Books, Publishing, and the Creative Life

Posts tagged ‘publishing’

Are You Ready to Publish?

If only it was this easy!

If only it was this easy!

If you’re an author who wants to publish soon, don’t let all the free, helpful advice from writers, publishers, and vendors persuade you to launch a book without taking the proper steps. Many published authors wish theycould take back ugly book covers, unedited stories, and cheesy book titles.  Even worse, many other published authors don’t even KNOW how horrible their books are.

If you’re getting close to publication, consider these eleven points:

EDITING: Has your manuscript been edited by a professional? This is a vital step for all writers, and even more important if you plan to self-publish. Your cousin who’s an English teacher and works cheap does not count as a professional editor.  A professional editor will go beyond finding typos and provide critical feedback you won’t get from friends and relatives.

INDUSTRY RESEARCH: Stay abreast of trends and changes inside the publishing industry by following news reports, blogs, and your favorite publishers’ web sites.

KNOW YOUR GENRE: What authors are hot in your genre? Why are they doing so well?  Who’s reading their books? Study these writers and learn why they’re successful. If your book doesn’t fit a specific genre, that’s a problem. A book without a genre is handicapped from the start.

ARE YOU MARKETING NOW?  You should already be marketing by networking, building a fan base, and making contacts. I know this is a challenge  for introverted writers—Self publishing 1but that’s another good reason to start early. Even as you write the book, begin reaching out to other writers and fans in your genre.  With over 300,000 books published every year, you can’t depend on good luck to sell a new title. If you hire a publicist, you’ll still need to carry on by yourself once the initial marketing push is over.

WRITE A PROPOSAL WITH A MARKETING PLAN: Even if you plan to self-publish, you should create a traditional book proposal for your own use.  The proposal should include a one-page summary of your book, a comparison to other books, a marketing plan, an author biography, and broad chapter outlines.  Are you writing a novel or memoir? Do a proposal anyway.  You’ll be glad you did. (You can find half a dozen excellent books on writing the perfect proposal).

SET MODEST GOALS: Many authors fall into despair and stop marketing when don’t sell a thousand books the first month or make the Amazon bestseller list. Be happy with local book signings, reviews, and accolades.  Keep reaching for the stars, but remember you first have to launch something. Book sales are never guaranteed and no one (not even the big publishers) can predict what will happen with a book. Fame is almost always created by hard work and perseverance. Follow the blogs of successful authors like Hugh Howey and J.A. Konrath, who clawed their way to top and now help other writers.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT: Is book publishing just a check mark on your bucket list? If so, then finish your book, give it away to family and friends, sell a few copies, and move on. But if you’re passionately committed to writing and publishing—if you were born with a writing gene—then settle in for a long trip. Learn the craft, study the markets, join groups, and cultivate patience.

self publishing 3 BE PATIENT: Did I mention this before? Impatience can damage the relationship with your publisher and (if you’re self-publishing) cause you to turn out a shoddy product because you don’t wait to get things right. Everything in book publishing and marketing takes a while. Getting a book into print can be tedious and exacting. And then, when the initial excitement wears off, you wonder why the book isn’t selling the way you expected. You’re embarrassed and discouraged—tempted to give up. Publishers know it can take years to make back the money we invest in a book. If you stop marketing, you may never show a profit. Some books are slow starters, build momentum, and eventually begin selling. Other books catch on when a news story makes them timely.  Still other books begin selling when the author’s next book attracts new fans.

COVER DESIGN: Don’t go cheap, and don’t do it yourself.  Enough said.

BE SAVVY: Self-published authors support an industry of  printers, designers, editors, publicists, and firms that want to do everything for you. Amazon, Ingram, Author self publishing 5House, Writers Digest—the list is almost endless. Remember, the products they produce are only as good as the material you give them. Make sure you know what you’re paying for and check the competition before you invest.

YOUR NEXT BOOK: Plan on releasing another book within six months to a year. This will help you stop obsessing about book sales and give you something to talk about online.

DON”T CONTRIBUTE TO THE MASSIVE LOAD OF BAD BOOKS:

As a publisher who loves books, I beg you to perform due diligence with your work, especially if you’re an author-publisher.  As Chuck Wendig says in a blog rant:

Publishing isn’t an art — publishing is a business. A creative business, a weird business, but a business just the same, and so it behooves you to treat this like a business and to put out the best work you can. The overall property values of a neighborhood go up when you tend to your own yard — the more author-publishers who commit to doing their best and not just regurgitating warm story-barf into every conceivable nook and cranny of the Internet are going to contribute to an overall improvement. If you want the stink out of the air, spray a little perfume, you know? In short: we can all do better, so do better.”

attitude-affects-workSammie Justesen is a publisher with NorLightsPress and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014. She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A great investment for writers

 

Do REAL Publishers Sell Books to Authors?

Books

Do REAL publishers sell books to authors?

The answer is “YES, of course we do.”

I thought this was a no-brainer until I read a recent Internet post by a yet-to-be-published writer. In a diatribe against publishers, he said, “A legitimate publisher would never sell books to their authors.”

Maria Ross (Branding Basics for Small Business) uses her book to gain clients

Maria Ross (Branding Basics for Small Business) uses her book to gain clients

That’s totally false.

Like every other “real” publisher, we happily sell books to our authors at the same discount we give bookstores. The writers are free to either sell the books for profit at special events, or give them away. These are examples of how our authors take advantage of this opportunity:

  1. A business author purchased 3,000 copies of his book as gifts for students at his alma mater.
  2. Another author purchased 50 books to give away to friends and family who helped on his journey to becoming a writer.
  3. A scholastic author purchases books to sell at the back of the room after her lectures.
  4. Parenting authors purchase books to sell (or include in a packet) at their parenting workshops.
  5. Two of our fitness authors sell books at their studio.
  6. One author owns a bookstore. Naturally, he buys books for the store.
  7. A business professional gives books to prospective clients.
  8. One author gives away books on her radio show.
  9.  We drop ship boxes of books to convention halls where one of our authors sells them after her speeches.

We can’t afford to give away hundreds of books for our authors, but we understand their desire to have books on hand, to make extra profit beyond royalties, to sell books at special events, and to give away books as they see fit.

A publisher who sells books to authors at a discount is not the same as self- publishing, where the author pays for editing, formatting, cover design, and the publisher’s time. So don’t be alarmed if your publishing contract mentions author book sales.  Be happy!  It’s a great way for you to make even more money than your royalties will provide.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

 

Branding Tips for Writers

A bullhorn or Megaphone trumpeting a product's or comapny's branBranding is not just for huge business firms like Pepsi and Coke. If you truly want to succeed in the world of publishing it’s  never too early to think about branding yourself. As Seth Godin points out, “your brand is the promise, the experience, the interactions, and the expectation people have for you.”

A brand is how you differentiate yourself from other authors in the same genres. Stephen King has a brand. Seth Godin has a brand. The Harry Potter series is a brand.YOU can have one too. And that means you should think about branding the moment you begin writing. You will want to write a book proposal for your work (even if it’s fiction), and let that become your business plan–a preview of who you are and how you want to be known.

Six Branding Tips

These tips are from Nina Amir, a contributing writer for TheBookDesigner.com. She is also the author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, which help transform writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs.  You can learn more about Nina here.

  1. Here’s how you start: Think about how you want to be known as a writer. To determine this, consider:
    • the types of writing you want to do
    • the subjects about which you want to write
    • the types of stories you want to tell
    • themes you want to cover in your work
    • ways in which you want to serve you readers
    • the clients or customers you want to attract
    • the spin-off books (sequels or series) you would like to publish
    • your values
    • your interests
    • your passion
    • your purpose

Does something stand out? Is there one quality, topic or aspect you’d like to highlight so you become known for it? If so, this is a good place to start. You then can create logos, taglines and websites that feature and Isa_Adney_on_Personal_Brandinghighlight this concept so you become known for it. This becomes your brand. Or try to answer this question: “How would I like to be known?” Do you want to be “The ___ Coach,” “The ___ Writer” or “The ___ Expert,” for example? Or will you brand around your name alone?

