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Topics - Jim Johnson

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Writers' Cafe / B&N to be acquired by Elliott, owner of Waterstones
« on: June 07, 2019, 06:51:21 am »
Interesting news here. Hope they can turn B&N around.

Great article about the publishing industry, specifically the NYC publishers and how their model needs to change before they're rendered irrelevant when every writer with an ounce of self-worth decides to indie- or self-publish and say nay to the big corporations more worried about their bottom line than the authors providing their product.

"We need to destroy publishing’s most basic assumption: the idea that a writer’s time is without value, their effort should be one of love (and only love), and most importantly, that’s it’s morally acceptable to build a $118B industry on free labor."


Darin Webb, 47, faces 20 years in jail on wire-fraud charges for embezzling $3.4 million from storied Manhattan agency Donadio & Olson, according to a recently unsealed federal criminal complaint.
The agency was founded in 1969 by Candida Donadio, a former secretary from Brooklyn who shot to fame in the late 1950s after she sold Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22” and Philip Roth’s “Goodbye, Columbus” to publishers.

Writers' Cafe / Prime Book Box
« on: May 17, 2018, 06:20:53 am »
Got an email this morning about an invitation to a children's themed Prime Book Box.

Because you're a valued children's book customer, we thought you'd like to be the first to know about Prime Book Box, the perfect way to discover great children’s books that will inspire a love of reading.

With a Prime Book Box subscription, you’ll enjoy:

  • Curation: Designed for readers (and future book lovers) from baby up to 12 years old, we use expert recommendations from our Amazon Books Editors and high customer ratings to select age-appropriate books for each box.
  • Flexibility: Choose a delivery frequency of every 1, 2, or 3 months. Skip a box anytime.
  • Value: At $22.99/box, Prime Book Box saves you up to 35% off List Price, and provides the best value on books sold by
Prime Book Box is currently available by invitation only. If interested in subscribing, please click below and request an invite. You’ll be notified via email when you’re able to begin.[/li]

I'm guessing it's print book only, and I'm guessing they're going to have book boxes for other genres. Not surprising that Amazon is trying out the bundle/loot crate concept. Curious to see where this goes.

Writers' Cafe / Kindle Worlds closing down?
« on: May 15, 2018, 02:26:24 pm »
Heard in a couple places that Kindle Worlds is closing down. If true, it's too bad, but not surprising. I've had an eye on it for a while but it never seemed to be well-managed. And the lack of metrics available to authors seemed problematic.

Writers' Cafe / Number of reviews =/= Amazon newsletter inclusion
« on: March 01, 2018, 06:48:37 am »
Been seeing this fly all over FB lately:

Unless something has changed lately, I'm pretty sure the second bullet is wrong. Last I heard, inclusion in Amazon newsletters is all about sales and ranking at a specific spot in time when the newsletters are generated.

And I doubt # of reviews have anything to do with also-boughts.

If anyone knows for sure, let us know!

Writers' Cafe / One way to address crappy reviews
« on: February 23, 2018, 05:49:04 am »
Add this to your front matter: ;D

Writers' Cafe / Awesome resource for political thrillers or the like
« on: January 09, 2018, 07:15:40 pm »
Not discussing the politics involved in this, but reading the first few pages of the Simpson Senate testimony that was leaked is fascinating reading, and probably great for anyone researching or writing a political thriller. A lot of it is probably boring for a reader, but reading it to get a feel for how a hearing goes might be worthwhile.

Writers' Cafe / Play to readers' prejudices or challenge them?
« on: January 08, 2018, 10:48:43 am »
Over on another thread, KelliWolfe posted:

That's great, but most of us aren't writing to be social justice warriors and trying to "fix" our readers. When I write hard SF I do it under a male pen name because I know that if I don't I've immediately eliminated a huge chunk of potential readers who will never bother clicking on my book link. The same is true of male pen names in romance. I can't tell you how many times I've seen female readers say that they would never, ever read a romance written by a man because "men can't write romance." I've seen it said here, in other discussions of this topic. Yes, there are always exceptions. But they're just that, exceptions, and if you're doing this to make a living then it's stupid to cut off half or more of your reader base right off the bat over something that doesn't matter. The writing matters. The name/gender you publish it under doesn't, and it's stupid to handicap yourself because people have prejudices that you're not responsible for and that you're not going to fix. And we play off of reader psychology constantly as part of our job. Knowing reader expectations and meeting them is part of the job, whether that's saving the cat or publishing military sci-fi as Drake Edwards (I made that up, if there really is a Drake Edwards publishing mil sci-fi you have my sincere apologies) instead of Kelli Wolfe.

