Thursday, January 31, 2008


Wordclay is Author Solutions answer to Lulu. That is to say, a self-publishing provider that doesn't charge an up front fee. Dog Ear is not impressed (and should spellcheck their analysis if they want to make a good impression for their own company)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Amazon/iUniverse glitch--veinglory

As of right now all the iU books on Amazon are listed as only available from outside vendors, not on site. Glitch?

Edited to Add:
As time goes on this does start to look more like some kind of breakdown between the behemoths. Authorhouse on one side and Amazon on the other. There is a lack of information as to just what is going on. Any information would be appreciated.

This is apparently how iUniverse is answering queries: "This is an issue that we are aware of and it is being addressed ASAP at the highest levels of both companies."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tools for authors: Scribd widgets -- Dusk Peterson

Those of you who are authors may have heard of Scribd (pronounced "scribbed," with a short i). It's a "YouTube for text," allowing authors to upload documents for free. Readers can peruse the document online, and, if the author permits this, download the document in various formats. Scribd has all the usual social networking features: Friends, Groups, tags, and the ability to easily bookmark the document at various directories on the Web.

If an author is primarily concerned with print sales, they can give away an electronic version of their book for free in order to attract attention to the print edition. If they're interested in electronic sales, they can make the whole book available at Scribd but not downloadable, or they can make a sample chapter available.

One of the nicest features of Scribd is a widget that allows your document to be embedded (previewed) at your Website, social networking profiles, blog, etc. (You can see an example of the Scribd widget in use at my MySpace profile.) The widget operates through the same flash technology that online videos use, so if your readers can watch YouTube videos, they can also see the widget. Like all advanced Web features, it's probably best not to put this on the front page of your Website, lest you cause loading problems for slow-modem users, but it's perfect for places like MySpace where your readers expect to see something flashy.

Dusk Peterson writes fantasy stories on friendship, gay historical fantasy tales, and contemporary gay fiction. Occasionally, a heterosexual love story will appear as well. Peterson's stories are often placed in dark settings, such as prisons or wartime locations. Romance and friendship, especially male friendship, are recurring themes.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Helping Hand--veinglory

Here ate POD Peeps we like to hear about self-publishing efforts with charitable or otherwise noble goals. So please do let us know. For example:

IAG Authors to donate books to Brooke Army Medical Center in San

On February 1, Mary Simonsen and Celia Hayes will deliver about 35 books by IAG authors to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio where many of those wounded while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq go to receive treatment. We hope to duplicate this effort in military medical centers around the country—a small thank you for their service to our country.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

REVIEW: 'The Book of Lilith' by Robert G. Brown

Title: The Book of Lilith
Author: Robert G. Brown
Price: 14.49
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Religious
ISBN: 978-1430322450
Publisher: Lulu
Point of Sale: Amazon

A Tried and True rather interesting albeit dark sometimes comedic approach to the Myths of Creation...

Of course it all starts with an email. Why not! A mysterious email from a woman in a war-ravaged country, claiming she has discovered something that would change the face of archaeology and religion forever.

And here we get introduced to Lilith. God’s first creation of soul -- her duty, to give the world a soul. The story continues with the first person translation of the scrolls of Lilith – her birth, her life, and her death … not to mention all the wonderfully candid, glib, and amusing commentaries on her personal views of the world, god, and her own creation – oh, and Adam.

Even the footnotes in their almost sarcastic tone are funny as heck. We have heard numerous anecdotes: God is a kid with an ant farm. God is a mad scientist – look at the platypus. But God as a sushi chef? That was a new one for me. Bravo!

Some might consider this approach a parody, and it very well may be. Some may find the character of Lilith difficult to connect with, as she is written in a rather emotionless tone for most of the story, taking a more inquisitive and logic minded approach to her particular predicaments. But maybe this sense of detachment is deliberate, for Lilith is a child, bombarded all at once with the knowledge of everything, given the monumental responsibility of imbuing the world with a soul – I imagine it might be quite difficult to process one’s emotions when even your own emotions are new to you. In my mind, Lilith came off as almost a warrior – task oriented – bound by her duty – suffering is something to get past and overcome instead of dwelling upon it. But even a warrior can break down from time to time, and in certain scenes, we can see and feel Lilith as she struggles with feelings of pride, remorse, and regret during her various triumphs and defeats.

