Pub Rants

Category: Marketing & Promotion

Friday Funnies – Anatomy of Book Cover Design

STATUS: Haven’t had a good video to share in a while. This one is worth the wait.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  DON’T GO by Yaz

Chip Kidd is a legend in this industry. Video is not short but worth every minute of your time. It’s a small glimpse into the brilliance of mind it takes to create a truly amazing cover. And I’ll give you a hint. It’s not about bells and whistles. It’s about text.

As it should be. Enjoy!

Blogging Authors Beware! You Can Get Sued. Roni Loren Guest Blogs

Re-posted with permission from original blog post here.

Sara, our lawyer,and I all helped Roni through the situation but here is the whole story below.  You can no longer say that you haven’t been warned!

Guest Blogger: RONI LOREN

So today I’m forgoing the usual Fill-Me-In Friday post to talk about something that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while but couldn’t until the situation was wrapped up.

For those of you who are super observant, you may have noticed some changes on my blog over the last few months. Tumblr posts went away. Fiction Groupie disappeared. I deleted most of my Pinterest boards. The Boyfriend of the Week has changed format. And all my previous posts from the past three years–all 700 of them–now have new photos on them.

Why is that? What happened?

Well, you’ve probably figured it out from the title, but it’s because I’ve been involved in a case regarding a photo I used on my blog. Like most of you, I’m a casual blogger and learned my way into blogging by watching others. And one of the things I learned early on was that a post with a photo always looked nicer than one with just text. So I looked at what other people were doing for pictures. And mostly it seemed that everyone was grabbing pics from Google Images and pasting them on their sites. Sometimes with attribution, most of the time without. And when I asked others (or looked at disclaimers on websites and Tumblrs), it seemed that everyone agreed using pics that way was okay under Fair Use standards.

Here is an example of a disclaimer I found on a bigger site (name of blog removed):

THIS BLOG claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please E-mail with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

And site after site had the same kind of thing. Just look on Tumblr, that same type of disclaimer is on a ton of them. And I’m thinking–well, that must mean it’s okay because if that weren’t true, sites like Tumblr and Pinterest couldn’t even exist because reposting pics is the whole POINT of those sites. So off I went doing what everyone else does–using pics from Google Images, putting a disclaimer on my site, etc.

Well on one random post, I grabbed one random picture off of google and then a few weeks later I got contacted by the photographer who owned that photo. He sent me a takedown notice, which I responded to immediately because I felt awful that I had unknowingly used a copyrighted pic. The pic was down within minutes. But that wasn’t going to cut it. He wanted compensation for the pic. A significant chunk of money that I couldn’t afford. I’m not going to go into the details but know that it was a lot of stress, lawyers had to get involved, and I had to pay money that I didn’t have for a use of a photo I didn’t need.

It wasn’t fun. But the fact of the matter is, I was in the wrong. Unknowingly. But that doesn’t matter. And my guess is that many, many of you are doing the same thing I was doing without realizing it’s a copyright violation. So I wanted to share my experience so that you can learn from my mistake.

Here’s what I learned about Fair Use:

It DOESN’T MATTER…

if you link back to the source and list the photographer’s name
if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
if you did it innocently
if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
if you didn’t claim the photo was yours
if you’ve added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
if you have a disclaimer on your site.
if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a DMCA notice (you do have to take it down, but it doesn’t absolve you.)

NONE OF THAT releases you from liability. You are violating copyright if you have not gotten express PERMISSION from the copyright holder OR are using pics that are public domain, creative commons, etc. (more on that below.)

I didn’t know better and I had to learn the hard way. So I want to let you all know now so that you don’t have to be a cautionary tale as well.

Plus, beyond not wanting to be sued, most of you who are reading this are writers. Our livelihood depends on the rights to our work. I’ve already had to send my own DMCAs to sites that have pirated my books. So I definitely don’t want to be someone who infringes on someone else’s copyright. A photo is someone else’s art and unless they tell me it’s okay, I don’t have the right to use it.

