We’ve moved to Bookworks.com/blog!

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Have you noticed a lack of updates here on bookworksblog.wordpress.com? That’s because we’ve created a new, more official-looking blog over at Bookworks.com/blog, which, as you can see, syncs up much more nicely with our official website. So update your bookmarks accordingly!

While the new blog looks much nicer and more professional, it’s still powered by WordPress, so you’ll be able to comment, like and share our posts in exactly the same way you do here. If you’re following BookWorks on WordPress, you should also still be seeing our posts appear in your reader as well (though we’re still working the kinks out there in some places!).

Thanks again for supporting us! We can’t wait to see you on the new blog!

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Self-Publishing and Censorship: A Brief Discussion

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In case you haven’t noticed, censorship has become a big hot-button issue in the self-publishing world. First The Kernel, a tech tabloid in the UK, a tabloid in the UK, published an article slamming self-publishing platform Kobo and their British partner company, WH Smith, for allowing obscene materials to be produced and sold on their websites. Then The Daily Mail, an even bigger UK tabloid, then picked up the story from there with their own article on the subject. While both The Kernal and The Dailly Mail are widely regarded as being interested only in “clickbait,” or producing eye-catching and often controversial headlines that encourage people to read on so that the publication can make money from the incoming web traffic, the damage was still done.

To combat the negative press, Kobo went about scrubbing its self-published materials for anything that supposedly depicted offensive content which included incest, rape, and/or bestiality. WH Smith even shut down its entire website while searching for such content, and Amazon and Barnes and Noble are also said to be quietly removing offending works in the hopes that their previous presence on these sites would go forgotten. Of course, The Kernel, not to be outdone, recently also published an exposé linking Amazon to scores of self-published books that deny the Holocaust — even in countries where Holocaust denial is technically illegal.

The end result? According to writer David Gaughran, “it’s quite clear that most books removed [from WH Smith] don’t have any erotic content and are written by authors who haven’t published any erotic content.” Furthermore, “Kobo claim that removed titles which haven’t broken the rules, will be put back on sale ‘as soon as possible’ – but no timetable was given.” In other words, in Kobo’s zeal to remove what The Daily Mail and The Kernel had deemed offensive, they also did away with a lot of perfectly acceptable books for no reason.

So what can we take away from this? Regardless of your thoughts on the potential harm that overly prurient material might cause, it’s clear that many self-publishing platforms have yet to take a serious look at their guidelines for the content that gets published on their websites — which is concerning, to say the least. It also means that when you sign an agreement to publish your work on the Amazon Kindle publishing space, you also run the risk of having your work unexpectedly taken down at Amazon’s discretion, so you need to be absolutely certain that you’re willing to take that kind of risk and give up some of your rights as a creator in order to make publishing an easier process. Otherwise, you can always go the more difficult and time-consuming route of creating your own PDFs and physical book copies entirely by yourself — which many authors do, of course!

Do you know anyone who’s been affected by this recent crackdown, or do you have any questions or concerns about whether or not your book is safe from censorship? Let us know in the comments below!

Online Reader Reviews Might Not Be As Important As You Think They Are Anymore

One of the first things most people will tell a budding self-publisher is that they need to make sure they make their book stands out from the pack in some way. In the past that sometimes meant convincing friends, family members, and third party reviewers to read the book and leave a thoughtful review on Amazon or Goodreads. However, recently it seems as though online reviews are starting to be taken less and less seriously by the community at large.

First, as Digital Book World notes, Goodreads announced their decision to heavily regulate reader reviews on their website in order to weed out the “trolls” — users who write extremely negative or nonsensical reviews for personal reasons, or just to get a kick out of the reaction. Then there was the piece the New York Times ran on restaurants and other companies who pay people to write fake good reviews for their products, and a similar piece by On The Media for WNYC (it’s worth a listen!) And then there was the International Business Times story about a self-published author who woke up to a sudden stream of negative one-star reviews after she’d written a poorly thought out public ex-shaming on her blog. With all that hitting the fan in such a relatively short time, it’s no wonder that people are having second thoughts about trusting the reviews you find on Amazon and other sites!

