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Best of the Blogs | 2 December 2017

It’s December already! The blogs have been a little quiet this week—perhaps everyone is recovering from Thanksgiving. But there is still plenty of news!


Christian Fiction Genre

Library Journal has published an in-depth spotlight on Christian Fiction, from writer and reviewer Julia Reffner. The article, A Delicate Balance, shows what efforts the major trade publishers are taking to bring Christian fiction to new audiences. In particular, she addresses age, race, and the amount of “real” readers are looking for.

Reffner has interviewed many major publishers for the article, and it’s well worth reading to understand the challenges in publishing Christian fiction, and the genres publishers are most interested in.

Christmas Holiday Shut-Downs

Christmas is coming, and Draft2Digital are advising you upload new manuscripts by 11 December to ensure they publish on time.


GoodReads Giveaways

Goodreads have announced changes to their popular giveaway feature. Currently, authors can give away paperback books free via Goodreads, or they can pay USD 119 to give away 100 ebooks. The supposed advantage of a Goodreads giveaway is that your book then shows up in entrant’s feeds (as your book is added to their Want to Read pile).4

Now Goodreads have announced that paperback giveaways will be paid from 9 January 2018. The standard package will be USD 119 (with an introductory price of USD 59 for January 2018 only). There will also be a premium option, which costs an eye-watering USD 599 (again, with a 50% introductory rate for January only).

The programme will initially be available for authors with US postal addresses.

Reaching Readers

Lacy Williams borrows from Kristine Kathryn Rusch in Multi-Layered Readers and How To Read Them – a fascinating blog post at Kobo Writing Life.

Writing Your Author Bio

Anne R Allen has tips for writing your sentence, paragraph, and one-page Author Bio. Even if you have an author bio, it’s worth reviewing every year to make sure it is still current. Read the article for a top tip from Kathy Steinemann to help you keep track of where you’ve posted each bio!

That’s it for this week. What’s the best post you’ve read online recently?

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 11 November 2017

Lots of news this week!

Social Media

280-character limit on Twitter

Twitter has historically allowed just 140 characters per tweet. A few weeks back, they announced they were trialing 280-character Tweets with a select group of users. The trial must have gone well, because almost everyone can now Tweet 280 characters (the exceptions are users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, because the nature of these languages means they don’t come close to the 140-character limit).

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

People are on Twitter for links and pithy comments, not essays … although I’m sure the longer Tweet length will come in useful in Twitter Chats such as @ BadRedHeadMedia’s Thursday #BookMarketingChat.



MacMillan has announced they will closing Pronoun, their ebook distributor, in January 2018. Pronoun has experienced problems over its’ short lifespan, with complaints of lagging dashboards and slow responses to questions. But it attracted attention because of the benefits it offered, including full 70% royalty on Kindle books priced below $2.99 (Amazon only pays 70% royalty on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99).

I guess this answers my big question about Pronoun: how were they making money if they were offering higher royalties than Amazon? The answer: maybe they weren’t.


In better news, Draft2Digital now distributes to Amazon. However, they still don’t distribute to Google Play (which many authors saw as the major reason to use Pronoun).


I have heard some indie authors are using StreetLib to distribute to Google Play—they even have a one-click “import from Pronoun” option. Have you used StreetLib? What was your experience?


Dismemberment aka Floating Body Parts

Cait Reynolds visits Kristen Lamb’s blog to share about Dismemberment: Taking Characters Apart in all the Wrong Ways. This is perhaps better known as floating body parts, but dismemberment is more attention grabbing.

I once read a sci-fi novel where the alien species could take their heads off and throw them around the room. They could even swap heads (although that was frowned upon by the more conservative among them).

Result: every time I see dismemberment like “she threw her head” in a novel, I’m taken out of that novel and taken straight back to 1992, when I read the novel where Mr and Mrs Basketball-Head are stressing because their daughter wants to play Swap-Heads with some hot alien she’s just met.

Editor-me tells this little story every time I see dismemberment in a novel (although I call it “floating body parts”, which is much less fun).

I just wish I could remember the name of the novel.


Christy Awards

The winners of the 2017 Christy Awards were announced on 8 November. While I haven’t read all the finalists, there were two surprises for me:

  • Joint winners for Historical Romance: I haven’t seen this before. I’ve seen four finalists because of a tie, but not two winners.
  • The brilliant Long Way Gone by Charles Martin was the Book of the Year, but didn’t win the category. Again, in previous years, the Book of the Year has been one of the category winners.


This might be just me, but has Amazon removed the ability to vote reviews as “unhelpful”? I’m only seeing a thumbs-up button. We know Amazon is forever changing things, and we also know sometimes these changes are tests run for a select group of users (such as Twitter’s initial tests of the 280-character limit). I also know many people (especially authors) have been asking for Amazon to remove the “downvote” button for half of forever—their wish may just have been granted.

Can you see the downvote button on Amazon? Or do you just get the thumbs-up I see?

