Friday, December 31, 2010

Ebooks outsell print books at BN.com

Barnes & Noble is playing catch-up with Amazon's stream of releases about how Kindle is bestest, fastest, biggest-selling item. BN says they have sold "millions" of Nook devices, declaring "the line has become the company's biggest bestseller ever in its nearly 40-year history." More interesting is that they "now sell more digital books" (presumably calculated in units rather than dollars) than printed books via BN.com.

Despite technical problems (which are not mentioned in the press release), BN says they sold "nearly one million" ebooks on Christmas Day--giving you some idea of how many Nook readers were under the tree.

Borders Delays Payments to Large Publishers

Borders spokesperson Mary Davis issued the following statement regarding the delaying of payments due to some larger publishers:

"In response to media inquiries, Borders Group Inc. today stated that, as the company previously reported, it is in discussions regarding the potential refinancing of its existing senior credit facilities. As part of this potential refinancing, Borders has determined that it is necessary to restructure its vendor financing arrangements and is delaying payments to certain of its vendors.

"Borders has notified these vendors and will be working with them to restructure their arrangements with the company. Borders stated that there can be no assurance that it will be successful in refinancing its senior credit facilities or restructuring its vendor financing arrangements. As the company previously reported, the absence of the refinancing could cause the company to violate the terms of its existing credit agreements in the first calendar quarter of 2011 and the company could experience a liquidity shortfall."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get Your Book Reviewed on Amazon

by Steve Weber ~ June 13th, 2007. 

In 1988 a first-time author, British mountaineer Joe Simpson, wrote of his disastrous climbing accident in the Peruvian Andes. His book, Touching the Void, got good reviews, but wasn’t too popular outside England. It sold modestly and then, like most books, began fading into obscurity.
A decade later, another climbing book was penned by Jon Krakauer, an American journalist who scaled Everest on a harrowing expedition that claimed eight lives. Into Thin Air, with a boost from its conglomerate publisher, was an instant No. 1 bestseller and worldwide blockbuster.
And then something really interesting happened. Bookstores started getting requests for the earlier book, Touching the Void. Weeks before, stores couldn’t give it away, and now the book was sold out. Library copies went missing. The original hardback, if you could find one, was going for $375. Harper Paperbacks rushed a new edition onto shelves, and Touching the Void started outselling the new “blockbuster” by two to one.
What happened? Was it a stroke of brilliance by some publishing mogul? No, it was Joe Six-Pack, reacting to book recommendations from Amazon.com. The online store began recommending the older book to millions of people whom it knew liked climbing books, based on their buying history. Many of the new readers liked Touching the Void so much, they wrote rave reviews on Amazon’s site. These “amateur” book reviews, written by real climbers and armchair explorers, resonated deeply with the next wave of shoppers. More sales, more good reviews.
Ten years after the book’s launch, Internet-powered word of mouth did something that no team of marketing wizards could do—it landed Touching the Void on the bestseller lists. The story was adapted for an acclaimed docudrama. Simpson, his writing career turbocharged, followed up with four successful adventure books, a novel, and lecture tours.
You, too, can get Amazon customer reviews for your book and boost your visibility with Amazon’s recommendation system. If your book is a good one, all you need to do is ask people to read and review it. The more Amazon customers who review your book and award it four or five stars, the more often your book will surface in Amazon’s book recommendations on its Web site and e-mails.
TIPS FOR GETTING GOOD REVIEWS ON AMAZON:
The key to getting lots of good reviews on Amazon is to make it a habit of inviting people to review and read your book. Provide a free review copy when necessary. Here’s where to find reviewers:
– From Amazon’s list of Top Reviewers who regularly post reviews of books similar to yours. See www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/top-reviewers.html
– Seek out Amazon users who have reviewed related titles, or books by authors with a writing style similar to yours.
– Acquaintances and colleagues interested in your book’s topic.
– Participants in Internet discussion boards and mailing lists relevant to your book.
HOW TO APPROACH REVIEWERS
– Click on the pen name for anyone who’s written an Amazon review, and you’ll find their Amazon profile containing biographical and other information they’ve posted about themselves.
– Ensure your book is of interest. Some reviewer profiles explain what types of books they prefer — some reviewers stick with fiction; some review only movies or music.
– Contact potential Amazon reviewers from their profile page, clicking the link “Invite to be an Amazon Friend.” This generates a pop-up form where you can enter a message, and Amazon will forward it in an e-mail.
– Safeguard yourself a bit by requesting that readers not post a review if they simply hate the book. But it’s the reviewer’s call, don’t do anything to suggest you’re expecting favorable treatment.
– Avoid sending your book to reviewers who usually post harshly negative reviews, but don’t shy away from those who offer frank criticism. These voices lend credibility to your book.
– Ask readers who praise your book to post an Amazon review. For example, whenever you receive an e-mail from a satisfied reader, you might respond this way: “Thank you for the kind words about my book. If you ever have a spare moment, it would be a great help if you could post a review of it on Amazon and let other potential readers know why you liked it.”
Positive reviews on Amazon boost your sales not only on Amazon, but everywhere people are buying books. Amazon’s reviews are one of the Web’s most popular features, and good reviews will help sell your book. the main benefit of reviews is in giving your
book credibility, so that once someone notices it,
they have the confidence to buy it.

*reprinted from an article by Steve Weber on his blog Publishing Basics.
Read the original article online.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

October Bookstore Sales Drop 2.5%

Bookstore sales fell 2.5% in October to an even $1 billion, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline was less severe than the declines in August and September when bookstore sales fell by more than 6% in both months. For the first 10 months of 2010, bookstore sales were also down 2.5%, to $13.32 billion. For the retail segment in general, October sales rose 5.7% and sales in the year to date were ahead 6.2%.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Survey on E-book Trends

A survey of 600 publishers from across the industry spectrum found 64% now offering e-books with 74% of trade houses producing titles in that format. The trade and STM segments had the biggest gain in number of publishers producing e-books in the survey, the second one conducted by the conversion and technology services company Aptara. There was no dominant factor among the publishers that don’t produce e-books about why they haven’t entered the market, with 71% giving no particular reason for staying out of the business.
 
The profitability of e-books has been a point of contention between publishers and authors, and according to the survey 66% of trade houses have no clear picture if the return-on-investment from e-books is better or worse than for print books; 15% said the ROI was better, but 13% said it was worse. Aptara attributed the murky picture to publishers “retrofitting existing print workflows” to produce e-books, an inefficient process that inhibits publishers from producing cost savings. The report predicts that as more efficient and scalable digital workflows are implemented, and more backlist titles move to digital, ROI will improve. The two most important reasons trade houses move backlist books into e-books are a desire to extend the life of a title and market demand.
 
Publishers are still selling e-books from their own sites (38%), but Amazon is now a close second (37%), while the report found the iTunes store to be the fastest-growing distribution channel with 22% of publishers now offering e-books there compared to 9% last year. (The report did not ask respondents specifically if they sell through Apple’s iBookstore).
 
