Friday, January 29, 2010

Industry News

While Amazon Has Blockbuster Year 

Borders Eliminates 164 Positions

Reviewer's Tip - Website URL

Last week we talked about the importance of having a website and making sure it is completely functional before your book is published.  This week I want to touch on a mistake that I see a lot of first time authors make - using the wrong URL for their site.

URL stands for "Uniform Resource Locator" otherwise known as the domain or address of a web page.

Although not as common as in years past, using a long, cumbersome url, typically from a free hosting site is still the norm for many.  What's the big deal?  Plenty.  You want your customers to remember your URL so they can find you, and more importantly, your book.  If your website's address is:, what's the likelyhood of customers remembering???  The money you save will be lost in lost sales.  In addition, it just doesn't look professional.  Your book is competing against so many books from the big presses, you need to give it every advantage.  Don't hurt the sales potential by saving a few bucks.  And having a long url screams "newbie."

Where can you get a better url?  Check out Network Solutions or  You can find all sorts of names that are available.  Do you have a publishing company?  If the answer is yes, then choose that name, if available.  You might also want to include the name of your book, and/or the author's name.  Many authors choose all three and then link the sites together.  Whatever you choose, please stay away from those long, freebie urls.

Author Interview with Martina Vanderley

Today we're excited to chat with Martina Vanderley, author of Crossroads at the Wilderness.

FQ: A romance novel about a middle-aged couple is a refreshingly unique concept. What inspired you to write this story?

So few romance stories are written about middle-aged people. I feel that this age group is being neglected by most writers, while this group has the most time to read. Nicholas Sparks is an exception, he writes wonderful stories about seniors. I admire him for that. My opinion is that the older generation, in their forties, fifties and older have life experiences and they have so much to give. They certainly are not blasé or without romantic feelings.

FQ: I appreciate the thoughtfulness you brought to the bi-racial component of this book. Tell us about your process in composing this element of the story.

The bi-racial relationship between a man and woman has always intrigued me. My first attempt at writing about it romantically started with a short story named: Brief Encounter,which is actually the first chapter of Crossroads at the Wilderness. I received encouraging reactions and many people asked, “What’s the rest of the story?” I found myself challenged to extend the story and along the way it developed into a novel.

FQ: The inclusion of Tom’s spirituality added another dimension to the story. What were you hoping your readers would take away from this facet of Crossroads at the Wilderness?

I added the subject “faith” to the book because I’m a firm believer that it enriches our lives. By making Tom a minister the subject was easy to address. During the turmoil in Tom and Leslie’s life they found strength and comfort in their prayers. All of us have moments of loss and grief to deal with and things often seem hopeless but these trials make us stronger and it’s faith that lifts us up. I was hoping that my readers would find comfort and truth in that message.

FQ: Leslie’s pregnancy is an interesting twist in a genre that frequently overlooks this very real complication. Was it important for you to bring out this aspect of an affair?

Yes, it is a very realistic complication in an adultery situation; a highly complicated and painful matter that needs a solution. Leslie dealt with it “her” way, after weeks/months of deliberation and mental stress.

FQ: This book seems to be your debut into romance. What drew you to this genre? Is Crossroads at the Wilderness the first of many for you?

I like romances because it takes you to another world: fantasy, imagination. I love that. I’m a dreamer with an eye on realism! No, I’m not thinking of another romance story right now.

FQ: What can your readers expect from you next?

I want to continue short-story writing and hope to publish a book with novelettes this year or next year.
To learn more about Crossroads at the Wilderness please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

10 Tips for Successful Book Store Events

Here's a great article for running a successful signing.  The article was written by Carol White (thanks, Carol!)  Check out her bio below this article and be sure to visit her website for more great tips.

10 Tips for Successful Book Store Events

Here are the 10 things that any author should REQUIRE of a book store when booking an event - if you don’t get these things, it will be a waste of time.

1) Stock books a month prior to the event and display prominently with a sign announcing the event

2) Have signs at the cash register about the event with fliers for patrons to take with them (better if they stuff them into every purchase bag)

3) Have the event and information about it on their website 1-3 months in advance

4) Talk it up in their newsletter at least one month in advance

5) Post it to appropriate "calendars" in local newspapers and other media

6) Send media announcements (PR) about event (author should send to their media list also) - written by either the author or the store

7) Author should attempt to get booked on local radio or TV within a day or so of the event

8) Author needs to post event on their website with a link to book store website 1-3 months in advance

9) Author and book store should utilize any local blogs or websites that will promote the event.

10) Author needs to post to Twitter, Linked In groups, FB and other appropriate social media several times in the week prior to the event.

