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The idea behind the theory was that with most products (say books) a few items produce most of the sales. (Look at the left side of the graph on your right.) Most items (like books) don't generate a lot of sales. They end up in the long, tail-like section of the graph at your right. However, if you consider all the items (like individual book titles) in that long tail, you're talking a lot of items. If you could find a way to sell a few of all those items in the long tail, you'd be talking a lot of items. Or, to put it in booky terms, even if you don't sell a lot of books for each individual title in that long tail, if you continue to sell them, you're still selling a lot of books.
However, when you're talking books, if you consider all the books in that long tail, you're also talking a lot of items to have to read. Anderson quotes publishing executive Marcello Vena as saying, "More than plain money, the available reading time is the single most relevant resource that affects book consumption...It cannot be overstressed that while the supply of digital books is unlimited…the demand is not, because it is constrained by time."
Anderson also talks about how in days of not-so-old even a book by a name writer from a big publisher "had a matter of mere weeks to find traction in the marketplace before losing its spot on a bookshop’s front table." But e-book authors' work "can live in shimmering cyber-beauty everlasting , the ebook-eternal, text without end, amen and amen." Sounds good doesn't it? But as Anderson says, it could be "decades before anybody can get around to reading your book. If anyone ever does. Granted, it will be there waiting, as new as the moment you pushed the “publish button.” But so will everybody else’s books."
Very interesting article, particularly if you enjoy being depressed.
Sorry for the extreme lack of blog posts and news on here. I've been very busy with lots of projects- including my first book as author. I usually just post quick news to my Facebook Page and Twitter. So feel free to follow me there, but I'll try to blog news more often. Lots of good monstery mayhem coming up!
The new George Brown , Class Clown book came out way back in August but it's Halloween themed, so I thought it was the right time to post about it. The brilliantly titled- Burp or Treat... Smell my Feet! is a double book Super Special and full of spooky and silly mischief from GB and his pals.
The executives behind McSweeney’s intends to transform the company into a nonprofit. The independent publishing house was launched in 1998 as a for-profit business.
In an interview with SFGate, founder Dave Eggers explained why the company is heading in this direction: “We’ve always been a hand-to-mouth operation, and every year it gets just a little harder to be an independent publisher. An independent literary title that might have sold 10,000 copies 10 years ago might sell 6,000 now, for example…It just seemed that increasingly so many of the things that we wanted to do were nonprofit projects and were not really things that you could reasonably expect to break even on.”
This plan will be set in motion by next month with the hope of transitioning into a 501(c)(3) organization within a year. There will be no changes made to the editorial team. Once the switch takes place, the staff can actually take on projects that were put on hold including an expanded poetry series, a fiction anthology written by South Sudanese women, and the Collins Library.
“This is, flat out, one of the best Hollywood memoirs ever written… An absolute treasure,” raves Booklist in a starred review of Norman Lear’s memoir, Even This I Get to Experience.
The creator of such iconic and unprecedented hit shows as “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” Lear reinvented television comedy in the ‘70s. At one point, he had nine shows on the air, and at their peak, his programs were watched by 120 million people a week.
Now, Lear is telling his story, from his Depression-era days growing up with a dad sent to jail for scheming to sell fake bonds, to becoming the highest-paid comedy writer in the country, working for Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Martha Raye, and George Gobel. A member of a B-17 bomber crew in WWII, Lear made it onto Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” and was presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President Clinton.
Dave Itzkoff, writing about Even This I Get to Experience in the New York Times, cites Lear’s influence on Roseanne Barr, Rob Reiner, and Trey Parker. Itzkoff quotes Parker, creator and producer of “South Park” with Matt Stone, as saying that Lear’s work “had an immeasurable impact on that show and its satirical, scared-cow-slaughtering sensibility.”
Now, in his book out today from Penguin Press, we all can read of the events and people that had an immeasurable impact on Norman Lear, and shaped his sensibility.
The team at the independent publishing house, Sourcebooks, recently celebrated the company’s 27th anniversary. A poetry contest was held to honor this momentous occasion.
Altogether, the staff partnered together and penned several haikus, sixteen poems, and one rap song. Follow this link to read a creation called “Day One” written by Phil Norton, Sharon Schmid, Tina Silva, Kelly Lawler, Kelsey Kulp, Agnes Godziszewski, Steve Geck, and Jean Johnson.
It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. We school our kids in this from the first soccer kick on.
Bestselling author and management guru Dov Seidman built a brand around his hit 2011 book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything, on the business of creating more ethical corporate cultures, and uses the phrase “How Matters” in some of his company’s materials, notes the New York Times. The book’s premise is that it is no longer what you do that matters most and sets you apart from others, but how you do what you do.
In his foreword to How, President Bill Clinton said, in part:
“My friend Dov Seidman has dedicated his life’s work to studying how people conduct their business and their lives. As we settle into the twenty-first century with all of its unique challenges . . . it’s clear that people worldwide will rise or fall together. This new focus will require all of us to think about the how, and to find new ways to take action to solve the global issues that none of us can tackle alone.”