  1. Decide what books you’ll write.

Another way to brand yourself is by writing more than one book about a certain topic or theme. Your sequels or series will highlight who you are and what you write about.  To brand yourself in this manner, brainstorm all the different books you might possibly write. Then take a “big picture” view of this material:

    • How do these books fit together? By a theme or a subject?
    • Can you group any of them together?
    • Can you find one overriding thread that holds them together?
    • Can you describe that thread (or theme) in one sentence or in a phrase?
    • Can this become your “branding statement”?

Here again, you could become known as “The ___ Writer.” Think of the knitting writers and the Amish romance writers, for example.

3. Create a website or blog that helps build or strengthen your brand. A blog works as a website, and every author needs an author website. Purchase a URL with your name so readers and the media easily can find you. However, if you also are branding with a tag line or some sort of expert status, you may want to purchase that URL and redirect it. Then design your site with colors, words, phrases, and images that make it easy for someone to know what you’re about. Your site’s title and tagline should make this clear as well. For example, Michael Hyatt’s tagline is “Helping leaders leverage influence.” That’s pretty clear branding. Additionally, write posts on topics or themes related to your brand to help strengthen it and make your site more discoverable by readers doing searches. Again, Hyatt’s site is a good example of this. People who visit your site should immediately “get it.” They should understand what you stand for, what you write about, and any other messages you want to get across. Here are a few sites to check out:

    • R.L. Stine. He’s done a fabulous job of branding himself with a website. He’s even used music!
    • Cindy Woodsmall’s website. No question what she writes about.
    • Jack Canfield’s message is enormously clear right from his banner and throughout all his content and products and services.
  1. Use your brand statement across all your social networks. Use the same title, tag line, photo and colors, etc., across all your social networks, as well as in articles, videos, and guest post, and always provide a link “home.” This helps you get you known quickly and easily and is another way to strengthen your brand once you’ve developed it. And tie everything you do back to your author website.

Carla King has used her “adventuring” brand across all her social networks as MissAdventuring. Her books and websites help her strengthen her brand as well.

  1. Ask others for help. If you have difficulty creating a brand for yourself, ask those who know you best for help. Ask readers, clients, customers, and friends the following:
    1. What do you perceive as my values?
    2. What are my strong points?
    3. What do I do for you?
    4. What benefit do you get from my books, work, courses, products, or services?
    5. How would you describe me?

Take this information—if you like what you hear and it works for you—and craft it into a brand. If you don’t like what you hear, it’s time to think about how to create a different perception than you haphazardly have done in the past. 

brand umbrella6. Create an umbrella for all you do—even if you do a lot. It can be easier for nonfiction writers than fiction writers to develop brands. Yet, many nonfiction writers choose to write about a variety of topics, and this can make it difficult for them to brand themselves as well. Fiction writers who publish across genres may find themselves in the same quandary. However, it’s still possible to find an “umbrella theme” to tie everything together into a brand even if you write about two or three subjects, write fiction or write across genres.

  • As a novelist, you might write novels that appear to be unrelated. You could weave similar themes, topics, issues, or locations into them. For example, think about weaving your love of orchids into both your momlit and your thrillers. Could that brand you?
  • Your momlit could have a main character who runs an orchid shop.
  • Your thrillers could have a main character who leaves orchid blooms at the scene of the crime.
  • You could cross over into nonfiction by writing a nonfiction book how to care for orchids.
  • Or all your books could take place in England; or could discuss family values or politics. You could draw on your law degree or your former life as a nurse. If you write nonfiction about organic gardening, travel and business, you might be able to write books that:
    1. Eating organic in foreign countries
    2. Organic business practices
    3. New organic gardening techniques

Of course, the more books you write with these themes or elements in place, the stronger your brand becomes. By choosing something—like the orchid or organics—to run through all your books, you strengthen your brand with every title you release. And don’t forget to place a picture of an orchid or an organic garden on your website and use that word in your tag line. Write blog posts about orchids and organics. Before long, everyone will know you as the Orchid Author or the Organic Author. That’s branding. Brand 2

Sell More Books with a Brand Why bother branding? For the same reasons big box and small box companies bother: It helps sell products. A brand helps potential readers know, like, and trust you. And remember: Your brand is you. It’s a way to help readers know you—authentically. You aren’t creating some fake ad or new persona. Your Brand helps readers understand who you are and what you and your books stand for—and what type of books you write. That makes it easier for them to decide to purchase those books. That means your books will get read. And that’s the ultimate goal.

