A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – December 2013

Posted December 5, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Building Your Own Website, Conference/Workshop, Hodgepodge Newsletter, Marketing, Publishing, Writing

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!

The indicates a time-sensitive post.

In General

13 Things Mentally Strong People Avoid

Cheryl Snapp Conner has a terrific article over at Forbes that really doesn’t have anything specifically to do with books, writing, or reading, but on life. And I loved the focus of her article, and I suspect that I’ll write myself a list of affirmations to stick to the bathroom mirror—sorry Cheryl…*grin*. I appear all over that list of hers, “Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid”, and I want reminders of the good and the bad.

Just for Fun

Amazon Announces 12 Days of Deals in Books

A press release at Digital Book World on December 3 notes that “12 days of book deals kicked off [Dec 3] with dozens of best-selling and popular books deeply discounted for holiday shoppers”.

The sale will continue through December 14 for print and Kindle books—be sure to check in every day (after 12:01 am PST) to learn what the Kindle Daily Deal is.

“Print book deals will be discounted throughout the day (8 am PST – 8 pm PST) in 4 hour increments. Kindle gifts can be sent to anyone with an email address—for immediate delivery or scheduled for a future date—or customers can print a gift notification at home for personal delivery.”



Margaret Moran at the Tahoe Daily Tribune reports that the Truckee Bookshelf in Truckee is in trouble after moving to “its current location in the Westgate Shopping Center earlier this year”, and they “need people to get in the store and shop”. The bookstore is the only one remaining in the area, after the Tahoe City Bookshelf closed in March 2012.


Judy David with the Royal Oak Patch reports that the Royal Oak Barnes & Noble bookstore in Detroit is safe for now. Although there seems to be some controversy over whether the bookstore is selling enough books to pay the rent. The landlord claims he had to cut the rent in half because sales were so bad whereas “David Deason, v-p of development for B&N, who told him the bookstore is successful and B&N is ‘satisfied with its performance’.”


I’m late on this one, and Half-Price Books has opened a new store in Independence at Hartman’s Heritage Center.

New York

“To help raise money for its long-planned move, St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York City is holding a live book auction at the store this Thursday, December 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., as well as an accompanying online auction today through Sunday, December 15.

Items for auction include … rare signed and annotated first editions and ephemera from some of New York’s best-known writers.

Contents of this Post

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

At the live event, which costs $5 at the door and includes wine and light refreshments, all the works will be on display and … several will be auctioned off. People who want to bid but can’t be present may leave an absentee bid online.

The Gothamist lists the the ten best bookstores in the city.


Books-A-Million has opened a new store in the Chambersburg Mall in Chambersberg.


Ohio Libraries Want Equal Access

Mark Dubovec at ThisWeek Community News reports that “Library asks Congress to protect access to eBooks” and protesting publishers who don’t want to sell eBooks to the libraries despite the growing demands.

“While some publishers refuse to sell eBooks to public libraries, others, Shaw said, are charging ‘exorbitant’ prices, in some cases marking up a title from $9 for an individual to $84 for a library.

The resolution notes these restrictions limits information to ‘only those who can afford to purchase it.'”

Mike Shaw, library director: “By denying libraries access to eBooks, or making them cost prohibitive, publishers have ushered in a major change to public policy—a policy that should be fully examined and considered by policy makers and the public at large” according to the OLC. “It’s about access to all the eBook titles held by major publishers. It’s about providing access to educational materials so all children are able to compete in the global, digital economy. It’s about promoting and maintaining an informed citizenry.”


Fifth Annual Innovations in Reading Prizes

The Innovations in Reading Prizes honors individuals and organizations “thinking as creative as possible for ways to promote reading for its own sake.” As noted by Justin Stanley, the president of the Uprise Books Project, “many of this year’s recipients addressed the problems surrounding access to books in poor communities underserved by bookstores or libraries”. It includes a financial grant of up to $2,500 to further the recipient’s efforts.

