Category Archives: Book Media

Get the Inside Scoop from a Publisher: Steve Carlson

Steve Carlson is publisher of Upper Access, a small traditional book publishing company located in Hinesburg, Vermont, a position he has held since 1986. He publishes, on average, just two or three new titles per year, so that he can be personally involved in every aspect of publishing and promotion. He also publishes business software, “Publishers’ Assistant,” used by more than a thousand other publishers. He is an active member of several publishing organization, including Independent Book Publishers Association (former board member) and Independent Publishers of New England (current board member, former president).  He has several Web sites; the main one is www.upperaccess.com . He can be reached at steve@upperaccess.com

Welcome Steve,

Author Steve Carlson

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Steve: Back in 1986, my wife and I were getting weary of our nice middle-class jobs and decided to start a small publishing company. We would start with books we had written, then expand to publish other books–a standard publishing model, like the big guys, except smaller. It was a foolish decision, because it turned out much harder than we ever thought it would be. But with a lot of work, we developed it into a business that could support our family, while producing books we were proud of. My wife has branched out to other professional pursuits, but I have stuck with it, serving as publisher, ever since.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Steve: I have published over 50 titles to date, of which 17 are currently still in print. The current best-sellers are:

1. Final Rights: Reclaiming the American way of death, by Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson. This is the definitive resource for consumers to take charge of funeral arrangements without being taken hostage by the funeral industry. It is the third version of the book, expanded and updated over the years from a version originally written by my wife back in 1987.

2. Editing Made Easy: Simple rules for effective writing, by Bruce Kaplan. The author is an Australian who had written a similar book that was popular throughout the English-speaking world except for the U.S. Because U.S. grammar and usage are so different, it was useless in the U.S., so I collaborated with Bruce to create an American edition. It took off immediately, selling well. It’s a quick read, aimed a people who want to write well without getting bogged down with complex rules of grammar and style. As I had guessed, that is a pretty large demographic.

Steve Carlson Cover

3. About the House with Henri de Marne: How to maintain, repair, upgrade, and enjoy your house. This has been out for several years but continues as a strong seller, partly because of the author’s following as a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. I have also taken on the role of publishing his blog site with the same name, and have sold advertisements to help support that effort. As a result, a great deal of new material has been developed, which I am working to translate into e-book formats. 

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Steve:  I market every way I reasonably can. I am fortunate that most of my authors have platforms that keep them in the public eye. For example, the co-authors of Final Rights are frequently featured in national media, including, within the last year, 60 Minutes and Dear Abby. I promote rather heavily to libraries, particularly when I am successful in getting favorable reviews in Library Journal or other key publications. (The last two books got great reviews in LJ, which I quoted in repeated mailings with IBPA, and small ads in publications that are read by librarians. With this kind of follow-through, each of the books has sold several thousand copies apiece to libraries.) I also concentrate on special sales, selling substantial numbers of books at discounts to various organizations.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Steve:  It goes without saying that it is important that Amazon listings be as good as possible, as that is the most common place people go to learn more about a book, regardless of whether they buy it there. My own site, www.upperaccess.com , is also crucial, as people are directed to it in most of the book publicity, and it is the source of many sales. There are separate sites for some of the specific books, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The most important is Henri de Marne’s blog site, which I publish, at www.henridemarne.com . Aside from that, it’s good to be listed on as many sites as possible, particularly if they link to yours, as that helps build your own traffic. (The only caveat is that the sites should be legitimate with content related to your book–artificial link-building schemes will hurt rather than help.)

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Steve:  I mostly publish other people’s writing, but have a lot in common with self-publishers. One of my earliest books was one I wrote–“Your Low-Tax Dream House,” which sold very well and was bought up by a major publisher, which brought it out under a different title. The major publisher sold fewer books than the Upper Access version, which led me to understand that if I put in the time and effort, I can do as good a job at publishing as a big company can. That said, there are disadvantages to smallness, which I have to scramble to overcome. Here are a few:

–When you publish two or three books a year, you are not as well known as the big publishers, and have a harder time making your books stand out among the thousands of books every major reviewer receives every week. Getting good reviews is an important part of my marketing, particularly for library sales. I’ve had to do a lot of networking through organizations and events–something I am not good at because I am introverted–and that has helped.