Here is an article about one of my most successful events - in tiny, little Spokane, WA:

Here’s to more great events that make independent publishers look great!
"If it is to be, it is up to me."

Carol's bio: Carol White is an author, publisher, speaker, and book marketing coach. In addition to co-authoring the best selling, award-winning book, Live Your Road Trip Dream (RLI Press, 2004, Second Edition 2008,, Carol is a frequent guest speaker at conventions such as the national AARP Life @ 50+ and The Great North American RV Rally. In 2007, Carol completed the rigorous National Speaker’s Association (NSA) yearlong education program.

And most importantly, her website where you'll find lots of great info.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Reviews at Feathered Quill

Several new reviews just posted at Feathered Quill Book Reviews:

Dire Means By: Geoffrey Neil

Dogs on the Bed By: Elizabeth Bluemie

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Free Twitter Applications for Business Owners

10 Free Twitter Applications for Business Owners

2009 was a great year for Twitter as Twitter continued its growth throughout the year and grew at a whopping rate of more than 1000%. According to a report from web analytics firm Compete, the site is getting around 23 million unique hits from the US each month. The enormous amount of traffic Twitter is getting each month has made this Web2.0 site a lucrative platform for marketing where small business owners can promote their products amongst their target audience. If you are already using Twitter or intending to use it then here are the best free twitter applications for you which will help you promote your business on Twitter in a more effective way.

CoTweet – CoTweet, as the name suggests, is a great tool to manage corporate accounts on Twitter. This Twitter application allows you to manage multiple accounts at the same time and to invite your colleagues to work as a team on the company's twitter account. Another unique feature of CoTweet is tweet assignment where you can assign your tweets to your colleagues for follow-up. In addition, CoTweet provides you with many other useful features like tweet scheduling, click tracking and conversation threading.

Splitweet – Do you have to manage multiple twitter accounts at the same time? Try Splitweet. Splitweet helps you manage multiple twitter accounts at the same time from a single screen. Splitweet also helps in monitoring the reputation of a brand by sending email notifications whenever your company name is mentioned on Twitter.

TweetBeep- TweetBeep is a kind of Twitter alert service which will help you keep track of tweets that mention your company name, brand or any other keywords you have selected. You can get up to ten free alerts each month by signing up for a free TweetBeep account.

Socialoomph – Socialoomph is another great Twitter application which helps you schedule your tweets, track keywords, send welcome tweet to new followers, follow or unfollow those who follow or unfollow you.

Qwitter – Qwitter notifies you every time someone stops following you with the last tweet you posted after which the person stops following you. It is a great tool to understand the likes and dislikes of your followers.

Twinbox – Twinbox is a fully featured Plugin which will integrate Twitter into Microsoft Outlook. You can update your status, follow persons, use twitter search and perform all other activities directly from your Outlook account. It is a great tool if Outlook remains open all the time on your screen.

Twitoria- Twitoria is a small application to find out the followers who are not actively tweeting.

GroupTweet – GroupTweet is another useful application to communicate easily with specific group of people. You can use this service to communicate with your clients or to send some confidential information to all your employees at once via DM.

Tweepler – Tweepler helps you to organize your followers in a better way by showing you the stats of the last three weeks of each follower and save your time by eliminating the need to visit each profile.

Twimailer- Looking for more information in your inbox when you get a new follower? Then sign up for a free Twimailer account. Twimailer sends extensive email notifications about each new follower which contains the follower’s location, stats and their most recent tweets.

Mark Thompson is working for Fortepromo Promotional Products which creates high quality custom flash drives that help IT companies to promote their brand in market.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Barnes & Realigns

Important article for those who sell their books on Barnes & Noble.  Will be interesting to see what sort of changes this brings about.  Personally, I'd love them to set up a program similar to Amazon's Advantage program to make it much easier for small press/self-publishers to sell through B&

Barnes & Realigns

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly.

A spokesperson for Barnes & Noble confirmed a number of reports that there were some changes last week at Barnes &, although she couldn’t provide many details. “We did have some organizational changes [last] week that were part of a realignment at,” spokeperson Mary Ellen Keating said in an e-mail. “We did eliminate a handful of jobs, while adding more in other fact the organization is growing. The action was really more about making sure we have the right skills and talent in place for an ambitious year ahead.”

Do I Need to be an Expert in my Topic to Write an Article?

Our guest post today comes from Carol Tice, a past contributor to our blog.  Carol has tons of great advice for all our authors/writers.  This week, we're running an article on whether you need to be an expert to write articles.  "I'm an author," you might respond.  "I write books, not articles."  My reply?  If you're an author, then you need to get your name out on the web and elsewhere and one of the best ways to do that is to write articles.  Read on...

Do I Need to be an Expert in my Topic to Write an Article?

