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Publetariat Dispatch: Stretching the Definition of the Word, “Book”

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author and Publetariat founder and Editor in Chief April L. Hamilton discusses the inspiration and technical challenges that went into creation of her new, very unusual “social media novel,” Overshare. 

The concept for my latest book, Overshare, had been bouncing around in my head for well over a year. In it, a young man encounters some major life challenges in rapid succession, and unwittingly, publicly reveals his increasing stress level and alienation from his wife, family and friends through his posts on social media sites. It was a scenario I’d seen unspool in the real-world life of an online acquaintance, and I knew it would make a very timely and relatable story. The only problem was how to convey the events of the story in a way that would capture my experience: following status updates and posts with growing heartache for this person with whom I was only nominally acquainted, yet whom I’d come to know so much about—so much more than I’m sure was intended.

Then it hit me: why not give the reader exactly the same experience I had?

Why not show the reader my protagonist’s actual social media web pages, containing his status updates and others’ responses to them, as well as his blog posts, but purposely limit the content to only what a member of the general public would see? To make the reader’s experience as realistic as possible, I knew I’d have to mimic the look and content of the most popular social media sites very closely, and the resulting book would have to be presented in full color. To produce such a book in print would be cost prohibitive, but with the advent of color ereader apps and devices, it seemed an ideal fit for a totally new kind of ebook.

The next hurdle to overcome was sourcing the many photos I knew I’d need to fill the simulated social media site pages. I’d need avatars, or user pictures, of the protagonist and everyone he’d be interacting with online. I’d need candid family and event photos of the sort people regularly post on Facebook. And because of the story arc, I’d need a series of pictures of a young woman at various stages of pregnancy, a series of pictures of a young man depicting the journey from hale and cheerful to beaten and haggard, and finally, baby pictures depicting a preemie’s path from NICU to healthy newborn at home.

At first this seemed an insurmountable obstacle. I couldn’t afford to hire models to pose for all the pictures I’d need, and didn’t have the time, equipment or skills to act as photographer. Anyway, posed stills would never give me the realism I needed. Then, another stroke of inspiration: Creative Commons –licensed images are easily found online, and plenty of them have been licensed as permissible for commercial and remix use. I soon had a treasure trove of real-life photos of real-life people for which the rights holders had pre-emptively granted permission to anyone to use for commercial purposes (such as in a book to be sold for profit) and remix use (such as cropping and coloring to achieve my desired effects).

With this last piece of the puzzle locked into place, I knew I’d be able to produce the “book” I had in mind: one consisting entirely of simulated screen shots of the protagonist’s social media postings.

It would be a novel, in that it would be fiction, but it would be unlike any novel I’d ever seen before. Kind of like an epistolary novel, in that much of its content would consist of written communications taken directly from the characters, but not really, in that those communications did not take the form of letters or any other kind of traditional correspondence. Kind of like a graphic novel, in that much of the content would consist of images, but not really, in that it would also contain blocks of prose in the form of blog posts. I decided I’d need to come up with a new term for this type of book, and after giving it some thought, I came up with “social media novel”.

Here are some examples from the book:

Something I wanted to be sure to illustrate in the book is how what someone doesn’t say online can often reveal much more than what he does say. The screenshot below shows the protagonist’s first post following the decision to go public with his wife’s pregnancy; note the complete absence of happiness or excitement in his remarks. There’s not even a smiley face there. What does this tell you? Also note how, based on the number of “Likes” and “Comments”, you can tell how large Michael’s circle of acquaintance and support is at this point; as the story goes on, these numbers shrink.

In creating this unusual book, I found that the form it took underscored and illuminated the theme as much as the content. A few early readers asked if the people in the pictures might be upset to learn their photos had been used in this way, and my response was if they did, that would only serve to further exemplify the point I’m trying to make in Overshare: that posting anything online for public consumption can have unintended consequences.

This book took a LOT of effort to produce. The words were the easy part, and constituted maybe only 40% or so of the finished book’s content. I had to do a great deal of work in my graphics editor program, and a lot of complex formatting in MS Word. Then I had to pass the completed manuscript on to someone well-versed in advanced HTML and graphics techniques to take my Word file and convert it into an ebook file that preserved my images and formatting. I’m thrilled to see the finished product at last, and know that it looks exactly like the book I pictured in my mind’s eye all those many months ago. I’m also very excited by the creative possibilities I can now see in full-color, non-traditional ebooks. I hope that as time goes on, many authors will be inspired to explore those possibilities.


April L. Hamilton is the founder and Editor in Chief of Publetariat. Overshare is now available.

Publetariat Dispatch: Why I Read and Write Crime Fiction

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author LJ Sellers discusses her abiding passion for crime fiction, both as an author and as a reader.

After spending months writing about a bleak future, I found myself feeling depressed and negative. I even considered giving up writing gritty crime novels—if that’s what it took to stay positive. Then while working on a nonfiction book, I came across my notes for a talk I gave at the library called Why I Read and Write Crime Fiction. It reminded me of the genre’s value and why I should continue to write it and why it’s good for readers too, including the president. Here’s a shortened version of my talk.

Crime fiction confronts the realities of life across various cultures more often and more honestly than mainstream/literary fiction does. Crime novels are suited to exploring provocative social issues and showing how those hot-button subjects affect various people’s lives, often from diverse perspectives.

Crime fiction can be surprisingly poignant and analytical about problems such as illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug use. These novels highlight deep-rooted cultural ills such as racism, sexism, bigotry, and the dangers of stereotypes. Sometimes a mystery will show a stereotype in all its glory, reminding us of why stereotypes exist and how we all fit into one … at least a little bit. The crime genre often forces us to see the world from perspectives that make us think outside our comfort zone.

As crime writers and readers, we get to make sense of things that would otherwise haunt us. We learn why the family next door disappeared one day or what’s really going on in the creepy warehouse across the street. Sometimes that knowledge helps us sleep better and sometimes it doesn’t, but at least we learn one version of the truth.

Police procedurals and thrillers give us a medium through which we can experience the triumph of good over evil. For short while with each story, we get to be the good guy, the hero who rescues the kidnapped child or saves the president’s life. We get to drag the bad guys off to jail or shoot them dead if “they need killing”— fantasies we can’t act out in our everyday lives. The real-world events around us can be unjust and inexplicable. It’s important to our collective mental health to experience justice, order, and revelation through fiction.

Novels with well-written protagonists and antagonists bring us to terms with the duality within ourselves. Humans are all deeply flawed, with the capacity for great goodness as well as for deceit, jealousy, schadenfreude, addiction, selfishness, and often worse. When crime fiction heroes—detectives, FBI agents, and prosecutors—possess such flaws, we not only relate to those characters, we forgive ourselves for the same shortcomings. When a killer calls his mother or pets a stray dog, we hate him a little less and remember to look for good qualities in everyone.

Crime novels explore relationships in a way that few other genres can. What better mechanism to test a bond between husband and wife, parent and child, or lifelong friends than to embroil the relationship in a crime, either as victims, suspects, or perpetrators. Similar to natural disasters, the aftermath of a crime can bring out the best—or worst—in humans.

The genre is also rich with possibilities for exploring the complexity of the human condition. Victims become predators; predators become victims. A person is guilty, but not in the way we’ve been led to believe. Most of all, crime fiction is full of surprises, and we readers love the unexpected. When was the last time a reviewer used the word twist when discussing a literary novel?

Why do you read and/or write crime fiction? Does it ever get you down?

This post, by L.J. Sellers, originally appeared on Crime Fiction Collective.

Publetariat Dispatch: Is God Necessary In Christian Fiction?

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, indie author Virginia Ripple wonders how specific Christian Fiction needs to be with respect to the “Christian” part.


In Mike Duran’s post How Do We “Glorify God” in Our Writing? I discovered I wasn’t the only person asking if you can write a Christian story without specifically mentioning God.

As Mike points out, it seems most Christian writers (and I would say most Christians) think you absolutely must include God specifically in a story in order for it to be Christian:

…And, sadly, that’s what many folks mean by glorifying God in their writing. For most Christian writers, glorifying God is all about their message. It means not backing away from the Gospel and not avoiding references to Christ in their novel. It means developing content that is virtuous, redemptive, and spiritually uplifting.

