Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

A Hodgepodge of Useful Bits and Pieces – February 2014

Posted: 01 Feb 2014 04:35 AM PST

The Hodgepodge of Bits & Pieces is a bimonthly link round-up of articles and posts 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!

Sorry about the lack of TOC. I’m having WordPress problems again, and once I get this latest, hopefully more permanent move out of the way, I’ll be working on moving from to .org. And at last have more control over what happens on my pages!

If you enjoyed this newsletter, do me a favor and share it with friends by tweeting it!

In General

Amazon Takes Over the World

Well, Calvin Reid’s post over at Digital Book World on “DBW 2014: Amazon, Subscription and the Book Business” may appear to promise a comparison between Amazon and book subscription services and how it will affect the book business, in truth it’s more about how Amazon is taking over the world. And soon they won’t need people in their world. Well, except to buy.

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Apple Granted a Stay

Jonathan Stempel with Reuters reports that “Apple gets reprieve from e-book monitor’s oversight” when “the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York granted Apple a hearing on ‘whether to stop the monitor, Michael Bromwich, from doing his job while the company pursues a formal appeal, which could last several months…’”

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A Summing Up of the Digital Book World Conference

There was a summing up of what seemed to occupy publishers’ minds at the Digital Book World Conference in New York: publishers’ branded webstores failed since readers don’t care about who publishes the book, they’re interested in the author and/or the title (big surprise there, *major eye roll* and discussions about eBook subscriptions with the point made that libraries already loan out eBooks for free.

Except, publishers charge so dang much for an eBook, that not all the eBooks you want to read are available at the library. So maybe those eBook subscriptions could do with some looking into. How does your library do at providing the eBooks you’re interested in??

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Just for Fun



Rar Farmer, the owner of Koham Press, says she’s excited to be among the new downtown business owners [in Vallejo] who hope to give a boost to this economically depressed city of 116,000.”


Kennebooks in Kennebunk plans to close later this winter, reported. Although the summer tourist trade was strong, owner Trish Koch said local customer traffic wasn’t enough to sustain the bookstore during the rest of the year.”


Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly notes that “Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, which was founded in 1991 as a Little Professor franchise, is for sale. Nicola Rooney, a native of England who has owned the store since 1995 and renamed it in 1997, wants to sell the bookstore so that she can spend more time with family back in her homeland. Rooney said there is no deadline for finding a new owner, and that she wants the transition to be a ‘gentle process’.”


The new owner, Emily Hall, has assured Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly that nothing will change with Main Street Books in St. Charles where Hall will be taking over on February 15. So ignore the closing announcement on the website, for it just ain’t true!

New York

Rizzoli Bookstore intends to stay in business and is actively searching for a new space.

After last week’s reports, an effort for a “Save Rizzoli petition campaign has been launched, requesting that the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission designate 31 West 57th street as an individual and interior landmark. ‘The Rizzoli Bookstore building is an icon of New York City architecture and one of the most beautiful commercial spaces in America,’ the petition states. ‘It is an impressive example of adaptive reuse of a former piano showroom into a retail space and one of the few remaining examples of architecturally significant bookstores in an era where bookstores are increasingly threatened.’”

On January 18, Idlewild Books, a travel bookstore, will grow again with the opening of a 1,200 sq. ft. store in Brooklyn, in the Bedford Mini-Mall in Williamsburg.

South Carolina

Joe’s Place, a new and used bookstore that will also offer wine, beer, local art and gourmet coffee, at 640 South Main Street in Greenville plans, tentatively, to open mid-February, reported.


Per Quill & Quire, the “Book City Annex location [in Toronto] to close after 38 years, partly due to losing its lease and partly due to the lack of book buyers”.

At the same time, Quill & Quire reports that “two weeks after its 33rd birthday comes word that the World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto will close in February“. And The reported that “earlier this month, Indigo announced it was closing its flagship Chapters store at Bloor Street West and Runnymede Road. The building, which previously housed a historic movie theatre, is slated to become a Shoppers Drug Mart. Yeah, ’cause that’s what we need more of in this world: more drugs, fewer books…yeah…

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Subscription Services

Lost Marbles Books

Sally Lodge at Publishers Weekly writes of “Arthur Yorinks Debuts Web-Based Lost Marbles Books“, which has just launched its “online digital publishing venture, in collaboration with OR Books, a publisher that focuses on selling direct to consumers via the Internet. Each week, Lost Marbles delivers to subscribers a short story or essay written by Yorinks or a guest contributor. The company’s Web site features separate sections for children’s and adult stories. The initial selections for children are The Wooden Table, It Happened in Pinsk, and The Scribbler. These are all written by Yorinks, as are the first three adult stories: How Do Spiders Sleep?, Lost Keys, and Dogs Matter.

