Self Published Books and Libraries: How to Get Your Book onto Library Shelves

 What Indie Authors Need to Know About the Library Market

By Jane Friedman via Publishers Weekly

It has become a cliché to talk about how e-book distribution has leveled the playing field for indie authors and made the publishing environment more democratic. But accessing the library market remains somewhat more difficult for single authors with just a few titles.
While indie authors can gain some access to libraries by making their books available through major library distributors, that doesn’t mean that those books will be purchased. In many ways, getting self-published titles into libraries hasn’t changed since the e-book revolution: authors still have to prove that they have quality products that fit the collection. And, unfortunately, authors still face the stigma of self-publishing: there’s a long history of patrons offering to donate handwritten poetry collections or memoirs to their libraries.
Though some libraries work with their communities to publish local writing for their collections, that’s not what I want to address. Rather, I want to provide a framework for how self-published authors can understand the opportunities and challenges represented by the library market.

Library Posters
First, genre makes a difference. Those writing commercial fiction are better positioned. Self-publishing success stories are predominantly within genre fiction, and that’s where patron demand often lies, as well. Also, it’s easier for librarians to assess the quality of adult fiction than nonfiction. With nonfiction, librarians need reassurance that someone is vouching for the integrity of the information, as well as the author’s credentials. And children’s work has to reflect an understanding of children’s learning and development. (Some librarians I spoke with said that self-published genre fiction has achieved professionalism, whereas self-published children’s literature has not.)

Second, discovery rarely happens through library databases. Librarians will not necessarily see or go looking for a self-published e-book just because it’s available through a service such as OverDrive—a major digital distributor to libraries. It becomes invisible in a sea of thousands of titles. Librarians have to know that the title exists, and that it is of quality, before they seek it out. Heather McCormack, who has been working for libraries since 1998, told me that at least a couple of times a month librarians ask her how to determine which self-published books to buy. Thus we come to the heart of the problem.

Traditionally, librarians find out about new books through trade publications such as Library Journal, PW, and School Library Journal. But most self-published titles are not reviewed by these journals, leaving librarians to come up with their own methods of discovery. McCormack says that there isn’t a trustworthy one-stop source for finding self-published titles, and librarians typically have more pressing concerns than staying on top of the indie market.

Continue Reading on Publishers Weekly

Banned Books: A Chronological History

Banned BooksThe Long History of Censorship, in 15 Books

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” – George R.R. Martin

The saying goes that the pen is mightier than the sword. Apparently, authorities throughout history have agreed – the banning of words is older than printed books and in the United States, the first book banning occurred in 1637, 139 years before the country even existed.

From politically subversive texts to religious tracts that authorities felt threatened the majority rule to books deemed sexually inappropriate for young minds, the practice of banning speech, thoughts and words has always been a tool for political control. Those who defend the censorship of certain books may claim they are being protective, but the protection is usually of themselves.

The history of book banning and censorship is far from fully written: it continues throughout the world. Sometimes it takes the form of government bans, sometimes it comes from independent groups using threats or actual violence against writers. As you will see from the list below, the practice of trying to ban words is usually fruitless. Readers throughout history have found ways of reading what is forbidden, knowing that what is true cannot be held back and that the free exchange of ideas is a key to human progress.

Banned Books Throughout History

Below is a list, in order of when they were published, with an explanation of where and why they were banned.

Lysistrata bannedLysistrata by Aristophanes – Written in 411 BCE

Aristophanes’ famous play about an Athenian woman’s mission to end the Peloponnesian War is one of Greek culture’s greatest gifts to the world. Ironically, the government of Greece banned the play in 1967, because of a perceived anti-war message.

BANNED BIBLEThe Bible – First Printed in 1440

  • Banned in the USSR from 1926 – 1956
  • Banned in Ethiopa in 1986 (ban was later lifted)
  • Owning or distributing the bible is currently restricted in multiple countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, China, Comoros, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

 

Canterbury Tales BannedThe Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer – Published in 1440

  • Chaucer’s collection of stories was banned in the United States in 1873. While it was legal to posess a copy, it was illegal to MAIL it in the U.S., because it was found to violate the from the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act (Comstock Law),  which banned the sending or receiving of books that contained “obscene,” “filthy,” or “inappropriate” material. The Comstock laws were effectively repealed by the United States Supreme Court in 1983.

