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PG 5 in case you missed the london author fair on Feb. 28, authoright’s hayley radford and litfactor’s jordan koluch bring you the highlights.

pg 10 Natasha rocca devine talks to diana rissetto about her novel, the industry, and writing characters who value fame over everything else.

pg 16 would you ever consider using twitter as your writing medium? see how some authors are experimenting with 140 characters.

NEW EDITION CONTEMPORARY

PUBLISHING

MAGAZINE

ISSUE 12, MARCH 2014

Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Can we really know how much authors are making?

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

This Month Happenings: March 4

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Twitter Fiction 17

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LAF 5

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Trending:

Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings

Party!

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CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Welcome to the March issue of New Edition! This month, we take a look at the first-ever London Author Fair, as well as the trend we’re all talking about – Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings. We also look forward to upcoming industry events and examine the rising popularity of Twitter fiction. Learn how to plan the perfect literary party, and don’t miss our chat with Natasha Rocca Devine, author of The Industry.

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

Happenings: March 19–23

20–21

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Virginia Festival of the Book Charlottesville, VA http://vabook.org/index.html/ Readers, writers and industry professionals come together to celebrate books, reading and literacy. The largest literary festival in the Mid-Atlantic region, most of the programming is free and open to the public. The Landscape Listens: Voices of Women in American Poetry Boston, MA http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/events/ Contemporary poets, both male and female, gather to honour the work of female predecessors. Each poet will read the work on one female who influences their life and poetry. The event will feature readings and panel discussions with the poets. Teen Writing Group Paris https://americanlibraryinparis.org/events-programs/library-events/allevents/eventdetail/816/-/teen-writing-group.html Teens of all different writing levels are encouraged to participate in this writing community at the American Library in Paris. Writers share their work and receive feedback from the group in a relaxed and creative setting.


CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Fair Play As the dust settles on the first London Author Fair, Authoright and LAF Co-Founder Hayley Radford reasons why the event came at a key moment in the evolution of publishing.

Two separate voices are emerging in publishing today. One, evidently led by Robert McCrum, seems dour, depressed, bleating pitifully about how authors have been dealt such a cruel, unfavourable hand by the gatekeepers who have controlled the industry since it began, not to mention by eBooks and vampire fiction and change and fickle consumer winds, etc. Despite working like a literary dog, McCrum has come undone and cannot make a living from writing. This ‘woe is me’ tone is one which appears to resonate with much of the industry in that it somehow signifies the decline, potentially

even the death, of the author. Try telling that to our confident, engaged audience of writers at the first London Author Fair. The other voice, their voice, is far more compelling. Emboldened, positive, excited for the future, it is the voice of the author of the digital age, one who is embracing every opportunity that 21st century publishing has to offer. Yes, it might be naive in parts, but it acknowledges that. It’s also part of its charm, to be fresh and skywardlooking, rather than cynical and safe. For authors writing today it’s tough out there, really tough – there’s a veritable sleigh-load of

competition to battle through – and various statistics remonstrate with us that people are spending and reading less. But this voice is one that’s working hard to tune in to the sound of a generation; one led by authors who are writing for themselves, connecting directly, intimately and effectively with their readers, learning and progressing, author by author, sale by sale. In short they are talking over – bypassing completely – the industry and the ho-hum McCrum’s, in order to do publishing for themselves. These writers – published and unpublished – know that as the industry is dismantled,

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

From top: Authoright’s Gareth Howard, Blurb’s Eileen Gittins and publishing journalist Porter Anderson discuss the author as entrepreneur; authors at the drinks reception at the end of the day; a packed seminar hall during the Big Publishing Brainstorm; Authoright’s Hayley Radford delivers her author branding workshop to an enthusiastic audience; Suzanne Baboneau of Simon & Schuster discusses the business of books.

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deconstructed if you will, they at last have the chance to play a critical role in its rebirth, its futureproofing. The art of relearning how we publish and exchange content can be crafted with the author in mind. There is a devolution of power happening right now. And that second voice is ready and waiting to carry the new tune. It’s very easy for the traditional side of publishing to be dismissive of this newly established, collective voice. The voice of the author. Is it wrong that those whose talents sustain the industry should want a better cut, a place at the table? Of course not. Their argument is a relatively young one; it might not yet come armed to the teeth with the right kind of statistics, the right approach, and of course has a sketchy heritage at present, but hasn’t it already earned the opportunity to be heard? When planning the London Author Fair, we did not want to produce a cacophony of one-sided opinions; rather, we wanted to access all aspects of the publishing industry, scrutinising its form and function, in order to help authors chart its new and complex landscape, carving out the right path for themselves. In order to guard against one-sidedness, we invited a lot of traditional publishers – and big, traditionally published authors too – to take part at LAF. With only a few exceptions they all declined. One representative from the big six said she didn’t want to join in if the event was going to be a big, noisy day of ‘traditional publisher bashing’. I cannot state strongly enough that that was never our intention, because what a futile one it would have been. It was frustrating for us that many chose not to be involved in the discussion; it also frustrated all the excellent literary agents, distributors and platform publishers who had embraced the London Author Fair as a talking point, a chance to connect directly with writers and start the conversation. Because if one side of publishing doesn’t join in, the other might become so


CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

impatient it will decide to cut them out altogether. The London Author Fair was a frenzy of new thinking, a celebration of the author and the potential of which we are all just on the cusp, the excitement of not knowing what course we’re all about to take, but uniting for the journey, making the discovery together. At the London Author Fair, an author called Monique told me, “We are so vehemently in the info age, the choice, without guidance, can be overwhelming.” And this choice isn’t just overwhelming for authors, it’s pretty brain-crushing for everyone, from literary agents, to distributors, to retailers and everyone in between. As an industry I believe we’re stronger together, tackling the good and the bad head on as a united front, rather than allowing the trade to splinter through disaffection and disinterest and a chronically slow reaction time to change. There must be better, different ways of working, of writing, of publishing, of selling rights and making money from writing. We just have to work things out for ourselves, taking Isaac Asimov’s self-education as the only education route to understanding what the future will look like. Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair on one of our seminar panels designed to explore the real business of the book trade, somewhat dismissed self publishing as something which had the potential to become a rather expensive hobby for authors. He has a point. Part of the role of the LAF was to support authors with the best information available precisely to help them make good decisions, and not chuck £20,000

at a faux-publishing house in South East Asia in return for false promises and a crappy retail price. I’d also like to know when has publishing not been an expensive hobby for at least someone in the bloated publishing food chain? To think of all the tiny craft publishers painstakingly curating and releasing handfuls of books a year, so obtuse and exclusive in their tone and purpose that they can only ever even dream of selling in limited numbers – even to threaten to sell more would, of course, ruin their wilful objective to remain elite. Are these not the true vanity publishers, those who go out of their way to keep reading and literary betterment for a privileged few who shudder at commercial success and become nauseous at the merest whiff of populist appreciation? Or is Wayne Rooney’s eighteenth memoir not the absolute height of the vanities (and is there even a bonfire big enough?!) If we are to accept and defend these writers, these publishers, each who do have something valuable to offer to someone in the reading world, then in my mind we should extend the same open invitation to all writers. I will not apologise to the custodians of literary fiction for being a massive Stephen King fan. In the same vein, I would happily wait on Margaret Atwood hand and foot for eternity. That’s the wonder of the book business, isn’t it? Glorious, eclectic choice. Big publishers have gleefully exploited trash fiction and non-fiction markets for years now in order to prop up their less commercially viable divisions. So are those of us who celebrate choice and opportunity for all authors and genres expected to apologise for big-selling, eBook-only romance writers making a mint? I think not. The state of things in publishing today reminds me of The Inheritors by William Golding. The pain and the promise of evolution writ large. Golding himself was, of course, rescued by Charles Monteith from the Faber and Faber slushpile, a prime example of where a new

and ambitious editor campaigned and won to salvage the author he believed in. In Golding’s second novel, Lok and his people are the last of their gentle species, desperate to protect their basic way of life, but horribly ill-prepared to defend themselves against the rampant progression of the new people. Cunning and not a little violence saw the new people succeed, which I hope is where my analogy ends, although I do believe that we cannot afford to get too misty eyed about publishing, just because we love it and it has worked well for most people for many years. Reality does bite. In the book trade, change is already here, but if it reveals itself to be more egalitarian, fairer to those at its creative heart, consumer led and creative focused, rewarding us all with new words from myriad sources, then it surely doesn’t have to be all bad, does it? No one in self publishing claims to have all the answers, but we are determined to have the conversation about where the industry in its entirety is headed, so that we can explore the new world and the new people of literature together, and see what they have to offer. Otherwise, one will be destined to inherit from Lok, which would be to the detriment and the tragedy of us all. Authoright is already brimming with excitement as we start to plan in earnest for our second author fair in New York in September. We know there’s so much we can improve upon, so many new angles we can take in trying to clarify and unify the business of books for the people who write them and read them. We have a lot to learn, but then, so does publishing. According to Einstein, in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. Hello opportunity.

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

LitFactor PitchUp!

at the London Author Fair

LitFactor’s PitchUp! at the London Author Fair allowed over ninety authors to meet with one of eleven agents to pitch their manuscripts in fifteen minutes each. LitFactor’s Jordan Koluch takes us inside the pitching tent.

