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The Blog

News and Notes

Observations and opinions about the brave new publishing world.

At Chicago Author Solutions (a division of Eckhartz Press), we stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.



1. How to Be Creative (Tips from Picasso, Einstein, Stephen King)
You can always learn from the greats. This was in a recent issue of Time Magazine.


2. How to Gain Followers on Instagram
Instagram is a very visual social media, so it’s not perfect for all authors. For authors of more visually-oriented books, however, it’s a must. This article has some good tips about how to increase your instagram presence.


3. Amazon to put final nail in B&N coffin?
Interesting note. Barnes and Noble has lost approx 60% of it’s value in the last 6 months. They have 76 million shares outstanding at approx $7.40 share. This means that the company is valued at about $600 million, while Amazon is worth approx $250 Billion dollars. Amazon could buy (or initiate a hostile take over) B & K with .2 % asset allocation. Tick tock, Barnes and Noble. Now Amazon is launching retail outlets too.


4. Kindle cracks down on e-book quality
For those of you who don’t follow the whole Kindle world, there’s a movement that tracks free e-books and promotes them. Many Kindle readers used to sniff at paying anything at all for an e-book because so many of them were free. Ah, but you get what you pay for, don’t you? The quality was often horrible. Not just content-wise, but also formatting-wise. Authors tried to do it themselves to save money and made lots and lots of mistakes. It’s gotten so bad that amazon has been forced to crack down.


5. A great interview with Adam McKay, the man who transformed “The Big Short” into a motion picture
The Big Short is a great book by Michael Lewis. It’s now also a great film. Adam McCay is the man who transformed it into a movie, and this feature in the Washington Post is a great read.


6. Monkey in the Middle
People have been laughing at Dobie Maxwell his entire life. He has been a professional entertainer since 1985 appearing on stage, radio and television all over North America. He has also become one of the top teachers and mentors in the field with his “Maxwell Method of Standup Comedy” course which has helped a wide variety of people from all walks of life to find the funny in their own life’s journey. Eckhartz Press is thrilled to be releasing his incredible memoirs.



We stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.



1. 25 more hard truths about writing and publishing
These are excellent points, written by author Chuck Wendig. Tough truth, but also hope.


2. How Amazon Could Destroy College as we Know it
We always like to link to the amazon-will-take-over-and-ruin-the-world articles. It’s really just to make you feel guilty every time you enjoy the unbelievably consumer friendly one-click world they have created. This article is a good one, though. Posted by Vox.com.


3. 7 Mistakes your making with your author blog and how to fix them
Nearly every author has a blog. If you don’t, you should get one. At the very least it forces you to practice writing. At the most, it’s a great way to stay in touch with your fans. This article by the Creative Penn has some good dos and don’ts.


4. A free e-book about Twitter for Writers
If you’re still struggling with what, when, how, and why to tweet, this free e-book is a good primer.


5. Are big publishers using SEO Stacking on Amazon to stack the deck?
This is a really fascinating examination of a specific book by a major publisher and the really fishy reviews it received on amazon.


6. The downside of a world where everyone’s an author
Yes, it’s a mostly wonderful thing that anyone can become an author. However, some of the authors who never would have been published in the old days are jumping into this new publishing world feeling slightly entitled. Writer Derek Haines does his best to put them in their place.


7. 10 Things to consider when choosing a publisher
We find articles like this every week. It’s an important subject for prospective authors, but too many don’t bother to read them. This particular piece has tips for the traditional and the non-traditional route.


8. Author Groups That Can Help
Novels are notoriously difficult to promote. If you ever go to a novelist’s book signing, talk to the people in the crowd there. The crowd will almost certainly contain fellow novelists. It’s true. This article will connect you to author groups filled with people just like you…people that will happily attend your book signings when they occur.


9. What is Kindle Scout?
It’s a contest. Jane Friedman explains.


10. Need Help With Your Publicity?
Chicago Author Solutions (that’s us!) has an assortment of publicity packages that can help you publicize your book. We’ve had an incredible streak of success placing authors with traditional and non-traditional media outlets. Click at the link for more info.



We stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.



