Friday, October 30, 2015

Expresso Book Machines

Expresso Book Machines (EBM) are developed by On Demand Books, and first went public in 2006. The purpose: to offer good quality books from digital content while you wait. Many of the machines are at universities and libraries, and are now showing up in bookstores. A few publishers
have signed agreements with On Demand Books to have their books available via Expresso Book Machines.

The EBM company also has a self-publishing program where the contract is set as a consignment from the EBM location--i.e. a University Library agrees to pay the author an agreed-to percentage of profits on a books sale through their EBM. The Author sets the retail price.

The machines can be found in several U.S. locations, Canada, and in various western hemisphere locations.
Check out their informative video.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Amazon Coins

Amazon launched their coins in 2013, the concept is still going strong.

New Money! Have you bought yours yet? Buying coins to get discounts on apps and games through the Android App store. An interesting marketing concept. Buying a discount seems a bit strange.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


AuthorGraph has been around since spring 2011 (originally called kindlegraph), and is slowly catching on. The site offers a way for authors to send their autograph with one of their titles, and even a personal message if they wish. Readers who already have books can request autographs from their favorite authors.

Information on how it works is straightforward. It is necessary, however, to have a Twitter account (readers and authors). It isn't necessary for the author or the requester to have a particular brand of eReader. A nice keepsake from authors to readers; a nice incentive when readers are making book choices.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Glitches in Self-Pub Works

I recently read a self-published book, the title of which is irrelevant. It was produced by a printing company, where the author was required to furnish not only the manuscript, but the layout and cover. The cover was the best part of the book. The story had potential (although erratic and overwritten); out of curiosity, I finished it.

I have read aesthetically-rough fiction from traditional publishers, but those at least had a professional layout and had been scrutinized by a copy editor. This one—OMG—Not.

    I have no gripe with self-publishing, I do it myself, but if a writer wants a book to be taken seriously, some basics have to be considered. Here are a few tips:
  • Punctuation should be correctly rendered. Three periods (...) does not an ellipse make.
  • Ellipsis are not followed by any other punctuation ["What do you mean...! you have to go?"]. Nor are they followed (or preceded) by blank spaces (same with em dashes).
  • Uppercase letters should rarely be used for emphatic dialogue ["what WE did, did NOT cause what happened"]; description before dialogue should not end with a comma. [Green eyes betrayed her, "I'm sure you do."].
  • Regarding layout, the text alignment in a professional book is justified, with widow and orphan control, usually with 11pt type and type kerning so lines of text have uniformity.
  • Quotation marks and apostrophes must be consistent throughout the text, not curly marks to start dialogue with straight apostrophes in contractions.
Liberal use of Strunk and White (Elements of Style) would have helped, as well as referring to Chicago Manual of Style. A copy editor would have caught ninety percent of these errors, as well as when the character names that changed mid-scene. (I say this, although I read a disastrous book from a traditional publisher where a character’s name changed three times in six pages!)

Come on, authors. If you want to be professional, work professionally! Get a copy editor and invest in a good text layout program. Use of those will certainly make a significant difference in reader response to all your hard work.

2 comments on original post:

Mary McDonald
I haven't done a self-pubbed print edition yet, and partly it's because of the things you mention. Once it's in print, it's out there. I've had enough trouble with formatting my e-pubbed book. I just re-uploaded again last night, and I'm anxiously awaiting the results when it goes live.

Mary, you are one of the thoughtful ones, who realizes the limitations and wants to put out the best product possible. Bravo! Editing and layout services are available through most self-pub houses now--for a price, of course. But if you're unsure, it might be worth it. Also check some of the writers' forums for recommendations of individuals or companies that have a good track record.

Leave more comments

Friday, October 23, 2015

World Reader Expands Access

Having a tablet or smartphone isn't an option for most people in developing nations. But many of them do have cell phones. The mobile App from World has opened the readership to thousands.

