3 S.R. Johannes: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hello Lurkervilles - Come out, come out where ever you are...

Okay so my computer is back up and to celebrate, I'd like to give away some books. Plus I don't think I've done a contest in a while. And to be honest, Ive not been a very good blogger friend and visiting as many people as possible.

Why books? Because I get a lot from publishers to review and now they are invading my office and I need space - some are old and some are new.

But - I'd also like to find some new blogs and let you guys put your blog out there for others to find.

After all that is why you did it right.

So to enter - all you have to do is give a little pitch on your blog - be sure the blog address is in there so we can all check you out. I know how hard it is to start a blog and get no comments. Or to run and blog and want more followers. So lets get you guys meeting each other :)

I'll do a drawing of those who come out of the blogger closet and say hi in the comments. Lets say I'll give away 10-20 books. You have to be from US to get a book (unless you want to pay shipping b/c I have no money) but you can be form anywhere to put your blog out there for us to see.

All you have to do is say hi and include your blog (and email so I can get in touch with you if you win :)

Anyone of you followers can enter - old or new.

Thanks for stopping by! Ready, set, go!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Indie-view: Michelle Davidson Argyle's Monarch

Michelle Davidson Argyle stops by to discuss her indie publishing journey.

She is the author of several books including Monarch (love the cover) that was just released. She started out as a self-published author and her new book was picked up my Rhemalda Publishing. You can read the first 2 chapters here.

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

How did you started in self publishing?
I started in self-publishing not because I wanted to necessarily start in that spot, but because the project I was working on at the time was one which I knew was not a good fit for breaking into traditional publishing. When I started Cinders, it wasn't long before I realized it would only be a novella and that it was something I'd like to publish all on my own. Essentially, I wrote the book to self-publish it, and I wasn't intending on it to be anything but a fun little project. I had bigger plans to break into traditional publishing down the road, but things turned out a little differently than I expected! I'm now with a small press that I love, and they've signedCinders as part of a three-novella collection titled Bonded, to be published fall of 2013.

What were your biggest lessons learned throughout your publishing career?

My biggest lesson learned is that my publishing journey does not have to be like anyone else's, nor does it have to move quickly. I really like where I'm at right now, starting small and enjoying myself. I have my whole life to grow my career, so it makes no sense to get impatient for huge things to happen. I think it's the small things we enjoy the most that are where real happiness lies.

Can you tell us more about your new publisher?

Rhemalda Publishing is an independent small press based in Washington state. Rhett Hoffmeister is the president and one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I love Rhemalda Publishing because one of their main goals is to make sure that a book doesn't ever end up unsatisfactory to the author even though it goes through every process that a book with a huge publishing house goes through. I have say over my cover, editing, even the interior layout as all of that happens. They care deeply about each and every book, and it shows. 

What are your five favorite things?

My family, food (cheese, sushi, Greek, and curry), reading, the smell of autumn (fall leaves, chilly air), and creating things like art and books.

You can follow Michelle on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bookanista: Cover Love for Surrender (Elana Johnson)

Sorry I have been MIA. 

It's been one of those weeks: car broke down on highway going out of town, place we rented was full, computer crashed, my son had to poop in the woods (this was more disturbing that anything - not only the aftermath but the witnessing of it all) and my dog got attacked by fleas and then got a bad haircut.

So I've been out of commission to say the least - emotionally and digitally. yes usually crashes are not that bad but....(and this just added to my week) - my husband turned off time machine (so no backup) and I don't have AppleCare on this computer (only on hubby's).

Cant really totally blame him (can I?) but lets just say - he was lucky to be out of town b/c the wrath of Sheila (which is my dark side - kinda like Beyonce's Sasha Fierce side only not as sexy!) had descended upon the house and all in her path were in pins and needles. (yes I threatened my kids life at Apple store if they did not behave...they did...b/c they value human life.)

But thanks to Onyx Consulting in Decature (my new beffies) - they were able to back up when Apple couldn't AND got me back my computer in 2 business days! (Apple was at least 10!) I know - the electronic Gods shafted me but come through in the end. ( I already apologized for cursing them. However Murphy's Law owes me big time.)

Anyway, I'll get back to regularly scheduled posts on indie pubbing next week. 

