Monthly Archives: November 2014

Writers turn to self-publishing to fulfil dreams in Oman

29 November 2014

From the Times of Oman:

A promising young novelist and her poetic uncle have turned to self-publishing as a way to fulfil their literary dreams.

Sarah Syed, a 16-year-old Pakistani who was born and raised in Muscat, and her uncle Akhtar Naveed Syed, who has lived here since 2005, are from a family that includes poets and authors. Both have written since they were children and recently they both decided to publish their books themselves, both as e-books and paperbacks, using Partridge, a division of Penguin Random House Company that allows anyone to finance their own publishing.

“You fulfilled my dream, since if your book wasn’t there I wouldn’t have gone for it,” Akhtar told Sarah Syed during an in interview with Times of Oman.

“It’s a passion and a way to feel like a bit of celebrity, just in your mind,” he added.

. . . .

She wrote the 125-page book over a period of three weeks this summer, in and around her O-level exams and during her holidays. She had been posting chapters on an online site and had hundreds of people read them.
“People liked and my friends liked it so I completed the book. I thought that people won’t like it, but I got reads so I completed it. In two weeks I got 200 reads, and in one month 500,” Sarah said.

. . . .

One of the reasons Sarah and Akhtar opted for self-publishing was because it meant they could publish their books as they saw fit, without having changes made by editors.

“I thought about that but I was scared they would change some stuff and I didn’t want them to change anything,” said Sarah.

Link to the rest at Times of Oman

KU Crushed My Sales

29 November 2014

From author H.M. Ward via Kboards:

Ok, some of you already know, but I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. Thats counting borrows and bonuses. My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn’t compliment each other, as expected.

. . . .

And KU effected my whole list, not just KU titles.  At the time of enrollment I had about 60 titles total.

I planned on giving it 90 days, but I have a kid in the hospital for long term care and I noticed my spending was going to exceed my income-by a lot. I couldn’t wait and watch thing plummet further. I pulled my books. That was on Nov 1, & since then my net revenue has gone up. I’m now at 50% of where I was pre-KU. During the time I was in KU, I had 2 new releases. Neither preformed vastly different than before. They actually earned far less (including borrows).

This model needs to be changed for it to work. Authors shouldn’t be paid lottery style. For this system to work we need a flat rate for borrows, borrowed or not borrowed (not this 10% crap), and it needs to be win win for the reader AND the writer. <– That is the crux of the matter.

Id like to see Amazon create something new, something better instead of falling in step with Scribd and Oyster.

Link to the rest at Kboards and thanks to Dan for the tip.

Here’s a link to H.M. Ward’s books

5 Best Yoga Poses for Reading

29 November 2014

From BookRiot:

 The holiday season is a great time to carve out some stress-free time with a book. If you want to take that relaxation a step further, or work on some tighter muscles, some yoga poses are actually perfectly suited for reading time.

The majority of these poses work better when you give your body some time to ease and settle into them. I usually give myself a two page time limit before switching to the other side, but you can do more or less depending on your body. Benefits of each yoga pose are listed below, along with links to more in-depth articles about how to practice them correctly.

1. Sphinx pose

It may not look like yoga–you probably read like this when you were a kid–but sphinx pose can help stretch out your chest, shoulders, and stomach. It also helps strengthen the spine and buns. Passive butt exercises while reading. Must I tell you more?

Link to the rest at BookRiot

P.D. James Has Died

28 November 2014

From The New York Times:

Phyllis Dorothy James White, who became Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991 but who was better known as “the Queen of Crime” for the multilayered mystery novels she wrote as P. D. James, died on Thursday at her home in Oxford, England. She was 94.

. . . .

Ms. James was one of those rare authors whose work stood up to the inevitable and usually invidious comparisons with classic authors of the detective genre, like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. A consummate stylist, she accumulated numerous awards for the 18 crime novels produced during a writing career spanning a half-century. Seven of her mysteries were adapted for the public-television series “Mystery!” and were broadcast in Britain and the United States.

Ms. James bristled at the frequent comparisons to genre authors who wrote in the golden age of the English mystery novel, in the 1930s. “That kind of crime writing was dull,” she once said in an interview, “in the sense that it was unrealistic, prettifying and romanticizing murder, but having little to do with real blood-and-guts tragedy. One simply cannot take these as realistic books about murder, about the horror of murder, the tragedy of murder, the harm that murder does.”

. . . .

Her intention with Dalgliesh, she told the British critic and writer Julian Symons in 1986, was to create a detective “quite unlike the Lord Peter Wimsey kind of gentlemanly amateur” popularized by Dorothy L. Sayers. Ms. James envisioned a realistic cop as her protagonist, a dedicated and skilled professional, and yet “something more than just a policeman, you see, a complex and sensitive human being,” she said.

Her readers found this character profoundly romantic. Even Ms. James thought he was sexy. “I could never fall in love with a man who was handsome but stupid,” she said. Still, Commander Dalgliesh (pronounced DAWL-gleesh) remained a self-contained, even aloof figure. “There’s a splinter of ice in his character,” she said.

