We’re In This Together: How To Help Other Authors Succeed

28 June 2017

From Writers Helping Writers:

A common query Becca and I get is, “Why do you do what you do?” It’s a fair question, because in order for us to coach writers through our books, speaking, and our One Stop for Writers site, we’ve had to temporarily put our fiction-writing on hold. Not an easy decision. But the fact is we love to see dreams realized. This is why we do it. As writers ourselves, we know the power of THIS particular dream–a book in hand, our name paired with the title, and the knowledge that readers are losing themselves in a world we’ve created.

We celebrate each time someone we know achieves this dream–and how could we not? It’s so wonderful to see all that hard work pay off! Today, we are celebrating because our friend Kristen Lamb has just released her first mystery thriller, The Devil’s Dance.

. . . .

When an author releases a book, it’s all smiles and excitement…on the outside. What we don’t see is the anxiety going on within: will this book find its readers? Will it become lost in the glut of fiction available? If I share my excitement too freely, will people see it as unwanted promotion?

These worries are universal among authors. And, with the saturation of promotion these days, it’s important we don’t push a book too hard ourselves. Inside, we hope others will step up and help.

. . . .

1: Ask your local library to bring the book in. Many libraries have an online form and they often pay attention to requests. Click here to find a library near you…and why not request Kristen’s book while you’re at it?  If it is an ebook release, first encourage your author friend to make the ebook available to a service like OverDrive.

2: Leave a review. This is the clear obvious one, but often people stop at only submitting it to Goodreads or Amazon. Please cut and paste the review to all the main sites the book is being sold (Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and if it applies, Smashwords.) For example, you can review The Devil’s Dance on Amazon and Goodreads. It wasn’t at LibraryThing, so I added it (if you’ve read this book, please give it some review love?)

3: Place the book on appropriate lists. If you loved reading the book, help others find it. Goodreads has many great lists you can add books to, or start your own. Using Kristen as an example, you’ll see her reviews are excellent. Think of how much it will help her if reviewers add The Devil’s Dance to some of the “best” lists so others also find it.

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers and thanks to Julie for the tip.


Indie Pub Two Dollar Radio to Open Bookstore

27 June 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

Two Dollar Radio, the Columbus, Ohio-based small press, is opening a bookstore where it will sell its own titles, alongside a carefully-curated selection of books published by other independent literary presses.

In September, Two Dollar Radio will move into its new headquarters in the city’s South Side neighborhood. Aside from an office to house its publishing operations, the building will also feature a bookstore, café, and a bar. The press’ expansion is following a trend set by other small literary presses: in 2016, Milkweed Editions opened a bookstore in the Open Book literary center near downtown Minneapolis, followed a few months later by Curbside Splendor Publishing, which opened a bookstore in Chicago’s Revival Food Hall in the National building.

An 1,800-square foot space in the front of the building that has been leased and is being built-out this summer will house the bookstore, café, and bar. The company’s publishing operation will be located in the 1,100-square-foot back area, which also includes enough space for storage. The entire enterprise will operate under the business name, Two Dollar Radio Headquarters.

The publisher’s bookstore will emphasize the offerings of independent publishers, and the café will be vegan, serving only plant-based items, as well as locally-roasted coffee and tea.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG doesn’t want to be insensitive in matters of literature and culture, but a bookstore in Columbus, Ohio, might want to sell Ohio State sweatshirts in addition to vegan dishes.


Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life

27 June 2017

From Medium:

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” — J.M. Barrie

You know exactly what you want in life. But you can’t seem to get there. You have all these resolves.

You’re going to get healthy.

You’re going to write that book.

You’re going to be more present with your loved ones.

You’re going to start that home-based business.

You’re going to learn another language.

You’re going to be more patient and happy.

You’re going to get out of debt.

You’re going to be more organized.

You’re going to be a better friend.

You’re going to overcome bad habits.

But the problem is: Doing these is really hard. And it gets harder every day. Some days, it seems more realistic to just give up entirely. The whole taking one step forward and one or two steps backward pattern is getting old.

. . . .

“Keeping a personal journal a daily in-depth analysis and evaluation of your experiences is a high-leverage activity that increases self-awareness and enhances all the endowments and the synergy among them.” — Stephen R.Covey

Journaling daily is the most potent and powerful keystone habit you can acquire. If done correctly, you will show up better in every area of your life — every area! Without question, journaling has by far been the number one factor to everything I’ve done well in my life.

