Friday, November 30, 2012

Publishing Industry News

Publishing news and industry-related blogs for 11/16-11/30/12.

Industry News

Simon & Schuster opens Archway Solutions, a "self-publishing" division outsourced to Author Solutions Inc. Be warned: Victoria Strauss on Writer Beware! indicates that Archway is still the vanity publisher that Author Solutions was. Don't be fooled. Books will not carry the Simon & Schuster logo or credits. And it's not the same as "being published by Penguin" (who bought Author Solutions earlier this year) when you're paying the company thousands of dollars to publish you. We're talking $1,999-$14,999 for fiction. That's pretty much the definition of vanity publishing, especially when you consider that you can self-publish for free. Editing, by the way, is not included in the 2-15K package (but a "sample edit" and an "editorial assessment" is, so that you'll know what you can plan to drop into the supplementary editorial services). The internet is aflame with warnings.

The Big Six to the Big Five to the Big Four? HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster also contemplate a merge, following in the footsteps of Penguin and Random House. Here's a graphic on the sales of each projected company, based on 2011 sales (Amazon not pictured).

Did you know that if your credit card expires, you might not be able to read your paid-for ebooks? Barnes & Nobles, with the aid of DRM, blocks access to books if the credit card associated with the account has expired until a non-expired one is added.

Amazon Publishing steps up production in Europe. For their self-publishers, authors on KDP Select who participate in month drawings can look forward to extra money in the pot for December.

The rights on some books published after 1978 will soon begin reverting back to authors if the books have been published for more than 35 years.

POD publisher E-reads cuts the costs of print books, hoping to lure readers by narrowing the price gap between the less expensive e-books and the pricier print books.

Want to talk to your readers? Authors Guild teams up with indie bookstores to form Booktalk Nation, where readers can call in to speak with authors.

And HarperCollins launches a digital-first teen imprint called Impulse.

Find out how to submit your manuscript to Random House's new digital lines here.

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 11/30.

At Friday Night at the Question Emporium, a writer asks if agents are interested in seeing that a manuscript began as a NaNoWriMo project. Janet Reid's answer? Don't include in your query that it's a NaNoWriMo project. And for heaven's sake, don't query this year's NaNoWriMo yet. There hasn't been time to edit or revise at all. Also asked, if a request for a full didn't originally send, would a follow-up call for the resend be okay to make sure it go through? Answer: No. Send an e-mail if you want to check up on it. Don't call. Also, if you're planning on getting an agent, do not submit to editors. It limits the number of places the agent can market your manuscript if you get rejected, and since your agent is paid to sell your manuscript to editors, they probably know what the editors want to see more than you do and will be therefore more likely of getting a sale.

Nathan Bransford explains the terms Separate vs Joint Accounting as it applies to the publishing world: separate means each book's advance is earned out individually and joint means a single advance for a couple of books must be earned back before money will be seen. It may be the same amount of money overall, but he suggests that separate is best for most authors.

These are the five most common mistakes of beginning writers, according to the Editor's Blog, including not enough dialogue and lacking a plot.

It's easy to feel discouraged when you start writing, and the project isn't turning out like you'd hoped it would. But don't. Sarah Pinneo at QueryTracker explains in Knitting a Book is Like Writing a Sweater (I just love that blog title) that it's part of the process, and it's not going to look like you expected before you started. Rough first drafts are normal.

Jane Lebak at QueryTracker explains why we should never write a first-person query letter, even for a first-person book. It makes the writer sound a little psychotic. And Danyelle Leafty talks about the types of critics, from professionals to not-your-audience to yes-your-audience, and making use of the reviews. Christina Lee gives four pointers for building tension, such as making sure the stakes are high and deleting scenes that slow things down.

Looking for a book on writing? Author Alden has 5 recommendations for you of books on writing that are worth the read.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Missing You

Apparently, the feline word for the phrase "I missed you!" is vomit. My cats missed me a lot while I was gone.

Funnily enough, most book characters don't just say "I missed you" either. There may be sulking, or temper tantrums, or over-attentive cuddling when the heroine gets back from her death-defying adventure.

