Indie publishing options? Yep You’ve Got Em!

Amanda M. Thrasher author

A woman with a pen and a purpose!

This post is a guest blog post by successful Indie publisher Amanda M. Thrasher of Phoenix Rising Press.   Not only is she a publisher but an award winning author who knows the ropes.   Enjoy!

Despite what you might think many authors CHOOSE independent publishing- commonly known as self-publishing, instead of going down the traditional publishing path.  Reasons vary, but include the following:

1. queries and submissions take forever

2. marketing via the author is still required

3. splitting royalties gets old

4.  tracking sales can become an issue

5.  pressure to meet projected sales in order to keep advances is a burden

6.  reserve held against royalty accounts for returns (unsold books returned to publisher) actually a reason most authors aren’t familiar

and my personal favorite

7.  overall lack of control of the product – your book

I left my publisher for some of the same reasons, as did my business partner.  I personally pulled three titles.  But once that decision was made, time was of the essence. We decided that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it our way –  the writers/author way.  It was for this reason that we started our own small press.   Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC was founded this year, 2013.  We’re not a traditional publisher – don’t even claim to be.  We’re authors working together for the good of all, marketing cooperatively.  We know strength in numbers is smarter than working alone, gives us industry recognition under a label. I guarantee that’s where most small authors miss the boat –truly working together to sell titles, that’s different than a plug, true cross- selling.

Cross marketing is so important to what we’re tying to build, strength in numbers.  In fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s an authors responsibility.  Everyone pulling his or her weight benefits all.  Ten heads are better than one.  Just ask our authors – we ask them.  Why? Because we know their creative minds have brilliant ideas and they count.   We know the industry is changing.  That’s not news.  It’s our job to try and keep up.

We took six months off.  We didn’t do events or even promote our own work, in order  to build our label.  We networked to figure out what options we had and what industry requirements were needed.   The issue was returnable books, mandatory for large vendors.  How would Indie press deal with those?   There were  choices out there, but they were combined with risk.

Solution?  We used certain printers who offered specific things for authors and vendors, retailers, wholesalers, depending on the fan base required.   We plotted the  market, overall goals, projections of potential sales.   Going with a small press gives you options and strength in number.  There’s far too much additional  information to share within a blog,  but there are some basic differences between a small press and self-publishing alone of which an author should be aware.  Please feel free to contact me regarding questions.  I’ll share what I know, still learning, but we’ll get there.   Options – yep, you’ve got em!

Fundamentally, here are some resources to begin scoping out!

*CS = CreateSpace

*LSI= Lightning Source Ingram (Lightening Source division of Ingram)

*Returnable Status= Returned books that do not sell

*BookPartners=Printer

Here are some basic differences to understand between CreateSpace and Lightning Source:

 CS – Cheaper books for author / direct sells.

CS – 100% Royalties less production, Royalties Defined as Sales Price Less Printers Share

LSI – Returnable Status option – Mandatory for brick and mortar vendors (C.S. non-returnable)  R/ Yes R/N R/Destroy

LSI – Multiple Print options

CS doesn’t offer hard covers posted for distribution sale (they will produce) for an extra fee, but will not sell. Children’s books: can not put titles on spine or produce glossy pages, dust cover, saddle stitch, staple, perfect (again perfect bound important for children’s books name on spine), plastic comb. Nice choices for the author.

LSI- has every available print option you’d like- title on spine must be a certain page count, trim size etc. expensive due to inks, pricey but available quality, industry compliant.

C.S. picture books, a little cheaper per print page (good for children’s) gets pricy to SRP = suggested retail price (listed price)

LSI- Paper back (trade paper), Hard Cover- files are considered two separate files. Two fees.

LSI- will offer a Multi-Volume set of books sold under one ISBN. Ex: The Selected Works of William Shakespeare.

* Othello * Hamlet * Romeo and Juliet *King Lear * Macbeth * The Merchant of Venice  (Once again…options).

By the way, BookPartners and its organizer,  Tim Mallot are an excellent choice for author copies of books and books for direct purchase for special events.  They are a great source for hardcover, glossy print children’s books  requiring title on the spine.  Their books are perfectly bound and shipped direct.  We love them!

 Best wishes, 

Amanda M. Thrasher

http://www.progressiverisingphoenix.com or http://www.amandamthrasher.com

Why some folks are ruining the Indie pub market!

Wrong, wrong, just so wrong!

Wrong, wrong, just so wrong!

One of the well known montras for savvy authors in the Indie publishing world is to avoid shouting out “Buy my book!  Please, buy my book!”  Just ask Jonathan Gunson at Best Seller Labs.   Yet, the goal of course is to sell as many books as you can.   Learning the tricks of the marketing trade isn’t easy.   As egotistical as many writers are, sometimes their biggest failure is in promotion.   Here’s a great post on that exact subject from Martin Crosbie, a contributor to Indies Unlimited. Gone are the days when the big six publishers market you.   Not to mention small Indie press.

You might sign with a publisher, have them order ten thousand copies of your book only to have those books returned to you at cost because they did not sell.   Your ten thousand dollar book advance, now in arrears.  It happens.  Everyday.   Why do you think shops like Books a Million and Half Priced Books exist?   It is called returns. 

One of the advantages of being Indie pub’d and print on demand, POD is that your books aren’t returned en masse.   In the next week, AgeView Press will host a guest blogger, author and publisher Amanda Thrasher who is an expert in navigating the slippery slope of Indie Press.    What exactly is the relationship between CreateSpace, Amazon, Lightning Source and Ingram.   Who is in bed with whom?   How does it all work?

