In this mixed bag section, I celebrate some of my author friends, their books and other projects. I enjoy talking to other writers to see what drives their passion. There's also advice on non-fiction writng and getting published in the ever-changing digital and print publishing fields. I hope this helps get you inspired to write and finish that manuscript!
Interview With Alice: Life Behind the Counter in Mel's Greasy Spoon
(A Guide to the Feature Film, the TV Series, and More) Author Barry M. Putt Jr.
November 18, 2019
Alice: Life Behind the Counter in Mel's Greasy Spoon published by BearManor Media is the first book on the feature film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the spinoff sitcoms Alice and Flo. In it, author Barry M. Putt Jr. delves into the making of these film and TV classics. The book also contains a 120-question fan quiz, episode logs for both series, and much more. We sat down with Barry to learn how it all came about.
Why did you write the book?
I am a fan of books that explore the history of successful TV shows. I have at least a half a dozen of them on my shelf that focus on series including I Love Lucy, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, The Partridge Family, Bewitched, and more. A book wasn't available on Alice, so I set out to write it. I wanted it to be a one-stop-shop for information about the film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and its spinoff series. Originally the film and Alice were all that was going to be covered in the book. When I saw how integral Flowas to the 'Alice' story, I added it as a final component.
Who is the book geared towards?
Alice: Life Behind the Counter is a book for everyone. Movie lovers will learn the origins of the film and about its production. Fans of Alice and Flo will get a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution of these shows and be able to relive fun series' memories in the episode logs. Trivia buffs can test their film and TV knowledge. History enthusiasts will discover the important role Alice had in moving the women's movement forward.
How important was research?
Essential. The book is based on verified facts. I strove to be as comprehensive as possible. Research was conducted in three ways. Book and print sources provided solid initial information. I was fortunate to have some excellent assistance from the MCCC Library in West Windsor, New Jersey. I used the more than 240 sources I obtained there as a foundation when interviewing 'Alice' cast and crew members. I also watched the film and TV series a minimum of three times paying close attention to detail. I coupled my observations with additional sources to create the episode logs, note sections, and trivia questions.
What surprised you in writing the book?
I was surprised by how many people involved in Alice had ties to the classic sitcom I Love Lucy. Producers, writers, directors, and even 'Lucy' actors, most notably Desi Arnaz, also worked on Alice. The success of the series was entirely its own, but the knowledge that the 'Lucy' professionals brought to it gave the show a rich foundation. Alice ultimately grew to become a comedy classic that focused on relevant issues of its time and ones that continue to resonate with audiences today.
What challenges did you face while writing the book?
The biggest challenge was connecting with the cast and crew. I reached out numerous times to actors, directors, and other professionals requesting interviews to discuss their work on 'Alice'. I spoke with everyone that I was able to. Those that talked to me were delightful and eager to share their experience.
What are you working on now?
My next non-fiction book, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew on Film, TV, and Stage, will be published by BearManor Media in 2021. The book will be a fun, detailed look at these suspenseful productions and will feature interviews with cast and crew members. There is an interactive Facebook page for fans to follow the writing process and ask questions they've always wanted to know about the characters, films, and series. I intend to include answers to these questions in the book.
I am also writing a tween mystery novel currently titled The Case of the Toxic Something. In addition to books, I have written over 40 audio-dramas and have a feature-film project in the works.
An Interview With M.A.S.H. Trivia Book Authors, Christopher and Ryan DeRose
November 1, 2019
Spanning the entirety of the television series M.A.S.H., The M.A.S.H. Trivia Quiz Book saw author Cristopher DeRose team with his son Ryan to create questions that not only entertain and sometimes stump the reader, but also keep alive the joy and quality of a show we still feel the effects of even in 2019, over 65 years following the end of the Korean War and over 35 after the show aired it's final episode.
The M.A.S.H. Trivia Quiz Book is published by Bear Manor Books.
How did you two come to work together on the book?
CD: I'd always wanted to work with Ryan in some capacity for as long he's been around. But the question was which medium it would be and what the actual project would be. I wasn't even thinking about a collaboration when the thought came to me.
RD: I'm not a writer [laughs]. I acted for a while when I was younger, and I know my Dad wanted to work with me, but nothing really panned out. I left acting and went toward athletics and now sports medicine, so when my Dad asked if I wanted to do it, I thought it would be fun. And it was. It was work, but we were able to keep it fun.
Will you two be working together again?
CD: I'd like to. But just like this time, it depends on what it is and if we both have time for it.
RD: Yeah, it would depend on all those things.
What attracted you both to M.A.S.H.?
CD: It was a show my mom enjoyed and I ended up watching it with her. I liked how regardless of which war it was talking about, the humanity of the characters and situations transcended all that and made it something everybody could relate to. It was funny, profound, controversial at points, and sometimes utterly ridiculous. Just like its audience. [Laughs]
RD: It was on all the time when I was growing up and I thought it was smart and funny and I loved the cast, especially Alan Alda.
What are a couple of your favorite episodes and why?
RD: "A War For All Seasons" has to be up there. It's unique in how they had Charles behave and how they showed a whole year in one episode. "Movie Tonight" is a another favorite because it shows humor in the face of adversity, whether it's war or a broken projector. [Laughs] And "Goodbye, Farewll, And Amen" was a great ending for the show.
CD: I really like "Dreams." Not a popular episode, but one of the most powerful, especially how it highlighted Winchester's fears. "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler" is another, because it aired without a laugh track, had a compelling story, and had Dr. Sidney Freedman in it, and I love Sidney. "Heal Thyself" is great too, because it showed that a guest actor like Edward Herr could really be an asset rather than a liability to the show.
Why do we still watch M.A.S.H. as an audience?
CD: I think mainly it's because whether in war or peace, it speaks to our collective humanity as well as us as individuals. Conflict of all kinds and our unique reactions to it will always help to define who we are to ourselves as well as each other.
RD: Yeah, those things really kind of play well in the show, no matter if it's funny or dramatic or sad, it doesn't matter what time period you're talking about, it's about the people.
Which characters that never interacted on the show would you have like to have seen together?
RD: I think having Trapper interacting with Col. Potter would be interesting to see.
CD: I'm not sure I can really see Potter with Trapper or say, Blake being in the same storytelling space with BJ. I think it would be interesting, but it's hard for me to picture it.
Who in your opinion was the best surgeon?
RD: Hawkeye, no question.
CD: I want to say Hawkeye, but I think Winchester was at least as good if not maybe a bit better. I'll get hate mail for that. [Laughs]
RD: I see what you mean, but still… Hawkeye.
Which surgeon would you want to be your doctor?
RD: Again, I gotta say Hawkeye.
CD: I think Hawkeye. Nothing against the others, but he seemed to have a good grasp on how much humor to use and how much seriousness to temper it with.
Are there any episodes you're tired of?
BOTH: Anything involving letters BJ gets from Peg!
Interview: "Bobby in Naziland" By Robert Rosen
The Mac Wire
September 6, 2019
Bobby in Naziland (Headpress), a memoir about growing up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, in the 1950s and 60s, among Holocaust survivors and W.W. II veterans, is the third book from Robert Rosen. Best known for his John Lennon biography, Nowhere Man, he's also written Beaver Street, about his years as a men's magazine editor. In Bobby in Naziland, Rosen brings to life a New York City lost to time—a place where the Second World War lingered like a mass hallucination, racism ran rampant, and the candy store served as the nexus of neighborhood activity. Bobby in Naziland was published September 1st.
Why did you write this book?
The roots of Bobby in Naziland can be found in the opening pages of my previous book, Beaver Street. I describe the scene in my father's candy store, in 1961 when I was nine years old. I'm sitting at the window making change for newspapers, listening to my father, who'd fought in the Second World War, talking to his friends, the candy store regulars, about the Battle of the Bulge. As I was writing this scene, I knew that I was only scratching the surface. I knew that something was going on at that time and in that place that demanded further exploration. So I wrote down everything I could remember about Flatbush in the 1950s and 60s. When I looked back at the 400 single-spaced pages of notes, fragments, ideas, and anecdotes that had accumulated, what jumped out at me were Nazis. They were everywhere. And that's how the book came about.
How is Bobby in Naziland relevant to the world in 2019?
I talk about that in the Afterword: On a personal level, as I was writing the book, my two nephews, who live in Upstate New York, along with a number of their classmates, were being subjected to persistent anti-Semitism in school. They were beaten up; they were pelted with coins; scores of swastikas were drawn on the school's walls; and one of their classmates was held down while a swastika was drawn on her face. My brother, his wife, and two other families complained repeatedly to the school authorities. Nothing was done. Finally, they sued the school district, and the students were awarded $4.48 million. The story was on the front page of The New York Times. And Orange County, New York, is hardly the only place where this kind of thing is going on.Then there's Donald Trump. The racism and hatred that I describe viscerally and in depth in the book is the kind of racism and hatred that Trump knew intimately while he was growing up a few miles from Flatbush, in Queens, and that he and his father, Fred Trump, practiced when they refused to rent apartments to people of color. He knew that that kind of hatred lurked just below the surface, despite the progress American society had appeared to make over the decades. Trump was able to exploit that hatred to win the presidency.
How did you overcome that bigotry?
It was a gradual evolution. The big change came when I enrolled at the City College of New York, in Harlem, and joined the radical student newspaper there, Observation Post. The staff of the paper, most of whom were passionately dedicated to the antiwar movement, were also anti-racist, anti-corporate, and, not surprisingly, super-anti-Nixon. So, I met people who showed me there was another way to be than what I'd learned growing up in Flatbush. I grew my hair long; I became a hippie; and eventually I became the editor of the paper. It was simply a case of meeting the right people at the right time.
How have people in the book reacted to it?
Philip Roth said that it's a curse to have a writer born in the family, and Bobby in Naziland is a pretty good example of why that's true. I did what I could to re-create my family, my neighbors, and Flatbush itself as accurately and vividly as I could. I want readers to know how Flatbush looked, felt, sounded, smelled, and tasted. My brother is the only person in the book who's read it, and he's fine with it. So that's a relief. My father passed away 14 years ago. He hated the candy store, never wanted to talk about it, and after he sold it, pretended it never existed. I'm sure there are parts of the book he'd hate but other parts that he'd be proud of. My mother is still alive. She's 92, living in Florida, having trouble with her eyes, and can no longer read. The only question she's asked me about the book thus far is, "Did you write about the candy store?" I told her I did. She wanted to know why. I said, "Because it was such a big part of our lives for so many years, I couldn't not write about it." I have an aunt who plays a small but crucial role in the book. She asked me to use her real name. Another relative, who's well known in certain circles, gave me permission to use his real name. With most other people I changed their names to protect their privacy. Who knows how they're going to react? Maybe they won't even recognize themselves.
Do you ever go back to Flatbush?
For a long time, no. When I was writing the book I was doing it all from memory. But lately, by chance, I've been going back quite a bit, and it's changed a lot. Flatbush used to be a Jewish enclave. Now, it's primarily people from the Caribbean and Latin America. A section of Church Avenue, which is one of the book's main settings, has been renamed Bob Marley Boulevard. The place on Church Avenue where my father's candy store used to be is now part of the subway station. Not one store is the same. On my block, East 17th Street, the buildings are still there, but they've put up all these fences and planted a lot of greenery, so it looks very different from what I remember. The Parade Grounds, which used to be a dusty place with baseball diamonds and football fields, is now covered with artificial turf and soccer fields. Erasmus Hall High School and the Dutch Reform Church are still there, but the Flatbush Avenue movie theatres are gone, two of them converted to places of worship. The Loew's Kings, however, has been renovated and now it's a beautiful venue for concerts. I saw Crosby, Stills, and Nash there in 2015 and Bikini Kill a couple of months ago. It was surreal walking down the avenue and seeing those names on the marquee.
You can purchase Bobby in Naziland on Amazon. For more on Robert Rosen and his books visit www.robertrosennyc.com
Interview: Author Paula Finn Talks About her New Book on Classic TV Comedy: "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop: Behind the Scenes with Carl Reiner, Norman Lear, and Other Geniuses of TV Comedy"
July 27, 2019
As the daughter of Honeymooners writer Herbert Finn, Author Paula Finn grew up in the culture, surrounded by the brilliance and wit of her father and his colleagues. A former college English teacher and TV documentary researcher, she's the author of ten gift books including When Love Isn't Easy and Make This Your Day.
"Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" features Q&A's with such writers as Carl Reiner (Creator, The Dick Van Dyke Show), Norman Lear (All in the Family, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times), James L. Brooks, (Co-creator, Mary Tyler Moore, Taxi, The Simpsons), Matt Williams (Creator, Roseanne), Al Jean (Longtime showrunner, The Simpsons), and Phil Rosenthal (Creator, Everybody Loves Raymond). Topics include the influence of drugs, tricks for getting inspired, defining comedy, backstories of iconic series and episodes, demystifying the creative process, the realities of writers' rooms, and coping with fear (Norman Lear calls it "shit in the head").
Some of the Q&A's include relevant "Behind the Scenes" sidebar information from additional writers and answers to such questions as, "Was there real beer on the Cheers stage? How did Bill Cosby infuriate Danny Kaye? Which writer passed out mid-joke?"
The book's forewords are by Ed Asner and Carol Kane. It's endorsed by several celebrities including Jay Leno, Paula Poundstone, and Valerie Harper.
Paula chatted with us about growing up in Hollywood, the perks of having a comedy-writing father, and her process in writing the book.
What were some advantages of having a dad who's a comedy writer?
My dad's sense of humor made everything more fun. And one of the best perks was being invited to the closed sets of my favorite TV shows to watch them being filmed. My dad had connections everywhere. One time I wrote for tickets to the 1960's music show, Shindig. They sent back a postcard saying the waiting list was two years. My dad called the producer and got me four tickets for the next week's show.
What are some of your most memorable brushes with celebrity?
Aside from chatting with my favorite sitcom stars at their shows, I knew Jerry Mathers in college. He gave me rides home in his Porsche when my car wasn't running. I was in classes with Lucy Arnaz when I briefly attended a private Catholic school. Jay North went to my orthodontist. Steve Allen and Walt Disney went to my church. And a highlight of my teen years was visiting Sonny and Cher's home in Encino: they invited me in and treated me like an old friend.
Is "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" your first writing effort?
I was always a writer. In high school I was writing a celebrity interview column for my local paper. After college I wrote magazine articles for several years, and then got into writing inspirational gift books and uplifting prose for a variety of gift products. I'm currently building a social media presence with my inspirational quotes (Gifts of Prose). Writing "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" wasn't a stretch, as I'd done nonfiction articles based on interviews for years.
How'd you decide to write "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop"?
I'd originally thought of doing a memoir on what it's like growing up with a funny father. I started by asking some of my dad's colleagues for their recollections of him. Writers like Larry Gelbart and Sherwood Schwartz shared some great memories —but they also told me entertaining anecdotes about their own careers. I realized that a book incorporating a variety of perspectives and stories from many different writers would have a broader appeal. I was also interested in learning how the business had changed since the 1950's, when my dad first started.
What was your process in writing it?
I researched writers and creators of the shows I wanted to highlight and came up with questions (way too many—I ended up with 1300 pages of single-spaced typed transcripts)!
I transcribed the interviews immediately after I finished them. The actual writing was the most fun part but deciding on a format for the material took several months of trial and error. My publisher and I went back and forth on that before essentially compromising with what you see.
What's something you learned about your favorite shows that surprised you?
I was surprised when Jay Kogen told me that when The Simpsons writers do pop culture parodies such as Twilight Zone episodes, they write them entirely from memory— they don't need to re-watch the episodes to do detailed take-offs. And I was surprised by how much luck was involved in the creation of Taxi— Jim Brooks remembers that they were visiting a cab company in NY and at the 11thhour, if they hadn't heard one cabbie say one specific thing — they never would have had the character of Alex Reiger.
In talking with so many legendary writers, what surprised you most about them personally?
The stress they go through to produce. Norman Lear spent the early years of his career weeping and throwing up over deadlines! And many of them lack confidence in their ability to ever write funny again.
How have sitcoms changed through the years?
Obviously, the content has changed dramatically. The early shows' stories were simple, and the subject matter was childish. Characters didn't cope with serious problems or illness. The scope of what the writers could cover was much more limited, and the episodes had little or nothing to do with real life. As writer Joel Rapp says of Gilligan's Island, "You could make up any kind of nonsense for that show!"