Amazon Review - Then There Was You by Kara Isaac


Best of the Blogs: 28 January 2017

www.christianediting.co.nzYes, it’s been a while. Conference in October, a family bereavement in November, a holiday and Christmas in December, and suddenly it’s been three months since I’ve written a “weekly” Best of the Blogs post. Anyway, life seems to have calmed down (I hope) and so I’m back.

So here we go …

The best blog posts on writing, publishing, and marketing I’ve read in the week to 28 January 2017:


I get a lot of questions from writers around point of view—specifically, around writing deep third person point of view. I suspect one reason authors find this aspect of writing difficult is because they are writing (well, duh!).

What I mean is that the author is writing the character, rather than allowing the character to speak for him or herself. That’s perhaps because we don’t know our characters well enough. Because we haven’t yet found the character’s voice.

In this blog post, Janice Hardy of Fiction University shares some tips on finding your character’s voice: How to Find Your Character’s Voice.


Tate Publishing Closes

Tate Publishing & Enterprises has closed, leaving a lot of confused and unhappy authors (especially those who still don’t realise Tate has always been a pay-to-publish vanity press who’d take anyone. Hey, they offered me a contract without even seeing my manuscript. That is not how a proper publisher works.)

It would appear the company has been going steadily downhill since Ryan Tate had his famous outburst where he prayed and quoted the Bible before abusing his staff, and firing 25 people.

‘Proverbs say that the wicked will set a trap, but the righteous will prevail and the wicked will fall into their own trap,’ said Tate in the recording. ‘A lot of good people are going to get hurt.’

It would appear the “good people” are the authors who trusted Tate.

New York Times Cut Bestseller Lists

The New York Times have cut a number of their bestseller lists. I’m no expert, but I suspect this will make it a lot harder for indie authors to “get their letters” (i.e. to be able to boast of being a NYT Bestseller). On the other hand, it might be good news for readers who value such things. Although less good news for those who read the genres which have been cut, like romance. Or maybe it simply reinforces that the NYT list is irrelevant for many readers.

Data Guy at Digital Book World

The other big publishing news was Data Guy’s presentation at the recent Digital Book World conference (Data Guy is, well, the data guy behind the Author Earnings website and reports). I’ll be writing a separate blog post on that next week.



This excellent post from Sabrina at Digital Pubbing contains dozens of links to help you set up or improve your blog.

Kick-Start Your Author Platform

And if you don’t have a website and you’d like some guidance in building one (and some friendly accountability), then join my free March Marketing Challenge: Kick-Start Your Platform. Sign up here: March Marketing Challenge.

In case you’re not convinced you need a website, let Kevin Tumlinson at Draft2Digital tell you why you do:
The Absolute Basics
Advanced Approaches
Best Practices

He also reinforces the importance of a lot of topics we’re going to cover in the March Marketing Challenge … so if you don’t know what he means or how to implement his suggestions, sign up now: March Marketing Challenge.

Author Brand

Part of author branding is making sure you portray yourself as polished and professional. But, as Amy Matayo points out in Image Isn’t Everything, this means people get a distorted view of others, as if their lives are always good.


We all need a little encouragement, a reminder that we don’t need to do everything. Elaine Fraser encourages us to make space in our lives for God, and for ourselves in the Unforced  Rhythms of Grace.

Best of the Blogs: 28 October 2016

The best blog posts I’ve read in the week to 21 October 2016, on writing, publishing, and marketing.

But first: a giveaway

Can’t Help Falling, the second novel from New Zealand author Kara Isaac has just released, and I’ve got one Kindle version to give away. Click here to enter.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

The first chapter is at the bottom of this post. But now, back to our regular feature: what’s best in the blogs this week.


Fiction authors need to show and not tell. It’s easier said than done (and easier told that shown!). Janice Hardy visits Helping Writers Become Authors to share an excellent article on 3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling … which is the first step in eliminating it.

Book coach Jennie Nash visits The Book Designer to go Back to the Basics on Backstory. This is an excellent post which also contains links to five previous posts in the series, all written to help you write the perfect chapter.


Anne R Allen shares 10 Tips for Choosing Your Book Title—there is some meaty stuff in this post.


Draft2Digital have advice on How to Build an Author Platform. Despite the title, this post is not so much about developing an author platform. It’s more about how you can use some clever tools to improve your passive marketing—like putting store links in the backs of your books. It’s from Draft2Digital so they’re obviously pushing their own publishing platform, but why not? I’ve only heard good things about them (and I’m happy to be corrected on that).


I’m no athlete, but our family are fans of the TV show Ninja Warrior (although we prefer the subtitled to the US version. Sorry, American readers). Anyway, this dad also has a daughter who loves Ninja Warrior … but he’s taken his fandom a little further than most people: Baby Ninja Warrior

 And here’s the beginning of Can’t Help Falling:

Remember: click here to enter the giveaway