Book Trends Blog

February 4, 2013

Book Trends from 2009 till 2012 by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 10:52 pm
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The following is a breakout of the market shares of book formats between 2009 and 2012.


Hardback= 35%, Trade Paperback= 35%, Mass Market Paperback= 18%, Other= 9%, E-Book= 2%, Audio= 1%


Hardback= 25%, Trade Paperback= 31%, Mass Market Paperback= 12%, Other= 7%, E-Book= 23%, Audio= 2%

This shows the rapid climb of e-books.

Source: Publishers Weekly

December 28, 2012

Latest Status of EBook Usage by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 7:21 pm
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Today Publishers Weekly sent out the latest figures for ebook vs print book usage and readership in general between last year and this year based on a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

Adult readers fell from 78% to 75%.

16 year old and up readers of ebooks rose from 16% to 23%.

Print book readers fell from 72% to 67%.

Owners of readers/tablets rose from 18% to 33%.

Library borrowers of ebooks rose from 3% to 5%.

Library users aware that ebooks are available to borrow rose from 24% to 31%.

We’re headed toward the inevitable future of ebooks. As the owner of an independent bookstore, this does not bode well for us. I am beginning to feel like I’m sitting in the middle of a buggy whip factory in 1900. All this points out the importance of self-publishing authors learning facility in turning their works into the ebook formats and environments. More than ever, authors must become self-promoting business people to get their products seen and accepted.

May 2013 become a successful year for you!


November 28, 2012

Writing Question by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 1:21 pm
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A member of my writing group sent me an excellent question:

“I’m working on a story and wondered what the difference really is between a preface and a prologue. Also, how does a forward compare with those two? Can you use more than one of these in a story? Actually I’m combining parts of what three people have written – a true story, so am not sure I know how to handle this whole thing at all.”

Here is my answer:

In my opinion, a prologue brings you into the book. It’s an introduction to the story wherein lies the hook to keep the reader’s interest.

A preface is an introductory statement, also an introduction, but centered on why the author is writing this book or what the reader needs to know before getting started reading.

A foreword is introductory remarks about a book generally written by someone other than the author.

If you think about it, none of this has much to do with how convoluted a story might become, unless it’s the preface. I hope that helps some.

September 10, 2012

Selling Yourself to the Book Industry by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 5:12 pm
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My bookstore’s writers group has asked me to tell them what is needed to present themselves to agents and publishers. What I came up with for an answer was a sample of short bios and elevator synopsis for a fiction and a nonfiction book and a press release. Bios are like good resumes. They are written from the perspective of the agent’s or publisher’s needs, not the author’s.

Here are two samples:

Bio for Senior Citizens’ Self Defense (Nonfiction sample)
Bob Spear, a 67-year-old retired martial artist, holds an 8th Degree Black Belt in the Korean art of Hapkido. An American pioneer in this battlefield defense system, Bob was the first American to obtain a 3rd Degree Black Belt and Instructor’s Certification in Korea. He has trained over 11,000 students throughout the world and eight people are known to have been saved from death or serious injury by his instructions, videos, and books. Now a physically handicapped elder, he understands the concerns of older people and how there are still things they can do to protect themselves.

Bob is well known with a Twitter following of 3,907, a FaceBook following of several hundred, and a Book Trends Blog with 14,080 hits.

Bio for Quad Delta (Fiction sample)
Bob Spear, a Leavenworth, KS resident since 1981, is a retired Military Intelligence professional of twenty-five years. He has written 17 books, five of which are a series of mysteries set in Leavenworth, Kansas. He is Internationally known as a self defense author. Owner of a bookstore located in downtown Leavenworth, he has a keen interest in the underground complex beneath the downtown which provides the setting for his first mystery, Quad Delta.

Bob is well known with a Twitter following of 3,907, a FaceBook following of several hundred, and a Book Trends Blog with 14,080 hits.

