I love my new poster, so why not use it as a portal to some of the ideas that inspired me while writing Shimmer In The Dark: Rogue Genesis? From sticky clusters to the effect on the brain of an energy vortex, to fantastical travel through space-time. Just click on poster.
ASMSG members asked, and we listened.
What did they say? WE WANT EDUCATION!!
So here it is, the spring course of M4DBW, Marketing for DeadBroke™ Writers
Marketing for DeadBroke™ Writers
Sponsored by ASMSG
Presented by Joel Scott
Joel Scott is a published author with six educational books in the for Dummies series and nearly 100,000 books sold. He is also an experienced educator and speaker.
The Marketing for DeadBroke Writers course was initially designed and presented by Joel Scott for the Author Learning Center, a division of Author Solutions. That company was absorbed by Penguin, which in turn, was absorbed by Random House. Since its inception in 2011 this course has attracted more than a thousand students. Earlier this year Mr. Scott ran this course exclusively for ASMSG members. And, it’s time to offer it again.
As the results of a recent ASMSG poll showed, our members feel the need for in-depth training on author marketing in today’s confusing world of social media and promotions. Joel Scott and ASMSG have designed a special set of online classes at a steeply discounted price exclusively available to members of ASMSG.
Here are a few quotes from prior students.
“This has been the best Author Learning Center webinar I have listened to!”
“I found the technical conversations the most helpful, and enjoyed when he gave a visual example of another Facebook page.”
“I am new to Twitter and this webinar helped fill in information on how to use Twitter. Didn’t have the foggiest notion before and don’t like to stumble around in the dark.”
“The information about linking Twitter to your Facebook fan Page, and creating an audio excerpt [was really helpful].”
”Once again, not only do I appreciate your time and knowledge, I want to thank you AND the group for steering me away from a frustrating experience with my publisher and into the land of Self-Publishing.”
“Living on the other side of the world, I found accessing the course online very easy.”
Here are some key parameters.
Scheduled Classes for 2015 Spring Semester
Each class will be held twice, at 8:30 AM and again at 8:30 PM. All times are USA – Eastern. Based on enrollment we may add additional sessions.
We hope you see the value in these classes and your membership in ASMSG. We’re working to bring you every possible benefit to help make your writing, publishing, and promotions successful.
Even though it’s an online course, seats are limited. A portion of your class fee will be donated to ASMSG to fund development of additional author benefits. Sign up now while enrollment is still open!
[wp_cart_button name=”Buy M4DBW Now” price=”69.00″]
If you have questions or concerns about the course, please feel free to contact Mr. Scott directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.
A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services. The following screenshot is taken from the agreement between Barnes & Noble and writers using the service.
You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”
There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana (pictured right).
Barnes & Noble has never disclosed that Author Solutions is providing these services, either in thepress release announcing same, the communications to Nook Press users, or on the site itself.
Indeed, Barnes & Noble refused to respond to three separate requests last November for information on same from Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader (now renamed Inks, Bits & Pixels).
Also, Barnes & Noble fails to disclose Author Solutions’ involvement to authors purchasing these services. The Nook Press Author Services site goes into great detail about these services but never once mentions that Author Solutions is fulfilling them. In fact, the waythe FAQs on the site are worded makes it sound like Barnes & Noble/Nook Press carries out the work itself – which is extremely misleading.
Finally, authors who use Nook Press Author Services are not informed that their personal details are shared with Author Solutions, along with explicit permission to use those personal details to upsell Author Solutions’ infamous marketing packages.
Theresa Horner – the General Manager of Nook Press and VP of Content Acquisitions – led the negotiations with Author Solutions, which concluded in October last year. When making the announcement, Horner explained to Publishers Weekly that Barnes & Noble plans to further expand the services offered by Nook Press to its users.
As with the press release, the communications with Nook Press authors, and the on-site information, Horner didn’t disclose that fulfillment would be outsourced to Author Solutions.
Horner’s employment with Barnes & Noble ended right after the deal with Author Solutions was concluded, but the contract between Nook Press Author Services and its users confirms her statement that Barnes & Noble plans to expand the range of services. There are clauses relating to all sorts of other services not currently offered, such as distribution of print titles and royalties relating to same, and it’s clear that Author Solutions will be fulfilling those services too.
It’s not hard to figure out why Barnes & Noble has gone to such great lengths to hide its partnership with Author Solutions – following the exact playbook when Lulu struck a deal with Author Solutions in March 2013.
Author Solutions has a terrible reputation in the writing community for the deceptive methods it uses to ensnare authors, its sub-standard and over-priced services, and its high-pressure sales tactics aimed at selling completely ineffective (and ridiculously expensive) marketing packages – and nothing has changed under Penguin Random House’s ownership.
All of this has led to a class action which has been running since 2013. Author Solutions, and its corporate parent, has attempted to get the class action dismissed on numerous occasions, but the case is still ongoing and the plaintiffs filed for class certification last week.
