Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – January 2014

Posted: 04 Jan 2014 12:26 AM PST

The Hodgepodge of Bits & Pieces is a bimonthly link round-up of articles and posts. The links are ones I’ve run across online which I thought may be of interest to writers and readers. I’d appreciate feedback on any of the bits or pieces which spoke to you—good or bad!

In General


Microsoft Support Scam

Just got word on one of the listservs I belong to [Dec 23] that people will call you “claiming to be from Microsoft Computer Services” to help resolve your computer issues. Just hang up. Don’t tell them anything. Don’t provide them with any information.

Someone mentioned memorizing your local FBI office’s address to give the scammers.

Wrote a Negative Online Review? It’ll Cost You $3,500

Corey Eridon at Hubspot Marketing has a warning in his post, “Wrote a Negative Online Review? It’ll Cost You $3,500” regarding those Terms of Service checkboxes I suspect most of us blithely check off without reading. Damned scary if it’s true! And I’m making sure I never buy anything from KlearGear. It certainly doesn’t show them in a good light. Do also note what’s said about the Ripoff Report ripping off the wronged customer for 2 grand!

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The New World of Publishing: Some Perspective on 2013

Dean Wesley Smith’s “The New World of Publishing: Some Perspective on 2013” is an excellent read for writers as it delves into his prognostications for the upcoming year as well as a recap of the previous year(s). If you write, participate in publishing, or are looking for an agent—read this.

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Just for Fun



Cassie Fabro at reports that Books-a-Million will close its Bel Air Mall store in Mobile on Christmas Eve. “Employees only received notice on Wednesday… The company is trying to keep as many of their staff-members as they can and assign them to the location at 3690 Airport Boulevard.” That BAM store just reopened last month in the Pinebrook Shopping Center. The two stores “will be merging as much as they can,” wrote.


That Bookstore in Blytheville has new owners, Chris Crawley and Yolanda Harrison, who bought the store from Grant Hill the Courier-News reported. They plan to hold a grand re-opening sometime in January.


The city of “Tracy ‘is going to start looking for a bookstore to replace the Barnes & Noble closing December 31 at the West Valley Mall,’ the Tracy Press reported. City manager Leon Churchill announced last week that adding a bookstore to the list of economic development goals for Tracy came in response to comments his office had received from citizens and an online petition to keep the B&N.”


At The Digital Reader, David Rothman reports on “eBooks and Public Libraries vs. Cruise Ship Subsidies in Miami-Dade County“. Yup, it’s so much more important to spend millions of dollars to entice cruise ships to Miami. Let those useless libraries go hang.


Zac Colandrea and Mike Dregalla have bought Twice Told Tales in Crystal Lake and renamed it—in an apparent nod to one of the big trends in indie bookselling—Buy Local Books. Catchy…


Main Street Books in St. Charles will close at the end of January unless a buyer is found, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

New Jersey

WORD has opened at 123 Newark Avenue in Jersey City this weekend and is planning a grand opening in January.

New York

Shelf Awareness reports that Steve McDonald was paying a homage to his mom when he opened Lake City Books at 164 Boynton Avenue in Plattsburgh in the last week of November. It is 1,200 square feet, with a small café that sells coffee, hot chocolate, scones and other baked goods, and offers free wi-fi. According to McDonald, approximately 90% of the store’s 20,000 volumes are used. The new titles consist mostly of children’s books, some new hardcovers and books by local authors or about local interests. He was able to build up a sizable inventory of used books in a relatively short amount of time; the bulk of his collection (along with most of his shelves and other fixtures) comes from a bookstore in Hartford, Connecticut, that closed at the beginning of the summer.

North Carolina

Accent on Books in Asheville will close in mid-January after 30 years in business.


South Main Book Juggler in Memphis opened in late October. It is “a 1,000-square-foot, predominantly used bookstore coupled with an eclectic gift shop for ‘local folks’. The store’s new books consist of titles pertaining to Memphis, especially the city’s musical heritage and civil rights movement, and children’s books.”


Kristian Knutsen at The Daily Page reports that because Sandy Torkildson, owner of A Room of One’s Own bookstore in Madison, is serving on a committee evaluating proposals for the city’s Judge Doyle Square, attorney and journalist Ann E. Fleischli is urging people to boycott the bookstore. WTF? Sounds like extortion to me.

If you live in Madison, please go to Torkildson’s store on 315 West Gorham Street (608.257.7888) and buy some books!


“Taschen Books has opened a “mini-boutique” inside the Art Gallery of Ontario, Quillblog reported, noting that the ‘shop within a shop’ is a first for Canada and is modeled after a similar one at the Art Institute of Chicago.”


Kyodo at Japan Times notes that “eBooks to test sales at bookstores” in effort to counter and save Japan’s bookstores with a “consortium of 13 companies, including bookstore chain Kinokuniya Co. and online shopping mall Rakuten Inc., will test sales of eBooks at regular bookstores next spring, sources said Sunday”.

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Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

“Scottish poet Douglas Dunn won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in recognition of his lifetime contribution to literature, BBC News reported, adding that the ‘protege of Philip Larkin… is best known for Elegies, a moving account of his first wife’s death’ which won the Whitbread Award for Poetry and Book of the Year in 1985 and awarded an OBE in 2003. The Queen will present him with his medal next year.”

