Technology Trends in Publishing

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA (Lucas Giolito tries out virtual reality) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It seems like as we progress, all digital technologies are slowly converging, and it’s really cool to witness. Joe Wikert wrote on DBW about 2016 trends, which included bots and automation, augmented reality, and vying for attention.  Continue reading

8 Fun Trends in Reading and Publishing

By Tulane Public Relations (Girl in the Library  Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tulane Public Relations (Girl in the Library Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Our culture is changing, and it’s exciting and fascinating to watch.

In literature, what used to be taboo is now trending. According to Broadly, gay characters are gaining popularity in teen fiction. According to Broadly, it started in 2003 with David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy novel, though in the beginning it was still considered controversial. Now, according to author Simon Curtis:

“[Teenagers] expect [that] the book better be fucking [diverse]. It shouldn’t be just straight white kids like how it has been for the past hundreds of years. They are hungry for other stuff.”

Another new development is how self-published books are getting more mainstream (not too surprising, since there were 727,000 ISBNs were registered for self-published works, according to Publishing Perspectives). Bustle wrote a list of 10 indie YA novels people should read, which includes Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner, a book about a woman warrior fighting mermaids (whose childhood friend is a mermaid), Awoken by Sarah Noffke, a book about time traveling in your sleep, and The Magic Shop by Justin Swapp, a book about a shop that’s a front for a magical community.

There’s also the “girl” trend. FiveThirtyEight explored how the word “girl” keeps appearing in bestseller titles, and about 1 percent of fiction titles will have the word “girl” in the title this year. It’s unclear why, though part of it may be due to the success of a few books with the word “girl” in the title, such as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and The Girl on the Train.

Fan fiction is also growing. According to Slate, “Harry Potter launched a phenomenon that’s seldom acknowledged and barely understood, but that’s as powerful and lasting as the books themselves: the first massive internet-born fandom.” People were able to connect internationally, and form large communities that in some cases have become associates of studios, such as Warner Bros.

Dystopian novels are considered evergreen, according to Publishing Perspectives. This could be because the real world seems bleak (though some good/interesting things have come out of bad news, such as a pop-up print newspaper finding success in Britain after Brexit, according to the New York Times).

The Internet is helping out print books, according to the New York Times. In Michigan, the independent bookstore Brilliant Books uses social media to deliver great customer service, and attracts a lot of book buyers.

On the flip side, ebooks are being tailored to people’s commutes. In New York, a platform called Subway Reads delivers shorts and excerpts to commuters for free and lets them choose what to read based on the length of their time on the subway, according to the New York Times.

Last, the publishing industry is getting more transparent. According to DBW, Inkitt has posted its author contract online to create a greater level of transparency in the publishing process for aspiring authors.”

What trends have you noticed? Please share in the comments!

Giving Thanks, and Highlights from DevLearn 2016

20161116_093845_hdr

I recently passed the one year mark at my company (for my day job) so I’ve been reflecting a lot about the changes of the past year and how lucky I am. I’m a fan of the product I work on, and the people I work with are just awesome. It would take me too long to describe all the things they do and how amazing they are, but the short list is they’re dedicated, always on top of their stuff, always available when someone needs help, and, most importantly, they’re people you can hang out for two weeks straight and not get sick of (we did that this summer).

My new(ish) company in general cares a lot about investing in people, promoting diversity and inclusion, and letting its employees learn, grown, and find their own path and ways to make a difference in the world. Over this past year, I’ve gotten to learn about a whole new industry and product, create and manage my own projects, and do some amazing volunteer work. I got to meet STEM women from Africa, help assemble 3D-printed prosthetic hands for people impacted by war, and mentor middle-schoolers and help them learn about the wide variety of careers they can have when they grow up. I’ve also had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling: Petaluma, Anaheim, Montreal, and most recently, Las Vegas. These trips have been a mix of team bonding and attending conferences. Through them I’ve walked down the side of a 15-story building, done ropes courses, confronted my anxieties of standing in front of a crowd by singing with our team’s band, and learned so much from going to GDC, SIGGRAPH, and DevLearn.

DevLearn Keynotes

DevLearn is a conference about learning, and covers trends, technologies, lessons, and more about e-learning, for education, internal training, and external training. This year’s theme was creativity, and a lot of the things I learned at DevLearn I think can be applied to multiple industries, especially publishing. A lot of the focus was on storytelling, and how to get your message across in a meaningful, effective way. Continue reading

Book Marketing Tips for the Holidays and Year Round

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a while since I’ve down a roundup of articles. Since the holiday season is coming up fast, here’s a list of helpful marketing-related articles (there’s even a few specific for the holidays)!

Holiday Specific

Growing Traffic and Followers

BookBub Tips and Tricks

Working with People

Trends and New Stuff

Helpful Tools

Self Publishing

The Fate of Reading in a Multimedia Age on LA Review of Books

larb

Recently, I had a great opportunity to write a piece for the LA Review of Books about what constitutes reading and literature. Here is an excerpt (click here for the full article).

