Last day to grab the best book bargain of the summer!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Last day for best book bargain of the summer: #WomenWritingWomen ends at midnight!

This year I collaborated with six other authors around the world on an extraordinary publishing experiment. Outside the Box: Women Writing Women is a box set of seven critically acclaimed novels by seriously established women writers, writing across all genres. The theme that unites the novels: the main characters are strong, idiosyncratic women characters.

The box makes a powerful statement about the universality of women's stories and about the independent women who write and read upmarket fiction. We were featured in media around the world, including a great article on publishing's glass ceiling in Guardian's book section, in which we were referred to as "the real superstars...storytellers dedicated to their craft... ground-breaking, boundary-pushing women..."

Just wanted to thank everyone for supporting and spreading the word. It's been an amazing experience on many fronts, but I think my favorite part was reading the six stellar novels by my boxmates. I was in fabulous company!

So this is it. Last chance to load your Kindle for a full summer of excellent reading, one the best reader bargains I've seen in a long time-. Seven stellar novels for the price of one.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I talk about books because books are my life. Pardon the F**K outa me. (Rant Alert)

Something that really got under my skin this week: an author friend of mine was erased from Facebook. Both her personal account and author page were yanked without warning and apparently without an opportunity to appeal.

Facebook has yet to offer any explanation, but there's been speculation that it had something to do with her being an author who uses FB and Twitter to network with readers and fellow authors -- just as we've all been trained to do, whether we're mainstream, indie or hybrid.

[Update: FB eventually responded that my friend, author Jessica Bell, had identified herself as "Author Jessica Bell" and "author" is not her real name. Here's her new FB author page.]

Facebook played the perfect crack dealer, luring us in with the free sample, and now that we're hooked, they want us to pay. Over the past 18 months or so, they've made dramatic changes to the way posts are seen on your timeline, and if it smacks of self-promotion, they want to force it into an arena where the poster pays for every eyeball. And that's fair. That's their bag. Facebook is not a charity for artists or anyone else. What isn't fair is the jackbooted way they've gone about it, especially if that includes the instant elimination of a network the author built over five years of following the rules.

That network is not all about self-promotion. Writing is, of necessity, a lonely profession. Online networking gives authors more than a place to advertise. It gives us a community, colleagues, a worldwide water cooler we can gather around. Yes, we talk about our work, because our work consumes us a lot of the time. Our work is important to us. Not every word we say about it should be cast as "self-promotion," but authors seem to be subjected to some heightened sense of propriety in this area.

A few years ago, I did a self-actualization/empowerment meditation thing via I enjoyed getting all thinky thoughtsy and participated in various discussions about it until there was a call for everyone to post something about a moment when she felt empowered and specifically listed "starting your own small business" as an example. Many posts were about women selling arts and crafts, catering, consulting and breaking away from a big company to freelance in one way or another.

So I posted something about stepping outside the mainstream publishing arena, recovering rights to my backlist books and starting my own indie imprint. I did not mention any book titles or offer a link to my website, even though all the freshly empowered cupcake caterers, jewelery distributors, handbag refurbishers, etc offered links to Etsy and other sales venues. Within hours, my account was shut down and I received a brusque email scolding me about "our policy against self-promotion" but not offering any insight into why my small business endeavor was any different from the other artists and entrepreneurs whose posts remained.

When Amazon instituted new censorship algorithms into their review system, they deleted many of the book reviews I'd posted along with many reviews posted on my books. Only positive reviews, of course. Reviews by people who state right up front they haven't read the book and the lady who gave my book one star because her credit card wouldn't go through -- oh, those stay put, because Amazon is all about "preserving the integrity" of their review system.

I know there have been a lot of authors who paid for or bartered reviews on Amazon and abused publishing etiquette in general, but I have never been one of those authors. I came up in old school publishing, which is positively Lutheran in its sense of propriety. I have yet to receive any explanation of this supposedly incestuous relationship I have with the reviewers who gave me positive reviews or the authors I've reviewed positively, most of whom were total strangers to me. Meanwhile, among the reviews I posted that stayed intact are several for authors with whom I do have relationships. But those three authors are published by Amazon's own imprints. The kindest word to describe Amazon's integrity is "selective".

The net result is that my books have very few reviews, and those are mostly from the old hardcover and paperback editions. It's hard to quantify how damaging that's been to my book sales, but I have no doubt it's hurt me financially. It's prevented me from participating in certain promotions, and it's made me afraid to post reviews supporting books I love because I don't want to risk damaging other authors by association.

The time-honored incestuous blurbing and reviewing that goes on every day in the legacy publishing world makes Amazon's integrity algorithm even more infuriating/laughable, but beyond that is the general web-wide lack of concern about people in any other industry talking about their businesses. Disdain for the crass stench of self-promotion seems to be reserved for authors. People who talk about plumbing, law, medicine, basket weaving and teaching are somehow immune.

I talk about the books I'm reading a lot more than I talk about the books I'm writing. I do far more to promote others than I do to promote myself, and I'm sick of being scolded, censored and shamed because I happen to speak about books -- or about my life -- from the perspective of a writer and editor. It reminds me of high school, when I was called "Miss Dictionary" and told I might get asked out on dates if I wasn't always reading.

Yes, my Facebook page has a lot of posts about books. I eat, sleep and breathe the art of setting words in rows. Books are a huge chunk of my life, on and off the social network. That's not me bragging or hyping or advertising. That's me being passionate about what I do and advocating for other passionately creative people.

So Facebook: 1) Thank you for the opportunity to engage online with folks who share common interests, because I go for many days -- most days, in fact -- without talking to anyone but myself, my husband and my office mascots, Venus and Data.

And 2) Pardon the f**k outa me if us and our durn literacy occupy valuable space that could have been devoted to another cat video.

That is all.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

First 50 Words: BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross

Buy BLUE MERCY by Orna Ross

"A complex tale of betrayal, revenge, suspense, murder mystery — and surprise...John McGahern meets Maeve Binchy." ~ IRISH INDEPENDENT

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Free-spirited freelance editor Jerusha Rodgers on adventures in publishing and life

Bestselling author Dr. Wendy Walsh calls her "an author's dream date." I call her The Plot Whisperer. Today's guest blogger, freelance editor Jerusha Rodgers, offers a snapshot of her life and bookish times...

There was cheering and shouting, a general riotous din, when I clicked ‘Save and Publish’ from poolside at Eighty8 Backpackers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On the other side of the high whitewashed wall and down a street narrowed with street vendors, huge furls of barbed wire blocked off a park where Cambodians protesting unsafe working conditions and unlivable wages in factories came dangerously close to men and women decked out in full riot gear.

The protests and riots had been ebbing and flowing (mostly flowing) for a year, and the cause had already had casualties. It was a tumultuous time in the country and in my life—I was, well, let’s just say I was between visas, between jobs and holed up in the only hostel I could find that took credit cards. One year later and on the other side of the world, people cheered and shouted to celebrate Mexico’s totally unexpected victory in the Battle of Puebla (most people were just celebrating tequila and sombreros).

I’m drinking to the victory of a different battle this week: The one-year anniversary of publishing my first (and presumably not last) book. If that doesn’t sound like a hard-won victory, you’ve probably never written a book—but after you buy mine, you’ll totally be able to. With everything that’s changed—menus and conversations are in English, but no more sparkling pool—everything sure has stayed the same—perpetually working on a new book and still don’t have A/C even though it’s hotter than Hades—and I love this strange little life I’ve lived.

Most of my book was written in Colorado, where I spent hours a day at the corner gastro-pub when I didn’t have heat, but some of it was written in Texas. Some final tweaks were added between bites of Pookie’s pad thai in Koh Lipe, Thailand, and it was polished in Cambodia in a bustling movie theater/restaurant where I worked.

I kept thinking about what advice I would someone to give me when it came time to write the story of my year abroad. What would I look for to guide me through a process that’s about discovery and hard choices and advertising and self-reflection and more discovery. And the hardest part: Putting all of it together in a way that means as much to the agent/editor as it meant to you when you lived it.

YOUR TITLE HERE: How to Craft a Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal takes a tried and true formula that NYT bestseller Joni Rodgers has applied to dozens of successful book projects and makes it accessible for writers of all levels. I break it down so you can easily access exactly the info you need, and it isn’t bulked up with a bunch of boring, out of date junk about the publishing industry (which has changed since I started writing this post).

And because I was always the one asking for an example to make sure I did everything just right, I’m even including two sample proposals with notes. Swoosie Kurtz, Joni Rodgers and the team at Perigee Books were kind enough to lend Swoosie’s actual proposal for her book Part Swan, Part Goose, so you can see exactly what it takes to seal the deal with a publisher.

Jerusha Rodgers is the founder of Rabid Badger Editing and author of YOUR TITLE HERE: How to Craft a Killer Nonfiction Book Proposal


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