searches for the company/product that you complained about, it is likely that both the company’s web page and your complaint page will come up in the search result list. And what Internet surfer can resist clicking on a “Why I hate … company” link?

    These complaints can’t be ignored. Every day that a complaint page is viewed, it triggers an automatic e-mail notification letting the target company know that another potential customer has just viewed the complaint. And since each page also has a counter showing how many times it has been viewed, there are no surprises. Everybody knows what is at stake and how important it is to settle the complaint.


    IRS Denies Business Expenses to Author

    Carol Topp, a CPA, has a curious YouTube video on “IRS denies business expenses to author” which provides some good tips on how to track business expenses for research purposes and how to protect yourself from a negative response from the IRS! Most of it is simple commonsense, but the bit about the depth of the recordkeeping is a good reminder.


    Amazon a Bully? No, Say It Ain’t So…

    The new book about Amazon and Jeff Bezos, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, gets exposure from David Streitfeld at the New York Times in his post, “A New Book Portrays Amazon as Bully“. Jesus, it’s enough to make me consider buying a NOOK.


    23 Famous Authors’ Last Words

    I couldn’t really decide—was reading these “23 Famous Authors’ Last Words” on Buzzfeed Books something fun or sad as they are a combination of silly, funny, sad, depressing, and curious…


    Amazon Raises Shipping Rates

    I must confess that I think this is fair. I don’t like it, but it is fair, especially since Amazon hasn’t raised the cost of free shipping for years. Hmmm, a bit of a clanger there. How can it be free if it costs? Only if you have to buy enough to reach that level for free shipping. In this case, it used to be that Amazon shipped your purchase free if you spent $25 or more. Now you have to spend $35 or more. Not that it’s a hard figure to reach…

    Writing Tips

    Research

    Need Experience Down on the Farm?

    Scott Hartbeck wrote a guest post, “8 Tips for First Time WWOOFer’s [sic]”, which sent me veering back into the whole travel as a research option. If anyone is working on a story about farming and needs some personal experience with working on a farm/ranch/vineyard/orchard/+++, check out Hartbeck’s story on Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms.

    Emily Dickinson Archive Now Online

    As of October 23, the online Emily Dickinson Archive brings “together on a single open-access Web site thousands of manuscripts held by Harvard University, Amherst College, the Boston Public Library and five other institutions. Now, scholars and lay readers alike will be able to browse easily through handwritten versions of favorite poems, puzzle over lines that snake along the edges of used envelopes and other scraps of paper, or zoom in on one of Dickinson’s famous dashes until it almost fills the screen.”


    Writing a Series, Finding a Voice, and Going Hybrid

    Joanna Penn at the Creative Pen interviews Zoë Sharp on “Writing A Series, Finding Your Voice And Being A Hybrid Author“. Archer also discusses how she researches and her stance on outline versus summary…very practical. I love that her hero is a heroine!


    Fueling Up For NaNoWriMo

    Paste a NaNoWriMo Progress Bar Onto Your Blog or Website

    Head over to Language is a Virus‘s NaNoWriMoGraph Generator, pick a color for your progress bar, and enter the number of pages you have already accomplished for NaNoWriMo…we’ll see how well we all do!

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo & Feeding the Muse to Go the Distances

    Kristen Lamb has a post prepping us for NaNoWriMo and two things hit me in different ways: too many writers fail to finish NaNo because they haven’t fueled up properly and the research.

    Yeah, I’d done a ton of research on ancient Rome and this is what held me back. I was trying to input those details last year in NaNoWriMo. What I should have done is get the story down and then go back to fill in architectural, clothing, etc. Instead I bogged down in what the countryside looked like between Ostia and Rome. As for the fueling up, I should have written an outline. I’m a panster by inclination in most things. I like to dive right in. Learned my lesson last year. We’ll see how I sabotage myself this year…

    Lamb uses World War Z and Steel Magnolias as examples on how to list a few of the b r o a d  details before NaNoWriMo: normal world into inciting incident to how the turning points turn into the darkest moment before the problem is resolved using dialog, settings, and character growth.

