You survived Vietnam, but what about its aftermath?

Four decades after the Vietnam War, many veterans are still questioning why me? Some still suffer form post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. For many honorable service men and women, it is a condition that just won’t go away.  According to one veteran, “we all came back with some form of PTSD, some were just more affected than others.”

As a trauma nurse, I have seen this over and over in my patients. As a writer, I have heard this over and over from my military colleagues, whether they were in the air or on the ground. This issue was called shell shock in WWII. It was worse after Korea and continued it’s increase post-Vietnam. And now is horrific according the number of cases from our Iraq and Afghanistan vets.  In fact, the type of PTSD being seen in many of our current combat veterans is so bad, it is called moral bankruptcy. Our military are being asked to do and see such horrific things, going against the very fiber of their being for what they know to be just and right, the consequences are catastrophic.

Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop was a USMC pilot who believes he went to Vietnam with a form of PTSD. He arrived there in 1968, interestingly enough, during the TET offensive. During fifteen months, he flew over 275 missions. While in Vietnam, his squadron VMA-311 flew 54,625 sorties dropping over 9 million tons of bombs. That record will never be broken.

picture of pilot Robert Gene Lathrop

Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop, USMC

Lathrop returned seemingly unscathed until ten years after the fact. That delay in the onset of PTSD is common in vets. What started as nightmares and cold sweats, quickly progressed to anxiety and hallucinations involving the flames of napalm. Desperate to hold onto his second marriage, he and his wife initially sought counseling. Luckily,  a female psychotherapist up on the latest research broached the touchy subject – she suggested that Gene was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Initially he balked at the thought of treatment. But further conflict with family and an incident as work provocated his admission for in-patient treatment at American Lakes VA center.

During the 1980s, therapist and psychologists were treating the disorder the best way they knew how.  Oftentimes opening up a damn of emotion which release a hurricane of feelings for which the patient was not prepared.  Sessions were intense with profound rage, grief, tears, and sorrow as veterans were encouraged to bring out long repressed memories.  When the emotions became unmanageable, the answer was medication.  Heavy sedatives, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety drugs were the fixers. Or so they thought.

Through the love and support of his wife, Gene endured this therapy, its aftermath, and finally experienced an evolved standard of care for those with PTSD. In the research for the completion of his memoir ETERNALLY AT WAR, I came across many veterans who told a similar story. Much of this material came from the Vietnam Center and Archive at Texas Tech University, the largest national repository of oral histories, photography, film and literature that has been converted by the graduate students into digital format such that the memories of those involved in Vietnam, from doughnut dollies to pilots can be preserved.eternally-at-war-ecoversmall

According to Dr. Richard Verrone, previous Director of the Oral History Project, “The archive is invaluable for many reasons but especially for preserving the history of the Vietnam War and, in the process of doing so, honoring those who served.  We tried to make sure our work was thorough, accurate, personal, and beneficial to future researchers. And, of course, our work was a way to honor those people we interviewed. It was incredibly rewarding to me to be able to help veterans with their PTSD issues as we did the interviews, if that was a possibility.  I certainly made the effort to broach the subject if they were willing, and I wanted to get it out there, to remove any layers that were there, to help those who would research in the interviews better understand this terrible condition.  As an instructor here at Texas Tech in the Department of History, I have had in my classes over the years many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Their PTSD issues mirror almost exactly those in the Vietnam interviews.”

Some veterans had coped by simply forgetting the past and moving on. Even talking about the war, brought heavy emotions back to the surface. Many of those interviewed for my research could not complete the process. Although some veterans find comfort in hanging out with their peers in the form of reunions or gatherings at a local VFW,  Lathrop found comfort in dealing with the aftermath of Vietnam through the written word. His powerful and frank poetry in THE DARK SIDE OF HEAVEN and now his brutally honest memoir are a brilliant window into the atrocities of a controversial war and the survival of its aftermath. He believed that society has a responsibility to care for all veterans when they return to peacetime and aid them to recovery after their sacrifices. “We owe it to the Vietnam generation, it’s an amazing sacrifice that they made. But it’s also the path ahead for the Iraq and Afghanistan generation. We have to do better than we did for Vietnam,” according to Dr. Charles Marmar, Director of The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center at NYU Langone Medical Center. AgeView Press agrees and therefore is honored to produce Lathrop’s works.

