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

Posted December 16, 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.

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

In General

Do NOT Daisychain Your Amazon & Goodreads Accounts!

It depends actually on how much information you want Goodreads (GR) and Amazon to share. And how easy you want to make it for hackers to ruin your rep and destroy your reviews. Read on for more scary possibilities…

Mat Honan at Wired posts on “How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking” had linked his Amazon and GR account and ended up hacked to pieces in his iCloud, Amazon, GR, Google, and Twitter accounts with all the data from his iPad, iPhone, and Mac destroyed.

What enabled this you may ask? This is the scary part: “Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information—a partial credit card number—that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification.”

Fortunately, Mat later wrote “How I Resurrected My Digital Life After an Epic Hacking“.

Share a Little Piece of Freedom

C.S. Lakin from Live Write Thrive is asking for donations to help a young Iranian woman come to the States for two weeks and attend the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. It is an horrific story, and I’d like to see her not go home.

Scam Reminder

Lydia Payne had fun with a scammer whom she reported to the FBI and the Secret Service. Once she got his check. Yeah!! The scam is one in which the “client” sends you a check, but oopsies, it’s for more than what you need. S/he’s sure you’ll send them a check back for the excess amount. Don’t. The check will eventually bounce, and you’ll be out the money you “refunded”.

A couple years ago, a couple of art buyers tried the same one on me. The check was written on someone else’s account whose identity they’d stolen. I had dropped the check off with the bank and told them that I thought it was a scam.

Just for Fun

Bookstores & Exhibitions


Melissa Caskey at the Malibu Times writes that the owners of Diesel, A Bookstore at 3835 Cross Creek Road at the Country Mart in the Civic Center in Malibu, are looking for new owners.


Justin Burns at Airport World reports that “the first of Tattered Cover Book Store‘s four planned outlets at Denver International Airport opened Friday in the B Concourse, “with the rest of the locations scheduled to have staggered openings throughout the first half of 2014”.

Ronda Willmot tried for five years to make a go of BookEnds, an independent bookstore at 1009 South Lemay Avenue that sells mostly used and some new books in Fort Collins. Now, it’ll close at the end of December. Eclectic Reader shut down in September when owner Cynthia Manuel lost her lease at 1031 South Taft Hill Road, and Reader’s Cove closed last year in south Fort Collins.

However, in the same city, Old Firehouse Books at 232 Walnut Street in Old Town is coming off their second-largest sales day ever on Small Business Saturday as well as a “Barnes & Noble and specialty stores such as the New Bible Superstore, Christian Science Reading Room, Al’s Newstand, Rams Bookstore, and Northern Lights Wholistic Bookstore”.


Barnes & Noble will close its store in Gainesville by the end of December “as Butler Plaza officials have decided not to renew the bookstore’s lease after 20 years to pursue new tenants”.


Fantastic Rumpus: 50 Years of Children’s Book Illustration” opened December 14 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Kalamazoo and showcases 120 works produced by 31 artists from 1963 to the present. Each of the artists represented in the exhibit—Mo Willems, Brian Selznick, and Ed Emberley, among others—acknowledges the importance and influence of Maurice Sendak’s work. It will be on view through February 9, 2014.

New York

Bank Street Bookstore located at 112th & Broadway in New York City comes to the end of its lease in 2015, and the “Board of Trustees recommended that the college not renew its lease and continue to ‘explore other possible locations in the general area’ and ‘e-commerce models should there be no suitable and affordable space available.'”

Lake City Books in Plattsburgh had its “soft opening” last month and owner Steve McDonald told the Press Republican “business has been good… as word of mouth seems to be calling attention to the new store.”

North Carolina

Scuppernong Books opened December 13 at 304 South Elm Street in Greensboro as “a 3,200-square-foot general interest bookstore with some 10,000 titles and particularly strong poetry, fiction, and religion sections as well as literature, bestsellers and classics and a standalone children’s section. Roughly 80% of the store’s inventory will be new books. Scuppernong will also have a combination café and wine bar”.


