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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kindle Offers 70% Royalty for Self-Publishers


When was the last time an author made $6.25 per book on an $8.99 hardcover book?... NEVER!

But, self-published authors CAN realize that kind of money today...on Kindle DTP (Digital Text Platform)...A little improvement in the usual chickenfeed for authors.

I have been devoting some past posts editorializing about the eBook vs printed book race and the growth of the digital book market share...and I feel this press release from the Financial Post further demonstrates the burgeoning self-publishing digital book world (and the publishing-player-field-leveler, if you will):

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that the 70 percent royalty option that enables authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell is now available. For each book sold from the Kindle Store for Kindle, Kindle DX, or one of the Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Android phones, authors and publishers who choose the new 70 percent royalty option will receive 70 percent of the list price, net of delivery costs.

Delivery costs are based on file size, and pricing is set at $0.15/MB. At today’s median DTP file size of 368KB, delivery costs would be less than $0.06 per unit sold. For example, on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option. This new option, first announced in January 2010, will be in addition to and will not replace the existing DTP standard royalty option.

In addition to the 70 percent royalty option, Amazon also announced improvements in DTP such as a more intuitive “Bookshelf” feature and a simplified two-step process for publishing. These features make it more convenient for authors and publishers to publish using DTP.

“We’re excited about the launch of the 70 percent royalty option and user experience enhancements in DTP because they enable authors and publishers to conveniently offer more content to Kindle customers and to make more money from the books they sell,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

DTP authors and publishers are now able to select the royalty option that best meets their needs. Books from authors and publishers who choose the 70 percent royalty option will have access to all the same features and be subject to all the same requirements as books receiving the standard royalty rate. In addition, to qualify for the 70 percent royalty option, books must satisfy the following set of requirements:

•The author or publisher-supplied list price must be between $2.99 and $9.99.
•The list price must be at least 20 percent below the lowest list price for the physical book.
•The title is made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights.
•The title will be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. This list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle and the Kindle Store.
•Under this royalty option, books must be offered at or below price parity with competition, including physical book prices.

The 70 percent royalty option is for in-copyright works and is unavailable for works published before 1923 (a.k.a. public domain books). The 70 percent royalty option is currently only available for books sold to United States customers.

DTP is a fast and easy self-publishing tool that lets anyone upload and format their books for sale in the Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestore). To learn more about the Kindle Digital Text Platform, visit http://dtp.amazon.com/ or e-mail dtp-support@amazon.com

Kindle is in stock and available for immediate shipment today at http://www.amazon.com/kindle.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Award-winning Author Chooses E-book Over Print Publishing Deal !

Are eBooks starting to win the race with printed hardcover books? This post gives an example of one established, award-winning author who has chosen to bypass a printed publishing deal (hardcover book would have sold for $27.95) for publishing on Amazon for $1.99 per digital copy...He is going for quantity readers over fewer who would/could shell out $27.95 for a book...

I'm betting he will get enough increase in numbers of readers over the vast internet to offset the cheaper price...and then some, maybe...But, I don't know. I will be following up to find out the result...One thing for sure, he will be getting 50% to 80% of the digital sales price...which is probably approaching what he would get from the $27.95 hardcover price after big publishing and the associated companies take their cut...You know 80% of $1.99 vs 7% of $27.95...

This press release is from prweb.com:

Author takes bold move toward the future of publishing.


Award-winning novelist Gary Ponzo (pictured) is prepared to gamble his literary career on the strength of the growing digital book business. He’s turned down a print publishing deal for his novel, “A Touch of Deceit,” in order to publish it as an ebook on Amazon.

“I had to decide what’s more important to me,” Ponzo said. “Do I want profit or do I want readers. Inevitably I chose readers.”

The publishing company sold only hardcover books and the retail price was $27.95. Ponzo felt this was too much to ask in this economic environment. “I don’t want to throw the publisher under the bus, they’re a good honest company. They’re just stuck in an old business model. I felt uncomfortable asking my own mother to spend thirty bucks on my novel. It’s the digital age and I needed to adjust my thinking.”

Ponzo’s novel “A Touch of Deceit,” won the 2009 Southwest Writers Contest, Thriller category. He’s an award-winning author who’s published numerous short stories including two which were nominated for the very prestigious Pushcart Prize. His ebook is available as a digital download on Amazon for just $1.99.

“I spoke with author Karen McQuestion who’s sold over 36,000 ebooks on Amazon,” Ponzo said, “and she recommended I keep the price down. That's the price she felt she had the most success with.”

“A Touch of Deceit,” is a thriller about FBI agent Nick Bracco who recruits his mafia-connected cousin to track down a terrorist in Washington D.C.

Media contact: Gary Ponzo
Website: www.garyponzo.com

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Current Rapid and Predicted E-books Growth Will Force Publishing Changes




The eBook explosion will indeed force "big publishing" industry changes...and at the forefront will be the expulsion of entrenched bad leadership...which I feel has gotten worse over the past 30 years or so...

As reported by Reuters and published in the Economic Times:

Stieg Larsson copycats take note: The slow rise of electronic books is paving the way for more safe-bet fiction blockbusters and serial-type books, at least in the short term, according to some book experts.

With book sales stagnating in recent years, the nascent e-books market has thrown the industry into turmoil. In response, large publishers are taking fewer financial risks and betting more of their dollars on established authors, said Eileen Gittins of self-publishing company Blurb.com.

John's Note: Hell, "big publishing" has been doing this for the past 25 years...long before the emergence of eBooks!

"In the face of these economics, publishers just cannot take the risk," said Gittins. "They need some sure wins."

John's Note: The hell they do...they stacked the deck for sure wins years ago! Mostly at the expense of new writers and creators. Traditional publishers haven't taken a risk in so long they've forgotten how to spell the word. Their excessive greed is why they won't or can't adapt to the new business models...Traditional publishing days are over and good riddance.


Similar to movie studios' betting on well-known franchises to bring box office gold, Gittins said publishers want to market more blockbuster authors writing serial books featuring a distinctive leading character to lure repeat readers, as was seen with the success of prolific, late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, or crime fiction writers such as Michael Connelly.

With prices on the fledging e-book market still being battled over among larger publishers and makers of electronic readers, publishers still have yet to profit much from e-books, with the lower priced e-books eating into profit margins.

The e-book market has grown rapidly with wholesale revenue from e-book sales in the United States increasing to $91 million in the first quarter of 2010 from $55.9 million from the last quarter of 2009, according to International Digital Publishing Forum. But e-book sales still only account for 5-6 per cent of overall US book sales and less than 1 per cent in Britain, The Financial Times reported this week.

Contrary to popular opinion, most of publishers' costs are developing and marketing authors, not the cost of printing and shipping books. Such costs don't lessen with e-books even though they sell for less than paper books, Gittins said.

John's Note: Oh, so NOW the old printing, binding and shipping costs were nothing? Pure BS...The marketing of authors has ALWAYS been a core mission of publishing, one they gave up on years ago when they put this burden on the author himself (this is why they haven't made good money on new writers)...This single act of abdicating core mission responsibilities was, in my opinion, the beginning of the end for traditional publishing.

Remember, good writers can learn publishing (especially today with new technology) easier than publishers can learn to be good writers!


That heightens pressure "to need to do blockbuster big titles because now there is even more pressure on them," said Gittins. "They are not really saving money with the e-book, all those costs are still there."

Book experts predict in the e-book market, bestselling authors will remain popular in the short term. According to Amazon, all three of Stieg Larsson's books, which include sensation "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," sit in the top five best-selling books on Amazon's Kindle reader.

Customer favorites for e-books include "great Summer reads" such as Stephenie Meyer's new novella.

Daily Beast book editor Lucas Wittmann said in five years e-book sales could reach levels to make up for lost paper book sales, but for now publishers are feeling the pinch.

"There is a big squeeze right now," said Wittmann. "All the great predictions for e-books haven't quite been realized yet. E-books are growing at an astounding rate but they are not yet making up for the lost (book) sales."

When e-books first hit the market, some nonfiction economic and political books fared well, but now as the e-book audience had widened, more fiction is selling, he said.

"Publishers are still experimenting," Wittmann added.

Publishers Weekly Editorial Director Jim Milliot said online sites such as Amazon.com encourage readers to buy the same author, while smaller publishers were slow on e-books.

