A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – March 2013

Posted March 2, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Hodgepodge Newsletter

In General

Illustrate Neil Gaiman’s Calendar of Tales

Seems crowdsourcing is the way to go—Neil Gaiman is requesting graphics for his twelve tales—and you may get a “chance to feature in the digital showcase and the printed, limited edition of A Calendar of Tales.

Gaiman requests you watch this video, then download and read the stories for inspiration. Read more

Download 3 Nebula-Nominated Stories—Free!

Tor.com is making three of their publications available for free (U.S. only) and the page includes links to iTunes, Kindle, and Nook) in honor of their being nominated for the Nebula:

Check out the list of 2012 Nebula finalists.

Just for Fun

Digital Libraries

Whoa, digital libraries? Where you can borrow an eBook?? Hmmm, I wonder how extensive their selections are?

One cautionary note, the ones I learned about are not for English speakers: Booquo offers a free service to rent movies and buy eBooks or a pay-subscription service for Spaniards only so far at €9,99 per month — although there are ; Skoobe (read it backwards!) is for German speakers and, for “€9,99 per month to borrow up to two titles” per month and you must have an iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire; and, 24Symbols is a Madrid-based “service to read digital books on the Internet” from your iPhone or Android with no download available and some social networking with Facebook and Twitter. While it’s mostly been Spanish books (nearly 10,000) and public domain titles, 24Symbols is adding English publishers. There is a free service (ads with the books) and a premium service (no ads).

KDP Select” program allows Amazon Prime customers to borrow one Kindle edition per month for free. Which means most borrowers choose the expensive books to read each month.

Audible Makes Improvements

“Audible has made several updates to the Audible player for iOS, extending the existing app’s natively supported devices to include iPad, iPad2, and new iPad Mini, while also enhancing the app’s performance for the iPhone.” Read more

Teen Poets

A brief post by Alison Flood at The Guardian mentions a couple of websites—Movellas and Wattpad—where teens gather to write, read, and share poetry.

Julie Kagawa with New YA Series

Unfortunately, it’s A) not until 2015, B) there’s no name for it yet, C) it’s already been optioned for a movie by Universal Studios.

Fault in Our Stars Set for Director

Josh Boone has been hired to direct The Fault in Our Stars, Fox 2000’s adaptation of John Green’s acclaimed best-seller.

The second “official” look at a character in the upcoming flick, Ender’s Game (due out Nov. 1; Orson Scott Card is the author) is all about “Ender’s Battle School companion, Petra Arkanian, played by True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld”.

Oddest Book Titles 2013 Diagram Contest

What’s in a title? Well, you’ll have to check this one out if only to get a laugh at some truly odd books titles—that make me wonder and rejoice in humanity’s curiosity and sense of humor. And you can vote on your favorite! Just vote before March 22.

What We Editors Strive For

This Doonesbury comic is too funny, and I keep aiming for it…

Highlights of Kim Harrison’s Chat

ErikT over at Your Urban Fantasy has put together five highlights of Kim Harrison’s Ever After, the latest entry in The Hollows series.

Be warned…don’t read it if you haven’t yet read Ever After…thar’ be spoilers ahead…

Hunting the Weird

Damien Walter of The Guardian is hunting for great weird, nutty, speculative stories with “great sci-fi storytelling”, “books that transcend genre all together”, particularly those in the science fiction, fantasy, or horror genres. Preferably those that are self- or indpendently published. He prefers responses via the comments at the end of the blog post.

Survivor Guide

Margaret Bristol at Bookish has posted a *sorry, I can’t help laughing* survivor guide for readers of YA dystopian novels. Truisms along with a bit of cynicism. The post’s true value lies in the books Bristol includes with each point she makes.

Sandra Brown Titles Going to eBook

Twenty-five Sandra Brown titles will be released as eBooks in September when Grand Central Publishing publishes Deadline, set for a September 17 publication date.

National Book Critics Circle Awards

Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly has posted the winners of the National Book Critics Circle for 2012:

Dr. Seuss Form Letter

This’ll give ya a laugh!

Nostalgia? Or Amazement?

Yup, it was another day and age with these slideshow “examples of famous kid-lit that could spark some deep conversations, make you a little uneasy, or inspire nostalgia for a time when mothers could leave their young children home alone all afternoon with a chaos-loving cat”.

Shana Aborn at Babble compares then and now in children’s literature. It’s certainly an eye-opener, although I do disagree with a few.