Fanny Hill Last book banned in USFanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland – Published in 1748

  • Author John Cleland was in debtor’s prison when he wrote this book – hard up for money, he may have decided to write what sells: sex. Considered the first pornographic novel, Fanny Hill is one of the most banned books in history. It was first banned in the United States in 1821 for obscenity, and was re-banned in 1963. It is the last book ever officially banned in the U.S.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley  – Published in 1818

  • Frankenstein Banned BookMary Shelley’s classic about a scientist who plays God by creating a human-like creature was banned in Apartheid-era South Africa for containing  “obscene and indecent” material.

banned communist manifestoThe Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx – Published in 1848

  • Banned in Turkey from 1848 until 2013, for promoting Communism.
  • In the mid-20th century, owning the Communist Manifesto or other communist literature was dangerous in many Western countries and could lead to loss of employment, investigation by government officials or even charges of treason.

Alices Adventures in Wonderland Banned BookAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Published in 1865

  • The beloved children’s classic was banned in China in 1931, for portraying animals as having the same complexity as human beings. Chinese censors warned of the “disastrous” effects of teaching children to have the same respect for animals as humans.

the call of the wild banned bookThe Call of the Wild by Jack London – Published in 1902

  • The European dictatorships of the 1920’s and 1930’s, most notably in Yugoslavia and Italy, banned Jack London’s classic because of the author’s supposed sympathy for socialism. In 1933, Germany’s Nazi party banned (and held mass burnings of) the book for being “too radical”.

Elmer Gantry BannedElmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis – Published in 1927

  • Sinclair Lewis’ examination of religious hucksterism is widely considered one of the best American satirical novels of the 20th century. But when it was published, it was banned in cities throughout the United States. Perhaps the satiric portrayal of evangelical Christianity hit too close to home – it was denounced from church pulpits all over North America.

Animal Farm Banned BookAnimal Farm by George Orwell – Published in 1945

Orwell finished writing his most widely read novel in 1943, while the world was at war. He could not find a publisher in Great Britain willing to publish it, because of its criticism of Russia, an ally of Britain. Once published, it was immediately banned in most communist countries. It remains a banned book in the United Arab Emirates, because its talking pig character is deemed “un-Islamic.” It is also still banned in North Korea and censored in Vietnam, probably because of its perceived criticism of socialism.

Charlottes Web Banned Book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – Published in 1952

  • White’s classic about the friendship between a pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte has sold over 45 million copies and has been translated into 23 languages. It has also been repeatedly banned. A school in Yorkshire, England banned it in 2003, citing its potential to offend Muslim students. The ban was lifted after The Muslim Council of Britain formally requested an end to the “well-intentioned but misguided” policy.
  • In the United States in 2006, a Kansas school district decided that talking animals were “unnatural” and “blasphemous” and briefly banned Charlotte’s Web.

The Hoax of the 20th Century Banned BookThe Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry by Arthur Butz – Published in 1977

Electrical engineer Arthur Butz’s extremely controversial book, which attempts to refute the idea that millions of Jews were exterminated during the Second World War is banned in Canada as hate literature. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police destroyed copies of the book as recently as 1995.

Satanic Verses BannedThe Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie  – Published in 1988

The publication of The Satanic Verses caused a firestorm of protest in parts of the Islamic world when it was first published. Author Salman Rushdie received numerous death threats, including one issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie. The book has been banned on the grounds that it blasphemes Islam for over 20 years in 15 countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Thailand.

Da Vinci Code Banned BookThe Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown  – Published in 2003

Dan Brown’s 2003 mystery about secret societies, art and the Catholic church was a sensation when it was first published in 2003. In 2004, Catholic leaders in Lebanon deemed it “offensive to Christianity” and banned it.

Book Banning in 2015Ongoing Threats to Books – 2015

As we reported in 2014, the effort to ban books in the United States continues in school systems and libraries around the country. For more information about books that are partially banned or under threat of ban and information about how you can stand up for threatened books, please visit the American Library Association’s Banned Books Website.

