A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – Mid-April 2014

Posted April 15, 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

Amazon Lockers Ease Returns

Greg Bensinger at the Wall Street Journal reveals that “Amazon Will Now Allow Returns Using Lockers” located at garages, convenience, and grocery stores in major metropolitan areas. The return can’t be any bigger than a cubic foot and it must be within one business day, I think, of your scheduling the return. It wasn’t obvious from the article. The idea is that it makes it easier for people who work during the day to return their packages by dropping it off at the locker. Plus it saves Amazon on shipping costs if it can consolidate pickups. For more information, check Amazon’s Locker page.

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Liberty Mutual Sells Most of Its Share of B&N

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Martin Peers at the Wall Street Journal note that “Liberty Cuts Stake in Barnes & Noble“, keeping “10% of its initial investment”. Greg Maffei, Liberty Mutual’s president and CEO, says this gives Barnes & Noble greater flexibility, but Wall Street isn’t impressed.

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Just for Fun

Loved these tongue-in-cheek advantages of books over eReaders

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April 23: World Book Night

For those of you curious about attending a World Book Night (WBN) event on April 23, check out the interactive map which provides giver locations by zip code.

Publishers Weekly notes that “WBN also announced that its first proprietary e-book, The World Book Night 2014 ebook: An Original Collection of Stories and Essays by Booksellers, Librarians, and Authors, will be ready for givers to hand out on April 23.


New York

Rizzoli Bookstore in New York City has been rejected for landmark status for the building by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. It doesn’t help that the Vornado Realty Trust has hired contractors “to deface the exterior of the buildings in a premeditated effort to derail the landmark-evaluation process.” While this store is closing April 11, Rizzoli is still looking for a new space. And has some promising possibilities.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission shot down an appeal on the basis that the interior only dated from 1985. WTF?

Polly Mosendz at the Commercial Observer tells us that New York City’s current home of Shakespeare & Company on 716 Broadway was listed for rent by Massey Knakal Realty Services yesterday morning.

The South

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its spring Okra Picks, a dozen fresh titles chosen by Southern indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling.


The Chapters Festival Hall bookstore, located beneath the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto, will close May 30, less than two months after the shuttering of the iconic Chapters Runnymede store. They’re looking for “potential new locations ‘that will best meet our requirements’ in Oakville, downtown Toronto, and Bloor West Village.”

United Kingdom

“Penguin Random House U.K. has launched My Independent Bookshop, a reader recommendation platform

designed to allow readers to set up a virtual bookshop’, share their favorite reads, and discover, recommend, and review books online. The site went up yesterday in closed beta to begin a month-long period in which select authors and book fans will be invited to join the community and start creating shops. Anyone interested in the project can register now to be among the first to set up their virtual bookshop when My Independent Bookshop goes live to the general public.

“Readers who do not want to set up a shop can still wander the virtual high streets and browse shop windows. They can buy books online through hive.co.uk, the e-commerce arm of Gardners wholesalers that is connected with hundreds of independent bookshops across the U.K. As part of the registration process, My Independent Bookshop users can also choose their favorite real-world indie to connect with and Hive will pass a commission from any purchase made through the website to that shop.”

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2014 Dilys Award

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association presented the 2014 Dilys Award to Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger.

2014 Left Coast Crime Awards

  • Lefty Award for Most Humorous Mystery: The Good Cop (Carter Ross Mystery, 4) by Brad Parks
  • Bruce Alexander Memorial Mystery Award (best historical mystery, covering events before 1960): Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses (Dandy Gilver, 7) by Catriona McPherson
  • The Squid (best mystery set within the United States): Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
  • The Calamari (best mystery set anywhere else in the world): How the Light Gets In (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, 9) by Louise Penny

34th PEN/ Awards

The winner and finalists will read at the May 10 PEN/Faulkner award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Publishers Weekly writes that this imprisoned Chinese economist and writer, Ilham Tohti, who was arrested in his Beijing home in January, is being honored with the Freedom to Write Award. … Thirty-five of the 38 writers who were in prison at the time they won the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award … were … “freed due in part to the attention and pressure generated by the award.”

  • Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award: Ilham Tohti

Lionel Gelber Prize

Gary J. Bass won the Lionel Gelber Prize, which recognizes a “nonfiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues,” for The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide. Jury chair William Thorsell said Bass “draws a brilliant portrait of the tragic birth of Bangladesh. He produces shocking revelations about the role of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in backing Pakistan’s genocidal suppression of democracy in Bangladesh, even as American diplomats on the ground described the horrors around them.”

10th Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize champions new and emerging talent in children’s writing and is unique in that it is solely voted for by booksellers.

2014 Walt Whitman Award

Hannah Sanghee Park has won the 2014 Walt Whitman Award, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Park’s manuscript, “The Same-Different”, will be published by Louisiana State University Press in 2015, and the Academy of American Poets will purchase and distribute thousands of copies of the book to its members. Park also receives $5,000, a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center and promotion on Poets.org.

I liked this description!

“Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rae Armantrout, who selected Park, commented: ‘The poems in “The Same-Different”, beginning with a set of gnomic sonnets, tell it slant, then slanter. They are so full of chiasmus, pun, and near-rhyme that their figures twist back on themselves like strands of DNA or a staircase by Escher. They are mirror-bright. This book is a literally dazzling debut.'”

34th Annual LA Times Book Prizes

The best books of 2013 were recognized in ten categories along with the winners of Innovator’s and Robert Kirsch awards.

1st Sherry Prowda Literary Champion Award

The inaugural Sherry Prowda Literary Champion Award, sponsored by Seattle Arts & Lectures, has been presented to Lee Soper and Book-It Repertory Theatre. Named for Sherry Prowda, who founded Seattle Arts & Lectures in 1987, the award honors Prowda’s “vision of a future in which imaginative acts such as reading, writing, and creative thinking are indispensable to a curious, engaged, democratic society, and her leadership as a champion of the literary arts.”

Pulitzer Prizes Awarded

Joseph Pulitzer arranged in his 1904 will “for the establishment of the Pulitzer Prizes as an incentive to excellence … with … four awards … in letters and drama … with … prizes … to go to an American novel, an original American play performed in New York, a book on the history of the United States, an American biography, and a history of public service by the press. …Sensitive to the dynamic progression of his society, Pulitzer made provision for broad changes in the system of awards.

