How Special Editions Can Help Authors

Another brilliant piece from Chris McMullen:


Most self-published writers publish one paperback edition with a print-on-demand service such as CreateSpace and one eBook edition with a variety of eBook publishing services like Kindle, Nook Express, Kobi, and Smashwords.

There can be benefits of publishing multiple paperback or eBook editions of the same book.

A special edition can be made for free using CreateSpace (though it would be wise to invest in the author copy plus shipping charges to order one test copy). PDF’s and eBooks can also be made for free. So money isn’t the obstacle to making a special edition. It just takes a little more time; but not much, since it’s just slightly different from the original.

(1) Advance Review Copies

Authors send out advance review copies to local press, bloggers in the same genre, and potential reviewers. Some accept eBooks in PDF, epub, or mobi format, while others only accept hardcopies. Occasionally, these…

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Author of the week

My featured author this week is S.K. Nicholls. You can find her blog here:


She is a very nice person that has a lot of interesting things to talk about.  Go say hello to her:)


She has written a novel called

Red Clay and Roses


Here is the description:



Red Clay and Roses is a fictional account of a true story.  Hannah is led down a trail of tears of sorrow and joy in 2012 as she uncovers the ledger’s mystery and her own cousin, Sybil’s, deep, dark, well kept secrets.  In a world that belonged to the white man, Sybil’s diaries and story reveal that she was an unconventional, independent, high spirited young white woman in the 1950s-60s who dreamed of going off to Hollywood to star in movies.  In her reality, she dares to deviate from the norm to open her own business.  Sybil becomes the love interest of Nathan, an African American, whose father works for a criminal abortionist.  Nathan is deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement and Sybil is torn between living the mundane life of her peers or a life that involves fastening herself to a taboo relationship.  The seeds of prejudice have been sewn by a society that seethed with bigotry.  Nathan is in medical school.  His sister is missing and he cannot know why.  His parents are grief stricken.  The community doesn’t seem to care.  Heartache mounts as he comes to realize he may never know what has become of her.  Sybil’s pain is greater as she is forced by society to accept a marriage to a man she does not truly love.  She is haunted by her past.  Her troubles deepen and her path crosses Nathan’s again.  The pain is swifter and sharper this time.  It is in the light of modern transition that Sybil’s lover is redeemed and she finds her peace at the age of eighty years with Hannah’s help.  Future generations are offered an opportunity to experience a harmony that was not available only a short time ago.

You said HUH?


So, hands down, my favourite genre is, was and always will be fantasy. I love to read it, to think about it, to

watch movies themed with it. I love magical worlds and creative characters. I read other stuff too,

obviously, but fantasy will always be my first love.

This being said, the following letter is to fantasy (and sci-fi)  authors.

Dear Author, (No one specific)

I am your loyal reader. I enjoy when you come up with original characters and name them accordingly. I find that getting lost in the amazing worlds you create makes my life a better, less stressful place.

It is because I love thee that I feel the need to make you aware of the following: You simply must stop naming your characters things that I cannot pronounce. I know you don’t want your characters to be named Jim and Martha. I don’t want them to be either. Still, I find it much easier to read about the incredible adventures of Nara and Lex than I do about leirfgewyfgey and skjdhfbthxy.

Seriously. Allow me to give you and example (completely fake not real characters made up by me.)

Nara looked at Lex.  He heard the noise as well. He didn’t say anything, but she could tell from the subtle tilt of his head that he was aware of the sound. The silence of the cave had been so complete, that even the small scraping sound seemed loud to Nara’s sensitive ears. “Stay behind me,” Lex demanded. Nara shrugged. “I’m the one with the weapon.” In one swift movement, Lex  spun around grabbing the scabbard from Nara’s hip. “Not anymore.”

Nara let out a sigh. She should have turned him into a toad while she still had the chance.

Now again.