I hosted a great yalitchat last night on self pubbing in the digital age - head over to yalitchat.com for the transcript if you missed it.

Thanks to Danielle Leafty for having me on her blog. I gave my best tips in marketing so check it out and let me know if you have questions.

Today I want to give a shot out to Elana Johnson for her fab new cover.

Go check it out here :)Love love love - Congrads Elana :)

Check out some other Bookanista posts today.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guest Post: Elle Strauss (Clockwise)

Okay so the very best part of jumping into indie publishing is all the wonderfully sweet people that have reached out to me and who I have a feeling will be the beginning of a long friendship.

Elle Strauss is one of those. She has dropped by today to give us some advice about indie publishing.

Tell us about you and your book journey
My book is called CLOCKWISE, a YA rom/com about a teen time traveler who accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.

I began this book four summers ago, on and off and once I'd had it read by beta readers and did about a thousand revisions I began querying. It took a few months to land an agent and Clockwise went out on submissions. I was so excited. It was finally happening! I had an agent and surely a book deal was right around the corner.


Who can explain these things, but sometimes worthy books don't find a home. It could be a case of missing the "trends" or a recession, or game changing technology. (Or, as in my case, all of the above.) Once I caught on that indie publishing was proving to be a successful option for many authors, I decided to give it a go. 

What do you think is the hardest thing about indie publishing?

Shouldering the pressure to succeed alone. (Or feeling like you're alone.)

What is your biggest advice for indie publishers?

Community! I love that we are a collaboration, not competitors. People will buy my book AND yours. When we help each other, we help ourselves.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

Besides reading and hanging out with friends and family? I like to hike, bike and do yoga. I also like to watch movies and certain TV shows. (Ahem, Castle, anyone?) 

What is the biggest mistake you have made in publishing world?

What was a mistake for me may not be a mistake for another author. I hired a third party to format and upload my book for me instead of doing it myself. Hiring to save time and effort is not a bad idea except with this company I couldn't make changes after it was uploaded, or track sales, which I found to be important information I needed in order to assess my marketing efforts. I didn't realize this when I made the decision. I have since formatted and uploaded the files myself, and it wasn't that big of a deal. For some reason I'd come to believe that formatting was this big, hard, thing, when it's not, really. 

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I think we'd all love a chance at a do-over in some part of our life, wouldn't we? I'd like to do high school over. I'd focus on my grades and my friends, instead of boys. I wouldn't care so much about what people thought of me and I definitely wouldn't get that PERM. 

What's the craziest writing idea you've had?

Well, I had this crazy idea to write a companion book for CLOCKWISE, which I'm totally doing now. I have half of a first draft. I plan to finish it during Nanowrimo, not as an official entrant, since it's half written, but just to ride on the nano energy, and git'er dun.

If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

Oh, that's easy. LATE BLOOMER. 

You can also see Elle on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bookanista Buzz - Ditched by Robin Mellom!

Here is Ditched by Robin Mellom coming your way Jan 10th! A book that made me laugh over the summer when I needed it most.
High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first. 
Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice. 
Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom. 
And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together – stain by stain on her thrift-store dress – exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag’s moving car… 
But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.

Side note: Spend all my time with Robin in LA and she is as funny as Justina and just as crazy :)

Top ten reasons I heart this book:

1) Robin makes stains cool because they have stories. See I always get stains on my shirt whether they are mine or my kids but never thought about the story behind them, now my stains are powerful writing prompts.

2) I get to relive my time I spent at 7-Eleven growing up drinking slushies. Justina converses with 2 hilarious ladies at the 7-Eleven telling them her stories.

3) Justina was hilarious and interested yet still flawed and real. Just like your best friend you loved but would sometimes drive you crazy and you wanted to shake her and say WTF!!! Justina's voice and how she sees the world feels authentic.

4) The chapter heading were fun and different. Kept me reading ahead  to see what was coming.

5) It made my horrific Prom night in the dress I designed (hence I am not a designer) look glamourous. Thanks Justina for making me feel like LESS of a total high school loser. 

6. Love the ups and downs in Justina's and Ian's manic relationship (friend, foe, bo, or crush?). 

7) Its an easy light read which is a nice break from the heavy and dark paranormal stuff coming our way.

8) Robin really puts Justina through the crapper- everything that could go wrong does - wardrobe oopsies, pranks, and bad kissing. 

Loved it and you will too :)

Check out the other Bookanista posts:

LiLa Roecker  hosts The White Assassin blog tour stop – with giveaway
Christine Fonseca  celebrates How to Save a Life
Shana Silver shivers for Shatter Me
Stasia Ward Kehoe applauds Virtuosity
Veronica Rossi  is ensnared by Girl of Fire and Thorns
Shelli Johannes-Wells delves into Ditched

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What to consider when creating other formats?'

First, I all of a sudden looked up and realized it was Wednesday and I had not posted this week.


The biggest problem with ebooks (besides the slew that are low quality and printed at Kinkos) is distribution. If people can't get access to your books then why sell them at all?

Today, I wanted to quickly go through how to decide what format to choose for your indie published book. But how do you know what format to do them in?

1) Think about whether you just want digital or also want a physical copy.
Some people only want to go digital in indie publishing and they make great money and have little hassle. Indie writers don't make much off paperbacks. With Amazon's 70% royalty (if your list price is 2.99 or above - you can make about $2 on every 2.99 book sold. That's great compared to most publishers. I think we will see a time in the future where authors will try and keep their digital rights b/c the royalty rate is low and put out the ebooks themselves once the physical book is available.

2) Going Digital? Decide what ebook formats. 
If you just want your book available on Amazon - it will only go to those people with Kindles. B&N has Pub it, which only goes to Nooks. So - do you want all the other ereaders to have access? I say why not? Smashwords will sell your book in most formats for Sony, or iBooks etc. So why not. I think it will cost you extra time and probably under $50. So what do you have to lose. I will say about 80% of sales come from B&N and Amazon (mostly Amazon) so it might not be worth it to you.

3) Want physical copies? Understand your royalties first!
Okay so this is where indie published authors vary. Some only do digital, others do paperback while some do hardback (only Lightning source offers that). The problem is the royalty - I mean if you are not smart - you will end up paying for people to buy your book, which sucks. So it comes down to money.(doesn't everything?)

Theer are tons of POD companies - LuLu,  iUniverse etc - but I have heard CreateSpace and LS are the best from reliable sources so I don't have time to research all of them.


Now you can just do paperback on Createspace at Amazon (no hardback). But it is only available through Amazon online. In order to get a good royalty on Amazon, use this calculator to figure it out to be sure it is worth your while. I'll tell you now - the shorter - the better. 

For example - if Person A has a book that is 350 pages and wants to sell it for 9.99, they lose about 
-$2.50 for every book. I know - seems crazy right? At that point your only option is to upgrade for about 40$ to the Pro plan and then you would make 90 cents a copy. Not too bad. 

But if Person B writes massive books - like 500 pages - then they will lose across the board - whether they do Pro Plan or not. It doesn't make sense for B to do a physical book through CreateSpace at all. At that point they should look into Lightning Source.

Amazon offers Extended distribution which gets you bookstores and libraries online but as you can see - it doesn't seem worth your while b/c the royalty rate is hard to get above negative unless you do novellas at under 200 pages. Plus most indie bookstores and libraries don't order through Amazon (esp with everything going on.)


If you want Hardbacks? Lightning Source is your only option. CreateSpace does not do them. I am looking into that to understand pricing and haven't decided on it yet....I will let you know as I learn more. I do know you can also get dustjackets

4) Lightning Source - another option for paperbacks AND hardbacks
They offer better royalty rates but I've heard the paper is either blue or grey - so not sure how that works. They offer extended distribution but are more expensive. However, you get on Ingram which makes it able to be ordered from any bookstore, libraries etc. That means you HAVE to get an ISBN where if you do it through Createspace - you don't. So again - that is another expense of at least $150-250 dollars. So some people don't do it. To me if I'm spending $1,000 to get the book out - what is $1,250 in the scale of things if it means more access? You can do this at a later date once you see how your PB are selling too. They are more expensive and harder to navigate.

5) What am I doing?
I am doing an ebook in all formats, which will cost me about 100$ to set up b/c I am getting the pro plans at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. 

