Tag Archives: author

The new EU copyright law takes a stance for rights owners like authors and publishers

2018-09-16

The Parliament of European Union has accepted the new Copyright Directive proposed by the Commission. The EU Parliament, Commission and Council will negotiate the details, aiming at having the law proposal ready for EU member states by the end of 2018. Although some details may still change, the overall purpose and objectives have been accepted by the Parliament. What does the new EU copyright directive mean for authors and book publishers?

boy reading in library, books on a shelf
The article 11 and article 13 are the most discussed items in the copyright directive. The directive includes many other important items, like making digital content product available across borders (inside EU), making it easier to deal with data mining in research institutions, and other clarifications for use of copyrighted material in academic and educational environments.

Author/publisher relationship in the article 12

The article 12 deals with author-publisher relationship directly, aiming at giving publishers more rights for compensation when a work is licensed, for instance, to a library. In many countries, libraries pay small fees to authors for book loans. Publisher don’t usually benefit from this. The directive wanted to make it possible.

Some national author organizations were concerned about the article 12 that it would have restricted author’s copyright, but the wording of the article was changed to clarify it before the Parliament voted.

Change of business model for news aggregators indicated in article 11

Some European countries, like Germany and Spain have already tried to make big internet service platforms pay for the content they extract from newspapers and other news sources. Often this involves the title, a snippet and a link to the page where the news was published. So far, attempts to charge news aggregators like Google have failed.

It may appear an innocent activity, but when companies, such as Google and Facebook do it on a massive scale, it is actually a good business case for them. Valuable free content that an algorithm only has to sort and display to visitors.

The new directive gives news publishers a strong negotiating position to charge news aggregators and other internet services that use publishers’ news items in newsfeeds and other functions of their sites.

Authors and book publishers who have blogs where they comment on news and link to news sources need to follow closely what the exact requirements and practices for free linking and referring to news sources will be as EU negotiations proceed. Linking to an external web page, and extracting text or photos from an external web page are two completely different things.

I have not been able to find anything in the EU Directive that would restrict linking to web pages, be it a newspaper or anything else.
Tavira, Portugal: a non-digital nomad in a park

It is business as usual for authors and publishers despite article 13

In the EU, a creator of a work (author, composer, film maker) always owns the copyright to the work. He or she can transfer (sell) the rights or partial rights to someone else, like a publisher. Anyway, the owner of the rights decides where, how and who can read, listen or view the work.

This basic principle of copyright law hasn’t changed at all, but EU wants to adopt Article 13 that enforces the rights owner’s rights specifically on the internet. The article more or less directly addresses dominant internet services, like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia “service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users”.

EU’s point seems to be to make it absolutely clear that an internet service platform is responsible for all the content available on the service – user-uploaded or otherwise made available. It also makes it clear that all copyrighted works shared on a platform must have the rights owner’s explicit consent.

There are no grey zones anymore. The rights owner is entitled to a decent compensation if he or she has agreed that the work is made available on an internet service.

The curious thing in the article 13 is that it mentions “effective content recognition technologies” as a measure for preventing unlicensed content on a sharing service. Why on earth does it have to mention how a monitoring task can be executed? Leave it to the innovative businesses to create a solution. Hopefully this will be changed or removed during the negotiations.

For an author or book publisher, the article 13 is not earth-shattering news. If a copyrighted ebook has been uploaded to a sharing service, it has always been a copyright violation and the rights owner has been able to ask officials to intervene.

Online encyclopedias that have borrowed lengthy pieces of content from nonfiction books should look into their practices before problems arise. Also some fan fiction services may have content available extracted from fiction books. Right owners’ consent must be sought in each case.

The big fuss about the EU copyright law primarily concerns mixing and sharing culture

Most music makers, photographers, film makers, writers and publishers are happy to see a strong stance in favor of copyright protection, but some artists see risks in restrictions. The EU directive is trying to level the playing field between the rights owners (who can be a self-published author without any legal help) and internet giants that dominate search, advertising, social media and sharing services.

