Sunday, October 30, 2011

Keys to Self-Publishing Success

POD Publishing.  Predators & Editors. Writer's Digest. KONRATH. TriberrBIG 6.  Agent. No Agent. CREATE SPACE. LIGHTNING SOURCE.  LULU. Beta Readers. Social Media. Pay with a Tweet. Kindle Nation. Cover Art. Twitter? Facebook. Blog? Kindle. Nook. KOBO. PDF. MOBI. ePUB. Brick 'n Mortar. Linkedin. Formatting. Price Point? .wtf?

Confused about indie publishing?
Try this.


Publishing doesn't have to be complicated. 
In today's rapidly-changing marketplace, the process of writing and getting published is so overwhelming it can almost make your head spin. 

You have to blog, market your book, and "tweet". 

You can fill your life with everything except writing if you let yourself. Writing, it seems, has become more about social connections than actual writing, which is a good thing in its own way. But the process of indie-publishing, or "going rogue" as some like to call it, can feel overwhelming, even to the point of keeping you from moving forward. 

Don't let the excitement and social buzz short circuit your writing goals. Going indie is easier than you think. That's not to say that you won't work hard, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming, if you stick with the basics.

First of all, be aware that unless you get LUCKY, you may have to sell several novels before you see a regular income stream. Bestselling indie author, Dean Wesley Smith, recently told my writer friend Gerard de Marigny that if he wants to write full-time, he'll need at least 15 books published.

The keys are quality and quantity.

Don't get bogged down with the details because the process is not as difficult as it seems. If you have a good book, follow these simple and easy steps to publishing a quality product.

Step 1: Write your book. 

Step 2: Revise until your book is as good as you can make it. 

Step 3: Get a few proofreaders to look at your story, but DO NOT let them be your editor (my opinion).

Step 4: Hire a professional editor. You need an unbiased editor to pick your work apart line by line. Expect to pay anywhere from $5-8 per 1000 words. Don't worry about recovering the expense. Worry more about the quality of your work. I use Neal Hock. He's affordable. And he's good.

Step 5: Create a killer cover. You can do this yourself or pay someone. I make my own cover art. I do everything at and usually get nice comments about my book covers. A professional cover usually costs $200 or more. I'll make your cover for $99.

Step 6: Get your book formatted for ebook sales. You can use, but I think it's a hassle. I use Ted Dellaster from Dellaster Design. It usually costs around $50-$90, depending on word count, but he'll add pictures and links to your other books or other writers in your genre if you want to cross promote. The bottom line is, I am still 100% the publisher and I am ready to upload my work to all major ebook sellers without all the formatting hassles. 

Step 7: Upload your file, cover art, book details and set your price. I recommend $2.99 and under for a first-time author. 

Step 8: Repeat. Start writing your next book. You can market/seek reviews when you need a break.

There, wasn't that simple?

Publishing your book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and other sites can be easy. I didn't touch on marketing because that's an entirely different conversation, and can branch into many arenas depending on your budget. You can start by visiting the nice folks at Indie Book Collective for marketing tips. You can get your book reviewed at my sister blog, The Kindle Book Review. I also recommend for free book publicity.

Don't worry about print yet. You are going to sell far more ebooks than print, hands down. 

Remain focused and think QUALITY. You never know, your story could really take off, but if it doesn't, don't let that bother you, because even the bestselling authors know that "books sell books". 

Keep writing. BOOM!

P.S. ~ Feel free to check out my books to the right (ebook or print) and investigate my interior formatting. I do that myself, too. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing With Fibromyalgia by Jemima Valentino

Book lovers and readers, please welcome my fellow indie author and friend, Jemima Valentino, author of The House on Hundred Hill.

In April 2010, after nearly 3 years of a relentless quest for answers, I was finally diagnosed with a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia. You may wonder what this has to do with my current blog tour to celebrate the release of my latest novella, The House on Hundred Hill. Don’t fret; I’ll come to that in just a second.