The Bedouin tent at the London Author Fair turned out to be the perfect ice-breaker for the authors attending LitFactor’s live literary agent pitching event. Indeed, it’s difficult to be intimidated by someone – even a literary agent – when they’re sitting on a pouffe under golden draperies, backlit by lanterns. Not that there was anything to be afraid of in the first place. LitFactor orchestrated the PitchUp! event to facilitate communication between authors and agents, showing writers that even though agents seem allpowerful, they’re actually quite keen to hear new ideas and find fresh voices. All of the agents who attended the PitchUp! share LitFactor’s philosophy and came ready to add to their growing lists of author-clients. The authors came equally prepared, arriving early to their pitching slots with cover letter, synopsis and manuscript sample in hand. Fifteen minutes isn’t a lot of time, so they wanted to make the most of it by being prepared to pitch. But most of the pitching sessions went beyond mere presentations. After a few minutes of description, the agents began asking each

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author questions about themselves and their work and delving into the answers. All of the agents at the PitchUp! generously donated their time to see over ninety authors in one day. LitFactor is very grateful to David Headley of D H H Literary Agency, Meg Davis of The Ki Agency, Yasmin Standen of Standen Literary Agency, Piers Blofeld of Sheil Land Associates, Jemima Hunt of The Writers’ Practice, Andrew Lownie of Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, Jessie Botterill and Hellie Ogden of Janklow & Nesbit, Laura West of David Higham Associates, Ajda Vucicevic of Luigi Bonomi Associates and Lorella Belli of Lorella Belli Agency for making the PitchUp! such a success. Authors who were unable to secure a pitching slot still had plenty of opportunities at LAF to network with literary agents. Hellie Ogden and Piers Blofeld both ran Working with a Literary Agent workshops in the afternoon, answering authors’ individual questions. Ogden also participated on the panel of the Agents of Change seminar with Andrew Lownie, Oli Munson


CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Clockwise from top left: Agents Hellie Ogden and Ajda Vucicevic taking author pitches in the pitching tent; Lorella Belli chatting with an author before her pitching appointments; Piers Blofeld’s standing room-only Working with a Literary Agent workshop.

of A M Heath and Gordon Wise of Curtis Brown. Chaired by publishing journalist Porter Anderson, the seminar discussed the changing role of the literary agent in the shifting publishing industry. Lownie and Blofeld were also on the panel of the last seminar of the day, The Big Publishing Brain Storm. Again, Anderson put a question to the panellists: how do we get to where we want the industry to be in 2020? During both seminars, the agents answered audience questions about the future of the industry. A few lucky authors were able to obtain a pitching slot on the day of the fair when Jessie Botterill took extra pitches after her scheduled slots ended. Ajda Vucicevic also took pitches well into the drinks hour at the end of the day. LitFactor looks forward to meeting more authors at the next PitchUp! event at the New York Author Fair

in September. To find out more about how to find the right literary agent, go to litfactor.com. For more information on upcoming LitFactor events, email team@litfactor.com to be added to the newsletter mailing list.

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Industry Insider

NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

Authoright’s Diana Rissetto asks The Industry author Natasha Rocca Devine about her inspiration, 9 to 5 jobs and who she’d want to be her literary boyfriend.

on pieces of paper and logging When did you decide to write memories in my own diaries. a novel? Was this something During my school years, writing you had always wanted to do?  became a passion, especially noted in my scripts for my exams. Yet, I have been writing since I can like most teenagers I would have remember, it always came natural not revealed this skill as exposing to me. Writing and designing is a my work was too frightening at this means of expressing myself and as I vulnerable age. am naturally more of an introvert (I As I grew older, in college and have been called a ‘loud introvert’) particularly after my car accident I feel that I communicate best via writing became my everyday my writing, rather than speaking, routine and my creative outlet. probably due to nerves. After studying journalism writing [When I was] a child, my mum became my job. I had my own was a broadcaster, writer and model online production company: and I recall she always carried NRD Productions, which began notecards for her work, constantly as an online magazine and evolved writing things down on these along into ‘NRD TV’ where I wrote with her diaries, scripts etc. so it documentaries, along with scripts was something I saw as normal for ‘League of Ireland TV’ football practice. So, I would work on my channel and various shows I own stories on her typewriter, worked on. Outside of work I whilst writing and sketching wrote poems, scripts and stories

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that I wished to explore but life always came in the way. Most recently I created Awareness: Creating your own Balance in Life, which is an A–Z life guide to balance that stemmed from my recovery from a coma. After this, writing a novel was inevitably my next step. The Industry is based on the entertainment industry touching on music, media, social media and fame. What are some other jobs you have done? Do you think most writers aren’t suited for a typical 9 to 5 life?  I have always balanced work, writing, designing and study and so I have completed all kinds of jobs, ‘9 to 5’ included. As a teenager and moving


CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

into college years, I worked on promotional events, waitressing, and hosting, along with acting in some independent films, fashion styling, promotional modelling and mainstream events. Meanwhile I worked on NRD Productions, while broadcasting for ‘League of Ireland TV’ and various shows on television. As this media work was sporadic, in order to survive I worked a countless number of ‘9 to 5’ temping jobs such as Personal Assisting, graphic design and in various financial institutions. Most recently I worked as a Client Relationship Manager and at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which led me to this point. In my case, working in businesses assisted my time management. Also, I learned that the publishing industry is creative but also respect it as a business, like all others. My parents taught me to work hard and let my work speak for itself so I hope to keep this philosophy in each project I complete. How often do you base characters on people from your real life? I know I do it all the time! Has it ever gotten you into trouble with any of your friends or family?  I am an artist at heart and most often I work on situations and a plot, while the characters come to me, like an inspiration for a painting, some easier than others of course. Plus, I am not invasive in people’s lives so I genuinely don’t base my characters on people from my real life. Instead I try to challenge myself as a writer and work on fictional characters and let them come to life in each scene. Yet, I believe subconsciously people I have met on the way may be filtered into my work. Instead I do like to use names of people I love, respect or have been impacted by. For instance, ‘Carlton’ comes from Carlton on ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ who I adored for his vivacious nature. ‘Jack’ is based on my late grandfather and ‘Alanna’ is based on my niece, along with some family, friends and people I’ve met, who know who they are. It is my way of keeping people timeless through my work.

