Entries Tagged 'e-Publishing' ↓
September 20th, 2012 — Digital Publishing, Market Profile, Self-Publishing, e-Publishing
Are you tired of hearing that it’s never been more difficult to get your book published? Do you want to get published today and reach a potentially huge international audience? Are you sick of doom-and-gloom assessments of the publishing industry? Do you find interminable lists of rhetorical questions irritating? Then perhaps it’s time for me to shut up, and give the floor to Smashwords founder, and self-publishing guru, Mark Coker. According to Mark ‘There’s never been a better time to be a writer.’ And that’s what we like to hear.
For a long time, self-publishing has been seen as the pariah at the publishing party, with the dubious practices and poor production values of vanity publishers largely to blame. This has all changed. The recent phenomenal commercial success of a number of self-published authors (one in particular, who shall not be named here…) has done much to change that perception, as has the emergence of Smashwords.
After launching in 2008, Smashwords turned the self-publishing industry on its head by offering authors free access to digital self-publishing and distribution services. The Smashwords business model is based on the idea that authors should retain complete control over their works, and that they should receive the lion’s share of all royalties. Oh yeah, and Smashwords only makes money if your book sells. Nice.
Speakeasy recently caught up with Mark Coker. He offered a fascinating entrée into the dynamic world of digital self-publishing, explaining to us why ‘The future of digital self-publishing is the future of publishing.’ Read on to find out more.
Speakeasy: There has long been a stigma attached to self-publishing. Do you think this has changed, or is in the process of changing? Why?
Mark Coker (MC): Four years ago when I started Smashwords, there was a definite stigma associated with self-publishing. Self-publishing was viewed as the option of last resort for failed authors who couldn’t get a traditional book deal. Today, the stigma is disappearing. Here in the US, people who scoff at self-published authors reveal themselves as out of touch dinosaurs. Self-publishing is gaining increased respect and credibility in the publishing industry thanks to the enormous commercial success of many indie authors.
The other week, four Smashwords authors hit the New York Times bestseller list in the same week. The naysayers can’t argue with the success of self-published authors. Something very profound is happening now in self-publishing. Although industry-watchers realise something is happening, most don’t truly grok the significance. Self-published authors are learning to become professional publishers.
Speak to any self-published author, and you’ll understand why self-publishing, and specifically ebook self-publishing, is the future of publishing.
Agents no longer discourage self-publishing, and many agents are now actively supporting the self-publishing efforts of their clients. Agents and publishers are scouring the best-seller lists of major retailers as the slush pile loses its luster. Agents and publishers are beginning to realise that consumers are the best curators of books worth publishing.
Within the next couple years, I think the stigmas will flip. It’ll be common for us to hear industry observers speaking about limitations and drawbacks of traditional publishing, and the rising stigma of traditional publishing.
Writers are beginning to realise they don’t need the blessing of a publisher to become a published author. They’re asking what publishers can do for them that the authors cannot do for themselves. Authors are also starting to realise that there can be significant disadvantages to working with a publisher. Publishers can actually harm an author’s ability to reach readers, because publishers are over-charging consumers, paying low royalties, and are slow to get the product to market.
A few years ago, authors had no choice but to work with a publisher. Publishers controlled the printing press, they controlled the all-important access to bookstores, and they controlled the knowledge to professionally publish. Without a publisher, you couldn’t reach readers.
Today, thanks to ebook publishing and distribution platforms such as Smashwords, the printing press is available to all authors at no cost, and the distribution to ebook stores is fully democratised. At Smashwords, we’re doing our part to promote best practices, because we believe knowledge in the hands of authors is power. Our mission is to shift the power in publishing from publishers to authors. A few months ago, I published The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, a free ebook that identifies 28 best practices of the most commercially successful ebook authors.
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September 6th, 2012 — Digital Publishing, Market Profile, Publishers, e-Publishing
The Review of Australian Fiction is rapidly establishing a reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative new fiction journals around. Emerging as the hyperactive brainchild of Matthew Lamb and Phil Crowley, the journal has already corralled an impressive and eclectic array of established and emerging Australian literary talent. I would love to say more, but in light of what follows, it seems a little redundant.
