A 12-year-old boy who can’t speak wrote a book with his eyes

DghtgkWXkAM1iD1(CNN) Twelve-year-old Jonathan Bryan can’t verbally speak or physically write. He was born with severe cerebral palsy, has limited motion in his limbs and is in a wheelchair.

For most of his life, Jonathan’s parents used nonverbal cues like a smile or a frown to communicate with him. Educators determined he had profound learning difficulties and never taught him to read or write in school.

That all changed when Jonathan’s mom, Chantal Bryan, began taking him out of school for a few hours a day to read and write. By the time Jonathan was 9, he could spell anything he wanted to say.

Now with the help of an E-Tran frame, Jonathan not only communicates — he wrote a book.

Read more at CNN…

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Investment Group Acquires 5.7% Stake in B&N

According to a filing made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Schottenfeld began buying B&N shares on May 29 and made his most recent purchase July 16, accumulating 4.2 million B&N shares. Schottenfeld paid between $5.32 and $6.57 per share for his stake. B&N’s shares began the year trading at $6.70, and closed at $5.65 per share on July 23.

In its filing, Schottenfeld said it purchased its stake believing B&N’s shares are “substantially undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunity.” The filing further stated that representatives from Schottenfeld have already talked to B&N about ways to increase shareholder value, and intend to continue to hold discussions with B&N management and its board to review strategic alternatives the company might pursue.

Read more at Publishers Weekly

North American Comics Market Declined 6.5% in 2017

Combined North American sales of graphic novels and periodical comics declined about 6.5% to $1.015 billion in 2017, according to a joint estimate made by pop culture trade news sites ICv2.com and Comichron.

The overall sales decline was due to a 10% drop in the comics shop channel which was somewhat offset by only a 1% decline in sales to the bookstore market, which benefited from continuing growth in sales of children and YA graphic novels. Digital sales were flat.

Read more at Publishers Weekly

Practical Writing Tips

I don’t like to share promos or ads. But this advice from Writers Life is pretty good. It matches a lot of what I’ve been telling my writers at the Agile Writer Workshop. While I don’t necessarily endorse the Writers Life products, I do like their advice. Caveat emptor…

Practical Writing Tips You Can Actually Use
1. Say something; Think about what your message is
2. Use short sentences & simple language
3. Be specific & use details
4. Use an active voice
5. Break up your text
6. Don’t overwrite
7. Become a brutal editor

Get more tips and tricks in our ‘Get It Done’ toolkit: http://www.writerslife.org/writing-tips-toolkit

Bookstore Sales Rose $741M

Bookstore sales rose from $741 million last May to $745 million in May 2018, according to preliminary estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The $4 million rise in sales amounted to a 0.5% increase year over year.

The small May gain is in keeping with the sluggish start bookstore sales have had in 2018. Through the January to May 2018 period, sales were down 2.1% compared to the same time frame last year, falling from $4.09 billion to $4.01 billion.

Read more at Pubishers Weekly

Indie Audiobooks on the Rise

Looking to offer indie authors access to a booming audiobook market, Smashwords, the self-publishing platform and e-book distributor, is teaming with Findaway Voices, an online production platform and distributor of audiobook content, to create a turnkey solution.

In a blogpost, Smashwords CEO Mark Coker said the new partnership would give authors and publishers “greater control over pricing and distribution.” The deal, he said, will make it, “more economically feasible for authors and publishers to invest in audiobook production for shorter books, or books that might carry lower prices.”

Read more at Publisher’s Weekly

Life in 10 Introduces Hybrid Publishing Service in RVA

Our friend Valley Haggard over at Life in 10 Minutes has just launched a hybrid press. The concept behind a hybrid press is different from an independent or even traditional press. With hybrid, the publisher acts as an assistant to the writer. For a fee, they will perform all the activities that transform your manuscript into a publishable book – but the author retains the rights and royalties. Typical cost for an 80,000 word book is $3,900.

From their website…

“Sales via third party vendors such as bookstores are processed and fulfilled through IngramSprark’s print-on-demand (POD) services. Typically, a book sold through a bookstore or other vendor will net 50% of its sales price (or $7.50 for a $15 book). Average manufacturing costs range from $3 to $5 depending on book size, as well as several other factors. Net profits (net sales price – manufacturing costs) are divided 60% to the author and 40% to Life in 10 Minutes Press. Life in 10 Minutes pays earnings to our authors quarterly. Your project manager will deliver a payment schedule to you during the production process.”

Hybrid publishing is a growing movement in the self-publishing world. It offers the advantages of self-publishing for those without the skill, resources, or time to do the work themselves. And it relieves a lot of the drudgery that is often associated with the business side of self-publishing.

However, just as in traditional or independent publishing, the author is still very much on their own for marketing. Hybrid presses (and L10 Press in particular) will send out notices to their marketing channels. However, it is still up to the author to create a platform for getting the word out and marketing their books.

Also, hybrid publishers, like Haggard’s, are differentiated from “vanity presses.” The vanity press preys upon unsuspecting authors by charging exorbitant fees, keeping author’s rights, delivering paltry royalties, charging high prices for copies of their books, and doing little to no marketing.

I’m very excited by the introduction of L10 Press to Richmond. Haggard has assembled a talented team of professionals to bring local authors to the market. Check them out at Life in 10 Minutes Press.