Writers' Forum 2022 - November
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Publishing World
2022 National Book Award Winners
Amazon Adds Goodreads Ratings to Book Listings
AI in the Publishing World
More and more I’m seeing AI generated work become part of the publishing world. And it gives me pause, I’m not sure what to think of relying on computer generated content. I can see its usefulness, but to what extent is it okay to use? In the past 30 days, here are the AI products/uses I’ve come across.
BookBaby is now offering audiobook production using AI voices for the introductory low price of $999. (Yes, that’s low unless you use the royalty share option with a human narrator over at ACX.) Otherwise, the price per finished hour (PPH) for a narrator is often $250 and the average length of an audiobook is 10 hours or $2500. Here’s what they say: “Traditional audiobooks are recorded by human narrators. They're expensive and often take weeks or months to complete a first audio proof. BookBaby audiobooks are an entirely new and inexpensive process designed to meet the needs of self-published authors. … Computer voices – aka "Text-to-Speech" – were once easy to distinguish from human voices: robotic, monotonous, and lifeless. But those days are over. BookBaby has partnered with Speechki and its innovative technology that creates natural-sounding, realistic voices. Years of research and work have produced a program capable of mimicking human-like speech that generates full-length, near-perfect audio narrations–you can even choose different accents! The result is a seamless and pleasant listening experience for every audiobook consumer.” And I can tell you the samples are excellent . . . but this type of computer generated ‘straight’ read through can’t take the place of the way a human narrator changes inflection and tone to reflect what’s happening in the story at that moment. Yes, it’s cheap, but ….
This is an important conversation to follow . . . either listen to the podcast or read through the slightly edited transcript for the details. Artist Derek Murphy discusses AI generated art and its uses, and the trouble AI generated has with copyright protections, and moe.
Just this past week, I became aware of a new writing aid that uses AI that just came on the market from the same folks who brought us mockupshots.com, which I love and use frequently. I was given early access in exchange for giving feedback. I chose the fiction module and played around with it a little, trying each of the options that you see in this picture. I think it has its uses … my favorites were the name/title generators, the backstory generator, and the book description rewriter—which neatly removed/swapped weak verbs with stronger ones. Here I think that this is a useful tool to support your creative writing adventures, providing a jumping off point to get you going.
Here’s the production description:
QuickWrite is a powerful author-focused AI that helps you rapidly complete creative and mundane tasks in a fraction of the time. This AI assists you in writing, brainstorming, marketing, and admin tasks. QuickWrite is cloud-based software you access from your browser and use to create virtually limitless amounts of content.
(Note: these are affiliate links.)
THE 2022 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNERS
This is a fab list (of course) of books to add to your TBR pile.
Amazon Adds Goodreads Ratings to Book Listings (I think*)
Okay, Amazon, enough with messing with authors! If you’ve been around the publishing world for a minute, you know that Amazon bought Goodreads in 2013, but these two platforms have remained distinctly separate entities. Most often an author will find that their review rating is lower on Goodreads than it is on Amazon, mostly because the more avid reader base that uses Goodreads are tougher reviewers. This change makes me mad because the average Amazon book buyer might not understand why a book might have a lower review average from Goodreads. It’s also placed directly next to the Amazon review information. *NOTE: I went to grab a screen shot of this for one of my books, and I’m no longer seeing the Goodreads review average on my listings. Let me know if anyone is still seeing this?!
OTHER IMPORTANT PUBLISHING NEWS / ASSISTANCE
Book Scams on Amazon: What Authors Need to Know & Beware
Jason Hamilton writes about the latest scams affecting authors and their books on the Amazon platform. Worth a quick read just to understand what’s happening.
Get the Kindlepreneur Course: Mastering Categories and Keywords for FREE
(When you buy Publisher Rocket) deal ends at midnight -EST- 11/30/22.
If you’ve ever worked with me, you know how much I love using Publisher Rocket to help find the best (most profitable) categories and keywords for my books (and my client’s books) on Amazon. (And for developing lists of keywords for Amazon ads.) I have saved hundreds of hours doing the same work that this program does for me quickly. So, if you’ve been thinking about getting Publisher Rocket for a while, now’s the time. It’s $97 and you get the course that teaches you how to manage your categories and keywords for free. (It’s regularly $50.) The deal ends midnight 11/30/22 (eastern time.)
A Quick and Helpful Education on Publishing Trends from Author Marketing Experts
In this article Orna Ross, Jane Friedman, Joanna Penn, and Becca Syme give their best advice on how to stay competitive in today’s publishing market.
TikTok to Sell Books Directly to Users Via Marketplace
In last month’s Writers’ Forum, I featured an article about the new partnership between Penguin Random House and BookTok –and the resulting backlash. Ha!! In just a few short days more partnerships to sell books directly via the TikTok platform cropped up and now includes HarperCollins UK, WH Smith, Bloomsbury and bookshop.org. There’s still some skepticism from TikTok creators and users over these collabs.
