Kevin J Moriarity

Books. I Read a Lot of Books. I Design Books Too. I'm Pretty Good At It. I Like Trains Too, But Who Doesn't?

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The AV Geek at Waterline in May

I wasn’t at the microphone this show. I got to be the AV geek! Much thanks to Rick Veague for his invaluable help with the wireless mics!

Book Review: Voice In A Whisper

My friend Lynne Handy reviewed Voice In A Whisper by Frank Rutledge:

This book is a little gem, wonderful for carrying around in a purse, for quick glimpses into the human condition. In A Poet’s Glossary, Hirsch tells us that haiku, with its primary focus on nature, “…seeks the momentary and the eternal,” while senryu, dealing with human nature, is often satiric. Frank Rutledge’s Voice in A Whisper, a collection of haiku and senryu poems, is filled with expressions of love, nature appreciation, and whimsy, with asides into music, literature, and art.  There is irony in Rutledge’s work, and gasps of sorrow when he chronicles personal loneliness and loss. Some of the poems embody folk wisdom, emanating from his southern roots. He is a musician, as well as a poet and I hear his music in pieces like “a pause in our talk/she cries tears—sounds like crickets/over the cell phone.” Voice in a Whisper is a welcome addition to poetry collections.

Funny Science March Sign

Radish: Something Old Made New Again

Some days I want the world to stop changing, but no one listens to me. 🙂 Apparently eBooks like the Kindle are on the way out and phones are the future. The concept of serialized novels goes way back and is now very popular in China, Japan and Korea. A relatively new company, Radish, is attempting to bring this concept to the US. I don’t think this works for every writer, but some, especially those who can write chapters with “cliffhanger” endings, might want to look into this format. You have to submit your work; this isn’t a self-publishing model. The articles state you are not giving up your eBook or paperback rights, so you can publish here and still put your work out on Amazon.

Articles about Radish:

From the Fast Company article:

The way it works is that anyone can get access to early chapters of Radish’s 700 authors, but if you want to keep reading, you have to pay, anywhere from 20 to 40 cents per chapter. (Those with patience, can wait until those chapters are made available for free a few weeks later.) Revenue generated by these payments is split 50-50 between Radish and its writers. As a result, Lee says the app’s top writer earns $13,000 a month. … “Thanks to Candy Crush and other games,” says Lee, who has the youthful face and windswept hair of a pop star. “People have gotten really used to mobile micro-payments. So we said, why don’t we apply that model to books?” … “The future of e-readers is the future of iPods. You’re not going to hold on to these devices,” he says. “You’re just going to convert to phones … “Reading as a vertical isn’t going to go away,” he goes on. “It’s competing with VR, video games . . . But reading is an everlasting format. So how do you reinvent it on the phone?”

Author Websites: Valuable or Waste of Time?

I have been having second thoughts about the “accepted wisdom” that I have been offering as advice to the authors I work with.

For example, do self-published authors benefit from having their own website? I don’t think so anymore. Here are my reasons:

  1. “Build it and they will come” only works in the movies! Building a website is simple, technically. Getting people to view it is immensely hard! So, then I’m told I should go on Facebook and Twitter and post and post to get people to go to my website. But, doesn’t it make more sense to post and post to get people to buy your books? I want them to ultimately end up on Amazon clicking the “Buy Now” button! Does the intermediary of my website add any value in that process? I maintain not. SEO is supposedly the magic bullet, but there are so many authors, so many websites, that it is very difficult to count on SEO to get you ranked high enough in Google or Yahoo to make a difference, especially if you are not adding interesting content continuously. If you are not up to being prolific on your website / blog, SEO will not help, despite what the SEO consultants tell you (I used to be one).
  2. I tell all my clients that an old website is worse than no website at all. Authors start out their website / blog with good intentions, solid plans, but inevitably life intervenes. The technical problems with posting can be frustrating. As easy as the software developers have tried to make it, it can still be tricky. The authors run out of content ideas – it’s hard to come up with interesting content weekly or more. The website becomes dated. Now the blog / website is a liability, not an asset. The well-read blogs add content daily, at least multiple times a week.
  3. Speaking of content, I consistently read that authors should talk about their lives, their interests, almost anything except their books. But, is that true? That seems to be the case for well-established authors. They have generated a following, through the sale of their books, and those followers are then interested in what they have to say, where they travel, and what they do. But, it’s a chicken and egg thing – before the sale of their books generated the following, did anyone care? I say probably not

So, where am I going with all this?

