Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, April 30, 2012

How Long Does it Take You to Edit a Novel?


Last week people shared how long it takes you to write a draft. Today: How long does it take you to edit?

This is very much on my mind as I'm back in the editing weeds for Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp, which I've now been editing for over three months. That is typical for me. After doing my own editing after finishing a draft I then usually go through two major rounds with my editor (the fabulous Kate Harrison), and then there's further tinkering and tweaks from there.

All that adds up to three or four months (with another week or two left to go on this one).

What about you?

Art: Anonymous






Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Long Does it Take You to Finish a Draft?


This one is inspired by writersink in the Forums, who asks: How long does it take for you to finish a draft/WIP?

And if you haven't yet finished: How long have you been working on your work in progress?

For me personally, it usually takes me between 6-8 months to write a novel. I've written four now (the first is unpublished and the fourth comes out next year), which kind of blows my mind when I stop and think about how much time that represents.

What about you?

Art: Woman Writing a Letter - Gerard ter Borch the Younger






Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Top 5 Social Media Blunders You Shouldn't Make


Social media is as much art as science, but there are some mistakes you just shouldn't make. Here are five.

5. Don't link your Facebook and Twitter accounts 

Render unto Facebook that which is Facebook and render unto Twitter that which is Twitter. A good tweet is different than a good Facebook post, and vice versa. When you link your accounts and send tweets to Facebook, your Facebook friends will know you can't be bothered to post and won't interact with your posts.

4. Don't spam your followers

Kanye West can go on long stream of consciousness Twitter benders without losing followers. You cannot.

3. Don't include links in Facebook and Google+ captions

When you paste a link into a Facebook or Google+ status update you'll see a preview of what the link will look like when you post it. After you see that preview, delete the long link. You don't need it anymore. Write clean captions without the http://www.blahblahblah.com gibberish.

2. Don't be a jerk. 

A flashy argument is a great way to get some attention, but it never works in the long run. The same goes for rants, excessive snark, and bitter complaints about entities who have wronged you. People might tune in for the fireworks, but then they'll tune you out.

1. Don't misuse Twitter's @Reply

Every time someone starts a tweet with an @reply and doesn't understand that not everyone in their feed is going to see it, it makes a puppy cry.

Don't make a puppy cry. Understand the @Reply. Please. Puppies everywhere will thank you.






Tuesday, April 17, 2012

NYC!


Blogging will be sporadic this week as I'm on a work trip to New York, New York!

I don't know if you've heard (and if you have, start spreading the news), but if you can make it here you can make it anywhere.






Friday, April 13, 2012

What Will the Book World Look Like After the DOJ Lawsuit?

Whew! Thanks to everyone for all of your comments, Tweets, Pins, and for making Jacob Wonderbar week fun! If you're in San Francisco don't forget about the launch party tonight at Books Inc., hope to see you there! And there's still time to enter the Pinterest sweepstakes.

Meanwhile... I guess there was some teeny tiny publishing news this week.

Let's get the disclaimer out of the way first: I work for CNET, which is owned by CBS, which is the parent company of Simon & Schuster, one of the companies named in the lawsuit. All opinion here is entirely my own, does not necessarily reflect the opinion of CBS and/or Simon & Schuster and/or CNET, and is based mainly on my time in publishing as a literary agent where I was not privy to the inside discussions at publishers, and it doesn't necessarily reflect the opinion of my old agency Curtis Brown Ltd. either. Cool?

So here's what: The Department of Justice sued five book publishers and Apple for allegedly colluding on e-book prices. Yeah, wow.

How we got here

Here's the elevator pitch summary of what happened:

In the beginning of the e-book era, publishers sold e-books according to the "wholesale" model. Every e-book had a retail price, publisher got roughly half the retail price, bookseller got half, bookseller could sell the e-book for whatever they want. Amazon discounted deeply, taking a loss on some titles, built early market share, made publishers nervous as they were running away with the e-book market.

Along came Apple and the "agency" model: They gave publishers the ability to set their own prices and receive 70%. Publishers jumped at this and raised prices, but actually received less money per copy sold than in the wholesale model. (The difference between agency and wholesale also is the reason behind why some e-books cost more than their print counterparts)

What the DOJ alleges is that some of the publishing executives met around this time and explicitly discussed moving to the agency model and raising prices. This, the DOJ says, amounted to illegal collusion.

