A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – July 2013

Posted July 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.

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

WARNING: Reports are that Stephen King’s Joyland is available as an eBook. NO. This is actually a virus or malware, and King did not release an eBook of it…although he does anticipate that there will eventually pirated copies will be illegally available.

In General

The Black Swan Internship Case!

Ooh-eee, Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic Wire notes in her post, “The ‘Black Swan’ Intern Ruling Could Change Unpaid Internships Forever” some very important issues regarding interns including “The law states that unpaid internships must benefit the worker, not the employer, and should be a part of a formal training program, without replacing a paid employee’s job.”

Pass this bit of info on to schools and all the students you know who are seeking internships!

Small Business Provides More Value for Employees

Corey Eridon has posted about “How Small Businesses Saved Me From Living in My Parents’ Basement“. Yeah, I know it’s not the usual bit of news I share, but I really liked the points Eridon made about the practicality of working for a small business versus a large one. And I figured some of you may well have kids who have either graduated or are looking for jobs.

In many respects, what Eridon has to say about the duties he took on are a lot like being a self-published author…

Apple’s eBook Price Fixing Trial

The New York Times‘ Brian X. Chen and Julie Bosmant wrote an article before the trial started that seems to sum the whole issue fairly well. The issue is the “most favored nation” clause (MFN) that the publishers’ contracts with Apple included, requiring that no other retailer sell e-books for a lower price; if they did, the publisher would have to match the price of the e-book in Apple’s store. That, the Justice Department said, resulted in higher prices that harmed consumers.

I haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to the details, but I haven’t had the impression that those prices actually did go up before everything got put on hold due to the trial. But they do appear to be rising now. Is this going to be a another one of those Ma Bell conglomerate issues??

Jeremy Greenfield atDigital Book World notes in his post, “Explaining the Recent Spike in Ebook Best-Seller Prices“, that “the average price of a best-selling ebook spiked this week up to $8.92—prices have since risen to $9.12 (and $9.48 as of June 25wri)—after spending most of 2013 hovering in the $7.00 to $8.00 range. In fact, it’s the highest observed average for the list in all of 2013.

And the fuzzy math of that 20 percent market share claimed by Apple…

Of course it didn’t help when “Apple executive Eddie Cue admitted that his company’s deals with publishers caused the prices of some best-selling ebooks to rise.

“According to C|Net, much of the trial hinges on whether ebook prices actually did rise following Apple’s entrance into the market in which it signed new deals with large publishers that had to be matched via a “most favored nation” clause by Amazon and other ebook retailers. Apple contends that prices fell overall but the Department of Justice says that prices on some best-selling ebooks rose sharply and that was damaging to consumers.”

While Cue did acknowledge today in court that prices rose for some ebooks, he puts much of the onus on the publishers, which had control of pricing under Apple’s contracts.

“They had expressed they wanted higher prices from us,” he said, according to C|Net.

And don’t sellers generally pump up prices on popular books??

Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly followed
the second day of Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s testimony as he returned to the witness stand to be followed by Apple executive Keith Moerer, a key figure in the negotiation of the agency pricing agreements in question.

Seems U.S. attorney Mark Ryan was grabbing at straws in what he called “collusive contact by the publishers in the period of late December 2009 to early January 2010 when negotiations over the agency model were taking place” when Apple and various publishers congratulated Sargent for resolving the issue with Amazon refusing to allow readers to buy any Macmillan books.

One thought occurs…if I can buy a John Grisham cheaper from Doubleday than I can from Random House…

In this day’s trial, Andrew Albanese reports that Buterman (the government’s lawyer) laid it out that Apple was simply copying a number of “its innovations” from what Amazon was already doing. And I wonder why Apple seems to have abandoned the MFN clause. Unless the trial is changing their focus.

I do disagree with Buterman’s claims that iBooks Author, Apple’s self-publishing tool, hasn’t transformed publishing. I agree that iBooks Author hasn’t made great inroads and the entire world isn’t using it, however, the potential for creating fabulous enhanced books is tremendous. The bit of playing I’ve done with it…oh lordy…it’s way too much fun. And not very useful on smartphones or Kindles. Yet. Oops, wait, would that be another case of collusion??

On this day, Andrew Albanese reports on the closing arguments.

What I find scary in this is my own attitude. I automatically assume the government is posturing…

The DOJ is a bit worried that the judge is going ’round to Apple’s side of things. This is a summary of how the DOJ sums up its case. For the entire summing up, read this.

Amazon Wanted the Same Terms

John Paczkowski at All Things D notes in his post, “Amazon Demanded Same Terms From Publishers For Which Apple is Now On Trial” and that after “… Amazon, whose complaints are believed to have initiated the case, finally did renegotiate its e-book agreements from wholesale to agency pricing, … it demanded … the very same agency terms that Apple demanded. Methinks this doth smell…

Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World wrote “Antitrust Lawyer: Apple Loss to DOJ Will Hurt Company’s Reputation Among Consumers” in which David Balto, a public interest antitrust attorney and former policy director of the Federal Trade Commission, thinks this trial will hurt Apple with a loss of consumer confidence. As a Mac-user, I don’t think so. Oh, it may have people wondering about the iBooks store, but it isn’t going to hurt Apple in the computer end of things. Once you go Mac, you can’t go back. Their customer service and help is just too fantastic… It’ll be curious to see what the end of the year is like for Apple.

Paid Content‘s Jeff John Roberts notes in his post, “At Close of eBook Trial, Apple Gains Ground: What Lies Ahead” and “forced the trial judge to rethink the foundation of the case.” Roberts includes “an easy-to-read Q&A about the case and what will happen next”.

“Andre Barlow, a former Justice Department lawyer who is now a partner at the antitrust firm, Doyle, Barlow & Mazard” says, “This isn’t a case about money, it’s about conduct and principle on both sides.”

Andrew Albanese makes all that time spent in the courtroom pay off with The Battle of $9.99: How Apple, Amazon and the Big Six Publishers Changes the E-Book Business Overnight, which the Huffington Post ranks as the #5 best-selling nonfiction e-book single for the week.