Inaugural Yaddo Artist Medal

Yaddo, the legendary retreat for artists in Saratoga Springs, New York, will present its inaugural Yaddo Artist Medal to Philip Roth at the annual New York City benefit May 14.

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New Collection of Apps to Strengthen Literacy Skills

Digital Book World has posted a press release, “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Introduces New Collection of Apps to Strengthen Literacy Skills for Today’s Mobile Learners“: Common Core Reading Practice and Assessment apps designed for at-home and classroom use. What caught my attention was the statement that “the apps provide engaging and fun literacy exercises and develop test-taking practice skills aligned to the ELA Common Core State Standards (CCSS)”. Considering how many kids have test-taking issues, these “seven elementary grade-specific tablet apps (K-6)” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt™ could be very helpful.

Personal eBook App for Android

Paul Sawers at The Next Web talks about how “Book Creator now lets you create your own eBooks from your Android tablet” using Red Jumper Studio’s personal ebook-creating app. While not for your first professional self-publication, it’s great for “creating stories for your kids, building family photo albums or, indeed, prototyping something that you’re going to create in a more sophisticated piece of software” — and who says the kids can’t create their own books. It’s a great way to encourage them. Great presents for the grandparents or a parent serving overseas! Check it out!

Summer Camp, Divergent-Style

Karen Springen at Publishers Weekly says this is “For Fiction and Faction Fans: Summer Camp, Divergent-Style” with “a new summer camp based on the first novel in Veronica Roth’s dystopian YA trilogy”.

“Three five-day sessions of Camp Divergent, created by Naperville, Illinois-based Anderson’s Bookshops, will be held at the nearby Naper Settlement museum village in June, July, and August. Tweens and teens will engage in activities inspired by the novels’ five personality-based factions: they’ll put together food packs to send to Africa on Abnegation day and do brain teasers with local professors on Erudite day; plant vegetables on Amity day and hear area politicians discuss ethics on Candor day; and learn mixed martial arts from a tattooed body builder and cage fighter on Dauntless day.”

“By the time you’re done with the week, you’re definitely Divergent,” said co-owner Becky Anderson. “You’ll learn something in the process and have a great time.”

Inspired by BookPeople‘s Camp Half-Blood, it sounds like a great summer camp!

Rowling Returns to World of Harry Potter

Except this time, per Stubby the Rocket at Tor.com, J.K. Rowling is going to explore the Potterverse through the eyes of little Colin Creevey in the Adventures of Colin Creevey.

Reading From Apps Reduces Comprehension

Annie Murphy Paul at The New York Times finds that “Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests” that preliminary studies are showing that kids are not comprehending as much and become distracted with apps that encourage too much or too long of an interactive play. There’s a lovely paragraph that discusses interactivity that enhances understanding that would be worthwhile for parents and authors to read.

“…the read-to-me feature can be useful in decoding a difficult word, but when used too often it discourages children from sounding out words on their own.”

I’d’ve liked that feature. Actually, come to think of it, I’d like to use that now! This article concludes with a nice, although short, list of appropriate books.

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Recycle Those BookTs!

A quilt of book T-shirts

Talk about getting snuggly with a good book!

Wondering what to do with all those book T-shirts you’ve collected from book fairs and conferences? Check out Project Repat to see what they’re doing with T-shirts, and next winter you can snuggle up with a pile of books to read your latest fave. Could be a practical gift for hubby and all those T-shirts he’s been collecting! The BookT quilts can be made into lap, twin, full, and queen sizes. For very reasonable prices.

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Readers Can ‘Ask! Authors! Anything!’

Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly tells us that “Megan McCafferty Offers Readers the Chance to ‘Ask! Authors! Anything!’” in “a new monthly Q&A series hosted on Google Hangout gives fans a chance to connect with some of YA literature’s star authors. Ask! Authors! Anything! … debuted on March 24 … with an … interview…with … Sarah Dessen with input from students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas.

“The second episode, scheduled for April 21, McCafferty will interview Laurie Halse Anderson, and her guest on the May 19 installment will be Rita Williams-Garcia. Gayle Forman will be featured in June.

“Viewers who sign on to Google Hangout to watch livestreams of the webcasts can ask the spotlighted author questions via the Ask! Authors! Anything! Tumblr page or Twitter (@meganmcafferty). Fans can also submit questions in advance of the episodes.”

Do read the post for more information.

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Flicks & TV

BBC America Picks Up 2nd Season of The Musketeers

Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com reports that “BBC America has already picked up a second season of The Musketeers ahead of its U.S. debut June 22. The series, created by Adrian Hodges (My Week with Marilyn), stars Luke Pasqualino (The Borgias), Tom Burke (Great Expectations), Santiago Cabrera (Heroes), Howard Charles (Royal Shakespeare Company), Peter Capaldi, Maimie McCoy, Tamla Kari and Hugo Speer.

Zac Efron to Star in, Produce Adaptation of John Grisham’s ‘The Associate’

Rebecca Ford at The Hollywood Reporter notes that “Zac Efron will produce and star in a new adaptation of John Grisham’s The Associate“.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Will Be 3 Mega-Movies

Stubby the Rocket at Tor.com tells us that “Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts Movie Expands Into A Trilogy“.

Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park Coming to Big Screen?

Anthony Breznican at Entertainment Weekly lets us know that “DreamWorks picks up film rights to Rainbow Rowell novel“, Eleanor & Park with Rowell writing the screenplay, and the studio planning to start shooting in 2015.

The Leftovers Teaser Trailer

Kevin Jagernauth at Indiwire provides the first teaser trailer has been released for HBO’s The Leftovers, based on the novel by Tom Perotta and has dubbed the upcoming series “one of our 20 most anticipated TV shows of 2014.” The cast includes Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Michael Gaston, and Ann Dowd. The Leftovers makes its debut on June 15.

Allison Pataki Sells Screen Rights to Her Book The Traitor’s Wife

Mara Siegler at Page Six notes that “Allison Pataki sells screen rights to her book The Traitor’s Wife“, a “fictional account of Benedict Arnold’s socialite wife Peggy Shippen’s role in his treason against America”.

Movie Deal on Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys

Dave McNary at Variety notes that “Sony Nearing Movie Deal on Michael Lewis’ Flash Boys.

