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Word on the Street with Rosemary Van Deuren

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  It is interesting to read the varying responses from each unique author.

Tell us about it, Rosemary Van Deuren,

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

Rosemary:  Because I hoped there was an audience out there for the story I wanted to tell.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Rosemary:  My young adult fantasy novel, Basajaun. I began with a short, print-on-demand experimental run, to gauge reader response. When the response was positive, I fortified the book as much as possible and went back to press for an offset-printing edition — a more fully-realized version of the book.

Rosemary Van Deuren book cover

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

Rosemary:  Positive words from legitimate, established review outlets are helpful. Grassroots marketing dictates that, on average, people need to hear about your book from around seven or eight different sources before they’ll make the jump to purchase or pursue your work. Word-of-mouth is the most elusive, yet the best marketing you can get. Low-risk merchandising can also help pique the curiosity of potential readers. It’s understandably difficult for anyone to commit to buy a novel by an unestablished author, so attractive, creative tie-in merch sold alongside your book helps supplement interest in the early stages.

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

Rosemary:  The AbsoluteWrite.com “Water Cooler” forum is a good resource. Whoever writes the tips and how-to’s on AgentQuery.com does an excellent job.  Learning to edit your own work is a huge asset, and Stephen King’s On Writing book offers some great examples of how writers can become better self-editors. Also, pretty much everything on author Philip Pullman’s Q & A archive is pure gold: http://www.philip-pullman.com/q_a.asp

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

Rosemary:  Letting go of control. When you self-publish you become accustomed to doing everything yourself. It’s important to know when you need to step back and hire-out for the tasks that you, yourself, are not equipped to fulfill. For me, that meant hiring two amazing people — my editor Shawna Gore, and my cover painter Bernadette Carstensen.

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

Rosemary:  You have to want it enough to push yourself forward, because nobody else can do that for you. Even when you are fortunate enough to have loving, meaningful support around you, you are ultimately creating your work in a vacuum, alone. You have to be okay with that, especially in the face of rejection letters and long hours of isolation in front of a manuscript. You have to keep writing. Because the more you write, the more you prove to the world — and more importantly, to yourself — that you are not going to give up.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rosemary Van Deuren was the arts and entertainment interviewer for idlermag.com when the website chosen by the Writer’s Guild of America West for The Hotlist: A Guide to the Web’s Most Cutting Edge New Media Content. She has interviewed author Peter S. Beagle, artist and author Wayne Barlowe, actors Neil Jackson and Mark Indelicato, and many more.

She was also the press release writer for Quarry Bridge, an art show featuring the works of film concept artist and effects art director TyRuben Ellingson, and environmental ceramicist Stephen Plantenberg. Van Deuren is author of the young adult fantasy, Basajaun. In spring of 2013, she signed with Mariposa Press for the American edition of Basajaun to be marketed and sold in France.

Basajaun can be purchased on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Basajaun-Rosemary-Van-Deuren/dp/0985852100

 

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Word on the Street with Josh Frank

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Josh Frank is an author, trainer, and consultant with 20 years in the federal space.  He is a leading authority on small business government sales and speaks nationally on small business acceleration.

JoshFrank

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

Frank:  It started as a concept back in 2003. Before I ever considered the value of publishing, I recognized that my success in business had been the result of an academic approach to how I worked with colleagues and clients. Having worked for both Fortune 500 and small business, I found myself studying the techniques and strategies used by other professionals, identifying gaps, improving those strategies, and successfully using them to win new business. For ten years, I captured and developed thousands of techniques and strategies that simplified processes and accelerated the federal sales cycle. Then in 2006, I tailored these processes into what I later called ‘Realignment Solution Methodology’ (RSM), which became the name of my company two years later (RSM Federal).  I knew from talking with other authors that you don’t write a book to make money. In the consulting industry, my peers published in order to brand themselves and to increase their perceived level of credibility. So in 2008 when I decided to start my company, I made sure I had an emergency fund (one year’s living expenses) and I started writing the book. The first three months were focused on planning and organizing my thoughts. Like most industries, there are competent professionals and those not so competent. In the consulting industry, there are equal good stories and horror stories. Every client we’ve had the last several years was hesitant to hire a consultant because they had previously hired a consultant that provided little benefit. As a result, communicating the value of RSM Federal’s services was competing against the memories of past consultants.

