Writers, Readers & Self Publishing

Our community of self-published authors is generous with the knowledge they have gained on their writing journey. Here at Writers, Readers & Self Publishing, we will share with you their advice, their experiences and their ideas for writing and promoting award-winning books.  We will also share incites from our readers and others in the field of self-publishing such as editors, designers and successful best-selling authors who graciously share their thoughts and experiences. Our readers and writers have also contributed some fun and interesting stories that we hope you will enjoy!

Cover Crush: Dog Water Free by Michael Jay

As a mom of 4 boys I am always drawn to images that remind me of them, of times when they were little and how they loved spending time in the great outdoors.  This cover grabbed me and made me feel the bond between a boy and his special friend, a friend that is loyal, one that can sense your moods and knows when it's just time to sit quietly and be still.  With the gorgeous view of the mountains it gives the feel of endless possibilities and somehow your problems just don't seem that overwhelming. Coming of age book are always a favorite of mine, and to be honest I have never seen one revolving around a male character and this excites me. Based on a true story, with lots of headlines involved here it has the makings of an interesting story. Definitely on my reading list and one I hope to share with the male population in my family. By Margaret Cook Just One More Chapter Synopsis Meet Joe Black visits The Wonder Years in the true story of DOG WATER FREE. It chronicles a journey by a boy named Mikee, whose coming-of-age search for emotional truth lands…

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Covers in Color by Holly Bush

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree! When I began self-publishing my historical romances back in 2011, I did not have a clear vision of the sales ocean I was dipping my toe in, and even with some significant marketing background, I did not have the experience or understand the particulars about product placement in the book biz. I scanned the Amazon and Barnes & Noble book site pages for hours and hours, recording and cataloging what covers drew my eye. I had virtually no budget, as I’d not sold any books at that point, for models or photos or the software to design a cover and in 2011 there were few, if any, sources for pre-made book covers. Romancing Olive’s original black and white cover was put together by my daughter using borrowed software and a $10 photo. The second black and white cover for Train Station Bride and the third, Reconstructing Jackson, were also done in much the same way. At the time I was not convinced I could compete with the gorgeous color covers coming out of New York, so I decided to go the opposite direction and be the black, tan, and gray, amongst the violet, chartreuse, rose, and periwinkle.…

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Cover Crush: A Kiss from France by Susan Hughes

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree When I first saw this book on indieBRAG’s homepage, it caught my eye immediately! I’d like to first mention the title. Love it! Catchy and intriguing. The cover itself is true to the period in which the story takes place. I love the tone and design. I have been really intrigued with the period lately and I love ready about stories of women who lived during this time and seeing war told through their eyes. Great cover, title and premise! Bumping this book up on my reading list! Be sure to read the book blurb below! Stephanie M. Hopkins Indiebrag Team Member Synopsis As men toiled on the front line, back home munitionettes made the armaments and fought battles all their own. London 1917. Lizzie Fenwick is young, ambitious and in love. At least, she thinks she’s in love with the soldier who answered the note she concealed in a box of ammunition shells. She spends her days filling shells with TNT, and her nights dreaming of the mysterious Harry Slater. Eunice Wilson knows the exact moment her marriage to Jack began to fracture. He refused to enlist, and their patriotic neighbors never let her live it…

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So, you want to write a novel?

By Helen Hollick B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Don’t we all? Well, I assume most visitors glancing through this article are keen to write, hence reading this in the first place. (Although, of course, I might be jumping to conclusions – some of you are also readers.) There’s a saying ‘write what you know about’. It is, sort of, useful guide but if you want to write historical fiction – well I don’t know many people who were actually there in Roman, Medieval, Tudor or the American Civil War eras. Not in person, so it isn’t easy to know how people lived, loved, fought and died in these centuries. Which is where research comes in. From academic books, from history magazines, from quality documentaries on T, and from the Internet. (Good old Wikipedia and Google Search!)  All are useful sources for information, but beware. Not all internet sources are accurate. I once queried some ‘facts’ used in a historical novel, tactfully implying that they were not correct. The author emailed me back, most indignant, claiming she had looked at several sources on the ‘Net. It was a fairly obscure subject so I took a look. Indeed, there were several articles, but on…

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The indieBRAGs on My Shelf by Carrie Beckort

It’s probably not surprising to learn that I was a reader long before I was a writer. I’ll admit that I have days when I struggle with the urge to read and the need to write. I only have so many hours in the day after all. And, unfortunately, I’m not a very fast reader. I used to read primarily one author, but over the years I’ve worked hard at trying new reads. Now that I write, I try to extend my reading reach even more. I wrote up a post over on the group blog I’m a part of, Across the Board, about how I now love embracing an open reading lifestyle. I never used to establish reading goals. I had my book club reads, but beyond that I’d just read what sounded interesting. However, this year I decided to establish a loose reading goal—focus on books already on my shelf and self-published books. The number of books on my physical to-be-read book shelf is expanding rapidly. I’m running out of room, so I need to start knocking some of those off my list. My Kindle has also grown to a number that’s outside of my comfort zone. I…

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Reviews – Who needs them?

We all do, of course. Or at least, we believe we do. It is the Amazon reviews we are really craving. After all, that is where we sell most of our books. We have also learned if you achieve fifty reviews on Amazon, the company begins to take you seriously, and you could be featured in their newsletter and/or other promotions. I do not know how true the statement is, but one of my books has achieved this target, and it is selling well. How can we get there? Maybe, like myself, you purchase products other than books on Amazon. Perhaps, you ordered a set of towels, for example, or a coffee maker? When your items arrive, you open the carton and begin using the contents, but did the thought of leaving a review ever cross your mind? Backing up a step, remember when you were searching for the product? Did the number of reviews influence your purchase? Did you read the review and, if so, did the negative reviews cause you to continue shopping? We could begin leaving reviews ourselves on all products purchased on the Amazon site. The number of reviews, especially, if they are helpful to others,…

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Talking to people is all you need to do by Malcolm Noble

Peggy Pinch-B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree The cynic will say that a platform may be defined to suit whatever author service the blogger is trying to sell us.  You're right.  I don't start out as a fan.  I'm repeatedly told that legacy publishers are looking for established author platforms. That's as may be - but I am not looking for a legacy publisher.  So, surely the concept is of no more than a passing interest to confident self-sustaining authors? However, Polly Courtney's strap line tells us that self-publishers do everything that traditional publishers do - but they do it better.  So let's, at least, look at it. I have settled on the elements set out by Jane Friedman in her 2012 blog. A target audience. Authority. Visibility. Proven reach. I warm to this because it reflects my own experience.  Please forgive me but I do need to offer a brief account of my own self-publishing career if the rest of this blog is going to make any sense.  My third book earned me a complimentary ticket to the London Book fair.  When I saw the almost obscene amounts that the grown-ups were spending on promoting their lead title for the season, I realised that playing on…

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Cover Crush: Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

Cover Crush with Colleen Turner  Synopsis An opium-addicted beauty. An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile. An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands. Melanie Karsak’s Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a steampunk romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley. It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium. Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way. Thoughts on the cover…

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The Genie Effect by Virginia King

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree How Authors Write Stories that Are Bigger than They Are Some authors plan their stories in advance. Then the writing process puts flesh on the bones of this outline. A few surprises may turn up along the way, but the story follows the plan. In this post I look at a different process called ‘pantsing’ – writing by the seat of the pants. This is when an author has little or no idea what they’re about to write – until they write it. These kinds of writers – like me – are keyhole peepers who wonder what might be lurking on the other side of the door. Their novels are a mystery to them and they discover the story by writing it. This uncorking of an unknown genie is a wild ride, scary and big. It’s also serious fun. Writing without a plan Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) has a great explanation: The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. Each one has crossed a border which I myself have circumvented … Beyond that border begins the secret the novel asks about. Wow. His characters are taking him places he hasn’t been, through…

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Reading: The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

  The year was 1955.  I was ten years old, and it was the most important year of my life.  My family and I were in the first full year of living in the small suburban town of Oradell, New Jersey.  The house we lived in was a rental, built somewhere in the late 19th century. It was so old that there were still remnants of the coal furnace formerly used to heat it, before the new oil-fired one was installed.  We were privileged to have not only a porch, but a yard, as well—actually, three: front, side, and back.  In the side yard were several trees, and among them was a pear tree, which would play an important part in my young life. By age ten, I was already a habitual reader, having been introduced to literature by my mother when I was two. Back then, we lived in a federal housing project in Brooklyn.  Mom would read to me as I sat on her lap in front of the picture window in the living room.  I loved seeing the word pictures she painted as she read to me. Before long, I was reading for myself.  My love affair with words has continued to the present. Imagine my…

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