Writers' Forum - November 2023

Conference Recap 20 Books to 50k VEGAS

What’s the Future of Books

Earn Six Figures as an Author With This One Weird Trick

Holiday Gifts for Writers (and regular people, too LOL)


Conference Recap 20 Books to 50k VEGAS

I went to the 20 Books to 50k Conference in Vegas earlier this month. This is a conference geared mainly toward those who indie publish their books, often with multiple series and multiple pen names. It’s mostly focused on marketing, but there were plenty of craft sessions, too. This was the biggest author-centric conference I’ve ever attended with nearly 2000 authors in person and many more joining in virtually. Here’s the good news for YOU (if you're an author.) Nearly all the sessions were recorded and will be available for you to watch for free in a few weeks. My main concern about the topics covered was the embracing of generative AI technology for story creation by a good amount of attendees and speakers. Read more here. 

What’s the Future of Books

Kate Dwyer, writing for Esquire, focuses on the traditional publishing world (only) in this look at the future of books. And given that I was just surrounded by so many incredible (six and seven-figure earning) indie authors, it’s a rather myopic view of the future of publishing to focus only on the trad world. But for what it’s worth . . . https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/a45767279/future-of-books/

Earn Six Figures as an Author With This One Weird Trick

Allison K. Williams brings us this tidbit of info from Jane Friedman’s blog . . . it’s all about generosity! But wait . . . how can giving help me earn more?? Read it here and find out. https://janefriedman.com/earn-six-figures-as-a-writer-with-this-one-weird-trick/

Holiday Gifts for Writers (and regular people, too LOL)

It’s that time of year . . . check out the article from author T.K. Sheffield listing the best things to give. Many of these are experiences, which I think is a fabulous way to give gifts. And Sandra Beckwith shares a wonderful list of 29 specific gifts for writers. I either want or have everything on this list!!

The Latest on AI in the Writing and Publishing World

A Supergroup of Writers is Suing Open AI for Theft

Josh Rosenberg’s article in Esquire details how George R.R. Martin, Jodi Picoult, John Grisham, George Saunders, and more are accusing the ChatGPT creator of "systematic theft on a mass scale." The premise here is that Open AI used books without permission nor payment to teach ChatGPT how to write. And what’s worse is that the books were gathered from a giant pirated library of material. "Defendants could have paid a reasonable licensing fee to use copyrighted works," the lawsuit states. "What Defendants could not do was evade the Copyright Act altogether to power their lucrative commercial endeavor, taking whatever datasets of relatively recent books they could get their hands on without authorization."

I view this like subsidiary rights. You can’t take my book and use it as the basis for an app, or game, or movie without my permission and payment for that content.

Click here for Esquire article. 

And an additional one on the same topic from Reuters. 

Study Highlights AI Systems Printing Copyrighted Work Verbatim

Jonathan Bailey at the Plagiarism Today website writes about how a group of four researchers tested AI systems to see how much they remembered verbatim from the input that was used to train the model. They focused on 19 popular books post 1930 (to be sure they’re still copyrighted) and asked the systems to produce the first page of each book. The results varied, but the larger the learning language model dataset the more accurate the results.


Choosing Character Names and Making Up Fantastic Words

I loved this article by Jess Burkhart for the Good Story Company on picking (or making up) character names. I think this is one of the most enjoyable tasks we have as authors.

And a few years back, I co-wrote an article on the same topic HERE.

Redemption: Can All Characters Be “Saved”? by Kristen Lamb

Super article on how to bring redemption to your good and bad characters. Kristen is always incredibly entertaining in her presentation of topics, but wonderfully educationally as well. https://authorkristenlamb.com/2023/10/redemption-can-all-characters-be-saved/

How to Write Interrupted Dialogue

A quick 2-minute podcast from Mary Kole!