Just for Fun


2013 PubWest Book Design Award Winners

The 29th annual awards were “developed to recognize superior design and outstanding production quality of books throughout North America with … book entries judged on typography, jacket/cover design, interior design, format, selection of materials used, and printing and binding production quality, standard and enhanced eBooks, and apps.”

Notice of these awards are aimed more at the authors looking for a publishing house or for ideas…

I’ve only listed the Gold winners. Click for a complete list of winners.

14th Annual Christy Awards

The 14th annual Christy Awards, recognizing excellence in Christian fiction:

Ann Patchett Wins WBNA

Ann Patchett, author and bookseller (Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tennessee) won this year’s WNBA Award from the Women’s National Book Association which is given “every two years to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books or the allied arts and has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession.”

OBE Awards – Who’da Thunk?

Lisa Campbell at The Bookseller must be pleased to report on the “Authors Feature in Queen’s Birthday Honours“: Kate Mosse, Jackie Collins, and Joanne Harris (received an MBE) who all received the honours for services to literature. I’ve only read Joanne Harris’ work, and if the other two are half as good as Harris…they’re going on my TBR!

2012 Bram Stoker Award&#reg;

2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award

Tim O’Brien won the 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.

Torture Your Kindle, aka, Prepping for the Beach

Oh, yeah! CNET is torturing a Kindle Paperwhite. Yup, Kindle’s gone to the beach. Watch the video and don’t drop it in the salt water…

Around the World in 80 Books

Hey, an affordable way to travel without the hassle or passports! As Digital Book World says “Hiking in Patagonia, napping under the Tuscan sun, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea &#8211 sounds like the perfect summer, right?”

It’s Around the World in 80 Books with a curated map of books from the book editors at Amazon.com and featuring “a hand-picked selection of 80 new and classic titles, representative of every continent that will send readers on journeys across the world all summer.”


Rachel Caine’s Morganville Kickstarting for Web TV

Rachel Caine is kicking off a Kickstart campaign to bring Morganville: The Series, a YA urban fantasy, to WebTV. If you aren’t familiar with the series…how can that be??…check it out on Caine’s Kickstarter page. The day I visited they were at $25k ++.

Tim Burton to Direct Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

How absolutely perfect to have Tim Burton directing the so-very peculiar Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Video: The Joy of Books

Nate Hoffelder at the The Digital Reader found that finally discloses what books get up to in the dark of night when all those readers go home!


China versus a Bookstore

Alexis Lai and Meng Meng with CNN report that China is now banning media reports on the opening of a Taiwanese book chain, The Eslite, in Shanghai. Eslite sells books the Chinese have banned and now intends to “lease 6,500 square meters spanning three floors in the Shanghai Tower”.


Megan Hansen at the Marin Independent Journal reports that Copperfield’s Books … will set up shop in San Rafael in November, joining Diesel’s new Larkspur store which will open in July.

Village House of Books is opening in Los Gatos later this summer. The 800-square-foot store will carry a broad selection of titles and genres, from children’s books to biography and mainstream fiction. Cheryl and Steve Hare plan to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the mayor of Los Gatos, among other festivities, when the store opens, which she estimates will be in mid-July.


Andra Zeppelin at Eater.com notes that The BookBar, a bookstore and bar, has opened in Denver. Owned by Nicole Sullivan, the store is at 4280 Tennyson Street in Denver’s arts district. The store’s motto is “a book shop for wine lovers. A wine bar for book shoppers.”


In September, the Portsmouth-based RiverRun Bookstore, will open a small store in nearby Kittery, Maine, that will carry new and used books. The Kittery location will be in the Foreside area “right across the street from AJ’s. Our neighbors will include a coffee shop and a juice bar!”


The Friend Street Bookstore has moved FROM 3 Middle Street in Newburyport TO 15 Friend Street in Amesbury.

The New England Mobile Book Fair is a confusing name for a store, but it seems that its new owner, Tom Lyons, is doing a herculean effort to bring it back online in Newton Highlands.


Off the Beaten Path, renowned for being the end-all for all things steampunk, is moving to a new space at 33314 Grand River Avenue in Farmington and will re-open July 13 where the shop has a “reputation as a go-to for all things”.

Washington D.C.

Tess VandenDolder at In the Capital notes the “7 Best Indpendepnt Bookstores in Washington DC“. VandenDolder includes some nice bits of info on each store, yup, more than just the book genres provided: atmosphere, history, and reasons to go.


Booked for Murder closed on May 15, HOWEVER, Joanne Berg, most recently a vice-provost at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, re-opened it as a new bookshop, Mystery to Me, on June 15 at 1863 Monroe Street.


Bobby Cherry at the TribLive notes that the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley is up for sale.

Want to Open a Bookstore?

Elizabeth Bluemle at Publishers Weekly provides an “Anatomy of a Day, Or, Why We Haven’t Yet Answered Your Email” with a brief peek in at the day that three ladies had at the Flying Pig.

How to Open/Close a Bookstore

Clarissa Coburn at the Santa Barbara Independent posted an article on “How to Open a Bookstore” while JLSathre wrote one on “25 Things I’m Learning From Closing a Bookstore“.

The Intelligent, Adaptable Book

I do like the idea of a transclusionable book as Peter Brantley at Publishers Weekly writes in his article on “The Intelligent, Adaptable Book“. It sounds a lot like parts of iBooks Author and goes beyond what the enhanced eBook promises with text that includes and excludes additional information—footnotes; maps; video; hyperlinks; simpler or more complex language; and, arguments and/or perspectives from different fields—all depending upon what the reader chooses. More an idea of what the future holds than immediately possible, but definitely fascinating.

Young Adults & Kids

Free YA Books

PulseIt is an “online community for anyone ages 14 and older [who] loves teen books! It’s where you can read free teen books and exclusive excerpts, heart comments, books and content that you love, and share your reviews on books, your ideas, and more! Plus – it’s free to join & participate!” It appears to be associated with Simon & Schuster.