  • Uprise Books Project for distributing banned and challenged books to underprivileged teens
  • Reading Is the Way Up sponsored by City National Bank and using literacy grants and author visits to provide resources for school libraries in California and other western states
  • Little Free Library, which encourages the placement of more than 400 house-shaped boxes across the United States, filled with books community members can borrow—or donate books of their own
  • Uni Project installs “pop-up reading rooms” in public spaces throughout New York City, where people can stop and browse through curated collections of books
  • Worldreader, which has provided Kindles to 12,500 children in nine African countries, as well as delivering eBooks via mobile phones to hundreds of thousands of other readers

2013 Miguel de Cervantes Prize

Vida Latina San Diego reports that “The Cervantes Prize, considered the Spanish Nobel and created in 1975 by the Culture Ministry, is endowed with a cash prize of &eruo;125,000 ($168,775), and honors the writer whose combined works have contributed to the enrichment of the IberoAmerican literary legacy.”

This year’s winner, Elena Poniatowska, is the “author of more than 40 books translated into over 20 languages and won “for her ‘brilliant’ literary career and ‘exemplary’ dedication to journalism, always with a ‘firm commitment to reflecting current events’.”

Golden Apple Awards

Winners of the New York City chapter of the Romance Writers of America held its annual Golden Apple awards, which “honor the year’s most exceptional editors, agents, booksellers, writers and other industry professionals within the romance writing genre”.

  • Lifetime Achievement Award: Dee Davis
  • Publisher of the Year: The Wild Rose Press
  • Author of the Year: Hope Tarr
  • Editor of the Year: Angela James, Carina Press
  • Agent of the Year: Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
  • Media Source of the Year: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
  • Bookseller of the Year: Stacy Agdern, Posman Books (Grand Central Terminal)
  • Librarian of the Year: Cathleen Towey, Westbury Memorial Public Library, Westbury, NY

Academy of American Poets Prizes

Prizes intended to help poets at different stages of their careers.

  • Wallace Stevens Award: Philip Levine
  • Academy of American Poets Fellowship: Carolyn Forche
  • Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize: Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah by Patricia Smith
  • James Laughlin Award: The Book of Goodbyes by Jillian Weise
  • Raiziss/de Palchi Translation Fellowship: Selected Poems translated by John Taylor for poet, Lorenzo Calogero
  • Harold Morton Landon Translation Award: Fortino Samano (The Overflowing of the Poem) translated by Cynthia Hogue and Sylvain Gallais for Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy
  • Walt Whitman Award: Put Your Hands In by Chris Hosea

2013 “5 Under 35” Honorees

The 2013 “5 Under 35” honorees, recognizing five young fiction writers, are chosen by previous National Book Award winners and finalists:

2013 Biographers’ Club Awards Winners

The Biographers’ Club is an umbrella organisation which seeks to educate, inspire, promote and foster a better understanding of the art of biography and its relevance across the broad spectrum of human endeavour. The H.W. Fisher prize is “awarded to the best book by a first-time biographer”, while the Tony Lothian Prize (£2,000) is given for an unpublished work by a first-time biographer and the Lifetime Services is just that.

  • H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize: Margaret Thatcher: Not for Turning, Volume 1 by Charles Moore
  • Tony Lothian Prize: “proposal for a life of Amalia Beer” by Elaine Thornton
  • Lifetime Services to Biography Award: Lady Antonia Fraser

American Book Awards

“The American Book Awards Program respects and honors excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories (i.e., no ‘best’ novel or only one ‘best’ of anything). The winners would not selected by any set quota for diversity (nor would ‘mainstream white anglo male’ authors be excluded), because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges.”

2013 Pritzker Military Award

One of the most prestigious literary awards of its kind [for military writing], it is presented by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, a nonprofit, public institution operating in Chicago since 2003. O’Brien is the first fiction writer honored with the award.

  • Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing: Tim O’Brien

2013 William Hill Sports Book Award

2013 Goodreads Choice Awards

1,953,770 votes were cast by Goodreads members to determine the winners in 20 categories.

2013 Guardian First Book Award

The Guardian First Book Award looks for the best debut work in any genre and comes with a monetary award of £10,000 (about US$16,369)
The Spinning Heart was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker prize and chosen as the Irish Book awards book of the year in 2012.