New works – music, films, books, photos – can be, and always have been, created using existing works more or less directly in the process. In the digital era, a new song can have the tune of “Every Breath You Take” but with new words and beat. Digitally merging old and new photographs or video clips is easy.

Sharing exciting video clips and funny photos or pieces of texts on social media is so common we don’t think about it anymore. Sometimes, someone has done a lot of work to produce that piece of work.

Loud advocates who want the current fuzzy situation to continue argue that preventing sharing or mixing is against freedom of speech and harmful for the entire internet.

It is true that EU’s new directive is straightforward with copyright owners’ rights, and eventually it will have an impact how sharing, mixing and news aggregation services operate on the internet. The services must change their processes so that all new content that becomes available on the site has cleared ownership checks, and if it is a copyrighted work, an agreement with its owner is in place.

Very little, if anything, will change because of EU’s new copyright law for an author who is writing his or her next book, or for a publisher that is investing in the production of a new book. The business model, after all, is still the same for them: produce an original work and market it to an audience that pays for the product.

Who creates the titles for books and how?

2018-09-07

A good book title triggers so much curiosity that a reader wants to grab the book right away and read what it is all about. Of course, a book with a boring title (for instance, Gone with the Wind, or Brideshead Revisited) can become a bestseller, but then, other factors in the book and its marketing have succeeded better than the title creator.

bookstore inside department store
Klaava Media has contributed to many ebook projects, and in these cases, the majority of book titles have been created by the authors. The vast majority of the titles authors finally settled with, however, were not the first ones they suggested.

After discussing the importance of the title with an author, throwing ideas into the air, and digging deep into the key theme of the book, authors usually discover a title that everyone is happy with.

The process of discovering a title is roughly the same for a nonfiction and fiction book. The purpose of the title slightly differs: nonfiction can be descriptive whereas fiction should be exciting.

Rare books dealer Jonkers has published an infographic that explains how titles for a number of classics were created. Also in the case of classics, some titles were suggested by authors, some by publishers, and some were discovered in collaboration.

classic book titles, infographic by Jonkers
Infographic by Jonkers Rare Books.

Some of the classics mentioned in the infographic:

George Orwell’s 1984 was originally The Last Man in Europe.
William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was Strangers from Within.
Charles Dicken’s Little Dorrit original name was Nobody’s Fault.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice originally was First Impressions.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was Trimalchio in West Egg.

Author walked 500 miles across Scotland for finding true love stories for a book

2018-02-22

Writers spend most of their time thinking of their work and tapping a keyboard, but that is not all they do. Many writers are more than happy to venture out to the big world for research trips and to talk to people who perhaps know something that is required to complete a planned book manuscript. An author decided to hike 800 kilometers / 500 miles across Scotland in order to discover real life love stories for his book.

Scotland scenery, a castle on a small island
Matt Hopwood hiked five weeks along Scotland’s west coast and on the islands along the coast. His route went through the Borders, along the Central Belt to Oban, across the Western Isles from Barra to the Isle of Lewis. He was on a mission to collect true stories for his manuscript that was published as a book in early 2018 A Human Love Story: Journeys To The Heart. The Sunday Post has published samples of short stories extracted from the book.

Walking as a way of finding inspiration or discovering people who can provide information for a book is an old and tried method.

In the early 19th century, a young doctor Elias Lönnrot decided that he wanted to collect ancient stories from the border district of Finland and Russia. He walked from village to village for years, and managed to put together an epic saga, Kalevala. You may have never heard of it, but J.R.R. Tolkien did, and got inspiration for his saga the Lord of the Rings.

Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was known for his long walks in the woods near Vienna. He took inspiration from those moments. The sixth symphony has so many elements related to nature, life on a farm, and countryside villages that he must have been affected by the walks.

Then, there are artists who write or make films about walking. Keith Foskett, who likes to do long hiking trips, has written many books about those adventures. Also film makers have recently documented long walks. For instance, As It Happens is a true story of two hikers who trekked the entire Pacific Crest Trail. Do More with Less is a film with interviews of people who like to make long hikes.

Despite their strange working habits, these authors became successful

2018-02-12

Writers can have strange habits when they work. Perhaps it is because they often work alone in a room dedicated for writing, or because they really are weird. Who cares, if the results are as amazing as books by Dan Brown, Kafka, or Woolf. Here are the strangest habits (that we know about) of successful authors.
writing during night, cartoon character
I bet that the vast majority of writers are sitting by a desk, tapping a keyboard, and sipping coffee or tea. I can’t remember hearing of any odd habits from colleagues or writing groups, but of course it is possible that someone likes to write naked and another one eats carrots with his or her pet rabbit when working.

Let’s stop guessing and view an infographic produced by Custom Writing about the strangest working habits a number of famous writers have admitted they have.

strange habits of authors infographic by Custom Writing
I wonder how and why the authors have admitted their strange ways. Well, some of Franz Kafka’s stories are pretty weird, but Agatha Christie? Anyway, the authors mentioned in the infographic are:

Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac, Dan Brown, Anthony Burgess, Truman Capote, Lewis Carroll, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Victor Hugo, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Friedrich Schiller, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf.

My favorites from these oddities are Dan Brown who claims his cure for a lack of inspiration is to hang head down (probably a tongue-in-cheek tip). Virginia Woolf wrote 3.5 hours standing which many writers today are doing as well to avoid painful neck and back problems.

How ebook readers choose which book they want to buy?

2017-11-20

A traditional wisdom says that a book’s author, title and cover are the key factors for a customer to make a purchase decision. A survey conducted in Germany among people who mostly read ebooks published by indie authors shows slightly different decision making preferences.

Amazon Kindle ereader in hand, books in the background
The survey among 2342 people in Germany discovered that the most important factor for their purchase decision was the book description. Writing a blurp is a difficult job already, and this piece of data only raises the standard.

Here are the survey results for the question how readers choose which book to buy:

89% of readers decide to buy a book based on the book description.
65% trust the author’s name.
49% of readers trust reviews.
48% can be convinced by a smart book cover.
46% of buyers go after the price.
45% title makes a difference.
15% are affected by the book’s bestseller rank.

Die Self Publisher Bible, survey resultsSource: Die Self Publisher Bibel.

The full results of the survey can be viewed (with graphs) at Die Self Publisher Bibel.

Anja at Indies Go German has translated some of the survey results to English with brief analysis.

It looks like Germans who prefer reading indie authors favor Kindle instead of German-based Tolino ebooks and ereaders. In the general German ebook market Amazon Kindle and Tolino are, however, considered to have practically equal market shares.

According to the survey, for German ebook readers, bookstores are the most important way to find new ebooks. So, searching, exploring book descriptions, reading reviews, downloading samples and all the functionality at an online bookstore really matters to readers.

If you think about the times gone by when the only place to find new books was a bookstore, the decision-making process is quite similar with ebooks. At a brick-and-mortar bookstore, you wander along corridors and scan the bookshelves. Something catches your eye, you stop, and pick up the book. You browse the book, view the cover and perhaps read a paragraph here and there. If everything matches with what you were looking for, it’s a deal.

Tips for making successful research work for a nonfiction book

2017-11-06

In order to write a nonfiction book manuscript, the author has to do research to make sure all the facts are correct. A motivational book on igniting a career is more about excitement than historical facts, but a book about the application of artificial intelligence in electric vehicles certainly must be based on facts. Research can be time consuming work, but it can be conducted effectively and without wasting valuable time.
man writing at office desk, stack of folders in front
Jeff Biggers, a narrative nonfiction author, has collected tips for research that he has learned during his long writing career. He has written nonfiction books, articles, radio stories and plays, and monologues. His published books include travel books, memoir, cultural and literary history, and investigative journalism. Biggers says that the research strategies he employs in one genre typically are the same for others, including fiction and poetry. Here are his tips.

Notebooks

Jeff Biggers recommends carrying a notebook (paper and pen) everywhere you go. Some writers may agree with the pen and paper strategy, while others prefer a tablet or a smartphone. The advantage of an electronic note-taking approach is that the notes can (and should) be copied to a safe storage instantly after new points have been written down.