The Librarians as a Franchise

JoJo Marshall at Entertainment Weekly reports that “TNT greenlights The Librarians franchise as a series with Rebecca Romijn. That’s 10 episodes for fans of bookish action heroes of a series based on an earlier TV movie trilogy called The Librarian and slated to air in late 2014 — could be great fun.

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The Great TBR Poll Results

Rebecca Joines Schinsky at BookRiot has the results of “The Great TBR Poll: The Results“, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with a fat list of unread books!

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33 NonFiction Baseball Books

Emily Gatlin at Book Riot wants to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame: 33 Nonfiction Picks“, a list she compiled “in honor of [the longest professional baseball] game ever played (between the Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings)] in 1981 (which took three days to play), Gatlin has rounded up 33 totally rad nonfiction books about America’s game (tweet this to a friend).” If fiction is more your bag, she provides a link to” Greg’s Top Six Baseball Novels” (tweet this to a friend).

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eBook Subscription Services

All Media NY notes that “Entitle Brings Its Subscription E-Books To E-Ink Readers, Including The Nook“, which seems to mean that Entitle subscribers can now transfer their books to their iPhone, iPad, Android, NOOK, Kobo, Sony Reader, or Kindle Fire eReader (this is the only Kindle supported).

FarFaria App Offers Kids’ Stories For $3.99 Per Month

Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly notes that “FarFaria App Offers Kids’ Stories For $3.99 Per Month” with “more than 600 digital stories for children. “…a subscription app for iPad providing unlimited access to its content for $3.99 a month.” It’s “free to download and nonsubscribers can access one free story every day, and the app adds about five new stories every week.”

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Add to Your TBR to Read Chapters 1, Maybe 2

Kim Harrison has a contest going — interesting marketing tactic! — that if 3,000 people put The Witch With No Name on their To Read shelf before the cover is revealed on April 28, Harrison will “release chapter one right along with it. If we get 5,000 people to put it on their To Read shelf, Harrison will release two chapters. Harrison says, “You don’t have to be on Goodreads to read the chapters when/if they are released. That wouldn’t be fair. But it’s up to the Goodreads readers to put the push on!”

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Death of the Library

Declining Libraries = Declining Readership?

In an article on Digital Book World on “Amazon Is ‘Evil’ According to Digital Minds Conference Opening Keynote“, best-selling British author Anthony Horowitz, besides loving and hating Amazon.com, went on to speak passionately about the decline of libraries, especially school libraries, where learning a love of reading begins, he said. And he called on the several hundred British, European and international publishing executives in the room to embrace digital publishing and support reading as a whole, because without a populace that loves reading, publishers will find it harder to be profitable.”

Cutting Library Budgets Nationally

Josh Corman at Book Riot is depressed and saddened over this “Fight for Libraries, Prevent Book Deserts“, and I have to go along with Corman’s worries. I also agree that we need to balance the budget, and taking money away from libraries and museums is not the way to go. There are so many other programs and drains on our tax money that would be better options for cutting — makes me think of the movie Dave.

Paul Ryan, Wisconsin 1st congressional district, has proposed cutting “the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent agency which provides significant funding to museums and libraries (you know, those pesky centers of knowledge, literacy, and culture that we have such an excess of) across the country.”

Josh Israel at Think Progress notes that “Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Eliminate Programs That Serve His Own Constituents” including the complete elimination of the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and Community Development Fund and its Community Development Block Grant program.

Sounds like he’s being fair…

If you’re in Paul Ryan’s congressional district (Wisconsin 1st), then give him a call.

If you aren’t? Then maybe one of the other 28 members of the budget committee calls your district home. Check out the list and give them a ring.

Keep libraries open and operating in your community and those across the country.

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Influencer, Author, John Rowe Townsend Dead at 91

Wow, Stephanie Nettell at The Guardian talks about the “writer who introduced the harsh realities of life into his stories for children: John Rowe Townsend, a “dominant figure in the academic study of children’s literature” and, as the author of Gumble’s Yard, “a seminal influence on the entire development of modern children’s books,” died March 24 at 91. Townsend also founded The Guardian children’s fiction prize.” From what his obituary says, Townsend was an amazing man.

Nazi Escapee, Activist, Author, Leo Bretholz Dead at 93

Emily Langer at the Washington Post writes a horrific tale of Leo Bretholz, who certainly lived a lot longer than if he hadn’t “made a daring escape from the Nazis by jumping off a moving train en route to Auschwitz and decades later led a campaign for reparations from the French railway that carried thousands of others to their deaths during the Holocaust,” died March 8 at age 93. Bretholz, who wrote Leap into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe with journalist Michael Olesker, later managed several bookstores.

Cookbook Author, Barbara Gibbons Dead at 79

Paul Vitello at the The New York Times waxes fat on “Barbara Gibbons, author of “The Slim Gourmet” syndicated column and 16 books, who died March 26 at 79. Her first book, The Slim Gourmet Cookbook, was honored by the International Association of Culinary Professionals in 1976 with its cookbook-of-the-year Tastemaker Award, which she won again in 1978 for The International Slim Gourmet Cookbook.

Environmentalist, Novelist & Wildlife Author, Peter Matthiessen Dead at 86

Michael Carlson at The Guardian notes “Environmentalist, novelist and wildlife author best known for The Snow Leopard is dead at 86 after a long and varied career which emphasized the environment and wildlife.

Mary Cheever, a Central Figure in a Literary Family, Dies at 95

William Yardley at The New York Times provides a brief bio on Mary Winternitz Cheever, better known for being John Cheever’s put-upon wife.

Children’s Author, Sue Townsend Dead at 68

Conal Urquhart and Kate Kellaway at The Guardian regret the passing of Author Sue Townsend, who was best known for her highly successful Adrian Mole series of novels, starting with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 in 1982, died Thursday at age 68.

Mystery Author, Harold Adams Dead at 91

Mystery author Harold Adams died April at age 91. He was a three-time finalist for the Private Eye Writers of America’s Shamus Award and won for The Man Who Was Taller Than God (Carl Wilcox, 9), which also won a Minnesota Book Award. The St. Paul Pioneer Press had a lengthy obituary.

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President John F. Kennedy said:

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

Another Day, Another Attempted Book Banning

Rita Meade at BookRiot provides a report on “The Absolutely True Diary of Real-Time Book Censorship” with a Twitter-feed of events from a hearing on whether or not to allow “Sherman Alexie’s multiple-award winning YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in curriculum being taught to sophomores in a public high school”.

