Why I Quit Goodreads (or, The Bookternet Is Not Safe for Women)

29 March 2015

From BookRiot:

A few months ago, I quit Goodreads.

Partly, I was paring back my social media life to those that are most useful to me  (Twitter) or make me happiest (Instagram). Partly, I found the Kathleen Hale controversy profoundly upsetting. But mostly, I was just sick of being harassed. I was tired of being questioned by authors or rabid fans about my three-star reviews (by the way can we talk about how a three-star review is not a bad review, people?), messaged and spammed and poked at to read someone’s self-published magnum opus, and invited to everything all over the world always. But those are minor annoyances. The Kathleen Hale controversy snapped into focus something I had always kind of wondered about: as a woman, putting my views on the internet is an act of risk-taking.

And this is gendered, folks. I don’t think Hale would have stalked a male commentator, and I know my male colleagues here at Book Riot get very different reactions for saying the same things my female colleagues do. This is about being a woman who wants to exercise her voice, and this is about the people who will always read that voice as a threat.

Once, a week or so before I deleted my Goodreads account, I gave a book that shall remain nameless a two-star review. A man claiming to be the author’s publicist messaged me to ask that I reconsider. I ignored the message (I never had that many followers on Goodreads and it seemed to me that I was a small potatoes target) and, a day or so later, received an angrier message, this time demanding that I take down the review. I wrote back and noted that I had made some positive points about the book but that overall it didn’t work for me. Reviews on Goodreads, I noted, are personal reflections for the most part — mine certainly were — and I wasn’t condemning the book as a whole. The person wrote back and asked, “How would you like it if people used the internet to say mean things about you? It can be done, you know.”

. . . .

It got me thinking about how often I read articles on book sites (not, blessedly, this one, with its carefully managed community and moderated comments) where I have wanted to join in the discussion, only to read the comment threads full of male aggressions and personal attacks, racism and sexism and threats of violence, and think: no, this is not for me. My voice is not welcome here.

At least once a week, now, I scroll past a comment thread and move on.

This is a problem that is wider than us in the bookternet but it is, make no mistake, a problem in the bookternet. We were supposed to be the safe space for intellectual discussion of this act of reading that we so love. And yet.

. . . .

When I say the bookternet is not safe for women, I mean it. Thankfully I have never been physically attacked or directly harmed by my experiences tweeting and blogging about books. But I have certainly been made to feel unsafe, to live on the defensive, to question the motivations of those who engage with me, to block first and ask questions never. That’s not the person I want to be, but it’s the person I must be if I wish to have a public voice on a big platform like Book Riot. If I have to choose between my sweetness and my voice, my voice will always, always win. It has to.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

‘Insurgent’ And Why Young Adult Novels Make Box Office Hits

28 March 2015

From Forbes:

The second installment of Veronica Roth’s dystopian trilogy, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, grabbed $52.3 million in its opening weekend at the U.S. boxoffice, just shy of Divergent’s $54.6 million debut last year. Clocking $47 million worldwide, Insurgent brings the teen action franchise’s total earnings to a plump $388 million so far, with two movies still to come.

Roth, who earned an estimated $17 million last year selling some 7 million books, is but one of many ink spillers whose literary successes have translated into box office hits. Nearly a quarter of the 200 top-grossing films worldwide tallied by Box Office Mojo have been directly adapted from books, excluding children’s tales, comic book or picture book translations.  Of those 48 titles, 16 started as Young Adult novels and earned a collective $13.4 billion at the box office.

Young Adult (YA) fiction – a genre usually designed for readers 12 and up – has become a global powerhouse that reaps dollars from page turners and popcorn crunchers alike.

“These books already have great source material and a die-hard fan base,” said Jodi Reamer, a senior book agent at Writers House who worked with Twilight‘s Stephenie Meyer and The Fault in Our Stars‘ John Green. She says a novel’s built-in audience means YA adaptations are a shoo-in for studios – and profit makers for publishers.

“At most, a publisher is going to spend a million [dollars] on marketing and promotion, but a studio at the very least will spend a million, so there will be a huge audience discovering the books and driving sales,” Reamer explained.

She would know: Twilight‘s vampire love saga notched a total of $3.34 billion at the global box office from its five installments, propelling Meyer to shift over 116 million copies of the series.

Link to the rest at Forbes

The Secret of the Jane Austen Industry

28 March 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

The poet W.H. Auden said of Sigmund Freud that he was no longer just a person but had become a climate of opinion. That is about as effusive a compliment as one can imagine, and there are very few thinkers or writers who merit it. But one who undoubtedly does isJane Austen. She is not only a climate of opinion, she is a movement, a mood, a lifestyle, an attitude and, perhaps most tellingly of all, a fridge magnet.