Read

It is elemental that the author thoroughly understands the topic. Reading, listening and viewing all kinds of stories about the subject is helpful.

Interviews

Interviews of people who know something about the topic not only adds information to the research, but also adds color to the book. I couldn’t agree more. In addition, interviews can be the most fun part of the entire research project.

The scene

Movies are made of scenes, as well as many fiction books. Nonfiction book can also use the same techniques: have interesting characters, a plot and a conflict.

Folders

Jeff Biggers recommends organizing research material into folders. He uses physical folders, but the concept is the same if you use folders on your computer. Again, it is vital to backup folders to a safe place if anything terrible happens to your computer’s hard drive.

Enough research

It is likely that all nonfiction authors do more research that they can use for their books. It is inevitable. It is practically impossible to know in advance if a lead or a hint of information will lead somewhere that is valuable for the book.

I believe one of the best ways to restrict the amount of research work required for a nonfiction book is to really carefully plan its scope. And one of the best ways to quickly assess the scope is the Table of Contents of the planned book. It is even possible to show the TOC to someone else, say, an editor, agent or publisher and ask their opinion about the book’s planned scope.

10 items writers should include in a nonfiction book proposal

2017-10-21

Authors who are planning a nonfiction book can submit a proposal to publishers (or agents) once the book concept is crystal clear in the author’s mind. The manuscript doesn’t have to be ready. The potential of the book is evaluated from the information delivered in the proposal. This applies to nonfiction books only, and here are ten items that publishers and agents typically expect to find in a proposal.

eyeglasses on computer keyboard
These ten items for a nonfiction book proposal were originally outlined by Marisa Corvisiero

1. Title and Word Count

The title doesn’t have to be the final one, since it is often changed by the author or the publisher during the publishing process. Nonfiction books can have a title – subtitle structure which allows explaining quite a lot about the book.

In the era of ebooks, the traditional wisdom for the length of a nonfiction book (85,000 words, or about 300 printed pages) doesn’t apply anymore. For instance, we have published nonfiction ebooks that are about 50 pages, and also books that are about 500 pages.

Assuming that the author is still planning the book, the tentative word count indicates the scope of the manuscript and the amount of work required.

Many publishers also want to get a tentative idea for how many pictures, photos, schemas, tables and other elements besides text the author is planning to include in the book.

2. Tagline

A short, one or two line description about the concept of the book. The purpose is to make the product interesting and attractive.

3. Blurb

A short summary of what the book is about. What the reader will learn and the key points that will be made in the pages.

4. Structure of the Book

How the book will be organized and why. Often, however, it is better to include a comprehensive Table of Contents that shows the structure.

5. Target Market

A description of who should buy the book, who it is written for, and why they need it.

A list of competitive products belongs in this section, with analysis how this book will be different and/or better than books already in the market.

6. Author Bio

Readers will want to know if they can trust the author’s expertise. This is all about credentials.

7. Marketing Plan

Publishers want to know how large audience the author can reach. They will then add their activities to the mix. Any ideas for delivering the message to the world are welcomed by publishers. Authors must be ready to do book marketing as well.

8. Endorsements or Media Coverage

If an author can get endorsements from renowned people for the book, here is the section to mention it. Also possible media contacts, or earlier appearances in media should be listed here.

9. Table of Contents

The more detailed the Table of Contents is, the better picture the publisher gets from the book concept. This is the key element for many publishers when they consider what the book really is about and ponder its positioning in the market. For more information on the details publishers may expect to find in the TOC, read this article.

10. Sample Chapters

A chapter or two of the book should be included in the proposal. Many agents want three to five chapters, but it varies, as well as publishers’ requirements. Submission guidelines should be followed. A sample is important for publishers and agents in order to evaluate the author’s style, voice, and way of presenting the information.

Ebook news digest: literary tourism, collaborating authors, waterproof ereader, ebook statistics

2017-06-02

News on ebooks, writing, and travel

ereader on top of stack of books
Literary Tourism: Travel The World’s Book Towns
Book Riot

Towns with an exceptionally high number of bookstores are sometimes referred to as booktowns. Book Riot has collected the most notable towns from Canada, Norway, South Korea, from around the world into an article – in case you want to visit them all.

5 Critical Mistakes of Author Collaborations And How to Avoid Them
The Creative Penn

Co-authoring a book is not as common as collaborating with other artists for a piece of music or a film. An author who has succeeded in collaborative projects with other authors has identified five key issues. 1: learn to know your co-author before starting a project.

Snapshot: June 1, 2017
I Love My Kindle

The author of the post loves the Kindle, but if you love numbers (and data on ebooks) read the post. One of the many bits of data is that every day about 2000 new titles are added to the Kindle Store. Makes any and every publisher think how to differentiate from the mass.

Traveling in Scandinavia – Free Ebook Download
Klaava

A collection of travel stories, cultural tips and tourist information for North Europe. Free EPUB and Kindle ebook download.

Travel Writing: All You Need To Know
Jerry Nelson

The post describes the genres of travel writing and the authors who are the most famous representatives of the genres.

An Interview with a 21st Century Nomad
Mapping Megan

Steve Moore, a writer, has been working on the road for 20 years, long before the world started talking about the digital nomad lifestyle. He has perspective to nomad life.

Over 2 Million Historic Photographs Now Available Online – Pique Your Interest With A Peek Into History
SLR Lounge

Europeana project is like an online museum, preserving old European objects digitally. Now, two million images has been archived and made available, but check the rights before you download because not every photo is in public domain.

Kobo’s new Aura H20 is a smaller, cheaper version of its best e-reader
The Verge

A waterproof ereader for the vacation season sounds like a good idea. Kobo has released a new version of its waterproof device, and the reviewer likes it.

This is why book publishers want details about potential authors’ blog and social media footprint

2016-12-17

If you already have had an opportunity to talk to a book publisher or an agent about your terrific book concept, you may have been asked about your blog and social media presence. For you, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with your aspirations as a writer. Maybe you don’t even have a blog and your social media is mostly about watching cat videos on Facebook. Here is the thing: when a publisher is estimating the size of the market for your book concept, the audience you are able to reach yourself can be a significant factor.
man thinking what to write on aptop
Let’s take an example. You have been living and working in Berlin, the capital of Germany, for a year. You have learned so much about the culture, country and people that you are planning to write a cultural guide to other foreigners who intend to move to Germany. If you have a travel blog where you discuss about the country, the city, the language and the way Germans behave, you probably have an audience. Your blog or other social media contribution is also a quick way for publishers and agents to browse how and what topics you write about. If, on the other hand, you have only updated your Facebook page that your family and friends read during the year, it really doesn’t count as an audience.

Without going into details of blogging, tweeting, instagramming or whatever will be the next big thing in social media, the key thing is: how many people you can reach on your own?

Many experts in the publishing business call this the Author Platform. For an extensive explanation on the Author Platform (also known as the Writer’s or Marketing Platform) and how to build one for yourself, read this article at Writer’s Digest.

The Platform concept is particularly useful for nonfiction writers. Publishers and naturally readers expect that the writer knows what he or she is talking about. The writer must be an authority of the topic of the book. This doesn’t mean that he or she should be a world-renowned expert, but should have the credibility so that the audience can trust the information in the book. Experienced, professional writers can write just about anything, but they have plenty of techniques and contacts for verifying the information they write.

If we use the cultural guide to Germany as an example, living and working for a year in Berlin gives enough experiences to write a book, but probably means that the guidebook won’t dive very deep into the local culture. If the aspiring author writes the manuscript in Berlin, it may take another year, and the authority only grows.

So, these two key things are the reasons why publishers and agents are interested in writers’ footprint (both in the real world and on the Internet):

1. Audience
2. Authority

When we discuss about writing and book publishing, we easily neglect an important factor that impacts both the publishing decision and the whole book project. Especially nonfiction books are not only about text, but also about photos, schemas, tables, drawings, and today also (thanks to ebooks) about animations and videos. If you can shoot decent photos or videos, draw pictures or put together smart data tables, it is a big advantage for you.
photographer taking a photo in flower field
If you have a plan for a nonfiction book, and are looking for an ebook publisher, read this as well.