Today's question comes from Tonja Alvis, an aspiring freelancer from my own neighborhood near Seattle. Tonja was thinking about submitting articles to family and religious Web sites, but felt underqualified.

"I can't get over the fact that I should be more of an expert in this field -- a family counselor or with a degree in theology -- instead of simply being a writer who is great at writing about these topics."

Great question Tonja. And I can answer it in three words: Get over it.

It's a popular myth that professional writers need to possess some kind of official credentials in the subject matter about which they write -- that business reporters have an MBA, for instance, or that real-estate writers are all former realtors or mortgage brokers.

One of my first regular freelance gigs was writing cover features for the Los Angeles Times real estate section. I made the contact by winning an essay contest the paper held, soliciting first-person stories about remodeling your house.

When the editor asked me to do regular reporting for him after publishing my first-person essay, I was freaked. "Don't I need to be a realtor or something for that?" I asked him.

"Oh please no!" he said. "We've tried to have professionals like that write for us, and it was always a disaster. Their writing is awful! Your writing is funny and sharp. Please don't change! Write just the way you do, and learn a little bit about the industry."

Why did my editor respond this way? Because industry professionals tend to write in dry, almost incomprehensible industry jargon-babble...while most publications are trying to reach a general audience. As a writer with only a layperson's understanding of your topic, you're perfect for the job!

When it comes to writing first-person essays on topics you've experienced in your own life, you're all the expert you need to be. Just work on making your writing exceptional, and you're there.

I've written articles about operating a hardware store in Fairbanks, Alaska...using software tools to calculate the money insurers need to keep in reserve against financial-service startups can land venture capital money...and striking dockworkers in San Pedro, just to name a few. Do you think I am an expert in any of these things? Have I actually been a dockworker or owned a hardware store? Nope.

I always say I may not be an expert in your topic...but give me 24 hours, and I will be. With the Internet, information isn't hard to find -- you can always learn about any subject, and locate experts in that subject you can interview and quote. If you can bring great writing skills, you can find the experts you need for almost any assignment.

Good luck to all the first-time writers out there! If you're interested in more tips, email me your questions at the address above, and I'll put you on the list to receive word when I publish my upcoming e-book, Start Freelance Writing.

Carol Tice is an experienced journalist, blogger and copywriter. She mentors other writers who seek to increase their earnings. Her blogs are Make a Living Writing and the Daily Dose for Entrepreneur magazine.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Author Interview with Dr. Inayatullah Ibrahim Lalani

Today we're sitting down to talk with Dr. Inayatullah Ibrahim Lalani, author of Al-Battani Shield: Counteracting Global Warming: A New Approach.

FQ: In the preface of Al-Battani Shield you say that you hope your message will reach scientists and politicians who will be able to further pursue your ideas. There will also be many readers, like myself, who can not contribute in that way. What are you hoping that readers outside of the scientific community will do with the information we learn from the book book?

The marketplace of ideas is intensely competitive, with thousands of ideas of varying merit vying for the attention of those who matter the most. I learned early on that even a flawless diamond has to be marketed and so I am doing all I can to bring the book to the attention of the academics and the policymakers. One has to move on several fronts, soliciting reviews, writing to influential personalities and asking those friends and acquaintances who have interest in such matters to spread the word. And the response has, so far, been gratifying, partly because the central message of the book, the need for and practical feasibility of a physical barrier in a 'cum sole' trajectory (which I christened "Al-Battani trajectory" for the reasons expounded on in the book) is fresh and appealing to those who grasp the points made.

FQ: Readers may be surprised to learn that you're a surgeon, not a physicist or mathematician. How did your intense interest in global warming develop?

A surgeon is a physician who also operates. A physician is (or should be) a biologist with special interest in human physiology and pathology. And a biologist is, after all, a scientist. And so scientific method comes as naturally to a surgeon as it does to the proverbial 'rocket scientist.' The value of science education is, chiefly, that it imparts an ability to analyze and think through a problem - any problem - applying the tools of the scientific method.

Several articles in New Yorker, Scientific American and The Atlantic Monthly in the eighties and nineties had drawn public attention to the problem of global warming. Having been an avid amateur astronomer, I first played witht the idea of doing things that would increase earth's 'albedo' (i.e., the reflectivity) in order to shed excess solar radiation back into space. Placing mirrors on rooftops, reflective films on desert and ocean surfaces and such approaches immediately ran into difficulties when considered further. Willaim Calvin's 1998 article in The Atlantic was an eye-opener and really scary. It was at that time that I realized that a beach-goer's umbrella creates a solar eclipse on a minimal scale and that principle had to be at the heart of any technology to protect the earth from overheating.