Personalization In Publishing: Books Written Just For You

Jeremy Greenfield reports at Forbes on “Personalization In Publishing: Books Written Just For You” with the news that personalization is making it big. In more ways than I could ever have imagined. Not only are there the “Put Me in the Story” books, but Sourcebooks has added “Sesame Street, Berenstain Bears and, most recently, Hello Kitty”, AND they now have a “‘Put Me in the Story’ iPhone and iPad app and website where parents, grandparents and others can create personalized versions of stories featuring characters and story-lines popularized by those brands” and family books which encourage self-expression.

Readers—with the holidays coming up, ahem, and children or grandparents to buy for—may want to explore this as a unique gift idea while writers of children’s books and books on self-expression and family togetherness, may want to explore the concept to see how it fits into their own writing niches.

Pimp Your Kindle

There’s a press release over at Digital Book World in which “Amazon Wants You to Personalize Your Kindle” much as you do with your cell phone, iPad, and laptops. So if you don’t already have a cover for your Kindle, or you’re buying someone a Kindle for Christmas, be sure to read this.


Rowling to Write Scamander Film

Joshua Farrington at The Bookseller notes that “J.K. Rowling will write the script for a new Warner Bros. film based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. The film is “billed as the first in a new series” and “starts in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway”. It will “NOT be a prequel or a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but ‘an extension of the wizarding world…’.”

Biopic Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Life

Steven Zeitchik at the Los Angeles Times reports that “Tolkien biopic will look at origins of Hobbit, LOTR”. Based on the life of J.R.R. Tolkien, with a script by David Gleeson (Cowboys and Angels), “a Tolkien superfan and scholar of sorts about the Middle-earth creator”. It “will examine the author’s life, particularly his formative years at Pembroke College and as a soldier in World War I, and how it influenced him and his work.”

HarperCollins, Hudson Booksellers, & American Airlines Join to Offer Discounts for Holidays

Publishers Weekly reports that HarperCollins, American Airlines, and Hudson Booksellers will let travelers preview and get discounts on selected titles throughout the holiday travel season between December 1 and January 1.

“HarperCollins will provide American Airlines customers a selection of full-length and excerpted HarperCollins books” while “Hudson Booksellers will offer a discount on featured print titles bought in Hudson Booksellers stores and online”.

eReaders & Subscriptions

New Russian Subscription Service

Bookmate is actually a plan to get around eBook piracy, a subscription reading service, created by Dream Industries. “Instead of charging per eBook, Bookmate gives access to its library of more than 225,000 books—in English and Russian—for $5 a month. They’re presented on an app that works on multiple devices and operating systems.” Find out more in James Glynn’s post over at NPR on “Russian App Wants eBook Piracy To End, Happily Ever After”.

EBook Reader: Batteries Not Required

Tom Lombardo at Engineering.com has an interesting post, “EBook Reader: Batteries Not Required”, which may encourage speed reading if your battery is running low, LOL.

Drone Delivery?

Digital Book World discusses how “Amazon Plans Drone Delivery in Future” with drones that “will operate independently and will carry packages of up to five pounds”, delivering within 30 minutes of your ordering. It’ll be a few years before it comes into being.

The video shows what happens when you click “Buy” at Amazon, and Bezos discusses their customer-centric focus, indie booksellers’ fear of Amazon, and original Amazon TV programs. It’s not until 11:16 minutes in that the drone appears.

If you want to read more, check out the 60 Minutes post on the Jeff Bezos interview.

At Publishers Weekly, read the comments on Craig Morgan Teicher’s post on “Amazon’s Airforce”, for some laughs…snicker…hope they use insulated bags for the pizza.

Device 6 Text-Based Game

Rowland Manthorpe at The Atlantic writes of an innovative idea—and it fits right in with “The Vertical Market: From Games to Books” and “The Future of the Book” with “This Video Game Could Revolutionize Publishing—and Reading”. An interactive game/book that changes as you progress. Be sure to read this article, if only for some of the scary possibilities!

