Price Set by Dice Roll and Other Book Promo Tools

Last week there was a bit of a furore in the publishing world after a Guardian journalist Ewan Morrison slated social media promotion by self published authors, basically saying that as a promotional tool Twitter and Facebook etc were overrated and authors should focus on writing books, probably. I know that was a rabid paraphrase, but do go read the article if you want specifics because it’s interesting and incendiary, which are two of the best things an article can be.

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It’s a Brand New World

This is a guest post from Kathy MeisKathy Meis, who is founder and president of Bublish, a social book discovery platform that is revolutionizing how writers share their stories and readers find books they’ll love. 

In the world of business journalism, where I come from, the idea of a publishing brand, is common. Forbes, Financial Times, and The Economist are all household names. Book publishing, however, evolved quite differently, primarily because of its distribution and monetization models. Book publishers haven’t traditionally sold directly to their customers nor have they had to worry about making money through advertising, which requires a strong brand and an intimate understanding of one’s readership.

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Should Children’s Books Come with Age Certifications?

Margaret EckelThis is a guest post from Margaret Eckel, who is a freelance PR Co-ordinator. You can find her on Linkedin and Twitter.

Earlier this month children’s author G.P. Taylor began a debate on BBC Breakfast by announcing he thought children’s books ought to come with age certifications similar to films.  His comments elicited strong criticism from other children’s authors, including Charlie Higson, who wrote a rebuttal in the Guardian.

It’s not the first time age ratings have come up.  A few years ago, publishers tried to introduce them and were met with resistance from authors, educators and the public.  The No to Age Banding Campaign collected over 4,000 signatures and the idea was dropped.

So why is it back?  Taylor said he believes children’s books have become too scary and that we need to be careful what we expose young readers to.  Higson argued that it is important for children to be able to explore dark themes in books because they experience all sorts of things, are exposed to all sorts of information, and books need to reflect that to be relevant.

My gut reaction to the discussion Taylor sparked is that age certifications are a bad idea, and I spoke to children’s librarian Clare Hartnett and children’s bookseller Kate Agnew, of the Children’s Bookshop in Muswell Hill, to find out what they think about age certifications and scary books for children.

Here’s what I learned…

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Story time for digital publishers

This a guest post from Simon Appleby, who runs Bookswarm, a digital agency specialising in delivering projects for authors, agents and publishers. Simon has 15 years’ experience of scoping, pitching, architecting and delivering digital projects. He has worked for a number of digital agencies, and more recently has worked client-side at Octopus Publishing Group (a division of Hachette UK), where he ran the e-book conversion programme and worked on a number of iPhone and iPad apps. His first course at the Publishing Training Centre runs at the start of October with co-tutor Zelda Rhiando.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

Human beings love stories. Narrative is central to how we make sense of the world around us. It explains religions, superstition, myths and legends, and it’s core to our culture. In fact, in one of my favourite popular science books, The Science of Discworld II: The Globe, the authors, Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, devote themselves to the importance of narrative (or narrativium, as they would have it) to the world, and suggest that instead of Homo Sapiens, a better name for the human species would be Pans Narrans – the Storytelling Ape.

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Cover Design: When Change is a Good Thing

True story: there are some really, absolutely, unquestionably terrible book covers in the world – ones that make you want to approach bookshelves with a flamethrower rather than an open wallet – and while we’d like to curse these to that terrible time in history when ‘fashionable’ was synonymous with ‘seizure’ (the 80s), this isn’t always going to be the case. Given that some people still believe a large stock image and a whacky font is a winning way to represent their title, I don’t think we’re going to be stuck for contenders for the worst book cover award any time soon.

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Social Media Sins: Just Don’t.

Can’t say there’s been much news this week – no big mergers to report, and no-one has invented the Next Big Thing to save/destroy publishing, which leaves me discussing something rather close to my own heart. Something I see all too often when I’m trawling Twitter, or browsing pins, or trying unsuccessfully to suppress a rage-induced hernia while posting on Facebook.  Something more horrifying than a Justin Beiber fan and more plentiful than 50 Shades of Grey knockoffs.

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Sainsobii vs Wamazon: Battle of the Bookseller Titans

Sainsbury's vs Amazon: The Battle of the Bookselling TitansLast week, a new alliance between supermarket Sainsbury’s and social reading site aNobii rocked the publishing world. As I’ve said before, aNobii have been ramping up their online presence of late and it seems to have paid off with this deal, sparking some discussion as to whether this was Sainsbury’s well and truly making their move into eBook retailing.  But can they realistically take on the giants of the book selling industry? In a fight between young-gun Sainsobii and godly Wamazon*, who would win?

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Your Innovation Ain’t All That

Robot from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxyor The Future of Storytelling Might Not Be So Fancy

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine, knowing my penchant for all things techy and mental, sent me links to two websites, both of which contain experimental digital fiction.  One, a short fiction website called Dreaming Methods, uses clever coding to create an app-like experience in your browser. The second, Nawlz, is a more conventional interactive comic where the frames move and change depending on user interaction, thus giving the reader the illusion of control (it’s actually rather good).

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What Can the US Teach the UK About Children’s Non-Fiction?

Margaret Eckel
This is a guest post from Margaret Eckel, who is a freelance PR Co-ordinator. You can find her on Linkedin.


Recently, I wrote a post here which encouraged everyone to revisit their relationship with children’s non-fiction.  Originally, I didn’t have space to address an interesting comment that Nicola Davies and Vivian French made at Booktrust’s London Book Fair seminar: that children’s non-fiction seems to be more popular in the US than in the UK.  As an American in London, I know that cross-cultural idea exchange is a great learning experience, and this really intrigued me.  I wanted to find out why two successful non-fiction authors would feel this way, and whether things are different for children’s non-fiction across the pond.

I spoke further with Vivian French about her personal experience and got on-the-ground insight about children’s non-fiction in the US from Dr. Joan Kindig, an education and reading specialist at James Madison University, who certainly has her finger on the pulse of US children’s publishing trends.

Here’s what I think the UK publishing industry should take away from our counterparts in the states…

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