FQ: Have you had a chance to present the idea of the Al-Battani Shield to physicists or astronomers? If so, how did they receive your proposal?

The gentleman who wrote the forward to the book proposed showing the idea to a NASA physicist and to a physics professor at his university and so I gave him two copies of the book to give to those two friends of his. I am awaiting feedback. Another relative, an engineer, has a friend high up in IPCC who might be looking at the book. That is all, so far.

FQ: You tend to steer clear of politics in your book, making it possible, I would think, for people on either side of the debate to read and appreciate it. Do you think that people from different countries and different ends of the political spectrum would be able to work together on this idea, assuming that all acknowledge the threat of global warming to be real?

I am a left winger on most issues but not a climate change ideologue. The reason is that the 'global warming' scenario is based on so many assumptions that may not all have merit. The likelihood that at least some of the assumptions may be contrary can result in them being cancelled out. But if we decide to embark on broad measures based on reality of global warming, then each proposal to counteract the climate change should be tested for cost-benefit analysis. Cutting carbon dioxide emissions as the essential first step is too well known for me to belabor the issue but if we decide to go beyond that, then let us consider some other proposals put forward in recent years. Most of them rely on placing particle barriers in orbit around the earth (creating Saturn-like rings). One of them would make the night skies glow like twilight, eliminating the beautiful night-time darkness, killing astronomy - at least amateur astronomy - as we know it. And it will be horrendously expensive, far more expensive than placing an Al-Battani Shield.

Putting this kind of space-engineering solution in practice would not require America to surrender its sovereignty to any international control regime (such as the hated 'cap and trade' gimmick) and will not ask any nation to put brakes on its industrial development in order that the affluent nations can maintain their high living standards. Expecting international cooperation for such a project is much more realistic than reducing the big polluting nations' carbon footprint, I think.

FQ: How long have you been thinking about the idea of the Al-Battani shield? How did you first decide to write a book about it?

As I said, I first put forward the idea of a solar barrier in a cum sole trajectory in my letter to the Editor of The Atlantic Monthly in response to William H Calvin's landmark 1998 article "The Great Climate Flip Flop." The idea did receive some brief notice in scientific circles but no traction subsequently. Meanwhile, the debate about climate change kept getting more intense and I thought someone had to push the idea of a solar barrier. Since nothing of the sort was forthcoming I concluded that a full length book alone would serve the purpose. Whether this effort suffices remains to be seen.

FQ: Isn't the idea of holding fast an object on a circumsolar trajectory this close (approximately 0.01% AU) to the earth's barocenter a physical impossibility? And how about perturbation caused by the moon's gravity?

As an 'inertial' orbit, yes. I am quite explicit about devising a 'powered' trajectory for maintaining its cum sole character. In fact I deliberately discarded the appellation "orbit" to underscore this point.
During the late 40s and early 50s, after the Truman Administration had publicly committed itself to the development of a thermonuclear weapon, Edward Teller (the 'father' of the hydrogen bomb) nearly lost his reputation and faced ruin of his career because fully 3 years were consumed as the scientists at Columbia University struggled to perfect ENIAC, the first computer. During that anxious time, the whole team of physicists could do nothing but twiddle their thumbs.

We are fortunate in that we now have supercomputers of incredible power. The mathematicians can quickly cut the "Gordian Knot" of perfecting the cum sole trajectory with the help of the latest in Sperry machines once they grasp - and embrace - the concept. Even if I were a physicist of great stature, this challenge would be beyond me without close collaboration with the mathematicians fully capable of putting the supercomputers to use.

One last thought. A general reader will have no trouble with going through the first eight chapters of the book and I hope their experience is enjoyable. However, many may not bother to go beyond those chapters because they may feel surfeited with the information about the climate. The 'beef' is to be found in the last chapters which are directed to the more serious experts. For them, my advice would be to skip chapters 2-8 if they are pressed for time and reflect on the second half of the book.

To learn more about Al-Battani Shield: Counteracting Global Warming: A New Approachplease visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Where's your Website?

This week's tip is simple - do you have a website?  In the past we've talked about what should be on your site, but this is far more basic.  You need to have a site BEFORE your book comes out.  Once the book is published, you'll be far too busy promoting the book to go about the business of setting up a site.  It's much easier to add a little here and there as you become more experienced in what your site needs than to start from scratch.

At Feathered Quill, when we post a review, we give the authors/publishers the option of having a link added at the bottom of the review that points to their site.  I just posted a review the other day with a link to the requested site, and when I checked the link, was disappointed to find "website under construction."  And you know what?  I'm not going to be the only disappointed person.  Each reader who clicks on that link is a potential sale.  But I'm willing to bet most (all?) will lose interest when they see the author hasn't even bothered to create a site.  Please get those sites up and running!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Amazon Ups Royalty Fees on Kindle Sales

Interesting article on Amazon and the Kindle.  Are your books available through Kindle?  No?  Why not???