    Follow this up with Lamb’s “How to Give Your NaNo Story a Beating Heart and a Skeleton” which uses a basic log-line to focus in on the core problem of your story—and it’s brilliant. I’m already writing out the formula to fill it in for my NaNoWriMo second attempt…

    Then there’s “Conflict—Giving LIFE to Your Fiction” in which Lamb reminds us that few readers like a perfect character. It’s all about the protagonist with issues, complicated by the antagonist who prevents him/her from fixing that core problem…until the last minute, er, chapter, er….


    Elements of the Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, and/or Crime Fiction Genres

    As part of his own work in sussing out the differences, Hunter Emkay at Hunting Down Writing provides a categorized list of many of the elements to be found in typical psychological thrillers, mysteries, suspense, and crime fiction stories. He includes a definition of each genre as well as a breakdown of their subgenres, including an analysis of First Chapter expectations, general tropes and expectations along with common elements, character types, and a list of resources.

    I do get confused with how he’s organized this post, but if you focus in on the bits you need, it could be very useful.


    Show, Don’t Tell

    Jennifer Atkins had a beautiful response to a question on LinkedIn which beautifully explains how to set the scene WITHOUT it being an info dump:

    “I encourage my writing students to not write about the house in that sort of ‘It was a cape cod, green peeling paint, etc.’ but to put that wonderful description into the action or tie it to the thoughts of the character whose eyes we are seeing through.

    ‘He had to step carefully around the old steps, paint flaking off the railings onto his hand,’ or ‘The way the house seemed to lean huddling for comfort against its neighbors gave her a shiver. Looking over her shoulder she scuttled quickly up the stairs to the dubious safety of the porch.’ … Your character might gain more life if you make her description flow more from her own actions or the interactions with other characters.”


    Editing

    Copy-editors: What They Really Do

    Robert Doran has a guest post, “Copy-editors: What They Really Do” at Catherine Ryan Howard‘s blog.

    “…it is so difficult to copy-edit your own work is that the message is already clear in your head. You know your intention before you review what you’ve written, and that makes it easy to make assumptions and difficult to affect the detachment necessary to edit. The reader, on the other hand, relies solely on your words…”

    Do You Suffer From RCS Syndrome?

    Mike Pope is hilarious with his post on “The Heartbreak of RCS“, a.k.a., people who have no clue about capitalization rules in English! And it’s too true as too many People seem to Suffer from this Affliction!

    Self-Editing Checklist

    Alexis Grant at The Write Life has a 25-item checklist for authors who are self-editing their work.


    Incorporating Motifs in Your Story

    C.S. Lakin at Live Write Thrive has a useful post, “How Novelists Can Create Image Systems for their Story” in which she discusses how movies reinforce their story motif or theme. It’s another way of looking at it, and therefore useful, *grin*


    How to Construct an Effective Plot Twist

    Liam B. at GKBC, Inc. writes “I Didn’t See That Coming! How to Construct an Effective Plot Twist” with some useful tips and warnings on what to do with that twist in your plot.


    Optimize Your Headlines

    The Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a free tool that “will analyze your headline to determine the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score. As you know, reaching your customers in an deep and emotional way is a key to successful copywriting, and your headline is unquestionably the most important piece of copy you use to reach prospects.

    Your headline will be analyzed and scored based on the total number of EMV words it has in relation to the total number of words it contains. This will determine the EMV score of your headline.”


