Monthly Archives: June 2014

World Cup of Literature

In June and July, the University of Rochester’s resource for international literature, Three Percent, held the first ever World Cup of Literature.

The program featured a 32-book knock-out tournament during soccer’s World Cup game. Each match pitted two books against each other. Only one of the books moved on until the championship match determined the ultimate winner.

This program might look like it would draw more attention outside the United States (which doesn’t share the soccer fever that infects other nations). But keep in mind that Britain has a reality TV show that features authors, and publishers in the U.S. are constantly looking for new ways to engage readers. We might see similar events tied into American obsessions like football or the Fourth of July.

I look forward to holidays spent counting down competitions like this!


Literary Tour as Marketing Idea

Foyles is launching a literary tours program. Winners receive trips guided by well-known authors to places that have appeared in books.

While this program took quite a bit of effort and investment to create, really any author can add this idea to their marketing efforts. Many times fiction authors use real locations as part of their books. Add a self-guided tour description to the end material in your work and use that as a way to enhance sales. Or even guide a tour yourself during your next visit to that city. Have fun, meet fans and revisit the plot…sounds like heaven!

Unknown Authors Win, $750 Cash Awaits!

The Laine Cunningham Long Form Fiction contest selected the winners for first, second and third place as well as honorable mention. Then came the big surprise: two of the entries that won were submitted without contact information for the authors. One doesn’t even have a name!

We now have two winners, for second and third place, who remain unknown. An email address for one has not received a response. The other entry is the nameless one…no name, no email, no phone number or address.

The titles of the winning entries are, for third place, Good Enough Mother by Lora Hilty and, for second place, Rosa. The name on this entry was handwritten in very cramped writing. Our best guess at the author’s name is either Barbara de la Cuesta or Barbara de la Cueta.

The prizes that await are $250 for third place and $500 for second place. That’s a total of $750 that any writer would be glad to receive for pens, printer paper, computer devices, or more contest entries. The $1,000 first place award went to Love’s Wilderness by Enid Harlow, who unfortunately hung up on the administrator when he called to tell her she had won because she thought he was trying to sell her a magazine subscription. Honorable Mention went to The Rummy Club by Anoop Ahuja Judge, who received the news with much more joy than the first place winner.

We are asking for your help finding these two unknown authors. Reblog this, tweet it, post it on Facebook, and talk to your writer’s groups. If you know the authors (or are one of the unknowns), please contact The Blotter Literary Magazine at

Also note that this will be the last year of the contest unless we can find another sponsor. Interested individuals can connect with Garrison Somers of The Blotter for more information.

Target to Offer Ebooks

Target is partnering with a startup ebook subscription service called Librify to provide an online platform for buying, sharing and discussing books. Librify has more than 500,000 titles available already (about half of Amazon’s number), and it has only been beta testing since March.

Even better, the social aspects of the platform allow readers to review and discuss their favorite books…providing word-of-mouth validation that is so critical to readers. Authors should check into Librify now to ensure their titles are available once Target is ready to launch.

See Harry Potter’s New Cover

Link here to see the new Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets cover. The new design is part of the revamping of the series with illustrator Johnny Duddle. All seven books will be released September 1, the day Hogwarts students return to wizarding school.

Children’s Books Enhanced by Multimedia

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has purchased Curiosityville, a children’s learning website. The move expands HMH’s reach into the K-12 educational market, and reflects the growing push by publishers to break outside of the book’s binding and expand a story into different mediums.

Between the growth in the age group from 2 to 8 and increased government funding of early childhood programs, publishers see an opportunity to reach more readers and generate more profits. Authors should recognize that even if they are working in fiction, projects ranging from picture books through middle-grade chapter books are hot commodities right now. Send out your work today!

YA Novels Driving Children’s Category

Young adult novels account for 18% of children’s unit purchases. Although this is down a few percentage points for the same period the year before, YA is still a strong category.

It’s strength comes in part from the tendency of adults to purchase YA titles. The single largest group buying these titles is the 18- to 29-year-old demographic.

This means two things. First, if you are working on a YA book, keep going.
Second, if you’re working on the new category called New Adult, get it out there. Connect with me at any time for assistance and advice on breaking into this powerhouse category!

Kirkus Offers Three $50K Prizes

Kirkus Reviews, one of the best-known outlets for book reviews, has created three new literary awards. Each carries a $50,000 prize, and are among the largest cash awards in the literary world.

The categories will award one prize each to fiction, nonfiction, and juvenile books. Only books that have received a starred review in the magazine will be eligible. Since the magazine has included self-published works for a while, and is now integrating self-pub reviews into the reviews of traditionally published books, this is a great opportunity for the best books to shine.

Bookstores Growing

For the first time since 2005, more than 2,000 independent brick-and-mortar stores are open in the United States. This might be driven by the absence of Borders outlets in some communities but considering that the trend over the last decade has been for stores to close, not open, this is great news for book lovers and authors.

Book Marketing Data

Macmillan is developing a dashboard called Next Big Book. The tool compiles sales, publicity, events, social media, web traffic and other data daily to help marketers track how a book is doing and which factors are providing the biggest impacts.

Macmillan plans to provide the dashboard to all its authors and agents within the next three months. Let’s hope other publishers take a similar path to put control back in the hands of the folks who care most about books: the people who wrote them.

