Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This Just In - The Latest Review of "The Last Track" ~ New Suspense Author: Sam Hilliard!


About the Author:  Sam lives outside of NYC with his girlfriend and an army of four cats--one feline under the legal limit.  Working at an all-girls boarding school, he knows world-class drama firsthand.  It's also the reason he studies Krav Maga and Tai Chi.

Book Summary from Cover:
Mike Brody--the man you want, when the one you love is missing.

More than just a master tracker, Mike is a former Special Forces operative, smoke jumper, and now extreme adventure tour guide who can tap into the memory and emotional state of those he pursues.
In The Last Track, Mike is recruited to find an asthmatic boy lost in the dense woods surrounding a dude ranch in Montana.  An unwitting murder witness, the boy burrows ever deeper into the rugged terrain, fearful of being found by the killer.
While Mike tracks the boy, his ex-wife, a journalist, uses her contacts to unravel the truth behind the murder.  Her discoveries threaten to snare them all in a treacherous conspiracy...

My Review:
Sam Hilliard needs to quit his day job and write full time. He's a born writer of the first caliber. "Get out of prep school," as my preppie, grown children say, Sam, and go for your true profession. You have what it takes.

In "The Last Track," Mr. Hilliard introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters. If he isn't writing a series of books about his main character, Mike Brody, the infamous tracker in question, I'm liable to send out a posse to track him!

With all the panache of a seasoned, gripping suspense writer, new author Sam Hilliard scores a direct hit with this book. Character development and His creation of an environment for them is at it's height. I actually saw myself there and felt the angst.

His tracker, Mike Brody, is a complex, infinitely intriguing man displaying a keen ability to track the lost in wilderness situations. He also is an apparent student of how to handle people, include those in positions of authority. His military background lends itself to his tracker abilities.

Using a sort of sixth sense that guides him, comes from an unknown source, and that he keeps close to the vest, Mike Brody is a quietly capable, and virtually unknown man. Personally, I loved this twist on an otherwise familiar protagonist. One not necessarily psychic, but just the right amount of odd. We never quite get a bead on this ability and I'm thinking that leads to another book.

Much could be said about the insights we gain into advanced computer espionage, wilderness survival and law enforcement cooperation, but these things play in accompaniment to the human story of the lost boy and Mike's connection to his family.  His spicey ex-wife is an asset to Mike and the story overall. This balance of story lines renders a wealth of knowledge that keeps the entire piece flowing. "The Last Track" is a page-turner.

Self discovery, coming of age, awareness of womens' issues, and loyalty are themes, as well, in this book. It is a mark of excellence that Sam Hilliard manages to get so much value into his novel without spoiling it. What an accomplishment, particularly for a first time writer.

If I were to give a black-eyed critique of the book, I would say this one thing: it starts off too slowly to capture the average reader. Having said that, I can only encourage readers to persevere. Believe me when I say that this book is worth the effort.

Given Sam's astuteness and his obvious writing skills, we can only believe there are more Mike Brody tracker books in the future. He's left too many unanswered mysteries. We are left begging for more explanations. This is one of the great things about this book.
Who amongst us doesn't love anticipation?

Recommended for all lovers of mystery and suspense novels. For all who love Jeffrey Deaver, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell and Michael Connelly. Yes, Sam Hilliard is that good!


Friday, March 18, 2011

PW Releases Figures on Ebook vs Hardcover Bestsellers and "Ebooks Rock"

The following article by Daisy Maryles ran in today's PW Daily. Although not all publishers contributed who were asked to the numbers still show an impressive gain in Ebook sales for Bestselling authors like Larsson, Grisham, Patterson and Sparks.

Back in March 2000, the big publishing news was Stephen King's novella Riding the Bullet being published exclusively in e-book format. King was the first major bestselling author to publish in an electronic format. At the time, Simon & Schuster spokesperson Adam Rothberg was widely quoted saying: "This could change the model of publishing."

This year, for the first time in PW's 100+ years of annual features on bestsellers, the magazine collected statistics on e-book sales. We asked publishers (and only publishers that had print bestsellers with sales of more than 100,000 in 2010) to submit e-books with sales of more than 10,000 last year. The response from the houses was mixed. Many declined to share this information, others only submitted selected titles. Still, we collected statistics on about 275 books—enough to underscore that the publishing model has indeed changed and that what is available in e-book format is ubiquitous.

Check out this first list and you will find familiar authors in familiar spots. Many top-selling authors on the 2010 hardcover chart are among the e-book top-sellers, including Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, with electronic sales of 775,000 compared to 1.9 million in print. John Grisham, James Patterson (at least 12 e-book hits), Nicholas Sparks, Stephen King, and more are high and plentiful on both charts. There is also plenty of backlist, as classics like Gone with the Wind, The Great Gatsby, and How to Win Friends and Influence People reap solid e-book sales.

