Category Archives: Featured

Showcases content, authors, and publishers featured on Scribd.

Scribd Reader Spotlight: Mother’s Day

Scribd mom readers

Clockwise from top right: Cherye E., Versana P., Dorothy Z., Cherye E.’s motto, Theresa J.

This Mother’s Day, we want to celebrate all of our Scribd readers who are mothers and all the mothers who are readers. So we asked four of our Scribd moms to share what they’re reading, why they love to read, and what they’re doing this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there and to our own moms, and a huge thank you for all that you do.

How many kids do you have?

Versana P.: I have one son who is 32 years old. He is getting married in November and I will become a grandmother of three! I’m not only gaining a daughter, but awhole bushel of love.

Cherye E.: I have two sons: Jeff, age 33, a Major in the Air Force, and Tim, age 32, who works with me in our family business. I have grandpets. Do they count?

Theresa J.: I have 3 daughters (one deceased), 9 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and a new great grandchild due in November. 

Dorothy Z.: I have one child — son Sebastian, a sophomore at Cornell University. Thanks to raising him, I met the Harry Potter series and Lemony Snicket’s books. I read to Sebastian growing up, everything from Fox in Socks to the complete Lord of the Rings. Once he learned to read, we went out to breakfast and read books every Sunday until he left home.

What are you doing this Mother’s Day?

Versana P.: I’ll be babysitting my grandkids while their mom gets some grown-up time. We will spend the day with my mom enjoying life and laughter.

Cherye E.: I am a workaholic. In my mind, I know I will be working — can’t help it. To avoid the crowds and bad service, my son Tim  will take me out to brunch on Monday. Quieter and calmer. Sunday night is game night with friends!

Theresa J.: My Mother’s Day will be a quieter one this year, as it will be my first since my daughter passed. 

Dorothy Z.: My Mother’s Day plans involve books — although mainly the editing of them (most of my freelance work involves editing). And, of course, I’ll call my mother!

Why do you think that reading is important?

Versana P.: There is an old adage that says, “Reading is Fundamental.” I remember the teacher who helped me learn how to read. It opened up a whole new world for me. I am not well-traveled, but I have been around the world on the rails of good books.

This is one of my favorite quotes: “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” — Maya Angelou

Cherye E.: Reading keeps my mind active, boosts my imagination, takes me in new directions, lets me be more creative in my thinking, and exposes me to new ideas and viewpoints.  And it’s fun. I can do or be anything I want to be in my mind reading a book. I read a book a day. I live for books. Reading is educational. It relieves stress. I can not think of a better way to spend the day than to kick back and read. I have to read. It is my addiction.

Theresa J.: Reading takes me to a different world! 

Dorothy Z.: It shapes your brain; it enlarges your world; it’s how you learn. I think those kids who get a solid start in reading do better in every subject in school. After all, what subjects don’t involve reading? Reading and writing are a part of what makes us human. 

Since these moms read voraciously, they’ve created a collection just for our readers. Their picks include zombie books, courtoom dramas, literary fiction, and writing guides.

Recommended_by_Scribd_Reader_M______Scribd

We’d love to hear from other readers who are moms. What are your plans this Mother’s Day? Are you curling up with a good book?

 

Scribd Author Series Presents: The Write on Mamas

Write on Mamas scribd promo party

In celebration of Mother’s Day, we’re welcoming the Bay Area writing group, Write on Mamas, to Scribd. We’ll have 6 writers in our office. They’ll be here talking about how writing informs their parenting and how parenting informs their writing.

Fans and members of the San Francisco reading and writing community are invited to join us for a free, intimate event with these writers. The event will include a talk from the authors and a Q&A session, followed by a meet-and-greet and book signing. If you’re a Scribd reader – one of the elite – you’ll get their book for free. If not, you’re more than welcome to sign up here in the office or to buy the book from the Mamas themselves.

mamas write cover

You can find all of the authors’ bios and more information at the event when you go to RSVP right here

Can’t be here in person? That’s okay! We will be sharing photos and video after the event. And if you do have any questions leading up to the event, just tweet it to us at @Scribd—make sure to include the hashtag #ScribdAuthors. We’ll be live-tweeting the event if you want to follow along.

You can start gearing up for the visit by reading on Scribd with the free 3-month promo code for all new readers: www.scribd.com/promo/mamas.

See you soon!

 

Trick or Read: Scribd Suggests Some Halloween Reading

theexorcistFinally! Halloween is just one day away, meaning lots of candy, pumpkins, ghosts, ghouls, and probably a lot of people dressed up like Miley Cyrus.

But no Halloween would be complete without reading a few haunting tales, so the spookologists on Scribd’s Editorial Staff a put together a collection of stories so spine-chilling you’ll be sleeping with the lights on well into November.

