Guest Post by @AuthorLHerman: The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

a guest post by Louise Herman

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Hello everyone, and I hope you are enjoying the week.

I have decided to take a week’s respite from writing the third book in my YA urban fantasy series, Split Blood, to catch up with author interview and guest post requests. I am looking forward to discussing my thoughts and opinions on the economics of self-publishing a bookas well as giving some advice on what aspects of self-publishing is essential to a budget and what I have experienced as a waste of time and money.

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Why did I decide to Self-Publish my books?

I would love to say it was a choice, however, after I sent a number of emails to literary agents and received no replies, I decided to close my eyes and jump straight into the self-publishing ocean.

It was nerve-racking at first because I had no idea about self-publishing but after a lot of research and learning from my mistakes along the way, I am enjoying the self-publishing journey.

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What are the common misconceptions of self-publishing?

I think the biggest misconception about self-publishing is anyone can publish a successful book in today’s technological world.

For example, you have a great idea for a story, you get so engrossed in writing it, you take the leap and self-publish it on the internet and then you sit back and wait for the big bucks to start rolling in, along with literary agents fighting to represent you, right?

Not quite!

The reality is only a handful of self-published authors break even (the total cost of publishing against the profits of the sales, after each website has taken its percentage) and if you do not have a regular presence on social media sites then you could find it difficult to be seen and network with influential people who can help potential readers find your books.

These people are bloggers and reviewers.

I have built up a good relationship with many bloggers and have added them to my list of ‘Go to People’ when I need to do author interviews (to discuss my past, present and future. This is not all about promoting my work. It is for potential readers to get to know the person behind the books), Guest Posts (topics related to writing that are important to me) and Spotlights (a full discussion about myself, my work and upcoming projects).

It’s also fun to communicate with these bloggers because it is a two way process. They advertise an author on their blog and social media sites, therefore, as an author, I also do the same (I will post the promotional item on my blog, which advertises their blog to my followers, and on my social media sites).

However, not all bloggers work the same way.

Some specialise purely in reviews but some are open to other forms of promotion.

I have found that trying to get reviews can be quite hard because many are overwhelmed with requests and often close their review request channels until they can catch up with the backlog.

While others will state they do not accept requests from self-published authors, with some going as far as to state that they have a problem with the quality of the self-published books they have previously read.

I used to find this slightly insulting but when you take into consideration that they are doing these reviews for free, they should be allowed to have an opinion on what types of books they want to review.

NOTE: Reviews are usually free and reviewers usually have full or part time jobs but review in their spare time. This means try to give at least three months’ notice to your reviewer. If you are asked to pay for a review, try somewhere else! Not only is it slightly frowned upon in the self-publishing industry but it’s just an unnecessary, extra cost to your ever rising budget!

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What are the advantages of self-publishing?

I like that I have the opportunity to learn about online publishing first hand and that I have the chance to communicate with a range of people with similar interests.

I learn something new every week to help enhance my writing and advertising skills and I really enjoy having full control over every aspect of publishing my books.

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What are the challenges of self-publishing?

Although I enjoy having full control over publishing my books, I do sometimes think that it would be nice to have a literary agent to help take on some of the advertising tasks because having full time job, restricts the time I can dedicate to writing and sometimes the advertising infringes on the writing time.

I have also found that it takes a lot of work and effort to gain a strong following. I write Young Adult Urban Fantasy novels, which is a popular genre and I have found that it is extremely difficult to get new followers interested in looking at my new pieces of work if there are no reviews to give them an inclination of how the book has been received by other readers.

There will be potential readers and followers who will read the synopsis and give the books a try but there are some who use reviews to help them decide whether or not it is the kind of story they would enjoy reading.

It is the latter type of follower that bad reviews can affect your potential sales.

Some reviews that are lower than five stars can be disheartening to an author but if they offer constructive criticism (e.g. “there was too much fighting in it”) then it could be a case of what one person dislikes about the storyline, another reader maybe looking for this type of drama.

However, if they give you one star because they “just couldn’t read it because you should never write again”, it offers nothing to a potential reader about the story and many would not take this type of review seriously.

And lastly, I have given out copies of my eBooks for a review in the past, only to be disappointed to never receive one.

It is disheartening but all these things are part of the learning process and have helped me focus on what works and avoid what wastes time and money.

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What are the costs to publish your own book?

Here are the basics of what it cost me to self-publish my first book (The Orcus Games: Blood Moon):

  • Book cover artist –  This is difficult because it depends on the type of cover you want? You can get book cover images from a variety of stock photography sites and prices vary on each site. For a basic book cover with an image that does not need to be edited and text, I would estimate between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Proof-reader or Copy Editor –  Between £600 (~$850) and £1,000 (~$1418) (depending on word count, how many hours it takes them to work on the book and how much work the book needs).
  • eBook Conversation Costs  If you cannot convert your eBooks yourselves then it might be worth getting a professional to do this for you. I convert my books myself but I have received quotes in the past for this type of work and the prices were between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Distribution costs –  (for reviewers who only accept hard copies): I have heard that some websites do give a small discount to authors who buy their own books but I am yet to find these sites. Therefore you would be paying the same price as a customer to purchase your paperback books to send to reviewers. Many authors buy in bulk for this purpose and can spend between £599 (~$849) and £1099 (~$1558) for an order of 100 books.
  • URL for website Having your own website is essential for an author and you can buy domain names from nearly anywhere on the internet at the moment.

I have a website through Fat Cow and bought my URL through them as soon as I set it up.

It cost me approximately £8.99 (~$12.75) to buy the domain name + £60 (~$85) for the year (with added extras).

However, different extensions can either increase or decrease the cost (e.g. com, co.uk, org. Etc.)

  • Publishing sites percentages
    • Amazon – There are two royalty options. (correct as of January 2016)
      • Option 1: Keep 70% of the royalties. However this option is only available to books sold in a specific territory of countries set out by Amazon Kindle. Any books sold outside of these regions will give you a 35% royalty.
      • Option 2: Keep 35% of the royalties. This is the standard royalty rate.
    • Smashwords – (correct as of January 2016)
      • “Smashwords authors and publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works. Net proceeds to author = (sales price minus PayPal payment processing fees)*.85 for sales at Smashwords.com, our retail operation. Authors receive 70.5% for affiliate sales. Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and smaller retailers.  Sales originated by retailers earn authors/publishers 60% of the list price.”
    • Lulu – (correct as of January 2016)
      • Lulu prides itself on working on a 90/10 royalty split, therefore if you have published your book after 6th September 2011 and it is priced at $1.24 or higher then you can qualify for a 90% royalty revenue.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to self-publish their first book?

There might be something I have missed out because every week I am learning something new about the self-publishing world but so far I have eight tips that would help a new author get started:

  • Test it out on free sites like Wattpad first to see if there is an audience for it and find Beta readers in these groups to help highlight elements that may need extra attention (e.g. such as continuity issues, plot holes, creating believable characters or scenes, etc.)
  • Build up a following and make amendments based on the feedback
  • Get a professional book cover artist (unless you are good with graphics software or you are a good artist)
  • Get your work proofread or copy edited
  • Publish on the main publishing sites
  • Build up a group of regular reviewers
  • Be active on social media (not just to talk about the book but share your interests and get involved in group discussions)
  • Remember success doesn’t happen overnight (it could take years), so continue with your passion and never give up!

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About the author

Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com

Find out more:

All Book Covers to Date LARGER

2015 Recap: #ShortStories Read

SHORT STORIES READ IN 2015

That’s right. Here is the list of short stories I read in 2015. It took me too long to put this post together, so I hope you all get some use out of the list. It’s not easy to copy and paste this much data and the table itself…then search the internet for all the stories to link. Most are linked, and the authors’ websites are linked too. A few are not linked because it seems stories have been unpublished/taken down since the time I read them. Not exactly sure what’s up with that, but I’m not those authors, so I can’t tell you the reasoning.

Either way, there are 203 total stories listed and probably around 190 you can go out and read. 90% (estimate) are free to read. Many of them were also audio-reads found on Librivox. I could have linked to the free audio, but instead I stuck with ebook links. It was a little faster that way. Definitely check out Librivox anyway. Thousands of free audiobooks of public domain work. No reason to stay away from that!

I might do a Best of 2015 sort of post soon. I’m still not sure about that. At the very least, I’ll be posting on Facebook/Twitter to highlight some of the more memorable reads from 2015. Without a clear plan in mind, I figured getting you this list would be somewhat helpful in the year to come. Single short stories tend to go unappreciated in the grand scheme. I’ll always try to keep up short story awareness (should I hashtag that?).

Enjoy, if you check some out. And enjoy 2016!

P.S – Don’t forget about the bottom of the post. There’s a question down there…

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Number

Read

Title Author Name Genre
Last First
1 When You’re Gone Summers Eli LGBT
2 The Ideal Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
3 Moxon’s Master Bierce Ambrose Sci-fi
4 What Was It? O’Brien Fitz-James Sci-fi
5 The 4-D Doodler Waldeyer Graph Sci-fi
6 The Toy Shop Harrison Harry Sci-fi
7 Martian V.F.W. Vandenburg G.L. Sci-fi
8 The Repairman Harrison Harry Sci-fi
9 Bread Overhead Leiber Fritz Sci-fi
10 The Banshee Anonymous   Horror
11 Accessory Before the Fact Blackwood Algernon Horror
12 The Worlds of If Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
13 Vicarious Fate Prioleau R.M. Fantasy
14 The Point of View Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
15 A Martian Odyssey Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
16 Accidental Death Baily Peter Sci-fi
17 The Good Neighbors Pangborn Edgar Sci-fi
18 Advanced Chemistry Huekels Jack G. Sci-fi
19 And All the Earth a Grave MacApp C.C. Sci-fi
20 The Image of the Gods Nourse Alan E. Sci-fi
21 The Selfish Giant Wilde Oscar Fairy Tale
22 The Horla Maupassant Guy de Horror
23 Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad James M.R. Horror
24 Mandy Cain Agee Jamie Erotica
25 The Mage of Dunnyduff Hill Findlay Louise Poetry
26 Lost Hearts James M.R. Horror
27 The Mezzotint James M.R. Horror
28 The Ash-Tree James M.R. Horror
29 The End Zwain Maxwell Horror
30 By the Waters of Babylon Benet Steven Vincent Sci-fi
31 Hermit Brown-Hobson JJ Literary
32 A Twisted Fairytale Urquhart Anna Horror
33 Night Surf King Stephen Horror
34 Trucks King Stephen Horror
35 The End of the Whole Mess King Stephen Horror
36 Vampire Story Byrnes Gary J. Horror
37 The Lawnmower Man King Stephen Horror
38 Number 13 James M.R. Horror
39 Brea’s Brand New Breasts Nichon Aimee Erotica
40 The Valley of the Spiders Wells H.G. Fantasy
41 Valley of Dreams Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
42 Pygmalion’s Spectacles Weinbaum Stanley G. Sci-fi
43 Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by Deduction, the Brig Bazaar Anonymous   Mystery
44 The Hairbrush Raimbault Tom Horror
45 Dumbass Barton S.A. Sci-fi
46 Beside Still Waters Sheckley Robert Sci-fi
47 In a Far-Off World Schreiner Olive Literary
48 How Old Man Above Created the World Judson Katharine Berry Mythology
49 Conjured Lover Raimbault Tom Fantasy
50 Spider Stephenson Richard Dystopian
51 Boundless Warren D Lee Thriller
52 Roadside Assistance Winship Thomas Literary
53 Finis Pollack Frank K. Sci-fi
54 Nice Weather We’re Having Today Barton S.A. Fantasy
55 Song in A Minor Key Moore C.L. Sci-fi
56 Spacemen Never Die! Hersman Morris Sci-fi
57 Benefactor Smith George H. Sci-fi
58 Collector’s Item Young Robert F. Sci-fi
59 Compatible Smith Richard R. Sci-fi
60 Planet of Dreams McKimmey James Sci-fi
61 Native Son Hamm T.D. Sci-fi
62 One Martian Afternoon Leahy Tom Sci-fi
63 I’ll Kill You Tomorrow Huber Helen Sci-fi
64 Ask a Foolish Question Sheckley Robert Sci-fi
65 Games MacClean Katherine Sci-fi
66 The Delegate From Venus Slesar Henry Sci-fi
67 The Marooner Sterns Charles A. Sci-fi
68 Silence of the Heart Ducey Natalie Poetry
69 Nobody’s Fool Ducey Natalie Poetry
70 A Life For Sale Boyce S.M. Poetry
71 The War Within Ducey Natalie Poetry
72 Love’s Illusion Ducey Natalie Poetry
73 Notes of a War-Torn Childhood Novic Sara Literary
74 Cam Girl Prevot Gabrielle Erotica
75 Ride Me Hard Slade Shari Erotica
76 No Hiding Place Smith Richard R. Sci-fi
77 The Boscombe Valley Mystery Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
78 The Five Orange Pips Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
79 A Sexual Awakening I Desmond P.R. Erotica
80 A Sexual Awakening II Desmond P.R. Erotica
81 The Man with the Twisted Lip Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
82 Jurassic Jane Eyre Sessarego Carrie Erotica
83 Galatea Miller Madeline Literary
84 A Life in a Year Connor Shae LGBTQ
85 The Hazel Branch Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale
86 The Ear of Corn Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale
87 The Aged Mother Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale
88 Eating the Moon Kos Eleanor Paranormal
89 Asteroid P.S. Brett Sci-fi
90 The Carmichael Mystery Garcia Jeanine A. Mystery
91 Notes Sapp Danika Mystery
92 Death in the Wilderness von Stoller Drac Horror
93 The First Notch Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
94 Dark Mirror Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
95 The Third Level Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
96 Guenhyvar Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
97 That Curious Sword Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
98 Wickles in the Nether Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
99 The Dowry Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
100 First Kiss Thomas J. YA/LGBT
101 Conrades at Odds Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
102 If Ever They Happened Upon My Lair Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
103 Iruladoon Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
104 To Legend He Goes Salvatore R.A. Fantasy
105 The Summer Dress Armstrong W.R. Mystery
106 Unfinished Coopa Arla Erotica
107 The Prom Kids Kaye Verity YA/LGBT
108 Lady of Steel Zelazny Roger Fantasy
109 Origins Erwine J Alan Sci-fi
110 Empathy Scribner Joshua Horror
111 Fly Away Scribner Joshua Horror
112 Foreign Objects Scribner Joshua Horror
113 Life After Connor Shae LGBTQ
114 Craving Scribner Joshua Horror
115 100 Scribner Joshua Horror
116 Come Out Scribner Joshua Horror
117 New World Justice Scribner Joshua Horror
118 Terrible Noise Scribner Joshua Horror
119 Very Short Very Wicked Scribner Joshua Horror
120 The Last Question Asimov Isaac Sci-fi
121 Mike and Jack McComie Li Comedy
122 Baltic Dent Shane Horror
123 The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
124 Two Timer Brown Fredric Sci-fi
125 Shard Rucker Brandon L. Thriller
126 Dagon Lovecraft H.P. Horror
127 Complicated Poetry! Roche Stephane Poetry
128 I Left My Heart in New York Roche Stephane Poetry
129 Engaged 3×12 Masterson Daniel Sci-fi
130 Sunny Day Connor Shae LGBTQ
131 In the Shadow Mouvia Nikolas Horror
132 The End of the World Mouvia Nikolas Sci-fi
133 Ghost Rewards Coopa Arla Erotica
134 Possessive Love Coopa Arla Erotica
135 Ghost Seed Coopa Arla Erotica
136 Gone Grey Shane Thriller
137 Summer (and after) James L. Jordan Poetry
138 Sarah’s Short Travel Blog Fulton Tiffany YA
139 The Righteous Government Kaye Verity Sci-fi
140 Not Alone Coopa Arla Erotica
141 The Time of the Nephilim Ellis Tara Sci-fi
142 An Unexpected Date Hatler Susan Romance
143 An Unexpected Kiss Hatler Susan Romance
144 The Time Being Honeywell Antonia Dystopian
145 The Viscount and the Witch Sullivan Michael J. Fantasy
146 The Homecoming Bradbury Ray Horror
147 Professional Integrity Sullivan Michael J. Fantasy
148 Love Bites Edward Lacey Paranormal
149 During the Dance Lawrence Mark Paranormal
150 The Morning Rempfer Derek Literary
151 Good Bones Erickson Megan LGBT
152 Chance Encounter Warren Nancy Romance
153 Serendipity: Not So Sweet Sahgal Vasudha Romance
154 Tale of Sir Red Embers Dan Historical
155 The Sunshine Club Campbell Ramsey Horror
156 Nine Ladies Dancing Barbosa Jackie Romance
157 Strawberries & Cream Tyler Shyreen Mystery
158 An Unexpected Love Hatler Susan Romance
159 It Doesn’t Snow in November Semtex Jimmy Boom Erotica
160 The Falconry Castillo Angela Fantasy
161 Underground Pound: Ashley’s Bareback Subway Ride Sand Marisa Erotica
162 The Adventure of the Speckled Band Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
163 An Unexpected Proposal Hatler Susan Romance
164 A Christmas Princess Gränd Ofelia LGBT
165 A Public Love Story Gränd Ofelia Thriller
166 Dreaming of a Silent Christmas Slaton Lawrence S. Mystery
167 Love Me, Punish Me Fox Caia Erotica
168 The Contest: Round 1 Mia Candace Erotica
169 The Contest: Round 2 Mia Candace Erotica
170 The Contest: Round 3 Mia Candace Erotica
171 The Contest: Round 4 Mia Candace Erotica
172 My Zombie Mate Kennedy Kevin J. Horror
173 The Night Before College Sones Sonya Literary
174 The Proposal Shea Lisa Romance
175 An Unexpected Wedding Hatler Susan Romance
176 Fragments of an Ancient God Thompson H.K. Mythology
177 Cowgirl Singer Jenna Erotica
178 Humanity Cook Samantha Sci-fi
179 The Sleeper Dreamed Carsen Sela Fantasy
180 Dance of the Shadows Huddlestone Michael Horror
181 Ivy League Loftis Janet L. Erotica
182 Satiated Elise Sadie Erotica
183 How to Feed a Meter Fortier A.E. Humor
184 Late Night Stroll Garnett Phill Horror
185 Peggy in the Valley Fortier A.E. Literary
186 A Heart’s Tale Hays J.L. Horror
187 The Reflection, Only Hers Lane Jeremy Mark Ghost
188 Totally Mine Lanmon Ann Romance
189 The Jester Sullivan Michael J. Fantasy
190 Reluctant Genius Slesar Henry Sci-fi
191 We Didn’t Do Anything Wrong, Hardly Kuykendall Roger Sci-fi
192 Moment of Truth Wells Basil Sci-fi
193 Spies Die Hard! Marmor Arnold Sci-fi
194 Prelude to Space Haseltime Robert W. Sci-fi
195 Earthmen Bearing Gifts Brown Fredric Sci-fi
196 Disqualified Fontenay Charles L. Sci-fi
197 Deceiving Shadows Songling Pu Sci-fi
198 Egocentric Orbit Cory John Sci-fi
199 The Untouchable Kallis Stephen A. Sci-fi
200 Quiet, Please Scott Kevin Sci-fi
201 Bringing Stan In Rochester Julia Literary
202 The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb Doyle Arthur Conan Mystery
203 A Breach of Security Hill Susan Crime

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Question: Have you read any of these? I read a WIDE variety of stories (ok, and technically single published poems, but I count those) in 2015. So many genres are present here. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite short stories you read in 2015. I’m always on the look-out for more. It’s a great way to get over a book slump or to kill a few minutes of the day when a novel can’t really be tackled.

#Review: My Sweetest Escape, by @chel_c_cam

My Sweetest EscapeTitle: My Sweetest Escape (My Favorite Mistake #2)
Author: Chelsea M. Cameron
Rating: 4/5 stars

“The past will always find you.

Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life; until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn’t begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn’t enough to help her feel normal again.

And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can’t begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she’s not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she’s no longer sure she deserves.

But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he’s hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer togetheror tear them apart for good?” (description from Goodreads)

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For those who follow my reviews closely, you’ll know that I’m a fan of Chelsea M. Cameron’s work. I’ve read a few of her other books, like My Favorite Mistake (the first in this two book “series”), and seem latch onto many of Cameron’s strengths when reading.

One of my favorite things about this book was the main character, Jos Archer. I think the author did a great job writing all of her characters, both main and secondary, for this book, but Jos was one of my favorites. I guess that’s normal since she’s the narrator too. I really felt for her throughout everything that went on. I also liked her love of music, writing, and her other characteristics.

Since this is a companion to My Favorite Mistake, we also get many of the characters introduced in that book. It was great get reacquainted with them and the college setting in Maine. One of Cameron’s strengths is setting, in my opinion.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t too sold or charmed by Dusty, but I wasn’t totally turned off from him either. In a few key parts he irked me with his actions, but he’s also a great guy at the heart of it all. I can’t fault him too much.

I’d be happy if Cameron were to revisit this series with another book. I think I know what character could take the lead, as well. I’d definitely be one of the first to grab that book.

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Want a copy of My Sweetest Escape? You can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

You can also grab a copy of My Favorite Mistake from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Chelsea M CameronChelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world’s worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn (April 20, 2013)

Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare, and Neither, the first three books in The Noctalis Chronicles. The fourth and final book, Neverend will be out in 2013. Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy is also available, with the second book in the series, Silence and the final book, LIsten coming out in 2014.

Find out more:

Story Time Friday – One Man’s Trash, a story

Story Time Friday Banner

For this week’s Story Time Friday, I’m back! This time with a story instead of poetry. It’s been awhile since I first shared some prose of my own on STF, so I hope this one’s to your liking. I had a little help from Ben Ditmars to get started. He gave me a few ideas, and I combine them into what you see below. I wonder if he imagined the story going in this direction from his prompts. We’ll see soon enough.

Go forth, and enjoy the story. And as always, please consider taking part in STF by submitting your own work. More details on that at the end of the post.

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Another Man’s Treasure

by Robert Zimmermann

It’s funny the things you find walking down a city street.

Once I found a fifty dollar bill. I saved that one from going down a storm drain, then treated myself to a nice lunch, and then dinner. Another time, there was a forgotten book left on a bench. After I took it home that night and started reading it, I realized why it was left behind. I think they made it into a movie soon after that. One of those that the teenagers go crazy over.

There’s one treasure of the street that stands out from the rest. In all my years of wandering the city, among so many of its busy bees, flowing along in the sidewalks current, there’s one I’ll never forget.

It was a day like any other. A little overcast. Maybe a little rain in the afternoon. That’s why I was walking with my umbrella. I don’t care much for getting wet. It was just another day that I found another forgotten artifact of the city, or so I thought.

Anyway, after walking a few blocks from the place I was staying at, I sat down on a bench to take in the morning commuters. This was when I realized that a napkin was stuck on the end of my umbrella. Using it as a cane seems to attract this sort of thing. It was probably the third time I had to remove trash from the thing that morning. Trash cabs at every corner don’t seem convenient enough for most people.

As I was about to drop the napkin in one of those nearby trash cans, I noticed writing on it. It said Fountain of Youth… The rest was a little smudged with dirt, but at the time, I thought it said Hudson something or other. It had to be Hudson River. It only made sense with the city’s proximity to that famous river.

So what did I do next? What else was I supposed to do? It’s not like I had anything better to do with my time that day.

A few minutes later I was at the end of a pier, staring into the clear blue waters of the Hudson. Okay, okay. They weren’t clear and they sure as hell weren’t blue. It didn’t matter though. I’d bathed in worse, and after I dove in, I’d be eternally young. A little dirty water was of no consequence. not sure why no one else had done this yet. Seemed legit. Oh, I guess that whole pollution thing could be a deterrent. But as I said, I’ve bathed in worse…I think.

At least I thought…that is until I was climbing back onto the pier soaking wet. I wasn’t that happy being wet, but at least I would be young forever from then on. Again…or so I thought.

Well, it was on that day that I stopped being so quick to assume that I knew what was what. It was also that day that I stopped believing what was written on discarded napkins.

One good thing came from that plunge into the river. You know that strange phenomenon the news is always going on and on about the last few years? Ghosts stopping purse snatchers? Bank robbers thwarted by invisible lasso-wielding hands? Yea, that’s me.

The river didn’t give me eternal youth after all. Whatever crap was in the water did change me though. It turned me invisible. It also messed with my vocal cords for some reason. That’s where my trademark whisper in the ear comes from. I can’t be heard any other way.

I feel my hero days are coming to an end now. I’m too old for this job. Running around saving people (without them eve knowing it sometimes) isn’t good for the body. Don’t let the superhero movies fool you. We don’t always bounce back from the occasional fall or wild swing of a bat.

I spend most of my days sitting on my favorite bench now. Observing the passersby, silently, invisibly.

Just today, as I was enjoying a cool summer breeze, I was smacked in the face by a piece of paper. It seems that people still dislike trash cans.

As I pulled it off my face I saw Fountain of Youth. Hudson Bay. (Bay underlined three times) written on one side. I wasn’t going to fall for that one again, so I dropped it in the trash can.

Wait a minute. The Hudson Bay is in Canada, and that guy with the claws is from Canada…I’ve never seen him age before. Do I even have a passport?

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For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip on in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

2014, A Year in Review(s)

Now that it’s 2015, it’s time to take a quick look back at the 2014 reading year. I’ll be the first to admit it was a strange year (for reading and otherwise). The book world has changed a lot since I started blogging, and in the last year the trend continues, sometimes at a rapid increase.

You may have noticed a change in my blogging, as well. I started out the year with a challenge to read 5 short stories a week and post mini-reviews. That series, A Storied Week, was short lived, though it was fun while it lasted. I also wanted to focus more on my writing and less on reviewing. That was only partly accomplished. I didn’t have as many reviews and I wrote a few things. I hope that, even with the change and less frequent posting, you’ve still found pleasure in stopping by and that you’ve found some great books to check out.

In 2015 I think it’ll be much of the same around here, though I hope that with the recent start of Story Time Friday, reading the blog will be a better experience each week. We’ve already had some great work in the first few weeks. I’ll be trying to include my own work more often this year. And don’t worry, even though I don’t plan on opening my doors for review requests any time soon (closing them was the BEST thing I could have done for my reading and my sanity), I’ll still be reviewing much of what I read. I don’t think that’ll ever change.

So, now that I rambled about all that, how about you continue to the rest of the post, to what you’ve all been waiting for. Here are my “best books read in 2014” lists. As always, there’s no specific order to the lists inside the categories. The first isn’t necessarily my favorite. Also, I decided not to do a list for short stories this year. I read too many, but had many duds.I also read many of them early in 2014, so it’d be hard to recall them for a best of at this point.

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NOVELS

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VERSE NOVEL

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POETRY

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NON-FICTION

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GRAPHIC NOVELS/COMICS

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FAVORITE AUTHORS

  • S.M. Boyce, for her Grimoire Saga which concluded this year with Illusion. I’ve go on and on about Boyce’s writing for years, ever since I read Lichgates in 2012. I was both happy and depressed when her series ended, but it just means I can move onto the next project Boyce has in store for her readers. I’m already clearing space off my shelves for whatever it is.
  • Francesca Lia Block, who first caught my attention years ago with Weetzie Bat. I reacquainted myself with that book and the rest of that series this year. I’ve also ventured into a good chunk of Block’s body of work and 2015 is sure to be a continuation of that journey.
  • Chelsea M. Cameron, one of the authors I met back in September. I’ve known her online early on in this blog’s life in 2012 and have finally begun to read her novels and I’m not sure why I waited so long.
  • Jessica Park will stay on my favorite authors list for some time. Even though she takes her time writing and releasing books (like my other favorite author S.M. Boyce) I know that with my patience I’ll be rewarded with a book worth the wait. This year’s Flat-Out Celeste, a sequel to Flat-Out Love from a few years back, blew me away.
  • Rebecca Makkai, the author of The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House. I read these both this year and have recommended them to many friends since. I’ve also checked out some of the short fiction Makkai has out and it’s just as high up on my list of great work. I’ll be eagerly awaiting this author’s next book. Part of me is hoping it’ll be a collection of short stories.
  • Honorable mentions: Tiffany King (she’ll always be one of my favorites), Tara Sivec (another great author I keep coming back to), Richard Stephenson (his New America series is worth checking out. Book 3 out in the spring), Megan Erickson and Christina Lee (two authors I discovered late in the year but who I know will be filling my “read pile” in 2015).

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BEST OF:

2012 | 2013

Line curvyPlease feel free to comment on this post with some of your favorite reads and authors of 2014. We should always be about sharing the book love!

 

Fan Interview #3 – Questions from @lynniespalmtree and @KIMPITBULL123

Today I’m posting what seems to be the final set of fan-asked interview questions. I’ve yet to receive more, so four interviewees will be the end number (for now). These two came from a few long time fans and they’re some good questions for me as a writer. Hope you enjoy them.

And if you’d like to send in some questions, I’d be happy to answer them. You can send them in at any time (even a year from now). Here’s the original post looking for them if you’d like to check that out and find out how to send in the questions.

Thanks in advance, and thank you to those who’ve already asked some great things.

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Kristalyn Thornock

I know you write fantastic poetry, do you ever plan to write a full length novel or series?

I’m going to say that’s highly unlikely. It’s hard enough for me to come up with a short story that’s over a thousand words. So a novel is probably out of the question, as well as a series. The closest thing to a “series” that I had planned was a series of semi-connected stories dealing with Nick and Julie from Breakfast in Bed. However, that idea never really took off. Haven’t really been caring about that genre enough to right it. I might get a short story “series” or collection together at some point if I find a connecting theme or character to write.

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Kim Stapf 

Does writing come easy for you?

It used to. I used to write at least a poem a day for a long time. Then it was less often, but still often enough. The change for that was that I was taking more time to get better work on paper the first time, rather than let it fix itself in revisions.

Lately though (not too long after publishing From Where I Stand, I haven’t written much at all. Nothing I do helps get it out of me, but I keep hoping something will kick me in the ass. Once I’m “in” the writing mode…it doesn’t come hard for me. I still wouldn’t call it easy though. It’s not a term I’d put on it. It’s more enjoyable when you have to work for it a bit.

Can you look at something and see a poem or story?

Sort of. Inspiration can come from an object or situation happening in front of me. Sometimes it takes a while for something to click into place though. Inspiration’s a funny thing.

Fan Interview #1 – @cerebraltart interviews Me

For the last few weeks, I’ve been asking my readers to send in questions that they’ve been wanting to ask me. They could be about me as an author, a blogger, or even me as a reader. Almost anything goes.

So far, the response hasn’t been that big, but I’m hoping that now that September is here and that I’m posting my responses to these questions, more people will send some good ones in. I really think this can be both fun and informative and ultimately, a great addition to the blog.

If you’d like to send in some questions, I’d be happy to answer them. Here’s the original post looking for them if you’d like to check that out and find out how to send in the questions.

Thanks in advance, and thank you to those who’ve already asked some great things.

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Today’s interviewer is author India Reid. You can find more about her on her website, TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads

When did you first start to feel like a “real” writer?

I’m not sure really. I think there have been a few times in my writing life where I’ve had different levels of “I’m a writer” in my mind. After writing my first poem in 11th grade was when I first felt like I’m some sort of a poet. However, it wasn’t until after I graduated my first college that I even considered myself a writer enough to pursue getting better at it. That’s when I started working on my creative writing degree. The program itself didn’t make me feel like I was a writer until late in the game. I blame that on the education system, not the CW professors or department at all. There was just a lack of time for those IMPORTANT courses when each student was required to complete so many other classes outside of their major. A big “I’m a writer” moment was sometime in my last semester of college, I think. When I was working on what would later expand to be From Where I Stand and getting feedback from my professor on my work. It felt like I was “really doing it”. My stuff was good and had potential to be better. It also helped that in that course we had to organize a public reading of a bit of what we were working on. Getting a reaction from a nice sized audience was probably what I needed all along for me to feel like I was doing something great.

How often do you write?

I wish I could say I write every day. I used to back in high school and early in college. I’d write at least a poem (whether it was good or bad) every day or multiple times a day. Lately (the last year or so) I seem to be in a BIG funk. I keep wanting to sit down and write something, but nothing happens. I need to fix that big time. I need a good kick in the ass probably and to not just accept that inspiration hasn’t hit yet. The dry spell has lasted too long.

What’s your word count per day like?

I don’t write like that and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever write with a word count goal of any sort. It seems to be the only way some writers work, but for me, I’ll either write a lot or a little, but all that matters is that I wrote and it’s semi-usable material.

Part of this might be because I write poetry a majority of the time, too. You can’t really put a word count on that form of writing. I have some poems that are only 30 words, but they can get a better reaction from my audience than another poem that’s 200 words. I tend to write shorter poems anyway. If I were to have a “goal” for a day, I think I’d be safer setting a goal like “edit X poems per work day”. It wouldn’t even be about writing them, but reworking them. That’s where the real work comes in for me after I’ve gotten it down on paper.