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Thread: This is nothing like an official FAQ

  1. #51
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    You don't need an agent for short stories. (Any agent who claims to represent short stories is suspect.)

    What you need are markets. Find magazines that print stories similar to yours. Read several issues. Get their guidelines. Submit your stories in strict compliance with those guidelines. Repeat.

    Meanwhile:

    Share Your Work
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    Short Fiction
    Writing for Kids
    Science Fiction/Fantasy

    Remember: Money flows toward the writer. The only place a writer signs a check is on the back.

  2. #52
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Norm, Welcome to AW. There are some people doing very well with short stories. Jim's advice is spot on. You should be able to find some potential markets by visiting the library or bookstore.

  3. #53
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Q. What does "indie" or "independently published" mean?

    A. It's a euphemism for "self-published." Don't count on anyone being fooled by it.

    Q. How about "privish" or "privishing"?

    A.Their use is an infallible sign that the speaker isn't a publishing professional. No one in the industry uses the terms, and few have even heard of them. The practice of "privishing" doesn't exist. The very concept is alien to trade publishing.

    I'm not kidding. The whole "privishing" thing is completely bogus. Some nanobrain asserted its existence during an interview, the interviewer didn't fact-check, and it promptly became an urban legend that gets swapped around by the clueless and unpublished. Never use it unless you want to look like you have no idea what you're talking about.

    If you're not familiar with the concept, look it up in Wikipedia. (Yes, they fell for it.) Summary critique: Publishing doesn't work like that.

    Q. When can you legitimately call a book a bestseller?

    A. When it's been on a bestseller list. By itself, the term has high potential bogosity. More meaningful epithets include WSJournal bestseller, USA Today bestseller, New York Times bestselling author, eleven weeks on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list, and so forth.

    If you're a writer or publisher, your most popular title may be your best seller, but it is not a bestseller, and should not be called one.

    If you're a writer, and you've had a book on (say) the New York Times bestseller list, you're entitled to be referred to as a "New York Times bestselling author" for the rest of your natural life, even if the book on which this epithet appears has zero resemblance to the bestselling title.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 09-23-2013 at 05:13 AM.
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  4. #54
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    On the other hand, calling yourself an "Amazon bestseller" makes you a laughingstock, given how easily Amazon ratings can be manipulated.

  5. #55
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin SamKam's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Q. When can you legitimately call a book a bestseller?

    A. When it's been on a bestseller list.
    I like that definition :-)

    My first book got on to a bestseller list (not NYT, not Amazon, but by a reputed national newspaper) and I had no clue about it till a friend called up to tell me about.

    This question has been bugging me as I still have no clue what it takes (and means) to be bestseller. As long as it does good for the book and for the author, I'm not complaining.

  6. #56
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Q. I've been getting my friends to post reviews of my book on Amazon, and --

    A. Yes. We can tell.

    Q. A horrendous and tragic event just happened (huge explosion, bubonic plague, terrorist attack, catastrophic storm), with considerable loss of life and general devastation. This event shares a number of details with the plot of my thriller novel. Wouldn't this be a good moment to do tie-in promotion on my book? You can't say it isn't topical.

    A. No. That's a terrible idea. You'll come across as saying "Remember that incredibly upsetting recent event? Let's forget about the victims and their families, and instead make it all about MEEEEE!" Many people will be genuinely repulsed by your pitch. Some will also find it memorable. You don't want that.

    Q. I've been looking for forums and comment threads on subjects that relate to my book, and posting comments (with links) that discreetly allude to it. The pages I link to are getting more hits, but I'm not selling more copies. How can I fix this?

    A. The only way you can "fix" the situation is by not spamming other people's conversations in the first place. What you're doing is rude, and will not sell books. The people whose forum you're abusing will recognize your intrusion for what it is, resent you, and extend their resentment to your book on general principles. And if it's a forum that preserves its old threads, your spam will be recorded there forever.

    Q. I've been offered a chance to buy a professional direct-mail list of 50,000 e-mail addresses, plus software that will automatically send copies of my on-publication press release to all addresses on the list. What percentage of the people who receive my press release are likely to buy a copy of my book?