The language was clean. Gender roles were different: in early sitcoms, the husband earned the money and the wife/mother was content in the kitchen. With few exceptions, children were raised by their two parents. They were better behaved and didn't disrespect their elders. Contrast that to Bart Simpson!
Most early shows had only one plot per episode, whereas episodes of shows like M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm had multiple storylines. M*A*S*H producer John Rappaport even wrote one with seven stories. ["No Sweat," S9E11]. Racial and sexual diversity was almost absent compared to now. I think TV jokes today are more mean-spirited, and characters are more obnoxious.
I'm sure the writers had a wealth of anecdotes to share. What were some of your favorites?
Seinfeld writer Bill Masters told a hilarious story about pitching to Larry David when Larry had the stomach flu. He calls it "the vomiting story." Interestingly, Larry used that as the idea for the episode "The Shoes," in which Jerry and George are pitching to the head of NBC, and the guy has food poisoning. And Taxiwriter Ken Estin related some cruel pranks that Andy Kaufman played on people.
What's next for you?
I'm getting back to my journalism roots and writing articles on humor-related topics.
And I'm always involved in the inspirational writing. I currently manage three online stores selling gift items that incorporate my motivational quotes. My most recent licensing agreement is with Affirmations Publishing House for an insight pack of 56 affirmation cards titled "Be Good to Yourself."
You can find "Sitcom Writers Talk Shop" on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2tWBXah) and Barnes and Noble (https://tinyurl.com/y6eaaktg) https://tinyurl.com/y6eaaktg or through Rowman & Littlefield at Rowman.com.
Celebrity Author Mark Bego Celebrates September 2019 With His 64th and 65th Books: "Supreme Glamour" With Mary Wilson and "Living The Luxe Life"
The Mac Wire
July 14, 2019
New York Times best-selling author Mark Bego breaks records by releasing two separate books titles in September 2019. One with his longtime best friend, the glamorous Mary Wilson of The Supremes. And, the second one with the brilliant millionaire hotel owner, Efrem Harkham. This brings him to a grand total of 65 published books!
In December of 1975 Bego first met his Motown singing star idol, Mary Wilson in Rochester, New York, while he was working for music industry trade magazine, Record World. At that first meeting Bego proposed that they write a book on The Supremes together. Finally 44 years later Supreme Glamour (Thames & Hudson Publishers), a lavishly illustrated coffee table book on the career of the biggest selling female singing group in the world: The Supremes, will be released in September.
To set the record straight, Bego worked on Wilson's two previous hit books, but Supreme Glamour is a true collaboration for the pair. This book finds the pair telling The Supremes' story with a fresh perspective and many new insights. Friends for five decades, Bego claims, "Mary has shown me how to live life glamorously with passion and flair for years. She is gracious and wonderful, and I am so excited about this book. It is like a Supreme dream come true!"
Mark Bego is the author of the biggest selling Motown book ever published: the eight million-selling Michael! (Jackson), with an Introduction by Mary Wilson. As Mark explains it, "Mary and I have traveled around the world together, and we have worked on many projects together, but Supreme Glamour is the absolute pinnacle." Wilson and Bego most recently worked together on Mark's best-selling celebrity cookbook,Eat Like a Rock Star (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017).
Then there is Living the Luxe Life (Skyhorse Publishing), which Bego wrote with Luxe Hotel chain hotelier-Efrem Harkham. Says Mark, "Efrem is a true inspiration in the business world. He not only owns the Luxe hotels on Rodeo Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, but he shares his secrets to success in his inspirational book. He is a 'rock star' of hoteliers!"
Interestingly enough, the pair first met via one of Bego's rock & roll books. Explains Mark, "One of Efrem's friends had read the book I wrote with Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, and recommended we meet. I was instantly impressed with his 'rags to riches' story. The first day we met I knew this book had to be entitled 'Living the Luxe Life." The book will also be released in September.
According to Bego, "I am genuinely excited to have two new books coming out at once. Thanks to Mary Wilson and Efrem Harkham, I truly am living the 'luxe life' with glamour and flair!"
Remembering Francine By Robert Rosen
Here's a piece that my longtime friend and author Robert Rosen (Bobby in Naziland, Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon) wrote on his site, robertrosennyc.com. He recounts some of the best writing advice he received back in college from his instructor, Professor Gray.
"Remembering Francine" peaked my interest in many ways, especially the part where she believed the best way to write was in fragments. "Don't think about plot or form and trust your unconscious." My highschool english teacher stressed the very same advice and I never forgot it. I hope when you read Robert's story you will just as inspired as I was to keep on writing, good or bad.
It was a long time ago, and the memories are starting to fade, but when I heard last week that Francine du Plessix Gray had died, at the age of 88, it reminded me, once again, of the best piece of writing advice I ever got. It's advice that I've adhered to since that autumn afternoon in 1975, in her office in the English department, at the City College of New York, when she showed me a spiral-bound notebook, the latest volume of the journal she'd been keeping since the summer of 1951, and said, "Keep a journal; write in it every day."
It was, she explained, how a writer finds his (or her) voice—by making writing as natural as breathing.
There were other bits of useful advice that Francine—we called her "Francine," not "Professor Gray"—shared with her students, advice of the sort you wouldn't normally get in a CCNY writing workshop. Like (and I forget her exact words, but the message was clear): Edit your own work when you're stoned on marijuana. You'll have no tolerance for bullshit and unnecessary verbiage.
Francine arrived at CCNY for the Spring 1975 semester, slated to teach one graduate and one undergraduate nonfiction writing workshop (what would now be called "creative nonfiction"). I met her my first day back at school—I'd gotten my BA in creative writing and then taken off a few months to travel. Now I was about to embark on a course of study in the graduate literature program after having been rejected from the creative writing program, which, at the time, I saw as the key to my future. I was 21 years old and crushed. The writing program at City College, in those magical days of free tuition, was a promised land where, for little more than the cost of books, one could study under the tutelage of Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs, and Joseph Heller, the department chairman, who had personally rejected me.
I thought studying literature might be a constructive way to kill time while I figured out what to do with my life.
I was wandering through the English department—a quonset hut on South Campus—attempting to put together a not-too-demanding schedule of classes, when a woman, fashion-model tall with blonde hair and wearing a Viva magazine T-shirt, asked me, with the slightest hint of what I took for an indeterminate European accent, if I knew where the administration building was.
"New here?" I inquired after giving her directions. I thought she might be a night-school student.
Yes, she replied, she'd just been hired to teach a creative writing workshop.
She asked me other questions about the college, and in the course of our conversation, I told her that I used to edit one of the student newspapers and that I'd been rejected from the creative writing program.
What happened next still seems miraculous. Francine asked me to bring her some of my stories that had been published in the newspaper. I brought her a half-dozen samples of my work, and when I returned to her office later that afternoon, she looked up from my articles, spread out on her desk, and declared, "This is gonzo!"
She invited me to take her graduate writing workshop and asked if I'd be her graduate assistant.
I was in!
Because Francine never talked about it in any detail, all I knew about her history was what I read in the short excerpts about her European childhood—governesses, a Russian mother, Paris—that she showed the class from the autobiographical novel she was writing at the time, Lovers and Tyrants. Had I heard that her stepfather, Alexander Liberman, was the editorial director of Condé Nast, it would have meant nothing to me. I'm not sure I knew that Condé Nast was a magazine-publishing company.
But what was really important to me about Francine was that she taught creative writing in a way that none of my other teachers had. Where Heller, for example, said that there was only one way to write a story—well-plotted with a beginning, middle, climax, and end… no deviations and no sci-fi, supernatural, or detective stories—Francine believed the best way to write was in fragments. Don't think about plot or form. Just get something good down on paper. Trust your unconscious and eventually the fragments will congeal into a coherent whole.
Rather than stories, she assigned fragments. Start from the inside and work your way out: first describe an emotional experience, then a small space, then a person, then a larger space, and keep going until you finally work your way up to describing a historical event.
This made sense to me and I flourished.
Once a week, after she taught her undergraduate class, we'd sit together in her little office in the English Hut, as it was called, critiquing stories, with me, on occasion, alerting her to an unexpected gem.
It went on like this for two terms, during which she guided me though my first attempt to get a full-length book off the ground, reading and editing my rough drafts. After I'd badly missed the mark on one of her assignments, she made a prediction: "You're going to write darkly humorous books and travel around the world."
And our bond became stronger because we were both plagued by a stutter that came and went depending on how stressed we were. Writing was a way to express ourselves fluently.
Francine left City College in 1976, returning to Connecticut and a life of writing books (At Home with the Marquis de Sade, World Without End, October Blood, and Them, among others) and magazine articles, including covering the trial of Gestapo chief Klaus Barbi for Vanity Fair, which won a National Magazine Award for best reporting.
I somehow muddled through my final term of grad school without her.
Over the years, we'd exchange an occasional postcard, but by the mid-1980s we'd fallen out of touch. I now wonder if she was aware that her prediction had come to pass.
Yes, Francine, there have been a handful of "darkly humorous" books and there has been much travel to distant lands to talk about them. And I often think of you when I write in my notebook—which I still do every day.
Interview: Rock & Roll Biographer Mark Bego Turns Chef With "Eat Like A Rock Star"
The Mac Wire
September 28, 2017
With 12 million books in print, the rock & roll biographer known as "The Prince of Pop Music Bios," Mark Bego, has suddenly morphed into a celebrity chef with his new all-star rock & roll cookbook: "Eat Like a Rock Star." His long-time friend, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, has written the Introduction to the book, and has contributed several of her own recipes. The cookbook also includes Joey Fatone, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Tanya Tucker, Marilyn McCoo, Debbie Gibson, Richie Sambora, and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. The MacWire recently caught up with "Chef" Mark Bego, to discuss his great new cookbook, "Eat Like a Rock Star."
After having written 61 books of a totally different genre, how did you make the transition from rock & roll biographer to rock star chef and cookbook author?
In 2012 I was working on a magazine that was published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Supremes. I had a couple of pages to fill up, so I asked Mary Wilson for some "Supreme" recipes. She gave them to me, and I really liked the way they looked. Suddenly, an idea struck me: "A cookbook full of rock star recipes! That's what I need to do." A month or so later I was going to interview Boz Scaggs. He was my test case. I found out that he had his winery, so I suspected that he cooked too. When he gave me three recipes for chicken, I knew that I could make this work. I have interviewed rock stars for years for books, newspapers, and magazines. I went to the people I wrote books with or about: Micky Dolenz, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Michael McDonald, Randy Jones of The Village People, and Debbie Gibson. I have been fortunate to have attended The Kentucky Derby with Mary Wilson several times. While there we became friends with Joey Fatone, Richie Sambora, and Sean Stockman of Boyz II Men, and rekindled friendships with Tanya Tucker, and Marilyn McCoo. They all gave me great recipes, and my collection started to grow. I started the project off with a food blog, and along the way my manager told me that I had to prove that I could cook too for the book to have credibility, so I started developing my own recipes as well. Now "Eat Like a Rock Star" is exactly that: the majority of recipes are the ones I personally gathered from bona fide rock stars, and then I contributed at least three of my own recipes per chapter.
This is one of the most beautifully designed and illustrated cookbooks ever published. How did it come about?
I have always done photography in one form or another: whether it was taking my Polaroid to Studio 54 in the 1970's, or taking celebrity photos for my books. When I started turning "Eat Like a Rock Star" into a fully illustrated book, I invested in a new camera, professional lights, and backgrounds, and I did all the food photography myself. I wanted to be able to say: "I made all of the food in the book, I sampled every recipe, and I photographed every dish I created. If I can make this delicious food, and these great cocktails, you can too!" In addition to the fun factor of the book being full of rock star food, I set out to make this one of the most balanced and comprehensive cookbooks ever published. With ten chapters it highlights: Breakfast, Lunch, Hors d'Oeuvres, Poultry, Meat, Pasta, Fish & Seafood, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Desserts, and Cocktails. The recipes run the gamut from "easy" to "challenging."
I owe a lot of thanks to Skyhorse Publishing. They have done a wonderful job with the layouts and artistic touches they have added. Special thanks are also owed to my editor, Kim Lim for keeping everything on track.
Everything on television is so food-oriented lately. While you were writing this cookbook, was there any famous chef who inspired you or who you emulated?
Since this cookbook is "all over the map" in types of food, my only concern was making great food that could be replicated if you adhere to the recipes in the book. When I was growing up in Detroit, the only professional chef I even knew of was Chef Boyardee! His television commercials made him the original TV chef as far as I am concerned. I always loved Chef Boyardee brand canned ravioli as a kid! There was also a local Detroit cooking show: "Lady of Grace" with Edith Fern Melrose. I loved watching her too. Then, when Julia Child came on TV as "The French Chef," I loved it, because she was like a comedy act who cooked. While I love watching all of the newly famous chefs on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel, the original iconic cooking TV personality to me will always be Chef Boyardee.
Speaking of television, has creating this clever cookbook made you want a cooking show of your own?
Oh yes, you had better believe it! I am working with an Emmy Award-winning TV producer, Dave Marken, on developing and creating an "Eat Like a Rock Star" television show with me as the host. Because I gathered these recipes directly from the rock stars, a vast majority of them have already expressed interested in being guests on TV.
Did you save any leftover recipes for a possible "Eat Like a Rock Star, Volume II?"
Absolutely! I have already been mapping it out, just in case! One of my funniest rock & roll food stories is not in the book. In 1985 I was interviewing. Aretha Franklin at her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, for Westwood One radio network. I was recording our interview, and occasionally we would stop for breaks. We covered one subject, and Aretha excused herself and went into the kitchen of her house. Then she returned and said to me, "Ask me another question," So I did, and we continued the interview. A few minutes later she again excused herself and went to the kitchen. Again she returned, and again the interview continued. Then she said again, "Excuse me, I am going back in the kitchen." And, away she went. This time however, she did not come back out. Instead, she stuck her head out of the kitchen door and announced, "Chicken's done. Interview's over." Not only did I not get a recipe from Aretha, I didn't get offered a piece of chicken either!
For more on Mark's books and other works visit http://markbego.com
Interview: Author Jeanine Furino Talks About Her Debut "All The Single Girls" Book
The Mac Wire
January 15, 2018
Author Jeanine Furino is a self-professed TV fanatic. A few years ago she started a Twitter account devoted to vintage movies and classic TV series. Her popular Retro TV Lovers blog has thousands of followers including actors from classic TV shows, including: Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver), Kathy Garver (Family Affair), Judy Norton (The Waltons), Brandon Cruz (The Courtship of Eddie's Father) and Alison Arngrim (Little House on the Prairie).
All the Single Girls tells the story of the American single woman as she has been depicted on television from the 1950s to 2014, and how she has evolved in response to, and along with, the ever changing world she lives in. The book includes interviews with actresses Sharon Gless, Susan Silo, and others, with over 130 series discussed in detail, some of which include: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, One Day at a Time, Ally McBeal, New Girl and more.
Jeanine Furino chatted with us about the process of writing the book, her favorite TV shows and what she's writing next.
How did you get the idea to write "All the Single Girls"?
I've always loved old television shows and while watching Our Miss Brooks wondered which other shows featured single women in the 1950s. From there I started researching the 1960s and when I tried to find information on the subject, I couldn't find very much. So I thought, why not write a book about the history of the single woman on TV?
Wow! Such a massive undertaking. You included every TV show that featured a single girl from the 1950s to present. Even the "One Season Wonders". Did not expect that. From concept to finish how long did it take to complete?
I came up with the idea to research television shows about single women about 5 years ago, but didn't really start writing until two years later. So, it took five years from conception but really about 3 years to write it.
What television shows or characters were some of your favorites to write about?
Ann Marie of That Girl was always a favorite of mine from childhood. She was the first single woman to declare she was putting off marriage to pursue her career first. Then, of course, Mary Richards (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) for so many reasons, but most importantly, she stood up for her rights and pay as a woman in the workplace. Another favorite was Christine Cagney (Cagney & Lacey). She had a very clear goal to become the first female chief of police in New York City and she very poignantly admitted she wanted to have children, but decided not to, putting her career first.
In writing this book, did you discover any series that you had not watched before that you would recommend?
Absolutely. I had never watched either of the series Weeds or Nurse Jackie and I fell in love with those two deliciously flawed women. Going back to the 1950s, The Betty Hutton Show was really a pretty sweet series, it was well-acted and well-written. For newer series, I'd never watched Jane the Virgin and was surprised at how interesting, clever, and fun a show it is.
