Monday, December 13, 2010

Google eBooks

Google eBooks is all about choice, so you can use just about any device you own to read any book, anywhere.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books for Africa

Books for Africa is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent. 
When it began, in 1988, Books for Africa had a simple name and a simple mission: to collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa. The goal was to end the book famine in the continent. Since its inception, Books for Africa has shipped more than 23 million books to 45 countries across Africa. In 2009, they shipped approximately 1.6 million books to 20 African countries. 

To add to that phenomenal number, children's book publisher Capstone, donated $5 million worth of books to the effort. Nearly 300,000 overstock books have been shipped from the publisher's warehouse in Mankato, MN, to the Books for Africa offices in St. Paul, MN. The books are now being sorted and packaged for shipment to Africa. It is the largest donation ever received, and will supply hundreds of school libraries across Africa, helping to increase levels of education and literacy across the continent. In 2009, the publisher donated more than 37,000 books to the organization.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Diamond in the Slush

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was released on July 21, 2007, and sold 11 million copies on the first day of its release, breaking Rowling's earlier records for the fastest selling book of all time.
The Deathly Hallows, Part One, hit the movie theaters as of midnight last night. As I plan my night out to see it, I can't help but remember that J.K. Rowling had to deal with a lot of rejection before Alice came into her life. Who is Alice? She was Bloomsbury Publishing's chief-executive, Nigel Newton, eight-year-old daughter, who read the manuscript and convinced her father of its brilliance.It was Alice who saw the diamond in the slush pile, which led her father to eventually acquire the book, sending J.K. Rowling £2,500. Not a bad investment since the Potter series went on to sell 400 million copies.

Such gems are often lost in slush piles and most writers slog through to find their route to publication. When Stephen King submitted his first book he was told: "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." His novel CARRIE went on to sell more than one million copies and established his career. George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM was rejected as a cute kids' fairy tale and was told by an publisher that "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.'' James Joyce's collection of short stories Dubliners was turned down by 22 publishers before it was published by Grant Richards. THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was dismissed when a publisher noted: "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the curiosity level.'' When William Golding tried to publish LORD OF THE FLIES, a reader from Faber & Faber famously branded it as "an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull".

Many of today's best known authors have had to persevere in order to get to where they are today. I'm sad to see Harry Potter coming to its end, but am hopeful other diamonds will be pulled out the slush for our enjoyment!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Billion and Counting...

In 1993 Zahur Klemath Zapata developed the first software to read digital books. Digital Book v.1 and the first digital book is published ON MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, by Thomas De Quincey

The latest report out by Forrester Research predicts that ebook sales will reach$966 million in 2010 and that by 2011, the amount will be $1 billion. In 2009, ebook sales were $169.5 million, a small portion of the $35Billion publishing industry. Forrester reports that as people get the hang of reading ebooks, they shift their book-buying from hardcover or paperback to ebooks.

James McQuivey of Forrester states that "the average eBook reader already consumes 41% of books in digital form." Those who've taken the plunge and gotten a Kindle or other ereader have an even higher percentage: 2 out of 3 books they read are ebooks. Amazon illustrated this in their announcement that in its spring quarter it sold 143 for every 100 hardcover books. Forrester found that only 7% of online adults who read books read ebooks, highlighting that there is room for growth.

The question for publishing is whether ebook sales will simply cannibalize current hardcover and paperback sales, or whether there might be a windfall of converting formats.  If people who have the paperback edition of "Twilight" buy it again as an ebook, publishing will profit. But if they skip it, and instead choose to buy Stephenie Meyer's next novel as an ebook instead of getting the hardcover, the bottom line shrinks and that billion looks less promising...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adults Who Love Kids Books

 In 1919, the Macmillan Publishing Company hired the first children's book editor in the United States.
Martha Parravano and Roger Sutton of Horn Book Magazine have released a wonderful new resource: A FAMILY OF READERS: THE BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. The books is filled with essays and reviews on multiple genres of books, which is separated into four sections;
1. Reading to Them - Choosing and sharing board books and picture books with babies and very young children.