 I realized that in order to differentiate myself in the market, I had to successfully communicate that my expertise and the expertise of my company was proven, valuable, and an industry leader. This also required that I communicate a highly ethical approach and that I do not simply work for clients, but actively partner with them. To achieve this vision, the thousands of techniques and strategies were communicated in a way that shifted the consulting paradigm. In effect, my book was designed and published to provide a level of credibility that facilitated instant trust and communicated a high level of thought leadership.  Of course, it always sounds easier than it is. It took a year to write the book while consistently asking the question ‘What value do my clients require and does this technique or strategy provide that value?’ Today, the manual does not simply provide credibility. It serves as the foundation for every client engagement. Why did I decide to publish? I published because it facilitates personal and organizational credibility while simultaneously differentiating the value of RSM Federal’s services.

I had to ask myself one simple question. Am I selling the book to make money or am I selling the book to differentiate and position in the market?  For me, writing the book was about value . . . not revenue. However, value leads to revenue. . .

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Frank:  I have published two works. The first is only known in the US Intelligence Community and within the United States Army; Techniques and Strategies for Virtual Teams, March 2000. I then published the 450 page federal sales guide, The Government Sales Manual in April 2009.

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

Frank:  Marketing any product, let alone a book, is a difficult undertaking. I should point out that The Government Sales Manual is more expensive than your average book. The cost of printing a single manual costs twice as much to print as what it would cost you to buy a book on Amazon. The retail cost of the manual is more than a hundred dollars. As a result, when I first tried selling via Amazon, I found the price too high to compete with the average book. Without knowing who I am or what my company does, why would someone spend seven times what it would cost to buy what appears to be another similar book? I have two graduate degrees including an MBA and no matter how much content I included in the description or how I positioned that content, I realized that I was priced out of Amazon. I also tried Google Ad Words. However, the only way to generate sales required that I pay expensive pay per click rates. For my market and industry, I simply could not sell enough manuals to cover the cost of an extended Google campaign. Some months it paid off but there were more months where it did not.

It took four years to identify the best marketing strategies. As an example, I spoke at the National Veterans Conference this year.  Several hundred business owners attended my sessions. Unlike most authors, I didn’t simply put the book on the table in front of me and refer to it throughout my session. Conference attendees really dislike sessions where the speaker is consistently making a sales pitch. Instead, I took a very strategic approach. I spent two months preparing my sessions – based on a small subset of what is included in the manual.  When speaking at a conference, I don’t actively sell the manual – the credibility and trust that is generated from my session sells the manual. It’s also important to note that how I market the manual at a conference is a multi-tiered and integrated strategy. Similar to business cards, I developed a card with a picture of the manual and a dynamic QR code. I then created a landing page on the company website for this specific conference and session and linked the QR code to this page. The QR code was also integrated into each presentation on the last slide.  Additionally, I required an emotional trigger so in supporting the Veterans Business Resource Center, donated $20 from every sale to helping Veterans.  Additionally, and this runs contrary to today’s best practices, but I do not provide a digital version of the book. To obtain the most value from the book, it needs to be a true desktop reference. When you read the book, the average customer wants to take notes, tag pages, and be able to quickly find those techniques and strategies that will add value to their company. Furthermore, a hard copy becomes a sales tool and we make sales simply because one business owner saw another business owner using the manual. Finally, my web development team spent eight months redesigning our website in 2013. We had professional pictures taken of the book in a conference room overlooking the New York skyline and these pictures were used to develop modern and professional graphics for the website. There are another dozen strategies we employed to facilitate our multi-tiered and integrated marketing strategy but that’s for another time.

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

Frank:  Actually, no. I found my network and colleagues to be the most beneficial. Of course I researched this online. I looked at several hundred websites and purchased several dozen books. They all provided some level of value but none provided as much value as talking with other authors and colleagues.

