The Cybils are back!

It’s always nice to get a prize. Even though receiving the Best Actor Academy Award doesn’t necessarily make you the best actor in the world, the winner’s shining smile or rivers of tears tell viewers that it means a lot to them. And to their agent. So with that in mind, please consider nominating Starley’s Rust for this year’s Cybils Awards. Cybils stands for Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, and here’s their mission:

The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

The window for public nominations was flung open earlier today. All it takes is for one member of the public to nominate a book, and it gets on the judges’ radar for consideration.

Cybils Blog Header 2009

Starley’s Rust fits squarely in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category, so if you’ve read it, loved it, and think it deserves a shiny award (no idea if they’re actually shiny) then click here to go to the nomination page and online form.  And may the best Young Adult Speculative Fiction book win!



Are ebook sales really slipping?

A piece in the New York Times last week seemed to offer statistical evidence that ebook sales have dipped while traditional print book sales have risen.

Matthew Ingram, writing in Fortune, provides a counter-argument and backs it up with wider industry figures.


It may be that large publishers are keeping ebook prices artificially high, leading to a fall in the sales of their books while the indie market remains stable. What are your opinions on the price of a traditionally published ebook compared to the print version? After all, an ebook has virtually zero production and distribution costs compared to the paper book. Are traditional publishers price-gouging consumers and now paying the price?

Pubslush and Colborne join forces

This news is about three weeks old, but it’s worth reposting Porter Anderson’s article on the merger between literary crowdfunding website Pubslush with Canadian publishing services company Colborne Communications.

I myself had looked into setting up a project on Pubslush around a year ago as part of my research into whether I should go the crowdfunding route for Starley’s Rust or other books in the future. For the moment, I’m unconvinced that crowdfunding is a worthwhile option for me, given that it requires a significant time investment with no guarantee of success. That’s already the case with self-publishing, so I feel like crowdfunding would significantly detract from the amount of time I’m spending on actual writing. And although finding a readership is lovely (and gaining income from fiction a bonus!) the writing itself is what I’m here for. Creating, crafting and honing stories… that’s guaranteed achievement.

I’d love to hear the thoughts of other authors on crowdfunding. Have you tried it? If so, did it work for you?

The current state of the indie publishing nation

Roz Morris interviewed me for her wonderful Undercover Soundtrack site last year, and now she’s posted this fascinatingly honest interview with a mysteriously anonymous author. In it, they discuss whether independent publishing has hit a wall, fallen off a cliff or is simply in a downturn as part of a normal cyclical phase.

It’s scary up there.

The author is quoted as saying:

“I check in on Kindleboards now and again. Yesterday I saw an author who started out making $13,000 a MONTH on four poorly written books say she’s now ghosting for other indies to make ends meet. Another author posted about the publication of his new ‘novel’, which is 117 pages long with lots of white space (probably 15K words) and selling for $2.99. Everyone was fawning over him and his swift production.”

Have we reached the top of the cliff? If so, should we admire the view, walk back the way we came, or take the plunge and hope that this is just a metaphor and not reality?

Photo credit: Peter Morgan / Foter / CC BY

Time for a shift

Hello followers! Wait, that makes me sound a bit like a religious leader or a dictator, and I’m just a humble author. The thing is, “followers” is how WordPress terms the people who subscribe to updates from a blog. Maybe I’ll call them bloggowers. It’s ugly and I probably won’t use it ever again, but right here, right now, I have bloggowers!

Anyhoo, on with the post. I’ve made a decision as the publisher of Sitting at your Desk Isn’t Work to tell the editor of Sitting at your Desk Isn’t Work to harangue the writers of Sitting at your Desk Isn’t Work because they aren’t creating enough interesting content. The trouble is, the publisher, editor and writers of Sitting at your Desk Isn’t Work are all me, and I’m also an author trying to write and self-publish books. My time is therefore limited.

That’s why I’ve made an executive decision to post more frequently with content from elsewhere about writing and the publishing industry (both traditional and indie). This is win-win-win, because I don’t feel the need to create 600-word articles every week or two, my bloggowers get to read interesting content more often, and the writers of that content get links to their original articles. It’s either that or I unethically outsource my posts to child bloggers in Bangladesh.


Me*, earlier, revealing the blog’s new direction to my enormous staff of writers.

I may also start using my professional Facebook or Twitter accounts to post snippets of news on how my books are progressing, rather than struggle to craft an entire post on this blog every time I pass a milestone.