Leirfgewyfgey looked at skjdhfbthxy. He heard the noise as well. He didn’t say anything, but she could tell from the subtle tilt of his head that he was aware of the sound. The silence of the cave had been so complete, that even the small scraping sound seemed loud to Leirfgewyfgey ‘s sensitive ears. “Stay behind me,” skjdhfbthxy  demanded. Leirfgewyfgey shrugged. “I’m the one with the weapon.” In one swift movement skjdhfbthxy  spun around, grabbing the scabbard from Leirfgewyfgey ‘s hip. “Not anymore.”

Leirfgewyfgey let out a sigh. She should have turned him into a toad while she still had the chance.

The same paragraph, only difference the character names. When I read the first one, I do not stumble around and get lost. I can read it in about 30 seconds.

When I read the second one, I get stuck. How is that pronounced? My lack of ability to easily say and remember the name hinders my ability to care what is going on in the story.

When was the last time you saw a fantasy saga make it big? Like really big?

Like Frodo big. Do you suppose we would still be talking about Frodo and Sam and Hobbits if they had been

Frakdhgflqyg and sajehrfuyfru and hobineskewiskerofitsujms?

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Me either.

Thank you,

Your dedicated reader,

Ionia Martin

Photo Credit:

<a href=””>Fantasy Moon</a> by Anne Lowe

Greetings, Weary Traveller

One of the best posts ever:

Things by Nick

This is to those that randomly happen across this blog because of google – please stick around, or hey, say something. With the exception of the folk that are always looking pictures of jellyfish, I see so many topics come up in the search string, that I really wish I could talk to them. Someone searched for ‘ur quan masters vs mass effect’, and didn’t stick around to chat!

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Help tweet tweet

I kinda sorta accidentally broke Charles’ back by throwing squirrels at him and

thereby making him slip on a cupcake. I am starting a twitter campaign here

folks to help him keep his tweeties alive during his recovery.


If you could all be so kind as to tweet about Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale being

on sale on Amazon it would be great.

Sample tweet:  Love poems? Love Fantasy? Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale available here for only .99 cents


I just tweeted it and it works. But you are all far more creative than me at this small characters allowed tweetishness. So do an author a favour and spread the word.


Now off to bring him some cupcakes.

Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale by Charles Yallowitz

Bestiary of Blatherhorn ValeFound in a battered field notebook, these poems are the remnants of an expedition to the legendary Blatherhorn Vale. Cut off from human contact, the creatures of this mysterious land are nothing more than rumors. At this time, we cannot determine if these are true notes about unknown creatures or the ramblings of a madman. You be the judge.–Description from Goodreads Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale by Charles E. Yallowitz

If you are a fan of fantasy and unique original creatures all told in poetic form, this book will be one you do not want to miss. Charles Yallowitz is known for his limitless imagination, and this is yet more proof that he is very good at his chosen craft.

The poems contained in this volume are well written and captivate the reader’s imagination completely. I spent my time while reading through this poetry imagining what these creatures looked like, what their surroundings entailed and finding myself transported to another world, away from the stress of everyday life.

My two particular favourite poems in this book are the ones entitled “Cabberwald” and “Wedge-billed Wolgat.” The way he manages to tell a story as well as offer a mental picture of the creature is rather amazing.

I also thought the book ended beautifully with a departure from Blatherhorn Vale. Lovely way to finish an already fascinating book.

This is the kind of poetry that can push your imagination to new heights and remind you that everything is not always what it first seems.

Overall, this is worth the time to read and read again. When you are looking for a bit of an escape and wish to go somewhere beyond the limits of your own imagination Bestiary of Blatherhorn vale will certainly take you there.

If you have not checked out the other work by this author, I highly recommend it: Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a HeroLegends Of Windemere: Beginning Of A Hero Charles E. Yallowitz

Marketing/Self Publishing with Harry Steinman

Sometimes Self Publishing can make you feel like a tiny boat in a big ocean. It is always a good idea to be prepared and know what you are getting yourself into before jumping into anything, and Harry Steinman is here to help you navigate. He makes a rather funny looking compass, but he always points you in the right direction. He missed last week, so quiet your applause and give him some crap before you tell him how helpful he is. I do.



