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The Big Bad Book Blog's Link Love

November 18, 2011

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In true book nerd fashion, we’ve rounded up our favorite publishing-related links of the week for you! Read on to uncover the best in books this week. If you want to know about these links sooner than Friday afternoon, follow us on Twitter—@GreenleafBookGr.

  • Is banning social networking in the work place a productive tactic? Surveys say more than half of young professionals refuse to work for an organization that prohibits use of social media while at work. All Twitter argues that efficiency is actually increased via Facebook and Twitter through the exchange and discussion of ideas, research, and collaboration.
  • We are all in agreement that the issue of taxing online purchases has seen an inordinate amount of frenetic activity as of late, and the playing field just got more confusing. The Marketplace Fairness Act received Amazon and ABA backing last week. A bipartisan group of ten US senators introduced the online sales tax bill, granting states the authority to compel online retailers to collect sales taxes. Yet the question still stands—which is more fair, the Main Street Fairness Act or the Marketplace Fairness Act?
  • Two of the most ominous questions in the publishing world are how public and academic libraries will be affected by the ebook uprising, and if the two systems should collaborate to bind their interests as one. The set of needs for both systems is vastly different, and raises questions on how the two could possibly work in partnership on questions of acquisitions, collections, and responses to the shifting commercial marketplace. If the kinks get worked out, and libraries start lending ebooks, we are ready to sit tight and watch the drastic change that ebook sales may have coming their way.
  • Author Malcolm Gladwell answers readers’ questions in a New Yorker interview, The Real Genius of Steve Jobs. This transcription takes a very humanistic approach to the legacy of Steve Jobs, answering questions like, “Has anyone suspected that Steve has a personality disorder?” And, “What do you make of the fact that Steve Jobs cried in meetings so often?”
  • Ever wonder what, exactly, an editor can do for you? You may be at the point in your writing where you’ve scrutinized over every detail, spent innumerable hours pouring your soul into the masterpiece that is your novel, and are ready to showcase your work to the world. But believe me, you ain’t done yet. Penguin gives great insight into how an editor can transform your work, from commenting and editing, to strategizing future projects with you.
  • Turns out: The hottest gadget of the year is great for buying things off of Amazon, and that's … about it. Needless to say, the Kindle Fire does not live up to its hype. The Fire lacks a camera, 3G data connectivity, and a slot for removable storage, features that the majority of its competitors are not in short of. We’re glad to see the Fire is such a killer deal, but at this point, we’d rather scrounge up the extra dough for another tablet.
  • Modernist writers have taken Twitter by storm, emphasizing their prose through the “less is more” method. Whether or not you are defined by this minimalist approach, if used correctly, Twitter can be an excellent tool to improve your writing skills by creating expressive, obscure, fragmented statements. Just stay away from the LOLs and OMGs.


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The Big Bad Book Blog's Link Love

November 4, 2011

In true book nerd fashion, we’ve rounded up our favorite publishing-related links of the week for you! Read on to uncover the best in books this week. If you want to know about these links sooner than Friday afternoon, follow us on Twitter—@GreenleafBookGr.