Book for Gay Children Becomes Symbol of Defiance in Moscow

LGBT Kids Book I Think I'm a Poof

Russia’s Beleaguered LGBT Community Embraces Australian Children’s Book

By ERYK BAGSHAW via The Sydney Morning Herald

Samuel Leighton-Dore was five years old when he realised he was gay.

“When I was playing Lion King with the boys up the street I always wanted to be the cub that got licked by the dad,” he said.

“I was always interested in boys, but there was no presence of gay protagonists or characters in what I was reading or the films I was watching so I didn’t really have a word for it.”

Over the next decade Leighton-Dore would go through the confronting and often brutal experience of school in Sydney.

In and out of counselling, “I felt isolated by my sexuality long, long, before I’d ever been sexually active”, he said.

“I couldn’t walk across the playground in Homebush without being called a ‘gaylord’ or ‘faggot’.

Samuel Leighton-Dore was five years old when he realised he was gay.

“When I was playing Lion King with the boys up the street I always wanted to be the cub that got licked by the dad,” he said.

“I was always interested in boys, but there was no presence of gay protagonists or characters in what I was reading or the films I was watching so I didn’t really have a word for it.”

I Think Im A Poof by Samuel Leighton Dore

“I Think I’m a Poof” addresses the challenges faced by LGBTQ youth.

Over the next decade Leighton-Dore would go through the confronting and often brutal experience of school in Sydney.
In and out of counselling, “I felt isolated by my sexuality long, long, before I’d ever been sexually active”, he said.
“I couldn’t walk across the playground in Homebush without being called a ‘gaylord’ or ‘faggot’.

“I wish I could go back and tell my seven-year-old self that these 10 years are going to be hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Now the 23-year-old has done just that, self-publishing a children’s book titled “I Think I’m a Poof.”

Leighton-Dore and illustrator Lucy Adelaide take readers on the journey of Johnny – a child struggling with his sexual identity.

“Johnny woke his dad in the middle of the night,” the book’s opening lines read. “He had tears in his eyes, something wasn’t right. Johnny’s dad sat up and whispered, is something aloof? Johnny looked to ground and replied, I think I’m a poof.”

Meetings with publishing powerhouse Hardie Grant were productive, but ultimately landed the 27-page picture book in the “too risky” basket.

The publisher declined to comment on why it didn’t proceed to press.

Leighton-Dore’s friend Henry Gelbart ultimately stumped up the cash to get it to print, but that was only half the battle.

Nervous bookshops would not stock the small initial run of 2000 books, said Leighton-Dore.

Among them, Better Read Than Dead, a book store in perhaps Sydney’s most progressive enclave, Newtown.

“There is no way that I would give that book to a child,” said the store’s manager, Amelia Lush. “It plays with stereotypes of sexuality which I wasn’t really comfortable with, particularly as a queer person.

“At the moment gay kids are being bullied across the country. I’m not going to stock any material that is likely to increase that through using words like poof, queen and fairies.”

Despite the relatively small circulation, copies of the book have been smuggled into Moscow, where LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual) groups are forced underground to discuss politics under the guise of learning English.

In the cobbled streets by the Kremlin, Leighton Dore’s book has become a small symbol of defiance.

“What we’re doing is completely illegal,” one of the Moscow group’s leaders, Tatiana, tells Leighton Dore in an email. “We are constantly terrified that the police will come for us – that they’ll beat and arrest us.”

Leighton-Dore said he wanted to empower the gay community through taking back ownership of terms like “poof”. He hopes that one person in particular sees it that way too – the British actor, presenter and activist Stephen Fry.

“Getting Stephen Fry to read the book out loud has always been the dream,” he said.

Buy a copy of “I Think I’m a Poof”

Samuel Leighton-Dore on Twitter

Stephen Fry on Twitter (In case you’d like to urge him to read the book)

Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

Pixar's Rules of Storytelling22 Secrets of a Great Story Line from Animation’s Greatest Storyteller

Pixar Animation Studios, the American computer animation film studioknown for its CGI-animated feature films, knows a thing or two about how to tell a compelling story. From it’s first film, 1995’s “Toy Story” to “Monsters, Inc.” to “Finding Nemo” and it’s most recent release, “Inside Out,” the animation giant continues to create blockbusters that thrill both children and adults.

