Monthly Archives: September 2017

Hell

30 September 2017
Comments Off on Hell

Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent.

Frank Sinatra

First Books: The Stories That Got Us Into Reading

30 September 2017

From Bookriot:

When I was nine years old, a collection of books changed my reading habits forever. I can even remember exactly which book made me become an avid reader, and how reading went from being something I liked to do in class, to something I couldn’t live without.

Many years later, I still hold Uma Aventura by authors Ana Maria Magalhães and Isabel Alçada (a Portuguese set of adventure books with no translation to English, unfortunately) close to my heart; they led me to a path I am more than grateful for. Books are magic, and I hold that magic in my hands every day thanks to a single story I picked up as a child.

. . . .

THE BABYSITTER’S CLUB BY ANN M. MARTIN.

There were picture books I loved as a kid but nothing fueled my desire to read more than The Babysitter’s Club. My older sister would read them to me before I could read them myself and that got me started on the Babysitter’s Club Little Sister books. But those were just a placeholder until I could get my hands on the “real” BSC books. Once I did, I devoured them feverishly–the regular series, the Super Specials, the mysteries, the Super Special Mysteries, etc. The Babysitter’s Club taught me to love reading (and writing) and I’ll always be grateful to Ann M. Martin for that.

. . . .

GOOSEBUMPS BY R.L. STINE.

For 8-year-old me, the Goosebumpsseries was like my imagination synthesized into story. I was the kind of kid that still needed a nightlight, that snuck into my parent’s bed when the nightmares became too much, that, yes, still sucked my thumb and carried around the remnants of a blankie. But the Goosebumps series let me resolve those nightmares, and I loved them. I would carry a stack to school and try to finish my busy work as fast as possible so I could have extra time to read. I combed used bookstores to find the ones I was missing. I even wrote a short story and entered it into a Goosebumps’ writing contest (alas, my pirate-ghosts short story did not win). It wasn’t long after that I discovered Stephen King, and began reading adult books for the first time. It may seem like a leap in reading levels, but I had no difficulty navigating from one to the other. Eventually, I switched from horror to fantasy, but Goosebumps enabled me to move from middle grade reading to adult reading, and it also showed me, all unknowingly, that escapism can help me to face my fears.

Link to the rest at Bookriot

5 Uncomfortable Truths About Plagiarism

30 September 2017

From Plagiarism Today:

When it comes to plagiarism, there’s an understandable desire to bury our heads in the sand.

We don’t want to believe plagiarism exists. If it must exist then we don’t want to believe it’s that common. If it’s that common then it can’t be that bad. If it’s that bad, there must be a way to stop it.

. . . .

Truth 1: Most Plagiarisms Aren’t Caught

In the age of plagiarism detection software and an eagle-eyed public, it might seem that there’s no place for a plagiarist to hide.

However, he truth is that most plagiarisms aren’t caught, at least not timely.

The reason isn’t because the technology is flawed or readers have poor memories, but rather, because there’s so much to read and so little is actually checked.

Sure, any piece of text can be checked for matching passages, but many schools and publications don’t bother using the tools at all. Those who do often use it in a spotty fashion and, even when it is used consistently, it’s still to easy to ignore or misinterpret results.

Take for example journalism, which has been mired in plagiarism scandals in recent years but has still steadfastly refused to use plagiarism detection software.

. . . .

Truth 5: Plagiarism Isn’t Going Away

There was plagiarism before the internet and the internet only made plagiarism easier. There’s no reason to think it will go away now.

Yes, the internet has been a double edged sword for plagiarism, making it easier to detect as well. But since most plagiarisms are still undetected, that ease of detection provides little deterrence.

While there are many things that can and should be done to reduce the amount of plagiarism, including crafting plagiarism-resistant assignments, educating on proper citation and using plagiarism detection tools correctly, none of it will completely stop stop plagiarism.

Trying to eliminate plagiarism is akin to trying to eliminate crime. You can (and should) work to reduce it, but as long as humans behave like humans, you can never eliminate it.

Link to the rest at Plagiarism Today

I Subscribed to What? What Online Subscription-Based Marketers Need To Tell Their Consumers

30 September 2017

From Trademark and Copyright Law:

I am certainly not the only person who has been lured into purchasing a too-good-to-be-true, deeply discounted product online, only to learn that what I actually purchased was a subscription to buy more stuff.  Kate Hudson’s athletic wear company Fabletics hooked me about a year ago when I saw a cute workout outfit advertised on social media for only $25.00.  I purchased the outfit on Fabletics’ website, only to discover months later that I had become a “proud” member of the Fabletics “VIP” program.  Despite its fancy name, all it means is that I was paying, unbeknownst to me, $49.95 a month to receive a monthly shipment of more workout clothes.  Despite my VIP status, I never actually received my monthly gear because I was unaware I was a member, and hence I never returned to the website to pick out my monthly items.  This allowed Fabletics to continue to charge me each month, until I noticed the charges almost 5 months later on my bank statements.