Note: Note how the bios are written differently to support the books’ themes. Also, each mentions your platform size in social media.                                                                                                                                           
Imagine walking onto an elevator and finding an agent riding with you. What do you do if he asks, “What’s your book about?” You are getting off at the 10th floor, so that’s how long you have to tell him. These are short explanations that you should have memorized.

Elevator Synopsis for Senior Citizens’ Self Defense (Nonfiction sample)
With a rising crime rate set against an expanding senior citizens’ population, what is an elder to do when suddenly faced with a violent confrontation? This DVD/Training Manual explains the dangers of the streets and the simplest, most effective ways to counter these threats which can be done by anyone, even the handicapped.

Elevator Synopsis for Quad Delta (Fiction sample)
A PTSD suffering retired Military Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel, Enos Hobson, is dragged into the private investigation world when an old military friend asks him to save his mother and their family fortune from a diabolical Satan worshiping cult that hides its unholy chapel underneath the streets of Leavenworth, KS.

Finally, here is a sample press release. Remember to put the most important things up front.

Sample Press Release for Senior Citizens’ Self Defense

“Old Folks Can Be Deadly”
Local author and self defense trainer Bob Spear says the elderly can defend themselves. With a rising crime rate set against an expanding senior citizens’ population, what is an elder to do when suddenly faced with a violent confrontation? Spear’s DVD/Training Manual program, Senior Citizens’ Self Defense, explains the dangers of the streets and the simplest, most effective ways to counter these threats which can be done by anyone, even the handicapped.

Spear uses true stories to illustrate his program. One describes a confrontation an 83-year-old woman experienced in her rental-assistance apartment in Leavenworth with a night time intruder. He tells about how she used a screwdriver and her common sense to survive the ordeal. Spear says such illustrations are meant to entertain and give confidence to his readers and viewers that they are not helpless.

Bob Spear, a 67-year-old retired martial artist, holds an 8th Degree Black Belt in the Korean art of Hapkido. An American pioneer in this battlefield defense system, Bob was the first American to obtain a 3rd Degree Black Belt and Instructor’s Certification in Korea. He has trained over 11,000 students throughout the world and eight people are known to have been saved from death or serious injury by his instructions, videos, and books. Now a physically handicapped elder, he understands the concerns of older people and how there are still things they can do to protect themselves.

This timely training package is available at The Book Barn at 410 Delaware, Leavenworth, KS 66048.


I hope you find these tools helpful.

August 14, 2012

Writers Aids by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 9:17 pm

This blog article features various software packages from one company, Mariner Software, Inc. It’s not meant as an advertisement but an evaluation of tools I use because I find them to be the best out there. They deliver what they promise. I decided to write this because I’ve been asked to be a beta tester for a new upcoming package called “Persona.” Here is what they intend for it to do:

With Persona, you will be able to:

  • Create the cast for your story
  • Explore the relationships and interactions between each of the characters
  • Categorize each character into one of 32 archetypes and 64 styles
  • Create Smart Groups of characters based on attributes like tags, type, sex, or any word or phrase from your notes
  • Create adhoc groups of characters without a defined relationship so you can explore their interactions
  • See the relationships between archetypes, for example, if your hero is corrupted and becomes a villain

This is the best answer I have seen for an old warhorse of a writers aid called “Dramatica,” which is based on a complex, almost incomprehensible writing theory. Persona is a combination of a character data base and a collection of archetypical types and their motivations and typical actions. It is, as I said, still in beta testing, but should be out soon. Here are some other products that I use which you should find helpful:

Contour—$49.95 Mac/Windows

This was designed for screenwriters, but I have found it to be extremely helpful for novel writing. It starts out by asking these 4 questions: Who is the main character? What is the main character trying to accomplish? Who is trying to stop the main character? What happens if the main character fails? From there it goes on to ask questions throughout the structure of a typical story that, if an author answers the questions, will give him or her a logical progression of the story. Contour, the proven story development system developed by Emmy Award-nominated Jeffrey Alan Schechter, is designed to take your idea and turn it into a solid outline – the same kind of character-based structure used by many of the biggest blockbuster movies. In the company’s words: Unlike other story development systems which are either so complicated that you don’t know where to start or so light-weight as to wonder, “why in the world did I buy this?”, Contour is a must-have for every screenwriter. Taking your idea and using a fill-in-the blanks and intuitive approach, Contour guides you as to what elements need to be part of your story outline – you’re never left to wonder, “what comes next?”