    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
    Now Lifetime royalty on 50% of individual issues sales is split between the participating writers for each issue contest Fiction Magazines.com is requesting “only one submission of your writing to us at a time” with “one month exclusivity for your story, as well as first publishing rights. So when your story runs in one of the magazines, from when the day the issue comes out for one month it cannot be up anywhere else online. After that one month exclusive period, you can republish the story elsewhere to publications that accept previously published work”.
    Dec 30, 2013 ?? GKBC International Short Story Competition It says “second phase”, but I think he means “second contest”. If you’re interested, your entry must abide by these simple rules:

    • 2,000 word-limit on all entries. If your story is one word over, it’ll be disqualified
    • Double spaced lines in Arial font
    • The theme of crime must be present in some shape or form
    • Only 1 (one) entry per person>

    To see the full terms and conditions, and to submit your story, follow this link: http://gkbcinc.com/the-gkbcinc-short-story-competition/

    The Publishing Business

    10 Mistakes Authors Make that Cost a Fortune (and How to Avoid Them)

    Penny C. Sansevieri at the Huffington Post warns us of “10 Mistakes Authors Make that Cost a Fortune (and how to avoid them)” in which she discusses covers; hiring an agent; finding the right beta readers (!) which seems so obvious and yet I never thought of it; the marketing—”you’d never open up a store and then just sit around hoping people show up to buy your stuff”; strategizing the timing on your book launch (you should have a timeline and a checklist); and, more.

    “…sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores.”


    So Ya Wanna Pitch a Book

    Joe Friedlander of The Book Designer has “teamed up with legendary literary agent and author Mike Larsen to help authors who want to pitch their books before they think about publishing. They’ve put together a Proposal and Manuscript template bundle and created “Expert Guidance Through the Proposal Process With Literary Agent Michael Larsen“, which includes “Larsen’s 51-page PDF book “Keys to Becoming a Successful Writer Faster and More Easily than Ever” full of actionable tips, advice for writers, and more” as well as “a complete templatized outline of your book proposal,” with the “formatting recommended in “How to Write a Book Proposal” so you don’t have to worry if it’s correct.” There are helpful tips from Mike Larsen in each section about what to put in that section and what publishers are looking for.

    “The Proposal bundle also includes a fully formatted and styled 10-page Word template for your accompanying manuscript, in both fiction and non-fiction formats that will ensure your book proposal is in the right format and on target for submission.”


    More Americans Have Tablets and eReaders

    The PEW survey has determined that the number of people who have a tablet or an e-book reader among those 16 and older now stands at 43%.


    Free Preview of Scratch Magazine—You’re Gonna Want This

    Jane Friedman has launched a free preview issue of her new magazine, Scratch (the official, pay-for, launch is January 2014; a subscription is only $15 if you subscribe before their launch), with several examples of what you’ll find in it including “‘Contracts 101: The Grant of Rights clause – advice for writers on negotiating this important clause in a book or magazine contract‘. If you’re allergic to legalese, here’s the tip sheet, available in a handy PDF download.

    The more rights a publication asks for, usually the more a writer should be getting paid. It’s important to note that regardless of what you are paid initially, the grant of rights can impact what you’re paid in the future, as well as your own ability to resell or repurpose your work.

    The Age of the Algorithm’ – how book marketing is changing‘. I [Friedman] also wrote a companion piece on book marketing basics. Both are very useful if you’re planning a book launch.”

    I do like Friedman’s explanation of where the title for the magazine came from: Scratch: slang for “money” and a term for handwriting. It underscores the whole point of Scratch, discussing the money end of writing. As Friedman points out, it’s a topic that isn’t discussed, and they aim to bring it into the open. We write because we haven’t a choice really. We want to write, it pushes at us, niggles away at us, and hey, who wouldn’t like to make some money doing what we love? The little bit I’ve read so far, I’m subscribing…


    Publishers

    Inkling Acquires Betterbook and Ready, Set, Baby!

    In a press release on Digital Book World, “Inkling, the new standard for interactive e-books, announced today the acquisition of the Betterbook and Ready, Set, Baby! brands from Open Air Publishing, a New York-based publisher of digital-first, interactive nonfiction e-books and apps.

    Hurix Adds PDF-to-EPub3 Fixed Layout

    Teri Tan at Publishers Weekly notes that “Mumbai-based Hurix, a leading digital solutions company, has added a major feature to its KITABOO e-book platform to enable fully automated PDF-to-EPub3 fixed layout conversion.

