Bored with all these reviews of 2013? Try this for a change…

New year,2014,2013,review,humor,funny,jokes, hilariousWhy can’t people be a bit more creative with their reviews of the old year? Hope you enjoy this poetic tribute, inspired by a similar tribute my friend Angelika wrote to the imbeciles who took nearly a week to install her new cooker (stove) recently. Ahem… [Read more…]

Book publishing in 2013: easy, worthless, or worth it?

Book publishing in 2013: easy, worthless, or worth it?

Book publishing in 2013:
easy, worthless, or worth it?

Recently I responded to a question on LinkedIn about the state of book publishing right now and my own predictions for the future – I thought you might find my response helpful…

Everywhere you look there are book coaches and publishing mentors and writing experts screaming at people to write a book, because it’s so easy to do that these days and to be seen as a “published author” gives you kudos and credibility etc. etc.

Of course the very fact that it’s so easy to self-publish these days means that your having published a book, far from giving you brownie points in your customers’ and prospects’ eyes, currently means three-fifths of diddly squat.

And because the conventional trade publishers are now crapping themselves over new technology and clustering their corporate selves together like iron filings to a magnet, you need to be Pippa Middleton or someone having sold millions of badly-written erotic eNovels before they’ll take you on.

So where next?

I think we may be looking at two clichés here:

1) The 80-20 rule applies

2) What goes up must come down

1) This 80-20 prediction refers to the content of published books now and in the near future rather than the means of delivery to the reader, on which I comment below

As with many other things, the Great Reading Public will decide. Authors who choose to throw their (self- or trade-) published books to the ravening wolves will soon find out if readers are interested in them. Chances are 20 percent of new books (if that) will attract attention, and 80 percent (or more) will sink out of sight.

In the 20 percent bracket we assume that the authors know how to market their books, whether they have self-published or been trade-published. Conventional trade publishers tell all authors that they will market their books; unless the author is a household name, they don’t. If you’re an also-ran author you’re lucky if you get a mention on the publisher’s website, a spot on their backlist a bit later, and a wrongly-spelled ePressRelease sent to a list of the wrong journalists.

In the 80 percent (or more) of the nonfiction books bracket we’re looking at titles that – essentially – were solutions looking for problems. That’s the most basic and most destructive reason why a nonfiction book doesn’t sell; it doesn’t make potential readers instantly snap it up in order to assuage their long-standing psychological, business, personal or other problems.

Good, inviting and compelling titles/sub-titles help, but of course everyone who writes a self-help, business or other similar book puts endless magic into their titles and blurbs.

Where I feel is the only way to rise above this obvious advertising trap is to show your book manuscript before publication to a number of people (not just your friends) and ask them to write a short, sincere appraisal. Then use that to endorse your book. It’s not much, but it does help. Nowadays, Peer Review really does matter and make a substantial difference.

2) What goes up must come down: once the initial adrenalin rush of current publishing calms down, I think we will be left with the same media we use now in one of three forms – a) eBooks, b) print books and c) audio books

Print books may eventually die out but it will take longer than the eReader manufacturers hope, especially for fiction; many people, even young people, like the feel of paper and the look of the printed word, especially when reading in bright sun on a beach or huddled into a chair or their bed. You can’t hurry long-established traditions out the door.

Audio books have been around for ages now – since the days of the compact cassette – and got sidelined briefly by all the flurry over eBooks. Now though they’re coming back because no matter what technology can throw up, audio is the only medium you can enjoy while you’re doing something else. Given people’s increasing desire to multi-task the audio book is going strong, and is likely to grow further, albeit in more tidy technological formats.

Overall, I believe that the media used to distinguish, develop, distribute and disseminate truly good books will settle down to a comfortable number of options which will appeal to users’ needs without swamping them with a load of superfluous options they hadn’t even heard of.

How do mainstream publishers and established literary agents feel about taking on a book that has been self-published either on or offline?

Book publishing in 2013: easy, worthless, or worth it?I can’t speak from personal experience here but I have heard quite a lot on this issue from reliable sources. Not only do mainstream publishers take on previously self-published books (I believe the glorious “50 Shades of Grey” is an example…) but I’m told they now actively scout self-published books, monitor their success and pro-actively go in and make offers to the authors. Actually it’s quite a sensible way to test market a book, and all the better for the publisher as the author has to pay for it, albeit that not requiring huge amounts of money. Previously the only test marketing that was done by mainstream publishers was to show concepts and cover designs to their sales forces.

That’s still done today, and is still laughably unreliable.

