Monday, October 26, 2009

BookRabbit launches publisher events calendar through social media

Social networking site ( has launched a new events calendar which enables publishers to promote book launches, author signings and all manner of literary events to literary aficionados. Publishers will also benefit from BookRabbit's social media service, including Twitter and Facebook, which will promote key events on the calendar to its online community.

The calendar, which includes other features of interest to its members such as author birthdays, enables publishers to upload details of forthcoming events as much as twelve months in advance. BookRabbit aims to populate the calendar with literary events of all shapes and sizes, from large-scale festivals to local book signings, to become the de facto reference point in the UK. Forthcoming events will be highlighted to BookRabbit's existing members through its popular blog.

BookRabbit MD Simon Redgate said: "BookRabbiters have a passion for books and all things literary. The events calendar was the next logical step for us, creating a go-to guide for literary events of interest to complement the virtual community on the site. We aim to help publishers maximise social media opportunities, particularly those less familiar with digital communications channels, by tapping into our expertise and spreading the word online about forthcoming events. We would encourage all publishers to upload details of all relevant events to the calendar."

BookRabbit, which was recently taken over by new owners and original creators Redberry Digital, took its first steps in the literary calendar this month by sponsoring a number of author events at the 2009 Henley Literary Festival which attracted 8,000 visitors this year.

Horror Stories Have Long Been Part of American Culture

The horror story has long been a part of Americana, according to Kansas State University's Roger Adams, an associate professor and rare books librarian at K-State's Hale Library.

"'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' published in 1820, is generally recognized as the first American horror story," Adams said. "However, 'Wieland,' written in 1798 by Charles Brockden Brown, is most certainly the first American Gothic novel in a genre that was invented by English author Horace Walpole with the publication of 'The Castle of Otranto' in 1764. 'Wieland' is largely forgotten in popular culture, but the popularity of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' is so great that it continues to be a source of inspiration for filmmakers and authors."

Adams, who works with Hale Library's Richard L.D. and Marjorie J. Morse department of special collections, knows about the horror genre. He assists with K-State's David J. Williams III Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Collection. Acquired in 2006, the collection has more than 3,500 books and magazines and is now almost 50 percent cataloged.

"Williams mostly collected what he enjoyed reading, but he also collected works by important American authors that he didn't necessarily enjoy, such as contemporary horror author Stephen King, for example," Adams said. "Most notably, Williams collected everything by and about horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, as well as many works by Lovecraft's contemporaries August Derleth, Robert Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert Bloch."

"As a publisher, Williams became acquainted with many writers and Bloch, the author of 1959's 'Psycho,' became a friend. So, a lot of these books are presentation copies from the authors to Williams and are not only signed but have nice inscriptions to him," Adams said.

Williams died in 2000 and was collecting up until his death.

"We are continuing to purchase works by American horror writers published after 2000 to keep the collection relevant and useful for future generations of scholars," Adams said. "The most significant addition we've made in the horror genre is 'The Raven' by Edgar Allen Poe. The edition we acquired was published around 1866 and is the first separate American edition -- meaning it wasn't published in a magazine or as part of a collection of stories -- and the first to be illustrated."

If looking for a good scary book for Halloween, Adams said some of his favorites include:

- "Stir of Echoes" by Richard Matheson, published in 1958. "This follows an average guy and his ability to communicate with the spirit world -- very creepy stuff," Adams said.

- "Carrie" by Stephen King, published in 1974. It was not only King's breakout novel, but it was the first American horror novel to have a female protagonist, according to Adams.

- "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. "This is 'the' vampire book," Adams said. "Once again, forget just about everything you've learned about Dracula from movies. The Dracula of this book eats babies."

- "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson, published in 1959. "This is the haunted house that makes other haunted houses afraid. Not even Chuck Norris would spend a night in Hill House," Adams said.

- Poe's "Tales of Mystery and Madness," released in 2004, and Poe's "Tales of Death and Dementia," released in 2009 and both illustrated by Gris Grimly. "Poe is the first American master of the horror genre and both of these volumes are exceptionally illustrated by Gris Grimly," Adams said. "'The Masque of the Red Death,' released in 1842, and 'The Cask of Amontillado,' released in 1846, are my two favorite Poe stories."

- "The Annotated H. P. Lovecraft," published in 1997. "Lovecraft is the modern American master of horror who continues to influence scores of horror and supernatural writers," Adams said.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Independent Author Tweets His Way to a Publishing Contract

Independent author Michael J. Gyulai received a two-year publishing contract for a reprint of his 2008 memoir Midnight in Rome after he used social media to drive a spike in online sales. The memoir, based on Gyulai's real-life experience working behind the bar of a top nightclub in the Italian capital, was re-released in August.