Responding there figured to be off-topic, so I started a new thread. Bolded the bit relevant to this thread.

I'd rather challenge reader prejudices than continue to feed them. I'd like to see more female names in 'traditionally male' genres and subgenres and more male names in 'traditionally female' genres and subgenres. SF/F has made a lot of progress toward being more inclusive and I believe it's possible for more genres to do likewise. If the name and gender of your name really doesn't matter, then stick with the one you want to use rather than the one that's genre-acceptable or whatever. I'm not going to use a pen name to make a few extra bucks because a few readers are entrenched in an earlier generation's mindset.

Writers' Cafe / Amazon Author Beta
« on: December 19, 2017, 08:01:35 pm »
Anyone else get an invite to the Amazon Author Beta? Got an email earlier, including:

We invite you to take a special sneak peek at the beta of Amazon Author, the new Author Central experience.

Amazon Author offers a one-stop solution for personalizing your Amazon Author Profile, managing your books, and more around the world. Log in once and you’ll be able to update your Amazon Author Page in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, India and Japan with biographies in each language. With a new-and-improved site design, Amazon Author works beautifully on your smartphone and tablet as well as your computer.

During the beta period, you’ll still access some features, such as Sales Rank, U.S. Nielsen BookScan sales data, and Customer Reviews, via Author Central while we work on migrating each to Amazon Author.

So far it looks intriguing. Nice functionality and easy to update bio and picture. Similar functionality to the usual Author Central, though the interface looks a little slicker and faster to respond. Some of the functionality isn't ported over yet, but it looks promising. Other reactions?

Writers' Cafe / Indie author haiku
« on: November 18, 2017, 08:21:59 pm »
After a tradpub friend of mine posted a haiku lamenting tradpub practices and the need to burn your savings because you'll never earn out, I threw these onto the twitterverse. Feel free to add your own.

Refuse to submit.
The independent writers
Write, publish, repeat.

New York publishers
Don't give a crap about you,
Just their bottom line.

Better royalties;
Connect straight to your readers;
No P and L wait.

Write, publish, repeat.
Anything you imagine.
Best job in the world.

Writers' Cafe / genreCRAVE services rebranding as OTOH
« on: October 14, 2017, 05:46:42 pm »
Keeping newbies and pros alike informed, as you work your way through various writer services, be aware that based on an email I got because I'm on the genreCrave mailing list, genreCrave is going to rebrand as OTOH Books. I don't know if the Facebook groups for genrecrave will be changing since I'm not a member, but wanted to get the information out there in case writers get into researching promo opportunities and don't know which service is which.

Writers' Cafe / Cat Rambo's online classes
« on: October 06, 2017, 12:05:26 pm »
If you're like me and eager to learn something new every day and from other writers, check out the list of Cat Rambo's online classes and see if any appeal. I've taken one with her (space opera co-hosted by Ann Leckie) and signed up for the upcoming weird western, and found them useful expenditures of time and money.

Some insights on beta readers and their danger to new writers from Dean Wesley Smith.

You are an artist. Allow your characters to live on the page. Allow your own voice (which you can't see) to be there for your readers.

Always focus on the next story, not the last story.

Just stop even thinking of using beta readers to destroy your work.

Because that is what beta readers do.

I don't disagree with the thesis. Other than a brief flirtation with a writing group in the very early years of my career, I haven't used beta readers beyond one trusted reader and hiring out developmental editors, copy editors, or proofreaders.

