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    Tuesday
    Jan072014

    Smashwords' Mark Coker: Authors Should Focus on Quality Writing

    The annual state-of-the-industry predictions by Mark Coker, President of the e-book publisher Smashwords, are always interesting and almost guaranteed to trigger some controversy. The list of 14 predictions Coker offered in the Smashwords blog post 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions - Price Drops to Impact Competitive Dynamics were no exception. Some of the more audacious elements of Coker’s list of prognostications were: Big publishers will lower e-book prices to make their books more competitive. E-book sales growth will slow. E-book unit market share will grow. The dollar value of e-book sales will decrease. Price promotions will become less effective. All authors will become indie authors. There’s plenty there to chew on. But for authors, Coker’s advice was simple: concentrate on writing high quality books and write more of them.

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    Sunday
    Jan052014

    Video: Lessons in Writing Memoir and Family History From Novelist Salman Rushdie

    If you are thinking about writing a memoir or family history or are just a lover of life writing, The You Tube video of the interview between novelist Salman Rushdie and Emory University Vice President Rosemary Magee recorded on February 27, 2011 as part of the university’s “Creativity Conversations” series is for you. Rushdie, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses which earned him a flood of death threats including a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini, and, one of my favorites, Shalimar the Clown was in the process of writing a memoir Joseph Anton at the time of the conversation. He reflects on memory and writing memoir, nonfiction and history and how an author must draw upon the tools of fiction to produce a great memoir.

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    Thursday
    Jan022014

    Build Your Business. Become a Thought Leader. Publish a Book.

    Succeeding in the information age is mostly about getting your ideas and expertise noticed. You need to become a thought leader. Doing that means getting your ideas out there, because as Mashable explained, “…thought leaders are made because their ideas made them famous.” How do you do that? If you are a consultant, public speaker, or technical expert, it’s no longer about credentials. Instead it’s about demonstrating that you possess expertise and insight that will be useful to others. It is about building your personal brand. Social media mogul Dave Kerpen in a post titled Branding: How to Become a Thought Leader on Inc.com explained why creating awareness of your specialized knowledge is so important, “Over the past six years, I've devoted a great deal of time to branding myself as a thought leader, or an authority in my field…[My activities]have led to millions of dollars in revenue and helped Likeable, my global social media firm, establish itself as a company to watch in the realm of marketing.” What’s the first step? Kepren said, “Writing books truly established my credibility as a thought leader.”

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    Tuesday
    Dec312013

    How to Make Sure Your Book Gets Published in 2014

    “What’s stopping you from getting published?” asked Carlos Cooper in a recent post on The Write Practice. Great question! If you want to see your book successfully published in 2014 it’s worth thinking about what the obstacles you face are and how to overcome them.

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    Sunday
    Dec292013

    What Does It Take to Get a Book Written?

    Writing a book is a long-term project and like any long-term project is best accomplished when you have a clear plan and stick to it. Groundbreaking novelist and literary innovator Henry Miller discovered the same thing while writing his first novel Tropic of Cancer. The11 Writing Commandments he developed to guide his work in 1932-1933 which are preserved in his book Henry Miller On Writing were featured in a recent post on Media Bistros’s Galley Cat. Five of the eleven focus on planning, organization and focus.

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    Sunday
    Dec222013

    Your Picks for the Best Books of 2013?

    It’s time that everybody in the world of books weighs in with a Best of 2013 list. You’ve probably seen some of the heavyweights like The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2013 The Washington Post Top Ten Books of the Year Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Picks for Best Books of 2013 NPR Guide to 2013’s Great Reads Or if you want to see what other readers want you can check out Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 which give you reader favorites by category. If you want look at some less well known books you might be interested in Galley Cat’s What Are the Most Overlooked Books of 2013? You can even find very specialized categories of bests like Family History Daily & Top Family History Reads To Inform and Inspire. Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment regarding the books you think belong on the year’s best list.

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    Thursday
    Dec192013

    How to Find Web Pages That Have Gone Missing

    Error 404. The requested URL was not found on this server. Argh! Have you ever found just the online source you are looking for, copied a link into your files, and tried to come back to it later only to find the page missing? Frustrating! It feels like you have run into a brick wall, but, in fact, there are several ways to find web pages as they used to exist.

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    Tuesday
    Dec172013

    Great Book Covers and How They Are Created

    What makes a great book cover? The New York Times Book Review just released its list of the Best Covers of 2013. Take a look at the slideshow of these twelve covers and see what you think. Then think about how those cover come to be . The BBC looked at the question in a video titled Cover to Cover: How Are Book Jackets Designed? which follows Harper Collins Senior Art Director Alice Moore and her team as they create a cover for Nathan Filer’s novel The Shock of the Fall. It's an interesting look inside the design process.