2013 On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators gives an On-The-Verge Emerging Voices Award to two writers or illustrators “who are from ethnic and/or cultural backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America and who have a ready-to-submit completed work for children.”

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Biblionasium, a Goodreads for Kids!

About time! And Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World reports that “BiblioNasium Aims to Be Goodreads for Kids“. It has “tools built in for teachers and parents to monitor and encourage reading and learning”. And, it’s “built specifically for kids and, more importantly, is COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant. COPPA is a law that protects young children from online practices by companies that may be considered predatory, like gathering personal information.”

James Patterson Launches Winter Book Bucks to Foster Reading Over School Break

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has announced a program funded by James Patterson to encourage kids to read over the Christmas holidays, which seems to be good until January 13, 2014. Parents who want to participate should “sign up at and pledge that their children will read two books during winter break … [this] will [enter] them to win one of 50 $100 book shopping sprees at their local IndieBound-affiliated bookstore. Parents can submit an online entry form between December 18, 2013, and January 13, 2014. The 50 sweepstakes winners will be announced in early February 2014. Read more

Ruckus App Freewheelin’, AND Educational

Ruckus Media Group has released a press release through Digital Book World with what sounds like a fun and practical product, the Ruckus App, bringing “Ruckus Media Partners With Warner Bros. to Bring Superman, Et Al to App“. Using the Ruckus App, parents and kids can download Warner Bros. stories and go mobile with no WiFi requirements. There are no commercials and they’re airplay-enabled, making them usable on all iOS devices.

The press release claims that “Should parents register for free, they are provided with feedback on their child’s experiences within the Ruckus App, including time spent and amount read, along with learning tips from educators and caregivers. Children and parents can also follow word highlighting, as well as read, record and save their own voices reading the stories.” It sounds good, but I don’t understand what they mean by “if you register for free”. What other way is there? Ya gotta pay?

Late for This Christmas…But Maybe Next

Beth Bacon at Digital Book World is curious about “Christmas Classics for Today’s ‘Digital Native’ Kids” and how to bridge the gap between your child’s nose in a tablet and the 3-D toy. However, I don’t see much difference in a child reading a book in hardcopy versus reading a tablet. At least it’s harder to tear the pages in a tablet. I do like the ability to record the story in your voice (or grandma’s!).

Jeremy Greenfield follows up on this at Forbes with “Best Digital Gifts For Your Kids For the Holidays” and an emphasis on the “physical gifts like tablets and smartphones are really only as good as the digital content that kids can engage with on them” and a list of where to find good stories for the kids.

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Italians Get 19% Book Tax Rebate!

Paul St. John Mackintosh at Teleread has the most marvelous news, “Italy targets 19 percent book tax rebate to promote culture“, and I’m moving to Italy. I need all the help I can get with my book expenses! “…the Italian government is planning a 19 percent tax rebate for book buyers, up to a maximum annual limit of €2000 ($2746). As part of the package of measures entitled “Destination Italy”, the plan, just approved by the Council of Ministers and announced by Premier Enrico Letta last Friday, is designed “to promote greater dissemination of reading physical books,” and applies to all books with a “user ISBN.”

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Flicks & Plays

Robert Crais’ Suspect Optioned for Film

Fox 2000 has optioned the rights to Robert Crais’ novel Suspect for an adaptation to be produced by Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (The Hunger Games), according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman! to Become a Film

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has signed on to produce The Sandman! along with David Goyer. It’s based on Neil Gaiman’s Preludes & Nocturnes, Volume 1.

Victoria Schwab’s Vicious Optioned tells us of V.E. Schwab’s delicious debut novel, Vicious, being optioned for a movie by Ridley Scott.

Rowling to Stage a Harry Potter

Baz Bamigboye at the Daily Mail dishes on “Harry flies into the West End: J.K. Rowling to co-produce magical new stage play based on her best-selling books“.

Trailer Out for Dostoevsky’s The Double

“A new teaser trailer is available for The Double, based on a novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Indiewire noted that the ‘pleasures to be found in Richard Ayoade’s upcoming The Double go far beyond Jesse Eisenberg’s dual performance that powers the movie … [and] … that it all comes together as a near flawless steampunk comedy/romance/thriller is the icing on the cake.’ The film, which also stars Mia Wasikowska, opens in the U.K. April 4. Magnolia will release it in the U.S., but no date has been set.

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Freebies from Nalini Singh

Just found out that Nalini Singh has put up deleted scenes from Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling, 12) on her website. That second one will make you cry.

Seems there was some kind of mess-up with epilogues when the eBook standalone of the short story, “Declaration of Courtship” (Psy-Changeling, 9.5) was released, and Singh has written a special epilogue for it, “Dancing with Cooper” (set during Tangle of Need, 11), that is only available on her newsletter.

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Karen Chance’s “Masks” Free

Karen Chance will be posting a full-length novel, Masks, from her Cassandra Palmer series for free on January 1.

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Korea Releases Enhanced eComics

A press release at Digital Book World finds “Korean Cartoon Government Agency Releases Enhanced Ebooks in U.S.” with the government agency responsible for sharing comics and print cartoons created by Korean artists, Korea Manhwa Contents Agency (KOMACON), sharing which books they have released. Read the post for details.