. . . .

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government agency tasked to enforce truth-in-advertising laws, calls this kind of subscription-based sales “negative option marketing.”  Negative option marketing allows sellers to interpret a customer’s failure to take an affirmative action to either reject or cancel a payment plan, as an agreement to be charged for goods or services, even if the consumer does not need them.  Negative option marketing can pose serious financial consequences to consumers if they are unaware of the sales terms and continue to be billed for products without their knowledge.

There are four kinds of plans that fall into the negative option category:

  1. Continuity plans (Fabletics’ model), where consumers agree in advance to receive periodic shipments of products or services until they cancel the agreement.
  2. Prenotification negative plans, which allow marketers to send periodic notices to consumers offering goods or services, like a book or CD. If the consumer takes no action, the product ships and you are charged.
  3. Automatic renewal plans, which is exactly how it sounds. A magazine publisher, for example, may automatically renew a consumer’s subscription when it expires and charge them for it, unless the consumer cancels the subscription or auto renewal option.
  4. Trial offer plans, which may be structured as free-to-pay, or nominal-fee-to-pay. Consumers receive goods for free or at a nominal price during a trial period. After the trial period ends, the marketer usually then charges a much higher fee unless the consumers affirmatively cancel the subscription or returns the products.

With the increase in online shopping, online subscription-based marketing programs are booming.  Because many online shoppers become “click-happy” (like me) and try to navigate through webpages quickly without paying sufficient attention to lengthy notices, they often miss the fine print in the terms of the agreement disclosing that they will be billed monthly until they cancel. Further, in some cases, realizing that you are being billed monthly is not easy.

. . . .

To avoid these problems and protect consumers, in 2010 Congress enacted the Federal Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act (ROSCA). ROSCA prohibits negative option online marketers from charging or attempting to charge consumers for products or services unless the marketer does the following: (1) clearly and conspicuously discloses the material terms of the subscription or program before obtaining the consumer’s billing information; (2) obtains the consumer’s express consent to take part in the subscription program and be charged under those terms; and (3) provides a simple mechanism for the consumer to cancel the subscription and to stop recurring charges. The Act gives the FTC and state attorney generals an additional basis to target companies engaged in unfair and deceptive marketing practices.

. . . .

[T]he FTC has brought numerous actions under ROSCA and the Federal Trade Commission Act against online negative option marketers.

Link to the rest at Trademark and Copyright Law

The Creative Life: How We Do It (Any Way We Can)

29 September 2017

From The Millions:

The copy center guy authored a children’s book.  I just found that out. Alex came over to drop off whatever documents I’d sent along for duplication and saw me working on a poem on my computer screen.

“You’re a poet?” he asked.

“Oh, y’know—I dip and dabble,” I replied.  Sometimes it’s best to keep the artistic pursuits and the day job separate, for the sake of sanity, and boundary.

The next day, Alex brought in a copy of his children’s book and gave it to me gratis.  It was the story of a boy from Jamaica who moved to New York when he was six years old.

“Write what you know, huh?” I said, stopping by the copy center later in the day to pay my compliments.

“Pretty much,” he laughed.

We’re still simply work colleagues—no real friendship has bloomed, or at least not yet—but there’s something charged to our exchanges now.  A solidarity.  A comradeship.

. . . .

I liked this idea of art and wealth commingling in my life.  It’s not something I would have admitted at the time, but I liked believing that I could—would—be the outlier.  I’d live in a top-floor high-rise apartment, with a little place in the country as well.  My friends would be famous, too: I’d drink absinthe with Johnny Depp, schmooze with Stephen Colbert on set.

So I kept going, kept grinding.  But poems—always a mere habit and hobby, started in college—began to take center stage in my creative life.  They were pleasurable to write.  I didn’t feel pressure to sell them or bend them to an audience’s need.  There was no money to be gleaned from them, and so my shallow side, still very much in charge of my life’s choices at this point, had no use for these strange, irregular texts.  With poems, I could work in private and play.

. . . .

Wallace Stevens: insurance executive. William Carlos Williams: doctor. T.S. Eliot: banker. The list goes on and on.  No one makes a living as a poet.  That’s the genre’s curse…and its gift.

. . . .