Readers have the option of subscribing to Lost Marbles (for $19.95 annually until February 28 and $24.95 thereafter) or purchasing stories separately for $1.29 each. Those who subscribe to both the children’s and adult programs at the same time can do so for an introductory price of $35. Every week, subscribers receive an e-mail with a link to the new story, which can be accessed on various reading devices, including iPad, Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader. Lost Marble subscribers can also opt to receive the story as a PDF file to read on a computer or smart phone.

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A Visit into BiblioTech

Edward Nawotka at Publishing Perspectives takes us on “A Visit to BiblioTech: The 21st Century All-Digital Library” down in Texas. Impressive. Especially impressive for cash-strapped districts who still want or need a library. As much as I adore the printed book, digital has its place as well. And Nawotka makes some good arguments for it in this post.

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2014 Caldecott Medal

John A. Sellers at Publishers Weekly takes a look at “An ‘Unreal’ and ‘Fantastic’ Caldecott Call for 2014 Winner Brian Floca“. It’s Brian Floca‘s first Caldecott Medal and his fourth Robert F. Sibert Honor with Locomotive.

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How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough: Review Part 2

Cynthia White at The Things You Can Read, a schoolteacher with a passion for kids, is continuing with part 2” about Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. This book is part of what White refers to as her year of BECOMING, a goal she is using to focus her reading.

White notes that Tough investigates “essential building blocks of character through the findings and practical insight of exceptional educators and bleeding-edge researchers”. He points out that we use intelligence to assess childhood successes when in reality we should be including “character: skills like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism. What Tough has learned about “groundbreaking research in neuroscience, economics, and psychology” that is “radically changing our understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity. It tells the personal stories of young people struggling to say on the right side of the line between success and failure. And it argues for a new way of thinking about how best to steer an individual child – or a whole generation of children – toward a successful future.”

Food for thought:

“The part of the brain most affected by early stress is the prefrontal cortex, which is critical in self-regulatory activities of all kinds, both emotional and cognitive. As a result, children who grow up in stressful environments generally find it harder to concentrate, harder to sit still, harder to rebound from disappointments, and harder to follow directions. And that has a direct effect on their performance in school.” – Paul Tough, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

And, White includes a list at the bottom of her post of additional resources on grit.

Can You Make Kids Love Books?

Laura Miller at Salon wonders, “Can you make kids love books?” by changing what they’re force fed in high school. While I can appreciate what cultural critic Natasha Vargas-Cooper has to say about certain books on high school reading lists, everyone is different. Everyone has their own idea of the perfect book. Perhaps teachers need to consider books that will resonate with teens and their hormonal issues along with their need for independence as part of the teaching curriculum. But never assume that one size fits alls.

“Books are not a one-size-fits-all proposition for children any more than they are for adults. When it comes to coaxing an unbookish child to read, the genius of a great teacher lies not in lesson plans but in chemistry, in matching the right book with the right kid.”

“‘Just leave this on the coffee table and say nothing…’ as per Josie Leavitt’s post.”

“‘It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.’ – Charles M. Blow New York Times“.

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First Pictures of Harry Potter Theme Park

Justin Crowe at Design Faves reveals “Universal unveils new images of enchanting Harry Potter theme park“. And wow!


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Insight into Ron Weasley

Emily Asher-Perrin at has “Erased by Time and Blockbusters—The Cautionary Tale of Ron Weasley” with a comparison between movie-Ron and book-Ron. And the movies don’t come off that well. I suspect I hadn’t noticed it because I’ve read the books so many times and my expectations were different from the multitudes who never cracked a spine on the Harry Potter series. It’s an introspective look at how movie-Ron was treated as well as the possible reasons for it, and it makes me incredibly aware of how influential a movie can be on how a character is viewed. And it’s so sad.

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Outlander to Go For a 2nd Season

Nellie Andreeva at reports that “Starz’s Outlander Fully Expected To Get A Second Season; ‘Incursion’ Still Alive“. Now we just need to hope for season 3!