So what can you do?

1. If you’ve been using images without approval from the internet on your blogs, know that you are probably violating copyright and could be sued for it.

Is the chance high? Probably not. Is it possible? I’m proof that it is. So you may want to consider going through your posts and delete pics that aren’t yours.

2. Search for photos that are approved for use.

  • Creative Commons licensed pics — You can search for photos that are free to use (with some restrictions) through Creative Commons. Usually this means you have to attribute the photo to the owner and link back to their site. (All of my posts now have pics that are under Creative Commons license. And there are actually really great photos available.) Meghan Ward did a fantastic post on the breakdown of creative commons licenses plus listed some other photo sources.)
  • Wikimedia Commons offers free media files anyone can use.
  • Buy a subscription to a stock photo site — This can be pricey up front but then you have access all year. There are also sites that you can pay per pic. (Here is one example of a subscription service. Thanks to Janice Hardy for that suggestion.)
  • Use photos that are in the public domain.

3. Take your own photos and share the love.

Almost all of us have camera phones these days. Instead of just taking photos of our family, think of images you could use on posts. See a stop sign. Snap a picture and save it. Whatever. And if you want to give back and not just take–open up a Flickr account (here’s mine) and list your own images as creative commons so that you can share the love. (You can set it up to where whatever pic you load from you camera is under that license.)

4. Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution.

I have read way too many terms of service over the last two months. And I’m not a lawyer, so the legalspeak can be confusing and I am NOT giving legal advice. BUT both Pinterest and Tumblr (and most other social sites) say that if you load something into their site (i.e. Pin It or Tumble it) YOU are claiming that YOU have a legal right to that picture. And if the owner of that photo comes after the company, you will be the responsible party. And Pinterest goes so far as to say if you REpin something, you’re saying you have the right to that photo. Yes, if that’s enforced, it would mean that 99% of people on Pinterest are doing something illegal. Will that ever come up? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’m leaning on the paranoid side now. I don’t want to be the test case. And I don’t want to pin something the owner of the photo wouldn’t want pinned.

So pin your own photos, pin things from sites that have a Pin It button (see discussion in comments about the Pin It button, it’s not always a safe bet either.) I pin book covers and movie posters because I figure that it’s advertisement for said movies or books. But other stuff? All those pretty mancandy photos? I’m going to look but not touch.

5. Assume that something is copyrighted until proven otherwise.

That’s your safest bet. If you’re not 100% sure it’s okay to use, don’t. This includes things like celebrity photos. Someone owns those. There are enough free pics out there that you don’t need to risk violating someone’s copyright.

6. Spread the word to your fellow bloggers.

It was KILLING me not to be able to go tell everyone about all of this because I didn’t want anyone else to get into this kind of mess. So if you know someone who is using photos in the wrong way, let them know. I wish someone had told me.

So I know many of you are probably thinking–she’s being paranoid or that the likelihood of this ever happening to you is slim. Well, maybe. But it happened to me. And now that I know better, I’m going to do better (yes, I’m busting out an Oprah quote, forgive me.) And yes, it does kill me a little bit that I can’t go on posting boyfriends of the week and mancandy, but instead I’ll just post links to it so you can see it elsewhere. 🙂

So lesson learned: protect yourself and respect the rights of other artists.

San Diego Comic Con – The Latest Shiny Promotional Venue

STATUS: The problem with summer is that I’d rather not work long hours. Too much sunshine and lovely outdoor weather.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  TONGUE TIED by GroupLove

There is no doubt in my mind that Comic Con in San Diego is the shiny new conference that all writers want to attend. I get it. It’s a blast. Geek Chic. Fandom over great shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones. Honest to goodness movie stars. Fabulous parties (I’m still lamenting that I didn’t get to go to the Entertainment Weekly one.)

What’s not to like? You can even buy some funny, cool, and geek insider T-Shirts.

But is it necessarily the best promotional venue for a writer?

Jury might still be out on that but here’s my thinking. If your book has an obvious connection to the fan base that attends, I’d say yes, it’s a worthwhile promotional venue for an author.