Books-a-Million opened a new store at Stroud Mall in Stroudsburg December 7.

South Carolina

The old Books-A-Million store on Laurens Road in Greenville has reopened as 2nd & Charles specializing in gently used books, movies, music and games. The store manager, Christopher Ashley says, “We offer a lot of what Books-A-Million did. It’s just a used version, and it’s usually a lot cheaper.”


I’m a bit late in helping Star Cat Books in Bradford raise funds in its Indiegogo campaign, but I’m sure Nancy Hanger, who bought the store (previously known as Booked Solid) on November 18, won’t object if you’d like to donate and help her rebuild “the store’s inventory, updating the point-of-sale system, and improving the store’s look. And with the new name will come a specialization in science fiction, children’s books and young adult books.” In its previous incarnation, Hangaer never even knew there was a bookstore, and she intends to change that.

Find a Bookstore That Specializes in Mysteries

The Mystery Booksellers helps you locate a knowledgable and passionate mystery bookseller near you.


Book Week Scotland

To celebrate Book Week Scotland, public art installations have been unveiled at libraries across the country, BBC News reported. I’m torn between the 4th and 5th…

Population Split on Necessity of Libraries

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly writes that “the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project found that just over half of those surveyed (52%) believe they do not need libraries as much as they used to. But while the survey showed Americans may be split over the essential role of libraries in this age of readily accessible online information, it also showed that libraries remain incredibly popular, and are regarded as vital to their communities.

The latest in a series of research surveys aimed at American libraries, the Pew Research Center Library Services Survey polled 6,224 Americans 16 or older, from July 18-September 30, 2013. And while the results show that Americans still value libraries, it also laid out the emerging fault lines libraries face in the digital age.” Read on to learn more about the survey’s findings.

The Library’s READ Poster, a History

Kelly Jensen at Book Riot looks at “the ‘READ’ poster … created by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1985, [which] features a celebrity posing with their favorite book or books. The celebrities are chosen because of their popularity, appeal, and visibility to a general audience, and the ALA tries to feature a range of diverse talent who would be great spokesmodels for reading to both adults and children.

Not every celebrity approached by the ALA signs on, but when they do, they get to choose which book it is they’re “reading” in the poster. Believe it or not, celebrities who sign on to do the campaign don’t get compensated, either.

[Jensen] thought it would be fun to take a trip down ‘READ’ poster memory lane. Here’s a look at some of the celebrity ‘READ’ spokespeople of the 1980s and 1990s, along with their book of choice…well worth a read through.


2013 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Prize

Read extracts from the contenders for the Literary Review prize.

2013 Roald Dahl Funny Prize

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize “aims to promote laughter and humour as a feel-good factor when reading, to draw attention to funny books as readable and enjoyable books and to reward authors and illustrators who write and illustrate books using humour.” Each received a check for £2,500 (about US$4,107).

2013 Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award

Eve Feldman won this grant this year which gives $3,000 to mid-list authors to honor their contribution and help raise awareness about their current works-in-progress. The grant was created and is funded by children’s book author Jane Yolen.

2013 Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year

This year’s selection was chosen by public vote from the list of category winners announced at the recent Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.


Carl Hiaasen’s Basket Case

For Hiaasen fans, note that “Spike TV has put Basket Case into development, based on the bestselling novel by Carl Hiaasen. Rob Reiner will direct and executive produce, Deadline.com reported.”

Thérèse Raquin is In Secret

The “Thérèse Raquin flick, based on Émile Zola’s 1867 novel, has a new name, In Secret, and an official trailer, Deadline.com reported. The film, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, and Oscar Isaac, is scheduled to be released February 21.”

Eric Lomax’s Railway Man Opening in 2014

Deadline.com informs us that Railway Man, based on Eric Lomax’s Railway Man: A POW’s Searing Account of War on Brutality and Forgiveness, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth, opens on January 1 in the U.K. and later in 2014 in the U.S. Read more of what Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire has to say.