Authors & Booksellers on Small Business Saturday

Elizabeth Bluemle at Publishers Weekly has a sweet post on how authors fared helping at indie bookstores on Small Business Saturday. And it can be summed up in one word: FUN. If you’re an author, consider volunteering next year. Although, it seems a little scary—I feel as if I’d have to read up on all sorts of books!

Ian Rankin Opens Up About Finances

Roz Lewis at the Telegraph interviews “Ian Rankin: ‘It took 14 years for my writing to pay’”. Even so, I don’t think most of us should expect to do even this well…



Charlotte Zolotow, Dead at 98

As expected as it may be to be dead at 98, the world will still be less, as Margalit Fox at The New York Times reported in her article, “Charlotte Zolotow, Author of Books on Children’s Real Issues, Dies at 98”. Charlotte Zolotow, “a distinguished author and editor of children’s books whose work—both her own titles and those of the writers in her stable—offered even the youngest readers a forthright view of emotionally fraught subjects like anger, envy and death,” died yesterday.

Syd Field, Dead at 77

William Yardley at The New York Times has a lovely article on “Syd Field, whose 1979 book Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting sold millions of copies and ‘became widely regarded over the next three decades as the bible of screenwriting, the paperback enabler of Hollywood dreams,’ died Sunday, the New York Times reported. He was 77.” Be sure to read that last line, LOL, who says you can’t have the last word!

Wanda Coleman, Dead at 67

Too young…Elaine Woo at the Los Angeles Times reports that “Wanda Coleman dies at 67; Watts native, L.A.’s unofficial poet laureate”, “who wrote more than 20 books and ‘was most eloquent in poems, illuminating the ironies and despair in a poor black woman’s daily struggle for dignity but also writing tenderly and with humor about identity, tangled love, California winters, and her working-class parents,’ died Friday.”

William Stevenson, Dead at 89

William Yardley at The New York Times reports that “William Stevenson, a journalist and author of the ’70s bestsellers A Man Called Intrepid and 90 Minutes at Entebbe, died November 26. He was 89.” Sure sounds like he had an “exciting” life.

I do like his referring to both journalism and espionage as spycraft…

The Oz Anti-Kindle Campaign

“In response to Amazon’s launch of the Australian Kindle Store last week, Pages & Pages Booksellers in Mosman, just north of Sydney, has revised and upgraded its ‘Kindle amnesty‘ program, which was first introduced in April to help ‘people to understand what Amazon is doing and make an informed choice.’ The Kindle Amnesty 2.0 campaign allows customers to exchange their Amazon Kindle for a $50 gift voucher when they purchase a Kobo device.”

“Our Kindle amnesty had a fantastic reception when we first launched it,” said Jon Page, the bookstore’s general manager. “It helped to spread the word that the Kindle is an Amazon product that locks people into Amazon and there are alternative e-reading devices. What Amazon are doing with eBooks affects readers and bookshops all over the world.”

Methinks Amazon Doth Protest Too Much

The Bookseller reports on the BBC’s “Panorama investigates Amazon working conditions”, and it’s not good. It seems that “conditions at a UK-based Amazon warehouse could cause ‘mental and physical illness’,” according to the judgment Professor Michael Marmot, a stress expert, made after being shown secret filming by the TV current affairs documentary programme of night shifts at the company’s Swansea warehouse, for an investigation that was broadcast November 25.

Further on the 9-Days Kobo-WHSmith October Disaster

Porter Anderson has a great article on Jane Friedman‘s blog, “When All the eBooks Vanished”, regarding the 9-days disaster in October when WHSmith shut down, and Kobo pulled all its self-published eBooks. I haven’t yet read/watched Tamblyn’s talk, and if it’s half as funny as Friedman’s article…I’d better do it somewhere that my guffaws won’t be too noticeable! There’re some pips in there—be sure to check out the active romance, LOL.

Read Michael Tamblyn of Kobo’s transcript or watch the video, “Infinite Shades of Grey: The Promise and Peril of Self-Publishing in the UK”, to learn why they pulled their catalog of self-published books.