The problem is, most people have tried and failed at journaling several times. It’s something you know you should do, but can never seem to pin down.

. . . .

Most people live their lives on other people’s terms. Their days are spent achieving other people’s goals and submitting to other people’s agendas.

Their lives have not been consciously organized in such a way that they command every waking, and sleeping, moment of their life. Instead, they relentlessly react at every chance they get.

For example, most people wake up and immediately check their phone or email. In spare seconds, we hop on Facebook and check the newsfeed. We’ve become addicted to input. Or in other words, we’ve become addicted to reactively being guided by other people’s agendas.

On the other hand, Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning, wakes up and immediately writes in his journal for 30 minutes.

He does this because while he’s been sleeping, his subconscious mind has been brewing, scheming, problem-solving, and learning. So when Josh wakes up, he rushes to a quiet place and engages in a bust of intellectual and creative flow.

I recently wrote about the importance of morning routines. If I were to re-write that post now, I’d include my journal. I’ve been doing this the past few weeks and its reframed my entire approach to life. Additionally, I’ve never before had so many creative ideas crystallize.

Link to the rest at Medium


Each generation

27 June 2017

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

George Orwell


Our 16 Favorite ‘Harry Potter’ Moments

27 June 2017

From The Ringer:

Twenty years ago, Bloomsbury published J.K. Rowling’s debut novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first installment in a saga that would span seven Potter books, eight Potter movies, and numerous spinoffs and extensions, in the process becoming one of the defining stories of a generation. Since Dumbledore isn’t here to help us pull any celebratory crackers, we’re marking the occasion by toasting Rowling’s magical creation — and the two decades of euphoria that it’s brought us.

. . . .

“The Prince’s Tale”

Zach Kram: “The Prince’s Tale,” Deathly Hallows’s 33rd chapter, is a writing masterpiece independent of its connection to the rest of the series. Young versions of Snape, Lily, and Petunia form with defined personality and motivation in mere sentences; relationships blossom and wither over the course of a concisely illustrated arc; the memory vignettes build atop one another with a clear exposition, climax, and emotional denouement.

But of course, “The Prince’s Tale” is not disconnected from the rest of the series. It solves perhaps the books’ greatest mystery and gives a richly complex character the firm definition around which he’d skirted for the previous six and a half books. The one-line callbacks to previous events — “Keep an eye on Quirrell, won’t you?”, Fleur and Roger post–Yule Ball — ground the memories Harry observes in familiar territory, while the new revelations pack a fierce emotive punch. In the most compelling scene, Dumbledore displays shades of cruelty while Snape counters with a gentle, sympathetic approach — a twist that still tracks from a narrative perspective. Rowling plays every note perfectly, and any reader can’t help but cry.

. . . .

Shopping in Diagon Alley

Kate Knibbs: As a middle schooler discovering Harry Potter, I cherished the scenes in Diagon Alley where Harry, flush with magical orphan gold, has his pick of the finest broomsticks, robes, and assorted wizard paraphernalia. Going on a school-supply shopping spree with unlimited funds in an enchanted British alley sounded like heaven, and the gulf between my reality (rifling through college-ruled notebooks) and the “barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon” that Harry encounters sums up the wish-fulfilling appeal of the franchise, which offers a more exciting, dangerous parallel school life tucked just beyond Muggle sight.

Link to the rest at The Ringer


The Librarian Who Guarded the Manhattan Project’s Secrets

27 June 2017

From the Atlas Obscura:

The residents of Los Alamos, New Mexico—a town that wasn’t supposed to exist—lived in a viscous state of secrecy during World War II. To disguise the existence of the nuclear bomb being built there, the group of Manhattan Project scientists, security personnel, and families needed to consider and reconsider their every move. They couldn’t leave “the Hill,” as Los Alamos was known, without required passes. Their mail reached New Mexico through a series of forwarding addresses set up across the United States, arriving in a P.O. box 20 miles away in Santa Fe. Food was purchased from a single commissary; a trip to Santa Fe was “a major event.”

