A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – April 2014

Posted April 1, 2014 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

Get Your Money Here

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly announces that “Ebook Settlement Refunds Released to Consumers“, and “some $166 million in settlement funds collected as part of a deal to settle state and consumer charges of eBook price-fixing began flowing to consumers today.

“The settlements with Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin were approved by Judge Denise Cote on December 6, 2013. The refunds apply to eBooks purchased from any of the five settling publishers between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Credits expire after one year, and under terms of the settlement the refunds must be spent on books. At those retailers where print books are also available, the credits can be used to buy print books as well.”

Barnes & Noble Sending Out Their Credit Slips

“Barnes & Noble’s eBook customers joined the eBook settlement club yesterday, as e-mail refunds began to hit their inboxes. The message opened with: ‘We’re happy to let you know that your eBook Settlement credit for $X.XX is now in your Barnes & Noble account and ready to use.’ Customers who purchased eBooks between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, are entitled to a credit of $3.17 for each New York Times bestseller and 73 cents for any other eBooks.

“Unlike Amazon, however, B&N did not name the five publishers involved in the eBook agency pricing case, opting instead for a redirect button to a page to “start using your credit and learn more about the settlement.”

The Absurd eBook Case: Apple Fights On as Consumers Spend Settlement Money at Amazon

I will say upfront that I am prejudiced towards Apple and against Amazon in this eBook price fixing case, and I have to agree with a lot of what Jeff John Roberts at Gigaom has to say about “The Absurd eBook Case: Apple Fights On as Consumers Spend Settlement Money at Amazon“. Maybe I’m a conspiracy nut, but it seems as though the government has conspired with Amazon in this…read on and see what you think.

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Kobo’s Challenge Accepted in Canada

Armina Ligaya at the Financial Post says “Kobo challenge to eBook ruling delays Competition Bureau’s move to reduce prices” and notes that “‘…the Tribunal agreed with Kobo that there are serious questions that need to be answered about the terms of the [deal],’ said Nikiforos Iatrou, counsel for Kobo Inc. ‘The Tribunal has given Kobo the green light to proceed with its challenge, so long as it proceeds swiftly.'”

Canadian eBook Consent Agreements Suspended

Leigh Anne Williams at Publishers Weekly notes that “Canadian eBook Consent Agreements Suspended” with the gist of it that Canada is more concerned with its citizens having a variety of reading sources while requiring the involved publishers to change the wording in their agreements to allow an eBook retailer to change the price of an eBook as they choose.

Canadian Judge Reveals Why

Leigh Anne Williams at Publishers Weekly notes that “Canadian Judge Reveals Reasons for Suspending E-pricing Agreement“, and at last an article in which I can understand what’s happening! Seems that these four publishers — Hachette Book Group Canada, HarperCollins Canada, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Macmillan Canada — had set up an agreement to discount eBooks, BUT Kobo would have to “bear the cost of any discount the company chose to offer” as the publishers would be entitled “to revenues of 70% of the retail price they set”. In other words, if the publisher decided to offer up a $10 book for sale at $7, Kobo could sell it for $7 but the whole $7 has to be paid to the publisher. Not very fair…

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Just for Fun

Subscription Sites

Scribd Adds Lonely Planet to Subscription Service

How cool is this? Not only have the 300,000+ Lonely Planet travel guides been added to Scribd, but now you can bookmark pages! AND you can read the books offline.

What Oyster Needs

In this editorial by Andrew Pantoja at Publishing Perspective, there are “8 Ways Oyster Books Can Rule the Ebook Subscription Market” and step up beside the big boys in the subscription book market. Pantoja notes that in spite of Oyster doubling “their offering of books from 100,000 in September to 200,000 as of March, they need more than mere titles.

“We can only read about four books a month anyway.” – speak for yourself!! Maybe in a very slow week…

I dunno, after reading Pantoja’s editorial, I think he’s a bit behind the times in some areas and has some good ideas in others…


Gabriella Tutino at Highbrow magazine featured its picks for “Top Literary Cities in the U.S.“, noting that “a literary city is a blend of the historical, cultural, and modern parts of literature, encouraging and inspiring future generations to appreciate and take part in the literary world.”

Two choices you may not have expected included Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois.


Atalanta’s Music and Books in Bisbee is for sale. The Bisbee Observer wrote that owner Joan Werner is ‘calling it quits after 38 years of business in Bisbee. Pursuing a long-held dream, she is looking to move to Israel… Werner is asking $80,000 for the name, inventory, computer software, computers and other hardware and fixtures, and the customer club listings, which amount to 7,000 people.’ She is also offering the first year of rent for free.”


“Congratulations to Pilgrim’s Way Community Bookstore & Secret Garden in Carmel, which was named “Best Bookstore-New” in Monterey Weekly‘s Best of Monterey County Readers Poll. I do like the customer service! “Customers who can’t find parking can call ahead and when they drive by their book is handed to them — which works as a microcosm of the personal hands-on attention that comes standard.”

Zen Vuong, at Pasadena Star-News bemoans the April 30 closure of BOOK’em Mysteries in Pasadena. This, when the shop was “named No. 6 in LA Weekly‘s list of ’10 Best Independent Bookstores in L.A.’. Beginning April 1, books in stock will be at least 35% off with furniture and fixtures available for sale.

“‘We’re very sad, but Mary and Barry are getting older, and retail is getting harder and harder to do,’ said Osman of South Pasadena. ‘…I guess it’s time. … The books, you can get somewhere else. The recommendations, I don’t know where I will get those.'”


The only large bookstore in Flagler County, Books-A-Million will close its store in Palm Coast by April 15, the Observer reported. Go now to take advantage of everything-must-go sales.


Michael Anthony Adams at The Star tells us about Books & Brews which opened March 21 in the Castleton neighborhood of Indianapolis, on the theory that “writers love booze”…and it’ll help to bring in enough to keep the shop open. Opened with help from Kickstarter investment, all “the beer served in the bar section of the store is brewed on site by Wuerfel. The bookpub owner (yes, [Adams] just coined the term bookpub) also is channeling Willy Wonka by allowing folks who pledged $500 or more to the project’s Kickstarter fund to help design a brew, name it, make it, and put it on tap.”


This makes a nice switch! Amy Talbott at WFPL News finds that “Keep South Louisville Weird Survey Finds Desire For Restaurants, Shops” and “South Louisville residents want more bookstores, restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment, according to a new ‘Keep South Louisville Weird’ survey released by the city’s Independent Business Alliance. WFPL reported that the survey asked 515 respondents ‘what types of businesses they’d like to see…'”


Pooh’s Corner at 1886 Breton Road S.E. in Grand Rapids is closing May 23, according to the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Both Sally Bulthuis and Camille DeBoer are sad about closing and even sadder that “teachers almost don’t have time to read books that don’t relate to curriculum anymore,” DeBoer said. “If a ten-year-old boy doesn’t like (what’s mainstream), he’s labeled a ‘non-reader’… I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a child [who] doesn’t like to read. They just haven’t found the right book yet.”

New York

“Noting “it might take a village to save one of Greenport’s bookstores,” the Suffolk Times reported that George Maaiki, who has owned Burton’s Bookstore on the North Fork of Long Island since 1988, wants to sell the business to someone ‘who will preserve its character as a quaint bookstore in a small village by the water,’ but ‘finding the right fit could be another story.’

‘The reason I want to sell is it’s time for some young person to come in and, with all the new technology going on in the industry, give it some new blood,” said Maaiki, who added he’s been “hammered” by offers “from people who have proposed turning the shop into a hybrid record and bookstore and a “bookstore boutique”.’

‘I have no idea what that means,’ he noted, adding that he is determined to keep the shop in the hands of a bookseller. Maaiki also said he is willing to stay on and ‘shadow anyone who steps up to take Burton’s Bookstore over,’ the Suffolk Times wrote.

He hopes to have the business sold prior to the beginning of summer so a new proprietor can benefit from the busy season. ‘When I came to Greenport early, there was nothing,’ he recalled. ‘Now, it’s amazing how they are trying to extend the season, with Tall Ships, the Maritime Festival and other events. It really is getting better and better.'”

Julie Bosman at the New York Times writes that the “Literary City, Bookstore Desert: Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan” turning 5th Avenue into an outlet mall for rich people. How very dull…

Bosman notes that “rising rents in Manhattan have forced out many retailers, from pizza joints to flower shops. But the rapidly escalating cost of doing business there is also driving out bookstores, threatening the city’s sense of self as the center of the literary universe, the home of the publishing industry and a place that lures and nurtures authors and avid readers.”

How sad is that in the city that the world has looked to for so long as a literary capital, that “the same neighborhood that houses Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and much of Penguin Random House” is almost bare of bookstores to sell their wares. Ten chain bookstores have closed since 2007 and at least a dozen independents with a drop “from 2000 to 2012 … of … almost 30 percent, to 106 stores from 150.” The literary crowd is heading to Brooklyn.


Yet another beloved independent Canadian bookstore has announced that they are closing their doors: Oscar’s Art Books, a twenty-four-year-old bookstore based in Vancouver, will close shop at the end of March. On its Facebook page, Oscar’s wrote: “We’ve always moved with the times but unfortunately the internet has taken over.”


Foyles will celebrate the upcoming opening of its new flagship ‘bookshop for the 21st century’ at 107 Charing Cross Road in London with a grand opening festival that will consist of “three weeks of literature and culture” June 11-July 4.” Don’t make the mistake I did if you go. Be sure to tell the cabbie Charing Cross ROAD!

The new flagship store will have 37,000 square feet of flexible retail space on ‘eight alternating foot-plates over four floors,’ will stock more than 200,000 different titles on four miles of shelves, and have a central atrium that goes to the ground floor with large windows to fill the store with natural light.” I want this for my own personal library!


Congratulations to the American Book Center in Amsterdam, which has been named the best bookshop in the world by the new international lifestyle magazine Monocle in its inaugural Top 25 Retail Awards.

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2014 Tufts Poetry Award Winners

The Tufts poetry awards were established by Kate Tufts the widow of Kingsley Tufts to help a poet work and not worry about paying the bills. The awards are based at Claremont Graduate University and are “two of the most prestigious prizes a contemporary poet can receive.

1st Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History

Allen C. Guelzo has won the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, honoring “the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year,” for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.

2013 Robinson Prize

The Robinson Prize, now in its eighth year, is named for Pam Robinson, the first president of ACES. The winner is someone who furthers the craft of professional editing, through his or her work, through mentoring and training, and through fostering a sense of teamwork and pride among colleagues, and represents excellence and generosity in the field of copy editing.

