I recently received a very interesting email from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, who brought to light the US book embargo against Cuba. Cubans earn the equivalent of only about $20 USD per month, whether they’re a doctor or a janitor. They don’t have a lot of money to invest in publishing.
Imagine if we could make our free ebook publishing and distribution services available to their writers? Imagine if Cuban readers could gain greater access to the nearly 400,000 low cost ebooks at Smashwords and other ebook retailers including over 60,000 free ebooks at Smashwords?
The petition will help abolish the embargo and free up our rich literary history to the Cuban people. Outer Banks Publishing Group supports Mark and this worthy cause and I am hoping you will, too. Please help and sign the petition.
Here is Mark’s email, published in its entirety:
“I’m writing to ask for your help.
Please go to https://petitions.whitehouse. gov//petition/end-book-embargo-against-cuba and consider signing my petition to end the US book embargo against Cuba.
Last month, I joined a publishing industry delegation to Cuba to meet with Cuban writers, publishers and government representatives from their ministry of culture and book institute.
The goal of the meetings was to build bridges of understanding and explore opportunities for greater cultural and economic collaboration between the Cuban publishing community and the American publishing community.
I was struck by what I learned.
Cuban writers and publishers are excited about the warming political relations between Cuba and the United States.
Cuba has an adult literacy rate of nearly 100%, about 20 points higher than the US.
Cuba boasts a rich literary culture.
I visited the Havana Book Fair, which was attended by hundreds of thousands of Cubans. I’d estimate 90% of attendees were millennials. These young readers are smart, educated and optimistic. They want greater access to books. They’re the future of Cuba.
The US embargo against Cuba has been enormously harmful to the Cuban people, and it’s been especially harmful to their book market. Cuban publishers have difficulty acquiring even the basic raw materials of bookmaking like paper and ink.
Because so much of the infrastructure of global book publishing passes through the United States, the embargo makes it difficult for Cuban authors and publishers to reach a broader audience.
Cubans earn the equivalent of only about $20 USD per month, whether they’re a doctor or a janitor. They don’t have a lot of money to invest in publishing.
Imagine if we could make our free ebook publishing and distribution services available to their writers? Imagine if Cuban readers could gain greater access to the nearly 400,000 low cost ebooks at Smashwords, including over 60,000 free ebooks? I want to help them today but I can’t because of the embargo.
I founded Smashwords to break down barriers like this. To give every writer the freedom to publish, and every reader the freedom to read what they choose.
According to a Pew poll in 2015, fully 72% of the American public wants the embargo lifted.
The US stands virtually alone in this embargo which has now persisted over 50 years.
I realize the politics around this are heated. I realize many Americans — especially Cuban-Americans who emigrated in the ’60s — have strong feelings about the current political regime in Cuba. I respect these feelings. I want to take the politics out of this and focus on the Cuban people.
Would it be so bad to let the books flow freely in both directions? Might books help heal the wounds on both sides?
President Obama has taken steps over the last year to normalize relations with Cuba and set the stage for the end of the embargo.
But change can’t come soon enough. Given the current political dysfunction in the US, it’s unlikely the US congress will vote to end the embargo even though 59% of Republicans want it ended, according to that same Pew poll above.
The embargo is composed of a spaghetti mess of presidential edicts, Treasury department statutes and Congressional actions.
Despite the political gridlock, President Obama has some latitude to make modifications around the edges. He’s already relaxed travel restrictions and allowed American telecommunications companies to invest in Cuba so they can make Internet access more ubiquitous in Cuba.
President Obama says he wants to do more to expose Cubans to American culture and more global information. Books are the solution!
As we say in the petition, books promote greater cross-cultural understanding, economic development and free expression.
On the eve of President Obama’s March 21-22 trip to Cuba, I’d like to ask your support. Let’s encourage President Obama to lift the embargo against books and educational materials. It would be a good first step.
End the Cuba book embargo https://petitions.whitehouse. gov//petition/end-book- embargo-against-cuba @WhiteHouse @BarackObama
Books help cross-cultural understanding and economic development. You can retweet it at https://twitter.com/markcoker or feel free to copy and paste it into your own tweet, or compose an original tweet.
Here are some of the links:
Wall Street Journal
Huffington Post (I wrote this)
The timing today is critical. Next Thursday, March 17, 2016, the Obama administration will announce modifications to the embargo that will likely loosen some restrictions on the embargo. Let’s encourage him to add books to his list!
Thank you for your consideration and support. At the bottom of this email I’ve pasted in the full text of the petition.
END THE BOOK EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA
On the eve of his historic visit to Cuba March 21-22, we call on President Obama to utilize executive powers to immediately lift the economic embargo against Cuba as it pertains to books and educational materials.
As a basic human right, readers everywhere deserve greater access to books and literature.
Books promote cross-cultural understanding, economic development, free expression and positive social change.
The book embargo runs counter to American ideals of free expression.