WRITING CRAFT / PROCESS / PRE-PUBLICATION
How to Write Your First Paragraph by John Matthew Fox at JaneFriedman.com
This is a magic sauce recipe for that tricky first paragraph! https://www.janefriedman.com/write-your-first-paragraph
Researching Facts for Historical Fiction with Madeline Martin (SPF PODCAST)
“Madeline Martin has been writing various forms of historical fiction for years. Her breakout success, The Last Bookshop in London, reached the USA Today best-seller list and stayed there for five weeks. In this podcast, Madeline talks about the different kinds of historical books she writes, why research is so important, and what’s next for this prolific author.” For transcript and show notes click here. https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-354/
20 Reasons Why Everyone Should Write Short Stories by Elizabeth Sims for JaneFriedman.com
More and more, I’m finding novel writers changing things up with short stories. I like this challenge as well as it lets me explore different styles of writing and different genres in the somewhat contained space of a shorter story. It feels less daunting to me. If you’ve considered short story writing but have never taken the plunge, this article will probably convince you to do it.
What You Should Know About Writing a Co-Authored Book by Allison Kelley (JaneFriedman.com)
Have you ever considered co-authoring a book? I know many successful writing duos who have navigated the pitfalls of co-creating, but this list is a good guide to read in advance if you’re about to embark on such an adventure.
Help! I’m Stuck in the Muddy Middle by Gigi Collins (Good Story Company)
Most of the time we know where our stories start and have a good idea about the ending but getting through that middle can be tough. Here are a few tips to push you through the tough part.
Why Prologues Get a Bad Rap by Tiffany Yates Martin
Every time the subject of prologues has come up at writing conferences, the advice was ‘don’t do it.’ So, I was very pleased to see this article that shows you why prologues fail and gives examples of some excellent ones.
Words to Avoid in Writing: Weak Words to Find, Cut, and Replace by Jason Hamilton (Kindlepreneur)
This is a great guide to keep handing for your first pass through on self- editing your manuscript. (In fact, perhaps keep this handy to review AS you write so you avoid doing some of these things in the first place.)
How Big of a Problem is Head Hopping? by Susan DeFreitas (JaneFriedman.com)
This is a fabulous article on changing points of view within your novel with the advice on how to clearly show the shift. It’s a skill to master!
Reliable Speech to Text Options for Authors (Lee Purcell for BookBaby)
I know many authors who prefer a speech-to-text option for writing their books. There are quite a few options and they’re getting better.
How to Become a Nomad Author by Daniel Parson (Selfpublishingformula.com)
The cooling temperatures in Wisconsin make me think about being a beach bum / writer at this time of year, which is why (I’m sure) this article caught my eye. I think if the pandemic taught us anything it was that much of our work can be done remotely. So why not pick up and go somewhere lovely …. Who’s in??
13 Creative Ways Authors Announced Their Book Launch by Francis Bogan for BookBub Partners Blog
While most of these aren’t new to any of us, the way in which these methods were employed might spark some creativity with your own launch . . . newsletters, giveaways, Facebook live, behind the scenes of creating your book etc.
A Quick Education to Improve Your Publishing and Book Marketing Plan (from Author Marketing Experts)
This is a glossary of basic terms that will help you navigate the publishing world.
BOOK MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
Three Ways to Step Up Your Book Marketing by Sabrina Ricci
This quick read will have you updating your book’s sales page, potentially offering bonuses with your book(s), and giving away a freebie to get people to sign up for your mailing list.
Why I Gave My Professional Book Covers a Makeover by Jean Gill for the BookBub Partners Blog
I just love before and after photos, don’t you?? Book cover designs can become dated over time and to keep your books looking fresh and relevant (enticing), you’re likely (at some point in your career) going to consider a redesign. See how one author did it in this article.
5 Ways to Grow Author Profits (Daniel Parsons for the selfpublishingformula. com.)
Who doesn’t want to make more money? This list makes a lot of sense, but the one thing that seems to be gaining more and more attention is to sell directly from your own website. It’s worth the read to see if it might work for you.
Amplify Your Author Email with Nick Thacker (SPF PODCAST)
The latest shenanigans over at Twitter have reminded us of all that the social media following we have worked so hard to build is really not in our control. The rules can change, and we can lose access to our followers, which drives home the point that we need to be diligent about creating our own list of email subscribers with whom we can directly connect. But what system we use to manage and connect with those readers is an important choice. In this podcast Nick Thacker discusses an option to MailerLite and MailChimp called Author.Email. View the podcast below. For a transcript and show notes click here.
5 Ways to Promote Your Book Long After the Launch by Sandra Beckwith
As always Sandra has great marketing tips. The best advice here (that leads into her five tips) is that READERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR PUBLICATION DATE. (Repeat that to yourself a time or two!)
11 Tips for Choosing BookBub Ads Author Targets (by Shailee Shah)
The BookBub ads platform (unlike Facebook) will likely have available nearly every author you wish to target with an ad campaign. (Sometimes the audience size might be too small to run on its own.) The most interesting advice here is to avoid the most popular authors because their audiences are too broad to “deliver high engagement rates.” Instead, she advises “targeting authors with 25k or fewer targetable readers.” There’s more on how that works along with the other 10 tips—read it here:
Let’s Get Engaged: How to Use Social Media Effectively by Amy Rogers Nazarov
We all know how to use social media properly. Or do we? This article walks us through how create quality content to increase the engagement with our posts.
Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie