Monthly Archives: June 2013

Why boys don’t read

28 June 2013

From Mad Genius Club:

[A]nother author was asking why it wasn’t enough to simply write a good story, one that entertains the reader and makes them want to finish it. This writer was tired of those who identify themselves as being “literary” looking down their noses at genre writers. You know, writers who have figured out not only how to tell a story people want to read but who have also, in many cases, figured out how to add a message to their work without having to beat the reader over the head with it.

. . . .

If a story doesn’t entertain, folks aren’t going to read it — or at least not finish it. If they don’t read it, then what good is any message we might put into it? That message will be lost because it was never read.

But that isn’t enough for the literati, for all too many editors and, unfortunately, for the boards of too many professional organizations these days. No, you have to be socially relevant and enlightened in your writing. You have to promote what is “right” — as is defined by those who have the loudest voice. Heaven help you if you write something that might offend someone else, especially if you are a male of a certain age.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned (and I know that means I have the wrong beliefs and should probably be silenced now. Sorry, I’m a loud-mouthed woman who isn’t afraid to exercise my First Amendment rights). But I still feel that the story is the thing we should be concerned with and not the message. As I said earlier, folks won’t read the message if they don’t read the story. The corollary to this is: why is publishing in trouble? Because it forgot that readers, on the whole, read to be entertained and to forget about their troubles.

Don’t believe me, ask yourself why so many in publishing are trying to convince us that boys don’t read. Oh, I think there are those who sit in their ivory towers in NYC who actually believe that. Why? Because they look at the sales for their middle grade and YA books and see that the majority of those buying their books are girls. So, therefore, boys don’t read.

No, quite the contrary. Boys don’t read, on the whole, about sparkly vampires or angsty teen problems. They want stories that speak to them. Adventure and fun and characters they can identify with. (Sound familiar?) So they turn to other options, manga being just one of them. But the publishing powers that be fail to recognize that fact.

Then we have those publishers and editors and writers who feel that we must address all of society’s ills with our writing and “educate” our readers so there will never be any racism or sexism or any other ism they don’t approve of ever again.

Link to the rest at Mad Genius Club

I’m writing a book

28 June 2013

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.

Steven Wright

R.I.P. Chicago Sun-Times Books

28 June 2013

From The Reluctant Blogger:

Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times, infamous these last few weeks for sacking its entire photography department, did the same to my old stamping ground, the Sunday Show section and its book pages. On July 14 the entertainment stories will be folded into the paper’s gaudy Splash! celeb-and-style section, and regular coverage of the literary world will end.

. . . .

As a working author, however, I don’t feel so fortunate at the loss of the Sun-Times book section. Getting a new book reviewed by competent critics anywhere is nigh unto impossible now. Crowdsourcing outlets such as Goodreads.com are all very well, but  their mini-notices often are idiosyncratic and uninformed.

Link to the rest at The Reluctant Blogger and thanks to Abel for the tip.

There are exactly zero defensible reasons for authors to link to Amazon

28 June 2013

From Melville House:

A heated discussion about the lowly book link has burned its way out of The Bookseller this week. Keith Smith, owner of Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books, wrote a post for that site calling out a handful of authors by name for linking toAmazon or toWaterstones from their sites rather than to indie bookstores.

. . . .

Two caveats: first, if you are an author self-publishing your own work exclusively on Amazon, none of the below applies to you. Thank you, goodnight.

Second, in the UK, the problem is a bit knottier than in the states. The American Booksellers Association provides its members with a basic ecommerce template to use on their sites. It is not the most graceful platform in the world (cue the laughter of 30,000 American booksellers), but it generally works. This is precisely what Smith is asking the UK’s Bookseller’s Association to do. To simplify things, let’s talk about the U.S., where most indies do sell books online.

For authors, the choice about where to link really is quite easy. There are incredible altruistic reasons that you might want to support an independent bookseller.

. . . .

You pick one store. Make it an indie. Maybe the one closest to your house. Make sure they have a website. Make sure your book is available on their website. Make sure the store is willing to ship books to customers. Link to your book through the store’s page. Tell the store you are doing this. If you have a big enough following and sales result, they will surely notice in a hurry anyhow. Even if not a single customer finds them through you, they will be happy. They will be happy with you.