There is a new game in town.   Small press cooperatives.   Within these cooperatives are authors just like you.  Looking to get that edge.  Sure, it is an ego booster to say that you have your own Indie press:  i.e. you self pubbed your books and now are owner of “xyz books.”   But just take a look on Goodreads and Amazon.  There are over one million books Indie pressed each year.  Each year!  The competition is daunting.  

Not everyone is going to be an EL James or Amanda Hocking.   There is strength in numbers.   Don’t contribute to watering down the industry with onesy and twosy “Indie” Presses that you own yourself.    Shop around.  Find a small press that offers you what you want.   Better yet, form a cooperative with several authors yourself.   But buyer beware, the latest rip off are the fees that some of these small presses charge you to participate.    There have been scalpings for sure.  

Do your homework.  Check them out.   Find out what is required on your part.   Explore what bang you get for your buck.   Ultimately, you will find that with faithful social media, blogging, and a small budget for advertising the sky is the limit.   So tell us, what is your biggest struggle with shameless self promotion?  Do you have a marketing secret?  Please share it below.   We won’t tell.

Do Amazon and Createspace rip us off? The update.

It’s has been several months since first publishing and republishing the story about Amazon and Createspace failing to report accurate sales.  It’s absolutely evil.   Here is what has been learned.

It's almost evil!

It’s almost evil!

Hundreds of authors contacted me regarding the inability to see their sales, especially from expanded distribution channels.   The story has been blogged and tweeted.  One author, on the grounds she stay anonymous, as her book was just picked up by one of the “Big Six” and she feared be dropped, told me that over 500 of her books sales never showed.AgeView Press was contacted by the Vice-President of Customer Service at Createspace, George  X ecr@createspace.com  who explained that he takes customer concerns very personally.  He pulled up my account for my latest book SOLO VIETNAM.   Now, I know for a fact that since it was published, April 2013 that at least ten friends have ordered it from Barnes and Noble and other retailers, which should have shown up on CreateSpace’s records as expanded distribution orders from Ingram.   Mr. X kindly shared with me that I had shown one sale from Expanded Distribution.  When asked where that was from?  He was not allowed to provide me that information.    Yet, he could see it from Ingram.

It get’s better.  This time, I chose not to go with KDP select.  I never saw the increased sales following the 4,000 free downloads of my award winning novel FLYING SOLO.  Not even after hawking it with KindleMojo, World Literary Cafe and anywhere I could get the info out there.   Never saw them.   I sold very few books with KDP select.  So this time, I decided to expand my ebook availablity by having in in multiple formats, Kindle, Nook, ebook and ibook via BookBaby.

The jury is out.   Scads of folks have downloaded the book in various formats, many writing reviews.    Yet, to date I show zero sales on BookBaby.   Now, to be fair, their policy is that after a sale is made in particular month, it can take up to 60 days after that month closes for them to report the sales from their distribution.   Seriously people?    Sixty freaking days?  Dont’ we live in an electronic world?   Are these retailers like Kobo, Itunes ibook, Barnes and Noble using the Pony Express?

What the heck?   <—-please insert selected four letter vulgarity here!

As an Indie author and owner of a small press, I find this completely outrageous.  How can one possibly track the availability of their marketing?   Last year, I sold more books hawking them myself via book signings and the Texas Author Book program and made more for each copy.  The problem?   And authors, you will just love this one, the numbers of books you order yourself from CreateSpace do not count as sales!    Yet, when big publishers order 10,000 copies of a new release for distribution, that book is automatically put on the New York Times best sellers list!

Again. . . what the heck?  No that one deserves fuckity-fuck, fuck, FUCK!!!

The morale of the story?   Authors you better love what you do.   Have a great time writing your Indie books, going to book signings and enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame.    Because unless you are born under a lucky star, you are barely going to break even.

What’s sad is that because of the desire to become famous, small press and Indie press have seen waves of authors turn to the dark side.   Vampires were hot, so they wrote that.   Bondage was hotter with 50 Shades of Grey, so they wrote that.    There are literally hundreds of thousands of poorly written books which overshadow quality Indie writing that get’s literally lost in the sea of Indie wannabes.    What’s an author to do?

1.  Keep complaining to CreatSpace to show your immediate electronic and expanded distribution sales

2.  Join forces with reputable Independent Press organizations like Independent Author’s Network, Readers Alliance and Book Your Next Read #BYNR.

3.  Follow Jonathan Gunson‘s tips for Indie author success.   Follow book bloggers.   Make thoughtful posts on their blogs.  Gain their trust.   Then ask for a review.

4.  Before you tweet a random book, READ IT!   Dont recommend books that are off your brand, poorly written crap.   Save your tweets for worthy words.

5.  Keep your network of solid, proven Indie Authors tight.   Communicate and unite.   Network and promo them.   Attend worthy writer’s conferences like Lexicon. You’ll be amazed.   By paying it foward, your returns will be rich.

A lawyer, David Berke has contacted AgeView Press about joining forces with other authors to draw publicity to this dilemma.   The Associated Press contacted AgeView Press, but the journalist, Hillel Italie, HillelHItalie@ap.org  never followed up on the story.   It continues to happen.   To me and to many other authors.  Please email this reporter and let them know this is NOT an isolated incident.

We keep the faith.   Continue to try and stay positive in the marketplace.   And most of all. . . write because we love doing it!    Please feel free to SHARE and reblog this post.   Grassroots efforts really do result in action.   Just ask President Obama!

What exactly is a Bush Nurse? Meet Annabelle Braley

Belles of Steel exist downunder too!  

photo of annabelle braley

A bush nurse at heart!