 

 

The Dark Side of Heaven – one Vietnam pilot’s perspective on the atrocities of war

What does it take to erase memories of the atrocities of war? Many a veteran of conflict struggle with this question. Through withdrawal, social faux paux, story telling or even failed self-medication with mind altering substances they attempt to numb the horrific images, sounds, nightmares, panic attacks, moral questioning paranoia and psychoses as survivors of war.  Welcome to the world of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our Vietnam veterans attempt to cope with this each and every day. They celebrate their successes in reunions and camaraderie, but for some, when they return home and are alone in their private thoughts, the negative thoughts return. Like an incessant, never-ending trauma.

A-4 Skyhawk

Marine A-4 Skyhawk

In 2012, I had the fortuitous luck to come upon a pilot’s manuscript called ETERNALLY AT WAR while researching the Vietnam Center and Archives at Texas Tech University.  From its first pages, I was captivated. Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop was a Marine pilot for VMA 311 out of Chu Lai. He was writing about the base and USO club I wanted to feature, Chu Lai and was also writing about the air war in Vietnam.  He flew the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. The plane I wanted to write about. What luck!

Who knew that graduate students had taken scads of oral histories recorded, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia and converted them to digital medium for preservation. The Vietnam Center at TTU was a goldmine! How awesome that the intimate details of this controversial war were being preserved! As a Red Raider alum, I had no idea this even existed! Way to go Big Red!!

Using some sleuth techniques, I was able to track down Gene’s address in Washington. After thoroughly devouring his manuscript, I was anxious to speak to him about its content. I reached his wife who informed that sadly, Gene had passed away only months before. I was heartbroken. I explained that I was a writer and what I wished to do with the material. After some thought, she graciously granted me the rights to utilize some of his stories for my historical fiction novel SOLO VIETNAM.

As I was crafting SOLO VIETNAM, I propped Gene’s picture up next to the computer. It was like we were penning it together. I felt honored to be in his world and indeed his presence. SOLO VIETNAM featured many of Gene’s missions which were weaved into my feature character, a Navy pilot with VA 153 off the USS Coral Sea CVA-43 WestPac cruise of 1967-68.  SOLO VIETNAM was awarded the silver medal by the Military Writer’s Association, featured at Tailhook 2014 by the A-4 Skyhawk Association, and won fourth place in the Readers’ Favorite 2014 book awards. Gene would have been so proud.

picture of pilot Robert Gene Lathrop

Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop

After reviewing the books, his wife asked if I would turn his entire manuscript into a memoir. I was honored and said “YES!!”  During the research for ETERNALLY AT WAR’s production, we discussed including how post-traumatic stress disorder greatly affected many of the veterans returning from Vietnam. She revealed how it had impacted Gene some ten years after his return. How initially, no one knew what it was. Gene’s sister related how many family members and friends would politely smile, yet roll their eyes, tired of his repeated stories. She requested that I cover that in the book, as a message to others. Again, I was humbled to be challenged with the task.

But Gene sent me an internal message from above. He had a better idea. Going back into the archive, I discovered that the graduate students had been very busy beavers indeed. There now were several documents in the archive, including a manuscript of Gene’s poems and an oral transcript. His family was thrilled. It was amazing to hear his voice.

Although I continue to work on ETERNALLY AT WAR, I am pleased to announce that Gene’s other book, a collection of poems written about his experiences flying in Vietnam, the conflict, and the aftermath will be released in time for Christmas 2015!!!!  It is called THE DARK SIDE OF HEAVEN. So make your plans now to reserve a copy of the beautiful collection of prose, photography, and pen and ink drawings depicting the Vietnam conflict and its aftermath to be published by AgeView Press.

pastel portrait of Robert Gene Lathrop

Gene Lathrop, USMC retired pastel painting by Susan Hirst

I feel strongly that Gene is dancing a jig to know that his words will find meaning in the comrades, friends, and families of Vietnam veterans affected by the perils of PTSD. He believed the required acts delegated to servicemen during war inflicted a moral bankruptcy which threatened their psyche and well being upon their return.  Thus provoking PTSD.