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Honto, the new Nintendo 3DS Bookstore & App

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader notifies us of “Nintendo 3DS eBookstore Now Live“. It appears to be a reading app as well as a bookstore (honto) specializing in eBooks. With stories only out in Japan at the moment…

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The Best Overlooked Books Of 2013

Virginia Prescott at New Hampshire News has a list of “The Best Overlooked Books Of 2013“. Definitely a list of books I hadn’t heard of until now.

Then Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly calls Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill The Most Underrated Book of 2013 while his post on “The 5 Books That Inspire the Most Tattoos is an eclectic mix (and ignores J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood).

Publishers Weekly also has “Children’s Publishers Choose Their 2013 Favorites” followed by Hanya Yanagihara’s list of “PW’s Best Books of 2013” while the Publishers Weekly staff list “Our Favorite Books We Read in 2013“.

The staff at Indie Reader has their list of IR’s Best Indie Books for 2013.

The New York Times has its list of “No Literary Horse Race, Just Books We Like“.

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eBook Subscription Services

Distribution Increases for Smashwords

Digital Book World reports that the eBook subscription services—Scribd and Oyster have both signed with Smashwords to make Smashwords titles available through them. Just learned from Dean Wesley Smith’s newsletter that Scribed is considered a pirate site, so be careful.

Oyster has also signed a deal with Perseus for its titles.

eReatah is now Entitle

Unlike Oyster and Scribed, Entitle “offer[s] unlimited reading of a selection of titles for a fixed price every month, … more like a book-of-the month discount club. Readers can choose from several levels of payment and then fully own a limited number of new ebooks a month: two books a month for $14.99; three books a month for $21.99; and four books a month for $27.99″—$7.50, $7.33, or barely under $7 each.

As Digital Book World points out, “the average cost of a best-selling ebook is about $5.00, which may make these prices slightly less attractive to consumers then just buying ebooks à la carte from Kindle and other popular services.”

Do read further down on their website for their press release on the book titles available.

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Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2014

Jeremy Greenfield at Digital Book World has “Ten Bold Predictions for Ebooks and Digital Publishing in 2014“, which affect writers, publishers, and libraries. There are some intense predictions which affect how to market and pricing, to name a few. If you’re serious about your writing or publishing, do read this.

“‘Ultimately Barnes & Noble has to give up on Nook,’ said Brad Stone, a journalist who has spent over a decade covering Amazon for various publications and who is the author of The Everything Store, a new book about Amazon. ‘E-readers are one chess piece on a chess board that now includes tablets and phones and set-top boxes and this company isn’t equipped to innovate in all those areas.’”

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Apple is Whining

Andrew Albanese at Publishers Weekly has a short report on Apple’s complaints about the external monitor, Michael Bromwich, whom they complain is being a pain. Seems Apple is whinging for the sake of it.

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Gift an eTitle

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader talks about “Apple Adds Gifting Options to iBookstore” which allow you to gift the actual title/book rather than simply give a one-size-fits-all gift certificate. As Hoffelder notes, it’s been available in iTunes and for iOS apps for a few years, just not at the iBookstore. Still not able to gift these to friends or family internationally.

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Handmade, Gorgeous Books

Judith Rosen at Publishers Weekly writes of “Lion Stone: Artisanal Books in a Digital Age” and Sallie Lowenstein’s books sound…sigh…so incredibly gorgeous. I am lusting for her Clothed in Bark, which is an homage to trees, for which she created 48 ‘photo-drawings’, by using technical pens to accentuate the patterns and textures of trees and their bark on photographs. It looks incredibly three-dimensional to me!

Lowenstein “typically produces one handbound, hand-sewn book a year, this fall she released two within weeks of each other. The first, Art Marks, is a journal filled with numerous vibrantly colored illustrations of a childhood road trip through India that marked a turning point in her life as an artist. The second book is the abovementioned Clothed in Bark.

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Too Many Books?

I agree with Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly, “having too many books on your hands is a pretty wonderful problem to have”. It’s simply too wonderful and reassuring to look over those shelves and find the spines looking back at you. Vertical, horizontal, on the diagonal…sigh…”The Wonderful and Terrible Habit of Buying Too Many Books“.

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Harlan Ellison Backlist to Be Released

Publishers Weekly reports that “E-Reads, the digital publisher headed by agent Richard Curtis, is reissuing over 30 works by fantasist Harlan Ellison. The books will be reissued in both trade paperback and eBook formats, and will feature updated interiors and new cover treatments. Included in the collection are I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Shatterday, and Deathbird Stories. The books are print-on-demand and priced according to length, ranging from $9.95 to $19.95. All of the reissues will be available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.”

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Consider These Gifts for Next Christmas—NOT

These gift ideas from Writers Relief will crack you up! All the thoughtful presents a writer never wants to see, LOL.

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Hugh Nissenson, Dead at 80

William Yardley at The New York Times writes of author Hugh Nissenson, described by the New York Times as “praised for creating convincing alternative worlds in books that pursued questions of faith and pressed the boundaries of the novelistic form,” died on December 13.