In his March 13 blog, Mike Shatzkin's headline noted, "E-books are making me recall the history of mass market publishing." He also wrote: "The anti-paperback snobbery was widespread, and the separation between trade and mass market publishing persisted for a long time. For at least a couple of decades, paperback houses didn't do hardcovers." That's history now. But Shatzkin's last sentence resonates in today's fast-changing book marketplace. "Much less expensive editions, combined with access to audiences for authors that couldn't get past the gatekeepers in the established houses, can create millions of new readers." Anything that creates more readers is a boon for all kinds of publishers.

"The times they are a-changin,' " sang Bob Dylan back in 1964. It is the first part of that sentence that publishers are all singing: "You better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone."

Note: asterisked titles were submitted in confidence, for use in placing titles on the lists. Those numbers are rounded down to indicate their relationship to figures for other titles; in several cases the sales figures were omitted entirely, at the publishers's request..

E-book Sales, 2010
1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Stieg Larsson. Knopf (775,000)
2. The Confession. John Grisham. Doubleday (*550,000)
3. Decision Points. George W. Bush. Crown (307,216)
4. Sh*t My Dad Says. Justin Halpern. HarperCollins/It Books (242,000)
5. Freedom. Jonathan Franzen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (230,772)
6. I, Alex Cross. James Patterson. Little, Brown (152,626)
7. The Last Song. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (134,934)
8. Under the Dome. Stephen King. Scribner
9. Dear John. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (130,042)
10. American Assassin. Vince Flynn. Atria (*120,000)
11. The Lovely Bones. Alice Sebold. Little, Brown (118,583)
12. Shutter Island. Dennis Lehane. Morrow (115,528)
13. The 9th Judgment. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Little, Brown (114,998)
14. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Rebecca Skloot. Crown (110,273)
15. Safe Haven. Nicholas Sparks. Grand Central (108,849)

E-book Runners-Up
16. Private. James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. Little, Brown (107,334)
17. The Postcard Killers. James Patterson and Liza Marklund. Little, Brown (100,490)
18. The 4-Hour Body. Timothy Ferriss. Crown Archetype (91,804)
19. Dead Witch Walking. Kim Harrison. Eos (90,922)
20. Little Bee. Chris Cleave. Simon & Schuster (*90,000)
21. The Lion. Nelson DeMille. Grand Central (85,819)
22. Fly Away Home. Jennifer Weiner. Atria
23. The Reversal. Michael Connelly. Little, Brown (85,121)
24. House Rules. Jodi Picoult. Atria (*80,000)
25. Deliver Us from Evil. David Baldacci. Grand Central (78,951)
26. Rage of Angels. Sidney Sheldon. Morrow (77,264)
27. Innocent. Scott Turow. Grand Central (73,215)
28. Don't Blink. James Patterson and Howard Roughan. Little, Brown (72,776)
29. Room. Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown (71,919)
30. Half Broke Horses. Jeannette Walls. Scribner (*66,000)

**by Daisy Maryles in PW Daily

Thursday, March 17, 2011

January E-book Sales Soar, Top Hardcover, Mass Market Paperback

The surge of e-book buying expected to take place in January following a round of holiday e-reader gift-giving did in fact materialize. According to preliminary estimates from the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales from 16 reporting companies jumped 115.8%, to $69.9 million in January. No other trade segment posted a sales increase in the month. Sales of mass market paperbacks were terrible in January, down 30.9% from the nine reporting companies, falling to $39.0 million, $30 million below the sales of e-books. E-book sales also topped $49.1 million in adult hardcover sales reported by 17 publishers; hardcover sales fell 11.3% in January. Trade paperback sales fell 19.7% in the month but remained above e-book revenue at $83.6 million from 19 houses.
Downloadable audio sales increased 8.8% in January, to $6.5 million at 14 publishers, while physical audiobook sales dropped 6.7% to $7.3 million from 20 publishers. Religion was the only print segment to post an increase in January with sales up 6.8%.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights Benefits Authors