So how do you look for reviews in such a difficult climate? The trick is not to seek out the best reviews, but instead to go for the most honest ones. If you ask your friends to read and review your book for you then they’ll most likely want to give it five stars as a way to support you, but a large number of five star reviews are more likely to trigger a stranger’s suspicions. Instead, ask them to be as brutally honest as they can be — if it helps, they might want to submit their reviews anonymously, using a username that you won’t recognize. That way they won’t have to feel guilty if they didn’t like the book.

Another option is to ask a third party site or organization to look at your work, such as Kirkus Reviews or Blue Ink Review. They’re not like the companies that fake hundreds of positive reviews — instead they want to give you a professional, well-constructed critique of your book that’ll be miles more impressive and noteworthy than anything you can find on the standard Amazon page. And, of course, BookWorks will also be starting its own professional Book Review Service soon, so check back to learn more about that!

Just remember that above all else, you shouldn’t lie in order to get your book attention. Not unless you don’t care what kind of attention you get, of course — but given that companies who fake reviews online are now getting hit with massive fines in New York, you still might want to steer clear of paying anyone to write a bogus, needlessly positive review for you!

Want To Self-Publish All On Your Own? Someday Pubsoft Might Be Your Biggest Asset

pubsoft-ebook-store Self-publishing can be easy for authors who are more than willing to give up some of their control in order to produce their book. But what if you’re a real DIYer who wants to know everything about the inner workings of publishing? The traditional publishing model has so many weird twists and turns that it can be hard to keep track when it’s just you at the helm. But a new software called PubSoft wants to help you do just that.

Intended to be a new platform through which publishers can cultivate their brands and reach out to consumers, PubSoft works by streaming many of the backend tasks that go on behind the scenes of creating a great book — like tracking growth and managing royalties. It also helps you to build your own online store or author website, convert documents, integrate search engine optimization, and provide portals to your readers. You can even upload your novel to an eBook cloud reader with HTML5, which readers can use to highlight, take notes, and share excerpts of their favorite passages on Twitter and Facebook. Best of all, you will even be able to download a Pubsoft iPad app, so you can take it everywhere you go!

In an interview with Good e-Reader, entrepreneur and Pubsoft business developer Dougal Cameron said that, “Publishers’ websites are increasingly being used by readers who want to know more about authors. The very fact that they’re on that publisher’s website suggests that they have a deeper level of connection with the publisher. Our aim is to capture that reader and allow the publisher to connect with that reader, helping publishers understand what readers want and refine their offering.”

In other words, Cameron and the rest of the team at Pubsoft believe that creating a brand can be just as important to a self-publisher as telling a story. Of course the quality and popularity of your book itself is the most important thing to think about, but being easily accessible to your readers might be able to give you a leg-up in today’s saturated self-publishing market! pubsoft We’re excited to see whether or not Pubsoft is on the way to becoming an integral part of the self-publishing process. What do you think? Is this software something that you’re interested in, too? Let us know in the comments below.

(Pubsoft, via Marketing Tech Blog and Good e-Reader)

Check Out the Top Twitter Apps For Managing Your Tweets

Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like Twitter’s been getting a lot of attention in the news lately. You should check out some of these apps to get your own Twitter account as on track as possible!

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Let’s say you want one Twitter account for all of your personal tweets and another for a book you’d like raise awareness for. How do you manage two accounts at once? You could just log in and out of each account, but that can be a lot of work. That’s why a lot of people who use Twitter professionally have separate third party applications that they use not only to tweet from two accounts at once, but to schedule tweets in advance and so much more. Here are the top four apps that Twitter gurus love — why not try one out for yourself?

