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Publishing, Avant-Garde: Blogs & Online Journals

December 31, 2009

publishingavantgardePublishing, Avant-Garde continues with topic number two: BLOGS & ONLINE JOURNALS.

Assuming that you read any manner of blog or online journal—including this one—then you are more likely than not familiar with the concept. However, for the less initiated, we’ll turn to the trustworthy Wikipedia for a complete definition:

A blog (a contraction of the term "web log") is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

Popular hosts and providers of blogs and online journals include Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, LiveJournal, Movable Type and Blogware. Some are free, some paid, and each offers a different mixture of features, applications, widgets and communities. It’s a matter of preference that determines which provider you use.

The reason I want to spotlight blogs and online journals for writers is their twofold function: a place from which to build a platform as a writer, and a place in which to showcase your work.

As to platform—it has become expected, if not an unwritten rule, that a writer should continuously develop a web presence. This is an extremely important aspect of platform-building, especially as more and more people every year begin to rely upon the Internet as a source of information for all things, including entertainment. Which means books. Which means you.

You can find some great information about the basics of blogging (and specifically author blogging) here:

The focus of this article is the ‘showcasing your work’ aspect. This is as equally applicable to established authors as it is to beginners. What it means is that people can visit your blog and get a taste of your writing style, tone, background, genre. Essentially, they can get a feel for you.

I’ve visited author blogs that have posted writing across the gamut: excerpts of published novels, segments from drafts of unpublished ones, research for nonfiction works, character descriptions, story outlines, book trailers, audiobook links, e-books, and more. This is in addition to observations about writing, art, culture, the business of publishing, and posts on everyday life. In essence, blogs act as public journals of the creative process of writing.

A few examples of author blogs:

You can find more comprehensive lists at Technorati, Author Blogs (under construction as of December 2009), The Internet Writing Journal and The YA Book Blog Directory.

You may be wondering: Does ‘showcasing your work’ on a blog or journal mean that it is considered published?

The general consensus is that for legal purposes, publishing excerpts of your work online is not considered publishing in the traditional sense. While I would not recommend posting the entirety of your unpublished work on your blog (in the event that you do plan on submitting your work to publishers), there are other options for those who are considering a strictly self-publishing route—this includes downloadable or e-book content hosted on your blog. For published authors, it is best to check your publisher’s contract with you before posting to your heart’s content, but small segments to interest potential readers seems to be acceptable pretty much across the spectrum.

Having writing samples posted on your blog in addition to regular ‘blogging’ (the commentary, opinions, links and etc. mentioned above) also allows potential publishers and agents to peruse more examples of your work then you may have sent with a query letter, and lets them know that you are working hard on your platform. In this sense, it is crucial that your blog is active. This does not mean writing a research paper daily. You can segment pieces of your writing and set them to auto-update, or write several posts in advance and then spread them out over the course of a few days or weeks. Once you’ve explored a few approaches, you’ll find a natural rhythm—whether it’s short updates daily or longer pieces once or twice a week. The more you post, the more interesting the posts are, and the more you share, the more followers (and hopefully fans and readers) you will gain. And why say no to any extra chance to refine your writing skills?

In essence, blogs are an invaluable enhancement to your credentials—a portfolio that demonstrates your talents like any other artist, including those in visual and media arts. It’s a resume, a curriculum vitae both artistic and practical. It can be as intimate or business-like as you please. You can share as much or little as you want. The blog is the gift of the contemporary author, so use it to the best of your advantage.

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The Scoop on Book Store Real Estate

December 30, 2009

bookstoreLast month, Fast Company did a great story on bookstore co-op deals, in which publishers pay booksellers for inclusion on front tables, end caps, face-out placements, etc. So, yes, those books out front at Barnes & Noble are there because someone paid for them to be there, not necessarily because they're the best or most important—although, of course, bookstore buyers only allow placement for books they believe will move. (Also, the two indie booksellers we've asked, BookPeople and Vroman's, say that featured "employee picks," an upaid form of co-op, are completely at the employee and bookseller's discretion.)

It's an interesting negotiation, and as bookstore space shrinks and brick-and-mortar book shoppers dwindle, co-op placement for books becomes increasingly important. Adam L. Penenberg, author of Viral Loop, gives an good overview. Read it here, and have a Happy New Year!

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Tips on Submitting to ForeWord's 2009 Book of the Year Awards

December 22, 2009

Picture 1The deadline for ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year Award is January 15, 2010! ForeWord is a trusted and widely read print magazine and online review service for readers, booksellers, and librarians; receiving a good review or award from them lends credibility to authors and enhances the marketability of the book. Whitney Hallberg, Awards Coordinator for ForeWord sent out a helpful letter yesterday with submission tips for authors and publishers. She's kindly given us permission to reprint them here. If you plan to submit, be sure to read these first!

1. If you can’t decide what category to enter your books in, look at previous years’ winners and finalists in the categories you’re considering. This will give you a good idea of what kind of books each category receives. Past winners are listed at http://www.forewordmagazine.net/botya/. Pick the category you think is best, but know that our finalist judging panel will move books to different categories if they think they’ll compete better.

2. Two copies, please! Two judges will be looking at every book that’s named a finalist, so we need two copies of every book.

3. Save postage—package entries together. If you’re entering more than one book, you can box them all together.

4. Think about the real people—my coworkers and me—who will be opening your packages, and don’t use too much tape and packaging! We don’t want your books to fall out in the mail, but in order for them to be considered for the awards, we have to be able to get them out of their envelopes.

There you have it: advice straight from the source. Be sure to follow Whitney's practical advice for the best chance at having your work recognized. Finalists will be named in March; winners will be named at BookExpo America in June

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Big Bad Weekly Tip: Amazon Announces New Video Feature on Author Pages

December 22, 2009

Weekly-Tip-2103We often hear from authors who would like to add video—book trailers, interviews, etc.—to their Amazon product pages. While Amazon currently does not allow most publishers to add video content to product pages, they announced last week that authors may now upload video directly to their Amazon Author Page.

If you don’t have an Author Page already, now is a great time to get one by signing up at Author Central. Author Pages gives customers a summary of you and your work, and the new video content makes the pages an even richer way to make yourself visible to readers. If you already have an Author Page, uploading video is simple—just sign in, click the new “Videos” tab at the top of the screen, and upload the file. Videos must be less than 10 minutes and under 500 MB. See additional video content guidelines here.

Along with video, Amazon announced an updated Events section, which you can use to post upcoming signings and other appearances (like this author); they also announced more links to Author Pages, which will now be linked in search results. Read more about what you can do with Author Central here.

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Two Greenleaf Authors Recognized in 2009 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards!

December 16, 2009

9781929774692We're excited to announce that A Seat at the Table: How Top Salespeople Connect and Drive Decisions at the Executive Level, a business book that Marc Miller published with Greenleaf Book Group in May of this year, has won Best in Category in Sales in 800-CEO-READ's 2009 Business Book Awards. Miller's book gives salespeople critical tools for connecting with decision makers to make more and bigger sales. Salespeople who become experts in their customers' businesses and help them generate better results earn a "seat at the table"—the place reserved for those select people who guide the strategic direction of an enterprise.

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9781608320110Another Greenleaf author, Allan Weis, who wrote The Business of Changing Lives: How One Company Took the Information Superhighway to the Inner City, was a runner-up in the "Innovation & Creativity" category of the awards. Congratulations to Marc and Allan!

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