indieBRAG Blog

The SPBE October 27, 2012 NYC

    Once again this year the SPBE was so informative and helpful to all the self-publishers who attended! I will be blogging about some of the things we learned and some of the people we met. This was our first year as exhibitors and it was well worth our time and money- we met some very important people and we were able to share our vision with so many. We met authors, publishers, editors and others who contribute to making your books a success. W also spoke with other companies in the indie book field such as audio book producers, all of which were very interested in indieBRAG. Many suggested we do joint ventures with them and we will consider this if they are helpful to our authors and readers. We spent a wonderful day with Katherine Ashe the author of the Montfort Series – one of our earliest Honorees. She did a terrific job of helping us spread the word and she gathered a great deal of information that will be helpful to us all. We really appreciate her support and her insights that will move us along in the future We also were able to spend a…

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The Acknowledgement Page May Be The Last One I Read

In the vein of the comment by Gloria H. I would like to add that there is another trap that all too many self-published authors fall into: it is the verbose, sometimes grandiose, and self-serving acknowledgement page, or even worse, pages. (I am using a male author to make my point but it applies equally to both sexes.) These invariably start off with something like, "I want to dedicate this book to my wife, Margie, who has put up with me for what seems like an eternity; my seven kids who are too numerous to name here but they know who they are; and the rest of my family, especially my aunt Rose and her Thursday night bridge group; also, my golf partner, Hole-In-One Harry, and the rest of our foursome at the club; and finally, my office wife, Darlene, who always made sure there was hot coffee waiting for me on those mind-muck mornings when I stumbled in to work after pulling an all-nighter. To all of you, I want to say thank-you for your support, your steadfast faith in me, and your encouragement..." Blah. Blah. Blah. Arguably, even worse was one indie thriller author who used the acknowledgement page to thank John Grisham and James Patterson, for the inspiration they provided that enabled him to write his book. Please! We know that you don't know these men, and you know that we know you don't know them; therefore, to credit them for inspiring you is not only the height of presumptuousness but just plain stupid. All of which says that whenever I read an acknowledgement that is greater than five or ten words, I shudder at what I will find on page one. So my advice to you who are about to self-publish a book is that unless you have written a mystery that cleverly incorporates chaos theory and you want to thank your professor at M.I.T. for his advice and guidance, just say a few words of thanks to your spouse, or your parents, and get on with your story! – Bob C. *The comments, advice and opinions expressed here are those of members of our reader group. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners, management, or employees of indieBRAG, LLC.

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Your Cover Never Gets A Second Chance To Make A First Impression

Respectfully, I have a word of cautionary advice for all you self-published authors who want to have your book read by a wide audience. It doesn't matter how good your tale is, it may not get read if you don't put the same degree of effort into designing the cover that you did into crafting the story. Bland and boring covers lacking in visual appeal, or those that give no indication of what I am about to read, turn me off before I even pick it up off the bookstore shelf, or read the description on-line. I guess I feel that if the cover isn't well-conceived perhaps the story won't be either. As a result, I may have passed up some good books that just didn't get my attention. A great example of a book with a compelling cover is one of the BRAG Medallion recipients listed on this website. It is Richard Dennings's The Last Seal. The book's cover portrays London burning, which is a central plot line and without having reading a word it captured my attention. – Gloria H. *The comments, advice and opinions expressed here are those of members of our reader group. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners, management, or employees of indieBRAG, LLC.

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I certainly appreciate the love affair with a good book

  Get with the times- I certainly appreciate the love affair with a good book - I have shelves full of them. BUT, like it or not, "the times, they are a-changin" (actually have changed). To not have your book available as an e-books is just crazy. We have reached a point where more people are buying e-books than print books and the gap will only get wider. Let's face it, fewer and fewer people are willing to spend $15- $30+ on just any book. This is not to say that you shouldn't publish a traditional book. When I love a book, I want it on my book shelves – somehow a library with only a Kindle or Nook on the shelf just doesn't do it for me! The initial cost of a n ebook reader is quickly recouped when reading books that cost $0- $10! Also, both amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com offer the opportunity to "sample" a book at no cost – no more being disappointed by a book that cost you in both time and money. ebooks authors, ebooks. According to AAP Publishers February 2011 Sales Report For February 2011, e-Books ranked as the #1 format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children's/Young Adult Hardcover, Children's/Young Adult Paperback). These statistics come from the trade publishers so we can assume that if you add self publishing to these figures they will be much higher! GJC *The comments, advice and opinions expressed here are those of members of our reader group. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the owners, management, or employees of indieBRAG, LLC.

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Interrupting a Great Story

When I think about why I love to read, I think about getting so lost in the story that I can't hear the teakettle whistling or even feel the need to reach for a cookie. Perhaps the story has the kind of dialogue that lets me see the characters in full animation sparking words and phrases back and forth like a tennis match. Sometimes the author is such a wordsmith that the village comes to life with stores, sidewalks, children, and a mountain behind and I just know that I've been there. If the writer is exquisite, the words flow like poetry, oozing out like oil paints to wrap my soul in time and place. When the story captures me, it flows and I am carried away to other places, other times, and it is brilliant. I don't like to have a great story interrupted, especially by the author themselves. Unfortunately, the best writers can be ruined by bad formatting or poor editing. Recently I read an e-book that was written by a true wordsmith, a writer that pushed the story along with the best dialogue and turned a phrase with pure poetry, a story-tellers dream. The grammar was perfect, but the dialogue was set up with odd punctuation marks that forced me to remember when a character was talking and who it was. The other problem was the writer's love affair with historic authenticity, to the point that there were footnotes at the bottom of each page. If I had been reading a paper book, I could have stayed with the flow of the story, but the e-book formatted on my Kindle in such a way that the footnotes usually ended up in the middle of the page and often in the middle of a sentence, so my eyes would have to jump over the footnote to continue with the thought. Good story floats imagination and poor grammar or distracting format can build a dam in the middle of the strongest river. - Bethany