About 6 months after the birth of my youngest daughter Megan, who is now 5 years old (or 5 and a half if you were to ask her - half years are so important to children), I began to feel aches and pains all over my body: my neck, back, wrists, elbows, and especially my hips, pelvis and sciatic nerve were causing me periods of crippling agony. After several MRI’s, bone scans, x-rays, blood tests and trips to the hospital in an ambulance because my legs had given way and caused me to collapse to the floor, I was finally sent to see a rheumatologist.

During this time in my life I actually felt as if the doctors were simply not taking me seriously. I even thought at one stage, because they could not find a cause to my pain, that I was making it all up. But the pain was more real than I can ever describe, and taking pain killing off-the-shelf medication was simply not enough. My husband was beside himself with worry, and I was trying to hold down my full time management job, as well as bringing up our two young daughters. It was the not knowing what was wrong with me that was starting to kill our family from the inside out.

Then, following my appointment with the rheumatologist, I finally received the answer. For those that don’t know about this condition, Fibromyalgia is a lifelong widespread musculoskeletal pain and chronic fatigue syndrome that affects approximately 18 ‘tender’ points throughout the body, which, during a major attack or ‘flare’, can make you feel as if your whole body is on fire. It also causes enormous weakness in your arms and legs. A flare can affect practically any part of the body and leaves you incredibly tired and unable to move without pain. It also causes lack of concentration and focus and for some (including me) a form of dyslexia, especially during what I have come to nickname ‘bad pain days’.

So what has all this got to do with my budding career as an author? Well, after the diagnosis, I finally began to learn how to manage my symptoms, and become more in tune with my own body. I now know when a flare is coming and can help myself prepare for it. During these times, writing can be impossible. It’s incredibly frustrating, but the dyslexia and foggy brain brought on by the fibro flare can of course make it nearly impossible to use a keyboard, let alone hold a pen.

In June of this year, I finally made the decision to give up my full time job as my health made it intolerable to continue the full on and demanding position that I was employed to do. I have reverted back to my prior career, working with people in a period of career transition, and this enables me to work from home as a freelancer. However, it does involve a lot of time writing.

Just as I was trying to figure out a solution to my ‘unable-to-write-due-to-crippling-pain-days’, something struck me. I had heard of a great piece of voice recognition software called Dragon. After a little investigation, I purchased a copy and it’s changed my life as a writer. After a few weeks of training the software to recognise my accent and the way that I annunciate certain words, Dragon now writes to my laptop screen what I physically can’t on those days where my wrists simply won’t co-operate. Some may call it cheating, but the story ideas and the words still come from my head, but yes, it’s true, sometimes I don’t actually write them. My Dragon does it for me.

I guess if this story has a moral, it’s very simple. Don’t give up. Ever. Even when life chucks you a hand grenade, if you have your sights set on a career as an author, freelance writer or artist of any kind, there is absolutely nothing that should stop you from achieving your dreams. There are so many disabled artists that have had an impact on the lives of others - Beethoven, Stevie Wonder and Stephen Hawking to name just a few! Make sure you can add your name to your own list of heroes.  
Lastly, I would just like to thank Jeff for having me on his awesome blog today as part of the tour for The House on Hundred Hill, and thank you for taking the time to read.
Jemima x

Please show Jemima some indie author love and visit her other blog stops
Check out her super cool website.
Click here to purchase ~~> The House on Hundred Hill. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Publishing Lessons From WWII

In 1943 my grandfather drove an ambulance into war and carried wounded and dead soldiers out of battle and drove them to safety. 

Bullets flew past his ears, bombs exploded in the near distance; men screamed, searched for lost limbs and fought for their lives.

When he returned home, he said very little about his experience. Truth is, like milliions of other soldiers, he suffered a bout of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

War does that. 

Gene Spica was one of millions who fought in WWII and returned to quietly live the rest of their days as hard working individuals. Thus, they were named the “silent generation”. They were, and continue to be strong, patriotic, hardworking and independent men and women. 

Since then, much has changed. Some aspects of life are easier and some are harder. But one thing is for sure, my grandfather’s legacy has taught me how to work hard and that I can do anything if I’m willing to put forth the effort.

As an author, I’m carrying the strength of the silent generation, like many other writers I know, into the digital era. We are diligent, technically savvy, creative, and yes, independent, a word that not too long ago left readers with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The notion that “indie” or independent is a sign of weakness or poor quality is very puzzling to me. I’ve always been taught that it’s not only important, but a sign of excellence when one demonstrates a skill, coupled with the ambition to bring a project to completion on his or her own.

That’s what my grandpa taught me anyway.

Benjamin Franklin is a perfect example of a man who took his destiny into his own hands, worked to get what he wanted out of life, buying his own printing press, producing his own publication and selling his work to a world hungry for content. 

And here we are in 2011; a year many thought would never come (Except the Mayans). Books are on our computers, on our phones and in small digital tablets where we can store thousands of titles in the palm of our hand. No doubt the day will come when we download ebooks directly into our minds via Amazon’s Whispernet!

Nonetheless, the time for the indie author is now.

The time for men and women to pull their manuscripts from their dusty closets has come.

The battle is on, and those who are strong, shrewd, and with the least overhead will be the victors. If you understand the qualities of the silent generation, you have what it takes.

But remember, in World War II, where there was a soldier, there was a medic; where there was a medic, there was a driver; and where there was a driver there was a doctor.

Independent doesn’t mean a solo act!

Independent musicians need bass players (God help us) and drummers (God, please help us!).

Independent filmmakers need makeup, producers, actors and key grip (whatever that is).

Being independent is not about being a rebel; it’s about being a cylinder that doesn’t fit into the square provided by traditional publishers.

All to say, don’t go indie alone. Do it with resilience and the guts to pull your story together, even if, and you should, use a team of likewise talented folks (art, editing, formatting). Then, if you play your cards right and get a nod from the Good Lord, you might even sell a few books.

I have to say, I’d probably stick with writing queries everyday, if things were not what they were, because that would simply be the right way to get published.

But I don’t have to. Times have changes. Were at war.

Besides, if I listen carefully, I can hear the ghost of my grandfather whispering to me, “Charge forward, young man. Take the bastards down and live your dream before it's too late.”

I am.

Now you might think I’m fighting alone because I claim to be an indie author, a lone soldier. The truth is, if I ever need an ambulance, I have a driver, a medic and a doctor near by at all times. 

#unity #diligence #independence

Jeff Bennington  is the author of Reunion, Creepy, his forthcoming supernatural suspense, Twisted Vengeance and other thrillers. He blogs here at The Writing Bomb and is the creator of The Kindle Book Review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Questions Every Author Should Ask

The monsters have been screaming in your head for years, scratching and clawing at your brain until you finally put pen to paper and let them out.

You had dreamed of writing a book or a series until you couldn't take it any more. The itch needed scratched and you needed to free the creatures that had taken residence in your imagination before they consumed, devoured, or worse, possessed you.

So, write you did. You worked for months, and years perfecting not only the story but your delivery through study, peer review, and finally a professional edit.

You sighed, taking in a breath of fresh air when at last you had a beautiful cover that added color and vitality to your dream.

The monsters in your brain were freed.

The story was told and then you let Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Goodreads and Smashwords in on your dirty little secret, a secret that only you knew until you finally revealed to the world that you were the next Stephen King, Agatha Christie, or J.K. Rowling.

Screeeeeeech... [enter the scratching record noises].

Now, you know the truth.

Writing is more than tapping your long-time dreams into your word processor; it's also about running a business, marketing, public relations, and accounting. And much to your surprise, there are hundreds of thousands of other writers just like you with the same vision.

And now that you still haven't hit the jackpot like John Locke, you begin to obsess over every new sale in your Amazon KDP account. You sweat over where you'll find free publicity. You run a fever at the first sign of a bad review. You notch up your social media. You pay to advertise. You lower your pricing. You write guest blogs. Pant, pant, pant.

