Microblogging Amazon’s Shoving Match

I’ll make this fast.

Amazon is feuding with publishers. Reuters explains why.

Other people have written smart and funny blog entries about it. Like Deb Heiligman. And John Scalzi.

The Author’s Guild just started Who Moved My Buy Button?

The Buy button is missing from the hardcover version of SPEAK because it is published by FS&G, which is owned by Macmillan, one of the publishers that is standing up to the 800-pound gorilla. You can still buy it through Amazon resellers.

I’d rather you bought it from an independent bookseller, but that’s up to you.

What do you think about this? Does it change the way you think about buying books?

(I am sticking with my "20 minutes of writing earn 1 minute of internet time" rule, so I’ll check back here later tonight to see what you think.)


Thank you, Queen Louise for doing such a great job filling in yesterday. (I was off conducting cooking experiments under conditions that sort of simulated the Valley Forge encampment in December 1777.)

Zoe continues to be in the running for inclusion in a million boxes of Cheerios, but there is bad news.

Other books (which are sweet books, lovely books, but still) are surging ahead. ::cues threatening music:: This is not a winner-takes-all competition. The top FIVE books will be put in Cheerios boxes for eager breakfast readers. (For the record, the authors and illustrators will not see any royalties from these cereal books. It’s just wicked cool and fun.)

::threatening music again:: Zoe has slipped to fifth place. SHE NEEDS YOUR VOTE. (see below the photos for details)

I mentioned a couple of days ago that authors generally get to see early sketches.

They are just to give everyone a rough sense of the illustrator’s ideas.

Don’t know if you can see it, but I changed some of my text based on Ard’s work.

After the sketches, Ard went back and painted. The author gets to see the early page proofs, too.

One of my favorite things Ard did was to add in a group of gerbils who act like a visual Greek chorus during Zoe’s saga.

  (I couldn’t figure out how to rotate this photo – sorry!) Originally the cover’s background color was white. Then there were MANY discussions at Simon & Schuster. The concern was that less-than-perfectly-clean hands would smudge up the white cover in a hurry. In the end, the powers that be – and Ard, I think – chose the lilac shade.

OK, dear friends. Warm up your clicking finger. Do a couple of jumping jacks. IT’S TIME TO VOTE!!!


1. Go to the voting page.

2. In the bottom right corner, click on MORE BOOKS twice. (Yes, this is the tricky part. No, I don’t know why Zoe is buried at the absolute back of the pack. Kind of makes you feel sorry for her, huh?) That will take you to ZOE.

3. Click on the yellow box that says VOTE!

4. Notify all of your friends, neighbors, family members, the folks at church or temple or mosque or other house of faith, the rest of the PTA, the people at the firehouse, everyone in your classroom, and tell them all pretty, pretty please with a headful of unruly red hair, PLEASE VOTE FOR ZOE.

5. Do this every day until the end of October.


Writing & Publishing Questions Batch #1

Thanks for all the great questions!!! Let’s get to it!

You asked: When your first book was published, was it by a small, independent company or one of the larger, well-known ones? If a publisher rejects you, should you send the same manuscript back to them a year later, or assume that they’re not interested?

My first published book was a quiet picture book about a girl in Kenya called Ndito Runs. It was published by Henry Holt in 1996 and has been out of print for several years. (It was later translated into Xhosa, Zulu, Africaans, and Lesotho for publication in South Africa. That was very cool.) Henry Holt is one of the major publishers. My first piece of published writing for children was a short story in Highlights Magazine. That was a real thrill because I had been such a fan of the magazine as a kid.

If a publisher rejects you, then please do not send the manuscript back a year later. They are dealing with too many manuscripts as it is. Send your story somewhere else and get to work on a new one. I have plenty of manuscripts that were rejected. Why? Because they weren’t good enough to be published. I thought they were, but the publishers didn’t and that’s all that matters. It hurts, it sucks, and it’s part of being a writer. Write something new.

You asked: Does it have an effect on your work if you watch tv shows or movies? A big obstacle for me is that my characters seem to be too much like characters from my favorite tv show. (Let’s not bother guessing which one.) How do you avoid creating something that seems more like fanfiction than original work?

I don’t watch many movies or television shows (except for sports) so I’m not the best person to answer this question. Maybe you could experiment with taking two weeks off from your normal television watching and use that time for writing instead. By the end of two weeks, I bet you’ll see a difference. If you do this, let me know how it turns out.

Thanks to the LiveJournal Spotlight this week, we’ve had many more blog readers. Hail and welcome to the Forest! I hope you come back!

For those of you who are new to the blog, feel free to follow me on Twitter. My name there is halseanderson. This will explain what Twitter is if you don’t know.

I didn’t get the 10 pages I had hoped for yesterday, but I found a way to tighten up the second half of the book, so it was a day well spent. Am going back to it right now. (Feel free to keep those writing and publishing questions coming!)


State of the Writing World & Star #4

My thumb continues to heal. Many thanks to the Constant Reader who sent me info on the local guy who makes handmade drums and gives lessons. That will be my reward for finishing the book I’m writing now (FORGE, the follow-up to CHAINS). Until then, I am downloading all kinds of drumming music. Any suggestions?

Many of the conversations at the KW retreat revolved around all the layoffs (i.e. bloodbath) that happened at various publishers in the last few months. It is horrendous for the people who lost their jobs, and it makes writers trying to sell a project or break into the market understandably confused and disheartened.

My opinion?

This too, shall pass.

It all sucks horribly – especially for the people paying NYC rents and suddenly jobless – but it is not a permanent situation. Nothing ever is.

My advice is to use the economic meltdown as an opportunity to focus less on the publication process and more on the quality of your craft. This is the year you don’t have send out one hundred queries or waste time keeping up on trends or tracking down agents. This is the year to focus on taking your writing to the next level. Do that and it will be much easier to sell your book when the economy strengthens.

Anyone else have an opinion about this?

On a more positive note, I can finally share the news of WINTERGIRLS’ 4th star!!! Thank you, Kirkus! Here’s the review:

“Neither therapy nor threats nor her ex–best friend’s death can turn Lia away from her habits of cutting and self-starvation. In broken, symbolic and gut-wrenching prose, Lia narrates her hopeless story of the destructive behaviors that control her every action and thought. She lives for both the thrill and the crash of not eating, and any progress she may have made toward normal eating is erased when her former best friend Cassie dies alone in a hotel room. The trauma of Cassie’s death coupled with Lia’s strained relationship with her parents and stepmother makes her tighten her focus on not eating as she slides into a world of starvation-induced hallucinations. Uncontrollable self-accusations (“Stupid/ugly/stupid/bitch/stupid/fat”) and compulsive calorie counts punctuate her claustrophobic account, which she edits chillingly to control her world. Anderson perfectly captures the isolation and motivations of the anorexic without ever suggesting that depression and eating disorders are simply things to “get over.” Due to the author’s and the subject’s popularity, this should be a much-discussed book, which rises far above the standard problem novel.” Kirkus, Feb. 1, 2009.

I think there may be a few reviewer ARCS available through the WINTERGIRLS MySpace page. This is done by the publisher, so for those of you who have been sending me questions about the ARCs, I’m really, really, sorry, but I don’t have a clue. On the MySpace page, there is an email address in the blog announcement about the giveaway. Mail your questions there.