Take for example, Annabelle Braley, author of BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle grew up in rural Australia.  Out in the bush, as it is called downunder.  Amidst the big red kangaroos and thousands of sheep.    As a young girl, her parents wanted a better education than her small town in Queensland could provide, so she was shipped off to Brisbane to boarding school.

The state of Queensland is two and a half times the size of the state of Texas.  Think about how big that really is!   Being so far away from her family,  she spent a great deal of her childhood writing long letters home, becoming quite an avid story teller.   After school, Annabelle wanted to become a hair dresser, but her father had different ideas.   He insisted she choose between becoming a nurse or a school teacher.   Not having fond memories of her teachers at boarding school, Annabelle enrolled in nurse’s training.

Her nursing career was short-lived however, as soon she married a sheep farmer.    Packing up her hopes and dreams, she moved out to a huge, isolated cattle and sheep station in Southwest Queensland.    The station was 130 km from anything that closely resembled civilization.

Once again, she found herself writing long letters to family and friends.   Eventually, she wrote her first story for a competition.  In 2006, she published her first story.  It was a piece for RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine.   She’s been writing for them and other rural publications since.

Sheep station

1000 hectares of sheep!

In 2009, she was commissioned to write a book called Caging Octopuses; The first decade of Condamine Cods Rugby about a small community on the western Darling Downs in rural Queensland, near where she had grown up.    It was about a tiny town of 90 people, Condamine  whose inhabitants reconnected and strengthened their community by introducing a Rugby Union club.   Smack dab in the middle of a farming community, the fondness and vigor of  its residents for rugby completely revitalized a dying community.

The fabulous story was based around a fictitious character, Meg, who marries a local fictitious farmer, Boots.  Boots is a retired rugby player.  Meg writes stories about the Club for her soon to be born baby, Baby Boots.  Meg and Boots are based on a number of locals and their story reflects the story of some of the young people in the area.   Their antics were certainly was not all football!

People liked what Annabelle had to say.   Her stories and book became wildly popular.    In early 2012, she was recruited by Penguin Books to collect and collate the stories which make up BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle believed it an absolute joy to be involved in a project related to her chosen field of nursing.    She believes tha rural and remote Australia, and probably all rural and remote areas around the globe,  run on nurse power.

Just what does it take to be a nurse, out in the bush?  Often, a nurse is the only medical help immediately available.   They might be required to render emergency care,  sort out medical issues and decide who needs to be air-evac’d out.   Bush nurses might have to give immunizations or make home visits deep into the remote interiors of Australia.    They get there by jeep, helicopter or fixed wing.   Many fly as a part of the the Royal Flying Doctor Service.    They might stitch up a wound and deliver an Aboriginal baby all in the same day.    Many are trauma nurses that are certified as MidWives.  Annabelles suspects that a lot of people take nurses for granted, including many nurses themselves.   So for her, the opportunity to celebrate nurses who work in rural/remote areas was kismet.

Never for a “nursing minute” did Annabelle believe when she was a young nurse that she would be doing what she is today!  Writing about them.   A major obstacle in her pathway was her lack of any formal training as a writer.    But she believes that was balanced out by her own experiences living as a woman in outback Australia.    Generally, she loves writing about what she knows.   And she knows the outback well, having lived there most of her adult life.   No cell phones or digital TV.   Just sheer will, determination, and creativity with pen and paper.

BUSH nurses cover

A great read about what real nurse’s do!

A mentor taught her a couple of the montras by which she has survived the challenges the bush can deal out, “believe in yourself and your own abilities” and “stop and take a breath to let some things evolve in their own time.”   Days out in the bush and be long and hard.  Annabelle never gives up.   She admits practice “makes better if not perfect.”

For these reasons, AgeView Press is proud to announce that Annabelle Braley is the 9th Belle of Steel!    Congratulations to a woman who has overcome many odds to become a successful and published story teller, gifted at interpreting the trials and tribulations of other people’s stories.

Annabelles book, BUSH NURSES is available at Penguin Books online.   Australia is one of the most amazing countries you could ever visit.   Check out travel destinations by clicking Austravel.

Solo Vietnam coming April 2012

Alright readers . . . you have asked for it, salivated over it. . . here is an excerpt of the upcoming release of SOLO VIETNAM, sequel to FLYING SOLO.   Coming in just days!   Release should be around the first week of April 2013.   Please enjoy!   Would love your comments, RTs, reblogs and invitations to your friends.   Already getting great advanced reviews!    Thanks so much for your readership and support.

Chapter 28

∞ Tonkin Gulf ∞

 Steve packed his B-4 bag in silence.  He expected that like the rest of the crew on board the Coral Sea, that he had only a few weeks before they set sail toward home.   He wasn’t the only A-4 pilot being reassigned to the USS Bon Homme Richard.  Because of a fire on the Bonnie Dick back in the fall, they were short of pilots. There were several others scheduled to serve in the Tonkin Gulf until October.  Once on deck to await his COD helo, Steve ran into Pete Watterman, the helo pilot he had met before.

“Lt. Commander,”  Pete saluted.

“Lt.” Steve saluted back.  “At ease.”

“Hey man, how’s it going?”  Pete asked.

“Being relo’d.   To the Bonnie Dick,” Steve replied.

“Yep, I’m taking some of the pilots over now.  COD.”

“Aren’t I included on that manifest?”

“No, man.  You’re orders must have changed again.  Sorry.”

“What?” For a moment, Steve was confused.

Before Pete turned to make his way to his helo he offered, “Hey Lt. Commander Novak.   You’re an alright guy.  Nice to have met another man from Dixie land.  Good luck out there.”