How has the portrayal of the single woman on television changed over the years?
She's evolved on television as she has in the real world. She has many more options available to her. Over time as women became more liberated and started to be able to take control of their reproductive lives, women could take on any job or career. On TV in the 1970s we saw single divorced mothers, followed by single, never-married mothers in the 1980s and beyond. A lot of this had to do not just with the changing times, but it also directly relates to the growing presence of women as heads of studios and heads of programming, creating and writing series about women and for women. With the proliferation of studios owned by streaming services that are not run by advertising departments we are seeing much more freedom and diversity in our television heroines. We are experiencing a little oversaturation right now though. I mean, how many shows can you watch? But it's a much more inclusive medium than ever before. It's an exciting time for women and for single women on television.
Explain to our site's readers, a bit more in detail about the graphic symbols next to the title of each TV show. That' was a clever touch!
Thanks! Well, I realized that certain "types" of female characters kept cropping up, like: the woman who just wanted to marry (the rings icon); the career woman who had forsaken love (the briefcase icon); or the caregiver (usually a maid or nanny) who had given up on love, taking on her employer as her surrogate family (denoted by the apron icon). As time went on, and the country went through political and social changes, new types of women emerged: we saw the working mother (the Super Woman icon). In the 1950s and 1960s she was a widow (The Eve Arden Show or Julia), in the 1980s she was usually a divorced mother (Kate & Allie), and in the late 1980s onward, she could even be an unmarried mother (Murphy Brown). Retired single women, like The Golden Girls (the rocking chair icon), and the woman who isn't sure what she wants out of life, like Molly Dodd (the question mark icon) are also represented. Then there is my favorite, the feminerd (Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, or Jessica Day of New Girl) who is expert at her job, but kind of clueless when it comes to love (nerd icon).
Impressive! What are you working on next?
I am researching and writing a book about single fathers on TV called All the Single Dads. There are a surprising number of them as I'm finding. I will cover series not just about biological fathers (like the classics My Three Sons and The Courtship of Eddie's Father), but also those who feature men who took on the role of father (like Bachelor Father). I hope to have the book available by the fall.
All the Single Dads, seems like the perfect follow-up. Will you be keeping the same format, or changing it up a bit?
All the Single Girls needed to be organized chronologically to see the progression of women's roles and how single women have evolved and adapted to the changing world. I'm not sure yet that All the Single Dads will need to be kept in that format. I'll have to see where my research takes me before I can make that determination. I'm having fun finding some TV shows I'd never heard of for this new project. So far, things are progressing nicely and I am excited to get this one completed by later this year.
An Interview With Celebrity Biographer Mark Bego On His New Memoir Book, "Paperback Writer"
The Mac Wire
June 27, 2010
Paperback Writer (Publish America) is the humorous and star-studded memoir of best-selling celebrity author Mark Bego. With 56 books in print, two New York Times best-sellers, a Los Angeles Times best-seller, and a Chicago Tribune best-seller, Bego has made a career out of interviewing media stars, and writing books about their lives. His most recent release was 2009's internationally published Elton John: The Bitch is Back. In Paperback Writer his celebrity co-stars include Madonna, Cher, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, The Village People, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Martha Reeves, Billy Joel, Angela Bowie, Gene Simmons of KISS, Jimmy Greenspoon of Three Dog Night, Joni Mitchell, Hall & Oates, and even Katharine Hepburn.
Known for his biographical books about Leonardo DiCaprio, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, and George Strait, finally the time came for Bego to tell some of his own colorful adventures in celebrity land. Bego recalls what it was like to move to New York City as a 21-year-old wannabe writer, and turn his love of show business into a lifelong career. Paperback Writer takes each of its chapters from Bego's personal celebrity journals that finds him interviewing Aretha Franklin at her house, dancing next to Cher at Studio 54, having coffee with Barry Manilow in his apartment, traveling around the world with Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and moving into the homes of rock stars to put their life stories on paper.
According to Bego in Paperback Writer, "In the past 40 years, not only have I met hundreds of rock, pop, movie and TV stars, I have partied with them, gotten drunk with them, gotten into trouble with them, traveled around the world with them, lived with them, written their autobiographies with them, and I even wound up in bed with some of them!"
You have written and published 55 books on show business, and your memoir, Paperback Writer is Number 56. How have you managed to produce so many unique and different books?
In 1984, my book on Michael Jackson—Michael!—came out the same week he caught his hair on fire doing the Pepsi commercial. It sold seven million copies worldwide, and I was on The New York Times best-seller list! Then I predicted that Madonna was going to be the next big superstar, I wrote the first book ever published about her, and it became a million-seller as well. After that, several publishers were looking to me to write books for them, and it blossomed from there.
The first rock group you interviewed was Steely Dan. Is that the experience that put you on this path as a rock & roll biographer?
In 1974, at Central Michigan University, Steely Dan came to my campus, and I received a phone call from their record company, asking if I wanted to interview the group. Naturally, the answer was 'yes!' In the middle of the Steely Dan interview a light went on in my head, and I knew what I wanted to do with my Journalism degree: interview rock stars for magazines and books!
According to Paperback Writer, you were at the opening night at Studio 54, and danced next to Cher. What was that like?
By the time Studio 54 opened, I was writing for several publications, so I was on the invitation list for that star- studded debut evening. My date that first night at Studio 54 was C.C.H. Pounder of The Shield and Avatar. We were absolutely knocked out when Cher came boogieing over to us on the dance floor, and suddenly C.C., Cher and I were surrounded by the paparazzi! That was the beginning of countless nights at Studio 54 for me. I used to hang out and talk to Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, and of course The Village People!
You were the first person to interview The Village People, and you predicted the initial career success of Madonna and Whitney Houston. How did that happen?
I was writing for Disco World magazine at the time, and during our interview I could tell that they were going to be a huge hit, and I instantly became friends with the guys in the group. There is a whole chapter in Paperback
Writer about that. Actually, the first time I wrote about the group was in my regular 'Nightlife' column
in Cue magazine. When my paperback biographies started to become huge sellers, along came two more talents I recognized instantly: Madonna and Whitney Houston. In the '80s I wrote Madonna! and Whitney! I revamped both books to write the expanded volumes: Madonna: Blonde Ambition in the '90s and my 2009 German language-only book Whitney Houston: Die Biografie."
When I grew up in suburban Detroit, I was absolutely mesmerized by Motown. When I started interviewing celebrities for magazines in New York City, I always gravitated to the stars of Motown. After I met Mary Wilson of The Supremes in 1975 for an article in Record World magazine, we became lifelong friends. Several of the chapters in Paperback Writer are about my exploits and adventures with Mary, in Japan, in Sweden, in France, and in Monaco. Working on Martha Reeves autobiography—Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva—was a Motown dream-come-true for me. It became a Top 10 best-seller for us, and we had a blast on our promotional tour which helped make it a hit!
At seven million copies sold, your book on Michael Jackson—"Michael!—is the biggest selling book on The King of Pop. What was that experience like?
I first met Michael Jackson at a party at Studio 54 that was given in his honor in the 1970s. He was in New York City filmingThe Wiz. Then, when my 1984 book about him became such a big hit, he surprised me by showing up in LaToya Jackson's suite at The Helmsley Palace Hotel. I walked right over to Michael and re-introduced myself to him as the author of his biography. He looked me in the eyes—through his dark glasses—and said, 'I know who you are.' Although I always found him to be odd and distant, I was saddened when he suddenly died. In 2010 I was able to write and edit a tribute magazine in his honor called Remember the King, as a way to say 'goodbye' to him.
You have had several successful books outside of the United States. How did that come about?
In 1984, when my Michael Jackson biography became a huge hit in America, England, Spain, Japan and several other countries published foreign editions of it. That was the beginning of my books finding an international
audience. When Michael Jackson died last year, my original Japanese publisher, Shinshokan, reprinted my
book Michael! as a special 25th anniversary edition for Japan only. In 2009, when I wrote the American book, Elton John: The Bitch is Back, again several foreign publishers jumped at the opportunity to bring out their own international editions. So far my Elton book is has been published in England and Germany, and Russian and Danish versions of it are due out next.
What rock star bio would you most like to write?
I would love to update my Barry Manilow biography, with Barry. Also, I have always wanted to write a book with Ringo Starr. He is the only Beatle who has not done his own autobiography, and I want to do it with him. Yes, he did contribute to the Beatles book that Paul and George were involved in during the 1990s, but he has never done a solo autobiography. I have done all sorts of things to try to talk him into it. I keep bugging his manager to talk Ringo into it, but I have yet to snag him. I am not done pursuing this! One of these days I will talk Ringo into it!
Paperback Writer spans a wide range of music, from your first books The Captain & Tennille and Barry Manilow, up to Lady Gaga. Has the music business changed a lot?
I was very much involved in the record business in the 1970s and 1980s. When I worked at CBS Records I would watch all of the new music come across my desk as the latest vinyl albums. Nowadays I have to pay attention to the Internet, and be aware ofAmerican Idol and Glee. The music and the musicians I write about in Paperback Writer could be a soundtrack album as much as a memoir!
What has been our favorite book so far?
Well, Paperback Writer of course! However, I have a special fondness for my book Madonna: Blonde Ambition, in which I christened her the ultimate "bitch goddess." I also loved my biography Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul. I interviewed Aretha at her Detroit mansion, and in the middle of the interview she started cooking some chicken in her kitchen. When the chicken was fully cooked she suddenly announced, 'Chicken's done. Interview's over!' She had the maid show me to the door, and didn't share so much as a single chicken wing! I had obviously been dismissed by The Queen of Soul! I also loved my books about Cher and Patsy Cline as well. In Paperback Writer I took the opportunity to write something about all of them. I have had a fun and exciting career, and I captured it in Paperback Writer!
For more info on Mark Bego's books. visit www.Markbego.com
Mixed Reviews For This Year's BookCon 2019
June 3, 2019
Reviews were mixed for this year's BookCon's literary fan fest, held on June 1–2 at the Javits Center in New York City immediately following BookExpo. While official attendance figures were not available at press time, the crowd seemed to be a little lighter overall than in previous years but more condensed in a smaller exhibit area. As always, attendees skewed more towards white females in their 20s and 30s—although there seemed to be more men and more people of color in attendance on Sunday than on Saturday, perhaps a reflection of Sunday's lineup of multicultural authors and an emphasis on diversity in the programming.
While many of the attendees hailed from the Atlantic seaboard region, the show pulled in a national and Canadian audience, as well as international attendees. One woman from the U.K. and two women from France whom PW interviewed all said that they were visiting New York for the first time just to attend BookCon, explaining that there were no equivalent literary festivals in their home countries. "It's a lot busier than I was expecting," said Kelly Beestone of Nottingham, England, a PhD student of YA literature. She said she was most excited to meet YA author Leigh Bardugo. "I've been to book conventions in the U.K. where all you have to do to get in for anything is to wave your wrist band."
Books Are the Stars at BookExpo 2019
May, 31, 2019
Despite a number of distractions—heavy downpours that made getting to evening events difficult, the size of the exhibit floor, pending tariffs on books imported from China, and Baker & Taylor's exit from the retailing wholesale market—the 2019 edition of BookExpo settled down to talk about books due out this fall and winter. And, according to booksellers interviewed by PW, there is quite a lot to be excited about in the upcoming season.
Indie booksellers were raving about what Paul Yamazaki, adult book buyer at City Lights Books in San Francisco, described as a "rich season" of releases, with plenty of offerings in both fiction and nonfiction to please even the most discerning reader. Literary fiction with plots that could have been ripped from the headlines is especially hot this year, and one novel in particular is resonating with most of the booksellers PW queried: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron), the tale of a Mexican bookseller and her young son's attempt to flee to the U.S. to escape a vengeful drug lord. Store owner Jonah Zimiles of Words Bookstore in Maplewood, N.J., called American Dirt "a stunningly powerful novel."
Other novels with topical themes that booksellers are anticipating include Margaret Atwood's The Testaments (Doubleday/Talese), the sequel to her 1985 classic, The Handmaid's Tale. Luisa Smith, buying director at Book Passage in the Bay Area, said that "this is the book booksellers are most excited about." Smith was also buzzing about Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead), which she called "Woodson at her most brilliant."
Read more at Publishers Weekly>>
Just A Reminder...
May 6, 2019
Just a reminder. As always, thanks for your continued support.
Ridgefield Park Library's Writers' Club
What are your goals as a writer? Do you want to be published?
Do you want start a blog or write a book? Perhaps you simply just want to be better writer? Author and Ridgefield Park resident M.A. Cassata will help you achieve your writing and publishing goals.
We will meet monthly to discuss your writing ideas and what it takes to be published. You'll receive helpful support, feedback and above all, encouragement from other writers which is crucial to improving your craft.
The Ridgefield Park Library's Writers' Club is open to all aspiring as well as newly published and established writers. The only requirement needed to join this club is to have passion for writing and a desire to be published.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
7:00pm - 8:00pm
Ridgefield Park - Meeting Room
Ridgefield Park Public Library
What Are Your Writing Goals?
April 6, 2019
Ridgefield Park Library's Writers' Club
What are your goals as a writer? Do you want to be published?
Do you want start a blog or write a book? Perhaps you simply just want to be better writer? Author and Ridgefield Park resident M.A. Cassata will help you achieve your writing and publishing goals.
We will meet monthly to discuss your writing ideas and what it takes to be published. You'll receive helpful support, feedback and above all, encouragement from other writers which is crucial to improving your craft.
The Ridgefield Park Library's Writers' Club is open to all aspiring as well as newly published and established writers. The only requirement needed to join this club is to have passion for writing and a desire to be published.
What Are Your Writing Goals?
February 1, 2019
Ridgefield Park's Writer's Club
Wed., 2/13, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
What are your goals as a writer? What do you hope to achieve? Maybe you want start a blog? Or write a book to share with friends and family. Perhaps you simply just want to do more writing. Author and Ridgefield Park resident M.A. Cassata will help you achieve your writing goals. We will meet monthly to share our writing for this class or simply just for fun. You'll receive helpful support, feedback and above all, encouragement from other writers which is crucial to improving your craft. Registration is required.
Get A Good Writing Habit
January 9, 2019
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Ridgefield Park Meeting Room
Have you ever wanted to become a writer, but your busy life just keeps getting in the way? Author and Ridgefield Park resident, M.A. Cassata will show you how to establish a good writing habit and keep it. You'll find out what separates the pros from the amateurs. You know you have something to say, but you are not sure how to say it. Don't let fear hold you back from getting that freelance writing assignment. Learn how to establish a good writing habit first.
Over One Million Books Self-Published in the US in 2017
October 12, 2018
PR Newswire—In the US, more than one million books were self-published in 2017, breaking the record for the the total number of titles self-published in a year, according to a report published by Bowker.
Self-publishing in the US grew by 28% between 2016-2017, with a total of 1,009,188 self-published titles in 2017, up from 786,935 in 2016 with 8% growth from 2015-2016.
According to the report, self-published print books were up by 38% for 2017, driven by a 50% increase in ISBNs requested for books published using self-publishing platform CreateSpace.
Bowker data shows that self-published ebooks decreased by 13%, continuing a downward trend for the third consecutive year. However, Publishers Weekly notes that because Bowker's ebook data is based on ISBNs issued using its Identifier Services, the drop is likely due to more authors moving to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) self-publishing platform, which issues its own Amazon ASIP identifiers. Although Amazon owns CreateSpace—which it will merge with KDP—Bowker still records the number of print books produced by CreateSpace, but KDP ebook titles do not appear in Bowker's data.
In light of the exclusion of Amazon's ebook data, Bowker's report showed that three platforms accounted for 88% of all self-published print and ebooks in 2017: CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu.
Since 2012 the number of ISBNs assigned to self-published titles has grown by 156%, due in large part to the increasing number of online self-publishing products and services, according to Bowker Identifer Services director Beat Barblan.
Barblan said: 'Self-publishing shows no signs of slowing down and continues to grow at a steady rate … Authors who set out to self-publish, market and distribute high-quality books now have more resources than ever.'
The Writing Life: Still Ours to Defend
I am happy to repost this letter from fellow AG member, author Richard Russo. He has written a letter that the Author's Guild would like us to share with other authors we know who aren't yet a member. This letter speaks eloquently for itself.
What do you think?
Back in 2013, I wrote an open letter to my fellow authors urging them to join the Authors Guild, especially those who, like me, have enjoyed the best the writing life has to offer. The AG's core mission has been to protect authorship by defending copyright, but also, more recently, to help emerging authors prosper in a publishing ecosystem that is endangered (and here I have the rare pleasure of quoting myself) "by downward pressure of e-book pricing, by the relentless, ongoing erosion of copyright protection, by the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won't stand up to them, by the 'information wants to be free' crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to online sites that sell pirated (read 'stolen') books." Those of us who made our names before the digital revolution, I argued, had it easy. Advances were larger. There were more publishers to buy our books, more newspapers with pages devoted to reviewing and advertising them. Publishers, less driven by numbers, played a longer game, waiting patiently for talented young authors to break out. Debut authors were sent on costly book tours to meet the independent booksellers who would ultimately make their reputations. Those of us who benefitted from these advantages, I maintained, owed a debt not only to subsequent generations of writers who are emerging into a diminished publishing landscape, but also to readers impoverished as a result of not knowing (how could they?) just how much breathtaking new talent was in the pipeline.
So, what's changed in the last five years? Answer: quite a lot, and not nearly enough. Author incomes, here in the U.S., but also in Canada and much of Europe, continue to decline; many of us live at or below the poverty line. A tiny percentage can make a living through writing alone; the rest have to supplement their income by teaching or taking on other work or marrying people with more lucrative careers, strategies that have been known to lead in the end to exhaustion, writing less, and self-loathing (which many of us suffer from already). Traditional publishing continues to consolidate and contract, and many of the largest houses are part of conglomerates that demand books yield the same profit margins as flat-screen TVs, in effect squeezing out important midlist books that were never designed to be bestsellers. Writers are often told that the success of their published books depends on their ability to promote themselves on social media. Additionally, many of the trends that alarmed us in 2013 continue unabated. Those of us who make things—books, songs, films—continue to lose market share to those who distribute what we make. Government continues to side with Big Tech by viewing anti-trust issues solely in terms of low prices for consumers. Many digital magazines not only expect us to work for free but to thank them for the opportunity to "get our names out there." Despite Guild efforts to spotlight the problem, some publishers continue to offer writers unfair contracts. And every year, it seems, the National Endowments for the Art and Humanities have to defend themselves against slashed budgets. If all this weren't bad enough, the internet continues to ambush potential readers with click-bait mini-narratives ("You Won't Believe What Happens Next!") and social media ensures that we're sufficiently outraged every moment of our waking lives such that we're unlikely to sit down with an actual book.
In other words, like our friends in the newspaper and music businesses, we're still getting our asses kicked.
And yet, the news is not all bad. The price of e-books has stabilized and many readers seem to have remembered the pleasures of the printed page, even as self-publishing and new digital platforms offer opportunities for writers that didn't exist in 2013. Independent bookstores, written off for dead five years ago, are staging a comeback. The Eye of Sauron (Amazon) seems to have been distracted away from us (furry-footed Frodo and Samwise) by the events on other, larger battlefields (the rest of Retail). And there are other reasons to be cautiously (okay, very cautiously) optimistic. Big Tech, it seems, suddenly has a lot to answer for, thanks in part to the EU, but also to Guild authors like Franklin Foer and Jonathan Taplin, who have sounded the necessary and long-overdue alarm. Moreover, there's the distinct possibility that other winds that have been blowing in the faces of creators may in the not-too-distant future be at our backs.
Tech Giants like Google and Facebook and Apple are all moving into the content business, which means (and what a bitter pill this must be for them to swallow!) they need us "content providers." That means more book options and, for those of us who want to make the pivot into TV and film–writing, more opportunities there.
So, we're basically good, yeah?
Well, no. That term "content provider" should give us pause. We can all hear the sneer, right? Traditional publishers may have underpaid us, but at least to them we were poets and painters and songwriters, terms that implied both respect and ownership of what we made, at least until we've sold it to them. The tech ethos is different. To them, we're often seen as mere hirelings. And since those who hire us are in the business of business, they have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders to pay us as little as they can get away with and to make certain we understand that we're mere workers, not partners in the enterprise. The conflict, of course, is as old as art and commerce, but today it's playing out algorithmically and those algorithms have not been designed for our benefit.
If we creators don't fight, the massive transfer of wealth from the creative sector to the tech sector that we've been witnessing since 2013 will most certainly continue.
Which means, my friends, that I must end this appeal as I ended the last one, by reminding you that the writing life, even as it changes before our eyes, is still ours to defend, and that we're stronger together. If you're not a member of the AG, please join, and if you are one, please forward this to your writer friends and invite them. We'll be working for all authors in any case. But as I said back in 2013, there's such a thing as being too late.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Name Removed From Book Award
June 25, 2018
A division of the American Library Association has voted to remove the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder from a major children's book award, over concerns about how the author portrayed African Americans and Native Americans.
The board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) made the unanimous decision to change the name on Saturday, at a meeting in New Orleans. The name of the prize was changed from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children's Literature Legacy Award.
The association said Wilder "includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC's core values".
The first award was given to Wilder in 1954. The ALSC said Wilder's work continued to be published and read but her "legacy is complex" and "not universally embraced".
Wilder was born in 1867 and died in 1957. She is best known for her eight Little House on the Prairie novels, about pioneer life in the American west, which were published between 1932 and 1943.
In 2010, the British broadcaster Samira Ahmed wrote for the Guardian: "Wilder has a special status in American culture despite posthumous allegations of racism. The Osage nation, according to biographer Pamela Smith Hill, still condemns her work, which was based on their eviction.
"The novels are full of phrases that are unacceptable today. Even in her own lifetime Wilder apologised for her thoughtlessness and amended a line in Little House on the Prairie that said Kansas had 'no people, only Indians'. It now reads, 'no settlers, only Indians'."
Book Club Stars Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen Share Their Favorite Books
May 17, 2018
Can books change lives? The wine-sipping friends in the new movie Book Club say "Yes!" Book lovers in real life, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Mary Steenburgen shared their favorite books in a Parade exclusive (and not one included 50 Shades of Grey, the movie's catalyst).
Drawn to Drama: "As a young girl, I was a big Nancy Drew person," says Candice Bergen, who'll be filming the reboot of her classic Murphy Brown TV series this summer. "The adult version is Michael Collins [author of the Dan Fortune series]." Most recently, she finished Matthew Weiner's Heather, the Totality. "I couldn't sleep afterwards," she said.
Strong Characters: An early fan of Pippi Longstocking, Steenburgen now shares the classic with her three granddaughters. "Pippi is strong and funny—a great role model for girls." Steenburgen loves reading to her grandchildren: "I have a rule that I never say no to a book." Recent adult read: A Gentleman in Moscow. "It's so good!"
Visual Inspiration: Keaton, who's also the author of several books, is obsessed with architecture and picture books, she says, like Rocks and Clouds by Mitch Epstein. When she looks at the books, "my mind is always racing with ideas," she says.
Life-Changing Reads: "Every time I'm in need of something, someone gives me a book that speaks to exactly what I need," says Fonda, who is a best-selling author herself. "When I was married to Ted Turner but knew the marriage wasn't going to last, I knew I wanted to write a book. A house guest brought me a gift—my first Anne Lamont book, Bird by Bird, a book about writing. Oh, my God—it meant so much to me."
Need more beach-reading inspiration? Find out what what's on the reading list this summer for author Ann Patchett, Emma Watson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and more!
5 Female Fantasy Books Written by Women To Read In 2018
February 27, 2018
Displayed with permission from Newsweek
Mainstream geek culture is in the middle of a feminist revolution, most obviously in the world of comic book superheroes but also in the esoteric world of fantasy publishing. “I get a little emotional when I go into a bookstore these days and see so many fantasy books about women, written by women, on the shelves,” says Sarah Maas, author of the wildly popular Throne of Glass series. “Robin McKinley, Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce and so many others all paved the way for us.”
If there is a godmother of what is becoming a pop culture moment, it’s Ursula K. Le Guin, who died at 88 in January. Best known for epic tales of sorcery, dragons and spaceships, LeGuin sold millions of copies of her Earthsea series—five novels that she began publishing in 1968. Inspired by the work of two male masters of the genre, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip K. Dick, Le Guin was a passionate feminist who dramatically changed the way female fantasy and sci-fi characters were written—to the point where male writers like Neil Gaiman and Stephen King were influenced by her.
Fantasy and sci-fi have proved to be fertile ground for feminism (see Margaret Atwood and, in her way, J.K. Rowling), but double standards remain. No one, for example, would describe Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon as erotic or romantic, despite both being true of his 2002 science fiction novel. But if a woman had written the book, says Amy King, a board member of the feminist nonprofit Vida, it might have been “quarantined into specialized fiction or ‘chick lit.’”
Best-selling author Diana Gabaldon has talked about this, criticizing retailers, publishers and critics who label her Outlander series as romance instead of time-travel adventure, historical fiction or any of the many other genres she weaves into her novels. As a result, literary elites and mainstream publishers often dismiss books like hers, further widening the gender gap—this when 57 percent of paranormal and urban fantasy submissions are from women authors.
“The good thing is that people are now talking about the double standard,” says King, who sees a positive evolution. “We’re a little too close to it right now to see the big changes,” she says. “It’s like a diagonally climbing line that’s slow but steady.”
Hit TV series like Outlander (on Starz) and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) have exposed the popularity of fantasy series with strong female characters and attracted more readers to the novels of authors like Maas, whose Throne of Glass is currently in development for Hulu. And there are more adaptations in the works, some for books that haven’t even hit store shelves yet.
Of the several dozen highly anticipated female-penned fantasy novels due in 2018, these are the five we’re most excited about.
High Voltage by Karen Marie Moning
This is the 10th novel in Moning’s epic paranormal series, Fever, which explores issues of mental health, consent and strength. This time, sword-wielding superhero Dani O’Malley is battling to save a postapocalyptic Dublin from a terrifying evil determined to enslave the human race. There will, per usual, be lots of sex, violence and Irish folklore. (March 6)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
This West African–inspired fantasy debut will kick off a series called Legacy of Orisha, about a dark land where snow leopards prowl and vengeful spirits hide in the waters. Adeyemi, one of the first black authors to land mainstream book-to-movie deals within the fantasy genre, already has three upcoming novels being adapted into films. (March 6)
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
The third installment of Tahir’s Ember quartet promises to be the darkest yet. The standnarrative focuses on three protagonists—two warriors and a scholarly healer—with intertwining fates. Ancient powers will test core values and their ability to maintain empathy in the face of violence. In this world, love will always mean sacrifice. (June 12)
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah Maas
Maas calls the fourth installment of her Thrones of Glass series a spinoff: “There were still so many journeys that I wanted to take all these characters on,” she says. The thin volume, which takes place after the climactic battle of A Court of Wings and Ruin, returns to the mountainous Night Court and its cast of warriors. “It’s a story about beginning the road to healing after the final battle has been won,” says Maas. “It’s meant to be read as a bridge to the new books, but also just for the joy of it.” (May 1)
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Novik has a knack for creating richly layered fantasy worlds with complex social dynamics, ruthless rulers and epic plot twists; her poetic narratives often recast magical motifs in unexpected ways. (The first book in her Temeraire series, for example, is an alternate history of the Napoleonic wars that includes dragons.) This one, a stand-alone retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s “Rumpelstiltskin,” includes a feminist exploration of the politics of money. Whatever happens, it won’t be your grandmother’s fairy tale. (July 10)
2018 Writers Guild Awards: Complete Winners List
February 12, 2018
‘Get Out’ was the big winner at the 2018 Writers Guild Awards (WGAs).
The Jordan Peele-written horror-comedy movie took home the prize for Original Screenplay at the ceremony, which was simultaneously held in both New York City and Los Angeles on Sunday (2.12.18).
Jordan said in his acceptance speech: “This was a passion project. It was something that I put my love into, I put my soul into, so getting this from you means so much.”
James Ivory’s script for ‘Call Me by Your Name’ took the gong for Adapted Screenplay, and the writer admitted he was shocked by the victory.
He said: “I’m astonished by all this. I just wanted to go and make a film in Italy again.”
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was also among the big winners on the night, with the Hulu show beating off competition from the likes of ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Stranger Things’ to take the Drama Series prize.
The show also outdid ‘American Vandal’, ‘The Deuce’, ‘Ozark’ and ‘GLOW’ in the New Series category.
‘Will & Grace’ – which returned to screens last year for a ninth series, 12 years after its eighth season ended in 2005 – picked up the Episodic Comedy accolade for ‘Rosario’s Quinceanera’, which was penned by Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally.
‘Veep’ lost out in that category but had a huge prize to celebrate when the political satire show picked up the Comedy Series award.
‘Better Call Saul’ had two nods in the Episodic Drama category and prevailed with Gordon Smith’s ‘Chicanery’ ep.
The WGAs award the best writing in film, TV, video games and advertising. Amber Ruffin hosted the ceremony in New York and Patton Oswalt presented in Los Angeles.
Writers Guild Awards 2018 winners:
‘Call Me by Your Name’
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
Long Form Original:
Long Form Adapted:
‘Big Little Lies’
Comedy/Variety Talk Series:
‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’
Comedy/Variety Sketch Series:
‘Saturday Night Live’
’39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors’
Quiz and Audience Participation:
‘Hollywood Game Night’
James Patterson And How To Become A Bestselling Author Of Books
May 7, 2017
Displayed with permission from International Business Times
When we speak of bestsellers, we’re often referring to books that have sold fewer copies than one might think. By the estimation of award-winning author Donal Ryan, there are times when 300 sales might be enough to make a chart topper – the bestseller mantle tends to have more promotional than monetary value. Of course there are the literary blockbusters — titles like Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code — books that ship hundreds of millions of copies. But combine the sales of JK Rowling and Dan Brown, even throw in John Grisham, and you’re still lagging behind the sales figures of the world’s true bestselling author — James Patterson.
According to his publisher, Patterson has written no fewer than 114 New York Times bestsellers. His total bibliography is upwards of 150. He is, without doubt, one of the most prodigious literary figures that the world has ever seen.
Patterson’s success is unusual, in that he isn’t quite a household name; rather, he is a master of the airport novel, an author whose success has largely been achieved as a writer of commuter fiction. Patterson divides opinion: Stephen King describes his work as “terrible”, reviewers have deemed it “subliterate”; yet in 2015 he received the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for his philanthropic efforts in encouraging Americans to read.
Patterson’s prodigious output is accomplished through the use of collaborators: co-authors offered a chance to make their name under the tutelage of the world’s most commercially successful author. He is engagingly transparent about his process: co-authors work from a narrative framework provided by Patterson, who either then re-writes what they come up with or provides notes on bi-weekly drafts. The narrative frameworks he provides emerge from his understanding of the literary market, informed by his years of experience as an advertising executive. He has been described as a co-publisher, more of a brand than a writer. This is a distinction worth exploring, because it is Patterson’s name that looms largest on his covers.
Using digital methods, if sufficient samples are available, the extent to which someone actively contributes to the actual words of a text can be tested. The field is called stylometry, and it has been previously used in author attribution studies involving popular figures like Harper Lee and JK Rowling.
A colleague and I applied stylometric methods to the work of Patterson in order to form an impression of how much he contributes to the writing of his books in terms of the actual words used. The results of the study show that, in each of the collaborative novels (we checked all where there was a relevant sample to test against – where the co-author had written individual texts), the dominant style is that of Patterson’s co-authors. This is quantitative evidence that, when collaborating with a junior party, Patterson’s contributions to the literary process are more concerned with plot than style. This isn’t a “gotcha!” moment: Patterson has always given the impression that he’s more about the plot. But it is confirmation that the world’s bestselling author may not principally be a writer.
At a superficial level, this tells us something about Patterson’s practices, how it is that he has managed to sustain such prolific output. But it also challenges notions of authorship — what is the significance of Patterson’s name on a dust-jacket? Is it mainly an endorsement, a valuable moniker which generates sales? Or is he properly seen as an author, just one who is attracted to the possibilities of narrative structure over those of language?
Patterson’s work might contain little to provoke the consideration of literary critics, but his restoration of the novel’s popular traditions — his approach to literary capitalism as both author and corporation, creator and trademark – gives us cause to query our own hierarchies relating to story and expression. After all, the novel’s 18th century beginnings are embedded in commercialism. Critics tend to value style over structure, yet the public are clearly drawn towards the latter. Is plot what makes an author, and style an artist?