How does your hero/heroine react when someone he/she cares about is gone for a while? When he/she's worried about someone? Chances are, most tough-as-nails characters won't just admit they were worried. They'll act out in some other way. Assume the love interest has snuck off to engage in some extremely dangerous activity without telling the protagonist. What's your character's method of dealing with worry?

Kelly's of the lock-him-up attitude, where she'll try to throw everyone she loves into safety and go off to the face the danger herself. If she can't do that, she'll at least insist on joining them in the face of danger. And if that's not an option, she'll probably try to occupy herself by getting into equivalent amounts of danger in an attempt to help the hero from far away.

Derik's more the join-'er type, where he'll race to not get left behind. He'd never stop someone from putting herself into the face of danger if she really wanted to. But if he does get left behind, she'll be up to her eyeballs in homemade health food by the time she returns, as Derik goes into a cooking frenzy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Seen on Vacation

 Saw this in Myrtle Beach over Thanksgiving Weekend, and had to share the laugh:

Whoops--Don't worry, Heather, I'm sure Watts will let you live this one down someday*! 


 *(Probably in about thirty years or so.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

The American not-technically-a-holiday: Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The day of the fiscal year when many companies go from being "in the red" to being "in the black," go from being in debt to breaking even.

Some Americans storm the stores, geared for battle: purses, keys, midnight shufflers who fight the hordes for the best deals.

Others wander in after the blood has all been shed, when the best sales have sold out but good deals still abound, searching the plentiful leftovers at a lower risk of physical harm.

And yet others stay safely in their homes, avoiding the crowds and the blood-thirsty hunters by shopping online, spending the dollar on shipping instead of dimes gas and parking for the convenience of not being torn apart.

Then there are those who shun the not-holiday all together, who take the day for relaxing and family time, who pass the hours doing chores and watching movies, TV, and football.

There are also those whose jobs can't afford time off, doctors and firemen and policemen, and those whose jobs can't sensibly give the day off, restaurant workers and bankers.

Finally, there are those brave individuals who endure the worst, and work retail on Black Friday. Good luck to them. And I hope none of you reading this had Thanksgiving Day itself stolen from you; my sympathies if you did.

Of course, many of you reading this aren't Americans, and are doing other things, life as normal, today. You probably have similar holidays, at some point in the year, that ask you to think of things for which to be grateful, and that get so commercialized that people lose sight of the meaning of the holiday.
Black Friday reminds me of more things to be grateful for: that I myself have the option of going out and buying things (whether I do or not), that I have sufficient food and resources and safe home to be in, and a computer to blog on. That I have an education and was never banned from school or afraid to attend; that I have a family that supported me through school, and supports my goal of becoming a published author, and allows me to live independently and have a life of my own. That I'm not going hungry, or dying of an easily preventable illness, or living in fear.

It's easy to get lost in problems that other people would think of as blessings. Easy to forget how much I have, and want more.

Oh, I might go out shopping. Maybe. (Need to test my new elbow spikes, of course!) But Black Friday is a second Thanksgiving for me, because it makes me think just how very much I do have to be grateful for, that I have all these chances.

How are you spending Black Friday? How would you like to be spending it?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank you

Yesterday was all about being grateful. What I am grateful for? Readers.

Blog readers, book readers, Twitter readers, readers of how-to guides and readers of vignettes, readers of every type. Because writing is what I love, and without people who enjoy reading, I wouldn't be able to justify writing.

So thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being yourselves.

Since you've probably already answered five or ten posts about what you're grateful for this Thanksgiving, let's give it a twist: what is something you grateful that happened, that took place more than 100 years ago?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here's an interesting blog I wanted to share: What happens when an author gives up?


Also, what numbers have you all seen? There were no sources for the statistics posted; can you find articles to back these numbers up? Is it reasonable to say that less than one-fifth of one percent of self-published writers earn at least $2,000 a month?

I'm putting you all to work. Indie authors, I'd love to hear your personal experience. Traditional authors, what about you?

And what percent of traditional authors earn an average of $2,000 a month--can you find articles on that?

Let's do a little comparison work here. Just curious.

Is there any data on hybrid authors yet, authors who have both traditionally and indie-published books?

If I get enough articles for actual comparison purposes, I'll make a post devoted to looking at the financials, based off the information within.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Google+ Hangout

So I finally got around to trying my first Google+ hangout on Saturday. I joined Word War II, a NaNoWriMo team word-boosting event, where writers strove to out-write one another and get caught up on our NaNoWriMo goals.

Our team lost. I bear part of that responsibility on my measly 400-some words each half hour. (One writer consistently managed 1500+ words every thirty minutes, but I'm fairly sure she has superpowers.)

More importantly, I figured out the Google+ hangout feature, which I now think is just fantastic. You can have several people video-chatting with one another, for free, for as long as you're all online. It also has a type-chat feature that you can see at the same time. And, important for ratta-tatta-tat typing sessions, you can mute your own microphone while still being able to hear things those not on mute say.

Of course there are the slightly awkward moments of everyone trying to talk over one another, and moments when people are getting up and moving around in the background, and the fact that there's a limit to the number of people who can be present in the hangout at a time.

But still, this is a really cool feature, a free feature, and I'm rather disappointed in myself for not making use of it before. Paired with the Google Docs spreadsheet, which we used to record word count scores and which everyone could access at the same time and see real-time updates, we were able to have an excellent team event.

If you can't get out and find a writers' group due to a rural location, find one online and try using this tool. It is video chat, so you probably shouldn't show up in your underwear, even though you're in your own home. You'll also want a decent computer speed, and having headphones really helps, because it prevents getting an annoying echo.

If someone doesn't have video, they can still participate through the chat, and if they have radio, they can do that too. We had a couple of members who were audio-only, but who just showed up on the rolling chat.

With the "Lower Third" function, (it's available in the bar on the left of the Hangout screen), you can add your name and a catchphrase/word count/whatever. There are color options for the bar (great for team playing.) Your own name and catchphrase will show up on your screen as written backwards, but don't worry; everyone else can see it properly. At the top of the screen is a button that will let you mute yourself.

If you haven't tried a Hangout yet, get a few Google friends involved and give it a whirl. Have an online-only critique group? Meet them in person without plane tickets. Trying to brainstorm, but your buddy lives two states away? Same deal. Too lazy to leave the house? Put a shirt on and meet your classmates for that group project you need to get done.

I really like this feature, and I can see how it could be all kinds of useful. Think I'll be trying another one sometime soon.

Have you used Google+ Hangouts? What did you think? Is it something you'd use again, and if so, for what?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Publishing Industry News

Publishing news and helpful industry blogs for 11/3-11/16.

(You know, every week I think to myself, "I haven't heard much on the blogs about major events, just a thing or two in passing. Must have been a quiet couple of weeks." Then I start researching and usually say, "Okay, wrong again.")

Industry News

National Book Award winners are announced.

How are e-book sales doing? Well, for Hachette Book Group, they're 20% of all sales.

Speaking of publishers, after the Penguin Random House deal, the Authors Guild is asking that the merge takes place under "close scrutiny" from antitrust officials in the Justice Department.

The Authors Guild is appealing the loss in the Hathitrust book scanning case.

Bertelsmann, the German owner of Random House, purchases full ownership of Barcelona's Random House Mandadori (formerly it was owned 50-50 by Random House and an Italian partner).

Avon is looking for those NaNoWriMo manuscripts for their Avon Impulse line ("digital-first line," meaning e-book with an option of print if it sells enough), so if your November project is a romance, here's where to submit (also has a FAQ so you can get more information).

RR Donnelly will now be warehousing all HarperCollins books in the US, doing the packing, shipping, holding, etc.

The most recent development on the Harlequin class action lawsuit is an updated complaint.

Book Expo of America has long been an industry-driven event, aimed at booksellers, libraries, and other "in-crowd" members of the publishing industry... but now it includes readers too, the most important members of the industry.

Both Simon & Schuster and Scholastic pitch in to help schools and libraries restore after Hurricane Sandy by donating books to affected institutions. S&S also offers a few free books to booksellers trying to get back on their feet.