How do you create a story line that becomes an instant classic? A Pixar story artist, Emma Coats, recently tweeted a series of “story basics” learned from her work with Pixar. Below are the 22 guidelines for story and plot – Pixar’s guide to storytelling.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

10 of the Best Podcasts for Writers and Readers

Best Podcasts for Writers and ReadersLearn About Writing, Self-Publishing, New Books and More – Free

Podcasts are a great (and free!) way to learn new skills, catch up on trends in publishing, learn more about your favorite authors and hear the perspectives of readers. But where do you find the best podcasts for writers? The best podcasts for book lovers? The best podcasts for self-publishing? The term “podcast” has been in use for only 10 years, but it seems like there are literally millions of them to choose from. With limited time (and patience) how do you find the most valuable, useful and interesting book-related podcasts? We’ve done it for you! Below are some of the best of the best podcasts for writers, readers and for anyone interested in books. Enjoy!

The Best Podcasts on Writing

The Writing University Podcasts

The Writing University Podcast LogoRun by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, arguably the most influential and prestigious writing program in the United States (alumni include Flannery O’Connor, John Irving, and Ann Patchett) these podcasts usually feature a guest writer talking about the art of writing. Some find the Writing University podcasts a bit too academic, but there is enough here for everyone, on topics ranging from the intricacies of character to how we use our brain when we write to how to work with a writing deadline. Visit Website

helpingwritersbecomeauthors podcastHelping Writers Become Authors

Created by author K.M. Weiland, this site offers specific, hard-core writing advice on everything from how to structure a story to ways to invigorate sentence structure to crafting unforgettable characters. Voted one of the top 101 websites for writers, by Writer’s Digest, if you’re an author or aspiring writer, you will find something of value in these podcasts. Visit Website

The Dead Robots Society

Dead Robots Society podcastWorth it for the title alone, but there is much more here than a catchy name. Described as a series “by aspiring writers for aspiring writers,” most episodes are hosted by 3 writers, all with their own points of view and experiences. Episodes often feature guests discussing topics like how to begin a fiction story, book cover blurbs, and sequels. This site tends to have long (over an hour) podcasts, but they’re formatted as conversations, so they rarely get boring. Visit Website

Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses podcast for writersThese are short (15 minutes per episode), lively weekly podcasts hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler, covering mostly fiction writing topics. Recent podcast subjects include plot twists, pacing, and how to control a reader’s sense of progress. Visit Website


The Best Podcasts on Self-Publishing and Book Marketing

(Note: many self-publishing/book marketing podcasts will try to sell you something – usually a self-publishing “secret” or system. Some are good products, others less so. We’ve tried to include only the less sales-oriented sites here.)

The Creative Penn Podcast

The Creative Penn PodcastAuthor and self-publishing pioneer Joanna Penn’s website, courses, and books are truly gems for writers – they cover everything from how to write to how to market your book. And her podcasts live up to the same standard as the rest of Penn’s products: informative, well-researched and based on her own experiences. There are interviews with authors, marketers, case studies on what works and what doesn’t in book marketing, and writing tips galore. You can watch free on Youtube or if you learn best by reading, Penn provides links to transcripts for all of her podcasts. Visit Website

Sterling & Stone Self-Publishing Podcast

sterling and stone podcastThey bill themselves as “3 guys telling you what does and doesn’t work for them in indie publishing.” The three guys are sci-fi authors Sean Platt, David Wright and Johnny B. Truant, and they cover topics ranging from how to optimize an Amazon sales page to how to price your books to how to get through writer’s block. The podcasts often feature guests from the world of publishing and marketing. Visit Website

The Sell More Books Show

Sell More Books Show LogoHosted by internet marketing guru Jim Kukral, this podcast covers publishing industry news, new developments in the world of self-publishing, and the nitty-gritty of selling a book. The hosts are extremely knowledgeable and always produce high-quality podcasts. There are some sales pitches included on the site, but the podcasts are well worth weeding through the “download this guide to selling books” links. Visit Website


