Academic Piracy – Where are we now?

Academic Piracy – Where are we now? 

Written by Matthew Jones

In 2018, e-book piracy websites received over 800 million visits; a number expected to rise by at least a third in 2019. The scale of piracy in academic publishing is staggering, yet one would be excused for assuming it a mere annoyance to publishers. Inevitability haunts any discussion of piracy in the industry and pervades even the most pragmatic. With one in four students admitting that they regularly pirate academic content, the issue cannot be ignored.

Publishers have begun to feel the financial squeeze. Academic publishers, on average, lose over 28% of their potential revenue to piracy. Despite the well-publicized inflation of textbook prices (847% in the past 30 years – Economist, 2014), NACS recently reported a 31% decrease in total spending on course materials since 2007. Most often, decline in textbook revenue is blamed on enrollment stagnation, yet, in reality, students are increasingly being squeezed towards piracy as well as the second hand book market, which accounts for 25% of the total market in book sales (McKinsey 2014).

The concept of e-book ownership is flawed within academic publishing. Publishers rely upon outdated DRM technology to safeguard a product that is completely relinquished at point-of-sale. DRM is now so laughably simple to crack that it undeniably exacerbates the issue, with cracked titles being widely distributed online.

Pirate search engines like LibGen and SciHub have thrived for years; SciHub facilitated over 1 billion illegal downloads of academic content last year alone. Even Scribd, a legitimate partner of most major publishers, retains it’s document sharing feature that – at best – turns a blind eye to textbook copyright infringement.

Yet, for such an existential threat, academic piracy has surprisingly been met with seemingly quiet resignation.

LibGen finally provoked (well-publicized) legal action from a publisher in 2015. Predictably enough, this action has proven singularly ineffective. But then, this reactive ‘whack-a-mole’ approach to anti-piracy always will be. When industry innovation extends only so far as automated cease-and-desist letters and designed QR codes as ‘certification tags’, a simple domain change will allow the pirates to continue with relative impunity. These reactive approaches fail to account for content consumers that view this as a victim-less crime, if even a crime at all.

Rather than concede to doom and gloom, we must more fully understand and eradicate the root cause of piracy. There are two fundamental and alienating issues: students feel they are neither offered affordable solutions, nor the desired accessibility and convenience they have come to expect. 7 in 10 students now forego textbook purchases; perceiving them to be overpriced (US PIRG). The model of ownership is so clearly broken, that 73% of students would far prefer an access model instead. Students crave affordability and accessibility that have simply been unavailable.

There is a chasm between the value placed upon academic content by the publishers and the students. No statistic is perhaps more damning than Science Magazine’s 2016 survey which showed that 88% of students do not equate the piracy of academic content with criminality. It requires only a cursory glance at social media to see that student’s opinions of publishers are at best ambivalent, and at worst vitriolic.

How can publishers possibly repair this disconnect? There is a pressing need to re-acquaint students with the value of this content and the work of publishers. This can’t happen by inflating prices – counter to some beliefs in the industry. Equally, albeit admirable, publishers that are now reducing textbook prices won’t succeed. Price action alone, without changing the method of delivery won’t result in sustainable change. Whilst students are forced into a flawed ownership model, accessibility won’t improve. Increasingly, the solution points towards access models, specifically ones that allow third parties to act as mediators between publishers and consumers.

Disconnects between the publishers and consumers of content have been dealt with well in other industries, namely the music industry. The infamy of Limewire and BitTorrent will be familiar to many – as will the laborious task of finding the right content and eventually uploading to an iPod. With an affordable, and far more convenient option, streaming services like Spotify managed to better serve this this market need. An NDP study showed that in 2012 as Spotify grew, illegally downloaded music files from P2P services fell by 26%. Consumers flocked to the streaming service offering instantly accessible, aggregated content at a fixed affordable price.

Notably though, there is a cautionary tale. After Netflix’s pivot to aggregated digital subscription, they experienced a meteoric rise. The streaming service penetrated the global market so successfully that piracy in the film industry fell by over 50% between 2011 and 2016. In 2018, however, with the segmentation of the entertainment industry, and the rapid growth of Amazon Prime, Hulu and now Disney, for the first time in years, piracy actually increased. This shines a light on the universal truth in the provision of content: the convenience and affordability of aggregation are key. In the pursuit of coverage, the consumer must subscribe to ever more platforms, their convenience is ultimately hindered and they are lead inevitably to increased piracy.

Publishers can learn key lessons here. Whilst single-publisher subscription services like Cengage Unlimited are laudable and monetize market segments lost to piracy and second hand sales, they aren’t sustainable. As other publishers emulate, consumers will be forced towards subscription saturation, where once again piracy becomes the affordable and convenient choice. Publishers must think longer-term, shedding any sense of hubris. With the added issues of academic freedom, no single publisher can possibly win a subscription arms race.

A third-party aggregated subscription service is far from novel in academic publishing, yet it has also never truly been tested. Despite this being the logical, proactive solution to piracy, it is too often met with unfounded fears and reluctance to change. To successfully provide the convenience and affordability required, this service has to have buy-in from the leading publishers, for all of their content. Data already exists to show that cannibalisation of other sales revenue is a totally unfounded fear. Any marginal impact on other sales channels is recouped (and more besides) from previously untapped market segments.