When Authors Insult Each Other, It Is Pretty Witty Literature

2015-03-24

When authors dislike a colleague, they really know how to deliver the message to the world. Who can describe beauty and kindness, or ugliness and stupidity better than authors? Because they are writers, they tend to deliver their message in writing, which makes our job easier to correctly quote them.

Woman leaning on pile of books
BBC collected the best sound bites from famous authors when they had something nasty to say about their fellow authors. Here are highlights from authors who have critically evaluated their colleagues.

Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”

Norman Mailer on Jack Kerouac: “His rhythms are erratic, his sense of character is nil, and he is as pretentious as a rich whore, sentimental as a lollypop.”

George Bernard Shaw disliked Shakespeare: “With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare. The intensity of my impatience with him occasionally reaches such a pitch, that it would positively be a relief to me to dig him up and throw stones at him.”

Voltaire called Shakespeare a “drunken savage” … “vast dunghill”.

Mark Twain wasn’t impressed by Jane Austen. “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”.

Oscar Wilde wasn’t a fan of poetry: “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope”.

Evelyn Waugh on Marcel Proust: “Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective”.

TS Eliot: “Aldous Huxley, who is perhaps one of those people who have to perpetrate thirty bad novels before producing a good one, has a certain natural – but little developed – aptitude for seriousness. Unfortunately, this aptitude is hampered by a talent for the rapid assimilation of all that isn’t essential”.

Edith Sitwell: “Virginia Woolf’s writing is no more than glamorous knitting. I believe she must have a pattern somewhere”.

Maybe Virginia Woolf responded to Sitwell, but Woolf certainly had an opinion on James Joyce’s Ulysses: “An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me: the book of a self-taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking, and ultimately nauseating”.

James Joyce was insulted by DH Lawrence as well: “Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

Wyndham Lewis: “Gertrude Stein’s prose-song is a cold black suet-pudding. We can represent it as a cold suet-roll of fabulously reptilian length. Cut it at any point, it is the same thing; the same heavy, sticky, opaque mass all through and all along.”

Gustave Flaubert on George Sand: “A great cow full of ink”.

Robert Louis Stevenson on Walt Whitman: “Like a large shaggy dog just unchained scouring the beaches of the world and baying at the moon”.

The Most Desired Jobs in Britain Are Author, Librarian and Academic

2015-03-01

In many countries books, authors, and avid readers are appreciated and respected. Even though writers are usually respected, everyone who has tried writing as a profession knows how hard work it is, and how few writers can make a living by writing alone. In Britain, however, author, librarian and academic are the most desired jobs above any other work.
author is the most desired job
Ten most desired jobs in Britain in January 2015 were:
1. Author
2. Librarian
3. Academic
4. Lawyer
5. Interior Designer
6. Journalist
7. Doctor
8. TV presenter
9. Train driver
10. Teacher

YouGov.com, most desired jobs

Gender differences were significant. Two most preferred jobs for British women were librarian and interior designer, whereas men wanted to be train drivers or Formula 1 racecar drivers.

YouGov conducted the survey.

Authors Don’t Have to Sit down to Write Fabulously

2015-02-27

Sitting still at a keyboard and typing away for hours and hours a day is necessary from time to time, but if a writer works this way for long periods back ache, sore shoulders and stiff neck may become problems. This is exactly why some authors occasionally try and write standing up. I have tried it myself, and it is not as crazy as you might imagine.

Ernest Hemingway used to write standing up every now and then. He is not only writer who has discovered alternative ways to write – other than sitting down in a study at a keyboard. How about writing naked as J.D. Salinger did? Here is an infographic Unusual Work Habits of Great Writers by Ninja Essays.
writing habits of famous writers, infographic. Essay Ninjas
Infographic from Ninja Essays.