1. Tweetdeck

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Not only is this app free to use and created by the team behind Twitter.com, it’s super customizable so you fit each column of the app to suit your personal preferences. You can use it to display your Twitter timeline, mentions, direct messages, trending topics, search…

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Are you a Self-Improvement Author? Then Check Out The Books for a Better Life Award

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If you’re just starting out and trying to get some buzz as an author, then submitting your book to different reputable awards and competitions can be a great way to get some recognition for your efforts. Even if you don’t win or place at all, competing in these contests might just get you even more motivated to work on your book and think about it in a critical way!

One of the best things about book awards is there’s one for practically every category or genre of book — including self-help and inspirational books, which are huge in the nonfiction self-publishing world. In fact, the deadline for one of the first ever self-improvement book awards to ever exist is coming up soon! It’s called the Books for a Better Life Awards, and over the past 18 years it’s honored over 600 authors and raised more than $1.9 million to research cures and treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Want to hear more? Here’s the official press release

The 18th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards hosted by Meredith Vieira are pleased to recognize Mark Bittman and Richard Pine along with special guests Arianna Huffington and Lee Woodruff on March 10, 2014, at the TimesCenter in NY. Net proceeds will benefit The National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

 

The Awards are now accepting submissions with a 2013 copyright date in the following ten categories: Childcare/Parenting, Cookbook, First Book, Green, Inspirational Memoir, Motivational, Psychology, Relationships, Spiritual and Wellness. For complete details, please visit books.MSnyc.org.

 

 The deadline to submit books for consideration is Tuesday, October 15th, 2013. Finalists will be announced in November at books.MSnyc.org and winners will be made public at the event in March.

 

For complete details on our submissions process, DOWNLOAD THE ENTRY GUIDELINES HERE and to submit books please DOWNLOAD AN ENTRY FORM. 

 

Questions? Please contact  Jenny Powers at  JPowers@msnyc.org

If you’re interested, you can also find out more at the Books for a Better Life website here.

Interested in learning more about book awards? Do you know of any awards coming up that you’d like to recommend? Drop a line in the comments below, or at info@bookworks.com. And be sure to let us know if you decide to submit your book to the Books for a Better Life Award! We always love hearing from our blog readers in the BookWorks community.

More About Using Goodreads: “My Books”

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Two weeks ago we taught you how to sign up for Goodreads and create your own account using the Author Program. However, to get the most out of your Goodreads profile, you have to be able to use it as a reader as well. Otherwise everyone will think you’re only interested in promoting yourself without actually getting involved in the community!

The easiest and best way you can use your Goodreads account to the fullest is by reviewing the books you’ve read. We showed you what the front page looked like last time around — now let’s take a look at the “My books” tab.

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The left side of the screen lists all the different bookshelves on which your book reviews are listed. Originally you start out with “read,” “currently reading,” and “to read,” but you can also create your own by clicking on “add shelf” below. I like to categorize mine by genre, though I also have several shelves to delineate the books I read in high school and college.

To add a new book to one of your shelves, go to the top search bar where you can input a title, author, or ISBN.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 1.08.27 AM You should come up with a search results page that looks like this:

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Now, if you want to, you can add a book to your bookshelf right here by clicking on the “Want to read” button. Clicking that will automatically add it to your “to-read” shelf, but you can also move it to whichever shelf you want using the button to the right. You can also add a quick 1 to 5 star review here, if you’d like.

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But what if you’ve already read the book you’re adding and you want to write up an elaborate review to share with friends and other likeminded readers? The easiest way to do that is by clicking on the title of the book in question to access its individual page,, and editing a review from there.

If you scroll down at that page, you’ll find this:

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Clicking “edit review” will take you here:

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 1.18.12 AMFrom here you can choose shelves, change the edition that you’re reviewing, edit the date that you finished the book, and write your review. The more reviews you write, the more you’ll be able to share your views with other Goodreads users, and the better your reputation will be as a reader and writer. When you add and review more books, you’ll also get better recommendations using the Goodreads “recommendation” engine. Just don’t spend so much time writing reviews that you forget to write your own book!