You do everything and anything to get noticed and read until finally, you realize that indie publishing isn't what you thought it would be.

You walk to your bed, lay down and wish the monsters were back inside, safe in the cave from whence they came.

Of course you ask yourself a few questions; questions that you should've asked before your writing life went from big dreams to tiresome reality...
  1. Can I handle subjective opinions of my work?
  2. Do I have time to build a platform, market, engage in social media, and continue writing?
  3. Is my family prepared and willing to lose a big part of me to a second job?
  4. Can I afford to build a quality book: editing, cover, formatting?
  5. Am I in this for the long haul or do I expect instant success?
  6. Do I have time to read and hone my craft?
  7. Am I willing to add more friends, contacts, associates and partners to my already hectic life?
  8. Am I really ready for publication?
  9. Am I willing to support and promote other authors for your mutual benefit?
  10. Which is the true monster, my book, or the business of publishing?
After asking yourself these questions, you realize your eyes must have been bigger than your stomach. Even so, you decide it's a good idea to ponder your next move.

Will you give up? Can you continue at the pace you're on? Do you love writing and publishing, or are you simply infatuated with the idea of being published?

After much consideration, you shake your head, a few tiny creatures fly out of your ears and you discover that you're not done. You seem to have a knack for breeding monsters. You smile, plug the charger into your laptop and start another pot of coffee.

There's still one hour in the day to write, one more beast to command, one more book left in you. Final question: What will you do now?


Thanks for reading. Please follow by email (top right), comment and buy one of my books to help me pay for my kids braces. You don't want the misery of their crooked teeth resting on your shoulders, do you?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are You Risking Your Reputation With Your eBooks?

Neal Hock is my guest today. He's smart. He's detailed, and he knows editing. Be sure to say "Hi" and check him out on Twitter, @bookhound78 and @HocksEditing, or follow his blog. He's going to challenge authors in regards to the risks self-pubbers are taking in the digital age of epublishing.

Take it away, Neal....

Regarding e-books, my belief has always been that the marketplace will balance everything out in the end. You know, the whole “cream rises to the top” viewpoint. I still hold to that position, but yesterday a friend pointed out an interesting blog post at Crime Fiction Collective to me. According to this post, it seems the Amazon Quality Police are going to start getting involved, and they’re not going to wait for the market to make the final decision in every case. 

Amazon has been pulling e-books with content issues, typos, errors, and formatting problems, and it appears they will continue to do so.

In the past I’ve advised a number of clients about the importance of putting out a quality e-book from the get-go. If an author receives the dreaded review that points out a number of typos and errors, it’s tough to shake. Even if the book is proofed or edited at a later date, that review sticks with the book and haunts it for the rest of its life. However, it now seems the dreaded review will do more than haunt a book. Such a review may well jump up and down and alert the Amazon Police to come over and take a look.

So where does that leave us? 

Well, from my perspective, not a lot has changed. I’ve always advocated that authors put out quality products. From an author’s perspective, the stakes are now higher. 

Not only does an author run the risk of receiving bad reviews but there’s also the chance an author’s book could be pulled altogether. In this new digital age, readers expect the same quality in e-books that they experienced in many print books. And Amazon’s reputation is on the line since they’re at the forefront of the digital revolution. Amazon is running a business, and no business wants to be known for putting out subpar products. Whether you like how they’re handling the issue or not, Amazon is the big kid in the sandbox, and they get to say who can stay to play.

The good news is that there’s a feasible solution to the problem. 

There are a number of freelance editors and proofreaders out there who are already working to ensure the quality of self-published e-books. Yes, that may mean money out of a self-publishing author’s pocket up front, but an author who is serious about self-publishing needs to understand that’s part of the cost of business. Authors need to ask themselves, Is it worth the risk? Is it worth the risk to e-publish a book with typos and errors in it? Is it worth the risk of receiving bad reviews that will haunt the book throughout its lifetime? Is it worth the risk of possibly having Amazon pull the book and lose sales opportunities?