To liven things up a bit, since much of the story is quite serious, there are more than a few really quirky moments: Lilith and God have a sublime mastery of common modern day slang and cheeky discourse, falling miles away from the language styles we are familiar with when it comes to biblical text – just the mention of buttered popcorn had me giggling -- the frank exploration of Lilith as a true sexual being and all the sordid implications of that, and the inferences to time and space continuums and parallel dimensions might a bit disconcerting for some readers – that Lilith has the thoughts of ten billion women in her mind, women that don’t actually exist yet according to most biblical theories, making Eden an isolated oasis existing as almost a parallel universe in itself. So, even though the book is written as a pseudo-scientific approximation of an archaeological/theological translation, one really shouldn’t go into the book with the notion that it will adhere to the basic physics of what most believe as the reality of creation.

However, the author here has made some very valid points regarding the archaeological and theological studies of religion as a whole – not just the bible. And how thousands of years of research, opinions, and conjecture have formed a startling number of different viewpoints with regards to the existence, not only of man, women, and all the peculiar machinations of societal dogma regarding that relationship, but also of everything really.

I loved it, and the author’s approach to the story not only made me giggle a bit, but it also made me ponder and appreciate what it means to be a woman – a candid and tough woman, struggling in the world of men. The tone of the writing is emotionally detached for the most part, but how many times have we stepped back away from our own emotions in order to look at our situation clearly or even in a state of denial attempted to make light of our pain so that we might feel it lessened. Whatever the author’s intent, overt feminism or prodding flippancy, I came away with a new vision of Lilith and many new points to ponder over the origins of the Soul and necessity of Suffering.


Reviewed by Cheryl: Cheryl Anne Gardner is a retired writer of dark, often disturbing, literary novellas with romantic/erotic undertones. She is an avid reader and an independent reviewer with Podpeople blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

iUniverse Leaving Lincoln

As announced on their website:

A major self-publishing company, Author Solutions, announced plans Tuesday to move Lincoln-based self-publisher iUniverse to Bloomington, IN. Author Solutions acquired iUniverse last September in a deal that combined two of the countrys most successful self-publishing firms.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MY STORY: Kip Cosson

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
I decided to self publish after sending my book to 20 publishers. I found a self published book is very hard to get their attention unless you have been published or have an agent, I have neither. When you believe in something and others do not, it's a great feeling to take control of your own destiny and make it happen.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?
I found my publisher through another self publisher. I loved the quality of their book, so I knew what I would be getting without any surprises. Plus I like the idea of my book being printed in the USA and not China.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
My book is doing amazing!! Ned Visits New York is in it's second printing. As of this writing I have sold over 3500 books. The reason I have done well with my book is I have built a customer base/following over the past 16 years. 90% of the books I have sold have been on my own.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
I have learned the following as a 1st year self-publishing rookie:

1. Make sure you do your homework, have a plan and know how you are going to sell your book. (If you are depending on bookstores, you might want to rethink your plan.)

2. It takes a lot of time, phone calls, follow up calls and energy to sell one book to stores.

3. Self-publishing is no easy road and not for the weak; one should be prepared for a lot of rejection
and hard work.

4. Be aware of all the "self-publishing contests", they tend to play up on your ego and your money. (We all think our book is the greatest and will win.)

5. Making a network of self-publishing friends is invaluable.

6. If I had to do it over again, I would self-publish in a heart beat. Why? Because I like having total control of my book, my book can live as long as I want it to live, I have made more money from my book than I would have made through a publisher.

Kip Cosson

Friday, January 18, 2008

I never promised you a prose garden--veinglory

This is a short rant, it is not directed to anyone on this blog which just happens to offer me a place to vent frustrations built up during my conversations at other locations....