Amazon jacks up e-book royalties ahead of Apple's tablet release

Opposition to Google Settlement

I don't typically run more than one Publishers Weekly article a week, but these two were too compelling to ignore.  Here's the second one.  Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly.

At NWU Event, Confusion, Strong Opposition to Google Settlement

By Andrew Albanese

Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken has been one of the most unflappable proponents of the Google Book Search settlement, but yesterday, at an anti-settlement event at the National Writers Union New York headquarters, Aiken grew increasingly exasperated as he addressed an audience hostile to the settlement, and occasionally hostile to him. Aiken drew a polite laugh at the outset when he quipped that he was happy to address “the axis of opposition,” but soon after finishing his by now well-rehearsed informational talk regarding the deal, sparks flew.

The NWU, vocal opponents of the settlement, co-sponsored the “workshop” with two other organizations opposed to the settlement, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Science Fiction Writers Association. The panel also featured literary agent and attorney Lynn Chu and New York Law School’s James Grimmelmann.

In his balanced talk, Grimmelmann, the only neutral voice on the panel, outlined three major points for audience members to consider when evaluating the deal: the settlement as a new publishing model; the deal’s alignment of authors’ and readers’ interests; and its implications for copyright policy. He soberly evaluated the benefits and potential risks of the deal, telling members that in his opinion Google probably would have won on its fair use defense had the issue been litigated, but expressed some reservations about such a major player in the book world being created through a class action lawsuit, rather than through the market.

Then the fun began. Chu wasted no time blasting the deal. She called it a travesty, illegal and characterized it as a bad business arrangement that eliminates the market process and turns the opt-in system of copyright on its ear. She veered out of control, however, when it came to the details of the agreement, twice insisted there was no orphan works issues and that the Book Rights Registry was designed to foment rights disputes, not solve them. An exasperated Aiken scolded Chu for her “vivid imagination,” as well as NWU’s Edward Hasbrouck for his interpretation of the agreement, and the workshop descended into moments of chaos.

The event was certainly a lively conversation. Rather than clarify the issues at hand, however, the talk left audience members PW spoke to even more confused about what to do, with just one week to go before the January 28 opt-out deadline. It also hinted at perhaps the major obstacle, besides the Department of Justice, facing the deal as it makes it way toward the February 18 fairness hearing: its scope and sheer complexity. With just weeks to go before the hearing, it seems many rank-and-file authors are just now beginning to wrestle with the deal's implications, and despite months of events to explain the agreement, confusion and misunderstanding are still common.

Concerns over Borders Grow

Reprinted with permission of Pulbisher's Weekly.

As speculation about the digital future of book publishing grab headlines, publishers are becoming more concerned about a company that could have an immediate impact on their business--Borders. In an article appearing on Debtwire, the financial news service reported that frustrated with the slow-paying practices of the retailer, a group of smaller publishers has hired the bankruptcy group of Lowenstein Sandler as legal counsel. Debtwire quoted one publisher as saying some small publishers were having a hard time getting paid “in a timely fashion” and were contemplating taking some legal action.

In response, a Borders spokesperson said “Borders Group has continued to pay its vendors and is not aware of any material disputes related to its December 2009 payments.” Interviews with a number of publishers, both large and small, by PW found Borders to be current with its payments, though one small publisher stopped doing business with the chain at the end of 2008 because of its fragile financial condition. And while one of the large publishers interviewed by PW said Borders was current “on our terms,” he nonetheless said the poor holiday performance and the continuing financial struggles of the chain was “very worrying.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Editor's Tips - Helping Inexperienced Authors

We're excited to welcome back Barbara Ardinger, freelance editor, to the Feathered Quill blog family. Barbara is an experienced editor who has worked with many authors. If you have questions about your book and/or need an editor, contact Barbara at  You can also visit her website at


Helping Inexperienced Authors
Now that I’m out from under web site construction and social media (I feel like I’ve been building a new Great Pyramid), I can get back to talking about things I love best in the world. One of these is helping inexperienced authors create the best books they can write.

I’ve just begun working with a woman who’s writing on New Thought topics, including bringing our lives into proper balance. It’s going to be an interesting, philosophical book, but we’re just getting started. Most of the time, this author lives in Los Angeles (less than an hour north of where I live), but right now she’s at home in Austria. Thank Goddess for cell phones. We’ve had two long conversations, voice to voice instead of mere e-mail, in one week. She’s having trouble getting started.