  • Comic Con, the mother of all fantastical conventions, is being held this weekend on our home turf. This event hosts the latest in anime, comics, graphic novels, manga, toys, and more. Austin Comic Con guest appearances include the actors who played Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and Darth Maul. The Force is strong with this one.
  • Times New Roman and Verdana, be gone! We are happy to welcome new typefaces into the digital world, replacing the web-safe fonts that many Internet users have installed on their computers. The importance of typography has evolved with force in the digital world over the past year, and the method of serving font files online has become increasingly more accessible through the rise of web font services like Google Font API and Typekit. To learn more about Web Typography 101, check out Mashable’s Fontography Series. Cheers to the web font revolution!
  • Swamps of tear gas flooding Oakland streets, protestors in Zuccotti Park, “V for Vendetta” masks—what better material for a coloring book? Publisher Wayne Bell created Occupy: A Grown-up Coloring Book Novel, filled with cartoon interpretations of the chronological happenings in the Occupy protests. Within forty-eight hours of Occupy’s publication, the book has sold more than a thousand copies.
  • There were acquisitions galore at HarperCollins this week. Within a mere seven days, they bought Newmarket Press, the publishing industry’s leader in film-related books, and Thomas Nelson, a major player in religious-themed titles. Newmarket will now find its titles under It Books imprint, run by executive editor Esther Margolis, “a highly respected veteran of both publishing and the film industries, with unparalleled relationships with countless studios and filmmakers,” according to It Books publisher Cal Morgan. Whether Thomas Nelson will combine with Zondervan, Harper Collins’ leading religious division, is still up for negotiation until the end of the year.
  • National Novel Writing Month is here, and YOU can participate. The annual novel-writing project runs November 1 through November 30, and was created to challenge contestants to write 50,000 words of a new novel. Bear in mind, you can turn in an unfinished novel and be golden as long as you meet the word-count criteria. The University Book Store Press in Seattle will publish the best novel written during NaNoWriMo by a Washington author.
  • The age of social media can seem like a daunting time to give an engaging presentation. Your audience is most likely armed with the latest iPhone, ready to stream criticism via Twitter to real-time listeners. But don’t let the tweets give you cold feet. To give a kick-ass presentation in light of the massive amounts of user-generated content, take into account these new rules published by Fast Company.
  • A new development in e-reading this week: Welcome Kindle Lending Library, Amazon’s program that allows Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, and Kindle Fire owners to “borrow” one ebook per month for free. Make sure to read the fine print—you must sign up for an Amazon Prime account and cough up the $79 annual membership fee.
  • Google just never quits. Not only did the search engine give us the fabulous barrel roll trick this week, they also found some time to update their search algorithm. The update seeks to improve the timeliness of search results, ranking newer articles higher in the pool than outdated posts for search terms that encompass recent events or news. TechCrunch reports that Google’s algorithm update impacts 35 percent of searches.
  • Are you “passionate” about “empowering” others? Believe you can play a “unique” “role” at your company? Consider your company increasing its “transparency” an “iconic” moment? Think again. No, please—think again. The words in quotes are all business buzzwords that need to die, according to Fast Company.

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The Big Bad Book Blog's Link Love

October 28, 2011

In true book nerd fashion, we’ve rounded up our favorite publishing-related links of the week for you! Read on to uncover the best in books this week. If you want to know about these links sooner than Friday afternoon, follow us on Twitter—@GreenleafBookGr.

  • A CNN study says Generation X is balanced and happy. As much as generational “stereotypes” can drive us all a little bonkers, this is a nice read considering the wrath Generation X has received over the past decade. 
  • The hottest debate in the publishing world: which are better, ebooks or printed books? Let’s get down to the bottom of this. Regardless of sales, is there really a difference? Apple to oranges, or all the same?
  • Steve Jobs, are you watching us? Kat Bailey seems to think so. Bailey created a Watched by Steve blog tribute. Playful memorial, or fanatic fan?
  • Ebooks are still on the rise, claiming a whopping 116% increase in August. “For the first eight months of 2011, ebook sales increased 144.4%, to $649.2 million, from 18 reporting publishers to the AAP monthly statistics program," wrote Publishers Weekly. "Sales were off by double digits in all trade print segments in the January-August period, although sales in the religion category were up 9% in the year to date at the 22 reporting houses.”
  • Is the Nook Color 2 Launching on November 7? TechCrunch seems to think so. Last year this tablet set the standard for enhanced e-readers with its color LCD screen and Android release, but we’ll see if it can compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
  • Theories debunked! We highly enjoyed the Used Furniture Review article “10 Myths About Bookselling.” Myths include “Bookselling Isn’t a Career,” “Bookselling Is a Low-Stress Job,” and “Bookselling is Dead.”
  • Kobo announces an arm in publishing as it signs e-reader sales deal with UK bookstore chain W H Smith. We give kudos to Kobo for their attempt to compete with Amazon in offering complete publishing services for authors.

 

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The Big Bad Book Blog's Link Love

October 14, 2011

In true book nerd fashion, we’ve rounded up our favorite publishing-related links of the week for you! Read on to uncover the best in books this week. If you want to know about these links sooner than Friday afternoon, follow us on Twitter—@GreenleafBookGr.


