iStockphoto / Roob

Writing on the Ether

The tote baggers’ secret is that while everybody else gets drunk for the new year, the publishing industry is actually fortifying itself for ConfabWorld. The major conferences form markers in each new year, the better-lit features of a landscape to come. And this should be a season fraught with incident.

Writer Unboxed

So, How Do I Find The Time To Do All This?

It’s the most common question I get: How do you find the time to do everything you do? Until now, I’ve never had a ready answer, except that I have few obligations and responsibilities outside of my own career. But after pondering the reasons, I’ve written this post over at Writer Unboxed: The Secret to […]

Janus: One hairy eyeball on 2012. (iStockphoto / xochicalco)

Writing on the Ether

I don’t think much of “year in review” rolls in the heyday — columns, posts, StoryCorps-weepy workovers, remember how we got lost in the Amazone after the opéra bouffe  “Ah, Borders” became no longer hummable? Dude, we were there. Keep your coals in your own Christmas stocking. We have onboard memories, you know. Who asked to be put through it all again?

Speaking at SXSW PubCamp 2011

My Best Advice for Writers From 2011

Last week I shared 12 Must-Read Articles From 2011. Now I’m going to share a list of the best advice I gave in 2011 as a handy reference. My Absolute Favorites You Hate Your Writing? That’s a Good Sign! This was one of the most tweeted articles I wrote in 2011. The Persistent and Damaging Myth […]

Publishing Perspectives

Serial Fiction: An Old Form Made New

Yesterday, my feature article for Publishing Perspectives went live: Experimenting With Serials for Fun and Profit Here’s a little excerpt: Debate continues about whether the reader really prefers [serials] for long-form narratives. Shya Scanlon, a literary author who experimented with serialization in 2009 with The Forecast 42 Project says, “It would have been much better had I had […]

Ball State professor Brad King

The Design of Authorship

In the visual realm, story and technology are intricately tied together. Ask any screenplay writer about the story development process and they will tell you there are three stories: the one the writer creates, the one the director shoots, and the one the editor puts together. Each story is different and each is intimately changed by the technology used to tell that story.*

Jane Reading on Her Kindle

12 Must-Read Articles From 2011

Here are the most brilliant online articles I read this past year. You may not agree with the arguments you’ll find, but you have to give them credit for being original and thought-provoking. They will enrich your thinking about writing and publishing, and give you a more nuanced perspective of the industry. Also, you probably […]

Ancient Roman coin, the head of Geta

Writing on the Ether

A Christmas Nightmare North Pole, Amazonia: Guy Gonzalez in Toyland But pay no attention to our vested interests Robert’s wild ride: When the Amazonians select you Essay sommelier: Amazon’s price-scan spree The chasers Another thing-Amazonian: The Book Depository And back to Guy. Until the next blog post drops Sharing the wealth: Shatzkin talks turkey Rooting […]

Video Interview: The Future of Publishing

Earlier this year, I had a video chat with Jon over at Children’s Book Insider about the future of publishing, among other things. Please overlook any funny face you see in the screen capture (a sure-fire sign I’m making a really important point). It’s a 24-minute conversation. Click here to listen if the above video […]

Grunge Social Media Art

How Social Media Can Change Your Life

Sometimes I find myself defending social media to the experienced user and beginner alike. It can be easily accused—and rightly so—of being full of shameless self-promoters, shrill marketing, and naked people. That’s only one side, though, and it doesn’t have to be the side you engage in or tolerate. Just because you have to throw […]

Pulitzer Prize

8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer

Today’s guest post is from writer Joe Bunting, who blogs at The Write Practice. We all know there are novels and then there are “literary” novels. When you read Margaret Atwood, it just feels different than when you read Tom Clancy. And for some reason, these literary novels are the ones that win all the […]

Keynoting the Indy Authors Fair (2011)

How Perfect Does Your Manuscript Have to Be?