I will list price my ebook at 2.99 so I will make about 2.10 a book. 

As far as I know, my paperback will be on Amazon and is about 370 pages so at $9.99, i will get about 70 cents a book.  BTW - if you are trying to figure out how big your book is - use mine as an example. My book was about 80,000 words and about 275 pages (double spaces 12 font) and when I formatted it to standard 5x8 - it ended up 375 with 12 font garamond and 1.2 line spacing. Maybe that will help.

Now here's the clincher - I THINK I am doing Createspace and Lightning Source. Will probably focus on ebooks first, than do paperback at createspace, then move to LS. Why would I do that when LS offers everything Createspace does? 

Well, I heard Amazon will blackball all LS titles if they are not through Createspace by marking them out of stock and leaving them out of search engines. Now, I don't know if it's true, but I could see how easy it would be for them to do that. Plus I really don't want all my eggs in the Amazon basket. It scares me and I'm not sure I fully trust where they are headed. Not to mention I have heard libraries and bookstores talking about boycotting amazon - its the only power they have against them right now.

Bottom line - I want my book available to anyone and everyone. I want it to be professional and I want to minimize any notion that it is self pubbed by making it easy to get. Of course, I do not want to lose money though either. So I am still working out all the details. 

I will say I am spending a MASSIVE amount of time researching this. So make sure you do your research and don't rely on mine. I'm sifting through it all the best I can and trying to summarize but there are a lot of minor things you will need to understand (list prices, sales prices etc)

Indie publishing is NOT the easy way out. I'm realizing to do it right - it is hard work. Lets hope it all pays off.

Current Expenses
9$ for stock photo
$400 for editing with professional editor
170$ for an 3 day ad (I will talk about this next week)

Expected costs
* not totally sold yet yet 
40$ CreateSpace Pro Plan
150 Lightning Source*
250 ISBN block*

Time - priceless (someone asked me to log how many hrs I'm spending - right now about 5 hours a day to get everything set up. I don't expect to spend as much time once the book is out.)

Let me know what questions you have! :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Guest Post: PJ Hoover on Independent publishing

As I mentioned, every Friday from until the end of the year, I am celebrating independent publishing. 

Indie-views Schedule:
  • Oct 12 - General tips and tricks from Lisa Nowak and others
    Oct 14 - PJ Hoover (Solstice)
    Oct 21 - Elle - (Clockwise)
  • Oct 28 - Michelle (Monarch)
  • Nov 4 - Danyelle - (Catspell)
  • Nov 11 - Addison (Wicked)
  • Nov 18 - Jessie (Destined)
  • Dec 2 - Karen Hooper (Tangled Tides)
  • Dec 9 - Megg Jensen (The Cloud Prophet triology)
  • Dec 16 - Susan Bischoff (Hush Money, Talent Chronicles)

Today P.J. Hoover stops by to tell us more about independent publishing.

Thanks for inviting me to guest blog over here, Shelli! I’m so happy to get the chance to hang with your readers! For those who don’t know, back in May, I independently published my first young adult novel, SOLSTICE, with the assistance of my literary agent, Laura Rennert, at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. 

SOLSTICE is a story set in a global warming future, and it’s what happens when mythology and dystopia collide. You can read all about it on my website, and I’m always happy to answer any questions asked.

There’s been lots of talk in the publishing world about the shifts in independent publishing, and plenty of authors are considering it. So I thought I’d share with you three reasons you might want to consider it and three reasons you might not.

Three Reasons you Might Want to Independently Publish your Novel:

1)    It follows a trend, and that trend is hot now. In a year or two, the trend may be on the downswing. Check what publishing deals are being made, and if your topic feels like it is fading in the market then you may want to consider indie-publishing rather than losing the market entirely.

2)    You want a chance at something exciting and cutting edge. The publishing market is changing on a daily basis, and it’s a great time to give indie-publishing a go.

3)    Your agent is a rock star, and she suggests it as an option for you to consider.

Three Reasons you Might Not Want to Independently Publish your Novel:

1)    Everyone who has read your novel has loved it, but this list is comprised entirely of your husband, your best friend, and you mother. Before you make any decision, get valuable feedback from qualified editors, authors, or agents.