  • iPad beware: Budget tablets are stepping up to the plate in 2012 by slashing prices to meet the competitive price point of $200. We’ll see who comes out on top after brands like Velocity Micro and Amazon Kindle drive down their prices.
  • The days of happy endings and forever afters are long gone, says New York Times columnist Maria Tatar. Tatar claims that YA authors are crossing over to the dark side: “The savagery we offer children today is more unforgiving than it once was, and the shadows are rarely banished by comic relief. Instead of stories about children who will not grow up, we have stories about children who struggle to survive.”
  • Do terms like Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Kobo make you go cross-eyed? If you’re interested in learning the basics of ebooks, check out this informative webinar featuring Dana Lynn Smith.
  • The National Book Awards finalist were announced this week—but not without error. Shine was mistakenly named in place of the similar-sounding Chime. Sorry Lauren Myracle, you won’t take the gold for the National Book Award this year, but hey, all publicity is good publicity.
  • Amazon goes sci-fi: This week Amazon announced a new imprint, 47North. The imprint will cater to avid readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, publishing original works as well as previously published titles. 47North’s debut will be comprised of fifteen books, including The Mongoliad: Book One
  • Connecticut gets tough with Amazon, pushing back on the online sales tax issue. State officials stand strong on requiring Internet sellers to collect state sales taxes. BusinessWeek states that taxes in Connecticut should have been collected “at least during the month or so when the new law was in effect and Amazon still had affiliations with websites in Connecticut through its Amazon Associates Program. Amazon severed those ties in June.”
  • Apple and Google go head to head as the iPhone 4S and Droid Bionic battle for smartphone dominance. With the 4S stocking up in stores this week, NPR gives us a low down on its specs versus the Bionic’s Android operating system.
  • An Ode to the Bookstore: None of us wants to see the demise of our beloved independent bookshops. While some critics claim that these stores will soon become archaic, others hold to the belief that the soul of bookstores will stand the test of time.

 

  

 

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The Big Bad Book Blog's Link Love

September 30, 2011

In true book nerd fashion, we’ve rounded up our favorite publishing-related links of the week for you! Read on to uncover the best in books this week. If you want to know about these links sooner than Friday afternoon, follow us on Twitter—@GreenleafBookGr.

  • Let’s all welcome yet another digital publishing platform into the marketplace this week. BookRiff, a system that allows consumers and publishers to mix and match content from various sources to create their own book, is set to launch on October 6. Have no fear published authors—all original content owners and contributors are ensured to be paid through BookRiff’s services.
  • Lo’ and behold, the Kindle Fire Android was introduced to the masses on Thursday by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. For your viewing pleasure, Mashable has embedded the entire 51-minute Amazon Kindle Fire announcement. Will the Kindle Fire give its Apple competitors a run for their money?
  • And just for fun (or not), TechCrunch imagined, "The Future of Books: A Dystopian Timeline," predicting that 2015 will mark "the death of the Mom and Pops. Smaller bookstores will use the real estate to sell coffee and Wi-Fi. Collectable bookstores will still exist in the margins."
  • A new partnership is born: Lulu.com announced on September 27 that it has partnered with the world’s dominating bookseller, Barnes & Noble. “This partnership is another step in our passionate efforts to help Lulu creators reach more readers and sell more books”, says Bob Young, Founder and CEO of Lulu.
  •  If you haven’t already checked it out, take a look this year’s shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize. Winners of the prize will look forward to a life of worldwide recognition and a place in English literature’s history. Who will take the medal this year?
  •  “I’m listening to the band LCD Soundsystem on an Internet music service called Spotify. Because I’ve updated my Facebook page and because I’ve logged in to Spotify with my Facebook identity, every song I listen to is automatically shared to Facebook. Suddenly, my listening experience isn’t private. It’s public.” Sound scary? Facebook seems to have taken a mind of its own with ‘real-time’ apps. Users beware.
  • Does Autumn make you nostalgic for pencil bags, notebooks, and pep rallies? If so, find a hammock in the cool, fall breeze and get lost in one of NPR’s Autumn reads.
  •  The stakes are rising for LCD readers, and new competitors are quickly finding their way into the market. Keep up with the buzz regarding the next tablet to hit the streets, Kobo’s Vox Android.