Planning on giving an e-book during the winter holidays, but wish you give something unwrappable? A new company, Livrada, may be able to help, provided you're giving one of the twenty or so titles currently available. The gift allows the recipient to choose which device they'll be reading on, so if you don't know if your friend has a Nook, Kobo, or Kindle, they'll still be able to read the e-book.

On November 8, there was a brief disappearance of "buy" buttons from Amazon to books from several major publishers. As Amazon purposely disabled purchase buttons in the past to influence publishers on deals, there were numerous theories that this might have happened on purpose. However, the buttons were quickly fixed, and Amazon released a statement that it was only a glitch, which has now been addressed.

Amazon has been deleting author reviews of other authors' works. This may reflect a change in policy, or a reinterpretation of an old policy, or just a change of enforcement, or something else entirely. The LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg speculates, based on e-mails from Amazon customer service to one such author whose positive review was deleted, that Amazon is now interpreting all authors to be "direct competitors" of one another.

An interesting concept: an e-book designed to be read in any order, paired with music.

Close to home to me, as a NC author, the well-known Quail Ridge Books & Music is up for sale. This is where I attended a book-signing event by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game is a long-time favorite for me, one of the earliest "hard" science fictions I fell in love with). According to an interview I heard on the radio Wednesday night (station WRAL 101.5), the current owner is looking to retire, focusing on traveling and family, but she's not planning on abandoning the store entirely: she'll still buy there, and possibly help out on occasion.

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker for 11/9 and 11/16.

At Dystel, an agent talks about the inequity between authors and agents, and how e-publishing is balancing things out, and how people are going up in arms over this balancing act.

We're authors. We spend most of our time pitching ourselves in one form or another, either to agents, editors, or hopefully-soon-to-be readers. Sarah Pinneo tells us we need to learn to love the pitch--because if you're going to do something for the rest of your life, you might as well learn to like it.

Janet Reid gives us a list of things to double-check for in every contract we sign. And is your work copyrighted automatically? Yes, in America law, when you write it, it is protected by copyright law. (This has been discussed previously in more detail. Self-publishers will may want to register the copyright; those going the traditional route may want to wait until discussing things with their prospective publisher. However, I am not a lawyer, so I suggest you take a look at it yourself.)

Rachelle Gardner helps us write a one-sentence summary of our manuscripts, and tells us what not to blog about. Don't talk about things such as advance amount, number of author copies, or where your manuscript is being shopped.

On The Editors Blog, we're reminded that we'll get nasty critics, and are offered some suggestions for dealing with them: namely, don't take it personally. It's part of the business, and even the best get awful reviews by people who never read them. You'll also get great reviews, too. (The Oatmeal has a comic similar to this, saying the same thing from a web cartoonist point of view. Creativity + internet = fans + trolls. NSFW.)

Nathan Bransford discusses the having a public Facebook profile vs having an author page. Which is right for you?

GalleyCat jumps to help writers with their NaNoWriMo projects. How writers can use Google Docs, use Kickstarter to fund their books, and much more in a large list of NaNoWriMo tips. (Also: Rachelle Gardner's blog offers advice on using crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter.)

What industry news have you encountered in the past couple of weeks? Have you had a personal encounter with any of these events?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Read

What do you like to read?

Not just genre. Think of a book you love, and what it was that brought you to that book. What did the book do really, really well? What parts can't you stop thinking about?

Today's writing exercise is to read something you like. Yes, I know it's NaNoWriMo. But that's why. Because you've been powering through for two weeks now, and haven't had a single break to lose yourself in something else you love. Because you're starting to hate what you're writing, because all you can see is that writer's block sitting in your path, and it's giving you a headache.

But also because reading is something you love. Because it's work, too. Because by studying the things you like, you learn what it means to do well. Ask yourself, "What do I love about this?"

Only use the aspects of it that you love. If your favorite story has poor editing, head hopping, or endless purple prose, don't pick up its bad habits, too. Just keep the fast-paced action or the romantic tension that keeps you at the edge of your seat.

The great part about being a writer is that being a reader is also part of your job. There are endless choices to study from, endless examples of amazing work to aspire to. By reading, you see the things that strike you as lame, or silly. You remind yourself of what to avoid. And you remind yourself of what you love.