"A lot of the independent publishers have been slower to move to put their titles on, mainly because they don't have the resources to do it," he said. "Fiction seems to be winning out, at least in the early going."

As electronic readers improve, the type of e-books that sell well could change. Improving graphics could help genres like nonfiction and children's books become more popular.

"The possibilities seem to be opening up for more graphic work, incorporating multimedia and embedding links to audio when you are reading a biography of Bach or something," Wittmann said, predicting such advances in a year or two.

Wittmann said there will still be some "pain in the industry" but diversity and change was coming.

"Most publishers...are warming to e-books and thinking creatively about them," he said. "The only question is the time frame ... when we see a truly dramatic shift."

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Lower Level of Hell !


My half day in a lower level of hell today could be fodder for a story...But, I'm just going to vent now.

Today started off bad for me!

First, a little background: I have been having my second car, a Kia Sportage (the one I let my daughter and son-in-law use), diagnosed for intermittent starting...Seems this problem can be caused by several different things (isn't that always the f--king case). Anyway, during the engine analysis the starter turned out fine, then the sensors checked out OK, then the fuel pump was given a clean bill of health (thank God for that, a fuel pump costs approx $330)...mind you, this took four damn days since everytime the mechanics tried to start the Kia IT WOULD START! (I should have made my son-in-law stay with them, nothing works for him!)

The car needed to act up (not start) before the engine diagnostic plug-in to the car computer could send back codes indicating bad sensors, etc, etc...

SOOOO, Mr. Mechanic finally said he had the problem narrowed down to a bad main relay...GOOD, these are cheap (around $19) and I could just unplug the bad one and plug in a new one...They're very accessible, right up front and on top in front of the battery on my Kia...I pay Mr. Mechanic money for his testing and drive the Kia home (it starts most of the time...and when it acts up it just takes LONGER to kick over)...A real pain.

Second, fastforward to this morning: I go out to the garage to get the relay serial number off the relay (needed to buy the right one)...It's a little dark and I can't see the raised number on the black casing of the relay, so I start pulling the relay out of the socket (much like an electrical plug in a house outlet)...It's a little tight and comes out only after I wiggle it a little. THEN, just when it releases I drop the damn thing and it falls into the cracks and crevices of the engine jungle below! NEVER TO BE FOUND AGAIN!

And I mean NEVER to be found again! I got a flashlight and scrutinized every square inch that I could see where the 1.5" by 1.5" by 1.5" cubed-shaped relay could have fallen...I peered down from the top of the engine and I crawled under the car and peered up through the engine...and guess what?...NOTHING! The damned cube-from-hell disappeared!

There is no way a cubed-shape thing that big could not be seen...UNLESS God was punishing me for something! Or maybe everything I'd ever done bad in my entire life!

So, I have to drive my daughter and son-in-law to work in my Explorer...Another pain-in-the-ass errand I don't need today! I'm sinking lower and lower in this hell-day.

THEN, I go to the Kia dealer to simply buy a new relay and guess what?...They don't have any in stock! I have to order and it will take 6 days for delivery! UNLESS I pay an extra ten bucks for overnight which means Monday since this is Friday...I'm really sinking into the lower levels of hell now!

I order the damn relay and give up the extra ten bucks for faster delivery...It seems I'm at the bottom of hell.

Third, after more searching for the dropped relay to no avail (it truly disappeared) and checking all the other auto parts stores here in Pueblo with no success, I plopped down in front of my computer, put my hands behind my head and leaned back in a black, pissed-on-like mood.

All of a sudden, while my mind was ambling aimlessly in this "why-me-self-pitying" state, an idea hit me (MUST have been from an Angel sent from above) "John, check the junk cars salvage yard for used parts!"

My day may just be on the mend...

I hurried to the foreign cars salvage yard. The tattooed, young man behind the counter said "Go out back, take the farthest left alley of cars and the Kia's should be half-way down.

I stumble out the back door in the 94 degree F heat and finally find the Kia's...The first one I walked up to had the whole engine missing, but upon closer examination I find the relay box dangling down by an electrical cable and resting against the inside wheel base. I quickly pop the top of the relay box and eureka, there are two almost new-looking main relays with the correct serial numbers!

I unplug the relays and walk back inside the office. "I found some relays, how much do I owe you?"

"Nothing," says Tattoo, "just come back when you have something bigger."

Oh my God, I'm being smiled on from above again!

And thus, when I was at my lowest on this hell day, God took a little pity on a poor, dumb, wannabe-everything-but-am-just---me!





Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing a Great Short Story


What's so hard about writing a short story? Could be everything! But, if you get the basic elements right and stay focused, you have a better chance of writing a great short story that grabs your readers and stays in their minds.

So, what are the basic elements that produce a great short story? Lee Masterson, author of Fiction Factor, details some excellent ones in this article from Fiction Factor:

Short stories can be an excellent way to break into the competitive field of fiction publishing. Novel publishers are more willing to look at work written by an author whose work has already appeared in print. Magazines and periodicals love the short form, so selling the work can often be simpler than pushing an entire novel manuscript. Readers are more willing to pay money for work from an author they are already familiar with. Most importantly, though, short stories provide a fertile ground for bigger ideas to spring from.

The difficulty lies in mastering this challenging form of writing.

Some shorter stories manage to leave a lingering impression on readers long after the final word was written. Others leave readers with the feeling that they have missed the point entirely.

So how do you strike a balance between writing an effective, memorable short story and creating a short, aimless length of prose?

To make your short stories more effective, try to keep in mind these following points:

Theme

Establish a clear theme before you begin writing. What is the story about? That doesn't mean what is the plot line, the sequence of events or the character's actions, it means what is the underlying message or statement behind the words. Get this right and your story will have more resonance in the minds of your readers.

Snapshot

An effective short story covers a very short time span. Picture it as a snapshot of a particular moment in the life of the story. Of course, the character has a history and will often have consequences to face after the story's conclusion, too. But for the sake of this short story, only the explanation of the event is relevant. This explanation should be the illustration of the underlying theme to your story.

Bang!

Begin your story with a conflict scene. Throw your protagonist in the deep end. Open with the action. Hook your reader into the story by beginning in the middle of something big. Forget the scenery, or the bad guy who got your hero into this mess in the first place, or the reason your protagonist is dangling by his feet from a sheer cliff. There will be time to sprinkle those details throughout the story later. For now, concentrate on forcing your readers to wonder how he got into that situation. A reader who wonders this is a reader who will continue reading to find out!

Characters

Don't overload your story with too many characters. Each new character you introduce will bring a new dimension to the story, but it can also add unnecessary length. Too many diverse dimensions (or directions) will dilute the theme. Have only enough characters to effectively illustrate the theme.

Description

Space is extremely limited with short stories. Many publications adhere to strict word-counts and will not accept longer pieces. You need to make every word count. Edit your draft carefully and remove any obsolete words or phrases. Find a more compact way to say want you mean. Dig through a thesaurus to find words that more accurately convey what you want to say. Finding one perfect, strong noun can be more compelling than a whole descriptive paragraph.

Focus

The best stories are the ones that focus upon a narrow subject line. History, external details, surroundings, other characters - all extraneous details should fade into oblivion while you focus on your story's central theme. It can tempting to digress, and often more tempting to expand the fledgling idea into a full novel-length work. The tighter you squeeze the focus of the story, the more the reader will be pulled into the event you have drawn.

Twist

Surprise your readers. Add a little twist at the end of your story that leaves them wondering about your protagonist long after the story ends. Avoid the overtly predictable ending and make publishers remember your style.

Denouement

Don't leave your readers hanging in the dark at the end of your story. Be sure that your conclusion is satisfying, but not too predictable. Readers need to be left with a feeling of resonance, a feeling that they long to know what happened to the characters after you wrote that last word.


If you can successfully incorporate these tips into a compact, focused story, you just might find that you have created a memorable short story that lingers in the minds of readers and editors alike, long after they've finished reading!



© Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lee Masterson is a freelance writer from South Australia. She is also the editor of Fiction Factor (http://www.fictionfactor.com) - an online magazine for writers, offering tips and advice on getting published, articles to improve your writing skills, heaps of writer's resources and much more. Check out Lee's newest book, "Write, Create & Promote a Best-Seller" here and jump-start your writing career.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Books' Power Still Potent!