All about story
The intention here is not to revive the tired debate between “high” and “low” art. Structure is rich in creative potential, and plot was essential to the novel long before movements like high modernism sought to subvert the popular by privileging style. At the same time, the role of the critic, and indeed, the reader, is to appreciate, interpret, and communicate that which is hidden in the nuances of artistic expression. One is unlikely to find an abundance of such nuances in a text that is all plot.
One could point to the film and music industries, where collaboration is the norm, in defence of Patterson’s approach. Most creative practices, certainly those that have been commodified, involve interaction with some form of producer or director. In the literary world, publishers and editors guide a manuscript before turning it into something tangible for dissemination. Patterson might be seen as a literary director, or even a producer, emulating the practices of contemporary ghostwriters or predecessors like Dumas, though this is something of an unfair comparison, considering Patterson’s 19th-century French counterpart was widely suspected of outright plagiarism, described as “only a myth”.
Patterson is all about story. He has turned the instruments of late capitalism to the task of commodifying storytelling. He is far from the first author to attempt such a commodification: King, Rowling, Stephenie Meyer and many other popular writers have privileged story over style. But Patterson is a curious figure among his peers, and our research suggests that “author” in its widely accepted sense isn’t always the most appropriate term for his role within the writing process.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss With These Inspirational Quotes
March 2, 2017
Displayed with permission from International Business Times
Dr. Seuss, one of the most influential authors of all time, would have been 113 years old Thursday. Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, he gave the world 46 classic works, including some of his best remembered books like "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham."
Seuss's birthday is celebrated every year during Read Across America Day when schools throughout the country set aside time to focus on reading. The author died in 1991 at the age of 87, but to celebrate Seuss and his work, some of his most famous and beloved musings are listed below.
"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living."
"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."
"If you keep your eyes open enough, oh, the stuff you will learn! The most wonderful stuff."
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." Children read from "The Cat in the Hat" at a ceremony honoring Dr. Seuss with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, Mar. 11, 2004.
"And turtles, of course...all the turtles are FREE. As turtles and, maybe, ALL creatures should be."
"Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try."
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you're the one who'll decide where to go."
"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more than you learn, the more places you'll go."
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've brought a big bat, I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
Focus on eBooks
February 7, 2017
Do you download your favorite books to read them electronically or do you prefer the feel of traditional paper when reading?
Social media and internet marketing company, NowSourcing, created an infographic titled, “The Future of Books Print vs Digital” for blurb, a self-publishing website for authors. This interesting infographic shares data and other information which provides a unique comparison of the two types of books.
Print or Digital – The Ultimate Comparison
Many people are heavily divided on this issue with each side providing good points. For example, eBook lovers claim that hefty paper books lack the convenience and accessibility of their favorite reading materials. However, print fans argue that eBooks are hard on the eyes, and the feeling of paper simply cannot be replaced.
Is Print Becoming Obsolete?
A few years ago, people were convinced it was the beginning of the end for paper books. Between 2008 and 2010, eBook sales skyrocketed 1,260 percent following the release of improved eReaders. However, in 2015, the pendulum began to swing back with a blockbuster year for print, a 2 percent annual increase in paper book sales, and a 10 percent drop in eBook sales.
Rare 'Harry Potter' Story Sells for £370,000
December 14, 2016
Displayed with permission from Newsweek
A rare Harry Potter story handwritten and illustrated by J.K. Rowling has sold for £370,000.
A manuscript for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a book of short children’s stories mentioned in the final Harry Potter novel, The Deathly Hallows, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London. It had been expected to sell for a figure between £300,000 and £500,000.
The book is just one of seven created and gifted by Rowling to those most intimately involved in the success of her books.
This particular copy belonged to Barry Cunningham, her first publisher.
The BBC reported that Rowling wrote all 6,000 words by hand and inscribed it with a message that reads: “"To Barry, the man who thought an overlong novel about a boy wizard in glasses might just sell… THANK YOU."
Cunningham said he would donate a portion of the proceeds to Rowling’s Lumos charity.
The collector’s item is bound in brown leather and features a sterling silver skull on the front.
Rowling gifted six copies of the manuscript in 2007 and auctioned a seventh for charity. Amazon bought it for £1.95 million.
A mass-manufactured copy of Beedle the Bard was released in 2008.
November 1, 2016
Tuesday, Nov. 1, is National Author’s Day, a day set aside to honor some of the literary greats of the 21st century. All around the world, people are taking to Twitter to pay their respects to their favorite author under the hashtag #NationalAuthorsDay.
In 1928, according to National Day Calendar, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Women’s Club in Bement, Illinois, thought of the idea to set aside a day to honor American authors. The inspiration came after receiving an autographed copy of “Eben Holden’s Last Day A’ Fishin” by fiction writer Irving Bacheller, to whom McPherson wrote a fan letter while she was in the hospital. Overwhelmed with gratitude, McPherson decided to show her appreciation by submitting a proposal for a National Author’s Day to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
The organization passed the proposal, officially declaring Nov. 1 as a day dedicated to American authors, which was eventually recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1949.
In recognition of National Author's Day 2016, we’ve compiled a list of who we think are the best storytellers of 2016.
6. Emma Cline
California fiction writer Emma Cline has published pieces in Tin House, Granta and The Paris Review. She also received the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize for her story "Marion," according to her website.
"The Girls," published in June of 2016, is Cline’s first novel. According to Goodreads, it’s about a reclusive teenager named Evie Boyd, who meets a group of girls and is immediately captivated by their careless and free spirits. Before long, she has left her old life behind and is living in what has become an infamous cult, confronting Boyd with unthinkable choices.
5. Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is a bestselling author of 23 novels, her first one published in 1992. According to her website, her last nine novels debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, including "Small Great Things," published in October 2016.
"Small Great Things" tackles issues of race, privilege, justice and compassion. Ruth Jefferson, the story’s protagonist, is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital. She begins a checkup on a newborn infant, but a pair of white supremacist parents refuse to let her touch their child.
The next day, the infant goes into cardiac distress and dies after Jefferson delays to help. Things get even more difficult as she is charged with a serious crime and the case garners national media attention. As she navigates the trial, Jefferson realizes that her perceptions of herself and others might are misguided.
4. Nicholas Sparks
The author of 18 novels and one of America’s most cherished storytellers, Nicholas Sparks has sold over 105 million copies of his books worldwide, all of which have been New York Times bestsellers, according to his website.
His first and one of his most popular novels, "The Notebook," was published in 1996 and became a hit movie, as were many of his books. His newest novel, "Two By Two," was published in October 2016, which explores the special bond between a father and his daughter and the unconditional love he has for her.
3. Paula Hawkins
A journalist for 15 years before becoming a fiction writer, Paula Hawkins published her first thriller, "The Girl on the Train," in 2015. According to Hawkins’ website, the story follows a girl named Rachel, who rides the same commuter train every day. One day, she witnesses something shocking. She tells the police, and eventually finds herself deeply involved in the investigation and those it involves, leading her to wonder if she has done more harm than good.
The novel debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list and is currently being published all over the world. The story was adapted into a film in October 2016.
2. Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer who died in 2015 of lung cancer. Throughout his memoir, "When Breath Becomes Air," Kalanithi chronicles his own journey from a young medical student to a surgeon at Stanford. Obsessed with the topic of mortality, Kalanithi explores his questions of how to live a meaningful life, even as he’s dying, according to his website.
His memoir, which he died while working on, was published in January of 2016 and became a number one New York Times bestseller.
1. J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling has garnered worldwide fame for her Harry Potter fantasy series. The most recent installment, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," was written in the form of a two-part play and published in July of 2016. It debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list and sold over two million print copies in its first 48 hours in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Celebrating The Best Writers For National Author's Day
November 1, 2016
Displayed with permission from International Business Times
Writing a successful novel is a dream for many and a reality for few. For amateurs and professionals alike, November is the time to give writing a book a shot. National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, begins Tuesday and invites scribes to take the time to sit down and turn their thoughts into words on a page.
But writing a novel is easier said than done and you'll need all the inspiration you can get. What better way to get motivated than to hear from some of the greats?
See below for what some well-known authors have to say about the writing process according to Goodreads and Reader's Digest.
1. "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway
2. "Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$%ng novel." John Green
3. "There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be." Doris Lessing
4. "One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I'm going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I'll have lost nothing- writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off." Lawrence Block
5. "First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!" Ray Bradbury
6. "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
7. "Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well." Stephen King
8. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." Toni Morrison
9. "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." E.L. Doctorow
10. "If I waited for perfection I would never write a word." Margaret Atwood
11. "When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing." George Orwell
12. "It's none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way." Ernest Hemingway
13. "And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right." Ray Bradbury
14. "Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." Barbara Kingsolver.
15. "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." JD Salinger
National Novel Writing Month Quotes
J.K.Rowling Confirms She is "Done" Writing About Harry Potter
August 1, 2016
J.K. Rowling has confirmed she is "done" writing about Harry Potter.
The 51-year-old author - who has become a multimillionaire after writing the book series - admitted new play 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is the last story she will pen about the fictional wizard, 19 years after the first novel, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was published.
Speaking at London's Palace Theatre on the official launch day of the production, she said: "[Harry] goes on a very big journey during these two plays and, then, yeah, I think we're done.
"This is the next generation, you know. So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."
The two-part play opened on Saturday in London and from yesterday (31.07.16) fans were able to purchase or download a copy of the script.
The play sees Harry as an "overworked" employee of the Ministry of Magic and centers on his and Ginny Weasley's son Albus and introduces several new characters.
It is set 19 years after the events of Rowling's final Potter book, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', and also features an older Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
J.K. recently pleaded with fans not to spoil the plot of the play for other Potter aficionados.
She said: "You've been amazing for years at keeping Harry Potter secrets so you don't spoil the books for readers who came after you.
"So I'm asking you one more time to keep secrets and let audiences enjoy 'Cursed Child' with all the surprises that we've built into the story.
"Potter fans have always had each other's backs."
'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' is also set to be staged on Broadway, the show's producer Colin Callender confirmed.
He said: "We've got to take a very big breath now and get through the weekend.
"Then we'll deal with what the next stage looks like - and hopefully Broadway will be part of that."
Independent Publisher Book Awards Opens for 2017
June 2, 2016
The first call for entries has gone out for the 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards competition, now entering its 21st year of recognizing and promoting the best independently published titles annually. Known in the industry by its nickname the “IPPYs,” the contest is the largest and most competitive awards program for independently published books in the English-speaking world. Awards Director Jim Barnes announced the milestone by launching the 2016-2017 awards cycle with the first call for entries last week. The winners of the 2017 IPPY Awards will be celebrated at an awards gala in New York City on the eve of BookExpo America.
Founded in 1996, over 5,900 coveted IPPY medals have been awarded to a diverse group of publishers, illustrators, and authors, from internationally recognized talent such as Elena Ferrante to the new and unsung voices of self-published authors. “We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to promote such a diverse group of incredible books each year,” says Barnes. “Publishers and booksellers have weathered so much change in recent years, yet the quality of our IPPY Award entries has steadily increased.”
IndependentPublisher.com (formerly Small Press magazine) initially conceived the IPPYs to help recognize the work of independent publishers who remained unsung by major publications and awards programs. “Despite having produced a wealth of well-written, beautifully designed books, small presses were largely overlooked in favor of the big publishing houses,” says Barnes. “Existing literary awards were genre specific or only open to members of the sponsoring organization, so we felt the need for a broad-based, unaffiliated contest that would recognize all types of independent publishers.” That first contest saw a tremendous response and a wide variety of entrants, including universities, small presses, museums, and self-publishers.
21 years later, the IPPY contest is the largest book awards program in the world. Last year’s contest drew in around 5,500 entries from an entrant pool that has greatly diversified since the program’s founding, as self-publishing, hybrid publishing, and independent publishers have thrived. The original list of 24 subject categories has grown to 83, in addition to a regional division and an ebook contest. Entries come from all 50 United States, all of the Canadian provinces, and about a dozen other English-speaking countries. Though the contest has evolved with time, its mission remains the same, “To reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.”
The 2016-2017 awards cycle will culminate in a ceremony held in New York City, honoring the publishers and authors who have made exceptional contributions to the independent publishing industry this year. "We want to showcase how vibrant and dynamic the indie publishing industry is… the truly exceptional books we award each year are a labor of love, created through the hard work and talent of our entrants," says Barnes. The 21st anniversary festivities will take place on the eve of BookExpo America. “From the beginning it’s been about recognizing authors and publishers who are willing to stand for something and dare to be different. Viva la Independents!”
For more information about the awards, visit the website here: http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/.
Authors Guild Dinner Recognizes Suzanne Collins, Children’s Literature
May 26, 2016
The Authors Guild recognized Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins with its Distinguished Service to the Literary Community honor at its annual dinner on May 25 in New York City. The annual dinner benefits both the Authors Guild Foundation and Authors League Fund, and marked the first time that the event highlighted children’s literature.
Collins accepted the award with a speech that addressed the impetus for her work. As a child, she was influenced by her father, who “loved the Socratic method more than Socrates,” and recounted an event in which she found a penny on the ground, and in asking her father if she could keep it, was sucked in to a long conversation on whether such an act was right. Ultimately, however, the morality of taking something not rightly yours dawned on her, when he asked, “Does it benefit you to live in a world in which someone takes this penny?”
That driving question, “Does it benefit you to live in a world in which…”, inspired her to create the Hunger Games series, which investigates poverty and just war theory. Whether or not children can understand this is irrelevant to Collins – “no adult author has ever said, ‘And everyone got exactly what I intended,’ ” though she does feel that children are introduced too late to these weighty concepts, and therefore to nonviolent solutions to acts of war and atrocity.
Following Collins’s speech, children’s authors rounded out the evening’s program. Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne paid tribute to former Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken, who died of ALS in January. Following her tribute, three children’s authors, chosen by Collins herself, shared why they write for children.
However, at no point during the evening’s speeches did The Phantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster, Percy Jackson and the Olympians creator Rick Riordan, and Scholastic editor and author Andrea Davis Pinkney ever seem to be apologists for children’s literature. Rather, all three authors shared a sense of joy in doing their work along with the opportunities that writing for children affords in affecting real change in the world. Collins’s sentiment echoed throughout the evening in her statement that in writing for children, “I found an audience on which I could really have an impact.”
Dame Helen Mirren to Narrate 'Lost' Beatrix Potter Tale
May 24, 2016
Award-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren is to narrate Beatrix Potter's century-old "lost" story, The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots (Frederick Warne & Co, Penguin Random House Children’s).
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was written by Potter in 1914 but the unpublished work only came to light in 2013, after it was found by PRH Children's publisher Jo Hanks in the archives of the V&A museum. Hanks happened upon a reference to the book after stumbling across an out-of-print literary history of Potter from the 1970s, referring to an unedited manuscript of a story about "a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life".
Publication of both the hardback and audiobook is slated for 1st September 2016, as reported on in January, with Quentin Blake chosen to illustrate. 2016 also celebrates what would have been Potter’s 150th birthday.
The audiobook recording will be Mirren's first. She began her acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and is the recipient of an Oscar, BAFTA, Tony, and four Emmys, playing characters as diverse as Elizabeth II in the film of "The Queen" and detective Jane Tennison in television series "Prime Suspect".
PRH audio publisher, Videl Bar-Kar, said: “The publication of Beatrix Potter’s rediscovered story The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots is set to be a major event this September and we are delighted that Dame Helen Mirren has brought her extraordinary dramatic talent to narrate the audiobook. Her reading brings warmth, intimacy and a sense of incredible discovery.”
The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots and Other Stories will feature five other stories, with the other narrators to be announced at a later date. The book, priced at £12.99, will be published in a jacketed hardback format in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
How Facebook Could Become the World’s Largest Bookstore
April 27, 2016
A month or so ago, Facebook reported its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015, and let’s just say they crushed the ball. Knocked the cover off. Pointed to the bleachers and then hit it out of the park.
The big moneymaker was its burgeoning video ad business. Facebook states that people are watching 100 million hours of video per day on its social platform. More than 500 million people watch Facebook video every day. Just let that sink in. Facebook isn’t simply a video discovery platform; it’s becoming the video discovery platform. And it’s still growing.
