Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Indie the New Black?

Is Indie the New Black?

Welcome to the 21st century where digital has taken over paper, where smart phones, tablets and eReaders are now necessities, and where do-it-yourself (DIY) means you’re cool.

2011 has marked the year of the publishing revolution. Thirty years ago, writers would wait years to hear back from an agent, only to learn their manuscript wasn’t good enough. Back then, self-publishing was considered taboo and most of the literary snobs looked down at the self-published authors who had no right to have their books published. It took Jane Austen fourteen years for her book, Pride and Prejudice to see the light of day. Fourteen years! I admire her perseverance and patience, but can you imagine if Jane Austen was alive today. Would she wait that long to have her book published by a traditional publisher, or would she jump in the band wagon and join the Indie movement? There must be a number of Jane Austen’s who tucked their manuscript underneath their bed accumulating cobwebs. It’s unfortunate they never got to share their story with the world.

Indie stands for independent, and used to be referred to authors published by small to mid-sized independent and university presses that don’t require an agent. However, a majority of authors have embraced the DIY movement which now classifies them as a Indie authors. An Indie author can get their book edited, formatted, designed, and have an ISBN just like a traditional author, but their books aren’t  displayed on the shelves of major bookstores.

2011 alone has been a phenomenal year for Indie Authors. The closing of Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores has raised the demand for eReaders. We are seeing more bold authors embracing the Indie movement. The Amazon Kindle became the most sought after reader when they launched their first Kindle in 2007. The gadget was reasonably priced and soon consumers found it more convenient to download a book versus purchasing the hard copy. In terms of pricing point, eBooks are more affordable than paperbacks and hard bound books.

Amazon has played a major player in the Indie movement. They witnessed the demand in authors wanting to independently publish their books without paying upfront fees. They offered authors the option of having eBooks in a Kindle format, and launched Createspace which allows you to have a paperback copy of your book. Soon Barnes and Noble introduced the Nook tablet which gave readers the option to read in color. Independent Silicon Valley eBook publishers, Smashwords and Scribd gave authors the opportunity of uploading their books in different electronic formats without paying a fee. Amazon is now a major publisher.

 More authors are choosing to publish their book themselves. Reasons include, being able to have full control of their work and not having to wait years till their book is released. There has been a spurt of freelance graphic designers, cover artists, freelance editors who are offering their services to authors. The royalties go directly to the authors pocket with no middle men involved. There has been a stream of independent authors who are now Kindle Millionaires. Indie authors are pricing their eBooks much lower than traditionally published books. This has proven to be an effective marketing strategy for them to entice readers. Readers have discovered notable talent from Indie authors who had the courage to publish their books.

Virtual blog tours have taken over conventional face-to-face book signings. Book reviewers and bloggers can post reviews on their blogs and other sites. With the birth of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, authors can easily promote their books without leaving their home. Fans wanting autograph copies of their favorite authors can now use Kindlegraph for a virtual autograph.

Books, movies, and any form of entertainment will always be there. The method of delivery may not be as conventional as we’re used to, but they shall always be a part of our life. So this leads me to conclude that we live in an era of options and opportunities, where change is inevitable, and where Indie is the new black. Embrace it!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Eleven Things I Wish I Had Known When I Became a Newbie Writer

I have Christine Cunningham who is visiting my blog today. Christine is the author of Eternal Beginnings and is here to share eleven things she wished she had known when she started as a newbie writer.

Picture 118.jpgCunningham EB cover.jpg

-You don’t have to go it alone
-Social networks are amazing free advertising tools when used properly
-Write what you are passionate about and not what you think will sell
-Ask for help from others!
-Ask to help others!
-Take criticism well and use to make you a better writer or at least build thicker skin
-It’s okay to have a day or two where the writing doesn’t flow
-Having a lap top makes means your office is anywhere
-Have food and water within reach so you never have to interrupt a flow for something at trite as eating
-Make sure you take time to do other things besides write, like shower
-There will always be something new to learn so be grateful, gracious, and giving

You can learn more about Christine and her work at the following websites:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Research Tips and Tricks at Museums

Today, I have Karen Baney, a self-published author who writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels.  Karen enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing.  She is going to share her research tips and tricks at museums. Karen is launching her new book,Nickels at the

My husband and I recently took a nice long weekend trip to Tucson, Arizona.  As with most of our vacations, we worked in a trip to a few museums.  I love walking into museums, smelling that old musty smell of things long past.

Then reality hits.  I mean, I’m standing in the largest aircraft museum in the country.  I could spend days here.  How am I ever going to gather all of the information I need in one short afternoon without testing my husband’s patience?

Normally, I’m armed with my Nikon D50 and a notepad.  I take hundreds of pictures and make notes (as long as the museum permits picture taking).  But this time, I brought something extra.  My iPhone and this neat little app called EverNote.

Several times throughout the day, I snapped a few pictures with my iPhone, saving the shot directly into EverNote.  I added a few quick notes and viola!  My research notes were instantly uploaded to my account and available from my laptop, phone, and even my desktop sitting at home.

By the end of the trip, I found myself getting into a groove.  If there were long text descriptions of something that I wanted to capture to read later, I used my iPhone.  If I wanted the highest quality picture of an object, like the WWII airplanes, I used my Nikon and added a few notes to my paper notepad.  I always jot down the picture number beside the note.

At the end of each day, I allotted an hour in the hotel room to organize the day’s notes.  I loaded the pictures from my Nikon to my laptop.  I went through my notepad and typed up the notes directly into EverNote.  Now, when I’m ready to write my WWII series, all my notes are neatly organized and extremely accessible.  I don’t have to try to remember what drawer I stuffed them in.

My tips for researching at a museum:

1. Take lots of pictures.
2. Bring a notepad.
3. Always write down the picture number and a brief note in the notepad for the pictures you’re taking.
4. Find ways to use your smart phone to work more efficiently on research trips.
5. Do a quick review of your notes at the end of each day.  You’ll remember things you forgot to write down and you’ll capture them while they are fresh.


For more information about Karen or her books, visit

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Getting to the Point: First Person vs. Third Person Views

I have author of Wedlocked, Bonnie Trachtenberg who will be sharing tips about Point of View which is one of my favorite topics.

I’m thoroughly convinced that one of the biggest reasons would-be authors never make it through page one of their would-be novels, is the daunting and confusing first step of choosing a point-of-view.  It’s something most book readers aren’t even consciously aware of, despite the fact that it hugely determines how they will relate to the characters and to the story as a whole.

First person offers a single-eye view of the world through the perspective of one character, who is also the narrator of the story. In third person, the author tells the story in an “anonymous” voice, and is afforded the advantage of tapping into more than one character’s head to convey thoughts and feelings.

For my debut novel, Wedlocked, I did not have to struggle with the decision of which view to choose. Wedlocked is based on my own experiences, namely, my impulsive, brief and disastrous marriage after years of struggling through singlehood. Telling the story through my main character, Rebecca’s, point-of-view was a natural choice, since she is really me with a few tweaks. But I soon learned of the great disadvantage of choosing first person: the story could only go as far as my protagonist’s own eyes, ears and experiences. Rebecca had to be in every scene! Luckily, her perspective was enough to convey what I needed to, and her vibrant and witty personality carried the story with ease.

In my second novel (due out early next year), I knew first person wouldn’t work nearly as well as third person. That’s because I had two characters whose heads I intended to pry into, and they weren’t even going to meet until about one hundred pages into the book. Thus, I chose third person, even though the thought of it worried me; I wasn’t sure what obstacles I’d face. Would I be able to make it as funny as Wedlocked? Could I convey the distinct personalities of the main characters as clearly? Happily, the answer is yes! As the “anonymous voice” telling the story, I could still communicate the characters’ colorful personalities and humorous thoughts, and dialogue wasn’t an issue because it’s the same in both point-of-views.

Just remember, you don’t have to make a final decision that’s set in stone before you begin writing. I learned that it’s okay to make an educated guess as to the best view to take and if you run into serious problems you can always go back to the beginning and change it. Trial and error is not against the rules and can be a great way to figure out the best mode of telling a story.

I think most authors still use third person because it allows for more versatility and complex storylines. But the use of first person seems more prevalent than ever before. Maybe that’s because a whole genre (Chick Lit) was founded on it. Ever since Bridget Jones began scrawling in her diary, millions of female readers have been swept into novels with the aid of that personal, intimate voice that speaks so well to them. Now the popularity of first person has stretched into other women’s fiction too. Several of my readers have told me that it was Rebecca’s wit and exasperation at her circumstances that made her so much fun as a narrator and so easy to relate to. That says a lot about the appeal of first person, but ultimately it’s your unique story that will determine which point-of-view is best.

Bonnie Trachtenberg is the author of Wedlocked: A Novel. She was senior writer and copy chief at Book-of-the-Month Club and has written seven children’s book adaptations.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Promotions vs. Connecting with Your Readers

I'd like to welcome author, Wendy Young on my blog today where she will be discussing her experience about connecting with her readers. She is the author of Come to the Shadows and Red Sky Warning.

As a new author I have so much to learn, especially in the area of marketing – ie: finding readers and convincing them that I have something they will enjoy.
The first solution that pops into most author heads is: PROMOTION. I’ll do ads. They’ll find readers. I need to pay money for PR and I’ll be set.

Or, will I?

Ads may bring you short-term gains but there’s a good chance you won’t even make your money back, much less build your brand if, well, you have no brand to back up the hype.
In comes a scarier and more personal approach: Connect with readers.

Be it meet’n’greets, author appearances and book signings, book clubs or the virtual equivalent meeting of the minds on Twitter, Goodreads, or via Blog Tours, a sure-fire way to build true fans is to go to them and offer an introduction. Humanize the work in your own words, with your own face, and you will see your fan base develop.

What has worked best for you? Do you rely on promotion? Or do you focus on connecting with readers?
Wendy L. Young has been writing for more than twenty years and now focuses on writing mystery/suspense novels with a healthy dose of thrills. Connect with her on Twitter @wendyyoung and pick up her new release Red Sky Warning, and her debut novel, Come the Shadows, anywhere eBooks are sold.

You can learn more about Wendy by checking the following sites:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Does Your Hero Have to Be Likeable?

Not necessarily. Your hero needs to be somebody you can sympathize and identify with. Making her flawed and realistic will win your readers. When I read a book, I often ask myself what I would do if I am faced with a similar situation. Would I follow her decision or would I do the opposite of what she did?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Celebration of Blogging

I only started blogging three months ago and I'm truly blessed to have been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award by wonderful author, Cindy Keen Reynders who writes interesting articles on her blog, Thank you so much, Cindy.

The rules of receiving The Versatile Blogger Award is that you thank the person who gave it to you and share seven facts about yourself, then pass the award to fifteen other bloggers if you can.

1. I love traveling, watching movies and curling up with a good book.
2. I love chocolate. :-)
3. I love dogs and sometimes believe that dogs are nicer than humans. ;-)
4. I believe in helping others and offering kindness.
5. I love all kinds of challenges and continue to push myself to the top.
6. I'm proactive and not reactive.
7. I never procrastinate and believe in doing things today.
8. I don't waste my time sweating the small stuff.
9. I believe that love is the most powerful gift God has given us.
10. I always try to be positive.

I am passing the Versatile Blogger Award to the following bloggers:

1. Richard Scott of Uphill Writing who talks about the craft of writing. Rik has entertained me with his quotes and Word of the Day.

2. Andrea Buginski of Andi's Realm invites a diverse group of authors to guest on her blog and each time I look for a new book to read, I can rely on her blog to check out new authors.

3. Stacy Eaton of Stacy Eaton Author is very creative when it comes to interviewing authors. She also writes articles from the character's point of view which is a perfect way to get acquainted with her characters.

4. Rob Guthrie of  Rob on Writing not only writes about the craft of writing, but he believes in giving back to others. He has a campaign called Read a Book and Make a Difference.

5. Mary Ellen Quigley of Mary Ellen's Musings offers good tips on how to be a better writer which I have found to be very helpful.

6. Christine Cunningham of Mungoi Sis Christine who has proven to be very helpful and supportive to writes. Christine invites authors to do a guest post on her blog.

7. Elizabeth West of E.A.West Writing offers valuable information on marketing and promoting your books.

8. Bonnie Trachtenberg provides interesting articles about promoting, writing and relationships.

9. Kaira Rouda  offers helpful tips for women, writers and anything under the sun.

10. Emerald Barnes  features a diverse group of authors on her blog. She also discusses about the craft of writing.

11. Karen Baney offers valuable tips about promoting and marketing your books. She also talks about the craft of writing.

12. Shilpa Mudiganti of Dreams Galore offers a variety of information on her blog about the craft of writing. She also does book reviews, and author interviews.

13.  Shirley Wine offers essential information every writer needs to know about editing and how to be a better writer.

14. Sarah of Workaday Reads is one of the book reviewers I trust. Her blog offers detailed reviews about the latest books, giveaways, and exciting events. Sarah is always up to date with the latest books and she knows how to connect with authors and readers.

15. Lindsay Jones of Just Another Book Addict is also one of my favorite reviewers. Her site is so colorful and this lady is very dynamic when it comes to conducting book reviews. She loves reading and her reviews are very genuine and heartfelt.

Thanks again to Cindy for my award.