Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday 20

I have seen some user-unfriendly promo around the book biz, but the process of learning the title J.K. Rowling picked for her next (and last?) Harry Potter book is so complicated that it has to be explained step-by-step:

"...go to the author's official web site*, click on the eraser and you will be taken to a room — you'll see a window, a door and a mirror.

In the mirror, you'll see a hallway. Click on the farthest doorknob and look for the Christmas tree. Then click on the center of the door next to the mirror and a wreath appears. Then click on the top of the mirror and you'll see a garland.

Look for a cobweb next to the door. Click on it, and it will disappear. Now, look at the chimes in the window. Click on the second chime to the right, and hold it down. The chime will turn into the key, which opens the door. Click on the wrapped gift behind the door, then click on it again and figure out the title yourself by playing a game of hangman."
-- (instructions swiped from Yahoo.com)

I only got it to work as far as clicking on the second chime to the right, but I freely admit that I'm hopeless at these gamer things. If you are, too, get a kid to do it; they'll probably have the title in under a minute.

Here at Casa PBW, we've wrapped up 99.9% of the prep for Christmas. The kids and I are baking the last of the cookies for our Christmas Eve party today, but that's about it. Santa, bring it on.

Other than what the heck was J.K. thinking, any questions out there for me this week?

*Added: Enter the UK version of the web site in order to get this game to work -- and thanks to Alphabeter for the tip.

39 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:03 AM

    Any advice on how to deal with a former publisher that's being sort of difficult? Not responding to email, that sort of thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any new news on more Stardoc novels?

    ReplyDelete
  3. To add to the torment, apparently the 'key' only works when you enter via the British version of her website. I will NOT admit how much time I spent on her site, then looking for the reason why it wasn't working, then trying it again. Especially since I've only read the first book (though I've seen all four movies)!

    Question: do authors really benefit from having lots of things on their websites? Quite a few now have 1) a means to order items (not necessarily books even if they are published); 2) a blog; 3) a messageboard; 4) articles (about 50% writing-related); 5) games and 6) short stories or other works available for free.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous wrote: Any advice on how to deal with a former publisher that's being sort of difficult? Not responding to email, that sort of thing.

    You've got a couple of options. First you need to decide how important the matter is to you, and whether it's worth your time and investment to pursue it. If it is, decide on how far you're willing to take it and how much money you're willing to spend to resolve it.

    I would always try to amicably solve any problem first. Explain your situation to the publisher and ask for their cooperation. If they're not answering your e-mail, send your letters certified mail to their street adddress. Keep a file documenting all your contact in the event you have to sue the publisher in the future.

    Or, if you have an agent, tell him/her what's happening and ask them to take over. That's part of their job to deal with publishers and often they're very good at resolving problems.

    Another option is to hire an attorney and take the publisher to court. I would recommend doing this only if you don't have an agent, are owed a large amount of money by the publisher, and all other avenues to reach them and collect it have failed. An attorney typically asks for a retainer in advance and 30% of any settlement.

    Or, let it go. If it's just not worth the time, annoyance and effort to resolve otherwise, that may be the simplest solution.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just want to wish you a Happy Christmas, Dear Lady.
    You are a gift.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mary said: Any new news on more Stardoc novels?

    Nothing as of yet; I hope to have some news in January.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Alphabeter wrote: To add to the torment, apparently the 'key' only works when you enter via the British version of her website.

    Thanks for the tip -- I'll have to give it another try.

    Question: do authors really benefit from having lots of things on their websites? Quite a few now have 1) a means to order items (not necessarily books even if they are published); 2) a blog; 3) a messageboard; 4) articles (about 50% writing-related); 5) games and 6) short stories or other works available for free.

    I think an author can put too much stuff on their website in the sense that it makes it confusing or hard to navigate. There are also "stylized" web sites where you have to guess what the mysterious icon leads to (which bug the hell out of me personally.)

    I think how effective a web site is relates to how well the author is doing -- a very trendy, popular author's readers seem to like a lot of bells and whistles, want to buy little souvenir stuff, etc. Sometimes you can make a lot of money if your books do well and readers are looking for collectibles, self-pubbed e-books, etc. that you provide them.

    The average author doesn't really benefit from anything except what attracts readers. A blog is great as long as the author is a decent blogger and has the time to devote to it. Collectibles, coffee mugs, T-shirts are great fun, but most of the online service/provider companies who make them keep most of the money. Discussion boards have to be monitored for trolls, flamers and porn SPAMmers. Writing-related articles are nice but unless you charge for access they're not going to turn a profit.

    I do think free content is the most valuable thing an author can put up on a web site. Probably half of my SF readership discovered me via the free stories I used to put up on my web site every month, and invested in my print work because they liked what they read. So if you're going to include anything on an author web site, I'd make it free content.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not to ruin the fun or anything, but I found it easier to just read the title in an MSNBC article on Ms. Rowling yesterday.