I walked into my study and plopped down at my desk...I was tired and a little dejected from a hard day of thought and mental gymnastics. Just sitting still was a treat...And then a book that had been lying on the desk flipped open and started talking to me!

"Snap out it, John," the book said, "your trouble is you have been away from books too long; you need to curl up with a good book and learn of the world by escaping yours."

I shook my head and rubbed my eyes and peered again at the book...Yes, it was opened.

The power of books is potent and far-reaching indeed...This point was, once again, driven home to me by my talking book and the following article by Susan Straight for the Los Angeles Times:

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a small wave of despair about being a writer and teacher at a time when common wisdom holds that "no one reads anymore." But then some of my UC Riverside students sought me out on campus to thank me for introducing them to a book.

"'Winesburg,'" one student said. "That was the book."

"Winesburg, Ohio" by Sherwood Anderson, published in 1919, is one of my favorite novels. But I'd always been hesitant to assign it. My students are often first-generation children of immigrants, and the book is about Midwesterners in a small town of brick buildings surrounded by cornfields. Last fall, though, I decided to give it a try.

It was a rough year for the University of California, with strikes, pay cuts, crowded classrooms and borrowed chairs. The senior seminar in fiction that I teach was more than twice the size it had been the previous year, with 34 instead of 15 students.

I gave them several novels to read. And I tried a new approach. Instead of standing before them, proclaiming what I believed about the books, I broke the students into four groups and asked each group to present its book in a way that would make their classmates pay attention and feel something.

Initially, the students couldn't believe they were being given such control. They wanted guidelines. But they quickly settled into their task.

The first book the students read, by Los Angeles author Cheryl Klein, was "The Commuters," which is told in numerous voices by people living and working all over the Los Angeles area. Each narrator is connected by geography and friends and work.

The group decided the book was about home. For their presentation, they stood in front of us and drew maps of their hometowns - Fallbrook and Hemet and La Habra and others - and how they intersected. A Loma Linda native talked about growing up among crowds of medical-coated health professionals and vegetarian Seventh-day Adventists; then a student from San Jacinto explained that she was connected to Loma Linda because it was where her infant was on life support for three days before she died. The whole classroom became silent.

"Still Water Saints" by Alex Espinoza, the second novel, is set in fictional Agua Mansa, which resembles Colton, Calif. The characters are all linked by their visits to a Mexican-born curandera, or healer, who runs a botanica. This group talked about belief. One student laid out an altar of cures from her grandmother, who was born in Mexico's Michoacan state - teas and herbs, foods and prayers. The student's mother had died when she was a baby, and her father raised eight children alone, in a small house in San Bernardino, with the help of the abuelas. Another student told of a horrific car accident in which his car rolled over and he should have died. Instead, he told the class, the Buddha hanging from the rearview mirror split in half and absorbed his spiritual death. He told the class how his Chinese-born parents kept him away from windows at night so that wandering ghosts wouldn't see him. A young woman from Rialto told of taking her mother home to rural Cambodia to be healed of a jealous rival's spell; the healer prayed and rubbed the mother's skin, pulling out embedded shards of broken glass in different colors for different agonies.

And then there was the book I'd worried about. "Winesburg, Ohio" is about secrets, shame and guilt, and the students loved it, passionately and argumentatively. On presentation day, I couldn't imagine what the "Winesburg" group would do. (A naked woman runs through town in one story - that had gotten a lot of attention.) The group presented us with small pieces of paper and a leather satchel, and directed us to write down the most shameful secret we'd always held inside. Something we'd never told anyone. The folded pieces of paper were mixed inside the bag, passed around, and we each read one secret aloud.

Students had poured out their guilt: about a pregnant cousin who had been ignored when she was desperately in need of love and counsel, about a lizard burned alive in a jar, about a childhood injury inflicted on a relative who never fully healed.

Even now, I can hear us reading aloud, in our desk chairs, all facing forward. A 90-year-old book brought us there.

Humanities are under fire at the moment. Teach students something practical, many Americans say, something to help them get jobs and support themselves. But I believe that to thrive in the world, we must also understand what it is to be human. As Socrates said, an unexamined life is not worth living. And right now, when retreat and distrust and anonymity divide us, it's more vital than ever to examine not only our own lives, but the lives of those around us.

The students in that seminar learned some things about literature, and a lot about writing. They wrote detailed essays about each book and a long, final paper that tied the books together. But the most important things they learned, I suspect, had little to do with the course subject matter.

They got glimpses of the world through the eyes of their fellow students. They saw life from the vantage point of a mother whose newborn died; or a quiet young woman from East L.A. who has witnessed surreal violence.

My seminar students graduated last weekend, but I keep thinking about the way they reacted when I read aloud to them the first week of class. There was nothing on the board, no PowerPoint. Just an old book, held in my hands. They were initially skeptical, questioning. Who needs books, in this age of digital technology? their expressions seemed to ask. But then their eyes met mine while I read.

Who needs humans to tell secrets and listen and watch wide-eyed as their compatriots reveal their lives? We all do.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Susan Straight's latest novel, "Take One Candle Light a Room," will be published this fall. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Barnes & Noble Cuts Nook prices!


The eReader wars are escalating! Let's go into the eReader jungle and reconnoiter a little bit...

Here is a frontline report from imbedded reporter Larry Dignan, Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic:

Barnes & Noble cut prices for its nook e-reader from $259 to $199 and introduced a $149 Wi-Fi version in a move to put pressure on Amazon’s Kindle and grab more market share.

The move is likely to put Amazon on the defensive and the e-commerce giant appears to have been either caught flat-footed or resting on its early Kindle lead. Many folks have noted that Apple’s iPad is a dedicated e-reader killer, but let’s exclude Steve Jobs & Co. from the picture. Even excluding Apple, Amazon looks a bit behind the curve on e-readers.

Read more: http://alturl.com/t8bg

Monday, June 21, 2010

Physical Books and Ebooks Are Not a Zero-sum Game


The hardcover, printed book will never go away...Too many people, from all demographics, enjoy them and want them around...Just that simple.

More news on indie booksellers from an article by Judith Rosen for Publishers Weekly:

Optimism greeted a presentation by former Perseus Books CEO-turned-bookseller Jack McKeown at last month's BEA. He was discussing a survey that looked at how independent booksellers can recapture what McKeown calculates is $260 million a year in "leakage" (missed business) as well as examining the impact of e-books on an independent's business. Booksellers like Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest and Ravenna, Wash., found it "reaffirming" to hear statistics that confirm what he and other bookstore owners feel in their gut—that book buyers want to shop in independents and that physical books and e-books are not a zero-sum game. "Out of the people who have been keeping us in business," said Sindelar, "their habits don't seem like they'll be changing dramatically."

The data from the survey, conducted in April, can be viewed at Verso Advertising (www.versoadvertising.com/beasurvey). It reflects a third drilling down (after two earlier studies) of the buying habits of those 18 and older based on 9,300 respondents from a pool of 110 million Internet users across 5,100 Web sites. Subsequent surveys will be conducted quarterly. At the ABA's Winter Institute, McKeown had discussed findings from two earlier studies that indicated that 28% of the U.S. market, or 62.4 million people, are avid book buyers who read five hours a week or more. Two-thirds, or 41 million people, are part of the boomer, silent, and Eisenhower generations. More importantly, while 27.3% of avid buyers said they prefer to shop in independents, the market share for independents, lower than 10% according to most publishers, told a different story. In the new survey, McKeown identified three factors—discount, selection, and proximity—that could bring market share in line with mindshare, or the awareness of a brand—by helping to increase the number of store visits by avid readers.

As McKeown and Verso president Denise Berthiaume ready their own bookstore, a Books & Books affiliate to open in the Hamptons on July 1, McKeown says that the surveys "if anything, accelerated our decision to open a store. That and finding a location." The surveys also reaffirmed his belief that e-books are not a displacement technology, particularly in the short term. Avid book readers who own e-readers are splitting their purchases among print and e-books, the survey found. As for growing market share at Books & Books Westhampton, McKeown says that he and Berthiaume are giving "strong thought" to discounting based on survey data that a 15% discount could produce a 4% bump in sales overall. The other two factors—selection and proximity—McKeown plans to address virtually by going after the 12 million indie customers the survey identified who want to give their e-mail addresses to independent booksellers. McKeown is planning to market books online on behalf of all five Books & Books stores and to create newsletters specifically tailored to different types of customers.

For Sindelar at Third Place Books, the survey provided fresh impetus for creating a frequent buyer program and for discounting a broader selection of titles that better reflect the store, instead of New York Times hardcover bestsellers. However, not everyone viewed the survey data as a call to action. "We're not making any changes based on what McKeown said," notes Geoffrey Jennings, corporate counsel at Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kans. "Capturing mindshare sounds attractive. It happens one customer at a time." Jennings also questioned the notion of buying loyalty through discount.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher views the survey as a roadmap to a stable bookselling future, although he did note similarities to earlier ABA efforts under BookSense to close the gap on book buyers who identified themselves as independent book buyers but only bought four out of 10 books at an indie store. "The overarching message here," says Teicher, "is that there are still people out there buying books and there are opportunities. In a world with doom and gloom there are ways in which our members can compete."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Publish a Blog on Kindle


How would you like to publish your blog in the Kindle Store? This will automatically monetize your blog by having Kindle readers pay a small subscription fee (usually 99 to 199 cents/month of which you will get 30% royalties).

Stephen Windwalker described the steps to publishing your blog/s on Kindle on a past post on his Kindle Nation Blog (which I believe has been replaced by his weekly Kindle Nation Newsletter)...I pulled this information off of Publetariat.com:

21 Steps: How to Publish a Kindle Blog (And Why You Might Want To....)
This post, from Stephen Windwalker, originally appeared on his Kindle Nation Daily blog on 11/15/09, and is reprinted here in its entirety with his permission.

Kindle, how do I blog thee? Let me count the ways....

In the past few months I've had numerous writer-blogger-publisher friends and colleagues ask me how to publish their blogs and other content as Kindle Blogs.

•Or how to take the short stories or social commentary that they have been writing for other media and make it come alive on the Kindle.

•Or, in the case of some very talented people who write everything from business marketing material to political content to community organizing campaign literature, how they could re-purpose the publications that they or their organizations are already doing as Kindle blogs so that they could begin to reach a wider audience.

•Or how to take those steamy stories they've been writing for years and connect them with the thousands of Kindle readers who appear -- from Kindle sales rankings -- to have an appetite for erotica and like the fact that the Kindle does not require a brown paper bag.

•Or how to turn Kindle owners on to the wonderful services or products that their businesses provide to the public.

Those of us who tapdance on the keyboards come in so many different shapes, sizes, and settings.

At first, back in June when I had just begun to make Kindle Nation Daily available as a Kindle edition blog, I might have answered, "Don't bother." Although I had plenty of independent confirmation of wide and growing readership, I was skeptical that significant numbers of people were going to pay for the goat when I was already giving away the goat's milk for free.

With monthly summaries that show up a couple of weeks after the end of each month, Amazon is slower to report Kindle blog subscription and revenue data to its publishers than any other of its formats, which generally report in something close to real time when they are working. But based on the data that I could gather, it seemed that very few Kindle blogs were thriving. When my own numbers began to come in -- with 7 subscriptions in May and even with 150 for June and 201 for July -- well, it was nice to have some paying readers, but at 30 cents a pop as my monthly royalty for each 99-cent-a-month subscription it certainly did not seem like a business model. I now have over 7,500 people reading my posts each week in their several free formats, and I certainly don't expect the number of paid readers ever to catch up with the number of free readers.

But as the "installed base" of Kindle owners has continued to grow dramatically each month, and promises to keep growing, I've changed my mind about the usefulness of the Kindle blogging format, and I would no longer say "Don't bother" to anyone with useful information or creative work to share. Granted, the number of Kindle owners who subscribe to Kindle blogs remains very small: my educated guess is that there are somewhere south of 10,000 regular Kindle blog subscribers among roughly 2 million Kindle owners at present. My own subscriber numbers keep growing -- from 201 in July to 346 in August, 494 in September and 778 in October -- but while the percentages of increase are astonishing, the actual numbers and revenue figures are tiny. It's great to be the #1 blog in the Kindle Store this morning, but the fact that somewhere in the ballpark of 99.96% of Kindle owners do not read my blog certainly constitutes a cold splash of reality.

Or should I see it as opportunity?

Read the rest at http://alturl.com/ins2

Friday, June 18, 2010

Digital Publishing 2.0 is Coming !


Back on 9 Dec 2009, I posted a piece "'Kindle' & 'Nook' eBook Readers Will Be Left In Dust By New 'Blio'" ! Then I heard almost nothing about Blio again...Until now. The Blio re-surfaced at the digital conference in Manhattan AND, with it's distribution platform, promises to be as big as I originally anticipated for writers to self-publish and get decent distribution (and across all mobile digital platforms).

Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly writes:

Software developer Quark was joined by K-NFB Reading Technology, developer of Blio, the much anticipated e-reading software, and distributor Baker & Taylor at the Untethered digital conference in Manhattan, to announce a partnership that will launch Digital Publishing 2.0, a comprehensive digital content creation and distribution platform.

Digital Publishing 2.0 will offer designers and content creators tools to produce “enhanced digital content, independent of any specific platform,” according to B&T executive v-p Bob Nelson. DP 2.0 offers the ability to create interactive digital content for tablets, smartphone and PCs; conversion from print to digital; new sources of advertising using digital content and global distribution capability.

Ray Schiavone, president and CEO of Quark, said “we are excited to work with K-NFB Reading Technology and Baker & Taylor to combine our expertise to help publishers and other content creators capitalize on this emerging market. Together we make it affordable and efficient to create compelling digital content that is ready for the Blio e-reader application and available through a world-class distribution network.” K-NFB said the Blio e-reader would likely be available for free download for PCs and the iPhone in August.

Tom Morgan, CEO of Baker & Taylor, said the new platform will “open the door for thousands of new content creators and providers to create digital, interactive content. We have teamed up to provide a simple way to transform static media content into rich digital media content that 21st century consumers demand.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sexual Harassment In Publishing Industry


Sexual harassment against ANYBODY (men and woman alike) is simply unacceptable! This post...for those who have not heard about the departure of David Davidar, the CEO of Penguin Canada, due to unwanted sexual advances...is an actual account by one of the victims on her blog.

What makes this even more interesting are all the comments her post generated that point out the prevalence of sexual misbehavior and discrimination in the publishing industry:

As reported in the Huffington Post:

Ever since the news about CEO of Penguin Canada, David Davidar's, departure came out, I've been thinking about making this post. About how much I could say, and whom it would implicate, and what would happen. In the end, I need to write this post, because it turns out a lot of women are silenced in publishing, by the small nature of the industry, and by the fact that most of the execs are men. I'm not in the industry any more, and I'm not going to name names. I am going to write about it.

Read the whole story: weareindebtetc.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mobile Publishing Has a Ticket to Ride!


There is a plan afoot that just might rescue magazines and newspapers from a slow death and make them readily available online and profitable to boot!

The rescue is being carried out by the mobile digital devices flooding the market recently and the new mobiles waiting in the wings...such as the Dell Streak or the Samsung Galaxy.

John Kennedy writes this in the SiliconRepublic.com:

Watch out Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is now in the digital news reader market having acquired Skiff, a Hearst-backed tech start-up that helps distribute newspaper and magazine content and could provide stiff competition to the iPad.

Murdoch has been one of the strongest proponents of building paywalls around newspapers and wants to follow on the success of successful properties like the Wall Street Journal and The Times of London.

Murdoch has acquired Skiff LLU (pictured above), a maker of a flexible news reader device, as well as a company called Journalism Online LLC, which is developing technology that helps publishers collect micro-payments from readers online.

He hopes that both acquisitions will lend support to his quest to help newspaper publishers be as profitable online as they once were in print.

The Skiff digital reader which Murdoch plans to bring to market later this year features an 11.5-inch grayscale touchscreen that allows users to download material wirelessly from Skiff’s online store.

The first material to feature on the Skiff digital reader will be the Financial Times, the New York Times, Forbes, Popular Mechanics, Random House and Simon & Schuster. The technology could also be licensed out to hardware from other manufacturers, appearing perhaps as an app on an Android phone or tablet computer.

Mobile publishing business to boom
The mobile publishing business is about to go stellar thanks to devices like the Apple iPad which have allowed publishers to redefine how news and magazine content is delivered online via apps. Magazines and newspapers that have delivered breakthrough iPad apps include Wired, Time magazine and the Financial Times, while news apps like the Pulse Reader, BBC News, Reuters News Pro and AP News are breaking new ground in online news distribution.