Speakeasy recently pitched a few questions at the RAF kingpin, Matthew Lamb. His responses were expansive, to say the least, but we forgive that (in fact we encourage it) because they offered an entertaining insight into the beer-fuelled birth of one of Australia’s most intriguing literary projects.
Speakeasy: How did the idea for the Review of Australian Fiction emerge?
Matthew Lamb (ML): The idea for the RAF came from a number of sources, and evolved slowly over time. The RAF (version 1.) was actually to be a print journal, published monthly in a book format. It would have looked a bit like Kill Your Darlings, but probably not as cool. It was to contain fiction and essays, reviews and author profiles.
The key to that version was that each issue also contained a book-notice for every work of Australian fiction published in that month, as well as a review of every work of Australian fiction published in the previous month. The ad was to replicate what people did when they browsed books in a bookshop (read cover, blurb, and first page of text), which is actually the main way most people choose what books to buy (other than recommendations from friends). Reviews are actually one of the least important ways that people learn about new books (so we were going to have them in the subsequent issue).
The idea behind this was to develop a model that consolidated all the arms of publishing fiction in Australia: publishers, bookshops, reviewers, authors, and readers of Australian fiction.
But when we approached publishers with the idea that they paid a nominal sum for us to run these ads—thus helping them sell their books, while they helped us publish our journal—they baulked. Some even said that, if anything, we should be paying them for allowing us to print the first page of text from their books.
I guess the idea that advertising is not about persuading people to buy what they don’t need, but is actually about informing people about things they want, but may not know what is available or where to get it, is strange. But that is what advertising used to be about. And it’s a pretty good bet that anyone reading a journal called the Review of Australian Fiction, which actually referred to every work of Australian fiction published in that month was already predisposed toward reading Australian fiction, and the only question left facing them was, What to read? We would then—or so we proposed—provide a near complete range of choices available to them.
Such a journal may seem strange, maybe new. But it is actually an old idea. It is the format that journals and periodicals first took when they emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries in England. We just wanted to replicate the old ‘book-notices’ idea. All this other stuff—reviews, essays, and so on—historically, came afterwards. And it is what aided in the development of a reading culture that has shaped pretty much everything we today take for granted in the publishing and reading of books, but which we are also at the risk of losing today if we don’t work together in coming up with some ideas (either new or old) that will help us all reconstitute this waning reading culture, particularly in Australia…
That’s the sort of drunken rant I would launch into at the slightest provocation, back in the day, and they would often be patiently listened to by the now manager of RAF, Phil Crowley. He doesn’t rant as much as me, because it eats into his drinking time. But I am a faster drinker, and can multi-task, so we can pretty much keep up with each other. Phil was doing a PhD in economics at the time, on Arts funding: film funding, in particular. He would offer a real-world economic counterbalance to my often directionless meanderings into the cultural history of publishing and reading, and this then formed the basis for what was essentially a beer-plan, guided by the question: what would an economically viable lit mag look like?
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August 24th, 2012 — Craft of Writing, Friday Fry-Up, e-Publishing
The combination of a pro-internet writer and an ebook panel at a major writing festival always seems to generate something newsworthy. Last month the internet shared the fall-out from the Harrowgate crime writing festival, while this month it’s SF author China Miéville whose comments during a debate about the Future of the novel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival have been picked up and shared around. To quote from the Guardian article that covered the event:
The effect of the internet and digital distribution on fiction, said Miéville, would not be about creating “enhanced” ebooks, which he called “a banal abomination”.
Rather, the effect would be to heighten the openness of texts. “Anyone who wants to shove their hands into a book and grub about in its innards, add to and subtract from it, and pass it on, will … be able to do so without much difficulty.”
Also on the electronic front, Publishing Perspective takes a look at the differences between writing a children’s book and writing an interactive mobile app for children.
Brainpickings collates A Few Don’ts for Those Beginning to Write Verse taken from Ezra Pound’s essays.
Courtesy of Genreality, 5 Ways to Flex Your Fiction Muscles offers links to five pieces of classic writing advice stored on the internet (if you’re only going to pick one link from their list, I recommend going with Hal Duncan’s How to Write a Sentence)
Regina Brooks and Brenda Lane Richardson offer up the Two Deadly Sins of Memoir Writing.