“Same to you,” Steve responded.

About three other pilots and their bags were loaded.   Pete geared up his propellers, kicking up some salty mist. About that time, Steve was approached by Commander Woolcock, the skipper from his squadron.

“Sir,” Steve saluted.

“Sorry to jerk you around, buddy.  But there’s been a change in plans.  You’re to bingo off to Chu Lai, taking one of our scooters for hand-off to VMA-311.    She’s seen her days on the decks of the Coral Sea.   Commander Nelson from Air Ops is fazing her out.”

“Gotcha,” Steve acknowledged.  Chu Lai?  How lucky could he get?

“But that’s not all.  Your recent service bought you some R and R.  After you hand off the plane,  you’ve got three days before you report to the Bon Homme.  Here’s your pay advance.”

Steve was handed an envelope containing the customary $200 given to pilots for spending money during their brief time off.   He couldn’t believe his luck.   Chu Lai, Nora and R and R.  It couldn’t possibly get better.

Often, when the navy felt an A-4 had seen its days on the carrier, they would send the plane to one of the marine VMA stations for repair and refit.   The marines would patch it up, repaint their own VMA call signs and the plane would be used for another hundred missions or so.   Second hand.

After pre-flighting the Skyhawk, Steve was given signal from the LSO to cat.  One last look at the deck of the Coral Sea.  She had been good to him.  As he gained altitude, he saw the lights on the deck become a small line of white, amidst a black sea.

He would be flying under night cover to transport the plane.   Another chance to see the war in action at night, from 10,000 feet.   By now, he knew the coast well.  He could see stars out everywhere on this clear night.

Despite flying over a war zone, it was relaxing in a way, to be flying a plane for delivery instead of a mission.  On shore, he intermittently caught site of flares being dropped.  There were white hot lights of anti-aircraft fire launched skyward.   It was a short flight from the deck of the carrier to Chu Lai, a mere ninety miles.  Before long, he saw the lights at Danang.  The moonlight was shining on the pristine, yellow-white sands of China Beach.

Soon, he visualized the river at Chu Lai.  As he descended, he saw the sampans out in the water.  No attacks for tonight.  He radioed Chu Lai ground and got clearance to land.

“Chu Lai tower, this is Blue Tail NL-317 requesting to land, over.”

“Bingo in, NL-317.  Keep your eye on the meatball.  Clear to ground.”

The runway at Chu Lai was fairly short.  He positioned the plane such that his slope would contact the arresting gear.  Lowering his speed and putting down his landing gear, with a small bump and scrape, Steve touched down at Chu Lai at 1930 hours.

There was no one to meet him on the tarmac.  For a moment, he wasn’t sure where to go.  But then, a marine flight crew approached.  Haggard and cover in dust in grease, they were a site.  One of them radioed for a jeep.   Steve took a moment to take the flight line in.  It was sure a far cry from the organized symmetry of the Coral Sea.    There were bunkers and razor-edged barbed wire everywhere.  It looked like the tarmac as well as the flight line had taken some substantial mortar attacks. Airplane parts, partially burned out made it a metallic graveyard.

A six by six jeep transport pulled up with three other pilots in it.   “Where to, Lt. Commander?” beckoned the driver.

“The USO club.  I hear they’ve got a great singer there,” Steve said.

“Yeah.  Righto.  Tonight’s a Mardi Gras party.   But you’ve only got about twenty minutes to curfew.”

“Then step on it,” Steve chided as he threw his bag in the back.

“Right on, Sir,” the jeep took off and sped toward the beach and the club.  As it neared, Steve could hear the sounds of jazz emanating from inside.  He could hardly contain himself and nearly jumped out of the jeep before it pulled adjacent to the make-shift arched bridge over a trench to the entrance.

Homesick for New Orleans, Nora arranged through her black market connections with Woody, to get the adornments for a Mardi Gras celebration.  Doubloons, beads, and plenty of seafood.   She booked a Vietnamese band that could play some jazz.  One more way to bring a little bit of the U.S. to Vietnam.

They place was packed.   Bar and restaurant were almost standing room only.   GIs were bedecked in vibrant Mardi Gras beads.  Some had on colorful masks.  The distinctive spicy smell of Zartaran’s filled the air from boiled shrimp and “bugs,” a crustacean native to the South China Sea.  Steve traced the sounds of jazz to the porch along the backside.   Sure enough, Nora was crooning out one of her favorites, Moon River.   He stood in the breezeway out of her sight.

She looked amazing, as always.   Radiant smile.  Bright pink lipstick.   Long, sensuous legs and high heels.  Her skirt had to be at least eight inches above her knees.  Damn, she was hot.

The crowd cheered as Nora wrapped up her song.  “Thank you all for coming tonight.  Les bon temp roulles.”  The GIs hooted and hollered.   As she finished replacing the mike in its stand, Steve came up from behind her.

“Say gorgeous, I’d know that voice anywhere,” he whispered in her ear.  Nora felt her knees grow weak hearing his voice.

Whipping around, she exclaimed, “What the heck?  Steve, where the devil did you come from?”

“About a hundred miles north of here.  Just to see my gal,” he couldn’t resist and in front of everyone grabbed her and planted a big kiss on her lips.   Catcalls erupted from every corner of the bar.

Nora was a mass of emotion.  Joy, tears, and pent up libido just  hearing his voice.  Taken aback at first, she quickly recovered.   “I can’t.  Not here.  Let me wrap things up and make sure everyone clears curfew.  Then,” she pulled him close and whispered in her sultry voice, “I’m all yours.”