StoryMill 4.0—$49.95  Mac

I love this aid and use it a lot. Here are the company’s description of what it does:

The Easiest, Most Complete Novel Writing Software Ever.

Writing a great novel doesn’t just happen, it is designed. It is thought out. It takes a writer who has discipline, creativity and open-mindedness. Writing is a creative process and like all creative processes, sometimes it’s hard to get started. But ask any writer, once you get into “the zone” you can write forever.
Take your idea for mystery, romance, adventure, action or science fiction and turn it into that novel you know is within but just needs a little help getting out. Developed to ease a person into the writing experience, StoryMill 4 is purposely designed to include all the essential writing elements, while at the same time maintaining an intuitive user interface.
StoryMill is incredibly flexible – use it as your no-nonsense place to write and revise using its distraction-free full screen and powerful annotations, or as your complete database of every character, location and scene that makes up your novel. You can set a daily writing goal and keep track of it using the Progress Meter. There are handy things to help you keep track of cliches and monitor how many times you use a word. There’s a single place for all your research – add pictures, tags, files and links, or make notes to any item in your project. It’s all right there within easy reach.

Have Timeline, will travel
The Timeline View is all new. You can group the scenes so you can see the relationship between them. Change the unit of time measurement all the way from minutes to centuries. Insert scenes or events and view the list of untimed scenes. No matter what passage of time your story takes, the Timeline View will give you a perspective unique only to StoryMill.


If you need writing software that can help you think through the creative process, develop the elements of your story, its characters, its scenes, its time lines, and its research, these packages are invaluable. Their costs are reasonable.


July 2, 2012

Writing About Yourself by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 6:12 pm
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There comes a time in our lives when some of us get the urge to leave a legacy. Who would like to read about our lives? Will our writings pass the Who Gives A SH– test? Perhaps just our families would be interested in our stories. Maybe our friends, or perhaps many people would have an interest in us. What should we write about and how should we write it?

Perhaps you could break your life up into time lines or you could write about topical areas such as my outline of my life below:

Mea Culpa (appology for tricks of memory or lack thereof)
Family Roots
Down on the Farm
Vagabond Years
Move to Lafayette
Middle School
High School
Indiana University
Army Years
Civil Service Years
Martial Arts
Writing, Publishing, and Reviewing
Book Barn and Other Businesses
Kids and Grandkids

You can try to create dialog or just tell what went on. You can include pictures and captions to add clarity and interest.


You can use a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or more ideally, a layout program such as Adobe InDesign, Quark, or Publish. Journal programs such as MacJournal can prove helpful as well. You can make it as simple or as complex as you want.


Be positive. Provide lessons learned. Don’t write an expose of your life. Remember, kids may read this, so keep it reasonably clean. Include interactions with others. Mention awards and honors and what they meant to you. Mention what you did not get a chance to do as well as your accomplishments. Talk about who helped you along the way and pay it forward. If you did something worthwhile, did it make a difference in someone else’s life? Write this in such a manner that readers will be proud to have known you. Don’t focus too much on those who have done you dirty. Do explain how you overcame adversity.