I wonder if the mainstream publishers will save their corporate butts this way? From their point of view it’s not a bad business model. And from the author’s point of view mainstream publishers can still offer a payback in terms of supplying heavyweight worldwide distribution, translation negotiations, PR, bankrolling print runs, etc., all of which can be done by an author, but is hard work and an uphill struggle if you haven’t got a name like HarperCollins, Penguin, etc.

What, if any, role is left in contemporary publishing for literary agents?

Their role in life has been to sell book concepts and manuscripts on behalf of authors and then negotiate the best possible publishing deal for the author, for which they would charge anywhere between 10 and 25 percent of author royalties. Seems to me that role is now getting squeezed fairly hard with more and more authors working directly with publishers. The only area in which agents still hold authors by the short hairs is in fiction, which nearly all serious publishers will not even look at unless it is presented by an agent. However that may be changing too, with agents only being brought in later to negotiate contracts, rather than upfront selling.

What are your experiences of book publishing in recent times – both as a reader, and/or as a writer?

Now: let’s get your  book written and published!

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“How To Write Winning Non-fiction”…all you need to know to write a good non-fiction book and get it published

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HAPPY NEW YEAR from HowToWriteBetter.net

Here’s wishing you love, laughter, good health and success for 2013!

Happy New Year from HowToWriteBetter.net

Welcome to our new series
HUMOR in writing!

And here is the transcript of a telephone conversation which I’m assured is real. Even if it isn’t, it could be. So celebrate the New Year with me by having a good laugh…

Don’t forget to cancel your credit card before you die

Reported in the UK’s Newcastle Evening Chronicle recently:

A lady died this past September, and MBNA bank billed her in October and November for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then in December added late fees and interest on the monthly charge.

The balance that had been £0.00, now is somewhere around £60.00.

A family member placed a call to the MBNA Bank:

Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you that my grandma died in September.’

MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and so the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to your collections section.’

MBNA: ‘Since it is two months overdue, it already has been.’

Family Member: ‘So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’

MBNA: ‘Either report her account to the Frauds Department or report her to The Credit bureau, maybe both!’

Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’

MBNA: ‘Excuse me?’

Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you . . The part about her being dead?’

MBNA: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died in September.’

MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’

MBNA: (Stammer) ‘Are you her solicitor?’

Family Member: ‘No, I’m her grandson’

MBNA: ‘Could you fax us a death certificate?’

Family Member: ‘Sure.’

(fax number is given)

After they get the fax:

Happy New Year from HowToWriteBetter.net

If you work in a call center, this dialogue may
(but shouldn’t) ring a bell for you…

MBNA: ‘Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’

Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.’

MBNA: ‘Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’

MBNA: ‘That would help.’

Family Member: ‘ Plot 1049.’ Heaton Cemetary, Heaton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne

MBNA: ‘But, that’s a cemetery!’

Family Member: ‘Well, what the f*** do you do with dead people on your planet?’

The MBNA were not available for comment when a reporter from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle rang them.

Do you think such idiocy might be stamped out in 2013? No, I didn’t think so either.

Have a wonderful year anyway…!

While you’re here, don’t forget to stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give – from just $2.50 (less than £2.00!)

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Want to know what happened in 2013?

Right now, everyone is looking back at the year that’s just drawing to a close. I think it’s more fun to look back at what will have happened in 2013. For example…

January

Gangnam Style supremo PSY launched a sensational new performance guaranteed to smooth US feathers ruffled late in 2012, called Dee Cee Style. In this extravaganza PSY and his co-performers dance in horse-motion around Washington DC using the popular DC Segways as engaging hobby horses. Asian neighbour Kim Jong-un from north Korea commented, “Himnam beingnam greedy bastardnam. Wantnam Americnam dollars andnam f*cknam Korea. Time for spacemissilenam up bumnam.”

February

Sir Richard Branson, having watched as Delta Airways bought the 49 percent share of Virgin from Singapore Airlines for $360million late in 2012, decided to capitalize on this across-the-pond deal and rename the entire business “Dirgin.” In keeping with the zingy new brand he has just purchased the largest chain of funeral homes in the USA and is negotiating the purchase of a similar chain in the UK. “No matter what else happens,” quipped the effervescent Branson, “everybody has to die. That’s the kind of certain market every entrepreneur just dreams about!”

March

Want to know what happened in 2013?Pippa Middleton, following up on the huge success of her first book, “Celebrate,” published “Copulate” – this time focusing on the wildly popular social-erotica trend. In the book Miss Middleton shared useful advice for readers with chapters covering such essential topics as “why your naughty bits are called Wedding Tackle,” “why Mummies shouldn’t let the children play with her pet rabbit,” “how to use one of our party balloons in a romantic emergency,” and much more. A spokesperson for Miss Middleton assured the media that she wrote every word of the book herself, with no editorial help.