Enjoy an excerpt, indeed the title poem from the upcoming release THE DARK SIDE OF HEAVEN.

THE DARK SIDE OF HEAVEN

It’s two in the morning here comes the fire.

They’re still shooting low, but they’ll walk it up higher.

I’m on bearing to target, ten thousand to go.

“Roger, I copy, turning left three five oh.”

Out to the east, orange balls of flame

Are bursting right now, from where we just came

I’m approaching the target, five thousand to go

“Roger, I copy, fifteen knots slow.”

Only three thousand meters, and I’ll be headin’ back

For a shot of French cognac, and some time in the rack.

I feel a big buck and six eggs for free,

I’m clearing the target, heading east to the sea.”

Once clear of the target, I’ll fly just offshore

Heading south to recovery and just watch the war.

I’m totally drained and this planes not the best.

“This is Hellborne, Vice Squad; keep me clear to the nest.”

Look, there is a Spooky, a spittin’ out lead

to the west of Dong Ha, the ground will be red.

There’s a fire near that Base, it’s at three o’clock

“I see it, Vice Squad, it’s that big floating dock.

I’m coming up on the lights of the city of Hue

‘Twas overrun during Tet; taken back during May

That big flash at twelve, is the Jersey at play

“I’ve got her, Vice Squad, her salvo’s away

All those lights off to starboard are at Danang

Where the bomb dumps went up with a helluva bang

Those tracers at one are at little Ho’ An

“Chu Lai’s under fire; we’ll land if we can.”

I get so damned tired, flying three hops a day

I just get numb, that’s all I can say

The base is secure; no more enemy fire

“I’m coming in approach, and takin’ a wire.

There’s flares on final, but I’ve made the decision

 I’ll be going in hook down, without my night vision.

 If Hades was the earth and with firepits in the sky

 The center of Hell would be at Chu Lai.

I’ve got three down & locked, and dropping the hook

 I’ll be takin’ the wire, just like in a book.

The arrest was just perfect, I’m so good it’s a sin.

“What the hell do you mean? You got rockets comin in.”

The rockets are comin like a spew from a fount

But on the Dark Side of Heaven such matters don’t count.

 I’m back in the deck and out of the sky

It’s a hell of a home, but it’s ours at Chu Lai.

Written by Captain Robert “Gene” Lathrop, UMSC during treatment for PTSD on Ward 7A, VAMC American Lake, 1987

 

Aerial ballet over South Louisiana

Tom Burdick in cockpit of his crop duster

“”We are not the wild, whiskey-drinking daredevils that onlookers might perceive us to be,” says Tom Burdick, a pilot who’’s dodged bullets while flying.”

At the crack of dawn, before most of us are up and going, there is a ballet being performed in the skies. Tom Burdick is a special type of pilot. He dances amidst the clouds flying high, winging over and swooping down from the heavens over southern Louisiana. He and his team crop dust the plantations that are featured in the FLYING SOLO series of books, which I have written for AgeView Press. Not only can he fly, he can write. Burdick has served as my technical consultant for the crop dusting passages in SOLO VIETNAM. In addition, he contributed to the dramatic plane crash sequence in WAITING IN THE WINGS. His heart and soul is flying and that’s what comes through in his desciptions of soaring through the heights.  He once told me that he’s never happier than when flying.  He described it as his lifeblood.  I am elated and honored to call him not only a colleague, but a dear friend. Enjoy this article about Tom published some time ago in the Baton Rouge Business Journal.