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App-titude: Does Your Book Need An App?

August 12, 2011

It’s no secret that the publishing industry has gone through a lot of changes in the past few years. Any shift can create a decentralization of the norm, and in the publishing world, we have seen technological development contribute to the slow demise of our beloved brick-and-mortar bookshops, as digital files, apps, and ereaders gain a foothold in the market. As an author, finding your way through this saturated marketplace is confusing, and knowing where to invest your money can be downright overwhelming. It is essential to be educated about the digital options for your book.

 

The difference between an ebook and an app may not be immediately clear, especially to those of us who didn’t grow up with an iPhone at our fingertips 24/7. Ebooks are electronic publications that can include both text and images, and are designed to be read on computers or on ebook reader devices like the Kindle or Nook. Ebooks are usually created through a conversion process that can be handled by the author, publisher, or an external conversion house. (For more information about ebook formats and conversion, check out our Big Bad Book Blog post on the topic.)

 

Alternatively, apps are made primarily for phones and tablets like the iPad. They not only provide the text of the book, like an ereader, they also add a level of interactivity. They help elevate the book reading process to an “experience” by including additional features like games, audio, or animation. Apps are usually created by a professional developer or by an app company.

 

As books go digital, readers experience storylines in new and engaging ways. Books as apps enable the reader to immerse themselves within the world of the narrative through interactivity and customization. Apps can arguably be termed a reinterpretation of the original text due to the additional features and functions. Here are a few popular software features as seen in recent book apps:

  • shopping interface
  • navigation tools
  • annotation tools
  • style changes
  • puzzles or trivia

 

For instance, Jack and the Beanstalk Children’s Interactive Storybook, a wildly popular kid’s app, includes a memory matching game and interactive pictures that respond to changes in orientation. Similarly, The Cat in the Hat app allows children to touch images that prompt animations (ie: touching an image of a cloud produces raindrops along with the word ‘Wet!’).

 

Some genres are better suited for apps than others. Any genres that have an inherent level of interactivity—such as children’s books, cookbooks, or how-tos—will translate well to an app.

 

Apps can work well for less obvious genres, too. According to Media Bistro, religion, science, and law are hot genres in app sales right now. The top-ten bestselling book apps on the Android last week included four religious texts, two apps about the moon, and a training guide for police officers. Successful apps have included everything from True Ghost Stories, to The Bible, to Paco Bongo—a gecko that only eats pickles.

 

If you think your book might make a good app, keep the following benefits and disadvantages in mind:

 

Advantages:

  • Flexibility and customization
  • Multimedia additions (see software features list above)
  • Interactivity: A great example of interactivity is the app for SAS Survivor Guide; features include using a phone’s flashlight function to mimic a Morse Code signal.
  • New markets for content: Since book apps sit alongside non-book apps on iTunes and other app retail sites, there is an opportunity to grow your target audience through exposure as consumers browse titles.
  • Convenience: If you have a question about an unknown word, or want to highlight a special passage to tweet to all of your friends, voila! The app can do everything for you without having to set down your read.

 

Disadvantages

  • Availability on multiple platforms: if you want your book app available on many platforms, you must produce different versions of the app for software compatibility. A few different platforms include iOS app (iPhone and iPad), android, and apps for desktops (ex: custom API’s).
  • Cost: potentially thousands upon thousands per platform.
  • Visibility in the market: customers may be looking in bookstores instead of app stores.
  • Early retirement: technology moves fast. Apps become obsolete quickly as platforms upgrade versions and device models. Each upgrade may mean more costs if you want to create compatible versions of your book app to match the new versions.
  • Compliance problems: some of these issues include questions of integrating book apps into metadata systems, such as if book apps will have ISBN’s; whether or not apps should be registered with the Library of Congress; and who owns intellectual property of the book app.

 

As exciting as all this sounds, book apps are essentially still in an emerging stage. Publishing houses experimenting with book app development have tweaked and formed content, but still need to see whether or not there will be a return on investment after production costs.