    Then again, I suck at video games. *-*

    ReplyDelete
  9. Bernita wrote: Just want to wish you a Happy Christmas, Dear Lady.

    Merry Christmas, Bernita, and thanks. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I clicked on the Yahoo news link and it told me straight out. Darnit, I missed all that fun!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Shannon wrote: Darnit, I missed all that fun!

    I dunno if I'd call this fun, but then again I'm old and cranky. If I were eleven I'd probably love it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Why keep it a secret?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous9:08 AM

    LOL I saw it in my Pub Lunch email. *shrug* (IMO it's the worst title in the series.)

    Just wanted to say Merry Christmas, PBW! :)

    And -- wow! I like to set goals for myself to keep motivated, but I told my 3 best friends that their Christmas present would be my reaching 30k on my new novel by the end of the month and there's nothing like having OTHER people counting on you to make you write more. O.o (Even if they aren't allowed to read it.)
    Jess

    ReplyDelete
  14. That wasn't promo, not in the usual sense of the word! Which other author do you know who'd create headlines just by announcing the title of her next book?

    As far as puzzles on her site go, this was one of the easier ones. You wouldn't believe what we had to get through a couple of years ago to find out three *chapter titles* from the sixth book.

    You'd think I'd have more pride than to still be panting after her, begging for more information... but I don't. :) I do love the books.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What things do you suggest doing to keep current with what's happening in a particular genre? Other than reading voraciously?

    Merry Christmas and thanks for all you do here on your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Hello PBW! Happy holidays and New Year!

    OK...I have some questions. What do you do to plan your output for the upcoming year? How do you work in the inevitable changes to your plan? And finally -- how did your plans for this year work out? I did pretty well, but one of my goals is to keep upping my output in 2007.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights and even your crankiness with us. We all appreciate it.

    Michele

    ReplyDelete
  17. My good-at-games oldest child had trouble finding his way through that "room" last night, too- I finally resorted to reading the CNN article to him, step by step. And then he's like, what? That's a AWFUL title. I agreed. Rowling site tends to be difficult to navigate as a rule, though, so this instance isn't out of the ordinary.

    By the way, I was mad at you last night. I finished reading Beyond Varallan. It's a darn good thing I have the next book here waiting for me to read it, because if I'd had to wait months to find out what happens next, I'd be really ticked. And yes, that's a (grumpy) compliment.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I remember almost convincing a friend that the next HP book was going to be titled Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Money. Almost. If I'd gone for "Gold" I'd probably have nailed it.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. PW,

    Just wanted to stop in and wish you a Merry Christmas. I rarely comment, but I read your blog daily and always find it worthwhile. Thank you and Merry Christmas.

    Tech

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just took six months away from my paying job to write my first novel ... any words of advice? Happy Holidays.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Merry Christmas PBW!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Yes, HOW did you write through hurricanes? I managed to write through this year's storm that shut down the Evergreen floating bridge, the two heat waves, the 36 inches of rainfall and subsequent flooding which produced standing water in our apartment, but the series of lengthy power outages from gale force and hurricane force winds I could not write through. I also could not concentrate for crap with the wind sounding like it was about to tear the roof off. Seriously, how'd you do it?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Andi wrote: Not to ruin the fun or anything, but I found it easier to just read the title in an MSNBC article on Ms. Rowling yesterday. Then again, I suck at video games.

    Sister! See, it's not just me who is A-B-reset button-challenged. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Estella wrote: Why keep it a secret?

    I'm rather perplexed, too. I know Harry Potter fans are a lot like my generation was with D&D, and I'm all for entertaining the readers, but all this to-do for a lousy book title?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Jess wrote: I like to set goals for myself to keep motivated, but I told my 3 best friends that their Christmas present would be my reaching 30k on my new novel by the end of the month and there's nothing like having OTHER people counting on you to make you write more.

    Friends are great motivators, and can nag you better than a parent. One thing I used to do was get into wordcount wars with other writers via online chat. That helped and was a fun way to cheer on others in the same boat.

    Merry Christmas, Jess. Now get back to work. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wendelin wrote: Which other author do you know who'd create headlines just by announcing the title of her next book?

    Besides Ann Coulter? Not that anyone really wants to know...

    As far as puzzles on her site go, this was one of the easier ones. You wouldn't believe what we had to get through a couple of years ago to find out three *chapter titles* from the sixth book.

    Oh, make me feel better, W! Lol. I admire the lady a lot, but I think I'd better skip her web site games.

    You'd think I'd have more pride than to still be panting after her, begging for more information... but I don't. :) I do love the books.