Original Article and Photos By: Chuck Hustmyre published Nov 30, 2007 at 6:00 am. (Updated May 4, 2012)

Tom Burdick swoops in fast and low, the wheels of his airplane almost brushing the tops of the trees standing along the edge of the field. He levels the wings and dips the bright yellow nose toward the ground. He’s zooming in at 130 mph, with the afternoon sun behind him. From the ground, Burdick looks like he’s lining up for a strafing run as he aims the sleek, single-engine propeller-driven plane at a field.

In a sense Burdick is making a strafing run, although it’s not a line of enemy planes he’s attacking, but a row of crops. From a height of only eight feet, he triggers the release of the plane’s payload, and a line of nozzles along the trailing edge of the wing spews an aerosol cloud that swirls in the wake of his prop wash. Burdick roars across the field in seconds. He pulls back on the control stick and rockets skyward. At the top of his climb, he kicks the rudder over and banks into a steep turn, setting himself up for another diving pass at the field.

In the business, he’s known as an A.G.—an agriculture pilot. His munitions of choice aren’t bombs or bullets, but pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Not that he hasn’t seen a few bullets. “I was shot at once,” he says. “I found two holes—one in the tail and one in the wing.”

Tom reading FLYING SOLO

Taking a break with a great book!

Burdick, a 62-year-old, who although is short in stature, stands tall, exudes quiet confidence.. He started flying right out of high school, paying for his pilot training by working the flight line at an airport in his hometown of Madison, Wis. As a newly winged commuter pilot, Burdick flew VIPs around Wisconsin, including the governor on a campaign tour. Later, he spent four years as an air traffic controller at the hyperkinetic Los Angeles Center in Palmdale, Calif., directing commercial jets and other aircraft over central California and northern Mexico. Burdick lost that job when the air traffic controllers’ union staged a walkout in 1981, a move that prompted President Ronald Reagan to fire all the strikers.Fortunately, a crop duster training school in Casa Grande, Ariz., 460 miles away, was accepting new students. “I rode my motorcycle from Palmdale to Casa Grande in the middle of the night,” Burdick recalls. During the ride he hit a patch of black ice with his Kawasaki 550 and went down, knocking off his windshield. He froze for the rest of the trip. “It was so cold my face was stuck.” At crop duster school Burdick met a guy from Louisiana looking to hire an ag pilot, so in February 1982, he packed up what few belongings he had and moved to South Louisiana. He’s been here ever since.

The next Aerial Crop Care pilot.

The next Aerial Crop Care pilot.

For the full text article, you can see it here.

Tom Burdick is pretty basic – and that is how he started his company. Aerial Crop Care, which began with only one pilot, Tom, now boasts an annual revenue upwards of 1.2 million.  His team of five pilots fly Air Tractor AT-502 crop dusters, which are impressive machines that cost upwards of $800,000. The sleek, long-nosed, low-wing planes pack a 750-horsepower propeller-driven turbine engine that runs on jet fuel. They top out at about 150 mph and has a 500-gallon hopper built into the nose to hold chemicals or seeds. In addition, they founded Mosquito Squad, a company which combats mosquito invasion.  Tom was instrumental in the design of the state of the art plane used to combat the pests. But Tom Burdick’s only love isn’t flying.  He is the proud parent of two grown children and grandpa to a precoscious two year old pilot-in-training.  During National Aviation Week, AgeView Press is proud to recognize and salute this outstanding professional in the skies!

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.

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

Ghost writers in the sky – do they exist?

Have you ever wondered why someone might need a ghost writer? It makes sense for the celebs that can’t put two words together. But why would someone else need one? Enjoy this guest post written by one to find out. Who knows, it could enhance your skills.  Enjoy!!

THE BUSINESS OF BEING A GHOST WRITER

by Karen Cole

It can be hard to write repeatedly about being a ghost writer, as I have already written something like a hundred pieces on this topic alone. But I find my job as a professional ghost writer to be fresh and new every time. Being a ghost writer is a lot like being a car mechanic – you’re on hire to work on someone else’s “baby,” and you do the best you can to get it in good running and working order. You fix whatever you find to be wrong with it, and you send it back to the owner in great shape.