One of our top picks is The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. Sure, you’ve seen the movie, but reading this controversial classic about a demonic possession is so terrifying it will make your head spin.

Nightmare Hour by R.L. Stine

If you only have time to be spooked for a few pages, Nightmare Hour by R.L. Stine may be the book for you. This collection of scary shorts  is good for teenagers and adults alike, and will definitely give you goosebumps.

And, for the faint of heart—we’ve also got a not-so-spooky collection of Halloween reads. Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker is hysterical without sacrificing that living-dead flair. Kids can get in on the action, too—one of our favorites is A Hat Full of Sky by the acclaimed Terry Pratchett—if they’re not too tired from trick-or-treating, that is.

Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally InsaneWant to spread your love for scary books to those around you? You might want to check out Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read, a new  literary tradition where you give someone a scary book on Halloween. One read we’d recommend sharing is Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane; featuring  masters of horror such as Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, and even Gaiman himself, this collection is the perfect way to spread the spooky!

Scribd Interview: Author Hyla Molander

Earlier this week, we shared the story of longtime Scribd author, Hyla Molander’s journey to market and publish a book using Kickstarter.

Today, we present an interview with her that goes into her background using Scribd, thoughts on self-publishing and the extremely personal story that is the foundation of her forthcoming memoir, Drop Dead Life.

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Scribd: Can you give me some background on how you first came upon Scribd?

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Author Taps Kickstarter, Scribd to Promote Book

A preview of the cover of Hyla Molander's upcoming book; "Drop Dead Life."

A preview of the cover of Hyla Molander’s upcoming book; “Drop Dead Life.”

For the past few years — almost since the beginning, author and writer Hyla Molander has been utilizing the features and power of Scribd.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed the often difficult and tumultuous world of digital publishing. While the proliferation of mobile devices has led to near non-stop access in an increasingly connected culture, there are now more options than ever for authors. While that is a boon for writers, it also means that self-publishers are confronted with a challenged around ensuring that books and publications receive the audience and traction necessary.

Last week, Molander tipped us off to an experiment that she is employing in hopes of hitting the mark on marketing and publicity for her upcoming book. She is using her Scribd community and an intriguing experiment that looks to capitalize on sharing her works from Scribd onto Kickstarter in an effort fundraiser the rest of her book.

To our knowledge, this is the first time a Scribd author has attempted this, but the ability to share and link to the Scribd content via Kickstarter makes it a uniquely compelling way to market a book.

Molander first discovered the possibilities of Scribd four years ago when she was an author looking to share her deeply personal memoir about dealing with the death of her husband at the age of 29.

“I kept hearing about ‘platform,’” Molander said. “And three different agents, all of whom had expressed interest in helping me find a house to publish my memoir, pounded that word into my head even more. For those who don’t know what platform means—because I certainly didn’t—platform means that you have a proven audience of people who will want to read your book. Sadly, if you don’t have a large platform, most traditional publishing houses won’t even consider you.”

Despite taking a three-year hiatus from writing while focusing on other family and literary pursuits, Molander returned to the platform to discover that her original published excerpt continues to live a wildly popular life in the annals of Scribd creative writers and memoirs along with the much-needed impetus to continue her writing.

“Even now, as I am returning from a three-year writing hiatus, I see that my excerpt has been read 29,000 times on Scribd and it gives me the courage to
finally publish my book,” Molander said.

Of all the many aspects of independent publishing, the eyeballs that are captured by your work is one of the most important — yet also one of the toughest.

“It is still extremely important to produce a high quality book, which means hiring an editor (or multiple editors), paying for book cover design, layout, and having a phenomenal marketing plan,” Molander said.

Which explains the interesting component of her emerging Kickstarter campaign. It also leverages Molander’s incredibly rich and storied history with Scribd. Currently, she has registered over 216,000 reads and has built a profile on the power of 2,640 followers.

Authors thrive on having others comment and offer input for their work. That advice and community is often the one piece that helps drive a project or a stubborn writing assignment to completion.

“Unless you are only writing your book for yourself or your family, people need to know that you exist. Start writing for blogs, submit to magazines, and definitely upload short documents onto Scribd — preferably with a cover that will attract the attention of readers. And don’t forget to share those blog posts, magazine articles, and Scribd documents all on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin. The exchanges you will have with your readers will only deepen your writing and spark ideas for more content that others will want to read,” Molander said.

Currently, Molander has published a version of her memoir which is featured on Scribd’s homepage and is also accessible via her Kickstarter campaign.

You can also read the excerpt in its entirety, embedded below. Tomorrow, we will share some more personal aspects of this writing project from our interview in a separate blog post.

