Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traditional vs. e-publishing: War or peace?

I love the feel of a print book in my hand and I haven't gotten an e-reader. Yet. But that's me as a reader. As a writer, though, I have to look at the whole e-publishing thing through different eyes.

I'm not technologically challenged. I love my laptop and my iPhone, but I've been viewing e-publishing and traditional publishing as an either/or thing. My passion for books and libraries sways me towards print and I have this nagging feeling of betrayal if I choose to e-publish. After all, a core theme in GUARDIAN CATS is the saving of books and libraries. But my arguments against e-publishing are diminishing as I've discovered Overdrive, supplier of digital content to libraries and schools. Seems like a smart thing to include in an e-publish marketing plan.

If you're following the buzz, the whole publishing world seems to be up for grabs. If you've been buried in your WIP (good for you!) and haven't been paying attention, here's what happening in a nutshell. Established writers are going 'indie' while new authors, using the 'e-book first' strategy, are getting noticed and offered contracts by traditional publishers. (See the link to Jane Friedman's post below.)

I haven't seen any statistics on this. But I'm following a lot of authors, agents and bookish friends on my Twitter and blog feeds and watching the trends closely.

For instance:
If, like me, you are pondering publishing options, it's pretty crazy out there and things are changing quickly. If you haven't gone 'Twitter', I would highly recommend it. My Tweeps are 90% writers, agents, publishers, and what I call 'bookish' friends who keep up with the publishing world on a minute by minute basis.

It's mind blowing, but a really exciting time to be at this juncture in the publishing industry. For sane and respected advice you are probably already aware of, read the Pros blogs, many listed on my side bar.
Now I'm thinking that there's room for it all. Why would more options for reading be a bad thing? Upon closer examination, it doesn't appear to be the tug-of-war as I first thought. But then I'm a child of the 60's who still believes that somehow it's possible that we can 'work it out'.

I'm still researching e-readers, waiting until one of them jumps out at me and screams 'Take me! I'm yours!' 

Follow my 'bookish' Tweets. I'll follow you back. It'll be fun.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Are kids reading eBooks?

While I'm seeing light at the end of the tunnel for completion of GUARDIAN CATS, I'm considering all my publishing options. Between Twitter, Google news feeds and industrial strength writer's blogs, a picture of what's happening in the publishing business comes to mind, resembling the wild west.

E-publishing was not at the top of my marketing plan priorities for Guardian Cats, but Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler have tipped the scale in its favor for many writers, myself included. But I still have reservations.

I don't write paranormal romance like Hocking. I write for kids. So I need to know--are 9-12 year olds reading ebooks? Research, feedback from my favorite librarian and intuition all say 'yes.'

Cats love ebooks too!

The article, More children now reading ebooks agrees and the NY Times recent post, E-Readers catch younger eyes and go in backpacks  supports my hunch as well.

With children's fondness for gadgets, e-readers could very well become gateway devices for an upsurge in reading. I sought the opinion of a friend of mine, a long time librarian who specializes in children's literacy and she thinks e-books are a definite trend for kids--that they are starting to get mom and dad's hand-me-down readers as newer, shinier ones keep coming out.

I also see where a parent's e-reader with kid's books on it could easily become a staple for car rides. I can see where my granddaughter, a voracious reader in a town whose library has been closed down, would take to an e-reader like a duck to water. 

I'm still pondering my route to publishing, excited about all the possibilites and I believe there's room for it all--paper and digital, indie and traditional publishing. I believe that writers will help carve out this new world as we have more possibilites. I also believe that as we publish more quality writing to the digital world that there is an audience waiting to gobble it up.

My hope is that as writers, we can help each other use and understand this new bookish digital world by sharing our experiences and thoughts.

As a writer, what do you think about publishing your work digitally?
As a reader, how are you responding to e-books and e-readers?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to win a free copy of The Story Book by David Baboulene

Win a free copy of The Story Book over at my friends blog: Rachna's Scriptorium. Rachna teaches creative writing in Bangalore, India and her blog is loaded with good writing tips.