–Although bookstores sales are declining, they are still an important part of the mix for my assortment of titles. I used to deal directly with Ingram and B&T and do a lot of direct marketing to bookstores, but that has become harder and harder for a publishing company as small as mine. I now go through an exclusive trade distributor, Midpoint, for trade sales. Midpoint does a great job–it’s one of the best–but the steep discounts have a major effect on what I can publish and how. I need to take an average discount in the 65 percent range, get paid 4 months after sales (minus returns from last month), absorb huge percentages of returns, many with coffee stains, etc., etc. etc. Yet I have to hold down prices to become competitive as a bookstore book. That prevents me from making much use of the miracles of digital printing–I need the economies of larger offset print runs.  I know many small publishers have given up on trying for serious sales to the trade, and for many of them, it is absolutely the right decision. In my case, it is still worthwhile, but it is a struggle.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Steve: If you are considering self-publishing, you must take the time to become educated in the field of publishing. Many new publishers fail miserably because they don’t learn the business. Like people who start restaurants because they know how to cook, they become publishers because they are good at writing. Publishing is a business–a fun one I think–but don’t expect to learn all the aspects of it overnight.

Understand that there is a huge difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing. The big vanity publishers call themselves “self-publishing companies,” but that is deceptive. The average book sold by one of the big “self-publishing” companies sells 65 copies, and most of those are to friends and relatives of the author. If you are going to self publish, you need to set up your own little publishing company, one with the mission of publishing your works. And you will end up spending much more time wearing your “publisher” hat than your “author” hat. If you can’t do that, you can contract out much or (hypothetically) most of the aspects such as design, editing, typesetting, distribution, fulfillment, and publicity. But this will be expensive, and you will need to understand publishing in order to hire and supervise the right people. (There are lots of charlatans out there, who are far more interested in taking your money than in helping you produce and sell books.)

Therefore, you must buy and read every book you can find on publishing, or at least the ones that have good reviews from your peers. (If you are not willing to acquire and read a bunch of books, you should ask yourself why you would even want to be a writer, let alone a publisher.) Join the excellent organizations for publishers. I am partial to IBPA, the largest; I’ve been an active member for over 25 years, and served on the board for four. My publishing company would not have survived without the constant continuing education I received through IBPA. I am also active with its New England affiliate, IPNE. Many small publishers seeking specific expertise in areas such as special sales also benefit from more specialized organizations such as AAPPS (formerly SPAN). These groups have low dues, affordable educational opportunities, marketing and networking opportunities, and numerous other benefits that help you every step of the way in producing and marketing books.

Every publisher is different, and every book is different. For some books, almost all sales are the result of a blog and social networking by the author. For others, bookstore sales are crucial. Others will sell mainly to libraries, or to special-sales markets. There are many other variations and combinations, but each market will require a big commitment of time, and perhaps other resources as well. By becoming knowledgeable about the business of publishing, you will be able to figure out how to best direct your own time and resources, to reach your audience as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Author Joe Laws Survives Death – A True Story of Thanksgiving

“It’s just not your time yet, Little Joe…”

Joe Laws is a man used to fixing things.  After all, he’s fixed robots, water pumps, conveyors, and just about everything else that needs fixing at the automotive facility where he works. But when on July 17, 2011 a fall from the roof left his body broken and bleeding, even Joe knew it was beyond repair.  He also knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he had died.

It was a safe assumption, considering the extent of his injuries. The left side of his body was completely crushed; his back, neck, collarbone, and eleven of his ribs were broken.  His lungs had collapsed and his heart had stopped.  And, as the doctors of Vanderbilt University Medical Center would soon learn, he was in complete hemorrhagic shock, meaning that he had essentially bled to death from a ruptured spleen.  As they tried frantically to save Joe’s life, his family prayed fervently that God would spare him.