The top challenge in producing e-books—for all types of publishers—was content format and compatibility issues. Forty-five percent of all publishers said that was their biggest issue, up from 21% in the summer 2009 survey, a development attributed mainly to the plethora of new e-reading devices introduced into the market in the last year that adds to costs and confusion.
 
Despite some problems, 49% of all publishers said e-books are of “high importance” to their growth plans, with 55% of trade house putting e-books in that category.
 
*From an article in PW Daily

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Scholastic Names Trends in Children's Books for 2010

Drawing on their experience distributing books from all children's publishers through their school book clubs and book fairs, Scholastic's editors created a list of  ten trends from the year in children's books. President of Scholastic Book Clubs Judy Newman remarks in the release, "We've seen some exciting innovation in children's publishing in 2010, including new formats and platforms for storytelling that are helping more and more kids become book lovers. At the same time, we're seeing a rejuvenation of some classic genres, which I think is evidence of the timeless power that stories and characters have on the lives of children."

1. The expanding Young Adult audience
2. The year of dystopian fiction
3. Mythology-based fantasy (Percy Jackson followed by series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls)
4. Multimedia series (The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek, The Search for WondLa)
5. A focus on popular characters - from all media
6. The shift to 25 to 30 percent fewer new picture books, with characters like Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books
7. The return to humor
8. The rise of the diary and journal format (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate)
9. Special-needs protagonists
10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires (Linger and Linger, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters)

*From today's Publisher's Lunch 

Whoa! That's a great Tshirt!

Here's a picture of one of the Winners of the Name That Baddie! contest proudly sporting her new Buddhapuss Ink Tshirt and signed copy of The Last Track.
Thanks for participating Catherine!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Print Books Down 12.1% in September, Ebooks up 158.1%

Publishers’ book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) for the month of September decreased by 12.1 percent on the prior year to $1.1 billion and were up by 3.8 percent for the year to date.
The children’s book category showed decreases over September of last year, with Hardcover Children’s/YA sales down 17.4 percent for the month with sales of $76.6 million in September, and year-to-date sales are down by 15.1 percent. Children’s/YA Paperback sales decreased 1.6 percent in September with sales totaling $53.3 million; sales fell 6.8 percent for the year to date.
The Adult Hardcover category was down 40.4 percent in September with sales of $180.3 million, and sales for the year-to-date down by 8.1 percent. Adult Paperback sales decreased 15.8 percent for the month ($111.5 million) but increased by 1.5 percent for the year so far. Adult Mass Market sales decreased 23.6 percent for September with sales totaling $67.8 million; sales were down by 15.7 percent year to date.
E-book sales continue to grow, with a 158.1 percent increase over September 2009 ($39.9 million); year-to-date E-book sales are up 188.4 percent. Downloaded Audio Books also saw an increase of 73.7 percent over last year, with sales of $7.7 million this September; and the category was also up 34.1 percent year-to-date. Physical Audio Book sales decreased 42.6 percent in September with sales totaling $11.6 million; sales for the year to date are down 12.6 percent.
Religious Books were down 2.5 percent for the month with sales totaling $66.1 million, and sales were down by 0.3 percent for the year to date.
Sales of University Press Hardcover books decreased 4.8 percent in September to $5.1 million; sales increased by 4.1 percent year-to-date. University Press Paperback sales, however, increased 10.6 percent for the month with sales totaling $6.3 million, with sales up 5.5 percent for the year. Sales of Professional books rose 0.7 percent to $58.8 million and were up by 9.6 percent for the year to date.
Higher Education publishing sales increased 2.2 percent for the month ($416.7 million) and increased 10.6 percent for the year. Finally, the K-12 El-Hi (elementary/high school) category posted total net sales of $351.5 million, down 10.0 percent over the prior year, and year-to-date sales of $3.2 billion, a 5.7 percent increase over 2009.

* From figures released by the AAP

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Resources and Tips for Writers - SETTING

Now that you've got your characters figured out, it's time to give them somewhere to come to life - a setting where your (their) story will unfold. Your setting can make a real difference in the success or failure of your novel. It can set the tone or mood. The right setting is more than just a backdrop for your characters to play their parts in. It can be a character all on its own. Would Jane Eyre have been the same if it were set in sunny Tuscany? Would Jan Karon's Mitford series have been the same if transported to a Los Angeles locale?
Whether your setting is real or imagined, is unimportant. What matters is how it sets the stage for your story.
Need some help working all this out? I'm here to help! Here's just a few of the many sites and tips you might find helpful as you select the perfect spot (or spots).
  1. Want help walking through the different kinds of settings? This entry comes complete with a list of types (with click through explanations/examples), as well as, an index of fictional universes and places. 
  2. Need help getting started? There's a great article on Skotos  that will walk you through the framework from the Elements of Setting to using the five senses to pick your place.
  3. Intrigued with involving the five senses in the creation of your setting? Ginny Wiehardt has a great exercise that will guide you through just that.  It takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete but it is well worth the effort if your setting lacks the kind of intensity that helps your reader get involved.
  4. Work better with writing prompts? Then go to  Write It Sideways where they have 21 writing prompts for setting that scene!
  5. Are you a visual person? Then photo prompts may be just the ticket. Whether you're looking to create a seasonal or an exotic location for your story to unfold,  the collection of different types of photo prompts at the Creativity Portal might get your thought train rolling.
  6. Trying to give your story a sense of time and place? This article at Suite 101 covers it nicely. Nicholas Morine provides some tips for creating a believable and  immersing setting in this short article. While you're there check out this one too.
  7. What came first the chicken or the egg? What does that have to do with your novel you might ask. Well, then, what comes first for you, the characters or the setting? In Peter Geye‘s case, he had a location that was near and dear to him and built his wonderful novel around that. Enjoy this interview.
  8. Some short tips: "show" it don't tell it. Make that setting come to life in the reader's mind.The wind isn't just blowing - how does it interact with the characters or the locale? Is it tossing the hero's hair playfully? Or is it a strong gust that is bending the young saplings like subjects hailing a king?
  9. The devil may be in the details but don't let him get lost in them! Don't get lost in describing every little detail in the room - just choose a few. Make them carry the weight. Choose two or three things in the room/scene that best provide a feeling of mood.
  10. Don't cram all that description into one paragraph and then forget about it! It should flow throughout the story. Think of the setting as a character that needs to be considered as your story unfolds.
  11. Yes, I know I said 10 Tips and Resources - but I'd be remiss to leave this one out - Don't just string together a list of adjectives! Separate them, let them interact with the characters. Don't just say the bed was lumpy, rather let your heroine squirm and wriggle as she struggles to find a comfortable position despite the bed's irritating lumps.
I hope you found this article helpful!
Now settle into a comfortable chair and Get writing!

This article may be copied and quoted as long as you include the byline below:
© 2010 by MaryChris Bradley, Publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC, the proud publishers of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard and the upcoming Mystery Times Ten, a collection of Mystery Short Stories for the YA audience.


Authors, be sure to check out our YA Mystery Short Story Competition - Mystery Times Ten. Happy writing!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Words of Wisdom for Writers . . .

