Archives for January 2014

To print or not to print, that is the question

January 23, 2014 18 Comments


It’s a perfect moment.

You pull the first book out of the top of the box.  The smell of fresh cut paper hits you.  You crack open the book and breath in the smell.

It’s finally real. Your book is published and it’s here. Time to send a copy to your Mom and siblings. It’s always a special moment, not matter how many books I publish.

One of the most common questions my students ask is “should I print my book?” With the world moving to Kindle and ebook formats, it’s a reasonable debate.

My answer is always “yes.” You don’t want to rob yourself of that moment when the book becomes fully real.  It’s one of those truly joyous moments in life.  So always print at least a few copies of your book.

That is not the only question you should  be asking though.  The better question to ask is “should I be running my bestseller campaign on the printed version of my book.”  The answer to this question requires more consideration.

What to look at:

1. Is price an important consideration? Ebook versions can be moved a much lower cost. In fact many people post their ebook for free or highly reduced price during their campaign.

2. Are you going for International Bestseller status? Kindle does not have a country associated with it, unlike,, etc.  So if you run your campaign on the kindle version, the opportunity to gain bestseller status in more than one country is lost.

3. If you’re running your campaign on a print version, I’d recommend either using fulfilment by Amazon and running it on the softcover or working with a distribution house where the costs are clearly cover by the wholesale costs of the book.  Many writers find themselves in a loose money proposition when they realize Amazon is wanting books couriered to distribution  houses all over the US a few books at a time.

Scientists Find Secret to Writing a Best-Selling Novel

January 10, 2014 Leave a Comment

By 10:44AM GMT 09 Jan 2014 

Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success – and the secret is to avoid cliches and excessive use of verbs 

Scientists have developed an algorithm which can analyse a book and predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether or not it will be a commercial success.

A technique called statistical stylometry, which mathematically examines the use of words and grammar, was found to be “surprisingly effective” in determining how popular a book would be.

The group of computer scientists from Stony Brook University in New York said that a range of factors determine whether or not a book will enjoy success, including “interestingness”, novelty, style of writing, and how engaging the storyline is, but admit that external factors such as luck can also play a role.

By downloading classic books from the Project Gutenberg archive they were able to analyse texts with their algorithm and compare its predictions to historical information on the success of the work. Everything from science fiction to classic literature and poetry was included.

It was found that the predictions matched the actual popularity of the book 84 per cent of the time.

They found several trends that were often found in successful books, including heavy use of conjunctions such as “and” and “but” and large numbers of nouns and adjectives.

Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as “wanted”, “took” or “promised”, while more successful books favoured verbs that describe thought processes such as “recognised” or “remembered”.

To find “less successful” books for their tests, the researchers scoured Amazon for low-ranking books in terms of sales. They also included Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, despite its commercial success, because of “negative critiques if had attracted from media”.

“Predicting the success of literary works poses a massive dilemma for publishers and aspiring writers alike,” said Assistant Professor Yejin Choi, one of the authors of the paper published by the Association of Computational Linguistics.

“To the best of our knowledge, our work is the first that provides quantitative insights into the connection between the writing style and the success of literary works.

“Previous work has attempted to gain insights into the ‘secret recipe’ of successful books. But most of these studies were qualitative, based on a dozen books, and focused primarily on high-level content – the personalities of protagonists and antagonists and the plots. Our work examines a considerably larger collection – 800 books – over multiple genres, providing insights into lexical, syntactic, and discourse patterns that characterise the writing styles commonly shared among the successful literature.”

Does the ball bouncing upward disprove gravity?

January 5, 2014 11 Comments


When you’re view of the world only includes balls bouncing upward, you might think anyone who believes in gravity to be naive and simplistic.

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Those who step back and look at the system as a whole will see something different. Gravity always moves thing down.

Sit in the political system or work in the media and you may hold a view that society moves based on certain forces. Steps back though, and communications theory clearly shows that it is the word of mouth happening at the community level that ultimately dictates what makes it into the media and onto the political agenda.

And when we look at who the influencers are in local day to day conversation, there are a few individuals within society that influence how word of mouth spreads.

“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Meade