2)    Impatience is your driving factor. Putting a book up on Amazon does not guarantee overnight success. There are lots (and lots) of ebooks being published every day. Wait until yours is really ready.

3)    There is still a stigma. Even with increased popularity of indie-publishing, readers and reviewers definitely still exist who will not read indie-published books. Knowing this going is in critical. If you’re going to indie-publish, accept this fact and roll with it.

Whatever decision you come to, take the time to think it through. Make sure you’re making the decision for the right reasons.

Now, let’s say you’ve decided to take that manuscript and indie-publish it. How can you go about marketing this new creation? What should you do, and what should you not?

Three Things you May Want to Consider when Marketing your Indie Novel:

1)    Blog Tours – No matter whether your book is indie or traditional, these are a great way to go about getting the word out about your novel. Yes, this will involve giving away digital copies of your book, and writing lots of guest posts and interviews. But accept it and make it fun.

2)    Mastering the twenty second pitch. No longer. Seriously. People are busy these days. If you happen to run across an old coworker at the grocery store and they ask you about your writing, be prepared to give them the “very quick” version that had been tailored to hook them. And then hand them a postcard with information on it J

3)    Group Marketing. I mentioned there are lots of indie authors these days. Find out who they are and make friends. We have a wonderful writing world, and joining people who have the same goals as you is key. If you can’t find the right group, consider forming one yourself. Reach out. Other authors will be happy you did.

Three Things you May NOT Want to Consider when Marketing your Indie Novel:

1)    Spamming people. Nobody wants to be spammed. Sure, it is fine to send out an email or a newsletter on the day of your release, but don’t start sticking your book info on other people’s Facebook walls. That’s just uncool.

2)    Never showing interest in other people’s writing and books. We’re all out here writing and marketing books. Be genuinely interested in what other people are up to. Dominating relationships with only your own stuff will get old very quickly.

3)    Being stingy about sending review e-books. Seriously, this is costing you zero. If someone wants to read your book enough to email you and they are fine with the digital version, send it to them. And thank them.

Good luck! And thank you again for letting me be here! I appreciate the support J


P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book MythologyTHE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik's cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bookanista Buzz - Recent Book Launches

Because I've been so busy I have forgotten to blog about a few books I've read lately. So this is a little snippet of each and a shout out to the authors.....

Stasia Kehoe - Audition (Happy Book B-Day!!!)
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

What I loved: I love a good book written in verse mixing love and ballet. The writing is beautiful - uh yeah I was jealous. Oh yeah and the guy on the cover is hot :)

Michelle Hodkin - The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer doesn't believe life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can.                                                                                                                                             She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is.                                                                                                       
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong.

What I love: The voice is amazing and the atmosphere spooky. um hello - Noah is hot too - let's not pretend. This is a twist on the paranormal books out there and a fresh take. 

Scott Tracey - Witch Eyes
A boy who can see the world's secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.Braden's witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse. Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything--lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder--to seize control of Braden's powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing's son . . . and Braden may be destined to kill him.

What I loved: Love Braden. he's just as funny as Scott - if not more so :) The story has everything, mystery, heartbreak, suspense, and love.

Lisa Albert -  Mercy Lily

Lily's mother has slowly been losing herself to multiple sclerosis. After traditional treatment fails, she uses bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that her mom wants to die. One beautiful spring day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. While navigating first love, friendship, and other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: help her mom go, or cling to her fading life for all it's worth.

What I loved: I related to Lily. My grandmother has MS and died of it so I connected with this storyline and the question of letting someone live in pain or die in peace. Lily's inner turmoil broke my heart more than once.

Check out other Bookanista Posts:

Elana Johnson offers a preview of upcoming awesome!

LiLa Roecker dances for Audition

Christine Fonseca  is wowed by Witch Eyes

Beth Revis  features a guest post by Darkfall author Janice Hardy

Carolina Valdez Miller steps up to Audition – with giveaway

Shana Silver contemplates The Future of Us

Carrie Harris is dazzled by Don’t Stop Now

Corrine Jackson celebrates the success of Epic Fail

Tell me, what are you reading right now?