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

Frank:  My greatest challenge has been the cost of goods sold (COGS). Ordering and printing fifty manuals would cost thousands. That’s several thousand dollars in cash flow sitting on my shelves waiting for orders. So my greatest challenge remains identifying a way to decrease COGS.

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

Frank:  I guess the answer depends on the type of book. I can’t answer this question for non-professional works. But if you’re a business professional looking to differentiate yourself and brand yourself as an expert, self-publishing a book is an excellent project. But before you go down this road, get feedback from your colleagues. Not your family. Not your spouse. Not your friends. Ask your colleagues if what you plan on writing is needed by the market? Are you truly qualified to write about your subject? Do you have at least half a dozen clients or past clients who will write a testimonial saying you are one of the best in your industry? This is why you want to bounce your ideas off your colleagues. And when you’re ready to start writing and you plan on six months to complete it – it’ll take twice as long! At the end of the day, the book is just a tool.

 

AUTHOR INFO

Author, trainer, and consultant with 20 years in the federal space, Josh Frank is a leading authority on small business government sales and speaks nationally on small business acceleration.  Mr. Frank specializes in the development and implementation of techniques and strategies for sales, marketing, and teaming activities. These techniques and strategies facilitate improved positioning, competitive advantage, and sales cycle acceleration to win new contracts and increase revenue. His seminars are consistently rated as being real-world, highly educational, and thought provoking.

Principal of RSM Federal (www.rsmfederal.com), Mr. Frank is author of The Government Sales Manual, one of the most comprehensive and educational resources on the market for small business government sales.  Since 2003, the manual has helped small businesses win more than 180 government contracts with more than two dozen contract wins in 2013.

Mr. Frank also serves on the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Veterans Business Resource Center (VBRC).  In this role, Mr. Frank provides oversight, mentorship, and recommends operational strategy in support of the Center.

An avid outdoor enthusiast and Boy Scout leader, Joshua lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and daughter. A former Military Intelligence Officer, he is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in English and post-graduate degrees in Management Information Systems (MIS) and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Webster University Walker School of Business.

For more information on Josh and the RSM Federal, please visit http://www.rsmfederal.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Word on the Street with Kristina Blank Makansi

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Kristina Blank Makansi:

Kristina Blank Makansi

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

Kristina:  I co-founded a publishing company, Blank Slate Press, in 2010 and we’ve published 6 books—5 fiction and one memoir. I am also a partner in Treehouse Publishing Group, an author services company that works with both traditionally and self-published authors. For my own work, I queried and had some interest in my historical fiction, ORACLES OF DELPHI, and have one traditional publisher that would like to see a revised version. But because of my experience with Blank Slate Press and Treehouse, I asked myself why I should have someone else publish my book when I can do it myself. So when my daughters and I co-wrote THE SOWING, the first book in our YA/New Adult sci-fi trilogy, we decided to publish it ourselves. We are a family of do-it-yourselfers and self-employed types, and the lessons learned from each project I’ve worked on over the years for other authors—from editor to title consultant to interior layout designer to cover designer to event coordinator to chief cook and bottle washer—can all be applied to publishing and marketing THE SOWING. So self-publishing makes sense for us.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Kristina:  Books I’ve published through Blank Slate Press include: THE SAMARITAN (which will be republished by Picador in 2014), DANCING WITH GRAVITY, SLANT OF LIGHT, OFF THE LEASH, NEVER HUG A NUN, DRIVING ALONE, and the upcoming COUNTERFEIT. Through Treehouse, we’ve put out ROBOT+BIKE=KITTEN and DRAFTED is coming soon. Plus we’ve worked on a bevy of books that are being self-published by the authors. THE SOWING is the only title of my (our) own that we’ve published to date. We started by experimenting with serialization, but because many of our readers said they couldn’t wait to read the whole book, we gave that up. If we’d been traditionally published, we wouldn’t have had the flexibility to try something new. Now, we’re issuing the whole book and we’re excited about that process. The e-book is out now (or will be soon) and the print book will come out in September

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

Kristina:  We love social media, of course, but we also love meeting readers face-to-face. I have wonderful relationships with the local independent booksellers and enjoy working with them to host author events. You may not always sell a gazillion copies, but you always have a good time. And as much as independent authors depend upon Amazon and online e-books, I believe in supporting other small business owners as well. Attending conferences and meeting other authors—who are usually voracious readers—is important, too.