Joe, in the meantime, was on the ride of his life. As he floated away from earth and into the skies above, he saw and felt a large hand cradling him, as a parent would a most beloved child. He knew immediately that he was being held, literally, by the hand of God.  He was lifted toward a brilliant light, where he felt a love so powerful and all encompassing that it defied explanation. For what seemed an eternity, he played in “his Heaven”, visited with loved ones and learned about the true meaning of good, evil, and life itself.  He rejoiced at being “home”, until God delivered the devastating news that he was going back into his body. It was not his time.

As it turned out, Dr. Richard Miller, Chief of Vanderbilt’s Trauma Unit, agreed. During a dangerous, five-hour surgery, Dr. Miller would use a revolutionary method—and titanium strips– to secure Joe’s crushed ribcage and save his life. After struggling for two years to recover physically and emotionally from his ordeal, Joe realized he could help others by sharing his experience. Held By the Hand of God is Joe Laws’ incredible story of Heaven, Earth and walking between two worlds.

About the Author

Joe Laws is an Industrial Maintenance Technician in Smyrna, Tennessee. A self-described “regular Joe” and accidental author, he seeks to inspire and heal others with his story of God’s love and the very real promise of Heaven.  Joe lives just south of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife, Debra.  Held by the Hand of God is his first book.

Welcome Joe,

Author Joe Laws

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Joe:  The decision for me to publish was really a suggestion from my wife that I should write my thoughts down on paper. She said it would be a means for me to help get over what happened to me; my falling off of my shed and killing myself. I am not an author by trade, far from it, I fix robots. However after a very eye opening experience at my local barber shop where I told a young lady my story of my death, my soul being lifted off the ground by the hand of God, and subsequently being shown heaven I told my wife that I will put my thoughts into the written word. I had to tell this story of what happened to me so that if I helped even one more soul as I did that day in the barber shop then my life, my death, and now my life again will not have been wasted.

On July 17, 2011 I fell off of the top of my shed. The fall broke my neck, back, shoulder, collar bone, eleven ribs, my spleen exploded, my lungs collapsed, and my heart was crushed. It quit beating instantly. I died! About ten to fifteen minutes later my heart started beating again and I immediately began bleeding to death through my spleen. After waking up on the ground broken all to pieces I began a slow crawl to my old truck. I wasn’t about to give up. And after spending thirteen days in the ICU at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN I began my road to recovery without a spleen and a brand new rib cage.

I returned to work on October 17, 2011 exactly three months to the day if not the second that I fell. I later found out that October 17 held a significance other than me. That was the day Noah’s Ark came to rest and he opened the doors to set the animals free.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Joe: This is my first book. I have started on a second book for children to be finished this winter. It is a true story and is in and of itself a miracle about my neighbor’s dog. 

Author Joe Laws Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Joe:  My book has not yet been released but the website is being built and is live now but there are more things to be added soon. It is www.heldbythehandofgod.com. I have not really started the marketing phase but realize that I do need to do that. This interview with Jill and reading her book was and still is a great help. The ideas from so many different authors are wonderful and priceless for such a small fee. I will use many of their tactics as I move blindly forward into the world of publishing. Hopefully it will help take some of the blinders off for me.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Joe:  There are several different websites and books that I like that I have found to be useful. The first book I bought was by  Allan Douglas, a fellow Tennessean and the title of his book is: “Writing for Profit or Pleasure”. It is a great little book that has many ideas that someone that is new to the business should read. Another is Jill’s book. Again, something that new authors should be required to read as they begin their journey. There are so many websites and books one can get overwhelmed by them all. However I do like Aaron Shepard’s publishing page. I don’t subscribe to him yet or have not bought his book yet but I intend to. He sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Joe:  My greatest challenge along this magical journey of publishing a book I would have to say is learning the ropes the hard way. My wife’s late father used to tell her, “Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see”. That is great advice!  It seems there are multiple avenues for dishonest people in this industry to be unscrupulous at best is the nicest way I can think of to put it.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Joe:  The best advice I could give a new author is do not quit your day job! “Trust but verify” as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it as he brought the old Soviet Union to its knees. If it is too good to be true, then it is not true. There are many con-artists in this industry, in fact there are companies whose sole source of income is derived from unsuspecting budding authors. Check the Better Business Bureau with any company that you deal with. If there are multiple complaints, RUN! And my final piece of advice would be, “Don’t ever give up”. If I had given up on July 17, 2011 my body would be six feet underground right now and you would not be reading this.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Word on the Street: Author Stephanie Helms Pickett