I have been ghost writing and editing on the Internet since 2003, and was freelance writing before then, since 1980 at least. I have published a magazine of my own called “The Crusader” and have been published in several newspapers and magazines, including online ones. It is my business to be published occasionally under my own name, but normally my best work is published under someone else’s name. I specialize in editing nowadays, being semi-retired as a ghost writer.

Part of the business of being a ghost writer is receiving payments properly. As a ghost writer, what with the book field being nearly glutted with books nowadays, receiving payment during the course of completing a book writing project is paramount. Of course, with proper book marketing a book can pull ahead of its competition and sell well nowadays, if its author goes to the trouble to properly market and promote it. So it’s still worthwhile to be a book author and to hire a ghost writer or editor and proper, affordable book marketing services.

I run a team of some 100 book, screenplay and music ghost writers, editors, marketers and promoters, as well as accompanying illustrators, photographers etc. These people get most of the incoming job leads, and I take a job occasionally that suits my fancy, in a manner to how Sherlock Holmes took jobs in those famous stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes never worked a job unless it “fascinated” him, and I only take what is lucrative, fresh and interesting to me personally.

But I can locate a great, affordable ghost writer or editor for nearly anyone who writes into our ghost writing services agency, and I can help take a book from the inception of its ideas to its completion as a published work, editing, formatting and doing all that it takes to come up with the finished salable product. Whether you hire my affordable professional services as a ghost writer or as the overseer of an entire ghost writing job, you are indeed hiring the best, every time.

AUTHOR’S RESOURCE BOX:

Ghost writer revealed!

Ghost writer revealed!

Hi, I’m Karen Cole, Executive Director and appointed Head of Ghost Writer, Inc. GWI is an affordable ghost writing services agency that seeks to find and hire a ghost writer, editor, marketer and/or promoter for your book, screenplay or music needs. We will find you an expert, published, recorded or optioned freelance writer for all your possible service needs, and we always charge only affordable rates.

Link up to Karen Cole here:     Facebook    Twitter  LinkedIn

Wanna get published in 2013? Here are some words of wisdom!

Bookmaze

Brazilian artists Marcos Saboya and Gualter Pupo’s BookMaze

In 2012, Indie publishing soared.  Recently, a fantastic website for the how to’s on self publishing surfaced from cyberspace.   You, as a writer or wanna be writer should take a look.  Marilyn and Tom Ross run the website Self Publishing Resources.   It is chocker-block full of information regarding the world of Indie Publishing.   A one stop shop.   They have truly done their homework.

Take some time and read through the stats posted from one of their blog articles.   Some of the information you may have heard before, but at year end, it is helpful to review.    The stats are both staggering, yet motivational.   It is important before beginning any journey, that you have the correct information to keep you from running amuck down rabbit trails.

Many thanks to Marilyn and Tom Ross for their outstanding collection of this data.   Enjoy!

Excerpt from Self Publishing Resources a blog by Marilyn and Tom Ross:

  • The New York Times reported that “According to a recent survey, 81 percent of people feel that they have a book in them…and should write it.” If you do the math, that represents over 200 million people in the U.S. who want to write a book in their lifetime! No wonder self-publishing is thriving as never before!
  • A new survey found that 23 percent of readers polled have visited an author’s web site, while only 18 percent have gone to a publisher’s site. The survey, conducted by advertising firm Spier New York, surveyed 813 readers, 35 percent of whom were under 35 years old. The survey also found that 50 percent of those queried had purchased a book as a gift within the past year. Online purchases represented 28 percent of books bought, while 89 percent came from a brick-and-mortar retailer.
  • USA Today has added a searchable database of 10 years of bestseller data. You can find it on the page where their weekly bestseller list is posted. A key discovery: the all time best-selling writing/reference guide in the United States is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. (Note that it was originally a self-published book!)
  • Consumers in the Northeast spend the most on reading materials, while spending is the lowest in the South.
  • Sales of religious paperback books represent a significant market share in today’s publishing arena. The new gospel on book sales has spiritual and religious titles crossing over into mainstream bookstores and taking upwards of 7 percent of all book sales. The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren for instance, has sold over 22 million copies. And this is not a New York phenomena: the publishers, agents, and authors are primarily a whole different group than the Big Apple players.
  • There is a new concept, “wag the long tail,” which means if you rack up enough small sales, especially consumer sales on the Internet, it will add up to big profits in the long run. Technology is turning mass markets into millions of niches. Independent presses, self-publishers, and authors can sell effectively into these micromarkets. This bodes well for new and mid-list authors, not to mention creative-minded smaller presses.
  • Blogs can lead to books. A blog is a great place to flesh out ideas, get reader feedback, and sometimes catch the attention of an agent or publisher.
  • The ratio of customers to bookstores is highest in Nevada, Texas, and Mississippi.
  • Statistics provided by publishers to the Association of American Publishers revealed that net sales in February 2006 were at $358.4 million, up 12.3 percent over the same period in 2005. Genre leaders were higher education and adult mass market paperback.
  • About 20 percent of online sales are of titles not available in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Projections are this figure will soon reach a third of all book sales.
  • Many famous authors and their books were rejected multiple times. Publishers turned down Richard Bach’s Johnathan Livingston Seagull no less than 140 times; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind received 38 “no’s,” while Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down 30 times. J. K. Rowling’s original work was pooh-poohed by 12 publishers…guess who’s kicking themselves now that they passed on Harry Potter? And E. E. Cummings first work—The Enormous Room, now considered a masterpiece—was ultimately self-published…and dedicated to the 15 publishers who rejected it.
  • What element of a book is the most important? Seventy-five percent of 300 booksellers surveyed (half from independent bookstores and half from chains) identified the look and design of the book cover as the most important component. They agreed that the jacket is prime real estate for promoting a book. Find a great cover designer.
  • Speaking of promoting, niche magazines, which focus on a single topic, are becoming increasingly popular. This trend to specialization — everything from magazines on poker playing to horse people, from interior design and decor to wedding titles, from dog magazines to golf periodicals — provide targeted opportunities for promoting books on these topics.
  • It is good that these fragmented magazines exist. Book review column inches in newspapers have dropped by 20 to 50 percent.
  • University presses are rebounding. They increased their title input to 14,484 (up by 6.3 percent) in 2004, an all-time high. The growth engines were history, biography, and law, which represented 55 percent of the increase. A Princeton University Press title even topped the New York Timesnonfiction best-seller list.
  • From 8,000 to 11,000 new publishers enter the field every year; they are mostly self-publishers.
  • There are about 1.5 million books in print at any one time in the United States.
  • Bookstore sales by month would surprise the average consumer. You probably think December is the high month. Yet the big bounce is in January and again in August and September when university sales are made. The lowest month is April with only $0.987 billion in sales.
  • Some 300 to 400 mid-sized publishers exist.
  • 78 percent of titles brought out come from a small press or self-publisher.
  • California is the stronghold of small presses with approximately six times the number located elsewhere. Colorado and Minnesota also have large independent and self-publishing communities.
  • On the average a bookstore browser will spend eight seconds looking at the front cover and 15 seconds scanning the back cover.
  • The size of the small press movement is estimated to be $13 billion to $17 billion a year, as opposed to trade publishers who are responsible for bringing in $26 billion.
  • Nonfiction typically outsells fiction by two to one. However, at least 20 percent more fiction is being published these days via the Internet and (POD) Print on Demand.
  • Interest in poetry and drama has grown by more than 33 percent since 1992.
  • The average number of copies sold per title of a POD company that printed 10,000 different titles: 75 books.
  • One book per year is produced in America for every 2,336 people— in contrast to one for every 545 individuals in the U.K. Other countries ahead of the U.S. on a per capita basis are Canada (577), New Zealand (779), and Australia (2,041).
  • A poll of 2,700 U.S. Internet users, representing about 100 million U.S. Internet users, indicates that about 8 million unpublished novels and 17 million unpublished how-to books have been written by that Internet-using population alone.
  • Women buy 68 percent of all books sold.
  • Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased.
  • 52 percent of all books are not sold in bookstores! They are merchandised via mail order, online, in discount or warehouse stores, through book clubs, in nontraditional retail outlets, etc.
  • 64 percent of book buyers say a book’s being on a bestseller list is not important.
  • The #1 nonfiction bestseller for 2001 was the Prayer of Jabez, exceeding 8 million copies. Self Matters was #1 on the 2002 list with a mere 1,350,000 copies sold. John Grisham’s The Summonstopped the fiction list with 2,625,000 copies. The best-selling trade paperback during 2002 was, of all things, a cookbook: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. How-tos, memoirs, and religion were also strong sellers.
  • Parables, short tales of fiction that teach a life lesson, have many avid fans that drive them onto bestseller lists. One of the most recent is Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD. Dr. Johnson began his career as a self published author
  • Bookstores are famous for returning books to publishers. The industry return rate is typically 36 percent for hardcovers and 25 percent for softcovers.
  • It takes an average of 475 hours to write a novel. Fiction is considered successful if it sells 5,000 copies. Writing a nonfiction book requires about 725 hours. A nonfiction book is deemed successful when it reaches 7,500 copies sold.
  • The largest advance ever paid for a self-published book? A whopping $4.125 million. Simon & Schuster paid that for Richard Paul Evans’s The Christmas Box.                