Gail Carriger is a great example. She writes steampunk fantasy and also has a graphic novel equivalent of her popular The Parasol Protectorate series.

Her publisher, Orbit, had a full-size paper cut-out of graphic novel Alexia Tarabotti in their booth. Here I am standing with it. 

And fans even come dressed up as Gail’s characters for her autograph signings.

I can safely say that her fan base is present at this Con in full force.

Same would hold true for Marie Lu and her Legend Trilogy. Since there is a video game in the works below is a sneak peek), she had lots of fans at this event.

As an author, ask yourself. Do fans who love my books love all things geek that can be found at San Diego Comic Con? If the answer is yes, then this shiny venue is a good fit. If it’s not, I wouldn’t recommend it even though it’s the latest “hot” thing.

A Sad But Celebratory Day!

STATUS: Mixed day! I feel like I’m still catching up on emails.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? REALIZE by Colbie Caillat

It had to happen eventually. Today Jamie Ford is not on the New York Times bestseller list–ending our phenomenal run of 130 consecutive weeks on the list. That is two and half years without dropping off.

Wow. Just wow.

Maybe I shouldn’t be having a blog entry announcing this fact but you know what, Jamie? It’s an incredible achievement no matter how I talk about it.

So I raise a glass of champagne to you and your wonderful debut novel: Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter & Sweet.

For us, there has been no bitter.

And I have a feeling that this week isn’t the end and that we will be popping back on in the not-so-distant future.

Cheers!

The Concern Is Perhaps Premature

STATUS: All my Texas blog readers, Kristin Callihan’s FIRELIGHT is going to be included in the romance round-up on Good Morning Texas tomorrow, Wed. May 2. Station WFAA-TV channel 8. It’s the ABC affiliate in Dallas/Fort Worth. How cool is that. I wish I could tune in.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DOMINO DANCING by Pet Shop Boys

When I was at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference last week, I had a writer rush up to me in a panic to ask a question. She was incredibly worried that she had not established her social media platform for her novel yet.

If her release date was in 4 weeks, then I would say she had cause to panic.

But given that she hadn’t actually finished writing her work-in-progress (let alone begin querying for her agent search), I found her concern a little premature.

*grin*

I advised her that at this point in her professional career, she should focus on writing the best novel she possibly could. Plenty of time to get the social media cranking while it’s on submission. I personally don’t know any agent who would say no to an author for a project they love just because the publicity platform isn’t there yet.

I can build that with an author. I imagine most agents feel the same.

Can’t Resist Facebook Any Longer

STATUS: I was wondering when the “too good to be true” weather would end and we’d get the smack down. It snowed today. Spring in Colorado.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WISHING YOU WERE HERE by Chicago

Honestly, I’m just not clever enough for Facebook. Or that’s how I feel most of the times. I’ve been on FB for several years just for family and friends. I like it well enough but post sporadically. However, I love reading everybody else’s posts.

But lately, I’ve been having little tidbits of things that I would love to share but the blog doesn’t feel like the right spot to do it. We’ve had an NLA page but I didn’t really pop on it it often enough. I decided it has to be unique to me to give it care an attention. So here we go.

It’s only been up a day or so and I already have 10 likes! I felt a little thrill. 10 likes!

See that’s the power of Facebook. It makes you delighted over such a small thing….

I’ve posted some action pics during the webinar. Can you believe an attendee grabbed some screenshots and sent them to me? So fun. I loved that she did that.

A New NLA Milestone!

STATUS: Having a great afternoon.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU CAN CALL ME AL by Paul Simon

I rarely post twice in one day but I can’t resist.

For the week of March 18, Gail Carriger’s TIMELESS is sitting at #17 on the NYT list and at #98 on the USA Today. Definitely worth celebrating.

But what’s really fun?


SOULLESS The Manga graphic novel just hit #2 on the NYT Graphic novel list.

That’s a first for NLA!!