The Best Podcasts on Literature, Books and Reading

A Phone Call from Paul

PHONE-CALL-big-960x430 (1)Literary Hub’s new podcast series features writer/interviewer and member of the literary intelligentsia Paul Holdengraber talking about books and writing with his friends on the phone. The first podcast featured Paul talking to his friend Neil Gaiman, about life, death, books, fatherhood, and everything in between. It’s just beginning, but this promises to be an exciting series, complete with snazzy 1970’s theme song. Visit Website

Book Riot Podcast

book-riot-podcast-iconHosted by Book Riot editors Jeff O’Neal and Rebecca Schinsky, this literary podcast bills itself as “A weekly news and talk show about what’s new, cool, and worth talking about in the world of books and reading.” The format is conversational and often humorous, and the topics are wide-ranging: from new authors to the psychology of reading and writing to new technologies to publishing news and events. Visit Website

Books on the Nightstand

books on the nightstand podcastPublishing industry veterans Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman offer insight into reading, book recommendations, highlight classic books worth re-reading and profile new books you should check out. They feature audio books more extensively than many other book podcasts, and their “books we can’t wait to read” podcasts cover every genre – from thrillers to literary fiction to coloring books. Visit Website

Book Sellers Who Refuse to Go Digital – The End of the Digital Apocalypse?

The Digital Apocalypse, Delayed

BY JIM NAURECKAS via FAIR.org

The New York Times (9/22/15) reports slowing e-book sales as the “digital apocalypse” that didn’t happen. “Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print,” reporter Alexandra Alter writes. “Publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business.”
But the metaphorical cannibal apocalypse has failed to materialize, as “digital sales have instead slowed sharply.” What’s the explanation for the “surprising resilience of print”? Consumer preference, is the main story the Times tells: “Young readers who are digital natives still prefer reading on paper” and “e-reading devices fell out of fashion.” Thank goodness for people’s undeniable love of good old-fashioned real books, is the underlying tone.
Then, three-quarters of the way through the lengthy piece, the real economics of the publishing industry appear:
Higher e-book prices may also be driving readers back to paper.
As publishers renegotiated new terms with Amazon in the past year and demanded the ability to set their own e-book prices, many have started charging more. With little difference in price between a $13 e-book and a paperback, some consumers may be opting for the print version.
On Amazon, the paperback editions of some popular titles, like The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, are several dollars cheaper than their digital counterparts. Paperback sales rose by 8.4 percent in the first five months of this year, the Association of American Publishers reported.

Read More on FAIR

The A to Z of Writing Science Fiction

How to Write Science Fiction A to ZHow to Write a Science Fiction Novel: Start with 26 Key Elements

Science fiction allows authors greater freedom than perhaps any other genre. But the complexity needed for science fiction and fantasy writing can be daunting and leave even the most experienced writers exhausted.  Author P. Wish presents a 26-point checklist for plausible and authentic science fiction — an A to Z guide for how to write sci-fi.

planet

A- Attack Start with a bang. Every story needs a strong opening.
B- Blow it up Science fiction usually consists of blown up situations. Whether is is aliens taking over the Earth, or black holes or a dystopian novel, they contain situations that are blown up versions of reality.
C- Characters Characters are the backbone of any story. Create realistic, fleshed out characters. Take time to know your characters before you begin writing. Many science fiction stories ignore characters.
D- Danger An element of danger will keep the readers turning pages. Science fiction thrives on danger. A sense of impending doom is essential to add flesh to the story.
E- Elements The five elements- air, water, fire, earth and space make up your science fiction universe. These directly influence the world that our characters live in. Science fiction usually plays around with these.
F- Futuristic Science fiction is synonymous with ‘future’. Science fiction relies on futuristic technology. Many of the gadgets we see today were written about in science fiction novels. Make sure you include a ‘futuristic’ element in your story.
G- Genius Put a unique spin on the tale. Black holes, time travel, futuristic gadgets and dystopian governments have been done to death. Take an idea and put a unique spin on it.
H- Hell This is where we introduce the bad guys. Make your hero’s life a living hell. This is the motivation to change. No pain, no gain.