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

Kristina:  Building an audience as an author is difficult whether you’re traditionally or self-published, but I think Facebook and even LinkedIn are good places to connect with other authors. There are all sorts of genre-specific groups to join on those sites. A lot of people are using Google + as well, but I’m not nearly as active there. As far as blogs/websites go, I subscribe to Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Weekly,  and the The Shatzkin Files, and I read Publishing Perspectives, Jane Friedman’s Writing on the Ether, and David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible religiously. I’m also a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

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

Kristina:  Getting readers to buy our book, of course! Seriously, it is tough out there for debut authors whether you go the traditional route or the independent route. And just because you have a publisher—even a big five publisher—behind you, it’s still tough. The biggest challenge is marketing your book without being annoying. The number of people on twitter who simply tweet “Buy my book!” all day long makes my head hurt.

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

Kristina:  Be professional. If you want to be considered a professional author, if you want people to shell out their hard-earned money for your book and then precious time out of their busy lives actually reading it and then recommending it to others, you need to approach the writing, the editing, the interior layout, the cover, the marketing and promotions just like you would if you were opening a shop down the street. As we say at Treehouse, writing is an art, but publishing is a business. And running a business takes investments in both time and money. Hire an editor. Even if you’re planning to query and hoping to get an agent or editor to publish traditionally, you should hire an editor to get your manuscript in the best shape possible. Agents and small press editors get hundreds if not thousands of queries, and if your work doesn’t stand out, you won’t have a chance. If you’re self-publishing, hire a proofreader. Hire a cover designer. Be professional. If we all, as independent authors approach publishing professionally, the old stigma around self-publishing will disappear.

AUTHOR BIO

Kristy co-founded Blank Slate Press in 2010 to discover, nurture, publish and promote new voices from the greater Saint Louis area and beyond, and in 2013, she co-founded Treehouse Publishing Group to provide author services to both traditionally and self-published authors. She has worked as a copywriter, marketing coordinator, web and collateral designer, and editor. She has a B.A. in Government from University of Texas at Austin and a M.A.T. from the College of New Jersey and an opinion on everything. Currently, she is hard at work revising her historical fiction, ORACLES OF DELPHI, set in ancient Greece and is publishing THE SOWING, the first book in THE SEEDS TRILOGY, a YA/New Adult sci-fi series co-written with her two daughters.

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Word on the Street with Michele Hinton

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors. All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise. Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews. Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience. You will get the good, the bad and the ugly. Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Michele Hinton:

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

Michele: Being a new and unknown author, I tried for years to find a traditional publisher or agent for my manuscripts. Twenty years ago, vanity presses were outrageously expensive (I’d received a quote for $40,000.00 from one of them), so my work gathered dust in a drawer. Six years ago, I rediscovered print on demand publishers and gave it a try. It is still expensive, but a far cry from 20 years ago. Two of my novels became available through different websites, however, book stores would still not carry them on their shelves. That’s when I decide to publish my work on my own. I could format my own books and sell them through different venues on-line. I then decided that other new authors might be in the same boat that I was, so I expanded on my thoughts and now offer to publish the work of others (who are unable to publish on their own) as either ebook or paperback and distribute where I can without the high price charges that some of the major POD companies charge. I only charge when a book sells and then I split the royalties with my clients after expenses, which in some cases might be more than the 8% to 10% that traditional publishers would pay.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Michele: Books in Print written by Michele L. Hinton:
High Seas: The Cabin Boy
High Seas: A Matter of Blood
Tales with a Twist & Tales Totally Twisted
The Sin-Eater’s Daughter
Princess Courtney and the Magic Suit
Humpty-Dumpty: A Fractured Tale
Michael Smith (ebook only)
Joshua Pennwrite: Ghost Writer (ebook)