Chobani, America’s top yogurt maker, launched a brand campaign created by ad agency Droga5, with the bold tag “How Matters” and tweeted:
Then, reports Jonathan Mahler in the New York Times, Seidman sued Chobani and Droga5, and requested a court order to stop the campaign as an infringement on his trademark for the word how.
Forbes’ Phil Johnson wonders why “all parties are blinded to a valuable opportunity”:
“For full disclosure, I’ve met Dov Seidman and immensely admire his book How, for its business philosophy. I’ve also heard Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani, speak and was inspired by his passion, not to mention his yogurt. Not least of all, as the founder of an advertising agency, I’m in awe of Droga5, which has achieved megastar fame for its brilliant work for brands like UNICEF and Coke. So, why are these wildly successful people fighting?”
Why, indeed? Perhaps Dov Seidman, Chobani, and Droga5—creative minds all—can agree that how truly does matter in everything, from book publishing to consulting to yogurt, and the decision on how it ends will not be decided in court.
HarperCollins plans to expand the existing Harlequin publishing program in Hamburg to establish HarperCollins Germany.
Harlequin’s Hamburg office will continue its regular operations. The inaugural list for HarperCollins Germany will feature approximately 50 titles and launch in Fall 2015; it includes The List by bestselling thriller writer Daniel Silva.
Here’s more from the press release: “Germany has one of the strongest European publishing markets and is home to Harlequin’s most successful European office, which will provide the resources to fully support HarperCollins titles. HarperCollins English language publishing imprints, along with local German editorial, marketing, and sales professionals, will collaborate to select titles for publication from the various HarperCollins divisions around the world.”
#1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen talked recently to Newsday about bringing Skink — the beloved vigilante ex-gov of Florida whose unique brand of swamp-justice has made him a star of six Hiaasen adult novels — to YA readers “before he got too old and cranky.”
Long listed for the 2014 National Book Award, Hiaasen’s first book for teens, Skink No Surrender, features the ragged, one-eyed renegade helping 14-year-old Richard rescue his teenage cousin Malley, who has run off into trouble with an older guy she met on the Internet.
Why Skink for kids? Hiaasen told Newsday:
“Skink knows his way around the wilderness. That’s the kind of person you want with you if you’re trying to do a rescue. He’s his own scruffy version of SEAL Team Six. Kids like characters who can sometimes defy authority if it’s for a good cause. Skink is not a model citizen. But he does have character traits. He does have honor. He does have a strong moral compass. These are all good things for kids to find in a character. I’ve had people show up at book signings dressed as him. They’ll have a shower cap and an eye patch.”
When asked how he managed to capture and maintain the voice of a 14 year old writing in first person as Richard, Hiaasen answers, “I’m lucky because I’ve got a built-in test market in the family. One of the things that you learn as a reporter, or you better learn, is you learn to listen. Driving kids around in a car, you listen to how kids talk, the cadence, what they’re talking about.”
In Skink No Surrender, Newsday’s Beth Whitehouse notes, Hiaasen emphasizes the importance of the environment and protecting species. Skink hands Richard a copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
“Silent Spring is an important book. It’s as important a book now as it was in the ’60s. I’m not proselytizing about it. If five kids go read that book, those five kids are going to be changed by it. But I don’t do it in a preachy way. I do it in a casual way.”
Carl Hiaasen has read his audience right. Skink No Surrender is set to debut on the New York Times bestseller list this weekend.
Speaking in front of people terrifies me. So last week when I had a fifteen minute slot to fill as a speaker at the Orange County Children’s Book Festival, I called a friend and told her she needed to share the time with me. The funny thing is, ask me to sing the National Anthem […]
“I must stop this. I mustn’t be this way. Look. Suppose a young man says he’ll call a girl up, and then something happens, and he doesn’t. That isn’t so terrible, is it? Why, it’s gong on all over the world, right this minute. Oh, what do I care what’s going on all over the world? Why can’t that telephone ring? Why can’t it, why can’t it? Couldn’t you ring? Ah, please, couldn’t you? You damned, ugly, shiny thing. It would hurt you to ring, wouldn’t it? Oh, that would hurt you. Damn you, I’ll pull your filthy roots out of the wall, I’ll smash your smug black face in little bits. Damn you to hell.” (Dorothy Parker, “A Telephone Call.”)
After seeing some alarming comments on Read Roger and Facebook I feel the need to point out something I thought everybody knew: the Horn Book, like our sisters at SLJ, Booklist, and BCCB, does not charge authors or publishers for book reviews. Publishers Weekly and Kirkus do offer fee-based reviewing services but these are in addition to (and labelled as such) their regular reviews, which are free. Personally, I think reviews you have to pay for are a waste of money and a source of the worst kind of mischief.
People have also questioned the relationship of advertising pages and review coverage, and this is totally fair game for examination: do advertising dollars buy reviews in a quid pro quo arrangement? Absent the presence of damning emails or something, I think it would be hard to prove either way, because advertisers tend to spend their money in places that are saying nice things about their products. This is not absolute, though: I once heard our wonderful ad director Al tell a marketing director at a Big Five publisher that they should be buying more ad space because we were giving them so many good reviews. Her response? “Sure, but how many of those are starred reviews?” It’s never enough. But, no, at the Horn Book we don’t review (or star) books on the basis of who is buying advertising pages. (We do offer products such as Talks With Roger that are paid for by publishers but are clearly labelled as “sponsored content” and are separate from our review coverage.)