Which leads me to ask: Can only writers of explicit “Christian content” glorify God in their writing?…

IF NOT — if only Christian writers can glorify God in Christian stories — then how can a Christian ever hope to “do all to the glory of God”?

IF SO — if Christians can glorify God in whatever kind of story they write (or task, service, job they perform) — then how is glorifying God in a Christian story any different than glorifying God in a “secular” story?…

This is a question I’ve struggled with for years. I enjoy reading secular fantasy. I’ve tried reading Christian fantasy, but found it lacking (although I really enjoy Christian thrillers like This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti). My natural inclination is to write secular fantasy, but I feel compelled to follow the path writing greats like C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien have blazed. They wrote what they wanted to read because what they wanted wasn’t already abundantly available.

I want to write Christian fantasy that I would want to read, which may or may not explicitly mention God. But would it be considered Christian if I don’t get explicit about the Gospel?

So, what do you think? Should writers mention God in order for their work to be considered Christian, or can a Christian writer “glorify God” without getting specific?


This is a reprint from Virginia Ripple‘s The Road to Writing.

Publetariat Dispatch: Why Self-Published Authors Know Best

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, indie author indie author M. Louisa Locke explains why and how indie authors are at the vanguard of publishing.


I ran across this quote today, from a post that historical romance novelist Courtney Milan wrote this week as an open letter to agents.

The traditional information storehouse has been inverted. Right now, the people who know the most about self-publishing are authors, and trust me, the vast majority of authors are aware of that. For the first time, authors are having questions about their careers, and their agents are not their go-to people.

While not having an agent, in fact having decided in the fall of 2009 not to look for an agent for my historical mystery, Maids of Misfortune, I can’t really speak to this group’s effectiveness in this new publishing climate. Neither do I want to go into whether or not I think that the decision on the part of some agents to begin to publish their authors’ work has ethical or conflict of interest ramifications. Although the latest brouhaha that just erupted when an agency threatened an author with legal action because she said they were setting up as a digital publisher, when they insisted they were just starting an “assisted self-publishing initiative,” suggests that this question is not going to go away.

What I want to address is Milan’s assertion that authors are the people who know the most about self-publishing. I not only agree, but I would take this one step further. I think that self-published authors may know the most about publishing, period, in this time of expanded ebook publishing and social media marketing.

Let me count just some of the ways:

1. Most self-published authors know about both legacy publishing and self-publishing, which gives them a uniquely broad perspective.

In my experience, most of self-published authors have already had fairly extensive experience with the legacy publishing industry (as traditionally published authors, as authors who have spent years trying to become traditionally published, and as friends of published authors). From this experience we are in a better position to make well-informed decisions about the costs and benefits of both paths to publication, and which path to choose for a given project.

For example, since we understand the lead time it takes to get a book published with a legacy publisher, versus a self-published book, we might choose self-publishing for a non-fiction book that is very time-sensitive, but willingly pursue a legacy publisher for a work of fiction that we feel would do best in print and distributed through brick and mortar stores.

2. Self-published authors were among the first to embrace ebook publishing as their main method of publishing, and therefore they have longer and greater experience in this realm, which is where the market is expanding the fastest.

For most of us the lack of capital meant learning how to format and upload ebooks ourselves, therefore we understand both the relative ease of this process and the importance of it. Even if we decide to pay someone else to do the formatting, our experience helps be better judges of the value of this service.

For example, we would be much less likely to be snookered into paying a high fee to an agent or anyone else for “taking care of” this for us. We understand that while most readers of ebooks are fairly tolerant of an occasional formatting error, they don’t like a lot of white space, including indents that are too large, blank pages, and unnecessary page breaks. We understand the cover design that works on a printed book sitting on a shelf doesn’t work on a thumbnail on the virtual bookshelves of an eretailer or a website, and we have had the chance to experiment to find the most effective covers for our books in this environment.

3. Self-published authors have up-to-date information about sales data, and they can and do share that information.

The turning point for me in making the decision to self-publishing came when I read Joe Konrath’s initial blog postings listing his ebook sales. I finally had the concrete numbers to determine what kind of sales I would need to pay for my capital outlay, and what kind of income I could make, compared to the advance I could expect going the traditional route.