As part of the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild conference faculty, I did a Q&A for their conference blog that discusses many topics, including: How I got started with social media The difference between marketing objectives, strategies, tactics, and tools How perfect your manuscript must be before submitting to an agent or editor


The Big Mistake of Author Websites and Blogs

     One of the easiest ways for an author to get a site up and running is to use Blogger or WordPress. As convenient as this is, and as wonderful as I find WordPress, this can lead to a critical error. Authors end up using a blog as their website, but aren’t interested in blogging. […]

Hawker Sea Fury FB 11 Portugal Air Show

Writing on the Ether

A digital dogfight FutureBook 2011 in London: Publishing in the pink Like a sieve: The Hachette Memorandum Tour d’Amazonia, Part 1: “Lock up your children!” Tour d’Amazonia, Part 2: Price-checking and knee-jerking? Tour d’Amazonia, Part 3: Dr. Shatzkin, I presume? Tour d’Amazonia, Part 4: ‘Vaporise’ this Tour d’Amazonia, Part 5: And it shall be agency-priced […]

Sheep herd

How to Confront the Fear of Public Speaking

Today’s guest post is by author Deborah Niemann. Last week as my adult daughter was driving me to a TV station in Indianapolis for a morning show to promote my book, Homegrown and Handmade, I said, “I guess I should be used to the fact that I feel like I’m really sick every time I […]

The Secrets They Kept by Joanne Tombrakos

What Good Salespeople Know That Writers Should

Today’s guest post is by author and business person Joanne Tombrakos. What ultimately spurred my decision to self-publish was a quality that had served me well during the 25 years I spent selling commercials on radio and television stations. Impatience. Simply put, I got tired of waiting for someone else to publish me. Good salespeople […]

Ball State professor Brad King

How We May Read

Today’s guest post is by Brad King, a professor at Ball State with a brilliant mind for emerging media and tech. He will be a regular guest here for a while, writing a series on how people read (in general) and how people read within the tablet/eReader environment. It’s a great honor and privilege for me to […]

Janice Hubschman

Writing Advice That Saves You in 5 Years

I just discovered this wonderful article, “Steal This List,” by Janis Hubschman (featured in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin). It features advice that’s worth saving over a period of years—the kind of advice that’s critical to planning, writing, and revision. Here’s a taste: When the story stalls, ask: what is the character thinking now? Is […]

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, in holiday mode

Writing on the Ether

Deck the halls, not your colleagues Self-publishing: And a kind word for the publishers? Following up on library ebooks: A Penguin in Amazonia Amazonia, Part 1: O’Leary, not cowed by Prime Lending rates Amazonia, Part 2: Lend me an author Amazonia, Part 3: Fear and loathing and DRM Amazonia, Part 4: Revving those reviews Amazonia, […]

Writer Unboxed

Writers Need More Copywriting Training

Today I’m the featured contributor at Writer Unboxed, where I talk about copywriting: The No. 1 Overlooked Skill for Every Author I’m not quite ready to admit that headline is hyperbole—I’d rather say it’s brilliant copywriting. When it comes down to it, every writer—if they want to earn a living from their craft—must learn how […]


Turn Your WordPress Blog Into a Book

I’ve written about this tool before, but so few people know about it—and it’s so incredibly useful!—that it’s worth mentioning again. Anthologize is a free plug-in for WordPress-based sites and blogs that allows you to manipulate and edit your site content into a book. (Unfortunately, this plugin will only work with self-hosted WordPress sites, not […]


3 Reasons to Have a Website If You’re Unpublished

When I tell writers it’s mandatory they have a website, those who are unpublished will immediately ask, “But what do I say on my website if I’m unpublished?” I’ll answer that question in a moment, but this question assumes that there’s no benefit to having a site unless it’s to market, promote, and sell a […]

3 Free Books

3 Free Books to Open Your Eyes to the Future of Authorship

In my most recent e-newsletter, I discussed 3 books (free to all!) that I consider mandatory reading for every author. If you didn’t receive the newsletter, you can view it here. The three books are: Mediactive by Dan Gillmor Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto by Hugh McGuire & Brian O’Leary The Cluetrain Manifesto My newsletter explains […]

The Writer's Workout

Platform and Social Media Must Not Be Your Center

Today’s post is excerpted from The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach (Writer’s Digest, 2011) by Christina Katz. With so much emphasis on the social networking aspects of creative careers these days, you might expect an expert on author platform building to promote an extremely social approach. But I […]