Cuba’s adult literacy rate – at nearly 100% – is among the highest in the world.
Cuba boasts a rich literary heritage.
End the embargo to make the works of American and Cuban writers more accessible to readers in each country.
72% of Americans support an end to the trade embargo against Cuba (Pew, 2015).”
Mark also orchestrated another petition which will appear next week on the cover of Publishers Weekly. Unlike the petition above which is for the general public, the other petition was signed by nearly 50 CEOs of publishing companies and writers associations (RWA, Authors Guild and more). You can read about both petitions in the news stories above.
So, this isn’t the first time I’ve floated this idea out there, but it’s something I like to touch on from time to time to remind indie authors what an author brand really is. Using the word brand suggests that there’s an artificial construct involved. That you as an author are being directed to create a persona that you think meets readers’ expectations.
Every time I get into this discussion with people I’m reminded of a scene from the classic television show Seinfeld. When Jerry and George are pitching a show to the television network executives, they’re asked what it’s about, and George excitedly proclaims that it&’s about nothing. The network executive is confused because it can’t be about nothing. It has to be about something, but George insists that it’s not. Jerry interjects that even nothing is something.
That exchange encapsulates what an author brand is. It’s nothing. That is to say it’s nothing false. It is you. It is your interests, your opinions, and your personality. It is everything you love. It can even be everything that drives you crazy. Wherever your passions lie, that’s your brand. There is nothing to do to build a brand other than to be yourself, genuinely, fervently, and openly.
Building and maintaining an author brand is, at its core, you being honest about who you really are. If you are, your brand will thrive and help grow your community. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen as long as you stay committed to that principle. In turn, your community will help grow your readership.
|Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.|
Writer and Internet marketer Aaron Harris notes five good reasons why you should write every day especially if you have a blog or website. His five reasons to keep in shape as a writer are:
Read the rest of Aaron’s article published on the Digital Donut site.
Owain will chair a panel discussing how to get the best from literary sites such as Wattpad, and how this can lead to ever wider followings, and even publication.
The convention will be attended by more than 150 Wattpad authors, poets and writers who will participate in the discussion.
Foyles was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bookshop in terms of shelf area (30 miles/50 kilometres) and number of titles on display. It is one of the largest bookstores in the UK.
Inspired by his surroundings and his love of words he writes on a wide range of subjects, from romance, to humour, politics, dark spiritual matters, and children’s poetry. He writes in a style which he hopes is accessible to all.
Bring some love into your life – order your copy here for $10.99.
And if you want to know more about Owain, see the interview by Phoenix Rainex on her site.
And be sure to read JT Twissle’s excellent article on how Owain creates his poetry, The Passionate and Whimsical Poet of Penzance on her site.
Windswept – Poems of Love
List Price: $10.99
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White Bleed on Cream paper
Publication Date – September 30, 2015
Outer Banks Publishing Group
W & G Foyle Ltd. (usually called simply Foyles) is a chain of book shops with seven locations but is best known for its flagship store in Charing Cross Road, London.
Outer Banks Publishing Group author Ron Rhody is finishing up a new novel based on true events and the nefarious characters that lived and ruled in an area called the Kingdom of Craw in Kentucky’s Capitol City during the heady days of the Roaring Twenties.
Famous throughout the southeast, Craw was Storyville on the Kentucky, the Barbary Coast in the Bluegrass – gambling and women and booze, knife fights and gun fights and party till the lights go out. Anything. Any time. All the time.
The plot revolves around John Fallis, a real character, renown as the King of Craw, and two boys who fall into his orbit. Fallis was a Robin Hood to the poor and powerless and the devil incarnate to the powers that be.
They wanted him gone and his story has taken on mythic proportions in the area. His death is still a matter of controversy.
We’re shooting for a publication date of mid-year.
Ron is the author of the THEO trilogy of novels, Soccer, a Spectator’s Guide and Wordsmithing, the Art and Craft of Writing for Public Relations. See all his titles on Amazon.
First published in Arts.mic
By Rachel Grate
The benefits of writing go far beyond building up your vocabulary.
No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
This tip is my favorite because if you wait for your “muse” your whole life will pass before you.
“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.” – Stephen King
Get the other 9 tips here>
First published by the Huffington Post
I believe that following the rules of writing too closely tends to stifle creativity and sometimes paints the writer into a box. But there are some universal truths to storytelling that all writers should follow to create that viral story.
Pixar Studios, creators of Toy Story 3, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and a slew other successful animated movies, has 22 rules of successful storytelling that resonate with awesome storytelling. Graphic artist, Emma Coats brought those rules to life in a stunning infographic.
This is the true America. Not about building walls or profiling certain groups or banning others from coming to... fb.me/1bUwUYPYc
Another reason Republicans should be voted out of office in addition to refusing to prevent suspected terrorists... fb.me/1jy2LfNbQ
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