Three of the publishers, HarperCollins, S&S, and Hachette, have already settled without admitting wrongdoing, and will allow variable pricing. Macmillan, Penguin Group, and Apple have not settled and apparently will fight the charges in court. The case against Apple in particular, my colleagues Declan McCullaugh and Greg Sandoval write, is unlikely to stick.

For a completely comprehensive look at everything, Shelf Awareness has a great summary (via Curtis Brown). I also summarized the issues in more detail a few weeks back in the post Why the DOJ's Potential Lawsuit Over the Agency Model is a Really Big Deal.

And if you're curious about why e-book prices are so high and why publishers would like to keep them that way, I wrote an article for CNET that goes a bit more in depth.

Were publishers right or wrong?

I blogged about the switch from wholesale to agency in real time in early 2010 and called it The Kindle Missile Crisis, and frankly I'm pretty darn proud of that post because I guessed at the issues that are still at stake now in 2012.

And to be totally honest now that I'm out of the business: I didn't agree with the publishers at the time. I didn't think the agency model was a good move.

But I don't (and didn't) think publishers were crazy either. As the iPad was just about to come out, publishers were fearing that Amazon would build a de facto monopoly in the e-book market. They were hearing from other companies that they couldn't get into the e-book game because they couldn't compete with Amazon on price, and Amazon was busy locking consumers into their proprietary e-book format. Publishers were likely worried Amazon would use their position to tighten the screws on terms and use the low e-book prices to hasten the demise of brick and mortar bookstores, which are hugely important to publishers.

And credit where due, the competition that publishers were seeking did end up taking place. B&N's Nook, Apple's iBooks, Sony, Kobo... there are viable alternatives to the Kindle. E-booksellers have up until now mainly been competing on consumer experience rather than price. High e-book prices have likely slowed the adoption of e-books and preserved the print world a bit longer.

But would that e-book competition have happened anyway without the agency model? Did publishers really have to switch to agency to open up the marketplace?

That is literally the billion dollar question because publishers left a huge amount of money on the table when they switched to the agency model. They actually gave up money to raise prices.

And that's what I always thought was misguided. I believe Apple and B&N would have found ways to viably compete with Amazon even with variable pricing. It's not as if Apple in particular doesn't have the resources to go toe-to-toe with Amazon.

It seemed to me that this had much more to do with trying to keep e-book prices high to hold onto a print world as long as possible. Publishers were compromising their future revenue stream and were risking alienating their most valuable customers and lending a huge opportunity to 99-cent e-book upstarts in order to preserve their diminishing stream as long as possible. Does that ever work?

I love bookstores. I want bookstores to survive and really think they will. But they need to adapt to compete in this world as well rather than relying on publishers to preserve high e-book prices. The future is like a giant perpetual wave. You can either surf it or get washed out to sea.

Though I also recognize that it's much easier said than done. And another thing I know for sure: I'm glad I wasn't the one making these decisions.

So where do things go from here?

The terms of the settlement are confusing. Essentially, publishers can still use the agency model, but they can no longer dictate prices and have to allow a variable pricing model and booksellers can discount, but not more than the 30% publishers are allowed to... yeah, you get the picture. There are actually things called discount pools. Whether publishers continue to stick to agency or try and re-summon the wholesale genie remains to be seen.

But regardless, we're about to enter a very chaotic phase in the e-book marketplace where suddenly price is going to be an important part of our e-book choices when it comes to which apps we use and which devices we buy.

And of course: e-book prices are coming down.

So here are some "ifs" about where things can go from here:

If publishers are able to recapture the revenue per copy that they had in the old e-book wholesale model they might have just bought themselves some valuable time in the past two years to soften the blow from the Borders bankruptcy, to help make Apple and B&N viable contenders in the e-book space, and they'll be happy they took the agency gamble while they could, DOJ lawsuit or no.

If, however, publishers find themselves stuck in a situation where they have the agency model but variable pricing, it could mean the worst of both worlds: less revenue per copy and little ability to hold the line on prices. In that case they may well regret letting Steve Jobs sweet talk them down the agency model rabbit hole.

We'll see. I do know one thing for sure: The e-book world is going to keep on changing fast.






Thursday, April 12, 2012

Enter to Win a Nook! The Wonderbar Pinning Sweepstakes Spectacular!!

UPDATE: Contest has ended! Thanks, everyone!

It's publication week for my novel Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe! You still have time to win a Kindle with Special Offers, and now I'm giving away a Nook Simple Touch!

Also: Correction, it's publication day! Holy space monkeys!!

