Blog Round-Up August 25th

Contrary to popular opinion it was pure coincidence I happened to return to the UK just as civil unrest peaked once again. A timely reminder of the tensions that simmer below the surface of even outwardly wealthy and stable societies like Britain.

But yes, I survived the mindless violence of the UK riots, the exorbitant prices of the UK coffee bars and the dreadful UK summer weather that drove me out several weeks early. I even survived (with some mental scarring, admittedly) meeting co-author Saffi for the third time. And now I’m back in beautiful West Africa where, if I never leave again, it will be too soon.

Today, a quick pick of recent blogs elsewhere that have caught my attention as I play catch-up.

John Locke

The BIG story of the past week has of course been John Locke’s deal with Simon & Schuster, whereby they get to publish his books in print and he gets to keep his e-rights. Or something like that. Details remain sketchy, but if the initial indications live up to expectations then this is major new development in publishing.

Of course Locke is in the enviable position of being a million-seller indie writer. Will the same option be open to lesser mortals? That remains to be seen.

Kris Rusch

For Kris Rusch this is yet another example of the survival instinct of the traditional publishers kicking in. Kris argues the trad’ pub’ industry still has plenty of life in it and will remain “the gold standard” in the same way the big TV channels remain the gold standard for broadcasting. Kris is a long-established writer who built her empire the only way possible at the time, but now enthusiastically embraces the new world while keeping the best of the old. Of those either / or types, she says:

Some are still stuck in traditional-think, including an influential blogger whom everyone says is brilliant and who simply pisses me off because he can’t seem to look beyond his traditional publishing training. On the other side of the equation are the all-indie-all-the-time folks who ignore (or perhaps don’t understand) that traditional publishing will never leave us. Traditional publishing will remain the gold standard, partly because they have so much gold.

Interesting stuff. Be sure to check out Kris’s post in full.

Joe Konrath

Of course one of the biggest proponents of indie-publishing is the ever-lovable Joe Konrath, who sees the Locke deal as another nail in the coffin of traditional publishing:

Publishers will start folding. It’s inevitable.

What S&S did with Locke was a ballsy move, but also a desperate one. It’s desperate, because they are hastening their own demise, and are just trying to make a few more bucks before it all falls apart. Not to get all Godwin’s Law here, but there is a Vichy French analogy to be had. S&S is going to try to make a few bucks from Locke, whose business model is ultimately going to put them out of business.

My thoughts are that while paper is unquestionably in demise and the future of publishing is unquestionably digital, many of the traditional publishers will survive the Transition and simply shift their emphasis to digital, emerging smaller, leaner, but still able to deliver a service that will suit readers and writers alike. I’ll be blogging more on this third way option in the near future.

David Gaughran

Another big discussion recently has been what, exactly, sells books. And the consensus seems to be: word of mouth.

David Gaughran ran a post on this –  – which sums up the reality of book-selling:

Unless you have already had a bestseller on your hands (and your next book will essentially market itself), word-of-mouth is your only chance of breaking out.

We have all seen it in action. A friend presses a book into your hand – with a fevered look in their eye – and says you have to read this. Or someone gifts you a book on Amazon because they are so determined for you to read it, they don’t want to take the chance that you won’t act on their tip. I remember a friend refusing to talk to me until I read a particular book. It was that important to him.

When you get someone that passionate, they will recommend it to everyone they know. A book really takes off when all those people then become equally passionate and recommend it to everyone they know. Then word spreads exponentially.

Anne R Allen

Of course getting the book noticed in the first place is key, or people won’t spread the word in the first place. Anne R Allen’s latest post is on the demise of the book tour and how blogging does a far better job anyway.

That’s because it’s not just the ebook that’s killing the book tour. Social networking has affected it even more—simply because social networking has turned out to be a better way to sell books than traditional advertising.

Kristen Lamb

Kristen Lamb meanwhile makes the point that blogging for fellow writers, while a great way of increasing exposure, is only reaching a small fraction of the reading market.

As Kristen says,

We MUST reach out to fresh blood and bring new readers into the family. If we don’t our platform becomes almost inbred, then starts playing the banjo and firing a shotgun in the air and it’s all downhill from there.

A pretty sobering thought! Kristen concludes,

Next week we will talk more about some ways to break out of the comfort zone and start tapping into larger networks that can become readers. Go after new blood.

So, not only hitting home with her main point, but also guaranteeing we’ll be back next week to see what solutions will be revealed. Not for nothing is Kristen Lamb’s column a must-read for anyone hoping to make social media work for them.

One last selection from the industry bloggers.