Seems someone’s grandpa in Meridian, Idaho, objected to the “‘cursing and sexual references’ in Alexie’s highly acclaimed story about the life of a modern Native American teen”.

How out of date is grandpa? For at least the past 15 years (all that I had experience of), kids in school have been cursing and talking explicitly about sex. Do parents seriously believe that by not allowing their child to read a book in which cursing and sex is discussed that this will prevent them from hearing it from their fellow students? Wouldn’t it be smarter to let it out where discussion can be contained? Drawn into the proper paths?

Instead, grandpa and others like him force these discussions into dark corners, alleyways, and parked cars. Where I can guarantee there’s not a lot of intellectual discourse occurring.

For those interested, Meade provides a collection of Gretchen Caserotti’s tweets from the courtroom as well as a timeline of events. [Caserotti is a public library director in Meridian, who attended the meeting and tweeted the proceedings as they occurred.] And I agree with Meade, it’s terrifying to see where ignorance and fear can lead us.

Now, Alexie’s book is in “censorship limbo”.

Bad Language Dooms Book on Native American Culture

Bill Roberts at the Idaho Statesman provides his take on “Meridian School Board votes to remove controversial book from curriculum” and includes the information that “Brady Kissel, a Mountain View High School student, brought a petition with 350 signatories asking the board to keep the book” as well as an anecdote about one student who became enthused about the class once he cracked the book.

Back to Idiot Legislators in SC:

“Dreading a book about a lesbian coming of age will no more turn you into a lesbian than reading a cookbook will transform you into a pot roast.” Tweet this.

Paige Crutcher at Publishers Weekly in her post, “Booksellers and Publishers React to the Defunding of S.C. Universities“, that participating in a college education, in a book club, in an online forum, is intended to “foster dialogue and encourage conversations on issues beyond the classroom”. How else do we encourage people to think for themselves?

I do like the point Philip Rafshoon, the program director for the Decatur (Ga.) Book Festival (and former owner of Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse), makes about “South Carolina’s attempt to pull funding from schools that assign texts with positive portrayals of LGBT people”, because who would want that? Why would understanding that God made everyone in this world, including gays and lesbians and transgendered, be so wrong? What a very unChristian thing to do.

I have to wonder if any one of those legislators actually read the book or if this is simply a knee-jerk response to the idea that this is LGBT literature? Is this another Harry Potter-storm in the making?

The truth is “It’s a beautiful book. I’ve read people talking about it in the newspaper, saying it’s sex and erotica. It’s neither of those things; it is a book about human beings trying to make their way in the world. It’s the voices of not only gay and lesbian Southerners, but also their parents and others — it’s about how we deal with this issue in our homes and in this time.”

“Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, cautions that this type of government-imposed censorship is not new. ‘It’s unconstitutional, it’s bad policy, and it’s bad for students,’ she said. ‘What kind of message does this send to students in the state, regardless of their sexual orientation? [It sends the message that they] should keep their mouths shut and their minds closed.'”

Not the inquiring minds that will open up the future and innovate that we want and need.

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College Libraries Angry Over eBook Restrictions

Carl Straumsheim at Times Higher Education notes that “Liberal arts college libraries take on publishers over ebooks“, angry over “the restrictions on how eBooks can be accessed and shared”. “Library directors at 66 liberal arts colleges in the US have called for academic libraries to reject licensing agreements with publishers that impose [such] restrictions.

I have to say I don’t have a problem with the restrictions. What I do have a problem with is the excessively high cost of eBooks. I should think that would be a better topic to address.

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B&N is Now Plural

Barnes & Noble has officially changed its corporate name to Barnes & Nobles, adding the “s” primarily in reaction to “common usage” among the vast majority of its patrons.

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The Surveyed Lied

Robert Gray reports that, in the original January PEW Report, “survey had reported that in 2013, 76% of American adults said they read a book in some format, with the ;typical American adult; reading or listening to five books. According to the revised numbers, however, 38% of those respondents have conceded they lied because they were under the impression that prizes would be awarded and they wanted to give ‘the right answer’ to increase their odds of winning.”

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Authors Guild Hits Back at Google Ruling

Jim Milliot at Publishers Weekly looks at how “Authors Guild Hits Back at Google Ruling“. “In its appeal, the Guild hammers away on the fact that the Library Project was, at its a core, a commercial initiative by Google and not some altruistic plan to create a digital archive of literature. ‘Google must not be permitted to build its financial empire of the backs of authors,’ the brief states.'” And from what I’ve read elsewhere, Google did a piss-poor job of hunting for the authors who held the copyrights.

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Writing Tips


Deal For JSTOR Access

Ideal for primary research materials, JSTOR is an expensive shared digital library that’s usually available to students through their college or university, certain organizations, or public libraries with access to JSTOR. Now it’s offering a limited-access program called JPASS, which provides individuals with personal access to a select portion of journal content on JSTOR — with access for $19.50 per month ($199 per year with 120 downloads) with 10 PDF downloads a month. The downloads are not yours to keep, just for the month.

There seems to be a free version that allows three articles every two weeks; if you want to download an article, you’ll have to pay extra.

While you can read everything that’s available, only 80% of JSTOR’s material is accessible by JPASS registrants, and “current journals, books, and primary sources are not included in the JPASS offer”. I’m not sure if the “primary sources” not included are “current” or all of them.

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Stephen King: How I Wrote Carrie

At The Guardian, Stephen King talks about “How I wrote Carrie“, and it’s a fascinating read about what inspired the story and what inspired him to continue working on it. Simple ideas that merged and a reader who loved it.

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Drag Out That Pain

Kristen Lamb tells us “Why Series are Becoming Hot, Hot, HOT! How Dragging Out the Pain is Good for Your Readers“, and lol, it’s all about being mean, vicious, nasty, and cruel to your characters.

This is encouraging:
“Modern audiences are growing increasingly sophisticated and they long for the mental challenge of keeping up.”

Defend Your Antagonist

Richard Ridley at CreateSpaceBlogger talks about the difficulties of those wicked characters and says you must “Defend Your Antagonist“. This is one of the hardest things for me — I have a need to be liked, so naturally I need likable characters. Bad. Bad, bad, bad. And Ridley comes to the rescue with ideas on how to create a good bad guy.