I don't know about you but I don't recall popping out of the womb and being offered a deal whereby if I wrote a good book NY agent would shower me with blank checks and rose petals. So, perhaps a writer has written a good book, and not been able to get a big mainstream NY press publishing deal. Putting aside the fact that they may not have written a good book after all, let alone a commercial one, what does this mean?

I would argue it does not mean mainstream presses are unfair, malicious, stupid, "broken" or any other such thing. I am not arguing that the mainstream publishing model is perfect, moral, wise, infallible or without flaw either. It is just that there are option other than fair/good and unfair/mean. A lot of what happens in life is just, well, arbitrary.

I am happy to discuss at length what I like about alternative publishing models like e- and POD, and self-publishing. I am also happy to discuss what I dislike about mainstream NY presses, large distributors and chain books stores. But I am also damn well going to discuss what is good about NY presses and bad about alternative models.

It might be nice if every manuscript was a perfect blossoming specimen of artistic genius for whom fate had cultivated a wonderful section in the garden. This is not now the case and I doubt it ever will even after some kind of new publishing world order sweeps the planet (as is so often promised). The publishing world is a huge mess, half-wild, half-polluted diverse, glorious and messed up. Books may be rose hips, dandelion seeds, pine-cones, pebbles, small capsules of DDT and any number of other things.

The writer's job is to figure out what the manuscript is and where the want to plant it. And once that is done no amount of willful blindness or vehement cheerleading is going to make very much difference. So yes, I like self-publishing, I like POD, I like epublishing too. I like Tor and I like Harlequin and I like Donald Maas. I would not recommend any of these things to any author without first trying to figure out what kind of manuscript and what kind of ambitions they had.

You can like a genre, a publishing model, a format... anything--without being its bitch, without thinking it is perfect, and without feeling the need to diss every thing on the planet other than the object of your affection.

Thank you.

...okay, I feel better now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

MY STORY: L. Diane Wolfe

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
I chose self-publishing because I knew the odds of getting published by a traditional publisher were slim to none. Most publishing companies get hundreds of submissions a week – sometimes more! My first book followed an Olympic swimmer and I was either going to self publish or be forced to wait an additional four years due to the timing. (I was able to time my book’s release with the 2004 Summer Olympics.)

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?
I selected a subsidy publisher off a recommendation. They offered Print-On-Demand digital printing and a return option for the books that no other subsidy publisher at the time could match. Whereas POD and subsidy publishing tend to kill most authors and their books, I had two things going for me – na├»ve willingness and a rep that understood marketing. My rep suggested numerous books and websites to assist me with promotions and told me to start making bookstore appearances. I eagerly followed all of his advice and by the end of the year, I’d done fifty book signings and built a good fan base.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
I have gone as far as I can with this company. A year ago, I began teaching seminars on publishing and promoting. The massive amount of research I conducted to put together these seminars led me to one conclusion – the time had come to begin my own publishing company!

I spent 2007 establishing a firm online presence, expanding my territory physically, networking, teaching, and setting things in place while touring for the fourth book of my series. It has been exhausting (100+ appearances in about seven months!), but I am now prepared to start my company, republish the first four books and the final in the series, and take on other authors.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
Study the market and learn the publishing industry before doing anything!!!!! Nothing hurts the independent and self publishing industry more than someone who doesn’t know what they are doing! Read Dan Poynter and John Kremer’s books on publishing & promoting – and any others you can get your hands on! Stay away from subsidy publishing unless you are prepared for the battle. (I only know of three that are worthwhile.) And no matter what, you will HAVE to do a lot of promoting and marketing!

Like anything else in life, you will work hard enough to succeed if you want it bad enough!

Author & Speaker, L. Diane Wolfe

Wolfe’s series, The Circle of Friends, focuses on the pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything. Meant to inspire as well as entertain, Wolfe’s books have been described as “encouragement personified”. Her latest in the series, “Mike: Book IV”, follows one young man’s journey of forgiveness.