Ned Vizzini, Dead at 32

A Reuters article in Euronews is about “‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’ author Ned Vizzini dies at age 32“. A truly sad tale of a young man who wrote his own truth and then committed suicide in spite of an adulthood in which Vizzini seemed to have it made.

British Author Paul Torday, Dead at 67

The Associated Press has a cute obituary about Paul Torday, and it makes me want to read his novels. He sounds like he was a lovely man.

Romance Writer Janet Dailey, Dead at 69

The Associated Press has an interesting synopsis of “Romance Writer Janet Dailey” with a somewhat chequered career. Check out her books at Goodreads.

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What?? Men Don’t Read?

I’m with Porter Anderson. Men do read. And it’s time society stopped saying they don’t. Check out Anderson’s post, “I’ll Hold the Door for You if You’ll Leave That Baggage Behind” if you want to read more.

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Were Nook’s Books Cooked?

Forbes is wondering, “Were Nook’s Books Cooked? Barnes & Noble’s Accounting Investigated By SEC“?

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Just Another Censorship

Eric Spitznagel at Business Insider writes of “MONSTER PORN: Amazon Cracks Down On America’s Latest Sex Fantasy“, and I gotta confess that I can’t get excited about Cum for Bigfoot, but obviously a number of readers have. I think it’s tasteless and written strictly for … I dunno who. The arguments I could make against such books on crypto-smut could also be made against those that promote bestiality, incest, and pedophilia. As for rape, many of the early 20th century romances used it as the inciting incident.

It’s difficult to say where the line should be drawn, certainly Amazon hasn’t figured it out when “its content guidelines state that the company doesn’t accept ‘offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts’[yet] … works that contain precisely that, from de Sade’s Justine and Pauline Réage’s Story of O to the recently released French bestseller The Victoria System by Éric Reinhardt (which contains the memorable line ‘My erection beat time in my underwear’) are readily available.”

The weird bit is that it’s not actually the content that’s a problem. It’s the title and the cover. So, writers, if you’re writing what a bookstore, online retailer, or distributor may consider monster porn, use a pretty, fantasy-like, top-quality cover and a non-sexed-up title.

Stay Away From Turkey

And I don’t mean the bird! The Global Post fills us in on why “Turkey suspends trial over century-old French erotic novel” and allows the publisher and translator to consider how to get through the next three years without publishing any books… All over a century-old book.

Kids’ Right to Read Project

The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) is anti-censorship and “offers support, education, and advocacy to people facing book challenges or bans and engages local activists in promoting the freedom to read.

The Kids’ Right to Read Project provides:

  • Advice and assistance to students, teachers and others opposing book-banning in schools and communities nationwide
  • Educational materials to promote community awareness about the right to read
  • Support for local activism by reaching out to students, teachers, booksellers, librarians, journalists, and other community members
  • Access to a nationwide network of advocates and activists involved in promoting and defending the right to read
  • A clearinghouse of information for students, journalists, scholars and others, created by tracking book censorship incidents across the country

KRRP was founded by the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and is supported by the Association of American Publishers and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Read the Kids’ Right to Read Project Guide to learn more.

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How Much Privacy Do You Need?

If you are at ALL concerned about what corporations learn about you from your reading app on your Android device, you want to read Nate Hoffelder’s post at The Digital Reader about “Just How Much Do Your Android eBook Reader Apps Know About You?“.

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Owning a Kindle is More Expensive Than Not

Matt Vella at Time tells us “Why Owning an Inexpensive Kindle Could Cost You Hundreds” with a survey [that] indicates Kindle users spend $443 more annually than regular Amazon members. Yeah, because they buy more books. Duh…

The Txtr Beagle Hits the Market in Hungary, Will Cost 30 Euros

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader is surprised when the return of “The Txtr Beagle Hits the Market in Hungary, Will Cost 30 Euros“, although as he points out, there are still a few hiccups.

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Writing Tips


Insight into a Foreign Experience

I was reading David Joshua Jennings’ post, “How and Why to Learn a Foreign Language” over at BootsnAll when it hit me. This is a great post for those of who setting their characters in foreign countries. The first three paragraphs are the most critical as they may give you ideas on problems your characters could encounter in unknown or unexpected situations. It could be just enough to help make your characters more real to your readers.

Philip Astley and his amphitheatre: a book for the New Year

The Astley circus is mentioned frequently in Regency novels, and now Mike Rendell at the Georgian Gentleman in his post, Philip Astley and his amphitheatre: a book for the New Year“, announces the release of his latest biography, Astley’s Circus: The Story of an English Hussar.

How to Make a Fantasy World Map

Isaac Stewart at tells us “How to Make a Fantasy World Map” using Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. It’s a lovely exploration of how Stewart recreates maps for fantasy series as well as notes on sites he uses along with cautions, borders, and textures.

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5 Secrets to Writing a Bestseller

Dianne Harman has it summed up quite succinctly. Check it out!

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Microsoft Support for Windows XP Ends

Bill Blinn, in his newsletter nLightened Thoughts, writes “It’s Time to Move On if You’re Still Using Windows XP” as the end of support from Microsoft is April 8, 2014.

Windows XP end of support: What to do next

Cliff Sarana at Computer Weekly discusses “Windows XP end of support: What to do next“, especially since “there are thousands of applications that cannot be moved to a newer OS because they are incompatible”. Not upgrading can lead to hacking issues and Internet Explorer 6 problems, if you’re still running IE6.