Agents, publishers, even traditionally published authors, are very unwilling to ever talk about numbers, unless, of course, they are talking about a New York Times bestseller. The whole convoluted publishing industry accounting system, the lag in recording royalties (which go through the agent-I mean, what is up with that??), the fear that weak numbers are going to be the kiss of death for achieving the next contract, all work to keep a veil of secrecy. If you are an author this means you may never really understand how many books you sold, when and where you sold them, which covers worked, which price points worked, and which method of delivery got you the most profit.

Self-published authors working through such methods of delivery as CreateSpace for print or KDP or ePubit for ebooks not only have ready access to this sort of information, which is so crucial for designing effective market strategies, but we have no reason not to share this information. I can write that my sales have been lower this summer than in the winter, and not worry that this will hurt the chances that my next book will be published, or marketed aggressively, or reviewed positively. And I can learn from other authors if they are experiencing a similar pattern, and if so, what they are doing about it. This is one of the reasons we knew that ebook readership was going up, that certain price points worked better than others, that the Nook was beginning to claim a significant share of the market, before most of the traditional pundits did.

4. By necessity, self-published authors have had to rely on e-retailers, but this has made them savvy about how best to attract customers in this expanding retail environment.

For example, authors published through legacy publishers are often slow to understand how important it is to get your book into the right category on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. In my experience most traditionally published authors, and their agents and editors, don’t even know that categories had been chosen for their book, and, as with most aspects of publishing (the title, the cover design, the product description), the authors don’t have ultimate control over the final choices. Getting any changes made after publication (in a cover or category or price that doesn’t work) is also difficult.

5. Again by necessity, self-published authors have had to develop alterative methods of marketing—which have made them innovators in using social media for this purpose.

I am still amazed when I read comments by traditionally published authors on various sites saying that their books have just “been put up on Kindle,” and asking if anyone has a suggestion how to market those books. Obviously neither their agents or their editors have had much to say on the subject, beyond “set up a website.” Not surprisingly, it is self-published authors that seemed to give the most detailed advice in response to these queries. See Rob Walker’s huge thread on KDP community forum.

6. Self-published authors are going to continue to be the innovators in publishing, no matter what the future holds, and therefore the best source of information.

We have to be innovators, because we don’t rely on anyone else-not agent or editor-to ensure our books are out there and being read. Two years ago, when I researched self-publishing, Amazon’s Kindle and Smashwords, were the two major ways open to me to independently upload my book. Since then Barnes and Noble’s ePubit, Google Editions, Kobo and many other companies have made it possible for independent authors to publish on their sites. In addition, while the iPad’s ibook store has been slow to expand, more and more people are downloading books, often using the Kindle or other aps, not only to the iPad, but more often than not to the iPhone or other similar devices. Traditional publishers are forced to deal with each of these changes slowly, often with protracted negotiations, which slows their authors’ access to these venues. Self-published authors were able to respond immediately to these changes, as they will be able to do with what ever new twist the ebook or print on demand aspects of the industry takes.

Self-authors are intrinsically less conservative than people who work within the legacy publishing industry, where risks can ruin a career. An agent who takes on too many cutting edge writers and can’t sell their books, an editor whose choices don’t make back the authors advances, the author whose sales don’t pan out, all risk losing their business, their jobs, and their next contract. The motivation, therefore, is to choose authors and books that either fit this year’s trend (no matter that by the time the book comes out the trend may have peaked), or fit squarely into a niche market, and aren’t too long, or too short. Self-published authors have the choice to take risks, because they answer to no one but themselves and their readers.

7. Finally, I believe that most authors are going to become self-published authors, and therefore will remain the major source of information about self-publishing. Not because they are all going to leave legacy publishing, but because more and more authors are going to see self-publishing as one of their options over their career.

Practically every author I have ever known has an idea for a book or a manuscript squirreled away, or a short story or novella they have written, that they either had failed to sell to a legacy publisher, or simply never tried to write or sell, because they knew that this work wouldn’t be acceptable. These ideas, these works, now can see the light of day. The market may turn out to be small for any particular work, but if you have written something that pleases you, that you as a reader would like to read, and you can self-publish that work and watch as people buy it, review it, and email you about it, the satisfaction is enormous.