The online advertising side of the coin is also hard to ignore. Last week, Apple revealed that its iAd platform already has US$60m in ad bookings – 50pc of all North America’s mobile ads for H2 2010.

Quite rightly this has online publishers worried about whether they will be excluded from Apple’s devices – now almost 60pc of all mobile devices in the US – and led to the CEO of Google’s recently acquired AdMob expressing his concerns over recent changes to Apple’s terms for app developers.

Either way, for such a young market, the energy and competition about to be unleashed is mesmerising and with new devices entering the fray all the time like the Dell Streak or the Samsung Galaxy, a whole new paradigm in publishing is about to be unleashed with News Corp, Apple and Google currently leading the land grab.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Magazines: Going From Dimensional to Digital


This post is about the first D2D (Dimensional to Digital) Conference sponsored by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). This conference will examine in detail the magazine industry's problems with transitioning from paper to digital across a multi-channel and multi-device world AND monetizing in the new mediae as well!

Extremely interesting! Folks in journalism listen up...

From BusinessWire.com

RAMP CEO to discuss use of metadata for magazine publishers’ online initiatives at Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) event in NYC on 16 June 2010.

John's Note: Metadata is loosely defined as data about data. Though this definition is easy to remember, it is not very precise. The strength of this definition is in recognizing that metadata is data. As such, metadata can be stored and managed in a database, often called a registry or repository. However, it is impossible to identify metadata just by looking at it. We don't know when data is metadata or just data.[1] Metadata is a concept that applies mainly to electronically archived data and is used to describe the a) definition, b)structure and c) administration of data files with all contents in context to ease the use of the captured and archived data for further use. Web pages often include metadata in the form of meta tags.

RAMP, the industry’s leading Content Optimization platform for major online media publishers, announced today that RAMP CEO, Tom Wilde, will be a featured speaker at the Dimensional to Digital (D2D) conference organized by the Magazine Publishers of America on June 16 to discuss digital platforms and publishing for the magazine industry.

The panel entitled- “Metadata Rules: The Rules for Making Metadata the Currency of Digital Content”, will be held at 9:25 am at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W 18th Street, New York City.

Other featured panelists are: Chris Grosso, SVP, Emerging Digital Business, NBC Universal; Nate Treloar, Principal Search Technology Evangelist, Microsoft; and Seth Earley, President, Earley & Associates.

About RAMP

RAMP is an advanced Content Optimization SaaS (Software as as Service) platform providing publishers’ workflow, discovery and engagement solutions to drive monetization of online content to users’ search and browsing behavior. RAMP offers publishers an open, flexible and modular capability to optimize large amounts of content, including text, audio, video and images, within dynamic publishing environments. As a result, publishers’ content becomes positioned for discovery and precise targeting, both on search engines and within publishers’ own websites. RAMP maximizes the value of publishers’ content while reducing costs.

Leading publishers using RAMP include NBCU, FOXNews, DowJones, Meredith, Comcast, and others. For more information visit: http://www.ramp.com/about-us/, or contact us at info@RAMP.com.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Where Stories Come From


Where do we get our ideas for stories? How do they jump (or creep) into our heads? Do they come from real life or our dreams or both? AND do all people have the same mental mechanisms for processing events and dreams into stories?

Mark Barrett, a freelance writer, storyteller and publisher of Ditchwalk blog, delves into these questions today:

Many moons ago I found myself in a bar called Green’s Grocery just outside of Nashville, attending a wedding reception for an old friend of mine. After wishing the newlyweds well I found an empty chair and struck up a conversation with a very nice man who turned out to be an accountant. When he asked what I did for a living I told him I was a storyteller. His eyes widened a bit as if I had confessed to alchemy.

From that moment it was little more than a hop, skip and jump to the question that every writer is asked sooner or later: where do you get your ideas? It was a question I’d been asked before, but until that day I had never fully realized that the human ability to invent stories or cobble them together out of life events is not universal.

As I talked with the man, and struggled to explain how ideas came to me, it became clear that he had never had the same thing happen to him. The more I tried to abstract the process, or explain it by using analogies, the more he insisted that the kind of narrative genesis I had been familiar with since childhood was simply foreign to him. The absurdity of the thought almost convinced me that he was pulling my leg, but it was obvious that he wasn’t. He simply did not think that way.

I remember, too, a similar moment from my youth, when I learned that an acquaintance of mine was unable to think in three dimensions. My brother and I and a good friend of ours had grown up talking about machinery and mechanisms, describing them to each other in our heads, and from that anecdotal experience I had extrapolated that all human beings can hold a six-sided die in their mind’s eye and turn it to any perspective. But that isn’t true. There are a lot of people can’t do that.

For the purposes of this post I’m going to side-step the question of whether such mental abilities can be taught. I have an opinion in each case, but I will save them for another day. What I want to nibble at here is the relationship between events and stories, and how different events may suggest narrative threads that are either plot-driven or character-driven.

The Trooper

A few weeks ago I had occasion to take a long, unexpected road trip on Interstate 80, from the East Coast to the Midwest. Toward the end of the trip, as I crossed northern Illinois in the wee hours of the morning, I rounded a sweeping bend to find a patrol car swinging it’s side-mounted spotlight onto my rapidly-closing pickup truck.

I was confident I wasn’t speeding, but as I passed the patrol car pulled out and attached itself to my flank. I was too tired to care much, so I held my course and waited while the officer ran my plate. When he finally pulled me over it was more a relief than anything else.

Fully expecting to be informed that I had been traveling 66 in a 65, I was caught off guard when the officer informed me that I had twice drifted over the fog line. What’s the fog line, you ask? Well, I asked the officer the same question, and he informed me that it was the white line on the right side of the road marking the transition to the paved shoulder.

(What I did not say at the time was that whatever else I might have been doing, I was one hundred percent sure I had not drifted across the fog line twice. In dealing with authority it is always important to choose your battles, and debating what an officer of the law believes he saw is a guaranteed losing argument.)

Further confounding me, the trooper asked what year my truck was, to which I responded that it had been manufactured in 2001. After showing my license and registration I was surprised when the trooper asked me to get out of my vehicle and follow him back to his car. Fully expecting to have my breath checked, or to be put through a field sobriety test based on my wanton disregard for the fog line, I was again perplexed when the trooper directed me to take the passenger’s seat in his patrol car.

I spent the next fifteen minutes or so wedged between the passenger-side door and the trooper’s sprawling array of center-mounted computers and gadgets. During that time he asked me what seemed like a wide-ranging, repetitive and inane series of questions. The only nugget of information that interested me was that the trooper had pulled me over not simply because of my fog-line abuses, but because my license plate had come back as belonging to a white, 1998 truck. (My truck is silver, although a number of people have told me it looks white to them.)

When I later expressed puzzlement that my registration could be so wrong, the trooper said he would show it to me on his in-car computer. He then went back to peppering me with questions about where I was going and who I was going to stay with when I arrived, and forgot to show me the errant registration information. He did mention that registration information is often incorrect, however, which I found both oddly amusing and not at all reassuring.

Finally, as the trooper began to ask the same questions for the third time, a second trooper strode past my side of the patrol car. As he walked into the headlights I could see he had a dog with him, and moments later the dog started working the truck, sniffing here and there. When the trooper I was sitting with asked me if I had any drugs in my vehicle I just smiled and shook my head.

In short order the dog gave my truck the canine seal of approval, and a few minutes later I was on my way again with a simple warning about drifting over the fog line. Three hours later I reached my destination.

Read more at http://alturl.com/irdn

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Why the Amazon Kindle Sucks


Another view on the Kindle!

Eldon Sarte is a source that I have gone to previously many times and he has written a kinda cute take on the Kindle's shortcomings on his website Braintropolis:

Why the Amazon Kindle Sucks

Gotcha.

I actually love my Kindle. I think I can count on one hand the number of dead tree books I’ve actually read since the Kindle came into my life… and that’s only because I live but a block away from the county central library and find it difficult to resist the urge to go exploring its shelves on occasion. Interestingly enough, I no longer do that because I need something to read — my Kindle’s got that covered in spades. It’s more when I’ve really got nothing better to do.