red rocket
I- Innovation Innovation is the backbone of all science fiction. What if teleportation was a mode of travel? That would save lot of time, traffic jams, fuel, metals and money. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. Find a problem and solve it in an innovative way.
J- Jungle Chaos is the way of things. In effect, your characters are stuck in an imaginary jungle. There are known and unknown forces at work. Expose the story layer by layer.
K- Kremlin Kremlin refers to a Fortress in Russian. Fortress is a place of refuge or support. Create a fortress where your character can recoup and re-energize. This is the source of your character’s strength. This is where he/she goes to retreat when they are wounded. This is what they would protect with their life. Every story needs one.
L- Last Science Fiction has a love affair with lasts. The last of the human race, the last contestant remaining, the last straw- science fiction is a series of lasts. Having a ‘last’ in your story creates a sense of urgency.
M- Miracle Readers love miracles. They offer a sense of renewed hope. In science fiction stories where the future is a bleak and depressing place, miracles are what keep people going.
N- Nemesis Remember Hell? Nemesis takes ‘hell’ to a whole new level. A nemesis becomes a part of the hero’s DNA. It is what the hero lives to defeat. Make the nemesis a force to reckon with.
O- Opportunity All successes are a result of the right opportunity. Give the hero opportunities to change and defeat.
P- Parallel Action These are the invisible forces that are at work behind the scenes. Plot a parallel stream of events. Then, expose them one by one.
Q- Question Finding an answer is all about asking the right questions. Make sure you make your readers ask the right question. This is important to keep the plot moving in the right direction.
R- Re-Birth Science fiction is a tale of transformation. Without re-birth, any story falls flat on the face. Let your hero rise from the ashes. Change the premise. Re-awaken an old spirit. Re-birth adds the third dimension to your plot.
S- Science There can be no science fiction without science. Make sure the scientific elements of your story are believable (or it’s not science fiction, it’s fantasy.)
T- Time period In what time period is your story set? Is it set in a future where the human race faces extinction? Is it set in technologically advanced Japan?

Sci-Fi Astronaut
U- Universe  Ultimately, all actions influence the universe we live in. How does your hero interact with the universe the characters live in?
V- Vacillate  A vacillating story that wanders without any sense of direction is not what you are aiming for.
W- Waterfall This is the point in the story when everything comes gushing at full speed. A strong climax makes a strong story.
X- X-Ray Examine the inner dynamics of the story and characters.
Y- Yield The story must ultimately yield to the expectations of readers and the characters. Twist endings are fine but make sure you give a heads up to readers.
Z- Zen  A state of Zen will do wonders for your imagination. It is also the state you will be in when you finish your story.

Read More from P. Wish

My Life in 3 Colours by P. Wish

Author P. WishP. Wish is an author and blogger. She graduated with an honors degree in Law from the University of Manchester, UK. She self published her first book in May, 2015. Her next book releases on 28th October, 2015. She spends most of her time writing, designing for her blog and making book trailers. When she’s not writing, she likes to paint, dance, meditate, research, watch movies and nourish her sweet tooth. She loves to read about a wide variety of topics like business, psychology, marketing, singing, pop science and self help.

P. Wish Blog FOLLOW AUTHOR ON TWITTER

National Punctuation Day Personality Quiz

What Kind of Punctuation are You?Find Out if You’re a Semicolon or a Comma with a Punctuation Personality Quiz

September 24th is National Punctuation Day in the United States…yes, there is such a thing! Why celebrate punctuation? Without proper use of commas, periods and semicolons, writers would have difficulty communicating. Use the wrong punctuation and the sentence becomes ambiguous (or even meaningless). For example:

Comma Mistake Changes Meaning of Sentence

The dog does look a bit worried! he would probably feel a whole lot better if there were some commas in that headline. Like this:

Comma in Headline

Choosing the right words is critical; choosing the right punctuation is just as important.

Which punctuation mark are you?