    A. Zero. What you're being offered is a basic spam setup. The rate of return on spam is infinitesimally small. Also, you'll be a spammer, so if you're determined to do this, start stitching a scarlet "S" now so you'll have it ready to pin on your chest.

    Even if you used a legitimate mailing list, your rate of return would be tiny. As a rule of thumb, any piece of promo that isn't accompanied by a copy of the book is a waste of time. At most you might drum up a few nonfiction sales, because in nonfiction it's the subject that sells; but it would still be an ineffectual approach.
    Last edited by HapiSofi; 04-18-2013 at 08:29 PM.
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  7. #57
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Not too long ago, a fellow wrote and self-published a book on how to promote your own self-published book(s). He recommended that the author should, first, get all of his friends and family to post five-star reviews on Amazon. Then join a large number of message boards that deal roughly with the subject area of the book. These message boards should only be ones that allow links in signatures, and links should be placed to your webpage. (You're supposed to use bit.ly links, so you can tell where the clicks are coming from.)

    Every day you're supposed to go to various boards, cycling by each every week or so. When you visit a board, find the most recent/most active thread. Scan the last ten posts. Write a non-controversial post vaguely agreeing with them. Refer to two or three earlier posters by name. Then go to the next board and do the same. Spend no more than ten minutes a day doing this.

    If no clicks are coming from a given board, drop it from your rotation and replace it with another board.

    After six months of participation in a given board, write to the board owner, and to the most frequent/popular poster, telling them how much you love the board and how it has changed your life. Offer them a free copy of your book.

    The way I found out about this book was from a spam email, signed by someone who had no apparent individual existence outside of recommending this author's book(s).

    The author stated that you have to be careful, because you can get your account banned from message boards for spamming. I wonder how he learned that....

  8. #58
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    This is why some sites have adopted a policy of no .sig lines, and no links that aren't immediately relevant to the discussion. If you want to link to your own site, you put the link in your user profile, not your comments.

    But the real problem with the advice Jim quotes is that it doesn't sell books. One comment a week in whatever thread is most active is not going to establish you as a personality, and vague non-controversial agreement is not going to drum up any interest in your opinions.

    It's a waste of your time. Spend it writing instead.
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  9. #59
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    The end-game is to get the board owner and most popular poster to like you and recommend your book(s) to those who trust them. We know that one of the best ways to sell a book is to have it recommended by a trusted friend.

    It is a clever way to get around moderation, if the moderators aren't paying attention.

    (Note: On a board that I help moderate, any bit.ly link moves the post to the moderation queue. They're used, in my experience, only by spammers.)

  10. #60
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    I'm just waiting for the spam that offers to tell readers how their father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate sold lots of books by following the simple steps at somenonesenseurl.com.

    No, I'm not. I'm just dreading the day someone does that.

  11. #61
    a work in progress
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    Was there a recent incident of Author Behaving Badly that prompted today's words of wisdom? These were the first new posts to this thread since December 2011, and I'm morbidly curious.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

    Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)

  12. #62
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    I live in North Texas, where two of the biggest news stories of the month (yesterday's fertilizer plant blast and the DA killings) are playing out. They're coming out of the virtual woodwork here. It's mostly people promoting their websites. Some of the sites may be promoting books. I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of my traffic.

    We also have people spamming the comment threads at the local newspaper on occasion, pushing their book. Just. Don't. Do. It.

  13. #63
    Bemused Girl nkkingston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    (Note: On a board that I help moderate, any bit.ly link moves the post to the moderation queue. They're used, in my experience, only by spammers.)
    I hadn't realised that. Since not everywhere with a character limit has automatic link shortening I was using it to trim some of the more absurdly long buy links, and when I realised logging in allowed me to track where clicks are coming from I got all excited about the useful tool. Now I'm wondering if people are seeing they're bit.ly links and actively avoiding them.

    Damn spammers ruining it for the rest of us!

    Hungry? Check out my other half's blog Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen.

