Wednesday, August 31, 2011


As you may have noticed, lords and ladies, I haven't quite been bringing my "A" game the past couple of months. Between increased responsibilities at work and a host of other demands on my time, I'm afraid I'm going to have to put Pimp My Novel on indefinite hiatus.

Not to worry—nothing terrible has happened/is happening. It's just that there are only so many hours in the day, and I know I'm not going to be able to do a consistent or good job with this blog once the Publishing Giant reawakens in September.

It pains me to write this, folks, since so many of you have been here since day one. You've encouraged me to write about the industry, shared with me (and your fellow writers) your tips, advice, stories, works in progress, successes, and setbacks, and I want to thank all of you for your time and generosity over the past two years. Seriously, y'all are the best.

So: thank you. Hopefully I'll be seeing (read: posting for) you again soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Day

No damage as a result of the hurricane, mes auteurs, but slow intracity transit and allaying the fears of many publishing folk is taking more time than I expected. We'll be back on Wednesday with more book-based bacchanalia!

Friday, August 26, 2011


No round-up today, mes auteurs—we New Yorkers are all preparing for Hurricane Irene. We'll (hopefully) be back on Monday, and for those of you in Irene's path, stay safe and stay dry!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book to the Future

Y'all might remember the grand entrance of the Vook in 2009. If not, in short: it's a form of enhanced e-book with movies and other media built into it. Video + book = Vook. Simple, cool, innovative, no?

Unfortunately, many readers found the videos and additional media distracting, particularly for works of fiction. (I could have told you that countless nonconsecutive video clips do not help a reader immerse him/herself in a fictional world.) Vook has since moved toward more nonfiction titles, however, and received a better response.

How a Vook differs from the Internet, I have no idea.

However! If you thought the Vook was the pinnacle of book/media mash-ups, you thought wrong. Enter Booktrack, a company that makes soundtracks for books.

Yes, soundtracks for books. Now while you're reading about a forest, you can hear THE SOUNDS OF A FOREST. Like, I don't know, birds and whatnot. When Bro McLadiesMan begins playing a mega sweet power ballad for his lady fair, you can listen along. When you get to a super intense part, you get to listen to super intense movie trailer-style music. &c, &c. (There are previews on the Booktrack website if you're interested.)

The Booktrack speed can be adjusted to your reading speed, as well, so the synchronization between sound effects and text should be reasonably good.

Be that as it may, I think I'll find Booktrack books similar to Vooks: over-hyped and distracting. I'm all for innovation in the field and I think it's necessary to the future success of print media, but I'm not sure rocking the audio equivalent of a movie trailer in the background is the best way to achieve this.

However! I'm curious, as always, to hear what you think. So, mes auteurs: yea or nay on the Booktrack experience?

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Terms to Know (Rerun)

Meetings abound, mes auteurs, so here's a quick rerun re: publishing terms to know! — E

Episode: "More Terms to Know"
Originally aired: Monday, February 28th, 2011

In the world of publishing, mes auteurs, there are a lot of terms to know. As our digital overlords begin to claim more and more of this territory for themselves, I think an e-update of sorts is in order.

Therefore! I've put together a list of indispensable e-book/Internet-related terms I think you should know. If you think of any more (and I'm sure you will), please don't hesitate to post them in the comments.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). A system for separating a web page's or e-book's style/formatting from its content. For example: rather than putting a tag around every block of text that specifies the font as Garamond, you can just have CSS declare that all text should be in Garamond from the outset.

Think of it as like giving directions from the passenger seat of the car: you can just tell the driver, "go straight until I say otherwise" from the outset, rather than saying, "keep going straight" at each intersection.

E-book (also ebook, eBook). An electronic book available in a wide variety of formats (e.g. AZW, EPUB, MOBI, PDF) on a variety of devices (e.g. Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook).

EPUB (also ePub, ePUB, EPub, epub). The industry standard e-book format. It's basically a zipped-up website.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language). The language used to write websites and e-books. It's currently on version five (HTML5).

PDF (also .pdf). Standing for "Portable Document Format," a .pdf is a file format readable by many (but not all) e-reading devices. Its primary selling point is that it represents documents independent of the machine it runs on, so a .pdf e-book looks the same no matter what devices is used to read it. For this reason, however, .pdf files are not reflowable (see below).

Reflowable content. Content (words, diagrams, illustrations, &c) that can change or "reflow" depending on the device designed to read it. Text "reflows" when you change the font size on your Kindle or when you switch back and forth between devices with different display sizes.

This is one reason e-versions of the same title look different on different devices; another is that different e-tailers do different things to the source files they receive from publishers before making the book available to the consumer.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Basically, this is the idea of improving your visibility via search engines on the Internet. For example: if you Google "[your name] author," you want your personal website to be one of the first few hits. Taking into account how search engines work and what search terms people use, it's possible to move up the list of results (often dramatically).

XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language). A family of XML languages (see below) that serves as an alternative to HTML (above).

XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Wikipedia says it best: "A set of rules for encoding documents in machine-readable form." If you're using Microsoft Office 2007 or later, you're already familiar with one of XML's many uses (it's the "x" in ".docx," ".xlsx," &c).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Keeping Your Butt in the Chair

This is, à mon avis, the most difficult part about writing, folks. I've been having some trouble with it lately myself, so I thought I'd dedicate a post to the subject.

Make a list of your usual distractions. It's helpful to recognize your weaknesses before they become an issue. Do you obsessively check e-mail? Go out for a coffee? Play Farmville? Whatever it is, write it down. Being aware of it will help you stop doing it (see below).

Block out time to write. Scheduling is half the battle, mes auteurs. Pick a time that works well for you and do your best to stick to it. If you're a morning person, 6:00 am is great; if not, maybe not so much. Be as regular in your commitment to writing as you can, even (especially) if you're not writing every day.

Get any distractions out of your system before you sit down to write. Trying to quit all your distractions cold turkey will probably result in your caving and going back to them to blow off steam, potentially during time you'd otherwise spend writing. Play your games, check your e-mail, tweet, update Facebook. Then write. And write when you're supposed to, not just in between rounds of StarCraft.

Take steps to prevent distractions while writing. If you can't stop checking Twitter, turn off your Internet connection. If you keep getting up to see whether the guy next door is still trimming his hedges into the shapes of Jersey Shore cast members, close your blinds. &c, &c.

Schedule regular breaks. You're not a machine; it's just as important to know when to stop writing as it is to set a time to start. I usually take ten minutes off for every hour I set aside. If you try to write through your break and you're not seriously on a roll, you'll probably end up more prone to your usual distractions anyway.

Reward yourself for sticking to your schedule. After you finish your hour of writing, go get that coffee. After a week of sticking to your schedule, buy yourself a new book. The more you reward yourself for a job well done, the more you'll start looking forward to that scheduled writing time you've set aside. Pavlov! He was perhaps on to something.

That's all I've got for you today, meine Autoren. How do you keep your butts in your chairs each day?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Prithee, Inform Me: What Are You Writing?

It occurs to me, lords and ladies, that I have not asked you about what you're writing in over a year. A year! So, without further ado:

What are you writing? If you responded the last time I asked, have you finished that project? Have you secured representation, self-published, given up on that MS, started a new one? What genre, what's it about, what's going well, what are you struggling with? How many projects are you juggling at once?

To the comments!