Curious about which punctuation mark aligns with your personality? Take Oxford’s Punctuation Personality Quiz and find out if you’re a staid period, a high-strung exclamation point or a warmhearted parentheses. Our results are below.

personality quiz semicolon

The 12 Best New Yorker Cartoons on Writing and Literature

The 10 Best New Yorker Magazine Cartoons on Writing and Literature12 of the Best Cartoons from the Best Literary Magazine Ever

The New Yorker Magazine has been publishing reportage, fiction, satire, poetry and current events since 1925, and over the past 90 years has become an American icon and beacon for new writing, ground-breaking editorial and reporting, and timely satire. The magazine has launched the careers of countless writers and published contributions from the likes of Roald Dahl, Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood, E. L. Doctorow, Chang-Rae Lee, Phillip Roth, Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, and Sylvia Plath.

Based in New York, the magazine’s reviews and event listings usually focus on the cultural life of its home city, but The New Yorker has a broad audience outside of New York. Over its nearly 100 year history it has become perhaps best known for its illustrated and often humorous covers, its commentaries on American pop culture, and the single-panel cartoons that are included in each issue. Reading the New Yorker cartoons and sometimes trying to figure out what they mean is a ritual that many fans of the magazine begin with: before reading the content, true fans go through an entire issue to look at the cartoons.

New Yorker Magazine’s Best Cartoons on Writing, Books and Reading

Below are 12 of the best-ever New Yorker cartoons on reading, writing, literature and on books. If you have trouble figuring any of them out, don’t be shy about saying so in the comments section – deciphering the meaning of New Yorker cartoons is best done with help from others!  For more great New Yorker cartoons, see the links to the New Yorker Magazine cartoons books, at the bottom of the page.

New Yorker Cartoon on Writing Kanin

New Yorker Cartoon about Writers by Barsotti

New Yorker Cartoon on Books Twohy

New Yorker Cartoon on Books Crawford

New Yorker Cartoon on publishing Sipress

New Yorker Cartoon Sartre Cookbook Chast

New Yorker Cartoon on Book Promotion Leo Cullum

New Yorker Cartoon on Self-Publishing by Mick Stevens

New Yorker Cartoon Writers Block by Henry Martin

New Yorker Cartoon book signing by Donnelly

New Yorker Cartoon Sky Writers Block by Matthew Diffee

New Yorker Cartoon Charles Dickens Publisher by Handelsman


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Why Authors Shouldn’t Write Four Books a Year

Book Marketing and Self Publishing  How much to write
Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors – Quality or Quantity?

By Lorraine Devon Wilke via The Huffington Post

Lorraine Devon Wilke, who is an experienced author of three novels, emphasizes the importance of bucking the trend of churning out book after book at breakneck speed. Instead, she exhorts self-published authors to think about quality, rather than quantity.

No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.

Unless they’re four gorgeously written, painstakingly molded, amazingly rendered and undeniably memorable books. If you can pull off four of those a year, more power to you. But most can’t. I’d go so far as to say no one can, the qualifier being good books.

Beyond the fact that the marketplace is glutted with an overwhelming number of books already (many of dubious quality), writing good books simply takes time, lots of it. There’s no getting around that time. It involves learned skills, unhurried imagination, fastidious drafting, diligent editing, even the time to step away, then step back, to go over it all again. And, unless you’re a hack (and we know there are plenty of those out there), isn’t the whole point of this exercise to write good books?

What is your point as an author?
Our most highly esteemed, widely applauded, prodigiously awarded, read and revered authors know this to be true. Donna Tartt, last year’ s Pulitzer Prize winner for The Goldfinch, took eleven years to deliver that masterpiece. This year’s winner, Anthony Doerr, had written only four books in his entire career before penning All The Light We Cannot See, wisely taking years to craft his stunning tale. The cultishly-beloved Harper Lee had only To Kill A Mockingbird in her catalogue before this year’s controversial release of Go Set A Watchman (which some are convinced was not of her doing). Even others amongst our best, who do put out work on a more regular basis, do so with focus appropriately attuned to the quality of the book, not the depth of their catalogue or the flash-speed with which they crank out product.

