Sunday, December 27, 2009

Alexa Ranks AmSAW Tops

The first time I visited this site, which says it's a professional media organization designed to bring writers together with editors, publishers, producers, and all those other people whom writers absolutely need to get published or produced, I was blown away. The graphics and layout are unique and actually hauntingly beautiful. All the links seem to work. General navigation around the site is different from most sites that use a conventional nav bar, but it's actually easier to find your way around after you explore the home page for a minute or two. Best of all is the free information and resources--updated regularly--to help writers and media professionals do their work. The paid portion of the site seems to offer a ton more stuff, and I like the idea that there's a free look at a sample newsletter, so you know what you're buying before you join.

So far, I've just been enjoying the freebies, but I might spring for the annual fee and become a member. I have a feeling this is just the site for professionals run by professionals that amateurs like me need to take that next step forward and start publishing more often.


Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Monday, December 21, 2009

Story Collections Poised for Comeback?

Our friends at Publisher's Marketplace, who like to track such things, have an update on the growing popularity of short-story anthologies. Though such collections traditionally sell poorly, 2009 enjoyed a variety of critically acclaimed anthology releases.

For starters, Entertainment Weekly recently picked Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders as their top work of fiction for the year. And New York Magazine's list of top-ten picks (below) puts Lydia Davis's collection on top.

On PM's own compilation list, pulling together over twenty of the best of the Best of 2009 lists, four of the top 10 fiction titles are story collections. Drawing on the additional lists published since PM's tabulation, Daniyal Mueenuddin moved into a tie for third place; Lydia Davis's The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, took sole possession of fourth place; Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness, remained in the top 10, and Wells Tower's story collection, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, also joined the list.

Among the runners-up receiving at least some "best of the year" votes are Maile Meloy's collection, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It.

Then there was Oprah Winfrey's first book club selection in almost a year--yes, stories, by Uwem Akpan. In May, short-story master Alice Munro won the third Man International Booker prize. And at the November National Book Award ceremonies, for the 60th anniversary "best of the NBA" fiction, four of the six nominees were story collections, with The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor taking the prize.

Here is the New York Magazine list:

1. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, by Lydia Davis (FSG)
2. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, by Eric W. Sanderson (Abrams)
3. The Book of Night Women, Marlon James (Riverhead)
4. Lowboy, John Wray (FSG)
5. Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist, by Thomas Levenson (Houghton Mifflin)
6. This Is How, by M.J. Hyland (Black Cat)
7. Imperial, by William T. Vollmann (Viking)
8. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower (FSG)
9. The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, by Bill Simmons (Ballantine / ESPN)
10. There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (Penguin)


Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

AmSAW Interviews Author Janet Kay

Author Janet Kay had something to say. And she said it. Choosing to go the alternative-to-conventional-publishing route, she is, by and large, pleased with the results. And she said it.

AmSAW caught up with her near a sprawling lake in the sprawling mountains of scenic sunny (in summer) Montana, where she spends her winters.

Don't ask us why.

Q: Although you have been writing for much of your life, Waters of the Dancing Sky is your first published novel. How did you feel when you received your first bound copy from the publisher?

It was like a dream come true - one of my lifelong ambitions finally fulfilled. After basking in the glow of this accomplishment for a few minutes, the reality set in. So... now that I'm a published author, now what? What's next?

Q: In what ways did the entire publishing experience surprise you?

I was surprised at the complexity of the process - all the steps involved in creating and marketing a quality product. However, I was fortunate to have a publisher who guided me through the process, involving me in every step along the way. I was able to maintain control, something that was important to me.

Q: A lot of first-time authors in particular don’t realize how much successful marketing depends upon the little things they can do to help the publisher sell books. What are some of the self-marketing tips you’ve learned over the past several months?

I've learned that in today's changing world of publishing, ALL authors are expected to play a significant role in marketing their books. Some of the self-marketing tips that have worked for me include establishing a web site for my book (check it out at Waters of the Dancing Sky), setting up a contest in which my readers can win prizes, using the Internet including Facebook and other sites to promote my book, mailing out promotional postcards and press kits, doing interviews for the news media, hiring a consultant to create a video book trailer promoting my novel, etc.

I've learned that book signings and book fairs aren't nearly as effective if I don't also do a book reading. And I've learned how important it is to solicit and utilize book reviews in my marketing efforts.

One of the keys to success, I believe, is networking - working with and learning from the pros, people who have connections that most authors do not have when they begin their careers. There is a wealth of resources out there to help you promote your work. One great example is the American Society of Authors and Writers promotional services.

Q: Were you disappointed about anything in the publishing process that you might have felt didn't go quite right or didn't meet your expectations?

Overall, I was quite pleased with the process. However, it took longer than I had anticipated. I was continually pestering my publisher, trying to rush the process. Since I'd already done a fair amount of pre-publication publicity, I had people anxiously waiting for my novel to come out. They were trying to schedule book readings and launching parties...but I was still waiting for the product.

Q: Which was easier, the writing or the publishing/marketing of your book?

Good question! I LOVE writing....when I'm caught up in the flow, it's relatively easy. The words and scenes seem to bubble up from some place deep down. Other times, especially by the time you're buried in revisions and on your third draft or so, it's not as easy. Marketing can also be fun - it's a rush to do a reading and have people lined up to buy autographed copies of your book. But marketing, done right, can be very time-consuming. I'd rather be writing!

Q: What’s your next book going to be?

I have at least two or more "next" books, struggling for first place on my agenda! One will be a sequel to Waters of the Dancing Sky as requested by many of my readers. It will take place, again, on the wilderness islands of Rainy Lake along the Minnesota/Ontario international border but will venture farthar into Canada. I'm also currently researching and developing characters for another novel that will be set primarily in the old western ghost town of Virginia City, Montana. Tentatively titled "Amelia's Revenge," it will flow back and forth in time between the 1860's gold rush days and the world of 2012.

Q: And how about one final piece of advice to share with authors still in search of their first book-publishing contract?

Realize that the world of publishing is rapidly changing. You could wait a long time for a traditional publisher to take you on - and lose a significant amount of control over your work. Do not hesitate to check out some of the reputable non-traditional publishers. Examples include Llumina Press (my publisher), Author House, iUniverse, etc. They also offer an impressive array of editorial and marketing services. If you are determined to go 'traditional', your best bet is to obtain an agent first since many traditional publishers do not accept un-agented manuscripts.

Keep on writing - and best of luck to you all!


Copyright 2009 AmSAW