NY Can Tax Whom They Like

Brent Kendall at The Wall Street Journal notes that “Supreme Court Won’t Review N.Y. Sales: Tax Law for Online Retailers” by which the federal Supreme Court says the states can do as they please when it comes to “collecting sales tax on Internet sales”. Doesn’t sound good for Illinois

Publishers Weekly has a more readable post on the case Overstock and Amazon brought before the Supreme Court.

Writing Tips


Kat Richardson’s Resource for Seattle History

In reading the Author’s Note at the end of Kat Richardson’s latest book, Possession, eighth in her Greywalker horror series, I came across her “usual haunt, HistoryLink.org” which is a free online encyclopedia of Washington State History. Makes me wonder if other states have such a site. Anyone want to share their states’ informational sites with fellow writers?

The Real Downstairs of Other ‘Downton Abbeys’

Laura Miller at Salon writes of “Scenes at real-life Downton Abbeys” in which an “historian offers a ridiculously diverting glimpse of downstairs life in Edwardian England”.

Drinks From Plants

For those of you writing historical novels, you might find Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks of use whether you need a drink your characters can make or an incident the drink can cause! Can anyone say ergot?

Use All Your Senses to Appeal to Your Readers

Writer’s Relief has a great blog on “The Forgotten Fifth Sense: Are You Making Use Of ALL The Senses In Your Writing?”, and it does raise some interesting points on how taste creates atmosphere, a sense of character, of emotions.

What a Copyeditor Says About Pre-Edit Tools

Yup, I’m blowing my own horn about the quality of software editing programs, well, in that, I haven’t found one yet that is worth it. One of the members of my listserve put out a comment about a new project she’s starting—and she’s very happy she’s being paid by the hour. The client said they’ve already used a pre-edit tool on the manuscript and would she check to be sure it’s done the right thing everywhere. She’s not sure what the ms was like before, but as I said, she’s very happy she’s being paid by the hour…

Grammar Mind Map Helps

Katie Lepi at Edudemic has a post on why the “Innovative Grammar Mind Map Is Perfect For Teaching English”—she’s certainly right about the difficulties English grammar presents! I also sympathize with her statement about being a linear thinker, and English grammar does NOT lend itself to anything so straightforward, which is why this mind map is so useful. It still doesn’t cover everything, but does provide some directions.

Very Short Story Apps

AuthorBee: Twitter-Built Stories

This sounds like fun..! Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly reports that Twitter has launched a new storytelling app with a web platform: AuthorBee. It allows for “a collaborative storytelling … driven by social media. The new @AuthorBee application allows individuals, or corporate brands, to create extended narratives built from the tweets of their followers.” Read more about what Reid has to say about “Using Twitter, @AuthorBee Creates Fan Engagement”. Sounds like it could be fun!

Spine: A 5-Sentence Story App

Justin Crowe at Design Faves has a post, “Spine is a fun social app for telling five-sentence stories”, on a Twitter-like social microblogging format. Read or write and publish in a variety of categories including comedy, horror, drama, or romance. It will for sure force you to keep it tight! Pick it up at the iTunes App Store.

A Writer’s Business Plan

Over at Jane Friedman‘s blog, Angela Ackerman has written a post, “The 7-Step Business Plan for Writers”, which is doable. It’s a bit like Selznick’s building an exchange in that Ackerman’s plan is focused on what is important to a writer as opposed to part of a generic business plan template.

Soap Opera Writing…Gag

Marcy Kennedy has a guest post at Kristen Lamb‘s blog on “Do You Have ‘As You Know, Bob…’ Syndrome?—How Writers Can Butcher Dialogue & How to Fix It” is an obvious tip, and I almost didn’t include it in the Hodgepodge, but as soon as Kennedy mentioned the info dump, well, that settled it. Anything that can be passed on to avoid the dreaded info dump is a good thing, in my book!

The Vertical Market: From Games to Books

Jack W. Perry at Digital Book World writes of video games and the stories that could evolve as a result “Video Gamers: A Vertical to Go After?”. Perry is realistic in that he poses the question as to whether a gamer would actually read a book, but, hey, it’s a challenge!