Stephanie Helms Pickett’s life has been reflected by Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh within us.”  Reared in Chicago by her mom, her biggest inspiration, Stephanie fell in love with writing at an early age.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television Broadcasting from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale; and a Master’s and Doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration from North Carolina State University.  She is the Director of Assessment & Professional Development Programs in the Division of Student Affairs at Duke University and Visiting Professor in the Program in Education.   Stephanie serves as the Coordinator of the Anointed Soles Dance Ministry at Wake Chapel Church, in Raleigh, North Carolina, under the leadership of Pastor J. Jasper Wilkins Jr.  She is a member of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Graduate Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  In August 2009 the Lord blessed her union to Charles Pickett, Sr,.  Their blended family includes two teenagers, Charles Pickett Jr. (19), Niani, (18) and two dogs, Diamond Star and Gypsy.  They reside in Raleigh, North Carolina.

For more information about Stephanie and to purchase her book, please visit: drhelmspickett.com

Welcome Stephanie,

Author Stephanie Helms Pickett

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Stephanie:  I have been in love with writing for as far back as I can remember.  More specifically, over the course of the last 10 years, I have flirted with writing a book.  In January 2012, I declared that I would commit myself with action to my dream to share divine insight on challenges and triumphs I experienced, particularly those in academic environments as a means to encourage, assist and affirm others.  I thought publishing would be a primary and significant method to share my message.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Stephanie:   I have published, “Later Never Came Until Now.”  “Later Never Came Until Now” is a 47,000 word faith-based reflective narrative designed to empower from both a scholarly and scriptural perspective exploring elements that came “nigh my dwelling.” As a child, I was told “you may not understand it now, but you will later.”  As an adult, I realize that I missed so many opportunities to apply what I was being exposed to and learning in the moment. 

The main character is me, the product of a single parent household from the south side of Chicago, who was perpetually interested in everything but school, yet surpassed obstacles to eventually attain a doctorate degree while holding ever connected to faith in God. Through narratives from age 9 to 40, this book will take the reader on a journey through laughter and tears to fully appreciate turning tough trials into triumphs and struggles into successes.

Author Cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Stephanie:  I’ve been working with The Jaxton Creative Group to develop the branding and marketing strategy for my book. I premiered Later Never Came Until Now at Wake Chapel’s Church’s Women’s Retreat in Virginia Beach in December 2012. A Facebook site under the name of Dr. Helms Pickett is operational by which I share daily insight and communicate with followers.  The book was featured on an episode of Brand Newz, an online program hosted by Christopher Martin in March 2013, followed by a book launch at LabourLove Art Gallery in Durham, NC. In July 2013, I was featured on Literary Nation Live, a radio talk show highlighting artists and authors hosted by Patrick Oliver where I shared insight about the book and advocacy for parents in navigating the educational arena. My website is presently under construction and will go live in September 2013.  Finally, I have several speaking engagements scheduled in the upcoming months.  Each of these efforts has afforded the opportunity for connection and with other venues and people.  I have a way to go, but small, intentional steps have continued to open doors and provide access.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Stephanie:  I found Oprah’s Life Lessons website to be incredibly useful and inspirational.  Although it does not specifically address publishing or authoring, it is formatted from a curriculum and instructional foundation, as well as constructivist format that appeals to me as an educator and assisted me in processing how I could reflect in a manner which assisted me to conceptualize my thoughts into action.  When I decided to self-publish, I found Mira’s site to be easy to navigate and answered many of the questions I had as a first time author.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Stephanie:  The greatest challenge for me in self-publishing has been the funding.  As the parent of two college students the practice of setting resources aside to print my publication has been challenging.  I did not want to go into debt, so printing the book has often moved slower than I desired.  I am hopeful and I am a believer in the messaging of the book so I continue to remain motivated and determined to continue.  I don’t believe I have exhausted all of the tenets of self-publishing to date.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Stephanie:  Interestingly enough, with only one book under my belt (and another in progress), I get this question more than I imagined and I am appreciative to share what I’ve learned thus far.  As a new and aspiring author, it is critically important to remain focused on the prompting for writing.  You cannot get discouraged and compare yourself to someone who’s been in the game longer than you.  As authors, we strive to have a tangible, final product.  The effort, pitfalls and loopholes one narrowly escapes or overcame to reach the end are not visible to the naked eye.  Be persistent, be authentic and be purposeful and you will attain your expected end.

Thanks for taking a break and reading about one of our authors.  If you would like to be included in the series, please contact me at jill@mirabooksmart.com.

Some of my next blogs will be about getting your book into the library system and marketing your book through Amazon.  Click the follow button to be notified as soon as these are posted.

And in case I don’t see ya… good afternoon, good evening and good night.

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Famed Author and Freelance Writer: Sibylla Nash

A New Jersey native, Sibylla has written hundreds of articles that have appeared in a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites including Vibe, Essence, The Chicago Tribune and on Launch.com.  She is the author of Baby Modeling & Beyond: From The Stroller To The Red Carpet – a how to guide for parents, a novel, DreamCity, and she co-authored The Fan Survival Guide: 50 Ways To Meet Your Favorite Celebrity.

As a freelance writer, she has written about subjects ranging from entertainment to parenting issues to topical matters.  As an entertainment writer, she has interviewed celebrities such as Academy Award winning actors Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Academy Award nominee Will Smith; comedians/actors Dave Chappelle, Jamie Foxx and Kim Coles; CEO/film director Chris Stokes; and actress Constance Marie. (…see more about the author below)

Take advantage of the current promotions on Sibylla’s books:  Bumped is $.99 and  Baby Modeling & Beyond: From the Stroller to the Red Carpet is $4.99.

Thank you for joining us, Sibylla,

Sibylla Nash image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Sibylla:  I started self-publishing back in the 90s. My first book was a guide book for independent filmmakers. I chose to self-publish that particular book because I had access to that market (and used direct mail to reach them) and the information I had was timely in terms of deadlines for contests and grants.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Sibylla:  To date I have published four titles, one was co-written under a pen name – DreamCity, Little Black Book of Filmmaking (out of print), Fan Survival Guide: 50 Ways to Meet Your Favorite Celebrity, and Bumped.

Sibylla Nash cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Sibylla:  I read somewhere that marketing your book is like a marathon and that is certainly the case! I haven’t found a magic bullet. It takes a consistent effort across all platforms, your blog, social media, other blogs, advertising. You can’t create a buzz through just one channel. I’ll tweet about my books daily because your tweet has such a short shelf life. I did the Amazon free promotion and it was ok but didn’t give me the great bump in sales I was hoping for but I heard that if you have a series, you are more likely to see an increase in sales with the free promotion than stand alone books.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Sibylla: I love reading Galley Cat on Mediabistro.com, PW Daily (Publisher’s Weekly), Where Writer’s Win (writerswin.com), doing giveaways on Goodreads has been great, there are also a bunch of promo sites (free and low cost) that promote ebooks to their lists (Galley Cat has a list of them).  Also, in terms of finding editors and graphic artists, I’ve had pretty good luck on sites like guru.com.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Sibylla:  Continuing to write! It’s so easy to get caught up in the marketing end of things and not continue to produce new work. I’m so far behind on my sequel to Bumped, it’s not even funny. Oh and the second hardest thing, self-promotion in the real world (vs. online). Some people are great at it, me? Not so much. If you self-publish though, it’s part and parcel of the game, you have to let people know about your book(s).

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Sibylla:  Keep writing, keep reading and keep learning. The marketing aspect is always evolving thanks to technology, you’ll want to stay on top of things as well as see what works for others. Most importantly though (after you’ve written that fabulous best-seller of course!) make sure you do research about the best vehicle for YOU in order to get your book out into the world. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, everything you need to know about being traditionally published or independently published, there’s a blog, conference, Yahoo or Facebook group about it somewhere. So do your due diligence before you put your work out there [steps down from soapbox]. 

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in print journalism, Sibylla has also worked in the entertainment industry at film production companies as well as for major talent agencies.  She lends this experience to give authenticity to the pages of her debut novel DreamCity.

DreamCity entices readers to delve into the intimate musings of Adrianna Whittaker’s personal diary. It pulls you into the Hollywood drama of drugs, betrayal, relationship dilemmas and growing pains that Adrianna experiences as she comes of age.

“I’ve been keeping a journal most of my life,” says Sibylla. “So I guess it’s only natural that my first novel would be written in a diary format.” A big believer in journaling, she facilitates a workshop, “Journaling Your Way to Success.”

Sibylla balances her writing life with the varied demands of parenthood.  Many of her experiences as a single mother raising her daughter Kortney weaves its way into her work. She was recognized by the WB11 News as an Unsung Hero for her parenting newsletter, In The Corner.

Sibylla currently lives in Los Angeles and is currently working on several other fiction and non-fiction projects.  Sibylla and Kortney have appeared on TLC’s Ballroom Bootcamp and recently filmed a Rice Krispies commercial.

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Author Rick Brambrink: a Victorian Lover and Publisher

Rick Brambrink started his self-publishing career in 2010 and already has seven books with more on the way.  He has a passion for touring Victorian style homes and meeting with the owners.  Rick is currently the president of the James J. Hill Society and will be holding a presentation at the Princeton Depot on November 13.

Another event coming up is ‘The Titanic’s of the Great Lakes’.  It is about the two passenger ships that James J. Hill had on the great lakes. There will be one model ship on display along with all of the photos and blue prints of the ships.  James built two passenger ships that sailed only on the great lakes, North West and North Land. They were sister ships and they were the largest and fastest ships on the great lakes at the time they were built and many years later.  Please comment if interested in more info on event.

Let’s welcome Rick Brambrink,

Rick Brambrink image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Rick:  I decided to publish because I think that it is important to record history. The first book that we published was in architectural style. We wanted to record historic fences and gates of historic mansions. Then we went into coloring books but also kept that on the historic side. Recording history is very important no matter what form it is in.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Rick:  Grand Fences and Gates of the James J. Hill House, Summit Avenue Coloring Book, Cathedral of Saint Paul Coloring Book, Glensheen  the Historic Congdon Estate Coloring Book, Minnesota North Shore Coloring Book, Twin Cities Coloring Book and Summit Avenue Mansions. 

Rick Brambrink cover 2Rick Brambrink cover 4Rick Brambrink cover 5

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Rick:  We do books on locations that have a good customer base. We make sure that before we do a book that they are willing to sell it. I have a good relationship with all of my customers so that they are willing to keep selling them.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Rick: I know that having a good website is very useful. But I have did not research publishing books before I got into the business. My business partner already had some background experience with publishing a book, I just had to be the front guy and make things happen. I have not read any books on publishing.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Rick:  Getting the word out on a new book.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Rick:  Don’t think that all you have to do is publish a book and watch the money roll in, you have to work long and hard at it to get your book to sell. You have to stay in contact with the book stores at all times and make sure they don’t run out of your book. It’s not easy.

 

Check out my previous author interviews and blogs on prelaunch marketing, cover/manuscript setup and working with a printer.  If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.   If you would like to be included in the author interview series and get some (free) book exposure – just email me at jill@mirabooksmart.com

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

 

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Author Mark Tierno: Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Mark lives in his home town of Monrovia California, the recipient of degrees in Physics and Math, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and SciFi.  The son of loving middle class parents, he spent 25 years of his life caring for them and watching his Dad’s health deteriorate from Parkinson’s Disease.  It was during this time that he discovered his talent for, and love of, writing stories.   The result was joy brought to the Tierno household as well as an epic that spans 13 novels.

“A world beyond time… an adventure beyond imagining.”

Let’s welcome Mark Tierno,

MarkTierno image

Real Answer Real Authors: Why did you decide to publish?

Mark:  Well, my old publisher who shall remain nameless (cough_PublishAmerica-cough) simply did not look out, or care for, its authors.  Their idea of marketing was to nickel and dime their own authors instead of trying to sell to the general public.  Since 100% of the work of marketing, selling, and distribution was left up to the authors, then why not publish it myself and get 100% of the profits.  After all it IS my hard work and creativity.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Mark:  “Maldene” is my big fantasy epic, with the first novel out as a two-volume set due to sheer size and my lack of notoriety.  It is a story of epic fantasy that also blends in some Sci-Fi in future novels in the series.  Seeing as how it’s a 13-novel series, I really need to get this first book selling first before I bring out the others.

Mark Tierno cover

RARA: How are you currently marketing your book and what has given you the best results?

Mark:  Right now I’ve been looking into Social Media Marketing through Facebook.  It’s the cheapest alternative that I can currently find, doesn’t require a really big marketing firm, and is something I can do while still at home working on my next story.  As far as results, it’s still too early to tell yet.

RARA: Are there any books or websites that you have found the most useful?

Mark:  Definitely!  LinkedIn is a great treasure trove of contacts just waiting to help you out.  I have seen people on there where I’m thinking, “Hey, I’ve seen the movie this guy wrote!” It’s where I got into contact with a couple of helpful people as well as a group of other authors that I am currently working on a set of stories with.

RARA: What has been your greatest challenge in self publishing?

Mark:  Letting the world know that you exist, finding out what to do after putting your own label on your book, and interacting more with the real world.  A lot of us writers aren’t really on great terms with the real world.

RARA: What is the best advice or tip you can give a new and aspiring author?

Mark:  Don’t give up!  Some people may tell you that you only have a one in a million chance of making it as an author, but you have a ZERO chance if you give up.  If writing is your passion, if you start to go through withdrawals if you’ve been away from the keyboard for too long, and if you have some stories that you REALLY need to get out, then just keep on trying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark lives in his home town of Monrovia California, the recipient of degrees in Physics and Math, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and SciFi.  The son of loving middle class parents, while Mark had a good enough childhood that allowed him to develop both intellectually and creatively, in the middle of High School his father developed Parkinson’s Disease. What followed was 25 years of watching his Dad and the family finances get worse and worse, helping out his mother with his Dad while finishing up his MS in Physics. A lifelong reader of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, when added tragedy, in the form of his grandpa’s old house burning to the ground, struck, the resulting insurance money eased off the collective burden enough to allow Mark to start writing a series of books that he had been developing in his head for the previous 15 years.

The result was some joy brought into the Tierno household to offset the bleak circumstances that an ailing father can bring. Caring for his father up through his death became a full-time job, but even so he was able to pen an amazing series of books that have few- if any- equals. This creative effort became the light in the darkness, bringing back some hope and joy and turning the house back into a home.

His father never lived to see it published, but his mother lived long enough to see it first published and a chapter or two read in a library before a small audience. Now his goal is to see his life’s work bring pleasure to the world outside his own.

In total, Maldene spans 13 novels, 5.2 million words, 250 characters, many worlds and dimensions, thousands of years, and is a unique blend of both Fantasy and Science fiction, coupled with skillful prose and realistic characterizations that put it head and shoulders above everything else out today. You will get lost in a story that will have you wondering if- somewhere out there- the world of Maldene just might exist.  Maldene is the first book in a series that will redefine the word Epic.

 

 

 

 

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Conquering the Beast: Part 1

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Amazon is the most wonderful place on Earth – or is it?  We all know that if you want to get book exposure then you need to have your book on Amazon.  The only problem is they take a hefty 55% when they sell your book.  They have the leverage to take a high dollar because of who they are and what they can offer a seller.  So I have decided if they are going to take 55% then I am going to make them work for it.  There are some basics to setting up an account but you can go further and figure out all the little tricks to get exposed faster and by more people.   This blog will review setting up the accounts.   The next blog, part 2, will go further into what you can do within the accounts.  Be sure and click the follow button on the top right so you are alerted to when the next blog is posted.

