A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – Mid-August 2013

Posted August 16, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Building Your Own Website, Conference/Workshop, Hodgepodge Newsletter, Marketing, Publishing, Writing

I wasn’t planning to post a mid-August Hodgepodge with all the trouble I’m having with this move, but the veterans offer changed my mind.

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

In General

A Freebie for Veterans

Please pass this on to any veterans you know!!!

Until Friday, August 16 at midnight PST, Sean, with Inspired Marketing and the Social Marketing Tribe, is offering free access to one of their trainings. He and his wife had watched a 60 Minutes episode about the difficulties facing veterans in finding work or building their own business, and he is inspired to do something to pay y’all back for what you have done to help your country. (People currently serving are also eligible.)

Judge Denies Apple a Stay

Publishers Weekly reports that “Apple was dealt another setback in its e-book price-fixing case, as Judge Denise Cote denied Apple a stay of all proceedings, and ordered the parties to finish discovery for their damages trial by the end of December, 2013. She did offer up ideas about some new proposals, including one that would have publishers negotiate with e-book retailers on terms on a staggered basis every few months.” That could be interesting…

Just for Fun


Crowdfunding for Bookstores?

The New York Times reports that “Indie booksellers turn to crowdfunding to stay afloat“.

Libraries on the Losing End?

Lisa J. Huriash with the Sun-Sentinel reports that the “demand for e-books is draining library budgets“. The money has to come from somewhere and it’s being pulled away from music CDs and audio books.


Indie Byrd Books in Bethel is moving down the street to 126 Greenwood Avenue (to the left of Verizon) – with lots of parking in the back behind English Apothecary! to take advantage of ground floor space so the shop can expand. They’ll be holding graduated sales til the end of August and then re-open about the second week of September.


Showdown for The Guardian Fiction Shortlist?

Michelle Pauli at The Guardian reports on the “U.S.-U.K. showdown on its fiction prize shortlist“. I think it’s just sour grapes because there are two American authors up for prizes. It irritates the heck out of me in the case of complaints against John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars because they are being patronizing about the book. Idiots. Thinking kids are dumb…! Arghh!

That whine over, all four of the authors on the shortlist sound fascinating…I wanna read ’em all!


Penguin Signs 13-Year-Old Author

Publishers Weekly reports that “Penguin Young Readers Group’s latest debut author is also one of its target readers: a 13-year-old boy, Jake Marcionette, who has signed “a two-book, North American rights deal for his middle-grade (I really don’t like the implication of this compound word, sounds like it’s half-assed) series, Just Jake. The first book in the series, about a sixth grader trying to establish his social life at a new school, is set for February 2014 (although it says March on GR).

Kidscast: Listen to Popular Authors on Their New Books

Listen to Ally Carter, Eoin Colfer, James Patterson, Katherine Marsh, Ridley Pearson, and other top writers discuss their new books for children and teens in PW KidsCast, a regular podcast from Publishers Weekly. Click here to listen.

Titles Rewritten to Reflect Dark Messages

Brian Galindo at Buzzfeed has some fun with comedian Dan Wilbur’s reinterpretation of “11 children’s books with titles rewritten to reflect their dark message“. I’d say fewer than half are actually funny…

Parents! Why European and Asian Kids Do Better than the Yanks

The Daily Beast discusses “a new book [that] explores why European and Asian children perform better in school than their U.S. peers“. And it’s just sad. Although, considering that too many principals and teachers push kids to the next grade simply because they want to get the kid out of their classroom…and Johnny can’t read…what can you expect? We concentrate too much on working with the kids to pass the stupid tests that there’s no time left to actually teach, to nurture the kids, to encourage them to think and expand their minds. That’s right along with the points that Dana Goldstein makes in her article. If, when, the U.S. does go down the tubes, our national (general) indifference to education will have played a part.

Great Role Models for the Girls

Elizabeth Bluemle at Publishers Weekly lists princesses who are strong in themselves! Do check it out as Bluemle has a great list of books featuring kick-butt princesses.

Amusing Kids in an Airport

Josie Leavitt at Publishers Weekly notes Random House’s clever Passport idea makes flying with children a little more fun. I’m not sure how authors could leverage this idea for themselves, but it certainly is clever branding!

Kobo’s Bigger Tablet

Digital Book World notes that Kobo “may be coming out with a ten-inch tablet computer“.

YA Classics Being Reissued

Lizzie Skurnick Books, the new imprint from Ig Publishing, will be devoted to reissuing YA classics that have been long out of print from writers including M.E. Kerr, Ellen Conford, and Ernest J. Gaines. The series launches with Debutante Hill, Lois Duncan’s first novel (it got a Seventeenth Summer Literary Award back in l957).



Lloyd Moss, Dead at 86

The New York Times remembers Caldecott Honor author Lloyd Moss for his cheeky humor using musical instruments in Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin.

Amazon Will Collect Sales Tax in Georgia

Per the Wall Street Journal, Amazon will start collecting a 4% sales tax from Georgia residents beginning in September. So y’all may wanna load up on the books before 9/1!

