The Hodgepodge of Bits & Pieces is a bimonthly link round-up of articles and posts I’ve run across online which I thought may be of interest to writers and readers. I’d appreciate feedback on any of the bits or pieces which spoke to you—good or bad!
Cote Too Biased to Decide
Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly writes that “Apple: Biased Judge Should Not Decide Damages” due to Judge Cote’s “unprompted statements … demonstrate that the Court has already decided what Plaintiffs must … prove …”
Is It Agency Pricing or Isn’t It?
I’m confused, and if anyone can figure out what’s being said, I’d appreciate it in this article by Stuart Woods at Quill & Quire on “Kobo objects to potentially ‘devastating’ Competition Bureau agreement on agency pricing“. It sounds like Canada is removing agency pricing (what the Apple/Big 6 trial was all about), and Kobo is relieved and unhappy all at the same time about it. On the one hand, Kobo claims agency pricing, and their inability to discount books as they like, is driving them out of business, but then again they’re negotiating with publishers in Canada and putting agency pricing in their contracts… Like I said, I’m so confused…
Just for Fun
Justin Burns at Airport World reports that the “Second Tattered Cover Bookstore Opened at Denver International” in the center of Concourse A. Tattered Cover is working in association with Hudson Booksellers. The last two stores will open this year.
UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center in downtown Storrs celebrated its grand opening Saturday, along with its partners: the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and Le Petit Marché Café. More than 500 people attended, including authors Wally Lamb, Ellen Litman, Barbara McClintock, David Johnson, Sam Pickering, Wendell Minor, Florence Minor, Heather Webb, Ron Mallett, and Bruce Cohen. Illustrator David Johnson, who is working on a project to draw 2,000 portraits of authors, exhibited his drawings of Connecticut authors.
“Prairie Path Books has opened in Toms-Price Home Furnishings in Wheaton. The space includes ‘big leather chairs and comfortable sofas, and a kitchen will allow for book discussions around cooking demonstrations…'”.
Bill Laitner at the Detroit Free Press wonders if an online sales tax could have saved Royal Oak Barnes & Noble from closing? An anchor store for Royal Oak’s downtown, Barnes & Noble will close April 5, another victim to online retailers not having to charge sales tax, and to be fair, the ease of purchasing online.
St. Mark’s Bookshop is reinventing itself as a “…non-profit event space, while continuing to fill the East Village’s niche for a small brick-and-mortar bookstore featuring carefully selected new theoretical, political, art, design, poetry and independent literary texts in traditional print format.”
“As preparations continue for the upcoming relocation to a new space in New York City’s East Village, an Indiegogo campaign launched two weeks ago by the Friends of St. Mark’s Bookshop has raised nearly $6,000 thus far, with 47 days to go. The effort is part of a “financial push to build out the space and pay for moving costs, as well as maintaining its inventory for the remaining months at 31 Third Avenue.
“Booksy Galore, “a little bookstore with a big heart” in Pound Ridge ‘serves up a unique variety of new releases, great literature, treasured children’s tales, nonfiction and an awesome assortment of used books,’ according to its Facebook profile, as well as ‘unique book-themed gift baskets, artisan cards, stationary products, and stuff we think to be cool and clever tchotchkes.'” Having opened last October, the owner, Susan Williamson, says her ultimate goal is to become a community fixture: “There’s a big difference between people just dropping off books to get rid of them and people saying it’s important to have a community space for artists and writers and to just hang out and talk about books.”
“Joseph-Beth Booksellers will open a 4,000-square-foot gift store at the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati in 2015, offering ‘a broad selection of quality brands, local merchandise, comfort items and bestselling books,’ as well as supplying textbooks for the Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences.”
The Wild Detectives bookstore, coffee shop, and bar opened last weekend in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas at 314 W. 8th Street. The Observer reported that there “aren’t enough places in Dallas where you can read a book and sip a beer in public. At the Wild Detectives, you can order up a Lakewood Lager, pull out your beat-up copy of a Jonathan Lethem novel or T.S. Eliot poems, and read in peace.”
The Books-A-Million store at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont closed last Saturday, but will re-open in May as the chain’s first 2nd and Charles location in the state (we’ll hope they get the Beaumont link up on their location page soon!), the Beaumont Enterprise reported, noting that “the words, ‘A new experience in reading, watching, playing and grooving is coming very soon,’ and the black plastic covering the windows and doors were not a good sign to those who cling to a passion for printed books.” While local employees said the store will open in May, 2nd and Charles spokeswoman Christine Corbitt could not confirm the date.
Warren Johnston at Valley News reported that “Shiretown Books in Woodstock will close ‘in the next few weeks,’ adding that owner Ron Miller said the store, which he bought in 2011, was the ‘victim of a sluggish economy and electronic book sales’. Woodstock is lucky in that it still has Yankee Bookshop.
Chef Matt Kantor and filmmaker Brilynn Ferguson produced a video farewell to Toronto’s the Cookbook Store, which closed March 5 after 31 years in business. Quillblog reported that the bookshop’s staff “is planning a potluck meal at the store on March 23 at 11:30 a.m. Attendees are invited to bring a dish from a favorite cookbook or something that brings back memories of the shop.”
“Page and Blackmore Booksellers, described as ‘one of New Zealand’s most beloved bookshops, is going up for sale for the first time.’ The bookshop on Trafalgar Street in Nelson has been named New Zealand’s Independent Bookseller of the Year twice and best bookshop in the South Island three times. They want “customers to know the owners would take their time to find the right buyer: ‘We’re keen to find owners who value the shop. It would be terrible if it didn’t carry on the way it was, because then we wouldn’t have anything to read.'”
2013 Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen Jones and R. L. Stine are receiving the Horror Writers Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award this year, “in recognition of the recipient’s overall body of work”.
Just to get a plug in for editors, ahem *grin*, “Speaking about Jones, HWA president Rocky Wood said, “This is the second year in three we have recognized an editor with the Lifetime Achievement Award — editing is a crucial skill in our genre, where anthologies regularly showcase the best of horror writing.
2014 Golden Kite Awards
The 2014 Golden Kite Awards are presented annually to books published in the preceding year to children’s book authors and artists by their peers and sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Named for the late Newbery-winner Sid Fleischman, the SCBWI offers this eponymous award to authors whose work exemplifies excellence in the genre of humor, a category so often overlooked by other award committees in children’s literature.
- Fiction: Better Nate than Ever (Better Nate than Ever, 1) by Tim Federle
- Nonfiction: Call of the Klondike by David Meissner & Kim Richardson
- Picture book illustration: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
- Picture book text: Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller
- Sid Fleischman Award for Humor: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
2014 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award
Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson has won the 2014 ComicsPRO Industry Appreciation Award, honoring individuals who have shown “particular support of the direct market in the comic industry.”
George Saunders Wins 2013 Story Prize & Folio Prize
George Saunders won the Story Prize, “an annual book award honoring the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction” and the Folio Prize with his Tenth of December, a “short story collection that encompasses broad comedy, biting satire, and selfless acts of courage — often within a single story”.
Barnes & Noble’s 2013 Discover Great New Writers Award
- Nonfiction: Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain
- Fiction: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
2014 American History Book Prize
The purpose of the American History Book Prize is to encourage the general public to read works on American history and The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy has won the $50,000 prize this year.
2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award
The biennial award, “the Hognander Minnesota History Award, is supported by the Hognander Family Foundation, and recognizes “the most outstanding scholarly work published in 2012 or 2013 on a topic of Minnesota history”, which happens to be Mni Sota Makoce, the Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White.
2014 Blue Peter Book Award
The Blue Peter Book Awards are chosen by schoolchildren across the UK, and really, who are the better judges for children’s books!
- Best Book of Facts: Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders – World War II (Weird World of Wonders) by Tony Robinson
- Best Story: Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell
2013 National Book Critics Circle’s Book Awards
The National Book Critics Circle awards are given each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves.
- Poetry: Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart
- Criticism: Distant Reading by Franco Moretti
- Autobiography: Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti by Amy Wilentz
- Biography: Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch
- Nonfiction: Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
- Fiction: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2014 John Burroughs Medal
“Kathleen Jamie has won the 2014 John Burroughs Medal, which recognizes ‘the best in nature writing’, for her book Sightlines…”
2014 Kay Sexton Award
“Mark Vinz has won the 2014 Kay Sexton Award, part of the Minnesota Book Awards, for ‘contributions to Minnesota’s literary community’. Sponsored by Common Good Books, St. Paul, the award is named after the longtime Dayton’s and B. Dalton Bookseller buyer.”
2014 Moth Award
The 2014 Moth Award will go to author Zadie Smith for being one of the world’s great raconteurs.
2014 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement
Cuban-born “María Irene Fornés[, who has written more than 40 stage works,] will receive the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement for her work as a pivotal figure in Hispanic-American, LGBT, and experimental theater, both for her unique vision as a writer and for her dedication as a director and teacher.”
The Publishing Triangle sponsors the Bill Whitehead Award, which honors a legendary editor: Bill Whitehead, the editor-in-chief at E. P. Dutton in the early 1980s who ended his career at Macmillan. He worked with such gay and lesbian writers as Edmund White, Robert Ferro, and Doris Grumbach, and with Anne Rice (writing as A. N. Roquelaure), and Lana Turner, among others. He died of AIDS in 1987.