What explains the continued popularity of Jane Austen and the handful of novels she wrote? It is, after all, rather remarkable that a woman who spent her life in quiet provincial circumstances in early 19th-century England should become, posthumously, a literary celebrity outshining every author since then, bar none. Tolstoy, Dickens and Proust are all remembered, and still read, but they do not have countless fans throughout the world who reread their books each year, who eagerly await the latest television or movie adaptation, who attend conventions in period costume, and who no doubt dream about the heroes and heroines of their novels.

And it gets better. Although the literary sequel is an established genre, there are no other writers who have quite so many imitators. Each publishing year brings its crop of Austen novels, whether they are prequels, sequels or fresh treatments of a plot from a new perspective.

. . . .

The continued life of the Jane Austen industry must have a secret. At the heart of it is probably the simple, persistent appeal of romance. Austen is about women engaging with men in the eternal dance of attraction between the sexes. That, it would seem, is what people want to read about and to see portrayed one way or another on the screen. The woman identifies her man or he identifies her. They encounter obstacles, whether personal or social, but, if it is meant to be, they overcome them and are happily paired at the end. So resolution and happiness are thrown into the mix, and however jaded we are, it seems we can never get enough of those.

Yet there is far more to Austen than that. There are plenty of superficial romantic novels that are forgotten as soon as they are read. Austen is far from superficial. Although her books are set exclusively within the confines of a certain class, she provides a fascinating picture of the ways of that slice of society and the confines within which its members, particularly women, are obliged to live. She is also extremely funny, able to paint the foibles of characters with a dry wit that has dated very little. Her books are intimate and compelling. She has a voice that somehow seems to chime even with a modern sensibility. She is, in essence, timeless.

Lind to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

The second blooming

28 March 2015

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming… suddenly you find – at the age of 50, say – that a whole new life has opened before you.

Agatha Christie

Amazon is Testing Bulk eBook Bundles in Japan

28 March 2015

From Ink, Bits & Pixels:

How would you like to have the option of buying an entire series with a single click?

If Amazon’s latest program catches on, you might. The retailer is now testing a new section of the Kindle Store in Japan called Kindle Buying Corner.

ITMedia reports that Amazon is selling bundles of single issue comic books. A total of 10 bundles are currently being offered. The bundles consist of 15 to 25 consecutive titles from a single series, and are being sold at a 10% to 15% discount. If a reader already owns one of the titles from the bundle, it is excluded from the sale to avoid duplicate purchases.

. . . .

In any case, this bundle offer is a good way for readers who buy the single issues to fill in the holes in their collection in a single purchase.

Link to the rest at Ink, Bits & Pixels

When Dad’s a Writer

28 March 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

International bestselling author Noah Gordon is my father. His books have been published in 35 countries and in many of them his name is a household word.

He’s less widely known in the United States, though his first novel, The Rabbi, was on the New York Times list for more than six months in 1965, and his fourth novel, Shaman, won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize given by the Society of American Historians for being “the best historical novel published in either 1991 or 1992.”

To me, though, he was just “Pop,” until, when I was nine, I entered his other world, accompanying him to a publishing trade show in Washington D.C. sponsored by the ABA, and watching him sign The Death Committee, his second book.

Everyone in my family has worked with Pop. My sister Lise, who was an editor at Houghton Mifflin for 10 years, became his manuscript editor; my mother, Lorraine Gordon, was his copy editor; and my sister Jamie took most of his jacket photos. When Pop won the Cooper Award, he was in the hospital; Lise and I went to New York and accepted the prize for him.

I started joining him on book tours in 1992 when he became a bestselling author in Europe. Even better, I sometimes teamed with him to do research. Before turning to fiction, he was a newspaper reporter, and he knows how to dig out a story. Working on The Last Jew, in Toledo, Spain, he took one side of the street and I took the other, and we interviewed shopkeeper after shopkeeper, searching for descendants of the “secret Jews” of the Inquisition.

. . . .

It was my father’s fourth novel, The Physician, that made him a celebrated international author. It was released in 1986 in the U.S., but thanks to German publisher Karl Blessing, who brought it to Germany, it caught fire. At the same time, it became a national favorite in Spain and soon was a bestseller across Europe.

My father’s books have won literary prizes in Germany, Italy, and Spain, but it is The Physician that has driven all the titles. In 1999, booksellers at the Madrid Book Fair voted The Physician “one of the 10 most loved books of all time,” and it has stayed in print in many markets for 28 years.

. . . .

 Pop is 88 years old, and he’s still writing. He is working on a novella and determined to finish the story. He finds himself exactly where he has chosen to be for most of his working life—still on the writer’s rack, still in the writing life.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Author Solutions’ Deceptive Practices

28 March 2015

The law firm that previously had filed a class-action suit against Penguin Random House subsidiary, Author Solutions, has announced that it has just filed a second class-action suit.

From Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart:

Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart has filed a class action suit against Author Solutions, a major self-publishing house owned by Penguin Random House. Unlike every other traditional publisher, Author Solutions seeks to make money FROM authors not FOR them.

Author Solutions preys upon the dreams of authors by selling them expensive services that sound exciting but do not actually sell any books. Their defense: They aren’t being deceptive because they aren’t trying to sell books. Of course, for nearly 200,000 authors who have paid thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars to buy expensive services that promised to promote their books, Author Solutions’s indifference to book sales comes as more than a bit of a surprise.

. . . .

Author Solutions also contracts with several traditional publishers (or “partners”) to create additional imprints, as listed below. This gives authors inflated hopes of being discovered by a traditional publisher, even though the services offered are the very same useless services performed by Author Solutions, only at a higher price. Many of the partners do not disclose Author Solutions’s participation in the partnership.

. . . .

Author Solutions deceptively markets its service in a number of ways. For instance, Authors Solutions has never analyzed whether these expensive “marketing services” help an author’s book sales. Second, it calls its team of telemarketers, largely based at a call center in the Philippines, “Publishing Consultants,” “Marketing Consultants,” or “Book Consultants” to give the impression that these employees have publishing or marketing experience and will guide the author through the process. In reality, these “consultants” are simply commissioned salespeople. None of this is disclosed to authors.

. . . .

To understand the actual value of these services it might be wise to look at the experience of someone who knows the system well. Author Solutions’s own Editorial Services Manager has published seven books with Author Solutions. Although he was certainly interested in book sales, he did not purchase a single marketing service from AS. Not a single one.

Link to the rest at Giskan Solotaroff Anderson & Stewart and thanks to Randall and many others for the tip.

Following is a copy of the Complaint filed in the second suit:

.


As Complaint (Text)

Conversations in Private Author Loops

27 March 2015

From author Courtney Milan via Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:

Courtney Milan says:

Look, there’s a reason I haven’t said much. I’m still untangling things. There are a lot of things that I need to untangle. I’m sorry that’s not convenient–I conveniently wish I could untangle this easily, too.

But here is one thread of about 45 tangled threads that I think I’m finally clear on: There is an intersection between Jane being on author loops and the lawsuit.

Everything that crosses Jane’s eye about Ellora’s Cave is discoverable by Tina Engler–someone who has allegedly inflated the 1099s of former editors who testified in the suit in retaliation for their testimony, an action that will cost them time and money to correct. A lot of authors–and I mean a LOT–are being very cautious about what they say because they don’t want to be retaliated against. I understand that worry and I’m not going to tell people to put their careers on the line when they’ve got a living to make.

Now we come to those private author loops. Because that’s where we do a lot of processing behind the scenes, including processing of the questions regarding the EC suit. On private author loops, authors have asked each other questions like this: Do I say something in public? Is it worth the risk? They still have six of my books, and they’re still paying me and I need that money to pay rent. Or, maybe the calculus goes, They haven’t paid me yet but I think they will and I can’t afford not to get it. I can’t speak up.

Ellora’s Cave is going to ask for discovery of any and all communications received by Jane in any form regarding Ellora’s Cave. If Jane was on any of those loops? That stuff is discoverable. Even if Jane as Jen didn’t respond or instigate the discussion. Even if she never used the information.

It is a huge risk to speak frankly in front of someone who may be compelled by court order to report your speech to the person you are talking about. There’s even the risk that, as a result of that speech, you may be compelled by subpoena to testify in court. These are risks that are vastly different in kind than the risks authors normally assume–and Jane spent six months on authors’ loops not disclosing that a court could compel her to put everything said in front of her about Ellora’s Cave in front of Tina Engler.

Link to the rest at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and thanks to Phoenix and several others for the tip.

Here’s a link to Courtney Milan’s books

Ebooks for Libraries

27 March 2015
From Joe Konrath:

TL;DR

  • I want to help authors get their ebooks into libraries.
  • I want to help libraries acquire indie ebooks.
  • To do this, I started a business called EAF – EbooksAreForever.com.
  • I want to sell your ebooks to libraries.

What’s going on with libraries and ebooks?

There are 120,000 libraries in the US. These libraries, and their patrons, are eager for popular ebooks. Many libraries have a budget they must spend, or they risk having that budget cut.

Currently, libraries have no allies in the ebook market. They aren’t happy with the restrictions and costs of the current leader in supplying libraries with ebook content, Overdrive. Through Overdrive, many publishers charge high prices for ebooks, some higher than $80 a title. They also require yearly license renewals, and may force libraries to re-buy licenses after a certain arbitrary number of borrows.