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The 23 Most Unforgivable Spelling Mistakes Of 2013

Matt Stopera and Dave Stopera over at BuzzFeed have a list of “The 23 Most Unforgivable Spelling Mistakes Of 2013“, and it will make you laugh and weep all at the same time.

I do know how she became “one of the dumbest kids in Houston” after being “Valid Victorian”. I’m just surprised she ever was a valedictorian. Scares me to think how dumb the other kids in the school were…

Bicuriously, I’m wondering what people learn in school…

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Character Traits

Read Write Think has a list of character traits if you’re feeling blocked.

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New Tool to Help Writers Create Movie, TV Outlines

Amazon has put out a press release on Digital Book WorldAmazon Launches New Tool to Help Writers Create Movie, TV Outlines” which may be of use to someone. “Amazon Studios, the original film and series production arm of, today announced a new product innovation to help writers, Amazon Storybuilder. Based on the popular method of outlining a screenplay with paper notecards, Amazon Storybuilder takes notecarding and makes it digital, giving screenwriters the ability to lay out digital notecards on a virtual corkboard to capture the beats of their story. With Amazon Storybuilder, notecards are saved online instead on a physical board, giving users access to their projects whenever and wherever inspiration strikes—on their computer, tablet or smartphone.” The difference between Scrivener and Storybuilder appears to be the cloud storage for quick access.

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Simon & Schuster Claims Record Profits Due to Indies, Digitals

A notice at Digital Book World indicates that “Simon & Schuster Will Hit Record Profits With Help From Indie Authors and Digital, CEO Reidy Says“. So, y’all ain’t got no excuse to stop!

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Dos and Don’ts of Using Stock Photos

Wow, this Hubspot slideshare is fabulous on “10 Dos and Don’ts for Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing“. Read it before you need it as there are so many suggestions and tutorials they offer up in this. You won’t regret it!

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Grub Street’s Request for Donations

I know it’s too late for tax deductions for 2013, and normally I wouldn’t put this sort of thing up. However, the donations also go to cover tuitions for workshops for kids and senior citizens as well as free events and lectures for the Boston writing community. If you’ve got some spare cash, it’s not a bad place to “invest” your money.

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Jack of All Traders

Kevin Lucia’s post, “The Best Horror Writers You’ve Probably Never Read (But Should): Part 5“, at Kristen Lamb’s blog touches on writers who do great horror AND other genres. Could be a useful list of writers to explore if you’re interested in learning how other authors span genres. And a great list if you’re looking for more horror writers, LOL!

I liked Lamb’s point about great horror having had an effect on how we see the world. And her examples make the point when I’m mentally pooh-poohing the idea!

Upcoming Writing Conferences

I’m not endorsing these, I’m simply relating the information.

Date, Time, Cost Location Conference/Workshop
Registration closes Dec 31, 2013
Jan 6-31, 2014
No set class time, videos available beginning Jan 6
2 chat sessions (TBD based on best times for all students)
Online How to Powerfully Build Your Author Platform
This class will address:

  • Why and how to develop different strategies for new readers versus loyal readers
  • Five basic elements of any website, plus two questions you should always keep asking yourself about that website as your career progresses
  • The difference between strong and meaningful social-media strategy and tactics versus time-wasting activities—and how to prioritize your time
  • The importance of e-mail, RSS, and other types of subscriptions to your online presence
  • The two types of relationships to carefully cultivate throughout your career, which help grow your platform in unforeseen ways
  • Why influencers are important to you and the best ways to get friendly with influencers
  • Three key questions to ask when looking at your metrics or analytics (whether from your website, blog, or social media accounts)

For this class, success will not be measured by how many followers or friends you have. It will be about focused and consistent effort over a long period of time, which leads to finding more and more people who love what you do. You’ll learn how to make informed and meaningful decisions about how to best spend your time, as well as what advanced platform building looks like for an established writer or author.
The mechanics of the class will incorporate:

  • Three 1-hour recorded workshop sessions
  • Two 1-hour chat sessions with workshop leader Jane Friedman, where your questions will be answered and you’ll be guided towards best practice
  • A free one-year subscription to Scratch magazine—Jane Friedman’s new journal that discusses how to make money as a writer
  • A $50 gift certificate to The Willingham Enterprise (usable within 18 months, on any website or print materials project $500 or more). Check out the distinctive portfolio to see websites that rise above the rest.
  • A written critique of your website, identifying three things you can improve. If you don’t have a website, you can select a specific social media account for critique
Jan 2, 2014
Online Ultimate Kindle in 30 Challenge
It’s BootCamp-style with weekly training sessions for 30 days (4 hour-long sessions) that will give you the tools you need to get past your blocks and get your Kindle books written, formatted, and published, including a special portion of each session dedicated to how to dominate your niche with a Kindle book series! Weekly Q&A sessions designed to help you implement your previous week’s training and maximize your success. Ongoing accountability and support in our members-only Facebook group (to be continued far beyond your first Kindle release!). A group of peers going through the same process who will be ready to promote you and your book when it’s released—30 days from the start of our challenge. Your first series Kindle book published by the end of January 2014 (and your other series topics brainstormed)! Start the new year off as a published expert author! Disclaimer: only guaranteed if you follow the trainings and fully participate in the challenge.
Jan 7, 2014
6pm GMT
Free to ALLi members
Join ALLi to join in
Online Ask Amazon!
This is a special members’ only event allowing ALLi members to probe the minds of some of the companies and people involved in self-publishing.This time round, Tom Kephart, Community Outreach Product Manager at Amazon will be joining us for a live Q&A. It’s a great opportunity to understand a little more about what Amazon can do for indie authors—and we want your questions.Existing ALLi members should send their queries to, and we’ll be going through them in the next few days ahead of our chat.
Jan 9, 2014
Grub Street headquarters Novel Incubator Open House
Informal Q&A session on Grub Street’s Novel Incubator program which could help in taking your novel to the next level. Alumni of the program and instructor Michelle Hoover will be there to answer any questions you have about the Novel Incubator program. Information you need to know about the application process, what the program entails, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else on your mind.
Begins Jan 24
Goes for 6 Fridays
Scholarship available
Boston MA 6-Week Teen Writing Camp
Taught by Carrie Kei Heim Binas for teens interested in writing poems and stories? Maybe you’re just beginning and want to try your hand at creative writing in a supportive but rigorous atmosphere, or maybe you’ve been filling notebooks with plays and rhymes for years.Each week we will read and discuss published short stories and poems, do writing exercises, talk about craft (the tools and techniques in poetry and fiction), and the writing process.
Feb 8, 2014
09:30 to 17:00 (GMT)£125
London, U.K. Book Marketing Masterclass with Bestselling Authors Joanna Penn and Polly Courtney
“Traditional publishers and agents want authors with marketing skills and a platform. If you’re self-publishing, you definitely need to know how to sell more books, but it’s also for:

  • Those writers who want to think more like an entrepreneur, even if they have only just started on the journey
  • Traditionally published authors who want to take control of their future income
  • Self-published authors who want to jump-start their sales
  • Fiction and non-fiction authors, with specific tips for both in the workshop
Feb 17-21
Scholarship available
Boston MA February Vacation Teen Writing Camp
Taught by Drew Jameson with prompts, writing time, out-of-class activities to get our sensory descriptions flowing, and workshop. By the end of the week, you’ll have your toolbox full of ideas, beginnings, and some drafts to keep you going all spring. We will discuss the submission process and publication opportunities for teens and end the week with a reading.

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The Publishing Business

Kristen Eckstein’s Astounding Success with Kindle eBooks

Denise Wakeman at The Future of Ink does an interview with Kristen Eckstein about “The Inside Story on Kristen Eckstein’s Astounding Success with Kindle eBooks” as an hour-long video with lots of great information about using your Kindle to market yourself as well as useful tips on working with the Kindle. Kristen is a publishing industry expert, who also talks about her five-month challenge to publish a book a week—and where she found the material to do it and the opportunities that have come her way since. A coupon for Eckstein’s Kindle workshop in January is here.

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What Publishers Do is Misdirect

Roger Tagholm at Publishing Perspectives claims “The Majority Do Not Know What Publishers Actually Do“, and the first third of his article sort of peeks in at it. Not worth the reading, really. However, I am irritated with YS Chi’s (chairman of Elsevier and president of the International Publishers Association) comment about readers’ misperception on why eBooks are priced so high. He claims that “people failing to realize that ‘the cost of printing is small compared to the infrastructure of investment in the creative process’, and that’s misdirection. Sure, it costs as much to bring a manuscript to the point of publishing it. But where does he address the cost of paper, the cover, the ink, the storage of hard copies, and the shipping of hard copies? That cost isn’t part of an eBook.

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How Rowland Rolls is Enhanced

Jim Carrey’s “How Roland Rolls, the first book by actor/artist Jim Carrey, recent winner of the 2013 Gelett-Burgess Children’s Book Award, is being released on December 17th as an enhanced eBook”. Carrey has done all the voices for it along with a slew of other enhancements.

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Literary Agents

How the Literary Agent’s Role is Changing

Jason Allen Ashlock at Digital Book World writes of the “6 Degrees of Agent Evolution” finds literary agents stretching beyond their traditional roles of “finding buyers for intellectual property” and into independent publishing, very creative management, digital infrastructure with new rights categories as part of the challenge, a change-up in how they help marketing, tracking industry changes and opportunities, and continuing to mentor in an apprentice style while paying more attention to the younger agents.

From Query to Book Deal in 72 Hours

Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly considers “From Query to Book Deal in 72 Hours: Debut Author Elise Parsley” is a great success story for this children’s picture book author. I do wonder if Parsley wanting “to make picture books for the rest of her life” was one of the reasons Steven Malk took her on.

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Considerations, or 5 Mistakes Self-Published Writers Make

Kristen Lamb’s post on “Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors“. Besides the usual, Lamb points out that authors “need to look into becoming an LLC. We need to set up proper accounting procedures and withhold the correct amount of taxes, unemployment, state taxes and on and on”. She also points out that it’s easy for certain authors to promote going it alone and not worry the social media aspect, but they can slap “bestselling” author on their covers.

And she repeats the maxim I’ve been reading everywhere: write a minimum of three books.

