Famous Authors Insulting One Another’s Work

The Bronte Sisters by Patrick Branwell, c. 1834I’m all for civility and kindness, but honestly, this was too funny not to share. It takes a real wordsmith to craft some of these clever critiques. One thing worth noting is that almost every insult addresses a specific aspect of the writer’s work and phrases the critique in bitingly concise prose. If you must critique someone, this is a good way to do it.

 

Ten Rules for Writing First Drafts

Since I’ve been writing all day and have only two finished paragraphs and a whole lot of messy stuff on my page, I thought this poster was an appropriate reminder of what the beginning steps of writing look like.

The main thing to remember is that the first thing you write will not be wonderful, no matter how miraculous it seems after you’ve worked all day to produce it. You’ll arrive back at your desk in the morning and catch logical absurdities, unclear grammatical constructions, and blatant typos, then you’ll go on to commit more.

Keep typing. Keep revising. Eventually you may have something wonderful, but it will all start with that rough draft. Write on!

10 Rules for Writing First Drafts
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Start Planning for Summer Reading

Don't waste good reading time!Other than gardening, there’s no more satisfactory activity for springtime than planning summer reading. The stack by my reading chair is already teetering, but here are the first things I plan to read:

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human BeingThe Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being, edited by Richard Gamble
I’ve been dipping into this for awhile, but want to go through and read it from beginning to end. It offers selections of writings from writers such as Xenophon, Augustine, Erasmus, and C.S. Lewis, all on the theme of what it means to be an educated human being. This is a book I will probably be dragging around for many months, as it’s abundantly rich in ideas.

Gaia's Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture  by Toby HemenwayGaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway

There are certain kinds of garden books I like, and refer to again and again. They are not the “plant this here and pull that weed” type of garden book. Instead, they offer a big picture overview of what it means to create an organic, healthy, holistic landscape. Permaculture is the pinnacle of that mindset, and as a movement, it has been growing. Although I’ve read other permaculture books, this is the best balance of big picture thinking with practical how-to instructions. Although it’s not yet summer, I dip into this book early, as it makes me feel that summer is right around the corner.

Chronicles of Narnia Box Set by C. S. LewisChronicles of Narnia Box Set by C. S. Lewis

Finally, I’m re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the umpteenth time. Each time I read them, I enjoy them more. It was C.S. Lewis who said that “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” He was right, and the Chronicles are just one of the children’s books I return to regularly. I find many profound and interesting books written for middle-grade readers, for the characters haven’t yet fallen into the modern tedium of premature romantic entanglements, and they are still considering big ideas.

So, what are you planning to read over the next couple of months?

Best Resources for Writers, Content Creators, and Digital Publishers

books-dtfree_122041-©DanielGilbey -smIf you write, and you’re considering the new frontier of digital publishing / e-publishing, here are links to resources that will help you learn how to publish in Kindle, DPS, ePub, iBook, and other formats. There are even a few tips on how to market what you publish.

Hubspot: Lots of free information and tools such as the Marketing Grader (try this– every website needs it!). This will help you with search engine optimization.

Google Analytics provides hyper-detailed statistics on your website, its visitors and sources, as well as the keywords used to search for it. This is an essential tool if you want to improve your search engine ranking.

Google Keyword Tool can be used to search for keywords related to your site. Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch used it to decide on the subtitle for their book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book.

StatSheep offers detailed YouTube statistics. Since YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine after Google, it makes sense for your brand to be there.

Adobe Creative Cloud: No matter what size publisher you are, you need this. For a relatively modest monthly subscription, Creative Cloud provides you with access to all the wonderful tools in Adobe Creative Suite, including InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Muse, Digital Publishing Suite, and Acrobat.

Richard Harrington Blog: A lot of good technical information about digital publishing, including useful downloadables under the Resources tab.

Colin Fleming: Watch instructional videos from the InDesign Evangelist for Adobe.

Terry White: Instructional videos on design and software from Adobe TV.

Subcompact Publishing is a lengthy, thought-provoking article by writer, designer, and publisher Craig Mod that takes a past/present/future look at the disruptive role of digital publishing.

Kindle Direct Publishing: Kindle is the biggest market for e-books, and here is where you’ll start your publication journey.

Apple iBook Author: Learn how to create iBooks with the free iBook Author app from Apple.