“Don’t let that worry you,” I told her. “You’re doing exactly the right thing.” What has she done? A mind dump. She just poured all her thoughts into her computer. I have two chapters right now, though I’ve only opened the first one. It’s 48 pages long. Her writing is so philosophical and dense that I’ve divided it into four parts for ease of editing. That’s not a problem? you ask. No, I repeat. She’s doing the right thing. She wrote a terrific rough draft, even though her English is not always idiomatic American English (easy to fix), her paragraphs are sometimes nearly a whole page long (less easy to fix, but fixable), and sometimes she uses New Age jargon when she could be writing in a fresher style.

She’s doing exactly the right thing. She thought about what she wanted to write. She organized her thoughts into chapters. She mostly organized the chapters by topic. Then she started writing. She wrote a lot.  

“That,” I told her (several times), “is precisely how you write a book.” The steps in writing a book look simple: (1) Prewriting. This is the planning stage, where you organize your thoughts, gather your resources, find books or web sites you want to cite, and figure out how your word processing program works. (2) Writing. This is putting everything “on paper,” well, actually into your computer. Be sure to save often! (3) And rewriting. Over and over and over. Moving ideas, reorganizing paragraphs, deleting, moving sentences, doing more research, and writing some more, deleting some more. Finding an editor like me to help do all this work.

This is what surprises most new authors. Just because you’ve written your first draft, you have not written a book. You’ve started a book. The only famous author that I know of who said he wrote only one draft and I believe him is Isaac Asimov. Everyone else writes multiple drafts.

That’s what I told my new author. She’s written a terrific rough draft. Now we will be working together to turn that terrific rough draft in to a book that people will read and enjoy. It’s a lot of work, but the end is worth the journey.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You Publish Digital Books?

If so, you'll want to check out Digitalbookworld.  From their website: 

Digital Book World is a two-day investment in RIGHT NOW designed to help you and your company capitalize on your assets in the short-term while developing and executing a digital strategy for the long-term. Our focus is on the specific strategies consumer publishers need to implement the right tools effectively for maximum impact today and tomorrow.

Digital Book World isn't just about strategies, though; it's also about the network. Because of our focus on consumer publishing, our speakers and attendees represent publishers of all sizes and niches – from 
Random House and HarperCollins to Tor, Chelsea Green, National Geographic and Ellora's Cave – as well as literary agents and other allied professionals, and vendors with an interest in the future of consumer publishing.

Join your peers at Digital Book World on January 26-27, 2010 at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City.

Do You Publish Digital Books?

Author Interview with Mark Zvonkovic

Our interview today is with Mark Zvonkovic, author of When Mermaids Sing

FQ: What was your life experience in the 1960s-70s? Were you going through the same personal growth as Larry?

I was a college student in Boston in the 60s and a junior high school teacher in Medford in the early 70s, before I went to law school. I don’t think you could say I was exposed to Larry’s specific issues, but I did share his questions about the meaning and purpose of a career in the then developing achievement oriented culture. I went into teaching thinking it was an end unto itself, and soon discovered that it was in so many ways just another business that put its emphasis on tangible success displayed by paper work and measurable criteria. That was the point of the discussion between the Doeton’s and Jack about tracking and intelligence tests. Many of the ideals that I had previously fostered in my high school years in Pleasantville, New York and in my small classics courses in college were compromised in those early years.

FQ: What inspired you to write about the issue of cults during this era?

I did have a friend who experimented with cults, but not nearly to the extent as Bradley. Actually, I learned most of what is in the novel about cults much later, after I first started writing the novel in 1993 or 1994. I actually needed something that could develop the characters in the novel and the struggle with ideals. I thought about having Bradley being a returning soldier from Vietnam, but after some research decided that the cult experience from those years, particularly the real life dramas being played out in the news concerning Black Lightning, was a better platform.

FQ: You do an impressive job of presenting the philosophical debates surrounding the issue of 
cults from various sides. What are your personal views of cults vis a vis organized religion?

Actually, cults may be the most organized of religions. I think religion is what an individual makes of it, and the traditional organized religions create a comfortable environment in which individuals can express their beliefs. In a way, they are like belonging to a gym; they create the atmosphere and regimen that gets your beliefs in shape. The difference with a cult is in its inflexible structure – it’s like being on the treadmill that won’t shut off. So, in a cult you are not exercising your beliefs (which to me means you are exploring them as well), you are only strictly practicing them. I’m not even sure you would say it was practicing a belief in the case of a cult, but more like embracing a doctrine. And where religious practice becomes cult activity is difficult to define. I recently read an excellent memoir called Matches in the Gas Tank that does a good job of illustrating the long term effect that a cult can have on an individual.