 

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

 

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

 

Book Publishing and Last Minute Panic

Over the years in publishing I’ve noticed a pattern among authors I haven’t seen addressed anywhere else. I call it LMP or Last Minute Panic.NLP-Short-Logo An intelligent, cooperative, friendly author we’ve worked with for months will suddenly take a crazy turn when the book is almost ready for publication. She (it’s almost always a woman) finds something wrong with the book—an item that MUST be changed or the entire project will fail. This is usually something we agreed on previously, such as the book cover, the font, or the photographs. And it’s almost always a change that readers would never notice.

We try to be compliant because we love our authors. But an author can’t be satisfied in the throes of LMP. Nothing is good enough. We fix one problem and she finds another one. The cover designer andWoman formatter are both ready to quit. I point out to the author, in a nice way, that she’s nervous about launching her book and is channeling that energy into compulsive nitpicking. She either ignores me or blows up.

When I recently published my own book (Dialogue for Writers), I observed myself for this type of behavior. And there it was—

  • The book cover I selected seemed cheap and dumb. Other books had better covers.
  • I hated the introduction and wished I could write it over.
  • I needed more endorsements.
  • The book was too short. I needed to add another chapter.
  • And so on . . .

I had to stop this kind of thinking before it consumed me and turned into the dreaded Failure to Launch.

Do you suffer from LMJ?

If you’re getting ready to publish a book, either on your own or with a publisher, it’s important to recognize these symptoms for what they are—your psyche worrying about the big step you’re about to take. Why is this so Scaredscary?

  • You’re putting yourself out there.
  • Someone is bound to criticize you and the book. That will hurt.
  • Even worse—perhaps no one will notice the book.
  • There may be some hidden flaw you overlooked.
  • Everything you’ve done seems totally stupid.

Author Neil Gaimen offered a wonderful pep talk for writers in the NaNoWriMo project:

“You don’t know why you started your novel, you no longer remember why you imagined that anyone would want to read it, and you’re pretty sure that even if you finish it, it won’t have been worth the time or energy and every time you stop long enough to compare it to the thing that you had in your head when you began—a glittering, brilliant, wonderful novel, in which every word spits fire and burns, a book as good or better than the best book you ever read—it falls so painfully short that you’re pretty sure that it would be a mercy simply to delete the whole thing.

Welcome to the club.”

Neal Gaimen’s club is a wonderful group to join, though populated by angst-driven authors. When you publish a book you’re joining a group of writers who finish their work and then have the guts to bring it into the world. Let go of your book and be proud of yourself!

The Antidote

writing-clip-art1The solution to LMJ is simple and elegant: Write another book. Channel all that nervous energy and self-doubt into your next project. Let go of your finished book, let it be published, and watch it gently float away from you into the world.  You are a writer, so keep on writing.

Publish your book and be proud!

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

Cliffhangers and The Art of Writing

A Post from Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Cliff hanger 1Cliffhangers Part 2: How to Keep Your Reader Reading

What does it take to create a book you can’t put down?

Creating a page-turning novel takes a specific formula: a captivating cast of characters, an intriguing premise, alluring narration, calculated pacing, and the golden ingredient—a huge dash of suspense.

Suspense entices readers with the big, intense dilemma that drives the story—but also on a chapter-by-chapter level. A good story goes through multiple mini story arcs that pushes the reader though the book until the main tension is resolved.

A cliffhanger at the end of a chapter will make it difficult to stop reading.

Here’s a list of tried and true methods for creating suspenseful cliffhangers: 