Life Beyond the Story

Carrie Brown has a lovely post at Glimmer Train on “Listening to the Majestic Silence of Visual Art”. It’s poetical and makes me think back over the stories I’ve read, realizing that the best of those insinuate life beyond the story.

Getting to the Core of Character Motivation

Becca Puglisi has a guest post at Live Write Thrive that, well, gets to the core of character motivation with the best definition I’ve seen yet of character arc and useful explanations of an inner and outer motivations and conflicts.

Self-Published: Pluses & Minuses

Jessica Bennett has a good post at Writer Unboxed about “Ten Things I’ve Learned from Evaluating Self-Published Books for a Year”, and there aren’t any real surprises here on the negatives Bennett has found. I believe this is a useful post for the self-published (or about-to-be!) because you can lose too much in rushing your book too quickly to press. Bennett’s post is also good for the positives. If you are self-pubbed, you’ll want to read this for the pluses as well as the minuses—it’s good for some ego-stroking, LOL.

Doubt & Self-Loathing

Michele Filgate at The Salon dives into “Literary self-loathing: How Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert and more keep it at bay”, dealing with their doubts—and benefit from them. Sounds like procrastination plays a part in all this as well… A useful read, at least you’ll know you’re not alone!

I like what Alexander Chee says: “Entitlement is unearned … Real confidence comes from basing your self-worth on a tested sense of your abilities, skills and accomplishments, a sense of your inherent worth as a person.”

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
Deadline: Dec 12, 2103
Free to $389+
Submission help Writer’s Relief Review Board Writer’s Relief is accepting work in Poetry, Stories & Essays, and Books to assess whether they will work with you.

They are “not a literary agency, publisher, or publicity firm). They help creative writers get published by targeting their poems, essays, short stories, and books to the best-suited literary agents or editors of literary journals” and will “identify the best literary agents for your book manuscript”.

CAUTION: I’m a little leery of anyone who says things like “Whether or not the Review Board sends you an invitation to join our client list, if you apply”. It’s too elitist and preys on our self-doubt. Just stay aware.

Upcoming Writing Conferences

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

Date Where Workshop/Conference About
Dec 4, 2013
Noon, EST
Webcast International Ebook Sales — Going Local on a Global Scale Attendees will learn:

  • The size and scope of the international digital reading market
  • Differences in ebook selling by territory
  • Insights into international e-reading habits
  • Advice on what publishers should do to engage with specific territories
  • Best practices for merchandising localized ebook stores
  • Introducing digital reading to emerging markets
Assorted Online Grub Street Online Classes Classes are limited to 12 participants with varying participation requirements and fees.

The Perfect Crime (Novel): Writing Mystery and Suspense Feb 4, 2014

Intro to Fiction, Feb 4, 2014

Art of the Personal EssayJan 8, 2014

6 Weeks, 6 StoriesJan 28, 2014

Workshops and Events

The Publishing Business

Parents Prefer Books to Apps

Rich Fahle at Digital Book World has written an article, “Alison Bryant of PlayCollective on the Advantage of Books in the Kids Digital Market”, that states parents have a built-in preference for books over apps. I got to thinking how adults grow (or shrink) in their love for their eReaders, and how they may affect how kids view them as well; it certainly will affect how much more readily parents will buy eBooks for their kids. So it’s a statistic to keep in mind for your particular genre.

Oh yeah, you might want to keep in mind that “at last year’s DBW2013 conference, Digital Book World released a survey in partnership with PlayScience that found, among other things, that a full 54% of U.S. kids read eBooks regularly”.

eBooks Too Pricey

Charlotte Eyre at The Bookseller points out in “EBooks ‘too pricey for 16-24 market’” that “Luke Mitchell, head of insight at market analysts Voxburner … and … author of the report ‘Buying Digital Content: Research on spending habits, needs and attitudes among UK 16-24s'” says that “the perception among young people is that digital books are cheaper to produce than print books so should cost the consumer less”. I’m with them!