Getting the Word Out – Book Reviews in Self-Publishing

It used to be that the success of a book was dictated by the reviews of newspaper columnists and the attention garnered by placement on prestigious ‘top book’ lists.

A book that climbed the charts of the New York Times Bestseller List had a good shot at monetary success and a book that was mentioned on Oprah’s television show was commonly succeeded by massive press and success.

Now, with the internet and the multi-screen world that is a by-product of the proliferation of mobile devices, the attention brought to authors and books is a bit more challenging. Publishing in the last few years is an entirely different animal. While indie authors and self-publishing have an incredibly varied amount of ways to get books printed and delivered, it is still very difficult to get your work reviewed.

Case in point – a week ago, it was revealed that J.K. Rowling had published a novel, Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym. While the book received relative positive acclaim, that never translated to sales. Less than a few hundred copies were sold since the book debuted in April.

Last week, the cover was blown, and the media discovered it was Rowling who authored the book, sales helped drive the book to the top of numerous ‘best of’ lists and brought positive reviews to her exploration of the detective genre that investigates the mysterious death of a supermodel.

The New York Times Bestseller List for August 4, 2013.

The New York Times Bestseller List for August 4, 2013.

Recently, Scribd author and contributor, Sabrina Ricci explored the world of reviews for indie-authors and publishers with an article in Huffington Post.

Turns out, it’s a challenging world despite the sheer number of titles that indie writers have published. According to Ricci, most news publications don’t review the indie titles. With rare exception, their bandwidth is devoted to major publications and publishing houses even though as early as 2011, 235,000 titles represented self-published books.

This lack of coverage in traditional media outlets, however, has not stopped indies from their rise. To the contrary, according to a recent New York Times article, “Self-published titles made up roughly one-quarter of the top-selling books on Amazon last year.”

While many dream of the success that has been seen by authors like Rowling, or even sci-fi writer, Hugh Howey, most are content to see their book gain traction by a large readership and the numerous methods that today’s readers can get copies of books.

We spoke more with Ricci about the new world of self-publishing and reviews:

Q. How did you discover Scribd? How, if at all, do you use our service? How is it represented in the field?

I first heard about Scribd when I was getting my M.S. in publishing at NYU—some of my friends used it regularly. I started using Scribd recently to help promote my self-published book, The 13th Cycle. I uploaded a few sample chapters with links for where readers can purchase the whole book. From what I’ve seen, several publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, offer similar sample content.

Q. In your search for literary marketplaces or products, what other sites do you rely on using?

It depends on what I’m looking for. If I want to read some short stories, I tend to go to Bookrix and Wattpad. Sometimes I also browse Scribd and IndieReader. If a friend recommends a book to me, I try to find the e-book version first, and I tend to buy from Amazon and Apple. However, if an author or publisher sells the book directly, I try to buy it from them first, especially if it’s DRM-free. Lately I’ve also been using Bookvibe, which finds book recommendations via Twitter, to give me ideas for what to read next.

If I’m looking for sites and products to help me as an author, I also use Bookrix and Wattpad, as well as Book Country, to help me get feedback on my writing. I use Bibliocrunch to find editors who will work on my manuscript for a reasonable price. Once I raised some money through Pubslush, a crowdfunding site specifically for books. And then I convert the work to an e-book myself—I’ve worked as an e-book developer for Simon & Schuster, NBC Publishing, and The Experiment Publishing—but in the past I’ve used sites such as Pressbooks. Then I distribute the book through Smashwords, Amazon, Nook, and other channels. And lastly I use sites such as BookPulse, Para Publishing, Freado, Rafflecopter, Scribd, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Bewitching Book Tours, Book Blogger Directory, and The Indie View to help me market (in addition to social media).

Q. In the pantheon of self-publishing, what do you hear about Scribd and the services we offer for creative or independent authors?

A few blogs about self-publishing have cited Scribd as a distribution/sales channel. But mostly I’ve heard Scribd referred to as good for branding and marketing.

Q. How different is the awareness and in particular, the review possibility for self-published books and authors off the radar of major publishers?

Most major media outlets have a policy of not reviewing self-published books. A fair number of blogs also refuse to review self-published books. But, the indie community is growing every day, and there are more and more blogs, and sites that aggregate information on blogs, that do review self-published books. Some are paid, some do it for free. A few of them include IndieReader, The Indie View, idreambooks, Kirkus Indie, PW Select, indieBRAG, We Fancy Books, Maryse, Dear Author, and Chick Lit Central.

Q. Can you shed some light on the review process for self-published authors?

There are a few aspects to it. Most self-published authors have a blog tour as part of their marketing plan. Planning a blog tour is a lot of work, and it involves reviews, interviews, and guest posts, all scheduled in advance.

For the review posts, authors should give bloggers around 2-3 months advance notice, so the bloggers have time to read and write the review. As someone who occasionally reviews self-published books on my blog, I know I personally appreciate having ample time to work with a book, especially since I may be busy working on other stories.

All bloggers have their own set of guidelines for contacting them for reviews. Most of them include submitting a cover image, a brief description of the book, and a book format preference. All authors should carefully read and follow the blogger’s directions to improve their chances of getting reviewed. It’s also important that authors address the blogger by name, to show they actually read the blog and aren’t just mass messaging a bunch of people.

Some bloggers will send authors a link or an email giving them a heads up that they’ve posted a review. Other bloggers will just give authors a date so they can check the site for the review.

After posting a review, some bloggers start to form a relationship with the author, if they liked the book. But that’s not always the case. Each blogger approaches things differently.

Q. There is a fascinating visual breakdown of author critiques based on gender, and while it may be a bit tangential, I am wondering if you have seen it? What are your thoughts?

You can click and read the infographic at this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/146278909/Gender-balancing-books | Article Link from The Guardian:http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/08/gender-balancing-books

I had not seen it before, but thank you for showing me! My first thought was that gender doesn’t seem to matter as much in self-publishing. A lot of book bloggers are women, and many best selling indie authors are women who write romance. But I don’t have any concrete data to back that up.

Q. A lot of authors seem to dislike the moves by Amazon. What are the opportunities for authors with Amazon being such a force in the publishing landscape? What is missing?

Amazon is a massive search engine and the biggest e-book retailer in the U.S. This means that Amazon can push content to a very large audience, and doing well on Amazon can lead to financial stability. So authors should learn how to adapt their books and metadata to best fit Amazon’s algorithms.

But, Amazon is not the only retailer, and it’s not the largest retailer in every country. Apple, Nook, Google, Sony, Smashwords, and Kobo are just a few of the other companies that distribute e-books. Apple has a decent chunk of the market in South America and Kobo is huge in Canada.

Amazon also uses a proprietary format for its e-books. This keeps all its content “locked in” so readers can only see the books on Kindles or Kindle apps. For many people, this is not necessarily a problem. But for readers like me, who own a few different devices and like flexibility, it can be annoying.

Most self-publishers, at least those who write narratives and books that are mostly text, will not have to worry much about Amazon’s file format. It’s fairly easy to convert an epub, the open e-book standard that pretty much all other retailers and devices use, to Amazon’s format. But Amazon’s format has a few quirks to keep in mind, which can make special formatting look different on a Kindle compared to another reading device.

Q. What is your current opinion on the literary marketplace for sites like Scribd and Amazon? Are your seeing places that accommodate an author’s work?

I like that authors have so many options, and sites like Scribd and Amazon really help self-publishers fulfill their dreams. But I think there’s more that can be done to help. For example, I’m the founder of Write or Read, and one of our objectives is to give authors analytic insight on their books. This includes basic demographic information of their readers, what percentage of their work people finish, and how long people spend reading their books. All this information can help authors learn about their target audience and become more successful.

Q. What do you really enjoy about Scribd and what we offer to authors?

I really like the recommendations based on “Because you read…” as well as the library. And it’s great that anyone can embed a book; that helps authors with branding and marketing.

We ‘Declare There Is No Enjoyment Like Reading’

Today, was a good day for fans of literature.

This morning, the Bank of London announced that it was honoring Jane Austen with a place on the 10 note. Austen will replace naturalist (and author in his own regard), Charles Darwin sometime around 2017.

Austen famously captured, 18th century English life and society.

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[Photo Credit: AFP Photo/Bank of England]

 Personally, our favorite is the quote that will be etched into the note’s surface, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

Austen, one of the most-beloved writers in the lengthy pantheon of Britain, rose to literary prominence by her novels Emma and Sense and Sensibility. Her acerbic wit and wisdom provided a detailed look at the various stratification of life in 1800s English society. Austen is celebrated to this day with elaborate costume parties and this year also marks the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice.

According to the Bank of England, the note commemorates various aspects of the Hampshire native’s life including her writing table, a print of Austen commissioned by nephew James Edward Austen Leigh, and the quote taken from her eponymous novel.

Speaking of Austen – she also made an incredibly interesting literary list. Most of the books that are ranked, make the cut based on the judgement of academics, journalists or reviewers. Today, Maria Popova, internet curator extraordinaire, revealed the top books in literary history – but with a twist. These results were compiled from 125 authors (and edited by J. Peder Zane), who ranked the popularity of books they viewed as great, and ranked them accordingly. Emma was ranked the tenth most popular book in 19th century literature.

You can read Emma by Jane Austen by clicking here.