Vellum Makes Life Easier for Authors

17 Dec

I get excited about almost anything that will make author’s lives easier.  A new program called Vellum helps self-publishing authors and small, indie publishers create iBook, EPUB and MOBI files without having to learn a complex program or computer language. Hooray!  Vellum offers lots of options to beautify an e-book, and you can see your changes immediately, right in the e-book display, including formatting and inlaid art. It runs only on Mac OS X at this point, but it seems like a great step in the pub-for-all direction.


You can download Vellum from creator 18og’s website, and generate books at incremental prices.

See below for more info:

Vellum Simplifies Ebook Conversion so Authors can Focus on Their Craft:

Vellum on creator 18og’s website:



Harlequin Teams Up with Wattpad, Signs Contest Winner

13 Dec

The trend of offering contest winners book contracts continues. Harlequin held a So You Think You Can Write contest earlier this year and offered the winner a two-book contract. Interestingly, for this contest Harlequin partnered with Wattpad and entrants uploaded chapters to that site as they wrote them, getting immediate feedback from Wattpad’s readers (numbering around 20 million). Originally, Harlequin was going to choose the top four authors for contracts, but they were so impressed with the writing, possibly because of the vetting process provided by throwing every chapter through the Wattpad wringer, that they opted to take on the top six for various free editorial services.

In this current world of abundance, where anyone can self-publish a book, traditional publishers are often waiting for authors to prove their worth (often via self-publishing or by winning short-story or long-form contests) before signing them to contracts. Authors can bring their established fanbase with them when they continue to write with an established publisher, and the publisher is taking on decidedly less risk when producing these authors’ works.

SYTYCW authors will be published through Harlequin’s adult digital romance series, and the winner, Tanya Wright’s, first book will be published in early 2014. This is a recurring contest, and will begin again in September of 2014.

Get the word from various sources below: or

Google Books Case Dismissed

29 Nov

Alright, I know I’m a little late in posting about this, as Judge Chin dismissed the case brought by the Author’s Guild against Google Books on November 14th, but I’ve been busy, folks! Exams! Holidays! Etc.!

However, here’s the scoop on Google Books:

The case has been ongoing for eight years (!), since 2005, brought by the Author’s Guild against Google for scanning entire works. Author’s Guild saw this as an infringement on copyright, and not fair use. The judge, Denny Chin, saw it differently.

On the four factors used to determine copyright infringement, Chin found Google in slight violation of only one tenant. In terms of purpose and character of use, Chin called Google’s project “transformative,” and said it opens new fields of research. Instead of superseding or supplanting the copyrighted work, it adds value to the original. Regarding the nature of the copyrighted work, 93% of scanned works are non-fiction, which Chin believes is fine, though fiction may need further copyright litigation. Regarding the amount and substantiality of the portions used (from copyrighted works) Google was in violation, as they were, indeed, scanning the entire work. However, in the effect of use upon the potential market or value for a work, Google was absolved since they do not sell the scans, gain no ad revenue from the web pages, and doesn’t commercialize the copyrighted works. Chin stated the project advances arts and sciences, enhances searchability of these often lost texts, provides preservation services and provides access for “print-disabled” parties.

This dismissal very clearly laid out new precedent in terms of fair use for copyrighted material, especially for old, nearly forgotten works of nonfiction. In the information age there are innumerable ways to use and transform works that add value to the original (for instance, making something that was a bound reference work into a searchable database, or the like). With a dismissal in this case, artists, computer scientists and web designers can continue to break apart and reform works into something new and original, and if accused of copyright infringement, can point to this case as precedent for the legality of their work.

This dismissal can be seen as a slippery slope for writers/authors/publishers, but I believe this lawsuit was leveled so long ago, in the wake of the music industry freakout over Napster, that the Author’s Guild couldn’t anticipate how utterly awesome it would be to be able to search for copyrighted works by bits of text (and the idea that the searcher can then go borrow or buy the book they need). Since the Guild is comprised of authors, not computer scientists, I don’t think the ultimate goal of the Google Books project was clear to them. This program could help to digitally preserve old books and orphan works, revitalize backlist items and shed new light on works that would have languished in obscurity. Authors rejoice!

Some would say the Guild dropped the ball with this lawsuit, as they should have had their eyes trained on Amazon in 2005, a company that now has an unhealthy strangle-hold on book marketshare.