Something I have intuited (or outright heard) from some publishers, large and small, is that they think of reviews as part of their promotion efforts. This makes sense from their point of view, in that they use reviews for marketing purposes. But we don’t work for the publishers, we work for our readers. Smart publishers know that this is in their best interest.
Thank you all for your comments, here and on Twitter and Facebook, about the question of reviewing books from self-published authors. I am learning a lot. Hey Zetta Eliott–how about another article from you for our pages on this subject?
A number of commenters have suggested that the Horn Book begin a column highlighting the best of self-publishing for children, but I don’t think this does our readers much of a service. We (he said, drawing his emeralds warmly about him) are not interested in reviewing the best of a certain manner of publishing; we are only interested in the best. The Horn Book Magazine has the luxury of not being a comprehensive review source (TheHorn Book Guideis that, but if I invite self- and e-publishers to add to their already heavy workload, Kitty and Katrina and Shoshana will quit), instead reviewing only those books we think are the very best for young people. As Pat Hughes, with admirable generosity, pointed out, there are plenty of great books that aren’t reviewed by the Magazine, books that get starred reviews elsewhere and even books that win a Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Sometimes it’s that we have a demurring opinion, sometimes we like a book but like other books more, and sometimes we are just wrong. This is why God gave us morethanonereviewjournal. To publish a column of “the best of self-published” is to review with an asterisk.
Here is what I want to try, as an experiment. I invite self-publishing authors to send me ONE book that he or she thinks is comparable in quality to the books recommended in TheHorn Book Magazine. I strongly advise that you read a few issues to see what kind of books we like and what aspects of a book we consider in arriving at our judgments. Be forewarned that I may publicly mock any entry that provides egregious evidence of someone not having a clue; I will also tell you on this blog about the books I like.
Call it a contest, although, unlike most other contests, or, erm, review sources for self-published writers, there is no entry fee. The prize(s) will be a review written by me for the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. I RESERVE THE RIGHT NOT TO GIVE A PRIZE IF I DON’T RECEIVE A BOOK I THINK IS GOOD ENOUGH. The winner(s) and selected runners-up, if any, will also receive a year’s subscription to the Magazine. Here are the rules:
1. Send one copy of one book (either a finished copy, f&gs, or a bound galley) before 12/15/14. It must have a publication date of January 2015 onward. Include ISBN, price, distributor, and email contact for you. It must be a book intended primarily for young readers within the range of 0-18 years. Only printed books (hard- or softcover) may be submitted and they will not be returned to you. You will not be provided with an acknowledgment of receipt.
2: Mail the book to:
The Horn Book Inc.
300 The Fenway
Palace Road Building Suite P-311
Boston, MA 02115
Do not call me. Do not visit me.
3. Make sure it arrives by December 1st and is marked “Selfie Sweepstakes” on the package. Entries arriving after that date or without that marking will be discarded unread.
I don’t know or care if these rules set a high bar or not; they represent what we expect from all publishers. I am very interested to see what I get, and I will keep you posted here on Read Roger about the progress of the submissions. Please put any questions in the comments here, and feel free to distribute notice of this contest among your fellows.
Writers today have more choices than ever when it comes to getting their work in the hands of millions. They can self-publish an eBook, hold out for a traditional publishing deal or do a combination of both, otherwise known as hybrid publishing.
Hybrid publishing uses aspects of traditional publishing (someone is doing the marketing for you), but you’ll still need to see this as running your own business. In our latest Journalism Advice column, we got the inside scoop on the financial realities of hybrid publishing:
The truth is, hybrid authors will need to put aside marketing and production funds to produce a high-quality book. That is not to say you can’t enjoy a high cash flow as a hybrid author, but you need to determine if you are willing to take a bit of a financial gamble. “I hesitate to say it’s a model that leads to success because success varies from author to author,” says Brooke Warner, co-founder of hybrid publisher SheWritesPress.com. “For us the parallel measure would be that a book ‘earns out’ its expenses, meaning that it breaks even. Many more than 10 percent of our authors are breaking even, so for me, this is an exciting place to be.”
The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.
“Don’t Ball the Boss” is a whopper of a good time. If you’re offended by homosexuality, cussing, or super hot British actors, do not read. This hilarious and irreverent short story is featured in The Stoneslide Corrective today, and I dedicate every word to the adoring Cumber Collective and/or my Cumberbitches (depending on how you identify). Definitely rated R.
Don’t Ball the Boss by Sara Dobie Bauer
Rule number one: don’t fuck the boss. Even if he is doing that thing he does when he’s nervous. He pulls on the cuffs of his dress shirt. I don’t think he even knows he does it, and the movement makes me want to rip that Dolce and Gabbana shirt right off. I pretend not to watch.