Are Ebooks Worse For Kids Than Paper Books?

Beth Bacon at Digital Book World has written a rebuttal to the articles that claim reading digital books harms children, and she makes some very good points. One of which is that we do like to focus on the negative, even if we have to corral it into a tiny box!

The Magic Schoolbus Characters Are All Grown Up And Dayum They’re Hot

Mackenzie Kruvant at BuzzFeed has a post showing how the Magic Schoolbus characters have grown up with a little help from “Nebraska artist, Celeste, [who] has created these great drawings of some favorite science nerds.

Openly YA Book Tour

Unfortunately, the tour ended a week ago…WTH?? So, keep an eye open for next year’s as John A. Sellers at Publishers Weekly notes that when the “Openly YA Tour Hits the Road” ended its tour, people were happy with its success. In fact, “Cristin Stickles, children’s and YA buyer at McNally Jackson, said she was ‘thrilled with the turnout and reception’ the event received, with more than 90 in attendance; she hopes to expand on the idea for next year, ‘possibly extending it into a week’s worth of programming during Pride month.'” Go team!

Maurice Sendak Exhibition in NYC

An exhibition of Maurice Sendak’s work has opened at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators (63rd St. and Lexington Ave.) in New York City and will run through August 17. “It’s the basis for the catalogue Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work (Abrams, $45, 9781419708268), written by exhibit curators Justin G. Schiller and Dennis M.V. David, edited by Leonard S. Marcus, with 12 essays from the likes of Marcus, Iona Opie, Steven Heller and Paul O. Zelinsky.

Interesting Argument About Bookcases at Home

Kelsey Campell-Dollahan at Gizmodo has an interesting argument going on as to whether it’s the bookcase or the intelligence of the parents who, naturally, have bookcases, that aid in smartening up their kids


Library Lobbyists

Never did I imagine I would ever find a lobbyist I could get behind, but “EveryLibrary.org is a library political action committee founded by former ALA membership director John Chrastka that focuses on helping local libraries win local elections that have critical library funding issues on the ballot.” Red more of a Calvin Reid’s post, “ EveryLibrary Works to Help Libraries Raise Funding“.

10 Treehouse, Dollhouse, and other Truly Unique Libraries

Ellyssa Kroski at Open Education Database has “been very interested in the use of library space lately as well as the design of libraries be they traditional, mobile, pop-up or other types and in my research I’ve come across some truly unique and interesting libraries.” These are the first five and these are the next five. You will NOT regret checking these out…!

“Buy Now” at the Library

Baker & Taylor is providing, through libraries using Axis 360, a “Buy Now” button so you may immediately purchase a book through your own library. Not a bad way to support your local library…not so helpful to your local bookstore.

Young People Reading!

Peter Brantley at Publishers Weekly has an upbeat post, “Through a Glass, Brightly: Marrakesh” in which we can breathe a sigh of relief as “Pew Internet Research released a study on young readers, their library habits, and reading preferences” that “75 percent of those aged 16-29 … have read a print book in the past year”.

Social Reading Sites

Slice Bookshelf Joins a Crowded Field of Virtual Book Sites

Ron Charles at the Washington Post notes that the latest entrant in the social reading sites is “Slice Bookshelf [which] tries to distinguish itself by emphasizing ‘social engagement’ and ‘organic discovery’, which, I gather, has nothing to do with the farmers’ market. The site also claims to facilitate book lending. Users can add titles to a list called ‘Want To Read’ and be alerted to which of their friends have read those books. The site ‘encourages you to send them a request to borrow it. You can pay it forward by lending your copy of Twilight to the coworker who shamelessly wants to borrow it. No judgments here!’ Nor public libraries, apparently.”

“The one mildly novel aspect of Slice Bookshelf is that &#8211 for the moment, at least &#8211 Amazon doesn’t own part of it.”

Book Elf Wants to Share

Wow, this seems rather complex and needy, at least in that Book Elf appears to be trying to make everyone happy. On July 19, Book Elf will launch a new book sharing site that “will make sharing eBooks easy, while adhering to copyright laws. This free site will start by making public domain eBooks shareable, but gradually add copyrighted works.”

I do know that books which have passed into the public domain are freely downloadable at Amazon, and I assume this is the case at other sites.

eReaders and Tablets

# of Americans with Tablets

One-third of Americans now own a tablet.


B&N Discontinues NOOK HD

A hold-the-phone moment. Consider carefully whether you want to take advantage of the sales for NOOK HD and HD+ (B&N does say they “will still sell and service its existing fleet of tablets – the Nook HD and Nook HD+ – through the holiday season. Content sales may not suffer much.”

NOOK® HD Tablets on Sale

It’s actually two different NOOK HD Tablets (an Android tablet): the HD for $129 and the HD+ for $149. Shipping is free, and there are some 700,000 Android™ apps and games.

The Multipurpose Tablet

An American Editor has some positive reasons to take advantage of the NOOK HD; you might like to read up on them.

B&N Abandons Mac and Windows

Darrell Etherington at Tech Crunch reports that “B&N told The Digital Reader that it has officially dropped support for the Mac and PC (pre Windows 8) versions of the NOOK standalone reader software, and now directs users to the web-based version instead. It’s not a perfect replacement, however, as … that leaves a huge percentage of NOOK e-books unsupported as not all titles in the store support the web-based version of the application.”

NOOK Apps Added to Nextbook, Nabi Tablets

Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Media subsidiary announced new deals with device manufacturers E Fun and Fuhu to preload its NOOK For Android app and NOOK App for Kids on their respective lines of tablet devices. Nextbook will offer the NOOK for Android app preloaded on its line of five Nextbook tablet devices, while Fuhu will preinstall the NOOK App for Kids on their line of three Nabi tablet devices designed for kids and preteens beginning in the fall.

Some Sunshine in All the Gloom and Doom

Jack W Perry at Digital Book World notes that there are actually three positives in what’s happening at B&N…check it out. Brian G. Howrad at Book Business also has some positive points for B&N.