A Gentoo penguin with egg

Writing on the Ether

Reverse Penguin! Library ebooks: All over the ice Self-Publishing Babylon: And talking peace in the alley A Swell new book: And how to handle criticism Ethics in fiction: Beautiful dead girls Extra Ether: Good stuff   Reverse Penguin! So crikey. Just when you think you have it all worked out—the difference between mammals and publishers—you […]

Automat / Edward Hopper

The Best Literary Fiction Blogs & Websites

Earlier this fall, I was asked for a list of the best blogs and websites focused on literary fiction and culture. While I knew of a few, I put the question to my social network, and was able to curate the following list. If I’ve missed any sites that deserve consideration, please let me know your […]

Jane's Facebook profile

Too Many Facebook Friends: Blessing or Curse?

On my personal Facebook profile, I am slowly but inevitably reaching the cap for friends (3,810 of 5,000). It’s prompting me to reflect on (1) how exactly I got to this point (2) how many people are turned off by this number (3) if *I* am turned off by this number and (4) what difference the number makes, if […]

Prometheus, 1839, Grigory Karpovich Mikhailov, Hellenica online

Writing on the Ether

  Prometheus unboxed Extra Ether: Publishers and value-added marketing Vegetables and the National Book Awards Klout doubts A burnt bridge is hard to cross (thus spake Fortune, Cookie) Brian and Don started it New independence in Book Country But if you publish it yourself, will they come? Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in contracts How social are […]

Jane Knows

How Should You Spend Your Book Marketing Budget?

Author Brad Swift asks the following: I have a number of fiction and nonfiction books now available through Amazon as Kindle editions and POD hard copies (through CreateSpace). The selection can be viewed on my Author’s Page. I’m now wondering if I were to raise capital (say through a KickStarter campaign or otherwise) to promote […]

lone tugboat

A Tugboat Arrived

Today’s guest post is by Louisiana writer Darrelyn Saloom. Read more of her posts here. On a brisk, clear morning in Baton Rouge, I lay in a Hilton hotel bed and watched tiny tugboats push huge barges up the muddy Mississippi. Little did I know, hours later, a tugboat would arrive and tow Deirdre Gogarty […]

Content Curation

3 Tools for Curation

I love a good curator. I find curation more valuable these days than content. My latest e-newsletter focused on 3 curation tools. You can view it here. (Subscribe by clicking here.) I also mention a couple articles related to curation that you should read: Content Is a Service Business (O’Reilly Radar) by Andrew Savikas Accessibility vs. […]

10 Phrases to Purge From Your Speech & Writing

The following is excerpted from Word Savvy by Nancy Ragno, recently released by Writer’s Digest Books. The following mistakes occur so often that they have come to sound and look correct. Undoubtedly, you will recognize some entries as known errors, but others may give you pause: “Is that an error? I didn’t realize that.” Since the […]

Temple at Sounion / Photo: Porter Anderson

Writing on the Ether

Late addition to the Ether One short golden age Careful. We are a destination for detonation this week, my Ethernaut. That plate is hot, these gases are flammable, and those matches are rattling in the box. Don your tinfoil computing suit. I don’t want to have to hose you down. Here we have mild-mannered author […]

Lego Computer Guy

How to Hire the Right Website Designer

Today’s guest post is by Eliana Berlfein, a website designer based in Boulder, Colorado. A website is a big investment in your career as an author, and often the most visible aspect of your platform. While you might be able to handle it on your own, many authors find it worthwhile to hire design help that’s […]

Laura Oliver

What Territory Do You Explore With Your Writing?

I love this insight from Laura Oliver on the writing life, in a post called “Territory.” She discusses the themes that can permeate our writing, sometimes over a lifetime. (I’ve also heard this phenomenon called one’s “ultimate life concern.”) Here’s a snippet: Most writers have a territory they explore for a time—perhaps an entire career. It […]

Cat and chicken sharing breakfast

Go Fly a Kite

Today’s guest post is by the lovely Darrelyn Saloom. Read her previous guest posts, or follow her on Twitter. The cat wakes me at six in the morning. She wants to go outside before the sun rises. I don’t want to roll out of bed yet. Even the hen is still roosting beside the back […]

Writing on the Ether: Publishing Conference Gemutlich

Writing on the Ether

Conference Gemütlichkeit So when the publishing gets weird, the weird go to conferences. Digital conferences. Transmedia conferences. Convene and confer. Confab and rehab. Early bird discounts are extended to all. Then simply extended. And extended. Do not attempt to adjust the verticals of F+W Media, they’re bigger than you. A #toccon is a token of […]

Jane Knows

When’s the Right Time to Leave Your Big Six Publisher?