There are five of us in his hotel room. His driver is in the restroom; then, there’s his tailor and me. His blond agent sits on the edge of his bed with her smart phone. She’s talking to someone and says, “Not her. Don’t make him sit next to her at the premiere.” I can tell she’s eating this up, the way America is eating him up, the way I would love—Jesus, I’m fucking starving.
I give myself permission to look at him when he addresses me.
The tailor, an old dude with glasses like Olivier in Marathon Man, drapes a tuxedo coat over his shoulders.
“How’s the fit?”
I casually address six feet of British politeness and fold my hands over my crotch. “Perfect, sir.”
“I keep telling you not to call me sir. Call me Nicholas.”
Not Nick. I’ve noticed no one calls him Nick. And tonight is his night.
A friend called a week ago and asked if I was looking for work. In Hollywood, shit, we’re always looking for work. I’m a personal assistant to the stars, and I’m real good—like Meryl Streep at Oscar time good. They say I’m discreet and subservient; stars like that.
So my pal calls up and tells me there’s this up and coming British star on his way over for a movie premiere. The film is huge, the kind that makes back its budget in a night, and this Brit plays the bad guy. He’s never been to Hollywood. He needs someone who knows the right barbers, tailors, call girls …
That’s where I come in: David Baron, assistant to the stars. And I’m not given to flights of fancy.
I’ve assisted maybe a hundred newbie celebs over the years and felt not a twitch in my pants. I took one look at Nicholas Pike and thought about quitting because PA’s don’t fuck the client. In the business, we tell stories about PA’s who did. They end up as homeless hookers.
We’re standing around, waiting to leave for his big movie premiere, and his agent won’t shut up. God, I hate her, been listening to her ever since Nicholas got here. She’s too blond, fake blond, and her British accent isn’t like his. Nicholas is all Oxford-sounding; she’s like the wenches in Oliver Twist. She has terrible style, too—wears pink lipstick, and nobody outside 1985 wears pink lipstick.
She’s giving Nicholas the time breakdown for tonight’s movie premiere, and he’s rubbing the space between his neck and shoulder. He’s been doing that a lot, but unlike the cuff pulling, this isn’t a nervous twitch. He injured his neck doing a stunt for a film he’s making in England. I know this because he told me. He tells me a lot of things.
He’s never once in his life considered smoking a bad habit.
Without a stylist, he would have no idea how to dress himself.
Finally, he believes his sudden and newly realized status as a sex symbol makes no sense. (Quote: “I’ve had the same face since I was twenty!”)
I explained to him days ago it’s all about the role. A role can make somebody, and although I haven’t seen him play the villain, I have no doubt: he’s made it. He’s been doing appearances all week, me at his side, and when we step outside the limo, it’s mania. Women are everywhere, screaming his name, waving pictures for him to sign, and he does sign them. We’ve been late to every single appearance this week, because he loves signing things, having his picture taken. He loves his fans, and I wonder if this is a British thing. He has more manners than an auditorium full of nuns.
I’m his assistant, yet he makes sure I order first at restaurants. He holds the door—for me. He smiles at me in crowds, apparently to make sure I’m all right, and it’s his manners that do it. The manners make me want to fuck him, just shove him against a wall somewhere and swallow his protests with hot, sloppy kisses.
There was a New Yorker article that made the rounds about six weeks ago. Why am I writing about it now? Because I just bought a house and I’m super slow. Besides, let’s face it: You get your breaking news from Facebook and Reddit and wherever else. If you’re trying to get it from my blog, I…I feel terrible for you and I’m sorry.
The article in question calls out “The Scrounge of ‘Relatability‘” by Rebecca Mead and it’s a great think piece. It goes into a brief history of the word “relatable,” takes some pot shots at Ira Glass, and completely denounces the concept of relatability as the act of readers or viewers demanding “a flattering confirmation of an individual’s solipsism.” Whoa, whoa, whoa, The New Yorker. You look a little tense. Take a seat, loosen your tie. Would you like a drink? You seem a little…peaked.
I’ll be the first to admit that I talk a lot about the concept of relatability as it, ahem, relates to writing fiction, especially for picture book, middle grade, and young adult readers. And no, I did not have an epiphany reading this op-ed piece about how that’s stupid and “hopelessly reductive” to advocate. I still believe that relatability is very important when targeting younger readers, because one has to take their mindset into consideration. Today’s MG and YA readers, especially, thrive on connection and are going through a lot of stuff that they don’t have the facilities or life experience to process yet. Good stuff, and negative stuff. And a lot of the time, they run into problems when they feel alone. They are bullied, they are abused at home, they feel like they have no voice, something secret gets out about them and they feel like they have no control over it, etc. etc. etc. Readers in these age groups want to read to form relationship.
And relatability is a natural extension of wanting to capture a readership that craves connection. Do we make each character an Everyman meant to emulate and capture the widest possible audience by having the most generic (more relatable?) traits possible? No, nobody said that. I would argue that even the more quirky or odd or unsympathetic characters in fiction are relatable by virtue of how weird they are. Because we all have, at one point or another, felt like a profound freak. And even if they’re not the same kind of profound freak, we find solace in their freakishness.
