A few more books

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, here are a few more links to posts about books. Just a few, though.

Sarah Weinman tells us that Edward Wright has found a US publisher for his praised book Damnation Falls. On his Amazon UK page, the author is paired with Fred Vargas and Declan Hughes. I have never read any of his John Horn series, but the books have been in my Amazon basket for what seems like forever, based on various recommendations.

One of my favourite crime-fiction reviewers, David Montgomery, is starting a "book of the week" feature. If it is as good as his blurb machine, as I’m sure it will be, it will be a joy indeed. First up is Volk’s Game by Brent Ghelfi.

We definitely don’t need no stinkin’ trumpets, says Declan Burke, about his book The Big O (or "the embiggened O", the mind boggles). I can see a kind of inevitability about this: I’m just going to have to read it. Yes, Crime Always Pays.

Now all of the above may be rather old news to you, as it has been lurking neglected my Google Reader "shared items" for a while, so shoot me if you know it all already. Competing interests, or something like that, are to blame for the delay.

iFiction, a web service for authors

I’ve been hearing good things about Andrew Burt’s ifiction web resource for authors. He’s written about it here: LabLit.com article/267.

Since many authors know nothing about setting up web pages, let alone the intricacies of password protections and taking payments via Paypal, iFiction lets authors link to a page that displays their story or novel and collects payment or donations via credit card for any pieces they might want to publish on the Internet. All the funds collected go to the author (none to me, though of course PayPal is happy to get their share: 30 cents outright and 3% of any money that is eventually collected from readers) and most pieces are either free (donate if you like ‘em) or less than a dollar.
iFiction allows an author to choose how much of their story they want to display for free, then collects payment before letting the reader see the ending. If you have an audience for directly selling some of your work, iFiction makes it easier for your readers to pay you. If they have to think about how to get money to you, and have no encouragement to do so, it cuts down the chance they actually will. Here they can just click, you get paid, and they get to read.
iFiction is intended for authors who have an existing audience, for example a writer who has already sold the piece to a print market and wants to make available a reprint online to squeeze some more money out of the project. But anyone is free to use it as they wish. Essentially all an author needs to do is click a button to upload a manuscript and enter their PayPal payment address, then spread the word.
And spreading the word is the hard part. iFiction is not like an online magazine or bookshop, since there’s no marketing. Nor is iFiction itself intended to be a destination site, which is why it’s designed for authors with an existing readership base – so they can simply link to iFiction pages as a display and payment collection site.

A table of contents of the fiction you can read at the website is here, and the instructions for authors are here. And for more about the hero of the hour, Andrew Burt, go here

RSS and Profiles from Snap Shots

Those little "windows" at the end of live links on Petrona are called snap shots, and they are freely available from, er, Snap Shots. They allow the reader a preview of the site at the link, in a little window, which a lot of people find very useful.

Snap Shots has taken off exponentially since the service first became available, and new features keep being added. Yesterday I noticed that RSS was showing in some of the previews, and sure enough today I received an email from Snap Shots (or "Team Snap" as they call themselves) announcing this addition. "RSS Shot is one of the most technically-challenging Snap Shots we’ve released to date. Whenever you link to websites that have RSS associated with them, RSS Shot will do one of two things: If you link to the site or blog’s index, RSS Shot will render 2-4 of the most recent articles on the site; or if you link to a specific article or permalink on an RSS-enabled site, RSS Shot will show the headline, initial text, and time/date stamp of the article." This is a neat upgrade, as it means that the preview the reader sees will be of the most recently updated content of the site, rather than (as now) a relatively old version of it.

Snap Shots also link to MySpace profiles, and another new feature is called ProfileShots, in which the information in the profile (like name, photo) is automatically reformatted into the shot itself. This particular application isn’t of use to me, but apparently "additional social network profiles will be introduced in the coming weeks", which might be useful for Facebook (my latest foray into the chatosphere), Revish, Nature Network and so on.

Having written all that, here’s the best thing: "both RSS Shots and ProfileShots are automatic. You don’t have to do anything to enable them besides linking to the content you want us to show." I recommend signing up to Snap Shots and giving it a try, especially as you can choose the design of the little preview window to match that of your blog 😉 . Installation is simple, i.e. I could do it.