Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Up with Publishing?

Today we have a guest blog from the wonderful Nancy Famolari

What's Up with Publishing?

First, I want to state that I have no answers about what's happening with the publishing industry. However, over the last several weeks I have observed some interesting trends:
  • Borders is bankrupt and is planning to close a number of stores. I'm not sure how many will eventually be selected, but this is a major blow to book publishers as well as Borders. The company is in debt to several publishers and there's no suggestion that all the owed funds will be repaid.
  • Sales on ebooks continue to climb. I don't think this is an artifact. People are increasingly getting ereaders, Kindle, Nook, and others. Versions of ereader software are available for PCs. I suspect that the ease of obtaining and the price are turning more and more people to buying books for ereaders.
  • Random House has announced that they're joining the agency model. Random House announced that "Going forward, Random House will set consumer prices for the e-books we publish, and we will provide retailers with a commission for each sale."
  • Thomas Nelson is offering coupons in it's books in bookstores for prizes. I'm sure the company hopes that the desire for something free will encourage people to look for TN books.
So what does all this activity mean? A few things are clear, at least to me. Ebooks are here to stay and may well be the wave of the future. This becomes even more likely with the advent of iPad 2. The iBookstore is apparently a lucrative place to sell books. In all this maneuvering, it seems to me, that independent bookstores, including those on the web are on the losing side. From personal experience, I can say that I sell twice as many books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble than I do on sites like Smashwords and other independent sites, certainly more than I sell hard copies.

I'm interested in what you think. For me, I think it's a good new era in publishing. The playing field for authors is leveled. Amazon and Barnes and Noble, among others, will sell your self-published books the same way they do the books from the major publishers. Is it a bad time for independent bookstores? Without question. I find that I spend my time locating books on the web rather than visiting my local bookstore. Prices are better and I don't have to travel a long distance and then be disappointed.

So what do you think about the state of the industry? I'd like to know.

BIO: Nancy Famolari splits her time between her farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania and a smaller farm near Ocala, Florida. Her five horses are becoming seasoned travelers. Before moving to Pennsylvania, she and her husband owned a small Standardbred breeding farm in Central New Jersey. Her soon to be released novel, Winner's Circle, is based on her experiences in harness racing. Her other novels include: Unwelcome Guest at Fair Hill Farm, Murder in Montbleu, and The Lake House.

Nancy's Website

Nancy Famolari's Place
Nancy Famolari's Author Spotlight
Montbleu Murders

For more writerly insights, please visit Virginia Grenier's blog tommorow for a feature with Donna McDine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Poetry Partners Hold Artwork Contest for Fifth Chapbook

It's been said (quite a few times) that a picture is worth a thousand words. Even though Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I are poets, we think the original author may have underestimated, and we'd like you--if you're a painter or a photographer--to prove us wrong.

We are the coauthors of the Celebration Series of chapbooks of poetry.

They include Cherished Pulse (for anyone you love), She Wore Emerald Then (for mothers on your gift list), Imagining the Future (for Fathers), and Blooming Red, a Christmas chapbook. Chapbooks have been a tradition in the poetry world since Elizabethan times. The Celebration Series goes beyond the cliched sentiments in most greeting cards - and does it for about the same price.

All four of our chapbooks are illustrated by artists making each a triple effort.

Cherished Pulse and Blooming Red feature artwork from California artist Vicki Thomas. She Wore Emerald Then features photographs by May Lattanzio (see the cover in the Amazon buy-link at the left)  and Imagining the Future a photo by one of America's most celebrated composers of opera, music theatre and songs Ricky Ian Gordon (he's also my uncle).  We are planning a fifth chapbook lauding women's issues and feminist themes. We are looking for submissions to be used on its cover. Yes, it's a contest.

The winner's work will be featured on Deeper Into the Pond: A Celebration of Femininity to be published later in 2011. There is no pay but since I run The Compulsive Reader, and Howard-Johnson is the author of a multi award-winning series of books for writers including The Frugal Book Promoter, we can promise a wide distribution of the cover image, credit, and a biography of the cover artist in the book, and tons of marketing exposure.