When they first arrived at Los Alamos, they were told to buy train tickets to New Mexico from a variety of locations. One Princeton physicist recounted how he and his colleagues had to avoid the local train station, because it was so small, and too many people purchasing tickets to Albuquerque from there might raise suspicions.

The importance of silence at Los Alamos was doubly true for scientific breakthroughs. One woman, Adrienne Lowry, only learned that her husband Joseph Kennedy had discovered plutonium when she was cataloguing books and kept seeing the acronym “PU.” When she asked her husband about it, he confessed that “PU” stood for plutonium—an element he’d helped to identify a few years earlier.

. . . .

One of the most significant features of this elaborate security apparatus was the scientific library, a virtually unknown space that, during the 1940s, housed the secrets of the nuclear bomb.

. . . .

Nestled alongside the massive Los Alamos lab—which Lisa Bier in Atomic Wives and the Secret Library at Los Alamos described as emanating an “aura of utilitarian haste” with its unpaved streets and barbed wire gates manned by guards—the library appeared quite bleak. The photos that exist today show a small space crammed with books, shelves, file cabinets, and a Ditto machine (an early copier). Because the library was expected to be demolished after the war, everything was built from cheap wood.

The library had two sections: the main area, pictured at the top, and the document room—a locked vault containing reports and designs from Los Alamos and the other Manhattan Project sites. The library’s all-female staff—a mix of wives and Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps officers—needed to catalog, secure, and distribute thousands of books and manuscripts in a matter of months.

The rapid pace made the work so intense that, when one WAAC officer was offered a job at the library, she “took a look at the huge stack of technical reports from chemical companies, piled up ‘like a teepee,’ the classification of which would be her primary task.” According to Atomic Wives and the Secret Library at Los Alamos, “she avoided this sentence, which she termed ‘solitary confinement,’ by opting instead to drive trucks.”

. . . .

Here is a puzzle. You have no library experience, and you are tasked with a) heading a top secret facility, b) devising security protocols to ensure the U.S. military’s greatest secrets stay hidden, and c) importing thousands of documents to a site in the middle of nowhere—all in a vanishingly small window of time as World War II unfolds. How do you do it?

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura


Whole Foods Could Be The Next YouTube

27 June 2017

From Seeking Alpha:

The big speculation is whether there will be a bidding war for Whole Foods now that Amazon has made a play for one of the nation’s leading organic foods grocers. That is, do whatever it takes to prevent Amazon from landing Whole Foods.

The case can be made that other retailers, such as SuperValu or Albertson’s, need to come in and prevent Amazon from buying up Whole Foods.

For one, the possibilities of a Whole Foods owned Amazon is rather limitless. But a major grocer could enjoy some impressive synergies with Whole Foods. Yet, the only company with deep enough pockets to go head-to-head with Amazon in a bidding war is Wal-Mart. However, Wal-Mart has its own ‘demons’ as it looks to right-size its own 4,600 store base and to figure out how to blend its online presence with its physical presence. Still, for Wal-Mart, the big benefit could be cost savings via synergies.

For John Mackey, the Whole Foods CEO, it’s a win as he gets to keep his job. Mackey is also a fan of Amazon’s ability to look to the ‘long-term,’ noting “One thing I absolutely love, love so much about Amazon is they think long term. They have had the courage that almost no other public company has had: the courage to, basically, resist the drumbeat of short-term, quarterly earnings that have had us trapped here for a couple of years, as our same-store sales came down.”

. . . .

For Amazon, it’s very different. The company gets a guy who knows a thing or two about organic groceries.

The bigger opportunity for Amazon isn’t in selling organic produce, however, it’s about turning Whole Foods into a tech company. This could be one of those seemingly small deals that turn out to be huge wins. Much like we have seen with Google’s buyout of YouTube, and Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006 – today it’s said to be worth $90 billion or more. With YouTube, there have been immense cross-selling opportunities, and it’s given Google the ability to compete in new and growing markets. Same for Facebook + Instagram, where Facebook paid $1 billion in 2012 for Instagram, and today it’s worth $50 billion or more.