    That's all that matters. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Darlene wrote: What things do you suggest doing to keep current with what's happening in a particular genre? Other than reading voraciously?

    Gather all the information you can from reliable sources that provide it for free, because the stuff you have to pay for is usually publisher-controlled, big money hype that has no value for the average working writer.

    You can find current news articles about publishing with any search engine; I get most of mine off Yahoo.com news (book biz articles are under the entertainment tab.) The books sections from USAToday and The New York Times can also be read online for free or for registration.

    Check in regularly with writer/bloggers in your genre who share very helpful info about what's happening in the biz (as Jordan Summers did with this post.) Find new genre blogs or genre-related posts by using blog tag search engines like Technorati.com.

    Check out writer info sites like WriteNews.com and see what sort of industry links, as well as bookseller news sites like Bookselling This Week.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Michele wrote: What do you do to plan your output for the upcoming year?

    I plan it two years in advance, as everything I write next year will be books that I actually sold last year. I try to keep the schedule open for an unexpected book or two, and try to stay flexible as deadlines and release dates can shift without warning.

    How do you work in the inevitable changes to your plan?

    Leaving a little room in the year allows me to move things forward or backward on the schedule without too much problem. I do my best to accomodate my publishers because they're the folks who pay me.

    And finally -- how did your plans for this year work out? I did pretty well, but one of my goals is to keep upping my output in 2007.

    Everything was turned in, ,y editors were happy with it, and I got paid for all my contracted work and was offered new contracts, which is my definition of a successful year. One of my experiments attracted a lot of notice from unexpected directions, which may end up becoming something cool after the first of the year (I will pass along details as soon as I have confirmation.) Anyway, 2006 went pretty much according to plan. :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Shawna wrote: By the way, I was mad at you last night. I finished reading Beyond Varallan. It's a darn good thing I have the next book here waiting for me to read it, because if I'd had to wait months to find out what happens next, I'd be really ticked.

    I sincerely apologize. BV was my second published novel and, like a rookie, I thought a cliffhanger would be cool. I had no idea the book would make people want to strangle me. I do warn as many people as I can about the ending now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Buffysquirrel wrote: I remember almost convincing a friend that the next HP book was going to be titled Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Money.

    Good one. I was counting on "Harry Potter and The Unfortunate Ending that Alienates All of His Readers" myself.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Tech wrote: Just wanted to stop in and wish you a Merry Christmas.

    Nice to see you, Tech. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Shiloh wrote: Merry Christmas, PBW

    Hey, you -- Santa tells me you should expect a surprise sometime tomorrow. Merry Christmas. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Just dropping in to say Merry Christmas!

    I'm not really digging the new HP book title, but I'm sure it will grow on me eventually. *wink*

    ReplyDelete
  34. Shanna wrote: Just took six months away from my paying job to write my first novel ... any words of advice?

    Bravo! I suggest going at it the same way you would working at a day job: decide on what you want to get accomplished during the next six months, set your daily work hours and stick to them, and keep track of how much you're getting done every week. If you plan to write and finish a novel, you might want to think about a submission plan for when it's finished. Be reasonable with yourself and what you want to get done so you don't burn out.

    Most of all, have a good time with it and enjoy yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  35. May wrote: Merry Christmas PBW!

    Thanks, May. :)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Charlene wrote: Yes, HOW did you write through hurricanes?

    It was my way of spitting in the face of the storms. It also helped the kids to see me working and keeping things as normal as possible.

    I managed to write through this year's storm that shut down the Evergreen floating bridge, the two heat waves, the 36 inches of rainfall and subsequent flooding which produced standing water in our apartment, but the series of lengthy power outages from gale force and hurricane force winds I could not write through. I also could not concentrate for crap with the wind sounding like it was about to tear the roof off.

    Writing allows me to tune out the world most of the time. I also wore headphones and listened to music when the winds were shrieking their worst. About the hardest time to write was between storms during the day, when the temperatures rose to 95F + and the house became sweltering. I took my lapdesk outside, sat under my favorite tree and wrote in the shade, but God, all I did was sweat. When they finally cleared the roads and we could drive out, I took the kids to the nearest mall with power (30 miles away) and spent the day there at the food court. We had a wonderful time, luxuriating in the A/C and nibbling on junk food. I worked most of the afternoon on my PDA there while they played their GameBoys.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Cora wrote: Just dropping in to say Merry Christmas!

    Merry Christmas, Cora. :)

    I'm not really digging the new HP book title, but I'm sure it will grow on me eventually.

    J.K. does go for rather oddly-worded titles, doesn't she? I only hope she doesn't kill Harry.

    ReplyDelete
  38. PBW wrote: I was counting on "Harry Potter and The Unfortunate Ending that Alienates All of His Readers" myself.

    Heheh.

    That may of course still come to pass....

    ReplyDelete