IN MID-OCTOBER, the Nobel Committee for Literature awarded the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The announcement came shortly after the most recent Annual Arts Basic Survey (AABS) by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released data that found adults in the United States read less literature for pleasure. The survey said that adult Americans who report reading literature has fallen to 43.1 percent in 2015. The NEA defines literature as poetry, plays, short stories, and novels. Reading can be text or graphics (graphic novels), online or in print.

The results vary by state. According to the survey, Mississippi had the lowest percentage of adults who reported reading literature, at 21.7 percent, and Vermont had the highest percentage, at 62.8 percent. Tennessee had the lowest percentage of adults who reported consuming art via electronic media at 44.8 percent, which includes watching, listening to, and/or downloading programs or information about books or writers, short stories, or poetry read out loud, and Washington had the highest percentage, at 80.4 percent.

The NEA conducts several surveys in this area, including the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). According to Sunil Iyengar, research and analysis director at the NEA, the first AABS survey was in 2013, with about 23,000 responses from American adults. The survey found that book reading has remained relatively stable, though with a steep decline in poetry reading. Iyengar also said that forms of poetry, such as spoken word performances, may not be captured by the reading question, “Did you read a poem in the last year or did you read a work of poetry in the last year?” He explained that the survey questions had to be kept short and simple in order to encourage people to finish answering.

The NEA isn’t the only organization to find a relative decline in reading. Publishers Weekly recently reported on a Pew Research Center Report that found “that 73 percent of Americans have read a book in the last year, largely unchanged from 2012 levels (although lower than the 79 percent recorded in 2011, when Pew began tracking reading habits).” That data came from 1,520 U.S. adults who responded between March and April 2016. To account for this decline, Iyengar cited the “many competing options for people’s leisure time,” but added, “We can’t say definitively what the reason is.”

Though there is no reliable data on why a decline in reading literature is taking place, Tom Jacobs from Pacific Standard offers one theory: “the rise of movies and other visual content on demand  —  which started in the 1980s with the VCR  —  is one likely culprit. After all, why read a novel when you have Netflix?” It’s true that books increasingly have to compete for people’s attention with other forms of entertainment, whether that be movies, videos, games, or something else. According to one recent assessment, Netflix users watched 42.5 billion hours of streaming content last year. Meanwhile, YouTube has more than one billion users, and according to the site, “the average viewing session is now more than 40 minutes.” There are also platforms like Steam, which offers a catalog of games to play on your computer. Steam shares consistently updated information about its users and games, as well as download stats. On October 30 alone, the site reached a peak of 13,081,501 users.

It’s easy to assume that people are reading less because of the myriad options they have to choose from. But is that really the case? What if we redefined what it means to read, as well as what constitutes literature?

Read the rest of the article here.

An Interview with Richard Billings, Founder of Leafless

leafless-whiteThe publishing industry is full of opportunity. Today, publishing startup Leafless, a digital distribution platform and publisher, is launching (after rebranding). Leafless aims to solve the problem of authors paying for reviews and honest reviews disappearing from sites like Amazon. Through Leafless, authors can give copies of ebooks to readers for reviews, and popular books on the site can be distributed globally, in order to collect data for agents and publishers to see and choose whether or not to publish a Leafless book traditionally. Leafless also plans to traditionally publish select titles under its own imprint.

Leafless was part of Ingram Content Group’s 1440 publishing accelerator. I got the chance to ask the founder of Leafless, Richard Billings, a few questions about his new platform and what it means for indie authors.

S.R.: What inspired the creation of Leafless?

R.B.: I began as an amateur writer, writing poems and short stories. After some good feedback and encouragement, I decided to write a novel. I spent two weeks clicking away on the keyboard only to come up with two chapters. I decided that if I was going to spend a year of my life writing a book, I should probably take a look at how the publishing industry works. It didn’t take long to find out that most manuscripts submitted to traditional publishers are rejected. When researching the self-publishing industry, I found many authors setting their prices high but providing very few, if any, reviews for me to base my decision on.

S.R.: How can Leafless help indie authors?

R.B.: Our initial offering only tackled pricing and reviews. We tried to circumvent the traditional market by only selling ebooks on our own site in a self-published-only model. We continued to talk with authors and were continuing to find that although many were happy for the opportunity to have their books read, many still wanted to be traditionally published, but didn’t have the connections to publishers and agents. We also began speaking with publishers and agents who said that they were buried under slush piles and needed a way to filter through the noise to find good content. At Leafless we give authors the opportunity to be discovered by traditional publishers and agents without the mess and rejection of submitting manuscripts to disparate publishers and agents.

S.R.: How many authors and readers is Leafless currently working with?

