ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Why Writers Need Bloggers

I’ve come to see book bloggers as indispensable to authors, especially first-time authors.

~ Miriam Gershow

When Miriam Gershow (@miriamgershow) published her novel The Local News she landed coveted reviews in The New York TimesMarie Claire andLadies Home Journal. Home Run! Or not…

It turns out that even a top drawer print run and allstar mainstream media buzz, the job still fell to her to keep the novel visible and selling. And she did, due in part to her discovery that book bloggers are an essential (and friendly) ally.

One of the most surprising things about book publishing is that after the initial fanfare and reviews and readings… there is almost a deafening silence… suddenly it was my responsibility to keep the buzz going. (Guide to Literary Agents)

For Gershow, and for an ever-increasing parade of authors, the blogosphere and its social media cousins offer affordable word of mouth relationships directly with readers. As the data maelstrom grows louder and more overwhelming, more and more readers are tuning out. Traditional marketing channels are less effective than they used to be. But bloggers invest themselves day after day in cultivating a loyal readership. Blogger recommendations are respected, trusted and acted upon.

I do know that when a book is talked about in the blogosphere—especially by the insatiable bloggers with their insatiable readership—it keeps that book alive in the public consciousness.

Besides, authors have far greater accessibility to bloggers than they do to mainstream media outlets. So time and effort invested in courting bloggers is far more likely to pay off. But that’s not all, Gershow confides. Writers need book bloggers for their delicious soul food!

And… bloggers are good for the writer’s soul… They remind me that what I’m doing matters. And for that alone, they are worth their weight in books.

What Can Social Media Do for Self Published Authors?

The greatest benefit of social media for indie authors is the chance to make and build connections with other authors, readers and publishing industry professionals. The quality of these connections (how consistent, how useful, how deep, how much trust. how good is your actual product/book/service?) will determine how many of your social media pals actually “convert” i.e. buy your book, interview you, review your book, give you a contract, share your posts etc.

This where your advantage lies because you, one man/woman writing publishing phenom that you are, can build deeper connections than the Stephen King’s and Susan Collins of this world.  Success and popularity can often decrease the depth of social media connections simply by dint of the numbers involved. Elite twitterati like Neil Gaiman and Paul Coehlo have mostly one way relationships with their followers because they can’t afford to read what all those followers have to say in turn.You don’t have that problem. (

Self-Publishing: The ISBN Dilemma

To ISBN or not to ISBN… That is the question!

There are many reasons for using a unique identifier for an e-book. It helps with discoverability and allows you to separate out the different formats of the title, which in turn allows you as a publisher or writer to see how it is doing in various channels. The ability to measure the success rate of each e-book format for any given title is paramount to good marketing. The ISBN also gives you control over your title and your content. If you let someone else assign an identification number to your content, you lose that control, both in terms of quality and ownership…There are a variety of reasons to add the ISBN on your own as well, either as the author or publisher; one very important reason being that if you don’t assign an ISBN, the distributor could assign one for you, which could result in multiple ISBNs for the very same type of file (as sold through a wide variety of distribution channels). The bloat is likely to make collating and tracking sales data –- and thus looking at overall performance for a title — all the more complicated.Though, as discussed here, there is no universal answer as to whether or not each format requires individual ISBNs, one thing is indeed clear: take control of the process. The worse thing you can do is lose control of your content or let another entity (whether conversion house, distributor or retailer) control the metadata and, accordingly, the invisible ties that bind you to your customers. Ceding too much control takes you out of the picture and makes this already complex situation all the more challenging. (via

Erik Christopher’s article got me thinking… I know nothing about ISBN numbers. Onward march!

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Publishers Perform Roles That Writers Need

The definition of “book publisher” is up for grabs, and those in the industry will have to be brave and imaginative, in double-quick time, to lay claim to this new definition. Others might find it easier to begin with a blank sheet.

At heart, publishers exist to create more value for writers than writers can (or wish to) create for themselves. It’s clear that the specifics of this role are changing. Some writers have decided that they can create as much value as they need alone, and feel freer by doing it themselves. Elsewhere there is a debate about where the line lies in a fair return for licensing copyrights, particularly when it comes to older books. Fundamentally, though, the need for publishers endures, even if not in their current form. Readers will be best served by publishers who can marry the best of what is sometimes labeled “legacy” publishing to the new means of developing and delivering what readers want and writers need. (The Guardian)

Stephen Page’s post about the future of publishing is level headed and insightful. He steps away from the increasingly popular bashing of “old publishing” and acknowledges that these legacy book publishers have a distinct advantage if they can adapt quickly. Others have lambasted the traditional publishers for failing to anticipate the tide change. I myself have nagged at this point. But Page reminds us that even as latecomers to the party, existing book publishers stand to reap significant rewards if they can quickly overcome four challenges:

  1. Publishers must update their digital royalty rates.
  2. Publishers must provide high-quality editorial support.
  3. Publishers must build audiences for writers, on and off-line.
  4. Publishers must embrace (and accelerate) technological innovation.