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    Thursday
    Dec122013

    The Value of Sharing Family History with Children

    When your family gathers this holiday season it’s only a matter of time before one of the children says, “Tell me a story.” There is some strong evidence that the child will be fortunate if the story you choose to tell is one drawn from your family’s history. “The single most important thing you can do for your family,” said Bruce Filer in a recent New York Times article The Stories That Bind Us, “may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” In The Atlantic this month, Elaine Reese, Professor of Psychology at the University of Otago in New Zealand explores why that is true in an article titled, What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories.

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    Tuesday
    Dec102013

    Finishing Strong: Take Your Self-Published Book from Good to Great

    “Many self-publishers publish too early,” says Leslie Ramsey of Compulsion Reads, a website that seeks to “…quality standard for the indie book market” by shining a “…spotlight on good self-published books and protect readers from those that are not yet ready for the marketplace.” In a recent post on Writer Unboxed titled Ten Things I Have Learned from Evaluating Self-Published Books for a Year she explained: One of the hardest decisions for an author to make is to decide when their book is “ready” to publish. I think a lot of newer authors lack the experience and patience to give their book that last needed scrub before putting it out on the market. That’s too bad because it means that their books are of a lesser quality than they deserve to be. Taking the time to devote some attention to detail when you think it’s finished can take it to the next level.

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    Sunday
    Dec082013

    Colorizing Photographs for Your Family History Book: Should You Do It?

    Would this classic Depression-era photo, Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother look better in color? Go to Flickr to see Asif Naqvi of Living Design’s Migrant Mother Colorized Version Fast Company staff writer Joe Berkowitz highlighted the current interest in coloring historical photos in a recent article See the Whole World in a New Light With Classic Black and White Photos, Now In Living Color . Image specialist Jordan Lloyd told Berkowitz, “I have one goal with colorizing. “I try and make it so realistic that the final image becomes unremarkable…” Some people suggest that’s not what happens when you colorize a historical photo... What do you think? Should historical images be colorized? Are there any rules?

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    Thursday
    Dec052013

    Backstory in Your Novel: That’s on a Need to Know Basis

    At the end of a tough day in the office I love to relax by binge watching TV spy shows on Netflix. I don’t usually choose the gritty realism characteristic of John Le Carre stories. I usually focus on the parts of the spectrum between Mission Impossible and Get Smart. (Alias and Chuck are current favorites.) One of the things I can count on is that in almost every episode someone will say, “That’s on a need to know basis,” and keep our hero from learning a key piece of information. The phrase may have become a cliché, but it’s one that might help you handle the backstory for your novel.

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    Tuesday
    Dec032013

    Using Photos to Tell a Story in a Family History Book

    Family historians love the idea of including photographs in their family history books. They see images of ancestors as completing the sketch of a person which emerges from research in the factual record. Their books will help them preserve the family photo albums, so they focus on identifying the people in the pictures. But many family historians overlook the value of photos as storytelling tools. Think about the elements of a good story. Characterization is at the top of the list. What kind of a person was great-great-grandfather? What motivated your parent’s family to do something? Thoughtful use of photographs can help you get beyond the who, what, when, and where aspects of an ancestor’s story to the why which is often more interesting. See how the choice of photographs might have a big impact on the story you want to tell.

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    Sunday
    Dec012013

    Writing Family History: Finding the Stories Within the Evidence

    Creating a family history book is a two part process. The first is, of course, research to gather as much information as possible about the ancestors who will be included in the book. Unfortunately, no matter how we might try to keep things organized research often takes on a somewhat random quality, running into brick walls here only to uncover unexpected discoveries elsewhere. While the events of an ancestor’s life are arranged on a simple timeline, there is seldom such a clear pattern to the way we learn about it. Step two then is deciding how to impose order on our rather disheveled mass of research when we begin to write about it. Posing two questions will help do it: How do you know what you know? How do the facts which you have gathered relate to other things you know?

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    Friday
    Nov292013

    National Novel Writing Month Is Over. Now It’s Time to Edit!

    It’s the end of National Novel Writing Month. You have a finished (or even almost finished) draft in hand (or on your hard drive). Congratulations! Celebrate your accomplishment. Relax for a couple of days, then take the next step in getting your book ready for publication. If you’re like most of the people who met the NaNoWriMo challenge you’ve produced what Anne Lamott, in her book on writing Bird By Bird, calls a “shitty first draft.” How do you get from here to a version you want to send off to a printer or a literary agent? Think about revision as a three step process.

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