1. The 50 Most Unacceptable Sentences in “City on Fire”, In Order
City on Fire was named a Best Book of the Year by: New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Vogue, The Atlantic, and Newsday. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times calls it: “A novel of head-snapping ambition and heart-stopping power—a novel that attests to its young author’s boundless and unflagging talents.” It was published by a major New York publisher, Knopf. Fellow writers, however, are less than impressed with the actual writing. There are 50 pretty good reasons why in the linked piece above.


2. One star book reviews
Once you publish a book you open yourself up to criticism. Just read the comments section below anything ever written (or, ironically, item #1 on today’s list of articles). It’s often needlessly harsh, nasty, and/or wrong. Even when you know it’s coming, it still hurts when that criticism is directed at something you’ve worked on for a year or more. The writer of this linked piece has some good advice for how to handle it. It happened to him, and it can and will (probably) happen to you. Learn to embrace it and have fun with it. A little self-deprecating humor goes a long way.


3. The Social Media Skills Gap
Technology is moving at a ridiculous pace, and social media is leading the charge. As writers we need to stay on top of this, or at least make an effort not to turn into dinosaurs. The CEO of Hootsuite talks about the social media gap, and encourages business people to invest time in learning it. (We are, after all, also business people, right?)


4. Some writer humor


5. What do you mean you’ll Tweet My Book?
I know that you’ll be tweeting all about your book, but did you know there are inexpensive ways to get others to tweet about it too? Some even specialize in reaching book readers. The link above will take you to one of those book tweeters. They call themselves…Booktweeters. Easy to remember.


6. 25 Debut Authors Share Their Advice for Getting Published
This comes from a literary agent’s blog, so it features debut authors who have been published by traditional publishers. For those of you who still want to go this route, there is some good advice here.


7. Another Way of Branding Your Podcast
Lots of authors have chosen to promote their works through podcasts. This article examines the effectiveness of the podcasting world in general, and gives tips on other ways you can brand your podcast.


We stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.



1. A Reason to Use a Pen Name
Authors write–it’s what we do. But sometimes we write a book that doesn’t exactly fit our brand. Derek Haines discusses when the use of a pen name is appropriate.


2. Dictating a Book
Software technology has advanced to the level where dictating a book is actually possible–at least for a first draft. This article has some good tips for authors who choose to go this route.


3. 11 Mistakes New Self Published Authors Make
More tough love. Excellent advice, however. Sometimes we need to hear these things.


4. Createspace penalizes international authors
The writer of this linked piece points out the shortcomings of Createspace for an international author. Something to think about if you ever find yourself living overseas. (Some American authors also have reservations about Createspace, but that’s a story for another time).


5. Fifty Shades of Bad Movie
When a blockbuster novel is made into a movie, it usually helps the novel. In the case of Fifty Shades of Grey that doesn’t appear to be the case. It received a razzie nomination for worst movie of the year.


6. Oscar Nominated movie based on a novel
The flip side of the movie coin is the novel Room. The author of best-selling novel Room was so confident it would be a hit movie she wrote the screenplay for it before the book was published. Now it’s nominated for an Oscar.


7. Revisiting David Oglive’s 10 Tips for Business Writing
David Oglive was an advertising genius. We are all in the business of advertising when we promote our work. PR Daily recently went back and looked at his famous 10 tips, and they hold up. Recommended reading.


8. A new category of author–the Artisanal Published author
This is a much needed new label in the publishing world. There’s a big gap between traditional publishing and self publishing. Hybrid publishers are a middle ground (sharing the costs and profits with authors). Slightly closer to self-publishing, artisanal publishing is a good name for high quality self-publishing. More at the link.


9. What Can Hollywood Teach Brands About Content Marketing?
Dave Wishnowsky is a local writer who examines the lessons Hollywood teaches us as brands. Not all of it is applicable to authors, but it’s worth a read to get your brain in a marketing mindset.


10. Publishing and Publicity Packages
At Chicago Author Solutions we’ve been signing up clients that need all sorts of help in the publishing process. This link takes you to a few of our packages. Remember that each individual part of the process is available on an ala carte basis. You can e-mail either of us for more information (david@eckhartzpress.com, rick@eckhartzpress.com)