Academy Awards Honors Books

Shelf Awareness brought to my attention (too much reading on my part, I guess) that “four of the nine best picture nominations for this year’s Academy Awards, which will be presented March 2, are based on books, comprising an impressive reading list among Oscar’s major categories:

  • 12 Years a Slave, based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup: best picture, director (Steve McQueen), actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), supporting actor (Michael Fassbender), supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o), adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and three more nominations
  • Captain Phillips, based on A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips & Stephan Talty: best picture, supporting actor (Barkhad Abdi), adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and three more.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street, based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir: best picture, director (Martin Scorsese), actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), supporting actor (Jonah Hill) and adapted screenplay (Terence Winter).
  • Philomena, based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith: best picture, actress (Judi Dench), adapted screenplay (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope) and one more.
  • August: Osage County, based on the play by Tracy Letts: actress (Meryl Streep) and supporting actress (Julia Roberts).
  • The Great Beauty: best foreign language film. (Although this wasn’t a book-to-film adaptation by the strictest definition, Film Comment noted that director Paolo Sorrentino’s novel Everybody’s Right ‘is everywhere in Sorrentino’s world because literature has always been his true calling.’ The Great Beauty also won a Golden Globe Award last month.)
  • Dirty Wars, based on the book by Jeremy Scahill: best documentary feature.
  • Other multiple-nomination book-to-film adaptations include The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in three categories, The Great Gatsby, and Lone Survivor in two categories each. The best animated feature film category has three adaptations: Frozen, The Wind Rises, and Ernest & Celestine.

The 11 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2014

Gabe Habash at Publishers Weekly notes “The 11 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2014“, and it sounds like some good ones!

Child of God Trailer

“Calling it a ‘bloody, gun toting new trailer,’ Indiewire offered a peek at James Franco’s Child of God, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.” Although that sounds better than what’s said in the post.

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Chip Kidd’s Archives

Catherine Grigor at Penn State reports that “University Libraries acquire design ‘rock star,’ alumnus Chip Kidd’s archives“.

“Kidd, dubbed ‘the closest thing to a rock star in graphic design’ by USA Today, studied graphic design at Penn State before starting work at Alfred A. Knopf in 1986. At Knopf he has created memorable book jackets for authors such as John Updike and Michael Crichton, including the iconic cover for Jurassic Park.’ (It’s not the actual original cover, but it is the original image.) Kidd is the recipient of the National Design Award for Communications (presented by the Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian) and will receive the American Institute of Graphic Arts medal for lifetime achievement in April.”

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Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity

Alison Flood at The Guardian announces that “Lemony Snicket launches prize for librarians ‘who have faced adversity’. Having himself been “falsely accused of crimes”, Handler wants to honour those who have stood up to pressure from would-be book banners” and “together with the American Library Association, he is therefore setting up a new $3,000 (£1,800) award, The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced With Adversity. ‘The Snicket prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them,’ said Snicket, who is funding the prize from his own ‘disreputable gains’”, LOL.

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International Comics at Angoulême

Heidi MacDonald and Brigid Alverson at Publishers Weekly talk about the hugely successful comic festival where “Comics Jump International Lines at Angoulême.

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eBooks Turn 40!!

Piotr Kowalczyk at Ebook Friendly has done this infographic celebrating 40 years of eBooks!?! I had no idea eBooks had been around that long…

40 years of ebooks (infographic) | Ebook Friendly

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Amazon’s 2013 Profits

Digital Book World announces “Amazon Revenues Huge, Profits Tiny in 2013” “with huge gains in earnings in 2013, booking nearly $75 billion in revenue, an increase of 22%. At the same time, the company continued to run on razor-thin profit margins, its calling card and the bane of its investors: $274 million in profits yielded the biggest bookseller in the world only a 0.37% profit margin.

What I keep wondering is, when will Amazon decide it’s won the battle and boost those prices up so it can make a more reasonable profit rather than keeping those “razor-thin profit margins” so low so it can drive everyone else out of business?

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Writing Tips


Duke University Press Announces New Platform for E-books

A press release at Publishers Weekly from Duke University Press brings notice that the “e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection … offers access to more than 1,600 Duke titles (as well as journal content) for ‘reading, searching, and sharing’.” … including “tailoring for mobile access, as well as DRM-free content, individual chapter downloads, and for advanced search social sharing, and reading recommendations.” I get the impression this is free to all.

