On the Shelf: Reading For (More) Professional Development

When we headed out from California, I packed a stack of books and my Kindle. I brought probably too many for the small space we have, and even then, the selection I ended up with was a small portion of my physical TBR shelf. My thought process was, I would read the fiction I had on my Kindle (such a long list…), and I would read all the physical professional books I really needed to: books on publishing, books on editing, books on writing.

This mostly worked out. I’ve plowed through a good number of reference books on the crafts of writing, editing, and publishing. I’ve also devoured a number of fiction books. And I have, in the interest of full disclosure, bought a number of books from visits to the bookstore and by picking up $0.99 deals that I see on my FB or Twitter news feed and that look vaguely interesting.

One note about these deals–it turns out that if I pay a buck for a book (which I am very willing to do, in fact, it’s almost a reflex at this point) I am WAY more likely to read it than a book I picked up for free. Hm.

Anyway, the point of this is that while I have made some progress on my TBR pile, I think at this point, I’ve replenished each title as I’ve read it. Heh. So, this week, I’ve been tackling a number of professional titles. The material I’ve read has given me some good ideas for my plans for the next couple of anthologies, as well as the Rick Keller Project (more on that later.) There is also one title that was a total break in routine because OMG I NEEDED TO READ IT RIGHT NOW.

I’ve got a session with an editing client in a little bit, so before it gets TOO much later in the day, here is the round up of what was on my reading shelf this week.

Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Amazon Store by David Gaughran

I forget how I got to this book. I think it was that John Hartness of Falstaff Books recommended Gaughran’s book on newsletters and then I signed up for Gaughran’s own newsletter, and then maybe this was the free book? Or he offered it for a 99-cent deal? I forget. Anyway. I think that if you can get a chance to pick this book up for a buck, then it would be worth it. But for the full price of it, you’re better off heading over to the 20Booksto50K Facebook group and reading through the information that they’ve organized and put together on indie publishing. It’s not that the information in the book isn’t helpful or important, it’s that I didn’t find much that was new. I did take some notes as I went through, and one of the helpful features is that Gaughran lists various resources (some of which, like Robert Ryan’s Amazon ad book, I did go and buy) for the indie publisher that may be of interest. It also organizes a bunch of info about Amazon and how their algorithms work, and that organization would be very helpful to a new publisher. Full disclosure: I am using this specific info tidbit, namely that the first five days of the launch are the time to make the most of the alg0rithm, to inform the next two anthology launches. So, we’ll see what happens. I do recommend that indie authors and publishers (and really any authors and publishers) go ahead and sign up for his newsletter. There’s a lot of good info there, and hey, you never know when you’re going to spot a sale.

Release Strategies: Plan Your Self-Publishing Schedule for Maximum Benefit by Craig Martelle

With one full-length and one mini anthology on the way, along with my own Rick Keller Project relaunch efforts, release strategies have been on my mind. There is some really good info in the aforementioned 20Books group. But if you’re looking for something that condenses it all and gives examples of how someone who is pretty successful at releasing books has put it (the information) together, then this is a pretty good resource. Martelle covers the various options available from releasing one or two books a year, to doing a full rapid release and all the attendant planning. It’s in KU, so if you have a chance to pick it up there, it’s definitely worth it. I think I picked this one up when it was another 99-cent deal, and it was worth the dollar AND worth the read. I’m realizing the moral of this week might be that it’s worth following various writers in their newsletters and social media so that you can take advantage of the inevitable deals they offer.

The Editor’s Companion: An Indispensable Guide to Editing Books, Magazines, Online Publications, and More by Steve Dunham

I’ve been working on a manuscript for a new client this week, and so thought it would be good timing to start reading this book. I picked it up about a week ago on a family trip to Barnes & Noble. This is a useful reference book, and I’ll be putting it on the shelf for a periodic reminder of things I can do to improve my editorial capabilities. On the other hand, I also tried to read it straight through, and it is really not a book that is a super easy cover-to-cover read. No matter. Some of the information is, I think, a little bit older. For example, the Words Into Type work that Dunham references multiple times appears to be out of print, and the references to typesetting vs. desktop publishing are less and less relevant as we progress through the 21st century. It was worth price, and as I mentioned, I’ll be putting it on my shelf next to Elements of Style and the other professional volumes I’ve collected.

Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey

And here we are at the point where I devolve into a giant pile of fan-girl goo. I LOVE Sandman Slim. Like, have extreme fannish reactions to the books. I bought this, the next-to-last installment in the series, way back when it first came available for pre-order. This was a good idea, because then it downloaded onto my Kindle and I didn’t have to wait to read it. This was also a bad idea, because then I read the whole thing without coming up for air, and now I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself for another year or so while Kadrey writes the last book in the series. Probably re-read the entire series while listening Spotify playlists he puts together. I don’t care if it DOES make me seem like a teenybopper with a crush listening to a mixtape… Anyway, if you, like me, are crazy for urban fantasy meets LA noir meets gritty, dark prose that sucks you in from page one and doesn’t let go until you emerge two or three days later having re-read an entire series, blinking and wondering WTF just happened–yeah. You’re going to like this series. Go, quickly, and check it out. And then go read Kadrey’s The Grand Dark, because I love that book as well. I should re-read it soon. (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here, but if you want to talk, hit me up in the comments or drop me a line.)

Anyway, that’s the update for this week. This coming week I’ve got a bunch of great books lined up, but as always, if you have suggestions for the TBR pile, lay ’em on me!

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