Directing her cook, dishwasher and one of her girls running the bar, she quickly wrapped things up for the evening.  The books and tabs could wait till the morning.  She thanked everyone for the great job they did.  Within a few minutes, due to curfew, it was just Steve and herself left in the bar.

“What on earth are you doing in Chu Lai?”

“Had to deliver a Skyhawk for refurb to VMA-311.  How’s that for luck?”

“Brilliant,” she said throwing her arms around him.  “I’m just tickled pink you are here.”

“Nice place you got going,” he said referring to the club.

“The girls and I have really worked it over.  It was a dump.  But I’ve learned to make, uh, well, let’s just say connections.”

“That’s the navy way.  Way to go girl,” he could hardly keep his hands off of her.  “I’m about as randy as ever.  But where can we go?”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” she had a gleam in her eye.

“Certainly not to your hooch,”

“Nope.  The girls are there and curfew’s on.  But we might be able to sneak out back under the decks.  There’s a small, unused, elevated tent.  It was the original officer’s mess, near the beach.”

“Sounds great, doll.  Let’s go,” he said taking her hand.   Nora locked the place up and they quietly snuck out down the back steps of the club.  They walked close to the jungle line of trees, so as not to be seen by the sentry guards.  Clearing through some brush, they came to a clearing with the tent.  It was dank, dark, and sandy, but they didn’t care.  They were finally alone.

The flap of the tent barely went down before he had his hands all over her.  The fact that there was dust everywhere and cob webs didn’t bother them. They finally had a secluded, stolen moment alone.  He kissed her passionately, relinquishing the pent up sexual tension between them.  She darted her tongue in around his mouth, long, slow and ardent.

Pulling her close into him, she felt his desire for her.  He was rock hard.  He stopped kissing her for a moment and looked deeply into her eyes.   Without saying a word, he unzipped the back of dress, exposing her shoulders.    He lowered his head and began kissing along her collar bone, starting on her left.

And. . . . you will have to just purchase the upcoming copy to see the rest!!!!!

Back by popular demand! The Amazon Rip-off!

So many readers and authors have contacted me regarding Amazon and CreateSpace ripping them off with inaccurate reports of sales, that I was compelled to repost this blog.   The question remains. . . what do we as Indie Authors do about it?   Please, repost this article and tweet it.   Will someone from the press or AP ever pick it up?

I had one AP reporter contact me. . . she did not believe it was happening.  But if you are an author, you know it is.

Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

ostrich head in the sand
“Where, oh where are my royalties?”

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted Createspace customer support, who gave assurance that all sales were being accurately reported.   FLYING SOLO was now also on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select as well as expanded distribution channels, which included Amazon affiliates in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.    Sales were being reported to the author from readers and bookclubs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The first note of apparent discrepancy came when a dear friend of the author ordered three copies of the book from Amazon in June.    These books were ordered all at the same time, from Amazon.com direct.   Yet, that cluster of three sales was never posted as such.      Another instance in early July involved the same issue.    Again, a customer ordered three copies, yet no sales were trackable through Amazons channels for three sale purchased on the same day.

Meantime, the author was making public appearnances, being featured on blogs and radio, and rounding with booksignings.   During the months of June and July, no expanded distribution channel sales were posted on the royalty report, yet customers were emailing the author letting her know how much the book was being enjoyed overseas.   More than 15 five star reviews for the novel were posted on Amazon.

What should have shown as a surge of sales, as the book peaked, never appeared on the royalty reports.   The author was suspect.   She contacted Ingram directly, only to be informed that they were not supposed to reveal information to an author directly.  So, the Indie publisher, AgeView Press made the call.    Ingram showed 16 copies of the book ordered through their system total since May.   Those sales never showed on the June or July royalty report.    The author filed formal complaints with Createspace customer service, but received only canned letters in response explaining  that indeed there was an issue with reports in Expanded Distribution and it was being investigated.   Advice to author?  Please be patient.

By August, it was clear there were gross in accuracies.  The 30 copies ordered from Barnes and Noble never showed up.   Few if any sales were listed for August.    Yet the author had confirmation of over 4,000 copies in distribution worldwide.    The crowning blow came in September.   A plan was devised.    A friend, agreed to help with the investigation.   She ordered a copy of FLYING SOLO on September 7th, taking screen shots of her order and confirmation of payment directly from Amazon.    She printed out here receipt showing date and time of purchase.   The book arrived on September 13, to San Jose, California.   Photos were taken.   The sale was complete.    Copies of all screenshots and receipts were scanned and sent to the author.    By September 20th,  no sales were shown at all on Createspaces report.    Phoning Createspace, the author was informed that no sales were showing for Amazon for the month for that title.    It was time for outrage!     What had been suspected, had now been proven.  Not once, but twice!

Time to climb up the foodchain.  After many phonecalls and emails to Createspace, a Senior customer service “executive” phoned personally and stated he would investigate.    Talk about a wacky result.    Due to the print on demand status of Createspace books, sometimes they are one or two books ahead.   Thus even though your book was printed in one month, but sold in another, a royalty might actually show up in the prior month for that sale.   What???

No one expects to get rich off of writing a book.    Few and far between are the Oprah Bookclub golden orbs of success.    But how are authors to trust a system, happy to take their money for assisting to create and publish a book, which does not thoroughly, detail accurate sales?    Simply outrageous.   What options does that leave the Indie publishers?     How can they possibly track the success of their marketing efforts.   Is the publishing world doomed to be controlled by the big six?     Are small bookstores and Indie presses to be overrun by powershouse chains which offer the Indie published writer no turf?