Link to the rest at The New York Times


28 November 2014
Comments Off on Hope

Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords.

Samuel Johnson

How the Grinch stole Christmas: Amazon partners with Royal Mail

28 November 2014

From Melville House:

Amazon UK has won the title of this year’s Grinch who stole Christmas. Were there ever any other contenders?

Amazon announced yesterday that it has partnered with the Post Office to add 10,500 extra collection points to itsPickUp Location Programme, The Bookseller reports. Collection points allow Amazon customers to order items to be delivered to a location other than their home, to be picked up at their convenience. With the addition of the new Post Office locations, Amazon now has a total of 16,000 collection points.

Amazon has existing deals and Amazon locker systems with the Co-op supermarket chain, tube stations, and with other venues such as universities. But the Post Office is its biggest partnership yet, not simply because of the major increase in collection points, but because there’s practically a post office on every doorstep, whether you live in a town or a remote village.

. . . .

Amazon is the UK’s number one online retailer: customers are soon to begin making their numerous holiday orders and what could make life easier than simply collecting their packages from the local post office on their way home.

Yet, Amazon wins its Grinch status because it is stealing a precious experience from every customer. The highstreet might be a terrible place to be at Christmas: a crowded, merciless, panicked, sweaty place where you finally see your fellow human beings for the greedy, rampant consumers they really are. But bookshops are the exception.

Bookshops are a pretty nice place to be all the time, but at Christmas they really are something else. Decorations, displays of beautiful hardbacks, booksellers who know exactly what your dad will want despite never having met him, as well as more often than not: customer evenings, special promotions, gift-wrapping, mince pies, wine.

And the biggest advantage of them all? The best-kept secret to a joyful Christmas? Unlike the rest of the highstreet, bookshops tend not to play Christmas music.

Link to the rest at Melville House and thanks to Felix for the tip.

Words That Authors Are Sick Of Hearing

28 November 2014

From i09:

Science fiction and fantasy readers are in a constant dialogue with their favorite stories. At conventions, workshops, and online, people geek out about their favorite books. But sometimes, authors get a little tired of the same old memes. Ten authors told io9 about the writing terms they’d like to see retired.

. . . .


Kim Stanley Robinson (2312, Shaman) tells us he hates this word, “for a couple of reasons”:

It stupidly tries to define expository writing as something necessary but mechanical and ugly, which is terribly inaccurate, as expository writing is often necessary, crucial, beautiful, and hard to categorize or even see; and also the term comes out of a workshop aesthetic that tries to reduce fiction to mechanical parts, and to denigrate fiction itself as part of a fearful attempt to assert mastery of it, most often used by people who don’t really like fiction, even if they pretend they are trying to write it.

He adds, “It’s a term of contempt, used to abuse by fearful people. Definitely worth hating!”

. . . .

Mary Sue

Says Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye and InCryptid novels:

I genuinely wish that everyone would delete the word “Mary Sue” from their vocabulary. In its original, fanfic usage, it described a character who was, yes, usually female, but whose greatest crime was not perfection: it was twisting the story. A Mary Sue in that sense literally walks into someone else’s world and makes everything about her. Flash forward to the modern day and it’s a rare female protagonist who doesn’t get accused of being a Mary Sue, and hence worthless. Here’s the thing: she can’t distort the story if the story already belongs to her. The protagonist, regardless of gender, is awesome and interesting and has a milkshake that brings all the boys, girls, or genderfluid space pirates to the yard, because that’s why they’re the star of the story. So calling female protagonists “Mary Sue” is sexist, belittling, and reduces them in a way that is very rarely applied to their male counterparts—even when those male counterparts are just as guilty of being a little too perfect to be real.

Elizabeth Bear (The Steles of the Sky) adds that Mary Sue seems like “a term which had some useful specificity when it was coined, but has since become a broad-brush catchall used to dismiss any competent female character who acts like a protagonist.”

Link to the rest at i09 and thanks to Sandra for the tip.

Amazon Is No Threat To Authors, Despite Its Fight With Hachette

28 November 2014

From The Federalist:

The extended dispute between Amazon and small publisher Hachette finally came to an end earlier this month. Amazon had wanted Hachette to price its e-books lower while giving Amazon a bigger cut; and when Hachette didn’t comply, Amazon slowed delivery of Hachette books and removed the pre-order option for them.

During the contract disputes, we learned that publishers have become relatively sympathetic in the public eye now that a behemoth like Amazon is bigger than they are. Yet it seems not so long ago that many exulted that the web would allow authors to circumvent publishers and go to readers directly. In this scenario, publishers were often painted as monopolistic gatekeepers. This image is still embraced by writers such as Matthew Yglesias, but during the dispute most observers voiced a concern thatAmazon has simply become too powerful, and that it would be bad for readers and worse for authors. I think this whole incident was overblown, on all sides; Amazon has made things drastically better for readers and writers, and while publishers will have to adapt to new technological realities, they are still likely to have an important role.