Just one example of the perils of this approach for America’s libraries is that a library must pay for extensions of time-limited licenses of old ebooks and purchases of licenses for new ones. All kinds of sustainability and predictability issues aris

. . . .

Some indies are on Overdrive and 3M. I’ve been on Overdrive for a few years. My last quarterly check was about $60, and I have a large catalog. This is small money, not just for me, but for any writer. And I was fortunate enough to have been invited into Overdrive. Many authors are not.

The vast majority of libraries don’t have access to many of the ebooks that readers are seeking. The latest AuthorEarnings.com report showed that 33% of all ebooks sold on Amazon are from indie authors. Libraries are missing out on 1/3 of available titles, because they have no way easy way to acquire them.

Just as important, these are quality titles. People are reading, enjoying, and recommending them. Indie authors are hooking readers, and selling as well as the major publishing houses, but there isn’t a way for libraries to offer them to their patrons.

. . . .

For the past year, my business partner, August Wainwright, and I have been talking to acquisitions librarians across the country, and they crave an alternative to the status quo. These libraries are looking to buy thousands of ebooks at once in order to best serve their patrons and community.

Their main wish is to be treated fairly – which means they want to own the ebooks they purchase, acquire good content at a reasonable price, and have access to as many copies as they need.

Our solution? Give libraries what they’re asking for, and in a way that gives libraries the sustainable purchasing model they deserve. We’re striving to offer a large, curated collection of popular ebooks that libraries can easily purchase with just one click.

. . . .

EbooksAreForever distributes to libraries at $7.99 for full length novels, and $3.99-$4.99 for shorter works. We’re offering 70% royalties to the author, and the library will have the ability to purchase more copies as needed.

The way this works is that if a library wants to allow 3 patrons to borrow your ebook at any given time, they’d need to have purchased 3 “copies”. Most libraries adhere to a strict hold ratio (usually around 3:1) in order to present patrons with the best user experience possible. Our hope is that by making ebooks both affordable and sustainable, then libraries in response will automatically purchase more copies.

So, if you have a catalog of 10 ebooks that we then distribute to 1000 libraries, you’ve just earned $56,000 in royalties from making your books available to the library marketplace if they each buy one copy. If your titles are popular, they’ll buy more copies and you’ll earn more.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Sabrina for the tip.

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books

UPDATE: PG put this post together and scheduled it to appear a couple of days ago. He couldn’t figure out why so many people kept sending him tips about Joe’s plan. Then he checked and discovered that WordPress had failed to publish this at the proper time.

How Do You Find Time to Write?

27 March 2015

From author Jamie Todd Rubin:

From time-to-time, I get asked how I find the time to write. I supposed this is, in part, because of my consecutive-day writing streak (which now stands at 576 days). But I think part of it comes from the fact that I manage to write while working a full time job, while blogging, and while raising a family. The question comes in various forms but it all boils down to the same thing: how do you find time to write?

. . . .

When I started to write every day, nearly two years ago now1, the first thing I did was test my assumptions of what I needed to write.

With respect to time, I used to think that I needed a chunk of time–a minimum of, say, 1 hour, better yet 2 hours–to get any decent writing done. In the past, I’d tried to carve out an hour or two during the day to write. Usually it was very early in the morning, and while it worked for a time, it eventually failed. It fail for several reasons:

  1. I might be able to get up at 4 am a few day a week to get in some writing, but the long days wore on my, and eventually, I’d fail.
  2. When I did fail, I felt guilty for the rest of the day.
  3. Failure one day led to failure another day.

So the first thing I did in February 2013 was challenge my assumption about how much time I needed to write. I decided to experiment. My experiment was as follows:

  1. I would write every day, even if it was only for a few minutes.
  2. I would not schedule a specific time to write, but writing would be a priority for any spare time that I found.

This experiment required that I be able to write from anywhere, which is why, beginning in February 2013, I moved my entire writing infrastructure into Google Docs. Using Google Docs meant I could write from any device, wherever I happened to be. It meant I didn’t have to worry about moving files back and forth across devices. That meant I could spend what little time I had writing instead of copying files and managing versions.

. . . .

With my challenges to my assumptions, and my automated scripts and data collection, I started to write. I wrote every day. Sometimes I’d only write for 10 minutes. Other times, I’d find 3 hours to write. Sometimes I was exhausted, but wrote for 15 minutes anyway. Sometimes, I knew what I was writing was terrible, but that the practice was important, so I kept at it.

. . . .

Over the course of my 576 consecutive day writing streak, I’ve written over half a million words, and sold 11 stories or articles.

Link to the rest at Jamie Todd Rubin

Here’s a link to Jamie Todd Rubin’s books

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