and oozing sex appeal, she fits the essence of the frailty and fierceness that I always envisaged for anyone playing Alanna. The Industry’s plot spins out of the main character dealing with a very tragic loss, the death of her twin sister.  Was this inspired by a real life experience where a loss has propelled you to take chances?  Personally, I have experienced loss in my immediate family, loss of friends and also had a near death experience, which inspired my first book, Awareness: Creating your own Balance in Life. Without a doubt, these experiences have propelled me to take chances, which I may have not taken otherwise. People’s actions and reactions fascinate me; love and loss can differ in extremes from one person to the next. Therefore, I like to see past the ‘image’ of how we would expect a person to act and dig deeper to explore the reality of life’s trials and triumphs. In fiction, this diversity in characters’ reactions leads to an interesting plot. In Alanna’s situation, due to the loss of her twin she takes extreme risks, which may be to her own personal demise, yet, professionally leads to her success in the end. So, I have told the story not dissimilar to Tony Soprano, whereby Alanna is the ‘bad cop’ leading the story, acting in a way readers may not think too kindly

The Industry just begs to be turned into a movie! Is screenwriting something that would interest you? I know that I prefer writing plays because I love writing dialogue so much.  And, even more importantly – who do you cast as Alanna?!  As I am an extremely visual person I created The Industry with no limitations as to where or how it could be perceived, hence, a movie would be a remarkable outlet to share this story. In terms of actors of preference, for Alanna, Scarlett Johansson would be me my ideal preference. Combining Scarlett’s appearance, past performances

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

of. Yet, I hope to challenge both my readers and myself to see that no one is one-dimensional, that we are all trying to survive, each person is only acting in the best way they thought possible with the information they had at that time. While also noting that it is normal to dislike and like certain characters, as in real life. Who are some of your dream literary boyfriends? Mr Darcy, Edward Cullen, Mr Gatsby, Alexander (The Great) to name a few… You obviously have a very busy social life and a lot of obligations! While you were writing The Industry, did you have to lock yourself away until you finished? Were your family and friends understanding?  I definitely found time as my biggest challenge when writing The Industry. Whilst writing The Industry I was working full time in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on an eBook project, which required full commitment and often working late. Then at night I was writing The Industry and for five months I was taking an online course at ‘Faber and Faber Academy’, which assisted my writing along with our online lessons, consuming a lot of my time. In addition, I am from a large Irish-Italian family, and have my friends, all of whom I call ‘my tribe’; keeping in touch with them was equally important to me. In my family, even if I was a ‘New York Times Bestseller’ (which would be a dream), I know it is relative, everyone has busy lives so we honour each other’s work and always create time for one another. Hence, having respect for my time, others and being a

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team player stems from this ‘family’ mentality, which radiates in all of my projects. Yet, I can’t deny that, if allowed, I would get consumed in my work. My parents always remind me that the best writers, musicians and actors have life experience, which can provide depth to you as a person and writer alike. They are interconnected in my eyes and a balance of both leads to a happier all-around life. How do you feel about the changes that are happening in the publishing industry? Is it upsetting or exciting? Do you prefer a Kindle or a print book?  I feel there are both positives and challenges that are happening in the publishing industry, which correlate to the challenges in everyone’s lives with technology and all the options available to us on a day-to-day basis. I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a unique time where there was no social media and now there is a surge of this. Hence, I felt it was an integral feature to include both the traditional and social media elements in my book. I believe it is remarkably positive how with selfpublishing and social media everyone has a place to voice their opinions. Yet, I believe often it can be used not in the most effective way, without enough direction of the outcome. So much so, in publishing alone, the competition is fierce with 20,000 books coming to life each week. Akin to the music, media, and even business industries, it appears you have to do something radical to be seen any more. Hence, this can block some talented writers who are often low-key from getting their ‘break’. I am old school at heart and will always cherish print books. So, I wish to get The Industry sold into


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I hope to challenge both my readers and myself to see that no one is one dimensional, that we are all trying to survive. as many stores as possible to reach as many readers as possible and also keep this tradition alive. Yet, at HMH I worked on children’s eBooks for schools across America and can see that children, particularly those with disabilities and troubles at home, now have a chance to learn where they didn’t have a chance. With digital lessons teachers can monitor them closely and give direct assistance where it is needed. So, a balance of both print and digital publishing will always be my preferred option. Sadly, I do believe print books may filter out and be an architectural feature in the home rather than the norm.

