The Greatest Part About Ricky Gervais Being On Time Magazine’s List of 100 Most Influential People

"Is Ricky influential? I'll think about that the next time he's wrestled me to the ground to squeeze my head."

… is that they got Karl Pilkington to write the piece about why Ricky is so influential.  Here’s my favorite excerpt:

Me calling Ricky, 48, influential would be like Einstein’s mam calling Einstein a genius. I doubt she ever did. I bet she just said she was proud of him but wished he’d comb his hair.

BTW – Congratulations to Suzanne Collins for making the list this year.  In my opinion, her Hunger Games books set the bar in young adult fiction.
You can see the entire list of 100 most influential people here:  The 2010 TIME 100

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Alec Baldwin – Lost Days Celebrity of the Day

Hey, Alec, you're in my light.

My buddy Alec and me hanging at a book fair talking literature and Photoshop.  Alec insisted on getting his picture taken with his favorite book.  He couldn’t care less if I got in the shot or not.  When I tried to explain to him that without me there would be no book, he reluctantly agreed to let me be in the photo.  He’s such a kidder.  We broke out into a tickle fight right after this picture was taken.  You probably can find the video on Youtube.

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Question of the Day for Writers – “What’s Your Word Count?”

"My book is this many penguins long."

Somewhere along the road to finding a publisher, self-publisher, POD company, or whatever else is out there to publish your book these days, you are very likely going to be asked to reveal the word count of your book. In my experience in asking new aspiring authors this question, it is as confusing as explaining the origins of the universe for some.  In fact, I have been completely floored by the answers I received.  Here are just few that left me speechless.

Question: What is the word count of your book?

Most Frequent Answer: “It’s eleven chapters long.”

  • Why this isn’t a good answer: There is no uniform length for chapters.  A chapter can range from just a few words to a crap load.

Second Most Frequent Answer: “It’s 110 Pages.”

  • Why this isn’t a good answer: I have no idea what spacing you used, what font you used, what size font you used, etc.

Response That Made Me Want to Punch Myself: “Do you want me to count the conjunctions?”

  • Why this isn’t a good question: Unless conjunctions are declassified from a word to a sub-word much like Pluto was declassified from a planet to sub-planet, count them.  In fact, don’t count any words.  Just use the word count function in Word.  The counting is done for you.

Answer That Made Me Wish I Had Gone Into the Family Business (eye care): “My book is 482,000 characters with spaces.”

  • Why this isn’t a good answer: Words are made up of varying numbers of characters.  It’s impossible to tell how many words you have by giving me a character count.

Answer That Made Me Question The Existence of All That is Holy and Sacred: “Penguin.”

  • Why this isn’t a good answer: A penguin is an animal not a word count.    This is an actual answer I got once.  I am still completely baffled and entertained by it.

So, now you know.  Go forth and count your words.  Feel free to count penguins, too.

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One Thing You Should Never, Ever, Ever, Ever… Ever Do As An Author

I was shocked – shocked, I tell you – when I read a recent article written by Brent Sampson titled Top 5 Book Selling Tips.  Now, I don’t know Brent personally.  He’s got many years of publishing experience under his belt, and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but one of his tips is the single worst tip I have ever seen posted by someone who should know better.  Here is his tip:

TIP # 1 Online reviews are paramount in importance when it comes to drawing attention to your book. And the best part is, you’re in control of your own destiny! If you haven’t yet submitted your own review on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, what are you waiting for? This should be one of the first steps for every published author.

Authors Don't Let Other Authors Review Their Own Books!

In case you missed it, his advice is to review your own book on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is correct in that online reviews can help you sell books, but he couldn’t be more wrong by encouraging you to review your own book.  Never review your own book! I don’t care how desperate you are to sell books. It is never okay to review your own book.  It’s completely unethical.  If you identify yourself as the author, it is useless because consumers will see it as tacky.  If you hide your identity (which I should point out, Sampson isn’t encouraging you to do), it’s seen as dishonest and could sink your publishing career if your secret gets out.

He goes on to advise you to ask family and friends to review your book on these sites, as well.  I don’t have a problem with this if they actually read your book.  They have just as much right to review your book as a stranger.  Granted, they aren’t going to be as critical as someone you don’t know, but reviews are opinions and opinions are based on a lot of factors. If eating all your peas when you were four-years-old matters to your mom when evaluating your book, then so be it.  As long as you’re soliciting honest reviews and not positive reviews, I’m okay with this practice.  The mind of the reviewer is out of your purview no matter how close you are to them.  Accept every review graciously.

So, what aren’t you going to do today… or any day if you’re an author?

BTW – Here’s a story from 2004 about authors who were caught reviewing their own books: Amazon Glitch Outs Authors Reviewing Own Books

*Note – Again, I’m not suggesting that Sampson is encouraging you to surreptitiously review your own book, but still it’s horrible advice.

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Guillermo del Toro – Lost Days Celebrity of the Day

Guillermo del Toro hugs his favorite book Lost Days.

Upon hearing that Spielberg and Scorsese are fighting over the film rights for Lost Days, Guillermo del Toro proclaims, “Dude, did you see Pan’s Labyrinth?  I could totally rock this book and the entire Oz Chronicles series, too!”  To which I say, “Yes you could, Mr. del Toro.  Yes you could.”

Of course, I said this after spending a few quality minutes playing around with Photoshop.

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Bo Obama – Lost Days Celebrity of the Day

The First Dog and His Favorite Book

Bo Obama is photographed walking the White House grounds with his favorite book Lost Days to promote canine literacy.  When asked why Lost Days was his favorite book, he barked.

What? He’s a dog.  What did you expect?

Next up for Bo?  He’s taking an adult continuing education class in Photoshop?  When asked why, he barked.

We’ve been over this.

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Book Tests Legendary Filmmakers Friendship; Spielberg vs. Scorsese – Lost Days Celebrities of the Day

Spielberg Fights Scorsese For Lost Days Film Rights

Steven Spielberg yanks a copy of Lost Days from Martin Scorsese and playfully declares “The film rights are mine, Marty.”  Scorsese was seen phoning his buddy Francis Ford Coppola immediately following this picture was taken and asking him if he could walk him through the “Making him an offer he can’t refuse” negotiation technique again.

I was asked what I thought about this development, but unfortunately, I was too busy testing the limits of Photoshop, and had no idea this was going on at the time.

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Metric Junkie – An Amazon Sales Ranking Fix for My Author Friends

Feeding Your Ranking Addiction

That’s “fix” as in a desperate fulfillment of a need.  Most of my author friends and colleagues have a borderline obsession with a little something called “Amazon Sales Ranking” (ASR- Street name “Ranking”).  I’m among this group of pathetic addicts that can’t get enough of measuring our self-worth through the sales rankings of our books on the world’s biggest online purveyor of books.  It’s like watching the score of a championship football or basketball game, only this game never ends.

Some authors will deny having a Ranking addiction, but most of them are lying.  They don’t want you to know that the first thing they do in the morning is go to the Amazon website and look up their book’s Ranking -The higher the Ranking the better the emotional high.  If your Ranking is low, a sinking depression begins your day. Some have such a bad Ranking addiction that they will check every hour, even wake up in the middle of the night to get their Ranking fix.  If you have several books on Amazon, you could spend all day Ranking.

For those authors brave enough to admit you have a Ranking problem, I have a little present for you.  I discovered a website called Metric Junkie that will track your Amazon Rankings for you.  It’s pretty cool.  It won’t help you stop Ranking, but it will give you all your ranks at once, you can even track Rankings of other books.

I pulled this from their “Features” page:

  • FREE to use
  • HOURLY AUTOMATIC COLLECTION of Amazon “Sales Rank” for books you track
  • VIBRANT INTERACTIVE GRAPHS present your “Sales Rank in a meaningful way, allowing you to quickly determine the effectiveness of your sales promotions, media campaigns, & social networking buzz
  • USER-FRIENDLY INTERFACE cleanly displays information in an intuiative and easy to follow format
  • CHA-CHINGER™ TECHNOLOGY shows you when a sale has occurred for any book you track
  • MARKET SHARE APPROXIMATOR™ shows you how your product stacks-up against your competitions
  • GROUPS allow you to organize your collection into smaller more manageable categories
  • PRINTABLE CHARTS allow you to take your information with you to review off-line at your favorite coffee house

So, there you have it, safe Ranking via Metric Junkie.  Use it wisely, and remember, you’re still a good person even if your Ranking sucks.

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Book 4 of the Oz Chronicles Update – (Land of) the Dead

The title will most likely just be "The Dead."

UPDATE: IT’S HERE!!! It’s coming. Cross my heart.  Stick a needle in my eye.  This one is a mixture of total fiction, and fictionalized fact.  The Destroyer in this one is a creep’s creep.  I intensely don’t like him, and he’s based on a real guy, Albert Fish.  Fish was a real boogeyman who ate children from about 1910 to the mid 1930’s. He bragged that he got kids in every state.He’s nasty and vile and the scariest bad guy Oz has come up against.  The more I read about him the more I wish I could go back in time and throw the guy off the Empire State building. He’s an evil, evil man.   Hope Oz can take him out. 🙂

I thought we’d be ready to go with Book 4 by March, but that didn’t happen, so I pushed it to April/May.  I’ll hit May definitely.

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