This project is offered by a U.S. and European nonprofit whose mission is to make digital books available to children and their families in the developing world. World has partners of UNESCO, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Amazon, and Random House, with support from other international organizations.

A recent article at Tech City tells the success of the project.

Word Events for November

Contact GITP with events in your area. We'll add them to the list.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Distractions in Books

I often find elements in a novel that pull me away from the story or theme. A few years ago I read Jeremy Jackson's first novel, Life At These Speeds. This contemporary novel, written in first person, is a convincing depiction of an adolescent's four-year coming to grips with death and loss. The setting of track and field events is persuasive, with high school and college administrators bending the rules to get their hands on primo athletes. A good sense of place in the Midwestern environment.

Drawbacks: Jackson's use of ridiculous names for most characters (except for protagonist Kevin and the coach he likes) belittled the serious themes in the book.

Yet perhaps Jackson was attempting to give some levity to a serious and often troublesome topic. I guess it's akin to the way some people twitter, laugh and giggle when something controversial is mentioned—especially something dark. It becomes a way to relieve tension, or draw emotions from a debilitating concern. But I found the names distracting.

What story elements distract you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Random House In House eBooks

2013 saw the advent of Unlike the Simon & Schuster digitals for indie authors through ASI. It's branch, Archway Publishing, is be run by Author Solutions Inc. Shelf Awareness says:
"Author Solutions will offer editorial, design, distribution and marketing services to self-published authors. Archway Publishing titles will be listed on Edelweiss, and Archway will offer a speakers' bureau, video and book trailer production and distribution services and a 'concierge service,' allowing authors to work with a publishing guide who will coordinate each step of the book production process. Some of its services are among the priciest for self-publishing authors, ranging

Do S&S authors have to pay for the eBooks? Unsure.

Another publisher in eBook production is Random House Publishing Group (RHPG). They offers digital-only imprints through their own staff and editors. The four RHPG imprints cover major genres, Romance (Loveswept), Science Fiction/Fantasy (Hydra), Mystery (Alibi) and a genre they call New Adult (Flirt).

RHPG writes:

Every book will be assigned to an accomplished Random House editor and a dedicated publicist. They will also have the invaluable support of Random House’s experienced marketing and digital sales teams, who know how to reach out to and expand each book’s dedicated readership.
Submissions go through the regular RHPG channels, and their site doesn't indicate any monetary outlay from the author. It's a regular submission route, however RHPG "does not accept unsolicited submissions, proposals, manuscripts, illustrations, artwork, or submission queries at this time. This includes submission of work previously published elsewhere." They only consider works that come through agents.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Character Variety

An interesting article popped up in the GITP inbox. Written by Noah Lukeman, (author and literary agent) he gives a detailed examination of what type of characters compel readers. In his article "The Importance of the Journey" he writes:

"...The task of the writer is to create characters...on the verge of change, characters that will, in some way, be unrecognizable by the end of the work...."

The detail given to support and implement his premise is very compelling, but it shouldn't be taken as an absolute. It depends on what you're writing.

Historical fiction and romances benefit from the character's journey. In mysteries, however, where a series will have an ongoing detective character, it would be tedious to have each new title fraught with the main character having some major angst and changing by the end of the book.

To me, the "going through a change" type story a bit like a morality play. It seems rather nice for the naïve and is especially good in fiction for young readers. I've written YA books, and know that teaching some imperative is vital. But it seems quite easy to predict what will happen if the character is set up to 1) suffer some ignominious circumstance; 2) recognize the pitfalls; 3) make a change for the better. Ho hum. (Lukeman does represent screen plays, however, and to me it seems that writing for film most times fits into the "naïve" category.)

I'm drawn to stories that present "slice of life" situations, where characters don't always solve their dilemma as a denouement of the story. A book I truly enjoyed was The Secret of Hurricanes, by Theresa Williams, where we meet a troubled, but interesting person and follow her through situations of pain as well as glory. In the end we see what she has become, although it's not a given that SHE sees what she's become.

Jan Blensdorf's My name is Sei Shōnagon has a similar development. We have learned what made this character who she is today. I'm happy with that. Perhaps this might be what differentiates "popular" fiction from "literary" fiction. Both of the titles I referenced are probably considered the latter.

This all just shows that "what's sauce for the goose, ain't sauce for the gander." My opinions versus Lukeman's are why there are myriad fiction books produced each year.

Three cheers for variety!

Criticism Can Sting

Every art form, from oil painting to writing, photography or doll-making, is subject to the whims and ideas of the person viewing it. Personal preferences, expectations, and prejudices all come into play when any art work is reviewed or evaluated. As writers, we suffer these moments in all phases of our work.

Let’s look at the critique. This can come from writer group members or professional evaluators, or reject letters from agents or editors; these critiques should be the most painless since you are at a stage where you can make changes and corrections. But wow, criticism can sting! It is a real downer to think your idea was unique, only to be told it seemed jaded. Or you’ve created a vibrant scene, and yet comments from others only pertain to poor grammar.

This is when you have to step back a bit and remember these people are offering advice and comments to help you improve your work.

An advantage in a writers group or with an evaluator is the ability to have a dialogue. If they seem to have overlooked your brilliant prose, ask if it worked. Professional evaluators usually balance their critical comments with praise for the good points and encouragement. Conscientious members of writers groups also do this.

Book reviews often reflect a wide range of responses. And since they come after the book has been published, it’s easy to feel affronted when a bad review comes along. Authors must learn to distance themselves from reviews.

Here are parts of several reviews of a young adult book published a few years ago. The setting was 1970s Michigan, and the story dealt with adoption problems among American Indians (so there were plenty of issues to bring reviewers' personal feelings to the fore).
"The story is compelling and the characters are three dimensional People are painted realistically...", responded a reviewer for youth publications. Yet a library science major decided, "The characters lack depth and interest, and the plight they are in is never made real enough to engage one's sympathy."

From another librarian: "...the book rings believably true... Magnetic reading!"; but then came this: "The story seems a bit contrived and trite..."

Remember, book reviewers are expected to give their personal feelings about a book. You liked your story, an editor liked your story enough to publish it, so don't take reviews personally.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Self Publishing? What does it cost?

This is an older but interesting article about some of the costs involved in self publishing: from editing, to cover design and marketing. Unfortunate that it mentions just the very "top line" attributes. People who responded to the article thought it was a bit lop-sided, too. Most of the comments are more informative than the article as authors give their experience with self-publishing.

What are your self-publishing experiences?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Professional Look for Authors

Do you set up at art shows, Holiday bazaars and other public functions? This is where the professional look is very important. You probably consider how you will dress to be comfortable and attractive, but you must also consider how your books are presented. Your winning smile won’t always detract from a folding table with a haphazard stack of books. Cover that table with an attractive cloth (a bedspread or table cloth will do).
Add a neat arrangement of your books and have your flyers and handouts in enough abundance that people won’t hesitate to take one.

Other suggestions:  
  • Have a large poster done of your book cover. Put that on an easel near your table. If you have several titles, do a collage of them for your poster. 
  • Set out a bowl of wrapped candies (don't let children have any without approval from their folks!)
  • Develop a prop that represents your book 
  • Add a bouquet of flowers or Mylar balloons to get people’s attention 
  •  Have a professional signboard behind your site or at the table edge with your name and online contact information
  • Set extra chairs nearby to encourage people to sit and talk with you—having bodies near your site draws the attention of others. 
  • Design and wear a name tag that identifies you as the author; I have many times had people look at my books, and when they read my name tag say, "You wrote these?" 
Finally, stay on your feet. If you’re sitting when someone approaches, stand up to greet them—let the prospective customer know you’re interested in them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Plan Marketing Now

If you have a new title in the works, or back listed books that need to be pumped, get your marketing for the entire year planned now. Begin with lists of where and why your titles would have value and generate interest. Include online sites and also the brick-and-mortar world.