For now, I hope to spread The Industry worldwide… I am working on the sequel, The Industry – After Party, along with writing and designing a set of children’s books which I am having lots of fun working on. Plus, I hope to write for some magazines to use my journalistic skills in this medium too.

What are your favourite books of all time? 

Pending on my mood and the person in question, I may just observe them reading, smile and walk on feeling very appreciative of their support. Yet, if it was in the right context (although the photo of myself on the back, that may be a giveaway) I may have a brief chat with them. I would never encroach on someone’s space so I would rather pretend I have read it and ask the person what they thought of The Industry instead. As I had a great team on board for this project, I am extremely pleased with the final product. However, I believe being creative is an ongoing process and the only way I will improve and evolve as a writer is if I get honest and pragmatic feedback from people, all of which I can be cognisant of when writing my next books.

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer yet; here are fifteen which spring to my mind: 1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. 2. Life of Pi, Yann Martel. 3. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. 4. The Pearl, John Steinbeck. 5. P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern. 6. Harry Potter, JK Rowling. 7. A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle. 8. The Audacity Of Hope, Barack Obama. 9. The Help, Kathryn Stockett. 10. One Day, David Nicholls. 11. Little Women, Louisa M Alcott. 12. Rachel’s Holiday, Marian Keyes. 13. The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory. 14. The Hippopotamus, Stephen Fry. 15. On Beauty, Zadie Smith.

So. You’re at the airport and you see somebody reading The Industry! Do you approach them and tell them you’re the author or do you pretend you’ve also read the book and start a discussion? 

To find out more about Natasha Rocca Devine and The Industry, including to buy the book, visit www.theindustrynrd.com and follow Natasha on Twitter @NatashaRoccaDev.

What’s next for you? Are you working on a sequel to The Industry? 

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

#

Trending:

Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings

Every month we weigh in on the most talked-about trends in the publishing industry. For our inaugural Trending, Jordan Koluch looks at Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report.

On February 11, self publishing superstar Hugh Howey published a report on his AuthorEarnings. com website about sales data he had collected from Amazon’s Top 100 lists in the mystery/thriller/ suspense, science fiction/fantasy and romance genres, spanning 7,000 ebook titles. His ultimate conclusion was that “[m]ost selfpublished authors are, on average, earning more money on fewer books” than traditionally published authors. This assertion was backed by a smart-looking graph but very little else. And as with any large piece of news in the industry, especially where it concerns math and numbers, the Internet was ablaze with opinions from both sides of the aisle. On the self published side, authors used the report as a call to arms around which to rally. Outspoken self published author Joe Konrath (@jakonrath) tweeted on February 11, “Both a revelation and a confirmation. The selfpublishing shadow industry is now

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out of the shadows.” Konrath has been fighting the “establishment” of traditional publishing since the beginning of his career and saw the report as a confirmation of self publishing’s supremacy. Whether it actually was is another question entirely. Polly Courtney, an author who left a HarperCollins contract to self publish, argued, “For a long time now, self-publishing has been dismissed as an act of vanity – mainly by frightened executives in publishing houses, who hold up terrible examples of self-published works and say ‘See? This is why we exist.’ But Hugh Howey’s report shows that authors who are serious about getting their work out there – those who write well and self-publish professionally – can actually be far better off without a major publisher.” Courtney mirrors Howey and Konrath’s “we don’t need you” sentiment toward traditional publishers, which did happen to be the case for all three authors.

But those are three empirical cases, and Howey’s data surveys Amazon bestsellers in his chosen genres. Is it really fair to claim “most self-published authors” are doing anything based on this data? Almost immediately after the report was published, it was attacked by the traditional publishing establishment. Publishing expert Mike Shatzkin summed up his dissent against Author Earnings by calling Howey “a much better author and selfpromoter than he is a business analyst.” The main criticism of the report was Howey’s analysis of the numbers. While Howey himself admitted that the data was incomplete, he drew a number of conclusions that critics were all too happy to seize upon. Dana Beth Weinberg, the Queens College – CUNY statistician who oversaw the Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, wrote a number of articles discrediting Howey’s analysis of the data. (Howey and


CONTEMPORARY PUBLISHING MAGAZINE

Self published author Hugh Howey started AuthorEarnings.com to ‘help authors make better decisions’ about their publishing options. Photo courtesy of CreateSpace.