Books to Help Count Down the Days

Seira Wilson at Huffington Post shares “24 Children’s Books to Help Little Ones Count Down the Days to Christmas“.

Reasons to Read Pete the Cat

I think Stephen Morton with Associated Press wrote “Pete the Cat makes leap from folk art to kid books” for Santa Fe New Mexican, and if you’re looking for a book that will encourage your kids to have confidence and “be cool”, I think you’ll want to pick up these books. I know Pete The Cat is going on my TBR!

Community Reads: Librarians Partner with YA Author A.S. King to Engage Teens

Karyn M. Peterson at the School Library Journal writes of multi-generational reads with A.S. King to engage the generations and remind the adults of teen potential. It shows “what can happen when school and public librarians team up and, above all, reach out to their communities to engage teens” and find ways to discuss issues that are critical for teens like driving and drinking, sex, and more. I like the idea of using Skype for the dialog as it reduces the expense of travel and eliminates the issue of too-far.

Maureen Ambrosino, director of the Westborough Public Library was impressed with the seniors’ reaction and how the talks/readings brought it home to them how what’s in the news affects our kids.

It’s a great article with a look at a number of community reads. Well worth looking at by parents, teachers, seniors, and librarians. What a great way to get kids to open up!

What President Obama Bought on Small Business Saturday

Ashley Killough (and I) thought you might be interested to read a list of what President Obama bought at his local indie bookstore over Thanksgiving weekend.

WHAT?? Kids’ Books Not Great Literature?

S.F. Said at The Guardian posted a misstep by the University of Kent who said children’s books can’t be great literature. They have, of course, retracted since then and are requesting suggestions for children’s literature recommendations. If you have some, please tweet them @UniKentWriting. Silly buggers…

Books to Read Aloud

Ellie Hall at Buzz Feed Books has “20 Magical Children’s Christmas Books To Read Aloud“, in case you’re at a loss.

NYPD Commissioner Shares His Inspiration

Leonard Greene at the New York Post writes of the book that started William Bratton, New York’s next commissioner, on his career: George Zaffo’s Your Police: Things to know about city police and their equipment.

Why Do Today’s Kids Resist eBooks?

Matthew Brady at The Guardian wonders “Why do young readers prefer print to ebooks?“. If “my generation is umbilically linked to their mobiles and laptops – so why are we so resistant to ebooks?”

Turns out kids think the initial investment is high, eBooks themselves are expensive, it’s not as much fun to hold an eBook as a real book, and you can’t lend your Kindle without being without.

National Literacy Trust Find Britain’s Top 10 Literacy Heroes

Angela Harrison with the BBC has a heartening list of heroes and reports that “JK Rowling [is] among top 10 ‘literacy heroes’ named by charity“.

2013 Fabulous First Lines

Elizabeth Bluemle has a too-funny list of opening lines from books Bluemle “found in the 2013 ARCs and finished books stacked around her home. Some are quiet and some start with a bang, but all of them offered readers the promise of something compelling ahead. The best opening lines to books may be one of several things: they may startle and surprise, they may amuse, they may set a scene, establish the strong voice of a narrator, or introduce an alien milieu. The one thing they have in common? Making a reader want more. Do read them…

Costa Shortlisted Books Available for Free Download

All six of the 2013 shortlisted stories are available for the public to download (and listen to) from the Costa book awards website, and people have until Friday January 17, 2014 to cast their votes.

You can also download and read last year’s stories.

The Bookish Bars

Kelsey Blodget at USA Today writes of “Nine snug hotel bars to warm you up in winter“, and I’ve got this hankering to do a day of flipping pages from breakfast to late-night drinks to bed as I tour my reading and indulging through diners, restaurants, bars, and hotels. A little book day escape…

In particular, the Library Hotel in New York City with its Bookmarks Lounge-cum-Poetry Garden where cocktails are inspired by literature and its Writer’s Den, a cozy area with working fireplace and heated terrace (although, I can’t tell from the article if the Writer’s Den and the Poetry Garden are, perhaps, the same thing?).