For The Book That Almost Didn’t Sell–Happy Release Day FIRELIGHT!

STATUS: Another phone conference in 20 minutes! Must blog quickly.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOWDOWN by Boz Scaggs

Blog readers, have I got special treat for you today. If you ever wondered what the editor rejections looked like for a book that has shown every sign of coming out of the gate wildly popular, well today is your lucky day.

Today is the official release day for Kristen Callihan’s FIRELIGHT.


I’ve blogged before about the fact that I almost could not sell this book. And today, Kristen has given me special permission to share her rejections.

But let me preface this.

This debut novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) and top pick at any number of romance sites, too many to list here.

When we sent the novel out to already established and successful authors to read with an eye for a possible blurb, we had our fingers crossed that maybe we’d get one or two responses.

Every author on our list read and blurbed it:

“Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”
—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

“A sizzling paranormal with dark history and explosive magic! Callihan is an impressive new talent.” —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author of Immortal Rider

“Evocative and deeply romantic, Firelight is a beautiful debut. I was fascinated from the first page.” —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter Series

“Passionate and sizzling, beautifully written and dark. This unique paranormal twist on the beauty and the beast tale rocks!”
—Elizabeth Amber, author of Bastian The Lords of Satyr

“Kristen Callihan delivers a dark, lush offering to fans of gothic and paranormal romance. With a deliciously tortured hero, an inventive supernatural mystery, and slow-building heat that simmers on each page, Firelight is a sexy, resplendent debut. I can’t wait to see what Kristen Callihan comes up with next!”
—Meljean Brook, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke

“This book has everything: sword fights, magic, despair, a heroine with secret strengths, a hero with hidden vulnerability, and best of all, a true love that’s hot enough to burn the pages. I couldn’t stop reading. This book is utterly phenomenal.”
—Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Unraveled

“Inventive and adventurous with complex, witty characters and snappy writing. Callihan will make you believe in the power of destiny and true love.”
—Shana Abé, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Weaver

“A dark, delicious tale of secrets, murder, and love, beautifully shrouded in the shadows of Victorian London.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of If He’s Dangerous

“A dazzling debut, sexy and thrilling. Callihan now has a place on my to-buy list.”
—Anya Bast, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Enchantment

“A fantastic debut that has everything I’m looking for in a story: compelling conflict, beautiful writing, gripping sexual tension, and strong, intelligent characters.”
—Sherry Thomas, RITA-award winning author of Not Quite A Husband and His At Night

“A compelling and emotional pageturner that will have readers burning the midnight oil.” —Anna Campbell, award-winning author of Midnight’s Wild Passion

“Lush and imaginative, Firelight will sweep you away.”
—Zoë Archer, award-winning author of Devil’s Kiss

“Combines romance, wit, and suspense in a fabulous retelling of Beauty and the Beast…with a supernatural twist.”
—Colleen Gleason, international bestselling author of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

“I LOVED the book! Fabulous writing, great characters, innovative plot. It held me from the first page. I was so drawn in by the quality of the writing. She’s sure to become a fave of mine. I have already raved about the book to my readers group.”
—Gail Link, 2010 RWA Bookseller of the Year

And yet, the editors did not feel the same love.

–I’m afraid I didn’t love the voice, which felt a little bit overdone to me, and this kept me from getting immersed in the story. I’m therefore going to pass; I’m sorry. But thank you for giving me a shot at this, and I hope you will find the right home for it.

–I love your description of the story, but for me, the writing itself doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

–Thanks so much for sending this! I liked the reimagining of the beauty-and-the-beast story, but didn’t quite love the voice as much as I’d hoped

–I do love a great gothic, so I was really hoping to love this. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with the voice as much as I wanted to.

–Many thanks for thinking of us for this, but we’re going to pass. Gothics are very hard to sell right now

–I’ve been reading this, and I’ve enjoyed the appealing voice and the strong element of mystery. But while I liked this novel perfectly fine, I just didn’t feel the level of enthusiasm necessary to make this a success. Ultimately I just didn’t feel the strong emotional connection I’d hoped for.