2. Reading With Them - Launching the new reader with easy readers and chapter books
3. Reading on Their Own - Exploring what children read — and how they read — by genre and gender.Respecting the reading privacy of the young adult.
4. Leaving Them Alone - Respecting the reading privacy of the young adult.
From MOTHER GOOSE and ELMO to THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, there is a wide range of books for all types of readers. It's an amazing resource for adults to share their favorite books and love of reading to the children in their lives.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On Line Writing Groups

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.

I am a big proponent of finding a writers or critique group -- it has a two fold benefit. First, it is key in helping the craft of writing - there is nothing better than having supportive colleagues review your work and provide constructing criticism. Second a writers group also provides a wonderful place to be with other writers who understand, emotionally, the writing process. My own critique group is invaluable -- I credit them with helping me hone my writing skills and getting me to where I am today.Writers groups can meet in the real world, as mine did, or can be virtual as well. I've also worked with writers, exchanging manuscripts via email, and that to can be very helpful.  

Two months ago, a new online writing community, based in the UK, was launched. Called Quillant, its aims, as shared by found Chris is to -

"recreate the classic writing group over the web. It is a different type of site for writers; it is about developing your work-in-progress with like-minded others and working together towards your aims."

"You create a profile in which you state the type of writer you are -– novelist, poet, playwright, 
etc. -– and the genres that you work in. matches you with similar writers and you form a writing group together. You work collaboratively, exchanging feedback on your work line by line.   

I'm all for collaboration, and with technology, perhaps we can do more of it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old Truths are Todays Truths

St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of writers. 
Prayer for Writers (taken from Saintly Support: A Prayer for Every Problem)
May the Lord guide me and all those who write for a living. Through your prayers, St. Frances de Sales, I ask for your intercession as I attempt to bring the written word to the world. Let us pray that God takes me in the palm of His hand and inspires my creativity and inspires my success. St. Francis de Sales, you understand the dedication required in this profession. Pray for God to inspire and allow ideas to flow. In His name, let my words reflect my faith for others to read. Amen. 
We writers can be our own worst critic - we worry ad nauseum about our writing style, our characters, our plotting technique (or lack thereof); we wonder what our agent thinks of the current manuscript on his/her desk, we worry about getting that first or subsequent book published... the concerns are endless, especially these days, in tough economic times. Success seems harder and harder to attain, obstacle seem insurmountable -- but that's human nature I guess. Then you think back to the good old days when things seemed easier... or did they? 
Reading an article by Jennie Nash, in the Huffington Post put things in perspective. In her article, The Making of a Novel: 8 Enduring Truths About Publishing, she talks about a book she's been reading, DEAR GENIUS: THE LETTERS OF URSULA NORDTROM, Nordstom being he children's book editor at Harper's in the 50's & 60's, responsible for some of the world's most enduring children's books -- think the LITTLE BEAR books, Maurice Sendak's masterpieces, Louise Fitzhugh's HARRIET THE SPY and many others. In it she sees 8 Truths that were evident then, as they are today:
  1. The creative process takes time. Nordstrom's authors started books and stopped them, came up with ideas and abandoned them, turned one idea into another as they searched for the best stories to tell and the best shape for their stories. There are not overnight successes.
  2. Writers need critics. It's hard to imagine that a book like WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was ever anything less than perfect, but Nordstrom picked apart all her writers' stories, questioning every word of the story and every line of art. She was ruthless. And it worked.
  3. Deadlines loom. Nordstrom is forever writing her authors to ask, "Where are your pages?"
  4. The sales people matter. Nordstrom travels to Boston and Los Angeles, among other places, to attend sales conferences and pitch the books she's working on. She talks about what illustrations to put in the catalog to capture the sales' people's attention, and how to present the stories in the best light.
  5. The competition is at your heels. We think of today's marketplace as being wildly competitive, but it wasn't so different back in the day. Nordstrom would go to great lengths to prevent her writers or illustrators taking a contract from a competitive house, and she seemed to hate it when a competitive house came out with a book she considered great.
  6. It's good to win awards. Nordstrom had many Newbrry and Caldecott winners, and there was always much rejoicing because awards almost always mean bigger sales. Nordstrom often spoke about wanting to help her writers and illustrators make enough money to stop doing their day jobs.
  7. Books need champions. Nordstrom helped usher a book to publication that included the first-ever homeoerotic scene between teenage boys. (She was a staunch believer that books should never speak down to children -- it's very inspiring.) She wrote several letters to leading psychologists in order to get a quote that would lend the book credibility.
  8. Making books is satisfying work. What comes through Nordstrom letters is, above all, a sense of absolute joy. She obviously loved her work in a very profound way -- and that love is still the only good reason to do it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