One of my favorite “weird” characters is Beatrice from Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye In Robot. I have a lot in common with Beatrice and a lot absolutely not in common with her. But something about her is so damn relatable that I can’t stand it. Why? I believe it’s because the character is so specific. She feels real. A lot of detail went into her creation. She is the very opposite of the wide net Everygirl trying to be all things to all people. And yet she’s as relatable as any character I’ve read.
Rebecca Mead says that relatability is a pox because it somehow demands that a work to “be somehow accommodating to, or reflective of, the experience of the reader… (who) remains passive in the face of the book or movie or play: she expects the work to be done for her.” Again, I disagree. Those works that pander to the audience and try to grasp the loose concept of relatability might maybe fall to this flaw.
But when Natalie Standiford was writing Beatrice, I don’t think she was coming from a place of “I have to construct this girl to appeal to all.” She wrote a quirky and TRUE character. Now, what’s true about Beatrice to you might be very different from what’s true about Beatrice to me. And that’s okay. The fact remains that there’s just so much there to choose from about this rich and complex characterization.
Instead of producing a cookie-cutter character and a one-size-fits-all book to strive for Rebecca Mead’s portrayal of relatability, Natalie Standiford created a work where relatability was a natural byproduct of a lot of tough, honest, and incredibly specific characterization and plotting. Nobody cut any corners, in fact, I bet it was harder to write someone so nuanced.
Long story short, I think that PB, MG, and YA readers are precious. And if they’re anything like I was in those age groups, they are searching. They crave connection. If the idea of relatability urges writers on to write even better characters and stories for readers who will very much flourish when relating to the work, I’d say it’s an amazing thing. Let The New Yorker see the glass as half-empty, I see it as half-full of great inspiration and potential for writers.
(Also, and not to ruffle any feathers with my off-the-cuff attempt at humor, I am a damn theatre major and I think that a lot of Shakespeare sucks. It’s a rigorous mental exercise, and a lot of fun to perform, and it revolutionized the English language, and all that is fine and good, but, as a modern woman, I’m happy to leave it at that without putting it on a pedestal. I’ve read the complete works once, when I was young and full of idealism. And you know what? Ain’t nobody got time for that!)
Late last week, Publishers Weekly released its 2014 Salary Survey. While many of the findings were what you would expect—i.e., overwhelmingly white, female employees working longer hours than the year before and with a little more pay—they still manage to leave you feeling, well… a bit disappointed.
Cue Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and read on.
Let’s start with the (kind of) good news: 85% of respondents are at least somewhat satisfied with their jobs. We’ve also seem to have (modestly) overcome a fear of total sector collapse, with 54% of us reporting we are very or extremely confident in the industry’s future. (more…)
Cartoon Network will open its own imprint at Penguin Young Readers Group.
Here’s more from the press release: “The new ‘Cartoon Network Books’ imprint will publish fun and interactive formats such as Mad Libs ®, original fiction novels and chapter books, Activity and Doodle formats, non-fiction handbooks, gift sets, and kits. The 2015 launch will feature books based on the hit shows Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe, followed by Clarence, the upcoming We Bare Bears, and the return of ThePowerpuff Girls in 2016.”
The two organizations have been partners in publishing books based on the Adventure Time, Regular Show, and The Amazing World of Gumball TV series since 2013. To date, more than half a million copies of those books have sold in the United States market. What do you think?
The post below is written by my editorial client Scott Plumbe, who came to me for the first time last year with a highly illustrated MG story about a fox named Theo who has some family secrets and a fascinating adventure across India and the Himalayas. It’s been really great working with Scott, and when he decided to independently release his book with a subscription model, I approached him to write a few articles about his experience.
I’m sure that a lot of my readers are curious about independent publishing and Kickstarter. As a freelance editor, I’m seeing more and more clients self-publishing or pursuing alternate paths to seeing their work in print or digital release. If a guy can make tens of thousands of dollars off of a potato salad, why can’t books get funded?
Here’s Scott’s first article about his process. I’ve contributed to his Kickstarter. If you’re curious, you can find the link here.
The past few weeks have brought about a massive change of direction for me. I am officially starting a Kickstarter campaign. This post is the first of three in which I’ll share my crowdfunding experiences before, during and after my campaign.
I’m an illustrator who has always had a desire to tell my stories through words and pictures. Comics and graphic novels may seem the obvious choice, but the complexity of my story, The Unlucky Fox, isn’t suitable for either. Instead, I’m creating an illustrated novel of 60,000 words and over 100 pages of full-colour illustrations.
After much consideration, I’ve chosen to launch the story through the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. I’m offering potential backers a monthly subscription to the story. Every four weeks, backers receive a fresh chapter replete with newly completed illustrations.
Why crowdfunding instead of other emerging or traditional avenues? Being a freelance artist who has never sought representation, I have a strong streak of DIY in me. And without that characteristic, I don’t think anyone could undertake a crowdfunding campaign.