R.B.: With our previous offering we worked with nearly 300 authors from around the world. We of course hope to see many of those authors convert to the new site. We will also be actively seeking new authors in the coming months.

S.R.: Through Leafless, authors can give copies of their ebooks to readers, and then readers can nominate books for publication. How many votes does it take for a book to be published?

R.B.: Books submitted to the site will remain as ‘Galleys’ for readers to read and provide feedback. Readers can read as many of these as they like, but will have a limited number of ‘Nominations’ that they can use towards books they’d like to see published. A nomination will require that the reader to write at least 250 words about why they’d like to see the book published. After 10 nominations, authors will be offered a global distribution contract as a self-published title. We will apply our pricing model and provide limited marketing towards these books.

S.R.: And how does the publication process work?

R.B.: During the self-publishing stage, after nomination, we collect pricing, sales, demographics, and other important data which we then make available for subscribed publishers and agents. Publishers/agents can use this data to make informed decisions about which authors they’d like to make a contract offer to. The offers take place through our site where we either act as the agent in the case of a direct to publisher agreement, or as a split-commission in the case of an agent agreement. As part of our process, once a book is picked up for traditional publication, those 10 that initially nominated it will receive a signed copy from the author.

S.R.: Are reviews that readers write only available on Leafless or will they be published elsewhere?

R.B.: We still looking into it, but our goal is to disseminate reviews gathered through our process to as many retailers and review sites as possible.

S.R.: Leafless will also be publishing books the traditional way. How many books does Leafless plan to publish per year, and what does Leafless look for in a potential book?

R.B.: Leafless will publish books that appeal to us as a brand. We will probably publish only one book per month under the Leafless imprint. Our authors will receive all of the bells and whistles of traditional publishing, including editing, cover design, marketing, and our contract is based on the Authors Guild fair-contract recommendations. Our goal is to provide a service between authors and publishers. Our publishers would get a right-of-first-refusal for any books we decide to take one. We don’t want to compete with our publishers.

S.R.: How can authors submit their work for consideration?

R.B.: We will, as in the past, provide an easy to use submission process. We are partnered with Pressbooks.com to provide simple eBook creation tools. Submission into the Galley section is free and under no contract other that our normal Terms of Service.

You can learn more about Leafless here.

Writing for Shotgun

I get the opportunity to write cool stuff at my day job at Shotgun. This latest blog post is about how one of our clients uses Shotgun, which is a cloud-based platform that helps people manage their creative projects (films, TV shows, games, commercials, etc.). What’s really interesting about this industry is how much has changed quickly because of digital disruption (sound familiar, fellow book people?) and how people are embracing cloud-based technology more and more. You can read the full blog post here.

Shotgun has amazing clients all over the world creating beautiful media. I recently got to speak with project manager Ken Vandecappelle and associate producer Iris Delafortry from Cyborn about how they use Shotgun. Cyborn is a film producer and 3D animation and motion capture studio based in Antwerp, Belgium.

This is Cyborn’s first year using Shotgun, and the team is using it to work on a feature film project called, Ploey, You Never Fly Alone. This 3D animation feature film is a co-production between Cyborn and GunHil, a studio based in Iceland. About 30 people at Cyborn are now using Shotgun, as well as eight people at GunHil.

Read the full article here.

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Google Plus

Google Plus is a social media platform that is not as talked about as Facebook or Twitter, but can be very important, depending on your niche.

Google Plus Basics

For those who may not be too familiar with Google Plus, here are a few of the basics. First, you fill out a profile, with a picture, a cover image, and whatever information you feel comfortable sharing about yourself. After you create a personal profile, you can create a business profile, or page, such as the one for my side project, I Know Dino. Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Pinterest

Happy 2015! To kick off the year, I’m starting a series of posts that focus on using social media. Today is all about Pinterest.

Pinterest is all about sharing (or pinning) images, and there are many ways indie authors can use this social media platform to their advantage. You can pin images to different boards, and tailor your boards to different interests. Continue reading

5 Classic Books That Are Perfect for Halloween

By Copyleft (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Copyleft (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, here are 5 great Halloween-themed books. Sure, most of them are scary, but who can resist Charlie Brown? So here they are, in no particular order.

  1. The Shining by Stephen King: “Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control. As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive? Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine…”
  2. Dracula by Bram Stoker: Count Dracula: “During a business visit to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.”
  3. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe: An unnamed narrator reads “forgotten lore” by the fire on a dreary night, to forget the death of his love, Lenore.
  4. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving: In 1790 in Tarry Town, New York, Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolmasters, competes for the hand of Katrina Van Tassel at a party. As he leaves the party, a Headless Horseman chases him, the ghost of a Hessian fighter who lost his head in the Revolutionary War and now “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.”
  5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Shulz: It’s Halloween, and the Peanuts gang are all going trick-or-treating. Except for Linus, who is waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

Bonus!

If you’re looking for more great Halloween reads, Goodreads has a few epic reading lists: