Two things caught my eye in the world of poetry this week:
Firstly, NASA is asking for Haiku to make a trip to the planet Mars. This is a real opportunity to get your poetry to a wider audience!
The spacecraft will launch in November to study the atmosphere on Mars. Three poets will have their haiku put on a DVD that will be placed in the craft. Everyone else that submits a haiku for inclusion will get their name included on the DVD.
“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
There is no entry fee (and no prize other than the honour of sending your work to Mars). Entrants must be 18 or over and all Haiku must be written in English. The deadline for submissions is 1st July 2013. From the 15th of July the public will vote for the three Haiku that will go off to the red planet. The winner will be announced on August 8th 2013.
Full details are available here.
Thanks to Nick Daws for bringing this opportunity to my attention.
Secondly, The Emma Press is now open to submissions for ‘The Emma Press Anthology of (Mildly) Erotic Verse’. This got my attention because I went to a workshop last week on writing erotic e-books. It was quite an eye-opener when we were told about the various different sub-genres in the market – or maybe I’ve just led a sheltered life!
But The Emma Press isn’t looking for anything explicit or hard-core. They say, “The erotic element of the poems can be as apparent or barely-there as you like, but the writing has got to tick all the boxes: metre, pace, form and language.”
It is envisaged that 15 poets will be included in the book and there will be a £25 advance for each poet.
Up to four poems can be submitted and there is no entry fee. But be quick – the deadline is 17th May 2013.
Full details are here.
Enrol your e-book in Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program and you get two advantages:
- Amazon Prime members are able to borrow the book for free and this will generate a royalty payment for the author
- The book can be offered free for 5 days in every 90. Offering a book for free is supposed to generate large numbers of downloads which will then convert into reviews of the book on Amazon, which in turn will drive an increased number of sales.
There is also a downside to joining KDP Select – the e-book must remain exclusive to Amazon i.e. it cannot be sold on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc.
Many e-book authors swear by KDP Select and its advantages. They don’t see exclusivity as a disadvantage because Amazon is by far the biggest retailer of e-books.
I’m not sure. I’ve had e-books available in KDP Select for just over three months now and I’ve had only one Amazon Prime loan (it was in the US). So that doesn’t seem a massive benefit. Are any of you Amazon Prime members? I don’t know anyone who is.
I’ve run one free promotion. In the five days that One Day for Me was free, I had 135 US free downloads, 93 in the UK, 2 in Germany, 1 Japan and 1 Canada. As far as I can tell, only one review (it was in the UK) was written as a result and I noticed no increase in sales. This was despite spending an age adding my book to the many websites and Facebook pages that offer to list free e-books.
But I didn’t remove that book from KDP Select after the first 90 days, mainly because whilst I was dithering about what to do, the Amazon automatic re-enrol swung into action.
Looking on the bright side – maybe next time I’ll do better!
Which brings me nicely to my next KDP Select Promotion.
My second anthology Old Friends is free on all Kindle platforms for the next three days. Old Friends is a collection of 13 short stories. There are tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus a little romance. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a biscuit! If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00BJIKIBI on any Amazon platform.
And as a special treat, One Day for Me is half price for the next three days too. One Day for Me is a collection of 8 short stories that have either won or been short-listed in UK writing competitions. If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00B4XCYJC on any Amazon platform.
I look forward to the reviews rolling in, followed by a tsunami of sales!
Recently, I’ve been turning my hand to crime-writing – inspired by some of the competitions mentioned on Helen’s blog.
I’ve sent my entry into the M.R. Hall competition (by email after the on-line form kept insisting that my entry was longer than the required 2,000 characters, but I think that glitch is fixed now).
My entry for the Cremona Hotel competition has been drafted – but will no doubt need a generous dose of spit and polish before it’s ready to go on its way.
Now I’m turning my mind to brainstorming ideas for the GKBC competition (stands for Giving Kudos to Brilliant Content) and after that there’s the ‘Win a Book’ competition in the May issue of Writing Magazine (write 250 words in which someone pulls a gun on a bank cashier).
Alongside this, and to get me into the mind-set of a crime writer, I’ve been reading Crime in the City - the Official Crime Writers’ Association Anthology 2003. I’ve just looked on Amazon and only second-hand copies are available now - so maybe I’ve got a rarity here!
Like all good stories, these tales are character-led and usually contain no great detail about the mechanics of the crime involved or the police procedures used in solving it. The latter often puts people (including me) off penning crime fiction for fear of getting the investigative procedures wrong, so short stories could be a good starting point.
The best way of finding out about police procedure is to make friends with a policeman but failing that, there are resources available on the internet. After a quick trawl I’ve found:
- Crime and Clues - the Art and Science of Criminal Investigation
- Writers Write - this page lists several websites that might interest crime writers
- Writing.ie -Really Useful Links for Crime Writers
Now, time to decide how my next victim’s going to die …
Since starting my own adventures in e-publishing I’ve started reading more self-published e-books. I’ve been doing this for two reasons:
- I want to see what types of thing people are publishing
- I want to support other writers in the same way that I’ve been supported
Taking the second point – the best way to support self-published authors is to give them a review. It doesn’t have to be a full-on 5 star rave about the book – just a few words to show that the book has been read and enjoyed (if you have enjoyed it, obviously).
A while ago I read and reviewed something which I enjoyed. The book had held my attention from beginning to end and I looked forward to picking up again each night (I generally only read at bedtime). There were some formatting errors in the text but they didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the narrative. So, when I left my review I didn’t mention these errors, I concentrated on the book’s literary content.
Now a comment has been added to my review, indicating that I should have pointed out the formatting problems and downgraded my star rating accordingly.
My first reaction to this was anger that someone had dared to criticise my opinion and I had to restrain myself from commenting back and thus getting into a public argument.
Now that I’ve had chance to calm down and think about it, I realise that I was probably wrong not to mention the formatting issues. However, my review was the first one for that book and I didn’t want to give it the kiss of death – but I did want to leave a comment to say that I’d enjoyed it.
What would you have done?
I’ve recently tried another book and found it contains several punctuation mistakes. So, I’m not going to leave a review at all, regardless of the quality of the story, because I don’t want to get a reputation for dishonest reviews.
I’ve learned a lesson from all this - ’Look Inside’ or download a sample of the book before buying to ensure that formatting, punctuation etc. is up to scratch.
Any tips on getting the most out of Goodreads, either as an author or a reader, would be gratefully received.