Big Brother is Watching

The Guardian points out the “Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest E-Reader Privacy Chart shows that nearly all consumer activity related to ebooks is being tracked“. That settles it…I’ll have to go back to buying print porn…

Overstock’s Price Competition with Amazon Ended

Publishers Weekly notes that Overstock’s two-week print-book discount to battle Amazon came to an end August 8. Don’cha just hate when that happens…

Writing Tips

Comics Writers Take Note!

Digital Book World points out that “digital comic book sales reached $70 million last year” per “estimates from ICv2”.

Ignore What They Say

I do love Kristen Lamb’s post, “What SHARKNADO Can Teach Us About Writing“. She gives us permission to dive into what we want to write about and provides examples of why. LOL, I did love her point about Anne Rice! Even better, we don’t have to hope a publisher or agent will accept it. So knock yourselves out. Write what you are passionate about!

I do think her point about not explaining is useful, but it does require walking a fine line. As a reader, I want to know enough to be comfortable in suspending my belief—god knows, I’m willing enough! Which means you must make the reasons why stuff is happening plausible. I just finished reading Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds (read my review) and she made up too much stuff that didn’t make sense to me. Yeah, it was background information that I didn’t need, but the incongruities spoiled my sinking into what was otherwise a fascinating and scary story.

Less is More: Leave It to the Reader’s Imagination

Hmmm, this is a toughy with Jami Gold’s post at Kristen Lamb’s blog, “Writing & Creating Magic: When Less is MORE“. The book that came to my mind that causes me to skip chunks due to too much detail is Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series (particularly The Plains of Passage, the one that finds Jon and Ayla starting their great journey to his home) and yet there are also books that don’t provide enough. And I’ll agree with Lamb that a reader needs to be pulled into the story—the frustrating show don’t tell scenario. It’s a narrow line to walk and easy to fall to one side or the other. I want to read enough detail to get pulled in as I do with Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series in which I feel the cold and how hungry and sore the men are. I want to feel the wind in my hair as I ride a broom with Harry Potter. I want the terror of an upcoming battle against the Solarians.

I guess it’s as Gold says: “don’t spell out every detail”, but I do want you to make me emotional about your story, pull me in, give me enough detail that I feel as though I’m there…just don’t put me to sleep!

Further down in this same post, Gold notes Jason Black’s post about denouements and the need to keep them short and sweet as well.

Finding Nemo as a Tension Teaching Tool

Oh, this is soooo good! And Kristen Lamb’s post, “What “Finding Nemo” Can Teach Us About Story Tension” simplifies the whole thing so well. Do read this! Heck, bookmark this one!

Are You Trying To Be Too Perfect?

I know, it’s like it’s Kristen Lamb month here… I’m just catching up with her posts and she just has such great info!

Kristen Lamb has yet another great post, “Learning to Drop the Donkey—Is Perfectionism Killing Your Career?” that I suspect applies to too many of us one way or another. And it never hurts to remind ourselves that we will never (and should never try) to make everyone happy. It’s the kiss of death.

I did like the section on Aesop’s Fables and character issues as the focus for some of Lamb’s favorite stories, and it reminded me of some of my favorite fairy tales as a little girl. Yup, all character issues…and a good source for ideas for your own stories. I know I’ll be mining them!

The Publishing Business

Kristen Lamb’s Irrefutable Laws of Success

Kristen Lamb’s first post on achieving success, “No Whining” is unfortunately true. We don’t get to pick and choose what we like to do. Just like any other job in life…sigh…

Her second post, “Plan Your Work, Then Work Your Plan“, looks at all the different income possibilities available through your work; the need you, as an author, have to decide what it is you want from your writing, what success means to you; determining trends and why you want to get ahead of them; and, those benefits that are available to the independent author that allow you to tweak beneficial changes. She also makes an excellent point about algorithms—which simply takes you back to the basics. And a great point about “timing” your tweets…thank god. It really takes the pressure off, LOL!

Wattpad’s Fan Funding

Wattpad “has launched a crowd funding initiative, one of several experiments that Wattpad hopes will inspire new models for collective digital publishing”. This particular one would “allow Wattpad members to pledge financial support to writing projects from their favorite Wattpad writers”.

Kindle [Device] Sales Up 26% From 2012

“Morgan Stanley Research approximates that Amazon’s sales of e-readers and tablets this year will amount to $4.5 billion. That would be an increase of 26% from 2012. Now, ya just know those buyers are gonna need somethin’ ta read…

J. Paul Getty Museum Lifts Digital Image Restrictions

Michael Brady mentioned that the J. Paul Getty Museum has just released 4,600 high-res, high-quality images of works of art that is already in the public domain—for free use!—”to use, modify, and publish for any purpose”. David Haynes points out that some of the currently available images aren’t in the public domain and y’all should jump on those before the museum figures this out.

Grab what you can for future covers!

There’s an interesting side note to the discussion in which it’s pointed out that two-dimensional photographs are not copyrightable as there is no creative element involved whereas a three-dimensional photograph is copyrightable because it does involve creative decisions.

