Friday, September 16, 2011

Around the Word

Surveying the e-book scene: With an toward separating the wheat from the hype around self-published e-books, Publishers Marketplace recently put out a statistical analysis of sales trends that will be quite illuminating to those of you thinking of going solo. By analyzing consumer data, they found that up to 21 percent of e-book buyers have bought a self-published e-book. Consumers are attracted to the lower prices of self-published books, PM reported, and they're willing to try a new author at a low cost. Even more telling: e-book buyers weren't particularly discriminating when it comes to publishers -- big name or self-published. A surprising 80 percent responded that "the publisher is irrelevant to my decision to buy a particular e-book." So does this make you more interested in self-publishing your work? 

Rate your reads: Speaking of the e-volution, we learned this week of an interesting collision of newfangled social media and oldfashioned book swapping. Goodreads, a social media site for book lovers, announced they are surveying their army of word nerds to create what they hope will be the best book recommendation engine on the web. The site is asking their six million members to rate more than 190 million books to collect data on literary tastes. To try it out, the site will ask you to review 20 books to get a sense of your favorite lit, then generate recommendations based on your ratings. Let us know, did Goodreads read you like a book?

Polly wants a new publisher: Our favorite publishing scandal of the moment, and another sign of the shifting times, is the curious case of Polly Courtney. After enjoying success self-publishing her first work, the British novelist signed a nice deal with Harper Collins to put out her next book. But in a rather unconventional move, Courtney announced at the launch party for her HC debut that she was firing the publisher and going solo again. Turns out that the author, who made her name writing about sexism in the London finance industry, was outraged by the "fluffy" and "patronising" nature of the jacket design. The Daily Mail has the full scoop.

Best business books: The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs have teamed up once again to release the shortlist for this year's Business Book of the Year Award. The books have a wide range of subjects, from global poverty to the importance of cities to the dangers of ignoring the obvious. GalleyCat has provided links to free samples of each of the top books. Check them out and tell us what you think. Which business book tops your list?

Picking the right publicist: Also on GalleyCat this week, reporter Jason Boog delved into publicity for DIY authors in an informative interview with independent publicist Lauren Cerand (you can find the full recording here).With self-publishing, self-promoting and social media all just a click away, many authors don't need a publicist to perform the full range of services they once did, but rather to open doors and teach them the skills they need to make their work visible. As Cerand says, "In the age of the Internet, we've largely democratized the process. For authors, I always say: It's really about learning as many of these skills as you can." Where does a publicist fit into your book promotion plan?

The speeches behind The King's Speech: If the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech warmed your speechwriting heart, you might want to check out a follow-up documentary, The King Speaks, that gives more insight to the real story of King George VI. Gotham friend Hal Gordon turned us onto this gem with a review of the documentary on his blog, and points out that "speechwriters in particular will be intrigued to learn how [speech coach Lionel] Logue went beyond his role of therapist to actually editing the drafts of the king's speeches." Did the royal story inspire your writing?

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