March of the Links

February is a short month, but I still found lots of luscious links.

The Women We Don’t See
E. Catherine Tobler on the invisibility of female authors to some readers.

So, was it actually a coincidence? Could a reader not realize they hadn’t read a female author in two years? Unfortunately, I believe the answer is absolutely and completely yes, because male authors remain the default. Readers just go there, without thinking twice.

8 cover design secrets publishers use to manipulate readers into buying books
Bit of a click bait provocative title – could be more like 8 principles of effective cover design.

Indie pub­lish­ers are slowly com­ing to real­ize the impor­tance of an amaz­ing book cover. Since many self-publishing authors are start­ing out on a very small bud­get how­ever, home­made, DIY book cov­ers are still a pop­u­lar choice. But be fore­warned: although book cover designs come in a wide vari­ety, pub­lish­ers con­sis­tently use reli­able, time-tested tech­niques and guide­lines to catch your atten­tion and make the sale.

Long Term Query Do’s and Don’ts Tip: Your Decisions Now DO Affect Later Relationships
Agent Joanna Volpe on some of the problems in query letters, beyond the usual, that hint at possible trouble ahead.

I’m not going to give the usual Do’s and Don’ts tips. I’m going to talk about a trend I’ve been noticing lately that leads me (and my colleagues and peers) to re-consider working on a project. I’m talking about: baggage.

Is a story a product like a toaster?
Liam Livings on the tension between viewing your book as art or a commercial product.

Buying products as solutions
When you buy a toaster/car/laptop, you aren’t really buying the metal, engine, oil, seats, glass windows etc. What you’re actually buying is a solution to whatever problem it is you have at the time you’re buying the product.

Shhhh! 7 Dirty Little Secrets Your Editor Doesn’t Want You To Know
Christine Pride on The Romance University about editors and those things they don’t want us writers to know.

The truth is, editors these days face the same tough realities as writers, since our careers are so symbiotic. We want you to think of us as brilliant and fashionable, wearing trendy glasses, and having erudite conversations in cozy rooms lined with bookshelves, with our various National Book Awards lined up on the mantle (okay, maybe that’s my personal fantasy, ahem) but here are a few less flattering truths:

Valentine’s Day: There’s No Such Thing as a Happy Ever After
KJ Charles on why she doesn’t believe in the “ever after” part of the HEA

Romance writers and readers use HEA (‘happy ever after’) and HFN (‘happy for now’) as shorthand for endings. If a book ends with a wedding or similar level of commitment, that tends to be an HEA – obstacles conquered, commitment made. A less definite ending counts as an HFN, and may suggest a sequel might be on the cards to take our heroes/heroines to the ultimate HEA.

Death By Promotion: Getting Real About the Costs to Authors and Readers in the Current Marketing Environment
A long but very interesting post on author marketing by Heidi Cullinan

You would think, you really would, that such a declaration would be rather like stating the obvious. Except every goddamn day that passes, I feel more and more like the last unicorn, and even though I can’t find anyone actually turning the screws, I feel more and more pressure every day to market, promote, to be a flaming brand across the literary horizon. It’s killing me, and I think it’s eating a lot of our souls.

Where to Stick It – Three Types of Scenes That are Begging for Humor
Tiffany Reisz about where to use humour in your story.

Why write comedy? Why not? Comedy, like pornography, produces a physiological reaction in people—a smile, a laugh, a spit-take. A good laugh is almost as good as an orgasm (almost). Plus humor comes in many forms and the type of humor a person uses can be a great indicator of character.

(Not) Writing a Book
KJ Charles on how the people most eager to tell you they are writing a book are the ones who aren’t writing on.

95% of the time, the correct answer to the party statement ‘I’m writing a book,’ is ‘Wonderful, congratulations,’ and then nodding until you’ve finished your drink. (The perfect response is what the late great Peter Cook apparently used to say: ‘Oh, you’re writing a novel? Neither am I.’)

Why Is Lesbian Romance So Unpopular When Compared to Gay or Straight Romance?
E.E. Ottoman ponders the question of why F/F romance is such a tiny niche compared to the popularity of M/M and M/F romance.

A lot of people say romance readers are straight women so of course they are naturally going to be more interested in books with hot men. I think that is the easiest, least complicated, least threatening way of looking at the issue though.

I also don’t really buy it, never have.

28 Books You Should Read If You Want To
Janet Potter has a fresh approach to those “books everyone must read before they die” type of lists.

These lists serve a purpose if you’re Jay Gatsby furnishing a library or if you’ve, say, just arrived from Mars and have no knowledge of Earth books. What they miss is that one of the greatest rewards of a reading life is discovery. In my 10 years working at bookstores, no one ever came in and asked me what they should read before their death — they would ask me what my favorite book was, or if there were any great new books no one was talking about, or they would just want me to leave them alone so they could explore on their own.

3 Grammar Rules to Break in Creative Writing
Everything they taught you at school is wrong. Okay, maybe not everything. The Earth does go around the sun.

Long ago, but not so far away, I took graduate courses in linguistics and grammar. (Yes. I was that sort of a geek.) My charming professor, a woman from Greece who understood English grammar better than any of us could ever fathom wanting to understand English grammar, taught me an important concept:

In the world of writing teachers, there are two main camps: the Prescriptives and the Descriptives.

How to be a better Beta Reader
Beta reading is a great way to help other writers out, and improve your editing skills. Annabeth Albert has some tips on how to be better at it.

Focus on what is fixable. For example, if you would love the story more if it were not set in France, that sort of change is probably not going to happen. But if you would love the story more if only you could understand why they were in France, that sort of change is totally feasible.

Finish with the funny

25 Signs You’re Addicted To Books
13. When you go on vacation, your suitcase looks like this.

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