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Ted Hughes Estate Withdrew Biographer’s Permissions

Think of this one as more of a warning from Jonathan Bate in this Guardian article “How the actions of the Ted Hughes estate will change my biography” after he’s “spent four years immersing myself in every word Hughes wrote; now the estate’s co-operation has been withdrawn. What next?” Unfortunately, there’s a broken link to a “Letter: Why the Ted Hughes estate withdrew biographer’s permissions” which I’d’ve been curious to read. It seems rather arbitrary without it. But it is an abject lesson that initial cooperation doesn’t always continue.

It sounds as though it would have been fascinating, and yet, as Bate states, this reversal has also been something of a boon.

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Why You Need An Editor

Helen Hollick has good advice on the Self-Publishing Advice ALLi blog, “Writing: Why You Need An Editor“, which ties in with another post on the ALLi blog on how to increase your chances of having your self-published book in a bookstore. Hollick makes an excellent point that traditionally published books receive several rounds of edits before they’re printed or compiled.

“…if you want to be a professional writer, use a professional editor.”

Hollick includes her own personal experiences with good and bad editors with some suggestions about what you want in an editor.

Interview With Two Editors, One Novelist

The Slate Book Review interviews “Two Editors, One Novelist” with Judy Clain, Emma Donoghue, and Iris Tupholme in which Emma discusses the benefits of having — and getting separate feedback from — multiple editors. Some good points in here about whether one editor or several have a particular issue and what Emma does with it.

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Epics, Short Stories, or Series

Kristen Lamb has a useful post on “The Future of Fiction — From Tiny to Titanic, How to Claim Your Niche“, and she believes there’s room for everything with the advent of the eBook and self-publishing. Short, epics, novellas, standalones, and series. That the current publishing situation allows for the individual author to play to their strengths.

Then Lamb veers off into the troubles with series with another excellent point: conflict. If you want a series to hold together, to entice readers back installment after installment, you must create an overall BIG and COMPELLING series problem. One problem they’re all working toward solving.

Lamb uses her fave Battlestar Galatica and the prequel series that fizzled, Caprica as examples. I’d add in there Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series with Ayla’s issue of wanting to find a people with whom she’d fit; Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series found Rand trying to save the world; J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood battles against the lessers and the Omega to save their people; Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is riding the wave of displeasure over his insubordination even as he creates a brilliant Homicide Division. Look over the series you love to read and find the big series conflict in it.

I can see Lamb’s point about needing that big story problem to make the individual characters strong, to make each installment strong. Of weak characters leading into melodrama. Read it for yourself.

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Fantasy Means Never Having to Say, ‘It Can’t Be Done.’

Katherine Addison’s guest post at Tor.com glories in her true feelings on how “I loved Rules vs. Guidelines in Fantasy“…*uhhh…must pull tongue out of cheek…ghhhh*. It truly is a delight to read as Addison explains how she turned the “rules” to suit her world in The Goblin Emperor. If you’re building a fantasy world, you might want to check this post out.

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On Being a Writer With Skin in the Game

L.L. Barkat @llbarkat, has a very personal post on Jane Friedman’s blog, “On Being a Writer With Skin in the Game” in which she encourages writers to “remember that writing is something to take the long view over, developing ourselves into the kind of writers that readers can trust for openness that isn’t just sensationalism — and for quality that will be worth their continued time, attention, and dollars.”

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Every Writer Needs a “Vera”

Koa Beck at the The Atlantic provides an even-handed look at the do-it-all spouse, à la, “The Legend of Vera Nabokov: Why Writers Pine for a Do-It-All Spouse“. It’s worth reading through the first half with looks at, sigh, how men have the advantage.

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Free Access to OUP Style Guides

Celebrating National Library Week, the Oxford University Press (OUP) is allowing a free pass for the week — April 13 to 19 — of the OUP’s style guides.

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Upcoming Writing Contests

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

Deadline, Cost Prize Contest
April 23, 2014
Two Northshire Bookstore $250 gift certificates, which can be redeemed at either the Manchester Center, Vermont, or Saratoga Springs, New York, stores; or through Northshire’s website. StoryHack’s ‘Future of the Book’ Video Contest
Imagine a contest open to anyone with Internet access who would like to predict how a book from the future might work. StoryHack Future of the Book is such a competition, inviting contestants to “create a video no longer than two minutes in which you read to us from a book written 100 years in the future” by April 23. “In the video, display how you think books might change in 100 years…. [and] demonstrate if reading from such a book is any different than it is now. If you tell a really good story, bonus points! However the emphasis is on changes in the media and interaction with it.”

The Judges’ Award is determined by a panel of guest judges, who will select the video “they feel is most compelling, best explores how a book might evolve in 100 years in a imaginative and probable way, and best addresses how interacting with this new kind of book might change.”

The Peoples’ Award will be determined by an online vote in which the public selects their favorite video. StoryHack, which noted that the results are kept secret until the polls close, will be tracking the use of the #storyhackfotb hashtag on various social media platforms.

By May 1, 2014
Late registration entries must be postmarked by June 1, 2014
Entry fee – $89.00 USD to enter in one genre category. You may enter that same book in up to 3 more genre categories for a fee of $65.00 for each one
Online Readers’ Favorite 2014 International Book Award Contest
Become an award-winning author! We accept manuscripts, published and unpublished books, ebooks, audio books, comic books, poetry books and short stories in 100 genres. No publication date requirement and no word count restriction. Entries accepted worldwide. There are formatting guidelines. There’s also a chance to have your book made into a film by Wind Dancer Films.
Deadline for givers, booksellers and librarians to submit essays is May 31, 2014 Being in the book World Book Night U.S.” 10 Best Essays
World Book Night announced that the 10 best essays submitted by the 2014 volunteer givers about their experience during this year’s day of giving will be included in a special WBN e-book next year. The winners will be chosen in each of the nine regions and an overseas military base, and one grand prize-winner will receive a pair of domestic airplane tickets. Essay contests will also be held for booksellers and librarians with the grand prize bookseller winner getting tickets to BEA in 2015 and the librarian essay contest grand prize winner given a pair of tickets to next year’s ALA convention.

Full rules, guidelines, regional breakdowns, and terms and conditions can be found here.