We have researched a multitude of sites and publications to pull these facts together for you. They include the ISBN agency, Harris Interactive poll, Book Industry Study Group, Bookwire.com, Seybold conference, IBPA, the American Association of Publishers, Authors Guild, Lulu.com, Jupiter Media Matrix, parapublishing.com, Foreword magazine, Department of Commerce, Publishers Weekly, various news releases, Books in Print, R.R. Bowker, Forrester Research, Morris Rosenthal, Romance Writers of America, Shelf Awareness, U.S. News & World Report, Poets and Writers, M. J. Rose, Borders, and SIMBA information.

Self Publishing Book

Your self publishing bible.

If this information wasn’t enough, try this great book.   The Complete Guide to Self Publishing by Sue Collier and Marilyn Ross.   Now. . . grab that pen and start writing!   Consider using this resource to get your book out there BookBaby  You could be the one with the next best seller.

Words to be thankful for . . . Indie publishing!

Great gift? Indie pub’d books!

What a blessing and sweet ride it has been seeing books published by previously unknown, yet strong authors.   The eletronic world of today has simply changed the world for story tellers previously unable to get their message out.    Are all Indie pub books worth supporting?   The answer is a resounding NO!!    But there are some truly great voices out there, that without Indie publishing would never have been heard.

There have been many blogs out there which have highlighted both the good and the bad about Indie publishing.   Caution is the key.  Do your homework.  Test the waters.   Take a chance when holiday shopping on some Indie pub’d books.   In many cases, you will not be disappointed.

Before listing some favorites for you, here are some facts.   Did you know:

1.  there are going to be over 3 million books published in 2012?

2. there are only really six big publishers out there . . .

3.  thousands of well known authors received countless literary rejections and dejections before being published

4.  Bowker estimates that they will issue over 15,000,000 ISBN numbers in 2012

5.  the top selling book of the year, 50 Shades of Gray was indie pub’d?

6.  The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter was rejected so many times she had to initially self publish. To date: 80 million sales.

This is why, at the beginning of this holiday season, we should all be thankful for the tenacious resilience of  not only Indie pub’d authors, but those authors who are going the distance in this over abundance of printed words.   Be brave, traverse the ailes of small independent book stores,  support small local businesses.   But most important of all, give the gift of words.

Examples of great Indie pub’d books:

Flying Solo Novel

Flying Solo – a 5 star page turner from AgeView Press

The Mill River Recluse – Top Selling Ebook – and Indie Pub’d

Forgotten Soldiers
Forgotten Soldiers – War story at its best – Warren Martin

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.