. . . .

Even while putting out books with a publisher, Sigler continued to put out books independently. Using an online service, he and his partner put out a high-end hardcover a year for around $30 a copy. In the middle of beginning to tinker with this, however, something hit the independent writing scene like a bombshell: the Kindle store arrived, and eventually opened to anyone who wanted to publish there directly.

For aspiring writers, especially those who did not already have book deals, the Kindle ecosystem provided a number of substantial improvements. First, it provided a place where most readers could purchase a copy of a work by clicking one button. The transaction cost savings of this cannot be overstated. Services like Paypal and its rivals lowered transaction costs to donating, but you usually have to log into your account each time you want to send money through them. It’s clear now that there are big nonlinearities in consumer behavior—one-click purchasing is not that great a transaction cost reduction over Paypal in the scheme of things, but it clearly moved a ton of people beyond a threshold. Sigler, who had been building a substantial audience for some time, was finally able to make a substantial amount from his independent work due primarily to the rise of the Kindle and competitors.

The Kindle also got dedicated reading devices in the hands of a large base of consumers. Prior to the Kindle, the only method available to most people for reading an e-book was to do it on their computer screen, which was not nearly as pleasant an experience as reading regular books.

. . . .

Just as the ability to directly publish clearly empowered authors, the ability to own your relationship with your audience is important leverage. If Amazon singled out or banned an author like Sigler, he could direct his audience to other methods of supporting him. There are rival like iBooks and the Nook, of course, but payment services continue to innovate and lower transaction costs there, as well. Never mind crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, which can fund a book in advance of writing it, or Patreon, which provide an ongoing revenue stream for creators. And, again, the fact that people have Kindles means Amazon cannot exclude the e-book files Sigler sells directly. Moreover, it’s not clear why it would ever be in Amazon’s interest to exclude authors. They run a business on razor-thin profits that frequently tips into the red. Their hyper-competitive model makes it a necessity for Amazon to take what it can get.

Link to the rest at The Federalist and thanks to Dave for the tip.

War and Peace to take over Radio 4

28 November 2014

From the BBC:

A 10-hour production of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace will dominate BBC Radio 4’s output on New Year’s Day.

The new dramatisation by playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker stars John Hurt, Simon Russell Beale and Lesley Manville.

The radio adaptation will run between 9am and 9.30pm, with breaks for news and The Archers.

Radio 4 controller Gwyneth Williams described War and Peace as “arguably the best book ever written”.

. . . .

War and Peace is the longest drama that BBC Radio 4 has rolled out over the course of a day. On Boxing Day in 2000 it cleared the schedule for an eight-hour reading of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In 2012 there was a five and a half hour dramatisation of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

. . . .

Drama commissioning editor Jeremy Howe said the drama took almost a month to record and “had all the logistics of a film shoot” with some scenes being recorded during a battle re-enactment in the Czech Republic.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Jack Webb

26 November 2014

From Word Around the New:

Before Dragnet, before everyone knew him, Jack Webb did several other radio shows.  The best of them was called Pat Novak for Hire, about a boat owner and general odd jobs guy who kept getting involved in various pulpy adventures.

What set this show apart was the writing, which was noire hard boiled writing at its absolute best.  The primary writer Richard L. Breen who went on to write such films as State Fair, Niagra, and PT 109.  And his work was poetry.  The interaction between Novak and his nemesis on the police force Lieutanant Hellman is classic and usually hilarious, and the philosophical monologues and musings of drunken ex-doctor Jocko Madigan is unique to the show.

. . . .

“Around here a set of morals won’t cause any more stir than Mother’s Day in an orphanage. Maybe that’s not good, but that’s the way it is. And it wouldn’t do any good to build a church down here, because some guy would muscle in and start cutting the wine with wood alcohol. All you can do is try to make the books balance, and the easiest way to do that is to keep one hand on your billfold and the other hand on somebody else’s.”

“Down in the waterfront, in San Francisco, you always bite off more than you can chew. It’s tough on your windpipe, but you don’t go hungry.”

“Pat Novak, for hire. It’s about the only way you can say it. Oh, you can dress it up and tell how many shopping days there are ’til Christmas, but if you got yourself on the market, you can’t waste time talking. You got to be as brief as a pauper’s will, because down in the waterfront, in San Francisco, everybody wants a piece of the cake, and the only easy buck is the one you just spent. Oh, it’s a good life. If you work real hard and study a little on the side, you got a trade by the time you get to prison.”

. . . .

“I watched her as she turned and walked out the door. She was wearing a flowered print dress, and as she walked, the roses kept getting mixed up with the daisies. She walked with a nice friendly movement, like the trap door on a gallows.”

. . . .

“I crossed over and knocked at the door. The guy that opened it had a face like three pounds of warm putty. It was moist and pink, and you got the idea they put the color in with a spray gun. And if his heart was made of the same stuff, they drained the oil out first.”

Link to the rest at Word Around the Net and thanks to Karen for the tip.

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