In case you haven't heard at some point this week, Jacob Wonderbar is the candidate you want to elect in 2012. He is fantastic at pranks, he can escape substitute teachers with the best of them, and he can usually fly around the universe without causing massive space explosions. Of course, he's running against Mick Cracken, the universe's greatest space buccaneer, and running from a rogue band of space monkeys. 

He may also have to save the planet Earth from being blown to smithereens. It's a tough campaign.

Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe is for 8-years-old and up and is being published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Group USA, and is now available in bookstores!

Order today at:
Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

And if you missed the first installment in the series, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, it's available in paperback and reasonably-priced-e-book:

Amazon (paperback)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (paperback)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

Here's how to enter to win the Nook:

Step #1: Follow my boards on Pinterest here (so you will see the winning announcement pin): http://pinterest.com/nathanbransford


Step #2: Repin the official contest Pin to one of your own boards: http://pinterest.com/pin/185210603395771587/

That's it!

Here be the rules:
  • Do not repin more than once. 
  • The sweepstakes closes Friday at 7pm Pacific time
  • I'll randomly select a potential winner and notify that individual via a Pinterest pin.
  • You must be a resident of the United States, age 18 or older in order to enter (Sorry international readers! Sweepstakes rules!)
  • Please follow the full contest rules below
Have fun! Oh, and here's the trailer:



Terms and conditions!! That's how you know it's real!

The Wonderbar Pinterest Sweepstakes Spectacular:


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE WILL NOT ENHANCE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.
Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, ages 18 and older.
How to Enter:
  1. To enter the Wonderbar Pinning Sweepstakes Spectacular ("Sweepstakes"), review these Official Rules and to enter the Sweepstakes you must have a valid Pinterest® account and be a follower of Nathan Bransford. You then must "repin" the official sweepstakes Pin: http://pinterest.com/xxxxxx. Please note that you must agree to comply with the Pinterest Terms of Service.
  2. Entries must be received between 7:00 am (Pacific Time) on April 12, 2012 and 7:00 pm (Pacific Time) on April 13, 2012 ("Sweepstakes Period").  BN.com and Pinterest are not sponsors of this Sweepstakes and do not endorse or otherwise have anything to do with this Sweepstakes. Nathan Bransford shall select the Potential Prize Winner on or about April 13, 2011 by random drawing from among all eligible entries received. 
  3. Only (1) entry per person. In case of multiple entries, only the first entry will be considered. Any attempt by a participant to obtain more than the allowable entries by using multiple/different Pinterest accounts or e-mail addresses, identities or any other methods will void all of that participant’s entries. 
  4. Entries are void if they are in whole or in part illegible or incomplete. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for late, incomplete or illegible entries. 
  5. Nathan Bransford ("Sponsor") is not responsible for technical, hardware or software malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the sender, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this Sweepstakes which may limit the ability to play or participate, or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. If for any reason the Sweepstakes is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes.
Winners:
  1. From all eligible entries received, one (1) winner will be chosen in a random drawing held on or about April 13, 2012 by Sponsor, whose decisions concerning all matters related to this Sweepstakes are final and binding.
  2. Potential winners will be notified by a Pinterest Pin. Potential Prize Winner will be asked to provide their personal information such as their name, email address, physical address, date of birth and phone number in order to confirm eligibility and compliance with these official rules. If the Potential Prize Winner cannot be reached after a reasonable effort has been made during three (3) business days from the first notification attempt, such person may be disqualified, with an alternate Prize Winner selected in accordance with these Official Rules. Sponsor will only select up to three (3) alternates. If no contact has been made with the alternates after a reasonable effort has been made, the Prize shall not be awarded. 
  3. The odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received.
Prizes:
  1. One (1) winner will receive a Nook Simple Touch (Approximate Retail Value $99.00)
  2. In the event that there is an insufficient number of eligible entries, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.
Eligibility:
This Sweepstakes is open to residents of the fifty United States, age 18 or older. Employees of Sponsor and Dial Books for Young Readers, subsidiaries, affiliates or other parties in anyway involved in the development, production, or distribution of this Sweepstakes, as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. Void where prohibited by law. All state and local restrictions apply.
General:
  1. No substitutions, transfers or assignments of prizes allowed. In the event of unavailability, Sponsor may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.
  2. All expenses, including taxes (if any), related to receipt and use of prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.
  3. Winners may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release ("Affidavit") and if so, the Affidavit must be completed and returned within fourteen (14) days of notification or winner will forfeit their prize and another winner will be selected. Should the ARV of the prize equal or exceed $600.00, winners shall be required to provide a Social Security Number or a Taxpayer Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 Form.
  4. By accepting a prize, winners grant to Sponsor the right to use their names, likenesses, hometowns and biographical information in advertising and promotional materials, including posting on the Sponsor's and author's website, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.
  5. By competing in this Sweepstakes and/or accepting a prize, entrants release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies, or the agencies of any of them and the authors and/or editors of any books promoted hereby from any and all liability for any loss, harm, injuries, damages, cost or expense arising out of or relating to participation in this Sweepstakes or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize.
  6. Any dispute arising from this Sweepstakes will be determined according to the laws of the State of California, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in San Francisco County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.
Winners List:
To receive a copy of the winners list, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope by October 11, 2012 to Nathan Bransford, PO Box 809, Colusa, CA 95932
Sponsor:
Nathan Bransford
PO Box 809
Colusa, CA 95932






Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Enter to Win a Kindle! The 2nd Annual Wonderbar Twitter Sweepstakes Extravaganza!!

UPDATE: Contest is finished! Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

It's publication week for my novel Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, and I'm giving away a Kindle with Special Offers!

In case you haven't heard, Jacob Wonderbar is the candidate you want to elect in 2012. He is fantastic at pranks, he can escape substitute teachers with the best of them, and he can usually fly around the universe without causing massive space explosions. Of course, he's running against Mick Cracken, the universe's greatest space buccaneer, and running from a rogue band of space monkeys. 

He may also have to save the planet Earth from being blown to smithereens. It's a tough campaign.

Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe is for 8-years-old and up. It is being published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Group USA, and will be available in bookstores tomorrow!

Order today at:
Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

And if you missed the first installment, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, it's available in paperback and reasonably-priced-e-book:

Amazon (paperback)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (paperback)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

Here's how to enter to win the Kindle:

Step #1: Follow me on Twitter (click this link! Also, I'm asking you to follow me so I can DM you if you win)

Step #2: Tweet the following: 

Vote Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe!! Um. I may be tweeting this for a chance to win a Kindle http://bit.ly/Ikz1Ia #Wonderbar

Here be the rules:
  • Do not post the same Tweet more than once. 
  • The sweepstakes closes Thursday at 7pm Pacific time
  • I'll randomly select a potential winner and notify that individual by Direct Message
  • You must be a resident of the United States, age 18 or older in order to enter (Sorry international readers! Sweepstakes rules!)
  • Please follow the full contest rules below
Have fun! Oh, and here's the trailer:



Terms and conditions!! That's how you know it's real!

The 2nd Annual Wonderbar Sweepstakes Extravaganza Rules:


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE WILL NOT ENHANCE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.
Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, ages 18 and older.
How to Enter:
  1. To enter the 2nd Annual Wonderbar Twitter Sweepstakes Extravaganza ("Sweepstakes"), review these Official Rules and to enter the Sweepstakes you must have a valid Twitter® account and be a follower of @NathanBransford. You can obtain an account and become a follower during the Sweepstakes Period by going to www.twitter.com, and (1) if you already have a Twitter account, log on using your Twitter user name and password, then become a follower of NathanBransford by searching for "NathanBransford", clicking on the 'NathanBransford' icon and then clicking the "Follow" button or (2) if you do not already have a Twitter account, create a Twitter account according to the instructions on the Twitter website and follow NathanBransford as indicated in (1) above. You then must post Vote Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe!! Um. I may be tweeting this for a chance to win a Kindle http://bit.ly/Ikz1Ia #Wonderbar. Please note that you must agree to comply with the Twitter Terms of Service in order to create a Twitter account.
  2. Entries must be received between 7:00 am (Pacific Time) on April 11, 2012 and 7:00 pm (Pacific Time) on April 12, 2012 ("Sweepstakes Period").  Amazon.com and Twitter, Inc. are not sponsors of this Sweepstakes and do not endorse or otherwise have anything to do with this Sweepstakes. Nathan Bransford shall select the Potential Prize Winner on or about April 12, 2011 by random drawing from among all eligible entries received. 
  3. Only (1) entry per person. In case of multiple entries, only the first entry will be considered. Any attempt by a participant to obtain more than the allowable entries by using multiple/different Twitter accounts or e-mail addresses, identities or any other methods will void all of that participant’s entries. 
  4. Entries are void if they are in whole or in part illegible or incomplete. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for late, incomplete or illegible entries. NOTE: Sponsor may not receive entries from Twitter users with "protected" updates (i.e., user has set their account so that only people the user has approved can view their updates) due to the way Twitter operates its service. Entrants must be a member of good standing of Twitter in order to participate in the Sweepstakes.
  5. Nathan Bransford ("Sponsor") is not responsible for technical, hardware or software malfunctions of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, failed, incorrect, incomplete, inaccurate, garbled or delayed electronic communications caused by the sender, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in this Sweepstakes which may limit the ability to play or participate, or by any human error which may occur in the processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. If for any reason the Sweepstakes is not capable of being conducted as described in these rules, Sponsor shall have the right to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes.
Winners:
  1. From all eligible entries received, one (1) winner will be chosen in a random drawing held on or about April 12, 2012 by Sponsor, whose decisions concerning all matters related to this Sweepstakes are final and binding.
  2. Potential winners will be notified by Twitter direct message. Potential Prize Winner will be asked to provide their personal information such as their name, email address, physical address, date of birth and phone number in order to confirm eligibility and compliance with these official rules. If the Potential Prize Winner cannot be reached after a reasonable effort has been made during three (3) business days from the first notification attempt, such person may be disqualified, with an alternate Prize Winner selected in accordance with these Official Rules. Sponsor will only select up to three (3) alternates. If no contact has been made with the alternates after a reasonable effort has been made, the Prize shall not be awarded. 
  3. The odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received.
Prizes:
  1. One (1) winner will receive a Kindle with Special Offers (Approximate Retail Value $79.00)
  2. In the event that there is an insufficient number of eligible entries, Sponsor reserves the right not to award the prizes.
Eligibility:
This Sweepstakes is open to residents of the fifty United States, age 18 or older. Employees of Sponsor and Dial Books for Young Readers, subsidiaries, affiliates or other parties in anyway involved in the development, production, or distribution of this Sweepstakes, as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes. Void where prohibited by law. All state and local restrictions apply.
General:
  1. No substitutions, transfers or assignments of prizes allowed. In the event of unavailability, Sponsor may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.
  2. All expenses, including taxes (if any), related to receipt and use of prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.
  3. Winners may be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility and Release ("Affidavit") and if so, the Affidavit must be completed and returned within fourteen (14) days of notification or winner will forfeit their prize and another winner will be selected. Should the ARV of the prize equal or exceed $600.00, winners shall be required to provide a Social Security Number or a Taxpayer Identification Number to Sponsor for issuance of a 1099 Form.
  4. By accepting a prize, winners grant to Sponsor the right to use their names, likenesses, hometowns and biographical information in advertising and promotional materials, including posting on the Sponsor's and author's website, without further compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.
  5. By competing in this Sweepstakes and/or accepting a prize, entrants release Sponsor, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies, or the agencies of any of them and the authors and/or editors of any books promoted hereby from any and all liability for any loss, harm, injuries, damages, cost or expense arising out of or relating to participation in this Sweepstakes or the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize.
  6. Any dispute arising from this Sweepstakes will be determined according to the laws of the State of California, without reference to its conflict of law principles, and the entrants consent to the personal jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in San Francisco County and agree that such courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all such disputes.
Winners List:
To receive a copy of the winners list, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope by October 11, 2012 to Nathan Bransford, PO Box 809, Colusa, CA 95932
Sponsor:
Nathan Bransford
PO Box 809
Colusa, CA 95932






Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ten Commandments for Editing Someone's Work

It's Jacob Wonderbar week as I'm gearing up for the release of Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe! Stay tuned for prizes tomorrow and Thursday.

Whether you're a writer or not, there's a substantial likelihood that you will be called into service editing someone's book. It may be a loved one, it may be a writing partner, it may be a sworn enemy. It probably won't be a sworn enemy. (Though that would be the most fun, wouldn't it?).

Whomever you are editing, follow these ten rules of law to be the best editor you can be.

1. Remember that it's not your book - Your job as an editor is not to tell someone how you would have written their book. Your job is to help them write the book they want to write. This can't be emphasized enough: It's not your book. It's not. Defer to the writer. Try to help them do what they're trying to do. Work within the world they've constructed.

2. Find out what the author is looking for before you start editing - Are they wondering about a particular stretch? Are they hoping for a major edit? Are they not really looking for editing at all but for moral support? Make sure you have a sense of what the author wants and what their mindset is before you start editing and adjust your approach accordingly.