Top Lists for Fun

15 Classic Children’s Books That Have Been Banned In America

Spencer Althouse at BuzzFeed explains why 15 classic children’s books were banned in America. What a bunch of whankers…!

Ultimate in Lists

Publishers Weekly notes that “LibraryReads, a new recommendation program, will highlight public librarians’ favorite new books. Set to launch in fall 2013, the venture is open to all public library staff, and will serve as a national ‘library staff picks list’.

To start, LibraryReads will feature 10 adult titles each month that library staff “have read, have loved, and cannot wait to share with their patrons.” Read more or check out the sample list with its nice range of genres.

Top 10 Embarrassing Moments in Children’s Books

Mark Lowery, author of Pants are Everything, lists the “top 10 embarrassing moments in children’s books“.

The Top 10 Most Difficult Books

This list of the top 10 most difficult books compiled by Emily Colette Wilkinson & Garth Risk Hallberg at Publishers Weekly is almost as much fun to read as a book and has some unexpected choices on it.

The 13 Worst Reviews of Classic Books

If anything, Bill Henderson’s choices of terrible reviews will have you feeling much better about yourself! And could well encourage you to engage the well-known middle finger defense at your reviewers!

Top 10 Classic Spy Novels

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones at The Guardian notes “the fiction that best reveals the secrets of espionage” with the “The top 10 classic spy novels…from Joseph Conrad to John le Carré”. There were a few surprises in here for me.

10 Children’s Books That Never Get Old

Lists the top 10 the books Josephine Sittenfeld and her children all keep coming back to. The stories she finds “as entertaining the hundredth time you read it as the first. I now understand more clearly than I did when I myself was young why certain picture book classics—Goodnight Moon, say, or Where the Wild Things Are—have attained their classic status.”

This makes me think of those endless storytelling nights, re-reading the same book over and over… New parents, I suggest you read a number of children’s books before you give them to your kids! Find the ones that are your favorites and start your own babies off with those!! It’ll make storytelling time more survivable, LOL!

Random Re-Interprets Shakespeare

This is different…”Random House’s Hogarth imprint has launched The Hogarth Shakespeare project, which will see commissioned authors writing prose retelling … the Bard’s plays. The first two authors slated to do retellings are Anne Tyler, who will be tackling Taming of the Shrew and Jeannette Winterson, who is doing The Winter’s Tale.

Hogarth said the retellings will “be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature.”

Yeah, it also reeks of redoing the same movies over and over ’cause they’re a sure thing…

Video: Great Actors Read Dr. Seuss

This could be fun…”Hunter Davis does a great Ian McKellan impression, so people kept asking him if he did others. Unfortunately, he can only talk like old British actors. But that’s cool because there are a lot of those. So here is Davis’ video of great actors reading The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss. (We particularly enjoyed the costuming on Patrick Stewart.)”.

The Most Beautiful Book of Summer 2013

Part of a 1,600-page trilogy, “The Graphic Canon, Volume 3, selected as one of the best books of the summer by Publishers Weekly, is 500 pages of classic 20th-century literature reimagined graphically by 70+ artists. It’s the most beautiful book of the year.” Russ Kick provides proof with 15 of the book’s images in this post. Kick includes a brief mention on each of these 15, and all I can say is…oh, wow…I know what I want for my birthday!

How Sweet It Is!: Chocolate in Romance Novels

Kate Rothwell has a great post over at Heroes and Heartbreakers on the chocolate in your romance. If you could get into chocolate-inspired love, go check it out. Ya might wanna stock up on your favorite chocolates before reading! Or just bake up the brownies at the end of her post…

Penguin Launches a Consumer “NetGalley”

Digital Book World notes that Penguin has launched First to Read: NetGalley for Consumers. Check it out…



Vince Flynn, Dead at 47

Neal Thompson reports that “bestselling author Vince Flynn, known for his page-turning tales of assassins and terrorists, CIA agents and crooked politicians, died early this morning. Flynn had been diagnosed in 2011 with late-stage prostate cancer.

Andrew Greeley, Dead at 85

Peer Steinfels at the New York Times reports that “Andrew M. Greeley, the Roman Catholic priest and writer whose outpouring of sociological research, contemporary theology, sexually frank novels and newspaper columns challenged reigning assumptions about American Catholicism, was found dead on Thursday morning at his home in Chicago.”

Jack Vance, Dead at 96

Christopher Priest at The Guardian reports on the life and influences of Jack Vance, a.k.a., John Holbrook, and it made for fascinating reading.

POSTSCRIPT: Peter Kane Dufault Dead at 89

Brad Leithauser at the New Yorker notes poet Peter Kane Dufault has died. Read more

Acclaimed Children’s Author Carol Carrick Dies

Julia Wells at the Vineyard Gazette shares these thoughts on Carol Carrick.

Aid for Booksellers

It’s sad that it’s necessary, and it’s wonderful that an organization such as Binc exists! It’s “the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit dedicated to assisting booksellers in need since 1996.” Their mission is to “help booksellers who have a demonstrated financial need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances… See who they helped in 2010. If you’re interested in helping, email or call, 1-866-733-9064.

Gender Battle

Prachi Gupta at Salon reports that the London Review of Books excludes women reviewers or authors from its fiction realm. I do love Kathryn Heyman’s statement—she’s the author of The Breaking—in which she explains why she won’t be renewing her subscription:

“I have to assume that my lady-money is quite simply not welcome in the man-cave of LRB.”

You would not be impressed by the LRB’s response…although I was impressed with Heyman’s succinct response: “If this really causes you and your colleagues actual distress, change it,” she wrote.

Oh, man, Kathryn Heyman got a response from LRB in regards to this Salon article. They’d’a been better off saying nothing, LOL…

Truly Secure Passwords

This post by Bruce Schneier actually provides practical advice on creating passwords that are prit’ near unbreakable. I plan to put these ideas to work!