Gyulai based his sales model on the direct-to-fan marketing tactics currently sprouting in the music industry, which is still searching for footing after digital distribution via mp3 sent the entire music sales model into disarray at the turn of the millennium. With digital readers like the Amazon Kindle and numerous e-book applications for the iPhone gaining market traction -- even companies like Sony, Google, and Apple are developing their own stand-alone electronic book devices -- Gyulai's social media model could prove to be the future of the publishing world.

Gyulai, a native of San Francisco, originally self-published Midnight in Rome in January 2008 at the tip of an historic economic slouch and into the long tail self-publishing marketplace. He had one skill, however, that his literary counterparts did not: fluency in web design.

Gyulai created a full Flash website for the book and designed a MySpace profile, Facebook Group and, more recently, Twitter account in an identical theme. He then spent four to six hours a day posting links to the webring on relevant Rome and Italian message boards, Yahoo! Groups, Facebook Groups, travel websites, and language chat rooms. Traffic driven to his book's website garnered enough of a spike in online sales that he was offered a two-year publishing contract with iUniverse Star, who re-released the book in August.

"In early 2008," says Gyulai, "the required webring for online visibility was your website, MySpace profile, and Facebook Group. Now it's your blog, Twitter account, and Facebook Page."

According to Gyulai, success on Twitter and other social networking sites requires establishing oneself as an authority figure on a specific subject: "You need to establish yourself as an authority figure to gain followers on Twitter in a certain subject," says Gyulai, "and that is exactly what you need to do to sell a book."

He elaborates: "Midnight in Rome is about my experience working in the modern, urban nightlife sector of Rome. So I tweet and post about urban Italian lifestyle. I know DJs, club owners, and artists in Rome, and I tweet the best of what I hear coming from them—whether it is a party, exhibition, or commentary on local events. The tweets are in theme with my book and of value to the audience I want my readership to be comprised of."

Gyulai had also tried conventional approaches to getting is book seen: hitting the pavement and pitching to Bay Area book buyers himself. He succeeded in having Midnight in Rome stocked in over 25 bookstores in San Francisco, Berkeley, Rome, and Los Angeles. He also took out multiple print ads in local weeklies costing him over $500 each. But the return on investment was minimal.

"I have Google Analytics setup on the book's website and would track the impact of my efforts both online and via traditional media," says Gyulai. "A link posted on an appropriate message board would drive 50 to 100 target visitors to the website and convert 10 to 20 percent of those visits into sales on or The print ads--in respected local newspapers with significant readership—harvested maybe a dozen visitors and less than 1 percent of them converted to a sale."

More information on Midnight in Rome can be found at:

Questia Adds 1,900 Copyrighted Books to Its Popular iPhone Application

Questia Media, Inc. has added an additional 1,900 copyrighted books to its digital collection, which is available online and through its recently launched application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that in just two weeks has become one of the top paid book applications on those devices.

The Questia collection, consisting mostly of copyrighted works, now totals 76,213 full-text books and over 2.7 million journal, magazine, and newspaper articles.

"This important addition to our library is part of our continuing strategy to provide college students and other researchers access to the only high-quality, online collection of full-text books and articles," said Tim Harris, President and CEO of Questia, adding that in addition to accessing these materials online users increasingly want to do so from mobile devices.

In a recent survey of over 3,400 Questia subscribers, 25% said that accessing research material from a handheld mobile device was important.

Questia Library for the iPhone/iPod Touch is available today from the App Store in iTunes for 99 cents, giving users permanent access to 5,000 public domain books and 1 week of access to every publication in Questia Library. After one week, users may purchase additional access to the full library through iTunes on a non-recurring basis. For more information, visit:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pick Your Book Publisher Carefully

There are a number of different types of publishers. New or first-time authors should make themselves familiar with their characteristics before they venture out into the publishing marketplace.

Royalty Publishing - Publishers of this type bear all the costs of publishing a book and bringing it to market. The author receives a percentage of each book sale which can typically range from 7.5% to 15% of the retail price. The large and well-known publishing houses deal almost exclusively with agents. Examples include Random House, Simon & Schuster, Workman Publishing Co. Most will not look at a proposal that is not submitted by an agent. The average house handles an overwhelming number of submissions. New authors face an uphill battle in landing a contract with a royalty publisher and would need to hire an agent to even get their manuscript considered.

Vanity or Subsidy Publishing - Some examples are Vantage Press and AuthorHouse. These publishers require writers to pay all of the publishing costs, including editing, printing and promoting the book. Bookstores frequently refuse to carry books published by vanity and subsidy publishing companies. The publisher often makes no effort to market books. If authors are only interested in a few book copies to display on their shelves or distribute to friends, this may be a viable option

Self-Publishing - The author is in total control in this publishing process. Thousands of authors have taken this route. Like vanity publishers, the author must pay all of the publishing costs, including editing, printing and promoting the book. The author must also be knowledgeable of the whole publishing process. New technology allows writers and authors to keep book inventory at a minimum by using print-on-demand (POD) technology.