Audio Interview: Sell Your Book to a Traditional Publisher

I haven’t listened to this 13-minute interview with “top literary agent Jeff Herman“, so yer on your own with it. The link for it was sent me by Steve Harrison and is supposed to be about selling your book or book idea to one of the traditional publishing houses. Could be interesting…let me know what you think…

At worst, it’s another example of self-promotion for Harrison to sell his workshops. Hey, learning opps are everywhere, LOL!

Marketing Ideas

7 Principles for Digital Marketing

Mike Shatzkin from The Shatzkin Files “shares seven principles for digital book marketing using common sense, quick thinking, and flexible best practices that he learned from Peter McCarthy” in using Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and more. Shatzkin points out that Pete “is using a marketer’s understanding of each individual’s demographics, psychographics, and behavior (and behavior’s subset, intent), to define the groups of people he sees clustering. That, in turn, helps him find groups of people who are similar to the ones who already like the author or the book. In other words, Pete is applying standard marketing BUT within a specialized subset of publishing

I hate that there are no quick fixes in this and sends us right back to the basics of know your target audience and figure out your keywords. I will also warn you that this is the start of a teaser for both a Modern Book Marketing Conference which will delve into digital marketing and a digital marketing agency that Shatzkin and Pete are forming. At worst, glean from the “7” tips (some of which simply take a different look at similar points) and do your own research. If you’re working a series, the time you put in now will pay off for future stories. Not to mention your own education! Knowledge is power!!

Meet The Press: Shrewd Tips for Book Publicity

Deanna Utroske at Digital Book World say it’s all about figuring out which audience wants what to read: eBooks or print, and “Sandra Poirier-Diaz, president of Smith Publicity, reveals how publishers and authors can determine who wants what”, and she has some good points to make about eARC accessibility. Read through this and make up your own list of “gotta-dos”.

Read Utroske’s author’s checklist for successful ebook publicity with seven tips before sending your book out for publicity AND “particular needs for a successful Amazon book page”.

Using Emotion to Sell, er…

Kristen Lamb has a great post on using Facebook. Well, it’s actually more of a how not to use Facebook with “The Power of Facebook, Friendship & Why We Shouldn’t Use a Nail Gun to Slice a Pork Roast” explaining how authors need to “connect emotionally”. That the whole idea is to get “people [to] enjoy hanging out and talking on your page”, which will lead to “your fan page (or personal page) showing up in their news feeds, and you won’t have to pay to promote.”

Lamb ends this particular post with a suggestion to read Lisa Hall-Wilson’s tips on the WANA International fan page on using Facebook.

Varied (& New) eBook Rankings

Digital Book World seems excited about “New Ebook Rankings at the Booksellers and Good E Reader whose “ebook rankings … differ from Digital Book World‘s and are worth watching”. “The Booksellers gets data reported by some of the largest publishers in the world” while “Good E Reader is watching downloads at file sharing sites to see what people are downloading for free.” Digital Book World points out that their “list, of course, is an aggregate of sales rankings at the most popular ebook retail sites, weighted for market share, and a number of other variables.”

Google Gets Tougher on Links

Joan Stewart at The Publicity Hound in her “Tips of the Week for Aug 13, 2013“, Issue #741, reports in her “Danger: New Press Release Rules” that Google has gotten tougher…again. Links for press releases, articles, guest blog posts (an unpaid-for post), and promoted posts (a paid-for post) may no longer use optimized anchor text. Which is just stupid. It’s one of the “rules” that Google has always promoted. And now they’re making them “illegal”??

Okay, I read through Google’s rules, and it seems to be the same as it ever was. Although…I do have to wonder if my linking to an author’s previous and future books when I do a review when the author has sent me the book (for free, gasp!) could be considered a no-no…? Ah, well, I’ll just chance it. I’m rather confused toward the end of Google’s rules about the “nofollow” bit. This move has me unsettled and without time, so I’ll explore it more in September or October…once I’m settled.

Read the Link Scheme rules and then check out the example below that Stewart provides to show how Google illustrates a violation (the examples would have been more effective if the rollover would have revealed what the link code was!):

“There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.”

The words “wedding rings,” “wedding,” “best ring,” “buy flowers” and “wedding dress” are all hyperlinked.

Stewart also points out “six fast, easy ways to find book reviewers and book editors on LinkedIn“. And, of course, there’s always me…*grin*…

Reprinted from “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” an ezine featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity. Subscribe and receive by email the handy cheat sheet “89 Reasons to Send a Press Release“.

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5 responses to “A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – Mid-August 2013

  1. Thanks for sharing my guest post at Kristen’s blog!

    You’re absolutely right that it can be a tricky line to share enough details to pull the reader into the story and yet not so many as to put the reader asleep. 🙂 The other risk with too many details–and one that I find helpful in finding that line–is that going into detail about something indicates to the reader that it’s important. More words equals more importance.

    So if something *is* important to the point-of-view character, the story, or the scene, by all means we should be providing details. But if providing details will give readers a false sense of the importance of something–will *mislead* them in fact–then we shouldn’t include them unless misleading the reader is our goal. I hope that makes sense. 🙂