Calling All Poets for The Common Good!


Common Good’s Amateur Love Poem Contest

Sharpen those pencils, ye poets of old, and young, and in between. Garrison Keillor and his bookstore, Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn., have created the “Common Good Amateur Love Poem Contest” and are inviting poets who have not yet published a book of poetry to submit “poems of love or praise.”

The winner will be announced at the store’s “afternoon of poetry” Sunday, April 21, in the Weyerhaeuser Chapel at Macalester College.

“Poetry is a record of the life around us and in us, and you’ll get a better idea from poetry what it was like to be alive in 2011 than you will from the New York Times.”–Garrison Keillor

Copies of the winning poem will be published in Common Good’s newsletter, and will be printed and made available at the store.

Entries may be up to 14 lines or 200 words long and are due by March 18, with a limit of one entry per person. Poems should be mailed to

Finalists will be announced April 1, the start of National Poetry Month, at which point the store will display copies of the poems, and customers can vote for their favorites during the following two weeks.


Feeling Bookish?


Bookish has finally launched, about 2 years late, but hey that’s the speed at which major publishing houses move.

This is a publisher-driven (20 larger publishers, see below) booksite similar to Goodreads. Except, of course, the only books you’ll find on it or be recommended to read are ones by the publishers sponsoring it, which is not a bad thing, just something to be aware of.

It looks to be fairly hip, pintrest-ish site. The Registration experience is pretty intense, but they want to “customize” your experience. Not sure why they need your zipcode or sex, but it was interesting they asked for a preferred format. It was also interesting that under sex the choices were Female, Male and Other — in that order. This implies they are expecting female readers.


Using the Recommendations box is also an interesting experience. It asks you to put in a book you recently read. We put in “The Extra Man” an Easter mystery by Indra Anderson. Nothing. The truth is, after several more attempts, it was clear the only books you can use to generate recommendations are books by the sponsoring 20 publishers. So far the Bookish catalog contains 251,029 books.

Bookish seems too little too late. It would have been a good idea 5 years ago. Today? Not so much. It just continues to make the big publishers look behind the times and somewhat out of touch. However, we can say a good thing about Bookish — they do request an age, so they don’t give you inappropriate content.

This is something Goodreads fails to do — and it has some bad consequences. For instance, publishers end up in situations such as having to send a clearly R-rated book won in a Goodreads’ Giveaway to someone whose profile lists her age as 10. Failing to send the book means the publisher is unable to host future giveaways, so . . . .

In a recent NYTimes article on the launch of Bookish, Goodreads’ owner suggested that the Goodreads site is more reader-driven (true) and less likely to have ghost-written glowing reviews about books (false).  Goodreads certainly has a better chance of giving a book an honest overall rating because it has so many passionate readers. However, just as on Amazon, there are people on Goodreads who do quid pro quo,  “send me a free book and I’ll give it a good review.”

Bookish is a bit like Amazon in that you can read samples and then decide to buy the book directly. It also provides an opportunity for you to rate and review the books, which might be more helpful in future — depending on how the reviews are controlled. For, despite Bookish being brand new, there are already loads of rating and reviews.

Bookish reviews are all pulled from LibraryThing currently. And something you notice right away is that every book has an amazingly  high star rating, 4.5 out of 5, 8.5 out of  9. Apparently every book is wonderful. Already sensing a problem? Us too! It seems as though they will give you a wide range of reviews (from 1 star to the max), but when put together, the book is always a superstar. Sorry, that just smacks of Bookish tweaking the reviews.

At any rate, Bookish seems a glossy, design-hip, interactive direct-selling tool for major publishers’ upcoming books and recent back catalog. Whether that’s of use to the majority of readers already using Goodreads and other sites, which are inclusive of a much wider range of books with less suspect ratings systems, remains to be seen.

And the publishers are . . . .

Hachette Book Group
HarperCollins Publishers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Inner Traditions
Independent Publishers Group
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Kensington Publishing Corp.
New Harbinger Publications
Perseus Books Group 
Penguin Group (USA)
Random House, Inc.
Simon & Schuster
Sourcebooks, Inc.
Workman Publishing Company
W. W. Norton & Company

Published in: on February 20, 2013 at 12:27 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

A Self-Published Author’s Media Rise


A big worry of authors, and one which keeps them from self-publishing, is the idea that only big publishing companies can get a book standard (non-social) media exposure. That is ridiculously untrue.

As proof, check out MJ Cope’s recent blog posts at Small Minds Enterprises. She wrote a press release, herself, for her recently self-published book Funny Australian Letterboxes. As result, she has been interviewed by newspapers (plural) and TV station GWN (see interview here).

There is nothing holding an author back today except antiquated ideas about publishing and marketing. If you are willing to take small steps, to give it a go, you can make yourself a success. Really!


Self-Published Authors Make UK Amazon Kindle 2012 Bestseller List


07.01.13 | Lisa Campbell  (Full article can be found on The Bookseller, copyright The Bookseller).

Amazon has revealed that 15% of its bestselling Kindle books in the UK last year were written by self-published authors, with Hodder & Stoughton’s Nick Spalding landing the bestselling self-published author gong [award].

Spalding’s books Love…From Both Sides and Love…And Sleepless Nights sales combined to make Spalding the bestselling digital book author through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform last year. The author was snapped up by Hodder & Stoughton imprint Coronet for a six-figure sum last October.