Meghan Ward debates the thorny issue of copyright, plagiarism and cryptomnesia.

No, cryptomnesia isn’t some dreadful fungal infection of the nether regions, but the technical term for remembering something long forgotten and regurgitating it as something new and original.

Meghan says,

Okay, first let’s take a poll. How many of you recite The Lord’s Prayer while having sex? Can I see a show of hands?

Please don’t answer that in the comments section! Pop across to Meghan’s site to see the relevance. No blasphemy or graphic sex scenes there, despite the quote above. But an important debate on plagiarism, what constitutes it, and why cryptomnesia is a reasonable defence in law before you waste money trying to sue someone.

On other blogs, Lindsay Buroker has a great piece on why you should have a news-letter if you’re a writer. Compelling stuff. So compelling that I’ll be having one here at MWi just as soon as I’ve worked out the behind-the-scenes widget stuff to make it happen.

BTW the image, left, probably isn’t Lindsay, but seems the real Lindsay, like me, prefers not to see themselves staring back from the screen.

Prue Batten

Over at Mesmered, meanwhile, Prue continues her Big Red Chair interviews with Shea MacLeod in the hot seat.

Shea MacLeod

Prue has her own unique approach to interviewing writers that reveals much more about the author than just their latest book.

Mesmered: What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?

Shea: I love old school sci-fi B-movies.  You know, those horribly cheesy black and white movies where some kind of bomb irradiates the world except for one house in a valley somewhere.  Then the survivors are attacked by mutant bugs.  Awesome!

If I didn’t already have Shea’s book on my Kindle that’s the kind of interview that would have me hitting the buy button.

Megg Jensen

Meanwhile Megg Jensen just knocked up her first one thousand sales for her wonderful historic-dystopian coming-of-age books. Megg has been embarrassed by me before for lauding her wonderful debut novel, Anathema, so I shan’t mention it here.

I remember when we first reached that 1000 sales milestone, so can share Megg’s elation as described on her blog:

Over the first month, a number appeared in my head: 1,000. I wanted to sell 1,000 books. That, I decided, would be my goal.

Well, earlier this week I surpassed 1,000 sales. It took me nearly seven months, but who cares? I DID IT! 1,000 paid sales of my books. It’s unreal.

Now that I’m on the other side of 1,000, things don’t look too awfully different. There’s no BMWs, no champagne and caviar parties, no afternoons lounging by the pool while I watch the pool boy from the corner of my eye.

Yep, at the end of the day it’sa number. But a pretty cool number. And the great thing is, 1000 sales is just the beginning. Who knows how many books Megg will sell in the next seven months. Safe to say it will be substantial.

So many more blogs I’d love to mention (and lots more still to catch up on), but time and space are against me. Megg’s thousand sales seems a great place to stop.

Western travelling is one great time suck nowadays. Great for reading. Not so great for being on-line and keeping up with things. And much as I’d like to read all the back-posts I’ve missed, I’ve also got to get on with the next books. With three co-authors now screaming at me simultaneously there’s even less time to browse.

So, any other juicy must-read blogs I’ve missed this past few weeks? Any news or industry gossip I’m missing out on?

Let me know!

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  1. Oh, SQUEE! I got a mention on MWi. This means I’m all famous and stuff now, right? lol

    I am so behind the times with my blog reading, but there is some GOOD stuff here I have to check out.

    (PS – I don’t care what you say, I still love London!)

    • I guess a teensy bit more famous than you were before!

      You’re more than welcome to London – or what’s left of it. I’m just so glad to be back away from “civilization”. Might even get some writing done again.

      • “What’s left of it.”

        Hmmm … yeah. There is that. lol

        And I haven’t forgotten I owe you a blog post. I’m trying to think of something clever. Obviously it takes awhile …

  2. This WAS a hot blog week. Like so many of you, I wrote a blog about the recent Locke news (as well as a list of other Indies who have recently signed publishing contracts). It was one of my most popular posts ever and received quite a few comments. Perhaps it was the title – “Indie Publishing: A Win/Win For All Concerned? Indeed!” http://cherylshireman.com/1365/indie-publishing-a-winwin-for-all-concerned-indeed/
    Great to have you back, Mark!

  3. That would have been an ideal post to include had I come across it sooner, Cheryl.

    It certainly looks like a major step forward in the recognition of indie writers as a force to be reckoned with.

    So sad to see claims of “sell-out” by some idiots (as also followed the Hocking deal) who seem to feel indie publishers should be at war with traditional publishers.

  4. I agree, Mark. It is VERY sad. Writers should be encouraging and supporting other writers – no matter HOW published. Why would I care how another writer is published? Makes no difference to me whether they are an “indie” or whether they sign with Simon & Schuster. I am just glad that a fellow writer is getting their work into the hands of their readers.
    Because we ALL started with that dream. So, lets encourage one another in those dreams and stop all of the nonsense.

  5. So glad you’re back, Mark. Glad you mentioned Kristen’s post on hunting out new ‘audience’ members… that’s a post I look forward to reading. Don’t know if I’m overly gorged on the whole Twilight thing, but I’m keen to ‘hunt’ new readers …

    I always get such a thrill when comment appears from someone new.
    If all else fails I suppose I can beg you and others to create new personas just for Mesmered. You never know, by doing so i might just find new characters for the next book.

    Thank you so much for mentioning the Red Chair. It’s waiting for you and I might just throw you an extra question.

  6. Thanks for the shout-out. Glad you’re home and warm again.

    Prue’s Big Red Chair is awesome. Thanks for steering me to her blog–and so many others.

  7. Returning home to West Africa from riots and expensive coffee. You couldn’t get a clearer demonstration of what a rich but divided country Britain is. The gritty social realism of Snow White documents those divisions well. The novel is much more than a gripping police procedural.

    • Thanks, Jake.

      In both Sugar & Spice and Snow White there are underlays of social commentary that many readers may read over, just enjoying a good story. Always great when someone lets us know they’ve seen the deeper themes.

    • Miriam
    • August 26th, 2011

    Re: Kristen Lamb’s post… “Try everything once, except incest and folk dancing.”

  8. Oi! Don’t diss that damp little wet corner of the world! It’s MINE!
    Other than that … all manner of exciting new persons for me to peruse, and lots of lovely viewpoints for me to admire and shred (and repeat, until left with … sorry)

    Fab post! 😀

    • You’re more than welcome to it, Ms Charley!

        • Miriam
        • August 26th, 2011

        No she’s not, I want a bit. England is mine too!
        (Although it feels blooming cold after nine days in 32 degrees+ while I was in France) Did you see the rain today? Gah! I had to feed next door’s rabbits!

  9. Thanks for the mention, Mark! (I look exactly like the picture except female… :P)

    This is awesome: “The BIG story of the past week has of course been John Locke’s deal with Simon & Schuster, whereby they get to publish his books in print and he gets to keep his e-rights.”

    I’m glad to see the indies are fighting for what they want in those contracts. I certainly wouldn’t be tempted by any of the boilerplate ones publishers get authors to sign now.

  10. Mental scarring? Pfft! I am now minus several cans of Sprite and the next two year of my life since your visit! But it was good to see you!(breathes a huge sigh of relief that our relationship is back on track, separated by continents and a computer screen) 😉

    Now, back to work, Mr. Williams, we have a trillion books to write!

  11. I think Kristen and Anne’s points are fascinating footnotes to the word of mouth meme. From my experience, Anne is just plain wrong – the live book tour is *so* much more effective than the blog tour for marketing, primarily for the reasons Kristen gives. Most writers, when they go on the digital tourbus take one or both of two routes – they appear on other writers’ blogs, or on paid sponsorships. The plain fact is that unless you already have a big old reason for a big reader-centred blog to feature you, they won’t. As Kristen says, what we need is a way of breaking out of the writer-on-writer puffing. Which either brings us back to the old school classes of “who you know”, variously manipulating variables (in the digital age, puffing Amazon reviews, downvoting negatives, coordinating sales/gifting and other tactics we went indie to get away from), being so gobby and outrageous you get attention of any kind, or writing for a very specific niche. It’s true there are standout exceptions, but eceptions aren’t a paradigm.

    It’s true – 99% of “real life” book tours are shocking. I’ve been to the kind of thing some publishers put on and it’s a case of a poster on the store door and a seat in the corner and if you’re lucky it’ll be raining and someone’ll come in for shelter. But a live audience is still the very best way of getting those true fans, the ones that 1. didn’t know you to start with and 2. will go and tell everyone, who will tell everyone in turn. What we need to do online is look for the best ways to replicate that experience. And the key isn’t the content we put out – that should be a given – it should be both brilliant and engaging (unlike this blog, whcih is always entertaining, most book blog tours just aren’t engaging – “tell us about your book” “who’s your favourite character?” What difficulties did you face?” Puh-lease! There are too many really lazy interviewers out there just filling space and doing nothing for thw writers they interview – many of them actually host writers so the writer will drive traffic to them – writer beware!). The key is drawing the live-show-type crowd. And like Kristen says, that means original thinking

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