To Have or Have Not

Interesting infographic about how books affect your child.

Finding eBooks at the Library

A data exchange program is being implemented that is supposed to make it easier to find eBooks at libraries that use World Cat Local service, ProQuest’s Summon® service, the full-text of ProQuest Central and ebrary e-books”.


African Library Project

It’s not so much that it’s a sad idea that volunteers with the African Library Project are banding together and sending gently-used picture books to Africa, but that it’s necessary. In operation for seven years, the ALP has just sent their millionth book and are looking toward the next million.

It’s a laudable idea and the sooner kids in Africa can access books and learn more about the world, the better chance they’ll have of throwing off the shackles of their own corrupt leaders’ tyranny. Read more

Food for Thought:
Are YA Romances Warping Teens’ Expectations?

This is a scary post by Tara Isabella Burton at the New Statesman on what the current crop of teen romances are telling teenage girls. Is it the same thing as promoting the desirability of being model-thin with “romantic desirability is the proof of, and the reward for, individual worth”?

What’s Wrong with This Picture!

The U.S. post office in Clarksville, Tennessee, would rather shred children’s books that can’t be delivered than allow charities to take them away for FREE! God forbid!!

Nook Losing?

Those of you considering the purchase of an eReader may want to hold off a bit. Barnes & Noble has been in the news a lot since the results of the Christmas buying season for its drop in sales — books and Nooks. While the company is trying a variety of options to stay alive, you may want to consider the number of bookstore chains that have bit the dust.

And if you have a Nook and B&N decides to cancel their device side of the business, you’ll be outta luck in the long term. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say about this for ages as I, obviously, can’t see the future, but I just want to put this out there as a consideration.

Some of the changes can be read about in Mike Cane’s article, “The Changes Nook Media Must Make“, store closings, and revenues and profits down.

Writing Tips

How Long Should a Chapter Be

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez has a useful post on the ideal length of a chapter. Naturally, that ideal changes depending upon the who and the what. Go check it out for a quick synopsis.

FASTR Workaround?

Publishers Weekly has a follow-up to the FASTR notice in the mid-month Hodgepodge with Obama issuing a Policy Memorandum that will go into effect whether FASTR passes or not.

“The agency plan will not apply to any articles or manuscripts ‘submitted for publication prior to the plan’s effective date.’ No timetable for implementation of the plan is currently set, although plans are asked to be submitted within six months.”

Kids’ Writing Contest

Honey Maid crackers are teaming up with HarperCollins with a writing contest — Made Co. — for kids aged 6-12. An online contest, the kids are supposed to “write about the funniest or most memorable day they could ever imagine having”. Might want to encourage the kids to include a Honey Maid product in the story!

The winner “will travel to New York City for a one-day writer’s workshop with My Weird School series author Dan Gutman at his publisher’s headquarters. He or she will work with Gutman and HarperCollins Children’s Books staffers to turn her or his idea into an actual book, of which the publisher will produce 10 copies.”

Several other contests are described in Sally Lodge’s article over at Publishers Weekly.

Food in Writing

This was an interesting post by Paul Weimer at SF Signal on the evolution of food in writing. It definitely provides food for thought…

Whaddya Expect?

In reading this John Green interview for The Guardian by Patrick, I got to wondering how we readers can have the nerve to get pissy about authors pumping out another book. With all the requirements laid on authors these days to be their own marketing team, etc., how on god’s green earth can we possibly expect them to find time to write as well as promote their work!?

Smithsonian Going Digital

Digital Book World writes that
Cengage Learning will be converting “Smithsonian treasures” into digital ones. What this means for us…I can’t really tell from the article. It is nice that they’ll be bringing back and future Smithsonian magazine issues online.

The Publishing Business

What is the Future of eBooks?

Michael Kozlowksi at Digital Book World has a post on “Are eBook Apps, HTML5, or ePub3 the Future of Digital Publishing?“, and it’s much more involved than it sounds. It’s more of an assessment of what formats authors/publishers will need to be aware of and formatting for in the future. It’s a bit of a dull read, but full of useful information for those self-publishing with eBooks.

Jani Patokallio over at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change is the anti-ePub3 guy with his own views. I’m not sure he really says much…

Of course, this just leads into needing to learn more about JavaScript, which this tutorial might help.

Going from InDesign to Ebook

Colleen Cunningham has posted on Digital Book World about a list of resources to help you produce your eBook.

Book Design Templates for MS Word

This actually is a good deal from Joel Friedlander, the Book Designer. He does this for a living and finally realized that most authors work with what they have. Microsoft Word. So, coming around from the back end, he has created this collection of, yup, Book Design Templates starting at $37 with a range of license options from Single-Book, to Multi-Book to Commercial — you can start at the cheapest license and pay for upgrades as you need them. There’s also an eBook-Ready Bundle which includes the print and an eBook template in the same style..

It includes six different chapter designs and a slew of other options. If you feel you’re somewhat clueless about the computer or coming up with an interesting setup to make your book layout look professional…check this out! It could certainly cut down on time spent learning and then formatting on your own.

“The templates are designed to work with CreateSpace or Lightning Source, with Print-on-Demand (POD) publishing in mind; yes, it works with Smashwords as well. The industry-standard sizes you can download right now are paginated and compliant with the major printing houses, right out of the box. We do ask that you read and understand the unique requirements for your printer, like ISBN inclusion, copyright attribution requirements, and any other specifics to make sure you have everything in order before submission.” And he and his partner are working on Nonfiction and Large-Format Templates.

The release on this has been so popular that Friedlander has already posted “Your Top 7 Book Design Templates Questions Answered“.

Bad Contracts at Hydra

Jane Friedman provides a warning on Random House’s Hydra imprint’s contracts for eBook authors. Do read this!

Food for Thought: Licensing

Admittedly, this is not directly related to your book and only marginally — yeah, I’m stretching here — to your book cover. What I found interesting about Jessica Hische’s breakdown of an illustrator/designer’s quote for a job was all the bits and pieces she is taking into account with regards to licensing. I see it as a sideways sort of look at what artists and authors should be thinking of.

Do You Really Own Your eBook?

Laura Miller’s article, “Do you truly own your e-books? is an interesting explanation of the DRM and proprietary formats employed by publishers and Amazon and includes a short analysis of several different eReaders.

Marketing News

$ Facts on Amazon’s KDP Select Program

Danny O. Snow over at Publishers Weekly has an interesting post as an “Update on Amazon E-book Borrowing“, the volunteer program for publishers/authors in its KDP Select program. Doesn’t seem to be much of a payout from that merged royalty pool.

NovelRank Tutorial

Carol Wyer over at Indies Unlimited has posted a tutorial about NovelRank by which you can see how well your and other authors’ books are selling by the hour, the day, etc.

Piracy as a Good Thing?

Suw Charman-Anderson has written an article over at Forbes touting piracy as a good thing. There are some links here that might be interesting: Readmill, a book reading app with social aspects; Ganxy is some kind of service to promote and see eBooks and digital content, creating an author showcase; and, Publit which promotes itself as an easy way to publish and sell your books.

$$$ Your Way to a Best Seller

Soren Kaplan has posted about his experience with buying his way onto the NYT best seller lists. It’s an eye-opener.

Sandra Beckwith at Build Book Buzz reacts to the Wall Street Journal article which Kaplan references with some excellent points!

Amazon Killing Their Affiliates???

I am so confused on this whole affiliate thing. Partly because I haven’t gotten involved — yet — in how this all works. Which would help explain why I am con fused. However, I know this may impact a number of you, so I’ll post the articles I’ve run across so far.

Nate Hoffelder says that there are actually three clauses and not the two Amazon claims. Hoffelder also states that anyone offering free eBooks through an Amazon affiliation must get the person downloading a freebie to buy one lest the site lose all their Affiliate income for the month.

Then there’s Michael Kozlowksi at Digital Book World with his very matter-of-fact post on “Amazon Squashing Affiliates Who Promote Free Kindle Books” who seems to be saying that the move is to encourage sites which offer only free Kindle eBooks to include pay-for eBooks as well.

Jeremy Greenfield also at Digital Book World adds his two cents on the possible end of free promotions by self-published authors.

Ed Robertson at Adventures in Digital Publishing points out that it will be much more difficult for you to get a your free eBook mentioned on a number of sites now. He also points up the same issues with Kindle Select as Joanna Penn does with the KDP Select as a less effective promotional tool.

Then the editorial by George Book over at Publishing Perspectives as to whether Amazon is killing the golden goose.

Yet Another eMarketing Tool

Publishers Weekly notes that Toni Morrison is promoting her new book, Home, through a digital book signing and chatting with book clubs online. Read more

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