See the other chapbooks' covers at

Here is a poem from that chapbook to give you an idea of its contents:

Cetacean Dreaming

Last night I dreamt
I swam with dolphins
under the angry chaos above
boiling, bubbling wave crash
we moved slowly
sharing mammalian wisdom
in clicks and whistles.

My cetacean body slate blue
thick and fluid
moved easily through the pod
belying the great heft of me
swimming , like flying
the glide and slide as I forgot everything but smooth flow

Sonar guided me forward
echolocation to a destiny
nothing like domination
consumerism and desire
the triple bang crack of light
that woke me
to my frail, flawed humanity.

If you have something you'd like us to see, please e-mail your creative work to me at with SUBMISSION: DEEPER INTO THE POND in the subject line. We hope to have a decision by June 1, 2011 and we reserve the right to select no winner. If a winner is selected, we may also choose runners-up so those acknowledgments may be used by the winners for purposes of marketing. There is no fee for entering, and only the honor and publication of the artwork for being selected. Oh, yes. And two copies of the finished chapbook. We hope to hear from you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Free books for E-readers

Read an E-Book Week is March 6-12, 2011 and that means lots and lots of freebies.  I'm not one to miss out on a chance to get my work in the hands of readers (I don't want your money honey, I want your love), so, my writing partner Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I have decided to offer all of the books in our celebration poetry series for the sensational price of $0.  Yup, that's free: free as in freebird, freebie and the bean, freewheeling.  To get your hands on these beauties, just drop by Smashwords and pick the books you want. Coupon codes to reduce the price to $0 are provided on each book's page.

If you have any difficulties there, just send me an email asking for what you want and as long as I get it during Read an E-Book Week, your books will be with you faster than you can say Gutenberg.  Want more? You can visit the official Read an E-Book Week site started by Rita Y. Toews in 2004 for a big list of partners, publishers, authors and more, all offering a range of freebies and really good offers, including my own terrific publisher BeWrite Books who is offering a gobsmackingly good deal of two free books from their catalogue to anyone who buys an ebook or treebook from any publisher at any bookstore, online or brick-and-mortar during the week (with additional goodies if you buy from them).  Considering how inexpensive ebooks are (Amazon is still offering Repulsion Thrust for .99c), that's an offer hard to beat.  If you need any more incentive, how about the fact that no trees are killed in the manufacture of ebooks (yes, they're green), the fact that you can read in bed at night without a light, the increasingly beautiful display as e-ink becomes prevalent, the fact that a single e-reader can hold thousands of books (apparently a 16GB iPad can hold 16,384 average books if it contains nothing else...), and maybe the most important and least well promoted benefit is that you can change the font to suit your eyesight and as technology improves, add audio.  For an aging population, this is particularly important. 

Are you still here?  Go on (fly fingers fly) and get your books.   Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bob Williams rest in peace

I've never met Bob Williams, and I now never will, and yet he was someone I considered a close friend.  He was one of my most trusted and prolific reviewers at The Compulsive Reader for many years. Almost from the first days of The Compulsive Reader some twelve  years ago, Bob provided a ready supply of beautifully written reviews (all of which can be found at the site).  He was also my ideal reader.  Between his bibliographic literary knowledge, and his absolute generosity with time, he helped me immensely with my own writing.  I sent my first novel to him in tentative chapters before I dared even tell anyone else I was writing a novel.  I had no idea how ill he was, even a few weeks ago when he sent me an in-depth chapter by chapter line edit of my new book.  His comments were as funny as they were enlightening, and I had no idea how much pain he was suffering at that point.

Bob and I shared a number of interests, including James Joyce, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolf.  He was a man with exquisite taste in music and books, and not until a few days before his death did he reveal to me that he was losing a struggle with progressive illness and failing eyesight.  Bob leaves behind an amazing family, and many scholarly writings, including an exceptional body of work about James Joyce's Dubliners, Ulysses, and Finnegan's Wake.  All writers need an ideal reader: the person who, immersed in your work, gets what you're trying to achieve and won't let you get away with anything other than the limits of your capability.  For me, Bob will always be that reader. Wherever you are now, Bob, I feel certain that there will be music and words.