Sources and more info:

Albanese, A. (2013, November 14). Google Wins: Court Issues a Ringing Endorsement of Google Books.

Copyright Clearance Center online (2013, November 15). Beyond the Book Podcast: Judge Rules in Google Books Scan Case:

Digital Book World online (2013, November 14). American Library Association Applauds Judge’s Google Book Scanning Decision:

Jaded Ibis Productions, A Recap

12 Nov

I have been following Jaded Ibis Productions as a part of my E-Publishing class in GWU’s MPS in Publishing program.  Below is a recap of my findings:



Rationale for Choosing Jaded Ibis:

I picked Jaded Ibis because they seem to be on the cutting edge in terms of innovation in publishing, and are doing something that a lot of other siloed professions do not: bringing in experts in other creative fields (like painters, graphic artists, musicians, sculptors and computer programmers) to help expand and push the boundaries of what publishing can do. I especially enjoyed watching Jaded Ibis’ digital offerings evolve from offering only standard e-books to offering dynamic, interactive book apps that link to referenced material directly from text, and have graphics that can be shaken around on the page and inter-woven with text.

I find their outreach/business model to be incredibly interesting and I wanted to see how that aspect worked with their Fall releases.

In addition to Jaded Ibis news, I also followed innovations in digital publishing in general in this blog, and I may continue to update with this information, though likely with reduced frequency.

Digital Publishing Strategy:

Each publication Jaded Ibis puts out is available in a digital form, either as a standard e-book, enhanced e-book or as a book app. They also offer a POD option, and interesting/varying physical forms. Many works are available in black and white or color print editions, while others come with more artistic physical manifestations, like chiseled into clay tablets, formed into 3-D art, hand-written on scrolls, or in tiny pieces inside a snow globe.

Each work is approached as a single project, its own work of art, not forced to adhere to any model that may have been used for a previous publication. Therefore, each has the possibility of being groundbreaking. While I was following Jaded Ibis, releases have included exhibitions in art studios, interactive book apps, books that redact themselves, and most books released come with a musical soundtrack to accompany them. All authors must be paired with an artist who works in a different medium, so all works are cross-media (or transmedia) works.

Significant Events:

Outreach: Jaded Ibis’ Publisher-in-Chief, Debra Di Blasi, puts emphasis on outreach by authors via traditional methods (interviews, radio appearances) as well as social media, and she (and authors) appears at interesting conferences and events. In addition to the art exhibit mentioned above, during the time I followed Jaded Ibis there were appearances at LitQuake, &Now, multiple events in New York City, and at swissnex San Francisco.

Technology: Jaded Ibis showed amazing innovation in the technology of storytelling during the time I followed them, as evidenced by some of their recent releases: [SIC], An Honest Ghost, Legend, and Venus on Mars, which is due for release in 2014.


Jaded Ibis seems to be leaning toward offering more interactive options for readers. The publisher has enthusiastically incorporated interactive book apps, and dynamic e-books into its digital strategy. Jaded Ibis will continue to find new ways to interact with and engage new readers.

As interactive book technology advances, I think more authors in general will lean toward creating multimedia works.

Assessment of Opportunities:

Jaded Ibis is somewhat in a class of its own in terms of cross-media works. The publisher should aspire to fully utilize interactive book apps and increase the ability of the reader to manipulate and interact with the text. Jaded Ibis will do well to keep evolving, and finding new ways to interact with readers – and to reinvent the word “reader” to include more participation in the narrative.


This publisher’s niche will always be evolving, because they seem to shift the idea of what a book really is – perhaps they will be the first to publish a narrative truly written by the masses. Perhaps they will be the first to create a work with specific parameters and characters, and then publish with an open copyright to take into account a constantly-evolving, reader-driven narrative. No one has quite figured this out yet, and readers are often dying to jump into the story and direct the action.

Also, as mentioned in this blog, there is the advent of augmented reality storytelling and mobile storytelling.

Augmented reality uses geotagging, 3-D effects, holograms and animation to break down the barrier between the reader and a book’s content. Readers are part of a fully immersive experience as participants in the story, no longer a bystander watching adventure unfold, but in the thick of the action.

Mobile storytelling puts readers in control of small bits of a narrative, and they are able to share those short stories with anyone using the same application, usually within a certain geographic area or certain site.