Books for a Better Life Awards
The winners of this year’s Books for a Better Life Awards, sponsored by the Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and honoring “self-improvement authors whose messages are aligned with the chapter’s mission of inspiring people to live their best lives”, are:
- Childcare: Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World by Rosalind Wiseman
- Cookbook: Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
- First Book: Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler
- Green: Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation by Dan Fagin
- Inspirational Memoir: Taylor’s Gift: A Courageous Story of Giving Life and Renewing Hope by Todd and Tara Storch with Jennifer Schuchmann
- Motivational: Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart
- Psychology: Outsmarting Anger: 7 Strategies for Defusing our Most Dangerous Emotion by Joseph Shrand, M.D. and Leigh Devine, MS
- Relationships: Carry On Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton
- Spiritual: What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell
- Wellness: Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being by Linda Graham, MFT
2014 Literature Award Winners
The American Academy of Arts and Letters literature awards honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Explore the press release for a definition of any of the awards.
- Arts and Letters Awards in Literature:
- Don Bartlett
- Emily Fragos
- George Green
- Rajiv Joseph
- James Longenbach
- Eric Puchner
- Jean Valentine
- Brenda Wineapple
- Benjamin H. Danks Award: Yiyun Li
- Blake Dodd Prize: Alexander Stille
- E.M. Forster Award: Sarah Hall
- Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction: The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales
- Katherine Anne Porter Award: Sherman Alexie
- Arthur Rense Poetry Prize: Ellen Bryant Voigt
- Rome Fellowships in Literature: Krys Lee and Liz Moore
- Rosenthal Family Foundation Award: The Isle of Youth: Stories by Laura van den Berg
- Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award: Daniel Mendelsohn
- Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation: David Hinton
- Morton Dauwen Zabel Award: Claudia Rankine
RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction
Thomas King won the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction for his book The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. Later, the inaugural winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Author award will be announced, who receives $10,000 and the opportunity to be mentored by King.
In the March Hodgepodge, we reported that he had won the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Nonfiction.
Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction Awarded
The inaugural $2,500 Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction honor the memory of Diana Pinckley, a longtime crime fiction columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a founding member of the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, and a civic activist.
2014 Food Writing Award Winners
This list of the winners in the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which recognizes the best in food writing, photography, design and journalism, has been edited for brevity, I know, *eye roll*, there really are a ton more awards, but they’re not strictly book- or writing-blog-related. That’s my excuse for leaving them out. If you’d like to see the complete list of IACP category winners…
- American: The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee & Ted Lee
- Baking: Savory or Sweet: The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer & Martha Rose Shulman
- Beverage/ Reference/ Technical: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food & Drink in America, Second Edition by Andrew F. Smith
- Chefs and Restaurants: The A.O.C. Cookbook by Suzanne Goin
- Children, Youth and Family: ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family by Sally Sampson
- Compilations: The Chelsea Market Cookbook: 100 Recipes from New York’s Premier Indoor Food Hall by Michael Phillips with Rick Rodgers
- Culinary History: Cuisine & Empire: Cooking in World History by Rachel Laudan
- Culinary Travel: The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France by John Baxter
- First Book & Book of the Year Winner: Stone Edge Farm Cookbook by John McReynolds
- Food Matters:
- Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics by Marion Nestle
- Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
- General: Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen by Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion
- Health & Special Diet: Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom by Deborah Madison
- International: Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way by Oretta Zanini De Vita & Maureen B. Fant
- Literary Food Writing: One Souffle at a Time by Anne Willan and Amy Friedman
- Photography: I Love New York: Ingredients and Recipes by Daniel Humm & Will Guidara
- Professional Kitchens: Elements of Dessert by Francisco Migoya and the Culinary Institute of America
- Single Subject: Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook by Rick Mast and Michael Mast
- Wine, Beer and Spirits & Jane Grigson Winner: Wine Grapes: A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, & Jose Vouillamoz
- Global Design: Manresa: An Edible Reflection by David Kinch & Christine Muhlke
- E-Cookbook: The Journey by Katy Sparks, Alex Raij, Maneet Chauhan, Rita Sodi, and Kathleen Squires
- Judges’ Choice Winners:
- The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart
- Lark — Cooking Against the Grain by John Sundstrom
- Culinary Classics Awards:
- The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy
- An Invitation to Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey
- Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (Originally Betty Crocker’s Picture Book) by Betty Crocker
- The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
- The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Shelia Lukins
- Historical Cookbook Award: American Cookery: or the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Tarts, Puddings, Custards, and Preserves, and off Kinds of Cakes, from the Imperial Plumb to Plain Cake adapted to the Country and All Grades of Life (1796) by Amelia Simmons
- Narrative Culinary Blog: Food for the Thoughtless by Michael Procopio
- Photo-Based Culinary Blog: Plated Stories by Ilva (ILVA) Beretta & Jamie Schler
- Culinary Blog Group: The Kitchn by Faith Durand
2014 PEN/Hemingway Award
- Debut Fiction: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
- Fiction: News From Heaven by Jennifer Haigh
- Non-fiction: What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death by Douglas Bauer
- Poetry: Frost in the Low Areas by Karen Skolfield
2014 Kids’ Choice Awards: The Official Multi-Touch Book
Okay, this could be fun… John Stewart at The Slanted reports that “Nickelodeon launches eBook for Kid’s Choice Awards, first of its kind” with “an interactive, digital Kids’ Choice Awards-themed Book, the first-ever dedicated book produced for a live awards show … and … available exclusively on iBooks starting March 11. The 2014 Kids’ Choice Awards: The Official Multi-Touch Book offers fans an inside look at the irreverent show before and after the star-studded event” with fun facts, videos, behind-the-scenes moments, photo galleries, quizzes, and more.
“Nickelodeon’s 27th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards airs live on Saturday, March 29 (8-9:30 p.m. ET/PT, tape delayed for West Coast).” Read the post for more details.
Watch Out, College Students
Katherine Garcia at The Ranger at San Antonio College notes that “Student takes her concerns about eBooks to chancellor” with a “petition to be presented at citizen’s-to-be-heard (sign-up for a three-minute slot to present a topic) at March 25 board meeting in which an ‘instructional materials proposal, approved by the board of trustees during the[ir] Jan. 21 regular board meeting, would require students to pay for their textbooks at the time of registration.'”
Liberal arts freshman Alexis “Morrow said at least 10 people have agreed to attend the March 25 meeting, and she invites students, faculty, staff, and their friends and family to attend the meeting. This decision affects students in the Alamo Colleges area in Texas, so y’all might want to look for “more information or join the event page by visiting www.facebook.com/events/599877890097569/?ref=22” She notes that “the meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Killen Center, 201 W. Sheridan” in San Antonio. At least sign Morrow’s petition, if you’re a student or parent of a student in the Alamo area; “Morrow hopes to have 2,000 by March 25 to present to the board.”
I can understand Morrow’s concerns as students have historically been able to choose whether they buy new or used, and not be forced into a single choice. I can also see the trustees’ point that choosing the textbook is not up to the student. Doesn’t mean the professors can choose the media in which the textbook is available, though. And, yes, I do think this is relevant as you don’t know when your college will make the same decision…
Macmillan Extends eBook Catalog to Schools Across U.S. and Canada Via OverDrive
In a press release at Digital Book World, Macmillan announces that “more than 12,000 eBook titles [their entire eBook catalog] now available for K-12 [in the United States and Canada] through the OverDrive platform, “the leading global platform for eBook lending in schools and libraries”.
Teenreads.com Debuts “REAL TALK Publishing”
“Teenreads.com has launched a feature called ‘REAL TALK Publishing: The People Behind the Books’, which is designed to offer teens and 20-somethings insight into the publishing business beyond books and authors. The first interview was with Sarah Harrison Smith, the children’s book editor for the New York Times, and she’ll be followed by in April by Chip Kidd, graphic designer, writer, and editor.
Shara Zaval, editorial manager for Kidsreads.com and Teenreads.com, conceptualized the feature and conducts the interviews. (Teenreads.com also will run on 20SomethingReads.com, a site for 20-something readers.)
Like Harry Potter? Read “History of the Quidditch World Cup”
Pottermore.com has posted the first part of J.K. Rowling’s “History of the Quidditch World Cup,” a 2,400-word essay that is one of the longest pieces of original material ever featured on the site. Except that the links on the site for the essay don’t work…
Need a Fun Birthday Cake?
Check out Surprise-Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion–with a Little Something Extra Inside by Amanda Rettke, from the creator of the blog I Am Baker.
Increasing Diversity, Tolerance, and Knowledge
Elizabeth Bluemle at Publishers Weekly had a great column back in February on “The Tipping Point for Diversity — Turning Talk into Action” about the new buzz for greater diversity in books and the publishing business generated by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) discussion group, which led to Bluemle’s “Money, Meet Mouth” post in which Sarah Hamburg summarizes a wide variety steps one could take, depending on your own interests.
Check out the CCBC’s great list of multicultural books.
Gots Kids? Think Like a Kid? Check Out Indies First Storytime Day – May 17
“Since Indies First Storytime Day was announced last month, more than 50 authors have signed on to read children’s books at independent bookstores across the U.S. May 17 during Children’s Book Week. Kate DiCamillo, who spearheaded the initiative with a letter to fellow authors, has volunteered to read at Chapter2Books at Hudson, Wisconsin, Bookselling This Week reported.”
In some ways, it’s encouraging that there are so many books being filmed for television and the big screen.