My advice? Don’t risk it. These are controllable issues that Amazon is reacting to. I strongly urge anyone who is going to self-publish to do everything in their power to make sure they are putting out quality books.

Is it worth the risk not to?
# # #

I'd like to introduce you to my personal editor and friend, Neil Hock from Hock's Editing Service. He's a great guy and an advocate for indie authors. 

Neal did the final proof read for Reunion, which after five months, is still on the Amazon-bestseller list in the ghost category. He has done a great job for me and has worked for bestselling authors like Scott Nicholson as well. What's really amazing is, he's VERY affordable. 

Be sure to follow The Bomb, comment, sign up by email, and buy Creepy, my new collection of scary stories so I can send my kids to rock camp. BOOM!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tell Me Your Ghost Story and Win an eBOOK

It's October, a time for hauntings and ghost stories to come alive. This is  the time when we dress up like ghouls and goblins, visit haunted houses and tell creepy tales of Aunt Gretchen floating down the hallway.

In honor of the season, I want to give you a chance to tell your creepy tales here at the writing bomb. And the best thing is, I will give you a FREE copy of my latest release, CREEPY, just for posting your ghost/haunting story.

Here's an excerpt from CREEPY to warm up your creative creepiness.....

....The noises continued.
I listened carefully, trying to make sense of it all. The squeaks and groans seemed to be coming from every direction. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a cabin. Get over it and fall asleep. 
Then, something curious happened. The creaking floorboards began to move closer to me. One at a time I’d hear what sounded like footsteps rolling across the wood floor, carefully pressing down, trying not to be heard. My heart, as you can imagine, hammered in my chest, nearly bursting through my rib cage. I looked at the reflection in the TV screen to see if there was anyone walking behind me, but I didn’t see anything. Then when this thing, whatever it was, pressed on the floor right next to the couch, I couldn’t take it. I sat up, turned my head toward the open space and heard a voice forcefully whisper, “Hello!”
This wasn’t a quiet, “don’t let them hear you” whisper. Oh, no! This was an “I’m not presently living in your dimension, so I’m screaming at you” type whisper.
I panicked, jumping straight up like the scaredy-cat that I was, nearly falling off the couch. 
As I turned I saw a dark silhouette, adding to my terrifying experience. Seconds later, I realized that the shape beside me was only a floor lamp, but that didn’t make me feel any better. My heart continued pounding like a jackhammer.
For no less than thirty minutes, I felt an electric energy buzzing through my body. I felt as if something hovered over me, almost nose to nose, staring at me. I peered through the corner of my eye but couldn’t see anything—nothing physical, anyway. But I knew in the deepest part of my soul that something was there. I lay frozen in place, like an icy Neanderthal in the Tibetan ice caps.....

Now Tell Me Your Scary Story! And be sure to leave your Twitter Handle or email so I can contact you to get you your free digital copy of CREEPY. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Creepy Book-Cover Contest Winner!

WOW! What a response.

Thank you for coming to The Writing Bomb. I love taking reader, fellow author and publisher advice. You guys have been very helpful and I hope you see that in the updates I made to covers #1 and #2.

If you watch the video, you'll discover that I randomly picked Lauren, Twitter handle: @Iniysa. Laura's the winner of the $10 Amazon gift card. I'll contact her asap. Congratulations Laura! Thanks for voting. She picked #2, which incidentally, had the highest number of votes. 

And The Final Results Are....

Cover #1 ~~> 13 votes
Cover #2 ~~> 15 votes..The WINNER!
Cover #5 ~~> 12 votes 

I was surprised by the results. I actually thought #2 would win hands down, but it was a close race. Thanks to your input, I think I'll have the best cover of the five options. 

Here are the covers after tweaking....

Cover #2 is the WINNER! 
Cover #2, A Close Second Place.

What do you think? I love them both.

Thank you all so much for voting and stopping by. Be sure to follow my blog by email to get my weekly posts about writing, publishing, and my inspirational words that'll motivate your muse. Then, go buy one of my books and help me feed my 4 kids!