There are numerous crowdfunding options out there, including Indiegogo. I like the inherent risk aspect of KS — it’s all or nothing! If a campaign fails to meet its target, no money is collected from your backers. This prospect weeds out a lot of potential creators who are not as confident. It places those campaigns that do launch with KS amongst a community of like-minded creators and entrepreneurs. I believe the core KS users are creative types. That means artists, designers, innovators and makers — people accustomed to calculated risks. And let’s face it. As a debut writer, I’m a risk! By choosing KS and sharing the process of bringing my project to life, I hope to reduce the unknown and gain some support along the way.
What kind of preparation is involved?
I took a full year to decide on my current path. During that time, I followed KS projects and undertook a major revision of my manuscript. I also sketched out a list of ideas for possible rewards and sourced suppliers. I’ve spent the last six weeks putting that plan into action. That means finalizing the rewards, writing my pitch, making the video and a website to support it all. I also poked around and made a list of blogs and local news outlets to send press releases to.
Why an incremental subscription release model?
From a traditional publishing perspective, as a first-time author I have many challenges. Not only is it a hurdle to promote the work of a debut author, but add on top of that my desire for accompanying colour artwork! It has taken nearly four years to bring the manuscript this close to completion, but I still have heaps of artwork to finish. I decided to take my cue from the world of comics and TV serials and break up the delivery of the story. Interestingly, some anecdotal evidence from friends in the gaming industry suggests that many game studios are moving away from the traditional Hollywood ‘tentpole’ model, pushing projects forward with incremental expansion instead. They deliver their content in small doses, rather than one big launch. Studios are taking less risk and getting instant audience feedback as they progress. In their case, the result is a product that essentially has no end and can lead to a more empowered fan base.
What are your risks and challenges?
I have many! Most are obvious, while others are specific to my story. In particular, the chance of not connecting with an audience is notable. The KS community is primarily adult, not the young teens my novel is written for. But encouragingly, there have been several successful campaigns for young readers. Most notably, Augie and the Green Knight that earned nearly $400,000 in pledges. Of course, this is the exception and not the rule!
Well, I guess it’s time to hit LAUNCH!
I’ll check back in when my campaign is underway.
Ronald Miskoff and Liz Fuerst, two professors from the Rutgers University Department of Journalism & Media Studies, have compiled a digital anthology entitled 9/11 Stories: The Children.
The stories were sourced from the 9/11 Student Journalism Project. The participating student reporters spoke with 20 children who lost a parent and 1 parent who lost a child from the September 11th attacks.
The book itself contains original interviews, photographs, and videos. The funds generated by book sales will be donated to a 9/11 educational foundation under the direction of the North Jersey Media Group.
What I’d like to do is take that idea a step further and invite you into my brain. It’s fascinating to see what someone does, externally, on the daily. But what are they thinking while they do it? Well, below is what I’m thinking these days. Of course this shifts and morphs based on external situations and forces. For example, a few weeks ago I was thinking “Is summer almost over? How did that happen? I need to go on vacation, quick!” and about 6 months ago I was on the red carpet at the Divergent premiere and thinking “Theo James looks rather dashing in his suit!” But now that I’m back into the the swing of things for work, that’s on my mind most. So come on over and take a peek and what’s in this crazy thing I call a brain. These are not in order of priority. Thoughts don’t work that way!
1. What do I need to print to take home with me today? It’s Friday, and that means the weekend provides some serious reading time. I’ve been more cognizant of having a work/life balance, so I won’t take home 3 full manuscripts this weekend because it’s unrealistic and I will forget what my husband’s face looks like. I’m going to go for: 1 contract for review, 1.5 manuscripts (both which do not need line edits), and a synopsis that I’ve been working on. And yes, I still print my manuscripts. What’s it to you?
2. Where are we with XX contracts? These days contracts are taking longer and longer to negotiate with publishers. With all of the industry upheaval, each side is trying to look into their crystal ball and figure out the new and vitally important things we need to ensure are in the contracts to cover our needs. In my case, the needs are the needs of my authors. Right now I have 7 outstanding contracts on my personal list that I wake up thinking about almost every day, even if it’s just for a minute or two. Of course I have a badass contracts person handling them, but we go over them together weekly.
3. Damn. B&N didn’t take any (or very little) copies of title X. What can we do to help the book get the exposure it needs for readers to find it? I can only speak for my agency, though I know colleagues at other companies have the same worries about this. In this ever-changing industry, it’s getting harder and harder for new voices to be discovered. We’ve cultivated a Client Care program that focuses on: publicity & marketing (both traditional as well as school & library) as well as educating authors/illustrators to give them the tools they need in today’s publishing world.
4. This work is just not at the level it needs to be for me to take it on submission. This happens more frequently than I think people talk about, and not just with queried project. Even with clients I’ve worked with for a long time. We can both do a ton of work on it, but it Just. Isn’t. There. And I have to be the one to break that news. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I was sending out work that wasn’t up to snuff with the competitive market. It would be doing a disservice.
5. This manuscript is amazing! Where am I going to submit? This is always, always going on in the back of my head as I start to approach submission time for a project. It’s like I’ll be reading and email and suddenly think “ya know who would be perfect for project X….” and I jot it down. This goes on over and over until submission time comes, and then I’ll sometimes share my sublist with the team to see if they have any thoughts or ideas to add. I love this part of the process. It’s all about sharing a great story with the right person.