I spoke to a college journalism class this spring about the possibilities of self-publishing, and a young man came up to me afterwards, all enthusiastic, and he told me that I had given him hope. His father had tried to discourage him from pursuing a career as a writer, telling him it would be years and years, and maybe never, that his work would ever see print. I had just told him what he had written already, what he chose to write next month, could be out there being read in a few days time.

This is one of the reasons that agents or publishers who try to lock authors into exclusive clauses, or manipulate print on demand to keep hold of copyright, are simply going to drive even more of their authors into self-publishing. Once an author has been exposed to the liberating belief that all of their work can get in print, and all the work that is good, will get to be read, they will not go back to telling themselves that the gatekeepers were saving them from the awful mistake of publishing a bad book, and that the favorite quirky cross genre manuscript they wrote really is better off never being read by anyone.

Does this mean the end of agents or publishers? Of course not. But it does mean that those people in the traditional publishing industry who continue to hold self-published authors in contempt, who continue to try to argue that all authors and all published books should go through their doors to get to the reader, who fail to turn to their authors and their readers for advice, are going to find themselves losing out in the future.

This is a reprint from M. Louisa Locke‘s site.

Publetariat Dispatch: Nasty Publisher Practices

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, independent bookseller Bob Spear looks at some of the bad publisher business practices that drive more and more authors to go indie.


This posting may explain why more and more authors, especially those with marketing abilities, are going the self-publishing route.

Low-Balling Royalty Percentages—This is often done to inexperienced, unrepresented authors. It is so difficult to get a publisher to accept one’s work that new authors are very reluctant to rock the boat. The publishers know this and really screw the authors on the percentages they offer.

Cooking the Books—playing devious number games with the sales reporting figures. Never ever agree to base your royalties on net results. This is a common practice in the movie industry and is often used to leave the writer penniless.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy—New writers rarely have a large following initially, so the publisher spends little if any on marketing; therefore, the books don’t sell well. And, the publisher says “See, we told you so.”

Print Runs—This is related to the last item and is especially egregious. It has been done time after time to Piers Anthony and was recently done to talk show host Michael Savage. The publisher announces plans for a large print run to raise the hype level, then only prints half or less than that. The book takes off and runs out of inventory within a couple of weeks. By the time the publisher can get more printed, the buying public has moved on to the next hot item and the book is forgotten.

As you can see, some practices happen because of ethical problems and some happen out of sheer stupidity. There are several others of that ilk, especially when it will make an editor or upper level publisher management look bad. Blame for doing something wrong is rarely admitted because of the egos involved.

Bottom Line—If you’re going to work with major publishers, use a competent, reputable agent. You pay him a percentage to watch out for deals like this. One of the best things that can happen is a bidding war. If a publisher has to put out a major investment to get a work and its author, he will back it with hype, marketing, and decent-sized print runs.

There’s nothing personal about all this. It’s just business as usual.

This is a reprint from Bob Spear‘s Book Trends.


Publetariat Dispatch: Will Children’s Book Self-Publishers Survive CPSIA?

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, The Book Designer, Joel Friedlander, examines the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act’s chilling effects on self-publishers.

Do you know about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008? No? Do you think you ought to?

It’s absolutely critical that you know about this law if you—or your clients—produce books or other products for children.

I found out about the implications of this law only today. Jacqueline Simonds, who I interviewed here last year about indie book distribution, sent an email to a group of people concerned with indie publishing explaining her experiences learning about this law. She’s posting about it on her blog.

When I realized the impact this law can have on self-publishers, I knew I had to get you this information right away, and Jacqueline was kind enough to take time out of her day to do an interview with me.

Here’s some background on this law:

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 is a United States law signed on August 14, 2008 by President George W. Bush . . . The law . . . increases the budget of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), imposes new testing and documentation requirements, and sets new acceptable levels of several substances. It imposes new requirements on manufacturers of apparel, shoes, personal care products, accessories and jewelry, home furnishings, bedding, toys, electronics and video games, books, school supplies, educational materials and science kits. The Act also increases fines and specifies jail time for some violations . . . Because of the wide-sweeping nature of the law, many small resellers will be forced to discontinue the sale of children’s products.—Wikipedia


Just to reinforce the possible effects on indie children’s book publishing that this law could have, here’s a response to Jacqueline’s email from Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual and many other books on writing and publishing:

“The future of four-color children’s books is the iPad (and whatever comes next.) This is because of the cost of four-color printing, ship and truck transportation, carrying inventory, processing orders and Postal expenses. CPSIA will only accelerate the migration.”—Dan Poynter, ParaPub.com


You need to know about this. Here’s the interview with Jacqueline.

TheBookDesigner: What is CPSIA?

Jacqueline: The Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) was developed to make sure testing was done on products intended for children under the age of 12. Specifically, it is aimed at toys and bedding that a child might put in their mouth. Books somehow got swept into it, possibly because of board books for toddlers.

How did you get involved with this subject?

I first heard about the CPSIA via the Self-Publishers Discussion Group. One of the members, who makes toys as well as books, picked up on it in the early stages. Since we are distributors, my first reaction was simply not to take on children’s books.

However, a new client approached me with one of the most extraordinary projects I’ve seen in a long time. I couldn’t turn it down. Well, yes I could.

The first thing I asked him is, “Is it CPSIA compliant?” Um, what? he replied. And that’s when he told me that the book files were in Southeast Asia about to print. I had him hold the print run until we could get certification lined up. It’s not inexpensive!

Can you tell us what a publisher has to do to comply with CPSIA?

A publisher must:

  • Place the name of the printer, their city and country and “batch number” (work order number) on the Copyright Page. 
  • You must have a lab report (or a statement from the printer in lieu of a lab report) stating that the book contains lead that is not in excess of 300 part per million. 
  • The printer or print broker must fill out a Certificate of Conformity (a sample is here: http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/faq/elecertfaq.pdf). For Question #2, which asks under what sector of the CPSIA the printer/broker is certifying, the answer seems to be “Section 101” which covers lead content. 
  • You must submit the lab results and certification to your distributor (if you use one) or wholesaler when you enter a new children’s book into the book databases.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of complicated requirements. Are they for real?

It seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? There’s a point at which well-intentioned laws go feral, and this is one of those moments. We all know that there have been several incidents of children’s toys imported from Asia that have been tainted. However, books are another matter.

When does all this take effect?

The law was supposed to go into effect August 2009 – and did for children’s toys. For books, the official date has been moved to December 2011.

So, no one is demanding this yet, right?

Unfortunately, the big wholesalers have taken this law very much to heart, and are demanding CPSIA certification NOW for new children’s book titles, even though the law doesn’t officially take effect until December. This makes some sense if you consider that a book being sold now will most likely still be in the system when the law goes into effect.

Is there any chance this will be overturned or delayed?

The Association of American Publishers has been riding herd on this since the beginning. They are hoping they can get Congress to modify the legislation so that it only covers books with toys or trinkets attached. The chances of this Congress doing anything in a timely fashion before the law takes effect in December is vanishingly small.

What do you think the response of the book manufacturers is going to be to this new requirement? Will they provide the materials and testing so individual publishers don’t have to do this all themselves?

I have discovered that American printers are taking on the responsibility of testing their inks, paper, glues and cardboard themselves, for all the materials they use in all books (that way they don’t have to do separate testing for individual books). For instance, Lightning Source International has testing on-file and has a standard letter of compliance. They also print their name, state and batch number on the back of the book.

However, foreign book printers don’t have any such program. I have a client who is being charged $600 to prove his book is in compliance.

I would recommend that people contact printers for their RFQ (request for quote) and require that the lab test be paid for by the printer. What will likely happen is that the price of your books will probably have a hidden testing fee attached.

Where can people find out more?

You can go to the main website http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html Pack a lunch. It takes a while to sift through all this.

Can I hire you as a CPSIA consultant?

Jacqueline Simonds Beagle Bay Books self-publishingYes. I’m available for consultation on this, as well as many other questions about publishing. You can e-mail me at jcsimonds@beaglebay.com or call me at 775.827.8654 (please take into account that I am on Pacific time). I’ll quote rates depending on how much work you need.

Jacqueline Simonds is a book shepherd/publishing consultant, publisher, author and book distributor. She is available for consultations and presentations on many aspects of publishing.



