I am guilty of suggesting this to my clients, but now I wonder...  When I was much younger, a great teacher ( hi there, Sister Mary Andrew) told our class that the average reading level was grade 6. I have read, or heard, this same comment many times over the years. Most magazines, newspapers and best selling authors accept this fact and write accordingly. Now, I'm not so sure that we are doing the right thing.

As writers, do we have a responsibility to improve the quality of our work and thus raise the bar in the reading public, or does our responsibility end at the number of copies sold? I am talking to those authors who target the mass public audience and not to the academic writers who target a much smaller group of people who can appreciate the fact that they use words with more than two syllables.

Is it good enough, for those of us who write to the great unwashed, to cater to the lowest common denominator or should we assume that our audience can handle something a bit more challenging? I ask you - do you have the courage to write for an audience that will be challenged by your use of language arts? Can we all rise slightly higher and reach for better vocabulary and drag the average reader along with us? Should we? Is the economic risk too high to even bother? What would happen if popular writing was targeted at a grade 8 level - would the reader give up, or move up?

I guess what I am asking is, should we accept the fact that education seems to be changing and the standards (at least, on an anecdotal basis) seem to be dropping? Or, should we support the education system by attempting to push the readers a little higher?



 I am trying to learn more about Google Books and whether or not it is a benefit for authors like you and I. I see that one of my first books is listed there, without a cover, and I am not sure whether I authorized this or not.
  • Have you used Google Books to promote, list and and market your books? 
  • What kind of experience have you had?
  • If you decided against listing there, why?
  • What kind of sales increase have you had - or do you know?
  • Do you know any good, independent information sources about Google Books?
On the surface, anything that helps an author market his or her books would seem to be a good thing but there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding Google's entry. At one point, they wanted to digitize all the books on the planet and make them accessible. I think this project has been tempered somewhat but frankly, I'm unclear where this is going. I have gone on the Google Books site but there is not much information other than the requirement to create yet another account and then upload your books. If you have experience, I and I'm sure everyone else, would benefit from your sharing in the comments area.

Thanks in advance and please consider forwarding this request to other writers that you know so that we can all learn.


Just a quick note for my friends - if you have wanted to read MY SECRET MOTHER: an adoptee speaks to the girls who went away, and didn't want to pay $4.99, then go to Smashwords now and get it for 75% off!

here's the link

The sale ends March 10.



The science of pricing a book is evolving. In the good (?) old days, publishers decided what an author's book would sell for and they pre-printed it on the cover. They would often show different prices for different countries on the same label and assume that the exchange rate wouldn't change. All of this was tantamount to price fixing, but the bottom line was that the content creator had no control over what the reading public paid, and their own income was decided by someone else.
The internet has changed all of that, along with everything else it touches. As authors have begun to find new ways to connect with their audience, and new formats ( e-readers), they have taken pricing into their own hands. The old-line publishers are resisting the change, and in many cases they are keeping their author clients in check by maintaining an artificially high price for e-books. However, as bestselling authors from the legacy publishers discover the freedom and economic advantages of controlling their product ( that is, self-publishing) the pricing of books will begin to find a common ground.
Jackie Collins announced today that she is re-releasing one of her best sellers as an e-book at $2.99. I think we will find that the pricing will almost always be under $9.99 as we move forward. It is just a guess, but I think the "big guys and girls" will start offering their new releases around that price and the rest of us will begin to slot ourselves around that standard.
Once the Stephen King's, David Baldacci's, Dan Brown's and J.K. Rowling's break from the legacy publishers and decide to strike out on their own, the price formula will become much more obvious, to the great good fortune of the reading public.