Here you will find a selection of the best of the blogsphere from the past week. Grab your coffee, straighten the glasses or spritz those contacts and above all – enjoy.
Inspire & Inform
Kristen Lamb: Lose the Illusion—It Never Gets “Easier”. Excerpt: “We all have to guard against fantastical thinking. When we are new writers, we think, “When I get this book finished, then it will get easier.” When, I land an agent…” “Once I score a publishing deal…” “Once I hit a best-seller list, then…” There are certain things that with time and practice will get easier.”
Bethanne Patrick: The Biggest Danger to Anyone’s Writing. Excerpt: “One day while walking to class, a man in my department said, “You’re living off the military-industrial complex. How can you expect to write anything meaningful while you’re not struggling?” I can’t remember my reply. What I knew deep down and can articulate now is that the danger to anyone’s writing does not come from living in comfort, but from believing you might have nothing to say because you live in comfort. The danger to your writing comes from thinking you are trapped when in reality even the caged bird sings.”
Eric Hansen: The Slow Path to Writing Success (or, What I Learned from Drug Addicts). Excerpt: “I work in wilderness therapy with clients who struggle with various addictions and behavioral problems. And I’m also a writer who has spent the last five years writing a book. Believe it or not, there are a lot of parallels between addiction and creativity. And over the past five years, I’ve learned how they can make us better at writing and at living.”
Marcy Kennedy: How to Use Your Logline, Tagline, and Pitch to Create a Stronger Story. Excerpt: “Most of us think of a logline, tagline, and pitch as marketing tools we write after we’ve written our story so that we can use them to land an agent or as our book’s cover copy. We’re doing it backwards. If we wait until we’re done with our book, any problems our logline, tagline, and pitch reveal could mean major re-writes. By creating them first, we’ll save ourselves a lot of unnecessary work.”
Sarah Skilton: Why Serious Books Need Humor and Levity to Work. Excerpt: “It seems counterintuitive, but if you’re writing something serious or edgy, you need to plan several un-serious moments throughout the story, or readers will reject the book altogether. Here’s why…”
Chuck Wendig: How Storytelling Is Like Tantric Sex. Yep. And, as usual, Chuck is right on target – Excellent post!
Janice Hardy: Handling Cliffhanger Endings With Multiple POV’s. Excellent advice from Janice on managing what can prove to be a tricky situation.
Kristen Lamb: The Clock is Ticking—5 Tips for Tighter, Cleaner Writing. Excerpt: “Time is our enemy. Most people don’t have enough. This is why our writing must be tight, direct and hook early. Modern audiences have the attention span of a toddler hopped up on 2 liters of Coke. We can’t afford to let them drift. Drift=Bad juju. Blast away this weak writing so that, once you do hire an editor, it won’t cost nearly as much because the editor won’t spend precious time (charged often by the hour) to note or remove these basic offenses.”
K.M Weiland: Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing. If you’ve not heard of Dwight Swain’s MRU concept, or need a refresher you’ll want to look at this. K.M. does a fantastic job of showing and explaining the system in this post. Recommended.
Office of Letters & Light: Writing a Feature Screenplay 101. Great advice from the NaNoLords on writing a powerful and effective screenplay.
Janice Gable Bashman & Kathryn Craft: The 7 Deadly Sins of Self-Editing. Excerpt: “We’re most likely to sin when we’re at our most vulnerable—and for creative writers, there may be no more vulnerable time than the delicate (and often excruciating) process of editing our own work. Sidestep these too-common traps, and keep your story’s soul pure.” Note: This article is provided through Writer’s Digest. I neither use, nor endorse, WD or its products – this is simply too sweet an article not to share.
Janice Hardy: Are You Looking for a Critique Group or Partner? Excerpt: “I get asked about critique groups all the time. I have my usual advice and links, but I’ve had some folks lately ask me about finding long-term, quality partners, not just places you can toss up your work and get quick feedback. Since this blog is read by lots of writers who might be in the same boat, I thought an open post to help you guys find each other was a good idea. So I’ve started Janice Hardy’s Critique Group Connection.”
