Book Notes from All Over

From Digital Book World: A summary of a Jan. 2017 agents’ panel at DBW’s recent New York conference confirms several points made by a Dec. 2016 indie authors’ panel at San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Institute Library:

  1. We don’t call them “literary” agents anymore. That went out with the 20th century. The 21st century is about business > literature.
  2. The role of agents has changed along with the publishing industry. Agencies are merging, reorganizing, seeking new strategies, and generally battling (like and with their authors) for discoverability, the sine qua non of success.
  3. While debate continues as to what (if any) value an agent can add to an author’s career, plenty of authors still desperately want one. “The issue for agents is finding the authors who have potential for big careers. One agent offered an interesting analogy. If you go out to sing karaoke, she said, you may hear a lot of beautiful voices. But it’s not enough to have a beautiful voice. Agents are looking for big, professional voices who can sing at the Met.”

From Boom-Books romance author Charisse Howard: The publishing python chokes another indie. From the now-defunct website of ARe in Safety Harbor, Florida:

It is with a great sadness that we announce the closing of All Romance eBooks, LLC. For the first year since opening in 2006, we will be posting a loss. Despite efforts to maintain and grow our market share, sales and profits have declined. The financial forecast for 2017 isn’t hopeful. We’ve accepted that there is not a viable path forward.

All Romance has always been a labor of love. Over the years we’ve developed wonderful relationships with the vendors we’ve worked with, the publishers whose content it’s been our pleasure to sell, the authors who supported us, and the customers who it’s been our honor to serve. On midnight, December 31 [2016] our sites will go dark.

From Boom-Books mystery, biography, & international literature author CJ Verburg: 

I’ve been trolled!

A Goodreads member who disagreed with me about one of the company’s policies searched my books that are listed on Goodreads, including two out-of-print textbooks, and gave each one the lowest possible rating (one star) as payback.

Although it’s also Goodreads policy that reviewers aren’t supposed to torpedo any book’s ranking and reputation over a perceived grievance — especially a book they haven’t read — the company takes no responsibility for enforcing this. My complaint to Goodreads drew the response that they had “reached out” to the troll, but it’s up to her if she wants to make any changes.

This is another reason to spend the 30 seconds it takes to rate and/or review books you love. An author’s viability depends heavily on what readers post on Amazon, Goodreads, et al. A book is much, much easier to kill than it is to write!

Bay Area Small Presses: A Literary Sampler from Berrett-Koehler

Small presses are diverse, innovative, and plentiful in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of our favorites is Berrett-Koehler in Oakland. Besides publishing fascinating books, BK offers a newsletter which always lights up some unexpected nook of human thought, language, and/or endeavor.

Who could resist clicking on “Thoroughly Depressing Word of the Day”? Today’s word (from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, by way of BK Managing Director Jeevan Sivasubramaniam) is

“Anemoia (noun): Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.
Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.”

At the other end of the alphabetical spectrum is

“Zoilist (noun): A person who thoroughly enjoys finding fault with others or in things around him or her.
Say the word out loud to yourself now that you know the meaning and see how many people immediately come to mind (except yourself, of course). That’s the really interesting part about it: no true zoilist ever considers him or herself to be one.”

Are you thoroughly depressed yet? Take heart! Here are two books from BK to recharge your batteries:

Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy offers “21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.”

Crunch Time by Rick Peterson and Judd Hoekstra draws on lessons from baseball, among other sources, for tips on “How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most.”

And a topical tidbit: “Famed indie bookstore Powell’s sent ten books each to Obama and Trump. Curious as to which books were sent?”

There’s also a 48-hour e-book giveaway you may find irresistible.

Check out all this and more at


Author Florence Osmund on How to Get Your Book Reviewed

One of the best resources for indie authors and publishers is Joel Friedlander, AKA The Book Designer. Whether you’re looking for a quick, easy, professional design for your work-in-progress, or advice on just about any publishing topic, Joel’s website and blog are likely to have answers. His guest post today, by literary fiction author Florence Osmund, links back to an older one: Eleven Ways to Get Better Book Reviews. It’s full of useful information, including links to Osmund’s own website and newsletter. Here’s an excerpt on book reviews: 

There are a number of ways to get reviews. The most obvious way is to ask for them. If someone tells you that they read your book and enjoyed it, ask them if they would please take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I include this request in the back of each of my books.

Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends and posting a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Word-of-mouth referrals are an author’s best friend and much appreciated.

I request a review in advance of someone reading my books in the e-mails I send to my fan base when introducing a new release. And on my website, I include a blurb on the importance of reviews to authors.

You can request a review from any number of professional reviewers who will then post them on their websites, Amazon, and Goodreads. Here are some of my favorites.

You will find a comprehensive list of professional reviewers and what genres they accept at

A positive review from a top reviewer is a great promotional tool. The top five national reviewers are Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Midwest Book Review. Some charge for their services. Others do not. For a list of Amazon’s top reviewers, go to

Book bloggers—book lovers who like to talk about books with their followers—are another way to get reviews. Click this link for a list of bloggers by genre

The most important thing you can do when seeking a book reviewer is to pick the right one by finding out what kind of books the reviewer likes to review. There is no point in sending your YA fantasy to a reviewer who is primarily interested in historical fiction. The second most important thing to do is carefully follow the reviewer’s submission guidelines.

If you’ve enjoyed this excerpt, you can read Osmund’s entire post — and find links to more discoveries she’s made as a successful author — at