How can the press or the author be sure those sales are accurate with no detail?   Rise up Indie authors!    Repost this story!    Tweet it, facebook it.    Make it go viral.   Print it and send it to your local newspaper and the Associated Press.   This abject fraud is outrageous and MUST STOP!

John R. Clark, Managing Editor, AgeView Press

Tantatlizing Tidbits: Glimpse of a page turner – excerpt from FLYING SOLO

Picture of cover for FLYING SOLO

“Sassy, sexy 1960s drama in the skies over New Orleans. A must read.”

Welcome to Tantalizing Tidbits.  

Just to tantalize your tastebuds a bit, I will be featuring excerpts from various Indie published books in a column called Tantalizing Tidbits. Based on your feedback, I will post more excerpts. If you like an excerpt, please click like, Tweet it and facebook a link to it. That is how I will gage which excerpts you like the best.

Here we go. . . the first excerpt if from FLYING SOLO. This is a fast, page turner set in 1960s New Orleans. The gist of the story? A socialite, suburban housewife is filled with the wanderlust. On a whim, she takes flying lessons behind her powerful husband’s back. He’s livid when he finds out. An ogre, he threatens her with divorce. Which, she is glad to get until she looses custody of her children. Newly in love and desperate to get them back, she steals a plane! And that’s just the first half of the story!

Enjoy a read from FLYING SOLO:

     Her exhilaration when flying was not without fear today. But she was thankful for her courage and commitment to her children. She thought about the Navy ideals that Steve had told her about. Honor, courage, and commitment. Well at least she had two out of three. For there was certainly no honor in her first totally independent act as a pilot; which was now stealing a plane.
     Nora started to see dwellings increasing in numbers within proximity. She realized she was on the outskirts of Hattiesburg. Pinebelt Regional was north of the city. She would be flying over Hattiesburg’s western edge. Almost there. Just a few more moments and she would be home free.
     She made contact with Pinebelt tower when she was ten miles out. “Pinebelt tower. Twin Piper, November six, niner, one, five, foxtrot. Three miles south west, requesting permission to land.”
     “Twin piper six, niner, one, five, foxtrot clear to land runway three six.”
Nora recognized from studying her maps that runway three six required her to bank left when in proximity of the airport. She received another radio communication from the tower, “Twin Piper, niner, one. Winds are currently zero four five, at twenty-five knots, gusting to thirty-five. Clear to land runway three six.” Nora knew that meant she would be getting quite a bit of crosswind as she attempted to land the plane.
     It suddenly began to dawn on her how risky this mission was. If she somehow failed her landing, and crashed the plane killing herself; her children would not only be motherless, but stranded in Baton Rouge. Although these thoughts began to cross her mind in flashes, she tried to put them out of her head.
     “Come on Jack. Help me out here,” calling on her father’s spirit in heaven or hell, she really wasn’t sure. She took a deep breath, put her head on straight and mentally focused on the task at hand. When she saw the airport come into view several miles out, she pulled back on the throttles and began a gentle descent. A few minutes later she could visually see the numbers of runway three six.
Nora was also starting to feel the wind. It was difficult to hold her course and her wings were rocking like a boat on rough seas. To maintain her heading required lots of rudder input to compensate. Unfortunately, she was sometimes over compensating causing her to overshoot her course in the other direction. She was struggling to keep the nose up. It was going to be the landing from hell.
     In fact, it was so bad, she radioed the tower. She was dropping too much speed and couldn’t pull the nose of the plane up to stabilize the plane. “Pinebelt tower, Piper one, five, foxtrot, going around.” She had to bail the landing.
     “Piper one, five, foxtrot, clear for the go around. You’re the only one in the area; clear to land at your discretion.”
     She pushed the throttles forward and leveled off flying just above the runway. Once she started gaining airspeed, she pulled back on the yoke and began her climb into the sky.
     Sweat was pouring from her brow. This time it was going to take more skill and concentration. She made a climbing bank to the west, leveling off at one thousand five hundred feet. She was now re-established in the traffic pattern ready to attempt another approach. “Come on Nora, you can do this. You have to do this,” she coached herself.
     Making a sign of the cross, she approached the runway again. This time she was much more aggressive in her rudder control to compensate for the gusting crosswind. She pointed the nose in the direction of the gusts as Steve had taught her. Keeping her hands steady, she kept the nose up and lowered her speed to begin her descent. “Steady, steady,” she said. One hundred fifty, one hundred, fifty, twenty five feet. She was at the end of the runway and boom. Nora was down. Smoothly. A huge sigh of relief came over her as she lowered her speed and applied her brakes. She was here. Thank God she was here.
     Nora taxied the plane towards the hangars for general aviation. She had rented a temporary space from Grayson Aviation. The mechanic planned to meet her. Pulling the plane safely into the hangar, Nora ticked off yet another step of her strategy. Once she parked, she closed up the Piper and applied the pad lock to the outside door of the building.
     “Would you like us to hold the key for you here, Miss Broussard?” the mechanic asked her.
     “No, thank you. I will hold onto them. I appreciate the offer, but I know that the co-owner will be anxious to get them.” Nora then took off her glasses and baseball cap. It felt good to shake out her hair. Despite it being December, it was drenched with sweat. She walked from the FBO over to the general terminal. It would be another hour or so before Charlene arrived, so Nora ordered a Coca-cola and took a seat in the bar to relax.
She couldn’t help but watch the clock, wondering how Charlene was making it up Highway 11. Her friend had quite a lead foot; she hoped she wouldn’t be pulled over by the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Nora had given a detailed map to Charlene on how to find the airport.
     It was almost three o’clock and Charlene’s Caddy was nowhere to be found. Nora got up and walked outside the terminal to look for her. She didn’t want to appear like a loiterer in the terminal and she couldn’t drink too many Coca-colas due to the baby. The caffeine and sugar was already making the baby kick incessantly.
     Nora rubbed her tummy. “I wonder if you will be born with the spirit of Jack Broussard?” she questioned the life inside. Nora felt that although her recent actions were unlawful and bit dodgy, her father would be proud that she was a fighter.
A flash of baby blue rounded the corner, tires screeching. Charlene! The Cadillac pulled up to the curb. “Good golly miss molly! I thought you would never get here,” a relieved Nora exclaimed.
     “Well, heck sister. I had my eyes so glued on that detailed map that I missed a damned turn with all that construction. God, I need a drink.”
     “No time for that, we have to get back on the road and back to Baton Rouge. Especially before we hit rush hour traffic.” At this point, it looked like they might just make it.
     “Nora Jean, I’m at least going through the Dairy Mart drive-thru to get a coke float. This girl’s gotta have some sugar. I’m plum nearly wore out.”
     “Here, move over. I’ll drive then. And yes, I’ll stop at Dairy Mart.”
     “So, how was it?” Charlene had to get all the details.
     “Nerve wracking. But I made it.”
     They hugged and gave a big “yee-haw” out the windows of the Cadillac. Nora could breathe a sigh of relief. Now all that was left was to get back to her kids and call Frank. Devilish delight danced in her eyes as she imagined his face realizing his plane was gone.