eBook Evolution Continues

NuroMedia released the first handheld ebook reader, the Rocket, which allowed ebooks to be downloaded from a PC via a serial cable.
According to the  technology gurus at GigaOm, the line between what we call a "book" and something that's just a really long chunk of published text—what you might call the "not quite a book" category—continues to blur in the electronic publishing world.
Borders has released, right on the heels of the Kindles Singles program, a service that allows bloggers or anyone else with an idea to publish what is effectively an e-book and get it distributed through all the major e-book platforms. They are doing this in partnership with Bookbrewer, a subsidiary of Boulder, Colo.-based startup FeedBrewer, Inc., which creates multi-platform publishing solutions for mobile devices. 
The service allows writers to upload their content, then publish an e-book in the open ePub format that can be downloaded for the iPad, the Kindle, the Kobo, or any other e-reader. The service has two tiers. One costs $89.99 and gives authors an ISBN, the universal book-tracking number used in the publishing industry. The advanced, $199.99 package also gives authors a master ePub file they can share or upload wherever they wish. Aaah, the changing landscape of publishing continues to morph...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Salman Rushdie's Inner Child

Salman Rushdie was awarded the British knighthood in 2007 for his services to literature.

I love Salman Rushdie's earlier works, especially the THE MOORS LAST SIGH. I can't help but envy the way he concocts sentences, each lush with imagery, touching all the senses, transporting you within the pages of his stories. But after SATANIC VERSES, something happened. Well, of course having a fatwa hanging over your head can wreak havoc with any writers creativity... THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET, FURY, and SHALIMAR THE CLOWN didn't quite light up the page as his other works did.

This month Sir Salman comes out with his second book for children, twenty years after his first. He wrote LUKA AND THE FIRE OF LIFE for Milan, his 13-year-old son by his third wife Elizabeth West. The book is a companion volume to HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES, written in the dark early days of the fatwa – for Zafar, the son he had with his first wife Clarissa Luard. The book (according the the Guardian) follows the formula of an old-fashioned quest, the young hero must complete a dangerous journey and has all sorts of adventures on the way. I haven't read it yet, but my fingers are crossed the old Salman is back...

Monday, October 11, 2010

HUGE Debut Book Giveaway!

Five book clubs around the country can win a prize pack of three to six sets of books written by the authors from the Class of 2K10. Each pack includes TEN copies of each book, and in some packs one of the books will be signed by the author. The contest is open to all book clubs associated with a nonprofit institution, a school, or a library. To enter, just comment on this entry, specifying which of the prize packs you are interested in and which nonprofit you are affiliated with. The giveaway will end on November 11, 2010. 



