Posts tagged ‘self-publishing’

September 19, 2014

Look what friends can do–thanks, everyone! #thenightones #free

Look what I woke up to this morning! :D

Look what I woke up to this morning! 😀

Yesterday 95 copies of The Night Ones were downloaded.  I woke up this morning to find The Night Ones had reached #4 in its category for free downloads on Amazon.

That felt like a lot of downloads for not actively promoting it. I only posted about it here on my blog and on Facebook. While I intend to use free e-book listing sources in the future, I’m grateful to see what just a handful of friends can do.

A big thanks to everyone here who shared the post about The Night Ones‘ free promotion or who liked it. You made my day.



September 15, 2014

The evolution of a book cover: why I will always hire a visual artist now

I think of my self-publishing experience with The Night Ones as a learning exercise and, right now, as a demonstration of why self-publishing writers most often should hire someone else to do the artwork for their book covers.

Here’s the first book cover I tried to make, on my own.

book cover possibility three point seven five

Here’s the second book cover, also made on my own.

Second book cover

Second book cover

Here’s the third, also on my own, that I made for the re-release while I waited for a final book cover. (More on that another time–the artist I hired works fast. I was waiting on other things.)

green ebook cover red print cropped resized

And, finally, here’s what artist LaRae Monroe can do.

The Night Ones has a new look!

The Night Ones has a new look!

LaRae and I had a great chat about what separates writers and visual artists. Both she and I keep notebooks. The biggest difference is what we keep in our notebooks. Mine is full of words, describing my ideas in detail. Her ideas are mapped out with pictures, more like story boards.

I’ve gained a new respect for all visual artists because of LaRae. In some ways, she can see what I write about better than I can.

If you’re intrigued by the beautiful new book cover, check out the e-book! It’ll be free on Amazon from Sepember 18-22. Also–check out the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Wishing you all the best!

July 30, 2014

Marketing From a Village

Hinterstein Germany Village Buildings Mountains (from

This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.

For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.

No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.

Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.

Here’s why:

As a united entity, we authors vivaciously reached out to the public.

To my knowledge, this is the first time our little group has ever done this.

It takes guts to welcome new people to come see what we’re up to. It takes courage to put on a professional image, especially when, for most of us, our fledgling works have been self-published and all the marketing efforts are up to us.

For some of us, it takes everything we have to overcome Imposter Syndrome enough that our neighbors, relatives and other people we meet in settings like this will take us seriously. We hope they will at least notice that we take ourselves seriously. (That in itself is a great leap forward.)

I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”

That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:

To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.

We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.

In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.

We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.

That means creating our own wave of enthusiasm, relying on each other to help spread the word, and forming our own movement that can eventually pick up momentum in our own towns and cities and spread to the larger world.

We create online villages by blogging, commenting on each other’s blogs, participating in blog hopping and blog tours, attending virtual book launches and creating author pages on Amazon and Facebook. These are helpful (and so fun they’re sometimes addicting). Wherever we go, we try to seek out our target audiences, hoping they’ll become part of our online villages.

I wonder, though, if they’ll ever really replace people we can get to know.

It takes a lot more courage to reach out to people you can see and touch than it does to reach out to people you might never meet in person. This is one reason why I admire writers who sell their books at trade fairs and arrange for book signings in libraries and bookstores.

Perhaps this is also why I value my writer’s group so much. This last month, at least, these other authors were my village. Even though I didn’t bring any bookmarks to pass out or books to sell, I felt their combined energy swelling up and spilling over into the concert at the park. Since then, two books from one local author have made the bestsellers list on Amazon.

I can’t help but see a connection here.

Her village is thriving.



March 6, 2014

Why all authors should join a book club

"Epic," by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. :) Take a closer look at the book  on

“Epic,” by Conor Kostick, in a nice shiny library protective page. 🙂 Take a closer look at the book on

In November, a neighborhood friend invited me to a book club. I went, although I felt a bit nervous…I had never been to a book club before.

The winter holidays and planning for 2014 meant no real book club meetings again until the second week of February. I attended again, and solidified my opinion on book clubs: All authors should join one.

Here’s why:

  1. Book clubs are a great way to get a feel for what readers love to read. This doesn’t apply just to the books that the club chooses, but also to the way a book is written–the prose, the structure, the characters. It’s just a good way to learn about the elements of a well-written book (and, in some cases, it’s a good way to learn what not to do).
  2. Book clubs are a great way to get your name out in the local community. I’m an open book online (pardon the pun), but in real-life situations I’m generally shy when it comes to talking about writing. I usually won’t even mention it unless someone else brings it up, but in January I took a risk and let the book club members know I love writing. They’ve become a great new support group for me.
  3. Even better, five die-hard fantasy fans from this book club have agreed to beta-read for me. Finding solid beta readers who will follow through in a timely manner can be difficult, so I’m excited to give them a try! (If all goes well, they’ll be reading for me sometime early this spring.)

This month, we’re reading and discussing Epic, by Conor Kostick. I’m about three quarters of the way through and I love it so far. It’s one that’s going to make it onto my Great Worlds list.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

August 8, 2013

An Interview with author Charles Yallowitz

Charles Yallowitz is the author of Beginning of a Hero.

Charles Yallowitz is the author of  Beginning of a Hero and Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.

I love learning about how other writers do things about as much as I love reading their works. Charles Yallowitz, author of Prodigy of Rainbow Tower and Beginning of a Hero, is particularly inspiring, partly because he genuinely cares about the other authors he networks with, and he makes everything fun. He recently allowed me to interview him regarding his writing–and here it is!

Which was harder for you to write and edit–Beginning of a Hero, or Prodigy of Rainbow Tower? What made the difference?

Both books had their difficulties.  With Beginning of a Hero, I had to start from scratch and there were only my notes to fall back on.  There was a sense of freedom with this, but also a sense that I could end up going too far.  So, I had to be very cautious.  With Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, I had a foundation for the world and characters.  The utter freedom was gone and I had stability in the world, but I had to worry a lot more about continuity.  I found myself going back to check facts because I doubted myself.

In terms of editing, I have to give the win to Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.  I could change things while working on it or I would have to go in to alter something that came from the editing of Beginning of a Hero.  So, the first book could be laid done to rest while the second book was always a factor when editing anything in the series.

What would you like newcomers to the series to know about Prodigy of Rainbow Tower?

I’d like them to know that this book is going to have a lot more action and testing of the characters.  The first book was very light-hearted and the characters were still getting to know each other.  Now, I really put them through the wringer, including the newest character, Nyx the caster.  Caster is the Windemere term for people that use magic.

Another item that I want newcomers to know about is that the magic of Windemere is going to take a central role.  In Beginning of a Hero, there more mostly warriors and it was a very sword-oriented story.  The inclusion of Nyx and her magical rival, Trinity, allowed me delve more into the workings of magic and write some big caster duels.  Those only get bigger and better as the story progresses.

 Of all of the characters in this world you’ve created, which is your favorite and why? Or, if you can’t choose one, how about your top three?

It’s hard to pick even a top three.  Fizzle the Drite (tiny dragon) definitely has the biggest fan following since the first book.  I’ve come to enjoy writing his scenes more since people directed my attention to him.  So, he’s taken on a bigger role in the overall series, which I gently flushing out as time goes on.

I’ve come to really enjoy writing The Lich because he’s such an evil character, but he has this habit of sabotaging himself.  He shows such promise to be a big villain that I start to feel sorry for his stumbling.  You almost want him to succeed every now and then because he tries so hard to win.

Finally, I love writing scenes with Nyx.  She’s a very dynamic character and one of the best I ever created.  She’s very powerful with her magic and her temper means she’s very likely to react with a spell.  Yet, she has many moments of vulnerability and an almost maternal reaction to some of the other heroes.  Neither mentality is strained or out of character for her.  For example, I’m working on a later book where Nyx has to fix a mistake from Prodigy of Rainbow Tower.  She’s scared and timid instead of her defiant self, but the opposite persona comes off as natural for her.

How important is networking with other authors? Does it make a difference in morale and support alone, or does this actually transfer to sales and publicity?

Networking with other authors is a must across the board.  You can get feedback, support, morale, and so many other things.  I use my blog to describe what I’m doing and let other authors know what worked and what didn’t while I was publishing.  This has led me to get into many conversations with other authors about self-publishing.  So, it helps get a good dialogue going to learn about pricing and marketing.

It’s invaluable for publicity too.  There is a lot of ‘you mention my book and I mention yours’ on WordPress.  For Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, I did a blog blitz the night before it debuted.  Over 10 bloggers made posts about my book and promoted it right before it went live.  At the same time, I did was involved in two blog blitzs for two other authors.  So, you see a lot of community and support from authors.  Self-publishing is really a team sport because one self-published author making it justifies the actions of the others.  That successful author can show the way and be a real motivator for those still aspiring.

What is the best, best, best thing about being a writer?

Hearing somebody tell me which character they loved or which scene moved them.  Even getting an e-mail about a scene that angered someone makes me smile.  A few scenes in Prodigy of Rainbow Tower resulted in me getting an e-mail or two from a beta reader.  The e-mails were mostly ‘Wow!  I can’t believe you did that!’  Getting that kind of reaction from a reader is why I love to tell stories.

What food do you think you ate the most of during this time?

I drank a ton of seltzer while writing.  As far as food, I tried to vary it, but I think it was mostly pineapple or M&M’s.  Not together.  Though I’m now tempted to try that and see what happens.

How many hours of sleep did you average per night during this time?

I typically average 4-5 hours sleep in general because I have trouble sleeping.  It would be deep sleep, but I always wake up around 6 AM.  There are occasional days where my body is just out of commission and I’m in a coma for 8 hours.  Those typically happen on the weekend against my will.

What is THE BEST thing that happened to you during this time?

So many things.  I’ve met so many great friends during this journey, which is at the top of the list.  As for specific events, I would say being in the 20’s of the Top 100 Epic Fantasy eBooks on Amazon is up there.  Tied with having a brief Facebook conversation with R.A. Salvatore.  It was really me asking him a question about writing and he answered.  So, I answered back and then got another response.  It ended with me writing a thank you and beaming for the rest of the day.

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, by Charles Yallowitz

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower, by Charles Yallowitz

June 17, 2013

Marketing sites for authors


The Author Marketing Experts, Inc. web site as pulled up on my computer....I admit, I'm intrigued.

The Author Marketing Experts, Inc. web site as pulled up on my computer….I admit, I’m intrigued.

At the marketing event last week, I found another group dedicated to marketing for writers: Author Marketing Experts, Inc., founded by Penny C. Sansevieri.  I’ve been enjoying going through the web site. There are some great ideas on there…free articles include What Will Make Google Love Your Site (featured on Huffington Post) and Powerful Pinterest–A Quick How-To.  

I’m signing up for the free e-zine and, I have to admit, even though I know it don’t have money budgeted for publicity…I really want to call for the free consultation. It can’t hurt to find out more about it, right?

Meanwhile, I’ve been mentally making a note of marketing sites for authors that I’ve come across recently. Here are a few  more that come to mind:

  • Author Marketing Club (the premier author club here looks exciting but does have a cost associated with it–$105 per year.)
  • Marketing for Romance Writers Organization I was searching for something else one day when this popped up on my search engine. I haven’t really written anything in the romance genre, but it might be helpful for other fiction writers who dabble in romance. If you use it, please let me know what you think. There’s also Marketing for Romance Writers, which looks similar and has a very similar name and URL.
  • One more that I haven’t really had a chance to look at yet: Author Marketing Ideas. Let me know what you think.

If I ever get around to updating my blog pages, I may start a page for links for marketing sites for authors. Author Charles Yallowitz already has a nice list of book promotion sites over at Legends of Windemere, if you’re interested.

On a side note, somewhere I recently read that a romance writer self-published one of her books and has sold 11,000 copies of it every month since…which has me thinking maybe I’ve chosen the wrong genre to write in. 🙂

June 12, 2013

Indie Recon marketing thing is going on this week, and other things

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. :)

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. 🙂

It’s Marketing Mania Week over at Indie Recon.

Yesterday’s post by CJ Lyons was all about branding, which is something I keep thinking I need to think more about. The truth is,  I love variety and don’t like the thought of getting stuck writing just one genre. This post made me feel like I could actually create a brand for myself and still maintain my writing freedom. It was heartening.

There’s a great post today on marketing in general (and to young adult target audiences in particular). Wednesday will cover Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes, Thursday will focus on marketing advice from bestselling Indie authors, and Friday there will be a secret giveaway. Fun for everyone!

Other things on my mind:

  • The more I read, the more I want to write. I see a plot or a style I like, and I think “I have to try this out sometime and see if I can do something like it.” The same thing happens when I watch a good movie (although I want to write stories, not make movies). I want to do it my own way, of course, but the draw is there with every good book I pick up. Does anyone else experience this? Is this what inspires people to write fan fiction?
  • I’ve decided I really, really love ebook Habits and Free Book Dude. I keep adding stories to my Kindle, which I’ll read someday when life slows down.  These sites list books that can be downloaded for free. Browsing through their lists has become part of my daily e-mail ritual.
  • The beans are up! And some of the kale I planted earlier this spring is ready to harvest. Hurrah for fresh kale at lunch! 🙂
May 31, 2013

Three marketing ideas for the weekend

The end of another full week--and the beginning of a wonderful weekend!

The end of another full week–and the beginning of a wonderful weekend!

It’s been another crazy week. No, really, it’s been a crazy month, but in spite of the busy-ness, there’s not much I would change about it.

I would, however, like to catch up on some marketing ideas that I’ve come across and haven’t had a chance to blog about.

Here’s one:

Re-categorize your books. According to this web article at The Writer’s Guide to e-Publishing, there are new categories for science fiction, fantasy, etc. While these aren’t available through KDP, there may be ways to access them by the way the books are tagged in KDP. I may try this  this weekend, just for the fun of it.

And here’s another:

Self-published books as the new query letter, by Laura Howard. Really? Well, there are a few self-published authors out there who have been picked up by traditional publishing houses. It’s an intriguing idea. It certainly expands the idea of a query letter. In my mind, this might appeal to agents because it could show whether an author’s writing style is marketable as well as how involved that author is in the marketing process. I’m really not sure what I think of this one, but it’s an idea to watch.

And one more:

Taking down books that don’t have anything to do with what you really write. This has more to do with branding than anything, I think, and this post at Catherine, Caffeinated is an interesting take on the idea. This is another task on my to-do list that’s been on there for a long time. I hope to actually get it done this weekend.

April 18, 2013

An update on Author Darrell Pitt

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

A little more than a month ago, I interviewed Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero and The Steampunk Detective Series. One of the things we discussed briefly was that he was signing an eight-book contract with a publisher that he couldn’t name at the time.

The details are finally available. Earlier this week, a press release was sent from the University he attends. I’ve included most of the text here:

RMIT University student and self-published speculative fiction author Darrell Pitt
has signed an unprecedented eight-book deal with Text Publishing.

The third-year Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing) student and Brunswick West
resident has written two series and a stand-alone novel.

Text Publishing will re-edit his self-published e-books and release them in
bookshops from 2014, as well as releasing new books from the two series.

The three-book Steampunk Detective series tells the story of Jack Mason, a young
orphan who is apprenticed to Ignatius Doyle, the world’s most famous consulting

The second series of four books, Diary of a Teenage Superhero, is about a
teenager who discovers he has superpowers.

Mr Pitt’s eighth book, A Toaster on Mars, is a science fiction humour work in the
vein of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.

He attributes his success to his love of comic books and his mentor and RMIT
teacher Toni Jordan, an award-winning novelist and lecturer in the creative writing
program in the School of Media and Communication.

Mr Pitt said he only became serious about his writing after starting as a mature age
student at RMIT in 2012, when he also started to make use of self-publishing
technology to put out his work as digital e-books.

“I’ve long been a fan of speculative fiction and comic books – I suppose I’m a geek
at heart!” he said.

“I had the good fortune to have Toni Jordan as a teacher in the first semester and
she offered to look at one of my unpublished manuscripts. It was her suggestion
that I submit the manuscript to Text Publishing.

“This whole experience has been amazing. I can’t emphasise how important it is to
have a mentor. Not only is Toni Jordan a wonderful writer, but she’s a fantastic
writing teacher – I think that’s a rare package.”

Ms Jordan said: “One of the best things about our course is the way our students
can connect with publishing professionals, other writers, and most importantly,

“Darrell is wonderfully talented and dedicated and I can’t wait to see his books in
print. There’s never been a more exciting time to be an emerging writer.”

This is something worth celebrating! 🙂

April 18, 2013

An interview with author Gabe Berman

I always want to be better, and I deeply want to enjoy the process of getting better. I suspect this is a big deal for the majority of the other writers and bloggers and life-livers that I know. For that reason alone, Gabe Berman‘s Live Like a Fruit Fly: The Secret You Already Know completely appeals to me.

So does his second book, The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How to Make Publishers, Agents, Editors and Readers Love Your Work.

I’ll be reviewing that one next week, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Meanwhile, Gabe Berman agreed to an interview (with a very fast turn-around, I might add). And here it is:

What led you to write Live Like a Fruit Fly? (Readers, an exciting note here: this book was reviewed by Deepak Chopra)

For years I’d walk the aisles of the bookstore, looking for the perfect book to inspire me to live an extraordinary life. I knew it was possible and life being as short as it is, I didn’t want to wait. I was sick of all the preachy, otherworldly books, so I wrote the book I could never find.

Same question for The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How To Make Publishers, Agents, Editors & Readers Fall In Love With Your Work.

And the same answer. I wrote the book I wish was given to me long ago.  My book whispers in your ear, “Keep going. It’s going to be ok.” It will keep you from writing crap and remind you, because you deep down already know, how to make readers fall in love with your work.

Why did you self-publish at first? And why the second time around?

After writing for the Miami Herald for eight years, I thought everyone would be interested in my radically different self-help book. I was ridiculously wrong and rejected by everyone. Twice.

But since I decided my ordinary days were over, I knew the extraordinary move would be to keep moving forward. To kick doors open that appeared to be sealed shut.

I self-published and proved the gatekeepers in the publishing industry didn’t know everything because people fell in love with Live Like A Fruit Fly.

Through a string of miraculous events, HCI, the original publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, found me and offered me a contract.

I decided to once again turn to self-publishing for my new book The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing Guide: How To Make Publishers, Agents, Editors & Readers Fall In Love With Your Work. This writing guide is unlike any other ever written and I wanted to have complete control of it. For example, the kindle edition is just $1.99.  It’s certainly worth the $9.99 a traditional publisher would charge but I wanted to make it accessible for everyone right away.

How did you get picked up by HCI, and what was your initial reaction?

It’s your typical story: guy meets girl in a bookstore. Girl’s friend is the acquisitions editor at a publishing company. The rest is history (I’m oversimplifying it but you get the gist).

How did I react? I was more relieved than anything else. Destiny finally fulfilled.

How in the world did you get to have your book reviewed by Deepak Chopra?

It’s your typical story: famous person finds my self-published book on Amazon. Famous person is friends with Deepak Chopra. I force myself to find the guts to ask famous person to ask Deepak to read my book. Deepak digs it and says, “In Live Like a Fruit Fly, Gabe Berman shares his recipe for living a more joyful, worthwhile, and abundant life in every way. A witty, entertaining, and insightful read.”

Did you ever have a chance to meet him or talk with him about your book?

Not as of yet. All in due time.

What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Procrastinating at Starbucks.

What writing project are you working on now?

The sequel to Live Like A Fruit Fly and a couple of top secret projects (I’d tell you but then I’d have to…)

What marketing strategies work best for you?

I seem to sell more books when I stop worrying about marketing so much. The Universe is a sly one.

What is the best part of being a writer?

It allows me to add a little goodness to the world.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

My dad always said: stupid rules are made to be broken.

And the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

Follow your gut, not the tornado of thoughts in your head.

And–just for fun–your favorite kind of ice cream.

Are you kidding me? Chocolate of course.

by Gabe Berman

by Gabe Berman

Thanks, Gabe Berman, for a chance to get to know you and to learn about your books! I’m looking forward to reading them soon. 🙂

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