  • Introduce a new element: a new character, confession, discovery, or announcement at the end of a scene creates a puzzling situation or a golden opportunity for a plot twist. Just as readers think the previous cliff hanger 2scene is winding down, a new element catapults readers to the next chapter for answers.
  • Intriguing questions: Use dialogue, internal or external, to explore what issues keep your character up at night. What is this character hiding? Will the protagonist ever find the solution to the big problem?
  • Decision Time: Leave your protagonist, and your reader, wondering what to do next on both big and small scales. How will the Big Evil be taken down? Or should your protagonist go on that blind date?
  • Clue the reader in—that is, use foreshadowing: Use a perspective switch to tell the reader something big and bad is coming, unbeknownst to the character. It sets up anticipation–will the protagonist will figure it out?
  • Interrupt or interfere: Think Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Build up a moment, perhaps with a catchy chorus, and bring the Prince and Princess’s lips a hairsbreadth apart—then tip the boat over. Don’t give the reader what they want too soon. This will keep them invested until the lip lock actually happens.
  • Break a moment of tension: Build up to the decision to throw the grenade, have the protagonist confront the killer, and then start the next chapter with the aftermath. By breaking the moment of tension, you inadvertently create more suspense.
  • Withhold information: Think heist movies. “I’ll tell you what we’re gonna do,” the protagonist says… Then the chapter ends, leaving the reader in the dark. The character figures out the master plan to catch the bad guy, and the reader keeps devouring sentences to see how they DID it. You have to stick along to the end it find out.
  • Save huge “GASP!” moments for the end: Tension should build up to the climatic moment over the course of the book, and little cliffhangers should be resolved, but save the biggest for the end, otherwise the reader will feel cheated. An intense cliffhanger seems clumsily out of place in chapter three.

All cliffhangers need to be used strategically and with purpose. The end goal is to keep the book in the hands of your readers and NOT to have it thrown against the wall in frustration.

Here’s a quick list of things you SHOULDN’T do when constructing cliffhangers:

cliff hanger 3Don’t rely on gimmicks, cheesy narration, poor structure, or cruel manipulation to keep your readers going.

  • Cut off the scene abruptly to force the reader to turn the page. A cliffhanger still has to function as the end of the scene, with a little bit of closure along with the tease.
  • Tack the beginning of the next chapter onto the end of the previous one. This is just lazy.
  • Cut off a character midsentence. This is cheesy and creates an awkward break in a conversation.
  • Deceive your readers with an anticlimax: revealing immediately in the next chapter there really wasn’t any danger will make them scream—and not in a good way.
  • Insert poor narration: “She’ll soon discover she’s made a terrible mistake.” This is an easy out. Create real tension with your clever and crafty writing.
  • Script non-stop cliffhangers: Give the readers, and the characters they are following, a chance to come back down from the high every once and a while.

( www.wiseinkblog.com )

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

 

 

The Publishing Process

Publishing is a big step

Publishing is a big step

NLP-Short-Logo

Last night we met with a local group of writers and spent an hour answering their questions. We love meeting authors and hearing their concerns.  To our surprise, much of what they wanted to know concerned the basic publishing process and how things work. By what magic do publishers turn manuscripts into books? There must be other aspiring authors who have the same questions, so here’s the publishing process in a nutshell:

  • First, the publisher receives either a manuscript or a book proposal.  What is a book proposal, you ask?  In many cases, you don’t have to actually write the book up front—you send publishers a proposal for the book.  This is a win/win situation.  While writing the proposal you focus on creating an overview of the book, how you’ll sell it, who will buy it, and how your
    Our favorite how-to on book proposals by Michael Larsen

    Our favorite how-to on book proposals by Michael Larsen

    book will measure up against the competition.

  • If the publisher likes your work, a publishing contract is signed. The publisher may sign a contract with you based on a proposal or a finished manuscript. This contract will contain a due date for your work.
  • Once a publisher receives your manuscript, their work begins. Editing is the first step. For large publishers this process can take months because your work will be in line with many others.  For smaller publishers like NorLightsPress, editing takes from three to six weeks.  You and the editor will go back and forth over the text, but the publisher has the final word on how things will be.
  •  Meanwhile, you and the publisher will be working on cover design. You will have input, but not every publisher has time to work with your ideas. Some do; some don’t.
  • If your book contains photographs the publisher will need high resolution images for the printer. You’ll be expected to provide these. You may use stock photos.
  • After editing, the book is  formatted into a PDF file. This is the pre-printing stage and you’ll have a chance to read through the manuscript again. Now you’ll see the pages as they will appear in the book.
  • When last minute changes are completed, the publisher submits a PDF file to the printer to generate proof copies. You and the publisher review the proof copy for errors.
  • At last! The proof copy is approved and the publisher can order books. Soon your book goes “live” on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sellers.
  • Your book file is formatted for eBooks and submitted to those sites for sale.
  • Are you marketing?  Hopefully you stayed busy creating a marketing platform and sending out feelers.