The winner is Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, a full-time freelance copy editor whose focus is on scientific and medical editing, and she has a reputation for working with foreign-language doctors and other scientists to publish important work in English-language journals.

2013 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winners

Oh, oh, you must read the winning entries in the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where “WWW” means “Wretched Writers Welcome”, LOL. An over-the-top example of what not to write!

“She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination. –Chris Wieloch, Brookfield, WI”

Just imagine the work involved in writing these opening lines. Now imagine spending that same amount of time writing a good one…

Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2010

“Rowan Somerville is the winner of the eighteenth annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for sentences such as “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her” from his second novel, The Shape of Her.

“‘There is nothing more English than bad sex,’ said Somerville, whose first novel, The End of Sleep, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. ‘So on behalf of the nation, I thank you.'”

2014 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

“Swedish author Barbro Lindgren has won the 2014 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the largest award for children’s literature.”

Premio Alfaguara de Novela

“Colombian author Jorge Franco won Spain’s … Alfaguara Novel Prize for El mundo de afuera, “which is loosely based on a kidnapping that rocked Medellin — the Andean nation’s second city — in 1971,” the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.”

Northern California Independent Booksellers Association’s 2014 Book of the Year Award

Awards are given in various categories for books published for the first time in the prior year and written by an author residing in Northern California (we may grant a residency exception for an author whose book is nominated in the Regional Title category).

79th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are a prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity.

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Ice Whale Coming to a Floe, er, Store, near You

Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly tells us that “Jean Craighead George’s Children Complete Her Final Novel” with the help of Lucia Monfried, the novelist’s longtime editor.

When Newbery Medalist Jean Craighead George, author of more than 100 children’s books, died in 2012 at the age of 92, she was in the process of writing Ice Whale, a sprawling novel about a bowhead whale’s 200-year bond with an Eskimo clan in northern Alaska. After their mother’s death, Craig George and Twig George teamed up with Lucia Monfried, the novelist’s longtime editor, to complete the middle-grade novel, which Dial Books for Young Readers will publish in May [although Goodreads is saying April 3rd].

10 Worst Boyfriends In High School Literature

Ella Ceron at Thought Catalog lists and disses “The 10 Worst Boyfriends In High School Literature“. It’s pretty funny, well, in a depressing sort of way, lol.

Made in Me Launches Me Comics

A press release on Digital Book World talks about the new Me Comics apps, which are similar to the Me Books (an immersive and interactive digital book for touchscreens that keeps the look and feel of a physical edition whilst adding extra special Me Books magic), except it’s a step up for kids who “have outgrown picture books, children who are reading by themselves and picking their own books to read. But parents don’t have to worry about what their kids are reading. Like Me Books, all of the books inside Me Comics feature family-friendly content, stories behind best-loved brands and illustrators that parents can trust.”

The Me Comics “is free to download and comes with one free Peabody and Sherman comic (other titles include Transformers, My Little Pony, The Beano, and Popeye. New titles will be added weekly to the in-app comic book shop.). Additional books can be purchased from the in-app comic book shop. Me Comics can be read in single-page or double-page mode. There is also a panel-by-panel mode in which readers tap to advance the story one comic panel at a time.

Me Comics also features the patented Me Books draw-and-record function which allows readers to create hotspots in which they can add narration, commentary, and sound effects to personalise their favourite comics.

The Me Comics app is available in English globally for Apple and Android touchscreen devices.

‘Goodreads’ For Kids

A press release on Digital Book World reports that “‘Goodreads for Kids’, BiblioNasium Upgrades With Reviews Written by Kids” announces an upgrade on the site which now allows kids to write their own reviews, besides being able to “catalog, track, and record their … reading.”

“‘Educators and parents write us regularly to reinforce how the social and gaming aspects of our platform are fun for kids and are encouraging and exciting children to read more,’ says Founder, Marjan Ghara. ‘In adding the functionality of open book reviews, we are engaging children on a new level, giving them a voice and a structure to think more creatively about what they are reading and recommending. Children also respond more eagerly to book recommendations and reviews from their friends.'”

Per Jeremy Greenfield in another post at Digital Book World, “When Kids Write Book Reviews“, explains that the kids’ book reviews are kept within a closed community determined by educators on BiblioNasium to conform to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Nickelodeon and Blue Apple Added to Kobo

A press release from Kobo at Digital Book World reports in “Kobo Bulks up Children’s Section With Nickelodeon and Blue Apple” that they’ve “signed an agreement with Nickelodeon Publishing to make hundreds of favourite series and titles available to millions of Kobo Readers worldwide. More than 250 top eBook titles from iconic children’s series including Bubble Guppies, Blue’s Clues, The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are now available at Kobo.com. Featured titles include: Dora’s Easter Basket, Dora Loves Boots, Camp SpongeBob, SpongeBob Goes to the Doctor, and more.”

Penguin Puts 17,000 eBooks Up for School Libraries

A press release from OverDrive on Digital Book World announces that “17,000 Penguin Group (USA) eBooks now available for U.S. schools through OverDrive including such digital titles as “Superfudge, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Kite Runner, and many classics — titles previously offered only to public libraries.

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Nook Press Launches in Europe Today

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader notes that “Nook Press Launches in Europe Today“, and it sounds like a confused tangle of indecision. Nook Press replaced PubIt. Both were self-publishing platforms for the NOOK. And in an earlier post, “Barnes & Noble to Launch Nook Press in the UK This Week“, Hoffelder wondered if B&N truly has an “interest in promoting self-published authors” when they’ve “announced that they were abandoning their Nook app for Windows 8 in favor of a not yet released reading app from Microsoft … effectively ceding the international Nook Store to Microsoft.”

So it does seem rather confusing that Barnes & Noble is promoting this March launch spread into seven countries in Europe: U.K., “France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium … with Canada, Australia, and Switzerland scheduled for the future. … The platform supports all of those countries’ languages, and it offers authors the opportunity to earn up to 65% of the price they set. … Authors who price their books between £1.50 and £7.99 will receive 65% of the list price for ebooks sold in the UK Nook Store. For books priced outside that window (as low as 75p, as high as £120.00), the royalty drops to 40%.”

Hoffelder goes on to mention KDP’s royalty. And he wonders why B&N is leaving “authors in two-thirds of the countries with local Nook Stores with no option for uploading their titles to Nook Press other than through a third-party service like Smashwords. Just don’t publish all your eBooks in one basket…

NOOK Imprint?

Jeremy Greenfield floats an “outrageous” suggestion at Forbes as “One Way Barnes & Noble Can Save Nook” could be to clear some of the NOOK device shelf space in stores for self-published titles and possibly create a print-only NOOK publishing imprint with exclusive rights to the NOOK — exclusive self-published books. I’m not sure how this is supposed to save the NOOK, but it’s interesting.

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  • Bookish Recommends Tool Adopted by NYPL
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    Bookish Recommends Tool Adopted by NYPL

    Zola Books‘ Bookish Recommends has been adopted by the New York Public Library as a recommendation tool for its online catalogue, BiblioCommons. Bookish Recommends uses an algorithm that identifies recommended books based on similar characteristics, Zola Books said. “Unlike recommendations that are derived from what other readers are checking out, the Bookish engine matches users to books based on dozens of attributes and filters out irrelevant titles. Users visiting the library’s online catalogue can find recommended books by clicking on a selected title to see a set of related titles that might be of interest.”

    UNC Libraries celebrates 7 million books

    Deborah Harris at the Daily Tar Heel notes that “UNC Libraries celebrates 7 million books“, and I think she’s saying that The John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation donates a rare book to the Wilson Special Collections Library for every million books the University of North Carolina acquires.

    In this instance, the foundation donated a book that “contains Latin poetry that was written by Juan Latino, a native of Spain of African descent, more than 400 years ago”, a man “considered one of the first sub-Saharan individuals to have published a book of poems in a Western language.” “Latino’s book is significant as a first because it marks the beginning of African Diaspora literature in the West,” said Claudia Funke, curator of the rare books collection.

    World’s 20 Most Stunning Libraries

    Whoa, check out Fodor’s slide show of the “World’s 20 Most Stunning Libraries“! Totally awesome with a blend of historic to contemporary.

    Libraries are Going High-Tech

    Maria Recio
    at McClatchy DC New talks about “Libraries designed without old-fashioned books, for new-fashioned readers“. It’s not just the BiblioTech in San Antonio that’s focused on the digital. More and more libraries throughout the world are promoting digital: Washington’s “downtown Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library cleared the stacks in one wing last June to open a vast, bookless ‘Digital Commons’ — part computer lab, part design center, and part reading lounge”; the “Digital Public Library of America and a Library of Congress-supported World Digital Library, which just reached 10,000 entries this past week, are making literary treasures, such as an early 16th-century Gospel manuscript from Ethiopia, more accessible”; and, “North Carolina State University’s new James B. Hunt Jr. Library in Raleigh … delivers [books] in five minutes or less”.

    Read more on the details, the whys, and the visionaries who inspired them.

    Vermont’s Youngest Librarians

    This is too sweet! Elizabeth Bluemle over at Publishers Weekly talks about “Vermont’s Youngest Librarians (Ages 11 and 6)“, and this kid has it all together. He’s definitely being a good role model for his little brother. And I’m impressed he’s brave enough to loan out his books!

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    Flicks & Telly

    Pilot to Be Shot for Recovery Road

    ABC Family has greenlighted a pilot episode for Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s popular YA novel, Deadline.com reported.

    Pierce Brosnan Stars in A Long Way Down

    Pierce Brosnan “takes center stage” in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, A Long Way Down, the Huffington Post reported. The Post featured a clip and noted that the film opens in U.K. cinemas March 21.

    Dylan O’Brien Reckons Maze Runner is Much Grittier

    Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire hopes for a change in the dystopian glut with this first trailer that has dropped for The Maze Runner, adapted from the first novel in James Dasher’s bestselling YA series. The film, which stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, and Patricia Clarkson, opens September 19.

    New Trailer out for The Boxtrolls

    Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire notes that “A new trailer is out for The Boxtrolls, based on Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow and featuring an all-star line-up of voices, including Elle Fanning, Toni Collette, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, and Ben Kingsley. The Boxtrolls hits theaters September 26.

    John Green’s Paper Towns Heads to the Big Screen

    Lindsay Deutsch at USA Today notes in “John Green’s Paper Towns Heads to the Big Screen” that “Fox 2000, the production company behind the forthcoming adaptation of Green’s best seller The Fault in Our Stars (June 6), has inked a deal to bring the 2008 novel Paper Towns to life.”