By Andy Woodworth, Adult Services Librarian, Bordentown, NJ
About a week ago, Sarah and I posted the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights. We’ve watched it bounce all over the blogosphere much to our mutual delight. But there has been a recurring question in some of the discussions as to what this document would mean to authors. I will try now to explain how authors would benefit under the terms outlined in the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights. Here’s my breakdown:
the right to use ebooks under guidelines that favor access over proprietary limitations
As a librarian, I have a carefully honed monologue to inform people who come to the library why or why not their chosen ereader device will be able to download ebooks or audio ebooks. (At present, the Kindle one is the shortest at “Sorry, no can do”. The iPod is the longest since it starts out with a short shopping list of programs needed and permissions required.)  I am the de facto technical support for these devices and yet I am left holding the bag when it comes to explaining the convoluted jargon of Digital Rights Management, proprietary devices and software, and why’s and how’s of loading content into their devices. Now, imagine this interaction happening beyond the walls of the libraries as people look to purchase ebooks.
As an author, these limitations do you no favor when your readers cannot access your literature. When the effort eclipses the reward, people will forgo the attempt to get your work on their ereaders in favor of easier fare. I have seen people give up on trying to download library ebooks; I would hope that they would not give up on authors as easily.
the right to access ebooks on any technological platform, including the hardware and software the user chooses
Ebooks should transcend platforms. What you buy on the iBookstore or the Kindle should be readable on the Nook or Kobo and vice versa. Ebooks should be platform neutral and portable. As an author, in order to reach the widest audience possible, your books should be able to travel wherever your audience wants them to be. You’ve put in the hours and the hard work; why should something like software or technology get between your prose and the reader?
the right to annotate, quote passages, print, and share ebook content within the spirit of fair use and copyright
At present, there is an inconsistent ability to do any of these aspects across all of the devices and ebooks. While fair use and copyright should be respected, these limitations work against the reader and their interaction with the text of the ebook. They stifle potential discussion regarding book passages by the inability to copy and share with others. They frustrate the reader by disallowing annotations about significant passages and recording their thoughts or reactions. Finally, in preventing the printing of parts of the ebook, they keep the words in a virtual space when the intention of printing is to share with others for further discussion or commentary. Think of every work space you’ve ever seen where a line of poetry or novel passage has hung; that is one of the beneficial aspects that this is preventing. People find significance in those words and make them part of their daily life. The prevention of printing usurps that urge.
Again, while copyright and fair use should be observed, authors should be mindful of accommodating the habits and actions of their readers that have grown out of print editions of their materials over many years.
the right of the first-sale doctrine extended to digital content, allowing the ebook owner the right to retain, archive, share, and re-sell purchased ebooks
Now, I will admit this is the tricky one that has gotten people tripped up over this document. Retaining and archiving are common practices for people with software; it allows them to make a backup copy in case something happens to the original. There shouldn’t be a problem with that as it ensures the future of the ebooks that they have purchased.
As to sharing, I’ll put it this way: authors benefit from sharing. Neil Gaiman makes a note of it specifically in his Open Rights Group video where he asks audiences how many people found their favorite author through a friend lending them a book as opposed to buying it at a bookstore (I’ve linked to the specific part of the video). The American Library Association has a 2007 study which shows that people who borrow books are likely to buy those books for themselves or purchase them as gifts for others. Libraries are an integral aspect of word of mouth marketing for authors.
“Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. The forces unleashed by new media technologies seem to have never changed the truth behind this age-old wisdom dating back to the times when human culture was largely oral.” (ComCorp) With the new communication and social media possibilities, people are not simply telling their immediate friends and family about books; they are telling everyone about books. People are sharing the books that they love through sites like Facebook, LibraryThing, Goodreads, Shelfari, and their own blogging. The Twitter hashtag #fridayreads (up for a Mashable award for Best Internet Meme) shows how people can make recommendations for books to their followers and to the people who follow the hashtag. That recommendation carries weight with others as depicted by this survey from eMarketer and presented as this graphic:
The 2009 Nielsen Global Online Consumer survey shows that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know and 70% trust fellow consumer opinions posted online (think #fridayreads, sites like Goodreads, and Amazon/B&N user book reviews). This 2010 Guardian/ICM survey gives similar supporting results of this trust in others (especially question 4).
Sharing ebooks would be word of mouth on steroids for authors since it means  making a recommendation and the ability to put the book almost instantly in the (virtual) hands of another. Sharing is not a lost sale, but a new marketing foray into a previously unrealized potential fan.
As to the question of ebook re-selling, I will admit that I do not have a perfect answer on this point. If there was a limited DRM system that would enable people to do so (ensuring that the old copy is destroyed while transferring a copy to the new owner), I think it would be a fair trade-off to confer ownership and greater content rights.
My primary concern is less about re-selling and more in regard to people being given control over their own reading content. While I’m hesitant to engage in what may be construed as hyperbole, I appeal to you to consider the emotional connections to your own personal libraries and the importance of every book that you have selected to be a part of it. I would implore authors to consider how they would consider outside removals or modifications on your own book collections. Ownership matters, quite frankly, and it is an expression of intellectual pride.
As it concerns the passage of text that followed the rights in the initial document, I personally believe in every word written there. I believe authors can flourish when their work is available on the widest range of media and when readers are given the maximum amount of freedom to access and share with others. I believe in creating the best possible market for authors to live by and thrive. I also believe ebooks are an important new part of the greater cultural cornerstone of society; and I believe that a document like the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights works towards that goal.
For myself, there are farther reaching issues at stake here since the written word lives on long after our bodies have turned to dust. As a librarian, I strive to preserve the work of authors for future generations. It is a matter of great import and one I do not take lightly. It only gets more complicated when ebooks are locked behind formats and proprietary ereaders. It is my hope that the actions we take today will cultivate a vibrant literature market while increasing access to readers and allowing libraries to maintain their traditional societal role in maintaining the literary and cultural record.
I thank the authors who came here to read this post. I hope I made the meaning of the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights and the benefits authors would derive from it a bit clearer and show that it was constructed around the best of intentions. I welcome any author feedback on this post so that I can further refine the Ebook Reader’s Bill of Rights.
This post was originally published at Agnostic, Maybe and has been reprinted with Mr. Woodworth’s permission.
Andy is a librarian in New Jersey. He spends his days surrounded by vast amounts of information which he consumes on a fairly regular basis. He was named a 2010 Library Journal Mover and Shaker, an honor bestowed upon fifty librarians each year that are considered to be changing the face and future path of libraries. He writes the award winning librarian blog ‘Agnostic, Maybe’ at