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Using Weather to Set the Mood

Janga at Heroes & Heartbreakers has a useful post on “Kissin’ in the Snow and the Rain and…: Weather in Mary Balogh’s Novels” with an emphasis on how “writers have been using weather to reveal character, serve as metaphor, and advance plot for centuries”. Janga believes Mary Balogh is a master at this, so it may well be a romance weekend if you’re looking for plot help.

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How to Build a Writing Group in Your Community

Nathaniel Kressen has done a guest post at Jane Friedman‘s blog on “How to Build a Writing Group in Your Community” and has a very useful list of tips on how to grow it, the issues that will be encountered, money, and warnings. Good, thoughtful suggestions.

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Internationalization Issues

Found Steve Hudson’s hints for editing material for an international audience over at the Technical Editors Eyrie (Jean Weber is the editor on this one). He offers up seven simple techniques to make it easier for English speakers around the world to understand what they’re reading.

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Just read about Claire Kerhwald Cook’s Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing and thought I’d pass this on. I haven’t read it yet, but will post a review when I do.

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Tried and True Tips for First-Time Authors

Amanda Guest is doing a guest post at Live Write Thrive on “Tried and True Tips for First-Time Authors” with some excellent and quick-to-read advice along with a quick sample of the differences between active and passive voice, not to confuse writing with editing, the dreaded cliché trap, and the usefulness of that outline!

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Editing Tips for Web Content

Smashing Magazine has some useful Editing Tips for Business Web Content“, and after all, your book and its promotion is a part of your writing business.

What If My Client Doesn’t Care About Editing?

Clients might not care about content editing as such, but they certainly care about public image, leads, and orders. High-quality content impresses Google, which leads to more search engine visibility, which leads to more traffic and more business. High-quality content also reassures prospects, customers, and stakeholders publishers, readers, and agents that the company author is reliable and competent.”

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5 Top-Notch Blog Posts

Rachel Sprung at HubSpot has a handy post on “5 Top-Notch Blog Posts Written in Under 60 Minutes [Challenge Winners]” with an explanation on the five winners as to why they won. Could pick up some good tips on how to hone your own posts.

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The Latest O.E.D.

Tom Rachmanjan at The New York Times discusses “Language by the Book, but the Book Is Evolving” as the O.E.D.’s new chief editor speaks of the dictionary’s future. With a purchase price in hardcover of $995 and a one-year online subscription running $295, it’s not hard to see why the free Oxford Dictionaries, a “less extensive cousin”, is more popular.

“To compile a dictionary of nearly every word in the English language was an endeavor typical of Victorian times, complete with white-bearded gentlemen, utter confidence and an endearingly plodding pace. After a quarter-century, the first installment emerged in 1884. Its contents? ‘A to Ant’.

In our own impatient age, the Oxford English Dictionary is touch-typing toward a third edition, with 619,000 words defined so far, online updates every three months and a perma-gush of digital data to sort through.”

There are arguments for creating a super-dictionary and discussions of historical context.

“‘We can hear everything that’s going on in the world of English for the last 500 years, and it’s deafening,’ said the associate editor Peter Gilliver, who once spent nine months revising definitions for the word ‘run’, currently the longest single entry in the O.E.D.”

You’ll laugh to read, like, when OMG first appeared! But you know, whatever…

This bit is interesting: “Each time commentators rebuke the O.E.D. for admitting teenage slang or marketing jargon, they misunderstand the dictionary, which aims not to define how language should be used, only how it is.”

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Definitions & Examples of Literary Devices

This is a useful site for writers with its definitions of literary devices. A mention of pathetic fallacy sent me out hunting for a definition, something that would make sense for writers, and I found Literary Devices with its pages of “definition[s] and examples of literary terms”. Check out that left column with its double list!

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Filipinos among top users of world’s largest ebook community notes that “Filipinos are the second biggest users of the world’s biggest online reading and storytelling platform Wattpad, according to latest data from social media monitor SocialBakers.

Seven million Filipinos visit Wattpad every month, coming second behind Americans and ahead of users from United Kingdom, Vietnam, Canada, Australia, Turkey, India, Germany and Spain.

There are currently 300,000 completed stories coming from Filipinos and the number is growing by 10 percent per month. Twenty-three percent of Wattpad‘s Android traffic also comes from the Philippines, and when a Filipino user joins Wattpad, 50 of their Facebook friends are already on Wattpad.