There’s also the Bookstore Bar and Café at the Alexis Hotel, A Kimpton Hotel, Seattle.

Free Hugh Howey Short Stories

Check out the seven free short stories on Hugh Howey’s website.

Confessions of a Book Fanatic

Dr. Brenna Clarke Gray has a fun post on “I Don’t Care If You Dogear My Pages (And Other Confessions of a Failed Book Fanatic). It’ll crack you up and have you questioning your own proclivities…I can’t be half as easygoing as she is when it comes to lending books out. I want ’em back ’cause I re-read my books.

Make Your Own NPR Best Of __ Book List

Kit Steinkellner at Book Riot lets us know about NPR’s book app to help you find books for yourself or giftgiving in her post “Test Driving NPR’s Book Concierge App“. Play with the links along the left-hand column. The more you click, the more the web app filters. It’s fun to play with and the more you do click, the fewer books appear. Clear it by clicking the “Clear Filters” X at the top.

Reading & Writing Gift Ideas

Some cute writing and reading gift ideas include:

  • Cyberoptix with its hand-printed neckties, bow ties, wedding ties & scarves
  • Tartx at Etsy has a range of clothes, even for baby, along with tea towels with Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Alice in Wonderland, and more

The Book I’m Most Thankful For

Learn what Sona Charaipotra at Publishers Weekly discovered when “Bestselling YA Authors Share “The Book I’m Most Thankful For…“. Laurie Halse Anderson, Ann Brashares, Rainbow Rowell, and others share and explain.


Christmas Nook(ie)?

Shelf Awareness reports that the SEC thinks there might be some accounting problems at Barnes & Noble, and some shareholder lawsuits are looming on the horizon. This combined with Reggio selling off some of his shares makes me wonder how practical a NOOK would be this Christmas…



Judy Rodgers, Dead at 57

Eric Asimov at the New York Times writes a lovely eulogy for “Judy Rodgers, a San Francisco chef whose Zuni Café and The Zuni Café Cookbook “helped transform the way Americans think of food through its devotion to local, seasonal ingredients meticulously prepared” died Monday. She was 57.” Jesus, that’s young… Do read the bit about her roast chicken…you’ll want one…

Doris Lessing, Dead at 94

I know it’s reasonable that someone could be expected to die at this age, but it’s still depressing when such a terrific writer is lost to us. That we’ll never get another new story from them. And so it is with the loss of Doris Lessing. Read Lorna Sage’s article at The Guardian about this “Visionary, prophet, feminist icon and Nobel prizewinner given to constant literary reinvention“.

Ida Pollock, Dead at 105

Jill Lawless at Associated Press has written a tribute to “romance novelist Ida Pollock, who wrote more than 120 books and was “believed to be the world’s oldest romantic novelist,” died December 3, the Associated Press reported. She was 105. Her 124th and 125th novels are scheduled for publication next year.

Michael Kammen, Dead at 77

Margalit Fox at The New York Times reports that “Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen, ‘whose scholarly aim was no less than the illumination of the collective American psyche’ but whose books, essays and criticism ‘were noteworthy for remaining accessible to the general reader,’ died November 29. He was 77.” Read more.

Colin Wilson, Dead at 82

John Ezard at The Guardian notes the sad tale of “Colin Wilson, whose best-known book, The Outsider, published in 1956, attempted ‘to map a single, negotiable path of mysticism from the span of recent western art and philosophy,’ died December 5. He was 82.” Read more.

Junie B. Jones Author Dead at 66

Publishers Weekly remembers “Barbara Park, author of many books for children—including the bestselling Junie B. Jones series—died on November 15 at age 66, after a long battle with ovarian cancer.”

