If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.
Happy Preptober! For those participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), October is the time to prepare their projects for that life-changing event. Today we are catching up on quite a bit of news, including the new Amazon upload limits and book category changes. I am also sharing what I think is the most important thing to do while marketing your book,
The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s grab a table and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.
The Writers Guild has reached a tentative deal with studios, ending a five-month strike. The deal includes most of the terms the union was looking for, including increased royalty payments for streaming content and a guarantee that AI-generated material cannot be considered source material. This means that AI-generated book content cannot be optioned for adaptation into a TV show or movie.
Actors have a separate union, and they have not yet reached an agreement. Good luck to them.
Watch out, book banners, there’s a new sheriff in town. More than a sheriff, in fact, a full-on czar. The new US Department of Education book ban czar is Matt Nosanchuk, a former Obama administration official and nonprofit leader whose work has focused on the Jewish and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Nosanchuk's role is to monitor book bans and take action if he finds that removing materials violated students' civil rights. He will also lead training sessions for schools and libraries on the legalities of restricting books available to students.
Hatch Press, a new children’s imprint from Bonnier Books UK will publish a variety of non-fiction, hands-on learning, and art books for children aged 3 through 12. The imprint is committed to creating affordable and accessible books that will inspire a love of reading. The launch list will include narrative and historical non-fiction, joke books, and activity titles.
Spotify announced a new AI-powered feature that uses OpenAI’s voice generation technology to translate podcasts into different languages using the host’s own voice. The languages so far are Spanish, French, and German. I would love to do this for Writing Break, primarily to hear myself speaking German fluently.
One person not interested in AI doing anything with his voice is the actor Stephen Fry, who did beautiful readings of the Sherlock Holmes books and the Harry Potter series.
At the CogX Festival in London last month he said an AI version of his voice is being used in a documentary without his permission. He is not happy about it.
“It could therefore have me read anything from a call to storm parliament to hard porn, all without my knowledge and without my permission. . . . So I heard about this, I sent it to my agents on both sides of the Atlantic, and they went ballistic—they had no idea such a thing was possible.”
I guess they aren’t taking writing breaks with us.
If you are wondering whether your book is part of the corpus that trained generative AI models like ChatGPT, check the show notes for a link to a searchable database built by The Atlantic to see if your book is mentioned.
And now, a few updates on the great and powerful Amazon. To protect against spam and low-quality content, Amazon is now limiting new title creations for KDP authors to three per day. Few publishers will be impacted by this change, and those who are have the option to seek an exception.
For those who believe sharing is caring, you can now share your Kindle content with your Amazon Household members. This means that up to two linked adult accounts and four kids can share purchased and borrowed books with each other. Members can choose to share selected books or their entire library.
There are 4 significant changes to Amazon’s book categories:
Game Lit & LitRPG is now a dedicated subcategory;
Romance-Inspirational is no longer a category;
Romance in Uniform is a new subcategory; and
Historical Romance has three new sub-categories, which are 20th Century, Gilded Age, and Viking.
It’s rainy and I feel like staying in, so let’s skip the bookstore today, and meander over to the Overthinking Couch for today’s writing tips.
The fourth season of Writing Break has been about the road to publishing. We have covered a lot about what happens after the writing and editing stages are over and the author seeks either traditional or independent publishing. One thing we have not discussed yet is selling books on your own. Some authors choose to sell books only on their website and either ship books out themselves or use a third-party to fulfill orders.
Then there are book conventions. In episode 17 I shared with you tips for successfully marketing your books at conventions, which is another great way to sell if you have the right personality for that kind of face-to-face interaction with conventioneers.
Then there are consignment deals with independent booksellers and other local shops. In these instances, you leave a few books with a bookshop and they agree to give you about 40% of the sale price once the books sell. You might have to wait a long time to get paid, and if the books don’t sell within a few months, they might send them back to you or ask you to pick them up.
Every author needs to do a cost analysis in order to find the bookselling options that are best for them. We know that time is money when you’re working for yourself, and things like marketing, inventory tracking, and order fulfillment take up a lot of time. Then there’s the cost of printing, packaging, and shipping your books. And no matter how you sell your books, you will need to pay taxes on your royalties. A lot more math goes into being a published author than people let on.
Some people only want to write one book in their lifetime, maybe a memoir or a business book. Those people can focus all their efforts on selling their book once it’s written. But for those seeking a longer career as an author, the most important thing when marketing your book is to keep writing. Bookselling is a numbers game, and authors with more than one book make more money. Not just because they have more books to sell but also because they have more credibility in the eyes of readers.
As a Writing Breaker, you have plenty of credibility with me. Let’s rendezvous in two weeks to wrap up this season. Email me with your burning questions, and I’ll answer them next time. Until then, remember, you deserved this break.
If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.
Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.