Wattpad also said out of the eight users who have more than 100,000 followers, five are Filipinos. The most popular Wattpad user with more than 225,000 followers is a Filipino writer Denny who goes by the Wattpad identity ‘HaveYouSeenThisGirL.’”

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Upcoming Writing Conferences

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

Date, Time, Cost Location Conference/Workshop
Feb 3-28, 2014
$179 for DBW Members
Online Essential Metadata Elements
Master the essential components of creating metadata that sells books. This course is designed to help publishing professionals understand and master application of the essential metadata elements needed to market and sell books.
Feb 6, 2014
12-1 PM EST
Online What Authors Want from Publishers: Building Relationships with Self-Published Writers
The most pressing questions in the book business today are what factors are driving authors’ decision-making today, and what advantages do traditional publishers offer authors? It’s a question publishers (and the question framing talks delivered at Digital Book World 2014 by Phil Sexton, publisher of Writer’s Digest, and Dana Beth Weinberg, a sociologist and self-published author who, with Digital Book World editorial director Jeremy Greenfield, coauthored What Advantages Do Traditional Publishers Offer Authors?).Join Sexton, Weinberg, and Greenfield for a closer look at those findings and a discussion of how the author-publisher dynamic is being transformed and ways both parties can benefit from it. We will seek to understand why, despite the steady growth of self-publishing activity, authors continue to prefer working with traditional publishers. This free webcast will also put forth concrete recommendations for building and strengthening those partnerships.
Feb 21-22
Online WANACon
Live presentations in our state-of-the art virtual classrooms. Pays special attention to the Romance genre and helping you figure out what to do with your NaNoWriMo creation.Previous conference attendees, email or message Jay for a discount code.

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The Publishing Business

Is Digital Publishing the Death of the Author?

Richard Lea at The Guardian wonders, “Does digital publishing mean the death of the author? Lea discusses what makes a writer and how the Internet has changed visibility for authors. And it’s a dismal picture he paints of what writers can earn from their writing. The quote below was the most uplifting bit of news I found.

“These days the only reason for worrying about publishing ‘a book that people will buy’ is to “make money writing books.”

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HarperCollins-Simon & Schuster Merger?

Jeremy Greenfield at Forbes in “Get Ready For More Mergers And Acquisitions In Book Publishing” notes rumors of Simon and Schuster merging with HarperCollins.

Public Library “Printing” Money

In a press release on Digital Book World, the “Tennessee Public Library Launches Publishing Program with IngramSpark Platform” and notes that “the Williamson County Public Library in Franklin, Tennessee … has used the IngramSpark platform to more easily assist writers to independently publish their works to benefit the writer, readers and the communities they live in … to develop and print copies of their first book, a children’s book co-authored by library staff … and … to print stunning four-color books at great value, and all the proceeds from our book sales will go directly back into the library to fund new adult and youth programs, to maintain and increase collections, and to provide new technologies, equipment and other improvements.”

Amazon’s New Christian Imprint

Marcia Z. Nelson at Publishers Weekly announces “Amazon Publishing Launches Christian Imprint“, Waterfall Press.

Screwpulp Raises $300k

A press release on Digital Book World announces that “Screwpulp Raises $330,000 to Start New Chapter in Publishing“, and “it accepts book submissions across a wide range of genres with no exclusivity and allows one free download a day for users.

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Some Differences Between Ebooks, Enhanced Ebooks, And Apps

Beth Bacon at Digital Book World notes “Some Differences Between Ebooks, Enhanced Ebooks, And Apps” and explains how each fulfills a different need. Bacon includes a useful chart on these differences, and it includes a How to Build, How to Price, Where to Sell, and Device Used Most Often. Very handy.

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IPR License + Copyright Clearance Center Alliance

A press release at Digital Book World announces an alliance between IPR License, “the platform for publishers, authors and literary agents to list and license literary rights, and Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after materials, including in- and out-of-print books, journals, newspapers, magazines, movies, television shows, images, blogs and ebooks”.

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Marketing Ideas

Clean Up a YouTube Video Before Embedding

Spence Forman at has a useful video, “Create Custom YouTube Video Embed Codes” that makes it easier to customize a YouTube video to discretely remove the YouTube brand, set controls, size, where the video starts, choose a theme, decide whether you’ll show the title or controls (or even autohide them), color of the progress bar, whether it loops, show related videos, choose to use HD, or choose a skin, all using VTubeTools.