Tommy and Tuppence Coming to Telly
James Lachno and PA at The Guardian give me a thrill with the news of “David Walliams confirmed for Agatha Christie BBC adaptation” to play Tommy from Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series about a married detective duo. It’s a sweet, too-short series that will remind you of Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man couple, Nick and Nora Charles.
Lachno reported that the six-part series is scheduled to run during the 2015 Christmas season “as part of a new deal to bring some of the best-selling writer’s works to the BBC on the 125th anniversary of her death.”
Wilbur Smith’s Courtney Series Turning Into TV Series
The AP reports that “three novels by bestselling author Wilbur Smith are being developed for TV: Birds of Prey (Courtney, 9), Monsoon (Courtney, 10), and Blue Horizon (Courtney, 11). “Corona Pictures and FremantleMedia said the books will serve as the basis for a drama series about a family in Africa, the Courtneys.”
First Trailer Released for Paddington
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire suggests we “Watch: Meet ‘Paddington’ In First Teaser Trailer For The Live Action/CGI Film“. Yep, it’s childhood coming to life with a movie about Paddington bear starring “Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, and Peter Capaldi, all of them play second fiddle to center of Paddington — the bear himself.” To be released December 12, 2014.
John D. McDonald’s The Deep Blue Good-By Being Eyed
Mike Fleming, Jr., at Deadline.com notes that “James Mangold Boarding Travis McGee Tale The Deep Blue Good-By” with “James Mangold ‘negotiating to direct’ The Deep Blue Good-By, based on the 1964 John D. MacDonald novel that launched the bestselling Travis McGee series. With a script draft by Dennis Lehane, the project ‘has long been eyed by Fox as the launch of a star-driven franchise based on the beach bum McGee.'”
Clip From Under the Skin
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire writes that “Scarlett Johansson Seduces A Stranger In Clip From Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin. Jagernauth noted that the “clip’s scene ‘is good indication of [director Jonathan] Glazer’s approach which mixes his formal rigor with a guerrilla style shoot that saw Johansson interacting with non-actors, as the actress and director tried as much as possible to get an authentic feeling out of the situation and characters.’ Under the Skin opens April 4.” Based on Michael Faber’s novel.
Trailer for Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire talks about “A ‘noir-filled trailer’ for Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” being out, and asked whether “eight years after audiences first visited the monochrome, rain slicked, bullet filled streets of Sin City, are they ready to go there again? Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller certainly hope so, with talk of a TV series and Sin City 3 already percolating.’ A Dame to Kill For arrives August 22.” Discover the second book in the Sin City series.
Harpo Films Acquires Rights to Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings
Jeff Sneider at The Wrap reports that “Oprah’s Harpo Films to Adapt Book Club Selection The Invention of Wings“. Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings is also the most recent Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.
Trailer Released for The Normal Heart
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire notes that “a teaser trailer has been released for The Normal Heart, adapted for HBO by Larry Cramer from his Tony award-winning play exploring the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City during the early 1980s. The project, directed by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) and starring Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons, and Julia Roberts, ‘will highlight gay activists and their allies in the medical community that fought to expose the truth about the burgeoning epidemic to a city in denial.’ The Normal Heart airs May 25 and a sequel is already in development.”
Devil’s Knot Trailer Released
Sophia Savage at Indiewire notes that “West Memphis Three Drama Devil’s Knot Starts Filming in Atlanta with Director Egoyan, Firth, Witherspoon, Nivola and Enos with a trailer already out. Adapted from Mara Leveritt’s book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. Directed by Atom Egoyan, the film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, Stephen Moyer, Alessandro Nivola, and Dane DeHaan. It hits U.S. theaters May 9.
U.S. Trailer Released for Tracks
Jordan Raup at Film Stage tells us that “a U.S. trailer has been released for Tracks, based on the book by Robyn Davidson in which she did a solo trek across 1,700 miles of Australian Outback. The film stars Mia Wasikowska and is directed by John Curran (The Painted Veil).
Adapting The Goldfinch for the Screen
Lucas Shaw at The Wrap writes that the “Hunger Games Producers to Adapt Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch” for the small or the big screen depending upon the right filmmaker. Explore the book.
I Smile Back to Be Adapted For Film
Roger Friedman at Showbiz 411 reports that “Sarah Silverman Will Make Dramatic Debut in I Smile Back About Addicted Housewife“, “a film adaption of Amy Koppelman’s novel, I Smile Back.”
And a THIRD Trailer for Game of Thrones… With a Pop-Up Book
Stubby Rocket at Tor.com has announced “Game of Thrones Pop Up Book Transforms into Westeros“, which Insight Editions will release “on March 25th. Gorgeously illustrated, the book is inspired by the show’s Emmy Award-winning title sequence.
You have to watch the trailer about the pop-up book at the end of the post. It’s absolutely gorgeous!
Halle Kieffer at Vulture has posted yet another trailer for Game of Thrones, season 4.
New Trailer For Half of a Yellow Sun
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire notes that “a new trailer is out for Half of a Yellow Sun, based on the novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, and John Boyega. Biyi Bandele adapted the screenplay and directed the film that opens in the U.K. April 11, though no U.S. date has yet been set.
Divergent Film Looking Good
Kevin Jagernauth at Indiewire reports that “the adaptation of Veronica Roth’s novel “is looking like it’s going to be one of the few post-Twilight and Hunger Game YA flicks that’s not going to be a flop.” The movie stars Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet and Theo James. As the March 21 release date for Divergent approaches, a new clip, featurette and some TV spots have been released.
Full Circle to Become Drama Series
Lesley Goldberg at the Hollywood Reporter notes “eOne Adapting Gloria Killian’s Full Circle as Drama Series“. Gloria Killian’s memoir about “putting herself through law school while in prison and fighting a wrongful conviction for murder, Full Circle: A True Story of Murder, Lies and Vindication, is coming to TV.
Remake of Brian’s Song
Mike Fleming, Jr., at Deadline.com learns that “Gale Sayers-Brian Piccolo Relationship Hitting Big Screen Via Nicholas Sparks“.
While this “re-make” is Brian’s Song and its basis is Chicago Bears legendary running back Gale Sayers, author Nicholas Sparks and Theresa Park, who acquired the life rights as well as rights to Sayers’ memoirs I Am Third and Sayers: My Life And Times, have partnered with Michael Costigan to produce a film focusing on the friendship between the NFL Hall of Famer and teammate Brian Piccolo at the beginning of their careers and intend to use an original script based on Sayers’ books.
“In an atmosphere where white players and black players didn’t congregate much, the two slowly became friends and then roommates,” Deadline.com reported. “When Sayers tore ligaments in his right knee in his third season, Piccolo coaxed him through a grueling rehab. When Piccolo became ill with cancer, Sayers stayed by his side until his death.”
9 Essential Detective Novels for People Who Don’t Read Detective Novels
Jonathan Wood talks about how “9 Essential Detective Novels for People Who Don’t Read Detective Novels” at the Huffington Post, and its a great list! There are some I hadn’t considered as detective-type stories. And others…oh, yeah!
Free Audio Books!
Now that I have your attention, it’s the National Library Service at the Library of Congress, which “has a splendid, free service of audio books for the blind, dyslexic, and others with disabilities that interfere with normal reading”. And you do have to be disabled for access.
eBook Subscription Services
Middle Eastern eBook Subscription Services Exploding
The good kind of exploding, I mean! Hanan Solayman at Wamda reports that “Egyptian eBooks search engine Al Kutub ready to face the competition” and do they ever have competition. “Mohammed Nemat Allah, an e-marketer specialized in SEO, has worked on the Al Kutub online platform for the past three years with the vision of making it the largest regional database of digital books. Eventually, over 120,000 books will be uploaded for users’ perusal, he says. The platform also offers audio books for the visually impaired, the elderly, and others.”
“…the books will be displayed using iframe technology, a technique used to collect all online Arabic content in PDF format. This way, Al Kutub will not host this content, but would just be a search engine that assembles publications available online through hundreds of sources, namely forums, websites, and Facebook pages. It will not show the user the source where the book was published or the link as usually happens with search engines.” Sounds like a way to get around censors…
There will be four usage levels: free on up to old or rare books in paper format, and it will be “available on iPhone and Android a few weeks after the official launch of the site (it’s currently available in beta).” If you think you’ll be interested in your books being available or in subscribing, do read Solayman’s article, she has covered a lot of ground.
Mondadori Acquires Anobii
A press release at Digital Book World notes that “Italian Publishing Group Mondadori Acquires eBook Platform Anobii“. “The brand and the assets of the social reading service has a million users around the world and over 300,000 in Italy.”
Scribd‘s Past Issues With Piracy
Well I don’t know about you, but I’ve been worried about all the brouhaha about Scribd‘s past issues with piracy, and Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has assuaged my concerns with a simple statement: “I won’t go into the full details here; if you’re interested you can check yourself. but the short version is that I wouldn’t worry too much about someone stripping the DRM from a Scribd ebook; it’s going to take a real hacker to pull it off, not your average user.”
Right, so now, you say, you can freely upload your story to Smashwords based on a sentence? Actually, read Hoffelder’s post, “Scribd, Piracy, and Why You Can’t Always Believe What You Read Online“, and I think you’ll find yourself reassured.
Be Fed a Chapter a Day
Supposedly just enough for 15 minutes of reading, Rooster, a new reading app, sends you a chapter a day of a book they choose — a classic paired with a contemporary book — that eventually “builds into a book-length work. Jennifer 8. Lee, the DailyLit publisher and former New York Times reporter, is calling it curation and believes it’s the future of reading.