  14. #64
    a work in progress
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    I like using is.gd for my URL shortening needs -- dunno if that also will land a post in a moderation queue. On the other hand, there's not a lot of need for URL shortening on a blog's comments or a bulletin board, since posts aren't limited to 140 ol 160 characters.

    JulieB - thanks for the perspective. Between what you mention and the Boston Marathon explosions, I could definitely see the potential for disaster-exploiters to come out in droves.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

    Author, occasionally published. Watch this space for more, or visit the amazing actually writing blog. (It actually writes!)

  15. #65
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    Note:

    If I see or a member calls my attention to a shortened or otherwise masked URL I will delete it, unmask it, delete the post, and possibly, ban the member because there's no way to tell where that link is going without clicking, and because it disenfranchises users dependent on screen readers since recent screen readers will not even load a masked URL because of the potential for malware etc.

    ETA: FAQ: How to Create Links and Why We Don't Allow Shorteners
    Last edited by AW Admin; 04-19-2013 at 11:17 PM.

  16. #66
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    I don't think I've ever shortened a URL on here. But when I do, it'll be the most interesting URL in the world.

    No it won't. ;-)

    I'll avoid bit.ly like the proverbial plague, now.

    Nicole: Yes, it has been crazy down here. And if I say much more, I'll be getting way off topic or political. But to stay on topic, the scammers and self-promoters are out in force. It's sickening, really.

  17. #67
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    On a board that I help moderate, any bit.ly link moves the post to the moderation queue. They're used, in my experience, only by spammers.
    Not arguing with your basic point, just noting an exception: bit.ly links get used a lot on Twitter because they're so short.

    Nicole LeBoeuf: Yes, there was an author behaving badly, but I'm not going to reward him with attention. The principle -- "Don't do self-promotion that makes people hate you" -- is generally applicable.

    JulieB: Gary Warner, who is to spam as Bruce Schneier is to security, has been blogging about spammers who've been using the Boston Marathon bombing, and more recently the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion, in the subject lines of spam e-mails designed to infect the recipient's computer with malware. They appear to be building a botnet, or enlarging an existing one.

    This suggests a rule of thumb:

    "If you can't assess the propriety of a self-promotion campaign via any other method, take a close look at the company you'd be keeping. If the other entities using that come-on are grifters, losers, MLM shills, or malware spammers, don't do it."
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  18. #68
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HapiSofi View Post
    Not arguing with your basic point, just noting an exception: bit.ly links get used a lot on Twitter because they're so short.
    And they make it so easy to phish users, too.

    Tweet from a compromised account, say Big Name SF Author, with a shortened URL that starts a malware download.

    Be suspicious, and look at the tweet carefully.

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  19. #69
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Some earlier discussion involving bit.ly here in BR&BC; note how many other places the agency under discussion intersects with this Not-an-FAQ.

  20. #70
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    A discussion group I'm involved in has asked members to provide a long URL in addition to a shortened one. One thing we've discovered is that some email clients won't convert long URLs to links properly. With this method our members have the choice to piece the longer URL together or click the shortened one.

    There are some browser plug-ins that will unravel a shortened URL and provide a preview. I find them quite useful.

  21. #71
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieB View Post
    There are some browser plug-ins that will unravel a shortened URL and provide a preview. I find them quite useful.
    Be careful; it's dead easy to subvert with JavaScript

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  22. #72
    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Actually, some plug-ins do get around that. Still, I generally don't click or even hover.

  23. #73
    Hagiographically Advantaged AW Moderator HapiSofi's Avatar
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    But we digress.
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  24. #74
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thanks for this thread. It has been an education. I finished my first novel a few weeks ago and have spent the time since researching questions about agents and publishers. Any thoughts on advantages or disadvantages of e-publishers?

  25. #75
    The King and Queen of Cheese BenPanced's Avatar
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    Like hard copy publishers, you have to do your homework and research them. The bigger advantage is e-pubs can release your book more quickly. The bigger disadvantage is if they're digital only, it'll be impossible getting your work to people who don't have the equipment necessary to read it.
    I still poop rainbows.

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