About Writers, book promotion, book sales, publishing, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

What Happened

Traditionally, publishers sold books through bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even, sometimes, to organizations wanting a promotional tool. (Wells Fargo, for example, might buy 5,000 books on stage coaches.) Sales representatives, working for publishers and independent sales groups, attended industry sales conferences and made calls on retail buyers.
Authors wrote books and received royalty payments on their book sales.

Amazon changed all that. Today, authors list their book on a website with 11 million other books in the hope that individuals will find and buy it.

We have gone from a powerful industry selling books to a website listing.

That’s what happened.

What can we do about it? Obviously, success requires more than one author selling to one reader at a time because readers only buy one book. We ain’t selling Hershey bars. Our reader won’t come back for a box of the same book.

The idea here is to build a list of businesses and organizations which have the potential to buy, or distribute for sale, many copies of the same book. Yes, we still have bookstores, book distributors, mass market retailers, book clubs, even organizations wanting a promotional tool. But without a big publisher’s clout, how does any writer market to them?
And, are there other organized groups that we can target to help sell our book?
Any ideas? Perry Palin 🙂 ? Anybody?


Medium – What Is It Good For?

I don’t know, I just don’t know. 

I thought Medium might be a place to post fiction. Fiction is one of their categories, after all. There are many ‘publications’ here that claim to host fiction. But most of them want what one member described as ‘snackable’ content. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, etc. Fiction is almost an afterthought on the site, tucked away. You have to go looking for it.

They have politics. Also current events/art/design, the whole range of topics you find on any general interest news/commentary site. But the big thing seems to be self-improvement.

There’s a lot of discussion about writing. Most of it, same-ol’-same-ol’ regurgitated. This type of post dominates the front page (you land on the front page by getting a lot of reads). The exposure encourages others to go the same route. Mind-numbing!

I’ve found very little useful in any of the following:

> Is This What It Takes To Become A Writer?

> Why You Are Losing Your Best ideas And How Not To

> Use These Three Tools To Overcome Your Scarcity Mindset

> 5 Quality Tips For Growing Your Medium Page

> What’s Stopping You From Writing?

> Writing Is Easy. Quality Writing Is Not.

‘Live Your Best Life’ is another big area. I’d better dig into this. Sly is eventually going to lecture the rats of Hameln on living their best lives. Any of the below could apply.

> You Make Or Break Your Life Between 5-7 AM

> If It Doesn’t Suck, It’s Not Worth Doing – YOUR SUCCESS MANTRA FOR 2018.

> Willpower Doesn’t Work. Here’s How to Actually Change Your Life.

> This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week

> This Is How You Train Your Brain To Get What You Really Want

> UN-COMMIT Immediately to Everything You’re Not Definite About!!

> Tell Me What You Did Today, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

I am amused by how many titles incorporate a number, as in snap-your-fingers-easy.

> This One Question Will Make Every Decision In Your Life Easier

> 3 Ways People Become Stuck, Undeveloped, and Unsuccessful

> The 2 Mental Shifts Highly Successful People Make

> 7 Ways To Make Immediate Success Your Only Option

> 8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.

> 13 Things That Will Happen When You “Level-Up” As A Person

> 21 Behaviors That Will Make You Brilliant At Creativity & Relationships

> 14 Strategies To Accelerate Your Personal Growth By 1,000%

> 50 Ways To Live On Your Own Terms

> 31 Things That Will Happen When You Finally Decide To Live Your Dreams

How and Why are (apparently) big attention-grabbers:

> Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life

> Why Even Ambitious People Rarely Become Successful

> How to Become the Best in the World at What You Do

> How to Increase the Volume of Your Brain and Make Optimal Decisions

> How to Create the “Moments” that Change Your Life

> How To Go From Successful To Very Successful (and why most people can’t do it)

> How to 1) Get Into Peak States, 2) Make Bold Decisions, 3) Invest In Yourself, 4) …

Here’s a How and a Why. Give this guy a cigar. 

> How to Consistently Act From Your Deepest “Why”

This begins to sound like the ‘We Can Help You Publish Your Book’ / ‘We Can Help You Market Your Invention’ spots I hear driving home from work at 1am.

I’m not ready to give up on Medium.

The best advice I’ve gotten so far is to publish a short excerpt from my book and link it to a web site. Like I didn’t know that already. Duh! 

They have a category called ‘series’. I thought that perfect for me, but was told that ‘series’ is for short pieces. I looked at two and each has only three or four pages, with a few paragraphs and a graphic. The term series is misleading. This is a special format that only takes a certain number of words per page. There may be a limit on number of pages as well. And the pages are the size of a largish cell phone.

If I publish under my own name I can do anything I want to. But the advice is, if you post within a publication you will get more exposure and more reads.

Maybe I’ll just lie, pull a chapter from Sly, call it a short story (like I’ve done with the anthology) and try to slip it past the gatekeepers at The Mad River. “Where Weird Waters Flow” is their subhead. I think I’d fit right in there.

This is like eating potato chips. I can’t stop. I just read a piece – The Brutal Solution To Writer’s Block: You do not have writer’s block. You are lazy.

Excuse me. When I have a problem to solve, I wait for an answer to strike me, an answer that makes real, emotional sense. If I push, it will be a bullshit answer. I’ll know it’s bullshit and my reader will know it’s bullshit. I work on another chapter until I have a eureka! moment.


book promotion, Literary Agents, publishing, scams

Your Publisher May Not Be A Publisher

computer-virus-rev-1-300x200 Each and every day brings an exciting pronouncement that so and so has been published. It’s a thrilling announcement, one which envisions a bright future for the impending literary scion, and one that is, so often the percentages died aborning, wrong.  I’m not going to slam self published authors – at least not today – rather I’m going to help clarify some terms. They are important ones to know if you’re serious about your craft. The word “publisher” dates back to the 1500’s. It originally meant “one who announces in public.” which makes complete sense even today. The more modern interpretation,  “one whose business is bringing out for sale books, periodicals, engravings, etc.” dates back to 1740. Whether or not a publishing company pays an advance to a writer they do, or are supposed to, provide certain services for a fee based on sales, or, to be clear, work on commission. No legitimate publisher charges an author up front monies for anything.

Those services, in a nutshell, are promotion of the work, marketing, licensing (when possible), and distribution. Included in that will be the arrangement of some interviews and other forms of personal publicity which are designed to sell the author just as much as the book.

Should sales, or projected sales, warrant it the publisher may suggest the author ascertain the services of an agent. That person will take over the job of selling you and all your intellectual properties to the unsuspecting world all while trying to get you a better publishing deal than that piece of shit you signed (every agent just laughed here, every author just whimpered).

Good news, no reputable agent will charge an author any upfront fees either. Bad news, like unicorns and South American hockey teams, they are difficult to wrangle. If, as noted in the previous paragraph, you find yourself in need of one many publishers will offer suggestions but no more than that. It’s in their best interest for you to succeed, not to interfere  or micromanage your life. They have other shit to do.

Consider all of the above bullet points to refer to when you’re talking to publishers.

Now, which companies aren’t publishers?

Amazon KDP
Book Baby
Create Space
Ingram Spark
Liberio (recently out of beta testing)

All of the above use the phrase “publish your book” but use it very carefully. They mean the phrase literally. They are all, with a variety of different options available to writers, print on demand services. They do not vet your writing in any manner, other than for formatting or decency standards (if they have those). If you write a book claiming that Iron Sky, my favorite movie series involving space Nazis, is a documentary, and that numerology proves it, no one stops you. You just hit send and off it goes to the Internet. Where it goes after that depends on how much money you want to spend. None of the companies listed above are going to have a single unpaid intern lift a finger on your behalf. That means all of the tasks I noted above are now yours.

Which means, and you need to understand this, you are the publisher. It is now on you, and nobody else, to present your work to the wider world.

Now, for some help. since the majority of writers reading this blog are involved in sci-fi or fantasy, I’m going to share a list of scams sited on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website.

As you cringe through the many instances of fraud, all of which have been adjudicated, you’ll note some common themes.

  1. Film deals were based on getting talent signed first, all you need to do is provide a little “seed money.” Just FYI, there is no such animal in the film industry. It’s financing first and then that money attracts names. If an actor or actress likes the author they may “attach” their name to the presentation, but they are under no obligation go appear, support, or otherwise do a damn thing. At least not until they have a contract and money. Not “or” but “and.” That’s important to remember.
  2. Authors were charged fees for services unrelated to, in wildly in excess of, what they needed. Yes, editors charge fees. But agents and publishers are not editors. At least not exclusively. When you’re ready for editing hire someone who does that, and only that, and you’ll save yourself agita and money.
  3. Celebrity endorsements. Be extremely wary of these. The number of faux agents I’ve seen touting them is amazing and, always, a lie. Just last week I reached out to someone I know to ask if she was really “cheering on an amazing author.” Her response, edited for profanity, was “no.” Unless you have evidence, photographic is best, you could end up getting a wonderfully threatening “cease and desist” letter from a lawyer who makes in an hour what you earn in a year. That said, they do happen. I have gotten them from Rosario Dawson and John Fuglesang, for example, but even then I’ve been careful not to use them in advertising or any other commercial venue. You can post them on social media, as I have, but anything else requires a contract. Simply put, “don’t worry about it, they’re friends” is bullshit.
  4. Reading, evaluation, and/or marketing fees. These are where your money goes to die. The SWFA has a litany of reasons why you should run screaming from the room if they’re mentioned. Simply put, they are designed for people to make money no matter what happens to you. And, far more often than not, nothing happens that benefits you in any way.

As a point of reference, all of these publishers have been deemed scams.

  • American Book Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Archebooks Publishing (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Helm Publishing (Rockford, IL)
  • Hilliard and Harris (Boonsboro, MD)
  • Oak Tree Press (Taylorville, IL)
  • Park East Press (Dallas TX) (formerly Durban House, formerly Oakley Press)
  • PublishAmerica (Frederick, MD)
  • Royal Fireworks Press/Silk Label Books (Unionville, NY)
  • SterlingHouse Publisher (Pittsburgh, PA–imprints include, among others, Pemberton Mysteries, 8th Crow Books, Cambrian House Books, Blue Imp Books, Caroline House Books, Dove House Books, and PAJA Books)
  • SBPRA/Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books (Boca Raton, FL–formerly known as The Literary Agency Group and AEG Publishing Group)
  • Tate Publishing (Mustang, OK)
  • Whitmore Publishing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)

The list of disreputable agents is too long to recreate here, so click on the list to see if the person who claims you’re the next J. K. Rowling is there.

So what to do? This part is absurdly easy.

  1. Ask for, a minimum of five, references with direct contact information. Make sure you can reach every single one.
  2. If a celebrity is attached contact their management. All that info is listed on any authorized web site.
  3. Use this new fangled Google thing to search for whoever has made you this amazing offer, you need to act on now – NOW! DO YOU HEAR ME?!?!, and add the word “scam” after their name. You’ll be amazed how much time and money that little trick will save you.

Just like having a blind date at an S&M bar, caution is your friend. Be careful out there.

Flash Fiction, humor, inspiration, Magic and Science, Satire, Stories, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Saturday, March 31, 2018


rabbitholeThat’s the deadline for submitting your short story. Details at:

Do it.
Send us your best short story, poem, flash fiction or piece of an experimental nature.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
 – Zig Ziglar

book promotion, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Writer Scams

Once upon a time, snake oil salesmen sold miracle elixirs by appealing to peoples’ hopes that the infirmities of living could be cured. Relief was, of course, induced by drug or alcohol. So people kept buying the elixirs, in the hope of extending the temporary relief. Some even became addicted to their magic elixir.

Today, scammers are selling writers the magical elixer of book sales. It’s easy to spot the scam: anyone who demands payment up front knows they cannot produce enough results to do the work on commission.

Before you pay anyone to sell your book, do yourself a favor by looking up the concept of “R.O.I.” and checking websites dedicated to exposing writer scams.


Rights of Writers
The Agent from Hell and the Top Six Scams Targeting Writers

What You Need to Know about Writing Scams – Marcia Yudkin

There are more. Many. More. A Google Search of the phrase, “Writer Scams” returns multiple pages.
But it doesn’t take long to recognize the signs. Snake oil salesmen and modern scammers sell the same product. They sell hope.