Amazon said overall 15 of the top 100 Kindle books sold in the UK were by authors using its self-publishing tool, with 75 by traditional publishers. Amazon added that since KDP launched, 61 KDP authors have sold over 50,000 copies of their books. It also revealed that 12 KDP authors have sold in excess of 100,000 copies, with 50 authors earning in excess of £50,000 [$80K US], and 11 of these earning more than £100,000 [$160K US].

The best-selling KDP books of 2012 on

1. Love… From Both Sides by Nick Spalding

2. Only the Innocent by Rachel Abbott

3. Love… And Sleepless Nights by Nick Spalding

4. One Cold Night by Katia Lief

5. Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

6. Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

7. Touch by Mark Sennen

8. Taunting the Dead by Mel Sherratt

9. The Tea Planter’s Daughter by Janet MacLeod Trotter

10. Here She Lies by Katia Lief

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Now.


No matter what you believe or where you find yourself today — home with family, out with friends, stuck on the road amid strangers, or completely alone and lost in the desert, remember there’s a star to guide to you. Just look up.

Published in: on December 25, 2012 at 12:58 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Amazon Announces Sixth Annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award


All the details are below with links. This is a golden opportunity for new authors and self-published authors! We encourage you to read all the information to first (particularly, self-published authors check out Official Rules section 3(e) to understand their definition of self-published). In a nutshell, finalists will be chosen in five categories—general fiction, mystery/thriller, romance, science fiction/fantasy/horror, and young adult fiction—and receive publishing contracts with Amazon Publishing, with a $15,000 advance.. One Grand Prize winner will be chosen by Amazon customers and receive a publishing contract with Amazon Publishing, with a $50,000 advance.


This year’s ABNA contest is open to unpublished and self-published English-language novels, which can be submitted from January 14, 2013 through January 27, 2013. The five finalists will be announced on May 21, and the Grand Prize winner will be announced during a special ceremony at Amazon headquarters in Seattle in June.

Up to 10,000 eligible entries will be accepted for the ABNA contest this year. The top 400 entries from each category will advance to the second round. Amazon reviewers will then read excerpts of the entries and narrow the pool to 100 titles in each category. In the subsequent round, reviewers from Publishers Weekly will read, review and rate the full manuscripts to find the top five semi-finalists for each category. Amazon Publishing editors will then choose a finalist in each of the five categories. In the final stage of the contest, customers will vote for a Grand Prize winner.

For the complete Official Rules for the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and more information about the contest, please visit Visit the Prizes page for the full list of prizes and details.


The categories to include five popular genres: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Young Adult Fiction. And we’re accepting entries from more countries than ever before. For complete eligibility details, view the official contest rules, or read details on how to enter.

Amazon Publishing is the official publishing sponsor for 2013 — which means a faster publishing timeline, higher royalties, ability to launch the books in multiple formats (print, audio, ebook) and worldwide distribution. Visit CreateSpace to learn more.

Preparing Your Entry

1) Prepare a strong pitch. More than a summary, your pitch should highlight your concept, protagonist, setting and writing style—all the elements that make your story unique. View sample pitches from past entrants.

2) Select the Genre that best fits your book: General Fiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, or Young Adult.

3) Stay within the word-count limits — pitch, up to 300 words; excerpt, 3,000 to 5,000 words; manuscript, 50,000 to 150,000 words.

4) Remove all identifying information from your pitch, excerpt and manuscript, including: your name and/or pen name, contact information, any awards received for your book and an author bio/resume.

5) Submit all your materials in the English language.

6) For complete entry requirements, view the Official Contest Rules.

7) Create an account with CreateSpace (if you haven’t already).

Is a Tablet in Your Favorite E-Reader’s Future?

E-book consumers are increasingly shifting to tablets from dedicated e-readers as their first choice for reading e-books, according to the Book Industry Study Group’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading Survey, powered by Bowker.

In August,

  1. 17% of e-book consumers cited Amazon Fire as their first choice for reading e-books (up from 0% last August),
  2. 7% cited B&N’s Nook (up from from 2% the previous August).
  3. 10% Apple’s iPad (a number which has remained constant).

Tablets are now the first choice for about a third of the e-reading public. Simultaneously, dedicated e-reading devices have slid in popularity in direct proportion to the growth of tablets. No surprise there.

Of frequent e-readers–people who purchase e-books at least weekly– 38% indicated that tablets were their primary e-reading device, compared to 19% a year earlier. Reading by frequent e-readers on dedicated e-reading devices meanwhile slipped to less than half from more than two-thirds a year earlier.

UPSHOT: Those who like to use technology for reading, like that reading technology to be a part of a more versatile technology they are able to use in other ways. So does that mean you should buy your reader a tablet? Read on.

According to an online poll of e-book readers conducted in June and July and sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy . . . .

Devices on which e-books borrowed by patrons of libraries were read included

  • 84% dedicated readers;
  • 20% desktop or laptop PCs;
  • 19% smartphones;
  • 18% tablets.

People who borrow ebooks from libraries tend overwhelmingly to own a dedicated eReader, however, they might equally used other technology to read that ebook! See, people who like eReading like versatility. Moving on . . .

  1. 57% of respondents said that the public library is their primary source of book discovery.
  2. 44% said their e-book purchases have increased in the past six months.
  3. And 35% purchased a book (print or e-book) after borrowing a copy of it.

Also, on average, library e-book patrons buy 3.2 books (both print and digital) a month.

UPSHOT: Readers are a highly individual bunch. Just write off eReaders and Tablets as gifts. Stick with bookstore gift cards so your beloved reader can buy the type of book they want and read it the way they want.

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 1:19 AM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,