    Michael Lewis’ The Big Short Coming to the Big Screen

    Deadline.com writes that “Paramount Taps Anchorman Helmer Adam McKay To Adapt And Direct Michael Lewis’ The Big Short About Economic Meltdown“. Deadline.com doubts, however, that The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine will be a comedy.

    Game of Thrones to End in a Movie?

    Game of Thrones may end with movie, says author George RR Martin“. He also mentions possible movies from the prequel novella series, The Tales of Dunk and Egg.

    Dork Diaries Coming to the Big Screen

    Dave McNary at Variety notes that “‘Dork Diaries’ Becomes a Movie With ‘Twilight’ Producer” as Summit Entertainment has acquired all rights to Rachel Renée Russell’s bestselling Dork Diaries book series.

    Madonna Intends to Direct Walker’s Adé

    Borys Kit at The Hollywood Reporter, says “Madonna to Direct Interracial Romance Adé: A Love Story“, and notes that the themes of Rebecca Walker’s (she’s Alice Walker’s daughter) book are similar to those Madonna has explored in her music.

    Outlander Q&A With Sneak Peeks

    There’s a YouTube video that lasts an hour-and-a-half with a Q&A with Diana Gabaldon, Catriona Balfe as Claire, and Sam Heughan as Jamie along with sneak peeks at the sets for Castle Leoch and Lallybroch, and a short trailer.

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    Find Out Who You are in Fiction

    This was fun! I took Book Week Scotland‘s quiz to learn Who in fiction are you? and learned I was Mma Ramotswe from Alexander McCall Smith’s detective series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Hmmm, guess I’d better read this series and learn more about myself…since I worked hard to answer those questions as accurately as possible. I have been wondering who I might be if I were to try out other answers…

    Book Week Scotland is part of the Scottish Book Trust.

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    Unexpected Book Releases

    New-found Tennessee Williams Story

    Alison Flood at The Guardian notes that “Unpublished Tennessee Williams short story sees the light of day after 80 years. A newly discovered short story, Crazy Nights, written in the 1930s, to be published in US magazine The Strand.

    New Gone With the Wind Prequel

    Julie Bosman at the New York Times says “Mammy Revealed, and Not Just Her Red Petticoat” with a Gone With the Wind prequel, Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig coming in October.

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    21 Women Crushes From Literature Reveal Who You Really Are

    Claire Fallon at the Huffington Post reveals “21 Female Book Characters You’ve Crushed On… And What They Reveal About You” is written more as a dating guide for men. Still, it’s an interesting assessment of a number of female protagonists.

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    Is There Life After Steve Jobs?

    Salvador Rodriguez at the L.A. Times wonders in “Tim Cook Calls Critical New Apple Book ‘Nonsense’“, about Tim Cook’s reaction to Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, wondering if the Apple CEO doth protest too much.

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    World Book Night – April 23rd

    JoJo Marshall at Shelf-Life notes “On the Books: Amy Poehler to host World Book Night” on April 23rd when the star joins a coalition of publishers, bookseller, librarians, and 25,000 volunteers to give away 500,000 books to people who otherwise don’t have access to reading materials. “I’m thrilled to be part of World Book Night,” the actress told UPI. “People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read.”

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    Sony’s 13.3″ eReader to Ship in the US in May, Will Cost $1,100

    Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader notes “Sony’s 13.3″ eReader to Ship in the US in May, Will Cost $1,100“, but are unlikely to be available to consumers. From what Hoffelder says, it’s unlikely the vast majority of digital readers would be interested as there are a number of limitations.

    Which Reading App Suits You?

    Isabel Farhi at Digital Book World has some suggestions for those thinking about transitioning into digital with “The Best Apps For Reading Ebooks on the iPad for Power Readers“. I like her discussion about what she looks for in her idea of a good eReader. Naturally, as a good reporter should, she tested 15 different reading apps on her iPad (a Mini, though she says it’ll work the same on a regular iPad). I’ll list the apps she tried, and as Farhi states, they’re alphabetical and not ranked by how she rated them, although I did leave her ranking numbers in place and kept the highlights of her findings where they differed from the usual features. She does go into more detail in her post on what she liked and disliked.

    1. Blio: 3 – looks the most book-like on the page: resizable text with an option of fonts, highlights in multiple colors, in-text notes, in-text search, bookmarks; can buy voices that will read to you
    2. Bluefire: 3 – text is very customizable, but annotating is more difficult; deleting notes or highlights can only be done in a separate menu
    3. Bookish Reader: 3 – This is just the Bluefire app run through the Bookish store
    4. BookMobi: 2 – for $2.00 it allows you to read all the free books on its affiliate websites. It has the percent-read always on the top right corner of the page; no notes, highlights, or search.
    5. Google Play Books: 3 – hard to remove the highlights, and trying to bookmark a page often results in just turning it
    6. Goodreads: 2 – mainly rating the reading app, not the social content. Goodreads is first and foremost a community of readers, and because of that, the reading app has fewer standard features: No font changes, only two themes (white and neutral), no search capacity, no notes. You can bookmark a page, but it’s a tiny mark in the upper right-hand corner. Its social capabilities are quite extensive with book recommendation and rating in the book. The feature would be so much better, however, if you could buy right through the app, which isn’t allowed.
    7. iBooks: 5 – incredibly easy to get books on the iPad with a store built into the app
    8. Kindle: 4 I have a Paperwhite, and while I adore the ability to read in any light level, the backward and forward taps are awkward, slow, and don’t always respond. And I hate having to go back to a separate menu to find the next highlighted passage.
    9. Kobo: 4 – primarily social reading and gamification, and you can’t search in text
    10. Marvin: 4 – could have been a “5”, but only works on digital-rights-management-free ebooks. The main cool thing about Marvin, though, is the “Deep Read” feature, which gives a précis of characters, a book summary, and lets you search for articles about the book or author.
    11. Megareader: 2 – only allows you to read free books and costs $2
    12. Nook: 4
    13. Reader: 3 – The Bluefire App again, this time through the Sony store.
    14. Readmill: 2 – has been shut down
    15. Sharereader: 4
    16. txtr: 3

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    DropBox Picking Up Readmill

    Steve O’Hear at TechCrunch has heard rumors that “Dropbox Acqui-Hiring Social Reading App Readmill For $8 Million“. He believes DropBox is picking up the company to acquire its talent and then Readmill will be shut down. Read more and check your memberships!

    Confirmed: Readmill has closed.

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    Finding What You Want to Read Next

    Isabel Farhi at Digital Book World discusses how the “Top Ten Book Recommendation Platforms” rated for her. Farhi considers herself a power reader, reading 300 to 400 books a year, and sometimes has difficulty figuring out what she wants to read next in the subgenres she prefers. It’s a good point. I spend a lot of time on Goodreads and am always encountering readers asking what other GR members could recommend in a romantic suspense that’s in the style of XX or someone wants a thriller à la Nelson DeMille or …

    In this article, Farhi rates them in order of preference with more detail if she really liked them and ONLY based her preferences on “functionality, breadth, and usability of their book recommendation functions”.

    1. Amazon.com: 4
    2. Book Bub: 2
    3. BarnesandNoble.com: 3
    4. Bookish: 4
    5. Goodreads: 4. As this is the site I use, I want to toss in my two cents. I’ve found some great authors and books on this primarily due to participating in groups (I do lurk a lot) and recommendations from friends. If I stopped right this minute, I suspect I could be reading for the next two or three years. And yes, I’m a power reader. I easily read 300+ books a year.
    6. Jellybooks: 3
    7. Riffle: 3 I joined when it first opened and haven’t been back as I found it too cumbersome. They still send me a stream of books they’re sure I’ll adore based on the ones I added in their database. And based on what they think I’ll like? I’m really NOT impressed.
    8. Sony Reader Store: 3 (Sony Reader Store has closed in the U.S. and moved everything over to Kobo)
    9. What Should I Read Next: 4
    10. Which Book: 3 (This one sounds fun, although not very practical!)
    11. Honorary Mentions:
      • Book Scout: 1
      • BookLikes: 1
      • BookShout!: 2
      • BookSlice: 1
      • Bookvibe: 2
      • Gnooks: 1
      • Library Thing: 1
      • Next Read: 2
      • Shelfari: 2 I’ve found that their series information is very iffy and only the administrators seem able to edit anything on this, however, they will send out a notice when an author you’ve read is releasing a new book. They’re also owned by Amazon.
      • The Reading Room: 1
      • Your Next Read: 2

    One of the reasons I like Goodreads is the ability to find books through title, series name, or author. I adore the fact that it’s not simply a browse by cover. I don’t care about the cover. I primarily want to know the author’s name and the genre. Sure, covers are pretty, but considering how most covers are created, not very reliable as to a book’s actual content.

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    Humanoids Debuts Comics App for iPad

    Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly notes that “Humanoids Debuts Comics App for iPad” is “available now [for iPads only; support for the iPhone and for Android devices is coming] and offers users the ability to preview more than 60 Humanoids titles. While the app does not offer in-app purchasing just yet, consumers can purchase titles via the Humanoids web site and synch them to their iPads to read.

    Any physical graphic novels purchased via the Humanoids web site come bundled with a free digital copy, that can be synched to the iPad or read online via their Humanoids accounts.

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    Weekly Erotica

    Bianca Lon Mail finds “Weekly chapters of erotic ebook to be released to ‘spice up’ commuters’ journey to work“, as “Emily Dubberley [is] releasing chapters of her erotica eBook, Blue Mondays. It costs 99p, and Dubberley will release a new chapter every Sunday at midnight for eight weeks. It’s not a Fifty Shades, but more of a “sex and relationships most can relate to”, and more likely to be appealing to fans of Sadie Matthews and Sylvia Day.

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    BBC Expands Beyond The Review Show

    Sarah Shaffi at The Bookseller notes that “BBC to offer more books coverage” including BBC1’s The One Show and “a series of new radio and television programs focusing on books, capturing the best of the BBC’s literary content for the first time at BBC Arts Online in a section called Books on the BBC, and the expansion of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club.”

    “The Secret Life of Books”, a new BBC Four series created in partnership with the Open University, will explore the creation of six great literary works by returning to the earliest texts and writers’ notebooks and letters.

    “In the BBC Two series ‘Radical Lives’, Melvyn Bragg will give viewers his insights into the lives of two radical writers, John Ball and Thomas Paine.”

    “On radio, Chris Evans will broadcast BBC Radio 2’s literary competition ‘500 Words from Hay’; BBC Radio 3’s ‘Free Thinking’, ‘In Tune’, and ‘The Verb’ will also be live on-site alongside BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’, ‘The Write Stuff’ and ‘Four Thought’. … BBC Arts Online will capture a range of festival events.

    “Meanwhile Books on the BBC will include ‘treasures from the BBC’s TV and radio literary archive’ alongside ‘a wealth of new material’. Expanded online coverage will include BBC iPlayer showing news coverage celebrating the Man Booker Prize winner.”

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    Cookbook Author, Clarissa Dickson Wright Dead at 66

    The other half of the popular BBC TV cooking show duo, Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright died March 15 at age 66. The author of several books, BBC News noted Wright had once managed the Books for Cooks shop in London’s Notting Hill, then the Cooks Book Shop in Edinburgh. Her own books included Spilling the Beans, Clarissa’s England: A Gamely Gallop Through English Counties, and what could be an historical writer’s dream, A History of English Food.

    Author and Editor Donald Michael Kraig, 63

    Author and editor Donald Michael Kraig died March 17 at his home in Los Angeles after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 63. Kraig is perhaps best known as the author of Modern Magick, published by Llewellyn in 1988. Shortly after the book was published, he was hired as a writer at Llewellyn. He later became the editor of Fate magazine.

    “For Dummies” Founder, Patrick McGovern Dead at 76

    William Yardley at the New York Times relates in an amazing eulogy about a forward-looking man, “Patrick McGovern Dies at 76; Founded Publishing Empire” with his For Dummies series of instructional reference books, built an international market analysis arm, along with successful magazines such as Computerworld and Macworld, and began organizing huge technology events died March 19 at 76.

    Anti-Nuke, Jonathan Schell Dead at 70

    Margalit Box at the New York Times writes of “Jonathan Schell, whose bestselling books “explored warfare in its myriad 20th-century incarnations, from a scathing indictment of United States policy in Vietnam to a sobering portrait of the world in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust,” died Tuesday at 70. As the author of The Fate of the Earth, Schell “was widely credited with helping rally ordinary citizens around the world to the cause of nuclear disarmament.”

    Nuclear Historian, Lorna Arnold Dead at 98

    Brian Cathcart at The Guardian reports on British nuclear historian, Lorna Arnold, who was “respected by those who supported and opposed the H-bomb” and wrote “landmark books on the Windscale reactor accident of 1957, on British nuclear testing in Australia, and on the development of the hydrogen bomb,” died Tuesday. She was 98.

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    The Censored Women Authors in YA

    I love this post by Kelly Jensen at BookRiot, and she is absolutely RIGHT! Ignore the naysayers. Do what you feel is right. Her post, “A Censored History of Ladies in YA Fiction“, grieves me for the stupidity of men, for the insecurity of people whether they’re readers, authors, or critics, who refuse to step outside their narrow corridors. It’s a poorer world for them.

    “All of these challenges and all of the reasons behind them are what make these books and these authors so important. They are what built the history of YA because they reflect history. They also hold a mirror up to what it is we fear, and it’s not that the books aren’t “age appropriate.” It’s that the contributions of women, whether female-driven stories or male-led stories written by women, are regularly considered “lesser’, non-universal, problematic. They’re forgotten, pushed to the edges, overlooked. They are labeled as what’s wrong with YA, when they are really what YA is.”

    S.C. Senate Denies Funding to Two Schools ‘Cuz They Don’t Like Some Books

    WTF? Because “members of the legislature disapprove” of some books the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate are using in their curriculum, they’ve cut funding to those schools. Excuse me, but that smacks of censorship and I thought the Supreme Court said that’s a no-no?? As the letter states, it also “threatens academic freedom and the quality of education in the state”.

    The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, and the Association of American Publishers along with the National Coalition Against Censorship, ACLU of South Carolina, the American Association of University Professors, the Modern Language Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the National Council of Teachers of English have sent a joint letter “to members of the state’s Senatorial Finance Committee urging them to reinstate funding for [these] two colleges”.

    The wicked, horrible, disgusting books? Alison Bechdel’s coming-of-age graphic novel Fun Home as the College of Charleston’s “group read for first-year students, while USC Upstate assigned gay poet and professor Ed Madden’s Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio — LGBT books, gasp! — as summer reading for introductory English courses”.

    Such threats and punitive punishment are against free speech as well as the freedom of expression. It smacks of state control over the educational process, and who knows where government would stop?

    NCAC, ACLU Join Fray in SC Lit Controversy

    Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly notes the continuing swirl of controversy as the “NCAC, ACLU Join Fray in So. Carolina Lit Controversy” in spite of house Democrats attempting to restore funding to the programs since “the Republican majority voted by a 2-1 margin four times to uphold funding cuts to the programs”, unless however, each legislator who objected withdrew his objection.

    “In a telephone interview last month, Rep. Garry Smith (R-Simpsonville) told PW that the College of Charleston ‘did not display good responsibility’ in assigning Bechdel’s book, and that it was the responsibility of state legislators in such instances to ‘review the budget and make cuts.'”

    I can’t believe that Smith is able to look himself in the mirror…

    Alison Bechdel issued a statement which puts shame to these legislators: “I’m very grateful to the people who taught my book at the College of Charleston. It was brave of them to do that given the conservative pressures they’re apparently under. I made a visit to the school last fall for which they also took some flak, but to their great credit they didn’t back down. It’s sad and absurd that the College of Charleston is facing a funding cut for teaching my book — a book which is after all about the toll that this sort of small-mindedness takes on people’s lives.”

    Authors Campaign Against Ban on Sending Books to Prisoners

    Aimee Williams at The Telegraph notes “Authors campaign against ban on sending books to prisoners” with “high-profile writers and academics have expressed outrage at a rule stopping prisoners being sent books”. It does seem rather stupid to prevent prisoners from being sent books. I know it would make me crazy if I were deprived of the latest David Weber, J.D. Robb, Diana Rowland, and many more authors. Consider how long it takes your local library to get in the latest releases…

    “Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, said: ‘Do you want people released into the community who have been retrained, who are more liberal and humane, or people who have been relentlessly deprived of the things we all feel are important in life? People tend to think there’s us, and then there are the prisoners, but these are people who will be our future neighbours and colleagues.'”

    “Mark Haddon and Philip Pullman are among the authors supporting a Change.org petition launched in the U.K. Monday that calls upon justice minister Chris Grayling to “urgently review and amend your new rules which restrict prisoners access to books and family items…”

    Read about halfway down Alison Flood’s article at The Guardian on “Mark Haddon helps launch online petition against prisoner’s book ban” to learn of the positives of reading for prisoners. Really, I can’t see the negatives to people reading…

    Chief Inspector of Prisons Labels Government Policy Banning Books a ‘Mistake’

    Steve Bell cartoon showing Grayling as a chimney and a sign banning books above a prison

    Image courtesy of The Guardian

    © Steve Bell 2014

    Chris Green follows this up at the The Independent with this article with “Chief Inspector of Prisons labels Government’s policy banning books for prisoners a ‘mistake’“. “In an interview with The Independent, Nick Hardwick said ‘…preventing harmless items such as books from entering the country’s jails was unnecessary “micro-management” by politicians. Decisions on what prisoners can receive from outside should be left to the discretion of individual prison governors,’ he added.

    “His comments will come as a blow to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, who has so far dismissed growing objections to the policy, saying he is determined to bring ‘right wing solutions to bear on social problems where the Left has palpably failed’.” Sounds like those legislators in South Carolina…

    To be fair, the article does state that most of the items mailed to prisoners are trainers and sportswear, and not that many books. So, um, what’s the big deal about not allowing them to have books? I can’t agree that the libraries are adequate as I have problems getting the books I want. And I’m not in prison!

    Let Them Read eBooks!

    Feels like Marie Antoinette, and I’m sure Grayling feels as though a number of people would like to see his head off! Adrian Short at The Guardian looks at “Prison book ban: let them read eBooks” and says that “access to books should be non-negotiable in a decent society. Why not make literature even more accessible to prisoners?” Short does note the problems that could arise and provides some workarounds.

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    Apple & Amazon to Pay VAT in UK

    Whoa, John Glenday at The Drum warns us that “Apple and Amazon hit with VAT ruling on UK downloads beginning January 2, 2015 — and English sales tax is 20%!! I ain’t gonna complain about my sales tax rate anymore…! Let your friends in the U.K. know they’d better download like crazy before next New Year’s!

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    Ads in My eBook?!?

    No, say it ain’t so! David Zaleski at iMedia Connection is talking about ads in our eBooks! and “Why eBook advertising is the next big thing” as he talks about the explosion in eBook sales (huh, and we keep hearing that eBook sales are down, then up, then down, then ???) and how ad-supported eBooks will open up huge opportunities. I can see that it would “open up new revenue models for publishers, authors, and advertisers”, and as an author, I would want to know where to begin.

    Which is where Studio W CEO and President Brian Altounian steps in with his patent for inserting ads into eBooks. Sigh.

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    Writing Tips


    Reliable Sources Reporters Use

    It’s an age of Google it, and many of us have forgotten that key rule for accuracy: primary source! Laura Laing gives us the “No spin zone: How reporters can find reliable statistics sources” in a guest post at Word Count with the reasons you want to be careful, warnings, and a list of resources. To paraphrase Joan Stewart from the The Publicity Hound, “you don’t want to look like a fool!”

    How Deep Should I Go?

    Well, this could certainly be crucial, lol, as Andy Weir has a post on Publishers Weekly on “How to Research Like a Writer“. He’s a bit soft-core on this, but I liked what he had to say about how what he learned created a pivotal subplot within his story. He also points to a stumbling block for me at least. Stop. Just stop researching at some point. You’re a writer. It’s okay to make stuff up when you get to this point! Definitely a good reminder for me!

    “The truth is, research is just as subjective, creative, and difficult as every other aspect of writing, even though — if you’ve done it right — the end result should feel simple, inevitable, and indisputable.”

    UK Government Moves to Update Copyright Law

    A press release on Digital Book World announces that the U.K. “government takes important step towards modernising copyright”, and “if the regulations are approved, they will come into force on 1 June 2014.”

    “A series of eight targeted guides about what the changes mean for different sectors have also been published … for groups including teachers, researchers, librarians, disability groups, artists, photographers, rights-holding groups and consumers, and explain what users can and cannot do with copyright material.