We’re everywhere.  Poets and children’s book writers.  Novelists and memoirists.  Painters and sculptors, dancers and, yes, even actors, and folks who play upright bass in three-piece jazz band trios at the coffee shop on summer Sunday afternoons.  We clean your teeth, snake the clogs in your drain, and drop off color copies to your desk during the week.  Hell, some of us are even chief executives!  Sure, there are those of us who teach at the high school or collegiate level, anchored into tenure or as frantic adjuncts.  We keep an unending variety of other job to support ourselves and our families, so that we might in our free time still do the thing we love most to do.  It doesn’t always pay, but we do it anyways.

Why would you do that though, I’m often asked at parties, by those who couldn’t possibly understand, or even by my own nagging voice during necessary moments of doubt, Why poetry?

I still haven’t figured out how to answer that question, succinctly or definitively.

Quite frankly, the question doesn’t need answering.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Everything is changing

29 September 2017

Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.

Will Rogers

Cover versions: why are UK and US book jackets often so different?

29 September 2017

From The Guardian:

Covers sell books. But in the case of Hillary Clinton’s memoir What Happened, you can’t help thinking that the book’s sales in the UK are despite the jacket treatment, not because of it. Whereas the US jacket oozes the gravitas you expect from the woman who stood up to Donald Trump, the UK jacket has all the power of a shrugged “meh”.

The book is published worldwide by Simon & Schuster, and the company’s US division opted for bold lettering on a white-and-blue background (incorporating the Democrats’ traditional colour). The design screams its serious credentials: this, it tells the reader, is The Book by the woman everyone expected to be a shoo-in for the Oval Office, a woman defined by her service in husband Bill’s and Barack Obama’s administrations.

It is a cover worthy of the memoir that has a place in academic libraries. Weight is given to the title, What Happened. A simple statement, it hangs above Clinton’s name, reflecting the question on the lips of everyone who awoke on 9 November to find Donald Trump was soon to get access to the nuclear codes.

But the UK cover … where do you begin? Any sense that Clinton is laying it on the line, or even offering answers, is washed away by a design so hackneyed it even has a generic politico-at-a-rally headshot, albeit one in which Hillary’s firm-lipped expression is reminiscent of the look your mum gave you the first time you barrelled home drunk. Not only that, but the background colour is as pallid as one of her pant suits, and the title – a question on the lips of everyone in the UK as well as the US – is squirrelled away beneath her name.

When I ask, “What happened?” her publisher responds with a terse refusal to comment. But it raises the question: why did the Americans get it right and the British so wrong when UK book design is supposedly the envy of the world?

. . . .

Traditionally, US design tended towards literal interpretation, driven, Bache believes, by the complexity of the US market: the image that motivates readers in southern California to pick up a copy of a book is likely to be different to what appeals to readers in South Carolina. As a result, US jackets have tended to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and that does not make for good design.

“It’s a complicated [market], so the design becomes simpler and focuses on broader appeal,” Bache says. “However, things have shifted in the last few years,” he adds. “There are a lot more similarities now, particularly in literary novels where the luxury of creating much more elegant, beautiful covers has been afforded to the books.”

The designer and illustrator Neil Gower believes US designers have upped their game because of the explosion in digital books. “I think ebooks and the internet have definitely focused publishers’ attention on making books beautiful, covetable objects again,” he says. Publishers on both sides of the Atlantic realise that to justify the cost of a hardback, a book needs to be more than a container of words. It has to be an object of beauty in its own right, he says.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Here’s the US cover:


.
And the UK cover:

Authors Use Multi-tiered Strategies To Gain Max Exposure In Book Price Promotions

29 September 2017

From Digital Book World:

Book price promotions are one of the most useful strategies independent authors have for finding new readers and shifting units. Price promotions are like sales: authors lower their price of their book to encourage new people to try it. However, temporarily reducing your book to 99 cents (or free) won’t matter unless the right readers know about your price promotion.

That’s where online book promotion services step into the picture. If you’re not familiar with sites like BookBub, they’re places where readers can find discounted and free books — and sign up for newsletters to notify them of the latest deals within their genres of interest. Getting your book featured by the most popular services is incredibly valuable, will almost guarantee a bump in sales and downloads. However, these placements are not guaranteed, and your promotion can always benefit from being featured elsewhere. In these situations, smaller promo services are worth considering.

Reedsy has released an evolving directory of Book Promotion Services. Authors can use it to search for prospective book promotion services, sorting by genre, advertising costs, and mailing list size.

. . . .

Rhetorical question: when you’re planning your price promotions, would you rather put all your eggs in one basket or try to get every last bit of exposure possible?

Let’s say you’re planning a week free promotion with the aim of getting 50 reviews for your self-published book. You want to ensure that you’re getting a steady flow of downloads, as it will improve your rank in Amazon’s Free store much more than a one-day spike.