Kill Zone Authors offers some advice on How to Write a Novella that goes beyond the usual “like a novel, but smaller” suggestions (and, once you’ve written it, check out this week’s Speakeasy interview with David Henley regarding Seizure’s Viva La Novella competition).
Those are the links that ‘caught our attention this week – how about you? If you’ve seen a writing, publishing, or ebook post you’d like to share, let us know in the comments.
August 3rd, 2012 — Agents, Business In The Industry, Craft of Writing, Digital Publishing, Editors, Freelancing, Friday Fry-Up, Self-Publishing, e-Publishing, social media
We kick this fry-up off with a boldly-titled article from John Barber: There Will Be No More Professional Writers in the Future. It takes a pessimistic point of view of the changes undergoing publishing, bringing forth a series of arguments about the aggregation of free content and the rise of self-publishers who have outflanked the traditional industry.
In contrast, Stephanie Lauren’s has delivered the keynote at this years RWA conference in the USA that celebrates the changes in publishing and the ability to focus on connecting with readers, rather than publishers, as the measure of success.
Guy Kawasaki looks at the increasing lack of limitations in his Doctrine of Self Publishing post at the Kirkus site. While his Doctrine post is all about the advantages of self-publishing, it’s followed up by Plan C in Self-Publishing that succinctly outlines some of the things that self-publishers are giving up.
DearAuthor.com have been following the Roni Lauren lawsuit regarding pictures used on her blog, and have posted The Principle of Fair Use and Image Use for Bloggers.
There’s a language warning on this link, but it’s a great one for when you get stuck. Help Me Be Fucking Creative uses twitter to curate a list of advice for creatives who a suffering a creative blank, and offers up one pearl of wisdom every time you go to the site.
J. W. Manus argues that Electronic Files Shouldn’t Be This Hard that talks about what is, and isn’t, achievable with current ebook conversion technology.
Rachel Hill offers up some advice about approaching magazine editors with freelance submissions.
Jane Gleeson-White has blogged about her experiences at the Reality Bites non-fiction literary festival.
Porter Anderson asks What if your platform becomes your shadow career?
Finally, there’s been a run of guest-post at Louise Cusack’s site every Wednesday, covering topics such as How to use a writing contest to score a book contract, dealing with the media, and some advice on self-publishing an ebook from an Australian perspective.
July 30th, 2012 — Industry News, Self-Publishing, e-Publishing
It’s been a week since the Harrowgate Crime Writing Festival in the UK, but there are parts of the internet that are still buzzing about the events at their Wanted for Murder: The eBook panel. This shouldn’t be surprising, really, given that the title of the panel session alone seems designed to court controversy and the report from the man at the middle of the fracas, Stephen Leather, indicates that they were intentionally looking to create a talking point:
“Running the festival this year was Mark “Scaredy Cat” Billingham, one of the best writers in the business as well as a top stand-up comic. Mark came over to me in the green room before the panel and had a quiet word with me. Basically there is a danger of the panels turning into a luvvie love-fest and he wanted me to take a view and be a tad confrontational if at all possible. He wanted the panel to be the talking point of the festival. I’m never one to duck a good argument so I said I’d go for it.”
The result was a panel where the topic of ebook pricing came under heavy critique, the heated debate fueled by some poorly worded remarks regarding the role of piracy and promotional tactics on the part of Stephen Leather.
Leather, who has experienced phenomenal success self-publishing his own work in the UK kindle store, quickly found himself up against an agent, his fellow authors, representatives from the UK Publisher’s Association, and a large portion of the Harrowgate audience. The result, by all reports, seems to have been a tirade against ebooks and the devaluation of writer’s works.
This isn’t exactly a new accusation. Ebook pricing has been at the core of many publisher’s issues with Amazon and the rise of the one dollar self-published ebook has been commented upon many times. Pricing is definitely an issue worth talking about in relation to electronic publishing, and as yet there’s no clear understanding of what an ebook is ‘worth.’