    From what I can figure out from the press release, the changes are intended to make it legal for minor and reasonable acts of copying and “remove a range of unnecessary rules and regulations from the statute book in line with the government’s aim to reduce regulation”.

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    The Author Earnings Brouhaha

    Porter Anderson on Jane Friedman’s blog has this to say on “Earning the Authors a Say” which is a follow-up on Hugh Howey’s original blast, “Call for Writers to Organize: Hugh Howey Interview” followed by the summing up of reactions in “Do Hugh Howey’s AuthorEarnings Add Up?“. Now there’s “‘The 50k Report‘ for its approximately 54,000 ebook titles sampled in another scraping of Amazon.com book pages, … [using] information interpreted from approximately 11,000 titles in genre fiction; 900 in literary fiction; 30,000 in non-fiction; and some 10,000 in children’s (not YA) fiction.”

    “As [Foin] Purcell puts it, it’s essential for self-publishers to understand that traditional publishing doesn’t have to die for self-publishing to succeed.”

    Anderson includes “some of the highlights from Howey’s new report, in short-form:

    • Of this second report’s areas of genre fiction, literary fiction, children’s books, and non-fiction, genre fiction appears to account for some 70% of the whole.
    • In genre eBook bestsellers, the AuthorEarnings report shows those self-published and those traditionally published roughly even in unit sales.
    • Also in genre eBook bestsellers, the report sees ‘indie authors as a group making more than traditionally published authors,’ in part because self-published authors make higher royalty rates than publishers provide.
    • Self-published authors, the report says, ‘capture 22% of the total share of earnings in non-fiction.’
    • Similarly, ‘e-literature and e-literary fiction…pay better for self-published authors than the traditionally published'”

    What it adds up to is that writers are likely to make more money by self-publishing, depending upon their genre.

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    Top Ten Mistakes in Your Writing With Disastrous Consequences

    Kathy Ide has a guest post at Live Write Thrive which discusses “10 Risks You Run if You Don’t Proofread Your Manuscript“. These are good basic reasons with real-life examples, and not just from books! Learn the basic rules (I have an ongoing set of resource pages on Grammar, Punctuation, Formatting, and the Word Confusions), find a website, a book, something that helps you learn. At the very least, proofreading your own work before you send it to an editor/copyeditor/proofreader can save you money!

    “Even if your manuscript has already been accepted by a traditional publishing house, if their in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text.”

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    Collaborative eBook Writing

    Widbook is a free Brazilian collaborative writing platform originally developed as a tool for a university professor to write and collaborate on projects with students and colleagues, according to Flávio Aguiar, who acts as CEO. “But, when the idea attracted the attention of other educational professionals, I recognized a gap in the market for building digital collaborative projects in an eBook format, and founded Widbook,” he said.

    Now, having evolved into a writing and eBook publishing platform, “Widbook Revamps Interface with a new “plan that changes the way users find stories. All internal pages have been revamped, making the platform more ‘intuitive, social, and interactive’.

    “Now, reading recommendations are displayed in a personal and unique page for each member, based on social interactions within the Widbook network, which, as of this February, has more than 200,000 members worldwide. Widbook describes itself as a ‘global community of writers and readers’ with access to different stories in eBook format. Users create a profile on the social network, and then can write books, articles, recipes, tips, and posts, and can then go on to share content on social networks (Widbook is integrated with Facebook, Twitter, and Evernote).”

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    Death of the Conservative Right

    McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed reckons the times they are a “Killing Conservative Books: The Shocking End Of A Publishing Gold Rush” “and now the bubble may be bursting on those mainstream publishers, who, a decade ago, became convinced they could make millions by churning out books for the right”.

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    No Premature Editing!

    Kristen Lamb warns us of “Lessons from Oleander — The Dangers of Premature Editing” and grants permission to not edit for fear of losing a gem.

    “There were times I thought what I was writing was ridiculous. SHEER MADNESS. But, as I got closer to the end, I realized my subconscious was far smarter than I am. I ended up with a richer, deeper story that I never would have been able to consciously plot.”

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    C.S. Lakin’s Four Pillars of Writing, continued

    Pillar 2. A Protagonist With a Goal

    Lakin continues to explore this second pillar with her post on “Resonating with Both Classic Heroes and Dark Protagonists” which explores the antithesis of what Lakin has discussed so far: the hero “who is abrasive, antisocial, difficult, struggling, or just plain unlikable? Just how in the world can you get a reader to like such a guy?” The dark hero who needs a glimmer of potential, a “‘glimpse of greatness’ in the first few paragraphs”. It’s a challenge all right, and Lakin has some great ideas for you.

    In “The Sensitive, Passionate Character“, Lakin delves into what makes a character larger than life, and yet cause readers to relate to the character, sympathize with him or her, and it’s the passion the character has for the clearly focused goal they begin with. Do read her post for more about that passion and her examples.

    Don’t forget to check her “Inspection Checklist for Protagonist With a Goal“.

    Pillar 3. Creating Conflict with a Purpose

    In her post, “Creating Conflict with a Purpose“, Lakin wants consequences. And, of course, this makes sense. What’s the fun in reading about someone in conflict if there aren’t going to be repercussions. Lakin goes on to reiterate that there must be one big conflict, the main problem for your protagonist, the obstacle in the path of that goal your hero wants to achieve. Something for which the hero will stake everything.

    And “The Secret to Crafting High Stakes” is to make it personal. It has to be so personally important to your character, that failure would be devastating, and Lakin provides a great example in a very down-to-earth movie.

    Four Things Writers Can Learn From Fairy Tales

    See what Writer’s Relief has to say about the “Four Things Writers Can Learn From Fairy Tales (Besides Never Eat The Free Apple)“, which gives you a different perspective from Lakin’s explanation.

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    The Economics of Writing & Publishing in the Digital Age

    Jane Friedman was interviewed with her Scratch business partner, Manjula Martin, on “The Economics of Writing & Publishing in the Digital Age” in “an hour-long podcast by BoingBoing, The New Disruptors, hosted by Glenn Fleishman. Friedman has posted a few bullet notes to give us an idea of the range of topics. Click here to find out more and listen.

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    Rhino Skin Helps Find the Gem

    Kristen Lamb writes about “Writing — So Easy a Caveman Can Do It” is a crack-up to read as well as a polarizing boost for the ego. Lamb’s right. Too many people don’t see the value of writing. After all, as Lamb points out, even a caveman can right, wright, er, write. There’s the philistine who scoffs at writers. Later she mentions the writing-by-committee blasphemy with her latter experience with one reader who objected to most of her story.

    “The one beta who didn’t like my book? Doesn’t read this genre, hates description and has vastly different preferences than I do for pleasure reading. I knew I’d get my literary @$$ handed to me when I passed it over. BUT, this beta picked up on things the others missed 😉 .

    Maybe I’m unwilling to completely burn the book to the ground and start over, but that doesn’t mean this beta didn’t point out areas that people who LOVE the genre missed. Areas that WILL make a far stronger book. Surrounding ourselves with yes-men doesn’t inspire growth. This is why rhino skin is SO valuable.”

    And sadly, you can apply the same argument that anyone can edit…*shudder*…

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    Edit Out Those Weasel Words

    The Magic Violinist at The Write Practice warns us of “Weasel Words You Should Always Watch Out For“, and she goes on to list most of mine. Sigh. My worst weasel word? Just. I’m constantly deleting that sucker…which ones are yours?

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    More Ideas to Spark Your Muse

    Lesley Vos has a guest post at Live Write Thrive on “20 Things That Can Help You Find Inspiration for Writing“, although I’m not sure where you can go camping for 30 minutes…

    Upcoming Writing Conferences

    I’ve begun building a page of writing conferences, conventions, and fairs to make it easier for authors to see what’s out there and when such events are coming up — makes it easier to plan trips…*grin*… I’m guessing that this section of the Hodgepodge will eventually evolve into more of a one-off, although I’ll keep a link to the Conferences page here as a reminder for y’all.

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

    Date, Time, Cost Location Conference/Workshop
    April 9 – 15, 2014
    $220 – $1,597
    Mentoring Track – additional Cost of $75
    Must submit an application to be accepted. There are deadlines and various criteria.
    Santa Cruz Mountains
    Conference Center
    37 Conference Drive
    Felton CA 95018
    Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference
    For 45 years Mount Hermon has created a one-of-a-kind laboratory for training writers at every skill level, from unpublished to professional, and has become the only place that offers help to writers in every genre and phase of their careers.

    We continually research the latest trends in writing and publishing, seeking out the foremost experts. Our programs have proven themselves as profitable tools in helping Christian writers. We hear from people each year crediting this conference with the effective start of their writing careers. And many agents, publishers and editors encourage writers to attend our conference.

    Mentoring Tracks By Application Only

    • With the Intermediate Mentoring Tracks held each day during the major morning tracks and are by application only & limited to ten writers per group. The goal is to give novelists and nonfiction writers concentrated time for having their works in progress critiqued in a knowledgeable, sympathetic, but realistic manner.
    • This year’s Career Track will feature daily focuses geared to educate, equip, and encourage published authors through teaching from experienced professionals. In addition, you’ll have time to dialogue with your fellow published authors and to put what you learn into practice. You must meet particular criteria to qualify for this one.

    The purpose of Head Start is to give each participant a “head start” on the basics of professional writing and insight into the publishing world. Each student will receive instruction, feedback on their submitted writing samples, interchange with others in the group, personal one-on-one time with their mentor, and an opportunity to offer comments and ask questions.

    April 12, 2014
    Meeting: 9am – 12pm PDT
    Workshop: 1pm – 4pm PDT
    There are two separate fees for the meeting and for the workshop
    The meeting is free for BAIPA members who receive a discount on the workshop
    Fees range from free to $50
    Next Key Center
    1385 North Hamilton Parkway
    Novato CA 94949
    Free (or Almost Free) Tools for Authors and Publishers for Getting Publicity
    Joan Stewart of The Publicity Hound is the presenter and “will share more than a dozen killer strategies and free tools that will help you promote your expertise, connect with journalists, create content and attract raving fans.” Sponsored by BAIPA
    April 30, 2014
    12pm EST / 9pm PT / 5pm GMT
    Webcast What Are eBook Readers Reading?
    Digital Book World teams up with editors from The Huffington Post, Book Riot, and BuzzFeed to explore what kinds of content today’s eBook readers are most excited about and why and answer the question what readers are actually reading what with the proliferation of e-reading, book digitization and self-publishing which have all helped put more books at readers’ fingertips than ever before.