Online, book events can be lucrative, from joining blog carnivals, giving interviews, and promotional coupons. It's essential to determine the sites best for your title (and if you have several titles, the sites could be different for each). If your title has a historical or holiday connection, don't wait until a few weeks before the optimum date to line up an interview or promotion; set it up months in advance.

The same is true for street-side promotion. Involve yourself in regional Literary Fairs now, even if they're scheduled for November. Contact your library and get dates for author events. Also check for a "Friends of the Library" type organization. They often sponsor author and book festivals. They have to know about you before you would be invited.

Bookstores? Go for it!
Author events at bookstores should be planned now—get your calendar filled! The chain bookstores might have to be convinced to take you on, if you aren't a "national brand"; but indy store managers, on the other hand, like to get regional authors to generate hometown business. Independent bookstores are most approachable. Be certain to have a marketing packet with you—your book cover, reviews, purchase information—and walk in, find the manager, and say you want to have an author event at their store. They often have dates open. Some will run an ad in the local paper, but you might have to do that yourself. Be certain to advertise your signing in the small and underground newspapers. Most college towns have many of those. Get on a local radio talk show to hawk it.

If your title is available in print and also as an eBook, Be certain your titles are part of the Google Ebook store; that would appeal to the indy bookstore that are participating; remind them it is a good way to highlight the store's new features.

Don't forget libraries
Book events at libraries work best if you have a presentation. Have you developed a talk from the research you've done for your books? Or could you give a presentation about getting published, or effective writing for your type of book? Write up a promo blurb for your talk. Make it professional, just as you would a book promotion piece. Then contact the education director of your library and tell them about it. Offer to give the talk with a book signing after.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Internet: What a Journey!

Internet imageIt's been more than 50 years since J.C.R. Licklider (1915 –1990) began sharing his "Galactic Network" concept. What he conceptualized was a worldwide system of interconnected computers through which data and programs could be quickly accessed from any site. Sound familiar?
The term Internet developed from the concept of "Internetworking Architecture" (the high-level design of a communications system, including the choice of hardware, software, and protocols.) which, in 1972, became the basis for the system. This approach allowed use of individual network technology—not a static network architecture that limited provider choices. And, wow, have we come a long way since then!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Intermediate Stage of Project

Completed the proof sheets for two clients. The sort and cull of more than 300 frames was most time consuming. The event was the opening of a new prayer room at the hospital. A lot of ceremony, with dignitaries in attendance. Some pictures were images of artwork—several wall murals actually from the new room.
With the post office closed on Monday, the envelopes won't go out until Tuesday. After that, it's a wait to see which images and what sizes they want.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Time to Update Important Books

How old is your dictionary? If it's more than three years old, you might want to upgrade. The eleventh edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary was published in 2004, revised in 2006, and again in 2008 (it's available on CD, and is automatically on all Kindles) with hundreds of new words added. Websters is also in it's eleventh edition. Do you have Chicago Manual of Style, or Strunks The Elements of Style? Recommended for serious writers.

Remember, your library can be virtual—with the myriad ebooks, APIs and downloads for you computer, you can have volumes at your fingertips.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Digital Camera Benefits for Writers

If you have a digital camera, you have a good tool to take quick notes when you don't have time to write. Snap photos of the scene that blossoms an idea. Some cameras even have a voice-over feature and you can dictate a short note. A picture of a scene or place can set the mood for your poem, short story or portion of a novel. Having the visual record will keep the idea fresh for you, even when you can't start writing for several hours--or days. You could even insert the picture in your word document for inspiration.

For nonfiction, the advantages are endless, but especially don’t forget to take a photo of information plaques. Capture the date, time and place of the event with a snapshot of the event poster.
Not to worry if you forgot the camera. Almost all of today’s cell phones have cameras built in, so most people have this visual tool in their pocket or purse. With use of a miniSD card, or by e-mailing the images to yourself, you will have your special notes.

It costs very little to snap a picture, but the benefits are great.