Apple iTunes Connect: Here is where you sign up for the iOS Developer program so you can submit apps to the app store.

Z-Mags: Create interactive magazines, catalogs, or magalogs.

Clickbank is a good option for PDF e-book sales (I have used it for years). CB makes it easy to set up products, securely accept payment, and even become an affiliate for other people’s products.

e-Junkie is a similar shopping cart service that works for both digital and tangible products.

From InDesign to Adobe DPS – Tips for Planning Your First Publication Tablet App

Adobe Step-by-Step Guide to Publishing iPad Apps with DPS – The single most essential guide you need for creating apps. It’s a free PDF download.

Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) Tips app is free from the App Store.

Kuler will help you choose beautiful color schemes for your website, blog, book, or app. There is similar site, Kuler.com, that is currently under reconstruction but also provides good information about the use of color.

Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Timeline and other marketing instruction from Jack Morton International, a global brand experience firm, on Slideshare.

HootSuite Pro - try social media dashboardHootSuite Social Media Management saves me hours each month as I keep up with various social media sites and postings. The HootSuite dashboard makes it easy to see many feeds in one place and to pre-schedule tweets and updates to go out when you need them too. I use the Pro version and find it worth it, but you can definitely start with the free standard version.

Gravatar is where you need to go to create an online avatar (the little photo that shows up when you comment on a blog post– I’m sure you’ve seen them in NAIWE Member Activity Feed). It’s free and simple to sign up and post the photo you want to use.

SoundCloud is a network somewhat like GoodReads, but for audio products. It allows you to store and share your audio files, and offers social features such as following, a personalized sound stream, and more.

United States Copyright Office: Everything you need to know about copyrights and how to register them.

Get more from your software with Lynda.com.Lynda.com offers short, clear training videos for all kinds of software. There’s a subscription option, but there are also many free videos.

Creative Cow is an online community with helpful podcasts (some by Richard Harrington), tutorials, videos, and more.

International Association of Electronic Publishers (IAEPUB) is a new association dedicated to cutting-edge digital publishing technology. If you want to learn from creatively geeky types, this is a good place to be.

TAP2013 Website: There will be more TAP events, and this is where to keep up with them.

Photos and tweets from TAP2013 are hosted on Eventifier, an interesting service I discovered at TAP. Be sure to notice the nicely sketch-illustrated notes from one attendee.

Align: An online publication from Bates Creative This company is on the creative edge of digital publishing, as can be seen in magazine apps they’ve created for Heifer International’s World Ark (you’ve got to see that one) and the Marines. Their blog offers good tips, and the two apps linked here give you a sense of what is possible with digital publishing.

This list of links is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a start. I hope you enjoy exploring these new publishing frontiers!

How to Open a New Book

Long ago, books were regarded as treasures and cared for with a measure of respect. This nostalgic excerpt details the way my grandmother taught me how to open a new book without breaking the spine. A hardcover book opened in this way is easy to hold and pleasant to read.

Publishing Frontiers and Fundamentals and Other Take-Aways from TAP2013

Technologically Advanced Publishing (TAP2013) Conference: Digital publishing, e-publihing, electronic publishing, and more.

NAIWE was a media sponsor of TAP2013 in Orlando.

I’m just back from the Technologically Advanced Publishing (TAP) Conference with a light sunburn and a head full of ideas for using what I learned.

For this event, I focused on learning in a completely new-to-me area– the publication of apps for iPad and iPhone, but absorbed information about many other aspects of the business of electronic publishing in workshops such as:

  • How to Start and Finish Writing Your Book – Richard Harrington (“Use the sticky note program on your computer to do informal mind-mapping before you start to write. You can drag notes around until you have an outline.” JPC note: I do the same thing in the slideshow view of Keynote.)
  • Design & Digital Publishing Essentials – Terry White (“When creating an app, be sure to indicate navigation points– tap, swipe arrows, etc.”)
  • Establishing Your Brand and Visual Identity Across Multiple Social Media Platforms – Rod Harlan (“Be consistent in how you present your brand. Coca-Cola has done a great job of telling its history through its Facebook timeline.”)
  • Copyright Still Means Something for Digital Publishers – Jeff Heninger
  • iBooks Author Fast Start - Richard Harrington (“An iBook is a container. It can include media widgets with slide shows, tutorials, etc. Short is good.”)
  • ePub, pPDF, or DPS: Which Format to Choose? – Colin Fleming (“The format– print book, ebook, app– is simply the container for information or story. Choose which will best fit your audience and content.”)
  • Hypersyndication: How to Deliver Your Content to Multiple Platforms – Richard Harrington (“I am one of the laziest but most productive people on the planet.” and “Give away 25% of everything you do.”)
  • User-Generated Content is Great (and full of Legal Problems) – Jeff Heninger (“In social media you’re one click away from forever.”)
  • Creating a Video Trailer for Your eBook or App Using Photoshop – Rod Harlan
  • Getting Started with Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) – Colin Fleming
  • Creating ePUB files with Adobe InDesign – Colin Fleming