But all’s not hunky-dory in Kindletown. Oh, I’m not talking about some Kindle vs. Traditional Book “reading experience” debate crapola — anyone who owns a Kindle knows that that “debate” is idiotic and over (and, believe me, most if not all of us Kindleheads also love the dead tree form factor), but you can forget pointing that out to the tree killers — it’s not like it’s difficult to tell that much (most? all?) of the anti-Kindle pontification is coming at you from complete and utter ignorance. No way to do much more than a Mr. T and “pity the fools,” quite frankly. Throw salvation into the mix, and we’ve got something religious going on, actually. Ever tried arguing against someone who, at the end of the day, is armed with absolutely nothing but faith? Good luck with that.

Really, as far as the medium’s concerned, the Fat Lady has sung. Although the dominance transition won’t be anywhere close to complete anytime soon, we all felt the shift.

If you think about it truthfully, at this point there really are only two things that keep you from going Kindle:

1.Expense.
2.You’re scared stiff of new tech/changing your ways.

No one can argue against reason #1 — yeah, the cost of entry is still pretty steep — but #2 falls cleanly into the “oh just go find a support group somewhere and shut up publicly already, because really, you know you’re just whining — and nobody likes whiners — even whiners” category. (If you don’t believe it, look up the word “denial” in a dictionary — something I can do quickly on-the-fly with the Kindle’s free built-in dictionary, by the way).

OK, enough of that dead horse and stick and on to why I started writing this in the first place: I just fully realized something that the Kindle can’t give us that the dead trees can.

Before I get to that, take note that although I’m writing about the Amazon Kindle, everything I say here really applies to ereaders and related as a lot, like the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Apple iPad. Speaking of which, since we’re on the subject, it’ll be the do-it-all connected “tablets” like the iPad that are going to win out in the ereader market in the end — heck, they’re going to kill off laptops too — but I digress. Onwards…

Well, come October if all goes well my wife and I will be the proud parents of a brand spanking new set of twin girls. This means my wife is now right smack in full nesting mode. If it’s the weekend, standing anywhere between her and Ikea is so not very recommended. All of you who’ve been through the father-to-be thing have no doubt also figured out what my weekends are like — yup, throwing out stuff I no longer need (which, as far as she’s concerned, is everything) to make room for the babies.

There go the books. That central library a block away I mentioned earlier? It’ll probably rename a wing in my honor after all the books I just donated. Yeah, it was a bit painful to see those go, but really, not so much. Because I’ve still got shelves of books I absolutely refuse to let go off. These are books I want to own and must have. And not necessarily for reading either — although all have been read, some I’ve read multiple times, some only once, and none I’ll likely want to read again, at least not anytime soon or even in the foreseeable future. But I do want to own them, whatever my reasons.

And that, my friends, is where the Kindle falls short: It does not and cannot give you a sense of book ownership.

Interesting that it took the Kindle’s success to bring to the forefront the notion that with each traditional book, there really are two products: the content and the package. The Kindle does away with the latter, along with any features, benefits and emotions that can be solely attributed to it. In effect, it has rendered us as nothing more than content consumers — there really is no more “book” to own.

Hey, now that I think about it more, for us book lovers, that really does suck, doesn’t it?

Damn progress.

Eldon Sarte is publisher of Braintropolis, and remembers the very first book he ever owned (well, the very first book he owned and actually knew how to read, instead of making up stories behind the pictures on the pages.)

Copyright © 2010 Eldon Sarte - Reprinted with permission. http://eldonsarte.com/

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Doing Self-Publishing Better


An insight into self-publishing (and the publishing industry in general) from our neighbor Canada. This post verifies that the publishing industry is facing the same woes in all countries.

Mark Medley (pictured), who writes for the National Post and co-edits the paper's book blog, The Afterword, relates this about self-publishing in Canada:

This is the 10th instalment in our Ecology of Books series, examining the complex interrelationships that comprise Canada’s publishing industry — from small-press proprietors to the country’s biggest houses, from booksellers to book bloggers to book reviewers. Today, Mark Medley explores the changing face of self-publishing.

When Terry Fallis sits down at his desk, he’s reminded of how far he’s come. Four of his book covers are tacked to a nearby bulletin board. In the top right is the mock-up cover for his novel, The Best Laid Plans, which never saw the light of day. To its left is the cover of his self-published version, which Fallis released in September 2007. Below it is the paperback edition published by McClelland & Stewart after the book won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. And to its right is the cover of his forthcoming novel, The High Road, which will hit stores this fall.

“It’s kind of like you’re playing in the minor leagues,” he says, “and you get called up to the Stanley Cup finals.”

In 2006, Fallis began his search for a publisher the traditional way, sending sample chapters to agents and publishers across Canada. He was “greeted with a deafening silence.”

“It was a pretty easy decision — although a last resort — to move down to self-publishing,” he says.

After researching his options, he signed on with iUniverse, where a publishing package currently costs $599 and $4,200. He spent $3,500, which paid for cover-design advice, an editorial review of the manuscript, a publishing assistant whom he worked with by phone and e-mail, copy editing, proofreading, 10 paperback copies and one hardcover — as well as a listing with online book retailers. Because it was an iUniverse Publisher’s Choice, hard copies were placed in one Indigo store for eight weeks.

“It was a positive experience for me,” he says — though he later adds, “I still consider it to be a spasm of self-indulgence to publish your own novel.”

For writers who can’t find publishers, going it alone has long been a last resort. Hundreds of thousands of authors self-publish each year (the Association of Canadian Publishers doesn’t keep track). But what was once called “vanity” publishing is seeing a pronounced up-tick these days that is threatening publishing’s longstanding business model. And why not: An author can now go from manuscript to book in a matter of minutes — easily and more lucratively than has hitherto been possible.

Read More http://alturl.com/r358

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Little Psychology on Writers Media



Historically, new inventions (including new technology) have been derided and resisted by many of the entrenched, old-guard types.

Reading about all the different position-camps RE the digital invasion of the publishing world lately and the resulting rapidly changing business models, caused the following article to take on a special meaning for this blogger:

Contributed by Steven Pinker (pictured) to the New York Times:

Mind Over Mass Media

NEW forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers’ brainpower and moral fiber.

So too with electronic technologies. PowerPoint, we’re told, is reducing discourse to bullet points. Search engines lower our intelligence, encouraging us to skim on the surface of knowledge rather than dive to its depths. Twitter is shrinking our attention spans.

But such panics often fail basic reality checks. When comic books were accused of turning juveniles into delinquents in the 1950s, crime was falling to record lows, just as the denunciations of video games in the 1990s coincided with the great American crime decline. The decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously.

For a reality check today, take the state of science, which demands high levels of brainwork and is measured by clear benchmarks of discovery. These days scientists are never far from their e-mail, rarely touch paper and cannot lecture without PowerPoint. If electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting. Yet discoveries are multiplying like fruit flies, and progress is dizzying. Other activities in the life of the mind, like philosophy, history and cultural criticism, are likewise flourishing, as anyone who has lost a morning of work to the Web site Arts & Letters Daily can attest.

Critics of new media sometimes use science itself to press their case, citing research that shows how “experience can change the brain.” But cognitive neuroscientists roll their eyes at such talk. Yes, every time we learn a fact or skill the wiring of the brain changes; it’s not as if the information is stored in the pancreas. But the existence of neural plasticity does not mean the brain is a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience.

Experience does not revamp the basic information-processing capacities of the brain. Speed-reading programs have long claimed to do just that, but the verdict was rendered by Woody Allen after he read “War and Peace” in one sitting: “It was about Russia.” Genuine multitasking, too, has been exposed as a myth, not just by laboratory studies but by the familiar sight of an S.U.V. undulating between lanes as the driver cuts deals on his cellphone.

Moreover, as the psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons show in their new book “The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us,” the effects of experience are highly specific to the experiences themselves. If you train people to do one thing (recognize shapes, solve math puzzles, find hidden words), they get better at doing that thing, but almost nothing else. Music doesn’t make you better at math, conjugating Latin doesn’t make you more logical, brain-training games don’t make you smarter. Accomplished people don’t bulk up their brains with intellectual calisthenics; they immerse themselves in their fields. Novelists read lots of novels, scientists read lots of science.