Catholic Church Hypocrisy Runs Rampant

Leigh Anne Williams at Publishers Weekly reports on a post, “Weltbild Stores Drop Vancouver Publisher“, in which the Catholic Church-owned bookseller and publisher, Weltbild, has discontinued selling Icon Empire Press G-rated gay romances because they’re erotica. The fact that Weltbild continues to publish and sell other erotica doesn’t seem to be the same…ahem…

Beware Author Solutions

“One whipped author confessed that the reason he finally “signed” with them [was] because he just wanted to stop the phone calls. The AuthorHouse (AS) phone machine was bombarding him with calls throughout the day.”

Judith Briles at The Book Shepherd has a post on “Publishing Predator Author Solutions in Class Action Lawsuit” and points out the issues you will have with AS. The post provides a link to the formal complaint as well as the class action lawsuit (if you have had a problem with any house associated with Author Solutions, you can join the class action suit here).

“Author Solutions tentacles are massive. AuthorHouse is its flagship brand. Then there is Xlibris and iUniverse and Trafford Publishing and Booktango and Palibrio and those expanding “strategic partnerships” with Balboa Press (Hay House) | Archway Publishing (Simon and Schuster) | WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson)| Abbott Press (Readers Digest) | Inspiring Voices (Guideposts) | LifeRich Publishing (Readers Digest)”.

White Author Writes a Black Character

Alison Flood at The Guardian has a post about reverse prejudice and the white Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Smokey Dalton series featuring a black detective. And Rusch’s need to self-publish to get her book promoted.

What I find worthwhile about this issue Rusch was having is: a) on the positive, that there are ways around such prejudices through self-publishing, and b) on the negative, that such prejudices do exist. I have to wonder if black authors encounter the same problems. If Rusch’s publishers refused to promote a book about a black detective because it was written by a white person (let alone a…shock…woman!), how difficult must it be for a black author (and “god forbid” it should be a…shhh…woman) to write about white people…ahem… Well, really, if this sounds as stupid as I think…

More French Non-nons for Amazon

Alex Halperin at Salon reports that French “Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti wants to ban Amazon’s simultaneous use of discounts and free delivery, the combination of which threatens the nation’s booksellers.”

Writing Tips

It’s All About the Hook

Darcy Pattison does a guest post at Jane Friedland, “Why Editors Focus on Page One“, and it’s all about the hook with a look at avoiding the dreaded info dump!

Writing Fast?

Porter Anderson has a post at Jane Friedland on “Faster, Authors, Faster!“, encouraging (and providing reasons for) authors to “write fast to build inventory, whether in series or not, … for fast-release, usually in series (as Craig is evaluating) [, and] … because your best sales angle is having ever more books available.”

Writing Organizations

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLI) “offer contacts, connection & collaboration plus expert guidance & advice. We also widely champion the interests of independent authors”.

Time Management Tips from Joanna Penn

After polling her email list, Joanna Penn discusses new and past techniques she uses to get some writing done, and she includes the suggestions from her list of subscribers.

In that same vein, Grace Marshall at her blog has some time management suggestions as well.


Byzantine Swords

This look and analysis of Byzantine swords might be useful for someone.

Centuries-Old Monastery Puts Collection Online

Maev Kennedy at The Guardian reports that ““Downside Abbey to open doors on UK’s largest monastic library“. How exciting is this!! A “centuries-old library at [a] Benedictine monastery in Somerset contains illuminated manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages”! The article notes that “Once conservation work on the building is complete, exhibitions, guided tours and regular public access are planned to the books and archives of the community”, and they intend to digitalize the collection for online accessibility. So there are still a number of things left to do, but if this is an area of interest for you, keep an eye on it!

Researching Foreign Locales for Your Story

Okay, it’s a quirky idea that I got from reading Isabel Eva Bohrer’s post on “RTW Trip Planning for Recent College Grads“, but think about it. If money is an issue and you need to do research about a country you’re writing about, this is an innovative way to explore the people, culture, and countryside for your story! Don’t let the title of the post hold you back, as this is an idea that can apply to anyone…

An Atlas of True Names

This could be a useful resource for someone who is working on an historical novel. Kalimedia.com has just released an Atlas of True Names for the United States and Canada to join their current publications for the World, Europe, and the British Isles. These atlases provide the etymological roots, the original meanings, for geographical areas whether it’s based on the characteristics of people who originally lived there or the conditions of the land.

It could be useful as a kickstart when you’re worldbuilding for your storyline or consider using it as part of a game or quiz you can use with your readers.


“Wordnik is a new way to discover meaning, … showing definitions from multiple sources, so you can see as many different takes on a word’s meaning as possible.” Start here to explore.

Google Cultural Institute

Wow, Cristian Mihai at Irevuo brought the Google Cultural Institute to my attention and it provides access to “exhibitions and collections from museums and archives all around the world” and allow you to “explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces”. If you’re working up a story and need details for paintings, sculpture, weapons, etc., use the Google Cultural Institute for your research and even “create your own galleries”.

Horror Convention Questions Horror’s Conventions

Rose Fox at Publishers Weekly raises a conundrum itself arising amongst horror writers as the genre of horror is increasingly spinning off into subgenres.

How Long Should It Be?

Tim Sunderland at What If You Could Not Fail had an interesting post on length: book length for new writers, paragraph length, article length, and as much as I hate to admit it, I suspect he makes an excellent point about writers of all sorts needing to pay attention to our readers’ attention spans…

Then again, Kira Lyn Blue, in one of her posts, points out that self-publishing authors can do any length they like. Hmmm…maybe, maybe not…there’s a thread over at Goodreads discussing 500-page or longer books, and I’m not sure I’d agree with Blue.

Freebies for Newbies Part 1: Tools Resources and Writing Toys

I loved Melony Candea’s post on Copyright-Free Image Sites, so I went exploring on her website and quickly found “Free Images Freebies for Newbies Part 1: Tools Resources and Writing Toys” which lists tools Candea has found very useful in her freelance writing career.