6. I should tweet/FB/pin/post about that. “That” is referring to whatever awesome thing one of our clients is doing. But of course, I don’t want to be just a self-promoter online, so I also try to balance it with enough social media that’s simply for funsies. It’s a lot of work to be mindful of that balance!
7. What is the next big industry thing to happen? Of course I don’t always have a prediction here, but sometimes I do. And in either case, we’re always touching on the big items in our weekly meetings (at the very least) and how they affect our clients. Right now, it’s the Amazon-Hachette business. We have Hachette authors, and this whole ordeal has really affected their sales. This is the kind of thought that will lead me back to thought #3! And of course we’re discussing who is going to be the next publisher that will be in this situation.
8. I can’t make the email stop; make it stop! Yes, I actually have this thought. Sometimes the sheer volume of email becomes so heavy that all I can think is “stop!” At that point I usually take a walk, have a coffee, come back and plow through. But with it being so easy to stay connected these days, the workload has shifted with a heavy emphasis on email.
9. I wonder if there’s a book in this? I’ll be reading an article, having a discussion, reading a script, a web comic, watching a youtube video…whatever! And usually somewhere in the back of my mind there is something connecting dots and thinking about book potential. If I’m still thinking about it a week later, that’s usually when I’ll bring it up in our weekly meeting.
10. I need to follow up with X person on Y thing. There is a lovely app called Mailbox, and without it, I would go crazy. It will pop something back into my inbox when it’s time for me to follow up, based on a pre-determined date/time that I set. I don’t even remember what I did pre-Mailbox. I think I always had 10 or so To-do lists going at a time (I still do this a little). Either way, there is ALWAYS things to follow up on. Where are our cover comps? What’s the eta on the publicity and marketing materials? Where is our payment? Did you lock in that date with the venue? Have you had a chance to review our contract notes? How are revisions going? etc, etc. A lot of the work I do is about keeping things moving. I don’t want anything to slip through the cracks for our clients. And also, I have an amazing, godsend of an assistant who takes over most of this follow-up so I can focus on bigger picture items. Like “how many books are selling for title X?” And yes, I just snuck in an 11th thought to this top ten list!
There you have it. And that’s just the Top Ten (11)! I’d love to hear about what goes through your mind on the daily, too. Please share in the comments!
Joanna Volpe is a literary agent who represents all brands of fiction, from picture books to adult. When she’s not reading, she’s either cooking, playing video games, or hanging out with her husband and chihuahua.
Until 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, Georgia time) on October 20, 2014, I'll be accepting pitches for articles in the 2016 Writer's Market. Sometime in the end of October, I'll start making assignments. If you're interested in pitching an article idea or three, read on.
What I Like So, what do I prefer? The best way to figure that out is to read a recent edition or two of Writer's Market. (Order the 2015 Writer's Market here). Anyone familiar with the book will know that I'm looking for articles that will help freelancers find more success from a business perspective.
Previous articles have tackled queries, book proposals, taxes, record keeping, business management, and more. If you're an experienced source and can interview other sources, that is ideal. However, I'm unlikely to assign featured interviews with writers (as I tend to tackle those myself).
I'm also not interested in articles on the craft of writing. While I think those pieces are extremely valuable, they're just not a good fit for Writer's Market. If you're in doubt, go ahead and pitch it. Read the full guidelines to learn how.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: 2016 POET'S MARKET Running until 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, Georgia time) on October 15, 2014, I'll be accepting pitches for articles and original poems in the 2016 Poet's Market. Sometime in the end of October, I'll start making assignments. If you're interested in pitching an article idea or three-or submitting original poems, read on.
What I Like As with Writer's Market, the best way to figure out why I like is to read a recent edition or two of Poet's Market. (Order the 2015 Poet's Market here). Anyone familiar with the book will know that I'm looking for articles that will help poets find more success, including articles on business, promotion, and the craft of poetry-which is one major difference between the two books.
Here's another major difference: I'm seeking previously unpublished poems! Yes, I want article pitches, but I also want poems. I will choose between 10 and 20 to publish.
So get together your article ideas, dust off your previously unpublished poems, and start submitting. But first, read the full guidelines to learn how.
In my career, I’ve worked a lot with rhyming picture book texts. Not on my agenting list, unfortunately, since the market for rhyming picture books was (and remains) tough. Of my dozen or so picture book author clients, most were author-illustrators who could bring a unique art voice and sense of balance between text and image, the rest were prose picture book writers, and only one worked exclusively in rhyme. Tough odds. The rhyming one did get a book deal during our work together (the absolutely charming GOODNIGHT, ARK by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman), but I heard over and over again from editors that rhyming was tough.
Well, let’s leave rhyming out of it and talk about rhyming’s black sheep sister for a minute: rhythm. If you want to write rhyming picture books, I would actually argue that rhythm, not rhyme, is king of the genre. Most people get so caught up in finding the right rhyme that their rhythm is all over the place and completely sinks the manuscript, almost before it gets started. Are you writing in rhyme and failing to count your syllables? Disaster lies in that direction.