(Worth noting, YouTube is still the market leader and gets roughly 4 billion views per day, but much of the discovery of the new videos is happening on Facebook).
While people in the publishing industry may find this interesting, most won’t find it particularly relevant. To ignore this news, however, would be a monumental mistake. Don’t underestimate what Facebook is and what it is becoming. Facebook is the world’s best discovery platform, and it makes money by going after digital content that keeps people spending more time on Facebook. And after video, there is a clear line to ebooks.
As dominant as Amazon currently is in ebooks, the retailer’s major weakness is discovery. More often than not, users have to find a book somewhere else and then go to Amazon and purchase it. There are additional, unnecessary steps in their process, and the company has no easy way to remedy it.
Facebook, on the other hand, could solve these issues almost overnight. No one has a crystal ball to see what Facebook will do or when it will do it, but there are a number of signs that point to a future in which books are found, purchased and shared on Facebook.
Amazon Spends $30 Million to Sell Ebooks to NYC Schools
April 25, 2016
DBW—Amazon won a $30 million deal yesterday to provide ebooks to New York City public schools, according to The Wall Street Journal.
New York’s Panel for Education Policy voted in favor of the three-year deal with the Department of Education, which will go into effect in the next school year.
If the three years of the program are successful, the deal could be extended another two years, which would net Amazon $64.5 million in total.
The new deal will allow Amazon to introduce its ebook catalog to more than a million students in New York City, the nation’s largest school district.
Amazon will not provide any e-readers to New York’s school system. Instead, schools will purchase the digital files from Amazon through an internal marketplace that the company will create, and the files will then be available on school devices.
Update: Amazon issued the following statement: “This partnership is illustrative of Amazon Education’s overall commitment to making connected classrooms a reality by helping students and educators with the transition to digital learning. We look forward to working closely with the NYC DOE to serve the educational needs of their students.”
J.K. Rowling Reveals Her Favorite Harry Potter Character
April 12, 2016
J.K. Rowling has revealed her favourite 'Harry Potter' character is Professor Dumbledore.
The author of the books about wizard Harry Potter's wizarding adventures was chatting to fans on Twitter on Monday (11.04.16) when she was posed the big question and despite having Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Harry, Rubeus Hagrid and even Dobby - the loyal house elf - to choose from, she settled on the head teacher of Hogwarts, whose full name is Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
Asked by one of her followers on the social media site, "Besides Harry, who is your favorite character in the series?" she wrote back: "Dumbledore."
Professor Dumbledore guided the young Harry Potter through his battles with his greatest adversary Voldermort and was the Head of the Transfiguration department and a member of the Order of The Phoenix.
The character was depicted by Richard Harris and then Michael Gambon in the film adaptations and fans were left devastated when he met his death at the end of 'Half-Blood Prince'.
However, the new trailer for the upcoming prequel movie 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' which stars Eddie Redmayne as central character Newt Scamander, has teased that Dumbledore will be brought to life once more, after Colin Farrell's character Graves said his name.
Author's Harry Potter's Chair Auctioned For $394,000
April 7, 2016
Displayed with permission
New York (dpa) - Harry Potter author JK Rowling proved her words' extraordinary powers once again Wednesday when a buyer paid 394,000 dollars for the chair in which she wrote the first two books of her blockbuster series, the auction house said.
An anonymous buyer shelled out more than eight times the opening bid on the chair at an auction at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Heritage Auctions said in a press release.
Rowling was given the 1930s-style oak chair as part of a set when she was a struggling single mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. She sat in it as she wrote the manuscripts of Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
After the runaway success of her fantasy series she painted it with words including the sentence "I wrote Harry Potter while sitting on this chair" and donated it to a charity auction in 2002, where it sold for about 21,000 dollars.
The chair was sold again in 2009 for about 29,000 dollars.
The Harry Potter books have sold 450 million copies in 73 languages worldwide.
The Real Story Behind the Strange and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allen Poe
March 28, 2016
Displayed with permission from MadMikesAmerica
Edgar Allan Poe's eeriest tale may be the real-life mystery of his unexplained death.
It was a rainy night in October 1849 when the master of the macabre was found slumped in a gutter on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and dressed in ill-fitting clothes. A typesetter for the Baltimore Sun spotted the babbling author and rushed him to Washington College Hospital. Four fitful nights later, a hallucinating Poe finally succumbed to his delirium.
Doctors were unable to determine just how Edgar ended up in such a ragged state. Over the years, Poe researchers have crafted their own answers. Here are the 6 most intriguing possibilities.
1. POE DIED OF COOPING
Poe was discovered on election night outside Gunner's Hall, a pop-up polling station for the day's events. Many believe the author fell prey to a bizarre brand of voter fraud from the 19 th century known as "cooping." Cooping gangs would kidnap a victim and strong-arm him into repeatedly voting for a candidate under different identities. Disguises were often involved – as was forced consumption of drugs or alcohol. Given Poe's strange costume, his woozy state and proximity to the ballot box, perhaps the author was duped in the name of bully democracy.
2. POE DIED OF A PREVIOUS ILLNESS
Poe was on the road when he died in Baltimore, having left Richmond, Virginia for Philadelphia. In the days before his departure, the author reportedly visited a physician, complaining of a fever and weak pulse. Both Poe's doctor and his wife-to-be advised against the journey. What's more, Poe reportedly passed through Philadelphia in the midst of a cholera epidemic earlier that year, and was convinced he had contracted the contagion. Given his frail immune system and the dreary weather that fateful night, Poe may have very well slipped into a deadly fever.
3. POE DIED OF ALCOHOLISM
This prevailing death theory is also the most problematic when you start to dig around. Rufus Wilmont Griswold penned Poe's obituary shortly after his death. While a colleague of Poe's, Griswold was also one of his biggest rivals. The not-so-fond memorial painted Edgar as a friendless soul prone to addiction. The following year, Griswold published a posthumous collection of Poe's work, in which he concocted outright lies about the author as a hopeless drunk. Even Poe's close associate in Baltimore Dr. Joseph E. Snodgrass – a fervent advocate of the temperance movement – saw an opportunity in Poe's death, repeatedly blaming it on the evils of drink. For the record, POE DID STRUGGLE WITH ALCOHOL – though evidence suggests he was trying to get sober. Perhaps he still took a deadly spill from the wagon that rainy night in October.
4. POE DIED OF RABIES
In 1996, doctors attending a medical conference were asked to inspect the health files of anonymous patients and provide a diagnosis. Dr. R. Michael Benitez received a file on "E.P." – a writer from Richmond. After assessing each symptom – confusion, hallucinations, lethargy, shallow breathing – he delivered a diagnosis of rabies. E.P., of course, turned out to be Poe, and news of Dr. Benitez's inadvertent discovery sent shockwaves through the literary community. Turns out, rabies was a fairly common virus in the 19 th century, though it is impossible to prove without DNA evidence. Nevertheless, as Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House Museum in Baltimore, points out: "This is the first time since Poe died that a medical person looked at Poe's death without any preconceived notions. Dr. Benitez had no agenda."
5. POE DIED OF A BRAIN TUMOR
After his death, Poe was quickly buried in an unmarked grave. Twenty-six years later, his corpse was exhumed for a more proper burial. According to reports, one gravedigger noticed something striking about Poe's skull – a solid mass rattling around inside. Some now believe this mass was a brain tumor, which can sometimes harden into a ball after death. Author Matthew Pearl explores the theory in his historical thriller THE POE SHADOW. If true, Poe's erratic behavior and feverish disposition on the night of October 3 may have been physiological rather than chemically induced.
6. POE WAS MURDERED
Author John Evangelist Walsh offers a far more sinister explanation of Poe's demise. In his book MIDNIGHT DREARY: THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF EDGAR ALLAN POE Walsh accuses the brothers of Poe's wealthy wife-to-be of murder, suggesting they were none to happy about welcoming the author into their family. According to Walsh's theory, Poe was actually hiding out from the brothers that night in Baltimore – hence the strange clothes. Alas, the siblings still tracked down Edgar, beating him and forcing alcohol down his throat until he was nevermore.
A less conspiratorial theory that still ends in bloodshed contends that Poe had too many drinks that fateful night in October, and was the victim of a violent bar brawl or a deadly mugging.
JK Rowling Teases Harry Potter Fans
March 7, 2016
J.K. Rowling has teased Harry Potter fans ahead of the release of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'.
The 50-year-old author has announced the unveiling of a four part original series, titled 'The History of Magic in North America', on Pottermore.
A post on the website reads: "The first instalment of this exciting new series is called ‘History of Magic in North America’ and will be published on Pottermore in four pieces, starting tomorrow at 2pm GMT. Another piece will be revealed each day at 2pm until Friday 11 March.
"You’ve got four days of new writing by J.K. Rowling to look forward to - as always, remember to breathe."
The four stories support the release of the hotly-anticipated movie in November, which stars Eddie Redmayne and is set 70 years before the initial Harry Potter stories began.
The message continues: "We were able to share with you the name of the North American wizarding school earlier this year, but there’s just so much more to tell you about witches and wizards across the world.
"'Magic in North America' will bring to light the history of this previously unexplored corner of the wizarding world in the run up to 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'. And you’ll want to get up to speed before the film comes around in November."
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Harper Lee Has Died at Age 89
February 19, 2016
Nelle Harper Lee, the iconic American author who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961 for her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, has died at the age of 89 in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as confirmed by her publisher HarperCollins to the New York Times.
The news of Lee’s death comes just months after the release of the sequel for To Kill a Mockingbird, titled Go Set a Watchman, which broke sales records and became a literary event.
Lee was born on April 26, 1926 to lawyer Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee, inspiring her now landmark character Atticus Finch in Mockingbird, which went on to sell over 10 million copies.
The youngest of four children, Lee spent her childhood and career close to home in her small town in Alabama, her elementary school just blocks away from her house.
“I was born in a little town called Monroeville, Alabama, on April 28, 1926,” she said in a 1964 interview. “I went to school in the local grammar school, went to high school there, and then went to the University of Alabama. That’s about it, as far as education goes.”
Beloved Books Reissued in Time for Beverly Cleary's 100th Birthday
February 16, 2016
Displayed with permission from Toronto Star
As a special present for Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday in April, HarperCollins has re-released three of her most beloved books with illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers and forewords by some of her most famous fans.
The books also include a rare interview with the author herself, who has spoken to the media only once since 2011, to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Cleary is the award-wining author of more than 35 books for children and young adults, and two memoirs. She also created some of the most iconic characters in children’s fiction.
That includes the fearless Ramona Quimby and irreverent Henry Huggins, characters Cleary created to give children the kinds of books she had searched for but never found on library shelves in Portland, Ore., when she was young.
Birthday celebrations for Cleary, who now lives in California, are already planned at libraries in Oregon and Salt Lake City.
“She’s the gold standard and there will never be another Ramona, for sure,” said Grace Kendall, a children’s book editor at Farrar Straus Giroux.
“Those were some of the books that got me and kept me reading.”
Ramona first appeared on the page in 1955, but the magic of Cleary’s writing is that she captures the universal experiences of childhood, Kendall said.
“To me it’s not so much about the time period, it’s about being human.”
Here’s a look at what her famous fans had to say about Cleary.
Actress Amy Poehler
On Ramona Quimby, Age 8
“In today’s world, where people are always searching for ‘strong female characters,’ Mrs. Cleary was ahead of her time. Ramona was a pest! She was irascible and uncompromising! She was allowed to be angry and was not afraid to stand up to boys!”
Author Kate DiCamillo
On The Mouse and the Motorcycle
“I had read Beverly Cleary’s book The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and I knew that the objects and people and mice of the world were not at all as they seemed on the surface. I knew that, in the right circumstances, mice could do impossible, improbable things. For instance, they could ride motorcycles.”
Author Judy Blume
On Henry Huggins
“I wish I’d had Beverly Cleary’s books to read when I was growing up. But by the time Henry Huggins was published I was twelve years old and thought of myself as too grown up for children’s books. Big mistake! I’m just glad I got to read them when I was starting out as a writer. I’m not sure there would be a Peter and Fudge if I hadn’t.”
Books Are Back! Bookstores Record First Sales Rise Since 2007
In the book publishing world, what’s old is new again.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that bookstore sales rose by 2.5% from $10.89 billion to $11.17 billion in 2015, the first such increase in the industry since 2007.
The figures were reported by Publishers Weekly, which also noted that many publishers have indicated that eBook sales declined in 2015, while print sales went up.
The Association of American Publishers spotted a similar trend during the first three quarters of 2015. From January until September of last year, the AAP reported that eBooks were down 11.1%.
The group said most of the decline came in sales of children or young adult books, which saw a 44.8% decline in eBook sales. Paperback sales grew by 13.3% over the same period, according to the AAP.
“When eBooks first appeared, their growth was exponential,” AAP spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone told CNNMoney. “While there are many who are still discovering e-readers, I don’t think we’ll get back to the levels of triple-digit growth the way we did five years ago. That said, eBooks do have a good market share, and are here to stay.”
Is Self-Publishing Coming of Age in the Digital World?
Erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey began life as a humble, self-published e-book, unable to satisfy the tastes of traditional publishers.
Within a few years it had achieved domination on a global scale, spawning a series that has sold more than 125 million copies.
E. L. James's personal story has become a tantalising fantasy for aspiring authors. But one that technology and social media are making increasingly realisable.
"There was a time when self-publishing was equated with vanity," explains John Bond, co-founder of Whitefox, one of several new companies helping 'amateur' authors publish professionally on platforms like Amazon Kindle, Google Play, Apple's iBook Store or Kobo.
"Because of the digital revolution, democratisation has happened. It's almost as if the writer has become his own entrepreneur around the publication process."
In their competition to get noticed, self-publishers are proving willing to take risks.
Andy Weir's The Martian eventually went on to become a Hollywood blockbuster. But the story was originally published chapter by chapter on the author's blog for free.
A Few Annoying Things Beginning Writers Say...
Since every literate person can write, most people think they can be writers. Interestingly enough, we all can speak quite well, but few of us would deem ourselves ‘speakers.’ However, this prevalent belief encourages beginners to say the oddest things that make professional writers want to cringe (or preferably strangle them with a thin wire). If you find yourself saying the following, please stop:
1. “I can write a book in a weekend.”
I’m certain you can mutilate a couple hundred pages with words; however, that doesn’t mean that anyone will want to read them. Yes, I know there are prolific writers who can write a book in two weeks (Voltaire supposedly wrote Candide in three days). Usually they are professionals who have mastered a style and understand the craft of writing. Have you?
2. “I can write those ‘trashy’ books and make tons of money.”
Bwahaha! I love this one.
Many new writers see a 200-page romance or mystery and scoff. These things are so easy, they tell themselves. I can write this in a day. I doubt it, but maybe you can. If you do, will anyone pay you to read it? That is the difference. Those who sell in these genres usually have a passion for the craft that translates onto the page. Hate romance? Think mysteries are ridiculous? Believe sci-fi is for loonies? Then don’t write it, editors and especially readers can tell.
3. “If this crap gets published, I bet I could get a contract in six months.”
Define crap. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Don’t be arrogant and think the world should concede to your every taste (that’s what critics are for). Every writer is not meant for every reader. Just because you don’t like a book doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s just not good for you. I don’t like okra; however, that doesn’t mean I need to start an anti-okra campaign. Diversity is what makes life interesting.
Okay, okay you’re not talking about taste. You’re talking about horrible, poorly written books. Yes, I know there are some truly bad books out there. Here’s the hard truth. Some bad books (poor grammar, poor structure and poor execution of a plot simpler than a fairy tale) get published. I have plenty of dents in my wall from an effective toss. However, these books are probably ‘placement’ books to fill a hole in a publishing list. Usually, these books sink and their authors are rarely heard from again.
Unfortunately, the existence of these books convinces people that getting their book published should be a breeze. Sure, and every person with a dream to sing will become the next International Idol. Is it fair? No. Do they care? No.
4. “I can write better than that.”
If you can, shut up and write. Nobody wants to hear about it. It’s as annoying as listening to someone explain what they would do if they ruled the world
Delete The Non-Complete
Authors must be free to publish the works they want to write. But publishers often insist on terms that can make that impossible. In attempting to restrict authors from competing against their own works, publishers craft broad, harsh non-compete clauses that can unfairly impede authors from making a living. These clauses have to go.
Don’t get us wrong: We get the basic concept. An author shouldn’t be able to take a book under contract with Publisher X, rework it a little, walk it across the street, and sell essentially the same book to Publisher Y. That’s what non-compete clauses were designed to prevent, and when that’s all they actually do, we’re fine with them—although other provisions in publishing agreements accomplish the same thing.
Unfortunately, many standard publishing agreements contain sweeping non-compete terms that can be used to restrict what else an author publishes and when. That’s an unacceptable restriction on authors’ livelihoods in an era when many writers are struggling just to make ends meet.
No publisher would agree, at an author’s request, to forgo publishing another author’s book on a particular subject. So why should an author assume a similar obligation? But it happens all the time. Authors are routinely asked to agree not to publish other works that might “directly compete with” the book under contract or “be likely to injure its sale or the merchandising of other rights.” Even more broadly, they may be asked not to “publish or authorize the publication of any material based on the Work or any material in the Work or any other work of such a nature such that it is likely to compete with the Work.”
Such unfair, open-ended non-compete clauses can prevent an author from pursuing other writing opportunities. If a new project even arguably deals with the same “subject” as the book under contract, a door swings shut and the non-compete can be invoked to prevent an author from publishing elsewhere. For writers specializing in a particular subject, this could be career-derailing.
Academics and textbook writers who spend their careers studying and writing about a particular area of expertise are especially vulnerable. They should not be limited to one book on that subject during their entire careers. But that’s what can happen if the author agrees to a broad non-compete. Take the economist who published a dissertation on oil in the Middle East and soon became a professor and an expert on the topic. Decades later, he came to us when he received an offer from another publisher for a book on—you guessed it—oil in the Middle East. But the publishing contract for his dissertation stipulated that he needed to obtain permission to publish a totally new book on the subject—even though, in the intervening years, the field had completely changed. For an author to have to ask for permission to write about what he or she knows best is outrageous.
Harper Lee is Proof That There Are Second Acts in American Lives
Displayed with permission from Toronto Star
Unless Alabama lightning strikes twice and another lost manuscript is found, the beloved Nelle Harper Lee will publish her second — and last — novel this week. It’s a literary event a long time coming.
The elusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird is now 89 and in failing health. Her American classic on bigotry, injustice and courage was published in 1960, bringing her riches beyond imagining and fame beyond her ability to cope. Fifty years ago, though reportedly continuing to write, she withdrew from public life and has not published since.
Lee was born in 1926, the youngest of four children, a shy, non-conformist tomboy. When she was 5, a boy named Truman Streckfus Persons moved in next door. The world would come to know him as Truman Capote. The two odd ducks became fast friends, the feisty girl protector of the delicate boy. They observed life in their small town, Monroeville, spun stories to each other in a tree house and banged some out on an anvil-like old Underwood given them by Nelle’s father.
After high school Lee dabbled at college, writing for school publications, trying law to placate her father and making few friends before deciding to go to New York in 1949 to become a writer. Through the ’50s, she juggled odd jobs, completing a handful of stories by 1956. That Christmas, friends gave her the gift of financial support so she could take a year off to write. In short order, she produced the first 50 pages of a novel she called Go Set a Watchman. Over the next two years, working in her New York apartment and returning regularly to Alabama, she rewrote and revised the manuscript into what became Mockingbird.
The novel was published in June 1960, with Lee expecting critics to give it a quick death. Instead, it quickly became a Literary Guild selection and a Reader’s Digest condensed book. Within weeks, it was on bestseller lists. In its first year, it sold more than 2.5 million copies, becoming a staple of high school English classes. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize. A movie version starring Gregory Peck was nominated for eight Academy Awards.
To reporters asking about her plans for a second book, Lee said: “I guess I will have to quote Scarlett O’Hara on that. ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow.’”
The literary world, even in moments of success, is not for the thin-skinned. Some critics said Lee hadn’t so much written a novel as given fictional names to people she knew in Monroeville. In Mockingbird, Truman became Dill, just as Atticus Finch was based on Lee’s lawyer father. The town courthouse had a balcony from which Nelle and Truman would watch him at work. The town’s ramshackle Boleware place became Boo Radley’s house.
There were persistent rumours, too, that Capote had actually written the book. When his own classic, In Cold Blood, came out, Nelle — who had been his researcher, and some thought his unacknowledged co-writer — felt slighted at his lack of acknowledgment.
In 1964, beleaguered by speaking requests and endless inquiries about a new novel that wouldn’t come, Lee gave her last interview. As her novel claimed an exalted place in the American canon, she receded from public view, living quietly in New York and Monroeville. In the past two decades, two biographies of Lee appeared, neither of them authorized. It seemed that, despite her best efforts, fascination with the writer who gave the world Scout and Boo and Atticus endured.
Then, in February this year, it was announced that Lee’s lawyer, checking on the original manuscript of Mockingbird, discovered attached to it a complete second book.
Go Set a Watchman, written before Mockingbird but set 20 years later during the turmoil of the civil rights movement, with Scout Finch an adult, will be published on July 14.
Back in 1963, when her first novel was a literary sensation, Lee was asked how her next book was coming.
“Well, I hope to live to see it published,” she said.
Celebrating Independent Bookstore Day In NY
Booklovers will be thrilled to learn that this Saturday is the very first nationwide Independent Bookstore Day. Roughly 400 bookstores around the U.S. are presenting special programs on this special holiday, which was inspired by the popular National Record Store Day. If you’re a New York City bookworm, there are many ways and places you can celebrate.
Brooklyn’s BookCourt is holding an event featuring writers, including Julia Dahl and Shulem Deen, sharing their favorite bookstore memories. Get there at 2 p.m., or arrive at noon for a separate event celebrating the release of a debut novel, Lance Rubin's "Denton Little's Death Date."
The Strand, Broadway and 12th Street, which boasts that it has 18 miles of books, will offer signed chapbooks, which are small collections of poetry, by Roxane Gay, author of "Bad Feminist," as well as other signed goodies.
At La Casa Azul in Harlem, an art exhibit opens Saturday, with the artists in attendance at noon. At 6 p.m., there will be a film screening of "Millie and the Lords," and a Q&A with the director, Jennica Carmona. Don’t forget to register to attend.
The Astoria Bookshop in Queens is holding a sale of “awesome, exclusive books and art” and will have some cool giveaways as well. There will also be special events -- including literary trivia -- at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., which you can learn more about here.
Or, you can spend all day at Community Bookstore, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where bagels precede storytime at 9:30 a.m. and free beer precedes a reading from a new novel at 7:30 p.m. There are also children’s events earlier in the day.
The inaugural national holiday is an expansion of a celebration that began last year in California. For several years prior, the growth of bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble (which themselves have not been doing so well lately) and more crucially, the gargantuan online retailer Amazon, seemed to sound a death knell for small, independent, local bookstores. But in the past few years, independent bookstores in the U.S. have made a comeback, increasing in numbers by more than 25 percent since 2009, the Washington Post reports.
7 Tips To Boost Your eBook Sales
More and more publishing success stories these days are coming from eBook publishers as compared to those who deal in print books. As a result, the number of eBook writers has gone up drastically. Though it may seem lucrative to write your own eBook and sell it, making enough sales to earn good money is not as easy as it seems. You need to learn and implement the right techniques and methods to promote your eBook. Here are some tips you should remember when seeking to boost your eBook sales.
1. Have a professional cover design
Hopefully, you have used the right tools to format and edit your eBook. The next step now is ensuring that the cover itself captures a prospective buyer’s attention immediately. The cover design is a very big factor in determining how well you promote your eBook.
The first thing is to have a professional create the design (unless you are one yourself). Look online for some of the best eBook cover designs and then use these ideas to help an expert create what you want.
Of course a professional designer will cost money but do not compromise on this. It is an investment you have to make if at all you want to earn from your work.
2. Sell your eBook on different stores Amazon may have a lot of prospective customers, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Submit your eBook to multiple stores to make sure that it gets as much exposure as possible. Even small online stores will substantially add to your total revenue.
3. Give it away for free For a writer, it is extremely important to have a loyal following. If you are writing your first book, getting this audience is a big challenge. One way of going about it is by giving the eBook away for free for a limited period of time. Even better, you can give your first book away for free and then use the gained following to make huge sales with your subsequent books.
Free giveaways can also help you gauge the success of the eBook and give you an idea of how much you can earn from it.
4. Get it reviewed A good review can make all the difference in terms of eBook sales. There are sites that provide eBook reviews. Submit your work here. In addition, get satisfied readers and eBook stores to give their testimonials about the eBook.
If it is possible, find a well known author to also write a short review. This will give you a lot more exposure and more people will trust you.
5. Optimize your sales pages Whether you are selling your eBook on Amazon or anywhere else, make sure that your sales page is highly appealing. Fill it with quotes from your eBook, reviews from customers and testimonials. Tell people what to expect and make them anticipate reading your work.
It is advisable to incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) into your sales page to make it easier for people to find it online.
6. Interact with your readers It is very important to connect with your readers, both current and prospective. The best way to do this is through forums and social media networks. This interaction will also attract other people and multiply your following.
7. Be careful about the pricing You may have done everything perfectly well up to this point but then mess up when it comes to putting a price on your eBook. Generally EBooks are priced much lower than printed books due to the lower production cost. In fact, the low prices have been instrumental in driving up the popularity and success of eBooks.
So be careful not to overprice it such that people don’t buy it. Ideally, eBooks are sold under $10. For fiction, it should be under $7. The most favorably price range especially for new writers is between $0.99 and $2.99. This way, you will sell enough books to get good returns.
Once your first eBook becomes a success, don’t stop there, publish another one. The more quality work you have the easier it will be to find you and the bigger the following you will have. Most importantly, don’t forget to always communicate and interact with your readers. Create a community within which people can share and even spread word about your books. This way, not only will you be able to sell your eBooks, but also create awareness about your work.
What Now?: Hachette and Amazon Have Settled
Hachette announced it has concluded a new “multi-year” contract with Amazon, ending the standoff that has captured the industry’s attention since May of this year.
The agreement covers print and ebook distribution and will take effect early next year.
Much like Simon & Schuster, which struck a deal with Amazon last month–in a development many saw as increasing the pressure on Hachette to do the same–Hachette’s new agreement allows the publisher to set prices on its ebooks. That means a return–likely to be limited by the specific terms of the deal–to agency pricing.
In its statement today, Hachette appears to have gained that right by compromising, at least to a certain extent, on one of the key sticking points in its standoff with Amazon: lower prices. The new agreement, the statement says, “includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices,” something the publisher voiced strong objections to earlier this year.
Nevertheless, both sides say they are pleased with the agreement, and Hachette affirms that it “is great news for writers” and readers alike.
Normal business between the publisher and Amazon is said to resume immediately.
HACHETTE BOOK GROUP AND AMAZON REACH NEW EBOOK AND PRINT BOOK AGREEMENT
November 13, 2014 – Hachette Book Group and Amazon (AMZN) today announced that the companies have reached a new, multi-year agreement for ebook and print sales in the US.
Michael Pietsch, Hachette Book Group CEO said, “This is great news for writers. The new agreement will benefit Hachette authors for years to come. It gives Hachette enormous marketing capability with one of our most important bookselling partners.”
“We are pleased with this new agreement as it includes specific financial incentives for Hachette to deliver lower prices, which we believe will be a great win for readers and authors alike,” said David Naggar, Vice President, Kindle.
The new ebook terms will take effect early in 2015. Hachette will have responsibility for setting consumer prices of its ebooks, and will also benefit from better terms when it delivers lower prices for readers. Amazon and Hachette will immediately resume normal trading, and Hachette books will be prominently featured in promotions.
The Magic Bullet: E-Reading's Social Future
From Digital Book World:
The music, film and TV industries have all undergone radical transformations over the last fifteen years. In contrast, the publishing industry is only now feeling the full force of technological change.
Ebooks and ereaders are changing consumers' reading habits and throwing up serious questions about how the industry can go forward on a sustainable footing. Major players in the music industry eventually solved their own sustainability issues by embracing change and incorporating subscription-based services in their business models. However, ebooks pose different problems. Subscription services alone particularly in emerging markets where content piracy is rife, do not seem viable. The magic bullet could be 'social'.
In emerging markets subscription-based, or indeed any form of payment model has struggled to take off for companies producing media-rich content. Piracy is rife and compounded by cultural attitudes that generally regard content as something that should be free. Put simply, many people in countries like Russia don't feel like they should pay for ebooks, digital music or TV media. This was the acute challenge that faced us when we started Bookmate in Moscow. Our solution was to build a sticky social layer with features like author pages and book playlists, coupled with access to ebooks via subscription on their phones. We found consumers became much more willing to pay as they came in search of a book on Bookmate but stayed for the all the other features.
But why are social features so appealing to ebook consumers? By integrating a user's social network accounts, their reading is shared through several different and complimentary networks. This leads to exponential growth, as a book is shared, commented upon and recommended across several networks all at once. Research by Shoutly, a monetisation platform for the social web, revealed that a friend's recommendation on social media is the most influential factor when buying software or ebooks, much more influential than an advert on TV or in online search results. Over 90 per cent of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product if it had been recommended to them by someone on social media. Add to this the fact that consuming media has become a much more social activity and it makes perfect sense to integrate social media and chat functionality on ebook platforms.
Good News! Mass Market Paperback: Not Dead Yet
From Publishers Weekly:
When sales of e-books doubled in 2011 over 2010, it seemed as if the mass market paperback format might quickly sink into oblivion. Mass market sales in 2013 were down 52% from 2010 levels, according to BookStats. While sales are down again in 2014, the decline has slowed and there are signs that sales of the format are stabilizing. In the last few weeks alone, for example, unit sales of mass market have been flat compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen BookScan—even as e-books continue to gain ground in such mass market staples as romance.
One reason for the recent improvement has been the success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which has sold about 254,000 copies since its release in mass market paperback earlier this fall, despite selling in huge numbers in other formats as well. Gone Girl was cited by several houses (in addition to its publisher, Broadway Books), as well as by wholesaler ReaderLink, as proof that mass market paperbacks still fill a niche in the market. With its low price point and availability at a wide variety of outlets, mass market titles appeal to a range of readers—especially those who don’t read e-books. “There clearly is still a readership for mass market paperbacks,” said Sasha Quinton, v-p of marketing at ReaderLink, a company whose accounts include all the major mass merchandisers, as well as Walmart.
. . . .
Quinton also believes that when e-book sales exploded, chain store executives overreacted to how severely the new format would cut into print sales and, by reducing shelf space for books, created something of a self-fulling prophecy. As e-book sales growth has cooled, stores have seen that print books, especially mass market paperbacks, continue to do well as impulse purchases.
Louise Burke, president and publisher of Pocket Books, agreed that sales of mass market paperbacks are stabilizing and attributed the change, in part, to publishers and accounts “feeling more confident about what is working” in the format. For Burke, certain genres and bestselling authors—like Brad Thor—“still need to be in mass market.” Liate Stehlik, senior v-p and publisher at HarperCollins’s William Morrow division, said that even though it may be the “third format” (after hardcover and digital), there is plenty of evidence that popular authors can sell in mass market paperback. Penguin Random House, the country’s largest mass market publisher, noted that many of its “marquee” authors—ranging from Nora Roberts to Lee Child—“tend to sell strongly and briskly, particularly in the mass merchandise channel,” according to a company spokesperson.
Fan Fiction Writer Gets Six Figure Book Deal
I just love to read about how internet sensation first-time authors like Anna Todd make it big. In 2013 her erotic-tinged fan-fiction racked up over one billion online reads and captivated readers around the world. It all started on where else but Wattpad. As the story goes, she got hooked on reading romantic serialized fictional stories about One Direction. Before long she was writing her own about a female college freshman who gets involved with a handsome, tattooed, tousled-haired hunk named Harry Styles (which later was changed to Hardwin Scott). Understandingly, angry One Direction fans through social media threatened the author, so she had no choice but to change the name for new version. "After" is now a three book series.
Only time will tell if a "print version" (Simon and Schuster) which sells for $16 will be as successful as the original story which remains on Wattpad for free.
From Rolling Stone:
British boy-band singer Harry Styles can check “inspiring a work of literature” off his bucket list: the One Directioner star has allowed a 25-year-old writer to go from fan fiction scribe to six-figure published author.