In addition, there were five memorable keynotes:

  • Guy Kawasaki – Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur
  • Scott Kelby – View from the Inside (“You self-publish to take control your content. Do it because you want to change the world, not because you think it’s the next big thing.”)
  • Skip Cohen – It All Starts with a Blog (Your blog is your home on the web. Build it and develop an audience now.)
  • Debbie Bates Schrott – Digital or Die: The Case for Captivating UX & Design to Bring Your Content to LIfe (“Use a flow chart to space out interactive elements such as slideshows, video or audio elements, quizzes, feedback forms, etc., when planning an app.”)
  • Jessica Meher – Inbound Marketing: The Secret to Your Success (“The businesses that the best educators will most successful.”)

And finally, there was an exceptionally creative idea implemented one afternoon– an UnConference with short, 15-30 minute presentations on a single, narrow topic. I presented “Write Your Way to Multiple Streams of Income: The 15-Minute, Five-Stage Business Plan,” and attended:

  • Creating Synergy Between Blogs, Books, and Workshops – Syl Arena
  • The Marines Magazine App: How We Did It – Debbie Bates Scrhott & Darrly Sebro
  • TAP into Actual Returns from Social Networking – Levi Sim (“Be a person; be a good one. Ask “what would grandma do?”)
  • Digital Sustainability – Alan Brusky

APE: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch - Author, Publisher, EntrepreneurIn addition to a pocketful of business cards, I brought home a copy of APE: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. It’s not only practical, straightforward, and well-written, but it also gets specific about the technology and services you will need. With a copy of APE at your elbow, you’ll be able to transform the manuscript in your desk drawer to a new stream of income. I recommend it.

Do I remember everything I learned? Not a chance. But I took lots of notes and plan to visit many of the links and websites that were referenced. You’ll find those links, along with a selection of other resources I think are essential for learning more about digital publishing, electronic publishing, or whatever you want to call it, in the next post. Enjoy!

Should You Feel Guilty About Your New e-Reader?

Shakespeare_and_Company_bookshop-Paris-pd

Shakespeare and Company bookstore, Paris

Are you feeling a wee bit guilty about the shiny new e-reader you’re enjoying? If you’re a bibliophile, it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that you’re betraying the cause of the “real book” and local bookstores by consuming books via e-reader. But what is the truth? Are e-readers and e-books going to kill print and drive libraries and bookstores out of business? I don’t think so–at least not yet.

I love print books, and I have the library to prove it–one of the boys started counting one day, and finally quit at around 5000, and he hadn’t even started on the upstairs. (Yes, I am getting ready to thin the herd, but no, it has nothing to do with e-books.) So . . . why would I ever want to read a book on my iPad?

Frankly, I don’t. I like the feel of paper. I like writing (with pencil, of course) in the margins and inside the covers. I want to be able to easily flip back and re-read specific passages even if I haven’t bookmarked or highlighted them. I don’t like reading off a screen, and I don’t believe it’s entirely good for children, either. I like the solidity of a real print book in my hand.

But practicality intervenes. I travel a lot and I read fast. This means that if I take print books, I need to take several. I also need to anticipate exactly what I will want to be reading through the duration of the trip. Since I am normally reading a minimum of 3-4 books at a time, this is cumbersome, to say the least. Baggage and weight restrictions put a severe crimp in what I can pack, and back issues limit what I can carry. And now that I am on the downhill slope to old, airplane and hotel lighting isn’t always adequate for reading.

So now I have a small library on my iPad. I don’t love it, but it meets a need so I like it. Our local library lends e-books as well as print books, and there are always free classics available. The e-reader serves a useful purpose and as long as I can catch wireless or 3G, I’ll never run out of things to read. Will it replace my print library? No.

