First up, I often receive questions about who I'd recommend for book publicity and marketing, and you're in luck. One of my friends, and a wildly talented PR and marketing expert, Maria Menenses Gutierrez, has started up a marketing company called Milesmaria (Facebook page here). In their words, "Buzz around a new book, a media plan for your new indie film, helping to build and brand your company, our plan of action will work towards making sure your audience knows about your story." So if you have a book and need some help with buzz, check them out.
Also this week in plugs, Will Entrekin is one of the very first people I knew who really mastered social media and was a large help when I was building my Myspace blog (oh, 2006!). He and Australian co-author Simon Smithson have made waves with their short story collection SPARKS. So please do check that out as well.
One of the major news stories of the last month has been the ongoing Wikileaks saga, and it's something I've watched with complete fascination because it so starkly illustrates the effect the Internet is having on society. In one of the best and most fascinating blog posts I've ever read, science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling tackles his thoughts on Wikileaks, which he actually feels quite ambivalent about despite his long fascination with hackers and his sense of Wikileaks' inevitability. Definitely worth a read in full despite the post's length. (via io9)
And speaking of the future, on Friday I mentioned just how many tablets were debuted at CES, and wondered about the implications the tablet explosion would have on the world of books. Well, PWxyz is wondering the same thing. In a post called, Where Are All the Publishers?, Calvin Reid tracked down a few of the publishing types at CES, but was left wondering why publishers weren't more fully engaging with the show.
Borders could very well be on the ropes as they have suspended some payments to publishers, and at least one of the Big Six publishers have stopped sending them books. Yikes.
2011 marks the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War, and there's surely going to be quite a lot of attention and renewed interest in it. Salon rounded up their picks for the Top 12 books about the Civil War, including my favorite, BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM.
Mashable had a post by the president of McGraw-Hill Professional about five e-book trends to watch in 2011, including that prices will have to stay above $9.99 and that publishers will be more important than ever. On the flipside you have Smashwords CEO Mark Coker, who offered up his own five predictions for 2011, which include agents writing the new chapter in the digital revolution by bypassing publishers and e-book prices will have to come down. Here's my prediction: one of them will be right.
Author Natalie Whipple has a terrific post about a common trap that can prevent writers from being sympathetic with people farther along in the publishing process than they are: the "at least you have" game. (At least you have a finished manuscript... at least you have an agent... at least you're published...) The thing is, there are difficulties and frustrations and doubt no matter how far you are along in the process, and we can all be there for each other.
And in writing advice news, Editorial Anonymous discusses the thorny topic of how to leave your agent, and Anthony Bourdain offered up some good advice to bloggers.
These past few weeks in the Forums, the best forum posts of 2010, whether author websites should reflect the author, the genre, or the book, discussing the controversial Huck Finn news, your favorite character names, (un)realistic young character dialogue, and how to know where your story should begin.
Comment! of! the! weeks! goes to Anonymous, who had a great response to the post about blogging agents and about polarized responses on the Internet in general, which I thought I'd post in full:
The discussion here in which there appears to be primarily two sides ("Yay, online socializing for literary agents" vs. "Boo Hiss, online socializing for literary agents"), rather than a more nuanced consideration of how best to offer debut authors lucrative careers, reminds me of a book published last year by Knopf, YOU ARE NOT A GADGET: A MANIFESTO by tech expert Jaron Lanier. This book is an Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2010, and the author is described by Amazon as a "longtime tech guru/visionary/dreadlocked genius (and progenitor of virtual reality)". Here's a quote from a Q & A with Lanier on Amazon:
Question: You say that we’ve devalued intellectual achievement. How?
Jaron Lanier: On one level, the Internet has become anti-intellectual because Web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice. It is increasingly disheartening to write about any topic in depth these days, because people will only read what the first link from a search engine directs them to, and that will typically be the collective expression of the Wikipedia. Or, if the issue is contentious, people will congregate into partisan online bubbles in which their views are reinforced. I don’t think a collective voice can be effective for many topics, such as history--and neither can a partisan mob. Collectives have a power to distort history in a way that damages minority viewpoints and calcifies the art of interpretation. Only the quirkiness of considered individual expression can cut through the nonsense of mob--and that is the reason intellectual activity is important.
And finally, CNET (where, disclosure, I work) named the Motrola Xoom tablet the Best of Show at CES, one of the approximately 50 different tablets (seriously) that were debuted at the trade show. Devices like these are coming very very soon, they're going to be very common, and I think they'll have huge implications on the world of books:
Have a great weekend!