What’s intriguing about the Harrowgate panel is the open hostility being displayed by both the publishers in attendance and the readers. Stacey Bartlett has a more detailed summary of the panel over at We Love This Book which summarizes the general tone of the event, complete with Leather being referred to as a tosser by members of the audience. The response was strong enough for Dean Kurtz at Melville House Books to ask whether the Harrowgate audience represents a bellwether:
Has awareness about the ebook pricing battleground made its way to a more general reading populace? The self-selected crowd at a literary event with such a title could be called atypical, but with so much reporting on the DoJ lawsuit against Apple and others making its way to front pages, we might have moved beyond that sacred tenet that all book buyers are only concerned with price. Many booksellers reported a surge in vocally conscientious customers after the release of the laughably nefarious Amazon price-checking app. Will we see similar reactions even in the ebook marketplace? Is this the year in which readers come to see their literary pixels of choice as having real production costs? And too, I wonder if the audience for Mosby and Leather’s panel is so very aberrant.
Leather has posted a considerably longer write-up about his experience of the panel, and admits that he was shocked by the fact that parts of the audience was against lower-priced books. What’s disappointing, based on his account, is that parts of the debate were overshadowed by the inherent theatrics that comes from playing to a crowd:
“So I explain to Ursula – and the audience – that I can write a short story in five days and am happy to sell that at the Amazon minimum of 72p which generates me an income of 25p. At this point Ursula – who runs one of the biggest publishing houses in the UK – asked me “so you’re happy to work for 5p a day, are you?” The audience laughed and clapped, and I was frankly gob-smacked. I couldn’t understand why they hadn’t seen the fallacy in her comment. She was assuming that I spent five days writing a story and then sold one copy. She can’t possibly have believed that, could she? Of course I don’t work for 5p a day. My Inspector Zhang stories sell about five or six hundred copies a month. Each. So one story sells 6,000 copies a year. So over the next ten years it could sell 60,000 copies which means I’d get £15,000, which is £3,000 a day and that’s probably more than she gets paid.”
What’s been lost in the point-scoring of this debate is the fundamental shift ebooks represent in thinking about publishing, which is well-articulated in Catherine Howard’s post about the incident, Low Ebook Pricing: The Compensation Model.
That Leather believes in ebook publishing is the future seems fairly obvious – you don’t title your blog How To Make A Million Dollars From Writing eBooks (or How I Learned To Love The Kindle) unless you have some confidence in the format – but the worrying thing about the hostility he experienced isn’t just the aversion to the ebook, but an apparent hostility towards the idea of a writer choosing to run his career like a business and/or courting a larger audience.
Then again, perhaps this hostility isn’t entirely unwarranted. While the bulk of the online conversation has revolved around Stephen Leather, the other author on the panel, Stephen Mosby, has expresses his own frustration with the experience. Chief among them were the inability to get a word in edgewise, the tendency for questions to be direction in Leather’s direction, and the problems inherent with talking about books as “product” in an audience full of passionate readers. Mosby concedes that writing is a business, but there’s a time and place to talk about it as such.
Equally interesting is the post from audience member Rebecca Bradley, whose summary of the issues that generated such hostility from the audience is an interesting counter-point to the online ruckus, at least in terms of Leather’s gaffs.
July 27th, 2012 — Craft of Writing, Digital Publishing, Freelancing, Friday Fry-Up, Uncategorized, e-Publishing, social media
First up, a handful of links for writers just beginning to build their online platform. The Booklife Now blog offers seven core pieces of advice for those new to blogging in So You Want To Star A Blog, covering everything from scheduling to platform. It’s a good base-line understanding for newcomers.
We also recommend YA-author Lili Saintcrow post about Basic Internet Safety for Authors. It’s a topic that’s frequently under-represented in terms of advice aimed at authors, and we’d be interested in hearing about the kinds of precautions Speakeasy members have instituted.
Finally, a cautionary tale from Roni Lauren, who discovered that You Can Be Sued for Using Pics On Your Blog without getting the permission of the copyright holder. Lauren’s tale is based on an innocent mistake, perpetuated throughout the internet, and her post includes some advice on where to find images that can be used safely.
From promotion we move onto process, with Christina Katz’s advice on How to Impress the People You Interview. Conducting a successful interview is one of those things that seems easier than it is, so we’re happy to consume any advice we can on the topic.
YA author Justine Larbalestier has posted a streak of great content over the last couple of weeks, but we’ll cherry-pick our favourite and direct you towards her post on Becoming a Brand versus Writing What You Want and, ’cause we’re feeling a little retro, her 2008 post on rewriting which is a perennial favourite we were reminded of by one of Justine’s more recent posts.
In other parts of the internet, Australian author Kim Wilkin’s celebrates publishing over 2 million words of fiction by sharing some particularly blunt advice about writing. The link does come with a language warning, but with twenty novels in publication, we’re prepared to overlook a curse-word or three.
We get a little digital when The Hub poses the question: Have eReaders Killed the Book Cover, which was a particularly timely question in light of our post about ebook covers earlier this week. Does the adoption of a thumbnail sized image destroy the book cover, or does posing a new design challenge simply create new opportunities?
Finally, Mashable presents a round-up of 8 Tools to Create Irresistible Ebooks. The tools actually cover each stage of the process from production to process, and includes some old Fry-Up favourites such as 750words.com.
Those are the links that caught our attention around the office this week – how about you? Let us know about anything we’ve missed in the comments.
July 16th, 2012 — Self-Publishing, e-Publishing
The conventional wisdom in publishing says that it’s impossible to make a living writing short fiction, regardless of the genre that you’re working in. The individual story markets don’t pay enough, the phrase I have a short story collection you may be interested in seems to terrify publishers, and readers seem to have thrown their weight behind the novel as their preferred narrative format.
Which is why, as a writer who enjoys short stories, Dean Wesley Smith’s post about Making a Living with Short Fiction in the digital age immediately caught my attention. He speculates that a hard-working writer, utilising electronic self-publishing and traditional short-story markets, could conceivably be earning a $40,000 US income within six years.
There’s plenty of assumptions at work in Smiths’ post, especially in terms of how much a writer produces (50+ stories a year), how many will be accepted into traditional markets (10+ sales) and reprint markets, and the average sales that can be expected released electronically.
Taking those into account, you’d need to be a dedicated and hard-working writer to make Smith’s plan work. At the same time, the pace he suggests doesn’t strike me as impossible for a full-time writer, and there’s plenty of discussion in the comments that offers anecdotal evidence to support his numbers.
I should also note that Smith’s plan misses several of the opportunities available to short story writers who are interested in connecting with the audience directly. Off the top of my head I can think of two fantasy writers - Catherynne M. Valente and Caitlin R. Kiernan – who have used electronic delivery methods to offer short-story subscription services to their fans. Factoring this sort of crowd-supported subscription program into the plan Smith creates some intriguing possibilities, especially once a writer has a small base of fans willing to pledge their long-term support to the writer’s work.
Could we be on the verge of seeing a new breed of full-time writer, working exclusively in short fiction instead of non-fiction or novels? It may be a few years before we know for sure, but either way it’s going to be an interesting time for short fiction writers.
June 22nd, 2012 — Digital Publishing, Funding opportunities, Self-Publishing, Writers, e-Publishing, social media
Story Shots has a list of 22 Storybasics I’ve picked up in my time at Pixar, featuring a range of advice from the expected (“1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes”) to the surprising (#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?).
From Scribendi, there’s Five Habits to Avoid in Fiction that should prove handy to anyone at the stage of editing a short story or novel.
YA author Lili Saintcrow posts about how she doesn’t believe in writer’s block, taking apart many of the usual excuses people are using when they use the phrase. And, honestly, I’m a fan of any advice that ends with “now go kick some pen-and-ink ass.”
Writers’ Unboxed has a post on How to Maximize Ebook Royalties and Minimize Hassles that details the royalty rates used by many of the major ebook markets and aggregators. Meanwhile, Indie Jane looks at some of the changes that have taken place in the Amazon ranking algorithm.
Authonomy has an interview with Dave Kuzminski, Editor and founder of the website Preditors and Editors, about identifying a legitimate opportunity versus dealing with a predator. As always, we recommend the Predators and Editors site alongside Writer Beware as tools that every well-informed writer should know about.
Caitlin Mur offers some advice for entering Zen Mode in Wordpress - a useful tool for any writer whose using the popular blogging platform to host their website. It transforms the writing portion of the blog into a full-screen mode, allowing you to craft without being distracted by Wordpress’ various bells and whistles.