3. You're not doing anyone favors by being too nice.  - Here's what a writer wants to hear when someone is editing their work: "OMG it's perfect I love it!!!" Resist the temptation to tell them just that. Your job is to help them make the work better, not to be a human rubber stamp. There is a Major Exception to this commandment: When the writer is looking for reassurance that they should keep going and is not really looking for editing. In which case the appropriate reaction is "OMG you're brilliant I love it you should keep going!!" (If you followed commandment #2 you will have sniffed this out ahead of time.)

4. You're not doing anyone favors by being a jerk either - When you are editing someone's work you have their fragile, mercurial, reptilian writer brain in your hands. Do not crush it. Be gentle. Be polite. Suggest, don't order. Ask questions, don't assume.

5. Pointing out problem areas is far more helpful than offering solutions - While editing, it is inevitable that you will be struck by ideas about how someone else's book could be better: What if he had feathers instead of hair?! What if this vampire twinkled rather than sparkled?! No. It's okay to offer up some illustrative directions the writer could go to fix something that isn't working, but ultimately the writer is the best equipped to come up with ideas for new directions. Your job is to spot what's not working, not to rewrite.

6.  Try to figure out why something isn't working for you - There will be times where something about a scene just doesn't seem right. But rather than thinking about how you would make a weak stretch better, try to figure out instead why it isn't working for you. Is it implausible? Are the characters not being true to themselves? Does the scene lack space monkeys? Identifying the underlying issue can be invaluable for the author.

7. Just make it work - Throw out everything you learned in English classes. You're not looking for what the book means, you're not looking for symbolism, you're not looking for theme. You're looking for whether it works as a coherent story and whether the writer achieved what they were striving for. It's about making it a good story, not about writing a paper on it.

8. Don't overdo it - Tailor your edit notes to the amount of work that needs to be done. If you see major plot/structural issues, stick to detailing those, don't get caught up in copyediting and line edits. If the plot feels mainly okay, focus on chapter-level issues. If most everything is in place, feel free to pick nits. There are two reasons for this approach: 1) You don't want to overwhelm the author and 2) There's no reason for spending a lot of time on line edits that are changing in a major revision anyway.

9. Remember that personal taste is personal - We humans can be too sure of our own viewpoints. We may hate things other people love and love things other people hate. Never be too sure of your opinions when editing; you may be the only person who feels that way. Be cautious when making suggestions and frame your thoughts as your own personal reaction rather than as a pronouncement from the editing gods.

10. Be Positive - Your job as an editor is not to crush someone's spirit, even if you think their manuscript sucks. Your job is not to "tell them like it is" (telling them like it is is telling them how YOU see it). Your job is not to transform a mess into The Great Gatsby. Your job is to be helpful. Your job is to be supportive. Your job is to leave the manuscript and the writer in better shape than you found them. That is the essence of editing.






Monday, April 9, 2012

Jacob Wonderbar Week!

Hold onto your space helmets, it's going to be a fun week!

I'm gearing up for the release of Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, the second book in the Jacob Wonderbar series. If you're in the San Francisco area I would love to see you at the release party at Books Inc. Opera Plaza this Friday!

Rest assured this is not going to be a week of Buy My Book Buy My Book Buy My Book. Here's what we have in store:

Tomorrow I'm going to have a post on the 10 Commandments of Editing, which I have chiseled into stone tablets and hidden around the country in difficult to reach top-secret locations! Or I've just typed them and they will only be available online. I'm not telling. Find out tomorrow.

Wednesday I will be giving away a Kindle for one lucky Tweeter. Isn't that twitterific?

Thursday I will be giving away a Nook for one lucky Pinterester. Isn't that pinteresting? Also Thursday is release day. Holy corndogs! 

Friday is party day and we'll talk about what we've learned. Just kidding, we will have learned little.

Meanwhile! There are some new readers around these parts and let's recap why we're here. Jacob Wonderbar is a prank-loving kid who trades a corndog for a spaceship, blasts off into space, and has to find his way back home. He encounters a planet where days are thirty second long, the universe's most nefarious space buccaneer, and, horror of horrors, a planet of substitute teachers. He and his friends have to work together to make their way back home.

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, book #1 in the series, is ostensibly for children aged 8-12, but has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for consumption by adults. (Just don't eat it.)

And it's now out in paperback for just $7.99! The e-book too!

You can find it in your neighborhood bookstore or online:

Amazon (paperback)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (paperback)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

And if you don't believe me, believe the book trailer:


Coming later this week is Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, which, as the title implies, is about Jacob Wonderbar's campaign for President of the Universe. High concept!!

