Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Searching for the Right Photo for Kindle Project

Help! I'm looking at online free photos this morning for perfect shot for my Kindle project featuring a savvy mom of three boys. And school is out! I found a black and white photo I liked, but not large enough (longest side of photo must be 750 pixels or more). Found one of a young woman in profile, at beach, feet on chair opposite, reading a book. Just the relaxed promise I was looking for, relief for mom as she reads from Exhausted Rapunzel by Deirdre Reilly. Then I lost track of that photo. Should have saved it...but onward we go. If you know about an image you think might work, and at right size, let me know. Still searching for the just right relaxing mom photo for this Erma Bombeck humor writer of the month author ("...'Exhausted Rapunzel: Tales of Modern Castle Life' is a hoot").
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reports of an Author's Work of Betrayal

Afghan Schoolchildren in KabulImage via Wikipedia
Afghan children at a celebration 2002

How to respond to news that another writer, this time author of a best-seller, pulled one over on the public? The publishing and book world are full these days with recent news that the author of the acclaimed Three Cups of Tea wrote not a biographical account but a fictional one. Its presentation was believable and immensely inspiring. How far should the harm move us, if we believe the news reports?

At a personal level, it should not deter efforts to remain or to become involved in good works among the Afghan people. One only has to read one of Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini's books, starting with The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, to learn about yesterday's and today's Afghanistan, to feel closer to it, and to remember how much every particle of real help can mean, amassed for good there.

A copy of Three Cups of Tea is in our house, a special present from a daughter to her father a couple of years ago. Now media outlets make serious allegations against the author. The facts in support of those claims are important. But, are they overwhelming at this point?

Among those trying to shed more light on facts, "Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid says Mortenson has made a 'phenomenonal' (sic) contribution to promoting education in the region," according to one of this post's reference articles below (" In this writer's view, the full story is not yet out there for all of us to consider, in full.

Whatever the conclusions drawn after full investigation and reporting on this matter, this part of the story is about an author and one book. It does not change real needs and facts about the people and interests of Afghanistan. It does not change that the author, Mortenson, has, according to interview reports, built and turned over new schools for poor and remote areas.

One hopes this incomplete story will neither be swallowed whole (first reported by CBS "60 Minutes") nor allowed to discourage American soldiers and citizens everywhere inspired by the book and its author. It is likely the soldiers have seen enough with their own eyes to draw similar conclusions, that generosity is called for regarding protection, education, health, and other parts of every Afghan citizen's well-being, on their own and for their country.

Scandal at the heart of a book promoting peace and giving causes a wake of wreckage, including the life of the one behind it...if reports are true. What does the author have to say? As yet, he is silent. We wait to see.

A final note: Many writers publish personal narratives. Every such book needs vetting. Recently, we wrote here of the importance of peer reviews. In publishing, across the millions of books every year...or tens of millions...this kind of scandal is rare. Also, at this point it is a report, not a "done deal" as far as the truth goes.

(c) 2011 by Opinari and Jean Purcell

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Combination of 20px and rotated version of 20p...Image via Wikipedia
by Jean Purcell

I develop peer review forms for authors. Our company, Opine Publishing, is in the process of another round of reviews by peers for a new book by an author new to our company. It's an exciting time!
     Yet, when I sent the book I wrote to a publisher (my penname was Jane Bullard) years ago, before I became a publisher, I did not know about peer reviews outside academic circles. I did hire a book analyst and an editor to look at the first chapter and the entire manuscript, respectively. 
     Later, as founder of a start up small press, I attended a three-day workshop with self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, He said that a major help for advance feedback is the peer review.  (Equally important to Dan is professional cover design.) Peer reviewers are people invited by the author, or the editor. Those that agreeto participate, read all or parts of a manuscript and give feedback. Peer reviewers are people who know the subject or sub-topics of the book in progress.
     Did Poynter's advice about peer reviews prove helpful? Having had some years of experience with peer reviews, including designing specific review forms for authors, I would not send a book to a printer without putting its manuscript, almost ready for print, through a peer review process.
     Yes, a peer review definitely can strengthen a book's case. And sometimes reviewers allow their comments to be used within the book or on the cover. That's beyond review, to endorsement, which is priceless when it comes from thoughtful advance readers.
     The main advantage of the peer review process is to let the author and publisher know if the most important messages of a book are reaching readers' interests, including emotional impact and enlightening experience and information. That's the general picture, which well designed questions can achieve. A well planned peer review process can give a forthcoming book the kind of vetting every book needs. 

Copyright (c) 2011 Jean Purcell and Opinari and Opine Publishing

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