FQ: I am so curious about what happens to Larry after the book’s conclusion. Do you think Larry’s life path alters as a result of his efforts to extricate his cousin from the cult? Or is he destined to be swallowed up by the academic track like his parents?

It’s not for me to say what happens to Larry. I believe reading is an interactive activity, so what happens to Larry is for a reader to say. When I have a chance to talk to someone who has read the book, I always try to ask what he or she thinks happens to Larry and to Bradley, and why. I find that the answers are often based as much on the personal history of the reader as what the reader may think the novel suggests. I tried not to suggest anything too strongly, in fact, because as in life, who can’t really foresee what will happen next. The novel differs from so many novels out today because it is really all about the growth and interaction of the characters as well as a commentary on the generation coming of age during that time. There is nothing really sensational in the story, such as a vampire, and the plot doesn’t drip with intrigue. In fact, the kidnapping turns into a comedy of sorts. So, I would say that what happens to Larry takes a backseat to the moment in life in which he finds himself. Perhaps young people in today’s fast paced, always connected culture won’t identify with that feeling.

FQ: I know this book took you a long time to write. (Thank you for your perseverance!) Do you have anything you’re working on now for your readers?

I am intrigued by how people think about things and what brings a person to experiencing something meaningful. You’ll note that the characters of Hal and Bradley were in the novel like two book-ends around Larry. You only saw them through Larry’s eyes, and, purposely, you saw more of Hal in the first half of the novel and more of Bradley in the second half. Perhaps, if you were to find out more about what happens to Larry after the novel concludes, you would find out more about Hal. I don’t know. I am working on a couple of short stories that work with my interest in character development. In one of them I am trying out a more conventional third person, past tense presentation, as opposed to the first person present tense narration employed in the novel. The characters are older and are not teachers. More than that, I can’t say yet.

To learn more about When Mermaids Sing, please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Choose a GREAT title

We review many books that are quite good but unfortunately, have lackluster titles.  A good title is right up there with great cover artwork for effectively selling your book.  Coming from small press/self-publishers, your book is already at a disadvantage competing with the big presses.  Also, with so many authors selling their books on Amazon, it really, really helps to use words in your title that people are apt to search.  Don't choose non-sensical names.  Finally, consider adding a subtitle.  It really helps buyers connect with your book and again, helps your book appear in searches.  Have a dog book?  Don't call it "Buzzy."  Call it, "Buzzy: The Dog (or German Shepherd, Collie, etc.) who Loved Donuts."

Attributor Study Finds Pervasive Online Book Piracy

This one is scary!!! 

By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly
reprinted with permission
Publishers could be losing out on as much 
as $3 billion to online book piracy, a new 
report released today by Attributor 
estimates. Attributor, whose FairShare 
Guardian service monitors the Web for 
illegally posted content, tracked 913 books 
in 14 subjects in the final quarter of 2009 
and estimated that more than 9 million 
copies of books were illegally downloaded 
from the 25 sites it tracked. Although Attributor 
needs to make some projections to arrive at 
total numbers, the hard figures the survey 
uncovered are disturbing to any publisher 
worried about the possible impact of piracy 
of e-books.

From the four sites that make digital download data,, and found 3 million illegal downloads in the final quarter of 2009 of the 913 books followed. The company estimates those four sites represent about one-third of all book piracy. (Attributor calculated the share of piracy based on 53,000 book takedown notices sent out to various Web sites in the second half of 2009).
 Attributor’s Rich Pearson said he was surprised about how bad the piracy problem has become since the company became more involved with book publishing over a year ago. Of the 14 book categories tracked, piracy was most prevalent in the business and investing segment which had an average of 13,000 free downloads per title, the report found. The professional and technical segment was a close second followed by science, and computer and Internet. The average number of free fiction downloads was just over 2,000, the study found. Pearson said he wasn’t surprised to find a “high correlation” between books that are illegally downloaded and subject areas that students are the most interested in. Still, the survey found lots of illegal fiction downloads with Attributor finding 7,951 illegal downloads of Angels and Demons and 1,604 downloads of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In nonfiction,Architect’s Drawings was downloaded 9,715 times.

Pearson said sites are very good at responding to takedown requests, saying that about 98% of requests are acted on.  With piracy growing and the digital book market becoming more important, publishers need to have a strategy in place on how to respond. 

