Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The Indie Journey

November 4, 2013

Buddhist monks chant at Pongour Falls, the largest waterfall in Dalat, Vietnam.
Monks at Pongour Falls, Vietnam – Photo by Dang Ngo (used with attribution)

Tricky Footing
The journey of an indie writer can be a perilous one. It’s really not a trip for the faint of heart … at least not if you expect to make a living at it. The number of indie writers who’ve made it big can be counted on one hand.

Several predictions during 2011 said the year 2012 would be “The Year of the Indie Author.” After all, 2011 saw some awfully big indie moments all by itself:

John Locke became the first indie author to break the Amazon Kindle million-seller mark.

Amanda Hocking, the new Queen of indie vampire/zombie romance books (and already a multi-millionaire indie writer), signed a contract with St. Martins Press (who obviously wanted to ride on the coattails of her hundreds of thousands of independent sales).

And The New York Times deigned to include indies on their best seller list. Every week at least one title – often more – are listed.

From all indications, you’d expect readers and traditional media would both be rushing to wrap their arms around indie authors and their books.

Except … it didn’t happen.

Circadian Rhythm
So why do I bring this up? Well, I was thinking about it again, but not because I’m an indie author. It was because I couldn’t sleep.

The time change last weekend (damn that Daylight Saving Time nonsense) has my circadian rhythm all messed up again, so I got up and wondered what to do with myself.

Sitting alone in the dark, I contemplated the reasons it’s so hard for an indie author to make an impression on the literary world (yes, there are certainly some strange things that flit cross my mind, alone in the dark).

Then the reason many indie titles are such poor sellers hit me….

Big Reason #1: Bad Editing
I think there are several big reasons people complain about indie book quality and one of the biggest ones is the lack of editing.

This has changed in the past couple of years due in part to better, more diligent authors and the growth of inexpensive proofreading services. But the lack is still evident … and here’s a scary thought about why: there are independent authors who don’t believe their work needs to be edited.

Yet every writer can benefit from a good editor (even the most prolific of best-sellers). Writers are often too close to their work to make critical structural and grammatical changes that might make the story better.

Big Reason #2 – No Gatekeepers
The problem is compounded by the sheer number of badly written and hardly-edited indie books that taint the category, making it more difficult for good authors to get recognized.

Having a trusted place to find credible reviews would certainly help separate the good from the terrible.

There are a growing number of outlets which will review indie titles (like Readers Favorite or Kirkus Reviews). Readers Favorite will do it for free but Kirkus, probably the most respected indie review site at the moment, has a $495 basic fee … more than most indies can afford to pay.

Big Reason #3: Quantity Over Quality
The rise of self-publishing has caused a huge surge in the number of books available each year. Indeed, some indie authors seem to toss off multiple titles with ease.

Many so-called indie “reference” sources … and I use the term lightly … recommend having several books available for sale, claiming “If a reader likes one, they will look for another.”

That’s undoubtedly true. But writing a book shouldn’t be a race.

The model of pumping out several books a year might be fine for someone with available editors, but for indies the idea of putting out multiple books in a short time often means skipping important steps … such as editing … trying to go straight to the payoff.

Big Reason #4 – Crappy Covers
As with many things in life, first impressions are 90% or more of the game. You won’t sell a thing if no one will pick it up.

For indie authors to be taken seriously, they need to present themselves in a professional manner. Strong cover art, exciting blurbs and a professional author photo, are all must have items.

The decision to skip these important steps can hinder current and future sales. While there are many incredible indie authors out there, in order for them to be taken seriously by readers and the traditional media, they have to first take their own work seriously.

Just as every writer deserves the chance to write and publish, every reader deserves to receive an edited – and polished – book.

The Journey Will Continue
You may have reached the end of this blog entry … but it isn’t the end of the indie journey. I have another novel in the works, a sequel to my award-winning Reichold Street, tentatively titled One Way Street. I hope to have it done before the end of the year.