Styles stars as a barely-disguised version of himself in 25-year-old novelist Anna Todd’s debut erotic novel, After, which hit stores this week. Todd began writing the sexy fan fiction – which involves a college freshman who falls for and has kinky times with a guy named Harry Styles – on free writing site Wattpad last year. But what started as a few chapters has grown into a 2,500-page epic novel that earned the Ohio native a six-figure publishing deal from Simon and Shuster imprint Gallery Books.
The first of four installments will be around 500 pages and will feature more cleaned-up prose and longer sex scenes than After’s online incarnation, plus a name-change from Harry Styles to Hardin Scott. Each subsequent book in the series will come out quickly thereafter, with novels expected in November, December and February, according to the New York Times. It’s safe to discern that Gallery is making a run at the rabid masses that made E.L. James’ thinly-veiled Twilight fan fiction 50 Shades of Grey a worldwide literary smash.
Self-Publishing Maturing, Up 17% Last Year in the U.S.
The self-publishing market is entering a new stage of maturity after an initial boom several years ago, according to Bowker’s latest analysis of ISBN registrations in the U.S. from 2008 through 2013.
To be sure, not all self-published authors obtain ISBNs for their work, but among those that have done so to date, their output of titles is increasing. The number of ISBNs registered in 2013 rose nearly 17% from the previous year.
That growth comes not from ebooks, which actually dropped 1.6% during that period, but from print titles, which rose 29%.
Bowker researchers conclude that the self-publishing market is “stabilizing as the trend of self-publisher as business-owner, rather than writer only, continues.”
Importance Of Self Promotion
Promoting yourself is as important as writing your novel. It’s important to get your name out there, and allow people a sample of your work. People can’t buy what they don’t know about. Not only is promoting an important step of the publishing process, it’s a vital element to any writers career.
In the age of the information superhighway known as the internet, there are many opportunities to promote your work. It’s important that you utilize a good mix of all of them to maximize your exposure to readers. Why not take advantage of the vast resources available for little to no cost.
Blogging is a great way for an author to interact with readers. Services such as Myspace, Ning, LiveJournal, Yahoo 360 and Bebo are great services that allow you to customize the message you want your readers to see. You can post updates, excerpts, contests and more for your readers. When using these services it’s important to remember interacting with those on your list is important and more likely to earn you a fan base than simply hard selling your work.
Review sites are phenomenal places to get exposure for your book, gain a fan base and allow others, specifically the reviewer, to offer an unbiased opinion of your book. It’s important to get your piece to as many reviewers as possible. There are many readers out there who consult these review sites when making choices about new books and new authors. Don’t feel left out, utilize their services.
MSN and Yahoo offer the option to create and join in many groups on many different subjects. There are hundreds of groups out there specific to reading and writing. There are critique groups, promotions groups and just general chat groups. Often you will find that publishers have groups as well. This is a great way to network with other authors and publishers. These groups tend to be very active and provide a lot of information that can be useful and necessary to the aspiring author.
Finally don’t forget the power of building your own website. Not only can you customize this specifically for you, you can give extensive information about your releases, you and projects you are working on. Often you’ll find people in the writing community would like to have your website address. This is important because it provides readers a link to you. You can start a blog on your page, you can run contests on your page, you can post excerpts of your work. Ultimately, the importance of a website is giving your reader a way to connect with you.
Success as a writers is dependent on your skills at self promotion. There are so many avenues out there for exposure it is simple, cost free and often a lot of fun. Remember that readers can’t find you if they don’t know about you. So make it a point to put yourself out there and let people know who you are.
Authors Guild Makes Public its Call for Antitrust Scrutiny of Amazon
The Authors Guild’s mission, since its founding in 1912, has been to support working writers.
The Guild has consistently opposed Amazon’s recent and ruthless tactics of directly targeting Hachette authors, which have made these authors into helpless victims in a business dispute between two big corporations. This action has caused thousands of writers to see a significant drop in their royalty checks. The Authors Guild challenges this threat to the literary ecosystem, one that jeopardizes the individual livelihoods of authors.
The Guild started its own initiative to invite governmental scrutiny of Amazon’s outsize market share and anticompetitive practices in the publishing industry. Last summer the Guild prepared a White Paper on Amazon’s anticompetitive conduct, circulating it to the United States Department of Justice and other government entities. As a result of our request for the initiation of an investigation of Amazon, we hosted a meeting with the DOJ in our offices on August 1 so that a group of authors could make their case directly to the government, as the Wall Street Journal reported today.
The Guild has been working closely with the grassroots group Authors United—founded by Authors Guild Council Member Douglas Preston—which will be making another request to the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for potential antitrust violations.
Our mission is to protect and support working writers. When a retailer, which sells close to half the books in the country, deliberately suppresses the works of certain authors, those authors are harmed, and we speak out. We will continue to oppose any business tactics, from publishers or retailers, that interfere with working writers’ ability to present their products in a fair marketplace and to flourish within their chosen field. Our goal is to ensure that the markets for books and ideas remain both vigorous and free.
HarperCollins Author Program Encourages Direct Sales
HarperCollins Publishers today announced the launch of an e-commerce program which will allow its authors to earn an additional 10% net royalty on print, e-book, and physical audio products sold through the HarperCollins platform. As an example, authors earning a 25% net royalty will now receive a 35% net royalty on e-books sold through the HarperCollins platform.
Authors can participate in the e-commerce program in multiple ways. They can add a HarperCollins “buy” button to their site, which will take consumers to www.hc.com to complete their purchase, or they can integrate the HarperCollins shopping cart directly into their website. Additionally, authors can use social media to direct consumers to purchase their products from HarperCollins.
“While our first priority is to sell books through as many different retail channels as possible, we are pleased to provide this platform for our authors who want to sell directly. Our authors can also be certain that their books will always be available to consumers through HarperCollins, even if they are difficult to find or experiencing shipping delays elsewhere,” said Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers. “Since we view this program as both a service to our authors and a partnership with them, those who participate will receive additional earnings.”
The e-commerce program will start in the U.S. and roll out to other HarperCollins divisions over the coming months. Royalties will be paid through the royalty system and will appear on an author’s royalty statement.
In July, HarperCollins Publishers announced the launch of www.hc.com, a redesigned version of its website that includes the capability to sell print, e-books, and physical audio books directly to consumers.
Children's Ebook Titles Grow in 2014
Overall revenues are up slightly for U.S. trade books, according to monthly and year-to-date figures released today by the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
AAP’s StatShot program, which covers publishers’ net earnings from distribution channels rather than retailers, indicates 3.9% growth in the trade sector during the first five months of 2014 over the same period last year.
That growth was driven by, and largely limited to, the young adult and children’s category. The success of popular YA titles by best-selling authors like John Green and Gayle Forman are behind the 30.5% jump over the same five-month period last year. Trade ebooks expanded 7.0% since that period in 2013.
But there were no comparable successes in the adult category. In April and May of 2014, adult trade sales were down 5.2% and 9.0%, respectively, compared with those months last year. For the first five months of 2014, overall revenues from adult trade books in all formats sat at $1726.2 million, down 3.6% from $1789.9 million in the same period in 2013.
AAP surveyed 1,209 trade publishers for its latest figures. Here’s a year-to-date snapshot:
TOTAL TRADE* NET REVENUE – BY CATEGORIES (in millions)
TOTAL TRADE* NET REVENUE – BY FORMATS
Total Trade eBooks
Total Trade Hardback
Total Trade Paperback
*Total Trade includes all formats in Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction, Children’s/Young Adult and Religious Presses
Kindle Direct Publishing Unveils Pre-Orders For eBooks
Amazon has finally rolled out their pre-order program for all authors who distribute through the Kindle Direct Publishing. Self-published authors will be able to start selling their title before its officially ready, giving them the ability to hype the book in advance and start capturing sales.
Indie authors can only start selling the book 90 days before the book’s release date. When they make your book available for pre-order, customers can order the book anytime leading up to the release date you set and it will be delivered to them on that date.
One advantage of pre-order is that authors can begin promoting the book before launch to help raise awareness. There are various avenues in the Amazon ecosystem to drum up hype, such as your book’s pre-order page on Author Central, Goodreads, your own site, and elsewhere. Also, pre-orders will contribute toward sales rank and other Kindle Store merchandising even before the book is released, which can help more readers discover your book.
Amazon has just released a helpful FAQ which addresses many of the most popular questions and concerns from the KDP pre-order program that has been beta tested over the last year.
Your Personal Home Library
We write and we write well. At least we hope that we do. Still, we writers need our own library of “go to” books to help us write with strength, market our wares, and simply to inspire us to greater works. I’ve compiled a brief list of useful books for the serious article writer’s library. Some I own, while others I plan on buying.
The Chicago School of Style, 15th Edition – Considered by English speaking authors as “the Bible” of proper grammar usage and style, this 950 plus page reference book is everything you need to have on hand when you simply are not sure about punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc. Surprisingly, the book is not stuffy as it allows serious writers some flexibility with the rules. If you have been writing for some time, you know that rules do change. I was shocked when even the Chicago School started a sentence with “and” in it. Oh me, oh my!
Guerilla Marketing For Writers — I am very curious about this title as I have seen reference to it on various writers’ web sites. Essentially “Guerilla Marketing” espouses the need for writers [particularly book authors] to spend as much as 33% of their time marketing. Hmmm…writing in and of itself is so involved. Who has the time?
Writer’s Market — Every year since this reference book was first issued in 1921, the Writer’s Market has served writers in finding places where they can submit their work for payment. The book lists contact information, submission guidelines, and tips on all the who/what/when/where/why of the “word” industry.
Random House Webster’s Pocket Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation Guide Okay, I admit it. When I don’t feel like lugging the “Chicago Style” around, this Random House book meets most of my needs. 300 power packed pages that will easily fit in your laptop carrying case, purse, or suit jacket pocket.
No, I rarely use a dictionary anymore nor do I rely on a thesaurus. Everything I need is right online or part of my Word program. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely a 21st century writer who manages to write, edit, rewrite, submit and accomplish a multitude of related tasks from the ease of my laptop computer. No pencil and paper for me, except when lounging by the river or down at the beach. Oh, for more of those types of experiences!
These Romance Writers Ditched Their Publishers For Ebooks—and Made Millions
In early 2010, things weren’t going very well for San Francisco-based romance novelist Bella Andre. Brick-and-mortar bookstores were shutting down in large numbers, and after seven years, eight books and two publishers, she learned she had been axed from her latest contract.
“I was hanging on by my fingernails,” says Andre, 41, who was trying to carve out a niche in contemporary romance. Peers advised her to try a different pen name, to change genres, to write anything but love stories. With a degree in economics from Stanford University and a background in music, she wasn’t short on career options.
Then a friend suggested she look into self-publishing. At the time, Amazon.com’s (AMZN) direct publishing platform, which allows just about anyone to publish and sell their books online, was beginning to gain traction among professional writers. After years of bending her stories to the will and opinions of publishers, editors and literary agents, Andre found the prospect of having complete autonomy over her material very appealing.
“As an author, I was not high up on the publishing food chain and [my ideas] were rarely ever listened to,” she says. “I took my friend’s advice and I dove right into self-publishing.”
Take Back Your Dreams by Heather Hart
I really liked what author Heather Hart at TrainingAuthors.com has to say about reclaiming our dreams as authors. By day I work as editorial director for a fast-paced entertainment/teen publishing house. Yes, it has been my dream job for more than 20 years now, but it is such a grind! By the time I get home, I can barely squeeze out 1,000 words for whatever book I am working on. I recently signed yet another book contract and I know have to deliver the goods. I've been doing this juggling act for far too many years than I care to admit. Yeah, I wish I could devote more time to writing books, but real life comes first. If you are working a demanding day job and feeling overwhelmed, don't give up on your author dream. Make being a success your main goal. I learned it just may take a little longer than you may have expected. But it will be well worth it.—MAC
Writing, publishing, and marketing books takes a lot of work. It doesn’t matter how much we love doing what we do as authors, there will always be work involved if we want to be successful. So how can we keep our dream job from turning into a regular daily grind?
That’s the question I asked myself at the beginning of 2014. My success as an author had taken off and I kind of felt like I’d lost control of my dreams. But it wasn’t just me. It seemed to be a common problem with other successful authors that I talked with. They all commented on the fact they didn’t have enough hours in the day and were buried in an every growing pile of things to do or manage. Part of me was relieved to know I wasn’t the only one missing deadlines, but part of me wondered if life as an author really needed to be so stressful. This is what I had dreamed of my whole life–shouldn’t it be more fun?
In today’s post, I’ll be sharing three of the things I’ve learned during the past 6 months. But you need to know that this post is more than a simple how-to post–it’s also my story. It’s the story of taking back the control of my life, my happiness, and my dreams.
And the best part is that it can be your story too.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks required of you as an author, I encourage you to keep reading. Keep reading and discover 3 simple ways you can revitalize your life as an author.
If you are just starting out and can’t imagine your dreams being any less dreamy, I encourage you to keep reading too. Keep reading so you know what to watch for.
Authors and Amazon Vs. Hachette
Lines have been drawn, sides taken; articles, blogs and editorials prognosticate about what - and whom - will be left standing when the dust settles. Big 5 authors are stamping their feet in step with their publishers and it's getting noisy out there. Uber- successful author James Patterson is fuming about the "national tragedy" that is Amazon (as quoted in the Los Angeles Times piece, "Amazon and Hachette: The dispute in 13 easy steps"), while another high-profile writer, Malcolm Gladwell, opines in the same piece (in oddly vulnerable tones), how heartbreaking it is "when your partner turns on you." It's high drama in the literary corral.
USA Today's Michael Wolff frames the melee in his piece, "How book biz dug its own Amazon grave," as a transparent "power grab" by Amazon that should have set off alarms much earlier... but didn't:
How To Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal
Here's some useful tips that I recently found online that may help you out if you are trying to write your first nonfiction book proposal.
A great nonfiction book proposal is the key to convincing an acquisition editor you deserve a substantial advance and getting your book published.
What should be included in a book proposal?
A brief, no more than one page description about why your book is unique.
Who will buy your book and why. Include the demographics of your potential readers and how many of them there are. If you can, quote statistics, such as baseball is the most often viewed sport on TV with x million people watching. Or x number of people attend arts and crafts shows a year. Or $xxx dollars of revenues are generated by customers buying garden tools. Whatever is relevant to your book’s topic.
Similar books that have been published in the last year or that will be coming out soon. You can get an idea of soon-to-be published books by going to amazon.com, and searching under key words. When you get a listing of books that you think are similar to yours, then rank by publication date.
Include the title, author, ISBN, and a brief description. Then state why your book is better or what your book addresses that the competition doesn’t.
Go to the library and read currently available books you feel are competitive to yours. Again include the title, author, ISBN, and a brief description. Then state why your book is better or what your book addresses that the competition doesn’t.
All books have competitors.
What you will do for promotion. How will you market your book? Be specific. If you are willing to give seminars or speak at events, try to line up a few. Publishers want authors that actively market their own books. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend money, but it does mean you have to expend effort.
About The Author:
Pretty self explanatory. What makes you the best author to write this book. This is not a resume; include what is relevant to the topic of the book. If you have previous books published list them, with a short description.
Any newspaper or magazine articles you’ve been featured in. Include articles that you’ve written and have published. Offline, hard copy publications are better than online. Online is better than nothing. Plan ahead and in the months while you’re working on your book proposal see if you can get a few articles placed. If you have just a few, include clippings. If you have more than a few, list the publication, date, title of the article. Writing a book makes you an expert in the eyes of the media, but you have to let them know you’re available.
If you can get a well known authority figure, expert, celebrity or author to give you an endorsement, or to commit to an endorsement, it puts you ahead in the game.
Chapter Outline or Synopsis:
Two to four pages. Each chapter is listed and the subheadings with a brief description, a paragraph or two explaining what will be included in the chapter.
It doesn’t have to be the first chapter. Pick the chapter you’re most excited to write, or that you are the most knowledgeable about. The editor will judge the quality of your writing by this chapter.
The proposal not including the sample chapter can run from 10 to 20 pages.
Write the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 That Sold and Why, 2nd Edition, Jeff Herman, Deborah Levine Herman.
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write: How to Get a Contract and Advance Before Writing Your Book, Elizabeth Lyon, Natasha Kern
Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published, Susan Rabiner, Alfred Fortunato