Pantser or Planner? Part Two.

Preparing to Self-Publish

by Harry Steinman, a Guy Who Did a

Few Things Right


     Last post described tasks that an author seeking to self-publish    must consider.

                      This post covers a few more.

Quick review: if you self-publish, you must develop a publishing strategy that distinguishes between eBook and print. You need a budget and should read the fine print of any vendor agreements. Pay heed to the requirements of major reviewers such as Kirkus or Publishers Weekly. Understand the significance of ISBN ownership.  Cover design is crucial and I promised more on that topic shortly. I promised suggestions on how to create an Amazon strategy that includes the Kindle Select Program. I promised to share a copy of my timeline and budget…in exchange for an honest review of Little Deadly Things on Amazon. (Contact me for a review copy.)  Finally, I promised another post, due last week.

I missed my deadline. Apologies. There was the matter of oral surgery, a periodontist and a trowel. Two days later, I endured a spinal injection that involved a hypodermic needle the size of a turkey baster. Then I packed seventeen years’ possessions into a 17’ moving truck, drove an hour, unloaded and collapsed.

No exaggeration, except the trowel.

            Back to your self-publishing to-do list. You should include the following tasks in your planning timeline:                     


1.     Solicit blurbs for your back cover from writers and from experts on the topic of your book. For example, one of my back-cover blurbs was from a PhD in chemistry since LDT deals with nanotechnology. Most contributors will not mind if you edit or punch up their blurb, but do review those edits with the contributors.

2.     Use a professional photographer for your author photo. You’ll need a high-resolution version and a lower-resolution version, and color and B&W. Remember that the photo will appear on some websites as a thumbnail, so size and clarity is vital.

3.     Manage your electronic presence, Part I. Acquire a URL for your book title so that no one else takes it. But concentrate your web efforts on an author site, not a site for a specific book. I didn’t do this and now I have a nice site, for my novel.  But what happens when I publish the next book? I’ll need a site for each novel, or have to migrate the LDT site to an author site. I should have created an author site. That way I could have different pages for different books.

4.     Manage your electronic presence, Part II. Create a Facebook page for your book, one that’s separate from your personal FB page. Love it or hate it, Facebook is the center of the social media universe. My novel’s FB page had measurable commercial value. (My Facebook ads produced no measureable effect on sales.)

5.     Manage your EP, Part III. Set up an Amazon author page with a brief bio and that professional photo you created. (Ditto for Goodreads if you wish to inhabit that world.) For inspiration, browse other writers’ author pages on Amazon. Look at the “Book Descriptions”, and, “From the author” sections. Format yours using lots of white space to make it easier to read. Nobody reads unbroken hunks of text. Ditto, long paragraphs. Be aware that you will need to use some HTML for line breaks, bold, italic, etc. It’s pretty easy to learn the basics. Check out LDT for one example of formatting. While you’re on the page, purchase a few copies.

6.     Manage your EP, Part IV. Set up Google Alerts for the topics covered in your book. This will help you identify constituencies with which you may wish to begin conversations as part of your marketing. Set up Google Alerts for your name and your book’s name. It’s pretty cool to see your name.

7.     Print bookmarks and hand ‘em out like candy. Note well! Do not forget contact info on the bookmark. (I did!) Carry bookmarks with you and give ‘em out to everyone you meet. I invariably ask people, “Do you like to read books?” then present a bookmark and 15-second spiel. Have fun with it.

8.     Arrange for the conversion of your novel to eBook format, MOBI for Kindle and EPUB for the rest of the universe. There are expensive and inexpensive vendors. I chose a very good, very fast and very inexpensive vendor ($150) and was very happy. Proof your book after conversion. There are likely to be a few errors in translation. For example, the title of one of my chapters is, “Gray Goo”. The converted version read, “Gray God”.