You might why Barnes & Noble didn’t run a mile from such a disreputable company facing a significant class action, but don’t worry, Barnes & Noble’s lawyers are on it:
It’s a pity such diligence didn’t extend itself to protecting the position of Nook Press users and finding a reputable service provider.
Barnes & Noble has now sold out to the worst possible company. In case it’s not clear what Author Solutions is aiming at with a deal like this, let me quote from the papers filed in the class action. Here’s further proof of the deal (AS = Author Solutions).
And here’s the part which makes explicit Author Solutions’ aims with such deals. Partnerships like this are all about “lead generation”:
Those statements are based on depositions of key Author Solutions executives, taken during the discovery process which concluded in January. The depositions specifically referred to above are those of Keith Ogorek, Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Don Seitz, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales. Both report directly to Penguin Random House’s company man, Author Solutions CEO Andrew Phillips.
I’ll be talking more about what those depositions revealed over the next few weeks, but if you would like to read the (lengthy) documents yourself, the Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Support of their Motion for Class Certification is here (PDF) and the deposition excerpts are here (PDF).
And that’s not all.
As mentioned above, the agreement that users of Nook Press Author Services have to sign makes explicit provision for sharing of personal data with Author Solutions for the purposes of upselling further services. Which means Nook Press users can look forward to being bombarded with phone calls and emails to buy useless YouTube advertising packages and worthless Hollywood pitching services.
We have come to expect this kind of shady behavior from Author Solutions, but Barnes & Noble should be ashamed of themselves.
A line in the sand needs to be drawn. Partnering with Author Solutions is not acceptable. Hiding that partnership from users of Nook Press Author Services is not acceptable. Sharing Nook Press users’ personal information with Author Solutions is not acceptable. And that message needs to go out very clearly to Barnes & Noble.
Meanwhile, avoid Nook Press Author Services like the plague.
Reblogged via Victoria Dougherty:
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This past weekend, I served as faculty at the wonderful Pike’s Peak Writing Conference in lovely Colorado Springs, Colorado. There, my first job on the first day of the conference was to take part in a roundtable blind critique session of the first pages of several manuscripts.
It’s very cool to be asked to do that, because rarely do I have the opportunity to crush souls and milk dreams of their precious dreamjuice in person. Like, I could critique a page and even though the manuscripts were blind and I did not know to whom they belonged, I could still gaze out into the audience and find the author there, eyes wet and trembling as I bit into their writing with my dread incisors. And then I bellowed “DOOM” and ate the ashen pages as they wept.
Okay, not really. I do not relish the chance to destroy dreams, and I always tried to temper my criticisms with HEY I ALSO LIKED THIS because, quite truthfully, each page always had something I liked. In fact, almost all of them had at least one sentence that I wish I had written.
What was interesting to me, however, was that while each story was very different, my criticisms of those stories often kept to a few common themes. And I thought, as I always do, HEY, HOLY CRAP, BLOG POST. I can pass along my dubious critique and maybe you writers young and old can do something with them. Or maybe you’ll think, “That bearded fucktart can go pound sand,” and that’s fine, too. And bonus points for calling me “bearded fucktart.” SEE, I LIKE YOU.
(As a sidenote, I had originally thought to label this as advice for “aspiring writers,” but I will remind you that aspiring is often the same as dreaming of, but never doing, and really, fuck that noise. This blog is for writers who write. Full stop.)
You don’t realize how much that first page matters until you have to judge a story based on that first page. And then you’re forced to ask the question: “Would I keep reading?”
That first page is the start of the fulfillment of promise of your premise.
It’s saying, “Here is what this story is.” It’s the first taste of a meal — and if someone doesn’t like that first taste, they aren’t always so inclined to continue unless they’re starving for content. And in this day and age? Nobody is starving for content.
You are using too many words to say too few things. And the words you’re using are too big, or poorly chosen, or feel awkward. You’re using exposition where you don’t need any. You’re invoking description that is redundant or unnecessary. You’re giving your characters a wealth of mechanical details and actions that go well-beyond a few gestures and into the territory of telegraphing every eyebrow arch, every lip twitch, every action beat of picking up a coffee mug, blowing on it, sipping from it, setting it back down, picking it back up, drinking from it, on and on.
You’re placing all this language on the page that serves no purpose except its own existence.
You’re not James Joyce.
Cut. Tighten. Aim for rhythm-and-beat, not droning cacophony. Seek clarity over confusion. Early on, seek action over explanation. Mystery over answer. Leave things out rather than putting everything in. That’s not to say you cannot engage in a few flourishes of language. That’s not to say there won’t be a kind of poetry to your description, or a certain creative stuntery in terms of metaphor. But those are not the point of what you’re doing. Those are enhancements. They serve mood. They are a kind of narrative punctuation. They are single bites, not whole meals.
If your whole meal is just a wall of language, it’s both too much and not enough. It’s too much language, and not enough of why the fuck would I keep reading? Words are what we read, not why we read. They do not exist to serve themselves but rather, the purpose of conveying information. And the information you’re trying to convey is: story.