So, there you go.  A tantalizing taste of what can be found in the novel FLYING SOLO.   If you liked this excerpt, please let me know by sharing it below with one of the share buttons.  Tweet itFacebook it.   Link others back.   You can purchase this book from AgeView Press if you would like a signed copy.   Or download it on Kindle for free as an Amazon Prime member.    Just $2.99 on Kindle purchase.    Also available in print via Amazon.  

Be looking forward to excerpt #2.   Again, if you like it, please share it!  Let’s get this party started.

Author Brinda Carey talks survival tips. Free yourself from domestic abuse!

Author Brinda Carey

Survivor and Author, Brinda Carey

Guest blog:   Flying Solo was one of my favorite reads of 2012. In this book by Jeanette Vaughan, the protagonist, Nora, came up with an ingenious and thrilling plan which worked for her.   She found a way to escape from a powerful husband and domestic abuse.  I found it fascinating that this was based on a true story. Most women could never pull off that kind of escape, yet it must be done. At the point of separation, the situation can become the most volatile as the abuser feels a loss of control and fights harder to gain it back.

So what steps should a person take to be prepared?  First of all, let me stress that in the case of an emergency, don’t delay leaving if you haven’t completed this checklist! The safety of you and any children you have is the first priority.

That said, start working on this checklist now.

  1. Determine which friends or neighbors you could tell      about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent      noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
  2. Talk to a friend or family member you can trust and      tell them about your fears and that you are planning a safe escape. Even      if you don’t know if and when you will leave, it is imperative to continue preparing for the day you decide you must leave.
  3. Have important phone numbers nearby for you and your children.  Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends, family, and the local women’s  shelter.
  4. Think about the various escape routes in your home just as you would for a fire drill.
  5. If there are any weapons in the house, find a way to get rid of them. At the very least, know where they are and attempt to      lead your abuser away from these areas during an altercation.
  6. Open a bank account or find a safe place to stash money. Perhaps one of your safe people will keep your emergency bag at      their home. Have coins or a prepaid cell or card to use. A charged cell phone will allow you to call 911 even if you do not currently have a      service plan.
  7. Make spare keys to your car, house, and any others you might need, and keep them with your emergency bag.
  8. Request replacement credit cards and bank cards. It is also a good idea to include your driver’s license. You may decide to have      them sent to a friend or family member’s home for placing in your bag.
  9. Make copies of all important papers such as:
    1. birth certificates
    2. social security cards
    3. school and medical records
    4. Car registration
    5. Welfare identification
    6.  Passports, green cards, work permits
    7.  Lease/rental agreement
    8.  Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
    9.  Insurance papers
    10.  PPO, divorce papers, custody orders
  10. Other items to have in your bag: medicines, personal hygiene items, and extra clothes.
Don't Cry Daddy's Here book on Amazon

A must read for anyone dealing with abuse!

 I hope you found this guest blog, by Author Brinda Carey helpful.   She is a survivor of abuse and sexual exploit from Arkansas.  Brinda had the strength to not only overcome the abuse, but write about it to help others.   Her books and motivational materials can be found on Amazon here.   Her blog is at www.brindacarey.com  She travels the country speaking out to women, reaching out to help them find ways to be strong and survive.   AgeView Press is proud to announce that Belle of Steel number six is Brinda Carey. 

The Next Best Thing? SOLO VIETNAM

SOLO VIETNAM an A-4 Skyhawk cats off the deck of the USS Coral Sea

Ready, set, go . . into the Vietnam war zone.

Welcome to the blog hop.   This is an event where author’s showcase their next projects.   This bloghop The Next Best Thing  was created by Gail M Baugniet and what a success it is to behold.  My books were nominated by several colleagues from the Lexicon Writer’s Group, namely Evelyn M Byrne.  You can find out about them by clicking here.    The founder of this blog hop is an Indie Writer herself.  So here we go, hopping along with the Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the working title of your book?   SOLO VIETNAM  and it’s not the working title.  It is THE title.  Says it all about the story as the sequel to FLYING SOLO.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? So many people have asked me what happens next to the characters in FLYING SOLO.  Do Nora and Steve ever see each again?   What happened to the baby?    The book ended in a cliff hanger of sorts.  Lots of unanswered questions.   SOLO VIETNAM takes the on a bizarre journey, to the war zone of the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War.   Action, flying, intrigue, passion, and drama are all part of SOLO VIETNAM.    Find out what happens next to our aviators.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Definitely historical fiction.  It is set during the years of 1967 to 1968.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? In the movie rendition, a great lead for Nora would definitely be Natalie Portman or Selma Hayek.  But they have to be able to sing with a voice like spun sugar!    For the gorgeous male pilot, Steve could be Jude Law, Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Can lost love be found in a war zone?

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I am definitely going Indie again with the small, quirky publishing company that published FLYING SOLO.   Their name is AgeView Press.   They are always looking to highlight fresh new writers with a voice.   I love Indie.   It is changing the world.   Forget the Big Six!  Indie rocks!!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  The first draft takes me about six months.  But it is the careful rewrites where the nuances and texture come alive.   Edit, edit, edit!!

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? This is definitely not a romance for sure, this is pure drama in a classic time period.   So I would have to say,  Rampant RaiderIn Love and War,  and Flying Through Midnight.

9. Who or What inspired you to write thisbook? Definitely the men and women who served side by side in Vietnam – they are the unsung heroes whose stories need to be told this the young generation.

Unsung heros of the air

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? In my books, I take the reader there.  Sights, sounds, feelings.  They will feel like they were transported back to 1967 amidst war protestors at Haight Ashbury, midtown New Orleans, and of course the jungles, beaches, and skies of the Vietnam War.   They’ll be right there trapping on the carrier deck of the USS Coral Sea,  dodging surface to air missiles with Steve in the cockpit of his A-4 Skyhawk.   It is a page turner for sure.

And as is the custom, here are  5 great readers that you will want to follow in the blog hop:

Amy Gallagher

  JE Pendleton

Ken Farmer and Buck Steinke

TC Miller

 Mitch Haynes

 

Enjoy the blog hop as it hops along to find great writers for readers just like you!

Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?

Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

ostrich head in the sand

“Where, oh where are my royalties?”

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted Createspace customer support, who gave assurance that all sales were being accurately reported.   FLYING SOLO was now also on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, as well as expanded distribution channels, which included Amazon affiliates in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.    Sales were being reported to the author from readers and bookclubs in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The first note of apparent discrepancy came when a dear friend of the author ordered three copies of the book from Amazon in June.    These books were ordered all at the same time, from Amazon.com direct.   Yet, that cluster of three sales was never posted as such.      Another instance in early July involved the same issue.    Again, a customer ordered three copies, yet no sales were trackable through Amazon’s channels for three sales purchased on the same day.

In the meantime, the author was making public appearnances, being featured on blogs and radio, and rounding with booksignings.   During the months of June and July, no expanded distribution channel sales were posted on the royalty report, yet customers were emailing the author letting her know how much the book was being enjoyed overseas.   More than 15 five star reviews for the novel were posted on Amazon.

What should have shown as a surge of sales, as the book peaked, never appeared on the royalty reports.   The author was suspect.   She contacted Ingram directly, only to be informed that they were not supposed to reveal information to an author directly.  So, the Indie publisher, AgeView Press made the call.    Ingram showed 16 copies of the book ordered through their system total since May.   Those sales never showed on the June or July royalty report.    The author filed formal complaints with Createspace customer service, but received only canned letters in response explaining  that indeed there was an issue with reports in Expanded Distribution and it was being investigated.   Advice to the author from Createspace?  Please be patient.

By August, it was clear there were gross inaccuracies.  The 30 copies ordered from Barnes and Noble never showed up.   Few, if any, sales were listed for August.    Yet. the author had confirmation of over 4,000 copies in distribution worldwide.    The crowning blow came in September.   A plan was devised.    A friend, agreed to help with the investigation.   She ordered a copy of FLYING SOLO on September 7th, taking screen shots of her order and confirmation of payment directly from Amazon.    She printed out her receipt showing date and time of purchase.   The book arrived on September 13, to San Jose, California.   Photos were taken.   The sale was complete.    Copies of all screenshots and receipts were scanned and sent to the author.    By September 20th,  no sales were shown at all on Createspaces report.    Phoning Createspace, the author was informed that no sales were showing for Amazon for the month for that title.    It was time for outrage!     What had been suspected, had now been proven.  Not once, but twice!

Time to climb up the foodchain.  After many phonecalls and emails to Createspace, a Senior customer service “executive” phoned personally and stated he would investigate.    Talk about a wacky result.    Due to the print on demand status of Createspace books, sometimes they are one or two books ahead.   Thus even though your book was printed in one month, but sold in another, a royalty might actually show up in the prior month for that sale.   What???

No one expects to get rich off of writing a book.    Few and far between experience the Oprah Bookclub golden orbs of success.    But how are authors to trust a system, happy to take their money for assisting to create and publish a book, which does not thoroughly, detail accurate sales?    Simply outrageous.   What options does that leave the Indie publishers?     How can they possibly track the success of their marketing efforts.   Is the publishing world doomed to be controlled by the big six?     Are small bookstores and Indie presses to be overrun by powerhouse chains which offer the Indie published writer no turf?

How can the press or the author be sure those sales are accurate with no detail?   Rise up Indie authors!    Repost this story!    Tweet it, facebook it.    Make it go viral.   Print it and send it to your local newspaper and the Associated Press.   This abject fraud is outrageous and MUST STOP!

John R. Clark, Managing Editor, AgeView Press