 

Take into consideration the cost-to-benefit ratio before making a decision on whether or not to make your book into an app. Again, your goal is to make your book as successful as possible, to deliver it to as many people as possible, and to generate as much profit as possible. What kind of book are you producing? Will interactivity, hyper linking, and multimedia increase your sales? Consider your budget. Will you be able to invest in marketing for both your physical book and your book app? Is an app going to increase your sales enough to cover development costs?

 

Make it worth the cash. Don’t spend money and time developing an app with one or two functions. Build it up with software features and an interesting design. Otherwise, you might be better off sticking to an ebook.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to make your book into an app, Media Bistro is hosting a Publishing App Expo December 7-8 in New York City.

 

Have you seen a great book app recently? Tell us what you like about it in the comments below.

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Titling Tidbits: The Essential Elements of a Book Title

July 19, 2011

Trying to sell a book with an uninteresting title is like trying to sell a homely pre-owned car—the buyer is probably going to browse right over the rusted ‘99 Saturn to check out the pristinely waxed Honda parked next door. Although the interior looks great, and the gas tank is full, the Saturn’s dullness holds no ground against the Armor-All tires of its competitor.

 

Your book’s title serves as the deal breaker for your target consumers. Take a lesson from the used-car analogy and don’t let a dull or overused phrase ruin a book’s selling potential. A title should attract the intended audience, communicate the promise of the book, and differentiate the book in the market. Pick a title with purpose! Here we’ll discuss how to make that purpose come to life with brainstorming techniques, essential titling elements, and some no-no’s to avoid when narrowing down your title.

 

If your having trouble getting those creative juices flowing, it’s time to spice up your brainstorming session with a few key ingredients:

 

Summarize the core message and promise of your book: The title should detail the book’s fundamental message and give a clear picture of the author’s narrative style.

 

Market differentiation: It is of utmost importance to do your research. Study market trends within the genre and decipher what makes your book unique. How is this book relatable, who will it appeal to, and why?

 

Reflect sales goals: Create a mission statement for the audience you are trying to reach. What are your sales goals? For example, “Retail appeal for inspirational business readers, sold at point of sale or given as gifts.” Analyze how your offer will be useful to the audience buying your book. This brainstorming tip will help keep you focused on appropriate language to incorporate into your title.

 

Your title needs essence. Give it a soul with these pointers:

 

Be original: Avoid overused phrases and strive to be one of a kind. We’re all tired of seeing The 7 Habits of So and So and How To Do This and That.

 

Be intriguing to your audience: Entice your target consumer with clever narrative skills. Use interesting turns of phrases, play on words, alliteration, and other techniques to bring creativity into your title. Witty examples include Tongue Fu, Snakes in Suits, and The Myth of War.

 

Be pithy: A title that is concise and eloquent in its expression will foreshadow its meaningful content.

 

Here are some no no’s to avoid in your title:

 

Lengthy words: Long words are distracting in a cover design, while short words allow for larger typeface and a clearer message.

 

Jargon: There is a time and a place for colloquialisms, and that should not be in the title of your book. Steer clear of buzzwords.

 

Made-up words: What would you do if you saw Griftopia written on the cover of anything but a fantasy novel? Probably, walk away. On top of often sounding hokey, word mash-ups make a book difficult to search for in inventory systems.

 

Negativity: The negativity strategy works in politics and for Dr. Laura, but unless your book’s content is intentionally provocative, not everyone likes a confrontational message. Something like Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free is appropriate for the subject matter, but otherwise keep your title’s language on a more positive note. You’re selling a solution, not the problem.

 

Copycat syndrome: Avoid legal troubles—check, check, and check again for trademark or copyright issues. Stay original.

 

We all judge a book by its title, so choose wisely! Although the selection process may take time, be patient, do your research, and give your book the name it deserves.

 

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Adopting a Nom de Plume: The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking On a Pen Name

September 16, 2010

Every writer wants to make a name for him- or herself. For some writers it’s a question of what exactly that name is.Pseudonyms are a time-honored tradition used by authors who are either seeking a more marketable existence or a little anonymity.

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