This isn’t exactly a makeover. Sitting at your Desk Isn’t Work will now become more like a channel for news on the industry and tips on writing fiction, but will basically look the same. Maybe I’ll call it a makeunder. So that’s two words minted in the space of five minutes. Enjoy the makeunder, my bloggowers!


*This is actually editor Alan Rusbridger addressing the Guardian newsroom to toast the paper’s Pulitzer win. Photo credit: katybird / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

BookTubers… nope, they aren’t literary potatoes!

I listen to several podcasts when I’m not writing, such as Reply All, Mystery Show, Planet Money, and the gold standard of smart, entertaining North American spoken journalism, This American Life. But a couple of months ago I also discovered Rocking Self-Publishing, a highly listenable and professional podcast produced and hosted out of Prague by an Englishman named Simon Whistler. In every episode of RSP Simon shares snippets of info on the indie publishing world, followed by an in-depth interview with an industry player, usually a successful author.

One such author, P.T. Hylton, has had success finding an audience through BookTube, and you can listen to his RSP interview by clicking on the image here:

Interview with PT Hylton on RSP


Not a website in itself, BookTube is simply a community of people who talk about books on their YouTube channels. Typically a BookTuber will be a young person who speaks on camera about the books they’ve recently read and their TBR (To Be Read) pile. They skew towards Young Adult books, often receive ARCs (Advance Review Copies) from major publishers, and rarely seem to talk about independently published books.

I discovered book review channels on YouTube earlier this year and even requested reviews (to no avail, although one BookTuber sent me a rate card of how much she charges per mention, tweet, review, etc.). Needless to say, charging for reviews is a poor business practice, because it means that viewers can’t trust the opinions being expressed by the reviewer-for-hire. Talking peppily about newly released books in front of a bedroom bookshelf must seem like a wonderful way to make a few extra bucks for a young person, but any BookTuber worth his or her salt should take the long view and build an audience through genuine reviews, then monetize the channel in whatever way they can, such as advertising.

I’m sure that the vast majority of BookTubers started out simply because they love to talk about books, so it would be a shame if a minority of profiteers spoil the fun for everyone else by diminishing their trustworthiness as a source of honest, independent reviews. It would also be a shame if the indie publishing community is unable to access this new and potentially powerful route to discoverability, the main obstacle to competing on a level playing field with traditionally published books.

PT Hylton ultimately decided to start his own YouTube channel and he does a great job of chatting about his own work and books in general. Maybe that’s another way to go. I’ll start taking guitar lessons!



Broken Pencil reviews Starley’s Rust

Reviews are always nice. Nice reviews are even nicer! Check out what Toronto indie culture and zine mag Broken Pencil had to say about Starley’s Rust besides this:

Dutton is in his element crafting together a sci-fi adventure with a good blend of sincerity and humour that, without such a fine balance, can be the downfall of any YA fiction.

Author A.L. Kennedy on writing a Doctor Who novel

In a Guardian article a couple of weeks ago, British novelist A.L. Kennedy not only had nice things to say about the deep meaning of Doctor Who for children and adults alike, she also made some fairly damning pronouncements on the state of traditional publishing:

In a literary landscape of nervous agents and terrified publishers, where no risk can be taken and the next novel should be like the last novel that did well, or a mash-up of two that did quite well, or a version of a version of something that had solid sales in 2010 … literate sci-fi may be the only arena where the wild, surprising and wonderful can hide.

A. L. Kennedy (Schriftstellerin)

A. L. Kennedy


To her criticism of the industry she also added this barb about the other end of the gatekeeping spectrum – literature in academia:

It’s sad that so much of the air has gone from literary endeavour, that academic theorising and categorising have come to decide which novels are acceptable and reviewed, that literary publishing has squashed itself into more and more predictable boxes more and more often. Storytelling, company, human solidarity – they never go away, but they do seem to be moving away from the mainstream. It will be the mainstream’s loss.

I’m personally going through a lot of soul-searching fuelled by some hard research on what my next publishing steps should be with regard to the final book in the Embodied trilogy, and which of several embryonic projects to embark on after that (or even before it’s published).

The sands under our feet as authors are shifting. Does that mean we’re paddling at the edge of an amazingly powerful and beautiful ocean that’s safe and fun to swim in or will we be sucked down by hidden currents into a jungle quicksand? Either way, the days of writing our names in the hardening concrete of traditional publishing seem to be over. (End of concrete-mixing metaphors…)

Photo: “A. L. Kennedy (3)” by Heinrich-Böll-StiftungFlickr: A. L. Kennedy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.