Upcoming Writing Conferences

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

Date, Time, Cost Location Conference/Workshop
April 16 – 18, 2014
VIP Conference Package – $495
Basic Conference Package – $395

  • Master class (sizes are limited) – $60 for single class; $100 for two classes
  • Preferential Friday Brunch Seating – $50

$275 for a single guest pass
Student discount available

Francis Marion Hotel
Charleston, South Carolina
1st Annual PubSmart Conference
Brings together self-published, traditional, small press, and hybrid authors. About 250 people have registered to attend the event which will feature faculty of the nation’s top agents and editors as well as independent editors, publishers, publicists, and authors.

The conference’s intention is to bridge the “disconnect between what’s happening in today’s publishing arena vs. the discussions at conferences.’ They decided to create a conference that would offer attendees a roadmap to success regardless of how they chose to seek publication. ‘The conference feels like it will give writers the tools to really assess their writing, in order to choose what publishing path(s) to pursue. This is really a terrific opportunity, and one where all of us — writers, editors, agents, publicists, and more — will all come away learning something new about the various publishing venues available today,’ said Jeff Kleinman, one of the founders of Folio Literary Management.”

April 17, 2014
4 to 5pm ET
Registration: $97 includes the bonus package
Webinar on Google Hangouts (you don’t need to belong to Google+) How to Use Google+ Communities to Connect with Influential People
BL Ochman, CEO of Maximum-Plus Workshops for Google Plus Success and a Google-certified GooglePlus Helpouts Coach will teach you:

  • Why Google+ communities are your ace in the hole for PR success
  • The difference between Communities and Circles
  • How to find Communities that are hungry for your tips and advice and other Communities that will make you smarter
  • How to create a killer profile and use it to promote your expertise
  • How to properly introduce yourself to each Community with fanfare instead of squandering this opportunity like most people do
  • Why you must NOT pitch…and what to do instead to win people’s hearts
  • The important 12 to 1 rule that will let others on Google+ know you’re a smart, savvy networker and a helpful, credible and approachable expert
  • The etiquette of sharing and resharing content, one of the biggest compliments you can give someone on Google+
  • How to determine fairly quickly if a Community you’ve joined is worth the time and effort so you don’t waste energy
  • How to lead total strangers in Google+ Communities to your blog where you’re showcasing your best content
  • Tips for starting your own branded Community and how to know when the time is right
  • …and plenty of time for answering your questions

Bonus Package:

  • A link that will include the video replay whether or not you attend live
  • A cheat sheet showing you how to format your Google+ content so it’s readable
  • A 5-minute video on how to create your Google+ Hovercard
  • A 6-minute video on how to optimize your Google+ profile
  • A 4-minute video on how to find and learn from great Google+ content
  • …and because hashtags are so important on Google+, we’re giving you the complete webinar and all the bonuses for “How to Use Hashtags: The New Search Tool” presented in November 2013. (This sells for $49.95.)
$17.77 on sale from $44.97
Online 7 Tax Saving Tips the IRS Doesn’t Want Authors to Know
Tom Umstattd, Sr., a CPA who has coached authors, celebrities and small businesses for over thirty years. He is the guy that the other accountants turn to with their questions. He is honest, creative and smart – a unique combination among accountants. He also happens to be Tom Umstattd, Jr.’s dad.

In this course you will learn:

  1. Whether or not you qualify for tax deductions for your writing-related expenses (not all writers qualify).
  2. You will also find out about the 9 factors the IRS uses to determine if someone is a professional author or not.
  3. About a simple tool that will help you make more money as an author while helping make you become more audit-proof.
  4. How to start making a writing income even before your first book comes out.
  5. Whether or not you need to form a business entity, and which entity is best for authors (S Corp or LLC). We will also share a cheap and easy way to form a business entity.
  6. 19 different different tax deductions authors can take advantage of.
  7. 5 ways to reduce your chances of being audited by the IRS.
  8. How to avoid common mistakes that often get authors in trouble with the IRS.

This course includes:

  • 7 Tax Saving Tips the IRS Doesn’t Want Authors to Know Studio Recording MP3
  • 7 Tax Saving Tips the IRS Doesn’t Want Authors to Know Transcript eBook
  • Length: 67 Pages
  • Value: $9.99
  • Author Tax Q&A Webinar Recording MP3
  • Length: 1hr & 35m
  • Value: $15.00
  • Special Bonus: Tax Strategies for Entrepreneurs MP3
  • Length: 1hr & 14m
  • Value: $9.99
  • Total Value: $44.97
April 30, 2014
12:00pm EST / 9:00pm PT / 5:00pm GMT
Webcast What Are Ebook Readers Reading?
Digital Book World teams up with editors from The Huffington Post, Book Riot, and BuzzFeed to exploring what kinds of content today’s ebook readers are most excited about and why. Using data from DBW’s long-running Ebook Best-Seller List and insights from the Web’s top destinations for readers, we’ll give authors, agents, readers and publishers an inside look at what’s trending in the ebook market now and what’s driving it.

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

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The Publishing Business

Difficulties of the 2nd Novel

Well, this essay by Bill Morris on The Million is depressing. In “Are We Entering a Golden Age of the Second Novel?“, Morris practically shoves us into self-publishing with that truism that publishers are less likely to work with an author whose first novel isn’t spectacular — and he speaks from experience.

“Writers get only one shot at becoming The Next Big Thing, which, to too many publishers, is The Only Thing. Failure to do so can carry a wicked and long-lasting sting.”

His article goes on about how hard that second novel is to write, and Morris lists many, a’many authors and the books that made publishers and readers wonder. He discusses authors who never went on to a second book. Those whose second is the last they ever wrote.

The main thrust, however, is the second novels that are a success. An interesting read.

NOTE: Whether you publish yourself or with a traditional publisher, you are responsible for your marketing, and one of the points I keep encountering in my research is that authors need to write multiple books and build their own platform. Why not start that way? Build your following, your audience. Become a success and evade a reputation with your first novel of not being the Next Big Thing. Let the publishers come to you after you’ve built a reputation. (Whether you accept them or not, is up to you of course.)

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Estimating Kindle eBook Sales For Amazon

Trefis Team at Forbes has a different approach to “Estimating Kindle eBook Sales For Amazon“. It’s not precise, but it is more information.

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Think Beyond the Copyright

Digital Book World explores Jeff Jarvis’ thoughts on how “Creators Need to Think Beyond ‘Copyright’ to ‘Credit-Right’“. I agree with this post that it suits nonfiction writers best, but in the interest of exploring new ways to publish books, it’s worth considering. In many ways, it’s what most writers are doing with their blogs anyway.