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EBook Pricing Analysis

Rachel Willmer at TechCrunch has an interesting post, “Ten Things You May Not Know About Ebook Prices” in which she compares the prices at which eBooks sold the most to the least and then how well the author did at those various levels. (There’s a look at both U.S. and U.K. sales.)

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Clever Ways You Can Use Social Media to Attract, Tell, Build

Joan Stewart of the Publicity Hound clued her newsletter subscribers in to “40 Creative Social Media Ideas” and has “clever ways you can use social media to attract a huge following, tell a story and build your brand.“. There’s a mix of people enthusiastic about ideas, pontificating, and those providing actual examples. Some are high-end while others are very doable. It’s a resource for spurring your imagination. A way to be inspired and think laterally.

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Stand Out on Twitter

Related to the mid-January Google+ Cheat Sheets Joan Stewart at Publicity Hound provided are her latest, “Use a short, numbered list to draw attention to a tweet“. Another way to stand out in the social media.

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15 Places to Promote Your Book for Free

Jason Boog at Galley Cat lists “15 Places to Promote Your Book for Free“. And at least one of the places listed lists even more places.

For the bonus round, watch Joan Stewart and Penny Sansevieri’s video on “How to Launch a Book, Promote It and Sell a Truckload—Without an Expensive Publicist“.

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Royalty Free Background Music From YouTube

Spence Forman of talks about how to get royalty-free, cost-free music from YouTube by going to the YouTube Audio Library in Royalty Free Background Music From YouTube“.

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Scamming the SEO System

Be Savvy in Social Media, Marketing and Promotion

Kristen Lamb’s latest post, “Predators Abound—How Writers Can Be Savvy in Social Media, Marketing and Promotion“, makes an excellent point, one which I keep hammering on, “when we tool our SEO to the latest algorithm, we set ourselves up to have to do this over and over and over (which can become a money-eating black hole if we don’t happen to be SEO gurus)”. In other words, write what you know, be sincere, focus on your topic. Don’t worry about the latest in how to scam the system. “To rely on SEO gaming is a formula to pull your hair out or go broke trying to keep up.”

“Here is what Google has to say about content in its quality guidelines:

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines
  • Don’t deceive your users
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.
  • Make your website stand out from others in your field.”

Lamb goes on to talk about one editor’s experience with ads, and what it leads to is simple—and it’s work, you have to make a connection. Don’t just shove buy, buy down potential readers’ throats.

“WANA methods work on any social media site. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, doesn’t matter. If these social sites go away (*cough* MySpace) and a new social site becomes hot? Your WANA platform will remain in tact and continue to grow.” And yes, Lamb is promoting her latest WANA conference, WANACon.

A Different Take on Guest Blogging

Rebecca Churt at HubSpot takes a different look at “What’s the Deal With Guest Blogging? Deconstructing Matt Cutts’ Post” and provides some good suggestions about what to include as content and what will truly create added-value. Churt also examines linking in your post: the good and the bad. In the long run, you’re better off adhering to more white hat than black hat principles. Yeah, it’ll take longer, but you won’t have to re-open old posts and fix them to adhere to the latest Google algorithms or worry about gaining a bad reputation or…

Churt includes tips for authors on pursuing gigs as a guest blogger as well as great suggestions for publishers who are looking for guest bloggers.

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Showcase Your Book With a ‘Look Inside’

Mary Lou on the Codrops page at has written about “‘Look Inside’ Book Preview with BookBlock” which is all about “a concept for book showcases or online book stores that shows a grid of books with the options to view the details and to look inside of the book, opening the BookBlock in fullscreen and allowing for a 3D page navigation”. She offers up a demo Book Preview with BookBlock, and while the idea is good, the demo page is really only good for seeing the grid and clicking on the text under a book sample. Don’t bother clicking all the books as all the books show the same interior formatting.

Be sure you’ve seen everything you want to see on either page, as the demo page doesn’t open a new page nor does it allow you to use the back button.

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Better Than Amazon!

Josie Leavitt at Publishers Weekly makes some excellent points in her post, “Authors: Where You Link Is Important” about why you want to include indie bookstores—online and landbound—in your book linking process when your newest book is about to be released.

“If you only link to Amazon you’re sending a message that you’re not interested in bookstore support. And believe me, bookstores notice this. When bookstore owners are offered authors/illustrators for visits, we go to their websites to see who they link to. If there isn’t an Indie Bound link or a local bookstore link, stores sometimes say no to events.”