To “trickle-in” these new readers, you will arrange for your “Tier I” promotions (the ones with the greatest track record, with whom it is commonly more expensive to work) to run on different days, supported by promotions on Tier II, Tier III (and maybe Tier IV) sites. For example, the first three days of your Amazon Free Promotion might be supported by paid promotional placements as follows:

Monday

  • BookBub (Tier I) – from $55
  • Book Gorilla (Tier II) – from $5
  • Book Runes (Tier III) – from $25
  • Book Praiser (Tier IV) – free to list

Tuesday

  • Free Booksy (Tier I) – from $40
  • The Fussy Librarian (Tier II) – from $40
  • Just Kindle Books (Tier III) – from $15
  • Feed Your Reader (Tier IV) – free to list

Wednesday

  • Book Sends (Tier I) – from $10
  • BKnights (Tier II) – from $5
  • My Book Place (Tier III) – from $25
  • New Free Kindle Books (Tier IV) – free to list

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

PG says to feel free to share your experiences with these promotional sites in the comments.

E-Book Revenue Increased for the First Time in Two Years

29 September 2017

From The Association of American Publishers:

eBook revenues for trade book publishers were up 2.4% in May 2017. The growth was attributed to increased eBook sales for Adult Books, up 3.4% over May 2016. This is the first monthly increase over prior year sales since March 2015, according to the StatShot Monthly report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

The increase in eBook sales was one element of a growth month for book publishers. Revenues for book publishers were up by $50.7 million (4.6%) in May 2017 over May 2016. Revenues from Jan. – May 2017 were $4.25 billion, gaining $175.7 million (4.3%) compared to the same timeframe in 2016.

With the exception of Professional Books, all reported categories saw sales increases for the month. The categories with the greatest growth in May were Childrens & Young Adult Books (11.8%) and University Presses (7.3%). With these and other gains, no categories are reporting revenue loss year-to-date.

Link to the rest at The Association of American Publishers

Live Blogging a Book Makes You Smarter

29 September 2017

From The Foundation for Economic Education:

There are so many products and services that claim to make you smarter. It’s a huge industry. Get-smart video games and puzzles are everywhere. Websites and apps that promise fast results are booming.

I’m a skeptic of the tools being promoted these days, but not of the overall idea. It makes complete sense. Not everyone is a born genius in every area, but everyone can surely improve the efficiency and functioning of the mind you have.

Heaven knows we think enough about getting our bodies in shape. Maniacal energy goes into pumping up our bodies, losing weight, flattening our bellies and bulking up our chests and arms. Health clubs have remained a boom-time industry, and there’s no end to the diet books, strategies, theories and ambitions.

It’s all terribly superficial compared with a much more important matter of finding ways to strengthen our capacity to think. But as with health clubs and exercise machines for our bodies, we will quickly discover that there are no shortcuts for… hard work.

. . . .

Why so little attention to the mind? We can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are intellectually fit. It’s hard to admit it to ourselves that we aren’t thinking very well, that we are relying too much on our biases, that we aren’t challenging ourselves, that we have a reduced capacity for creativity and absorbing new information.

Step one: Admit there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

To shape up the body, and overcome our natural tendency to cut ourselves too much slack, people have various strategies. They hire personal trainers to push them further than they think they can go. They go to class so that they can exercise alongside others. They go to month-long camps that monitor eating and compel all-day exercise.

None of this works with intellectual life. It is just you and your brain, and if you lack the discipline to undertake the challenge, improvement is not going to happen. You need some framework to help, like the virtual path on a treadmill or stationary bike, something that keeps you on track and discourages you from cutting corners.

. . . .

The best method I know is something taken from the world of journalism. When people attend live events like concerts or conferences, they tweet or blog the event as it happens. You see this during political debates, too. The journalist listens, reports and responds in real time.

. . . .

What if we treat a book like an event? It is an event, really. A great book can be just as interesting and invigorating–and even more evocative–than a live event in reality. This is obviously true of fiction, but it is also true of nonfiction, provided the book is well written and deals provocatively with a topic you find intriguing.

. . . .

Live blogging a book is different from reviewing a book or writing a book report. The point is to process information and react to it as it comes to you in real time. The live blog doesn’t merely relate the contents. It reacts to the contents of the book and how it interacts with your own prior existing ideas and how it may or may not have changed your understanding.

If while you are reading you finding yourself reflecting on an example or remembering some debate you had with someone on the topic, this is perfect live blog fodder. Put it in there. The point is to make a literary chronicle of how some book has affected your thinking chapter by chapter, and to do so in the most intellectually honest way you can.

Reading this way is a completely different experience. You engage much more closely and attentively. The ideas in the book become the capital goods over which you take ownership in order to produce a new product of your own.

Link to the rest at The Foundation for Economic Education

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