    Self-Publish with 7Write

    7Write is another site that will help you self-publish. I haven’t tried it yet, but seems to have a checklist of items you may need for your “publish pack”.

    AudioGO Suspends Doing Business

    Benedicte Page and Philip Jones at The Bookseller reports that “AudioGO suspends business operations” and “has sold its US arm Blackstone Audio back to Blackstone’s founders, who operate the US Downpour.com download site”.


    Author Patricia Simpson Fights Book Pirates

    In a press release, Patricia Simpson is battling the book pirates online as well as in her eighteenth book, Gabriel’s Daughter, by releasing it in print-only format as she is tired of the book pirates posting her work online.


    Book Apps, Enhanced eBooks

    What is an Enhanced eBook?

    David Wilk at Digital Book World writes “Why it’s Too Early for Publishers to Give up on Media-Rich Ebooks” in which he discusses what an enhanced eBook, a.k.a., multitouch or transmedia storytelling, can be. From the simple “Almost every e-reading platform supports “live” tables of contents, where the reader can click on a chapter header and go to the chapter itself. Other simple text-based navigation features include built-in dictionaries, live-linked indexes, endnote links and, connected to the web, live URLs embedded in the text as references” to “add other media such as audio and video, and features like navigational interactivity and user-determined engagement tools”.

    That part of the post is the most positive. Wilk’s reasoning as to why we haven’t seen any real effort at an enhanced eBook is much more depressing. And very realistic.

    Apple, whose iOS systems and multi-touch iBooks software provide the best multi-media and interactive tools for creators and thus experiences for readers, and whose devices are in the hands of millions of consumers, appears to do less than their competitors to interest iPad and iPhone users in ebooks. (The best platform for enriched ebooks is the iPad, but a relatively small subset of readers choose to read using the iBooks app.)

    Amazon, whose Kindle, Kindle Fire and Kindle reading apps are now in the hands of the largest number of book readers, has been exceptionally slow to develop its software and hardware to support media rich reading experiences.

    Barnes & Noble’s Nook also does not support any serious multi-media reading experiences; Kobo, with the tiniest fraction of the U.S. ebook market is the only e-reader that supports a significant subset of the software features developed for the industry in next generation e-publishing standard EPUB3 (according to the Book Industry Study Group, which tracks such things.)


    7 Questions Authors Should Ask Before Crowdfunding Their Next Book

    Mary DeMuth at Author Media lists “7 Questions Authors Should Ask Before Crowdfunding Their Next Book“, and they’re good questions based in the reality. What’s even more interesting is that most of the advice that I read about what/how to write/blog is exactly the same. Makes ya think, doesn’t it?


    Oyster Subscription Service & Smashwords

    Laura Hazard Owen at Gigacom explains “…How much Smashwords authors will get paid through ebook subscription service Oyster” with Smashwords authors who make their ebooks available through ebook subscription service Oyster will get 60 percent of their book’s list price if an Oyster user reads at least 10 percent of it.


    Print No Longer a Sure Thing

    Rachel Deahl at Publishers Weekly reports that “For Major Publishers, Will Print No Longer Be the Norm?” as agents no longer take it for granted that a deal with a publisher guarantees a print release. Well, shit. It’s no longer a question of can my story be published in hardcover?, but whether your story can be published in print at all.

    Marketing Ideas

    Marketing eBooks During the Holidays

    Jason Boog at Media Bistro has a post on a free holiday marketing eBook which Lulu has released. Some interesting ideas in this.


    Increase Your Book Sales

    Penny Sansevieri at A Marketing Expert has an interesting post, “Amazon Hack: Boost Sales by Adding Images” with tips on how to increase interest in your book by adding graphics to your Amazon book page and a second video at A Marketing Expert, “Amazon Hack: Driving traffic to your page with a simple URL“, on buying an URL that’s a bit generic but rich in keywords that your target reader is likely to use to hunt for a book. You then direct visitors through that URL to wherever you want them to go. Clever.