Independent Publishing - Independent publishers are typically smaller, privately held publishing companies. Independent publishing companies produce a variety of books, and many specialize in specific fields. New authors are more likely to be considered by independent publishers without the need of an agent. Biographical Publishing Company (BPC) is an example of this type. BPC does not accept books on a royalty basis. Rather, they provide all the services needed to get books published. And into the book market. The author must pay the costs of these services and of printing books, but the author will receive all of the profits from the sale of books after expenses, not just a royalty payment.

Which type of publishing is best? The answer depends on the situation and experience of each author. View for additional information. to Promote Book Video Previews and Trailers launches as an author and publisher resource to promote book video previews and trailers.

The website presents a showcase for authors promoting their work through videos. Listings contain book summaries as well as information about the author and publisher. Listings may also contain links to reviews and author websites, providing a full multimedia experience.

Book videos are like movie trailers, but designed to promote a specific book. The content can be as simple as a passage reading to a full-blown special effects and music. The videos are designed to promote interest in the book.

Video and multimedia are increasingly used by authors and publishers to expand their book marketing opportunities and engage their audience.

More information about book video previews and submission requirements can be found at

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Authors Urge Rejection of Google Book Search Deal

A coalition of authors and publishers -- including best-sellers Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, and technical author Bruce Schneier -- is urging a federal judge to reject the proposed settlement in a lawsuit over Google Book Search, arguing that the sweeping agreement to digitize millions of books ignores critical privacy rights for readers and writers.

The group of more than two dozen authors and publishers, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Samuelson clinic), filed an objection to the settlement today. The coalition is concerned that Google's collection of personal identifying information about users who browse, read, and make purchases online at Google Book Search will chill their readership.

"Google Book Search and other digital book projects will redefine the way people read and research," said Lethem, winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. "Now is the moment to make sure that Google Book Search is as private as the world of physical books. If future readers know that they are leaving a digital trail for others to follow, they may shy away from important intellectual journeys."

The settlement, currently pending approval from a New York federal district court, would end the legal challenges brought by the Authors' Guild over the Google Book Search project. It would give Google the green light to scan and digitize millions of books and allow users to search for and read those books online. However, Google's system could monitor what books users search for, how much of the books they read, and how long they spend on various pages. Google could then combine information about readers' habits and interests with additional information it collects from other Google services, creating a massive "digital dossier" that would be vulnerable to fishing expeditions by law enforcement or civil litigants.

"I believe that the fear of tracking will create a chilling effect on my readers and reduce my readership, and therefore my revenue, from these books," said Schneier, a computer security expert. "Moreover, I write these books in order to participate in the public debate on security issues. Reduced readership negatively impacts my expressive interests as an author."

In the objection filed today, the coalition asks the court to require Google to create a robust privacy policy that gives readers as much privacy in online books as they have in a library or a bookstore and to ensure that the policy is enforceable and overseen by the court on an ongoing basis. The authors and publishers present a list of privacy protections that would improve the settlement, including limiting tracking of users by requiring a court order or judge-approved warrant before disclosure of the information collected, ensuring user control of personal information stored by Google, and making the system transparent to readers. After much pressure from EFF, ACLU, the Samuelson clinic, and others, Google finally issued a privacy policy for Google Books on September 3, 2009. However, that policy doesn't guarantee that Google will require court approval before disclosing reader information, and it doesn't sufficiently limit Google's retention of that information. It is also changeable by Google at any time.

A hearing on the fairness of the proposed Google Book Search settlement is set for October 7, 2009, in New York.

Sony Opens the Door for More Independent Authors

Continuing to deliver on its promise to provide customers access to the widest selection of content available, Sony has partnered with Author Solutions and Smashwords. Together with Sony, these companies will give independent authors and small publishers the opportunity to offer content through The eBook Store from Sony.

Starting today, established publishers as well as independent authors and smaller publishers can access Sony's newly re-launched Publisher Portal. This portal serves as an easy way for larger publishers who may not already have a relationship with Sony to get in touch and also provides a way for individual authors or publishers with just a handful of titles to work with market-proven solution providers to publish books and make them available on Sony's eBook store.

New authors can select a self-publishing path and get their work published and for sale on Sony's eBook Store in as little as ten days. As Sony completes the conversion of its eBook store to the industry-standard EPUB format, Smashwords and Authors Solution will expand the offer to all existing Author Solutions and Smashwords authors to get their titles up on the Sony site.

Author Solutions and Smashwords will offer authors the option to publish content in the EPUB format, the International Digital Publishing Forum's (IDPF) XML-based standard format for reflowable digital books and publications. EPUB has gained acceptance among major trade book publishers with dozens of publishers already producing the majority of their eBooks using the standard. Sony recently announced that the company is transitioning its content library to the EPUB format.