9.     Hire a second copy editor to find errors that your copy editor missed, and to find the mistakes you introduced because you just couldn’t leave the final manuscript alone. Some readers are intolerant of errors and their reviews highlight typos in unequivocal language. Sheesh!

10.  Plan your Launch Party. You deserve one helluva celebration. Some launch parties are obligatory events with forced gaiety—think, baby showers—so make yours special. I invited experts from fields that were mentioned in my novel to speak at my launch. Some of the themes in Little Deadly Things included child abuse, nanotechnology, water pollution and cleanup, animal behavior and dog training. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals allowed me to use its training room, a very large and inviting space, at no charge, for the launch.  I’d volunteered for the organization, so they knew me, and I was happy to share my publicity. A popular radio personality MC’d as a favor to me because I’d done some favors for his family. A local restaurant chain catered at a discount and provided a few freebie coupons as door prizes. I purchased a couple tee shirts from the MSPCA for door prizes.
 The speakers will draw their own followers—and that means book and Amazon reviews from the party-goers.

If you do these tasks, and the ones mentioned in my last post—and if you do them more skillfully than I did—you’ll do an excellent job of self-publishing.

Next week: how to finance the whole megillah.


A Kindle best-seller

on sale on Amazon or

Every purchase supports the Young Adult Writers Program at

Great Free book for writers (and undeserved praise for me)

First of all, I would like to say that I actually asked the following author to do this so you aren’t allowed to be too hard on him. Unless you were planning on being hard on me, then by all means, take your rage out on him. 🙂 Please welcome the amazing Dean Orion to Readful Things. I read this book a few months ago, and it has become one of my writing bibles. Seriously, if you are an author or hopeful, you want this book!

This is my shameless plug for an author that deserves it

and also my admission

that I am his groupie. Really, I got the T-shirt to prove it.

Greetings to all my fellow Readful Things devotees!

My name is Dean Orion. After twenty-five years in the trenches of writing in the entertainment business, I recently wrote a book called “Live To Write Another Day, A Survival Guide for Screenwriters and Creative Storytellers.” The idea behind it was pretty straightforward. I simply set out to share my experiences and at the same time offer what I hope to be helpful advice and inspiration to my fellow writers.

*He is too nice and humble to say this but I’m not…find his book


The book has been out a couple months now and has received some very nice reviews, not the least of which came from our wonderful Ionia, who is now officially my new best friend.

And now she’s giving me the floor on her blog yet again, to plug a free promotion for my book that’s running on Amazon this week, May 29-31. I hereby proclaim her the patron saint of writers everywhere!

If you’d like to learn more about me or my book, please visit my website or my Amazon or Goodreads author page. (I’m sure Ionia has put a couple of easy to find links around here somewhere.) website:

I could go on of course, but in the interest of being a polite guest, I will leave it at that. If you’re a writer (or any type of artist who’s serious about the creative process), please download “Live To Write Another Day” while it’s free this week on Amazon. I’d love to hear your feedback and continue the conversation.

Write on!



Through the dark of night


She woke on tender angel wings
like dew drops after mist
a nameless, faceless lover
with a tender, haunting kiss

his breath her only warmth
many nights without a flame
and when his shadow was no more
he took with him his name

now she wanders lonely through
darkened forests of despair
searching for his heartbeat
Breathing poisoned air

though not a witch who cursed her
nor ancient evil spell
not the siren’s symphony
to create this hell

Stumbling through brambles
bloody feet and loss of sight
screaming at her lost reflection
in the infernal night

What is this curse upon me
she searched the sky above
it has a name, a purpose
this evil known as love

at once a rushing strength
overwhelming desire
what started as a simple spark
grew into raging fire

from this fire he sprang forth
her new muse was born
and love became a gentle thing
repairing what was torn