Jacqueline Church Simonds
Beagle Bay, Inc.
Books That Enlighten and Inform
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jcsimonds


This is a reprint from Joel Friedlander‘s The Book Designer.

Publetariat Dispatch: The Next 10 Ebook Trends

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, the Online Colleges site shares the latest trends in ebooks.

This post originally appeared on the Online Colleges site and is reprinted here in its entirety with that site’s permission.

No matter one’s opinion of ebooks and ebook readers, it’s highly doubtful they’re going to just up and disappear anytime soon. Since they’ve already started infiltrating bookstores, libraries and schools, now makes for a great opportunity to start evolving and better meeting various consumer needs. Exactly how this comes about remains to be seen, obviously, but gadget gurus and digital enthusiasts certainly have some interesting ideas about what ebook trends might start cropping up soon.

1. Bundles
Whether packaging a print edition along with the ebook, blending digital versions of an author’s entire oeuvre or organizing reads thematically, many ebook enthusiasts think bundles will inspire quite the popularity surge. The added incentives might very well sway individuals and institutions unsure about whether or not they want to embrace the admittedly expensive technology.

2. Social reading sessions
Online book clubs are actually quite common these days, but ebooks have yet to really seize upon their potential. Beyond offering up discussion questions, readers themselves could include ways for members to communicate with one another via audio or video, or promote even better integration with some of the technologies and organizations already available.

3. Greater interactivity
Ebook users don’t have to set up a book club to enjoy a greatly enhanced reading experience! The digital format allows a far higher degree of interactivity than the traditional paperback, and the potential is limited only by an author’s or programmer’s imagination. Books aimed at young children might especially benefit from this trend — think of how the audience might respond to animations of their favorite illustrations!

4. Authors go straight to ebook publishers
Rather than waiting on their publishing houses to transfer their works over to ebook format, more and more authors are bypassing the traditional system altogether and submitting straight to the producers themselves. And for those looking into self-publishing, pursuing such opportunities may very well mean the difference between floundering in obscurity and hitting the ebook bestseller list.

5. Monetized content
Not everyone will necessarily dig embedded ads in their ebooks, even unobtrusive ones, but that doesn’t mean publishers and companies won’t try to cash in on the technology. All the same, though, monetized content doesn’t have to mean staring down “CLICK HERE!” in the middle of Cat’s Cradle. It could be anything from downloadable content — along the lines of many video games — to subscription services.

6. Different formats for different genres
As ebook readers gain popularity and become more sophisticated, it may come to pass that different genres might end up housed in different technologies. The computerized equivalent of hardcovers versus softcovers, in other words. Kindles and Nooks are excellent for converted novels and nonfiction, but prove a bit too small for textbooks. Larger, more specialized devices could easily come about in order to house “heavier” content.

7. More indie epublishers
With plenty of authors heading straight for ebook publishers and bypassing the usual mainstream channels, now’s an incredible time to be (or even launch) an independent “label.” So many talented individuals have excellent stories to tell and research to share, tech-savvy entrepreneurs and editors probably won’t have a difficult time finding viable content. Because if this, it makes perfect sense that more and more digital publishing — and even self-publishing — houses will start springing up.

8. A greater decline in traditional bookstores
Even those without a business degree see Borders’ recent bankruptcy and closing as the death knell for traditional bookstores. Although it may be a bit premature to declare such a thing, the format certainly needs to adapt and change if it hopes to survive. So while the familiar setup might not “die” like Borders, over time it’s going to start looking a lot different. Barnes and Noble, for example, released the Nook in order to compete with the evolving market. As ebooks continue climbing, it and other book carries will have to find new ways to pick up the slack.

9. Increased royalties from ebook sales
Since ebooks are becoming more profitable, authors (not to mention their agents!) will probably want to see more royalties coming in from their availability. Understandably so! If publishers wish to retain their talent — not to mention attract some awesome new names — they’ll have to start paying up for more than just the bound books.

10. Free ereaders?!
It probably sounds insane right now, but the declining cost of ebook readers mean more can be handed out for promotional purposes. Book clubs, publishers and other businesses or organizations might charge consumers a membership or subscription fee, providing the device completely gratis. No different than cell providers receiving money in exchange for air time and comping the phone as an added incentive to sign up, really.