Don't get NaNoWriMo-Burnout. Today, grab a good book, and go read someone else's words. Set a timer if you know you can't get extra words in this weekend and still need to write today, but take the time to indulge yourself. After all, this is indulgence is part of your job.

What's one of your favorite books? What's one thing you love about it? And how does the author accomplish this? Can you apply it to your own work?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wishes, Fishes, and Sky Pirates

I wish I could draw. Draw well and draw quickly. Why? Because I'd love to be able to make webcomics.

I adore writing. But some stories are best told in media other than the written word. There are advantages to being able to draw, things people do that can be better told visually than in words. Some jokes aren't funny when they're explained.

If I could draw, I would tell the story of the sky pirate four, the worst sky pirates in all history. There would be incompetent kidnappings, and hostages turned into captains, and ghost cats rescuing people; there would be daring fights and daring flights and not-so-daring fleeing.

But I cannot draw, and I have neither the time nor the will to invest the time into developing this talent. Because I can write. And because I can write, there will be assassins and wizards and poisoned muffins; there will be magical storms and vicious monsters. There will be romance, and there will be love, and it will be written.

Every story has a method that tells it best. Because the method I have learned is the written word, I tell the stories that are better written than shown. Sometimes which idea I write is decided, not by which one I like the most (because I love them all), but rather by which one I can do the most justice.

One reason that "the book is better than the movie" is that the book was written. It had to be adapted for film, rewritten to a different form of expression (some stories translate better than others). But there are movies that are better than the book, too, because the story naturally lent itself to a screen translation.

Every story has a form that tells it best. In the age of remakes and book-to-blockbusters, there are still movies written from the very beginning to be movies. Because movies made to be movies are stories told like they were meant to be told. There are very excellent film adaptations of books, many of them. But to get that way, they had to become adaptations: the story had to be rewritten in another form.

Every story has a form that tells it best. Unfortunately, most of us don't have access to every story-telling method. So sometimes we pass on good ideas, because the way we see them, is a way we couldn't do them justice.

If you had a film crew, or an artist, or any media available to you, what story would you tell? What stories have you passed on, because they don't lend themselves to the resources you have at hand?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grammar Brigade: Quotation Marks and Periods

Where to place a period?

First, it's important to know that American and British punctuation are different. For a very long time, the majority of Americans have followed very strict rules regarding periods and commas: always put them inside quotation marks.

Lucas the shark described his daughter as "a cut-throat lawyer in cards."
In July, Abigail and Lucas spent their honeymoon in Vegas, "gambling."

In British English, these same quotes would have the period moved to the outside:

Lucas the shark described his daughter as "a cut-throat lawyer in cards".
In July, Abigail and Lucas spent their honeymoon in Vegas, "gambling".

The distinction in British English is that the period should be outside the quotation marks if it is not part of the quote itself.

With the spread of the Internet, it's becoming more common for Americans to pick up British punctuation, especially in cases when the inclusion of the period inside the quotation marks could create confusion. I imagine that the British form will gradually replace the American, but that's only conjecture; for now, when writing for employers or schoolteachers, punctuate as appropriate to your geographic location.

Lucas circled "tall" and "handsome".
Lucas circled "tall" and "handsome."

What Lucas circled was probably not handsome-with-a-period. But on the American side of the Atlantic, the second example is technically correct. If your professors are American, use the second sentence.

If you work or go to school internationally, you'll want to use the former. 

The one American exception seems to be (according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed.) in cases of websites, where including the period would change the website. 

For a related but-not-quite-an-exception, if you are citing someone in a case where the parenthetical documentation accompanies a single sentence, the period will go after the parenthetical citation:

There were only fourteen snargleblasters on the planet "when Soup de Jour crashed and began his drive to recruit snargles" (The History of Snargleblast 87).

More on the subject of periods in relation to quotation marks can be found at:

Questions? Further exceptions? Which do you use, and why?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Thing Every Voter Agrees On

To all the Americans who voted, no matter who you voted for, congratulations and thank you.