If you’re interested in marketing your book—especially those of you who aren’t as aggressive at marketing—I suspect this is one of the better passive and easiest marketing tasks you can indulge in.

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Repurpose Your Blog Posts

Rachel Sprung at HubSpot provides “30-Day Blog Challenge Tip #23: Repurpose Blog Content” and suggests leveraging your blog posts “into SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, and news releases. And attract more eyeballs to your best blog posts via your email newsletter, email workflow messages, and social media status updates.”

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Excel Templates!! Track Different Marketing Endeavors

Sana Bakshi at HubSpot has written “Marketing With Excel: 6 Ways it Can Make Your Life Easier“, and finally!, someone has provided real examples of how to use Excel to track what, when, where and why you’ve written assorted blog posts, a downloadable SEO template for you to play with so you can track your keyword usage and effectiveness in your marketing plans, a Google AdWords template to “make sure you’re staying on top of your AdWords game and help you catch mistakes and implement best practices across all the different campaigns and ad groups you’re running”, a social media planning calendar template “helps you plan your updates, breaking down how to format your content for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, all while providing helpful tips and tricks along the way”, and more…aiyeee, more!!?!

All I know is, they all talk, but Sana finally comes through, and I can’t wait to try out some of his suggestions

To be fair, HubSpot does an excellent, excellent job of showing you how to create value-added content while promoting their services. They give so much with a low-key sales pitch that it makes me want to try them on! No, I’m not saying you should hire them—unless ya wanna *grin*, I am saying they’re a good example of how to do it. And again, no, I’m not saying you have to provide as much as they do—you’d have to be superman and work 48-hour days, fifteen days a week.

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Twitter Cards

Using Twitter Card Analytics

Ginny Soskey at HubSpot will “explain every part of the Twitter Card analytics dashboard so you’ll be an old pro by the end of this post, “Twitter Releases Card Analytics: Here’s How to Use ‘Em“. She includes some good warnings about what clicks will NOT be counted, and there are a good few.

Josh Constine at Tech Crunch also looks at “Twitter Launches Card Analytics To Let Publishers Monitor Impressions, Clicks And More“, but I must confess I found Soskey’s post easier to read and less promotional, well, at least less promotional for Twitter Cards *grin*

Beginners Guide on How to Add Twitter Cards in WordPress.ORG

When I first heard about Twitter Cards, I saw it as simply another way to melt down my credit card. Now, I’ve just read a post, “Beginners Guide on How to Add Twitter Cards in WordPress” at WPBeginner that points out that a Twitter card (there are 6 types) can be set up for every page in your website and when someone tweets your page, the card goes with the tweet. Okay, fine, so what? you may ask. WPBeginner pointed out that when someone retweets, they don’t normally include an @KathyDavie or a RT @KathyDavie along with it. If the person getting the retweet likes it, they’re more likely to sign up to follow the person who retweeted. And not you. Something to think about.

NOTE: If you are using a site, you can’t use Twitter Cards.

Create Your Twitter Cards

Twitter developers have what appears to be a useful set of instructions on the different types of Twitter cards available and how to set yourself up with them. Remember you cannot use Twitter cards on WordPress.COM; you must be using WordPress.ORG

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Pinterest Now Supports Animated GIFs

Ginny Soskey at HubSpot tells us all how “Pinterest Now Supports Animated GIFs“, and all I can think of is animating a GIF for the Word Confusion on Whale vs. Wail…and sound effects, LOL! It would be too funny. Anyway, Soskey has a very useful post that discusses this new feature on Pinterest. Check it out.

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Tracking & Interpreting Data the 2014 Hot Topic

Woe, oh, woe is us… Jack W. Perry at Digital Book World writes that tracking and interpreting of sales information will be the hot trend for 2014 in “Have You Ever Been in the Yonkers B&N?” and A Few Other Take-Aways from DBW 14“. Perry also mentioned App Annie, “another company that caught my eye. They are the leading sales reporting company for apps and have recently turned to ebook reporting. Their dashboard is easy, fun and free to use.”

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A Better Explanation of Amazon—AKBooster

Ben Murray does a better job over on the Book Designer to explain “How AK Booster Can Help Your Books Stand Out on Amazon“. Because the “developers come from the internet marketing community, and not the indie author world, a lot of people who checked out the software were confused by the way the product was being sold, so “Ben Murray … explain[s] more fully exactly what this software can do, and the way it can help indie authors market their books more effectively on the world’s biggest retail site for book sales”.