Jacob encounters insult debates, rude talk show hosts, corndog eating contests, a not-very-bright kid soldier, and yes, of course, space monkeys. Will he win? Will he manage to save Planet Earth? Will he find his missing father? Will he ever grow fond of eating the space dust on Numonia? The answer lies with these vendors:

Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!
Books-a-Million!
Books Inc!
iBooks!
Indiebound!
Powell's!

Ye Olde Book Trailer:



Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp is being edited as we speak and thus is completely secret. But what the heck, I'll reveal this: it may have something to do with time travel. You heard it here first. Also it comes out in 2013.

Thanks, everyone!






Friday, April 6, 2012

Thank you!! Also: This Week in Books 4/6/12

My post on Wednesday about divorce in the Internet era detailed many of the ways that social media sucks when you're going through a hard time, but the outpouring that came my way in the last few days has been a really wonderful reminder of how great it can be too. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out via comments and/or e-mail, your kindness means so much to me. I'm sorry if I haven't responded to you yet - I shall!

Next week I'll be shifting gears into happier territory as it's launch week for Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe! Also known as the 2012 election that won't stress you out (unless you should somehow have a deep-seated fear of space monkeys).

Back to digest form for this roundup as I have seven million e-mails to answer, but stay tuned for next week! Prizes, for reals writing posts... good stuff coming! Stay tuned.

First up: My dear friend The Rejectionist has a name! And a face! And (drumroll) a book deal!!! So so excited.

Author Greg Leitich Smith on How to  Plan a Book Launch (Part One)

Watch Arthur C. Clarke Predict the Internet and iPads Decades Before They Were Invented

Identify Your Novel's Genre

5 Things You Should Do on the First Page of Your YA Novel

A Feast of Data to Interpret in New Pew Survey of Book Readers About E-books

In lieu of Comment! of! the! Week! I would like to hereby institute a collective Internet group hug. Seriously, thank you everyone!

And finally, this is pretty amazing. What if Facebook were invented in the '90s? (via CNET)



Have a great weekend!






Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Divorce in the Internet Era

A year ago, as my first novel was being published and I was starting a new career, I was also dealing with one of the hardest stretches of my life due to an unexpected divorce.

The divorce particulars won't break new ground in the genre, and I don't pretend my experience is any more or less painful than what others have gone through.

But in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Google, e-mail, and blogs, this literally isn’t your parents' divorce anymore. Thanks to the Internet there are things we never before had to worry about confronting, and no roadmap on how to get through. The essentials of divorce may be the same, but the digital landscape new divorcees confront is new and deeply strange.

A Life Lived Online

Lest you think the peculiar challenges of getting divorced in the Internet era are limited solely to the highly connected, I should say I've never really lived my life in public. My Internet presence is devoted almost entirely to my professional life, and while I might peel back the curtain to flaunt my horrific taste in television shows, my day-to-day life has mostly been off-limits.

But my personal life inevitably crept onto the Internet, whether I wanted it to or not. I never even told the Internet I was getting married in 2008, but when I announced on my blog that I would be featuring guest posts for a few weeks, one anonymous commenter guessed that I was going on my honeymoon. Then another managed to find (and link to) my gift registry, which I hadn't even realized was online. I deleted those comments, but shortly thereafter "Nathan Bransford Wedding" became the second most-searched term involving my name, a position it has bizarrely occupied ever since. ("Nathan Bransford Divorce" has risen to #3 on Google, despite my never having mentioned the divorce online.)

Shortly after our marriage, my then-wife started a blog that chronicled and photographed our real life. Despite being uncomfortable blurring our public and private spheres, I linked to her and mentioned her by name.

My private life was creeping online anyway. It seemed futile to resist the semi-public nature of the Web, which was fine until my marriage unraveled.

That Awkward Moment When You Run Into Your Ex on Facebook...

Post-divorce, the Internet has become a personal minefield. There was the time shortly after the split when LinkedIn suggested I connect with my ex's new boyfriend. There was a time when Facebook kept surfacing "remember this moment?" photos of me and my ex from my mom's profile. I hid and changed my relationship status in the dead of night so as few people as possible would notice the change and ask me about it.

Worst of all is Gmail, which has one of the most maddening "features" to confront anyone going through a breakup. Nearly every time I wrote an e-mail to friends this past year, Gmail oh-so-helpfully suggested I include my ex-wife in the e-mail. And you can't turn this off. It still happens, despite my pleas to Google to make it optional. (Google obviously doesn't employ enough divorcees.)