If traditional publishers can quickly, efficiently meet these challenges, “the persistent reporting of the death of old publishing will continue to be mere exaggeration.” Point well taken. But so far, most traditional publishers seem more intent on resisting change — clinging to a model they know and love — than leap-frogging forward. Of course, it’s early, and the race is too the swift and the wise.

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Publishing Chain; Vanishing Links

“Technology has made virtually anything possible,” says Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of the publishing industry magazine The Bookseller. “If you look at it conceptually – there’s a five-link chain between the person who writes and the person who reads. You’ve got Author-Agent- Publisher-Retailer-Reader. Theoretically, the three middle bits could all now vanish and the author could write online directly to the reader.”

However, he continues, “A more likely possibility is that just one of the three central links will vanish on-line. It could be that Amazon, the retailer, becomes the publisher. Or that the agent becomes the publisher, or the publisher becomes the retailer, and you go to a publisher’s site to buy the book. One of those links will certainly disappear on-line. We just don’t know which.” (The Independent)

John Walsh’s article “E-books: the end of the world as we know it” offers no new insights, but a handy summary. More intriguing though are the comments which are worth a wade through. A few flaring tempers, a few snarky jabs, and plenty of voiced growing pains as we tramp through the clumsy not-altogether-painless publishing revolution.

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Creativity, Yes. Ownership, No.

It was difficult to think about metadata, RFDI chips and code breaking in the same context, or environment as storytelling. We had to rewire our thinking back to a simple place where story was central – but then apply the basics of that to an audience who consume story so very differently. Keep it simple, but then make it complex enough to engage on new, immersive and constantly evolving levels of engagement… I was lucky to debrief over coffee with Alison Norrington (PHD researcher, transmedia writer, storyteller) and we touched on the difficulties facing writers who want to work in this new environment… Lance Weiler called transmedia storytelling the return to a more ‘campfire scenario’ where stories become passed down, elaborated on, reinterpreted, and retold. So here we have flashes of Barthes ‘Death of the Author’ – since text and author are even less related under new storytelling methodology.

As a writer, or a storyteller, once again your creativity is at the heart, but ownership can’t be. (“It’s not you, it’s Media.”)

Wish I’d been able to participate in those three days in London!

In any event, the debrief is food for thought. For mind wandering. For wondering, and musing and mulling over and… Create. Share. Dig deep. Invent from the source. Share. Surrender your creation and move on.

What do you think about the future of storytelling in the digital age? Where do your storytelling dreams fit into the transmedia landscape?

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Vonnegut Short Story Tips


Kurt Vonnegut on short story writing (video via

“Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

Do you ever find yourself wishing you could shoot Ernest Hemingway a quick email to ask for a few tips? Or Jack London? Stephen King? Well, Kurt Vonnegut’s not such a bad fall back, so listen. Then re-listen. Then get to work!

All Abuzz about AuthorHive

“Create buzzz for your book” with AuthorHive

Generate Some Serious Book BZZZ : With help from the marketing experts at AuthorHive, your book can be the talk of the town. No matter what your marketing experience or budget, our marketing consultants can help you create an integrated campaign to tell your story. (viaAuthorHive)

Yet another sign of the times, shifting services toward writers, empowering the author to step increasingly into the shoes of the publisher. Have you had any experience with AuthorHive or a similar book marketing service? Is it the wave of the future?

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Don’t Write, Create

Writers basically have two choices: they can build enough of a platform to entice an acquisition, or build one that’s bigger than just books and enables their long-term independence. (And by independence, I mean making a sustainable living, not just self-publishing your book via Amazon or Lulu or Smashwords and declaring yourself an “indie”.)

Similar to work-for-hire vs. creator-owned, it’s evolving into the difference between being a writer and creator. In the digital era, writers sell stories, while creators build storyworlds.

The former is a transaction-based existence focused on the traditional publication of books or articles, with everything else viewed as ancillary. The latter is an approach that sees traditional publishing as just one of many ways via which a storyworld — your fictional universe — can be experienced, and focuses on your ability to reach and engage with readers across a variety of channels. (

Why “limit yourself to just writing and publishing a book?” Guy LeCharles Gonzalez asks over at The ever burgeoning array of media channels is encouraging a new era of writers, storytellers who see the transmedia evolution as an exciting and promising renaissance.

What about you? Do you long for the black and white publishing world of yore? Or are you ready to embrace the multimodal storytelling opportunities emerging today? And tomorrow?

The #1 Issue for Writers Today

Q: There’s so much for a writer to think about: platform, query letters, agents, marketing. What’s the most important thing to focus on?

A: That’s easy. Focus on the content of your book. There’s nothing more important. (The Book Deal)

So content is [still] king! Back to work…

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