Kickstarter has been getting a lot of press as a crowd-funding resource for artists recently, largely driven by the success of various musicians and game companies (Australian’s aren’t able to access the site as kickstarters, only supporters, but there are local alternatives such as Indiegogo offering the same service). Despite it’s increasing media attention, it’s interesting to note that more than half of the projects listed on Kickstarter never get off the ground, and that publishing focused kickstarters are statistically less likely to get off the ground.
Those are the links that caught our attention at the AWM offices this week. As usual, we’re keen to hear about your favourite links in the comments.
May 18th, 2012 — Craft of Writing, Digital Publishing, Marketing, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, e-Publishing, social media
According to the New York Times the rise of the ebook market has come with one indelible truth for writers: One Book a Year is Slacking Off. It seems writers in every genre are being asked to produce that little bit faster – whether it’s an extra story or novella, or a whole new series of books.
This isn’t the first time such things have been posted either – the publishing world is undergoing upheaval and the long-term tactics that make a successful writer seem to be changing with them. It’s easy to turn yourself into a nervous wreck when this kind of news comes out, which is why we’re coupling it with Monica Valentinelli’s response to the Times article, Where Author Insecurity Comes From.
Another follow up – albeit with a slightly different tone – is Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s response taking issue with the Times articles characterisation of 2,000 words of fiction a day as a “brutal” writing schedule. Her response moves from examining the double standard being applied, given the author of the times article wrote four additional articles that week that were easily a thousand words long, then looks at some of the elements of genre and publisher expectations prevalent in the original article.
When Self-Publishing is More Useful as a Marketing Tool is a great post about one of the core things that’s overlooked when it comes to successful self-publishing – shifting your mindset from writer to creative entrepreneur – and why self-published ebooks can still be useful even if you aren’t interested in being a small business. Joanna Penn’s Self Publishing and the Definition of an Indie Author covers similar territory, and it’s a great post for anyone interested in the difference between Indie and Self-Published.
The April e-Book Cover Design Awards have been posted over on Bookdesigner.com. The commentary is a great resource for any writer wanting to learn the basics of ebook cover design.
Mashable offers up a Beginners Guide to Facebook – a great primer for anyone who’s just starting to dabble in the social media field and build their online platform. Already a Facebook fan? Mashable also has a post containing 10 Facebook Tips for Power Users that can help you fine-tune your engagement with the social media site.
Over on The Idea Logical Company Mike Shatzkin puts forward the argument that Everyone In Hollywood Needs an eBook Strategy. It’s a brilliant essay in and of itself, but it also name-checks a couple of projects I hadn’t heard of prior, such as the recent move by Warner Brothers to release over 300 classic film scripts in digital formats.
Those are the links that caught our attention at the AWM offices this week. As usual, we’re keen to hear about your favourite links in the comments.
May 11th, 2012 — Books and Publishing, Self-Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing Resources, e-Publishing
First up, a couple of posts you may want pass on to those closest to you. Justine Larbalestier offers advice to friends and family: You Don’t Have to Read My Books. Dave Farland offers more advice for the friends and family who surround the writer: Keeping Writers as Pets.
Author Leah Peterson blogged about receiving a Cease and Desist letter regarding the title of her book recently, which in turn lead to a great blog post on The Passive Voice about the distinctions between copyright and trademark law as it pertains to fiction.
Crikey posted the provocatively titled want to cut filesharing by 40%? Here’s how, citing statistics from a recent study that looked at how many Australian’s file-share and why they do it. The article is primarily focused on film and television file-sharing, but one only has to read Alan Baxter’s I’m an author, take my stuff for free and Jani Patokallio’s post explaining why ebooks will be obsolete in five years to see different takes on the issue of availability as it pertains to prose in ebook form.
Another interesting statistic to consider is the news that Nearly 100% of Publishers Have Seen E-Booksellers Get Their Metadata Wrong. Given how important meta-data is to ebooks, it’s a troubling statistic.
Do you abandon books once you’ve started reading? Book Riot discuses the art of letting go of a book when you’re not enjoying it (Personally, I have to admit, I’ve never quite wrapped my head around this one – I’ll doggedly pursue a book I’m not enjoying right to the very end).
Those are the links that caught our attention at the AWM offices this week. As usual, we’re keen to hear about your favourite links in the comments – tell us the advice, opportunities, and essays about writing and publishing that caught your attention this week.