In the meantime, I’m off to Miami this month to receive the Readers Favorite Silver Medal in the Young Adult Fantasy genre for my collection Zebulon.

Blogging about the indie journey, however, will most likely never be done. Every day brings a new challenge and a new discovery. I hope you’ll continue to share it with me.

I’ll look for you on my next sleepless night …


The marvelous photography of Dang Ngo can be found here.

When We Least Expect It

July 3, 2013

Good Books are Pleasant Surprises

Pleasant Surprises
Surprises come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I don’t think many people would argue that pleasant surprises are the best kind. After all, they are events that make you smile and feel good, and who doesn’t need a little more of that in their life?

When I stop to think about it, I’ve had several pleasant surprises in my life. My lovely bride saying “yes” when I asked her was one.

Each of our three sons was another.

All of the former acquaintances who have since become treasured members of the “lifelong” branch of friendship with me are other miraculous gifts.

So are my grandchildren.

Some of you may remember last year, when I received an unexpected 2012 Readers Favorite Gold Medal for my novel Reichold Street. I’ve been writing for a long time, and would undoubtedly continue to do so whether anyone acknowledged it or not (just ask my wife).

While it’s not the same sort of surprise as those other things, it was still a very pleasant moment. Who wouldn’t want to know someone else thought their efforts, particularly judged against thousands of others, were worthwhile?

Other Successes
I had another very pleasant surprise last Sunday night, in the form of an email from the Readers Favorite organization.

My first thought was it must be some sort of solicitation, so you can imagine my elation upon learning my collection of fantasy short stories, Zebulon, has been selected as a 2013 Readers Favorite Finalist in the genre of young adult fantasy!

The winners won’t be announced until September, but that still gives me plenty of time to revel in the moment … at least through the holiday. Which reminds me, for those celebrating this week, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

A FREE Guide
While I’m reveling, you might want to visit the link on the right-hand column of this page, and subscribe for your FREE copy of my booklet “Creating Believable Characters.” I created it to aid other indie writers. It might help, it might not (although I think it will) … but at least the price is right.



Compulsion Reads Endorsement

June 17, 2013

SUCCESSEvery Once in a While Something Happens That Feels Like Success

Tooting My Horn
Hey, somebody’s got to do it, and I don’t have a publicity machine working for me.

It’s just little ol’ me here, adding an audio file on my web site Broken Glass, updating my media page, playing the promote-on-Twitter game, using the Book of Face, keeping up with AuthorsdB, and Goodreads, blogging and, oh yeah, trying to figure out how to sell my damn books while I keep up social obligations, write two new brand new novels and generally hold down the fort at home while keeping the creditors at bay.

What Am I So Excited About?
Well, I’m glad you asked (it gives me a chance to talk about it). I just learned my indie novel REICHOLD STREET, which won a 2012 Readers Favorite Gold Medal, has just received a coveted 2013 endorsement from Compulsion Reads.

OK … I know it’s not like announcing I just signed a publishing house contract for the book with a high six-figure advance … but, trust me, it feels good anyway. It took me by surprise, because CR endorses less than half the independently-produced books they read, and it’s a pretty big deal in the indie world.

Yes, I’d much rather have a big contract, or at least be able to report I’ve sold thousands of independently-produced-and-marketed copies in the last quarter, but c’mon … little successes are good, too, aren’t they? (I just checked on my royalties so far in June, and I’ll be able to take my lovely bride to at least one nice lunch this month).

But I know very well every indie author out there is always glad to know someone (other than immediate family and close, I-actually-speak-to-them, neighbors) truly likes your work. I’m no exception.

Working Hard
I know I said I’d have my “Creating Believable Characters” freebie ready by my this post, and I really thought I would … but I’ve written 20,000 words on my Reichold Street sequel, another 5,000 words on a totally new book and then had the Compulsion Reads thing happen.

You can cut me a little slack, can’t you? My giveaway is almost done (about 24-pages), and I promise I’ll have it available just as soon as I figure out MailChimp.


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