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John Biggs’ Journey in Self-Publishing

John Biggs, the East Coast editor for TechCrunch, has written “My Long Road To Self-Publishing” to relate his own experiences in the publishing world. It sounds like the journey so many have taken, except he’s now gone into crowdfunding and intends to write about that experience. If it’s an area that interests, you may want to follow him.

Beatrix Potter Self-Published Peter Rabbit

An old, established tradition this self-publishing per Claire Armitstead at The Guardian as she writes about “How Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit“. And proves that nothing has changed.

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An article at Publishers Weekly explains how “Aquafadas, a digital publishing platform that allows publishers to create multimedia apps for books, comics and magazines without a programmer, has launched a public beta of its new cloud authoring system. The Aquafadas Cloud Authoring system allows publishers to quickly and easily convert PDF, JPEG, PNG and TIFF files into ePubs, apps and web reader files. … The public beta is open to all publishers.

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Quick Tip: How to Install Custom Fonts on Your Computer

Ginny Soskey at Hubspot has what could be a useful post, “How to Install Custom Fonts on Your Computer” with a tutorial showing you how to do it. However, also read Legal Use of Fonts for the legal ramifications of using them.

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How to Create Ebooks From Start to Finish

Anum Hussain at Hubspot chronicled her journey and wrote “How to Create Ebooks From Start to Finish [+ 5 Free Templates]“. Hussain is writing this from the corporate angle, assuming that you’re writing a book/PDF to promote your product, whether it’s your book, your blog, your kitchen whizz success story.

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Why Amazon’s Doing It Right

Kristen Lamb has a great post, “The Mouse That Roared—Invasion of the Micro-Trend & Why Indies Hold Increasing Power“, that encourages indie publishing and explains why. As well as why Amazon is doing so well. It sums up in a quick and easy post why the Big 6 are freakin’ out, and why they’re suddenly throwing up so many new imprints catering to eBooks.

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5 Tips to Making a Professional Cover

Kura Carpenter, a professional cover designer, provides her “5 Top Tips to Making Your Cover Look Professional over at BubbleCow. Okay, okay, so it’s really 4 tips, but they are good ones, showing “you a step-by-step process to producing a great book cover design”.

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Get 5 Free Self-Publisher’s Guides

Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer is having a sale that’s only good through December 31, 2013. “You can get all 5 of these practical, content-rich Guides for self-publishers free (since you do have to buy something on his site, it’s really more of a bonus), … [covering] topics like copyright, ISBNs, book distribution, and more. … They are full of the kind of vital information you need to keep your publishing on track.”

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Marketing Ideas


How to Use Pinterest for Dull, Academic or Yucky Topics—Adventures in Visibility with Joan Stewart

Denise Wakeman at The Future of Ink in Adventures in Visibility hosts Joan Stewart, who discusses how she uses Pinterest to promote her topic: “How to Use Pinterest for Dull, Academic or Yucky Topics—Adventures in Visibility with Joan Stewart“. It’s a good video; be prepared to take notes!

Free eBook on Using Pinterest for Business

Read Greg Wise’s post at Hubspot on “Pinterest Launches ‘Now-Trending’ Tool for Select Businesses” before downloading this free eBook on An Introduction to Pinterest for Business.

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Sites That Will Promote Your eBook for Free

Jason Boog at GalleyCat provides a list of websites where “self-published authors can promote their eBook for free”..

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3D Book Effect

Well, actually you can create a three-dimensional image of any flat graphic you own using this 3d-box graphic generator to create anything from books to CDs to audio boxes to anything you want to appear as a boxlike image using the online-based 3DPackage. And it’s free! Woo-hoo!

You can save them as JPG, GIF, or PNG images, and you do need to have a front and spine image to upload.

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How Well Print/eFormat Did in 2013

Kindle Sales Drives Dan Brown’s Inferno to Top of Amazon’s Best-Sellers in 2013” discusses bestsellers in print and eformat and how well they did in 2013.

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Selling in China

Arthur Klebanoff at Digital Book World looks at “The tantalizing English language eBook opportunity in China“. There does seem to be a huge opportunity to sell English fiction here, so you may want to have a peek.

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Stop the Marketing!

For those of you frustrated and angry…hmmm, who could that be…about having to deal with the social media and marketing, you will want to read Susanna Lakin’s post at The Book Designer on “Genre versus Author Platform? Which Matters More?” as she explains her experiment in not marketing her so-very-successful book!

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Entrepreneurial Realities Of Being A Pro Writer

Naturally, we have to follow “Stop the Marketing!” with more incentives to market *eye roll here*. Joanna Penn has a podcast interview with Mel Sherratt, “The Entrepreneurial Realities Of Being A Pro Writer With Mel Sherratt” as Sherratt “talks about her 14-year journey to the dream publishing deal, and how going indie has turned her into an entrepreneur” as well as an Amazon UK bestselling author.

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An Easy Look at A/B Testing

Tony Mariotti at Hubspot has a post, “The A/B Test That Improved Call-to-Action CTR by 211%” that simplifies what A/B testing is all about. For those of you marketing your work, you may want to take a look and consider how you could implement this for your own sales campaigns. Just remember to provide a code that will tell you where the lead came from!