Both augmented storytelling and mobile storytelling would demand writers and computer engineers with differing skill-sets to create a quality work, and each may be an awesome under-taking, but they’re something I hope to see, and almost expect to see, from Jaded Ibis in the future. These are the things I see on the horizon, and I believe Jaded Ibis will always work to harness the zeitgeist of the reading world.

Debra Di Blasi on Books of the Future Panel at swissnex San Francisco

11 Nov

Jaded Ibis Publisher-in-Chief Debra Di Blasi spoke on the Books of the Future panel at swissnex San Francisco. She spoke about Jaded Ibis’ continuing mission to be at the intersection of writing, art, technology and real life.  Di Blasi reiterates that she works to create “narratives” as opposed to books, as the media Jaded Ibis creates is purposely and consistently cross-media (or trans-media).

Future Jaded Ibis author Jan Millsapps also speaks on the panel, mentioning her book Venus on Mars (due out in 2014), which incorporates QR codes to supplemental information, and links with Social Samba. Social Samba allows fans of media (TV shows, movies, books) to interact with the characters within the work IRL (in real life). It’s SUCH an interesting concept. One I will definitely try to incorporate into my own future works.

The panel was quite interesting, and you can see both Jan Millsapps and Debra Di Blasi present here:

An Honest Ghost Now Available Through Kindle Matchbook

5 Nov

I can’t lie: I am waiting on pins and needles for the interactive multimedia version of this book to come out.

It hasn’t happened yet (that I can find), but the e-book versions of An Honest Ghost by Rick Whitaker are available in various formats (Kindle and nook). And check it out! It’s also available through Kindle Matchbook! Yes! So if you were so impatient to read this book you bought it in physical form, you can get the Kindle edition for 70% off – only $2.99.

I know, I sound like a commercial right now, but I’m head-over-heels for the concept of this book.

Jaded Ibis, in usual way-ahead-of-the-curve form, has taken advantage of the Kindle Matchbook program, which was launched last month to much (unnecessary, in my opinion) consternation. I think a bundling program is a logical and amazing idea, especially considering that when I like an e-book I often buy a hard copy to remind myself I liked it a lot. Those hard copy books are great for train rides, metro rides and planes, when the eyes are tired of staring at screens.

I’m holding my horses on buying this book until I can find the multimedia, interactive version, as I’m really not fond of appendices (which is how the references are compiled in the physical and e-book versions of the book), but my excitement for the work still hasn’t waned.

Reviews Below:

An Honest Ghost Review on Huffington Post:

An Honest Ghost Review on The Literary Platform:

Jaded Ibis Authors at Ukrainian Institute of America and Sidewalk Bar and Restaurant, NYC

3 Nov

With November comes new events for Jaded Ibis.

Later this week multiple authors and editors from Jaded Ibis, as well as the Publisher-in-Chief, will be making appearances in New York City. On Friday they will be at the Ukrainian Institute of America, and on Saturday they will be at Sidewalk Bar and Restaurant.

At the Ukrainian Institute of America, Debra Di Blasi (Publisher-in-Chief of Jaded Ibis), Justin Petropoulos, Carla Gannis, Susan Lewis, David Moscovich, Susan Scutti, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Marc Vincent and Sam Witt will be part of  Fresh Wind, A Literary Evening With Innovative American Writers. The event begins at 8 pm on 11/8/2013. Details below:


Click for details

At Sidewalk Bar the Jaded Ibis gang are participating in a Spring Into Fall celebration, which begins at 6:30 pm on 11/9/2013. Details below:


11-9-13 event

Click for details


Publisher-in-Chief Debra Di Blasi likes to get her authors out and into direct contact with the public.  Through radio interviews, mixed media art exhibits, special events and appearances, Jaded Ibis makes a concerted effort to reach people who may not be their traditional readership (if there is such a thing for such an eclectic/eccentric publisher).

Independent publishers like Jaded Ibis absolutely must continue to participate in events like these, and find new ways to engage new readers. As more and more publishers pop into existence, and the market is flooded with reading material, the ability of any one author or independent publisher to gain traction against large publishers has dropped dramatically. Authors, editors and publishers have to take on the role of sales- and spokes-men/women if they want their words to be heard.

To hear some Jaded Ibis words heard, it’d behoove you to live in NYC right now, but I am sure as the publisher’s Fall releases continue to roll out there will be appearances happening in other locations.