    Attendees will learn:

    • Insights on readers’ interests, habits and behaviors online
    • Top trend in genres, themes, subject matter, and more
    • How to deliver content readers right now want
    • Techniques for fostering community and conversation in the ebook market

    This webcast is aimed at publishers and acquiring editors, marketing managers and publicists, authors, agents, and eBook readers.

    May 1–3, 2014
    10am – 5pm
    Prices range from $50 to $545 depending on event choice and membership.
    If you don’t belong to Author U ($99 a year), you can attend for $100 off the non-member fee (use code AUEX100 to get the discount when you register).

    Registration includes two dinners and lunches so you don’t have to worry about sneaking out for a bite to eat.

    Hyatt Regency
    Denver Tech Center
    Denver CO
    Author U Extravaganza
    Hosted by book shepherd Judith Briles who has written 32 of her own books while helping hundreds of authors produce top quality fiction and non-fiction books, many of them best-sellers. If you’ve written a book or you’re thinking of writing one, it will give you ideas galore for every aspect of your book, connect you with publishing leaders, and show you one helluva good time.

    Mark Coker, President of Smashwords; Dan Poynter, author of The Self Publishing Manual; John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books; Penny Sanseveiri, author of Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon.com; Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound; Daniel Hall, the webinar king; Stephanie Barko, top literary publicist; Joel Comm, social media and marketing pioneer; and, a dozen plus other publishing and book pros.

    May 12 – June 8, 2014
    Online How to Create a Book App
    Karen Robertson teaches you to find out how to publish your book as a book app and get guaranteed distribution with instant access to a growing and global market. You can create your book as an app, even if you’re not technically inclined. This course takes you through understanding the book app opportunity, planning your app, finding the right developer (or DIY tool), and planning and budgeting your project.

    After completing this course, you should:

    • Understand how to make your book a compelling app that will capture the market’s attention
    • Have a “brief” for your project, ready to take to developers for cost estimates or to follow as you create the app yourself
    • Know where to find the right developer for your project (or the right DIY tool)
    • Know where to source cost effective suppliers to create assets you’ll need like professional narration, illustration, sound effects, and music
    • Be aware of pitfalls to avoid and tips to succeed
    June 2 – 6, 2014
    $1500 (non-refundable $50 deposit required)
    Students are responsible for their own lodging, food, and transportation expenses.
    CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
    219 West 40th Street
    New York City
    CUNY Publishing Institute
    A five-day course on new modes of book publishing for newcomers, entrepreneurs, and industry veterans alike about a smarter, faster, more intensive look at what’s happening in the rapidly changing world of book publishing. Whether you’re considering a start-up operation or keen to learn more about the business you are part of, as writer or employee, the CUNY Publishing Institute is the place for you. While we will, in five days, touch on the major aspects of the industry, our focus is on new possibilities in book publishing.

    Instructors include senior editors, Jane Friedman, Jeff Jarvis, Matt Shatz, and more.

    June 13-15, 2014
    Early Bird Literary Conference Pass (available until 14 April): £294 (inclusive of VAT)
    After 14 April: £390 (inclusive of VAT)

    Limited concessions are available for full-time students, seniors, and unemployed at a further 15% discount. You will be asked to provide a proof of status at the door. Proofs accepted include: Student ID (NUS, ISIC), documentation for Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support status, and Over 60s.

    Literary Conference passes are a 2-day pass + a third day of workshops, one-to-one sessions and writing advice. They give access to all the seminars, discussions, and workshops, and include lunch and refreshments throughout, as well as drinks at the end of each day.

    Free Word Centre
    60 Farringdon Road
    London EC1R 3GA
    020 7324 2570
    Literary Conference: Writing in a Digital Age
    A three-day event for writers and those working with writers, Writing in a Digital Age offers up a hugely diverse selection of talks, headed up by some of the most knowledgeable and esteemed names in the industry, and an opportunity to catch up on the very latest in technology and thinking in the book publishing world. Featuring more than 30 writers, journalists, publishers, literary agents, and digital pioneers over three packed days. One of the events is the Pen Factor Writing Competition sponsored by Kobo and open to all writers attending the conference, who do not have work currently in print with a commercial publishing house in which you pitch your work to a panel of agents and publishers.

    View the conference programme here.

    It is brought to you by The Literary Consultancy, The UK’s most established editorial consultancy, supported by Arts Council England and an associate with the Royal Society of Literature.

    July 16-17, 2014 New York City Digital Publishing Innovation Summit: Proven Digital Strategies to Stay Competitive within Publishing
    30+ Industry speakers & 150+ delegates, this is the most exclusive gathering of leaders within digital publishing.

    • New tools and technology to publish in new formats
    • Future of Digital Publishing
    • Winning eBook Strategies
    • Agile Publishing
    • Preparing Content for Next-Generation Learning
    • Digital Publishing with HTML5
    • eBooks vs. Web Apps For Interactive Content
    • Future of Content and Online Learning

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    The Publishing Business

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    Book Layout & Design

    Jacket Copy Sells Books, So Make It Good

    Laura Hazard Owens has a post at Publishing Trends on how “Jacket Copy Sells Books, So Make It Good” with some useful information on the -18 and 65+ crowds like to see in a book description from a study done by the Codex Group, which “measures book and author sales potential based on book shopper purchase interest”. As well as a kick at how much influence the New York Times exerts over readers.

    “Flap copy is especially important for fiction. And title and cover impact are closely related to the impact of jacket copy. If the flap copy defies the expectation created by the cover and title — if, for instance, the cover of the book leads the reader to expect a thriller but the flap copy identifies it as horror — readers are less likely to buy it.”

    Why You Need Accurate Copy

    Josh Cook at In Order of Importance writes of “The Impossibility of Jacket Copy“. I suggest authors read this if only to reinforce the importance of a good book description, as Josh talks about why he fled one book. And how he returned to it to read it.

    No Sarcasm, Please

    Dang, and I’m the sarcasm queen… Instead, in this post on incorporating keywords into your book description, Sheara at ProMedia Corp tells us in “How to Optimize Book Jacket Copy” that “Google does not understand metaphor, sarcasm, analogies, and cannot infer meaning from them” and follows up with an excellent example of this.

    Design Running Heads for Your Book

    Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer talks about “How to Design Running Heads for Your Book” and includes definitions, where and when to use a running head (or running feet…I use my running feet to get away from muggers), sorry, couldn’t resist. Back to that running head…

    Friedlander goes into DETAIL on which books should and those that don’t need one along with where inside a particular book running heads should/should not appear from the front matter to the body to the back matter to notes. He discusses the types and varieties…and, whew, who knew?

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    Why You Want to Self-Publish

    H.M. Ward provides a slew of reasons not to wait around for a traditional publishing deal in her post, “The Roses are Dead (Too Much Manure in Publishing)“. Oh man, you will enjoy reading her responses to a variety of questions on why that grass ain’t greener on the other side including:

    • Do you think you’ll get an advance against royalties?
    • That print distribution legitimizes you?
    • That a major publishing deal is the only way to get into bookstores or libraries?
    • No bookstore will stock your books?
    • That you’ll never work with a great editor, publicist, or marketing team unless you’ve got a book deal?
    • That self-published authors are less likely to become best-sellers?
    • That DIY writers are missing out on branding and licensing opportunities?
    • You’ll miss out on selling to Hollywood?
    • Foreign sales will pass you by?
    • That you won’t be responsible for marketing?

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    Interactive Books & Apps

    5 Myths About Book Apps

    Image courtesy of Digital Book World
    and Chris Pederson

    An infographic from book app author, Chris Pedersen, showing the difference between an eBook and a book app.

    Karen Robertson recently surveyed her colleagues at the Book App Alliance to find out what myths they hear most often about book apps. Here’s a look at five of the most common:

    1. You can tell the difference between a book app and an eBook – nope. It can appear similar but the difference is in development and where it’s sold.
    2. Book apps are just for picture books – nope, for there are also poetry, nonlinear stories, comics, and more besides picture books
    3. You have to be tech savvy to create a book app – nope, and Robertson refers you to a useful DIY book
    4. You’re going to get rich – built doesn’t mean bought
    5. Built once is built forever – nope

    Do watch the short video on what makes an eBook a book app. It’s good!

    Video Games Inside eBooks

    Paula Mooney has an article at VentureBeat on “Video games inside of eBooks: An idea that’s already here“, and I love her idea of following Percy Jackson through “the markets of Greece, Paris roads, and old-time catacombs. They can even swipe their screens to toss punches in fights and steer through explosive car chases, [and] can you imagine the heroines of books in the Hunger Games or Divergent series coming to life?”

    The Evolution of the Book

    Gracie Jin at PolicyMic writes “Inside the Digital Platform That’s About to Revolutionize Book Publishing” with a look at what Frances Coady, publisher and president of Atavist Books, is doing with eBooks. A fun example is Karen Russell’s novella, “Sleep Donation” and it’s très cool interactive cover by Chip Kidd. Go ahead and click on the eyeball. It’s fun to watch it build itself. The article goes on to talk about the various extras that come with Russell’s novella: a “promotional interactive website that will immerse potential readers in the world of the book without giving the book away”, a quiz, and plans for “breaking news”.

    “Publishing digitally first not only makes sense because for die-hard fans digitally will be the fastest way to get a book, but also because the digital book can create a social media platform to get the word out about the print book.”

    Hmmm, not a bad idea. And pretty much what self-published authors are already doing, although the extra interactivity Atavist Books is including certainly ups the fun.

    The article is also a jab at traditional publishing and they’re snooty attitude about digital publishing, how the entire book industry fears that we can only have one or the other: hardcopy OR digital. I don’t understand that attitude. Why can’t we have both?

    App Releases Require Different Branding

    John A. Sellers with Publishers Weekly mentioned one of the speakers at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair who addressed apps, noting some of the marketing choices made that are different from regular book publishing, including the need to brand promote as opposed to the usual ads. Interesting tip about Brazilian publishers being so on top of digital publishing!

    “With regard to branding, [Eric] Huang spoke of his time at Disney and Penguin … and spoke of … iteration, he encouraged publishers to think the way app creators do, regularly releasing updates, bug fixes, and adjustments to their products. ‘If you put something out and it’s not perfect, it’s OK,” said Huang, ‘because you can constantly test and tweak it.'”