May 23, 2012

Regional Bookseller Organizations by Bob Spear

My last blog dealt with the national level booksellers’ organization. There are also regional bookseller organizations who host tradeshows in the fall and provide much more affordable venues for authors and publishers. The following is information on these organizations and their contact information:

Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
Cynthia Compton (President)
4 Kids Books and Toys
4450 Weston Pointe Drive
Zionsville, IN 46077
(317) 733-8710

Deborah Leonard (Executive Director)
2113 Roosevelt
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(888) 736-3096, (734) 340-6397
Fax: (734) 879-1129
Midwest Independent Booksellers Association
Chris Livingston (President)
The Book Shelf
162 West 2nd Street
Winona, MN 55987
(507) 474-1880

Carrie Obry (Executive Director)
Kati Gallagher (Assistant Director)
2355 Louisiana Avenue North, Suite A
Golden Valley, MN 55427
(800) 784-7522, (763) 544-2993
Fax: (763) 544-2266

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association
Meghan Goel (President)
BookPeople Bookstore
603 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 472-5050 
(Fax) 512-482-8495

Laura Ayrey (Executive Director)
8020 Springshire Drive
Park City, UT 84098
(435) 649-6079
Fax: (435) 649-6105

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association
Lucy Kogler (President)
Talking Leaves Inc.
951 Elmwood Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14222
(716) 884-9524
Fax (716) 332-3625

Eileen Dengler (Executive Director)
2667 Hyacinth St.
Westbury, NY 11590
(516) 333-0681
Fax: (516) 333-0689
New England Independent Booksellers Association

New England Independent Booksellers Association

Anne Philbrick, President                        
Bank Square Books                        
53 W. Main Street                        
Mystic, CT 06355                        
(860) 536-3795   
Fax: (860) 536-8426            

Steve Fischer (Executive Director)
1955 Massachusetts Avenue, #2
Cambridge, MA 02140
(781) 316-8894
Fax: (781) 316-2605

New Orleans-Gulf South Booksellers Association
Britton Trice (Chair)
Garden District Bookshop 
2727 Prytania St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 895-2266
Fax: (504) 895-0111

Northern California Independent Booksellers Association
Mike Barnard (President)
Rakestraw Books
522 Hartz Avenue
Danville, CA 94526-3808
(925) 837-7337
Hut Landon (Executive Director)
The Presidio
P.O. Box 29169 (mail)
37 Graham St. (delivery)
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-7686
Fax: (415) 561-7685
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
Jamil Zaidi (President)
The Elliott Bay Book Company 
1521 10th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 624-6600
Fax: (206) 903-1601
E- Mail:
Thom Chambliss (Executive Director)
338 West 11th Ave., #108
Eugene, OR 97401-3062
(541) 683-4363
Fax: (541) 683-3910

Southern California Independent Booksellers Association
Andrea Vuleta (President) 
Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop
1030 Bonita Avenue
La Verne, California 91750-5108
(909) 599-4558

Jennifer Bigelow (Executive Director)
133 N. Altadena Drive
Pasadena, California 91107
(626) 793-7403
Fax: (626) 792-1402
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
Kelly Justice (President)
Fountain Bookstore
Historic Shockoe Slip
1312 E. Cary St.
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 788-1594
Fax: (804) 788-0445

Wanda Jewell (Executive Director)
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance 
3806 Yale Ave.
Columbia, SC 29205
(803) 994-9530
Fax: (803) 779-0113
Additional links:
SIBA website
SIBA Trade Show
Authors ‘Round the South

April 2, 2012

Book Trends from an old Pro by Bob Spear

One of the top commercial writers in the business (80 published nonfiction books) is Bob Bly. Recently he sent me an email that pointed out some very interesting trends. In the past, many books written and sold were simply regurgitations of the same old content. He cites the Dummy Series and the Idiot Series as examples. Now however, editors are insisting on fresh, new never seen before content.. Fresh, new packaging is not enough. I suppose the many blogs and emails are forcing this issue. It’s getting harder to find unique content, which is why the trend has grown.

I’ve written before about the importance of websites germane to your subject area. Bob says that not only must you have them, but the editors expect to see your site’s statistics of unique visits and hits to prove that you have become a known entity in your field.

Bob also says your blog’s analytics are just as important. He recently got a $20,000 contract based on his blog postings. Not having a good blog and its analytics can doom a book deal.

The editors also want to know how many followers, friends, and contacts you have. They also want to know how many people subscribe to your email newsletters. It’s all about your platform or fan base and the publisher’s marketing to them. They also want to know how well your past books have sold.

If you want to sell a nonfiction book about a topic, you better be well-known in that field. It’s getting harder and harder to sell a new book to the mainstream publishers. You need a good reputation in your niche, a large platform, and a cost effective way to reach them. Bob has a new book out on how to get your book published, which you may find helpful. I have bought a number of his ebooks in the past and have always found them helpful.

March 28, 2012

Censorship In Bookstores and On the Radio by Bob Spear

Filed under: Uncategorized — bobspear @ 7:07 pm
Tags: , , , ,

As a bookstore owner, I am very unusual. Most bookstore owners are ex-teachers or ex-librarians. On the whole, they are very liberal. I, however, am a devote practicing Christian and a retired military intelligence professional. Unlike my peers, I am a conservative. Because of this, there are certain books I’d rather not carry. If they are pornographic, non-traditional sexual practices, or explicit sexual scenes, I choose not to carry those books. I’m probably the only member of the American Booksellers Association who fights against the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE). I refuse to support that which is evil in my perspective; therefore, I certainly censor our books. I read many young adult books so I can recommend their age appropriateness to parents who shop for their children. This is my small way in making a difference in the fight to maintain a righteous society.

Given my mindset, it should be no surprise that I listen to talk-radio a lot. Suddenly, as we head toward the most important Presidential campaign ever, I have become sensitive to radio stations which have begun caving into the extreme left by altering their programing.away from the righteous. Kansas City’s KCMO AM talk radio station has recently eliminated Michael Savage, who is a ranter; however, he’s also the most erudite of the talk show hosts. They cut Rusty Humphries this week, a good family man and father who has some of the top history guests on his show for cogent interviews. They also cut 5 hours of a paranormal nightly show in favor of a pair of hosts whose show target’s over the road truckers. They are rapidly running from controversy and anti-Administration politics at just the time we need them the most.

Now I understand there will be many of my readers who will hold different views from mind. That’s OK. It’s what this country is all about–free speech. But, one shouldn’t expect to be able to force one’s beliefs on others by insisting they be support causes that aren’t their own, which is what the libs attempt to do. Nor should radio stations be bought up to insure their programming is politically correct.. As I mentioned, this coming presidential election is one of the most important ones ever.I hope all of you plan to be involved in the process.

January 21, 2012

Writing Settings by Bob Spear

Filed under: Book Writers,Self-Publishers,Uncategorized — bobspear @ 4:15 pm

One of the most loved and respected authors of western fiction was Louis L’amour.. His fans found his stories to be very realistic because of the accuracy of his settings. If one of his stories mentioned a specific well or spring, you could go to that location and find it. This is because L’amour had done so before he wrote about it. His research was meticulous.

Does this mean you need to become a world traveler to be able to construct realistic settings? Not necessarily. I’ve been fortunate to have lived in or traveled in a number of countries in Europe and Asia, so I could search my memory and describe a particular location I had personally experienced just like L’amour had done.

Detailed, accurate settings make for interesting reading. This is why books are often referred to as armchair adventures. But, what’s an author to do if his story takes him to a place he’s never been? All is not lost. First there are atlases for those of us who know how to read a good map. Second, there are sources of good information in Google and Wikipedia. Most importantly, there are UTube  and documentaries which can give you a look at far away places. Any author who doesn’t avail himself of these resources is just plain lazy. By studying and seeing for oneself the locations you’re writing about, you can produce much more interesting works.

OK, how about science fiction and fantasy? Did you ever notice how many fantasy novels come with an excellent map of the stories’ settings? I always find myself checking such maps as I read just so I’m clear as to where everything is. The beauty of scifi is its settings are whatever the author wants them to be; therefore, detailed descriptions become essential.

Good settings are the sign of good fiction writers. They add spice to your stories. They also add connectivity with your readership for those who have been to the places you write about. Do your due diligence to make what you write as believable as possible.

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