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Tracking Your Data

Ginny Soskey at Hubspot has a brilliant post, “FAQs: What Are UTM Tracking Codes?“, on how to track where your visitors are coming from. And it [appears] to be incredibly easy! It’s also an excellent example of giving away something of value while promoting your product, LOL.

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2 Marketing Must-Dos

Kimberley Grabas at Your Writer Platform has a must-read post, “2 Must-Dos to Make Your Book Marketing Infinitely Easier“, for writers of blogs and books. And she repeats the advice on finding your audience and looking within yourself for your own habits. My particular “like” on this was the why she suggests we ask of ourselves.

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Platform Building Insights

Kimberley Grabas at Your Writing Platform has a second must-read—I particularly like what Dan Blank has to say, then Michael Hyatt’s story about the oak tree…dang it… It’s on the money, and no amount of whining and whimpering is going to change it. Heck, get inspired by Kristen Lamb’s comment and go in whistlin’ Dixie! So check out “21 Platform Building Insights from Authors and Experts Who Excel at It“.

It does remind me of another post I read over at Goodreads by Neil D. Ostroff on how he first started publishing. Think of the time and money you’d'a spent back in the day when you had to borrow books from the library, buy Writer’s Digest to pore over agents and publishers. The lists you’d make. The query letters you’d write, stuff in an envelope and stick a stamp on. The time you’d spend wondering, waiting. The more money you’d spend having copies made of your manuscript and then the cost of mailing that sucker off to an interested agent or publisher…makes me think how much easier it is now…

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Don’t Write That Blog, er…

Oh, LOL, Kimberley Grabas does have an ability to hit that nail!

“‘What are the chances that my blog will stand out from the hordes of others competing for the limited attention of readers?’

Sound familiar?

Many writers feel this way, but is it a sound argument?

Go ahead and change ‘blog’ to ‘book’ and re-read the above three sentences.”

Oopsies… So, “To Blog Or Not To Blog: Is It Really Necessary?” In it, Grabas discusses whether it truly is worth your time or not. The questions you must ask yourself.

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Create a Rock-Solid Tagline

James Chartrand at Copyblogger talks about “How to Create a Rock-Solid Tagline That Truly Works” has an interesting step-by-step plan to create a tagline.

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Building Your Own Site

Background Generator for Emails

Bulletproof background images are generated automatically with HTML code for free using your own images or with a free service like imgur. You have a choice of the entire email or a table cell, and it includes a backup color.

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Free Download: 50 Call-to-Action Templates to Help You Convert Leads in Style

Anum Hussain at Hubspot discusses calls-to-action and includes a link to “50 Call-to-Action Templates to Help You Convert Leads in Style“.

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Creating Social Media Sharing Links

Magdalena Georgieva at Hubspot has written about “A Simple Guide to Creating Social Media Sharing Links for Your Ebooks” including ones tailored for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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WordPress.ORG Plug-ins

NOTE: WordPress.COM is the free blogger site and is hosted at WordPress. Your site name will include WordPress.ORG is hosted on a site you choose and pay for the hosting each month. It will be a personalized blog name.

Optin Skin

Optin Skin has opt-in forms and share buttons that you can play with to your heart’s content with a load of customizations possible. For only $67.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

The Yoast team does not provide support for the free WordPress SEO plugin on the forums. One-on-one email support is available to people who bought the Premium WordPress SEO plugin only (starts at $89).


This is the cute sharing column that floats just outside your content that keeps those social media share buttons close to hand, and very convenient. DiggDigg is also free!

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Is Your About Page Up to Snuff?

Kimberley Grabas at Your Writer Platform has the ubiquitous post on the must-have author page elements, and then I got to her section on the About page. Huh? Dang. I could hate her, except she makes such good points. It’s that About page. I’d never really considered that my About page was “about” the site, not the me. Which leads me to another huh. Then she provides links to different sites that provide examples such as Derek Halpern over at Social Triggers and the 60-some examples over at Smashing Magazine.

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Are You Using Online Photos Legally?

Sara Hawkins at 12Most has a post on “12 Most Picture Perfect Ways To Ensure You’re Legally Using Online Photos“. It’s easy to read and understand. And I’d better go send emails to a whole lotta people…eek!

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Social Media Sizing Guide

Jerod at Church Juice has a “Social Media Sizing Guide” you can download. It’s up-to-date as of March 20, 2013 and includes the Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube sizing.

I found this little gem through Kimberley Grabas’ post, “Powerful Pictures Perform: How to Create Images That Grab Attention” over at Your Writer Platform. As Grabas points out, every social media site has different size requirements for their headers, background pictures, ads, videos, and more. This just makes things easier…!

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KD Did It Takes on Books blog icon centered in a green book with gold corner scrollwork Twitter icon centered in a deep turquoise book with gold corner scrollwork Goodreads icon centered in a brown book with gold corner scrollwork LinkedIn icon centered in a dark blue book with gold corner scrollwork Pinterest icon centered in a red book with gold corner scrollwork Facebook icon centered in a deep blue book with gold corner scrollwork KD Did It icon centered in a dark green book with gold corner scrollwork Google+ icon centered in an orange book with gold corner scrollwork

Kathy Davie is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

The post A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits & Pieces – January 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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