Maryann Yin (GalleyCat): 11-Year-Old Raises $5,500+ on Kickstarter to Self-Publish. Excerpt: “An 11-year-old writer named Lauren raised more than $5,500 on Kickstarter to self-publish her first book, The Clown That Lost His Funny. She will use the money to cover the costs of print production and commissioning an illustrator.”
DeeDee Scott: What Does The Future Look Like for Traditional Publishers and What Does That Mean for Indie Epublished/Self-Published Authors?. Excerpt: “Here’s a very interesting article stream from this week’s Digital Book World (DBW) and The Idea Logical Company: The Publisher of The Future & Publishers are Reshaping Themselves. Basically, it boils down to the fact that the TradiPubs will do away with their backlists and do fewer and fewer deals with new authors…unless you have a Reality TV Show or movie attached to your name/brand. No surprises there. But what a double whammy for most mass-market fiction writers/authors.” Note: Links to the two referenced articles are live in DeeDee’s post.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: The Business Rusch: More Distribution Changes. Excerpt: “We’ve been watching the distribution revolution hit publishing. Once upon a time, the only way to get your book to the masses was to go through a traditional publisher. Print on demand and e-books have changed that. Now, self-published novels can sell millions of copies, just like novels put out by traditional publishers. Those self-published novels have hit e-book bestseller lists, including the prestigious New York Times list, but so far, none has hit the print bestseller lists.”
Dean Wesley Smith: The New World of Publishing: Publishing Reversion Clauses. Dean gives us a highly-informative and in-depth look at reversion clauses and how to ensure that one day the pigeon (your book) comes back home to roost.
Christiana Miller & Sibel (WG2E): Go-To List for Helpful Indie Resources. This post has, literally, hundreds of links covering every aspect of ebook/indie needs: cover art, editing, and much much more – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (at least as a bookmark).
David Reickmann: 15 Steps to Formatting Your Ebook. This is not a post. This is a FREE Ebook from Smashwords ready for download.
Joleene Naylor: How to Make a Book Cover in GIMP. Excellent Tutorial (full screen shots and explanations) walking one through the entire process, start to finish. Recommended Read for Indie’s.
Dean Fetzer: Top 10 Tips For Self-Publishing Print Books On Createspace. Excerpt: “There are a number of services you can use to publish your book – they all have different attractions and merits— but I’ve been using CreateSpace’s publishing tools a lot lately, both for myself and for authors I’ve been helping. It has the advantage of being quite flexible, it manages the process quite logically and just about anyone can get to grips with it – and books appear on Amazon without the delay you get with other services!”
Kristen Lamb: Can Social Media Tools Make us a Social Tool?. Excerpt: “Social Tools can make life a lot easier. I cannot imagine trying to keep up with all the people I follow on Twitter without the aid of TweetDeck or HootSuite. This said, those tools offer some little extras that are enticing, but I am here to warn you to stay away from the shiny.”
Rachelle Gardner: The Single Best Tip for Using Twitter. This is more than just a tip. With the slow decline and eventual elimination of Tweetdeck, this may be the a “best option” for many of us. Recommended Read.
Jami Gold: Do Authors Need a Website and Blog?. Excerpt: “Years ago, authors could get away with pounding on their typewriter in seclusion and never interacting with the public. Now the expectations that go along with 24/7 connectivity mean we don’t get that choice. Our choice instead is: How much interaction do we want to have?”
L.L. Barkat/Jane Friedman: It’s Time for (Many) Experienced Writers to Stop Blogging. Excerpt: “Today’s provocative guest post is by L.L. Barkat. While my (Jane’s) views don’t mirror Barkat’s (see the comments for my take), her perspective is refreshing and helps to dispel a few platform-building myths that are pervasive in the writing community. Blogging is neither a requirement nor the best marketing and promotion tool for a huge swath of writers, regardless of their experience or level of accomplishment.”
Safe & Secure
Jay Donovan: 5 Internet Security Tips to Help You (and Your Data) Stay Safe. Excerpt: “There are steps you can take and practices you can employ to keep you safer online. Today I’ve brought you security expert Jay Donovan, owner of TechSurgeons, LLC and my own favorite Digital Dark Knight. Jay is also teaching a webinar on March 28th called Who Wants To Know? Internet Privacy and Security. I can guarantee you I’ll be in that class.”