"(F)or all of our budding writers reading this, wondering how they can become a successful writer, Paul Harding considered the objective and opened his last words of wisdom."
“Write the kinds of stories you like to read. Don’t write for people who won’t like the kind of story you like to write. Don’t waste time with coy notions about wanting to take up a reader’s time; that’s exactly what your job is as a writer. The trick is to take up the reader’s time well.”
~Paul Harding
Paul Harding was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his first novel, Tinkers.

Read more at Suite101



Monday, November 1, 2010

10 Resources and Tips for Writers - CHARACTERS

We've given you writing prompts, helped you overcome your procrastination issues, set out some great sites for research and reference, now what? Time to start writing of course! Many experts think the best place to start is with your characters. Who are they, what are they like, what do they do and how does that play a part in the story you are writing? Here's some help as you answer those questions and more about these very important people:
  1. You might start by asking your main character some questions. Alicia Rasley lays out 9 great ones to start with in her article on the Writers Digest site. Her suggestions will help you understand your protagonist.
  2. Elizabeth Craig has a few more questions for your characters in her article inspired by her interest in the PBS Inspector Lewis series which made her think  "So much of our energy as a writer is poured (and rightly so) into the conflict the protagonist is facing and how they handle it. How can we best fit in the tidbits about the character—the non-conflict-related stuff that makes us love them?" Check her article for some help digging out those choice bits that we might have left untapped otherwise. 
  3. Maybe you need a name for that character? Try Behind the Name, a great site for noodling out the perfect name for any character.
  4. Need some help figuring out your characters archetypes? Not quite sure what kind of character you're dealing with? Wikipedia to the rescue with their helpful entry on Archetypes, their origins and creation.They also have a great list of Stock Characters you might want to check while you're at it.
  5. If Wikipedia is too dry for you, try TVtropes where they have a great list (with click through descriptions) of Stock Characters too. What is a Stock Character? you might ask - their definition:  A Stock Character is a one-dimensional character who is instantly recognizable to us from other stories; the gruff grandpa, the snooty cheerleader, the bratty younger sibling. 
  6. Need more help getting the creative character juices flowing? Seventh Sanctum's character generators may be just what you're looking for.  There's one for every kind of character from human to Super Ninja!
  7. Unsure who is running your story - you or your characters who seem to have taken on a life of their own? You should stop by Literary Agent Nathan Bransford's site  where he talks about making sense of the character's inner logic. While you're there, you might also check out his articles: What Do Your Characters Want? and Sympathetic vs. Unsympathetic Characters. 
  8. Margaret Atwood provided the following tips as part of her recent keynote speech at Belmont University's Ninth Annual Humanities Symposium. To help your reader keep your characters straight, Atwood advises writers to use character names that begin with different letters of the alphabet or to at least give them a different hair color. For example, Betty is a blonde and Barbara has dark brown hair.
  9. Atwood also advised that when writing about several different people, it’s important to keep their timelines straight. She suggests creating a chart for yourself with the years across the top and the months down the side. Be sure to put the characters’ birthdates in so you’ll automatically be able to determine the actual age of characters as time passes in your story.
  10. You should also check the world events against those birthdays so you know what would have been going on at different ages in their lives. Atwood gave examples like the invention of pantyhose which preceded mini-skirts and made them possible. Things like the color of appliances, carpeting, etc. used in homes at that time of your story are also important to check. Some folks still vividly recall the period in the ’70s when avocado green, orange and brown were all the rage in home d├ęcor. It’s important to get the details right, she says, or someone will write you a “nah nah nah letter,” as she calls it.
So there you have it - 10 important resources and tips to help you create solid, memorable characters. Check in with us next week when we continue this series with 10 more resources for writers!
Now get writing!

Authors, be sure to check out our YA Mystery Short Story Competition - Mystery Times Ten. Happy writing!

This article may be copied and quoted as long as you include the byline below:
© 2010 by MaryChris Bradley, Publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC, the proud publishers of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard and the upcoming Mystery Times Ten, a collection of Mystery Short Stories for the YA audience.
 


    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    It's All About the Social Network

    Nearly 80 publishing professionals tuned in to a BISG-sponsored webcast, “Marketing ‘Books’ in a Digital World,” on Wednesday. The hour-long discussion covered a range of tactics publishers are taking to get their books into readers’ hands, but the topic that loomed largest was social networking.
    Rob Goodman, director of online marketing at Simon & Schuster, revealed a battery of impressive figures about how social networking influences consumer buying habits, among them: consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, 51% more likely to buy from a brand they fan on Facebook, and 79% more likely to recommend brands and products they follow on social media. The other speaker, Peter Milburn, digital products marketing manager at Wiley Global Finance, called Facebook (which has 500 million users), Twitter (125 million users), YouTube, and LinkedIn “the new retailers,” an idea moderator Jim Lichtenberg, president of the management consulting practice Lightspeed, confirmed when he noted, “You go to Facebook, hear about a book, then go to a retailer and buy it—so at that point the retailer’s just fulfilling your desire.”
     
    Milburn advised publishers to “know your ecosystem. Learn to speak the language” that consumers are speaking. That might mean using UrbanDictionary.com to understand phrases and words like IMHO, hashtag, and API, or reading Mashable.com’s Twitter guide book, which explains basics, building a Twitter community, Twitter for business, and more. Being involved in consumers’ world also lets marketers see what people are saying about their books and brands online, Milburn said.
     
    “It’s not enough to create a page on a social media site like Facebook,” Milburn said. He cited Peter Schiff, whose book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes, Wiley published in May. Schiff created his own Web site and made sure that as people searched online for terms related to his book’s topic, they would land on his site. Milburn noted that it is important not to barrage consumers. “Don’t spray and pray. Listen, reply, and engage.”
     
    Goodman also advised marketers to connectt with people online. “Things can go viral and feed out to millions of people in amazing ways,” he said, but first, “You must engage people to get them talking.”
     
    Like many companies, S&S has increased its online advertising in the past three years with good results. Goodman said the company has had “great success” with Facebook engagement interactive ads, which, in an effort to tackle the grim click-through rates of traditional online ads, encourage people to interact with the ads by leaving comments, sharing virtual gifts, or becoming fans.
     
    *From an article in PW by  , It's All About the Social Network

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Professional Writing: Courses, Resources, Mentors

    Want to make a living through writing? 

    Thought of approaching an agent or publisher but don't know how?  

    Need a mentor?

    Well, we found a place you might want to check out.  Profwriting.com is an online network for writers looking to brush up their skills, showcase work and have it critiqued by peers and experts. Their expertise has grown out of MA Professional Writing, which they run at University College Falmouth – check out their full and part-time courses; there's more info here.

    They have more than just courses though. There's a Members Room where you can pitch ideas and browse a job board. They can pair you with a Mentor or you can submit your work for a Peer Review and they run a monthly short fiction and nonfiction competition called Bloc.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Unsure about submitting your writing?