April

Still on the erotica theme … reacting to falling ratings of his UK show, “The X factor,” Simon Cowell announced a totally revamped show due to start later in the year. To be entitled “The Slap Factor,” Cowell’s new show involves contestants performing lewd acts both on stage and with audience members, with winners being those who receive the highest number of disapproving slaps by the end of the series. An RSPCA inspector will attend each show to ensure the proper treatment of animals.

May

Want to know what happened in 2013?Ever-commercially gifted, the Kardashian reality stars launched their new brand of motor car – the Kardash. In a recent interview Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner pointed out how every model in the Kardash range reflects the values and outlook of the Kardashian family … for example a sturdy, seriously-strengthened chassis … choice of finishes by Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel … bulbous, protruding headlights … extra long extensions to all wheel-arches … extremely high-profile wheels and tyres … and of course, an exceptionally wide, deep and roomy trunk (boot) and rear cargo area.

June

Given the increasingly liberal views towards the legalization of marijuana in the United States, US First Lady Michelle Obama announced that she is growing several of these shrubs in the White House grounds adjacent to her organic vegetable garden. When asked what her intentions were regarding the use of this controversial plant, she said “purely aesthetic of course, because they have such beautiful foliage.” An observer later pointed out how organic brownies are appearing much more frequently on Whitehouse menus; and recently the outdoor Whitehouse smoking areas have become much more fragrant.

July

Want to know what happened in 2013?Kate Middleton AKA the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to quadruplets. Considering that all four were delivered by caesarean section at precisely the same time, erstwhile protocol whereby the eldest is presumed to be the first one out, is no longer relevant. Hence, after a random selection made by the Queen’s obstetrician who was blindfolded for the task, it was determined that Princess Eenie will be assumed royal heir apparent, followed numerically by Prince Meenie, Princess Miney and Prince Mo. We wish the royal couple every happiness and good luck in telling them apart.

August

Courtney Stodden was heart-broken when her beloved 8-inch Perspex platform shoes melted and collapsed during a promotional event during which she was required to walk, semi-naked, along a path of burning coals. Sobbing on the shoulder of her near-pensioner husband, Doug Hutchison, she wailed “I’ve had those shoes since I was 12 years old when I first started out as a sexy model. They were my good luck charms.” A helpful onlooker quickly got her on her toes again with two large bricks and some carefully placed Duct tape.

September

Victoria Beckham caused utter pandemonium at a recent press conference launching her collection for Spring 2014 – by smiling. Asked by a paparazzo what caused this rare breach of her ethos, Victoria glared close-mouthed and hobbled away on her Louboutins. “You stupid tw*t,” hissed one of her entourage, “she’s been trying out a new all-onion diet and she’s breaking more wind than a cart horse on a whoopee cushion. It’s not a smile, it’s sheer relief.” The crestfallen paparazzo was even further alarmed when, as he lit a cigarette, he was enveloped by a large blue flame.

October

Want to know what happened in 2013?Lady Gaga as usual caused a fashion riot – this time in Buffalo, NY – when she arrived at the airport prior to her concert there. The paparazzi snapped away frantically and crowds screamed their amazement and disbelief as she descended from her private jet wearing a pair of jeans, a warm sweater, trainers, minimal makeup and her hair in a ponytail. When asked to comment on her outrageous attire she said, “f*** off, this is my Halloween costume.”

November

In an effort to channel the achievements of living Barbie Dolls Valeria Lukyanova and Olga Oleynik into the older generation, TV stars Joan Rivers and Jay Leno agreed to undergo extensive cosmetic surgery to align themselves with a new, 3rd age Barbie and Ken respectively. Joan Rivers said, “you sure you don’t want me to be Ken? One more facelift after all I’ve had and I’ll need to start shaving off the beard.” Jay Leno seemed pleased, saying “it will be nice not to have a chin like a snow shovel anymore and I can’t wait to drive a fuschia pink Beach Cruiser.”

December

Want to know what happened in 2013?Ultra-macho super hero Tom Cruise finally met the woman of his dreams this month in the form of delightful McDonalds chef Mabel Crunt, a 4’9” beauty from Boise, Idaho and a lifelong Scientology follower. Commenting on his happy new relationship, Cruise said “much as I respect and admire my previous wives, Mabel looks up to me in a way that no woman has before.” Good luck Mabel. Your local thrift shop is going to love all those size 3 platform heels, but hang on to the ballet flats.

What happened in your world in 2013? Please share….

Why your writing was so successful in 2013:

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well
“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

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