Self-published authors must be on the internet. Your Amazon author page could easily be your go-to page. Assuming all of your books are available on Amazon (and if they are not you have bigger problems than your website!), it provides readers with a bio / artist’s statement, your picture, all of your books with their cool looking covers in all available formats (paperback and Kindle), reviews and the reader can click and buy right there without having to click a link and go to a different site.

You also should have a presence on Goodreads! If you WANT to blog, you can blog at Goodreads and automatically feed that content to Amazon. The big advantage to Amazon and Goodreads is that is where readers are. People who frequent those sites are already looking for something to read. It only makes sense to put a lot of your effort there. I think it’s important to go where the readers are. As I said earlier, it’s very difficult to get people to like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, or go to your website. Authors have to go to the readers; you cannot expect readers who don’t already know about you to stumble across your website. Find groups in Goodreads where your readers might congregate. You have to reach more than your friend list, which means, once again, you will have to go to them. That means you know who your reader is, what they are interested in, and can find them online. Same thing with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + or Pinterest. All of the social media sites have groups. I am on Google + and in a train-geek group, a black and white photography group and a couple of self-published author groups. If I wrote a book on train stuff, I know where I’d market it!

Here is an article I read on this very subject. It is dated 2013, but I think the controversy has only heightened since then.

From the article:

For some writers, the author website is a thing of pride of beauty. It’s an active well of new material, a place of engagement and connection, an extension of their books, even an invitation into their writing life. It gathers email addresses, expands audience, benefits SEO, and is their personal beachhead on the Web.

For others, the author website is an annoyance, an obligation, and a static reminder of all they hate about digital media’s encroachment on their writing life. The landing page is three books old, and the author photo three years outdated. The blog page whose latest post is dated 6 months ago makes them feel both guilt for not updating weekly as they’d promised, and resentment that anyone would expect them to.

While the two perspectives seem to be in contrast, they agree on one point: whether you think author websites are must-haves or time-sucks, if you’re going to have one, you better do it well. As overheard at DBWMP, “a bad website does more harm than a good website does good.”

Amazon Manipulating In Favor of Their Imprints?

It appears, according to this analysis, that Amazon is not gaming the system in favor of their own imprints. However, some genres are far more competitive than others and may be dominated by either the Big 5 or Amazon’s imprints.

From the article:

“…there is no sign that Amazon has its finger on the scales. I have seen no evidence of algorithmic manipulation of Amazon’s search results, sales rankings, or reviews to favor their imprints. In the short term, Occam’s razor applies: the rise of Amazon’s imprints may simply be due to a potent combination of quality books and savvy marketing.”

Read the entire article…

George Saunders: What Writers Really Do When They Write

“What does an artist do, mostly? She tweaks that which she’s already done. There are those moments when we sit before a blank page, but mostly we’re adjusting that which is already there. The writer revises, the painter touches up, the director edits, the musician overdubs.”

Read the entire article…

Writing the All-Important Book Blurb

I have told all my clients that there are three critical factors for self-published authors.

  • The book itself: it has to be a great story, well written and edited. Do not scrimp here!
  • The cover: have it done by a professional. A good one might not be cheap, but it is critically important.
  • The book’s description, the book blurb: the cover should grab the reader’s interest, the book blurb should close the sale.

Some advice from the internet:

This one sounds obvious, but it’s important to remember that a blurb is not just a synopsis or summary of your plot. Such “book report” blurbs do not entice readers. Rather, they give out too much information and, worse, present it in a dull manner.

Read the entire article…

Laura Knapp Reads at Waterline on March 19, 2017

Laura Knapp at Waterline: March 2017 from Waterline Writers on Vimeo.

Self-Publishing Success Offers Advice

John Nicholl (bestselling author of three dark pyschological thrillers):

The publishing world has changed, and it’s never been easier to get your work out there. Let the public decide if your books are worth buying. Being an indie gives the author control of the entire process, and for me that’s a plus. Never say never, but I’ve chosen to remain independent up to this point despite offers from publishers, with the exception of foreign rights deals.

What are your top tips for other indie authors?

  • Produce a good quality product
  • Pay close attention to detail
  • Learn how the Amazon system works. There’s a sea of books out there, and so you have to give yours every advantage you can.
  • Cover design matters
  • Your Amazon product page matters
  • Key words matter

Read the entire interview…

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