Rooster is currently in invitation-only mode. Request an invite and start enjoying your free trial. Like what you see? It’s only $4.99 a month to always have your next favorite read right at hand.
GPO Offers Free eBooks
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is “expand[ing] its eBook program to allow free public access to titles in the GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), a finding tool for federal historical and current publications. About 100 eBooks are now available for download, with new additions each month. The GPO also “distributes certain government documents freely to 1,200 U.S. libraries [these are libraries are participating in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)]. Read the short post.
Books That Saved Their Lives
Saeed Jones and Isaac Fitzgerald at Buzzfeed and “37 Writers Share The Books That Saved Their Lives“, and I can’t believe there wasn’t a one that I had read. Nothing, nada, ne rien… I’m obviously not reading enough…sigh…
It’s Not Done!
Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly writes of “12 Books That End Mid-Sentence, literally. Some lack the period, some use an em dash or an ellipsis, but all leave you hanging in some way. It’s rather interesting to read as Habash includes a “reason” why the author didn’t “end” the story. It’s fascinating in another way too. How a simple punctuation mark, or the lack of one, can leave me wondering after a few paragraphs…
Do U Wanna Speed Read?
Vamien McKalin wonders at Tech Times if, with the “Spritz app will make you sprint through a book but do you really want to be a speed-demon?“
“Spritz is a text streaming technology that allows readers to run through texts faster. It streams text on the user’s screen one word at a time, which allows your brain to comprehend it faster, says the company behind the technology.”
McKalin says, “The company is planning to debut its technology on the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2, though it is not certain if it will be available at launch.”
I gotta confess, I find most tech that flashes chunks of text at me to read is so frickin’ slow. I get bored waiting. Now this, will supposedly help you read 1,000wpm. One word at a time. Okay, it could be interesting. But I know I’d miss seeing the whole sentence, and no, not just because then I can’t nitpick about missing commas!
The Internet: Past and Future
Did you know the Internet is celebrating its 25th anniversary??
How Pervasive Will the Internet be in 2025?
Part of a Pew report at Digital Book World, “Pew: Internet Will Be Like ‘Electricity’ in 2025“, is predicting the future with “nearly 1,500 experts who … were asked an open-ended question about how technology will impact life by the year 2025. … Most say by the year 2025 there will be” positives and negatives, like anything else, with the major concerns about the usual human behaviors such as greed and a hunger for power with people scamming on each other in more connected ways while the divide between have and have-not increases. I do like the sound of the good though: fewer borders, more connectivity, less of a divide between peoples with greater knowledge spread more equitably. As the report says, we have to make good choices now.
A Look Back at the Internet’s Start
Y’all know I love my history, and tying in with the Pew’s futuristic assessment of the Internet, is this article by John Naughton at The Guardian listing “25 things you might not know about the web on its 25th birthday“. It’s a look back at the Internet’s development in the World Wide Web, and a fascinating reminder of what it was like at the beginning for me as well as tidbits I hadn’t known. Meantime, raise a glass to Tim Berners-Lee without whom it would’a taken longer!
B&N Cut Nook Investment by 74% in Third Quarter
Jim Milliot at Publishers Weekly notes that “B&N Cut Nook Investment by 74% in Third Quarter“, which seems a death knell for the NOOK, but then Milliot goes on to note that “B&N continues to work toward selling eBooks in 10 international markets” per a deal with Microsoft. In spite of “sales of digital products — hardware, accessories and ‘econtent’ — fell 46% and comprised 9% of revenue in the most recent quarter, down from 15%.” Although, what do they expect when they keep coming ’round with all the gloom-and-doom, leading current NOOK owners and potential ones to consider going elsewhere for their eReader. I mean, duh…
Kobo Reading App For Windows 8
Michelle Starr at cNet|Australia notes that “Kobo launches new e-reading app for Windows 8” aimed at “tablets, notebooks and desktops running the Windows 8 operating system”. The app is free and “includes the Kobo eBook store and a built-in eReader that is compatible with epub, mobi, pdf, and comic book file types.
Mark Coker Yeas and Nays Digital Books
I do enjoy Mark Coker’s posts on the future of the digital book,. He’s so evenhanded and sees the positives and negatives of its potential. Coker dives again into the debate of self-published versus traditional with an estimation that “self-published eBooks will account for 50 percent of eBook sales by 2020.” It’s a case of numbers versus trends and Coker lists “10 Reasons Self Published Authors Will Capture 50 Percent of the eBook Market by 2020“. One of those reasons is because brick-and-mortar bookstores are disappearing. The most telling one is that one day, there’ll only be Amazon to buy from because we’re not supporting our local book shops.
Another reason includes “Harlequin’s management discussion portion of its 2013 earnings announcement (released March 4, 2014), the company for the first time cited self-publishing as a potential competitive risk: ‘The proliferation of less expensive, and free, self-published works could negatively impact Harlequin’s revenues in the future.’ (Coker gives a tip of the hat to Publishers Lunch for that bit of info). View the report here.
Jeremy Greenfield interviews “Harlequin CEO Craig Swinwood on Harlequin Results, Book Pricing and Self-Publishing” and what the publisher is doing to attract both authors and readers.
Jeremy Olshan at Market Watch is astounded that more people don’t know that “Amazon’s killer app isn’t Prime. It’s time” with linked eBooks/audiobooks, there’s ‘time enough at last’ to read now that Amazon is offering up Whispersync Voice alongside your eBook purchase. It is cute how Olshan presents it, and it makes sense. Start reading your eBook, switch to the audio version while jogging, cleaning, folding laundry, switch back and read on your phone while waiting for your next appointment, and switch again at night to your Kindle to finish it off. The one catch is that it’s not a freebie included with your eBook buy, but a reduced price offer to buy the audio version at the same time. Could well be a bargain for those books you are dying to get read!
eAudiobooks from 3M Cloud Coming to Your Library
Digital Book World is excited about “3M Cloud Library Adds eAudiobooks with “the launch of the newest innovation to its 3M Cloud Library Digital Lending System — eAudiobooks. Debuting with 40,000 titles powered by Findaway World, a premier provider of digital audiobook technology and delivery, the 3M Cloud Library will have an extensive collection of high quality eAudio titles.” It is said it will be completely seamless, and all you’ll have to do is choose.
Book Social Networking
BookLikes, a free and independent blog platform designed for book lovers, introduces reading progress synchronization for Amazon Kindle, allowing readers to share their reading milestones, connect with book bloggers, and share book reviews and book recommendations with their followers across their social media and is updated on their BookLikes account. Each member can configure his/her synchronization option in BookLikes Settings and share eBook reading flow and eBook ratings in a real-time manner directly from their Kindle eReader.
The service lets users create a personal webpage with a blog, virtual bookshelf, and reading timeline. The redesigned BookLikes launched in May 2013 and within ten months gathered tens of thousands of the most influential book bloggers from all around the world and became one of the biggest competitors to other popular book social sites like Goodreads.
The service releases one new feature every week and the most recent news included customization features and new blog designs, giveaways (including eBooks), discussion rooms, book blog directory, and an open API and BookLikes ISBN Scanner iOS app.
Five Crime Novels Where Women are the True Detectives
Ujala Sehgal at The Millions notes “Five Crime Novels Where Women are the True Detectives” and wonders if she’s discriminating against men or simply looking for a twist on the detective trope.
Wow! Libraries, They are A’Changing
Katherine Q. Seelye at the New York Times finds that they’re “Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond“, as “library usage has increased across the country for a variety of reasons, librarians say, including the recession, the availability of new technology and because libraries have been reimagining themselves — a necessity for staying relevant as municipal budgets are slashed and eBooks are on the rise. Among the more innovative is the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free Maker Lab, with access to 3-D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. The Lopez Island Library in Washington State offers musical instruments for checkout. In upstate New York, the Library Farm in Cicero, part of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, lends out plots of land on which patrons can learn organic growing practices.” And that’s just the tip of what libraries are up to these days.
Flatiron Books’ First Title are Oprah Essays
“Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know for Sure will be the first title published by Flatiron Books, Macmillan’s new nonfiction imprint, and is scheduled for a September 2 release. The book will feature life lessons shared for 14 years in her monthly O, The Oprah Magazine column of the same title. These essays have been revised, updated and collected for the book, which will be organized by theme — Joy, Gratitude, Awe, Possibility — to ‘offer a rare, powerful, and intimate glimpse into Oprah’s inner life — her thoughts, struggles, and dreams — while providing readers a guide to becoming their best selves,’ according to her publisher.” I’m guessing this will be different from her The Best of… collection.
April Brings NYC’s Downtown Literary Festival
“McNally Jackson Books and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe are partnering again for the second annual Downtown Literary Festival on April 13, showcasing the literature and writers of downtown New York City. This year, the festival has expanded to three locations — including the Bowery Poetry Club — and, added an opening party and children’s programming.
“A full schedule should be available soon, but festival highlights will include a downtown-themed literary cabaret; a celebration of the poetry of Alice Notley; the Greatest 3-Minute Bad Apartment Stories; the city as superhero, villain, and more in comics and graphic novels; stories of music venues gone but not forgotten; a tour of NYC through movies and literature; and, an exploration of the legacy of 1950s-cool in NYC.”