–I really tried hard to get emotionally attached to FIRELIGHT because the atmosphere is so beautifully written. I just couldn’t connect, I’m sad to say,

–I did find plenty to like in the manuscript: Miranda makes a great heroine, and I absolutely loved our introduction to her in the opening chapters. (In particular, the scene where Miranda is having the ethical dilemma over whether to steal or not really hooked me.) The main problem I have, though, is that I never really connected with Archer as a hero. Miranda won me over, but she alone wasn’t enough to make me believe in the romance.

–Here’s the thing-I kept hoping I could make this work, but increasingly we’re having a hard time making new historical romance authors grow in the market.

In the end, it’s so so true that you have to find the right editor with the right vision who is the right fit. When you do, even for a book that almost didn’t sell, it can be magic.

And I think Kristen’s holiday gift to me is the perfect end note!


Happy release day Kristen!

Because It’s Cool & Hip: World Book Night 2012

STATUS: I’ve seen the first beta page for our website redesign. I’m so excited!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MEXICAN RADIO By Wall Of Voodoo
(Just saw the sale for the tell-all by the original MTV VJs. I’m feeling nostalgic!)

Are you an author? Want to be a part of something terrific and spread the love of reading? Then you’ll want to know about World Book Night. NLA has signed up to be a book giver as have some of our authors! We are committed and then some.

Originally started in the UK last year, Carl Lennertz is now taking it on to make April 23 extraordinary in the US.

Find out more about it and how to sign up here. The deadline is Feb. 1, 2012.

Writing To The Market but Also With The Book Of Your Heart–Guest Blogger Sara Megibow

STATUS: I wish I was working late tonight but I can’t….

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? O HOLY NIGHT by Josh Groban

Marie Lu is not the only author having an exciting release week! Sara’s very first agented author book is hitting shelves today. Hard to believe but yes, it really does take that long from sale to publication for this to be the first.

What better way to celebrate than to guest blog? (Okay, I’m making her toast with champagne, too, but you get the picture.) Huge congrats Sara and Miranda!


What did debut author Miranda Kenneally do that’s making her book release so exciting? CATCHING JORDAN hits bookshelves today and the buzz surrounding this book is absolutely incredible (ESPN picked up a review of the book yesterday and the Seventeen Magazine online book club is running a feature on it tomorrow).

Here’s the secret – Miranda wrote the book of her heart. She did NOT write to some hot trend. What’s hot in young adult novels right now? Well, one might agree that fantasy and paranormal and dystopian are hot. Contemporary young adult, conversely, might be hot or might not be hot depending on who you ask (I personally am a huge fan, obviously). And, contemporary young adult sports novels? yikes.

CATCHING JORDAN didn’t sell right out of the gate. We DID find the perfect editor for it, but we also had a handfull of editors pass saying, “no one is interested in reading about sports.” Yes, the heroine of this book is captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Yes, there are some scenes on the playing field in which the teammates are talking football plays and field positions and stats. When I read this book in the slush pile I fell immediately in love with the characters, the voice, the dialogue and the personality. THAT’S what I saw in it which made me jump up and down with glee. And that’s what these tremendous reviews seem to be saying too.

If Miranda had ever asked an agent, “should I write about vampires or about football?” it’s likely her first book would have turned out differently. But, as a great credit to her and to our art, she didn’t ask that question. Instead she wrote a book that takes a chance on a concept that we haven’t seen before. And, it’s paying off!

So, if you are looking at publishing and are tempted to ask, “do you think XYZ is hot right now?” stop. Take a deep breath. Yes the market is important but so is writing a book you believe in wholeheartedly. Miranda did just that for CATCHING JORDAN. It wasn’t in the hot trend but in a sense, she did keep the market in mind because it has a luscious romantic element. Something we’ve seen in other successful contemporary YA novels recently. Cheers to an author who took a chance and to the readers (and editors) (and reviewers) (and ESPN) who are loving that gamble!

-Sara