With eBook and independent publishing rising so fast, “getting even more exposure sharing your story was the idea behind the creation of the new AK Booster Pro software, a new tool that helps independent authors get the most out of self publishing their books. And it goes on to explain how this Mac/PC-enabled software can help you find your niche, who to submit to, how to maximize your KDP select free days, and how to find reviewers.

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Why Most Books Fail

At the conclusion of Joan Stewart at the Publicity Hound‘s “Publishing at Sea” cruise, she reiterates “Why Most Books Fail on her Facebook page. Stewart discusses the same five points I keep encountering post after post and article after article.

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Fix the Pitch

Joan Stewart at the Publicity Hound warns us to fix the pitch by ensuring that it’s tuned to the person to whom you’re sending the pitch. It should not be a generic pitch you can send to anyone. Just think cover letter for those job applications. Same idea.

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11 Publishing Gems I Learned

Joan Stewart of Publicity Hound came back from her “Publishing at Sea” cruise with lots of ideas including this one on “11 gems I learned on the Publishing at Sea cruise on how to get a book published“. These cover a lot of ground and are indeed gems, especially for those of you who are self-published. It’s a quick read, so you have no excuses for missing it.

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Don’t Self-Publish! Become Your Own Small Press

This’ll be one of those nauseating “use your words” speech, and it makes good sense! Judith Briles at Author U points out that “Indie, Independent and Small Press Publishing Are So, Soooooo Different from Self-Publishing, Vanity Presses and Pay-to-Publish Publishing“. Briles suggests you become a small press, be your own publisher, and avoid the still dreaded self-publishing “moniker of shame”. Yeah, it’s a shame that it’s still considered unprofessional, but we simply have to persevere. In the meantime, being your own publisher does mean you can purchase blocks of 10 ISBNs from Bowker for the price of two!

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Outbrain Promotes Your Content

Joan Stewart of Publicity Hound says “Use Outbrain to promote your articles and blog posts”.

“It’s a super paid tool that connects with 70,000 online publishers, Georgia says. It provides your blog and article titles in the “other related stories” section beneath the featured article someone else wrote.

This is a pay-per-click service. The link lasts for one day. But it’s a fabulous way to pull more people to your content, from similar content they’ve already read.”

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Going Direct-to-Consumers

Rich Bellis at Digital Book World enjoins that you “First, Do No Harm: How to Expand Book Sales Channels by Going Direct-to-Consumers with a quick look at how book publishers are setting up a platform that allows them to sell directly to the reader. Some small, but useful insights.

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Building Your Own Site

New device scans real-world colors for digital application

Justin Crowe at DesignFave has found a cool toy, “New device scans real-world colors for digital application“! The SwatchMate is wireless and will match any color you want whether it’s at the zoo or in your garden or simply the branding color of your business stationery. It’ll spit out the matching digital code via bluetooth so you can then use it online!

Reserve your SwatchMate at their IndieGoGo page!

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Automatically Resize Images to Fit

SizzlePig claims it can batch resize your images to fit the various devices out in the world, AND, once you feed in the parameters for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and others, it will resize those backgrounds as well. All the sizes appear on one page, and you can fix any image that is cropped badly—all before even saving the image. No more having to manually resize. No, I haven’t tried it, yet. It does seem rather useful. If anyone tries this out, please let us know how it went.

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WordPress.ORG Plug-ins

Enhance Security on Your WordPress.ORG Blog

Spence Forman at has a short video on why to use and how to install a Stealth Login Page plugin for WordPress users to forestall hackers from getting into your database and corrupting or stealing subscriber information and/or destroying blog posts.

When I think about the work it would take to recreate all those posts I’ve done…it makes me sick. And I backup all the time in several places. So I’d have the information to recreate it. Do you?

Restrict Widgets Plug-in

Oh, yeah, you definitely want to watch this video by Spence Forman at Install this Restrict Widgets widget and you can fine-tune where any of your other widgets show up in WordPress. Want your Google badge to show only on review pages? Done. Want the recent blogs widget to show up only on the front and landing pages? Done. Want a search bar widget to show up on every page? Done. I definitely want one!


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 scrollworkGoogle+ 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 and Pieces – February 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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