The infographic below (and a study by BISG, the Book Industry Study Group) suggests that I’m not alone. It seems that people who own e-readers generally read more of both types of books than people who don’t have e-readers. A reader is a reader, so format doesn’t change that. An e-reader can even keep alive the love of reading for young mothers, solopreneurs, and others who barely have time to breathe. So you can be grateful without guilt for your e-reader, (but don’t forget to support your local library and independent bookstores!).

E-books Infographic

This infographic has been shared courtesy of TeachingDegree.org.

The Publishing Process as Seen in GIF by Nathan Bransford

Erasmus by Hans Holbein- 1523Writers sometimes sound lofty themes of Purpose and Art in talking about the writing and publishing process. And then there’s Nathan Bransford. A former literary agent turned author (Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow and other erudite titles), Bransford uses a series of animated GIFs to tell it like it is.

Even if you usually avoid flickering, flashing, animated anything online, The Publishing Process in GIF Form is funny. And it’s probably a lot more true than the lofty, artsy version. Enjoy!

P.S. The take-away from his overview seems to be that patience is the quality most needed to survive the life of an author. Which, if you think about it, is probably one reason our instant-gratification culture is increasingly turning to alternative publishing. That, and a desire (for better or for worse) for increased creative control of intellectual property.

How to Kill Your Book: An Anti-Marketing Guide

Doom your book to oblivion with these helpful tips!Want to make sure your book languishes in obscurity? Or if it’s already popular, that it fades quickly away? If you’d like to ensure that your writing remains (or becomes) unreviewed, unshared, and unseen, these tips are for you.

1: Be very secretive about your unpublished manuscript. When you query agents or editors, let them know you hold the copyright to your work. Be sure not to give away details such as the complete title, character names, or plot outline of your work in the query. Assure them that your manuscript is very funny and certain to be a bestseller, as your mother, your dentist, and two of your children couldn’t stop laughing when you read a paragraph aloud. Emphasize the fact that no eyes but yours have ever seen the entire manuscript because it’s the original work of a highly creative genius whose voice must be preserved at all costs.

2: Don’t allow an editor to change a thing. After all, ain’t is in the dictionary and there’s no good reason not to use an apostrophe to indicate a possessive. Plus, longer is better. If Gone With the Wind sold over a million copies the first year with only 1037 pages, your 3789-page epic should at least double those sales.

3: Invoke your copyright at every opportunity. If a fan recommends your book, comments on its plot or characters, or even mentions the complete title in an article, blog, or social media post, be sure to respond with the news that your work is under copyright protection. If they quote a line or two, even in a complimentary context, threaten to notify your intellectual property attorney and possibly file a lawsuit.

4: Defend your work vigorously. If someone makes a neutral or negative comment about your work in a review, blog post, bookstore site comment, or social media outlet, be sure to launch a vitriolic attack on them so that readers will understand what idiots they are for not adequately appreciating your masterpiece. Teach them not to disrespect your work by posting rude comments on their blog and social media streams.

5: For children’s literature, require that teachers and librarians get signed permission from you to share your book during story hour. You might also make them sign an agreement that they won’t share the last page, as you want to leave readers hanging so they’ll run out to buy your book. Make sure teachers, fans, or librarians don’t recommend your book or share a story-hour-reading online– you wouldn’t want to accidentally reach new fans who might keep the book alive.

6: Be one of “those” authors. Carry your book everywhere with the title facing out. Always mention that you’re an author and you just happen to have a copy on hand and you’d be happy to take cash, check, debit, or credit. If the customers in line behind you seem impatient, just give them an evil stare and let them know you are an AUTHOR. If you get the opportunity to do a book signing, be sure the bookstore meets your publicity demands and refuse to sign any extra books for future sales. Be rude to people who look at your book but don’t buy it.

7: Choose your heirs carefully. If you’re getting older, be sure to leave your work to a family member who knows nothing about publishing or marketing, but who will protect your copyright at all costs. Make sure they don’t allow your book to be reprinted or e-published, as you want the first editions to hold their value. Leave your heirs this list of helpful tips so they can ensure that your work dies with you.

If you have other helpful tips, please feel free to share them. Many authors have already doomed their work by acting on these time-tested ideas, so fresh, creative ways of killing a book would doubtless be welcome.