The Carnival of Lost Souls by Laura Quimby
Under the Green Hill by Laura L. Sullivan
The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter



Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery by Michele Corriel
Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr
Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai


13 To Life by Shannon Delany
Freaksville by Kitty Keswick
Mistwood by Leah Cypess

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Under My Skin by Judith Graves


Change of Heart by Shari Maurer
Faithful by Janet Fox
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride



Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
Party by Tom Leveen
Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard
Split by Swati Avasthi

  1. You must be a book club affiliated with a nonprofit, school, or library, and located in the continental United States.
  2. To enter, leave a comment to this entry ( Specify which of the prize packs you are interested in – you may choose from only one, to all five, as we will be holding 5 separate drawings.  (However, no club will win more than one prize pack.)
  3. Leave an email address where you can be reached should you win.
  4. If the email address is a not an institution address, please specify which nonprofit, school, or library you are affiliated with.
  5. If you are not sure whether you qualify, just leave the relevant information in the comment.
  If there are any additional questions, please contact Leah Cypess at

Sunday, October 10, 2010

San Francisco Litquake

Litquake (October 1-9, 2010), San Francisco’s literary festival showcases hundreds of Bay Area writers for a week of readings, discussions, films, cross-media happenings and more
I spent an amazing hour with authors and poets in front of 250 awesome middle grade students earlier this week, at the San Francisco Main Library. I was asked to present at Kidquake, which is a part of San Francisco's annual Literary Festival called Litquake. Kidquake is festival-within-a-festival and was launched in 2004 as organizers decided theyneeded more of a children’s component to the event. 
Along with me was a talented husband wife team, Jon Voelkel and  Pamela Craik Voelkel who gave an exciting and informative look at their hot new book MIDDLEWORLD, a fast paced adventure story about archaeology and Mayan mythology. The three students from the Creative Writing Department at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) were unbelievably talented -- just 15-17 years old, their poetry was moving, smart and deeply insightful. They went on to give poetry workshops to many of the students. It reminded me that I loved writing poetry in middle school -- it's wonderful way to have kids connect with themselves by putting thought to paper.
The kids asked amazing questions and were fun to meet!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cybils are Now Open!

The Cybils Awards, or Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards, are a series of book awards given by children's and young adult book bloggers. Co-founded by Kelly Herold and Anne Boles Levy in 2006, the awards were created to address an apparent gap between children's book awards perceived as too elitist and other awards that did not seem selective enough.
Books are nominated by the public in nine genres of children's and young adult literature: Easy Readers & Short Chapter Books, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Novels, Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books, Non-Fiction Picture Books, Poetry, and Young Adult Novels. Nominees go through two rounds of panel-based judging before a winner is announced in each category. Finalists and winners are selected on the basis of literary merit and kid appeal.
Panelists are volunteers and must be active bloggers with extensive experience in children's or young adult literature, either as readers and enthusiasts or as authors, librarians, booksellers, teachers, or others with verifiable investment in the world of children's literature. Anyone can submit a book, just follow the simple rules:

* Anybody may nominate a children's or young adult book published October 16 of the preceding year -  October 15 of the contest year.
* Books must be written in English or they may be bilingual.
* Only one book may be nominated per person, per category.
* Nominations open October 1 and close October 15 of the contest year.
* Books should exemplify award criteria of literary merit and "kid appeal."
* Audiobooks currently are not part of the awards.

(Yes, SHOOTING KABUL was nominated by Amanda Snow)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grazie Italia!

It may be said that book printing, after its birth in medieval Germany, was carried to maturity in humanistic Italy. The printing press reached Italy very early (1462–63), via the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, near Rome, which had strong German connections and a famous scriptorium -  Encyclop√¶dia Britannica

I just heard that Italian rights for SHOOTING KABUL have been acquired! Another excuse for another trip (as if you need an excuse...) 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some Darn Good Books