Read more at Digital Book World

Friday, March 4, 2011

Should You Self-Publish?

Today's Daily Writing Tips Blog (a blog I never miss) explored this topic today. Although I agree with the author, Mark Nichol, on some points, I also disagree on others. So here's his article. What are your thoughts? Let us know, leave a comment with your thoughts!

Should You Self-Publish?
Because I’m getting paid to write posts of more than one word, I’ll qualify that answer.
But first, here’s another question, and this time, it’s your turn to answer: Why do you want to self-publish? If it’s because publishers and agents have turned your work down, you might want to retrench and start small, submitting articles or short stories to newspapers or magazines, or to writing competitions, to develop your writing skills further before going the trade-publishing route again.

But if you’re still determined to self-publish, consider this: If you hope to publish a novel, the odds are stacked heavily against you, and if you plan to put out a nonfiction book, they aren’t much better.

Why? It’s certainly not that you won’t be able to find a self-publisher. Myriad companies exist that will be happy to relieve you of hundreds of dollars (for a handful of budget-look books) or thousands of dollars (for higher quantity and quality) for the privilege of printing your book. If you plan simply to self-publish — and recouping your expenses is not a priority — you are almost certainly guaranteed to succeed.

Otherwise, the odds are against you because, as the term self-publishing suggests, you are responsible for every phase of the publishing process, from paying to have the book edited to paying to have it formatted to paying to have it printed (often by the same company offering a package deal, but often best performed in separate steps with distinct vendors). And then, once it’s published, what do you do with it?

Most significantly, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you will have to market it yourself. And if you’ve published a novel, an anthology of short stories, or a book of poems, your potential market is limited — it is unlikely to extend beyond a circle of family, friends, and other people you know. (If that’s all you want, by all means, go for it.)

If it’s nonfiction, the outlook isn’t much different, unless you have a marketing base: Are you a high-profile expert in your profession or in a field of study? Do you belong to a professional association or an organization such as a historical association or a large network of craftspeople? Do you teach courses or present at workshops or seminars? Do you own a business whose customers are likely to be interested in buying your book?

If you are honest with yourself about the likelihood that you can sell out a run of 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 books (keep in mind that small presses consider 1,000 a respectable run and major publishers would be content with sales of 10,000 copies of one book) — and can find several objective people to sincerely agree with you — then you have the potential to be a successful self-publisher. But if you’re expecting sales in the four- or five-figure range, then we’ve come full circle, and I have to ask you again: Have you been rejected by agents and/or publishers?
But, you say, all this talk about marketing overlooks the fact that most publishers make little or no effort to sell books by authors without track records. That’s true, but can you do better? And if you publish with a trade publisher with a recognizable name, bookstores will sell it, you’re more likely to be invited to do reading and book-signing gigs and radio and television shows — and any self-marketing you do will have better results because your book will have a brand name on it.

I’m not hostile to self-publishing, but I am highly skeptical about it as a route to even modest fame and fortune. If you insist, don’t let me stop you, but take great care to research the business of self-publishing — and be wary of self-publishing companies that are effusive about your work. They don’t call it vanity publishing for nothing.

*From Daily Writing Tips