Jarvis, “author of multiple books on media, professor of journalism at the journalism graduate school at the City University of New York, and founder of media blog BuzzMachine“, contends that writers need to be more concerned with credit rights rather than copyrights. Interesting thought…

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Must an Author Go Hybrid?

Elizabeth S. Craig asks, “Must a Writer Go Hybrid for a Higher Income?” and begins her query with the chart she believes started it all: Digital Book World‘s Dana Beth Weinberg in a post last December. Craig is the first I’ve read that points out some of the positives of a traditional publisher “with an already-established group of avid readers for a popular subgenre … whose … dedicated readers (and we love them) that will read all the cozy mysteries Penguin puts out every month. They even know the pub schedule for these books — they always release the first Tuesday of the month. This helped me get a toe-hold…no question.” She notes, from personal experience, that it didn’t work with a smaller publisher. And no, you’ll have to read the post to answer that questions *grin*!

She notes the benefits of copyediting and developmental editing — on BOTH sides and addresses the distribution issues of then and now. She looks at the services a traditional publisher would provide and, eh.

Craig talks about coming to the end of being a self-published author, but doesn’t really provide a reason. Her reasons for staying with a traditional for the sake of a series don’t ring true either. I don’t care who’s publishing the books in a series I’m following…I’m buying the author and his/her books. I’m not buying the publisher.

Still, it’s a fairly balanced post that looks at both sides.

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OnCopyright 2014 Focuses on the ‘World We Live in Now’

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly sums up “OnCopyright 2014 Focuses on the ‘World We Live in Now’“, and it sounds as if the debate on the Internet versus copyright protection has dealt with old fears and is now tackling “new market realities”.

“In his opening introduction, host Robert Levine, former executive editor of Billboard Magazine, and the author of Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back, … noted … that digital platforms like Netflix, are now funding the creation of original content. He said this development was sparking real competition for creative work, and could prove to be ‘a race to the top’ for content creators.”

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Sign the Indie Author Petition

From the ALLi blog, Orna is asking indie authors to sign a petition asking for support from libraries, bookshops, literary festivals, reviewers, or professional associations and institutions to NOT exclude self-published books. While it’s become easier for authors to self-publish, it’s still considered a negative in too many places: amongst reviewers, in libraries and bookstores, and more. This petition seeks to redress this imbalance.

Part of that comes in the form of ALLi’s “Opening Up to Indie Authors” campaign and guidebook. “The campaign was formed from a belief: that the wider world of books can only benefit from including author-publishers.”

ALLi is asking that “you add your name to their petition and send the link to an indie author friend asking them to do the same. Use the following text: ‘I just signed The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)’s petition calling on media, libraries, bookshops, literary festivals, reviewers or professional associations and institutions to Open Up To Indie Authors. They are aiming to get 10,000 to show indie authors care about this. Please sign it too, and spread the word to any other authors you know: http://www.change.org/petitions/open-up-to-indie-authors. It only takes a second and makes a world of difference to writers, readers, and literary culture.‘”

“Use the #publishingopenup tag on Twitter and tweet about our goings on.”

“Join us by co-launching one of your own books together with the guide at a Kobo store near you.”

“Read the guide (we’ll be emailing members with their free copy shortly) and pass it on.”

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e-Studio Lite Has Some Heavy Features

Bernama on National News Agency of Malaysia notes that “e-Sentral Launches Authoring Tool For Making Ebooks“, and this one is just the start. This lite version of e-Studio, a cloud-based authoring tool for making ebooks, “simplifies digital publishing by managing the author or publisher’s table of contents, chaptering, ebook preview, and management of metadata of the ebook”. They’re planning on integrating the software “directly with the National Library of Malaysia’s International Standard Book Number (ISBN) application systems, making it possible to publish in less than one hour.” And e-Studio Pro will allow for more “interactive and media-rich elements”.

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Zimbabwean Publishing Landscape

Dennis Abrams at Publishing Perspectives has slightly more positive news on “On the Challenges of Publishing in Zimbabwe, and the article sounds very like an independent bookstore with scarce resources. I like that the recent success of a couple of homegrown authors — NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names or Bryony Rheam’s This September Sun — has stimulated interest. We’ll have to keep our fingers crossed for more reading interest in Zimbabwe!

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Want Access to 10 Million Readers?

I don’t know anything about this, so you’ll need to do your own due diligence on this company. I received this press release for “Publish On Demand Global (PODG) Announces New Partnership with Flipkart.com for Book Distribution in India“, a “world wide aggregator and digital distributor” who promises “a distribution deal that will give U.S. independent authors and publishers access to 10 [million] readers in India.”

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A Hybrid Publisher

Brooke Warner, cofounder and publisher of She Writes Press and former executive editor of Seal Press, discusses what her publishing company has to offer in
Between Traditional and Self-Publishing, a ‘Third Way’“. She says that “unlike subsidy publishers (who publish anything), we are mission driven and are determined to publish books that align with the values of She Writes and its community; we have a publisher at the helm; and, we foster relationships with our authors. Traditional distribution is another important factor. We present our titles at sales conferences, talk up our new books to our reps, and help our authors to understand what it takes to succeed once their books are out in the marketplace.”

Sounds like a deal for those authors who want the imprimatur of a “traditional” publisher.

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Amazon Takes Over Comixology

ComiXology a Subsidiary of Amazon

And another publisher bites the Amazon dust as Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly reports that “Amazon to Acquire Digital Comics Vendor Comixology“.

Will Amazon Kill Comic Shops?

In Lauren Davis’s post at io9, she wonders, “Will Amazon Do To Comic Shops What It Did To Book Stores?“, with this purchase of “the largest retailer of digital comics”.

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Fascinating Journey of a Book Cover Design

Samuel Hawley takes us on journey in “The Evolution of a Book Cover: Bad Elephant Far Stream” on The Book Designer blog. And it’s a fascinating look at how it evolved. If you’re working on your own covers, you may want to peek in at the various stages of the graphic design as well as Hawley’s reasoning.

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The Query Letter

Jane Friedman looks at The 5 Elements of a Novel Query (fiction only) and delves into the hook and making it hook an agent’s interest, when and why to mention previous publications — including any self-published efforts, what to put in your bio — and what not, what type of awards are worth mentioning, and how to professionally close your letter.