Candea includes a paragraph listing three grammar checkers. No, I haven’t tested these; I have checked other popular ones such as Grammarly.com, WhiteSmoke, CorrectEnglish, and Writer’s Workbench, which are among the top six grammar checking software programs besides Microsoft Word and WordPerfect, testing with the same error-ridden sentence, and I wouldn’t use them if they were free. They’re as reliable as Microsoft’s tools. Besides my own complaints, there are complaints about each program from missing glaring errors to subject-verb and pronoun-agreement problems to capitalization errors to improper sentence construction to missing dangling modifiers. Some programs catch passive voice issues while others miss the use of double negatives. Nor does software have the ability to follow flow, cohesiveness, context, character, and other fine points that can make the difference between okay work and great work.

Candea notes some truly great vocabulary and SEO tools, her section on Creative Writer’s Tools is excellent, and technical writers may want to explore Citations under Specific Writing Styles.

Urban Fantasy Settings

Kira Lyn Blue has a useful post, “Keeping It Fresh, Part 1” on setting your urban fantasy story apart from so many of the others in this genre using Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan, Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionists Trilogy, and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse as examples.

Urban Fantasy Magic

Kira Lyn Blue continues the freshening up with a look at the use of magic in her post, “Keeping It Fresh, Part 2: Urban Fantasy Magic“, and she’s put some thought into this with “Three Ways to Personalize a System of Magic” by creating something new, going deeper, and the always practical twist. You’ll love her examples! And the links she provides…! Dive in, the water’s fine, LOL…

Supernatural Beings

Kira Lyn Blue’s third part to this “Keeping It Fresh, Part 3” involves figuring out basic creation whether it’s through our own mythology (see the entry on An Atlas of True Names), drawing on your own devious imagination, or, yes, the twist!

Plot in Fantasyland…!

Kira Lyn Blue continues with “Keeping It Fresh, Part 4” in this warning about plot, and I suggest reading Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell for an expansion on this kick.

Motion Comics Publisher and App NARR8 Launches ‘StoryBuilder’ Editing Tool

Digital Book World has a post about a new tool for content creators of “ebooks, digital comics, storyboards, interactive ebooks and more”. It claims that StoryBuilder, “a multimedia-editing tool that lets anyone create their own interactive story”, will enable indie artists and fanfic authors to “bring stories to life on iOS and Android devices.

Download the latest information and assets and/or download NARR8 for free through Apple App Store and Google Play.

YA is a Category, Not a Genre

Kelly Jensen at the Book Riot has a post that explains the “Five Things You Need to Know About Young Adult Fiction” and makes several good points.

The AARP Market

Arthur Klebanoff at Digital Book World notes that AARP has now entered the pulishing biz, “How AARP and Its Audience Can Benefit from Original eBooks – An Illustration“. Hey, ya never know, you may have an MS you’re writing that could be “tailored” to suit this particular market…

5 Traps of the Imagination

Tony Vanderwarker does a guest post at Jane Friedlander’s blog on “5 Traps of the Imagination John Grisham Helped Me See, and it’s well worth reading. Heck, parts of it are well worth cutting out and taping up on the bathroom mirror. Especially the second paragraph of that last one…! Oh, yeah…we can do this!

Writing fast, writing slow – and why one book a year suits hardly anyone

Roz Morris at Nail Your Novel has a post on “Writing fast, writing slow – and why one book a year suits hardly anyone, and what I found most useful is the process Morris uses that she laid out on how she manages to write quickly.

With genre fiction, I know where I’m going – and here’s my rough process:

Good Points and Downsides to Rapid Series Releasing and Studying Algorithms

Elizabeth S. Craig at Mystery Writing is Murder examines “Good Points and Downsides to Rapid Series Releasing and Studying Algorithms“. One point a lot of readers would appreciate is “It’s not as necessary to artificially insert cliffhangers: writers can integrate a more natural storyline”. Of course, there are the negatives as well including a point that Craig raises, “What if your quickly-released series is a dud?” as well as the discipline required to maintain that fast pace.

Science of Picture Books

Clare Walters at Eye has a lovely article on the science of writing a picture book as “Told in Pictures“. If you write or want to write, er, illustrate children’s books, you’ll want to have a look at this.

Upcoming Writing Contests

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

Deadline Prize Contest Requirements
Deadline for entry:
Oct 1, 2013
$199 per entry
Add’l fee of $20 for Best Cover Design award entry
Showcased at the 2014 Digital Book World Conference and the Digital Book Awards evening gala.

One (1) free ticket to the full, three-day 2014 Digital Book World Conference + Expo ($1495 value)
Four (4) tickets to the Digital Book Awards gala in January, 2014 in New York City

Digital Book Awards Recognizes “innovation, creativity and excellence in all aspects of digital book publishing and encompasses fifteen categories in three main divisions: Ebook Flowable, Ebook Fixed Format/Enhanced, and Apps and each with its own sub-categories, plus a separate category for Transmedia projects. This year, there will also be an ebook cover design award judged by special guests from F+W Media’s HOW Design community.

Entries and award winners will be notified no later than December 31, 2013.

Encompasses all forms of digital publishing that are available to consumers as ebooks, enhanced digital books and apps, in order to showcase and reward the work of authors, developers and publishers. All entrants to the Digital Book Awards are automatically entered in the Company’s QED process, a rigorous 13-point inspection conducted by a network of experienced ebook developers to ensure that all entries meet stringent quality criteria before the judging begins.”

Upcoming Writing Conferences

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

Date Location Conference/Workshop About
July 26 – 28, 2013
La Quinta Resort and Club near Palm Springs, California First Annual Reading Retreat for Booksellers Southern California Independent Booksellers Association provides “an opportunity to relish the things booksellers love best, reading and community,” says Andrea Vuleta, executive director of SCIBA. Designed to allow attendees to relax, read what they want, and celebrate those books with other booksellers during cocktail hour in a luxurious setting, Vuleta says that the retreat will be intentionally unprogrammed so that SCIBA members can simply relax. Booksellers, publishers, and significant others are invited to attend.” Read what little there is

The Publishing Business

Kindle Formatting Problems You Can’t Fix

Ed Ditto at Good Words has some relief for y’all who are trying to format your eBooks. “Four Kindle formatting problems you can’t fix…so you might as well stop trying“. Read his post and add his tips to your eBook publishing checklist.