Books Written by my clients :

Beauregard Blue by Betty J. Rees
Bring Me a Blue Bird – by Brian Durski
Winds of Sand by Brian Durski
The Four Year Hitch by Roy Reichelt, Jr. (Coming Soon)
Dontay’s Alphabet Book of Color by Evelyn Hall
The Masks We Wear by Stacie Cooper
Secrets of Asian Women by Crystal Tai
A Field Where Memories Grow II by Joyce Lawhorn
The Confidence Box by Roy Reichelt, III
Poetry for the Mind by Debra Stephenson
The New Order by Charlie Thrun

Plus more

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

Michele: I’ve tried several local outlets: newspaper advertising, TV/website ads: Facebook; I have a book trailer for my book, The Sin-Eater’s Daughter;book fairs and events. Trying to find the right marketing tool is an uphill struggle with a limited budget.

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

Michele: Amazon Kindle has been my best venue, and I’ve had some sales through Smashwords as well as my own website, http://www.theseashellbooks.com

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

Michele: The major challenge in self-publishing is finding a distributor that will be able to put books on book store shelves. Thus far, I am finding that unless you have hefty sales and a large bank account, finding a distributor or even getting into a major database is just as difficult as trying to find a traditional publisher/agent.

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

Michele: If you love to write, keep doing it. Have an open mind to suggestions made by other writers. You might find their words helpful. In these days and times, if you can’t find traditional means of publication, do it yourself. If you don’t have the technical skills to do it yourself, there are publishers out there, like me, who can give you a chance for your work to get out there.

AUTHOR BIO

Michele Hinton was born in Louisville, Kentucky and now resides in Bowling Green. She was married in 2007 for the first time at the tender age of 50. She holds a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo and taught for many years (retired). Currently Michele is working on her Bachelor’s Degree and is expected to graduate in Oct. 2013. She won awards for her poetry from Mid-Continent University’s creative writing competitions. This year she won 1st place for her poem, Nature’s Serenade and will have several other poems published in their review magazine this year. Michele also started her own publishing company in 2008 and caters to the new author.

“Writing is my passion,” Michele says. Her newest books are The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, a novel, and a fully illustrated children’s book, Princess Courtney and the Magic Suit. Within the next few weeks, she will be launching an autobiography by Roy Reichelt, Jr. entitled, The Four Year Hitch on her website, www.theseashellbooks.com and it will also be available on Amazon and through Smashwords.

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Word on the Street with Bob Megantz

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

Tell us about it, Bob Megantz:

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

Bob: I am a musician and audio engineer, and I have a great interest in tube guitar amplifiers.  I found no reliable, accurate information in published books or magazines on the topic.  In fact, I found lots of misinformation, so I wanted to produce a clear, correct, and concise resource for interested musicians and equipment designers.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

Bob: Designing and Constructing Guitar Amplifiers. This is the only self-published book I have written.  Two other books I wrote (How to License Technology and Technology Management: Designing and Implementing Effective Licensing Programs) were published by Wiley.

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

Bob:  I currently sell directly from my Web site and through Ebay, and indirectly through several vendors and through the Amazon Advantage program.  Most of my books are sold through Amazon.  I advertise in two guitar-related magazines (Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar), and participate in several related forums.

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

Bob:  Several useful related resources are listed in the bibliography.  There is a great deal of useful information on this topic available on the Web.  If you are referring to resources useful in marketing my book, Amazon has been the most useful (and also takes the biggest cut).

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

Bob:  Fulfillment.  While fulfillment services are available, they are expensive (and labor-intensive), so I have been handling fulfillment myself.  I make many trips to the PO.

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

Bob:  Write about what you love.  Don’t worry about commerciality while writing.  I say this because writers will in all likelihood gain modest (at best) financial rewards.   Figure out for whom you are writing, and ways to contact those people.  If you want to sell books, promote and advertise. The world will not beat a path to your door.