Academic publishing now finds itself at a juncture. Subscription has arrived, the ownership model is irreparably broken – publishers must now embrace aggregated subscription platforms for a sustainable long-term return to growth.

 

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books

If I wanted to borrow A Better Man by Louise Penny—the country’s current No. 1 fiction bestseller—from my local library in my preferred format, e-book, I’d be looking at about a 10-week waitlist. And soon, if the book’s publisher, a division of Macmillan, has its way, that already-lengthy wait time could get significantly longer.

In July, Macmillan announced that come November, the company will only allow libraries to purchase a single copy of its new titles for the first eight weeks of their release—and that’s one copy whether it’s the New York Public Library or a small-town operation that’s barely moved on from its card catalog. This has sparked an appropriately quiet revolt. Librarians and their allies quickly denounced the decision when it came down, and now the American Library Association is escalating the protest by enlisting the public to stand with libraries by signing an online petition with a populist call against such restrictive practices. (The association announced the petition Wednesday at Digital Book World, an industry conference in Nashville, Tennessee.) What’s unclear is whether the association can get the public to understand a byzantine-seeming dispute over electronic files and the right to download them.

In a July memo addressed to Macmillan authors, illustrators, and agents, the company’s CEO John Sargent cited the “growing fears that library lending was cannibalizing sales” as a reason for embargoing libraries from purchasing more than one copy of new books during their first eight weeks on sale. “It seems that given a choice between a purchase of an ebook for $12.99 or a frictionless lend for free, the American ebook reader is starting to lean heavily toward free,” he claimed.

Many individual library systems and companies that work with libraries swiftly responded with objections. “Public libraries are engaged in one of the most valuable series of community services for all ages, for all audiences,” said Steve Potash, the CEO and founder of OverDrive, a company that supplies libraries with e-books. “The public library is just something that is underappreciated. It certainly is so by Macmillan.”

“If you think about equitable access to information for everybody, there shouldn’t be discrimination or anything like that,” said Alan Inouye, the senior director for public policy and government relations at the ALA. “So consumers can get this book on Day 1 without limitation, but libraries have to wait for eight weeks? That’s just very wrong.”

The ALA decided that statements weren’t enough. “We need to have more than just libraries and librarians saying this message,” Inouye said. “It would be much more effective if nonlibrarians would say it too.” Hence the petition, which Inouye said marked a first-of-its-kind move for the organization.

The controversy over Macmillan’s new policy gets at one of the central issues facing book publishing today. “There’s a tension in e-book pricing generally between consumer expectations that a digital file will be less expensive than a physical copy and the reality that very little of the cost of making a book is tied up in the physical format,” said Devin McGinley, a senior industry analyst covering book publishing for Ibisworld Inc., a market research firm. “Publishers are rightly concerned that if the price of books erodes too much, they will no longer be able to cover their creative costs and subsidize more speculative bets on emerging authors.”

Still, the library side pushed back at Macmillan’s singling out of libraries and assertion that e-book lending was driving consumer reluctance to pay up. Macmillan claimed to have tried out the eight-week embargo with one of its imprints, Tor, but declined to share the results publicly. “They really did not have any reasonable data to support a narrative that if an author’s new book is withheld from public library lending when it first comes out, that might impact the author’s or the book’s sales during those first few months,” Potash said. “That isn’t borne out. The data that OverDrive has is that for every title that actually gets borrowed or downloaded, the library is engaging with dozens and dozens of readers who are discovering the book, sampling the book, or just looking for a recommendation on what to read next.” Potash said that studies consistently show library patrons to be more frequent book buyers overall—which is another reason Macmillan’s letter stung. “They are taking their readers, their customers, their fans, and intentionally trying to frustrate them,” he said.

As the ALA’s initial statement read, “When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in ebook format, it’s the library—not the publisher—that feels the heat. It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs.” McGinley, the industry analyst, added, “Libraries are worried that if other publishers follow suit, delays and wait times for patrons will make it more difficult to expand and sustain their e-book programs.”

If disputes between publishers and libraries and bookstores and authors about e-books sound familiar to you, you’re not alone. “E-book prices have been in flux in recent years because publishers are still finding their digital footing and deciphering how e-books will work within their business model,” McGinley said. “Publishers are in a unique position among print media industries, where they have at least some control over the extent of the digital competition they face. In the past, higher e-book prices have sometimes been a way to apply the brake.” Librarians, naturally, are tired of all the braking.