But, you say, I’m not interested in writing Pulitzer Prize winners; I don’t need to be on The New York Times bestseller list; I just wanna see my name up at Amazon and sell a few books to family and friends, and, hey, if I go viral, all the better! They say write to the market, so I gotta write to the market. I mean, look at E.L. James…she’s hardly Chaucer and look what’s happened to her!!

Point taken. Which actually brings us to the point: what is your point?

What’s your point as a creative, an artist; an author? A purveyor of the written word? Why are you here, what is your purpose, your goal as a writer? What do you hope to achieve? Is it fame and fortune at any cost, quality be damned? Or is it about finely crafted work? It’s important to know, to decide, because those principles will guide and mandate every decision you make from there on out.

I bring all this up because I experienced a snap the other day, one triggered by an article from Self Published Author by Bowker titled, Discovery: Another Buzzword We’re Wrestling to Understand. In it, the writer lists many of the familiar instructions toward procuring success as an indie writer — social media, book reviews, networking, etc. — but her very first suggestion to self-published authors looking to get “discovered” was this:

Publish. A Lot: For those of you who have spent 10 years writing your last book I have news for you. You have ten days to write your next one. Okay, I’m sort of kidding with the ten days but, candidly, the most successful authors are pushing out tons of content: meaning books, not blog posts.

In most categories, readers are hungry for new reads, new books, and willing to discover new authors. You’ll have a better time getting found if you continually push new books out there. How many should you do? At a recent writers conference some authors said they publish four books a year. Yes, that’s right, four. [Emphasis mine.]

Wow.

So, her first piece of advice to self-publishing authors wasn’t to put more focus on fine-tuning one’s craft, it wasn’t about taking time to mull and ponder what stories, what narratives, most inspire you to put “pen to paper”; it wasn’t even a suggestion to be relentless about working with professional content/copy editors and cover designers to create the best possible version of your work. No, it was the insanely insane advice to pump out at least four books a year.

And people wonder why there are stigmas attached to self-publishing.

First of all, in looking at her point of reference, I suppose it depends on what you define as a “successful author.” I have a distinct feeling this may be where the disparities lie. Perhaps my own definition is a different one.

When I self-published my first book, After The Sucker Punch, in April of 2014, I had, by then, put years into it, doing all those many things I itemized above. Because I not only wanted to publish a novel, I wanted that novel to be a work of art, a book of depth and merit, one that would not only tell a compelling story but would meet standards of publishing that authors of the highest regard are held to. I wanted it to be a book that would favorably compare with anything put out by a traditional publisher. My choice to self-publish was a result of not having engaged a publisher by the time my book was done and I was ready to market it. It was not based on the notion of joining the “second tier club” where one is unbound from the stricter, more demanding standards of traditional publishing.

“Second tier club”? Yes. As insulting as that sounds, particularly in relation to self-publishing, there is no question that there are two tiers operating in the culture of the book industry. Take a moment to think about it: based on what advice is given to self-published writers, some of which I shared above; based on the”free/bargain” pricing paradigms of most book sellers hawking those writers; based on the corner (quality)-cutting measures required to pump out endless product to meet the purportedly endless demand of those sites and their bargain-hunting readers, “second tier club” is no misnomer.

Where the best of traditional publishers set their sights not only on commercial viability but award-quality work, nurturing authors with enduring skills and profound stories to tell, in a climate that is selective (perhaps too selective) and based on the notion that that level of quality and commercial appeal is a rare and valued commodity, self-published authors are advised to, “Crank out loads of books. if you have to write little teeny short ones to get your catalogue pumped up, do that! Don’t worry about covers; your readers don’t give a hoot about artwork. It’s all about genre, easy reads, and low, low prices! And speaking of low prices, don’t even think about selling your books for more than a dollar or two, because readers who do bother with self-published books are too accustomed to bargain-basement prices to spend any more than that. This is the 99¢ Bargain Circus Book Store, where we push quantity over quality every day of the week!! CRANK OUT THAT PRODUCT!!”

I’ll bet good money Donna Tartt, Anthony Doerr, and other quality writers aren’t getting that same message from their publishers. First tier, baby.

Read More on The Huffington Post