The effects of consuming electronic media are also likely to be far more limited than the panic implies. Media critics write as if the brain takes on the qualities of whatever it consumes, the informational equivalent of “you are what you eat.” As with primitive peoples who believe that eating fierce animals will make them fierce, they assume that watching quick cuts in rock videos turns your mental life into quick cuts or that reading bullet points and Twitter postings turns your thoughts into bullet points and Twitter postings.

Yes, the constant arrival of information packets can be distracting or addictive, especially to people with attention deficit disorder. But distraction is not a new phenomenon. The solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life. Turn off e-mail or Twitter when you work, put away your Blackberry at dinner time, ask your spouse to call you to bed at a designated hour.

And to encourage intellectual depth, don’t rail at PowerPoint or Google. It’s not as if habits of deep reflection, thorough research and rigorous reasoning ever came naturally to people. They must be acquired in special institutions, which we call universities, and maintained with constant upkeep, which we call analysis, criticism and debate. They are not granted by propping a heavy encyclopedia on your lap, nor are they taken away by efficient access to information on the Internet.

The new media have caught on for a reason. Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not. Fortunately, the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias. Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart.

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is the author of “The Stuff of Thought.”





Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is John Wiley Wily?...No He's Just C&G (Cheap & Greedy)!


Good ole Author's Guild is on the job! They have uncovered what I consider fraud in the way John Wiley has restructured and presented changes in publishers contracts in it's new acquisition Bloomberg Press.

Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly reports it this way:

The Authors Guild has sent an alert to its membership advising former Bloomberg Press authors not to sign a letter sent to them by John Wiley. Wiley took over the Bloomberg book publishing program earlier this year. According to the Guild, the letter is actually a contract amendment that changes the way royalties are paid from a rate based on list price to a rate based on net receipts. The result of the change, the Guild said, will reduce author royalties by as much as 50%.

In addition to the changes in terms, the Guild found Wiley’s presentation of the changes misleading in that the letter begins by stating that Wiley wants to inform authors "about a few differences in the accounting systems of Bloomberg and Wiley that it will be helpful for you to know about." The Guild said that a review of a number of Bloomberg contracts found all royalties based on a discount off the retail list price, although they acknowledged that there may be other contracts based on net receipts. By using the phrase “we are pleased to inform you that we will be paying royalties on the net amount received” Wiley gives the impression that the change is beneficial to authors, the Guild said.

In addition to switch in royalty structure, the new terms also allow Wiley to keep a book in print “with a lowball print on demand royalty of 5% of net receipts” the Guild alert states. “The contract amendment, which provides no threshold level of sales for a work to be considered in print, essentially grants Wiley a perpetual right in an author's book for a pittance. The 5% of net receipts royalty rate for print on demand editions is as low as we've seen.

The change in terms and the manner in which it is presented “is no way to do business.” the alert concludes, and urges Wiley to tear up any signed letters it may have received and “forthrightly explain to its new authors the contractual changes it is seeking and how this may affect their income and their right to terminate their publishing contracts.”

No one from Wiley was available to comment at press time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Apple Gobbles eBook Share; Amazon Needs to Go Cheap to Compete


Apple is devouring the eBook market and the strictly eReading devices need to cheapen-up to remain in the game...At least that's my opinion, as well as others like Geoffrey A. Fowler of the Wall Street Journal:

Fowler writes:

At Steve Jobs’ Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday, he dropped a stat that’s become the buzz of the publishing business. In the first 65 days that the iPad has been on the market with Apple’s new iBookstore, Apple customers have downloaded some 5 million e-books — and the company has captured a 22% share of the e-book market, he said. Presumably that count will go up when Apple releases its iBooks app for the iPhone later this month, too.

There’s plenty of room for debate on what those sales statistics mean, exactly. Apple, like other e-book retailers, “sells” a lot of free e-books that would pad the tally. Also, there are many different ways to count the size of the publishing industry, depending on the sorts of books one includes. Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said it must have been based on “some sort of voodoo algorithm”, given the secrecy that surrounds sales figures in the publishing industry. Jobs said only that he got the market share figure from “five of the six biggest publishers in the US.”

Nonetheless, the stats have renewed speculation about what this means for Amazon’s Kindle, which has led the market both in e-reader and e-book sales. Last month, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos told investors that the Kindle wouldn’t have color for some time, and that the company was focused on making the device serve hard-core readers.

Amazon introduced its current-generation Kindle device in February of last year, and dropped the price to $259 last October.

Writer Seth Godin had a modest proposal for Amazon: Amazon should cut the price of its Kindle dramatically.

Godin dubs a $49 device the “paperback Kindle.” It wouldn’t be hard to hit that price “if you use available wifi and simplify the device,” he wrote. Or even, he suggests, make a “Kindle of the month club,” whereby people who sign up to get a Kindle book each month would get the device for free. The impact could be that the Kindle could quickly blow away some of its competition from companies that depend on gadget sales, not e-book sales, to make a profit.

“You can’t out-Apple Apple,” Godin said in an interview. “If all Amazon does is try to come up with something sort of like an iPad but less colorful, they are going to fail.”

Moreover, he said the current Kindle isn’t cheap enough, and doesn’t contain the social reading functions — call it a virtual book club — that would really differentiate it as a reading device from the iPad.

Already, other single-purpose e-reading devices are playing in the sub-$200 market. Sony has offered discounts that drop the price of its entry-level reader to $169. And Kobo’s basic e-reader sells for $150.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ghostwriting


Ever thought about ghostwriting? It is a way to make some money and polish your skills. Now, don't get me wrong, there are real professionals in this field with many years experience. BUT, I have read some awful stuff supposedly written by some minor celebrity, that in fact was written by a ghostwriter.

If awful ghosts can get into the game, why not some pretty good ghosts too?

Here is an insight into the ghostwriting arena by former ghostwriter, Laura College (pictured), who wrote this for Wordpreneur:

ED. NOTE: Want to be in the market as a ghostwriter? Here’s a piece that’ll help your prospective clients know what’s generally involved in working with one.

I am often asked how the ghostwriting process actually works. What comes first? How does the book progress? Do you have a specific schedule? Although I am only one ghostwriter, I would imagine that all of them work differently. However, for all of you out there who are considering hiring a ghostwriter, this is essentially how the process works.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #1: Consultation

Your ghostwriter should ask to speak with you on the phone to have an initial consultation. During this 15-20 minute conversation, he or she will ask you various questions about the manuscript. How long should it be? What is the subject or genre? Will there be any research involved? This consultation is meant to give the ghostwriter a basic understanding of what you are looking for.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like during the consultation, but answer the ghostwriter’s questions as well. This should give you both a general idea of how well you will work with each other in the future.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #2: Agreement

Once you and your ghostwriter have talked about the proposed project, it is time to make the agreement. Most ghostwriters, myself included, have a standard contract that we use for each and every project. The only specifications are the price and the deadline, which you and your ghostwriter will have to negotiate.

A word to the wise, however: Most ghostwriters will not do much in the way of negotiation. The price is set by the ghostwriter’s experience and skills, and if you can’t afford to pay the asking price, you’re better off finding another writer. And as far as deadlines go, your ghostwriter will finish your manuscript as quickly as he or she possibly can. It is rare that we can pinpoint an exact date of completion.

Once you have solidified the terms, you should both sign the contract and keep a copy for your records.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #3: Research

Once the ghostwriting process has officially started, it will be time to compile all of the necessary research. This must either be provided by you (the client) or performed by the ghostwriter. You will typically pay a lower price if you are able to provide the bulk of the research to your ghostwriter.

Obviously, non-fiction ghostwriting will require substantially more research than fiction ghostwriting, though novels often require a fair bit of planning. If no research is required at all, skip ahead to the next step.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #4: Outline/Planning

Some ghostwriters (and writers in general) outline, while others don’t. I personally abhor the entire outlining process, and I never do it. If my clients offer me an outline from which to work, I won’t say no to it, but I’ve never been inclined to plan out my books in that fashion.