Cynthia Liu, author (PARIS PAN and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA) and frequent guest speaker recently put a call out to fellow writers to name what she titled "Contemporary Children’s and Teen Fiction Books Featuring People of Color Recommended by Authors of Contemporary Children’s and Teen Fiction Books Featuring People of Color." Quite a mouthful, but quite a list to! As she says in her blog, she presented at the Chicago Teacher-Librarians Association Breakfast about “Diversity within Diversity,” emphasizing the importance of seeking out books that feature contemporary kids and teens of color that don’t focus solely on race, cultural, or ethnic heritage. These books may also deal with other issues that today’s children and teens face, ranging from the serious to the light-hearted."
The list includes books for young readers, like ROSES IN MY CARPET by Rukhsana Khan & JACKSON JONES AND MISSION GREENTOP by Mary Quattlebaum; Middle Grade includes THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU by Wendy Shang & RICKSHAW GIRL by Mitali Perkins; and for older readers DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randel Abdul Fattah & HATERS by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.
This list is being updated regularly, and you can provide your input to. Here are her guidelines:
  • Books must feature a person of color (POC) as a main character.
  • These books are not solely about racial, cultural and ethnic heritage. These books may also deal with other issues that today’s children and teens face, ranging from the serious to the light-hearted.
  • Books must have been first published in 2000 or later. 
  • Books are set in current day times, or even in the future, so long as the character is from current day times (i.e. contemporary main character).
  • Books do not have to be award-winners or well-known. They just have to be winning books to the authors who recommended them.
  • Books must be published by a trade publisher listed in the CWIM or CBC.
  • If you are an author of a contemporary fiction children’s and teen book featuring a person of color and would like to recommend qualifying books for this list, please complete the form at
Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Market Checkup

 AAP's mandate covers both the general and the specific — broad issues important to all publishers as well as issues of specific concern to particular segments of the industry. The Association's "core" programs deal with matters of general interest:intellectual property; new technology and digital issues of concern to publishers; Freedom to read, censorship and libel; international freedom to publish; funding for education and libraries; postal rates and regulations; tax and trade policy; international copyright enforcement. Directed by standing committees of the Association, these programs, along with a host of membership services including government affairs, a broad-based statistical program, public information and press relations, are the "core" activities of the Association.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the national trade association for US book publishing industry, reported children's book sales results for July, and the numbers are down from last year. Hardcover Children’s/YA sales are down 19.1 percent for the month with sales of $45.1 million in July, and year-to-date sales are down by 16 percent. Children’s/YA Paperback sales decreased 1.7 percent in July with sales totaling $50.0 million; sales fell 5.9 percent for the year to date.

In comparison, Adult Hardcover category was down 15.2 percent in July with sales of $74.1 million, although sales for the year-to-date are up by 10.2 percent. Adult Paperback sales decreased 10.1 percent for the month ($111.1 million) but increased by 8.6 percent for the year. Adult Mass Market sales decreased 11.0 percent for July with sales totaling $60.6 million; sales were down by 13.1 percent year to date.

E-book sales continue to grow, with a 150.2 percent increase over July 2009 ($40.8 million); year-to-date E-book sales are up 191.0 percent. Downloaded Audio Books also saw an increase of 38.4 percent over last year, with sales of $6.6 million this July; and the category was also up 35.3 percent year-to-date. Physical Audio Book sales decreased 35.6 percent in July with sales totaling $8.7 million; sales for the year to date are down 0.6 percent.

Higher Education publishing sales increased 0.2 percent for the month ($926.4 million) and increased 13.5 percent for the year. Finally, the K-12 elementary/high school category posted total net sales of $729.9 million, up 4.2 percent over the prior year, and year-to-date sales of $2.2 billion, a 13.5 percent increase over 2009.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Regardless of your opinions on politics, right or left leaning, it is a fact that we've never had quite such a literary President. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, was followed by the AUDACITY OF HOPE: THOUGHTS ON RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN DREAM. His most recent work is due in November and is a children's book, OF THEE I SING: A LETTER TO MY DAUGHTERS. Not only does President Obama write, he is heavily written about in children's literature as well.

Philip Nel, professor in English and director of K-State’s program in Children’s Literature, presented the idea of "Obamafiction" in a lecture with the same title. He posited that books carry hope for youth and create a hero for children in the U.S.

"To write this piece, I pursued four main areas of inquiry,” Nel said. “I read some of the 57 children’s books about Obama — all of the picture books and comic books, plus a few of the others. I also did some work to situate my argument within the fields of children’s literature in general, and African-American children’s literature in particular.”

He stated that children’s literature is the critical because people read it before their ideas about the world are fully formed. And because of this, children's literature is inherently political. Supply and demand for these kinds of books plays a role -- the U.S. tends to idealize presidents as a hero and a role model, blurring the line between actuality and what people want. Surprisingly, few of these books were created for former president George W. Bush. At the end of the day, we know that literature has a powerful influence on young minds.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hint of the Future

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other - C.P. SNOW, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Reading publishers weekly today, I was struck by two pieces of similar news, dealing with the collision course of publishing and technology. Rick Richter, former president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, is now heading Ruckus Media, a company that specializes in creating high-definition animation apps for children aimed at the mobile computing market. The next piece of news was about Random House Children's Books entering into a partnership with digital developer Smashing Ideas. The company creates book-based children's apps for mobile devices. Perhaps its a premonition of things to come down the road...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Been Out a Bit...

I apologize for having disappeared... After the launch of SHOOTING KABUL I took some down-time, hung out with family and took a breather. But having SK out has been awesome, fingers crossed the reviews have been great and some wonderful authors and Bloggers have been chatting about the book. Here are two posts that came out, one one Mitali Perkin's blog, Mitali's Fire Escape, and the other on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Blog, Cynstations

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Birthday!

Shooting Kabul officially released today and can be found at your local independent bookseller, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and on-line. The path to publishing has taken two years of hard work, with many people involved - my agent, editor, cover artist, marketing & sales personnel and host of others. Needless to say, I'm beyond excited!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Book that Killed a Tree

Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years -
According to a new study released by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a large percentage of children's books sold in the U.S. are made from paper that includes "fiber linked to the clearing and conversion of Indonesia's rainforests." 90 percent of the world's acacia pulp is produced in Indonesia, according to RAN, where dedicated plantations are fast replacing virgin rainforest and wreaking havoc on the local ecology. Even worse, laboratory testing apparently found such fibers in at least one children's book about the destruction of rain forests.
Sadly, the children's book publishing industry is no exception to the fierce economics of globalization. RAN reports that U.S. publishers, relentlessly seeking to lower production costs, have aggressively offshored printing responsibilities to China. From 2000-2008, "Chinese sales of children's picture books to the U.S. ballooned by more than 290 percent, averaging an increase of more than 35 percent a year." China in turn, sources 18 percent of its pulp imports to Indonesia, where a pair of companies with two of the worst environmental reputations in the world, Asia Pulp and Paper and Asia Pacific Resources International, dominate the industry.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rankingly Obsessed

Amazon has sold more than 7.5 million unique titles at this point, and rankings indicate a title must sell at least one copy a year to remain above a rank of two million - Morris Rosenthal, Foner Books 
Getting your book published is a exciting, awesome journey, but once it hits the shelves, you might think that writers relax and wait for the royalty checks to arrive in the mail... alas, it's not true. I'd say the majority of the writers I know start obsessing (at least a little) about sales. The first place they look is at their Amazon sales rankings. Your Amazon sales rank is a number that says how many other titles sold more than your book. The smaller the number, the better the sales. The number is re-computed daily (for obsessors who need to know)
 For example, a major publisher tracked 25 titles over a six month period, correlating the weekly Amazon sales rank with actual reported sales from Amazon. Here is what they found correlating Amazon Sales Rank with real sales:

Amazon Actual
Sale Rank              Books Sold per week
---------------------     -------------------------------
75-100                  250-275/wk
100-200                225-249/wk
200-300                150-200/wk
450-750                75-100/wk
750-3,000             40-75/wk
3,000-9,000          15-20/wk
10,000+                1-5/wk