Even if you didn't vote, even if you're not American, even if you wish Obama hadn't won, there is one thing we are ALL celebrating together:


Not for another two years, anyway. And isn't that worth a party?

So here's to an ad-free existence for the next couple of years, until mid-term elections pop back around.


Something tells me I'm doing it wrong.

Monday, November 5, 2012

To support zombies or not?

Haven't decided yet who you'll vote for? Joss Whedon might help:

Joss Whedon on Whom to Vote for

Although I do hope you've already made up your mind (or already voted).

Elections are tomorrow; if you haven't voted already, get out there and do it! Even if you hate every candidate on the ballot, you can still write in your own for president. Remember, nobody listens to votes that don't exist; they just assume you don't care.

Show them you care. Show up to the polls.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Publishing Industry News

This weeks' publishing industry news and helpful industry blogs covers 10/20-11/2. Despite Hurricane Sandy, there's been quite a bit going on. However, things have in general slowed down the past few days as agents, publishing houses, bookstores, and readers work to recover, especially those in the Northeast. (Best wishes for a quick recovery to everyone who was affected by the hurricane.)

Publishing News

Penguin and Random House are merging. The new company will be Penguin Random House (unfortunately not Random Penguin House), and it states that the merger will allow it to compete with giants Amazon and Apple. There is some concern as to what this will mean for authors, but market analysts don't seem surprised at the move. The Random House CEO also writes a letter to his employees, as does the Penguin Books CEO.

The Nook is now available in the U.K.

Shopped at Barnes & Noble in the last month using your debit card and PIN number? Live in California, Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, or New York? Look at this list and make sure you didn't visit one of these stores. If so, you'll want to change your debit PIN number. These stores got hacked.

Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre files for bankruptcy.

Romance publisher Avon experiments with DRM-free books.

The Wiley Case is a Supreme Court case all about the rights of first-sale, and whether or not they apply to foreign-published books. The libraries vote that owners should be able to resell books, give them away, or lend them to friends--even if the books are published overseas. This effects not just libraries, but also sellers such as Amazon and other retailers who legally purchase books from printing companies, owned by Americans overseas, and resell them in America (the unintended consequences of outsourcing?). The Supreme Court intends to look at as many aspects of this case as possible, including which secondary markets will be affected and how both for or against rulings will hurt and/or help them.

Speaking of unintended consequences, Publishers' Weekly talks about some of the unintended consequences of the HathiTrust case.

Industry Blogs

QueryTracker's Publishing Pulse for 10/26.

Afraid you might hate your cover? Angela Quarles explains how she got the cover she wanted through a traditional publishing company.

Have you thought about self-publishing to build an audience in hopes of attracting an agent? If so, you'll need to sell at least 20,000 copies before an agent will look at you, according to Janet Reid.

Agent Kristen tells us to never sign a boilerplate contract. Ever. A boilerplate contract, by the way, would be a non-negotiated contract: that is, the standard contract they hand you the first time you meet them. Don't just sign because it's a contract. Read through it and tell the publisher that there is no way you'll sign anything giving them eternal rights to your story, with no reversion clauses, not even a "fail to publish" clause where you get your rights back if they don't actually publish. Even reputable publishers will have clauses in them that are unfavorable to authors, so either negotiate that contract yourself, or hire someone else to do it for you.

Does your story reference someone else's work? Worried if you need to get permission to use that quote, phrase, song, or poem? The Editor's Blog does a post on plagiarism, homage, and quoting. If you're directly quoting, you'll probably need permission. But generally it's okay to refer to the title of the work or the artist.

Rachelle Gardner explains the 10 things editors look for in non-fiction. These include platform, salable concept, new ideas, and great voice, among others.

Nathan Bransford offers a list of NaNoWriMo resources. He also does a This Week! In Books! post covering a few weeks' worth of news.

GalleyCat offers a post of 60 NaNoWriMo resources.

On QueryTracker, Stina Lindenblatt points out things that get a writer noticed in social media today, in a good way. Don't promo-spam your GoodReads fans, or they won't be fans for long; write short interviews; remember that social media is for being social.

What major publishing news or industry blogs have you encountered in the past two weeks?