That said, however, planning in general is an integral part of the ghostwriting process. For example, if your ghostwriter is penning a fiction novel, he or she will want to know if you have any specifications with regard to:

•Plot Sequence
•Characters (i.e., names, physical descriptions, etc.)
•Setting (i.e., city or town, winter or summer, etc.)
•Pace
•Length
•Point of View (i.e., first person omniscient, third person, etc.)
•Tense
•Anything Else
Most ghostwriters will allow you to specify as much as you want about the novel. If you know exactly how Chapter One, Chapter Two and all of the rest of the chapters will progress, feel free to give those details to your ghostwriter.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #5: First Draft

Different ghostwriters handle the first draft in different ways. Some will write the entire first draft of the script with absolutely no input from their clients, then ask the client to review it when they are finished. Others, such as myself, will submit the first draft in small increments so that you can monitor the progress. If you have a preference, be sure to tell your ghostwriter.

Depending upon how your ghostwriter works, the first draft could take three weeks or it could take three months. Some first drafts might take up to a year with certain ghostwriters. I typically finish the first draft of a fiction manuscript within two months, then spend the subsequent month with revisions.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #6: Revisions

If your ghostwriter is worth his or her salt, free revisions will be included in the price of the manuscript. However, don’t expect to be afforded unlimited revisions. The standard is 3-5 revisions per chapter, as long as the revisions don’t significantly alter the course of the plot. For example, if your ghostwriter finishes the entire novel and you decide you want it to be set in New York City rather than San Diego, your ghostwriter is probably going to charge you for those changes.

The Ghostwriting Process Step #7: Final Draft
Once you have requested all of the revisions and made your peace with the manuscript, your ghostwriter will conduct a final read-through and make any grammatical or syntactical revisions. You will then be provided with the final draft (usually electronically, unless specified otherwise) and you can enjoy your manuscript!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Editors


A little writers' advice tonight...Understanding editors and editing. And I could probably use editing help on this blog!

This insight comes from Jennifer Tribe (pictured) of Highspot Inc:

If you are interested in creating information products, you will very likely deal with editors throughout your career. You may need someone to edit a book, review a special report, or tighten up a magazine article. Even if you are a brilliant writer, it always helps to have someone else look at the work with fresh eyes.

Most of these editors will be people you hire on a freelance or project basis. To get the most out of such a relationship, it helps to be clear about what you need and what you can expect.

To start, you should know what kind of editing you are looking for. There are many different levels and varieties of editing. Probably the three you will encounter the most are substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading.

Substantive editing. Sometimes called developmental editing, substantive editing looks at both the content and structure of a manuscript as a cohesive whole. Does the story or argument flow logically? Are there obvious gaps in a certain area? Too much information someplace else? Substantive editing can involve re-ordering large chunks of text, removing text, adding text, and even rewriting.

Copyediting. Probably the most misused of all the terms, copyediting is often used as a catchall phrase for any and all kinds of editing. Strictly speaking, however, copyediting checks for errors in grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style, internal consistency, cross-referencing, labeling and so on.

Proofreading. Proofreading is the final review of a fully formatted and typeset manuscript. It is meant only to catch small errors such as the odd spelling mistake or hyphenation snafu that might have been missed at the copyediting stage, or that appeared during the layout process.

The above definitions are fairly standard but there are variations. Not every editor defines editing terms in the same way. It is therefore crucial that you discuss in detail the exact nature of the services your editor will provide.

You will also want to clearly discuss the fee arrangement. Some editors charge by the page or word, while others charge by the hour. Still others charge a flat project fee. One method of charging is not necessarily better than other. Just be sure you know what you will get for your money. If you are being charged by the hour, ask the editor to provide an estimate up front of how long the project will take so there are no surprises when the final invoice arrives.

The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to have a written contract signed before any work begins. A contract will typically include a:

•detailed description of the services to be provided
•statement of the fees and payment schedule, and
•timeline for the work to be completed, including any project milestones.

Depending on the scope and nature of the project, your contract may also include a number of other considerations. An important clause to include, especially on a book project, is one that deals with copyright. You want to make sure that, as the author, you retain all rights to the material no matter how much editing or rewriting the editor may do on your behalf.

Many editors will supply a contract, but be prepared to create one yourself if they do not.

Here are a few final tips for working with an editor:

Some editors specialize either by format, by topic, or both. For example, an editor might be a specialist in audio scripts or might focus solely on medical books. You may want to look for an editor with particular expertise in your subject matter, especially if you are writing about a highly specialized field.

•Be open-minded towards an editor’s suggestions and changes. It can be hard on the ego to see your painstakingly crafted manuscript go under the editor’s knife. But keep in mind that if an editor is making alterations, it’s because he or she thinks it will improve your work. And in the end, a good product makes you look good too.
•Establish and maintain clear lines of communication. Know what your expectations are and convey them. Ask the editor to keep you in the loop as the work progresses.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

iPad Magic Brings People Together


The potential for the iPad is growing it seems. Educators see it as a more interactive, group, classroom learning device; doctors are using it on their hospital rounds to explain and show patients diagnoses and conditions and on and on and on!

The computer, mouse and keyboard is a one-on-one operation, the iPad is mobile and can be shared and used in unique ways through apps that can control many iPads at once from an iPhone, for example, and be used in group functions...

Marco R. della Cava reported on this iPad trend in USA Today:

As an app developer, Bess Ho typically cuts a serious figure as she sits writing computer code into the wee hours.
But not today. Right now she looks like a crazed kid at a carnival amped up on cotton candy as she and three other programmers all stab their fingers wildly at the same iPad tablet.

"Get that mouse, but not the cheese!" she yells on stage at a recent gathering of iPad app makers here on the joint campus of eBay and PayPal.

An unofficial variation of the arcade game Whac-A-Mole, Ho and her teammates' Whack A Mouse — one of dozens of apps created over the course of this two-day conference — appears at a glance to be nothing more than another computer game. In reality, it's nothing less than a window into the iPad's most revolutionary feature: its ability to literally bring people together.

INSIDE THE APP WORLD: See what happens with 5 ideas

"There's a potential here that is just starting to be realized," says Dom Sagolla, who helped create Twitter and is founder of the iPadDevCamp, which drew nearly 350 developers from a range of states and countries to brainstorm and share code. "The question is, what is the iPad's role in a group, public setting?"

Significant, it seems. Though smartphones and laptops are typically one-on-one devices, Apple's 2-month-old baby — which already has sold 2 million units priced at $499 to $829 — has everyone from developers to end users gaga over what they say is a coming cultural shift in the way groups will interact with a high-tech device.

Less a computer and more a digital coffee-table book with infinite content, the iPad has rendered its technology invisible in order to spotlight information that often is meant to be shared.

"By moving the keyboard and mouse into the Stone Age, the iPad has created a new dimension of interaction with a device," says Peter Friess, president of the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

"Suddenly, it's not just about you and a computer. It's about you and your friends and that screen. That's different."

Read more at http://alturl.com/6efe

Saturday, June 5, 2010

FastPencil = Higher Margins for Authors


I'm always on the lookout for publishing sources that help writers get published fast and simple...and I discovered FastPencil in a PRNewswire press release.

FastPencil appears to be a great resource for writers so check it out at http://www.fastpencil.com/ :

FastPencil Puts Authors on the iPad With New iBookstore Publishing Service
FastPencil Automatically Transforms Digital Content for Easy Distribution to Apple's iBookstore


Next generation publisher, FastPencil, today expanded sales opportunities for authors by announcing iBookstore distribution. FastPencil makes the process seamless for authors to get their content into any channel by providing them with an end-to-end publishing solution that enables them to write, publish and sell books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and now the iBookstore for iPad readers.

"With over 2 million iPad units sold already, Apple is revolutionizing the publishing industry," said Michael "Mash" Ashley, FastPencil Co-Founder and CTO. "Authors want to be part of the revolution, they want their books everywhere. The beauty of FastPencil is that we automatically turn a manuscript into an eBook and put it into the iBookstore as well as Kindle and the entire Ingram Digital network so the author can focus on writing great books."

The iBookstore, announced this past March in conjunction with the iPad, is reinventing the publishing industry and giving consumers a new avenue for purchasing and accessing literature. FastPencil is dedicated to making it easy, fun and economical for anyone to write a book and the iPad makes it even more profitable to be an author with little cost or risk by providing a new platform to sell books.

"Last year 764,448 titles were produced by self-publishers and just 288,355 titles were published through traditional publishers," said Steve Wilson, FastPencil Co-Founder and CEO. "With so much happening in the industry right now including new devices, formats and rules of the game, authors need to hedge their bets with a device and format agnostic service that takes care of the transformation for them and future-proofs their work."

Read more: http://alturl.com/tu3y