Traveling the East Coast to promote her series, Wolfe sets herself on a heavy tour of extensive book signings and speaking engagements. The author averages over one hundred appearances each year, maintains a website & blog for her series, and contributes articles for several other sites. She conducts seminars on publishing & promoting and goal setting, participates in book fairs, speaks to schools, and manages an online writer’s group. In 2008, she will start her own publishing company and take on other authors. Wolfe is located in Eastern North Carolina.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"Traditional Publishing"

One thing I have trouble with, in discussing self-publishing, is what to call the other main approaches--the other options potentially on a writer's plate. I don't want to get sucked into a pointless definition war, something this whole area is already rife with. But there does need to be some reasonable short-hand term for the mainstream publishing model.

A common choice is "traditional publishing" which iUniverse defines as the "traditional way of publishing a book in which an author must find a literary agent or a publisher willing to review the manuscript." However this term is used very loosely to contrast not only with self publishing, but also non-self-published e-publishing and use if print-on-demand technology.

The term also has unsavory connotations in some quarters for example the SFWA who write ""Traditional publisher" is a term of very recent origin. It was invented by the first of the author mills in order to distinguish itself from the POD services (whose business model, except for the fee, it otherwise followed very closely). The term has no meaning in the publishing industry, which by definition doesn't include vanity and self-publishing operations. ("Commercial publisher" or "trade publisher" is more appropriate.)"

However, it must be noted that the SFWA are not exactly all over self-publishing and this page lists links to several long-extinct websites. Even so, it is safe to say that referring to "traditional publishing" brands one as a n00b in many quarters, no matter how you mean it--and its use by a publisher is widely considered a red flag. The term appears to have been invented, and is frequently used, by some of the less reputable self-publishing service providers.

However use of "commercial" seems to imply self-published are not engaged in "the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to place" (Merriam Webster online). Is that fair, even if it is in a great many cases (clearly not all) reasonably accurate in terms of the 'large scale'? As a term "trade" just seems to hopelessly vague the general sense of the word and too specific in the sense of referring to specific types of publication.

So the question is, how do you refer to other sectors of publishing, if indeed you feel the need to do so?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Online Article

How To Start a Profitable Book Review Business

Brought to my attention by the good people at iUniverse Book Reviews. Right now I am too busy being boggled to say much. But if you really want to know what I really think about this, I could tell you....
Self-published authors with a good fan base might consider nominated books written this year for the Preditors and Editors readers poll--decided by popular vote. but hurry, you only have until the 15th.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Because I don't know when to stop--veinglory

I am helping the Independent Author's Guild start up their blog. I took the Cover Contest over there. Please drop by and vote :)

REVIEW: 'To Catch A Thief' by Keith Sheffield

TITLE: To Catch A Thief
AUTHOR: Keith Sheffield
PRICE: $9.53 (paperback) $3.63 (e-book)
GENRE: Science Fiction
ISBN: None
PUBLISHER: Fanfaron Press

While surfing on, or rather, conducting marketing research (yeah, that's the ticket!), I stumbled across Keith Sheffield’s first book, To Catch A Thief. It’s a short work, only 108 pages, and labeled as Book One of the Ockham’s Razor series. Keith was offering free downloads for a week, and, after a quick glance at his cover and first chapter suggested that the work wouldn’t suck, I downloaded it.

To Catch A Thief is the story of Ockham, an ex-military type who retired and invested his pension in buying the Razor, a small interstellar cargo ship. In chapter 1, we learn that he’s struggling financially, and so he takes a meeting on the backwater world of Barrold, hoping to get a cargo so his ship doesn’t get hocked for back dock fees. Perhaps needless to say, things don’t go according to plan, which makes for an entertaining read.

Sheffield is a pretty good writer, and he tells an entertaining story. I have to admit I have a bias to like this story. Sheffield, like myself, is tired of the current trend in science fiction, which is to produce 150,000 word doorstops labeled as “Book One of Ten.” Typically, it seems that if you haven’t read the first couple of books, don’t bother with the later in the series, as you’ll be lost.

Although Sheffield does in fact intend to continue his work, he’s very deliberately keeping each individual work both short and self-contained, so one can, in theory, enter the series wherever you choose. Obviously, the proof of the pudding will be with Book Two, but so far, I like his concept.

Having said that, the book, although entertaining, is not without problems. The writing is clear, and the action is both sufficient and logical, but I find Ockham in particular a bit too trusting. He has as first mate on his ship one Mistra Onsoon. Ockham assumes that she’s a human female, even though he’s never seen her face nor does he know what world she’s from. Ockham also agrees to do some questionable deeds for out-and-out crooks with little compunction, even after he learns that Mistra has great financial resources.

Also, the setup and the world bear more then a passing resemblance to the “Firefly” universe, of the short-lived TV series fame. The author states that “Firefly” bears more then a passing resemblance to the Travelers role-playing game; having never played that game, I’ll take his word for it.

But these are quibbles. The story is entertaining and reasonably-well told, and presented (at least in e-book form) in a professional manner, both in terms of proofreading and layout. I have to say that I enjoyed To Catch A Thief, and look forward to seeing more from this author.

RATING: 8/10

Chris Gerrib is a resident of Villa Park, IL and Director of Technology for a Chicago-area bank. Chris is the author of the science fiction novel The Mars Run. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University and is president-elect of the Rotary Club of Darien, IL.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

MY STORY: Rita Y. Toews

1) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
I self-published when no traditional publisher seemed interested in my children's anti-bully book. I had placed a free electronic copy of The Bully: A Discussion and Activity Story on my website. Interest was immediate. I even received an order for 200 copies of the book in print format! To meet the order I decided to self-publish.

I expected to sell several thousand copies of the book and I was not disappointed.

2) Why did you select your specific publisher?
I started my own publishing company for the book. I did the lay-out and cover design myself.

3) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
I believe I have achieved my goals. I am now into a second printing. The Bully is in use in schools throughout North America and has been shipped to Australia and New Zealand. Several police departments have ordered the book in bulk for use in anti-bully campaigns. My customers include schools, health centres, grandparents, police departments and parents.

4) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
Be aware of your per unit cost. Can you sell enough copies of the book to cover your investment. If you know your niche market, concentrate your efforts in promoting the book within that market.

The Bully: A Discussion and Activity Story:
A children's story and activity book on bullying for children grades K-3. Illustrations can be used as a colouring book as the subject of bullying is discussed. Question and answer sections for both children and parent/caregivers that offer practical advice on how to deal with bully situations in a positive manner.

Rita Y. Toews

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Another year older...--veinglory

Looking back on the year, I notice how few blogs there are reviewing self-published books. Trusty iUniverse Book Reviews is still here. But the others are little snow covered bodies left by the side of the trail. There are in fact fewer of us now than there were at the beginning of the year, or two years ago. It made me wonder just how fine the line is between determination and stupidity. Why, exactly am I doing this at all? At about this time I heard a voice on the radio talking about a self-taught artist living in a small town in New Zealand--and how all the neighbors thought he was crazy. And then the guy on the radio (Stuart Shepherd) said:

"Self taught artists respond to an inner compulsion, or obsession, rather than locating themselves within an existing canon."

I am not a sentimentalist, or artiste driven by an inner muse or perfect genius. I do not blog because I am, but simply because I do--I feel the need to, even if I don't always know why. And there is more to it than stupidity. There is a basic respect for the artist or writer who also finds themselves well off the beaten track, with few or no companions--the isolated, niche, self taught or visionary writer. Self publishing isn't about failing to meet the needs of the mainstream. It is about existing outside that mainstream, however one comes to be there. It is a state that deserves more respect, and more attention--and not just from the neighbors who think any writer less famous than JK Rowling is basically crazy.

Not that I would mind a little more company... just saying....