I first wrote about the Amtrak’s [Future] Writers’ Residencies” in the March Hodgepodge, and now Shelf Awareness writes that Amtrak has launched the service amidst a host of concerns about the #AmtrakResidency program. If you’re thinking about it, you should read “Cool Idea of the Day: Amtrak’s ‘Writers’ Residencies’” — it’s about halfway down.
Simply Because She Loved to Read
Robin Pogrebin at the New York Times writes of an “Avid Reader Leaves Library $6 Million in Her Will“.
“One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband,” said Fields’s executor, Irwin Cantor. “Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers.”
“Lotte Fields, who died last summer, bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library ‘simply because she loved to read.’ Library president Tony Marx said the library was astounded by the bequest and ‘deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading.’ At her request, the funds will be evenly divided between the branch library system and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street.”
Off the Shelf Launched
Simon & Schuster has launched Off the Shelf, a website and daily e-mail that focuses on backlist books — fiction and nonfiction and titles for adults and young adults — from a range of publishers. Every day, the site will spotlight an original review or essay about a book published at least a year earlier and available in some format, including eBook. Reviews will be written by S&S employees. Off the Shelf will also feature occasional guest reviews, interviews, articles and reading lists from authors and editors, videos from S&S’s “What I am reading now” series and author videos from other publishers.
If that installment by Allison Tyler, “A Book to Read Slowly, in Small Bites, and Savor“, is an example, sign me up!
Lunchtime Reading Series at NYPL
Graham Beattie at Beattie’s Blog notes that, “beginning this month, the New York Public Library is hosting a free lunchtime reading series at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s Astor Hall that ‘aims to give busy book lovers something of an espresso-bar option’. NYPL Books at Noon will feature a half-hour reading, followed by a 10-minute Q&A, although no actual coffee is permitted! The writers scheduled for the 10-week series include P.J. O’Rourke, Joyce Carol Oates, Colm Toibin, and Michael Cunningham.”
March 19 will be “Books at Noon with Paul Auster“.
Children’s Book Author, Phyllis Krasilovsky Dead at 87
Daniel E. Slotnick at the New York Times writes a charming tale of “Children’s book author Phyllis Krasilovsky, whose works included The Very Little Girl (illustrated by Ninon), The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes (with illustrations by Barbara Cooney), and The Cow Who Fell in the Canal among others, died Wednesday at age 87.
Writer, Aimée Thurlo Dead at 62
Aimée Thurlo, a writer of mystery, romance, and romantic suspense, died on February 28. She was 62. In partnership with her husband, David Thurlo, who survives her, Aimée wrote the Ella Clah series of Native American mysteries, including Blackening Song, 1, and Ghost Medicine (Forge Books); The Pawnbroker (Charlie Henry Mystery (Minotaur)); the Sister Agatha mysteries, including Bad Samaritan (Minotaur); A Time of Change, a Trading Post novel (Forge Books); and many other books.
Biographer & Quotes Master, Justin Kaplan, Dead at 88
Margalit Fox at the New York Times notes that “award-winning biographer Justin Kaplan, ‘who was later known as the editor of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations — a job akin to running the admissions committee of the most selective college in the world,’ died March 2nd at 88. Kaplan’s books included Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, winner of a Pulitzer Prize as well as a National Book Award; and Walt Whitman: A Life, which also won a National Book Award.” I recommend reading Fox’s obituary, “Justin Kaplan, Prize-Winning Literary Biographer, Dies at 88“, if only for its analysis of the how and why Kaplan wrote these biographies out of sequence. Intriguing enough that I’m adding them to my TBR.
Surgeon & Author, Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, Dead at 83
Denise Gellene at the New York Times has a fascinating obituary on “Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, a surgeon and author whose National Book Award-winning 1994 book How We Die ‘sought to dispel the notion of death with dignity and fueled a national conversation about end-of-life decisions,’ [who] died March 3rd”. He was 83.
Writer, Activist, Publisher, Buzz Johnson Dead at 62
Margaret Busby and Nia Reynolds at The Guardian regret the death of Buzz Johnson, the Tobago-born writer, activist and founder of Karia Press, “one of the small but dedicated band of African-Caribbean publishing initiatives in the U.K. that have had an impact remarkably disproportionate to their modest size and limited resources,” died February 11 at age 62.
Journalist Provocateur, Joe McGinniss Dead at 71
Bruce Weber at the New York Times remembers Joe McGinniss, who “made a name for himself by diving deeply into each story, but he also received criticism for his reporting techniques,” died Monday at age 71. His books included The Selling of the President 1968, which was published when he was in his mid-20s; Fatal Vision, which focused on the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald; and, more recently, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.
If you’re at all fascinated by behind-the-scenes reporting, you want to read this for the contributions McGinniss made to our view of the political scene.
Drama Critic, Author Martin Gottfried, Dead at 80
Daniel E. Slotnik at the New York Times writes of Martin Gottfried, drama critic and “author of several biographies of entertainers and playwrights as well as two influential studies of the Broadway musical,” died last week, the New York Times reported. He was 80. His final biography was Arthur Miller: His Life and Work, which was published in 2003.
Poet Who Founded Innovative Harlem School, Ned O’Gorman Dead at 84
Douglas Martin at the New York Times notes that “Ned O’Gorman, 84, Dies“. “Award-winning poet Ned O’Gorman, ‘who gained his widest attention for starting a storefront school [Children's Storefront] in Harlem — a ‘liberation camp’, he called it — to bring literature, Latin, and love to disadvantaged children,’ died Friday at age 84. In addition to a memoir, The Other Side of Loneliness, his books included six poetry collections. The Night of the Hammer won a Lamont Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1958.
Agent, Packager, Author, Bill Adler Dead at 84
Douglas Martin at the New York Times notes that Bill Adler, a longtime literary agent, book packager, author and pioneer of the celebrity novel, died on Friday in New York City. He was 84.
Amicus Brief Filed in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus
The American Booksellers Association (ABA) reports that Michael Bamberger and Richard Zuckerman of Dentons US LLP have filed on behalf of the Media Coalition and a group of booksellers, librarians, publishers, and media organizations a friend-of-the-court brief in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case before the Supreme Court, urging the court to “reaffirm the principle that persons who have a well-founded fear of prosecution under a law that infringes First Amendment rights should have standing to bring a ‘pre-enforcement’ challenge to the law, and need not face a choice between engaging in self-censorship and risking criminal prosecution.”
Media Coalition executive director David Horowitz commented: “This case threatens the ability of any group, association or individual to challenge a law that violates free speech rights. If booksellers, publishers and librarians can only vindicate their First Amendment rights through a criminal trial, this will cause a profound chilling effect on free speech.”
Stop the Cyber Bullies
It’s sad that it has to come to this. That people have nothing better to do than to harass others. Unlike me, who, ahem, only harasses the book. Join me and 3,000 or more others in signing Take a Stand Against Cyber Bullies petition that was “launched by Todd Barselow, [who] seeks to bring attention to ‘the lack of oversight and or control in the Amazon system regarding product reviewing — in particular book reviewing — and in the participation of the many forums on Amazon.’ He plans to deliver the petition to Amazon.”
Within a few days of Alison Flood’s article, “Anne Rice signs petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon“, thousands more joined to “protect users and indie publishing authors from bullying and harassment by removing anonymity and requiring identity verification for reviewing and forum participation.”
“My experience with the gangster bullies in the forum has been very bleak and ugly,” Rice writes on the petition to Amazon. “I post there under my own name. They blatantly violate your guidelines with personal insults and harassing posts. If you would only apply your own guidelines this would greatly help. I feel a lot of these people are obsessive abusers who have found some sort of dark home on Amazon tormenting writers. I urge you to take action.”
How Tacky is That?
Indie Fair Partnering With Amazon?
Bridget Kinsella with Shelf Awareness notes that “L.A. Times Festival of Books Becomes Amazon Affiliate” with “‘buy’ buttons next to the author names that click through to Amazon. Although the e-tailer is not listed as a LATFOB sponsor or exhibitor, the Festival has quietly become an Amazon affiliate, earning a commission on book sales by the e-tailer originating from its website.”
Mary Williams, events coordinator at Skylight Books: “This is the biggest book event of the year and it should be ours — Los Angeles’s — not Amazon’s.”
Sure, organizations need to make money to continue to put their festivals on, but Festival of Books feels as though it should encompass more than one bookseller…?? What incentive do independent bookstores in L.A. have to support the Festival of Books if the they, in turn, aren’t supporting their local bookstores?
Hot Mess Over Indie Fair Hooking Up With Amazon
Wendy Werris at Publishers Weekly notes in “Festival of Books Adds IndieBound Buy Buttons” that all that protesting from the local booksellers about their having “faithfully exhibited at the Festival for years on end, while Amazon has never participated in the Festival of Books, now in its 18th year … has shifted the tide.” But only a tiny bit as local bookseller buttons are going up NEXT TO Amazon buy buttons. Still tacky in my book. Hmmm, I wonder, does California collect sales tax from Amazon?
Is Amazon All That’s Left?
Jane Little at Dear Author wonders “Has everyone conceded the US eBook market to Amazon?” as she runs through a series of concerns about eBook booksellers and distributors who are shutting down or reducing their presence, Google’s lack of interest in promoting the books they’re scanning, and that this reduction in competition will lead to fewer books and even fewer authors being discovered. Quite depressing really.