“Whatever the internal politics and business issues within publishing, young people won’t care: all they want is a price that seems fair—or better than that.”

Mitchell makes some good points about value for money along with how much less teens think an eBook should cost and includes at least one suggestion on how to “justify” a higher price.

Four Different Organizations Include Multiplatforms

John Austin at Writer’s Welcome investigates “Association Publishers Experimenting With Multiplatform Publishing” talks about how four different organizations —the Smithsonian, The American Society of Association Executives, the Society for Human Resource Management, and the Sierra Club—have embraced “multiplatform formats: … responsive design websites, e-newsletters, dedicated tablet and smartphone apps — Non-profit associations and their plain print newsletters and magazines are moving in AND investing in the resources to expand beyond print to reach their members”. It’s an opportunity for those of you publishing magazines or newsletters, posting to blogs, and building author websites to see how others are working today’s possibilities.

Gift Yourself into an ALLi Membership

Alliance Independent Authors (ALLi) has a useful gift idea for the people in your life who don’t know what to buy you (um, the self-publishing you) for Christmas: an ALLi’s gift voucher. Heck, buy yourself an ALLi membership (priced at $99/£75/€89). The post does note that ALLi is “offering our members a special discount”. If you are a member of ALLi, and if you buy a gift voucher for a fellow writer, you’ll get 30% back on their membership.

Using a Pen Name

Debbie Young has a useful post on “Should The Self-published Author Use A Pen-Name (Pseudonym)?”. It’s a useful discussion to re-visit every once in awhile as so much hinges on the name. It’s not something I’d’ve thought of when I first started my blog. I hadn’t realized at the time that I was building my readers community (hey, y’all!). And it’s something y’all need to think about before putting keystroke to screen. Read Young’s post at the ALLi blog for the issues these authors considered before choosing what author name they’d use.

The Future of the Book

You have to read a few paragraphs in before the value of what David Streitfeld is writing about becomes obvious: “Out of Print, Maybe, but Not Out of Mind”. It’s a list of “enhancements” people have tried or are trying with books and makes for interesting reading. Most of the “extras” failed, but ya never know what might catch your fancy. At worst, you’ll know what not to try!

There are a few paragraphs that don’t make sense in this, and I can’t tell if Streitfeld is trying to be funny or was in too much of a hurry to edit.

Self-Pubbed Issues at Amazon

Penny Sansevieri at A Marketing Expert has a great post on dealing with losing your book over keyword snafus over at Amazon, “Author Alert: Resolving the Amazon Keyword Issue”. I suspect we’ll be seeing more situations like this since the 9-Days disaster in October. She provides detailed steps to take to get through to Amazon as well as a contact email, kdp-support1@amazon.com.

This really is an excellent post for any self-published authors to read. It’s also very encouraging, as it does show up Amazon as a company that does respond. Provided you dig deep enough.

10 Tips for designing your Kindle eBook Cover

John Amy at Promo Design has a useful post, “10 Tips for designing your Kindle eBook Cover”, on what thought to give your Kindle eBook cover. It’s not all inclusive, but does bring up points that I haven’t seen covered or takes a different approach. I particularly liked Amy’s point on the black-and-white image. Something authors of children’s book who use colored images should pay attention to. Do give it a look.

What is IngramSpark

Mick Rooney has a post at The Independent Publishing Magazine that assesses and explains what IngramSpark is and how to use it, “IngramSpark – Reviewed”. It’s an excellent article with great depth and takes you into some very detailed nitty gritty on what you’ll need to know before you dive in. Rooney is careful to emphasize that IngramSpark is not a publisher. It considers you the publisher. The post includes notes on the differences between IngramSpark and Lightning Source, even if both are owned by the same company. It includes the negatives as well, so if you’re shopping around for a printer and/or a distributor, read this article carefully.

Mill City Press has a useful FAQ page which not only explains “Book Pricing Basics: Setting the Retail Price For Your Book”, but also explains the 55% discount. Even if you have a traditional publisher, it still behooves you to understand the various considerations involved in pricing your book.

