Writers' Forum - February 2023
Audiobook Narrators Being Used to Train Their AI Replacements?
24 Quirky March Occasions to Use to Market Your Book
Top 5 Publishing Misconceptions (and how to unlearn them)
Huge Blow-up (deservedly) About Findaway Voices/Apple Contract Clause Regarding Machine Learning
The audiobook production & distribution company Findaway Voices (now owned by Spotify) has a clause in its contract with authors which gives the rights to Apple to take these narrated (by human) files and use them for ‘machine learning’ – which is basically the training of artificial intelligence (AI) to do the same job with no humans involved. This contract clause had been in place for some months and the dispute led to the reversal of this policy. To lear more, start with the article by Victoria Strauss on Writer Beware: “Findaway Voices, Machine Learning, and the New Rights Frontier”
And then move on to the Wired article on the same topic: “Audiobook Narrators Fear Apple Used their Voices to Train AI”
We haven’t heard the end of these kinds of disputes, I’m sure of that.
If you missed last month’s articles about AI, catch up here.
24 Quirky, Crazy March Occasions You Can Use to Promote Your Book
I love these kinds of calendars. This one comes from Sandra Beckwith and has fun days on it like Tea for Two Tuesday and Awkward Moments Day. See if there’s any that work well for your books:
The Top 5 Publishing Misconceptions (and How to Unlearn Them)
I expected this list to have misconceptions on it like, “All I need to do is publish my book and people will buy it” or “The only way to be a real author is to traditionally publish.” It’s not that kind of list, but it IS quite an interesting read that dives into biases about the writing and publishing process. (From Dan Parsons at the Self-Publishing Formula.)
WRITING CRAFT / WRITING LIFE
How to Organize Your Writing
Amy Wilson at the Good Story Company brings us these organizational tips for writers just starting out. Most writers I know I have a system for organizing their writing work, tips, tools etc. If you’ve been writing for a while and you feel your system needs a revamp this article may also help you out.
Preparing Your Author Business for the New Year
This WAS a January article, but I didn’t include it last month . . . still these tips are helpful to sort out the remainder of the year in terms of your author business, setting goals by month and quarter. Not only does this include things like writing productivity, it also has authors focusing on marketing, ongoing education, and reinvesting in their business as well as looking down the line at longer-range, multi-year plans.
The Business Skill I Wish I Could Grant to All Writers
Jane Friedman writes an excellent (of course) post on a skill that is enviable in every occupation – negotiation. Don’t miss her tips on how and why this skill is particularly important to a successful author career. https://www.janefriedman.com/the-business-skill-i-wish-i-could-grant-to-all-writers/
The Hero: Taking a Main Character from Meh to Myth from Kristen Lamb
If you’re struggling to create perfect main characters and find your attempts falling flat . . . the word ‘perfect’ may be what’s getting in your way. Kristen Lamb walks us through how the best main characters have faults, weaknesses, wounds, and blind spots. This is a super article I’m surely going to be referencing in the future.
Writing a Series? Make Book One Pop!
Kristen Overman for the Good Story Company examines the importance of providing a strong foundation for a series with book one, focusing mainly on the main character traits that serve both book one well but also work to create a strong arc for the entire series. Important things to get right!
Writing Effective Pitches as an Author
Again, I thought this article was going to be about something completely different—I assumed it was going to be about book pitches; however, it is an article teaching authors how to reach out to opinion leaders, podcast hosts, and other potential collaborators in their journey to broaden the audience for their work. There’s definitely a right and wrong way to go about this type of communication, and just like with querying agents or editors, you need to start with research. This is a nice little ‘recipe’ of an article to guide you in reaching out to people you wish you could work with. (From Daniel Parsons at the Self-Publishing Formula.)
List of the Best Book Editors (and How to Select Them)
Dave Chesson gives us a super comprehensive article about the types of book editors and links for where to find them along with what you should look for in an editor.
How Author Platform Connects to Brand
Karen A. Chase provides an excerpt from her book, Brand the Author (Not the Book) on Jane Friedman’s blog. Her handy example using a gazebo to illustrate her points in a very visual way will be very helpful if you’ve found it difficult to understand author platform and/or branding. Really excellent examples that also show how branding is about the ‘experience’ a reader has with a particular author.
Print on Demand Books: The 6 Best Services in 2023, Compared!
If you’re trying to decide which publishing route to take . . . as in where your print-on-demand books will originate, this is THE article you’ve been waiting for. The services compared are KDP Print, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, Blurb, Book Vault, and BookBaby. You won’t believe the differences in the base cost of the same book. Wowza!
Book Launch Checklist from Debbie Macomber
This 2018 list is still valid today. Of course, we all know Debbie Macomber is a traditionally published author, so she’s not actually working on the process of publication like an indie published author would be doing; however, the items she lists here are still must-dos for ANY author. She clearly knows her stuff!
BOOK MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
9 Unique Ways Authors Engage with their Audiences Through Live Streaming
If you’ve been meaning to begin producing at least SOME video content, but you haven’t been sure where to start, Shailee Shah’s nine ideas might get you moving. I like the idea of streaming content because you can’t obsess over the editing of video. You just jump onto the streaming platform and go. (I need to take this advice.)
5 Easy and Effective Ways to Start Locally with Book Marketing
Sandra Beckwith eases us into book marketing with some options right in our own proverbial backyards. Great ways to build your presentation skills and speaking engagement resume.
Should You Hire a Book Publicist? & Priceless Publicity for Authors
Sandra Beckwith (again thank you!) asks and answers this question for us, dividing the article into the nine types of people who SHOULD hire a publicist. The answers tend to revolve around money as top-level publicists are pricey. However, even if you don’t fall into one of these groups, there are other types of publicity work you can hire people to do for you as an option between the pricey contracts and the do-it-yourself options. (FYI – that’s the kind of a la carte service I often provide for authors on a budget.)
That leads us nicely into the podcast from Mark Dawsons’ Self-Publishing Formula on Priceless Publicity for Authors featuring PR professional turned author Halima Khatun. Watch below or read the transcript here: https://selfpublishingformula.com/episode-370/
Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie