Saturday, June 15, 2013

Should You Self-Publish Your Book Or Not: Things To Consider

More people are writing fiction today than ever before. A case could be made that more people are writing fiction than reading it. reports 7,807,283,481 words published.

That’s a lot, and a Google search “how many eBooks are there?” shows that there is no count, just more and more every day. One must remember that eBooks are universal, not just American phenomena, and that the Global Village has more readers than ever before.

Writing a book, getting an agent, finding a publisher and an editor willing to take a chance, waiting two years for your book to appear, then getting shelf space, doing book tours to drive sales, putting out a blog and a website and joining forums---traditional publishing is harder to do now than ever before. The volume of submissions has caused bottlenecks at every point of transition. One is likely to get shut down at the agent level by rejection letters citing “No longer accepting unsolicited submissions” or some variation. Whatever happened to that book you were writing? People will say. Meanwhile some teenager just made $100,000 online with her tale of vampire romance. The urge to say the hell with New York City gets stronger, the more you investigate the resources available to the self-publishing community.

It is important to talk about the alternatives open to writers.

Self-publishing is easy to do, you send in your Word document in a proper format (See The Smashwords Style Guide)and get approval options at You create your own cover (or have it created) and upload it. You can change your text or art at any time. In a day or two your eBook is online. In a week or two it can be purchased at iTunes, Kobo, Diesel, even Barnes&Noble, and the options keep growing.

Here’s the hard part: where will sales come from? There’s no Publishers Weekly blurb, no Book Review ad, no stand-up display in a crowded store, nothing more than the brief front page splash you get for a couple hours on the front page at Smashwords. The self-pubber has to do his/her own marketing and publicity, and this part of the process is actually harder than writing the book. 

Any self-published author you encounter online you encounter because of the extra work that writer has put in. I have 600 friends on Facebook and I don’t know 560 of them. The majority are self-published authors looking to use Social Media to promote themselves and their work. When I first put out this blog, SmashwordsBooksReviewed, I was overwhelmed by the amount of submissions. I created a Facebook Page of the same name to allow writers to post their own reviews, since there was no way I could provide so many. It’s still there, a resource to get the word out about a new eBook.

What I noticed immediately, when the manuscripts began arriving, was that few of them could get an agent’s attention. The editing was horrible, grammar often incorrect, punctuation seemingly invented on the fly. There were some well-written eBooks I featured here, but the avalanche of rough first-drafts masquerading as finished works convinced me that little or no effort had been made in the traditional publishing channel. And that was a shame, because writing can be very rewarding, and can last for a very long time, if the effort is made to correct, revise and re-write, over and over, until the work offered for consideration is worthy of another’s time.

I am quite sincere about this. I took down and deleted my own eBooks from Smashwords and the other sites, because when I had gotten over the initial excitement, I saw the many mistakes in continuity, formatting and copy I had made. Eventually I will re-write these books. But for now what I want to offer writers is this insight: either publishing avenue, traditional or eBook, should come after you make your most serious effort to produce your best work. There should not be two standards, good enough for traditional publishing or good enough for eBook. The readers are the same, and deserve a finished product.

In future posts, I will be discussing options for writers considering publication in either format.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Promote your book

I'm having everyone post their own reviews and promo at the Facebook page. You can do the 10 questions in Discussions as well. This is a good way to post, Twitter and bring friends in as well.!/pages/Smashwords-Books-Reviewed/159991364017657!/pages/Smashwords-Books-Reviewed/159991364017657

Post, tell your friends, and remember to Like and Share. Your posts will automatically be Twittered.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

DIY Book Reviews!/topic.php?uid=159991364017657&topic=253

You can now post your own book reviews at my Facebook Smashwords Books Reviewed page, and go to the Discussions page and do the Q&A--10 Questions--to let readers know more about you and your work. It's free, and gives me time to actually write and watch SuperBowls.---Neil

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Featured Author: Richard Sutton

Richard Sutton has 2 terrific books, The Red Gate, and The Gatekeepers,  for sale at Smashwords, featuring an Irish/Celtic family with a secret that they must guard. I love the theme of guarding the past against today's world, and the setting plays an important thematic role in both books.

I asked Richard to do the Q&A:

10 Questions

1) How long have you been writing?

About 40 years now – since I was 18 or so.
2) How are you marketing your books?

I’m trying to work online through online as well as print media, direct marketing to booksellers and through my own blog site and other writers and readers sites. I still don’t tweet, and facebook gives me headaches!
3) Tell us why readers will like your latest book.

The second book in the O’Deirg family saga looks at serious issues using humor to “grease the joints” and keep things moving, Overall, I really enjoyed writing this, and I hope my readers will feel that in the reading.

4) How do you edit your books? Do you have help?

I have a couple of principal editors I’m involving now each step of the way. The first is my wife, who is called upon regularly even during drafts. I also use a series of Beta Readers, authors themselves, who can give me important observations and comment regarding the mechanics of the work beyond simple proofreading.
5) Where are your books available?

In addition, they’re in the Bowker listings and the Ingram catalog, so they’re carried by a few bricks and mortar booksellers as well.
6) What have your reviews been like so far?

I’ve been very lucky that they have been very good, even when they were not so good! My most recent was one I was really pleased with, by author C.J. Good:

7) What do you deal with at your blog/website?

I use it to tackle a range of writers and readers subjects plus my own rants covering a lot of the annoyance duJour.
8) Have you found reader discussion groups for your genre?

I have found some discussion among Irish and Celtic forum groups on Amazon and on the web, but hope to broaden the range based upon my writing in more than one defining genre.

9) Would you like to review your favorite Smashwords writer?

Of course! It helps if it is someone I know, as I hate writing reviews of work that has been thoroughly dissected before I come to it.
10) What are you working on now?

The current Work in Progress is a novel I’m tentatively calling Sullivan. It’s another family issues book, but it is set in the present, here in the Southwestern USA. It reveals a devastating secret as human remains are uncovered that point towards the title character. He has anger management issues that are close to getting the better of him and his resources are vague at the best. It’s more mainstream than my last books, and I am going to pitch it as John Nichols channeling Elmore Leonard. Oh, did I mention that it’s very entertaining, too?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Featured Author: Sean Patrick Reardon

Sean Patrick Reardon has been the number 1 supporter of this blog, and now, without me doing anything, he has the Number 2 Bestselling Book at Every author who has been reviewed here has received a posted comment from Sean, offering encouragement and support. I mean, look at the guy. How can you not like Sean? Now Mindjacker, his first novel, is ready to steamroll its way to Numero Uno. Lets take a look.

"When wealthy Russian mobsters contract L.A psychologist Joel Fischer to develop a device to manipulate minds, the DreemWeever exceeds all expectations. Everything is on track for delivery and a big payday, until two adventurous stoners steal his Dodge Challenger that, unknown to them, contains the DreemWeever in its trunk. Fischer and his crew have two days to get it back or he dies."--From the Smashwords description.

Here's his 10 Questions answered:

10 Questions

1) How long have you been writing?
I got into trying to write with the intention of perhaps getting others to read it in 2005. I have always had a great imagination and sense of adventure. As early as I can remember I loved reading, watching television, and movies. In school I loved anything that required reading or writing, especially creative writing.

2) How are you marketing your books?
I try to take advantage of every opportunity I can find or is offered that will let me talk about the novel and my writing. I am a huge fan of networking through blogs, websites, facebook, and discussion forums. I also love to work with libraries to do author events. I always try to be polite and if someone offers me an opportunity or provides comments, I make it a point to always follow up. I have been putting out some short stories lately that have been very well received and this has been very helpful in terms of showcasing my writing ability and style to readers who might need persuasion to take a look at the novel.

3) Tell us why readers will like your latest book.
I realize that not everyone likes every genre, but if crime and thrillers are what you are into, "Mindjacker" should be appealing to this readership base. I tried to write a story that read like a movie, with a soundtrack, and had the style of crime stories by Tarantino or Guy Ritchie. I take the reader on a thrill ride across the country from Los Angeles to New York to Boston and New Hampshire with a tale of gangsters, thievery, technology, and mind manipulation and hope they would like to come along for the ride.

4) How do you edit your books? Do you have help?
I did as much as I could and it was by far the most agonizing, tedious process one could experience. I then had pilot readers, who have an eye for grammar and punctuation, give it their best shot. I can only say that I paid my dues writing this novel, but it made writing the next one that much easier.

5) Where are your books available?
Mindjacker" is available in print and ebook at:

The ebook version is also available at:

Apple iBookstore:

6) What have your reviews been like so far? 
I have been lucky to have received many positive reviews for not only "Mindjacker" but also for the short stories I have written recently. 2010 has just been a tremendous year for me for so many reasons.

7) What do you deal with at your blog/website?
My blog focuses not only my writing but all sorts of crime writing related news, websites, blogs, and events. I love the blogsphere and have met so many great like minded writers, who all help each other out and share information.

8) Have you found reader discussion groups for your genre?
Sure. I am member of a great Yahoo crime writers group and used to hang around the Absolute Write forums more than I do now. I find the best way to communicate, share and learn is to frequent and participate in blogs with other writers in your genre. For me at least, doing that has been the best move I ever made.

9) Would you like to review your favorite Smashwords writer?
I am always open to reviewing a fellow Smashwords author, especially if they write in the crime or thriller genres. To date I have enjoyed and reviewed works by SW authors Declan Burke, John McFetridge, and Mark Staniforth.

10) What are you working on now?
I'm working on a standalone crime thriller, which I'm calling "Sissy Murphy". The pitch I have so far is; American writer, pothead, and pacifist Seamus Murphy is befriended by Irish ex-patriot Danny Moore, who uses Seamus' love of Ireland and lack of confidence to transform him into a killer, who will help Danny settle unfinished business.

(Neil's note: at his blog, Sean tells how he has marketed his book to the Number 1 slot! Check it out by clicking the hypertext. And learn from what you read.)

Congratulations, Sean. And thanks for reading SBR.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Featured Author: Paul Collis

Paul Collis is a Londoner now living in California. The Wrinkly (This tale of one man’s ridiculous attempt at living in a Florida retirement community – and his unexpected encounters with lust, drugs, cosmetics and an identity crisis –)is his comic novel, written from his own screenplay. He agreed to the 10 Questions, and provides us with 10 terrific answers.
Interview with Paul Collis, author of The Wrinkly.
Neil, thank you for this opportunity to chat about myself. I really appreciate the effort you put into this blog, and the service you provide to Smashwords authors and readers.
1) How long have you been writing?
I spent 30 years writing 30-second TV commercials for ad agencies in London and San Francisco, as an art director and as a copywriter. If we were given 40 seconds we could let the dialogue breathe a little. If we had 60 we’d think we were in Hollywood. A decade ago, when work started to get thin on the ground, I had an idea that I thought would make an amusing movie, so I attempted a script roughly 200 times longer than I was used to. ‘The Wrinkly’ didn’t get picked up, but I liked the process and I wrote another, which became a finalist in the Acclaim TV awards. Then, a few years ago, I read that a major studio was about to move on a project with exactly the same premise as ‘The Wrinkly’, so I decided it was worth rewriting as a novella (it’s 45,000 words). But it was only this year that I chose the tools to publish it myself – Smashwords and Createspace, Amazon’s print-on-demand service.
2) How are you marketing your books?
This is my first attempt, so the answer is – not as well as I should be. I bought the domain name, set up a basic web page and email account, and sent out a press release through a free PR website. I decided not to pay for reviews at Kirkus and similar operations, but I sent a printed proof to Booklist, the librarian review site about six weeks ago. (I’ve had no response so far.) ‘The Wrinkly’ involves a retirement community and golf, so I sent emails to relevant webzines. But I’m not that keen on Facebook; I’m easily distracted, and for me it would be a time-absorbing black hole – regular email’s bad enough. I did set up a page for The Wrinkly on Facebook and conducted an experimental targeted ad campaign. I ended up spending $20 to make one sale. I’m sure it’s better for big-ticket items, a classic Studebaker, something like that. As far as the real, 3D world, a few local bookstores have agreed to carry the paperback. But my main strategy has been to beg my friends to buy it.

3) Tell us why readers will like your latest book.
I think quite a few people might empathize with a guy who’s dissatisfied, unfulfilled, who wants to quit the rat race. In Mike Lewis’s case he’s 39 and he works in a youth-centric culture to which he doesn’t really relate. He’s quite good at golf, but doesn’t think that he could make money from it. By chance he discovers a solution – premature retirement in an idyllic senior community. He cons his way in (it is fiction) only to become the center of a farce involving cosmetics, drug running, lust, and manatees. And who doesn’t like manatees? (I’m donating half the proceeds of the paperback to them.) Unfortunately there are no scenes involving graphic violence, deviant sex or drug crazed Nazis, so that’ll reduce its appeal a tad. But for anyone in need of some light entertainment while on jury duty, this might fit the bill.

4) How do you edit your books? Do you have help?
I thank the god of cheap laser printers because, for me, reading on a screen is one thing but editing on a screen is another; I like to cross things out in red pen. I imagine I edit the same way as most people – by reading, rewriting, reading again. Scouring for typos, repetition, grammatical errors, for inconsistencies in character and chronology. And looking for sentences that are just plain dumb, because what might seem amusing at 11pm is often not so brilliant at noon the next day. As for help, I have a friend who’s a better writer than me, and I asked her to read it not so much for her literary suggestions, which would only make me more insecure than I am already, but for her ability to root out my most egregious Britishisms.

5) Where are your books available?
The Ebook is at every site/format where
Smashwords ebooks can be bought. On the Smashwords site itself, insert the coupon code  HR57Y  and The Wrinkly will cost $0.99 instead of $1.99. The Paperback is online at your local Amazon, or it can be ordered through your local bookstore.

6) What have your reviews been like so far?
I’ve had none at Smashwords yet, but
the few reviews at Amazon are mainly short and friendly, most of them noting its cinematic origins. I mean, they realize it’s meant to be more Caddyshack or Cocoon than The Corrections.

7) What do you deal with at your blog/website? I’m not much for blowing a trumpet, mine or anyone else’s, and is about as basic as a web page can be. Although it does have an email link.
8) Have you found reader discussion groups for your genre?I haven’t really looked, but I’m sure that if I checked out groups covering writers like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry I’d learn something useful.
9) Would you like to review your favorite Smashwords writer? I’m embarrassed to say I’ve read very few so far, so I don’t yet have a favorite. I’ve promised myself, and now you, to make an effort and turn off the radio and keep the newspapers unopened for a week and get down to some reading. So I’ll let you know when I find one.
10) What are you working on now?
A novel about theft and revenge, set in 17th century London and 21st century Los Angeles. I’m halfway through it and I’m not speedy, so you’ll have to give me a year or so.

Enjoy The Wrinkly on your new eReader, and recommend to your gifted friends.