. . . .

Amazon is so dominant that in most cases people looking to buy your book will navigate there first, not your site. Linking to it from your site does not effectively benefit you whatsoever, and barely benefits them. Linking to Amazon does not somehow put you on their good side. Bezos doesn’t even have a good side—that terrifying crazed laugh face wraps around the entirety of his fleshy cylindrical head. Maybe Amazon is a good friend to have—but unless you happen to be some kind of Attorney General with a dashing little mustache, you’ll never find out. They don’t care about you. Oh, and the affiliate program? You are hoping to get a kickback if people but things after getting to Amazon from your site? Yeah, indie booksellers have those, too.

Link to the rest at Melville House

Let’s see. I’m an author who lives in Tucumcari and I link to Tucumcari Books and Tackle from my website.

Of course, everybody knows there are neighborhoods on the web and all the people in Tucumcari spend almost all of their time in the Tucumcari web neighborhood checking out the latest news at Tucumcari High School, home of the Fighting Rattlers, and the city council meeting schedule. So most of the visitors to my author website will be within easy traveling distance of Tucumcari Books and Tackle and will go there to buy my books.

Anybody who lives in New York and, by mistake, wanders into the Tucumcari web neighborhood will, of course want to buy my books from Tucumcari Books and Tackle because TBT always stocks copies of all my books at prices far below the publisher’s list price and will ship anywhere in two days at no charge.

Ebooks? TBT has great iPhone and Android apps that let me download any ebook I want in seconds at really low prices, sometimes even free.

With no disrespect to either authors or independent book stores, if bookstores think links from author websites to local stores instead of Amazon are going to make a discernable difference in bookstore sales, they’ve lost any connection to reality. Ditto for publishers who think the same thing.

Amazon Derangement Syndrome strikes again.

Mallemaroking

28 June 2013

From The Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day:

mallemaroking, n.

‘ The boisterous and drunken exchange of hospitality between sailors in extreme northern waters.’

. . . .

1994   Guardian 28 July i. 22/7   She had just crossed the Arctic Circle, the captain reported, and indeed he had to cut short the communication ‘due to an outbreak of mallemaroking among the crew’.

Link to the rest at The Oxford English Dictionary

Quick-To-Market Ebooks Now Norm, Not Exception

28 June 2013

From Forbes Blogs:

Basketball player Jeremy Lin shocked the nation last year with his performance filling in at point guard for the depleted New York Knicks. His scoring, passing and flair for the dramatic with breathtaking buzzer-beaters earned him fame, a position in the starting lineup and, ultimately, a big contract with a new team for the following year.

The charming part of the story and what likely separated him from any other unknown athlete to rocket up the ranks is that he was the first Asian American and first Harvard graduate to do so in the NBA — both unexpected in a league with very few Asian or Asian American stars and even fewer players from the Ivy League.

Linsanity, as the craze surrounding him became known, also swept the publishing industry. Half-a-dozen books were scheduled to be published when his compelling story reached national prominence, none more stunning than Linsanity: The Improbable Rise of Jeremy Lin.

What made this title by sportswriter Alan Goldsher from digital publishing house and platform Vook so shocking was that it took less than six days to write (72 hours), produce (36 hours) and publish (less than 24 hours).

. . . .

In March of this year, Diversion Books, another digital publishing start-up, came out with a book on the tenure and resignation of Pope Benedict XVI less than a month after his retirement was announced — and half that time was spent negotiating the deal. Once signed, it only took about a week to bring the ebook to market.

. . . .

Within hours of this post being published, another quick-turnaround ebook hit the market, Hawkeytown: The Chicago Blackhawks’ Unforgettable 2013 Season. This came just days after the hockey team won the NHL championship and the Stanley Cup.

Link to the rest at Forbes

Gray Heroes

27 June 2013

From Dave Farland:

I once got a letter from a reader who asked about heroes and villains that switch roles in a book. The author pointed out that at one time I mentioned that in most cases we don’t get too deep into the mind of a villain. As authors, we avoid penetration in villains.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it can be disturbing and distasteful. I have a brother who has worked as a detective, and on a couple of occasions he had talked to me about interviews that he has done with child molesters. I can tell you with great certainty that I wouldn’t want to spend any time at all in the head of one of them, and if your audience is subjected to a revolting character for too long, they will set the book aside.