Marketing Ideas

5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges

Lisa Hall-Wilson has a guest post over at Kristen Lamb’s blog on “5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges” and primarily addresses the differences between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. It’s all about not spamming. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this one for myself, and if I ever get to figuring out how to use FB, I’ll come back to it!

Publishers Weekly Select Reduction

Publishers Weekly reports that “beginning November 21, Kobo Writing Life (KWL) authors can opt to submit their titles for a listing in Publishers Weekly Select for a reduced price of $129 per title (the regular price is $149). The book will be guaranteed an announcement listing in the online and print editions of PW Select. In addition, listed books are eligible for editorial review consideration in the online and print editions of PW Select. The author will also receive a six-month digital subscription to PW at no additional cost.

The article doesn’t say how long this deal will be available. Could be a limited time as a holiday promotion or as a test run or it could be a permanent new perk for KWL writers.

Amazon’s German eBook Dominance

Matthias Matting has a guest post at Publishing Perspectives and notes “How Self-Publishing Led Amazon to German eBook Dominance” with its Kindle Select program. So take that traditional publishers!

“…fully half of the eBooks from Amazon’s top 100 list in Germany are self published. A third of the top 100 eBooks are only available from Amazon…”

Seems the eBook retailers didn’t want to take a chance on even offering self-published books for sale, let alone helping them self-publish…

Today, there are five companies where German authors can self-publish: Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, Apple (“where publishing is more difficult for German authors, as Apple requires a US tax number to open an account). and Beam-eBooks (a small company focusing on DRM free ebooks)” and eight companies “with a significant marketshare: Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel are the most important; BoD (formerly Books on Demand); Neobooks and ePubli (both owned by Holtzbrinck), and Xinxii and Bookrix, both of which are independent.”

Free BookPromo…With Caveats

This offering from BookBaby includes a free BookPromo IF you are publishing your book through BookBaby. It’s still a self-promotional activity, but BookBaby includes some pluses to help you promote your book. It could be a useful try-out if this is your first book and/or you’ve never done or hate marketing as it does provide you with a couple of reviews right out the gate; discounts for book trailers and PR services; a PR Toolkit from PR Newswire; a manual on how to do social media marketing; a 3-month author membership; and, access to some 20,000 contacts (for a year).

Building Your Exchange Audience

I had to laugh with Matthew Wayne Selznick in his guest post over at ALLi, “Building A Reader Community Is More Important Than Marketing Books”, as he makes a good point towards the end about which author’s books will you read. Ahem, thank god for Goodreads, LOL. I also liked the point he made about not building an audience, but building an exchange. A much better choice of word as Marketing 101 evolves into Marketing 2.0.

New Facebook Contest and Promotion Rules: What You Need to Know

Andrea Vahl has a post on her website which discusses the new rules and restrictions [which they changed back in August] on using Facebook to run contests. Vahl discusses a variety of contest types and lists the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Book Advertising Has To Be Smart

Derek Murphy at Creativindie has a useful post on “Everything you wanted to know about advertising your book (book promotion through Google, Facebook and More)”. I like what he says about conversions and pay-per-clicks. It’s an area that’s too mathy and science-y for me, so anywhere I can find a post with easier-to-understand information, I’m jumpin’ on it.

Tip: here’s an easy way to tell if they secretly think you’re an easy mark—they let you pay them to market a book with an ugly cover, no reviews and poor sales copy on the Amazon page. They know that no matter what they do, it’s all in vain, and nobody’s going to buy your book anyway. But they’ll still go through the motions because hey, you paid for it.

I like that Murphy gives [cheap] ideas on how to maximize the value of your ads. Ideas on what to try from better covers, outside editing, tweaks on your sales copy and cover, and how often to change things up. Where to find cheap help. “Get ideas of where to advertise.” Be sure to read right down to the end. It’ll be worth it.

Readers don’t care about reviews until after they are interested—you need to interest them first by targeting and fulfilling their needs.

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 – December 2013

  1. Thanks for the hat tip to my guest blog post over on the Self Publishing Advice Blog, Kathy. If you’re laughing with me, I know I’m doing something right. I’m pleased you found value in the post.