David's book looks like an awesome resource for story development so I'm adding it to my Tools for Writers. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One good reason for Persistence | Tools for writers

Learning to write is like learning to play the violin.

The first tentative scratches on a violin rend the atmosphere like a love-sick cat. The violinist must learn to survive the caterwauling and not succumb to jeers and taunts from her inner critic.

After a jillion hours of practice, the violinist is no longer separate from the violin and her very pores are filled with the vibration of sound.  In her waking hours, when she is not playing, she feels the curve of her wrist around the instrument, and her head inclines toward her shoulder. Waking or sleeping, music haunts her with the bittersweet longing of a lover. She has lost all perspective. Is she the musician or the instrument? She seeks every opportunity to slip free from the ties of normal life and rejoin her soul mate.

Going too long without her instrument leaves her gasping for air. The violin, the music and the violinist breathe as one.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Tools for Writers | How to organize notes from your 'napkin moments'

Are you looking for ways to organize your writing projects? Does your creative write right brain strike at all hours of the day and night. Do you have sticky notes, scraps of yellow pads and pages ripped from spirals produced from what I call 'napkin moments'.

Writing is a messy business. Ideas often come when you're not sitting conveniently at your computer. You could be on your way to the dentist when you suddenly discover your Antagonist's mother was a gypsy. Or you're making spaghetti and you realize your Protagonist, unbeknownst to you, has befriended someone most people would consider a scoundrel. You must write these things on the closest piece of paper available or take the risk of having them float forever off into the aethers.

So I was cleaning up all those paper bits of flotsam and jetsam, trying to figure out what to salvage and how in the world I could avoid the time-sucking job of entering them on my computer. TaDa! A brilliant flash of light appeared, proving that my right and left brain occasionally cooperate.

The answer? Clear poly folders. They're wonderfully low tech and the method involves absolutely no organizational skills, other than deciding what color tab to use for which project. I've been using these in my non-writing life, so I don't know why I hadn't thought to use them like this. It was one of those, I hate to say it, 'duh' moments.

Here's what I'm talking about. This particular design has color strips extending on the side with a writing strip for labeling. They're sealed on two sides only, easily accessible and feel nice in a heavy duty, but see-through kind of way.

They're only $5.99 for a 10 pack from Staples. I think Office Depot carries them too, but they like to hide them at the stores so I'm ordering the next batch online.

How about you? Do you have 'napkin moments' and a lot of messy scraps of paper that are just too good to throw away? What do you do with them?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tools for writers: Choosing your book title

 After careful consideration and a short consultation with my advisory board, I've decided to alter the title of my book. Nothing too drastic, but I thought I would make it official here and use this chance to share a useful Google tool.

Advisory board
For the last year, the title of my book has been Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Iskandriyah. The story is based on a mystical book saved from the burning of Alexandria's legendary library.
'Iskandriyah' is Arabic for Alexandria and I had originally decided to use that version, because I liked the exotic-ness of the word and it fit well with the fantasy genre. But for a long time, something has bothered me about it, so I stopped to analyze it.

  1. First of all, although I love the word 'Iskandriyah', it's really hard to spell. More importantly,  Alexandria is a real city and the Library is a real place. The burning of the library was a famous historic event, so although my book is fantasy, it has a reality base. 
  2. There's also city in Iraq named Iskandariyah and I thought that would add to the confusion. 
  3. This next part has to do with very practical considerations, that of searchability. There is a cool Google Insights Tool that lets you enter keywords and compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties. You can tweak this or use the simple results for a quick check. Here's what I found for my search terms:
    • 'Alexandria' yielded 87 out of a possible 100.
    • 'Library of Alexandria' yielded 51 out of a possible 100.
    • 'Iskandariyah' yielded 20, but they all had to do with Iraq
    • 'Iskandriyah' yielded 0
If I was still had any attachment to the exotic name, this pretty much decided it for me. Besides, if I could never quite get the spelling of Iskandria Iskandriyah down, I certainly didn't want to burden my readers with such a cumbersome name.

Thanks, I feel  better now.

Have book titles been an issue for you?