“Barnes & Noble has reduced the funding for Nook by 74%. Kobo, which is supposed to take over all the US Sony accounts has announced it is withdrawing funding for promotion within the US.
Kobo has since stopped investing in marketing in the US, closed its office in Chicago and is focusing on other markets. Its market share and revenues are now negligible there.
For Sony and Kobo (owned by rival Japanese companies), the market share they are looking to conquer is international. B&N has no clear digital future.”
Amazon Prime Raising Its Price
David Streitfeld from the New York Times notes the “Complaints as Amazon Raises Cost of Prime“. It’s cries of rage and sighs of hope. Members of Amazon Prime are unhappy and wondering if the cost is worth it while investors are thinking that maybe Amazon can turn it around. The general anger has made “ShopRunner, a network of retailers from Neiman Marcus to PetSmart that offers two-day shipping,” step forward and offer to “waive its fees for Amazon Prime members for a year. (ShopRunner usually costs $79.).
The new annual fee will be $99 and “takes effect on the renewal dates for existing customers, starting April 17″.
Class Action Lawsuit Against Amazon Prime?
Susanna Kim at ABC News reports that “Amazon Accused of Cheating Customers Through Shipping Costs“. “One plaintiff, who wants her suit to become a class-action lawsuit, charged … that Amazon encouraged ‘third-party vendors to include in the price of their items the amount they would have charged for shipping in their items to maximize revenue and profit margins. She also accuses Amazon of encouraging vendors to increase their prices to Prime members by the amount they charged others for shipping, without revealing that a portion of those alleged “inflated” prices was for shipping fees’.”
The Hindu Controversy in India
Marcia Z. Nelson at Publishers Weekly writes of the continuing Hindu controversy in India over Dr. Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History, which was published in 2009, then “recalled and pulped by Penguin Books India in February 2014 in response to charges it violated the Indian penal code, which criminalizes ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings’. Meanwhile, the American Academy of Religion (AAR) has issued a statement expressing concern about political interference with free inquiry, and Penguin Random House expressed support for protests against the recall and destruction of the book.”
Now it looks as if Doniger’s On Hinduism may be withdrawn in India by the Aleph Book Company in New Delhi, a book which the Oxford University Press is publishing in March in the U.S.
“Professor Doniger’s work has been vetted according to the press’ standard review protocol, and we are pleased to be its North American publisher,’ said Niko Pfund, president, OUP US. ‘For anyone seeking a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Hinduism, this book is a must read,’ wrote PW in its review of the 672-page book.
Okay, so all you have to do is say that a book is “deliberate and malicious” to get it banned?
Johnlee Varghese at International Business Times notes in his article, “Six Points from Author Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus…That Stirred up Controversy“, the six points that got Doniger banned. Oh. Boy. I am so underwhelmed.
Wendy Doniger writes her own happy thoughts in the New York Times in “Banned in Bangalore” and looks “to the broader problems posed by the Indian blasphemy law” and the political party that currently dominates in India. You guessed it. Hindu fundamentalists. Doniger states that her “case was simply the last straw” for moderates, and its timing is well poised to make many Indians consider who they will vote for in the May elections. That “broader, more liberal parts of Indian society” had been drowned out. Well now they’re starting to fight back. And it makes Doniger very happy indeed.
There is a section of Doniger’s article that is sad, and too true in how one powerful segment of a group can destroy the voices of a less powerful segment. The loss of the stories is tremendous. Another case of why we should not re-write history to suit ourselves.
Marvel Comic Readers, Be Warned
Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader has a timely warning about the new soundtrack that Marvel has added to their digital comics in “Marvel Adds Soundtracks to Digital Comics“. When Marvel adds the audio feature to its old comic files, Hoffelder found that the fuzzy image “detracts from the new audio feature. It also tells us that Marvel is only making a half-hearted effort to convert and sell their backlist”, so while the Marvel Unlimited app with the audio feature is free, be careful what comics you buy with which to enjoy that soundtrack.
It does sound pretty cool, especially as Hoffelder describes it in his post — ya gotta read it if you love comics! It’s what I could see a soundtrack for novels doing. Hmmm, maybe not for erotic novels, though…
Slow Growth of the Digital Comic
Interesting question raised by Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader regarding “Slowly but Surely: comiXology Submit Reaches 1,000 Self-Pub Titles in its First Year” and why it’s been such a slow growth rate. He has some answers that graphic artists and readers of comics might be curious about.
A bit late in telling you, but better late than never… On March 6, Publishers Weekly warned that “ComiXology Hacked, Subscribers Change Your Password“. In case you didn’t get the email Comixology sent out, “Subscribers are urged to change their ComiXology passwords but to also change passwords at other accounts that may use the same password” although ComiXology assures subscribers that “payment account information is not stored on our servers”.
ComiXology Subscribers can Change their Passwords here.
Understanding the Ukraine
Because of the situation in Ukraine, the Association of American University Presses has published “Books for Understanding: Ukraine“, a scholarly bibliography featuring 87 titles from more than 20 scholarly publishers on the history and culture of Ukraine. It includes such titles as:
- Ukraine: A History, 4th Edition by Orest Subtelny
- Orange Revolution and Aftermath: Mobilization, Apathy, and the State in Ukraine by Paul D’Anieri
- Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure by Margarita M. Balmaceda
- Building Fortress Europe: The Polish-Ukrainian Frontier by Karolina S. Follis
WWII Nurses in Battle & Prison Camps
This book from Mary Cronk Farrell sounds like it could have some interesting insight for writers of WWII stories, Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. It just came out February 25, 2014, and it is aimed at young readers.
Three Massive Children’s Tomes
Digital Book World has a special offer of three reports in the Exploring the E-Reading Habits of Children series for a reduced price of $348.98 (down from the usual price of $689.00):
- “The ABCs of Kids & eBooks”
- “Back to School in an E-reading World: Understanding the e-reading habits of children aged 2-13, with a focus on educational eBooks and eBooks in the classroom”
- “What a Difference a Year Makes: Kids and E-Reading Trends 2012-13
Cookbooks as Part of Research
There are some cookbooks up in the list of awards from the “2014 Food Writing Award Winners” that could be handy for writers of historical tomes.
To be fair, this bit could pop into Publishing Business or Marketing Ideas as easily as here, as we’re talking about Jane Friedman, editor, publisher, marketer, author, you name it in the writing biz and she’s done it. She’s a respected name within publishing with lots of information of all sorts on her website. I’ll let you explore her writing advice archive; check out her speaking schedule; read the blog posts, “Writing on the Ether” by Porter Anderson; pore over her resource list; and, perhaps subscribe to her e-mail newsletter or blog posts.
Writers Aren’t Authors
Because we don’t have enough controversy in our lives, now Michael Kozlowski is saying that only people who make a living from their writing should be allowed to call themselves authors with all others simply being writers. ‘Cause, oh yeah, this distinction makes so much sense to me…not.
Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World wonders “Why Self-Published Authors Should Call Themselves Anything They Want” in response to Michael Kozlowski, editor of digital publishing and device blog Good E Reader, when he posted “Self-Publishers Should Not Be Called Authors“, stating that “Just because its easy to upload your written word, so that it can be downloaded to another machine does not make you an author, any more than me buying a stethoscope allows me to be called a doctor.” Can’t call him an editor either!
I can’t believe Kozlowski would say this, especially, as Greenfield states:
“I’m sure you can see why this would upset indie authors, many of whom have struggled over the past five years to secure legitimacy in the eyes of retailers, readers and the publishing industry.
First off, I don’t think that the doctor analogy is apt. When it comes to creative pursuits, like painting, sculpture, dance, writing, etc., who is to say who is a practitioner and who is not?”
Next thing you know, “they’ll” be insisting that journalists or bloggers aren’t writers…insecure much?
Five Ways eBooks Can Help Your Business
Matthew Cavnar at Fox Business tells us “How to Use eBooks to Drive Your Business” and provides “Five Ways eBooks Can Help Your Business” from marketing to free gifts to a way to build a personal face for your company. He’s got some good ideas in here. Ahem, just don’t forget you’ll need an editor! *grin* Give it a look. It’s short and informative.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Profits From Common Core Needs
Digital Book World notes that “Sales and Profits Increase at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013” with the massive increase in ordering from states to provide common core-approved materials”.
Freelance While You Wait
Eva Pearce has a guest post at Live Write Thrive with suggestions if you want to “Quit Your Day Job [to] Become a Freelance Writer while you wait for those novels to sell. Pearce notes that finding clients as a freelancer is the hardest thing for most writers, and she suggests joining an organization such as writing for wait.co.uk that will bring the clients to you. She also has suggestions on finding clients (and what to do once you’ve found them!). Pearce includes tips on enthusiasm and how to build on it.
Literary Pet Peeves
Moira Redmond at The Guardian writes of “Literary Pet Peeves: The Best of the Worst Author Blunders” with a long list of literary niggles, most of which I agree with.
Creative Writing Courses Waste of Time?
Hayley Dixon at The Telegraph writes “Creative writing courses are a waste of time, says Hanif Kureishi“. The novelist and playwright continues with a withering attack on creative writing courses, calling them a “waste of time” despite the fact that he teaches one. That 99.9 per cent of pupils, including his own, are talentless and only “the little bit that is left is talent”. And despite his professorship at Kingston University he does not believe that creative writing is a skill which can be taught, and therefore would not have paid thousands to enroll in a course himself. Yeah, Hanif, tell it like it is…whoa…
Upcoming Writing Contests
These are contests which are soliciting entries; I’m not endorsing these, I’m simply relating the information.
|Early-bird deadline Sept 2, 2014
$199 per entry
$20 for Best Cover Design award entry
|A free ticket to the full three-day 2015 Digital Book World Conference + Expo ($1495 value), two tickets to the Digital Book Awards Gala ($400 value) which takes place during the conference, and a trophy marking the achievement. In addition, past winners have received wide coverage in both trade and mainstream press, including mentions in the Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Publishers Marketplace, Shelf Awareness, Digital Book World, and Library Journal. Plus all winners are recognized on the widely popular DigitalBookWorld.com.||2015 Digital Book Awards|
|“The Digital Book Awards recognizes innovation, creativity, and excellence in all aspects of digital book publishing. Each year, award winners and finalists in over a dozen categories demonstrate fresh thinking, inspired design, and bold technology integration, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in this constantly evolving publishing arena.
Founded in 2010, the program encompasses all forms of digital publishing that are available to consumers as eBooks, enhanced eBooks, and apps, to showcase and reward the work of authors, developers and publishers.
There are 14 categories and the judging criteria is listed. Check out this post to learn a myriad of details on what you’ll need and how to submit your entry. There are no geographic restrictions on entries.
Upcoming Writing Conferences
I’m not endorsing these, I’m simply relating the information.
|Date, Time, Cost||Location||Conference/Workshop|
|Mar 18, 2014
|Webcast||Preparing Content for Digital Production — Tips and Tools for eBook Developers|
|Learn how to prepare source content at the initial stages of eBook production to streamline and optimize the digital publishing process with Iris Febres, Solution Architect and Manager at Aptara, for an intensive tutorial in optimizing source files for eBook production.
In this one-hour webcast, Iris will guide you through a variety of challenges eBook developers confront at the very onset of production, and provide the technical skills for tackling them. We’ll cover how to prepare source files (i.e., InDesign, Word, XML, etc.) in order to establish the appropriate HTML hierarchies where structure is absent in the source content, as well as other best practices for coding and design choices eBook developers may be pushed to make.
|Mar 20, 2014
|Webcast||How to Use Sales and Marketplace Data to Succeed in E-Publishing|
|Matthew Cavnar, a co-founder of Vook and Josh Brody, a Vook COO, will present a look at Vook’s new market intelligence dashboard, see its sales-tracking capabilities in action, and learn what big data from the retail markets can mean to authors and publishers today. After demonstrating their new product, Vook will share insights they’ve acquired from tracking the performance of over 4 million books in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks. They’ll also demonstrate how having more data will help you succeed in digital today — as an author or a publisher.
Learn how to easily access your book sales data for free, why this knowledge is an invaluable resource for success, and how to leverage it.
Those who should attend include publishers and agents with a catalog of titles, seasoned and new authors looking for deeper insights, and marketers of books and eBooks. Yes, it’s a promotional webcast, but it’s free and you’ll learn something about using your data to make more sales.
|March 20–23, 2014
Only day passes are available
|Monterey, California||Left Coast Crime 2014: Calamari Crime|
|An annual mystery convention sponsored by mystery fans, for mystery fans. It is held during the first quarter of the calendar year in Western North America, as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii.
With only day passes available for the 2014, I’ve concentrated on the 2015 Left Coast Crime convention.
|Mar 26, 2014
|Webcast||An Executive’s Guide to Top eBook Strategies and Best Digital Publishing Practices|
|You will learn about the essentials for monetizing your content and maximizing your eBook revenue in the highly competitive digital marketplace from Sameer Shariff, founder and CEO of Impelsys, and Deepak Sharma, EVP Global Delivery and Account Management at Impelsys, for a look at the current digital market and the tactics most likely to succeed there. This webcast will introduce multiple business models, marketing tactics and content development tools and will offer techniques for improving title discoverability.
It’s a promotional piece by Impelsys for you to use their system, but you get what you pay for and you’ll learn about:
Useful for publishers, digital strategy directors, and marketing managers.
|Mar 28, 2014
|Online||Digital Publishing and LGBT Romance|
|“Digital publishing has led to an explosion in the romance market, most notably in books featuring same-sex pairings, ménages, and other configurations not commonly seen in mainstream romance novels. Authors are freed from constraints on subject matter imposed by brick-and-mortar booksellers, and readers are emboldened to download whatever suits their tastes. Join representatives of Harlequin’s Carina imprint and independent presses MLR and Riptide Publishing in a discussion of what digital publishing means for readers and writers of romances featuring queer and trans* characters.”|
|May 29 – 31, 2014
Consumers are welcome on May 31
Pricing is on the Conference Opps page
|Javits Center, NYC||BookExpo America|
|Read all about it on the KD Did It Conference Opportunities page.|
The Publishing Business
Book Layout & Conversions
SPi Global Conversion Services
I got an email from SPi Global regarding its services “in converting content to virtually any industry standard or proprietary eBook format — from EPUB, MOBI, PRC, and AZW to eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle, iPad, and iPhone, Barnes & Noble NOOK, and Sony Reader.
“We’d be happy to share some samples of our work and speak with you on any upcoming projects. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or download one of [their] solution sheets” (located on the left sidebar).
Tips For eBook Design
Amanda Bryan-Gomm at Digital Book World talks about the “Three Steps to Successful eBook Design or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Reflowability” and the need to “build a robust eBook that can withstand reflowability, reader control, and quirky device behavior”. And since we can’t, really, we can’t, ignore the need to sell in eBook format, Bryan-Gomm has “three things [that] will get you started on a path toward successful eBook design:
- Use good, clean semantic markup that doesn’t rely on CSS and use a consistent application of HTML tags
- Keep it simple. Having fun with new tricks is not a help for your reader and probably won’t be supported in a variety of devices. Remember those tiny smartphone screens!
- Embrace the reflowable conundrum and chant your new mantra: I do not control the environment…ommmm…with tips on building your own eBook-building library and testing.
Bookshelf 3.0 Creates & Distributes Digital Content
Young Digital Planet’s (YDP) Bookshelf 3.0 will premier at the London Book Fair in April 2014, and Bookshelf is a unique solution for creating, managing, and publishing high-quality interactive books and to facilitate industry best practices to create and distribute digital content.
Getty Images – Free at Last!
Getty Opens Its Images Up!
Katie Long at Slate.com notes that “Getty Images Admits It Can’t Stop Internet Sharing, Opens Up Its Photos For Free“. Talk about BONUS!! You no longer have to pay for one of the images from Getty! It does come with its own bit of script that will embed a credit and a link with each photo…and that is way more than fair!
“The new embed program is designed specifically to tie in with Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, and others” while watermarks will get “a sleeker attribution function”. Although, I did try this a couple days ago [March 11], and it wanted a few hundred dollars.
Here’s Where You Find Getty Images
Aha! Seems Long left a few things out… Getty has opened up via its “Open Content Program (the page reads “Getty Search Gateway”, and it’s where you want to be), more than doubling the number of high-res images available to the public for use without fees or restriction, bringing the total of available images to roughly 10,000.” A different access point is through Collection page.
Read this October 15, 2013 press release, “Getty Research Institute adds 5,400 images to Open Content Program, which provides images available for use without restrictions” which talks about some of what’s available. And, oh lordy…
I found out about this practical information from Corey Pressman at Digital Book World in his post, “Ancient Marginalia: Do the Right Thing“. Do read it; he has such a lovely, irreverent, and completely honest look at William Caxton, lol. And it’s his last four paragraphs that drop the clanger. Getty has set up embed codes that will report back to them on how many visitors you have, etc., and Pressman queries how practical it is. Heck, I’m okay with it, and I can’t wait to make use of images from the Getty’s collection. But am I sliding down that slippery slope…?
Amazon’s Audible Getting Greedy
Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks
Laura Hazard Owen at Gigaom warns us that “Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks“. When “Audible, the digital audiobook site owned by Amazon that launched audiobook rights platform ACX in 2011 as a way for authors and publishers to profit from their unsold audiobook rights, is now lowering the royalties it pays on those audiobooks [a better than 50% drop].
ACX enables rights holders — authors or publishers, though the site has become increasingly geared toward self-published authors — post their rights on the platform and let producers and narrators bid on them.”
“This is not the first time that Audible has made an author-focused program less generous.”
“The change to ACX’s royalty structure is a reminder that Amazon could also reduce its royalties on self-published Kindle books at any time. That would be a much more visible move than the changes to ACX, which the company surely realizes. But the changes at ACX shows that good introductory deals don’t always last.”
Hugh Howey adds in his excellent post: “The letter announcing the royalty rate points out that the 40% is greater than what most publishers pay, but those publishers also fund the recording and handle all QA and production duties. A fairer move would have been to get rid of escalators and move to a flat 60% royalty rate. Given the higher bandwidth needs of audio, matching the 70% of KDP seems unlikely, but 50% should be the bare minimum for distribution costs. Bookstores take less than this to store and sell physical books.”
Think how that lower royalty will affect your negotiating with voice actors to pay them with royalties…
Audible did double the bounty rate though.
A Most Audible Alarm: ACX Chops Royalties
Porter Anderson has a post, “A Most Audible Alarm: ACX Chops Royalties“, that gathers in a variety of viewpoints on this.
Mary Jo Putney Has a Positive Spin on Creating Audio with ACX
Mary Jo Putney draws on her own experience in creating her audio books with ACX in her article at USA Today, “Mary Jo Putney on indie audio books: The new, new thing“.