Amazon gets immediate and relatively large exposure to one of the largest parts of the retail industry – groceries. And with the buyout of Whole Foods, Amazon becomes the fourth-largest grocer in the U.S. Given Amazon’s operational know-how and ability to cut prices, Amazon will surely be able to take market share from the conventional grocers – but the big question is; how long will that take? There may be value in the fact that the market has over-discounted the likes of Kroger and Costco, assuming Amazon will ‘kill’ those businesses overnight.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha


Bookselling in the Age of Amazon

26 June 2017

From Shelf Awareness:

“At the end of the day, bookshops needn’t fear Amazon,” James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said during a keynote speech last week at the Australian Booksellers Association’s annual conference in Melbourne.

. . . .

“If the bookshops are good enough, if the relationship with your customers is truly there, if your booksellers are enjoying themselves and you’ve trained them and you’ve respected them and you’ve allowed them to develop their skills… then our customers truly will remain loyal to us.”

. . . .

Starting when Amazon opened operations in the U.K. in 2000, the behemoth “slowly ate away at the High Street [downtown] market,” he said, and now has about 60% of the market, including 95% of the e-book market. The casualties have been extensive: most chains, including Borders, Ottakar’s, Dillons, Hammicks and James Thin, have disappeared. Indie bookstores declined from about 1,550 in 2005 to about 600 last year. Indies now account for about 5% of the market, and Waterstones about 16%. “Amazon virtually destroyed us,” Daunt said.

But “all is not doom and gloom,” he said. Amazon is known for doing a few things very well, particularly offering customers low prices on books and shipping quickly. As Daunt put it, Amazon is “alluring for one reason only: they’re cheaper.”

As a result, there is much that bricks-and-mortar stores do that Amazon can’t, from putting on events even “in the smallest of shops” to more generally “giving people a sense of excitement about books,” making books relevant, and keeping books “in the forefront.” He added, “We as booksellers have a duty to create excitement about books. If we do so, we’ll continue to have customers come through the doors.”

. . . .

In one of the most striking changes at Waterstones, the company reduced its return rate to 3% from 20%. In part this came about from better buying but also from forgoing substantial promotion co-op from publishers, to the tune of £27 million (around $35 million at current exchange rates). The “wholly destructive cycle” involved publishers “paying us to take particular books.” Besides abrogating buying decisions to publishers, the program also made Waterstones stores less distinctive from one another as well as from their competitors. The change, he added, was painful, like “coming off heroin,” but it had “massive benefits.” Besides improving returns, it “stopped us filling up our shops with books customers didn’t want to buy” and improved working capital by tying up less money. Eventually stock came down 20% and title count rose 20%. The company has also gone from two to five stock turns. He noted that with stock turns below five, “a lot of books are sitting there getting dusty, getting unattractive.”

Cost cutting included reducing head office costs by 60%, cutting costs in the centralized warehouse by 16%, and cutting store payroll by 16%.

. . . .

The emphasis on selling and being on the sales floor, also “brought energy into the shop. If you’re literally running around and don’t stop, customers feel that energy.”

Even though Waterstones staff has been cut, Daunt said he’s increased pay for the remaining employees. At Daunt Books, booksellers are paid a salary rather than by the hour. Waterstones pays by the hour but is starting to pay salaries. “We need to pay booksellers more and make it so people see this as a career,” he commented.

. . . .

When it named The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry its Book of the Year for 2016, the title, which before then had sold under 1,000 copies, became a bestseller. Waterstones’ “books of the month” promotions have also increased sales “dramatically” for each title.

He noted that Amazon doesn’t have any impact on these titles, and called it an “urban myth” that people come into stores saying they can get titles at 50% off on Amazon. To the contrary, there is a sense, he said, that “a book bought from a bookshop is a better book…. When a book comes through a letter box or when a book is bought in a supermarket, it’s not vested with the authority and the excitement that comes from buying it in a bookshop.”

. . . .

“Price is irrelevant if the customer likes the shop,” he commented. “The book is never an expensive item,” particularly for the many customers who “we know are quite happy to go into a café and spend dramatically more on a cup of coffee.”

. . . .

The Waterstones website “doesn’t produce any sales for us,” accounting for less than 3% of the company’s revenue, Daunt said. But targeted e-mails lead to increased sales in shops, and social media is “an opportunity” for local bookshops to communicate with customers.

. . . .

Waterstones sells “a lot more things that aren’t books,” with children’s the most successful area, and has done so in “careful and measured ways,” so as not to “compromise ourselves as a bookshop.”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness 

While he read this, a phrase floated into PG’s mind from an unknown source, “the myths and fables we tell ourselves”.