Library people admit their cause may seem obscure. The licensing model for libraries and e-books itself is complex and difficult to explain to outsiders. “It’s too much detail and also takes you out of your mind,” said the ALA’s Inouye. “It’s like, ‘First of all, it sounds crazy, and then it sounds egregious. Sixty dollars to have one copy for two years? You must be wrong. That can’t be right. The consumer pays like $14 for an e-book.’ ” Currently, every publisher has its own agreement with libraries, each of which is different and subject to change: Publishers set the price, and libraries sometimes pay two to three times the retail price of e-books to acquire them. This price includes permission for libraries to lend the books out over the coming years—usually to one person at a time, despite the digital nature of the files—and acknowledges that the e-book will never get lost or wear out like a print book. Some publishers have policies that include metered access, meaning that after the book is either borrowed a certain number of times or a certain length of time passes, libraries must repurchase the title. Potash’s company, OverDrive, serves as a middle man between publishers and libraries and handles all the red tape. Amazon, the owner of the most popular e-book format, Kindle, is also in the mix, and though it doesn’t profit on individual e-books, it does benefit from consumer data it collects in the process, Potash said.

Rather than addressing the pricing issue in general, the ALA decided to limit the scope of the petition to protesting Macmillan’s eight-week embargo plan. That way, “you don’t have to get into all the details about all the other business models and how they vary among publishers,” Inouye said.

With the petition, an extraordinary step in this world, you could argue that Macmillan’s plan is already backfiring, having angered one of its major constituencies. And if the change bears out, there’s the possibility of bigger trouble for the publisher ahead: “Macmillan has a minor e-book market share compared with the other Big Five publishers, so if it is the only publisher to pursue this strategy, it may hurt the publisher’s sales to libraries while causing relatively little inconvenience to library patrons,” McGinley said. Patrons might find, when loading up their e-readers and apps, that there are more than enough non-Macmillan books out there to go around.

Marketing Tips For The Holidays

  1. Set up book signings at coffee shops and have a drawing for a free coffee gift card.
  2. Set up book signings at department stores and make your display festive.
  3. Contact books clubs, offer them a free book for every 10 books they buy, and offer the head of the book club a free gift card (something to match the holiday season). Make sure you provide them a list of 10 prompts that they can discuss.
  4. Social Media – count down to Christmas by posting a paragraph or two that will hook the audience into buying the book – surely they are going to want the whole story! Remember you are a writer – who better to tease the audience regarding your book.
  5. Facebook has over 3 billion ACTIVE members – tap into this. If you don’t know how, go to fiverr.com or upwork.com and hire someone for as inexpensive as $5.00.

 

Give yourself a gift!

Teach yourself social media. This is extremely important. Lynda.com offers great online classes for you to learn at your own pace. The fee is 34.99 per month or you can pay annually, which works out to 29.99 per month. They also offer a free 10 day trial.

These classes are great for all levels. If you don’t have a clue, you can learn enough in a very short period of time to be successful. This program is excellent. Highly recommended!

 

Pre-Holiday Special

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Offer Expires December 15th, 2019 and can be used anytime before December 15th, 2020.

31 Writing Prompts For August 2019

Writers Write is a resource for writers. Use these writing prompts for August 2019 to get you writing.

If you want to know how to make the best use your prompts, we suggest you read: All About Writing Prompts & Writing Practice

A prompt can be anything: a word, a song title, a name, a myth, a photograph, or a quotation.

We hope our 31 prompts for August 2019 inspire you to start a writing routine.

Writing Prompts Aug 2019

By Mia Botha

Source: writerswrite.co.za

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Navigating the Changing Face of Book Promotion with Smart, Effective Strategies

Much like the world of publishing, book promotion is constantly changing and with it, so are the services offered by book promotion companies. What may have worked just a few years ago doesn’t have quite the same impact today. I know from experience that the surge of books we see every day in the marketplace has a real effect on how various programs work. Today’s book promotion services are less about what you’re marketing in the moment and more about the foundation you’re creating.

So, what’s working in book promotion now? Surprisingly, it’s not at all what you would expect. Let’s take a look:

Email Newsletters: While it may seem really basic, unlike social media, email newsletters are an effective way to make a direct connection to your readers. We think of social media as the main way to reach our audience but in reality, it’s not as direct as we’d like it to be. And sending an email newsletter is actually a lot easier than say, managing a bunch of social media platforms. (Here’s a guide for getting started.)

Your Reader Fan Bases: Book publishing is rapidly growing and with around 4,500 books being published daily, it is crucial to build supportive reader fan bases. In the past, we’ve relied on the blogger market to help promote books but with such fierce competition, it is getting harder and harder to get attention. What remains steadfast though is your readers. Building excited and engaged reader fan bases is a fantastic way to build momentum for your book and letting readers help you with your book promotion by posting reviews and sharing your book release on their social stream. (Want to build fans and superfans? This article shows you how.)

Going Local: Many authors approach book promotion with the goal of reaching a national audience through big media. What shouldn’t be overlooked though is local media. Local media loves their local authors and can be a great launching pad for long-term success. It isn’t that you aren’t worthy of the national spotlight, but national media is harder than ever to get. Also, many bigger media outlets use scouts who research local stories that are gaining momentum, so making waves in your local market can lead to national exposure.

In addition to local media, you may also consider doing local events, whether at a library, bookstore or gift fair. And don’t forget non-bookstore markets like boutiques, coffee shops, and other area businesses that might be interested in your topic. (Here’s some more great advice on positioning yourself when it comes to media.)