    Innovative Book Marketing Tactics

    Ira Blacker at Printing by Design has two useful tidbits in his post, “Innovative Book Marketing Tactics“, using hashtags to find your audience and the last bit, which is about printing up bookmarks, etc. Otherwise, it’s a reiteration of “value for your readers” when it comes to utilizing social media. It’s what I keep hearing all over the Internet: don’t simply throw your book in people’s faces. Don’t ask them to “like” you on Facebook or join you somewhere else. Ask them to visit your Facebook page and have something worthwhile there when they do. Ask them to visit your blog or website—and having something worthwhile for them there! Getting the drift…LOL


    Free Promotion

    …and a great place to check out covers! Wow, Cover Scroll will “promote books by request for free” by putting the cover up on their website. Well, I guess you can judge a book by its cover, LOL. Hey, it’s free, why not?


    Creating ARCs For Those All-Important Advance Reviews

    Gemini Adam at Finish Your Book has a useful post on “How to Create Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) to Get Your Book Reviewed” in which she lays out what your ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) can or should include before you send it out. There are some good tips in here, including a list of different marketing events and what to include in your front and back matter as well as a note as to “why your book still has spelling mistakes”!


    Hatching a Marketing Plan

    Barbara McDowell Whitt at Build Book Buzz has what starts out as a confusing post but gets clearer with “Book marketing success formula” as she makes some good points about how Bilton is marketing his book, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal. I do like that Whitt includes a few suggestions on how to recreate his marketing campaign at our levels! She also makes some excellent points about the title and the cover—check ’em out.


    21 Ways to Find Your Author Website

    Chris Robley at Book Baby provides a list of “21 ways a reader could come across your author site“, and some of them are simple and excellent while others are fairly ambitious—I do love that last one, LOL.


    Don’t Promote Your Book

    Yeah, this one had me scratching my head too, however, R. James at Self-Publishing Coach has a post, “Book Marketing 101: Sell the Benefits NOT the Product” which went on to explain. And it makes sense. Do read this, and I’ll hope it gives you a kickstart. God knows this marketing stuff is tough enough as it is.

    Promote the reasons why you wrote the book in the first place.

    If you come up with some ideas, consider sharing them in the comments…


    Impromptu Marketing

    Barbara Vey’s Publishers Weekly post on her trip to Scotland resulted in an impromptu bit of marketing with romance author Marguerite Kaye handing out her bookmarks.


    Trash Marketing

    Noreen Malone at New Republic has a post, “The New King of Trash Publishing: Meet the Man Who Revolutionized Lowbrow” about an editor who brings in the books pushing trash. It’s an interesting read—about a third of the way down, there’s a bit of insight on why you want to be promoting your book before you publish—what’ll get your preorder numbers up and how it affects Amazon’s algorithms.


    Alexis Grant’s Resources for Building Her Brand, Blog, or Business

    Useful link roundup of all sorts of resources.


    BookBub Builds a Book Marketing Platform

    Jack W. Perry at Digital Book World has some data on BookBub, an eBook direct marketing company.


    Tips on Reaching Multilingual Markets

    Nicole Fonovich of Luca Lashes LLC “shared her top ten cost-effective tips for reaching a multilingual market and described how Luca Lashes (as the publisher) is putting those strategies to work” to promote their Luca Lashes series.


    Author? Salesperson? Which are You?

    Rob Eagar at Digital Book World says all authors—if they want to sell their book—are salespeople as well. You can’t simply write the story, then sit back and expect the money to roll in. That an author needs to find a way to write small bits on the side that will catch the reader’s eye and encourage him/her to open that pocketbook.


    New Book App Trade Association

    Amy Friedlander at Digital Book World addresses the Book App Alliance in “Children’s Book App Authors Join Forces to Strengthen the Industry” regarding their “newly launched trade association that seeks to educate parents and teachers about how to find and use quality digital book apps. The group intends to reduce some of the key challenges faced by all book app creators by getting them to join together, competition aside, to share resources for the greater good of strengthening the overall market”.


    Tricking Your Sales

    I don’t normally like these articles about analytics—too much math—but I do like how Ian Lamont at MediaShift makes it easy for me to follow along in “How to Boost E-Book Sales by Tracking Marketing Tactics“. He makes me feel as though I could do this…who knew!


    Watch Out For Rogue Characters—With Their Own Twitter Accounts!

    Oh, this is too much fun! Shaney Lee at Author Media wonders, “Should Your Lead Character Have A Twitter Account?” And my mind went a-leaping and gamboling as I thought of various characters I love (and hate) and what it would be like to tweet him or her?! Lee makes some excellent points, and I suspect that a number of authors could have fun with this one. It would be more like writing more of your book as opposed to doing that icky sales thing!


    Setting Your Organization’s Social Media Policy

    Taylor Corrado at HubSpot suggests “14 Questions to Ask When Developing Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Policy“. God knows we have a litigious society, and I know I’ve done some things without thinking (or realizing the effect it might have). So, while the post is aimed at nonprofits, it includes some points for the individual to consider as well.


    How to Socialize an Event

    Guy Kawasaki has a guest post at HubSpot on “How to Socialize an Event“, and he has some great tips. Extrapolate this to your book release or some related event. And definitely take his advice on having a friend who does nothing but tweet what’s happening at your book signing!


    200 FREE Holiday Stock Photos

    HubSpot is offering 200+ Stock Photos That’ll Put the Cheer in Your Holiday Marketing [Free Download].


    Fake It Till You Make It

    Ginny Soskey at HubSpot is too right when she says she had to fake it till she understood the terminology. And I’ll bet some of you have the same problems. Maybe not in web or graphics terminology, but for those of you who could use a crash glossary, Soskey has “The Non-Designer’s Essential Glossary of Web Design Terms“, which can only help. At least you’ll have an idea what they’re talkin’ about—I found a few that I hadn’t known!


    Keywords, Tags

    Anthony from the Book Cover Cafe has a two-part post on “Amazon Ebook Publishing Optimisation: A Guide to More Visibility”: “Using Tags” and “Book Description“. The first is a brief note on why you need more than science, fiction, or space while the second explains why merely cutting and pasting in your back cover blurb ain’t gonna make your book more easily searched. Instead, that you should use those keywords in your book description. Not a bad idea to do this when you are first formulating the book description.


    A Look Back Over 20 Years

    Bob Minzesheimer and Anthony DeBarros at USA Today looks at “20 Years of USA Today‘s Best-Selling Books List” and how those years have changed what we think, what and how we read, and what currently dominates fiction.

    Building Your Own Website

    Photos and Consistency on Your Author Website

    Michael Hyatt, a former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, addresses “Do You Have the 5 Elements of a Personal Brand” which he is addressing to business people creating a business presence (on land or Internet). He makes useful points (#4 and #5) which a writer can adapt for his/her own author website—and there’s a link to tips on getting photographed!


    WPMedic

    I recently learned about John Overall at WPMedic and listened to a podcast about 2-factor authentication using Rublon and why you don’t want a WordPress theme that has the plugins already installed: “WHY YOU ARE DOING YOURSELF WRONG WITH A THEME“. Good points on all of it, and I’ll be exploring more about WPMedic as well as Rublon.com.

    The podcast was filled with promotional bits about John’s business, which is all about emergency rescue work on hacked WordPress sites, but it was low-key, transparent, and not intrusive. I suspect I’ll be bookmarking John’s site for the “just in case” hack. If you’re using a WP.COM site, it’s unlikely you’ll need it. If you’re using a WP.ORG, you should probably check him out at WPMedic.ca.

    Dang, I went to Rublon.com to check it out. And yes, it is a very practical plugin that adds extra security for you, but “you still have to type your username and password or use a social login button (e.g. Facebook Connect) to sign in, but it must be done on a Trusted Device in order to access your account.” So, I’m wondering, what if I want to login from a friend’s computer or smartphone to show them something? Do I have to add them to my Trusted Devices?