Kill exposition. Trim description to the leanest of cuts.
The fat will come later. The conversation will deepen as the story grows.
Do not build a wall of words.
Everything is character.
Because character is story.
This is not exaggeration. We read stories for characters. Characters are the prime movers of story. They say shit and they do shit and they want things and they are afraid of things and that’s it. That’s plot, story, that’s all of it. We may stay with a story for a whole lot of reasons, but our driving reason is character. Character compels us because we are people reading stories about people. Even when they’re robots or dragons or robot-dragons or orangutan secret agents, they’re still people for purposes of our narrative consumption. We see ourselves as characters in our own stories and so we seek characters within stories. It’s like an empathy bridge.
Your story must connect us to character immediately.
Because otherwise, I just don’t care. No threat or suspense or mystery is particularly engaging if it doesn’t have a character to reflect and represent it. Without strong character shot through the first page, everything you’re giving me is a data point.
I don’t read stories to consume data points.
If your story begins and I have no sense of character or why I should give a single slippery fuck about them, what’s the point? I’m looking for connection. I want to tether myself to a character. I want to care enough to continue reading. Make me care. It’s not enough to make me think. You can worry about my intellectual connection to the story later. Right now? Hit me in the emotions. Make me feel something. PUNCH ME IN MY HEARTBUCKET.
I’m bored. Your first page has bored me. Because nothing is happening. I don’t mean that the first moment should be cataclysm and clamor — but something needs to happen. Or be in the midst of happening. Repeat after me: action, dialogue, action, dialogue. Quick description as connective tissue. Short, sharp shock. Activity over passivity.
And hey, I get it. This is easier said than done. What I just told you above about character makes this part doubly tricky, and only goes to show just what an amazing trick it is to write a jaw-dropping face-kicking sphincter-clencher of a first page. It’s threading like, seven different needles in one swift movement. You’re trying to convey action and conversation but not without also giving us enough character to care but not so much character that you’re overwriting and you’re trying to say what you need to say at the bare minimum while still trying to maintain style and energy and you wanna offer mystery but not confusion and you want to inject genre without being ham-fisted and you wanna worldbuild a little bit but not write an encyclopedia…
I get it.
But damnit, penmonkey, you gotta try.
And you’re best starting off with:
Something Is Happening.
Right fucking now. And that’s why the story must be told and heard right fucking now.
Urgency! Impetus! Incitement! Excitement!
And here, the biggest lesson of them all, and a summation of all the problems.
You are in the way of your story.
Hard truth: writing is actually not that important.
Writing is a mechanism.
It’s an inelegant middleman to what we do. It’s a shame, in some ways, that we even call ourselves writers, because it describes only the mechanical act of what we do. It’s a vital mechanism, sure, but by describing it as the prominent thing, it tends to suggest, well, prominence.
But our writing must serve story.
Story does not serve writing.
This is cart-before-horse stuff, but important to realize.
Listen, in what we do there exist three essential participants.
The tale, the teller of the tale, and the listener of the tale.
Story. Author. And audience.
You are two-thirds of that equation. You are the story (or, by proxy, its architect) and the teller of the story. The telling of the story is most often done through writing — through that mechanical act, and because it’s the act you can sit and watch, it’s the one that is used to describe our role. I AM WRITER, you say, and so you focus so much on the actual writing you forget that there’s this other invisible — but altogether more critical — part, which is whatyou’re writing.
So, what happens is, early on, you put so much on the page. You write and write and write and use too many words and too much exposition and big meaty paragraphs and at the end all it serves to do is create distance between the tale and the listener of the tale.
It keeps the audience at arm’s length.
Quit that shit.
Bring the audience into the story. This is at the heart of show, don’t tell — which is a rule that can and should be broken at times, but at its core remains a reasonable notion: don’t talk at, don’t preach, don’t lecture, don’t fill their time with unnecessary wordsmithy.
Get. To. The. Point.
And the point is the story. Not the words used to tell that story.
Here, look at it this way: you ever have a conversation with someone and they tell you a story — something that happened to them, some thing at work, some wacky sexual escapade featuring an escaped circus shark and a kale farmer named “Dave” — and you just want to smack them around and tell them to get to the actual story? Like, they just dick around in the telling of the tale, orbiting the juicy bits and taking too goddamn long to just spit it out? Maybe they think they’re creating suspense, but they’re only creating frustration. Or maybe they know — as we all do, sometimes — that the story they’re telling is actually ALL HAT, NO COWBOY, and they’re trying to fill the time with hot air in much the same way you might pad a college paper with several shovels of additional horseshit to lend it weight (and, incidentally, stench)?
Stop doing that.
Stop wasting time.
Get the fuck out of the way of your story.
You are a facilitator. Writing is a mechanism. It can be an artful and beautiful mechanism, but without substance behind it — without you actually saying something and sharing a story — it is a hollow, gutless art. The story is what your audience wants, needs, and cares about.
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