What Successful Self-Publishers Do Well

Dr. Alison Baverstock has a goals sort of post over at ALLI’s Self-Publishing Advice Blog on “What Successful Self-Publishers Do Well“. It’s short and easy to read. And I think of it as more of an encouragement for writers who are self-publishing.

Self-Publishing is the Way to Go

Alan Rinzler at Forbes notes “How Self-Publishing Can Lead to a Real Book Deal“, and this jives with what I’ve been reading—self-publishing is the way to go. Instead of torturing yourself with finding that agent and submitting query letters to publishing houses, work on your story(ies). Whether you have a traditional publisher or are self-published, you’re gonna have to do the marketing and promotion for your book, so it doesn’t matter on the marketing end of things if you have a publishing deal or are going it alone.

Rinzler includes the Top Four Reasons Self-Published Books Get Signed Up:

  1. Indication of the writer’s courage and confidence
  2. Evidence of a market for the book (read how many book sales it takes to impress a publisher)
  3. Proof the author can market the book (hey, you do the marketing no matter who publishes the book)
  4. An expectation of ongoing bulk sales (yup, you’re still the one doing the marketing!)

Using HTML to Write Your eBook

Peter Brantley at Publishers Weekly has a post that loops about, but essentially is reminding us that “the best APIs are simple web standards. What I liked about this mess of text is the point about the canonical URL handling the all-important SEO while an alternate link points the reader to, yep, an alternate version.

Ingram Spark for Small Publishers

Mick Rooney at The Independent Publishing Magazine has a post, “Ingram Spark: A Flash of Lightning or A Bolt of Reality for Self-Publishers?” that provides straight information about what Lightning Source does and how the boom in self-publishing has resulted in its parent company, Ingram, coming up with Ingram Spark.

Rooney doesn’t “see Ingram Spark as being the new Ingram answer to CreateSpace or Lulu, rather a more upmarket competitor with a better interface, but more sign-up restrictions. This is a publisher platform aimed at small publishers with less than ten titles, and like LSI, with some publishing savvy, but not with the chunkiness of LSI’s UI.”

“IngramSpark is for small, independent publishers. It is not for self-published authors,” said an Ingram spokesperson.

Ingram Spark goes live on July 1.

Do read all the way to the end as Rooney has noted that some of the facts may change—I don’t want you blindsided!

Random Penguins

Random House and Penguin completed their merger on July 1.

Is Sci-Fi the Future of eBooks?

Graeme McMillan at Wired has a post, “Why Big Publishers Think Genre Fiction Like Sci-Fi Is the Future of E-Books“, with a nice growth in sci-fi, fantasy, mystery and romance fiction – markets that have traditionally lagged behind “literary fiction” in terms of sales. And that a couple of the traditional publishers have “launched their first digital-only imprints, and all of them focused on genre fiction”.

“Random House VP and digital publishing director Allison Dobson says there’s a simple reason for it: ‘The digital audience wants different things'” with sales of some genre digital titles at 60 to 70 percent.

I do have to laugh at one of the reasons for such a surge in the fun fiction: “the appeal of anonymity offered by e-reader devices, which don’t display the cover of a potentially embarrassing book for all the world to see. As Antonia Senior wrote in The Guardian last year, ‘I’m happier reading [trashy fiction] on an e-reader, and keeping shelf space for books that proclaim my cleverness.'”

Another reason is the speed and easy access to serialized works, released to market quickly, rapid consumer feedback, ability to adapt to reader response—change the title, the cover, fix those typos.

For the big publishers, the negatives of the digital market means they’re competing with small publishers and self-publishers. “According to a recent survey, more than a fifth of all genre e-books sold in the United Kingdom are self-published, and the phenomenal success of Fifty Shades of Grey (originally self-published digitally by author E.L. James) gag has handily demonstrated that digital self-publishing doesn’t necessarily bear the same print stigma of ‘vanity press’.”

Book Designer’s May Cover Design Awards

Educate yourself, get stimulated by checking out the covers and comments in Joel Friedlander’s book cover awards.

A Future in Apps

Kristen McLean makes a good argument for paying attention to apps in “What the Barnes & Noble News is Really Telling Us About the Future of Digital Content“.

How Self-Published Books Are Made

Do read Catherine Howard’s post on “How Self-Published Books Are Made: Start To Finish (PART I)” for a very practical starter guide for self-publishing your book and followed by part 2, selling the book!

Reasons to Do that Digital Picture Book

Phil Coomes at the BBC has a short post on the practicality of digital picture books, and his ideas, or rather Michael Mack of MAPP has some lovely reasons.

New Feature to Reduce Digital Piracy

Roberto Baldwin at Wired writes of the “New DRM Will Change the Words in Your E-Book” as a positive feature to reduce digital piracy.

Marketing Ideas

Gain Followers by Speaking to One

Toni Tesori has a unique guest post at Jane Friedman‘s blog, “How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes“, which suggests creating a profile of just one person. One. One person to whom you aim your writing, your post, with the idea being that your true voice will emerge. That the post will sound like you.

It does make sense. That we try so hard to sound professional, we end up putting people off. Tesori includes a “how to craft a reader profile”, as though you were creating a character in your book.

Another Author Giving It Away: See What Tess Thomspon Says About Riversong

Beth Bacon at Digital Book World reports in “How Booktrope Turned a Free Ebook Into A Bestseller” Thompson has sold 90,000 copies of Riversong, which is remarkable. What’s more remarkable is that she’s also given away 250,000 free downloads. … Some people may look at those quarter-million free downloads and think Thompson and Booktrope are letting revenue slip through their fingers. Instead, Katherine Sears, founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Booktrope equates those give-aways to 250,000 advertising impressions.”

How Do You Build a Fan Base, Anyway?