    Mobile Site WP Plugin

    This sounds rather good to be true. I think this WordPress plugin, WPTouch will grab your WP content and display it on a mobile site without redirects, etc. You still have to set up the page with your branding, colors, etc., but the seeming beauty of it is that it displays the content in a mobile format, loading in 2-3 seconds as opposed to 6-8 seconds for a responsive site. I know how impatient I am waiting for a mobile site to load, so this speed could be a major plus. The negative is that it does cost money. It’s software, and I think you get one free update before you’d have to pay again. It’s $49 (for 2 years, including the free update) for one WP site and $99 for up to five WP sites. If you don’t have a responsive theme for your WP blog, this would be a good deal if you don’t want to have to redo it. On the plus side, while there are tricks involved in getting it working, their support staff seems pretty responsive.

    If anyone has played with this, or plans to, would y’all let us know how it works out for you?


    Backup Your Blog

    And yet another way to spend your hard-earned money. It’s not fancy, but it is practical as Jill Duffy at PC World tell us to “Get Organized: Back Up Your Blog“. And she has a point…”if the service hosting your blog were compromised or shut down, what would happen to your site? Here are some different methods for backing up a Tumblr, WordPress, or Blogger blog.


    Download 27 Free Call-To-Action Buttons

    Hubspot is offering to let you Download the Free Template: 50 Customizable Calls-to-Action buttons.

    Call-to-Action is when you “close the sale”.

    Barry Feldman at HubSpot has a tip how to make those call-to-action buttons work better by including a sense of urgency: Limited time frames, deadlines, reasons to be prompt; make an offer: Discount, bonus, free information; highlight the value: Get your informative report, join our exclusive community; and overcome objections: Eliminate or reduce risks with free trials or money back guarantees.”


    Create Click-to-Tweet Links for Your Content

    I’m going to include some transparency in this one. Check the anchor I created here: <a name=”createClickToTweets” id=”createClickToTweets“></a>

    Normally, this anchor tag is invisible and placed just above each h2 heading in the Hodgepodge. It’s what allows me to create the links between the “Contents of This Post” TOC and the entry heading.

    Anum Hussain at HubSpot has some great ideas on using Calls-to-Action in “How to Generate Click-to-Tweet Links for Your Content [Quick Tip]. He provides a bare bones of the steps you must follow to achieve this, so I’ve expanded on it a bit. But the real value lies in the many ways he suggests you use this technique. Caitlin Muir at Author Media has her own short, instructive post on “How to Add “Click to Tweet” to Your Blog Posts“, which addresses the pre- (or) post-link-creating issues.

    Now for the Instructions

    1. You must know the link address to include in the “click to tweet”, i.e., http://yourblog.com/2013/11/01/hodgepodge-november
    2. Copy the URL and go to bitly to get a shortened URL (Twitter gives you leeway on link address characters by counting all URLs as a 23-character unit; with this process, every character counts so you want a short one)
      • If you intend to use several click-to-tweets or have a long post, include an anchor link
        1. At the chunk of text you want to send people to, type <a name="chunkOfText" id="chunkOfText"></> (I’ve used “createClickToTweet”)
        2. When you head to bitly include #chunkOfText at the end of your link address, i.e., http://yourblog.com/2013/11/01/hodgepodge-november#chunkOfText, or in my case, http://kddidit.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/hodgepodge-november#createClickToTweets
    3. Click on Click to Tweet
    4. Type the message you want to appear in the tweet
      1. Add your Twitter handle in the message somewhere
      2. Include the bitly URL
      3. Use hashtags
      4. <!–

      5. –>

    5. Click the “Generate” button to create a custom link
    6. Copy and paste the link into your post using <a href="clickToTweetURL" target="_blank" title="Opens a new window to this chunkOfText">Tweet your friends about Creating Your Own Click-To-Tweets</a>!
    7. To create Tweet your friends about Creating Your Own Click-To-Tweets!

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


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