Expanding Your Goodreads Presence: Goodreads is growing by leaps and bounds and with each month that passes, it gets more robust. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to get set up on Goodreads and start networking with genre-specific groups. More than any other social networking site, Goodreads is geared toward and caters to readers. Start by being a reader. Being more involved in networking and socializing and less on being the pushy marketer will garner you much more attention and will sell you more books in the long run.

Smart eBook Pricing: Digital clutter is changing the trends of ebook pricing. While price discounts and specials are good, that isn’t smart book pricing. As an example, book pricing at launch can be slightly lower than what your regular pricing might be, as even a dollar discount can give your book a helpful bump. But eBook pricing should still be weighed against what the market will bear. I also advise against pricing an eBook over $9.99, especially if you’re just starting out. As a new author, remember that readers are taking a chance on you and might be more inclined to purchase if your book’s price feels more like an impulse buy.

Amazon Book Page: It’s easy to get outwardly focused on book promotion and forget about the all-important landing page we are sending our readers to – Amazon! Your book page on Amazon should have a clear description with white space and no paragraphs crammed on top of each other. I also recommend using your Author Central Page to enhance your book page. With Author Central, you can add reviews, an author interview, or book experts. Think of your book page as a sample of your personality with information to help the reader decide to buy your book. It can also be a terrific way to drive more reader engagement on your page.

Amazon Advertising: I had some challenges with Amazon ads (also referred to as AMS ads) when they revamped their platform and the associated advertisement algorithm, but I’m happy to report that the platform has found its footing and the ads are improving. As a guideline, you’ll want to have 400 keywords at a minimum. Start your ads at $10 a day in budget and no more than .50 cents per click until you get a sense of how the various keywords are doing.

AMS ads are great to do at campaign launch, starting them a week before the book launches if it’s on pre-order. You can also use them to promote pricing strategies, lowering the book price for a few days to coincide with an eBook promotion.

Keeping Your Social Media Footprint Small: When you try to be *everywhere* on social media, it’s hard to be engaged on all the sites, all the time. And in an age of fake followers and fake accounts, engagement matters. Even if their numbers are small, the user with the most engagement far outperforms the ones with millions of followers. This doesn’t mean less work though – you’ll still need to put the effort into the site you decide to be on. Engaging readers on one social media platform in a consistent and fun/informative/helpful way is a far better book promotion strategy than trying to be everywhere. As I always say: it’s not about being everywhere, but everywhere that matters. (For more ideas on integrating social media into your marketing, try this.)

Knowing Your Audience: Many authors I speak with have no idea who their actual reader market is. When I ask them, they’ll often say: everyone. You know who markets to everyone? McDonald’s, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. But they didn’t start out focused on everyone. Amazon, for example, started out as a book site, reaching readers. It wasn’t until they built a base of readers that they began expanding out into other things. Knowing your audience is not only important when you’re writing your book, but absolutely crucial when you’re trying to market it. Zeroing in on your core reader, specifically, is key to any successful book promotion campaign. (Need help finding your readership? Try this article.)

While book promotion can seem like a daunting feat, it doesn’t have to be. By focusing your efforts into smart strategies that are tailored to your book and your audience, a successful marketing campaign can be just around the corner!

By ANGELA ACKERMAN

Source: writershelpingwriters.net

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

Walk Like a Dog

I am in a swarm of family and work this summer and even forgot to do my post on Wednesday, which dear Therese forgave. I still had no time to write a new post, thanks to conferences and family and a new book out, but here is an offering–my very first post at Writer Unboxed, dated April 23, 2008.

Almost every word is still the same. Different dogs, longer walks, but still the same actions.

——————–

 

“If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.” ~Raymond Inmon

I am a great believer in walking. Not speed walking or to win some contest; not to conquer or prove anything (although competition, too, can be good for the soul). Just plain old walking. Walking to shake out the tight spots in a body. Walking to fire up the imagination, to cure the blues, to nourish the spirit.

I especially believe in writers walking. Sitting at a keyboard for unending hours is hardly a healthy act for the body, and sitting in a single room, all by yourself with only a cup of coffee and your iPod for company hardly does a thing for refilling the well. Walking takes no special clothing, and almost everyone can do it. You don’t have to walk fast to get the benefit, or even go anywhere special. Walk out your front door and walk along your street or lane or alley or field. Walk like a dog, imbued with curiosity and pleasure in the moment itself: right now, walking!

Every day around 8:30, my chow mix patters into my office and sits down with a heavy sigh. I ignore him at first, usually, since My Writing Is Important and dogs can be walked at any point during the day. Jack disagrees. After ten minutes, he creeps closer to my chair and breathes on my side. Just that hot, hopeful breath, unbelievably annoying. Still, I can often ignore it a little longer.

At which point, he will raise his glittery gold-red paw and put it lightly on my leg. Please? Which he knows I cannot resist.

So I gather up leashes and harnesses and treats and poo bags and off we go, into the neighborhood, on a single 1.5 mile loop around the suburban park system between houses. Every day, the same walk, though we sometimes switch direction. Every day, the dogs—there is a terrier mix, too—can barely restrain their joy at getting out the door, into the world. The world! The great big amazing world! They snuffle the same bushes with fresh curiosity every day, stick their noses in the same prairie dog holes hoping this time to snare some tidbit of baby rodent. They prance along the same routes to lift their legs, offering their comments on the neighborhood dog blog.

It takes roughly a half hour. While the dogs are doing dog things, my writer brain is inevitably unknotting some little issue with the work, whether it is a sentence or a plot, a character issue or a connection. Some days I am tired and don’t want to think at all; often it is those days, when I’m yawning while the dogs snuffle over the juniper bush, that I notice something I haven’t seen. A landscape drawn in colored chalk, perhaps by a knot of teenagers who cheerily waved at me not too long ago at dusk, hoping their friendliness would distract me from the scent of burning cannibis in the air. Or perhaps I notice the border collie on the corner is sticking his nose over the fence and it reminds me of a dog I once loved, who would be a perfect addition to the character who is so flat. If I am walking like my dogs, I see the grove of aspens anew each day, and the sky, and the mountains, changing every hour.

Walking every morning this way shakes out my limbs, gets some sunshine on my face, opens the shutters of my brain and lets a freshening wind blow through. I collect images—that old leaf, that smell of pine needles, spicy and wet, the curtains hanging askew in an upstairs bedroom—and music, of birds, of traffic, of the echoey, lost sound of children playing in the distance, out of sight. When I return to the keyboard, the usual stiffness of a long-time writer is shaken out. My spine is straighter, my oxygen-enriched brain a much more efficient organ, and the work much better, and I’ve worked out some knot of tension in my body, and in the work.

Do you like to walk? Is there a time of day you like best?

By

Source: writerunboxed.com

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Leslie Malin on Nonfiction Writing and Why Your Ideas Are Worth Sharing

Nonfiction writing seems like a completely different bear than writing fiction. How do you gather your ideas and present them in a coherent, interesting way? And if someone else has written on the same topic before, should you even bother?

Nonfiction, to me, seems way more intimidating to write and, quite frankly, seems like dry work. It reminds me of textbooks and yawning through late nights in college.

In today’s article, Leslie Malin gives us some great insight into how she came around to writing her first nonfiction book and the lessons she had to learn along the way. And she reminds us that writing nonfiction requires some of the same skills as writing fiction: storytelling.

Nonfiction writing isn’t that different

After talking with this month’s interviewee, I realized fiction and nonfiction writing have a lot in common. Neither are boring to write (or read!) if you are passionate about the subject matter. Both require knowledge of story arc and characterization. Both are born from a passion for the topic and an urge to let others see your words.

And, arguably most important, both are written to provide something to the reader, whether that be an escape or a solution to a problem.

Today we’re talking with Leslie K Malin, LCSW, author of Cracked Open and the forthcoming The Work-Life Principle, about writing nonfiction.

Leslie has a forty-year professional career as a psychotherapist, Career-Life Transition Coach, human resources training and development specialist, non-profit executive in mental health and social service agencies, public speaker, entrepreneur, author, and painter.

You can find Leslie online on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or her current website. And stay tuned for her upcoming website dedicated to her second book!

Here’s how Leslie came about writing nonfiction:

Tell me a little about Cracked Open and what inspired you to write it.

This book emerged rather like a dream. I didn’t begin it with the intention of it becoming a book. I love quotations and found myself drawn to collecting quotations about failure, loss, doubt, hope, and overcoming challenges.

As my collection grew, it suddenly called to become a book. I don’t know how else to explain it. I reread each quotation and found myself writing a one-page “reflection” of each one, and kept adding. They became a meditation, a musing, a sharing of myself, a memoir of sorts.

This book became a calling for me to show-up authentically, honestly, and sometimes with a rawness that is not typical of me!

That sounds like an amazing experience with writing. Since this is so personal to you, how did you decide you wanted to publish it? What do you hope your readers will come away with after reading it?

This is an interesting question. Once it began to unfold more like a book I began sending out new sections to five friends who would read them and respond to assess if they found the writing and way of presenting the material interesting. I also joined The Write Practice and began posting my writings weekly to see how they fared in an environment of mostly fiction writers.

While, in truth, I didn’t get lots of feedback, what I did receive from three or so writers so more than encouraging and supportive. Ruthanne Reid, whom I had really grown to respect, wrote to me, insisting that I finish this book. The feedback showed me that my experience, while personal, was also meaningful and motivating for others.

What did I want my readers to come away with after reading it? As a psychotherapist and life-career transition coach and other roles I’ve had, I knew firsthand how devastated people can feel post-failure, how self-doubt can be crippling, and how fear to move forward can envelop one’s soul.

Cracked Open is for everyone. Its message is that being human guarantees failure, fear, and doubt and, rather than shrinking us, they can become the portal to discover an expanded awareness, an opportunity for unanticipated growth, and a gift of immeasurable value.

We have a lot of advice for fiction writers on this blog, but a lot of writers don’t realize writing nonfiction can be very similar to writing fiction. For instance, you have to have a problem in both types of books, and that problem must ultimately be solved. Can you talk a bit about the similarities between writing nonfiction and fiction?