    Every author has doubts about submitting their work, whether for publication, or in a writing competition like our YA Mystery Short Story Competition Mystery Times Ten

    You worry, 'It's not good enough. Who am I kidding, I have no talent!' or  'No one will want to read this!' or even 'What if they absolutely hate it?'

    You think, 'It needs more editing, I'm not happy with the fill in the blank (beginning, middle, ending).'

    At a certain point you have to stop tinkering, tweaking, messing with your work and bravely send it out into the world. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe in writing followed by rewriting, editing and more rewriting and editing. One thing is certain though: If you never send it out, it will never have a chance to get published. Of course it can't get rejected either as long as it stays on your computer or desk and nice and safe and unseen.

    That's when you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask - Do I want to be known as a writer? or a wanna-be?

    If you don't want to listen to me, then I offer up these words of encouragement from one of your fellow writers, Karen Simmonds, a recent double winner in the WOW! (Women-On-Writing) Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Contest. Here's a snippet from the WOW! site:

    WOW: Karen, congratulations on your double victory in WOW!'s Spring 2010 Flash Fiction Contest. Not only did you nab Runner-Up honors for Fly Girl, you also earned an Honorable Mention for another of your stories, The Costume Party. That's simply awesome! Based on your experience, what advice would you offer to writers who are considering entering a writing contest?
    Karen: "Take that step! I kept my writing under wraps for years. It can be tough to know when something is ready, but sometimes you just have to let go and not work a piece to death. Sending your story out into the world can be very exciting. Keep challenging yourself, learn as you go, but don't hide it away."
     
    Now what are you waiting for? Enter your YA Mystery Short Story in our competition today! 

    *To read the rest of Karen's interview on the WOW! site, CLICK HERE


     
     

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    7 Tips for Writers to Overcome Procrastination

    “When I’ve caught up with my emails and dealt with xxx, I’ll write my blog post.”
    “I’ll just do xxx and then I’ll write the next section of my book.”
    Recognise either of these statements or variations on the same theme?
    Feel free to fill in the xxx with whatever fits your particular situation and your way of thinking. Whatever xxx you come up with, essentially they all relate to the same issue – procrastination.
    However plausible the xxx appears to be, there are times when all writers fall under the spell of procrastination.
    Procrastination simply means that we put off taking action on something we want or need to do, and convince ourselves that tomorrow will be a better day to make a start. We allow ourselves to become side-tracked and find endless ways to justify why it makes more sense to do something else first.
    On occasions, taking some time out to allow more space for ideas to develop is absolutely the right decision. However, we need to balance this with the reality that “tomorrow” may never come and sometimes the delay results in lost opportunities.
    For some people who want to write, procrastination is a chronic condition which unfortunately means that their writing just doesn’t get done – ever! Or it may take so long that by the time the words meets the page the energy and enthusiasm have all but drained away.
    In such situations, there are usually other factors at work including lack of self-belief, fear and a whole host of other resistance-related issues which need to be addressed separately.
    For most writers, procrastination pops up in milder forms. It holds us back when we have a challenging topic to write about, when we’re not entirely sure what we want to say or when we don’t feel confident about undertaking activities relating to building our platform.
    Yet, as anyone who writes regularly knows, overcoming procrastination is part of the process of becoming an author and living the truth of that each and every day.
    So here are 7 tips to help you to overcome procrastination:


    1. Reduce the time between decision and action: once you have decided to write an article or work on the next section of your book, schedule it into your diary and when the moment comes, write!
    2. Do your preparation the day before: this is especially important if you are still exploring a topic so sketch out a few preliminary ideas, identify 5 key points you want to make, come up with a working title and then let your unconscious mind work on it for you overnight.
    3. Do your writing first! Having completed whatever preparation you need to do in advance, sit down to write before you make any phone calls, answer emails or open up your social networking accounts.
    4. Practise overcoming procrastination with short, easy projects: you don’t have to start by writing a book. Begin to build up your writing muscles with short blog posts and subjects that you know well and enjoy.
    5. Reward yourself with a break at the end of your first draft: have a drink or something to eat, take a walk, have a conversation with a friend or dive in to see what’s happening on Facebook or Twitter.
    6. Break challenging topics or tasks into manageable chunks: if you do have a piece to write that feels like a stretch, make a plan of how you can address it in several short sessions of preparation and writing so that it feels do-able.
    7. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or try to write a perfect piece! There really is no perfect moment to write and no such thing as a perfect piece of writing. Simply choose what seems to you to be an optimum time for you to be focused, creative and in the flow … and just do it!
    What are your favorite ways for overcoming procrastination? Post your comments below

    Guest spot by 
    © Julia McCutchen 2010. All Rights Reserved.

    Julia McCutchen is the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) where writers discover their authentic voice – on the page and in the world. A former managing director & publisher (Element, Random House), Julia is a successful and intuitive writer’s coach, mentor and professional publishing consultant. She has over 20 years’ experience of publishing and a track record that includes UK no 1 and international bestsellers. Julia is the author of The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication and the creator of the How to Write the Ultimate Book Proposal Online Masterclass Course. For a FREE Special Report, Discover Your Authentic Voice – on the page and in the world, visit www.iaccw.com, and for a range of FREE articles, audios and videos for writers visit www.juliamccutchen.com.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    10 MORE Resources for Writers

    As promised here are 10 more resources to help you in your quest for a well-written, perfectly polished manuscript.
    1. Need a grammar check? Not sure you're using the right word? Have a question about punctuation or capitalization? Then hurry over to Grammar Book where they have answers to all these questions and more.
    2. If Grammar Book isn't friendly enough for you, then the site you want is Grammar Girl where they promise "quick and dirty tips for better writing"!
    3. Enough of the grammar you say! Agreed! You thought I was going to say all right or certainly, didn't you? If so, then you might want to check out Strunk and White's List of Misused Words and Expressions at Bartleby. Although it can't possibly cover everything, it hits the highlights from 'as good or better than' all the way to 'worth while'.
    4. Need some creative help? Staring at a blank screen with no ideas at all? Get some help at Writing Fix, a site that creates writing prompts on the spot. They even have left-brained and right-brained prompts!
    5. Are you a 'newbie' to writing or just have questions about agents, query letters, submissions . . . then you want to check out J.A. Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog provides great information for new (and veteran) fiction writers. He also has links to plenty of good resources and other blogs you might want to check out.
    6. Speaking of agents, are you tired of trying to keep track of who you sent your query to and what agency they were with that week? Well, Query Tracker  can help you organize all that information. In addition to their method for organizing and tracking your queries, they also have an extensive database to help you find the perfect agent and useful statistical information about literary agents and publishers. While you're there you might want to join their community of writers who are also on the query track.
    7. Another great free online sumissions tracker is available to registered members at duotrope's digest.  Where they also have an award-winning, free writers' resource listing over 3100 current Fiction and Poetry publications.
    8. Confused about copyrights, fair use, trademarks and electronic rights? The site for you might just be The Publishing Law Center. They have all the answers and more.
    9. Worried about scams, fake writing contests and other nasty stuff? Go to Writer Beware. Sponsored by the SFWA "Writer Beware’s mission is to track, expose, and raise awareness of the prevalence of fraud and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry."
    10.  Checked your grammar, no misused words or phrases, finally understand fair use and copyrights, tracked all your submissions, and anxious to tell the world you're an author? If you're looking for some good 'writer' fun, try Write Side Out where you can have t-shirts, totes and more printed up with the title of your book front and center complete with a choice of mock cover. Be your own billboard! Better yet, give some to your friends. They can say they know the author personally. Boost those presales!
    Well, I hope you enjoyed this collection of sites. I'll be bringing you more as the weeks go by. Meanwhile, "sit your butt in the chair and type like crazy!"