    Keep Focus On the Narrative

    Roger Tagholm at Publishing Perspectives has “A Word of Warning About Content Exploitation, Enhancement” and talks about Tom Dolan whose “background is outside publishing, he’s very experienced at taking content from one platform and exploiting it across a variety of others. He’s a good person to listen to in a world that is becoming constantly more blurred and overlapped — a world in which book content is increasingly freed from its traditional constraints and can now take so many forms, whether that be games, apps, mobile exclusives, web exclusives, enhanced eBooks, smartcode-released extra material, practically anything that can be imagined.”

    Sounds like Dolan is caught up in the fun, BUT actually Dolan warns us that you mustn’t get so caught up in playing and distributing your content, “at some point you need to think about what makes a user turn the page, click play, or try the next level of a game. That’s not about engineering, it’s about experience and emotion.”

    “This is a little like the famous Post-It note that the novelist Douglas Kennedy used to have pinned above his desk: “It’s the story, stupid.”

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    Getting a Literary Agent to Read Your Query

    Writer’s Relief has a post on “5 Secrets For Getting a Literary Agent to Read Your Query” from writing an amazing query letter to staying aware of the target word count for your genre to the best first five pages ever to following submission guidelines religiously to sending that fabulous query letter to the right agents. And the Writer’s Relief has an assortment of links within the post to help with each of these five tips.

    Check out the post on “How To Write A Query Letter” as well as the one on “Red Flags: Shortcuts That Agents & Editors Will Use To Reject Your Writing” as well.

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    Contract Rights & Royalties

    Beware of Your Contract Rights

    Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly tells us that Open Road Media has been found at fault in “Judge Rules for HarperCollins in Open Road eBook Dispute” regarding backlist eBook rights for the eBook edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 bestselling children’s book Julie of the Wolves.

    This is back in the day when no one knew eBooks would be part of a book’s future, although this article states that “HarperCollins argued that two clauses in its contract (signed in 1971) gave it the exclusive right to license an electronic edition — albeit, only to be executed with the permission of George” while “Open Road … believed there to be no explicit grant of eBook rights in the contract”.

    Now that a judge has ordered for HarperCollins, damages could “run up to $150,000 per work infringed”. So, if a contract signed 40 years ago can affect eBook rights now, you may want to be extra careful about your contracts now, $150k ain’t peanuts.

    Why would George choose another publisher? Because those cheap traditional publishers cut the eBook royalty rate in half and insist on paying a 25% royalty on eBooks. Insist on separate contracts for every single right. Even better, self-publish.

    Y’ain’t Reading That in eBook

    Which leads into one of the whys for why so many older books aren’t available — yet — on eBook. Authors want a decent royalty. Considering how much less expensive it is to print and ship eBooks, it seems quite fair that authors should receive a decent royalty. After all, where would any of us be without authors…?

    TradeRights Accessible to Any Member

    A press release on Digital Book World announces that IPR License is a global digital marketplace for books rights which has just launched “TradeRights“, a platform which will “allow parties to make offers and negotiate deals on whole book rights then complete the transaction in full, including contracts and payment.”

    Publishers, agents, and authors need to be members of the IPR License platform; the initial year for writers is £99 (+ VAT) which allows you to register five manuscripts/books. Each subsequent year is £60.

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    EZ Self-Publishing For Technical Books

    Anthony Ha, @anthonyha, at TechCrunch says “Softcover Is A New Self-Publishing Platform Aimed At Technical Authors“, and certainly seems to come as a complete package. The idea and delivery was inspired by Softcover’s co-founder Michael Hartl based on his experiences with his “Ruby on Rails Tutorial“.

    Hartle wanted an easier way to create “multi-format eBooks from common source files”, do follow-on products, such as a book and screencast series, along with a website, a sales system, and all the files necessary for users. On the marketing data side, he wanted “full access to my customer list and support for custom domains”.

    With Softcover, authors can “view an HTML version of their book as they write; publish HTML, EPUB, MOBI, and PDF eBooks on the Softcover website; and, bundle those eBooks with screencast and other media to create premium packages. (Hartl said the eBooks can include ‘syntax-highlighted code listings, numbered tables and figures, mathematical equations, and linked cross-references.’) In exchange, the startup takes 10 percent of the sales revenue.”

    Nor is Softcover limited to technical books. There’s more in Ha’s article.

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    My Self-Publishing Journey: On Becoming an Indie Author

    Paige Crutcher has a new introspective column at Publishers Weekly Select that will document her journey as a self-publishing author. This one has a more personal and curious feel to it than others I’ve read and introduces us to her and her thoughts at the start of this journey.

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    Marketing Ideas

    Collaborating on a Box-Set

    Joanna Penn talks about “Deadly Dozen Hits The NY Times and USA Today Lists. Lessons Learned From The Box-Set” and how she worked with twelve other authors to make this happen. It’s a very heartening post from which I learned as well as received encouragement; I do recommend reading it.

    Points Penn made include:

    1. You need to sell in more than one store and “grow [your] list to include readers on multiple platforms”
    2. Decide on your goal ahead of time: do you want top in Amazon or top in the New York Times Bestseller list?
    3. Build that frickin’ (my word) email list. Start NOW.

    Penn goes on to talk about building box-sets, whether it’s with other authors or with your own stories. She includes warnings about sales programs your box-set could be barred from. Give it a read.

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    Getting Into the Big Box Stores

    Costco Might Sell Your Book If…

    Joan Stewart of The Publicity Hound sent out her email newsletter and included a notice about a workshop with Amy Collins of New Shelves Distribution for a webinar on “How to Convince Costco, Walmart, Target & Other Huge Chains to Sell Your Books.

    Stewart points out a hard fact, “when it comes to choosing a limited number of titles for coveted table space in its book section, what Costco wants, Costco usually gets” and that includes a requirement that authors “sell their books at a 55 percent discount, minimum”. Stewart does go on to do do the math [NOT my strong suit]: “If you sell 200 books yourself at the full retail price of $19.95, you’ve made almost $4,000. But if you sell 1,000 books at 10.97 each, that’s $10,970.” She also asks “how long would it take you to sell 1,000 books on your own? How long do you think it would take a big chain like Costco to sell 1,000 of your books?” Hmmm…

    She also points out the need for “you to do your homework before approaching the stores. That means walking the aisles to see what they’re already selling, talking to the people who buy the books, and creating an attractive book marketing package that makes it easy for them to know immediately what your book is about and why people would want to buy it.

    5 tips for getting fiction or nonfiction books into Costco, Walmart, Target

    Joan Stewart from The Publicity Hound wonders if you knew that if you’re an indie author, you can also do book signings at Costco? Did you know that you, too, might be able to convince Target, Walmart, big supermarket chains, and even airport bookstores to give you shelf space? But only if you follow the rules. Stewart gives you “5 tips for getting fiction or nonfiction books into Costco, Walmart, Target“.

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    Don’t Forget Your Roots & Who Holds You Up

    Andi Cumbo-Floyd, @andilit, says “Think Local: It’s Not Just for Food” in her guest post at Jane Friedman’s blog. There are some good marketing tips here, and it’s a way of dipping your foot in the marketing pool without being too scary.

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    Pitching the Media

    Pros and Cons of Press Releases vs. Pitches & When to Use ‘Em

    Joan Stewart at The Publicity Hound differentiates between “The Pros and Cons of Press Releases vs. Pitches” and lists the advantages and disadvantages of both. While Stewart’s post is aimed at generating free publicity for a company or nonprofit, you can use a press release with organizations which would be interested in your book’s subject or if you’re speaking somewhere and want to let people know. As a blogger, you may want to announce a new idea or service. Think sideways as to how announcing you, your idea, your book, whatever could help you. The same with the pitch. In fact, even more so as you will need a pitch to promote your book or blog or posts to potential publishers, agents, and readers.

    Stewart follows this up with “When to use a press release and when to deliver a pitch“. I particularly liked her idea of using a press release as a resource of details that people can pick up without having to bother you! Hmmm, maybe you could practice this one on your spouse and the kids! In this post, Stewart notes that the press release is more for a general release to everyone while the pitch is individual, crafted to that particular person or organization. After all, you’d pitch going to a game to your son, but probably not your daughter…the same idea.

    When it Comes to Pitching the Media, Less Is More

    Stewart continues with a post geared to authors, “Less is More When Pitching“, and she focuses on finding the right targets with that pitch so it has a better chance of being used — right down to “Find the name of a blogger’s dog, cat, kid in 60 seconds” — without having to spend time on their blog!

    Stewart talks about “three phrases that grab readers and make them pay attention”. All three phrases “flag” the reader to pay attention. That’s one of the things Colin Martin taught during Thursday’s free (it’s up for viewing for a short time, and I recommend it) “Stealth Persuasion” webinar on how to write powerful copy. And I’ve already been incorporating (and seeing) how his tips come in handy.

    Need TV publicity? Don’t pitch a website. Pitch a yummy hook

    Stewart continues the pitch section with how to get on TV with “Need TV publicity? Don’t pitch a website. Pitch a yummy hook“by looking at what’s the hot-new trend in your area of expertise. Make it relate to the TV audience for the channel.

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    Target Audiences

    ‘Nother Study Says Too Many YA UK Not Buying eBooks

    D.B. Hebbard at Talking New Media says “New UK study finds young people less enthusiastic about eBooks, many still do not own a tablet“. My question is, where are people getting their statistics? The reports on who’s reading and how many have tablets or eReaders are all over the place! Anyway, a new report (Fault-KEThe) on digital content buying habits says “physical books remain the preferred format to read books due to the price of eBooks and the lack of access to a tablet or eReader” with 24-percent of the 16–24 age bracket in the U.K. buy eBooks each month, but “half of those are spending less than £5 per month. Three-quarters of those surveyed never buy eBooks at all. There’s lots more on various age groups with more info breaking it down into who reads and why not tablets, etc. Useful if you’re determining your target audience.

    5 Charts Show How Publishing is Changing

    Jane Friedman provides “5 Valuable Charts That Show How Publishing is Changing” (she also provides a link to her Pinterest board). The charts include a look at where U.S. readers bought books, long-term trends on the U.S. print book market, adult gadget-ownership over time, a look at unit economics to improve profitability, and average sales for books with/out BIC data.

    Digital Broadband Penetration

    Publishers Weekly has some interesting facts about the Korean market in “Digital Publishing in Korea 2014: All Our Coverage“. Makes me feel like a red-headed stepchild…

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    Great Radio Interview Tip!

    Joan Stewart from The Publicity Hound has a great radio tip for those of you giving interviews!

    “If you’re doing an in-studio or telephone radio interview, and you want callers to call a phone number to order a book or product, register for an event or buy tickets, follow this tip from Joe Sabah.