The biggest mistake people writing rhyming PBs make is letting rhyme dictate story. Why does the dog have fleas? Because it has to eat cheese in order for the rhyme to work? Wrong. You’ve written yourself into a prison and you’re going to keep sacrificing the integrity of the story just to hit your rhymes. That’s not great.
The second biggest mistake, as you might be able to guess, is not paying attention to rhythm. If you aren’t yet familiar with syllable counts, iambs, trochees, and all the other trappings of verse, it may be worth your while to get a high school or college poetry textbook. That’s right. A textbook. Because there is stuff to learn about rhythm that was so intricate that you quicky repressed it in the 9th grade. People have been hammering away at poetry for centuries and centuries. Give their hard work at least a cursory nod and study the poetic form before you throw your hat in the ring.
You could have the most beautiful rhyme in the world but if the read-aloud factor isn’t there, and it’s pitted like a road after winter, with starts and stops, your rhyming picture book will go flat. And if you aren’t reading your work aloud as you compose or edit, especially for rhyming picture books, what, exactly, are you doing?! That is absolutely essential, because how it sounds in your head probably isn’t how it sounds out in the air.
Ideally you compose for content (story) and cadence (rhythm). Those two come first and foremost. Only when you master rhythm can you even think about incorporating rhyme.
Judy Platt is celebrating her 35th anniversary at The Association of American Publishers. The organization honored Platt with a lunch in DC today. As Director, Free Expression Advocacy, Platt heads up the AAP’s Freedom to Read Committee and the AAP’s International Freedom to Publish Committee.
In her tenure with the group, Platt has led the AAP’s advocacy work against book censorship since before Banned Books Week started 32 years ago. She has been the AAP’s liaison with Banned Books Weeks since the movement began. During that time, Platt has seen book censorship movements evolve.
“I’d say that in my early years at AAP the majority of censorship was focused on sexually explicit materials, or ‘pornography’ and efforts were made to keep such materials away from adults as well as minors on the questionable assumption that access to such materials resulted in anti-social behavior,” she told GalleyCat via email. (more…)
I stumbled upon a blog post by popular Kiwi Children’s book author – Joy Findlay – who was my special guest on Author Interview Thursday in 2013. Joy has more than 60 published children’s books and I have several of them on the Kindle app on my tablet. A lot of her books have achieved best seller status on the Amazon store.
The children’s book market is evolving and its important children’s book authors and publishers stay close to the grapevine to discover what new trends are pushing this market.
Over summer, I got an email from Amazon asking if I’d be a beta tester for their Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. Sadly, as I was on holiday and then in the middle of a house move, this was not possible. Fast forward to early September, and Amazon announces the launch of the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator. I recently read a book by Deborah Bradley that was formatted really nicely and she said it was created using KDP’s Comic Book Creator. I thought to myself that if she achieved those results with that program, It’d be interesting to see what a program specifically designed for Kids books can produce.
Joy Findlay has done an awesome job giving a step-by-step guide on how to use this new tool by Amazon and ends the post with her opinion on the advantages and disadvantages. It’s a great read and I know you’ll enjoy it. Click the link below and head over to Joy’s blog. Remember to leave a comment or question as I’m sure she’ll be glad to know you stopped by and will gladly entertain your thoughts. Enjoy.
Query letters are supposed to be catchy, succinct, and intriguing. They’re also a pain in the ass to write. As I prepare to sell my manuscript, Bite Somebody, I must first prepare a dreaded query letter. That’s where you come in.
Kindly read the following query letter and tell me if it a) makes you wanna read my book and b) flows and/or makes sense. If all goes well, maybe I’ll mention you in the Acknowledgments.
Bite Somebody Query Letter: First Draft
All Celia wanted was her first bite and a cute boyfriend.
She expected her life to change when she became a vampire, but she’s the same chubby, awkward Pretty Woman-loving girl she’s always been. Abandoned by her maker, the opportunity for change arrives in the form of Ian, her new neighbor at Florida’s Sleeping Gull Apartments.
Ian is a goofy ex-surfer who likes Jeopardy and, to her surprise, Celia. Despite the nagging of Imogene, her only vampire friend, Celia can’t get her fangs to go “boing” at the right time, and her first bite seems less and less attainable.
When Ian makes his romantic move, Danny, Celia’s jerk of a creator, returns for a favor. He wants to harvest Ian’s human blood, because Ian’s blood smells like Christmas wrapped in bacon and they could make a fortune. But the last thing Celia wants is her cute boyfriend dead.
Bite Somebody: A Bloodsucker’s Diary is a 75,000 word YA paranormal romance parody set at the beach, and nothing and nobody are what they seem.
My name is Sara Dobie Bauer. I’m a vampire enthusiast and fan of Christopher Moore and Gregory Maguire. I earned my creative writing degree from Ohio University and am the official book nerd at SheKnows.com. My short fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Stoneslide Corrective, and Solarcide.
A full synopsis and manuscript are available upon request. Intelligent vampire fans who don’t take themselves at all seriously thank you.