Weinberg have what amounts to a polite feud between their differing reports.) Weinberg took the raw data Howey provided with his report and ran her own analysis. She then critiqued Howey’s analysis, saying, “[T]he sample has its own inherent bias and selection issues, which are important depending upon what question you are trying to answer.” I, personally, am more willing to believe Weinberg with her doctorate in Sociology than I am to believe Howey with his unnamed author/ programmer/analyst. I think Weinberg also touches on the major issue with the Author Earnings Report. Howey may well have made clear that he didn’t have enough data. But he didn’t let that stop him from drawing conclusions. For instance, he says that indie authors make more than traditionally published authors. But his data only covers a twenty four-hour period, meaning that he extrapolated those earnings figures by taking the day’s earnings and

multiplying them by 365. Thus an Amazon bestseller that sold no copies in that twenty four-hour period would equate to a yearly earning of £0 in Howey’s report, regardless of how many copies were sold the day before the data was taken, or the day after. In fiction, it’s fine to mold facts to fit your story. In math (or maths), not so much. There are a number of other issues that Weinberg, Shatzkin, and anyone else who’s written about the report have pointed out. The report doesn’t take into account traditionally published authors who don’t earn out their advances. It doesn’t acknowledge print sales in bookstores, where many titles may garner better sales numbers than online. The data was taken by title, so two bestselling titles by the same author are considered two data points instead of one. The list goes on. But it’s an important list. Howey has asked a huge question: What do authors earn? Then he ignores huge pieces of the

answer. Convenient, sure, but not incredibly informative. Reading Howey’s report gets us no closer to understanding what authors earn than we were before. Howey’s error, in my opinion, was not that he didn’t know his data was flawed. In fact, he blatantly acknowledges it. His error was that he relied on it to draw conclusions that in many ways attack the traditional publishing industry. Traditional publishers have had no problem in the past attacking self pub and didn’t need any more ammunition to do so. If Howey really wanted to make a statement and add legitimacy to self publishing, it would have been much better to do so by employing trained statisticians working with good data, asking similar questions, but also exploring alternate reasons for results. For instance, do self published authors sell more ebooks through Amazon than traditionally published authors because they’re better books? Or because they’re only offered as ebooks, while

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NEW EDITION, MARCH 2014

readers have print options for traditionally published books? Or because the majority of those books were self published through Kindle Direct Publishing, and Amazon favors its own products on its site? Some don’t see this as a failure of Howey’s report. Chris Meadows of TeleReads wrote, “Does it matter whether self-published author revenue makes up 30%, 40%, or 50% of daily revenue earned by authors from Amazon? Not really. All we need to know is that it’s a big, non-trivial chunk of revenue, no matter what the real size of the chunk actually is.” I don’t necessarily agree, but Meadows raises a good point. Self publishing is making a splash, and it’s important to note that. The issue in quantifying that splash is merely a lack of data. While Neilsen Book Data tracks sales of books via ISBN, many self published authors don’t buy ISBNs for their books, considering them to be another mark of the “gatekeeper” model of publishing. Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other ebook retailers consider their sales data proprietary. What the industry as a whole needs—both traditionally and self published—is more transparency and better information, especially

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if we really want to answer the question of what authors earn. If Howey achieved anything, it was making that painfully obvious. Michael Cader, creator of Publishers Lunch, wrote about Author Earnings, “Sometimes being provocatively wrong is a very effective way of getting people to reexamine their assumptions.” Hugh Howey wanted to shake industry assumptions by publishing his Author Earnings Report, and that he certainly did. But if he wanted to make meaningful, lasting change in the way self publishing is viewed, he should have made sure his data and analysis were beyond reproach before drawing conclusions he couldn’t defend. That’s not to say that the question isn’t important. We want to know how author’s are doing, especially the self published ones. We hope for the day when we can say that self publishing is neck-andneck with the trads. Perhaps that day has already come, and we just don’t know it. But the publication of the Author Earnings Report was not that day. Authors should start demanding data from the retailers who sell their work. Howey has the platform to lead that movement, and I hope he’s successful. Getting the retailers

to release that sales data would be considered a huge win; with Howey at the helm, it would be a huge win for self publishing. But only when the data is better will we be closer to an actual answer. Find out more about Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings Report at www.authorearnings.com and @authorearnings. Howey has since published two more reports, one using Amazon sales data for 50,000 titles and one using Barnes and Noble sales data. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Wool and the award-winning Molly Fyde Saga.


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The Rise of Twitter Fiction The popularity of social media has opened up myriad opportunities for authors in terms of promoting their work and connecting with readers. Jordan Koluch investigates how it’s also affecting the way they write. Most authors know that social media is a cheap (read: free) and effective way to reach out to their readers and build a following for their author brand. But most don’t think about it past promotion (and the occasional sharing of personal information with friends and family). Some authors, however, have embraced the tools – specifically Twitter with its 140-character space limitations – to explore new ways of storytelling. Twitter fiction – or poetry and non-fiction, for that matter – is a growing trend among tech-savvy authors. Twitter offers a number of options that print and even eBooks don’t – namely, quicker response times and a direct connection between the author and reader. When an author Tweets a story, all of her followers receive it immediately, for free. They can respond almost instantaneously, either by favouriting, retweeting or replying to the Tweet. The feedback – either positive or negative – happens almost in real time. And that feedback goes directly from the reader’s keyboard to the author’s feed, negating the need to create a separate account to write a review or to find

the author’s email or mailing address. In effect, Twitter makes the storytelling social. Beyond interacting with readers, Twitter allows writers to experiment with form. The obvious manifestation of this is the 140-character limit imposed on Tweets. This means that each scene, or even each story, must be carefully edited to fit those constraints. Some authors have used Twitter as an extrapolation of microfiction by creating mini stories in 140 characters. Others, like Jana Riess (@janariess), take a more episodic approach. In her recent project, The Twible (#Twible), Riess tweeted one Bible verse at a time, each reinterpreted into modern terms that better fit the Twitter format. For instance, she Tweeted on February 17, ‘#Twible Jer 18: So it turns out that the people don’t really want to hear that the exile was their fault. They imprison Jeremiah. Go figure.’ Due to interest in the project, Riess self-published The Twible after her Twitter project was complete. Publishing Tweets has become more common, as well. Nanoism (@nanoism) is an online literary

