Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view


Dear Author

Monday Midday RoundUp: The Brave New World of Reviews

Publishers Weekly has posted a special online issue devoted to virality and books. It’s very much directed toward the trade and focuses on what publishers and industry folks can do to “harness” the internet, including blogging themselves.

Publishing Trends has a multi-part series focused on the new world of book reviews online. I don’t know that I am being too bold or boastful to say that the romance blogs that offer reviews do as good of a job as any Publishers’ Weekly or Romantic Times’ review of a romance book.

"I see promising signs of creative and intellectual life everywhere I turn these days," says Mark Sarvas, editor of The Elegant Variation and also a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review and the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I think we’re already at the point where the quality of what’s available online matches all but the best print publications." Jane Ciabattari, NBCC President, agrees: "There is no dearth of passion, no lack of book coverage. I suspect the best approach for publishers is to find individuals with finely honed critical voices and keep them well supplied with advance galleys." What else can publishers do, and where are book reviews headed?

This is a pretty interesting series although some of the sections were too short for me to gain valuable insight.

Kassia Kroszer blogs over at Romancing the Blog that publishers should start thinking of readers instead of Amazon in determining when to release an ebook and at what price.

The FTC has decided that in order to adequately protect consumers, bloggers must start disclosing payments, whether cash or freebies, for reviews. The specific text has been revised as follows:

For purposes of this part, an endorsement means any advertising message (including verbal statements, demonstrations, or depictions of the name, signature, likeness or other identifying personal characteristics of an individual or the name or seal of an organization) that consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. The party whose opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience the message appears to reflect will be called the endorser and may be an individual, group, or institution.

Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their

The FTC Guide gives an example of when disclosure must be made:

Example 8: A consumer who regularly purchases a particular brand of dog food decides one day to purchase a new, more expensive brand made by the same manufacturer. She writes in her personal blog that the change in diet has made her dog’s fur noticeably softer and shinier, and that in her opinion, the new food definitely is worth the extra money. This posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides.

Assume that rather than purchase the dog food with her own money, the consumer gets it for free because the store routinely tracks her purchases and its computer has generated a coupon for a free trial bag of this new brand. Again, her posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides.

Assume now that the consumer joins a network marketing program under which she periodically receives various products about which she can write reviews if she wants to do so. If she receives a free bag of the new dog food through this program, her positive review would be considered an endorsement under the Guides.

The guide references “positive” reviews more than once. Certainly a negative review wouldn’t be construed as an endorsement. In the future, all C reviews and below will have the disclaimer: The FTC made me do it. I would link to the Guide, but it has been taken down for some reason.

Forgot to add this link. Bookslut interviewed Ron Charles at the Washington Post. Recall that Ron Charles won the RWA Veritas award for one blog post. Charles indicated that all of the reviews they’ve ever received at the Post has contained these words, either at the beginning or the end: "Well if you like this kind of crap, you’ll like this-"

Charles indicates that they are trying but really cannot find someone who can review romances intelligently at the Post.

“We keep trying. We have had a little more luck with Historical Romance, it’s more like Historical Fiction. Sometimes we do find someone who is sympathetic and can review it from the point of view of people who do like and do know something about it.”

Dear Author

Thursday Midday Links: Is Google Book Settlement Dead?

emoticon_smileDennis Chin, the judge assigned to affirm or reject the Google Book Settlement, has been tapped to move to the 2nd Circuit judicial position, one of which was formerly held by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.      Today, the House Judiciary meeting is holding a hearing on the Google Book Settlement. Mary Beth Peters, the Register of Copyrights for the U.S. Copyright Office gave damning testimony on the Hill that James Grimmelman, a professor at New York Law School characterized as “fundamentally shift[ing]” the Google Book Settlement landscape.   Her full testimony can be read here.

We realized that the settlement was not really a settlement at all, in as much as settlements resolve acts that have happened in the past and were at issue in the underlying infringement suits. Instead, the so-called settlement would create mechanisms by which Google could continue to scan with impunity, well into the future, and to our great surprise, create yet additional commercial products without the prior consent of rights holders. For example, the settlement allows Google to reproduce, display and distribute the books of copyright owners without prior consent, provided Google and the plaintiffs deem the works to be "out-of-print" through a definition negotiated by them for purposes of the settlement documents

emoticon_smileIn business news, LJ Dawson reports that Bowker will be reducing the price for ISBNs.   Individual ISBNs are quite costly for small publishers and this reduced price will help in making sure that books, no matter the size of the publisher, can be catalogued and recorded properly.

Most importantly, as new digital formats and capabilities proliferate and diversify, end-users (consumers) must be able to differentiate one digital product form from another during discovery and the digital point of purchase, particularly when differentiated usability, access rights and functionality are key considerations to be made during a purchasing decision. is putting out a book via Print on Demand.   The work is an anthology titled Year’s Best Fantasy 9.   It will be available through online vendors.    Fascinating.

eyeIndex//mb, a Candanian publishing blog looks at what cloud computing can mean for publishing.   Essentially, mb divides out cloud computing into three categories: cycles, services and APIs and suggests that the power rests in control over API.

emoticon_surprisedSarah Weinman takes a closer look at the 17 book deal signed by James Patterson through 2012. Yes, that’s 17 books, 3 years.   Sarah breaks down the numbers for you.   I have offered myself up as a collaborator who a) tweets about my collaborator’s progress and b) offers up encouragement but weirdly no one thinks this is sufficient to meet “collaboration” requirements.

eyeWhile not specifically book related, I thought this article on Huffington Post regarding Jimmy Fallon’s huge web presence not supporting his television efforts sufficiently was really interesting.

NBC hopes that those who see Fallon light up the stage in one of these clips will eventually find their ways over to the network at midnight. Whether these video clips make people more inclined to watch the show – and for NBC to see the accompanying advertisements – is left to be seen. In my experience, liking a segment here and there does not translate into getting behind the whole, larger product. Whatever praise is thrown Fallon’s way for embracing the online market must come along with skepticism about whether it’s a recipe for long-term success or just a series of profitless gimmicks.

emoticon_tongueKay Sisk sent me a link to the Wall Street Journal article about Amish romances being hot.   Business hot, not content hot.   We actually discussed this briefly in a post a couple of weeks ago.

Most bonnet books are G-rated romances, often involving an Amish character who falls for an outsider. Publishers attribute the books’ popularity to their pastoral settings and forbidden love scenarios à la Romeo and Juliet. Lately, the genre has expanded to include Amish thrillers and murder mysteries. Most of the authors are women.