    Work it out ahead of time with the host that just before a commercial break, the host says: ‘When we come back, Joan Stewart is going to give you a publicity tip you won’t want to miss and it’s so good you’ll want to write it down. So grab a paper and pencil.’

    After the break, you give the killer tip. Then right after that, the host pitches your product and gives listeners the phone number you want them to call. If they followed orders, they’ll already have their paper and pencil handy.”

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    Collectors (Who Happen to Be Book-makers)

    This was an interesting article in Blurb‘s newsletter on people who put together books about collectibles. Discussing why, how, and what software was used. It’s not deep, but it does make me feel good since I love to collect as well, lol. It’s also a good example of providing value to promote your business.

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    Promote Your New Business Book

    The Young Entrepreneur Council came up with responses to the question: “What is one effective tool or strategy I can use to promote my new business book?” and has put together these “11 Ways to Successfully Promote Your New Book” over at Small Business Trends.

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    WARNING: LinkedIn Products and Services Tab Disappears 4/14

    For those of you have endorsements, products, services, etc. up on your LinkedIn Products and Services tab on your Company Page, you’d better make a backup of it all as LinkedIn is removing it all starting April 14. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It seems that the Showcase Page is its replacement.

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    The Cost of a Facebook Page

    Joan Stewart at The Publicity Hound discusses a “Facebook Page Cost Calculator” and notes how very expensive it can be to “pay just to have your Page posts seen by your existing audience of Likes” if you use a Facebook page to market your books. Stewart suggests using SHIFT Communications’ free Facebook Page Cost Calculator to figure out how much it’s currently costing you. Once you find out what it costs, Stewart suggests you may want to move over to Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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    Bologna Children’s Book Fair

    Interesting changes at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair this year as John A. Sellers and Diane Roback with Publishers Weekly report on “Day One at Bologna 2014: Brisk Weather and Brisk Business” with greater interest in more than one category and more interest in middle-grade fiction, non-fiction is getting a rush as well. More adult writers are moving into YA. Books whose translations haven’t been finished are selling.

    On the second day of the Fair, Sellers/Roback report that the interest is perking up for more realistic YA as opposed to the fantasy, dystopian, and paranormal genres. Although it’s not to say those genres are out the door completely.

    Rights-wise, Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio notes that: “The market wheel keeps turning,” and that older books can become timely once more as tastes and trends shift. “You don’t need to sell all the rights out of the gate.”

    On Day 3, John A. Sellers notes in “Bologna 2014: E-Publishing and ‘Nimble Thinking’” looked more deeply at digital publishing, at apps that are not yet a proven marketing strategy, a look at Wattpad, and the current trend in viewing eNovellas and book trailers as freebie giveaways on the international publishing front.

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    Practical Public Speaking Tips

    Ann Lee Miller has a guest post on C.S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive blog on “Public Speaking — It’s Even for Authors Who Are Sissies” and she has a slew of useful tips from how to start, tips, cheerleaders, dealing with stage fright, what you talk about, finding speaking gigs, and how to promote yourself. A very useful post.

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    3 Marketing Mistakes Publishers Make

    Mike Shatzkin at The Shatzkin Files notes that “Even the biggest and smartest publishers still have a lot to learn about digital marketing“. Now most of what Shatzkin talks about won’t apply to y’all as you aren’t Penguin-Random or Simon & Schuster, but some of the ideas are good ones.

    1. Systematize metadata for back-list titles within imprints
    2. Don’t study the text of a book for clues on how to market it. Studying its market and the people who the book might appeal to — they are the ones who need to have the book marketed to them.
    3. Do a better job of choosing where to place paid online advertising so you spend sufficiently well to get the most out of it

    Shatzkin is looking at the backlist, books that have been out for some time or are no longer the latest and greatest. His partner, Peter McCarthy, suggests finding what words people who have already read the book have used when they describe it. That “LibraryThing tags and GoodReads reviews are key sources for that”.

    Shatzkin mentions the case of “the Chief Marketing Officer of a large publisher … who wanted Shatzkin and Parker … to apply a full-text search of a book to improve the marketing. I thought he would fall down when I told him, ‘Pete doesn’t believe in reading the book so I don’t think he’ll want to apply a full-text search.’ My CMO friend was immediately skeptical so I told him what Pete has told me. ‘I’m marketing to people who haven’t read the book.'” That about the only “full-text” you might want to use is proper nouns to use as keywords in the metadata. Food for thought…

    That “any media outreach campaign that is not utilizing A/B testing is doomed. Any digital marketing that is done without A/B testing is amateur hour.” That click-through ads can be too expensive without A/B testing.

    Shatzkin concludes this post with an announcement of the new online business he and Parker are putting together.

    “We are building the Logical Marketing web site right now and will formally announce the business, with services tailored to publishers, agents, authors, and brands very shortly. It will include a self-service portal for self-publishing authors. But we are already applying Pete’s knowledge on behalf of publishers large and small, two prominent literary agencies, and several independent authors. If you’re interested in getting more information about these services, an email sent to marketing@idealog.com is the way to let us know.”

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    5 Ways to Boost Your Book Sales

    Jennifer Joplin, a freelance writer at help.plagtracker.com has a guest post at BookBaby and talks about “How to Engage With Your Readers So They Buy More Books” with “5 ways to boost your book sales”. Joplin has the usual suggestions about social media and adds on reading sessions and book signings, fan fiction forums, blogging “about other topics besides your books”, and sharing other content with a slew of ideas that could well whet your readers’ interests.

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    5 (Interesting) Ways to Build Your Readership

    Joanna Penn has a fabulous video (with downloadable PDF slides) on, well, interesting ways to build your readership with a slew of ideas that can perk your potential readers’ interests through reasons why and how you should be sharing images on a variety of social media, podcasts, speaking engagements, a short bit on doing audio — but in ways I didn’t consider, a new look at “free” on Amazon/Kobo/Apple/NOOK. It’s well worth the time — I’ve bookmarked the YouTube video!

    I don’t care that she says the PDF slides will have all the info, I still found it useful to take notes on all the ideas she spilled forth!

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    Social Media

    7 Facebook Marketing “Tips” and “Tricks” That Don’t Actually Work

    Ginny Soskey at HubSpot points out “7 Facebook Marketing “Tips” and “Tricks” That Don’t Actually Work“, and I hate her! I love auto-posting even if everyone says no! However, Soskey does point out that some of what we [read “I”] do is reducing our Facebook performance.

    1. Put any links in the text itself, NOT in the first comment
    2. When you link your Facebook and Twitter accounts, your posts end up with really weird, Twitter-specific formats for your Facebook posts (and vice versa). It’s very obvious that you just synced up your accounts — your Facebook Page will have lots of posts from the past day and zero engagement. And Facebook says they devalue those posts. (Read Anum Hussain’s post, “How to Craft Perfect Posts for Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter“)
    3. DO NOT buy fans and followers
    4. DO NOT tag random people in a photo
    5. ONLY tag a brand if it’s relevant to your post
    6. Trying Engagementbait [I don’t understand this one, probably because I don’t really use Facebook]
    7. Use hashtags sparingly

    An Easy-to-Create Facebook Cover Template

    Louise Myers, @Louise_Myers, at How-to Social Media Graphics discusses the new Facebook Fan Page redesign and provides a free Facebook cover template in PowerPoint, so you can create great Facebook cover photos using your own images or images you purchased or have legal recourse to(!) for your Facebook Fan Page. In case you prefer a JPG file. And be sure to read Myers’ note on Page name, Category, and buttons!

    Turn Social Media into a Bookstore

    Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly looks at how “Aerbook Turns Social Media Into a Virtual Bookstore“, a “form of ‘native’ commerce that produces interactive social content and links to purchasing opportunities that can be sent down the social streams of targeted consumers, alongside their posts, RTs, and social chit chat. The service is focused on selling digital as well as print books, but Ron Martinez, founder of Aerbrook, emphasized that it can be used to sell anything.

    “Martinez said someone described Aerbook as “Amazon for Twitter,” though he noted that we should also add Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and other social media applications. “You can send a sample of your book around the world, not just have it displayed in a bookstore,” he said.”

    From what I read of the article, it does sound like a very reasonably priced service with several levels that allow various degrees of sampling a chapter or the whole book with an option to share, download the eBook, or buy the print book on laptops or mobile devices.

    5 Mistakes That Lead To Social Media Burnout

    This is a different approach to social media as Web Design Relief talks about “5 Mistakes That Lead To Social Media Burnout: How To Avoid Stress, Frustration, And Exhaustion In Your Social Media Campaign“:

    1. Taking on too many social networks at once; consider consolidating them
    2. Monitoring your social media accounts 24/7; set limits
    3. Focusing on the wrong social network; Web Design Relief has suggestions to find what site suits you best
    4. Posting infrequently; find out how to re-spark your interest or make it easier
    5. Pursuing quantity over quality of followers, instead, interact with real fans and followers

    Two Bookselling Boards on Pinterest

    “Two new Pinterest boards — Creative Bookstore Windows and Effective Bookstore Displays — have been launched and ‘booksellers are encouraged to join in the creative pursuit and start sharing pictures of imaginative, resourceful and crafty bookstore displays,’ Bookselling This Week reported. The boards are managed by Gary Robson of Red Lodge Books & Tea, Red Lodge, Montana, and are open to both ABA members and non-members. There aren’t a lot of pins up yet, but there are some good ‘uns.

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    Building Your Own Website

    Tons Of Patterns, For Free!

    Looking for free and interesting patterned backgrounds for your website? Well, Smashing Magazine (Smashing Newsletter #105: Burgers, Mysteries and Fancy Pants) says “there’s an enormous selection [of very subtle designs] available at `Subtle Patterns, a library of nearly 400 tileable, textured patterns which can all be used free of charge. This resource is put together and curated by interaction designer Atle Mo, who is based in Oslo, Norway.

    If you’re looking for transparent or semi-transparent patterns, Transparent Textures includes a color picker as well as a CSS generator that should cover your needs pretty well. And it’s lots of fun to play with! And if you’d like something a bit… fancier, The Pattern Library provides a good number of freely available, complex, and sophisticated patterns. Click the up/down arrows on the right side. Of course, all libraries welcome submissions.”

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    Monitor and Improve Your Site’s Load Time

    Lisa Toner at HubSpot has ideas on “How to Monitor and Improve Your Site’s Load Time“, for you don’t want your website to take so long to load that people get bored and click off somewhere else.

    If you enjoyed this newsletter, do me a favor and share it with friends by tweeting it.