    YA authors, be sure you check out our YA Mystery Short Story Competition - Mystery Times Ten. Happy writing!

    This article may be copied and quoted as long as you include the byline below:
    © 2010 by MaryChris Bradley, Publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC, the proud publishers of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard and the upcoming Mystery Times Ten, a collection of Mystery Short Stories for the YA audience.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    E-book Sales Jump 172% in August

    While sales in the print trade segments shrank in August, e-book sales had another strong month, jumping 172.4%, to $39 million, according to the 14 publishers that report sales to the AAP’s monthly sales estimates. For the year-to-date, e-book sales were up 192.9%, to $263 million. AAP said that of the approximately 19 publishers that report trade sales, revenue in the January to August period was $2.91 billion, making the $263 million e-book sales 9.0% of trade sales. At the end of 2009, e-book sales comprised 3.3% of trade sales. The mass market segment, where sales were down 14.3% in the first eight months of 2009, represented 15.1% of trade sales through August.

    *From PW Daily 

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    5 Reasons Why Some Writers Go Cat, and Never Go Back

    Sam HilliardLong before publishing became a viable career path, writers turned to pets for companionship, love and the occasional moment of inspiration. As is the case with pet owners, writers often forge a particular allegiance to one kind of pet, be it a cat or dog. While felines and canines can coexist quite well, since writers tend to work at home, they seldom introduce chaos—at least intentionally—into their workplace. So it’s generally one kind of pet or the other. And sometimes it can be quite a lot of that kind.
    More than fifty cats roamed Hemingway’s grounds and writing studio; however, most writer’s cat households are more modest in size. Regardless of the number though, the real question of why some writers prefer cats remains unanswered.
    As the head of my own Cat Army, Oedipus, Electra, Abra, and Mooshy, I have given the question of why writers go cat great consideration—usually while cleaning up hairballs.
    1) Generally quiet. This is critical since most writers alternate between broke and destitute and therefore must rent their abode. A quiet cat makes for a happier landlord. Since cats sleep roughly 65 percent to 95 percent of the workday, depending on the make, model, and age they don’t have many opportunities to make noise.
    2) Legal reasons. Plenty of housing complexes restrict dog ownership, but allow cats. Irony is such a cunning mistress.
    3) Self-regulating by nature. As long their human provides clean water, food, and checks on the litter box periodically, the cat usually takes care of the rest. No need to rush home to walk them. Going away for the weekend isn’t a problem either. That’s just more bed for them.
    4) Cats communicate directly. For instance, when the cat wants his person to start writing so he can claim his bed again, he might gnaw pages left on the night stand. After going a few rounds with an editor, this might seem refreshing but can make the rewrite fun and it generally achieves the desired result of a now writer-free bed.
    5) Superior memory. While the writer can’t remember where he put his favorite pen, the cat does. It’s hidden in their lair behind the couch, right where they dragged it.
    6) Esoteric taste in people food. Pork rinds, beef jerky, pork lo mien and uncooked pasta are just some of things I’ve caught my cats nibbling.
    Hopefully this sheds some light on one of the most pressing questions in contemporary fiction.

    *This post was originally done as a guest post on The Book Faery Reviews and was written by Sam Hilliard the author of The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel.  

    Mystery Scene Magazine called Brody "such a riveting character that he could easily anchor an entire series" and The Midwest Book Review said "The Last Track is an exciting adventure and mystery, highly recommended."

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Harris Poll Finds Mysteries, Thrillers Edge Out Romance Novels


    A new Harris Poll is out, and among its findings are that mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels beat out chick-lit and romance novels by a large margin; and that more women than men read mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels.
    The poll, conducted among 2,775 U.S. adults online this past August, found that among those who say they read at least one book in an average year, equal numbers—about eight in 10—said they have read a novel or nonfiction book in the past year. Almost half (48%) of fiction readers said they read mysteries, thrillers and crime novels, while a quarter read science fiction (26%) and another quarter (24%) read “literature.” One in five said they read romance novels (21%) and one in 10 have read graphic novels (11%) in the past year. Chick-lit (8%) and western (5%) books are less popular among respondents.
     
    Among those who read nonfiction, 31% read histories, 29% read biographies, and 26% read religious and spirituality books. Lesser numbers have read political books (17%), self-help books (16%), current affairs (14%), true crime (12%), and business (10%) books in the past year. Respondents aged 18 to 33 are more likely than other age groups to read “literature” (42%) and graphic novels (18%). Readers 65 and older are more likely to read mystery, thriller, and crime novels (61%) and westerns (9%). Women are more likely than men to read mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels (57% versus 39%), romance (37% versus 3%), chick-lit (12% versus 4%), and religious books (30% versus 21%). Men are more likely to read science fiction (32% versus 20%), history books (40% versus 23%), political books (25% versus. 10%), and business books (16% versus 4%).
     
    Respondents’ favorite authors were those on the top of the bestsellers lists: Stephen King, James Patterson, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz, Danielle Steel, Dan Brown, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
     
      from PW Daily

    How to Defeat the Sloth Monster: A Workout Program for Writers

    So how do writers shoot down the sloth monster that seems a ready-made date for those in such a sedentary profession? Here’s a sample writer’s workout routine. It’s a careful blend of resistance training and aerobics, and of course sensible eating.

    NOTE: This strenuous routine may not be appropriate for all writers. Please consult your physician before making any changes in your own diet or physical regimen.

    6:40 AM – Crawl from bed to bathroom. Feed cats on return to bed.
    6:42 AM – Meditate.
    7:59 AM – Beat the alarm clock to pulp for interrupting morning meditation session.
    8:10 AM – Steal paper off a neighboring lawn, running back to home quickly so they don’t throw garbage at you again.
    8:20 AM – Complain about crappy coffee.
    8:45 AM – Shower, dress (in something besides a robe), eat breakfast and read purloined paper.
    9:10 AM – Commence Power meditation while positioned horizontally with head supported by pillows.
    11:13 AM – Interrupt meditation to curse world for not having written a word.
    11:19 AM – Screw around on Internet, checking mail, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and stock quotes. Tell your editor you’re deep into “research” when they call to ask how the book is coming along.
    11:59 AM – Write for seven minutes and then make lunch.
    12:59 PM – Return from lunch. Resume writing. Break every forty five minutes to stretch or eat something crunchy, whichever feels better.
    2:00 PM – Doritos break.
    2:17 PM – Mid-day caffeine break.
    4:56 PM – Read the day’s pages. Curse world for forcing you to read your own written words.
    5:30 PM – Eat a balanced dinner that includes at least one of the following food groups: pizza, tacos, hot dogs, donuts, or beer.
    6:10 PM – Think about working out. Just thinking about it usually makes you feel better about not
     doing it.
    7:30 PM – Channel surf while holding some form of alcoholic beverage in your other hand.
    9:35 PM – Read (hopefully someone else’s work).
    11:14 PM – Wake  up to cat licking drool off your face, and retire for evening’s meditation, but not before final power snack from one or more of the following food groups: cheez whiz, potato chips, or leftover Chinese.
    11:20 PM – Begin evening meditation session.
     *Originally a guest post on Teresa's Reading Corner, this piece was written by Sam Hilliard, the author of The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel.

    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    10 Resources for Writers

    Having trouble getting started? Need the perfect quote for an article or story? Just looking for a synonym? Here's a short list of sites to help you over those hurdles and more.


    1) Looking for a starting point for a blog post, article or journal? Try the "of the day" entries on refdesk. This site is also great for checking facts or just satisfying your trivia cravings.

    2) Long considered one of the authorities when it comes to dictionaries and thesauri, Merriam-Webster's site will help you find just the right word, and spell it correctly too!

    3) Need a funny quote to get things going? My favorite source is cheekyquotes.
    They have a wide variety of quotes to choose from and you can even tweet them to your followers direct from their site with just a click of your mouse.

    4) Perhaps you had a more serious type of quote in mind for that story or article? Then try Brainy Quotes. They cover everything from Age and Anger to Wisdom and Work! They also have a daily list of birthdays. Did you know today was Thor Heyerdahl's birthday? You can even click on the person's name and get quotes by them.
    "I also believe that when one dies, one may wake up to the reality that proves that time does not exist. "
    Thor Heyerdahl

    5) Looking for help from other writers? Need an opening? Researching the perfect weapon for your villain? Trying to track down some information? Try Mike's Writing Workshop.    Note - they brook no nonsense and post this warning clearly on their opening page:  NO SPAM, NO NEGATIVITY, NO EXPLICITLY SEXUAL OR EXCESSIVELY VIOLENT MATERIAL, NO VEERING FROM WRITING. Violators will be banned!

    6) Whether you are a writer looking for the perfect place to store and display your masterpieces or a reader willing to offer feedback for writers and their work, Writing dot com may be the website for you.

    7) Ready to just kick back and LISTEN to others talk about writing? Then tune into the online radio station writersfm. They bill themselves as Radio by writers, for writers.
    8) Looking for inspiration and encouragement from published authors? Check out 18Q. A series of 18 questions that over 100 authors have answered are posted here for you to peruse. 

    9) Really stuck and need a something to get you started today? Choose from over 1 BILLION (yes, I said billion!) random story starters at this appropriately named site, The Story Starter. They also have a Story Starter for kids, and a cool word maker game for those times when you just want to exercise the old gray matter.

    10) Looking for the ultimate writing challenge? Then hop over to Book-in-a-Week where their motto is “butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly”—and you’ll need to adhere to it if you want to live up to the challenge. "No editing, no going back over what’s been written. Write, write, write. What is important is getting the words down, creating a first draft. Editing and revising comes later. Allow yourself to write quickly and without worry. Get your ideas down first."

    So there you have it - 10 resources just waiting for you to tap into them. Now what are you waiting for? GET WRITING!
    This article may be copied and quoted as long as you include the byline below:

     © 2010 by MaryChris Bradley, Publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC, the proud publishers of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard and the upcoming Mystery Times Ten, a collection of Mystery Short Stories for the YA audience.




    10) 

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Name that Baddie! Contest

    Think you have the perfect name for a villain? Don't keep it to yourself - share it! Buddhapuss Ink LLC was founded with the mission of putting their readers first and getting them involved in the storylines of the books. Together with Book Reader Addicts, here’s your chance to name a villain in an upcoming book, the sequel to The Last Track: A Mike Brody Novel by Sam Hilliard.

    What's in it for me?
    First Prize: Sam Hilliard will use your bad guy/gal's character name in a future Mike Brody novel. In addition the Winner will be credited in the Acknowledgments in that upcoming book and Sam will send you a signed copy of the new title when it is released. The winner will also receive a signed copy of the first Mike Brody book - The Last Track and an official Buddhapuss Ink LLC T-shirt

    What if I don't win first prize?2 Runners Up: 2 (two) additional entries will be selected as runners up and will receive signed copies of the current book - The Last Track and an official Buddhapuss Ink LLC T-shirt.

    How do I enter my villain name?
    First, Like Book Reader Addicts on Facebook! Then send an email via Facebook to Cynthia Hatfield-Garcia http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1292233588 of Book Reader Addicts with the character name by 5PM EST on 11/2/2010. If your character name is picked or you are one of the two runners up, Cynthia will message you back on Facebook and request a shipping address for your prizes.

    LEARN MORE CLICK HERE!

    Need a Kickstart for Your Writing Today?

    Lots of things can be used as writing prompts, pictures, memories, quotes. It's truly whatever works for you. Really lacking the inspired muse today? Then try one of these prompts. There's almost a year's worth to choose from!


    Now, get writing!  Oh, and don't forget to enter our YA Short Story Competition - Mystery Times Ten!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    SUBMISSIONS CALL! YA Mystery Shorts Competition!

    Mystery Times Ten

    Our Spring/Summer 2011 Young Adult Showcase titled Mystery Times Ten seeks new mystery short stories that are targeted for the YA audience.

    Submission Guidelines:

    • Theme: Mystery – Your choice be it murder, cozy, paranormal, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, police procedural, suspense, thriller, or amateur detective.
    • No gratuitous sex or violence. Please remember your audience is 13 and up.
    • The competition is open to all writers in English except current or former employees of Buddhapuss Ink LLC.
    • Submissions will be accepted from October 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.
    • No previously published work(s) or simultaneous submissions please.
    • Entries should be between 3000-7000 words in length.
    • Send your submissions via email with the subject line “Submission for MYSTERY TIMES TEN"  from   with your story as an attached file in .doc (Word) format PLEASE INCLUDE in the body of the email:
    1. Your name and contact information
    2. A brief author bio (2-5 sentences)
    3. Entry should be single-spaced in at least a 12 pt. readable font. We suggest Times New Roman, Courier, or Arial.
    4. Send emails to: Submissions@Buddhapussink.com
    Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will not be considered.
    Notifications will be sent to finalists via email in March 2011.
    There is no limit on the number of entries you may submit. There is no fee to enter.

    Winning Selections:

    The Ten (10) Winning entries will be published in the Spring 2011 Young Adult Showcase titled Mystery Times Ten to be published by Buddhapuss Ink LLC.

    First Place winner will receive a $100 Gift Card Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

    Second Place winner will receive a $75 Gift Card, Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

    Third Place winner will receive a $50 Gift Card, Featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag.

    ALL TEN (10) WINNERS will receive: two (2) copies of the finished book and the opportunity to “fast track” their next Young Adult or Middle Grade manuscript with our Editorial staff. “Fast track” does not mean you will receive a publishing contract, but we will guarantee that your manuscript is given a priority reading and response.

    Some winning entries will also be featured on our website, blog, and/or Facebook page.

    For more information and to learn about our judges please check out our website.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    E-book Sales Jump 150% in July

    After increasing by “only” 118% in June, e-book sales jumped 150.2% to $40.8 million at the 14 publishers that report e-book sales in July. Sales for the first seven months of the year were up 191%, to $219.5 million. The $40.8 million in e-book sales generated in July came within $20 million of the July sales generated by the 9 mass market paperback publishers that reported results to the Association of American Publishers. The e-book gains also came in a month where all print trade segments reported a decline in sales.
     
    In the audio market, sales of traditional audiobooks (mostly CDs), fell 35.6%, to $8.7 million in July at the 21 reporting companies, while sales of downloadable audio rose 38.4%, to $6.6 million from the seven companies that reported figures.
     

    Monday, September 20, 2010

    Write Characters, Not Mary Sues

    Meet Mary Sue.

    She’s beautiful, often with hair and eyes of some unusual and striking color; brilliant, often with education and skills far beyond her age; and charismatic to the point where all other characters’ thoughts and actions revolve solely around her. Everyone likes, or at least admires her, even her worst enemies. If she has any flaws at all, they are minor and even endearing.
    Oh, and readers hate her guts.
    Mary Sue is a term originating in fan fiction, for a phenomenon that has probably existed since a Cro-Magnon teenager scratched a stick figure single-handedly slaying mammoths on a cave wall. Today, Mary Sue and her brothers Marty Stu and Gary Stu have branched out into fields far removed from mammoth-hunting, but they are still vectors of wish-fulfillment for their creators, and annoyances who can ruin a good story for their readers.
    So, here’s my advice on how to avoid writing a Mary Sue and being mocked by readers and fellow writers for all time:

    Let your protagonist be ugly.

    Especially in action stories, your protagonist is likely to get into situations that would make a person dirty, sweaty, smelly, scarred, or otherwise less attractive than usual. This should be reflected in other characters’ reactions to your protagonist. If ey has just crawled through a sewer, ey should be slimy and leaving a trail of stench. Bystanders should be gagging and backing away when ey asks them for help. And the Evil Overlord is definitely not going to demand sex from em, at least not without a shower first. Unless your Evil Overlord is into that sort of thing.
    And you know what? Your protagonist doesn’t even have to start out attractive! Readers don’t generally care about characters for their looks; they’ll each have a slightly different idea of what a character looks like no matter how much detail you go into. But if you’re going to spend paragraphs on your protagonist’s appearance, at least give em some flaws. Better yet, don’t waste your time. A quick mention here and there of the character’s more noticeable traits (a big nose, straight white teeth, a beer gut, large feet, those vastly over-used purple eyes) is really enough.

    Give other characters their own lives.

    Here’s a rule of thumb. No character should ever swoon over your protagonist without a damned good reason. Glittering purple eyes are not a good reason. Better yet, no character’s every thought should revolve around your protagonist. Some will like em, some will hate em, and, here’s a revolutionary idea: some will be completely indifferent to em.
    Your secondary characters should be worrying about their own lives, not your protagonist’s. If they’re very close to the protagonist, of course they can think about em, worry about em, be annoyed by em. That’s fine. But innocent bystanders? Could probably not care less. And even those characters who have reason to care about your protagonist probably shouldn’t obsess over em.
    And. Just because a secondary character dislikes your protagonist, that does not make em Evil. Remember those kids’ mystery series in which, if a character was a jerk in the beginning, you could bet on that character turning out to be an evildoer in the end? Yeah. Grownup fiction doesn’t work like that. Characters can have all kinds of reasons to dislike your protagonist. Maybe that rude storekeeper was having a bad day. Maybe the classroom bully doesn’t want your protagonist’s super-powered competition.These are neutral characters, but good guys can be jerks to your protagonist1, too. It’s true, they really can. Especially if you follow my next bit of advice.

    Let your protagonist fuck up.

    And I mean really fuck up. Your character should be able to make honest mistakes, have accidents, and even (gasp) do selfish, stupid, or mean things in pursuit of eir goals. And these things should have consequences for the protagonist, for other characters, and for eir goals. Let your protagonist lose eir best friend by doing something stupid and thoughtless. Let em be too arrogant to listen to a smarter character’s advice and run into trouble. Within what’s reasonable for that character, of course. A shy, meek character probably won’t pick a fight and get eir ass kicked. But if you can’t think of any way your protagonist could fuck up that wouldn’t be completely out of character, you might have an irredeemable Mary Sue on your hands . . .


    *excerpt from a brilliant post by Bethany Harvey,  a writer, artist, and editor living in Gainesville, Florida. We strongly urge you to visit her blog CLICK HERE to read the rest! Thanks Bethany!

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    What a real publisher brings to the table . . .

    The piece below is part of a discussion on LinkedIn that was started by the author Douglas Keeney. Although the book in question is non-fiction (hence the intense legal session) the same things hold true for works of fiction. These are all things that would cost a great deal for a self-published author to provide for themselves. Just some food for thought in the ongoing debate over the pros/cons of self-publishing:"I'm impressed with my publisher. Here are some of the things they did for my manuscript.

    My new book is due out in Feb from St. Martin's. I am so impressed with their attention to the manuscript.

    1. The editor gave me comments during the early rewrites. It was like going to graduate school and the topic is you, and how to make you a better writer.
    2. Three months later, I go in to the mandatory legal review. This involved three two-hour sessions page-by-page thru my manuscript with their outside law firm. Intense. Not a lot of casual conversation. The focus of their questions are-- is that person dead or alive? What is the soruce of their quote? If I interviewed the person, did I have a permission?
    3. Next came the line edit. FedEx delivers to me a copy of the 536 page manuscript marked up by the line editor. With teeny marks made in red pencil, I count roughly 5.000 typos, grammatical and punctuation mistakes corrected by my line editor. At least 500 queries are written in the margin for the au -- for me, the author -- to answer."

    *excerpt from a discussion on LinkedIn 

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    RANDOM ACTS OF PUBLICITY!