Traditional Publishing Myth #1: Consumers don’t feel any emotional attachment with Amazon like they do with a local bookstore.

Does anyone who regularly purchases from Amazon not feel a little buzz when a package appears at their door? It’s an event which is followed by an unboxing experience. (If you don’t think unboxing is an experience search YouTube for unboxing. Millions of people watch videos of perfect strangers unboxing their Amazon purchases.)

In survey after survey, Amazon is ranked as one of the most admired and respected companies in the world, usually fighting with Apple for first place. PG has never seen Barnes & Noble or Waterstones on any of those lists.

Amazon has a superb reputation and that reputation carries over to all its product areas, including books. Amazon reviews, sales rankings, etc., are a gold standard for many book purchasers. PG doesn’t discount the existence of phony reviews, but he thinks most Amazon regulars aren’t fooled by such reviews, particularly when a book has dozens of reviews.

When it comes to spending his money PG would certainly give more credibility to a few dozen Amazon reviews about a book than he would to recommendations from a minimum-wage bookstore clerk who will soon be moving to McDonalds because the pay is better.

If a book doesn’t meet expectations, Amazon makes it simple to return it for a full refund. With an ebook, the return process is almost instantaneous.

Locating his receipt and trekking back to a bookstore to return a book is something PG is almost certainly never going to do. The book remains somewhere in Casa PG, reminding PG of his bad purchase choice whenever he sees it.

Traditional Publishing Myth #2: Ebooks are a fad and printed books are making a comeback.

Spare me.

Everybody carries a cell phone and almost everybody consults it on a regular basis. Sometimes, they look at illustrations and photos and cute puppy GIFS, but most of the time, they’re reading text. Actual text messages, email, the latest celebrity gossip, Facebook, The Wall Street Journal, Google search results, Wikipedia, etc., etc.

As of the second quarter of 2015, US consumers began spending more time in mobile apps than watching television (and that includes times when the TV is on in the background and no one is watching it). As TV viewing stagnates, the time spent with mobile apps has increased every quarter since then.

The idea that people who spend hours each day receiving information and entertainment from a screen will prefer switching to a printed book on a regular basis is delusional.

PG would probably be labeled as a frequent reader under most systems for categorizing readership. He reads from books every day. He has purchased hundreds and hundreds of physical books, many of which still populate his bookshelves. The same could be said for Mrs. PG.

PG is not a teenager and hasn’t been for some time. He remembers being a teenager, but suspects many of those memories have been smoothed and brightened during the intervening years.

But he’s on his fourth iPhone.

Over the last couple of years, PG has purchased some physical books, usually through Amazon and always when the title doesn’t offer an ebook version. He always regrets these purchases because they sit on a TBR pile that never grows smaller.

He starts to read each book, but when he puts it down, he never picks it back up again. It’s just not a satisfactory experience for him any more. He just won’t read any long-form text document unless it’s an ebook on his Kindle Paperwhite.

PG has run out of time before he has run out of Traditional Publishing Myths to debunk. Perhaps he’ll return to the topic in a future post, but don’t count on it. Feel free to add your own myths in the comments.


I can live alone

26 June 2017

I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias

26 June 2017

From Atlas Obscura:

At the edge of the tropical tree line of Lagoa das Furnas there is a charming lake in the middle of São Miguel Island. Emerging from this fairytale landscape is the slim tower of a neo-Gothic church that dates to 1882. What began as a testament to the ailing wife of a wealthy Azorean gardener and amateur botanist, ended up as one of the most evocative churches in the whole archipelago.

Capella de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, Chapel of Our Lady of Victories, was intended to honor Maria Guilhermina Taveira de Brum da Silveira, the wife of a local landowner named José Do Conto. She had fallen tragically and terminally ill, and her husband took it upon himself to create this magical lakeside chapel. Calling on his renowned design and landscaping talents, despite the structural elements the whole endeavor feels more like the soft-focus of magical realism than hard-edge gothic.

. . . .

There are no services held here, which gives it an ancient, abandoned, and even timeless feeling as the natural elements take over.

Link to the rest at Atlas Obscura

Following is one of several photos of the church that accompany the article and appear to have been taken by the author of the OP.


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