Figure Out Your Story’s Magic System

If you’re planning to write a story that includes magic or if you want to check whether the magic system in  something you’ve written is following the rules, this article is for you. Rules?? Yes, rules of magic. (Pretty sure that's an Alice Hoffman book!) But yes, when you’re writing books with magic, you need to have a plan and you need to stay consistent with deciding what the rules are for your magic system. Who can do what, and how to make those magical moments enhance the story rather than detract or distract. Read it here: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/storys-magic-system/


When and How to Self-Edit Your Book

I think all books require some form of self-editing—even if you’re going to hire a professional editor. These are great tips from The Fussy Librarian, many of which I use as well.


Query Smart

Are you ready to begin querying your latest project in order to find an agent or editor? This Good Story Company article gives you a super helpful list of where you can begin to find the right people to query. One asset they leave out is Publishers Marketplace, which I highly recommend for info on who is making which kind of book deals that might make them a good fit for your project.  

And – I Ought to Know. Follow along with my Agent Querying Adventures in a series of YouTube short videos – one each week! Check them out here.

Romance Book Covers Through the Years

Whether you’re a romance writer or reader or both or NEITHER, I think you’ll appreciate this look at how romance book covers have changed through the years. Super fun article from Alice Liang with fabulous graphics and animations.

Book Pricing for Authors

This decision is always difficult. What should your charge for your books? Phillip Kinsher (from the BookBaby blog) dives into this topic with a detailed look at what you need to consider. One thing I would add as it that it is an absolute must to research what the average prices are for similar books. Great info!


Book Reviews: Why They Matter So Much by Kristen Lamb

Her guide shows how this small action of leaving a book review can have a big impact – for readers and authors alike. I love the instruction she gives for readers, in particular, where she reminds the reviewer to ask themselves “what kind of book is it?” What she’s getting at here is that you need to judge a book by the genre it’s in. A rom-com isn’t going to read like literary fiction, so you can say that it wasn’t literary enough when that isn’t the goal of a book in this category.


Goodreads Ups It’s Game on Policing Reviews

We all know that Goodreads can be a mine field for authors when it comes to reviews, and we’ve probably read the horror stories of how authors have been ganged up on over on that platform. A recent Community Announcement over on Goodreads entitled, Working Together to Protect the Authenticity of Ratings and Reviews on Goodreads, details what they’re doing and how reader/reviewers can help stop this ‘review bombing’ catastrophe.

How to Do a Newsletter Swap

Sandra Beckwith’s advice is always great on publicity topics, and today’s updated article from one she wrote many years ago is still just as relevant today. She gives a list of what to consider like what’s the right timing for a swap, how to find authors you might swap with and why you should be selective with your swaps. The article also includes details on the mechanics of making a swap work.


How to Avoid Facebook/Instagram Copyright Scams

From Plagiarism Today comes an article that I was so glad to see. I can’t tell you how many fake messages I get per week either in my own accounts or client accounts . . . these are the messages that impersonate someone at Meta (Facebook) and tell you that you’ve messed up somehow. They’re going to ask you to authenticate your account, thus giving the scammer your log in information. Yikes! Read the article to see how you can easily spot these bad actors.

4 Promising New Social Networks for Book Marketing

Thanks again to Sandra Beckwith for bringing us the details on Threads, Mastadon, Hive Social, and Lemon8 . . . I’d heard of the first two and actually have accounts on those, although I haven’t been active. But Hive Social and Lemon8 are new to me. See what you think of their potential here.

Photofunia . . . great little site for images

Do you know about this free site? It lets you insert your own image into templates that you can use for marketing or social media posts or whatever you like.

Check it out: https://photofunia.com/categories/books

It’s not as robust in the choices as Mockup Shots – which I use – but it has some interesting options. To check out Mockup Shots (click here).  Please note that’s my affiliate link where you get lifetime access to the program for only $97 (originally $206) and they pay me a commission for sharing the link.

How We Boosted Our Anthology’s Retailer Ranking to #1

Shelley Kassian shares this information over on the BookBub Partners blog. And while there are probably only a few of us reading this newsletter who will be part of an anthology marketing team in the coming months. These tactics can work great for any multi-author project and some are universal for solo-author books, too: Stacked promos, advertising, utilizing tools like BookBub’s New Releases for Less promos, and more.


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