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magazine – it calls itself a ‘twitterzine’ – that publishes 140-character pieces in all genres, though they focus mainly on fiction. They accept unsolicited submissions of unpublished and ‘previously published’ (read: Tweeted) work, and pay their author contributors, much like any literary magazine. Both stories and author bios have to fit the 140-character format, and they’re posted on Nanoism’s blog and (obviously) on Twitter. The story published on January 15 reads, ‘I think of her often, not because I miss her, but because the last time I saw her was the last time anyone saw her. And that changes things.’ Immediately after: ‘[Bio] Foster Trecost is from New Orleans. His stories follow his attention span: sometimes short, and sometimes very short.’ But single-scene flash fiction isn’t the only way to tell stories through Twitter. Authors have also created Twitter handles for their characters and told their story from one or many first-person perspectives. Elliott Holt (@elliottholt) wrote a murder mystery that began from her own handle and switched between the various perspectives of her characters. During the first Twitter Fiction Festival, Holt Tweeted, ‘On November 28 at 10:30 pm EST a woman identified as Miranda Brown, 44, of Brooklyn, fell to her death from the roof of a Manhattan hotel.’ She went on to Tweet as Elsa Johanssen (@ElsaJohanssen), Margot Burnham (@MargotBurnham) and Simon Smith-Millar (@SimonSmithMilla). Cartoonist Dylan Meconis (@dmeconis) started a fictional Twitter handle (@damejetsam) to tell the story of a woman stranded in a shipwreck, beginning on July 8, 2008 with: ‘This is the first time I’ve had the strength to write since I found this book. No label on the ink bottle; impossible to say how old it is.’ Several other anonymous authors joined in (including a @sirflotsam on September 30, 2008). The interactions stretch on for almost a year. Fan fiction writers have also benefited from Twitter in a number of ways. The rising trend of adopting famous characters’ personas online is probably best evidenced by writers taking on the personalities of characters from The West Wing. All of the major characters have handles (from @joshualyman to @SamSeaborn, @CJCreggConcanon, and even @Pres_ Bartlet). The characters interact with each other and other (real) Tweeters, reminiscing about events from the show and commenting about the actual goingson of US politics, all in the voices of their adopted characters. On February 10, the anonymous author behind Josiah Bartlet’s Twitter presence Tweeted, ‘I assure you, I am not having an affair with Beyoncé or any other popular music star.’ Twitter is allowing authors and their fictional stories to become part of the real-life conversation. The Twitter account for the US version of the TV show ‘House of Cards’ (@HouseofCards) interacts with viewers as though the show’s characters are real.

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The handle also interacts with real US politicians. In response to Senator Chris Murphy’s Tweet about being snowed in with his inbox on February 13, ‘House of Cards’ said, ‘You must not lose your resolve. You will march forward even if you have to do so alone.’ The ability to apply parts of the show to actual situations blurs the lines between fiction and reality, at least in the Twitter-verse. In his July 2013 TED Talk entitled ‘Adventures in Twitter Fiction’, Twitter’s Andrew Fitzgerald (@magicandrew) says, “They [Tweets] are the bits that we use to create the structures, the frames, that then become our settlements on this wide open frontier for creative experimentation.” That may be the reason Fitzgerald helped launch the Twitter Fiction Festival (@TWFictionFest / #TwitterFiction). This year, Twitter, Penguin Random House, and the Association of American Publishers teamed up to run the second Twitter Fiction Festival from March 12 to 16 in the service of ‘embracing, exploring, and developing the art of storytelling on Twitter.’ The five-day virtual event included famous authors and everyday writers who submitted ideas and were chosen by a panel of publishing professionals to participate. Each writer Tweeted their story in real time, allowing readers to follow #TwitterFiction at any time of the day or night to find new material. There was also a live event in New York City on March 12, celebrating the beginning of the festival. Author Sara Barron hosted. RL Stein, Dave Hill, James Braly, Diana Spechler, Matthew Robert Gehring and James & Emily Carmichael all made on-stage appearances. For readers who weren’t in New York or didn’t have tickets, the event was live streamed on the Twitter Fiction Festival’s website (http://www. twitterfictionfestival.com/). Twitter fiction is still in its infancy, and, as such, numerous possibilities remain unexplored. But so far the benefits have been tangible. Readers receive

content in new ways, authors are challenged to experiment with new forms, and collaborative storytelling is now easier than ever. In a way, it’s a new form of self publishing, giving authors everywhere the ability to communicate with millions of people at a time. The only restrictions are the writer’s imagination. And, of course, 140 characters.