Lindsay Buroker has been self-publishing for two-and-a-half years now and wrote an insightful installment in her New Author series with the first third discussing her experience with marketing her books. It’s encouraging—’cause she spent some 35 minutes marketing her latest!—and reinforces the idea to get a few books written and give away that first one. She goes on to explain how she developed her own fan base. It’s a relaxing read with good info. Especially for those of you who are marketing-phobic, LOL!

How to Host a Buzz-Worthy Book Launch Party

Stephanie Chandler has a great post over at Authority Publishing on “How to Host a Buzz-Worthy Book Launch Party” including indie bookstores and restaurants for the actual event, how to promote it, what to do for it…it’s a great post. Short with a plethora of ideas that even seem reasonable to a sales-phobe like me!

5 Ways to Use Pinterest for Book Promotion

Shannon at DuoLit has a breezy post on using Pinterest to promote your books. She points out that Pinterest now has private and public boards—with a word of warning! But consider having a private AND a public. One for the bits you don’t mind letting loose and one for the data you want to keep close to the chest. I particularly like the bit on posting your character boards! She also mentions a couple of tools Buffer and WooBox and a few fun tips on using your boards to generate interest, blog about, etc. It’s worth a look, IMO.

Email Marketing

I’ve been conflicted over this concept of email marketing. I can’t see the difference between it and blogging, and, yeah, I’m starting to explore it since I’ve gotten a few other issues tidied up. Can’t have any downtime…! And Joanna Penn has a video interview with Dan Blank on the why of email and social media marketing. I hate to say it, but he makes an excellent point about people’s preferences. Some like email, some prefer Twitter, others love their Facebook…I’m sure you see where this is going…sorry…

Points discussed in the video include:

  • How Dan works with the craft of platform, helping writers with reader discovery, branding and connection.
  • What is email marketing and why should authors care? How you can be marketing without being spammy.
  • Why use email when there are other social mechanisms like Twitter and Facebook?
  • How to set up an email list from a practical side and also a psychological point of view.
  • What services can you use? We discuss Aweber (affiliate link) which I use and also Mailchimp.
  • How your list will grow slowly over time and if you don’t start a list you will regret it. Don’t wait until you are huge!
  • Once you have a list, what do you do with it? On newsletters and updates as well as formats (plain text is great as many people read email on cellphones now).
  • On privacy and anti-spam laws and some of the ‘rules’ around list building.

Sleep with Your Very Own ARC

The Algonquin Hotel in New York has partnered up with Simon & Schuster with an unusual turn-down service if you choose the Simon&Schuster package: each guest gets an ARC on his or her pillow!

Spike in eBook Prices

Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World has a short post on the spike in eBook prices. You may want to read this simply to get an idea of the differences between self-published and traditionally published eBooks. Greenfield does include four possible scenarios at the end of his post as to what he thinks could happen.

How To Create Channel Art For the New YouTube One Channel Layout

Technologyguru77 has a video tutorial on how to create the new layout for your YouTube Channel One background. It’s brief with its main value in graphically showing you where to concentrate your graphics and text so it appears no matter where or what device your YouTube video appears on.

It reminds me of the tutorial from Twitter that I passed on previously to you.

Technologyguru77 states that “In this video tutorial you will learn how to properly create channel art for the new updated YouTube Channel One layout and the correct size for the artwork as well as how to make sure your file will be accepted by YouTube!”

Free Photos??

I know I am frequently frustrated with sites that tell me that “yes, our images are free” providing it’s a full moon on a Wednesday in the fourteenth month of the year 999. For a huge range of great choices, check out Melony Candea’s post “Freebies for Newbies Part 2: Copyright-Free Image Sites“. My only complaint is that while Candea lets you know which sites require some kind of credit or look-around due to issues, she doesn’t provide a template for how this credit thing works. I keep trying a variety of things, but the sites are confusing, missing, or ???

I know, it’s a really whiny complaint, I’m just so frustrated…

21 Things You Need to Know

If you read nothing else on this post, READ THIS post by James Altucher on “21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing“. Oh. My. God.

Free eBook Promotions Can Be Pure Gold for Authors

James Moushon at Self-Publishing Review polled top HSB authors for their take on free book promotions: the good and the bad. Whether your goal is more exposure, increase in sales, good reviews, high rankings on Amazon or referrals to other readers, you must remember there could be a downside. Like Author Katherine Owen said, “Your mileage may vary”.

It’s an interesting read for those of you wondering about the possibilities.

Martin Crosbie at Indies Unlimited has a post, “How I Run My KDP Select Free Promotions” which ties into this.

Tweeting is not a Marketing Strategy

Dan Blank at We Grow Media has written a post, “Tweeting is not a Marketing Strategy” and I found the last paragraph the most useful. Of course, all the preceding paragraphs did lead me up to it…

Report on RomCon

Barbara Vey with Publishers Weekly reports on her experiences at this year’s RomCon 2013.

Should Negative Reviews Be Allowed?

There has been a great deal of controversy on the ‘Net for the last month or so about reviews. From a listserv to which I belong to threads on Goodreads to bloggers with arguments raging from “I only say good things”, “I don’t say anything about a book if it’s negative”, “don’t say anything negative if you’re an author yourself” to my own position in which if I read it, I say what I think, whether it’s good or bad. I do try to find something positive and negative in each book I read and review. Sometimes it’s difficult either way.

The majority of the arguments are on the “be nice” side, so it was a treat to come across this post, “Let’s Review Criticism” by Porter Anderson on Jane Friedlander’s blog as he laments the fall of true literary criticism and divides reviews into three parts: literary criticism, consumer reviewing, and recommendation/customer-appraisal.

Porter mentions posts by others including “The Art of the Negative Review” by Jacob Silverman at the Virginia Quarterly Review and at Salon, Kyle Minor’s criticism of a critic, Christian Lorentzen, an editor at the London Review of Books (hmmm, after Kathryn Heyman’s comments…).

3 Reasons Why a Facebook Page Can’t Replace an Author Website

I gotta say, Jane Friedman makes a lot of sense in this post on “Why a Facebook Page Can’t Replace an Author Website“.

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