indieBRAG Blog

Chicago’s Printers Row Lit Fest

  This weekend, the indieBRAG team joined nearly 130,000 fellow literary enthusiasts in Chicago's historic South Loop for the 28th Annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest. It was a day filled with books, music, demonstrations and lots of sun.                             Our main purpose for attending was to spread the word about B.R.A.G.Medallion and our wonderful Honorees THE LIST OF HONOREES . But we couldn't resist indulging in some of the wonderful activities going on around us. There were more than 200 authors present – from the big names to the up-and-comers. And that's where we found one of our favorites parts of the Festival, hosted by the 826CHI writing and tutoring program. For those of you unfamiliar with 826CHI, it is a fantastic non-profit "dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their...writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write." But unlike many tutoring programs, 826CHI gives students the opportunity to publish their works, either in-house or professionally, and release them at community events. When we caught up with the very talented kids of 826CHI, they were proudly displaying their published works and some were even giving autographs. What a unique and inspiring way to empower young people and engage them in literature. Click here to learn more about 826CHI. It was a terrific event where we met many new authors, publishers and press. We are investigating several joint events that will give us even more visibility, so stay tuned!

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Summer, the ocean —-and Pirates!

In the early 1700's a very headstrong and tough girl from Cork, Ireland (she beat a man for making unwanted advances!) married into the adventurous world of Piracy --- actually she married several pirates! After marrying her "dream" pirate in 1719, she helped steal a sloop and made a life of piracy in the Caribbean. Dressed as a man she proved to be as good as many a man at fighting and stealing. After being caught and tried, she escaped hanging but her fate is unknown. As with many pirates, Anne Bonny's story has become that of legend. Books of interest: Helen Hollick has written 3 books in the Sea Witch Series that will make you feel the very spray from the sea as this story carries you into a world of danger, love and treachery! Following the pirate Jesamiah Acorne and his woman, Tiola, upon the high seas will give you the thrill and romance of the life of a pirate.

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Self-Published Books are our life at indieBRAG!

Literary Snobbery There is no question that self-publishing has created a plethora of poorly written and badly edited books because there are no controls over what is published or by whom. Now anyone can publish anything: good, bad, or downright ugly. And they do. However, the risk of purchasing a "bad" book is not limited to indie books. Have you ever picked up a book published by one of the major publishing houses, read a few pages and then asked yourself, "Really? This is a best seller?" Of course you have, so let's get past the assumption that all traditionally published books are good. They are not! Many a successful author has written a bestseller and then fallen into the trap of pursuing quantity over quality, and relying on their name recognition to sell follow-up books that fall far short of the first one. And the big publishing houses are all too willing to join them in this money grab. That said, in the burgeoning world of self-published books, there are diamonds in the coal bin but few professional reviewers are willing to dig for them; I guess they don't want to get their hands dirty. For example, I had an experience with a book reviewer at a major newspaper. I asked her to read a self-published book that was getting some great reviews by our readers. She was very interested until she asked who published it. "Oh, no," she said, "I can't read that." "Why not?" I asked, "Ralph Waldo Emerson self-published some of his books". "That's different. That was a long time ago" (Really?) "Well did you know that John Grisham also self-published at first?" "This author is no John Grisham!" "How do you know that if you aren't willing to give the author a chance?" "Do NOT send me that book". Click. Literary snobbery lives! Our readers are reading as fast as they can to identify self-published books that deserve to be read. Now I will confess that the majority of the books we review are not chosen to receive a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM. That is because we want our medallion to represent a certain standard of excellence, and thereby assure potential purchasers that the book is worth their time and money. But it is encouraging to note that our readers, many of whom had not read a self-published book before, are excited about how many really good books are out there―our mission is to keep finding them!

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Perfect-Weather Reading

"The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." – Dr. Seuss "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" Summer―sitting on the porch with a good book, a cool breeze blowing. Summer ―sitting on the beach with a good book, the waves softly lapping. Summer―sitting by the campfire with a good book, an unseen owl hooting. There are so many perfect warm-weather spots to read a book! And without leaving the porch, or the beach, or the campfire, we can spend the entire summer traveling around the world; meeting the most interesting of people, fighting great battles, and falling in love. I think I will visit Paris with Mr. Hemingway this week; next week I think I will fall in love with a vampire―or perhaps not. Meeting new authors and reading new books, I will have the very best of summers.

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Six Steps to Sustaining an Indie Career

Six Steps to Sustaining an Indie Career By Scott Nicholson (Scott Nicholson is author of the new mystery thriller Liquid Fear—available for 99 cents at Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords—as well as The Skull Ring, The Red Church, Disintegration, Speed Dating with the Dead, and 20 other books. He resides at hauntedcomputer.com.) I am not sure anyone yet knows how to sustain an indie career in the digital era, despite some people who have been self-publishing since the dinosaur days of paper. The only ones who have careers are those who are already closing in on their indie million. If it all ended tomorrow, they could probably manage okay with some smart investing. Those who are getting a decent income right now could see it go one of two ways. If it ended tomorrow, a solid percentage would immediately shift to giving their books away to “build audience,” even if a paying audience down the road seems unlikely. Those who quit their day jobs to go indie can probably find other jobs, and have a great story for the grandkids about when they were ‘real authors.” A few will continue to parlay indie success into a corporate career. But even corporate…

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Use of Social Media: Scary but Necessary

Use of Social Media: Scary but Necessary After writing my first book and self-publishing it through a company who does such things, I thought that the tough and time-consuming work was completed. Boy was I mistaken! I quickly realized that the process of promoting my book was every bit as hard and time consuming. And, I realized that using social media was going to be a huge asset to promoting my book. Now, I must admit, at that point in time I was only using Facebook. I had begun on Twitter and had abandoned it because I did not want to take the time to learn how it functioned and Facebook seemed easier for the novice to understand. Further, blogging was a totally unknown media that I only presumed was some new swear word when people mentioned it in conversation with me. I was really not any where near the mainstream of social media: not in the ball park as they say. So, I went back to the company that helped me publish and selected their social media program option. For six weeks, I had my own media publicist who taught me about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogging and Hootsuite, a…

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Doug Carlyle

Doug Carlyle My second novel, Vinegarone, is in the hands of beta readers and my editor. I'm looking forward to self-publishing that novel this summer or early autumn. I attended a writers' conference this past April sponsored by the Houston Writers Guild, of which I am a member. The conference served two purposes. First, it provided some long overdue time for me to surround myself with like-minded people who enjoy writing. It was during one session that I experienced a badly needed "ah-ha!" moment, enabling me to clarify a particular weakness in the plot of Vinegarone that had been nagging me for far too long. That moment of inspiration allowed me to finish the novel to my satisfaction, and I am my own worst critic. I will never publish junk! Secondly, it reaffirmed my belief in self-publishing. If a noteworthy agent contacted me tomorrow and expressed interest in my novel would I foam at the mouth? Perhaps. But let me share a bit of my experience in Houston. I was particularly struck by the break-out sessions lead by authors Rhiannon Frator and Nikki Loftin. Rhiannon Frater
http://rhiannonfrater.com She is a well known, self-published author of zombie/vampire books. She has recently been…

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Writing Tips from Joe Perrone, Jr.

Writing Tips from Joe Perrone, Jr. Inspiration - I find ideas everywhere there are news articles, books, movies, real-life situations.  Sometimes I'll be reading a non-fiction book, and something in it will give me a direction for one of my books.  This is where I got the idea for Twice Bitten.  Another "germ" came to me when I was mowing my lawn, and resulted in the genesis for Changes, a literary novel that I am working on, periodically.  Naturally, real life experiences help me to flesh out events and characters.  Inspiration?  It's all around you!  Use it. Routine - My routine has evolved over many, many years.  Once I have a "germ" of an idea, I begin roughing it out in an outline.  Then, I decide what characters I'll need to tell my story.  I like to do a little "bio" for each character, which includes age, height, weight, interests, hair color, eyes, etc.  I save these for reference as I proceed with my writing.  Each day, when I'm moved to write, I first go over what I've written in my previous session, and make editing, proofing changes as needed.  I don't write a single new word until I have…

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First Year as a Newborn and Newbie Published Author

First Year as a Newborn and Newbie Published Author Last year I rang in the New Year with my daughter, who had just had her first baby. I was exhausted (she had had a difficult delivery) and elated at being a grandmother. This New Year’s day, as I look back at the wonderful year of watching that sweet grandson grow and develop, I can’t help but notice some of the parallels between my experiences as a newly published independent author and that of my grandson. Last New Year as my grandson was trying to figure out how to nurse, when I added up my first month of sales of Maids of Misfortune, the historical mystery I had self-published in both ebook and print form, I discovered I had sold only 47 books, mostly to friends and family. I had an author website (but no reviews), and a blog (where I hadn’t posted anything yet), and I had read enough advice on self-publishing to know that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted anyone else to even discover my book existed. In the first six months of 2010, as my grandson learned to hold his head up,…

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A Note from a Graphic Designer on Book Cover Designs

A Note from a Graphic Designer on Book Cover Designs I cannot stress enough how important it is to have an attractive and professionally designed cover for your novel. The cover is the first impression any potential reader will have of your book. And despite that old adage 'Do not judge a book by its cover', nearly everyone does! Even before I became a graphic designer, I would only pick up books in the shops that had covers that I found attractive and were obviously well done. A cover quickly pasted together in a word processor or novice-level graphic program sticks out like a sore thumb, and people automatically assume the book inside is just as un-polished as the cover without even picking up the book! You've no doubt poured your life's blood into writing your book - let it be represented in the best possible light with an expertly designed cover. The investment is well worth it. When you begin planning the cover jacket layout for your novels, take the time to research existing publications within your genre, and consider what attracts you to various covers. And then talk to a designer about representing your novel with a well…

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