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Proper use of the Adjective

The reason why I became a book reviewer was not only because my love for reading but because of my concerns for this age of immediate publication and the quality of the books that are being written and published. I fear that this will lower the reading standards of our future generations. I feel as a reader and a parent that we must filter out these poorly written books and find the gems! They're out there but we must stumble over many to find them. One of the concerns I have is I'm seeing more and more stories that contain adjectives in front of almost every single noun. I find that it hurts the integrity of the story and distracts the reader. If the adjective helps the quality of the word, then fine. In my opinion a strong writer knows when to use the "perfect" adjective. Another issue I have with adjectives is the use of what I call, "cliche" adjectives. I find them useless and again it lowers the quality of the noun and story. I hope that writers take what I say with a grain of salt, really consider my input as a reader and put it to good use. Steph Stephanie Moore Hopkins Author of Layered Pages Co-Founder of Ladies & Literature Book Reviewer for Historical Novel Society (on-line) Interviewer Business email address

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Rebel Puritan – Jo Ann Butler

  Author Interview: Jo Ann Butler I would like to introduce Author Jo Ann Butler, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Thank you Jo Ann for your time. I would like to first ask you about your reading interests. What was the last truly great book you've read? I just finished "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power" by Jon Meacham, which will be published in November. I'm reviewing books for the Historical Novel Society, and one of the perks is seeing advance review copies. Meacham's book is a thorough look at Jefferson's life public and private life, and it is super! What book are you currently reading? I'm enjoying an advance copy of "The Plum Tree," Ellen Marie Wiseman's debut Holocaust story, and Daniel Defoe's 1722 "Journal of the Plague Year," about the bubonic plague epidemic which decimated London in 1665. I read "Plague Year" when I was researching "Rebel Puritan," since Herodias Long survives an outbreak of plague. It's also a great way to put the period's language into my head as I prepare to publish "The Reputed Wife," my "Rebel Puritan" sequel. Where is your favorite reading spot in your home? Reading in bed…

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Words for every writer!

  Word so true to every writer- "What I know for sure is that if you want to have success, you can't make success your goal. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant - and the success will naturally follow... If you do work that you love, and work that fulfills you, the rest will come. And, I truly believe, that the reason I've been able to be so financially successful is because my focus has never, ever for one minute been money. Would you do your job and not be paid for it? I would do this job, and take on a second job just to make ends meet if nobody paid me. That's how you know you are doing the right thing."

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Sea Witch – Helen Hollick

Author Interview: Helen Hollick I would like to introduce Author Helen Hollick, the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion.Read the entire interview at: www.layeredpages.blogspot.com Helen, I would like to begin by asking you about your reading interests. What was the last truly great book you've read? The last book I read from cover to cover without much of a pause was Elizabeth Chadwick's Lady of the English. I was fascinated because, although I know a little about the war between Stephen and Matilda, I had absolutely no idea that Adeliza, widow of Henry I had even existed. It was a great thrill to read a beautifully written novel, and learn some accurate history at the same time. Have you ever read a book and afterward wish you'd never read it? Yes. I used to plod on, hoping that something would get better, but I now rarely continue reading books that have not grabbed my interest by page 50 – my sight isn't so good and I have too big a "to be read" pile to waste time reading something that has not enticed me into the story. What is also disappointing is to read a good, exciting, novel only to find the end…

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Booker Prize shortlist turns its back on ‘readability’

Last year's head judge, Dame Stella Rimington, was pilloried for saying she prized books that "people would read and enjoy". Her fellow judge, the former Labour MP Chris Mullin, added that he liked a novel to "zip along". The chairman of the 2012 judging panel, Sir Peter Stothard, has loftier ideals. "I felt very, very strongly that I wanted to avoid that thing where people say, 'Wow, I loved it, it's terrific'," he said of the judging process. "I'm afraid quite a lot of what counts for criticism these days is of that sort: how many stars did it get? Did I have a good time? Would my children like it? It is opinion masquerading as literary criticism," said Sir Peter, who is editor of the Times Literary Supplement.  To read full article: Our Thoughts: Let me first state the obvious - we are not in competition with the Booker Prize! We also do not wish to suggest that what they do is invalid. The Booker Prize means that the winners will become best sellers and yet are often not very "readable". Although we only work with self-published books, we have developed a system just the opposite of what this esteemed group of critics aspire to. Self- published books are often looked down upon as unworthy of traditional publication which we have proven, I believe, to not always be the case. We have readers located around the globe who read books for us and give us one determination –is this a book you would recommend to your best friend? When all the readers have provide their decision, we honor the book with our B.R.A.G.Medallion only if it has received a unanimous "Yes". In this way we are finding books that "readers" feel are worth your time and money. After all, most of us read to be amused, thrilled, titillated and, yes, educated. We hope to encourage readers who want to find a great book to visit our website and support books that are good but probably will not reach the glorified heights that one with the title of Booker Prize Winner will inevitably reach. www.bragmedallion.com

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