I received the following question from published author Lisa Earle McLeod—who I remember first meeting at a Foothills Writers Guild conference in South Carolina: Hi Jane, My first book, Forget Perfect, was published by Perigee (Penguin USA) in 2001. It did moderately well. Now 10 years later, as sales were starting to peter out, Forget […]

Child Reading

Can Children Develop Adequately Without Books?

It is a pleasure to bring you this lovely essay from April Line. April is a freelance writer and writing teacher. She lives in north central Pennsylvania. Visit her online at April Line Writing. Starstruck The theatrical performance of Max & Ruby: Bunny Party came to my town. I freelance for the arts and culture section […]

Jane Knows

How to Sell Low-Cost Subscriptions to Short Stories

I received the following question from Gail McConnon: Re: Question on Serializing a Short Story Collection through a Paid Subscription I know. That subject header is enough to make the head spin. Just stay with me for a minute, though. There’s something I’d like to do, but haven’t a clue where to start. I’m really […]

Writer Unboxed

Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Help

Yesterday was my regular contribution to Writer Unboxed. I discussed how some independent authors are putting their work out there with zero professional help. Here’s a snippet: Working with professionals should challenge you. It should raise the bar. You’ll probably feel some doubts about the quality of your work. This is a good thing. Professionals usually […]

Blank Faces by Rommel Adao

I Hate Press Releases

This is part rant, part advice. I don’t write this post as if my needs were everyone’s. But it’s frustrating to see authors AND PUBLISHERS—who probably have little time and resource to begin with—wasting their time by contacting bloggers (and others in the media) with dead-on-arrival press releases. Let’s back up for a moment. What […]

iStockphoto / urbancow

Writing on the Ether

  Inspiration Nation If they’d asked me, I’d have nixed both the spelling “Syfy” and 95 percent of that TV channel’s programming. But all I need is their slogan for a few minutes. “Imagine greater.” I’m over this inspiration jag in the writing community. Inspiration, or the pursuit of it, becomes our little drug so […]

Featured WP image

WordPress Plug-Ins: The Bare Essentials

This past weekend, I was a presenter at PodCamp Cincinnati. Many talented people in social media attended from the region, so I learned quite a few things myself. My favorite session was by Daniel J. Lewis, the event organizer, who gave a snappy session on essential WordPress plug-ins. I’m going to share a few recommendations […]

Electric Speed Newsletter

3 Indispensable Software Tools for Writers

This past Sunday, I sent out the latest issue of my e-newsletter, Electric Speed. It featured 3 indispensable software tools for writers. You can view it here. Click here to subscribe & never miss an issue.  

iStockphoto / dblight

Why Writers Should Get Over Pop Music

Pop music is the worst thing that could happen to your writing. It’s for dates and bad wedding receptions. Turn it off at once. Pop is designed to structure your ideas. Stereo hearts in the dark with pumped up kicks. And it works far too well for a writer’s good. As Noel Coward told us, […]

by Emilie Ogez / Flickr

My Secret for Battling Procrastination

To some, I may appear productive. But like many, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I try to think about my weakness in positive terms, e.g., “I work better under pressure.” That is true—I believe there’s nothing like a deadline to force you to be creative (one reason why I love blogging!). However, for some projects, I […]

heaving to port

Writing on the Ether

  Capt. Linn warned us: “Too many books!” So no, yeah, whoa, the heaving ship of publishing lists to starboard, everybody to the rails, it’s Frankfurt! And then achtung, now we’re Dramamine-ing to portside as they all skitter back, ‘twixt poop deck and TweetDeck, tote bags stuffed with digital drama. And my God, shall not […]

by Sal Falko / Flickr

Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen?

I recently received the following question from working writer Shannon Traphagen: I have been fervently working on my novel (I am 5 chapters into writing it) and feel I have a platform like no other. My protagonist and antagonist are strong, and I feel it’s a fictional story that’s never really been done before. I’m very […]