First you have to open an Amazon Advantage account.   Once you review the page on ‘What is Advantage’ and like what you see – sign up for the account.  This is your login screen once you have created an account (click on screen images for larger view) :

image 1

I was surprised at how ‘business like’ the site is but then I thought – this is for all sorts of sellers and some people have multiple products, items, pricing, etc so it is built to host a wide range.  There are a lot of tools for inventory control and analytics.  I would recommend just reviewing the site and click through some tabs.  I always feel a bit overwhelmed when starting a new program because there are a lot of features.

When you first sign up, you will need to add your book information and photos.  Just go under the Items tab and ‘Add an Item’.  You will then have to go through the steps and fill out the book info.  Then upload your images.  When uploading your book images, be sure and review how to properly name the images and the image size.  I actually went through this a couple of times because I didn’t pay attention to the labeling system they want used.  Once you submit then they go through a review right there and you quickly see if it was rejected or accepted.

Now that you have an item for sale, Amazon will send you a PO (Purchase Order).  This is usually for just 1 book to make the product ‘in stock’.    You will see a tab for ‘Orders’ so click there and select ‘Purchase Orders’.  Here is a screenshot:

image 2

You have to click on the little box to open the PO and then confirm it.  The PO will give you the basics of how many books to send and the address to send them to.  You then print the shipping label and packing slip (for inside the box).  Here is a screen shot of the PO I received:

image 3

So my thought is – I pay to print the book, they take 55% and now I have to pay at least $2.53/book (media mail – up to 9 business days) for Amazon to receive it.  Well, that’s not cool because I am now in the hole and will lose money on this book.  So I found a ‘stock up feature’ in their help section.  The help section is surprisingly helpful, btw.   You can go to Help/Orders/Stock Up Request and send them an email.  Just let them know it is for a promotion or launch of the book.  They need a reason to allow you to send more books.  Personally, I requested to send 10 books and they accepted within 2-3 business days.  They sent me a new PO for 10 books.

You have now officially put your book for sale on Amazon.  That wasn’t so bad now was it?

…Wait, we are not quite done…

AUTHOR CENTRAL

Amazon realizes that many authors are selling their books and they have created a separate site for Authors to share their info, reach more readers and get author help.   This is not part of the Amazon Advantage account you were just setting up.  This is different.  You can join here: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/.   Once you join, your home screen will look like this:

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First, go in and update your author central profile.   If I had a dollar for every profile I have setup while promoting my book, I would be rich from that and not book sales…anyway….This is like any other profile where you can add info about yourself such as:

  1. Bibliography, Photos and Video
  2. Blog, Twitter, Facebook feeds
  3. Any upcoming events

Then go and add your book.  Just click on ‘Book’ tab and add more books.  You want to make sure that all the books that you have with Amazon are added to this page.  Your Author Central profile is then linked to your Amazon book sales page like this:

image 5

You can sign up for the ‘Look Inside the Book’ feature through Author Central.  There are certain obvious rules like owning the work and having a valid ISBN#.   There are directions to signup under the Help tab.  I thought this part was strange but you have to send an email to insidethebook-submission@amazon.com.  First they have to accept your request which can take 2-3 business days.  Then they will send you an email with upload instructions and ANOTHER site to log into.  There are instructions on how to send your file so review carefully.  Once I uploaded, I received a Submission ID# but that was it.  It said successful so I just waited and waited….until finally 9 business days later it appeared online.  I was surprised to see things take so long because it is Amazon – I assumed it would be automatic.  I guess they have to review all materials first before making them live.  And it is a bit comforting to know there are actual people behind the site and all the emails.

So now you have an Amazon account setup and an Author Central account.  All we have to do is sell books!

Next up is Conquering the Beast: Part 2.  Be sure and click the follow button at the top right and you will be alerted with each new post.  As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

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Filed under Book Marketing, Book Media, Distribution, Self Publishing Author