Jerod Morris: 10 Steps to a Secure WordPress Website. Excerpt: “Why take WordPress security so seriously? Why all the security talk? Because staying vigilant about security is an ongoing responsibility for any WordPress site owner. In fact, it’s an ongoing responsibility for everyone online, whether you’re using WordPress or not. So we’ll continue to discuss it here as much, if not more so, than performance. Hey, sub-second load times are great, but not if you’re hosting hidden links to Viagra sites or Google is flagging your site as malware-infected.”
Victoria Strauss: Random House Announces New Terms at Digital Imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt. For those that have paid attention, RH has been at the center of controversy this week due to abusive contract policies for its varied digital imprints. Luckily, Victoria Strauss, John Scalzi and the SFWA (among others) took them on and at least some changes have now been made. Read out the changes and the rest here. Highly Recommended Read for all Writers.
David Gaughran: Publishers Behaving Badly, Part… I’ve Lost Count. David adds to the Random House discussion as well as talking about the other 800-pound gorilla in the room: Simon & Schuster / Author Solutions. Excellent points and well worth the read.
Porter Anderson: Ether for Authors: Looking for AWP’s Leadership. Excerpt: “Look for our board members at the conference. They are eager to speak with you!” BOSTON, Massachusetts: Those lines, inclusive of the exclamation point, appear in a happy-blue copy block on the board of directors display. Page 11 of the AWP Conference Program book. I’ll bet my $98 in Boston cab fares that AWP president Steve Heller, who sits at Antioch University in LA, may not be all that eager to speak with many of us.”
Nick Ruffilo: The Iterative Approach to Publishing. Excerpt: “The difference between the physical (hardware) and the digital (software) is that software is malleable. Allowing a physical book to go to print with a large mistake is a huge problem. Once it is in stores, it needs to be pulled from the shelf, destroyed, then re-printed. And, for the customers who have rewarded you (bought your book), they’re left with a problem.”
Daniel Kalder: A Global Digital Marketplace for Prestige Indie Print. Interesting article about a new company that is forging into a relatively under-served area – well worth the few minutes read.
Jenny Shank: Will Authors Get Compensated for Used E-Book Sales? With Amazon now holding a patent for what essentially amounts to “secondary digital usage,” what can writer’s expect? This is a great look at the situation.
Joel Friedlander: Authors Unplugged: Smart Book Marketing Includes Going Offline. Excerpt: “If all the marketing you’re doing is online, you may be missing out on lots of excellent opportunities to market your book. Remember that our biggest effort in marketing is simply getting our books in front of enough people to give them a chance at success. You can’t get people talking about your book and, hopefully, referring it to other people in true word-of-mouth promotion, if they don’t know it exists and have never seen it. So awareness and exposure are really our biggest goals when we launch a new book.”
The Death of Google Reader
Yes, Google Reader is on its way to the island of abandoned software. While quite a few outlets covered this story, I’m including this one from Dan Seifert at Verge, as it is a quick read covering the array of Google’s adjustments.
Jason Boog: 5 Tools To Use When Google Reader Dies. There are plenty of alternates out there but what one to go with? Here are few options. One note, Feedly (the first service mentioned) is actually connected to GReader and may not be the best choice. Also, one they don’t include is RSSOwl (used by Roni Loren and a few others I know) – that is a non-affiliate link to the RSSOwl site if you want to check the service out.
Passive Voice: Keep Google Reader Running. A plea and a petition for those interested in attempting to turn the tide.
Jennifer Blanchard: 9 Essential Apps for Writers. Smart phones and tablets are fast becoming the writers best traveling companion – find out if you are maximizing the potential of this powerful tool by empowering it with useful apps.
Jenny Hansen: Writerly Uses for Excel (Part 3). Jenny is a master of technology – here you’ll find best practices for utilizing Excel’s powerful features in an easy to understand, low-stress-impact way.
Elizabeth Craig: Voice Recording as a Writing Tool. Talk faster than you type? Like walking around while you create? One author managed 25k spoken to text in a day – Read this post and find out more.
Fun for those that make it to the bottom of this list…
Mariah Bear: How a book is born (because you kids love the infographics). Published or pursuing, this infographic (what we once called a flow chart) is hilarious, and likely, not far from the truth on some points. Enjoy *smile*