BookShop Comes With Your BookBaby Package
- An oversized image of your book, displaying every detail of your cover
- In-depth Book Overview, Description, and About the Author sections, where you have total control over all the content
- Direct links to your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers
- Links back to your own website for more you
- All your metadata info in one place, including ISBN, genre, publish date, and more
- Easy customization and editing
Is it worth it? Only you can say… But I wouldn’t want to have to maintain two websites, however “easy” it is.
Digital Now 30% of Revenue at Hachette
A notice at Digital Book World from Hachette states that 30% of the book publisher’s revenue last year was from digital books. Yeah, right, digital book sales are plateauing…*eye roll*
There is a post from Digital Book World in which Jeremy Greenfield notes that “the average price of a best-selling eBook jumped this week [March 12, 2014] to $7.49″.
EU Amazon Looking For German Books
A press release on Digital Book World says that “Amazon Publishing Launches German-Language Publishing Program” and notes those books which will debut this spring. And “the European Amazon Publishing team [is looking for] German-language fiction for publication in Kindle and print editions available on Amazon. Ahem.
Sarah Tomashek is the publisher based in Munich along her team per Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President of Kindle, EU.
Check out the Amazon Publishing page.
How to Price a Self-Published eBook
Alex Palme at Publishers Weekly provides the “DIY: How to Price a Self-Published eBook with suggestions as to why you might choose to price low or somewhat higher, the difference between “Amazon’s KDP Select program … and the … Kindle Free Book Promotion” along with some suggestions on how to make the greatest impact with your giveaway. He also provides a rundown of the royalties at the various price points for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple’s iBookstore, and Smashwords while noting that BookBaby charges an annual fee, but gives authors 100% of net, keeping no commission. A good article. Short and to the point.
Explaining Australia’s Fair Use Publishing Conundrum
Simon Collinson has a guest post at Publishing Perspectives on changes to Australian fair dealing rules. Australian law “currently provides for a number of exceptions to copyright law, collectively known as ‘fair dealing’ rules and relate to uses of copyright material for research or study, criticism or review, parody or satire, reporting news, and for the provision of professional advice. While the changes are to bring Australian law in line with American fair use rules, publishers are worried that Australia has “no experience in the concept”.
Collinson doesn’t really see the problem as he notes that “Australian judges are becoming increasingly comfortable with citing international authorities, and they would doubtless draw upon the substantial body of U.S. case law to establish Australian fair use principles.” Collinson also points out that with the ease of eBook sales, copyright law and the fair use rule would be ideal if it were uniformly applied throughout the world. Especially since there are so many countries, Australia included, that ignore copyright law completely.
Do Self-Published Book Authors Need A Literary Agent?
Writer’s Relief wonders “Do Self-Published Book Authors Need A Literary Agent?“. As they point out, back in the day, no one thought a self-published author needed a literary agent. “Even today, many self-published authors choose to release their books on their own because they don’t want to pay the fees associated with literary agencies. Also, they want to keep a larger percentage of their royalties.”
However, today’s literary agents are becoming more interested in the self-published for several reasons: represent a self-published book in hopes that one day he or she can pitch it to a major New York publisher — and would earn a standard 15% commission on the sale, and many established writers are looking into self-publishing but don’t know anything about it.
Some of the services a literary agent might help a self-publishing-oriented writer with include (consider using this as your own checklist!):
- Review all contracts and modify them when possible
- Handle the administrative work involved in self-publishing
- Employ the best third-party professionals for cover art, copyediting, proofreading, etc.
- Help the author make connections; the agent’s relationship with the marketing departments at major book retailers can help his/her clients’ books get the spotlight
- Help the author transition from self-published to traditionally published if the author decides that’s what he or she wants to do (the agent will have intimate knowledge of the writer’s history and be able to negotiate a great deal)
Whether you want this type of help depends on you. How much of this do you want to handle? What is your knowledge level? Would it be worth the 15% to you?
Vook Launches Author Control
Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly notes that “Vook Debuts Free eBook Sales Tracking Service with its launch “of Author Control, a new data service that allows authors and publishers to track eBook sales and unit downloads across across 28 different retail channels and provide real-time data and historical analytics, according to Vook cofounder Matt Cavnar, who told PW ‘we can track data no matter who is distributing it.’ Among the retail channels tracked are Amazon, Amazon KDP, Kobo Writing Life, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Nook Press, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Google, and Samsung. The service is delivered as part of Vook’s (a digital publishing and distribution platform) market intelligence dashboard and Vook accounts can use the service to track up to 10 titles for free.”
What Not to Say
Oh, boy…Lynn Shepherd has shot herself in the foot with her article at the Huffington Post, “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It“. There were 717 comments on the article page with more over at Goodreads. And so what if Rowling has made a mint on Harry Potter? Does that mean her muse no longer speaks? That she’s used up all her juice? If J.K. isn’t “allowed” to write because she’s, gasp, made money from her work, then what about James Patterson, Sidney Sheldon, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, and the rest? Should they stop as well?
Shepherd complains that adults actually wasted time reading the Harry Potter books. Because they’re for children!! WTF?? When I get to a certain age I’m no longer allowed to read certain books?? I don’t get that. For all Shepherd’s complaining about Harry Potter (which she hasn’t read or seen, as she so carefully points out), she hasn’t read Casual Vacancy or Cuckoo’s Calling, the novels she’s complaining about?, either.
Strategy to Increase Your Twitter Following
Dorie Clark and Daniel Vahab have written an article at Forbes on “How To Dramatically Increase Your Twitter Following“, which makes sense and would require only a short burst of attention. It was written last fall, so it should still be a viable strategy. Currently, Twitter doesn’t allow you to follow more than 2,000 people IF you are currently being followed by less than 1,819 people. Once you get above 1,819 following you, you can follow this number + 10% (182 people more). And the ratio will continue to change and adjust when you go over the 2,000 mark on people following you.
I suspect your best bet is to only follow people who have thousands of followers and be intensive, per Clark and Vahab’s ideas above until you reach your 2,000 mark. At least. It’ll be easier for you to reach that initial limit, as well as easier for you to follow whom you like.
Social Media Marketing FAQ: Free Download
I don’t know how long this booklet will be available, so I recommend you download it immediately and read it — it’s barely seven pages long and two of those are the title and info page. It’s from Digital Book World per “last month’s webcast on social media marketing tactics“, and it turns out there were a number of questions the panel couldn’t answer. At that time. The free booklet (and the complete on-demand webcast for $45) was put together by Jeremy Greenfield to answer those questions with contributions from “two of the panelists, Kristin Fassler, director of marketing at Penguin Random House, and Peter McCarthy, founder of McCarthy Digital”, with answers to:
- How do you market fiction and nonfiction differently online?
- Is the vogue for “verticals” diminishing the need to conceive of authors, books or series as “brands”?
- How frequently should you post on social media channels?
- What are some free tools to measure social engagement?
- How can new authors with limited time start building platforms from scratch?
There’s some interesting ideas on branding, and I like what McCarthy says: “If it is relevant, post it. If it is just ‘pushing’, think twice. But just test.’ And there are some different ideas on testing in this. Oh, man, and the dreaded email list/newsletter rears its ugly head. Again.
Avoiding a Social Media Crisis
Amy Neeley at Ragan Social Media discusses “Four tips for avoiding a social media crisis“, and “how your employees can undermine your best online marketing efforts if they are careless. Neeley suggests setting these guidelines to steer clear of needless missteps:
- Think before reacting, especially if you’re angry
- Use sensitivity when news-jacking
- Establish a social media policy, be sure everybody knows it, and follow it! Check out the Taco Bell boo-boo and know that you are not allowed to have any fun, lol, without someone misinterpreting it…!
- Set up Google Alerts
Finding Your eAudience
Finding Your eAudience in Germany
Telecompaper notes the breakdown of the number of readers on smartphone to eReader to tablet to laptop to desktop readers in “Smartphones used by 13% of eBook readers in Germany“.
The British eReader
Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader reports that “New Survey Shows eBook Adoption at 29% in the UK” with “The UKword cloud reading survey [which the] UK reading charity Booktrust has just released a report which looks into that nation’s reading habits, and it has some good news … in its 53-page report … based on a survey of 1,500 adults in England, … with … extensive details on reading habits including both paper and digital.
Reading Makes You Happier, More Socially Mobile
Joshua Farrington and Charlotte Eyre at The Bookseller find that the “Booktrust highlights ‘reading divide’” in the U.K. in terms of those who don’t — and subsequently have less satisfying lives — with those who do read and their happier state in life as well as their greater social mobility. Who knew how reading could affect one?
The Pew Report: Library Usage
Interesting side bit at Digital Book World on “Library Lovers and Information Omnivores: Meet the Most Avid Library Patrons” as the newest report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project describes the type of person who uses the library.
Should Authors Have to “Market Themselves”?
Kristen Lamb explores the difference in marketing styles in “Should Authors Have to ‘Market Themselves’?“. There’s the cold market norm and the newer social norm, and it’s the second — the social norm — that writing gurus are pushing us to use. However, Lamb explores what social norm means in terms of companies and writers, and she has some good examples of how everyone is always “branding” themselves without thinking about it.
“When I actively make a plan for people to like me so they will buy my book? I need a shower and counseling.”
I love her section on self-promotion. I want to shout it to the world!
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