I’ve never written fiction — although I’d love to one day. However, I’ve read a ton of fiction from the masters to summer beach reading. Given my professional orientation as a psychotherapist and career-life coach, writing about life, work, the highs of success, and the depths of failure, writing nonfiction seemed like a natural genre for me.

Actually, I have become far more familiar with the similarities between fiction and nonfiction as I am writing my newest book, The Work-Life Principle: Pathways to Purpose, Passion, Authenticity and Wisdom. I workshopped the first draft by joining the 100 Day Challenge. This structure created the discipline to finally write the first draft which has been inhabiting my mind for years!

After the Challenge was over, I opted to work with a fabulous Story Grid coach (still in process). She is teaching me that nonfiction also has characters that play an enormously important role in “telling the story” of the mountain climb to purpose, passion, authenticity, and wisdom.

These characters are real people whom I have worked with individually and in groups as well as conducting a number of interviews to go deeper into people’s journey, challenges, struggles, and arriving at meaning. Then, in the writing I can share their experiences, thoughts, feelings, disappointments and successes.

They make the nonfiction come alive. They are the essence of nonfiction, aren’t they!

I am also learning that the structure of nonfiction shares another common ground with fiction. It has to have an arc which builds, crests, and then resolves. While the reader knows from the beginning where we are heading, they have no idea of how we will get there, what successes and allies we will find along the way nor where the shadows and cautions to proceeding will appear. And, finally, how the entire “story” will resolve.

This learning has been significant. I can look at my work in an entirely new way. I now see it as a Dorothy in OZ journey — a hero’s journey.

Even though you don’t write fiction, do you think there’s anything inherent to nonfiction that’s harder to write than fiction? Or vice versa?

I am actually a bit frightened of writing fiction! I am not sure that I have ever believed that I have the imaginative capacity to develop a compelling storyline with meaningful characters.

Yet, there is this longing to try my hand at it, just to see what it will call forth from me. What I might discover about myself, to push through the “FEAR” and practice what I preach! Stay tuned.

What do you think is the hardest thing about writing nonfiction? 

To me, writing nonfiction has to have a specific issue or subject matter that matters to me and about which I have the experience, a point of view, and knowledge that can provide value to the reader.

Also, gaining clarity about who your audience is, forming an avatar of the perfect person who you are aiming your book towards can keep you on target and focused on the information that can most benefit as well as attract them. I have found that defining that avatar can be the most challenging piece of the process.

While I may believe that what I have to share could be valuable to many, it is definitely more compelling and relevant to some who may share an age or gender category, are at a particular stage in their lives and/or work, are in a similar socio-economic situation. It determines what kind of assumptions you may make, the kind of language you use, the stories you tell, etc. It doesn’t exclude others but it feels more of a fit for some.

You’ve mentioned before that you wrote your second book, The Work-Life Principle, in our 100 Day Book program. In that program, we focus on getting the first draft out on paper as fast as possible. Do you think that’s a beneficial process for writing nonfiction?

As I mentioned briefly above, one of the best decisions I made was to join the 100 Day Book program. Without that challenge, I wonder if this book would still be looping around in my brain!

The Challenge not only “forced” me to assign time to write, deadline and word counts to be accountable for, and helped me to just “put it down” on paper as rough and unstructured as it might be. The program taught me to let go of trying to be perfect and embrace what was to emerge.

It was a sort of brain-drain that would have time and space to be sorted out in the future. Once there is a first draft, there is a trajectory, a path, a distance and increased objectivity that I find to be invaluable.

You went into your second book with the full intention of it being a book, unlike the spontaneous emergence of your first. How was this different for you? Was the process more stressful?

The subject matter for The Work-Life Principle has been in my mind, some already written chapters, presented in an online seminar as well as in public speaking for many years. Its original title was “Finding Yourself on the Way to Work” as that is the essence of the book’s teaching.

When the 100 Day Challenge was announced, I was thinking of doing another book in the series of Reflections of Cracked Open. However, The Work-Life Principle wouldn’t let go of me and I felt that until I tackled that and finally put it down as a book that I couldn’t move onto something else. It was unfinished business and the fact that its substance has been a companion for so long meant that it demanded to be birthed.

The process has been more arduous — still is as I haven’t yet finished it, because it required more research, reading scholarly papers on the topics of work-life satisfaction, changes in needs as people reach mid-career and beyond, neuroscience and its discoveries about the brain and changes over time, and the like.

During the Challenge I only wrote down what I already knew and had thought through so that I could nail down a first draft. The research continues as does my evolving clarity about how to present the material to have impact and clarity, as well as a story-line.

I’ve conducted many interviews with people in different professions and stages in their lives to enrich the book with real-life stories and feedback from others about Purpose, Passion, Authenticity, and Wisdom in their work and careers. The interviews have been rich and rewarding but have thrown me off track from the writing.

I am on the return to writing phase now as well as working with my Story Grid editor which imposes an important but new demand.

What is the most difficult thing about writing for you? Have you overcome that obstacle and, if so, how?

Stay consistent in showing up to write.

I have a sizeable private psychotherapy and coaching practice that takes three full days of my time. Often, on my first day off I feel that I need to down-shift and do chores, etc. I also paint one day a week.

My challenge now is to take the deep dive and finish what I have begun. That means re-establishing disciple and scheduled times to write. I am returning to my editor with some set accountability dates to move forward and to perhaps take a week off from my practice and just write.

I am thinking about checking into a retreat house where there is enforced quiet and just settling in. I’m hoping that will recharge my batteries!

What advice would you give to other nonfiction writers just starting out?

Let yourself lay down that first rough, often messy, or gap filled draft. That can become the foundation of what follows. It’s a brain drain and allows you to get the material out of your head and looping thoughts and become a concrete, if unfinished, reality.

Maybe you’ll decide to publish it, perhaps you won’t — it doesn’t matter as much as working through it and building your author chops at the same time.

It’s all about the story

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or memoir, remember that you’re telling a story. Your narrative must build, crest, and resolve, no matter the subject. This arc is what people are used to and expect. Most importantly it’s what keeps your readers turning pages!

Thanks to Leslie for agreeing to talk with me!

You can find Leslie’s first book, Cracked Open, on Kindle or in paperback now! The Work-Life Principle will be available winter 2019. Be sure to sign up for Leslie’s newsletter or follow her on social media to stay in the loop with publication news!

If you were to write a nonfiction book, what would you write about? Let me know in the comments!

By Sarah Gribble

Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

How to Overcome the Fear of Coming Out as a Writer

Are you nervous about coming out as a writer?

Maybe you just want to write for yourself and not share your words with others? It can be scary putting yourself out there.

I have that fear too – even after writing and publishing hundreds of posts and a range of books.

A short while ago, I heard something that totally changed my mind about this. Watch the short video below about the magic words I heard.

Click on the image to watch the video.

Source: writetodone.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing

 

How Joining a Writing Community Helped These 11 Authors Get Published

I recently reached out to several writers in our Write to Publish community to ask whether joining a writing community has helped them get published, grow their audience, and make progress on their journey to becoming bestselling authors.

Getting published is an amazing, exciting process. It can also feel a little mysterious, especially if you’ve never done it before. What does it take to publish? More than that, what does it take to publish successfully—to publish a beautiful piece of writing and share it with crowds of readers?

I’ve worked with hundreds of writers as they navigated the publishing process, sometimes for the very first time. In fact, I built Write to Publish, our platform and publishing program, to help writers master publishing.

The Fundamental Truth About Publishing

There’s one fundamental truth about publishing that many writers don’t realize. Here it is:

That may sound strange. There’s this stereotype of the great author secluded away in a cabin in the woods somewhere, writing all day and night in an isolated haven of inspiration. Eventually, he emerges with a genius manuscript, sends it off to a publisher, and publishes the next Great American Novel.

Personally, I believed that stereotype for a long time. But what I’ve found, and what the eleven writers I talked to have found, is that it’s simply not true.

On the contrary, if you want to be a successful author, you need other people.

Joining a Writing Community Can Help You Get Published

Some writers knew they needed a writing community around them in order to publish their writing. Rev. Jonathan Srock, an undelivered minister who shares his stories and writing about faith at jonathansrock.com, was looking for a writing community when he joined Write to Publish. “I joined the program so I could learn how to publish my work and be surrounded by a community of authors who understood what it was like. And I’ve made some great friends along the way!”

Others discovered along the way how important community is at every step of the writing journey. Imogen Mann, a recovering lawyer who writes fiction and business documentation at imogenmann.com, says her Write to Publish community shifted her thinking about collaboration. “I’ve learned that the writing process is just as collaborative and multi-tiered as the publishing process,” she says. “This was a bit of a revelation but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense — it’s the same in any profession.”

Pharmacist and novelist Kim Williams (birdsofafeatherbooktogether.blog), credits the community she found with helping her actually follow through on publishing her writing. “Being part of a community of like-minded people is worth its weight in gold,” she says. “Left to my own devices, I may not have pursued my passion.”

Psychologist Suzanne Ruiter, who writes children’s books and articles about education at suzanneruiter.com, enjoys getting to know other writers who “get it,” who understand the joys and challenges of publishing your writing. “We writers need each other to get there,” she says. “We are busy doing a difficult job with a lot of tasks we have to get familiar with, and the best people we can find to support us are people who are learning to do so too.”

Each of these writers have connected with a community that supports them at every step—and each one points back to that community as a core part of their success.

Joining a Writing Community Is the Secret to Finding Readers for Your Writing

When I talk with writers about the importance of finding your Cartel, of building a community to give you a boost in your publishing efforts, I always hear some form of the same question:

But I want to share my writing with readers, not other writers. Why should I connect with writers instead?

I get it. We all want to build an audience of readers who will buy all our stories and books and even share them with their friends.

But here’s a truth that might surprise you: the way to build your audience of readers is to connect with other writers.

“I need to build a solid author platform and I feel that the first and best way to do it is to belong to a community of writers,” says Jane Kavuma-Kayonga, who writes stories to change people’s lives at apagefrommunakusbook834350529.blog.

Horror writer Iseult Murphy, who shares her writing at iseultmurphy.com, agrees. “I loved the emphasis [in Write to Publish] on putting together a team of writers who would support and encourage you, and you them, on your writing journey. Then, when it came to your work being published, you had a network of people to help promote your work. I loved this idea and thought I would get plenty of useful tips on how to get my work read, which I did.”

“Most writers want to be read and I can only do that by sharing and being part of a bigger community,” says author David Rae (davidrae-stories.com). “Being part of the community has made me a better writer and more professional and ambitious in my approach.”

“Actual publication is easy, but . . . getting attention to what you publish is hard,” says award-winning children’s story author Tamara Paxton, who shares her writing at tamarapaxtoncopley.com. “I learned that getting an email list, writing cartel, and reviews are everything.”

For Karen Bellinger, a creator of stories across multimedia platforms at thetimescribe.com, connecting with other writers was the difference between successful publication and shouting into the void. “This program has taught me that building a community and using it to help you craft your very best work BEFORE you hit publish is absolutely critical. Not just because it gives you the invaluable feedback needed to improve initial drafts, but because otherwise, your hard work risks disappearing into the internet ether, never to find its audience.”

When you connect with other writers, you gain access to a much wider base of readers. If you want readers to find your writing, reach out to other writers first.

Sharing Your Writing Is Hard—And Rewarding

Publishing your writing is thrilling and terrifying at the same time. When you publish, you invite other people to read your writing. That’s a vulnerable thing to do—your writing is your personal creation, after all, and you never know how people will respond to it.

One of the best things you can do is to share your writing with a few writers you trust before you publish it publicly and send it out into the world. Supportive writers will give you the feedback you need to craft your best piece of writing.

Plus, the act of sharing in a small, low-stakes setting is great practice for sharing your writing with the wider world.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, for many writers, this was the hardest part of Write to Publish.

“[The most challenging part of this process was] shyness,” says David. “We’re all self-conscious shrinking violets. Sharing work and communicating to other people does not come naturally to me at any rate.”

But he says it was worth it to be bold and share his writing. “Almost always, sharing and reading comments on your work leads to improvement and to seeing your work move in exciting new ways. And really, what is better that having someone read and comment on your work?”

Imogen and Karen agree. “Having to collaborate and ‘expose’ myself online was hard. I’m naturally a self contained person, so working with people I didn’t know was initially uncomfortable,” says Imogen. “I’ve always had to do this in my work, and it never gets easier, you just get better at dealing with it.”

“The hardest thing for me has been stepping out of my comfort zone — not just writing my stories down, but releasing them into the greater world and soliciting feedback on them,” says Karen. “Necessary as both publication and critique are if we are to improve as writers, that’s really scary!”

Jonathan appreciates the feedback and support of his fellow writers, which makes sharing more than worth it. “Having others [look] at my work and critique it is extremely helpful. . . . The kindness of other writers . . . is both helpful and welcome. They make me a better writer!”

It’s Okay to Ask for Help from Your Writing Community

For some people, sharing their writing was the hardest part. For others, it was asking for help.

“The most challenging part has been learning to ask for help from other writers. It seemed impolite to ask,” says Cathy Ryan, who writes speculative and real-life fiction at cathyryanwrites.com. But, she adds, “writers need to help each other so our voices can be heard.”

Madeline Slovenz, who writes realistic fiction for children, young adults, and open-minded grownups at madelineslovenz.com, agrees that asking for help takes courage, and that it’s absolutely essential. “I have learned that it takes courage to ask for help, but unless we can step up and say, ‘I’m excited to tell you that I’ve published a story,’ our work will sit in a digital file that is unlikely to be found.”

“Dare to ask,” says Suzanne. “Make that first step with people who are in the same position: you are not the only one who is struggling. There are very warm, intelligent other writers who also try to find their way in this.”

When You Join a Writing Community, You Might Make Surprising Connections

You never know how someone might respond when you reach out.

Iseult knew before she began that she needed the support of other writers. What she didn’t know was how to connect with authors she admired — authors a few steps ahead of her in their careers, people who seemed inaccessible until she reached out.

“Because of this course I have approached successful authors I have read and admired for years and they have agreed to talk with me — something I would never have considered before taking the course,” she says. “I have learned a lot from my conversations with them.”

It’s intimidating to reach out to other authors. But many writers are far more accessible than you might imagine, and are happy to connect with another writer.

They know as well as anyone that building an author career isn’t a solo activity. We all need community to support us along the way.

The First Step to Publishing: Find Your Writing Community

Publishing your writing is an amazing goal. But before you publish, I have a question for you:

Have you found your writing community yet?

Who will support you in your writing and publishing journey? Who will give you feedback, spur you on when you’re discouraged, help you navigate unfamiliar challenges, and celebrate with you when you share your writing with the world?

And if you haven’t found your community yet, or if you want to publish but you’re not sure how to get started, I’d love to support you.

The next semester of Write to Publish is now open. Will you join Cathy, David, Iseult, Jonathan, and more in connecting with writers and publishing your writing?

 

Your writing is worth sharing. And if it’s worth sharing, it’s worth collaborating with other writers to share it.

How do you collaborate with other writers? Let me know in the comments.

By Joe Bunting

Source: thewritepractice.com

Visit us at First Edition Design Publishing