Xerox to Market and Sell the Espresso Book Machine

By Judith Rosen -- Publishers Weekly - reprinted with permission

Xerox and On Demand Books, maker of the Espresso Book Machine, have teamed up to jointly market and sell the EBM with the Xerox 4112™ Copier/Printer worldwide. Under the new agreement, the 21 stores and libraries that already use the EBM will not be required to switch to the 4112, although as On Demand CEO Dane Neller points out, it is faster than the Quasar printer. The 4112 prints 110 pages per minute and can produce a 300-page book in less than four minutes.
By partnering with Xerox, On Demand will have access to a sales force for the first time and will make joint sales calls with Xerox, which will forward leads. “It’s been a long journey,” said Xerox publishing v-p John Conley, formerly with R.R. Donnelley, who has been in discussions with On Demand for a number of months. For him, the driver behind Xerox’s decision is that there is now enough content, some 3.3 million titles, to make EBM work. “On Demand does many things we can’t do,” he said, citing the EBM’s finisher and the EspressNet software. “But we have many, many skills that can make them more robust as you set a goal for worldwide capability. We think we can help make this incredibly significant. We like what it can do for the book distribution model.”
Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., which added its EBM “Paige” earlier this fall, tested the first 4112/EBM combination. But no new ones will likely be added during the first quarter of 2010 while Xerox and On Demand work out the details. However a phased roll out in the U.S. and Canada will take place starting at the end of the second quarter. Conley sees 2010 as an opportunity to study the stores and libraries that already have EBM before ramping up. “We’re going out the door and learning a lot of lessons,” he said. No date has been set yet for the launch worldwide.
The new arrangement doesn’t address the problem of affordability, although price point is one area that Xerox wants to monitor. Xerox will lease the 4112, but On Demand has no plans for direct leasing. “We hope over time, we can offer an umbrella leasing option,” said Neller, who notes that those who don’t want to purchase the EBM can lease it through third parties like banks.
Even with the added clout that the partnership with Xerox should bring, On Demand plans to continue to add machines slowly. Eleven mostly university-related stores and libraries will get EBM’s this quarter, including University Book Store in Seattle, NDSU Bookstore in Fargo, and North Carolina State Bookstores in Raleigh. According to Neller, the company is on track to have 80 machines in place by the end of 2011.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

8 Tips for Contacting Journalists on Twitter

Reprinted with permission of Carol Tice.  Please see her bio at the bottom of this article.

I'm departing from my usual vein of giving tips to freelance writers today to offer some tips to all the rest of you, who'd like to connect with freelance writers through social media.

It's an interesting experience being a journalist on Twitter. As happy as I am to have many of you as my tweeps, it's clear that not all of you know how to work with the media. So here are my tips for how to connect with journalists on Twitter – and more importanly, how to avoid massively turning journalists off.

1. For G-d's sake, have a Web site. I will not use you as a story source if your Twitter page does not list a Web site. Period. The one-paragraph description on Twitter does not give me enough information about you. A link to your LinkedIn or Facebook page is lame – you don't have your own Web site? – but better than nothing, and might do in a pinch. I am constantly amazed at the number of Twitter users who have no link on their profile.

2. State your location. I know people think they're all Web 2.0 and global by putting their Twitter location as "USA!" or "Everywhere" or listing their GPS coordinates...but I'm trying to verify that you're a real person, and learn where you are, so I know what time of day I should call you.

3. Only respond to sourcing tweets that you fit. When I tweet looking for a tax expert and get a social-media expert, I am not amused. Actually, I am unfollowing you or blocking you if you do it more than once.

4. Please don't send me direct messages basically begging me to write about your book, Web site, or whatever, the minute you start following me. Let me take a look at your site and your tweets, maybe follow you back, and see what you've got to say.

5. Think before you tweet. Imagine a reporter is looking down your home page at your last 10 tweets. Are they going to convince me you are an articulate expert in your field? A string of "Wow, tired, going to bed now!"-type posts – or posts that are just lists of your tweeps' Twitter handles – don't make me want to interview you. Be tweeting about your expertise, as well as sharing and commenting on other people's news in your sector, and cut the fluff.

6. Don't post 20 tweets at once. Maybe this is a personal thing, but I find the blockade strategy obnoxious. When my screen fills up with one person's tweets, I usually skip right over them, and if it happens often, I unfollow the person just to make it stop.

7. DM me an introduction. When I follow experts, I find the best ones usually send me a DM thank-you and say something like "Looking forward to staying in touch and hearing what you have to say!" Friendly, not selling me anything, just starting a conversation. Or they DM and quickly state their expertise in a non-pushy, non-salesy way. Expertise-focused DMs are a great way to begin building relationships with me because the message stays in my DM file and can be retrieved months from now.

8. Get recommended. What I like best as far as source-finding on Twitter is when people I trust can direct me to an expert source. If you can, have someone I follow introduce you.

About Carol: Currently a freelancer for Entrepreneur magazine, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business Monthly, Yahoo! Hotjobs, and the Seattle Times, among others. She was a staff writer at the Puget Sound Business Journal for more than six years.