The second reason to avoid deep penetration in a villain is that it can undercut the surprise in your story. For example, let’s say that we have a villain who devises a complex plan to, say, murder an enemy king. If you as an author get deep into the villain’s head, if you reveal too many details of that plan, you can take the element of surprise out of the story.

Please note, though, that this can also work for the story. It can get the reader to wondering, “Gosh, how is the hero going to get out of this one?” So you can basically give up some surprise in order to raise the level of suspense. So often in storytelling, we must sacrifice one effect in order to gain another.

. . . .

First, pay close attention to your characters’ motivations. Your hero can win the hearts of the readers early, and so long as his actions are understandable, the reader will follow him down a dark road for quite a long way. So you have to keep that deep point of view in your hero. Now, with your villain, you might start out with him using only shallow penetration, but then move into deep penetration as you go. Show why the villain is doing what he does. Ask yourself, does he have any misguided ideals? Was he trained to be this way? Does he act out of any noble desires? Does he feel trapped into behaving as he does?

Second, with both your hero and your villains, let them apologize for their deeds. Give them good reasons for doing evil. For example, when I was a prison guard, in at least a couple of instances I saw other guards manufacture evidence in crimes in order to try to convict the inmates that they most suspected. The good guys tried to use deceit to fight crime. Meanwhile, I’ve known villains who used the law in order to gain their own ends. My own grandfather, who worked for the FBI during prohibition, hid behind his badge as he arrested smugglers on the Canadian border, and then sold the stolen goods.

Link to the rest at David Farland

There is no point

27 June 2013

There is no point in using the word “impossible” to describe something that has clearly happened.

Douglas Adams

Kindle Worlds Store and Self-Service Submission Platform

27 June 2013

From Amazon’s Media Room:

The Kindle Worlds Store and Self-Service Submission Platform are now open. Customers can enjoy works from dozens of authors including Barbara Freethy (writing in Pretty Little Liars), Charles Sasser (Foreworld Saga) and Anita Clenney (The Vampire Diaries). Kindle World’s Self-Service Submission Platform enables any writer to publish fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so. To browse the store and learn more about Kindle Worlds, visit www.amazon.com/kindleworlds.

Kindle Worlds is a new publishing model that allows any writer to publish authorized stories inspired by popular Worlds and make them available for readers to purchase in the Kindle Store, and earn up to a 35% royalty while doing so. Kindle Worlds stories will typically be priced between $0.99 and $3.99 and will be exclusive to Kindle. To learn more and get started writing, visit kindleworlds.amazon.com.

. . . .

“It’s actually a gift to be able to take someone else’s creation and see whether you can take it in a new direction. Watch every show; read every comic book. Honor the canon and honor the fans. There is a reason these stories have become so popular. And don’t feel restricted by the universe that has already been created. It reminds me a bit of writing a haiku or a sonnet. There are rules that must be followed, but within those rules, you can go anywhere. Your imagination is the only limit.” —Carolyn Nash, writer in Archer & Armstrong

. . . .

“Today, we launch the Kindle Worlds Store and the platform that will enable any writer to benefit from writing in one of the Worlds we’ve licensed,” said Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds. “We look forward to hearing feedback from readers and writers, and hope to learn and improve as time goes on.”

. . . .

Amazon Publishing has already secured licenses from:

  • Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and The Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith
  • Valiant Entertainment for Bloodshot, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger and Shadowman
  • Best-selling authors Hugh Howey for Silo Saga, Barry Eisler for his John Rain novels, Blake Crouch for his Wayward Pines Series, and the Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo and more

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

This is basically author-approved and Amazon-published fanfic. Both the author of the original book/series and the fanfic authors get paid when a fanfic book is sold.

There are some interesting copyright and rights issued involved in pulling this off. You’ll see how Amazon has handled some of those in the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement that governs fanfic authors. As with all contracts, it is important that prospective fanfic authors read the contract carefully to understand their rights and obligations before jumping in.

Indie authors will note the 35% royalty rate for ebooks of more than 10,000 words and 20% on shorter ebooks. On the other hand, sales of fanfic books will receive marketing benefits from the familiarity readers have with the original books.

As you’ll see at www.amazon.com/kindleworlds, fanfic short stories and novellas are offered, so a prospective fanfic author can dip a toe in the water without committing to a novel. Amazon calls the original works the “Canon” and the fanfic pieces are part of “Kindle Worlds.”

UPDATE: For a little clarification on the fanfic publishing agreement, this is not the same as the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions that indie authors are accustomed to.

As one example, under the KDP terms, an author can withdraw some or all of his/her books from Amazon at any time. If an indie author wants to enter into a traditional publishing agreement, this is very important.

Under the new fanfic agreement – Paragraph 4.(a) – once Amazon releases the fanfic work, it has an irrevocable license to that work for the full term of the copyright (the rest of the author’s life plus 70 years in the US and a similar period of time in other countries). In Paragraph 4.(b), the author gives Amazon very broad rights to make derivative works based on the author’s work with no additional royalty payments. There are no out-of-print or reversion rights the author can exercise.

In these and some other respects, the fanfic agreement is similar to some traditional publishing contracts.

Overcoming Authors’ Reticence. Or, How to Make Bookshops Love You and Your Book

27 June 2013

From State of Independents:

I do sympathise with anyone who is horrified by the prospect of promoting themselves to bookshops and readers but I’m here today to tell you what bookshops need from you in order to sell your book and to share a few of the awful encounters I’ve had with authors – names have been changed to protect the guilty though, so don’t worry. What you have to bear in mind, more than anything, is that finding good books to sell is as essential for bookshops as breathing is to you and I and that we need to work together to do that.

Publishers big and small have fewer reps out on the road talking to booksellers and I know that there will be thousands of books that simply pass under my radar, so we need authors to bring their books to our attention. One of my raisons d’etre is to discover great books – it’s a wonderful feeling to have someone come back to the shop to tell me that the book I pressed into their hand changed their lives. It’s why I’m a bookseller.

Lovely books and lovely authors make bookselling a great way to make a living. And books and their authors are not inseparable – there are books that I only take one copy of or ignore altogether because the author is vile and there are books whose authors are so talented and charming that we take multiple copies and put them face-out, on the table, in the window etc. We’ve often joked about having a Lovely-O-Meter and where authors sit along it, but joking aside, being nice gets you an awfully long way. Never, ever forget that, whether you’re the top of the best-seller charts or just dreaming of when you can give up your day job to write full-time.

. . . .

So, why would I choose your book? Roughly 135,000 books are published in the UK each year. My shop stocks around 3,500 titles, depending on the time of year. Even if we ignore the truly awful books that are published, that still means that I don’t have space for all the books that are worth stocking. Therefore, I have to be really picky. Every single title in our shop is hand-picked. I know my customers and their tastes and I’m always looking for lesser-known titles to surprise them with. Books that are half-price in the supermarkets or cheap-as-chips on Amazon aren’t, with some exceptions, particularly attractive to me. My customers typically buy a lot of books but few buy exclusively from me and so my stock has to be unpredictable, comforting, challenging, entertaining, quirky and reliably high quality. And I like to be able to recommend books that they may not have seen elsewhere. But my aim is to sell books – if I can’t sell a book then it isn’t worth wasting space in the shop on it and I don’t stock books just to be nice to writers. It’s a harsh economic world out there and every book in the shop has to earn its place on the shelf.

. . . .

When you befriend one bookshop you befriend many, because booksellers are among the gossipiest people on earth. We love to talk about books – after all, none of us are in this game for the money or the glamour – and when we get together we talk about books we’ve loved, books we’ve hated, books that that came out of left-field and pleasantly surprised us and authors who’ve been a joy or a disaster to work with. Seriously, when it comes to the last of those, half a dozen of us can spend a riotously cheery hour and several glasses of wine swapping horror stories.

Link to the rest at State of Independents and thanks to Catherine for the tip.

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