Archive for March 21st, 2013

March 21, 2013

The Sneetches: a book that helped shape my life


Last week I bought two more books by Dr. Suess for my toddler. They’ll go into his Easter basket. I’m sure we’ll all have them memorized by April Fool’s Day–and I’ll probably regret this, but…I came home and ordered The Sneetches on Amazon. It should be here in time for his second birthday.

I have fond memories of The Sneetches. I remember checking it out from my grade school library. Mrs. Hansen, the school librarian, was the best storyteller I’ve ever known. I was only ever afraid of her on Halloween. She always dressed up like a witch and walked up and down the lunch line, talking to children about how tasty they probably were.

When I was sixteen, I was whisked away for a leadership retreat. A video of The Sneetches was a focal point for a great discussion on elitism and compassion and the importance of treating other people with respect and love. The best leaders, I learned, were the leaders who saw everyone as equals. They devoted their time and energy to serve the people around them, constantly, not caring about class or status of any kind.

When my first daughter was a toddler herself, we bought a bunch of Dr. Suess videos (they were musicals, even). I got soooooo tired of them. And now, today, I found myself with my son on my lap, looking up those same videos on YouTube.

These are happy memories. I can’t help but feel grateful–all that learning, all that fun came first from one book, from one writer.

March 21, 2013

Interview with author Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz is the author of Beginning of a Hero.

Charles Yallowitz is the author of Beginning of a Herowhich is the first in a series of fifteen books.

In a recent post, epic fantasy author Charles Yallowitz described how his book sales are continuing even though he’s slipping out of the top 100 list rankings.

I’ve been watching his book, Beginning of a Hero, which he’s had quite a bit of success with. As of writing this post, his book is ranked #1,688 Paid in Kindle Store. He’s also ranked #37 in the Kindle Store for literature and fiction: epic fantasy, #44 for action and adventure, and #50 for science fiction and fantasy: epic fantasy. While these ranks may be slightly lower today than they were yesterday, what I’ve been most impressed with is how consistent the high rankings and decent sales have been for this book. I don’t think that happens to many debut authors.

Of course I had to ask about it, and Charles Yallowitz graciously agreed to a blog interview. Here it is:

Please tell us a little bit about your recently published book, Beginning of a Hero.

Beginning of a Hero is the first book of my first fantasy series, which follows the adventures
of Luke Callindor. He is a young warrior from a famous family, so he is driven to prove that
he is as heroic as his ancestors. To earn his first adventure, he lies to a royal messenger and is
hired to pretend to be a student at a military academy. His job is to protect a hidden heir from a
demonic assassin, but Luke never bothers getting a name or description of the heir. So, he has to
uncover the identity of the heir while keeping an eye out for the assassin and avoiding being put
in detention by the headmistress.

What was the most challenging part of writing and publishing Beginning of a Hero?

I would have to say going through with publishing on Amazon was the most challenging
because it was the most nerve-wracking. It really is a big step for an aspiring author since you’re
taking everything into your own hands. This meant that I was responsible for all of the editing,
formatting, and marketing for my books. I had spent years focusing on the writing that I had to
learn everything else as I went along. Compared to figuring out how to market a book, the actual
writing was easy.

What has been the most rewarding part of the experience so far?

I really like how I found a community of fellow authors at various levels of their careers. I got to
learn from those who had already published and done their marketing. At the same time, I found
that authors who were still working on their novels were asking me questions about my own
process. I had never been in this type of community before and it really helped reduce my fear
of pursuing self-publishing. More importantly, it allows me to talk shop with other authors and I
don’t have to keep confusing my friends who don’t always know what I’m talking about.

How many books do you have planned for this particular series?

Legends of Windemere is slated to be 15 books and a secondary character will have a single book
after that.

When do you hope to release your next book?

I’m hoping to have the second book, Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, released by the end of April.
It depends on how long the cover art takes. The third book, Allure of the Gypsies, is also in the
cover art stage, so I’m hoping to get that released two or three months after the second.

How much time do you spend each day marketing your book, and what venues do you use most?

At first, I spent a lot of time looking for sites to get my book noticed. I used Goodkindles,
Kindle Mojo, Novelspot, Bookpinning, and within the first week of my book
being out. I also talked with other ebook authors to trade books and reviews, so I still try to find
authors to discuss that with. Recently, I spend most of my marketing time on my blog, which
connects to my Facebook page and my Twitter. I try to make at least one sales pitch tweet every
day to go along with the blog posts.

What kinds of results are you seeing as far as sales figures go? Is this consistent with what you

I’m seeing an amazing set of results with my book being at 650 ebook sales as of writing this
piece. I really didn’t see this coming because I was always told that things would get to this
level until the sequel comes out. So, I’m really happy and thrown entirely off my game. I guess it proves that you should be ready for anything.

Are you able to connect visibility with book sales?

Visibility is a very important factor. I think the combination of all of the sites I got my book
onto made a powerful first impact with people. It meant that people from each site were seeing
my book at the same time, which led to a faster word-of-mouth campaign. This multi-site
visibility got my book onto one of the Amazon Top 100 lists for epic fantasy. That seems to be
where a lot of the success if coming from because my book is being seen next to those of Terry
Brooks, Robert Jordan, and George R.R. Martin. If your book can be viewed on the same page
as the established authors of your genre then you have a great chance of readers being curious
about you.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

A friend of mine told me once to just write what I wanted and not what people wanted me to
write. I had been considering trying to write a book that fit in with the popular trend of the day,
but my friend warned me that it could put me into a genre that I hated. So, I continued writing
what I loved and hope that it comes across to draw readers into my world

What is the best advice you could give to another writer?

This is going to be the cliché that goes around, but writers should keep writing. It sounds
ridiculous, but we are an easily distracted lot and we need to focus at times. I’ve met many
aspiring writers who tell me about a great story and they end it with the ‘hope’ that they’ll find
time to write it. I can tell you from experience that you can’t just hope for the time. You have to
put some effort into making that time and pushing forward with your writing.

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