Twitter’s Andrew Fitzgerald helped to found the Twitter Fiction Festival. Photo courtesy of TED.

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Fictional Festivities

Warming up to the UK and US’s trade show season, take a cue from Oscar-lovers and throw your own themed party for your literature-loving friends. Diana Rissetto offers some ideas for fun themes, crafty invitations and bookish beverages to spice up your next soiree.

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Every so often, I will connect with somebody I barely know – another woman in my age group – about The Baby Sitters’ Club. The Baby Sitters’ Club is something that so many girls in the 1990s swore by. Those characters made us think that being thirteen would be filled with excitement and glamour and boyfriends and adventures. (I would learn as I grew up that their lives at thirteen were more exciting than mine was in my twenties.) It’s so funny how well so many of us remember those books, the crazy situations the girls found themselves in (really, why were these eighth graders allowed to go sailing by themselves and could they really end up on a deserted island off the coast of Connecticut?), and look back at our days as innocent kids reading that series and feel such a pang of nostalgia for a simpler time…which means that throwing a theme party revolving around your favourite book series as a child is a fantastic idea and would be so appreciated by all of your likeminded friends. The Baby-Sitters Club wasn’t your thing? Try Sweet Valley High, The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, Animorphs. Have your guests dress up like their favourite characters from the series, play trivia games, or even role play as the characters. Maybe even have everybody talk about what they think happened to their old ‘friends’!

Period Piece Party:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Party:

© Christian Dior

Who doesn’t love a good period piece? We all know how popular Jane Austen is. I have several friends who attend the Jane Austen convention each year. They wear gowns! They go to a ball! We don’t get to do those things in 2014. Throw your own period piece literary party by picking an author or a historical fiction as your theme. Besides Jane Austen, other popular choices would be F Scott Fitzgerald (it’s up to you if you want to include modern day rap music like the recent film adaptation of The Great Gatsby did!), Lucy Maud Montgomery (I would personally want to throw an Anne of Green Gables party in hopes that my very own Gilbert Blythe might show up) or Charles Dickens (make sure to include that flirty dancing game they play in A Christmas Carol).

© Tiffany & Co.

Literature parties can even be used for the most special occasions! I’ve already decided on having a Breakfast at Tiffany’s style bridal shower. (Note: I am not getting married any time soon.) We’re going to play ‘pin the tail on the black cat’. All drinks and cupcakes will be Tiffany blue and the favours will be in those famous little blue boxes!

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© Columbia Pictures

Throwback Party:

As I’ve mentioned in nearly every one of my New Edition articles, I spent several years working at a bookstore. The staff members grew very close and we would often gather together after work. (Not ‘on weekends’; retail workers do not have such a thing as ‘weekends’.) Because we wanted to live up to our reputations as nerdy book/word people the best we could, we went through a period where we took turns hosting Pictionary parties at our homes. Those games got pretty intense. (I remember sheepishly admitting to others, “Yes. People who work in bookstores gather for Pictionary parties off hours.”) Looking back, I am really disappointed that nobody ever thought to throw a Literary Party. Why didn’t we? We were book people, after all. Can you imagine the possibilities?


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And don’t forget the details! © Kelly Ashworth Design

Sending out invitations? Skip the e-vites! How about printing the invitations on something resembling a library card? Or make them bookmark-sized so guests can use them after the big event. Or even tape them to the back of old book pages.

We were book people, after all.

And for the refreshments, there are tons of delicious cocktails inspired by famous works of literature which you can try out on your guests! Here are a few that sounded particularly intriguing, ranked by alcohol content:

The Gryffindor Composed of cranberry juice and orange juice, with a hint of raspberry liqueur. Top with a cherry and add a twist of orange peel. Rating: John Cheever. The Chekhov of the suburbs; nothing you can’t handle.

The Margarita Atwood This is basically just a margarita with ‘Atwood’ after it. Because that’s funny. Rating: Raymond Chandler. The rest of the night might be a mystery.

The Gin Fitzy F Scott Fitzgerald didn’t think that gin could be smelled on his breath! The Gin Fitzy is made of gin, lime juice, club soda and lime wedges. Rating: F Scott Fitzgerald, obviously. Hold onto your headbands.

The Tequila Mockingbird Mix together some tequila and watermelon and toast Atticus Finch! Rating: Ernest Hemingway. Not for the faint of heart.

Next time you’re throwing a party for your bookloving friends, consider throwing your very own literary party and make some fantastic new memories with the books you love.

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Next month in New Edition: Plan your book tour with help from James Wharton. What can the book business learn from Netflix? Learn how to crowdfund your book with Pubslush. We talk to historical fiction author Debbie Hill. What can authors do to be better entrepreneurs? Tony Bendell explains how authors can become ‘anti-fragile’. And more...

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