Great Stuff for Writers, March 26 & 27, 2013

Turn on your Observer to watch out for coincidences, more bad ebook deals (this one from Amazon, if you can believe it), and whether ebook gift cards are a good idea for your book. There’s all that and more in today’s Great Stuff.

CRAFT

Barbara O’Neal (@barbaraoneal) writes about Cultivating The Observer, that part of our writer selves that does just two things: notice and record. Notice as much as possible of the details around us, and record them for later use in our writing. Her Writer Unboxed piece is full of examples and illustrations of The Observer at work. Is yours?

What a coincidence! Well, no, not really, but Katie Weiland’s (@KMWeiland) vlog about Your Secret Weapon Against Story Coincidences might just come at a time when it’s just what you needed to read. Or not. In any case, Katie lists not one but three ways to make which might have been coincidences not. First, be aware of the trap of coincidences and don’t fall into it. Second, when you discover you’ve written one, undo it and find another way to solve the problem the coincidence fixed. Third, think ahead and foreshadow the event, so when it happens it’s not coincidental at all.

BUSINESS

Wow, Melissa Foster’s (@Melissa_Foster) Agent-Assisted Self-Publishing and the Amazon White Glove Program on Jane Friedman’s blog is a post every author who is or is planning to indie publish should read. Make that MUST read. The two parts of the title are related but not totally connected. Regarding agent-assisted self-publishing alone, Foster warns authors against the reality that if they use an agent to help them self-publish, they’re giving up the agent’s standard commission for as long as the book’s for sale unless the author’s contract with the agent specifies otherwise. That might be good for the agent but not for the author. Amazon’s White Glove Program (WGP) is for agent-assisted ebooks (only ebooks) published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). The monster problem here is that, worse than KDP Select, the WGP demands exclusivity for as much as six months. That’s right: NO distribution anywhere else for up to six month. Foster goes into the many reasons why this is such a bad deal for authors. Like the recent Random House ebook imprint contracts, Amazon is overplaying its hand and deserves to be slapped down. Your best bet: stay away. You can do better.

TECHNOLOGY

A while back there was some discussion on the blogosphere about how it would be nice if there were gift cards for ebooks, either for any ebook in general or for specific titles. Well, now two companies, Livrada and Enthrill, have come up with title-specific cards, reports Shelley Sturgeon (@ShelleySturgeon) in E-books For Real: E-book Gift Cards from Livrada and Enthrill on The Book Designer. Before you go rushing out to get some, though, be aware that there are some serious up-front costs that you, the writer, have to bear and which you will only make up over time as the cards are used and you get your royalty payments. Also keep in mind that many gift cards are purchased but never used. If you give away the cards and they’re not redeemed, that’s money lost, it would seem. Check the comments to the post to see if Shelley answers my question about this.

THE WRITING LIFE

If you have a full-time job and also write, you know how difficult that is. Add in a family and the problem gets harder. Carleen Brice (@carleenbrice) is facing returning to that situation, so in Tips for Writing and Working Full-Time, she shares what other writer friends have learned. Their advice falls into two categories: getting in the mood, and just git ‘er done. The latter school has plans for schedules and organization. The former focuses more on remembering why we’re writing what we’re writing and using that as motivation. And if you ever needed proof that no single technique is perfect for everyone, Carleen’s own choice is a mix of both sets of approaches.

Stay tuned for an important announcement coming Friday!

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