That awkward moment of running into your ex can happen virtually at any time, even when you're comfortably sitting at home. Every mutual friend's Instagram feed is an encounter waiting to happen. Every search through e-mail to find an address or a phone number is a danger zone of old conversations and memories.

Blog readers and interviewers still ask after my wife, questions I have become increasingly skilled at dodging. Uncomfortable as it is, I can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

When my ex and I split, she adopted a scorched Earth approach to social media. She deleted her Facebook profile and blog entirely and started new ones. (Facebook dutifully suggested I befriend her new profile.)

I didn't have the luxury of starting over. I had four years of posts devoted to writing and publishing, and discarding all of that because of a few mentions of my ex wouldn't have made any sense. I could have gone back and scrubbed all mentions of her, but who has that kind of time?

It's all out there anyway. It's my life, I can't pretend it didn't happen. The Internet makes it impossible to cover your tracks.

The Web Doesn't Forget

To move on emotionally after a divorce or a breakup, you have to forget. You gradually move on from the pain, the particulars of fraught conversations fade, your memories of being together become hazy, and you reconstruct your life. The relationship eventually feels like a strange dream you once had, and you move on. That's how we heal.

But the Internet doesn't forget. It has a perfect memory. And, what’s more, it’s constructed to force memories on you with the assumption that the experience will be pleasant.

Most people don't have a photo album of themselves and their ex sitting on their coffee table, but Facebook Timeline shows your past to all your friends unless you go back and spend a lot of time revising your past. My ex's new life isn't entirely out of view -- it keeps popping into my social media feeds and Google Reader.

I've had to draw up new blueprints with mutual friends to figure out how to navigate parties I'm not at that will be mentioned online. I've had to get used to the weirdness of commenting on the same friends' Facebook photos as my ex and living a strangely distant parallel life that sometimes can also feel way too close.

Our natural coping strategies can’t compete with Facebook and Twitter.

There is one big benefit to divorce in 2012, though. Now when I date new people, I don't have to have a painfully awkward conversation where I break the news that I'm divorced. Anyone who is a halfway-decent Google stalker has already figured it out.

This is My Life

I debated whether to write this post for a very long time. Telling everyone I'm divorced on the Internet isn't really my style. I'm a naturally private person, and a children's book author at that.

But there's barely such a thing left as a personal life anymore. Your life is preserved in Facebook status updates, Google searches, public records, and it's impossible to erase the past. Whether that's a good or terrifying thing is beside the point. It just is.

I could keep it ambiguous online, or just clear up the mystery. I could continue to dodge questions about my wife, or I could just come out and say I'm divorced.

I'm divorced. There's no hiding from it in the social media era.






Monday, April 2, 2012

The Last Few Week in Books 4/2/12

I've been very hard at work finishing up the edits for Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp, though some of that hard work happened in quite an idyllic spot.


Thank you Moss Beach Distillery!

Posts should hopefully get a bit more frequent now that I have more time, but due to writing fatigue I'm reverting to digest form to give you some of the top links from the past few weeks.

Infographic: Dystopian Fiction on Goodreads

Feds grab 11 pounds of marijuana headed for St. Martin's Press (seriously)

Scarcity and Abundance (via Mira)

Author Turow fears DOJ Apple Suit Would Empower Amazon (disclosure: link is to CNET, where I work)

A writing blog sampler

Don't Blame Publishers - You're a Commodity (via Livia Blackburne)

The Trend Games

Does Agency Pricing Mean Higher E-book Prices? That Depends

This week in the Forums: the Blog Bracket Challenge is nearing an end, the A to Z Blog Challenge 2012, Dos and Donts for Writer Websites, and Fifty Shades of Gray: What do you think?

Comment! of! the! Week! There were many great comments on what the Harry Potter e-books mean for the world of authors - here's a great counterpoint by Anonymous about why it really is a big deal:
I think the big deal is when all the best selling authors walk away from their publishers and do this.

What will publishers think if James Patterson does this next? Stephen King has already played in this pool. Will he go back and try again?

If the big publishers bread and butter authors walk out the door because they have name recognition, what will the big publishers do? Will they start appreciating their mid-list authors? Oh, wait, they have moved onto self-publishing.

The dominoes can topple pretty fast.
 And finally, this is totally mesmerizing. The ocean currents illustrated, Van Gogh style (via io9)



Have a great week!






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