Peter O’Toole: tributes pour in for ‘a giant of film and theatre’

He’s not technically an author, but he’s very much a giant, and I’m devastated at his death. The Telegraph recalls Peter O’Toole, dead at 81, a legend on screen and off.

Amazon Restarts Illinois Associates Program

It truly is sad, and I look forward to the day the Fair Marketplace Act is passed, if only to see Amazon have to eat its words. Capital Fax displays a copy of the email sent to Illinois associates re-opening the Associates program in Illinois.

Writing Tips


Don’t Give a Dose to the One You Love Most…

Mike Rendell at the Georgian Gentleman has a curiously perverse post on tupping and condoms in 1760s England, “In bad taste Pt 3: Don’t give a dose to the one you love most…“. Manufacture, attitude, usage…oh, my.

What’s in a Name

Kristen Lamb explains “What Ebenezer Scrooge Can Teach Us About Great Writing” and the parsimony of words and names. How the choice of a name can include so many purposes. I did like Lamb’s point of “God is about working through people”.

Visual aid for the final serial comma

Suzanne Kemmer has a lovely visual over at Language Log that will have you feverishly checking for that final comma in a list of items.

2013 So You Think You Can Write Winners

The seven 2013 winners of So You Think You Can Write 2013 include Tanya Wright of Derry, New Hampshire with her “If Only” manuscript winning her a two-book publishing contract; Jo Watson of Johannesburg, South Africa, for “Burning Moon”; Amber Lindley of the United Kingdom, for “Confident Women”; Sarah White of California, USA, for “Rookie in Love”; Melinda Di Lorenzo of British Columbia, Canada, for “Promises Made, Promises Broken”; Claire Chilton of York, England, for “Hunted Hearts” and, Avril Tremayne of Sydney, Australia, for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”.

What the Survey Doesn’t Tell Us

Fascinating post by Porter Anderson over at Jane Friedman‘s, Where Publishing Surveys Cannot Go” in which he notes Jeremy Greenfield’s article on how much money self-published authors make, and the error that no one wants to take into account.

Hugh Howey points out that “with self-publishing, ALL books and authors are counted. In traditional publishing, only a small fraction are.” Because these surveys don’t count the thousands of books in the slush pile that never. Got. Published. At. All.

Y’know, you might want to subscribe to Hugh Howey’s blog. I keep hearing his name, oops, technically I keep reading his name, everywhere. And it’s always to the good. And Howey keeps promoting authors and both self- and traditional publishing.

“But the business is running the surveys. And those surveys, Howey tells us here, are missing the boat not only on the technical point of how it compares earners but also on the actual impetus to write.”

Now, if that don’t make ya think…

Amazon Grant Program

I guess it’s not so surprising—in spite of all the Amazon bashing I do—that Amazon is dedicated to individual writers and the readers (the book buyers, *grin*). One example is Amazon Grant which grants money to “nonprofit author and publisher groups that share our obsession with fostering the creation, discussion, and publication of books” and includes examples of recent awards.

An Editing Tool

Carla Douglas at Beyond Paper Editing discusses “How to Keep Track of Your Elements of Style” with a stylesheet, and she goes on to list how such a tool is used and what elements to track. A very good post for any writer whether you want to self-edit or intend to hire one.

Dictionary and Style Book Sales

The Oxford University Press is having a substantial sale on dictionaries and an assortment of style books. You may want to have a peek in, and see if there’s anything you want or need.

Handling Flashbacks

Neal Whitman has a post at Quick and Dirty Tips on “Flashbacks in Books” and how “to talk about techniques authors use to take their readers from one point in the past to a place even further in the past without getting so caught up in all those past tenses. Whitman uses Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates and Neal Stephenson’s Reamde to demonstrate. A very handy set of examples you might want to bookmark.