New Children’s Publisher Seeks Submissions

DoodleeBooks is an innovative new publisher that focuses on children’s books. Each title is recorded by an experienced voiceover personality to become a multimedia experience. Parents or others who purchase the titles have the ability to personalize the books by inserting their child’s name into the text. Special animation components are also added to create a truly interactive experience.

This is a new initiative that is seeking funding through a Kickstarter campaign that just started. You can support the campaign by clicking here. Submit after reviewing the guidelines on by clicking here.

Good luck!

BEA: 2014 and Future

In case you were thinking that publishing is gasping its last breaths, the 2014 BEA completed last week saw nearly as many attendees from the industry as in 2013. The day dedicated to readers expected nearly 10,000 additional people flock in.

Next year, the BEA will expand from the current three-day format to four. With the inclusion of self-published authors and new technologies as well as the invitation to readers to attend, it’s a phenomenal event that reflects the current strength returning to what has been an anemic industry. Good health!

World’s Best Story Contest

The first World’s Best Story contest is looking for the next blockbuster novel. After posting a sample of work, authors will be reviewed by online readers who can cast their votes during different stages.

The contest is looking for a story that will work well in many mediums: as a book, a film, a video game, etc. Authors have an opportunity to get their book published if they win, as well as see it developed in other mediums. The contest is open for initial entries now through Aug 12.

Do note that by submitting, authors sign over first rights in ALL formats. So although the prizes add up, be aware that the winner might not receive additional payments for other media uses…and that’s not standard for the traditional publishing route. Also note that the prizes are not cash; they are amounts that can be used at different retailers.

To submit or review the rules yourself, check out this link for Fast Pencil.

Dear Amazon: Um, You’re Joking, Right?

An open letter to Amazon.

Dear Amazon:

Not too long ago, you sent a “white paper” to the Justice Department about potential price-fixing among publishers. The term white paper is in quotes here because, well, it wasn’t really a white paper, it was an accusation intended to cause trouble. And it did. The ability of publishers to stand against your profit-grubbing, market-destroying tactics was prevented by law, which means that folks like me, regular authors who have already been struggling to eek some kind of living out of our passion, this thing called writing, was further degraded all so readers in theory could spend a few pennies less on books. But as any stock trader can tell you, pennies add up and, well, seeing as how margins are often cut by cutting the salaries of content providers, authors, I am now less able to buy food or pay rent. Oh, but you’re commanding an even bigger market share. Excuse me for wanting to buy pasta over Ramen noodles a few times a week. Glad you’re able to afford dead snails and big globs of fish eggs in your shiny corporate suites. So sorry.

But wait. See, there’s something else now. You just sent another “white paper” to the Justice Department, which has stirred officials to approach three of the Big Five publishers and ask about pricing discussions that might have happened recently. Not that I think it has anything to do with the recent blow-up between you and Hachette wherein you are not only taking even more money away from authors by refusing to sell Hachette’s books (so Ramen apparently will now become a luxury leaving writers with, well, let’s see, maybe grass clippings to eat? Would that be cheap enough?), you have also taken away readers’ ability to find and buy books.

Oh, you say it’s for the customer’s own good? Let’s look at that, shall we? Hmmm. A single company that already commands 60% of the retail market for print and electronic books claims that it wants to make books even cheaper. So let’s say that happens, and in the meantime market share for Amazon rises to 70%. (Or, in your dreams, a whopping 85%. Whatever you want, OK? Let’s keep it civil, shall we?)

Then what? What prevents you from raising the price of books again…because of course at that point Barnes & Noble will no longer be viable and their stores will litter the American landscape with echoing, gargantuan empty storefronts that mirror the echoing, gargantuan empty storefronts that used to be Borders’ locations. And don’t forget all the tiny, echoing empty storefronts of indie bookstores. Broken dreams, all.

Oh, sorry. Dreams don’t apply to your algorithms, nor do they make a dent in the yawing hunger that drives these underhanded notes (see “white paper” above) passed like high-school gossip slips under the desk from a snickering Amazon to the Justice Department. So the dreams of authors who only want to pay their rent so they can continue, against all odds, to carve out a few hours a day to put their dreamlike stories down on paper and feed them to readers who, similarly passionate about dreams, engage in the books for a few precious hours of release from their lives, to learn through the process of connecting with characters about who they really are and who they want to become, to expand their minds and their souls in ways that they wouldn’t be able to achieve in life yet who find a pathway through literature high and low. So sorry, I forgot that the only dreams that count are those that involve market domination and future profit.

So, let’s put all that aside and return to this second “white paper.” It’s a joke, right? You’re joking? You don’t really think that what’s happening here is the preservation of American culture and preservation of pathways into the cultures of other nations through literature? You don’t really think that eliminating the cost of two lattes a week in order to buy a book is cheap enough (assuming that you are not an author and therefore only rarely able to afford a single latte a month)?

Are you seriously comparing books to adult diapers and sticky tape? Most diapers, after all, absorb at the same rate. Most sticky tape sticks well enough. They are interchangeable.

Books are not. Neither are the authors who write them. Nor are the readers who engage with them.

Wake up, Amazon. You’ve been snickering into your sleeve for far too long. The publishers, the authors, and the public that is your client base don’t share your sense of humor. Be happy with the dead snails and heaps of fish eggs you already own, and keep your hands off my Ramen. Please.

Thanks for listening.