Anything Else Amazon / Amazon seeking to build second HQ and add 50,000 jobs
« on: September 07, 2017, 11:52:30 am »
For the handful of nutters out there who have the ridiculous worry that Amazon's going to go away any time soon... New HQ search and 50k more jobs to be determined.

Probably nothing new here for many, though some fellow prawns and newbies might find something useful.

My UF series has been out for a year and I hadn't used any free Select days on the books. As an experiment before I left for holiday last week, I set up four free days for book #1, and a KCD deal for book 2 for the same span of time. I left book 3 at full price. All this was just to see what happened. I booked a freebooksy ad for Sept 1 which cost $100, and then fired off and forgot about the deal.

Went on vacation and had a great time. Didn't have the means or interest to review the results. Got back Sunday night and checked things out.

Book 1 hit #84 free overall in the Kindle store at one point, and picked up over 2700 downloads of the book. I picked up 30 sales (mostly book 2) as well, plus a few sales of books in my other series.  Page reads picked up as well. Close to making that $100 from the ad back.

I got an email yesterday that ebookdaily selected book 1 for a spot in their newsletter, which was a nice unexpected bounce. Got another bunch of downloads and sales from that boost. I suspect more page reads will come in the next couple weeks as people get around to reading book 1.

With hardly any effort and just one paid promo, I moved some copies. Happy for that. Probably not much of an experiment, but I likes how the free days on #1 plus KCD on #2 worked. Looking forward to seeing what happens when I do the same thing with a larger backlist.

Writers' Cafe / Newbies and prawns: Read Hugh Howey's latest blog series
« on: August 27, 2017, 05:25:48 pm »
(FWIW, I count myself among the prawnies).

Haven't seen this discussed here, though I've been on vacay for a week and just got back in the swing of things. If you're a newbie, not yet published, or a prawnie and still working toward whatever goal you're working toward, and your brain is awash in conflicting advice about everything indie publishing related, I encourage you to carve out a couple hours and read Hugh Howey's recent blog series of posts about his writing insights. The man could collate it all into a book to sell at 2.99 and he'd make a killing, but he's offering this advice for freesies and it's really, really good advice for those who are willing to be patient in making a career out of their writing.

Here's the first one:




A lot of the advice is old hat to many, but it is all good, solid useful advice for the writers among us.

Read it (all of it), think about it, and then go write, publish, repeat, and build your writing career a story at a time. And remember to have fun.

The Book Corner / Readers--what draws you into a male POV urban fantasy?
« on: August 06, 2017, 06:20:22 pm »
This is sorta geared toward non-male readers, but, really, anyone can answer. I like UF. I like a lot of UF, both female POV and male POV (and I bet I'd like non-binary POV if I knew of any--reccos?). I know UF by and large is dominated by female POV characters. I generally enjoy the male POVs too, like Butcher, DaCosta, Line, Finn, etc.

So I'm curious. If you read male POV UF, what do you like about it? Different perspective from a female pov? Different experience? Given that a lot of female POV UF is oriented toward the kick-ass snarky POV character, I'm seeing much the same from male UF POVs. So if everyone's kick ass and snarky, what do you like about the male POV as compared to the female?

Writers' Cafe / Macmillan moving offices to FiDi in NYC -- merged thread
« on: August 01, 2017, 06:06:07 am »
One reason to think hard about whether to get into tradpub is the ridiculous rents tradpub pays for in New York City. For example, Macmillan is moving their digs from the Flatiron Building to a different building in the Financial District.

261,000 square feet at ~$55 per square foot for rent. Someone check my math, but if it's 261,000 square feet at $55 a foot, I'm guessing per month for rent, Macmillan is going to be paying  north of $14 MILLION dollars to rent the space. Then add utilities, etc. to that. This is part of the reason tradpub contracts are mercenary, in their favor, and partly why they pay authors small percentages. Gotta keep the lights on in their swanky offices!

Details here:

Hi there! Hallmark Publishing is open to submissions of wholesome romance and cozy mystery novels. If your book seems like a Hallmark movie or TV series, it might be right for us!

To submit your novel, you’ll need to fill in all the required fields on this form and paste in a short query letter. You’ll also need to upload a 3 -4 page synopsis and your complete manuscript, both as Word docs. The text of your manuscript should be double-spaced in a plain, easy-to-read font of  12- or 14-point size.

Here are our complete submission guidelines:

We’re looking for male/female romance novels and cozy mystery novels of around 70,000 – 85,000 words in length. We love romances and mysteries that also celebrate friendship, family, and/or community ties. All stories must have happy endings.

For romance, we’re mostly looking for light contemporary stories set in the United States. We’d especially love to see Christmas, small town, and seasonal themes (winter, Valentine’s Day, spring, June brides, beach reads, fall), and we want to hear about your series ideas.

We’re interested in romantic suspense. We’ll consider historical romance set in North America or the U.K. While we aren’t looking for heavy redemption arcs, religious elements in a story are fine.

We aren’t interested in paranormal romance in general, but we’re open to time travel or a little bit of magic.

For mystery, we’re mostly seeking contemporary stories set in the United States. We’d love to see ideas for series.

 We aren’t looking for other fiction genres or nonfiction at this time.

No nudity, sex, profanity, or graphic depictions of sexuality or violence will be accepted. Physical interaction must be limited to hugging and kissing. In murder mysteries, the murder must happen “off the page,” and we tend to avoid other heavy or disturbing content.

We prefer third person, alternating between her and his point of view, but we’ll consider a first-person narrative with an entertaining voice. We’d love to see stories that reflect ethnic diversity.

Please don’t mail physical copies of manuscripts. We accept electronic submissions only. We never read scripts, so please don’t send them.

Thank you so much for your interest in Hallmark Publishing!

No indication of pay, and the terms of use are not all that great.

So I guess check it out if interested, but be cautious if you choose to submit a story.

Writers' Cafe / Monitoring the health of B&N
« on: July 26, 2017, 08:39:28 am »
For those on Nook and who have or who want their print books in B&N, it's worthwhile to keep an eye on the news.

Recent article here:

And grabbing a subscription to Publishers Weekly, or checking their site for the non-subscriber content might be useful too. B&N has been limping along for years now, and it's hard to say when they might finally collapse or sell out or whatever. So if you're wide or at least on Nook, maybe think about some contingencies should you lose that particular venue for your books.

Writers' Cafe / Prolific Writer podcast
« on: July 13, 2017, 02:07:12 pm »
Just recently discovered this podcast and thought I'd share since I don't recall seeing a thread about it.

Also on iTunes and so forth. Started late last year and has had a lot of good writers on the show, including Russell Blake, Chris Fox, Libbie Hawker, Wayne Stinnett, Amanda Lee, and others. And soon, some hack with a black-and-white cat on his shoulder. :D

Each episode is like a mini-course in itself. I've binge-listened most of the episodes and there are some solid gold nuggets in there. So go listen and enjoy and learn up.

Writers' Cafe / How to succeed? Work harder than everyone else.
« on: June 22, 2017, 06:15:53 am »
Saw this article pop up on my Facebook feed:

Interesting stuff that can be applied to the indie life, since we're all entrepreneurs at one level or another.

Self-made millionaire and "Shark Tank" star Daymond John has a similar perspective. Ultimately, the secret to success boils down to one thing, says John: "Work. Bust your butt. Get up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, and bust your butt. That's it."

Anything Else Amazon / Amazon buying Whole Foods
« on: June 16, 2017, 06:47:22 am »
Some interesting Amazon-related news.

Makes me wonder if they'll carry bestsellng Amazon imprint books in the stores.

Writers' Cafe / Checking out the Chicago Amazon store tomorrow...
« on: June 13, 2017, 10:08:07 pm »
I'm back in Chi-town for a couple days on business and am finally going to get a break to go check out the new Amazon Store in town. I'm curious about the store and the layout and the selection. Anyone want me to check for anything in particular? I'll be boots on the ground, eyes on the prize, etc. Everything indicates Amazon will continue to open more stores around the US, and I'm willing to bet they'll keep largely the same layout and footprint for most of their stores.

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