Left Brain versus Right Brain in the NaNoWriMo Race

Kristen Lamb makes an interesting, time-saving point in her post, “NaNoWhatNow? Three Tactics for Getting Un-Stuck“. And I’m still not getting a damn thing done…

The Good Needs the Bad

Becca Puglisi has written a guest post at Kristen Lamb on “The Duality of Character Traits—Why We Need the Good, the Bad and Even the Ugly” using Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind as her example. I’ve noticed in my own reading that I get more involved in a story when the main characters—the good and the bad—cause conflict in me. When I sympathize with the bad guy and, just a teeny bit, hate the good guy. That alone is enough to raise the tension levels for me and cause me to read and re-read a book.

She discusses a reverse backstory as well as listing positive and negative traits for each character—to keep it straight in our own minds while making it easier to convey these traits to the reader. It’s good stuff.

Killing Time or Playing With It?

Kristen Lamb’s post on “Killing Time is a Crime—Embracing Speed by Redefining Life, Play & Work and discusses Vince Poscente’s The Age of Speed—Learning to Thrive in a More–Faster–Now World. I appreciate the point Lamb makes about agrarian time and industrial time. When crops were the center of our universe, the sun was good enough. Then the industrial revolution came along…uh-oh…and as Lamb notes how we’ve mixed up work, play, and chores so we feel like life just got thrown in a Vita-Mix and whiiiiirrrrrrrrrr… It’s an interesting post that references our Puritan work ethic while noting that the successful businesses of today promote play.

Enticing Reluctant Readers

Amy Joyce at the Washington Post interviews “Mo Willems on writing for the reluctant reader“, and I love what he has to say on “how to help reluctant readers love books”. The article includes an edited transcript and goes into why he thinks his books encourage reading.

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
Sept 2014 Publication So You Think You Can Write Sponsored by Harlequin and Wattpad, this “annual digital conference where hopeful romance novelists get to spend time with more than 50 Harlequin editors from New York, London, and Toronto through social media tools including podcasts, videos, blogs, live chats, community discussions and Twitter events. Aspiring authors are led through a virtual week-long “boot camp” designed to teach them how to write a romance novel that will attract the attention of publishers. The contest portions of SYTYCW allows entrants to experience the path a professional writer undertakes from the genesis of a story idea all the way through to, if selected as winners, the publication of novels.
Jan 31, 2014
$10,000 Indigenous Writing Fellowships This is an Australian/New Zealand-based fellowship, and I’m not finding anything that restricts entrants or the stories to being indigenous, except that Magabala who will be publishing the winners specializes in the indigenous.

Upcoming Writing Conferences

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

Date Location Conference/Workshop About
Dec 19, 2012
2-3pm EST
Online Investing Wisely in Rights Management Systems to Grow Bottom-Line Revenue Learn to be efficient in monetizing your global rights.
Jan 6-31, 2014
$89 for DBW Members
Online Introduction to Metadata for Books: History, Standards and the Current Landscape Learn how the art and science of describing books evolved from the Library at Alexandria to today’s data standards and industry players.This online course introduces key metadata concepts, standards, and organizations, and outlines how metadata is distributed in today’s publishing landscape. Topics include the evolution of metadata in the context of the history of the book and publishing; the development of standards for communicating information about books; a review of major industry players; and an overview of the flow of information in the creation and distribution of metadata.
Jan 13, 2014
Sheraton Hotel and Towers
New York City
Launch Kids Top publishing executives and innovators will discuss opportunities and challenges in children’s book publishing. Focused on both traditional print publishers who are developing digital initiatives, and digital players partnering with established publishers, the event—the largest conference focused on children’s publishing in the US—highlights new digital products, platforms, and channels. It is held in conjunction with the Digital Book World Conference + Expo.

“The topics that are particularly important for children’s books—creating unique IP, branding it, licensing it, and making it work in a mobile environment” will be uncovered along with quite a few more.

Feb 13-16, 2014
Til 12/31 – $650
Til Jan 31 – $725
Feb 1 on – $745
Mark Hopkins Hotel
San Francisco
San Francisco Writers Conference Included in the registration fee is An Independent Editor consultation, Ask a Pro, four days of sessions, two breakfasts/two lunches, a Welcome Gala, unlimited networking, and more. Fifty+ “how to” sessions, panels, and workshops. Speed Dating for Agents is still only $50 to pitch to a room full of agents. Plenty of one-on-one opportunities to pitch your work to well-known publishing professionals during the weekend. The Conference features large and small traditional publishing houses, but also gives attendees the latest e-publishing, social media, and self-publishing information.

The Publishing Business

50 Cover Designs in 2013

Dan Wagstaff at the Casual Optimist has a “list” of “50 Covers for 2013“. The covers are interesting to look at it, but I wish Wagstaff had done a critique on them à la Joel Friedlander.

Creating a TOC in an eBook

K.S. Brooks at Indies Unlimited provides his method of creating a table of contents (TOC)—handcoding in a PRC format using bookmarks (anchor tags)—in his post, “A Grindable, Clickable eBook Table of Contents” and mentions the methods of two others: Lynne Cantwell’s manual method, (trés simple) and something more sophisticated by Dan Walters using tables in MS Word to create a major heading and a second level of subheadings.

I gotta confess that as a reader I don’t see the point of a TOC in a fictional novel unless it’s a collection of short stories or poems. It does make sense in nonfiction where I may want to get to the heart of my question or find the answer to a problem and not have to read the entire book.

Grab an ISBN For Your Books

Porter Anderson, in his post at Jane Friedman, points out that many self-published authors don’t grab an ISBN for their publications. Why? Yes, I know they can seem expensive. Yes, I know the rules can seem confusing. What I don’t get is why don’t these authors who don’t use an ISBN, don’t want to appear more professional?

Bowker, the U.S. distributor of ISBNs, will sell your publisher a block of 10 ISBNs for $250 (cheap, considering that one ISBN costs $125). Each version of your book requires its own ISBN: the “hardback, softback, audio, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF”. If you publish and later find you need to do a substantial rewrite—because you were too cheap to hire a decent editor, ahem—you need a new ISBN for the second version(s).

To Self-Pub, or Not to Self-Pub

Jane Friedlander has a post at the Virginia Quarterly Review, “Is Self-Publishing the Most Important Transformation in the Publishing Industry?” in which she notes that “self-publishing authors who consider switching to traditional publishing are driven by bricks-and-mortar bookstore distribution and—wait for it—marketing support”. A marketing support that is not there.

“A quarter of the top 100 books on Amazon.com last year were self-published.”

If you write and have or want to publish, read Friedlander’s post. It does a beautiful job of summing up the issues facing authors today regarding marketing. And I can sum it up even quicker: you’re damned either way. If you publish traditionally, there’s a 99% chance you’ll have to do the marketing for yourself. If you self-publish, you will have to do 100% of the marketing, but Friedlander does, at the end, point out the reasons why your own efforts are the best.

Questions to Ask Your Publisher

Phil Sexton points out a list of questions to ask your publisher in this section of Anderson’s post, “You, the Author, Are Your Own Best Advocate”, at Publishing Perspectives.

Kaylie Jones Books: A Collective of Authors

I do have to wonder about institutions of higher learning and what they’re teaching their students. Why bother teaching the bare bones of various topics within a student’s major and avoid helping that student be prepared for after-graduation? I like this Shelf Awareness interview with “Kaylie Jones, author of Lies My Mother Never Told Me, creative writing teacher in MFA programs at Wilkes University and Long Island University for more than two decades, daughter of author James Jones—and now head of Kaylie Jones Books, an author collective and imprint of Akashic Books in Brooklyn, New York.”

“It got to the point where I started to feel that my profession was pointless,” explained Jones. “Very often, books just come down to a question of ‘how do we sell this?’ So many of my students have been told by publishers ‘we love it, but we don’t know how to sell it.’ I started thinking, why would anyone spend this much time helping other writers hone their craft when it’s virtually impossible for them to get their voices heard?”

Jones has gone that step forward and put together her new imprint under the auspices of Akashic Books and aimed at “submissions [being] open to all authors, emerging or established, and Jones looks to publish anything, novel or memoir, that is “beautifully written, beautifully structured and courageous in what it does.” Keep in mind that every author volunteers their efforts in helping each other.

Marketing Ideas

Bestselling eBooks Well Under $9.99

Jeremy Greenfield writes at Forbes about “When You Can Buy Current, Best-Selling Books For Under $2.00” and the overall price decline trend of eBooks.

Take Into Account Fall Big-Name Releases

Depressing yet useful information from Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader on why your book may not have done so well this fall in his post, “Indie Authors Are Getting Clobbered by Big Name eBook Discounts — But Not For The Reason You Think“. It’s yet another variable that authors need to take into account when planning their marketing.

The Opt-In Box

Joan Stewart at The Publicity Hound discusses Don Crowther’s contention that only one opt-in box is insufficient. That he has 10 on his own website with each offering up different freebies for different target audiences. The webinar, “Turn Your Social Media Into a List-building Machine“. And, yep, he uses an opt-in box to snag your info before you can watch it. The video is available until November 2014. I couldn’t last watching it as I became irritated with all the yakkety-yak that promised to end with a pitch for his workshop. I didn’t feel it would be worth my time to sit through it. It felt like one of those videos that would talk, talk, talk without providing any real info to make it worth while. If I’m wrong, please let me know, let us know! *grin*

Tips & Tricks for Bloggers

Corey Eridon at Hubspot writes of “100 Tips & Tricks Professional Bloggers Use to Make Their Job Easier” and the content topics include “Coming Up With Post Ideas”, “Blogging More Efficiently”, “Making Writing Easier”, “Improving Content Quality”, “Improving Your Editing Process”, “Optimizing the Performance of Your Posts”, “Finding Quick Sources of Blog Content”, “Fun Little Tricks”, “Maintaining Your Overall Sanity”, and “Parting Advice”. With some really great advice I’ve not read before. I’ll be bookmarking this page to come back to…

Do People Really Click Those Links in Your Post?

Corey Eridon at Hubspot asks, “Do People REALLY Click on the Links in Your Blog Posts?“. It’s a fascinating look at the analytics of these in-post links, annnd, it still boils down to yes. Although Eridon has some interesting tips to help increase the number of clicks, LOL.

A Tweet’s Life

This probably should go under “Just for Fun” as it is a fun thing to learn…hey, I’m geeky, what can I say?…what Maggie Hibma has to say about what happens in the The Life of a Tweet: A Look at the First 24 Hours“. I feel like I need to set up a schedule…eek…

Expectation & Desire—Cultivating Fans, Not Just “Readers”

Kristen Lamb has a post on “Expectation & Desire—Cultivating Fans, Not Just ‘Readers’” using a fabulous restaurant as an example. It’s an excellent choice as we’ve all been there in some fashion, making it an easy-to-understand concept.

Be Special For Someone

Kristen Lamb has a disturbing post, “What Makes You So Special? The Magic to Selling Books” which asks four important questions:

Why YOU?
Why not someone else?
What do you offer ME?
What makes you so special?
WHO ARE YOU and why do I (the consumer) care?

Instead, Lamb encourages us to focus, find our niche, discover who has been abandoned…

Building Your Own Website

Create a Basic Google Analytics Custom Report

Shilpa Pandya at Hubspot talks about “How to Create a Basic Google Analytics Custom Report“. I haven’t tried it out, and analytics is one of those issues I keep stepping, very carefully, around, pretending not to notice it. Waiting for a chunk of time in my day when I can devote hours to it. Yup, that’s right. Sometime in the next decade… Which, sigh, tells me I’ve got to get off my duff and check it out… Hubspot usually does a good job of explaining things, so…

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