    This is just the beginning!

    This is just the beginning!

NOW, you can start book signings, interviews, blogs, and conference speeches. Never leave home without books! This is when your work truly begins. Holding your first book is an amazing thing.  Sharing it with the world can be daunting. Have a plan, and work your plan!

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

 

About Sammie Justesen

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A recent review of Dialogue for Writers

What I left with after reading Sammie’s book is a brain swimming with ideas she has generously shared based on her years of experience in all aspects of the industry. She shows us, not just tells us, with style, humor and an easy, comfortable voice. Her examples bring the points to life. Sammie indeed practices what she preaches, and shares with us as reader and writer a fun to read and handy compilation based on experience and insight.   –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild andThe Last of the Living Blue

 

James Patterson on Amazon

James-Patterson-006This is an excerpt from James Patterson’s speech earlier this week at BEA (Book Expo America), the American Booksellers Association’s huge annual trade show.  In a perfect example of putting your money where your  mouth is, Patterson pledged one million dollars to independent bookstores nationwide.  Thank you, James!

Here’s what James Patterson had to say about book publishing.  The final paragraph covers the Amazon dispute.

“I’m trying to get people to focus on the perilous future of books in this country. And that future is happening right now, this year. There is an evolution/revolution going on and it affects everybody who reads, everybody who writes, everybody who publishes books. Small bookstores are being shuttered, book chains are closing, libraries are having serious trouble getting funding, especially school libraries. Every publisher and the people who work in these publishing houses is feeling a great deal of pain and stress. If we don’t fix those problems, the quality of American literature is going to suffer. Fewer or no more Infinite Jests,Blood Meridians, or Book Thiefs, less of a chance for young writers, like James Patterson back in 1976, to be published — or maybe that would have been a good thing?

Book publishersI’d like you to think about this, and I’d like the press to think about this: Publishers are not terribly profitable. If those profits are further diminished, publishers will produce less serious literature. It’s just a fact of life. And that’s one of the reasons why right now, the future of our literature is in danger. I will say that there are no clear-cut villains —  yet — but there are no heroes either, and I think it’s important that major players involved in publishing, as well as the press, and our government, step up and take responsibility for the future of our literature and the part it plays in our culture.

[Big applause.]

Right now bookstores, libraries, authors, publishers, and books themselves are caught in the crossfire of an economic war between publishers and online providers. To be a teeny, tiny bit more specific, Amazon seems to bookstore openbe out to control shopping in this country. This will ultimately have an effect on every grocery- and department-store chain, on every big-box store, and ultimately it will put thousands of Mom-and-Pop stores out of business. It just will, and I don’t see anybody writing about it, but that certainly sounds like the beginning of a monopoly to me. Amazon also, as you know, wants to control book selling, book buying, and even book publishing, and that is a national tragedy. If this is to be the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed, by law if necessary, immediately, if not sooner. I think that might have been a worthy subject for this BEA. I think it’s a subject that Indie Bound, the PEN American Center, the National Book Foundation, the New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalUSA Today, Huffington, and NPR should latch onto with vigor, with passion, with urgency. Thank you for this generous honor. It means a lot to me, it really does. I’m pretty emotional about it, more than I ever am at speaking engagements. It means a lot to my wife Sue who’s here, and to our son Jack, who has become a big reader primarily because of independent bookstores pushing books at them. Thank you very much.”

FRONT cover final

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A recent review for Dialogue for Writers:

Did you know dialogue matters even for poetry? I didn’t, and I am so glad I do now! This small book packs a punch. It easily and accessibly convinced me of just how and why good dialogue matters, why many pieces could use more of it, and when not to use it. The author also helps the reader learn to plainly identify what makes good dialogue good and what does and doesn’t work through the use of a plethora of useful examples. It is also full of different kinds of useful information for writers of all sorts. There are gems in it such as “Usually the best point of view character is the one with most to lose.” (page 83) If your writing could benefit from some good editing, try this book. If your writing could benefit from some new tricks, try this book. It won’t disappoint. I think of it as a course on dialogue in itself and there are exercises at the end of each chapter.

Find the book on Amazon.com:   http://dld.bz/dngkg

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