Source: Rampant Techpress
There are fluctuations in Amazon sales rank when the book is first released - When the initial backorder is filled, the sales rank plummets (sometimes below 1,000) for a brief period. Thee there may be a large drops in rank when there is a bulk order. Not all books are treated equally -- the top 1,000 are recalculated hourly, the next chunk (up to 100,000 (estimated)) weekly, while the rest, monthly. 
Also available to obsessed writers are helpful Internet sites which track you sales for you, like NovelRank uses Amazon sales data, and is a free website for authors to track their Amazon Sales Rank on, (United Kingdom), (Canada), (France), (Germany), and (Japan).
So, feel free to go forth and obsess, but not too much!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Glimmer of Hope for Indies

March retail sales at bookstores were up by 1.6 percent, compared with March 2009, according to preliminary figures recently released by the Bureau of the Census - American Booksellers Association
Oren Teicher, chief executive of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), which represents independent stores, reported some good news the other day - membership is up from last years 1,401 to 1,410! But sadly, that is still it low from nearly 3,000 at the height of Independent Book Store ownership.
Independent stores have been struggling with the onslaught of change in the industry:

  1. The spread of superstore chains, like Barnes & Nobles and Borders.
  2. The emergence of and other online retailers.
  3. The rise of the e-book platform, with many versions entering - Kindle, Nook, iPad etc. e-books now account for nearly 8% of sales for some major publishers.
Teicher credits last year’s turnaround mostly to the smarts of the independent community and a willingness to experiment, such as the literary day camp at BookPeople in Austin, Texas, or the clothing store in the Northshire Bookstore in Vermont. ABA president Michael Tucker, co-owner of Books Inc. in San Francisco, says the economy may have helped some stores, making it less costly to find retail space in downtown locations.

As the industry continues to face upheaval, fingers crossed that the Indies keep marching on.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Revisionist Social Studies

Texas is the country's second-largest textbook buyer, behind California, which has more than 6.2 million public school students in grades K-12.
I love Texas, don't get me wrong -- especially the BBQ. But ever since I heard that the Texas Board of Education approved a revised social studies curriculum to include adding language saying the country's Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles and a new section on "the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s," I got a little frightened. The revisions also include positive references to the Moral Majority, the National Rifle Association and the Contract with America, the congressional GOP manifesto from the 1990s.
Critics say if the changes are incorporated into textbooks, they will be historically inaccurate and dismissive of the contributions of minorities. The Texas recommendations face a final vote by the Republican-dominated board on May 21. The amendments to the state's curriculum standards also minimize Thomas Jefferson's role in world and U.S. history because he advocated the separation of church and state, and require that students learn about "the unintended consequences" of affirmative action and Title IX, the landmark federal law that bans gender discrimination in education programs and activities. 
 California may soon take a stand against proposed changes to social studies textbook sas a way to prevent them from being incorporated in California texts. Legislation by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, seeks to protect the nation's largest public school population. "While some Texas politicians may want to set their educational standards back 50 years, California should not be subject to their backward curriculum changes," Yee said (Amen)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lots of Launches

The following fellow 2K10 authors have launched their debut novels! 

Janet Fox's debut novel, FAITHFUL, released from Puffin last week. FAITHFUL, the story of 16-year old Maggie Bennet, is a tale of romance and mystery set in 1904 in spectacular Yellowstone National Park. 

Jeri Smith-Ready also launched with SHADE - In Shade, Aura Salvatore is a 16 year-old girl on a quest to uncover why everyone her age and younger can see ghosts, while coping with her boyfriend's own death and ghosthood.   

Tom Leveen's debut novel, PARTY, released April 29th from Random House. In PARTY, dovetailing perspectives unite 11 wildly different students at a graduation party in Santa Barbara in ways they never expected. 

THREE RIVERS RISING, a young-adult verse novel that combines tragedy, romance, and hope in Jame Richard's debut. Imagine a city under water—not Atlantis—but somewhere in the middle of the very real continental U.S., more than a hundred years before Hurricane Katrina. That city was Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and the year was 1889.