AUTHOR BIO

I’ve been involved in music and electronics since the 60’s, when I electrified my ukulele.  My parents had a Magnavox record player, whose ceramic cartridge plugged into the amplifier via a RCA jack.  I bought a contact microphone from the local electronics store, attached it to my ax, plugged in to the Magnavox, and counted off “Memphis.”

That seemed to get my parents’ attention, so they bought me a Heathkit shortwave radio kit for Christmas, along with a Weller “pistol-grip” soldering iron.  I assembled the radio, attached the antenna, turned it on, and it started howling.  I couldn’t get it to work right until I resoldered every joint in the radio.

By this time we’d moved to Jersey, and I started buying my own equipment.  First up was a Lafayette amplifier, which, if I recall correctly, used two 6BQ5’s in its push-pull output stage.  I connected the amplifier to the 12” speaker in the console TV in my bedroom, and plugged my uke into the phono input.  I had no idea why it sounded so bassy…

I upgraded to electric guitar in ’67, when my folks bought me a used Fender Jazzmaster.  I joined a band with my friends, but I needed an amp, so I emptied my savings account and bought an Ampeg Gemini II at the local music store.  Luckily, it included the dolly, since I had to push it all the way home.

I took that rig to Cornell University, where I studied Electrical Engineering, including a couple of courses on electronic music taught by Robert Moog.  I also took every music class I could, and worked part time as an electronics technician at the Cornell Synchrotron.   My guitar never sounded quite right to me, so I started by changing the speaker in the amp, and then, in ’70, I sold the Jazzmaster and bought a Gibson ES-335, which I still play today.   The Ampeg went next, first for a Marshall Major, then a long string of other amps.

After graduation I headed out to Santa Barbara, where I worked for a couple of years testing integrated circuits for Burroughs.  I was still playing in bands, and I started building my own equipment, both amps and speaker systems.   I then moved to San Francisco, where I eventually ended up working at Dolby Laboratories as an audio engineer.   I learned much of what you will read in Chapter 1 at Dolby.

In the last decade or so I have been taking a more orderly and comprehensive approach to amplifier design.  I began, like most designers, by repairing and modifying various Fender, Ampeg, Marshall, and other designs.  Later, I began constructing new amplifiers, first using existing units, such as Fender Bassmen, as platforms, and then designing and constructing all electrical and mechanical parts of the amplifier.  Each amplifier was used in performances with various guitars, speakers, and effects systems.

This experience has provided the basis for the book you are about to read.

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE

www.amazon.com

www.tactec.biz

 

 

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Word on the Street with John Moore

Through my years in publishing, I have worked with some really great authors.  All of these authors approach self publishing with their own agenda and expertise.   Since the whole point of my blog and book is to look at the reality of self-publishing, I thought it would be nice to do a series of author interviews.  Welcome to ‘Word on the Street’.

My author interviews will consist of 6 questions about them, their book and their experience.  You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.  Not all real self publishing stories are full of rainbows and butterflies – it can suck sometimes too.

John Moore and I will be speaking at the O’Fallon Writers Guild Writers Workshop on Saturday September 7, 2013 starting at 8:00 A.M.  The event will be held at Lindenwood University Belleville Campus.  For more information on the event, click here.

….Come on down, John Moore

John Moore pic

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

John:  This is a bit of a long story; nevertheless it answers the question.  Several years ago, after my daughter divorced, I became a de facto father to my grandson who was twelve at the time.  Over the course of the next few years, I did my best to help him straighten his life out and emphasize his education.   Starting Junior High he didn’t like English.  Even though he was good in math and science, writing and reading the English language seemed like a waste of time to him.  So, I looked for ways to subtly change his attitude.  One night when we were camping along one of the Missouri “float” rivers, he asked what kind of CDs I liked when I was his age.  (We’re fifty years apart in age.)  He was surprised when I told him we didn’t have such things then, along with a lot of other things that are around now.  That discussion led to our contrasting a great many areas, then and now.  Then, I asked him what he thought would be different for his grandson fifty years away.  His imagination of the future was phenomenal.  Together we’d pick a subject—TV, world affairs, petroleum, war, lifestyles, etc.—and imagine what life would be when he had a grandson in fifty more years.  We began a list.  The list grew and we agreed to put it in a time capsule and open it in fifty years to see how right or wrong we were.  However, that wasn’t satisfying, nor did it do anything for his enthusiasm about English.  So, I suggested we work the material we’d listed into a short story.  It would be a story with his yet to be born grandson as the hero.  I wrote some and he wrote some and what started out to be a short story got longer.  In fact, it became a novel, which we self-published.  My family nick name is Poppies, so he thought that would be a good name to be called when he become a grandfather too.  So the title of the story became, “A Journey with Poppies.”  It is a story of him and his grandson fifty years into the future.  When he went into Eighth Grade, he felt a lot different about English.

RARA: What titles have you published to date?

John:  A Journey with Poppies, The Head of Khalid Salaam, Frigby’s War.

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

John:  I have tried book signings, e-mails to friends and family, meeting with book clubs, advertising on Web Sites related to the book, word of mouth, and prayer, hope, and hand-wringing.  Some work.  Some don’t.  Unless lightning strikes, most self-published authors struggle to earn back what they paid to publish.

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

John:  Not really.  However, I believe there is a business out there for someone with the savvy and audacity to take self-published books and market them.  Too many self-published authors are reluctant to spend the time and/or endure the pain of rejection to market their stuff.  If it is truly blither, it won’t sell no matter how skillful it’s marketed.  However, a third party not emotionally involved with the title and with the experience and moxie to push it on to the reading public (targeting the right sector) could be successful.

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

John:  You can guess from the above.  It is marketing my work.  I enjoy the writing; even the proofing.  However, when it comes to my own creation, I’m a reluctant salesman.  I believe I’m not alone in that respect.

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

John:  Expect to work as hard at promoting both you and your book as you did writing it.  It’s a jungle out there and survival of the fittest is the rule.  Being fit in the writing business means (1) cranking out a well-written product about a subject people are interested in and (2) becoming the epitome of the door-to-door sales person who won’t take no for an answer.

AUTHOR BIO

Twenty-eight years spent in the military during the prime of life cannot help but influence one’s ideas and opinions on everything from national defense to how people are treated.  I didn’t start out to be a career military officer.  It just sort of happened.  Coming from a lower middleclass background, the opportunity to attend a service academy solved the problem of how to pay for a college education.  A subsequent graduate degree in engineering added to my commitment to the Air Force, so by then I was hooked.

Through it all, however, the pressure to be a good soldier was always pitted against a renegade attitude which was sometimes suppressed, but more often not.  Growing up in the Midwest, I blended the solid WASP values I learned from my family and friends with the melting pot of attitudes and conduct I found in the military.  Following my military career, I saw the other side of the coin by spending fourteen years in a private sector engineering firm.  The result is that I am somewhat of a hybrid—neither a straight-laced, conservative, retired military officer nor am I a laid back, liberal Midwesterner.  I have read On War by Clausewitz but I prefer Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Writing came along in my life well after my two engineering careers had faded into the sunset.

I write because I enjoy the challenge of telling the story and revel in making it all come together.  So, while I have paced the agitated halls of the Pentagon, I prefer a solitary stroll on the beach.  I have seen the fervor and excitement of battle but it pales in contrast with the glimpse of a newborn baby.  I write because there are stories that need to be told. Those who knew me once might say I have mellowed some.  They would be right.

John Moore                                  

918 Indian Springs Road

O’Fallon, IL 62269

killermoore@aol.com

618-632-6575

 

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AND REVIEW

A Journey with Poppies – Available as an e-book at Authorhouse.com

The Head of Khalid Salaam – Available in paperback or e-book at Authorhouse.com

Frigby’s War – Available at Createspace.com/3563818, Amazon.com, and Kindle.

 

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Still Don’t Have An eBook?

eBooks/Readers/Files

When I started working in book publishing, eBooks were not around just yet.   When they did come around, everyone was very curious and maybe a little scared (especially those who rely on people buying print!).   What exactly is an eBook and how is it different than a regular digital file – like a pdf?

Well, first off – eBook is short for ‘electronic book’.  You would create an eBook to be read on electronic devices like computers or eReaders (Kindle, Nook, iPad and so on).   This works best with text based documents.  The conversion basically puts all this text into one seamless page.   Your end user will have the freedom (on their reader) to adjust the text to their liking – big, small, blue, whatever.

You can have a document with charts, graphs, images etc converted to an eBook file too.  These elements are usually captured as a ‘flat image’ in the document.   This is to prevent things from being jumbled on a reader.  For instance, a chart has to be an ‘image’ otherwise it will look all funky when someone is minimizing or maximizing on their eReader screen.   You don’t want loose text in the chart just running all over the page and looking wonky – now do you?    Jumbled, Funky, Wonky = BAD.

When eBooks started to gain popularity, everyone wanted to invent an eReader device – it was the hot new item.  This caused a problem because they all required different formats – which was a super PITA when trying to do the conversion on your book.  For instance, you couldn’t open the same file on an iPad as you could the Nook.  Eventually, everyone got smart and the ePub file emerged as the universal format to these readers.  Except for Amazon of course…  They like to be special and require their own format – mobi.

Conversion/Distribution

There are companies out there that can do the conversion for you.  You provide a file (like a word or pdf) and they will send you the ePub and Mobi format – for a small or large fee.  Your price will depend on how many pages, images, links etc – basically the complexity of the book determines the price.   I had my conversion done by www.eBooks2go.com.    If you have a more complicated file, it would be best to let a professional handle this for you.  They will create a nice TOC and have everything link back and forth and make the eBook file very user friendly.  Professionals like eBooks2go also offer distribution to various online stores like Amazon, iTunes and B&N.

For the sake of comparison (and for my blog), I tried Smashwords to convert as well.   An author mentioned Smashwords in my book and once I learned more about it, I was intrigued – mostly because of their distribution options.   I was not too impressed with the look of their website.  It is very easy to navigate and self explanatory but it was a bit plain and ho-hum.   The creator of Smashwords also published books relating to the site.  These books are tutorials on using the site to the full extent, setting up files correctly and marketing your book through Smashwords – genius.

Anyway, this site has a free converter.   I would only recommend this for basic docs with just text.   Although the conversion is free, it can garner up some frustrations.  I have my doc uploaded to their site now and it is currently being ‘reviewed’ for their premium catalog.   The premium catalog consists of numerous distribution channels and libraries.   This is what I find fascinating about Smashwords.  The more wheels you have out their cranking away, the better – especially with little to no effort from you (the author).  Some people call this lazy, I call it efficient.   You want to have as many channels as you possibly can feeding the beast because that is what it’s all about – exposure and sales.

Pricing

Many people ask me what to price their book.  Honest answer – I have no idea.  It is up to the author to research similar books and see what people are paying and why.  Always leave room for discounts and promotions to build interest and always have a call to action (2 days only – 25% off).   On Smashwords, you have a personal dashboard and can add coupons and do sampling.  A sampling would be letting people download 15 or 20% of the book at no cost.  This can get them to buy the book when they otherwise would have not.  It is a good idea to play around with this and see what works.  I will have mine on Smashwords for 99 cents at first.   Personally, I will always buy something I find the slightest bit interesting when it is just a buck – most other people will too.  It is much easier to get $1 from 5000 people then $10 from 500 people.

Unfortunately, everyone will want a piece of the pie and why not – you are using these channels to sell the book so they want a cut.   And yes, they are all different.  Here is an example of some fees.  The company distributing it (like Smashwords or eBooks2go) will also take 10-15% for managing the accounts.  Not a bad deal really when you do nothing.  Hopefully it results in a check coming to you every quarter.

           Amazon B&N Apple
$1-2.99  65%   60%   30%
$3-9.99  30%   35%   30%
$10-199 65%   60%   30%

As a publisher, it is important to provide your readers with options.   The printed book will never go away but the younger generations are all about the devices now.  I can’t really judge – we have plenty lying around the house too.

Check out my previous blogs on press releases 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.

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, eBooks, Self Publishing Author