    Random Acts of Publicity 2011

    Are you like me? I always promise myself that today I’ll write a review of my friends’ books and actually post them on Amazon or Library Thing or GoodReads or somewhere. But do I? No. That’s about to change!
    I know how wonderful it is to see new reviews on Amazon of one of my books. I know that it’s better to give than to receive. During the Random Acts of Publicity Week, I vow to put these two things together and give friends some support for their books.
    So, I’m declaring next week, September 7-10, 2011, as the RANDOM ACTS OF PUBLICITY WEEK, a week when you do something to promote a friend’s book, or to promote a recent book you’ve read. Four days of promoting others’ books should be great fun.
    Why this week? We all know that the holiday shopping season is when people buy things, including books! We want our Amazon pages and other publicity in place before that season starts. So, September is a great month to help others by reviewing their books and doing other Random Acts of Publicity.
    Look for more in the next few weeks. For now:
    Spread the word. Let others know about the Random Acts of Publicity Week. (Copy the banner if you want and post it on your site.)
    Read or re-read books. Plan the books you want to promote. Have you been waiting for a good time to read your friend’s book? This is that good time. Check it out; buy it; read it before September 7.
    *excerpt by Dorothy Pattison on Fiction Notes  Join in on the fun - spread the word - read those books and POST those reviews!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    10 Mistakes Authors Make that Can Cost them a Fortune (and how to avoid them)


    When it comes to books, promotion, and book production I know that it can sometimes feel like a minefield of choices. And while I can’t address each of these in minutia, there are a number of areas that are keenly tied to a books success (or lack thereof). Here are ten for you to consider:
    1)     Not understanding the importance of a book cover
    I always find it interesting that an author will sometimes spend years writing their book and then leave the cover design to someone who either isn’t a designer, doesn’t have a working knowledge of book design or the publishing industry. Or, worse, they create a design without having done the proper market research. Consider these facts for a minute: shoppers in a bookstore spend on average of 8 seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds looking at the back before deciding whether to buy it. Further, a survey of booksellers showed that 75% of them found the book cover to be the most important element of the book. Also, sales teams at book distribution often only take the book cover with them when they shop titles into stores. And finally please don’t attempt do design your own book cover. Much like cutting your own hair this is never a good idea.
    2)     Trusting someone who has limited or no track record
    When you hire a team, make sure you ask the service provider for their track record. Often I see an author who successfully marketed their single title now feel they have all the marketing knowledge they need to help you market yours. Unless you are in similar markets I would avoid this at all costs. You want people who have worked in the industry and know the needs of the market beyond just one title. You also want someone who has some history. Ask for referrals, and success stories. I give references all the time to potential new clients but when I am the one interviewing a new service provider I will ask for them but never call them. I mean who’s going to give you a bad referral? I want to see that they have some names they can give me then I’ll go online and Google them to gain some insight into their history and online reputation.
    3)     Listening to people who aren’t experts
    When you ask someone’s opinion about your book, direction, or topic, make sure they are either working in your industry or know your consumer. If, for example, you have written a young adult (YA) book, don’t give it to your co-workers to read and get feedback (yes, I know some YA books have adult market crossover appeal but this is different). If you’ve written a book for teens, then give it to teens to read. Same is true for self-help, diet, romance. Align yourself with your market. You want the book to be right for the reader, in the end that’s all that matters.
    4)     Trusting Oprah to solve all your problems
    Getting on Oprah is an article in and of itself but let me say this: the quickest way to turn off a publicist is to use the “O” word. Why? Because anyone worth their salt knows how tough a road the Oprah pitch can be. Not just that, but sometimes authors will become so myopic and obsessed about this show that they lose sight of other, maybe better opportunities. And trust me on another point: someone (friend, co-worker, family, spouse), somewhere will tell you “You should go on Oprah” and while you might be 100% perfect Oprah material, the only people who can determine if you should be on her show are her producers. Shoot for the stars, dream big, but keep a realism about your campaign otherwise you’ll spend a lot of time and a lot of money chasing a potentially elusive target.
    5)     Planning for the short term only:
    There’s a real fallacy that exists in publishing and it’s this: “instant bestseller.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the industry knows there is no such thing as “instant” and certainly the words “overnight success” are generally not reserved for books. Book promotion should be viewed as a long runway. Meaning that you should plan for the long term. Don’t spend all your marketing dollars in the first few months of a campaign. We find this especially true for self-published titles that need a little more TLC than their traditionally published counterparts. We offer campaigns that last 90-days but that’s not because we think 90 days is all it will take to make your book a success, it’s because we find it’s a reasonable time to get started, get a foot hold and start your progress down the runway of success.
    6)     Not understanding timing
    Timing is a funny issue. First, there’s the timing that books follow to get reviewed, so lead times as it were. Then there’s production timing, and if you’re lucky enough to get a distributor there’s the time it will take for a distributor to get your book into the proper channels. A book launch should be planned carefully and then leave wiggle room for slipped dates and late deliveries (which will happen). I recommend that you sit down with someone who can help you strategize timing so you can plan appropriately for your book launch. A missed date is akin to a missed opportunity.
    7)     Hiring people who aren’t in the book industry
    Let’s face it, even to those of us who have been in this industry for a while it still doesn’t always make sense. So hiring someone who has no book or publishing experience isn’t just a mistake, but it could be a costly one. With some vendors like web designers you can get away with that. But someone who has only designed business cards can’t, for example, design a book cover. Make sure you hire the right specialist for the right project. Also, you’ve likely spent years putting together this project, make sure you make choices based on what’s right and not what’s cheapest. If you shop right you can often find vendors who are perfect for your project and who fit your budget. There’s an old saying that goes: You can find a good lawyer and you can find a cheap lawyer but it’s hard or near impossible to find a good, cheap lawyer. The same applies in the book world.
    8)     Designing your own website
    You should never cut your own hair or design your own site. Period. End of story. But ok, let me elaborate. Let’s say you designed your own site which saved you a few thousand dollars paying a web designer. Now you’re off promoting your book and suddenly you’re getting a gazillion hits to your site. The problem is the site is not converting these visitors into a sale. How much money did you lose by punting the web designer and doing it yourself? Hard to know. Scary, isn’t it?
    9)     Becoming a media diva
    Let’s face it you need the media more than they need you. I know. Ouch. But it’s the unfortunate truth. So here’s the thing: be grateful. Thank the interviewer, send a follow up thank you note after the interview. Don’t expect the interviewer to read your book and don’t get upset if they get some facts wrong. Just gently, but professionally correct them in such a way that they don’t look bad or stupid. Never ask for an interview to be done over. Most media people don’t have the time. I mention this because it actually happened to a producer friend of mine who did an interview with a guy and he decided he didn’t like it and wanted a second shot. Not gonna happen. The thing is, until you get a dressing room with specially designed purple M&M’s, don’t even think about becoming a diva. The best thing you can do is create relationships. Show up on time, show up prepared, and always, always, always be grateful.
    10) Hiring the best and then not trusting their advice.
    So, here’s the thing that’s always confused me. You hire me then don’t listen to my advice. And it’s not just me, I hear this all the time from other industry professionals. Look, it’s not an ego thing, it really isn’t. It’s just this: if you’re paying good money to your vendors, asking them for advice and then not taking it you might have a disconnect. Perhaps a breakdown in communication, maybe you don’t trust the person you hired. If you don’t trust them then you should part ways and find someone you have some chemistry with. Otherwise what’s the point? Build your team with people you enjoy working with and respect. Then when they try and guide you or save you some money, take the time to listen.
     Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the "road map to publishing success." AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, Twitter, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book's topic, positioning the author in his or her market. In the past 15 months their creative marketing strategies have helped land 10 books on the New York Times Bestseller list. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com.   Copyright  2009 Penny C. Sansevieri