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Deadline for e-Book Cover Design Awards

The next e-Book Cover Design Awards post at The Book Designer is scheduled for May 12, 2014. The deadline to enter is April 30, 2014.

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Mark eBooks With Buyer’s Info to Track Piracy

In a post at Digital Book World touting Verso’s new e-commerce site at which the publisher is selling their books and eBooks, the article, “Verso Direct-to-Consumer E-Commerce Business Off to Early Success“, also mentions that “Verso … is using what’s known as ‘social digital rights management’ to discourage eBook piracy. Each eBook file is marked with the buyer’s name and personal information — information that would allow Verso or any authorities to identify the source of the piracy.'”

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Literary Agents

Should You Fire Your Literary Agent?

Writer’s Relief writes “Should You Fire Your Literary Agent? The 10 Signs That It’s Time To Say Good-bye” — and we should be so lucky to have this as a question…sigh…

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Marketing Ideas

Booksellers Hosting Authors

Josie Leavitt at Publishers Weekly asks “To Host or Not to Host?” with a very good question: Why should a bookseller host an event for an author published by Amazon.com? It’s rude to ask a favor of someone when your “patron” is stabbing them in the back. This post is similar to one in the February Hodgepodge by Josie Leavitt at Publishers Weekly on “Better Than Amazon!“, which made some excellent points about why you want to include indie bookstores—online and landbound—in your book linking process when your newest book is about to be released. Do read the post before you approach a bookstore!

“Several colleagues responded privately that it was galling to be asked by authors to provide the one thing Amazon cannot: a connection with real people.”

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Bar Graph Shows Biggest Book Buying Influencers

Marketing Charts has an intriguing bar graph that displays the “US Consumers’ Biggest Purchase Influencers“.

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Book Accessories: The Bookplate

The Huffington Post has a pretty article about bookplates with “23 Gorgeous Bookplates That Will Give Your Books Serious Style“. Could be a fun marketing giveaway.

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Confront Your Marketing Fears

Bobbi Emel, a psychotherapist, has a guest post at Your Writer Platform which addresses self-doubt, “Writers, Is Your Prehistoric Brain Holding You Back?“, which addresses how our fears hold us back. Specifically in building your author platform.

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Howey Talks About Free

In a Publishers Weekly article by Rachel Deahl on “London Book Fair 2014: Howey Champions DIY Publishing“, there’s an interesting comment from Hugh Howey:

“For Howey, ‘free’ is a term ‘so many wrong things are said about’. He defended the notion that giving away content is an essential way for unknown authors to find their readers. Combating the strongly-held belief by many in publishing that giving away content devalues it, Howey said: ‘What devalues literature is having good books go un-read.'”

Of course, there’s another good point he makes later in the same article about building up that backlist!

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Indies First Storytime Day

Popular wisdom says you need to network, participate, be a part of your physical community as well as online social media. From comments made by bookstore owners, they prefer helping the authors who have invested themselves in their local bookstore in some way, and these owners are more receptive to helping those authors when they want to launch their books.

Kate DiCamillo at the American Booksellers Association posted her “Top 10 Reasons to Participate in Indies First Storytime Day” which takes place May 17. Read more about this idea Kate “stole” from Sherman Alexie.

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Female Authors Dominating Smashwords eBook Bestseller Lists

Mark Coker at the Smashwords blogs, notes that “Female Authors Dominating Smashwords eBook Bestseller Lists“. Hmmm, interesting…

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Social Media is NOT For Selling

Inspired by a “recent article in a major writing magazine that declares social media does not sell books and, in a nutshell, isn’t worth the effort”, Kristen Lamb has a great post that may set a lot of authors free: “Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales” and simply repeats, really!, that social media is not for selling books. It’s for building a network, social relationships with your readers and other authors. Lamb likens this to book signings and repeats that the purpose of book signings was to build a social relationship with the reader. I do like her point about no one suggesting ending book signings!

“As authors, we are wise to think in terms of our careers. Think like a business, as in short-term and long-term. Platforms and careers need a wide base, deep roots, a community of support, time, and a heck of a lot of sweat equity.”

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Tell Your Fans How to Help

Maria Murnane at the CreateSpace Newsletter has a useful marketing idea: “Encourage Your Fans to Spread the Word“. Murnane has “created a ‘buzz’ page on [her] website” with a list of “easy ways to spread the word about my novels, and anytime I interact with fans on a personal level, I ask them to check out that page.” She then includes a few examples: a newsletter, Goodreads, and Twitter. Check it out.

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Reciprocate and/or Send the Damned Book

Maria Murnane has a post at CreateSpaceBlogger on “Use Common Sense in Book Promotion” in which she bemoans authors (or their agents) pushing for a book review without a) offering a book for them to read, b) expecting them to promote it sight unseen, and c) agents who say authors should support other authors, but who do not reciprocate with a review or promotion.

I’ve been going through my own watershed with a blog tour group I joined. I’d like to promote authors’ works, but I’m always going to do an honest review. And it doesn’t always turn out positive. At least, sometimes, not positive enough. Unfortunately, I’m already in their schedule (and I’ve only recently worked out a schedule I remember to check!), and so I’ll post the book information along with a blog tour banner, but there won’t be a review there. Not until a few weeks later anyway. But I don’t want to even put up the book info if I can’t post a review, so I gotta work on my paying better attention.

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Include a School Visit With Your Book Signing

Josie Leavitt has a post at Publishers Weekly on “Successful School Visits” with a list for authors and points up the need for building a relationship with bookstores.

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Building Your Own Website

Join Google+ to Get Website Rank

Joan Stewart at The Publicity Hound talks “The Power of Google+ Communities” and that “one of the big myths of Google+ is that its Communities are just like groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.” Not. “If you fall for that, and avoid Google+ for whatever reason, you’re sunk.

“That’s because Google’s top brass has said that your participation on Google+ is part of what it considers when ranking your website on search results. In other words, if you ignore Google+, Google will ignore you.” Stewart says that Google Hangouts is a replacement for GoTo Webinar. And it’s free. There’s also the part about “Google+ allow[ing] organizations to create and join Communities and participate in discussions. And unlike Facebook, which is always asking for your credit card number before it shares your content, Google+ shares everything except the content you want to remain private, but only with those people who specify.”

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2 responses to “A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – Mid-April 2014