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.