Tag Archives: Publishing

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Our Finale! Guest Post by Martin Crosbie

25 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

Hello and Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for this day, in what ever form you like to see it as. I have been privileged to be part of a two week Christmas Blog tour with the following authors: Sarah Lane, Laurie Boris, Heather Haley, Helga Zeiner, M.L. Gardner, Roberta Kagan, Wendy McClelland, Jamie Lee ScottJennifer Ellis, and RJ Crayton. Each of us has provided an article with a Christmas theme and I hope that you have enjoyed the variety so far. Today I’m posting the last one in a fine line up of topics and I could hardly wait to share it with you!

Well, here it is! The day we’ve all been waiting for. My guest blog by the amazing , best-selling Canadian author, Martin Crosbie!

web pic with christmas tree 2

(We’ve saved the best for last, haven’t we?) Here, on Christmas Day itself, Martin brings us the intriguing background information for Charles Dickens’  much-beloved “A Christmas Carol”. I KNOW you’re going to love this! And I’d love to hear from you on what what thoughts that Christmas brings to you.


The 12th Blog of Christmas is written by bestselling author, Martin Crosbie.

Martin lives on the west coast of Canada and has written five books including Amazon bestseller My Temporary Life. His popular Christmas novel Believing Again: A Tale Of Two Christmases is available in e-book format in the US and UK as a Kindle Countdown Deal from Dec. 24-27 for only 99 cents.


Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Those delicious words open the Dickens classic. Previous to the publication of A Christmas Carol, Christmas was barely recognized. Although it was a holiday it didn’t have the romantic vibe that it has today. Mr. Dickens and his novel changed all that. And, if he’d waited for his publisher to release the book it may never have happened.

Charles Dickens wrote his masterpiece in six weeks. Somehow he was able to channel the story and get the words on paper (or parchment probably) in less than two months. At that time he was suffering financially. His wife was pregnant with their fifth child and the wolves were closing in on their door. His previous novel had not sold well and when he submitted his new manuscript (after having it beta-read surely), to his publishers they were slow to warm to it. I’m not sure how rejection letters were sent out in 1853 but his publishers indicated that they were not interested in publishing the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s epiphany. Anxious to have the book released by Christmas Dickens went the print-on-demand route and self-published. He hired his own illustrator and contracted his publisher to print the books. And, he did the legwork himself. Then, in those very, pre-Konrath days he decided to lower the price to five shillings – a price that most folks would be able to afford. He wanted his book to be read and perhaps he even thought that readers might enjoy his other works if they liked his Christmas tale.


Read more …

Books vs. ebooks – the Hypocrisy of It All

4 Aug

My name is Dianne and I am a hypocrite.

That’s right. You see, I love books.

Totally addicted to them. Love the feel of one in my hands, love drooling over the covers in a bookstore (figure of speech, guys, ok? I don’t actually get the covers wet). Spend money I don’t have on more books. I have books squirreled away in every room of my house ( ’cause you never know when you will find yourself with a few minutes to read …). I love the feel of the paper, love the faint smell of books ( they do have a slight scent, you know, especially when new…), love being able to see how far I’ve read and how much I have left in the story. My WTBR pile lines one wall of my bedroom in a rather precarious design that is two books deep by 7 feet long, 2 feet high…

BUT I am also an author and believe that if you want to be successful in this new world of publishing, you MUST embrace ebooks. And so, I have a Sony ereader that Hot Stuff Hubby, who is not by nature a gift-giving sort of guy, surprised me with to celebrate the publishing of my debut novel, amzn.to/ORNZDL

An awesome cover designed by Derek Murphy at http://bookcovers.creativindie.com/

I also have the Kindle app on two laptops, one net book, AND my Samsung tablet. Yes, I confess that I am reluctantly becoming an ebook convert. Not totally, though. I’m a fence-sitter with this. (Not a comfortable position to be in, really…) but here’s the thing – there are pros and cons to both, and in my opinion, here they are:


  • Pro – As mentioned above, I like being able to visually assess my progress through a book, marked by a cute little bookmark popping out of  the pages, marking my place.
  • Pro – Back Page Cover Copy. So interesting! This is what eats up my browsing time in a book store.
  • Pr0 – easy to read in full sunshine.
  • Pro – easy to read on a sandy beach or in the bath. No worries about permanent destruction should I drop a book in either of these locations.
  • Pro – easy/fast to go back a re-read a favorite/puzzling  section again. ( I often mark book passages with color coded sticky notes, especially if a book is instructional – hey!  – whoever “gets it”  when reading a list of “how-to” for the first time?)
  • Pro – I can loan out my faves to friends for an unlimited amount of time.
  • Con – Books are heavy. They take up room in my suitcase (who doesn’t read while lounging on a sun splashed holiday??) and the weight of them alone pushes me close to the airlines’ maximum allowed luggage weight.
  • Con – Paper books are not as green (environmentally friendly) as a digital file. And I love trees. Can’t bear to cut one down and so I never dwell on the amount of them that are killed to supply our greed/need for paper products. (more hypocrisy, I know)


  • Pro – each one can hold thousands of books in a space of no more than 6″ x 9″ by 1/2 “.
  • Pro – obviously, weight of a life-time supply of ebooks is no concern at all.
  • Pro – BIG PRO, actually – enlargable font. Oh, yeah, these old eyes LOVE that!
  • Pro – kinda … – ereaders have the capability to bookmark places, too. I just don’t find this as convenient as the real  physical thing.
  • Pro – again, kinda … – lending of an ebook is possible between people who have ereaders of the same type, and you can get thousands of ebooks on loan from libraries now, too.
  • Pro – ebooks have brought authors and readers closer together in the new world of self-publishing, where readers, not multiple layers of agent, editor, publisher and associates, decide on access and availability, and yes, the success, of a story with the reading public.
  • Pro – purchase is spontaneous and instantaneous. With the click of a button.
  • Con – purchase is spontaneous and instantaneous.  With the click of a button.
  • Con – it’s so easy to ignore/forget/overlook all those WTBR ebooks that I have downloaded into my Kindle library or onto my ereader, unlike my physical WTBR pile that reminds me that it’s still there, every time I stub my toe on it, or accidentally knock it over, sending a small avalanche of books skidding across the room.
  • Con – although battery life is improving with each new generation of ereader, electricity is still needed to recharge, and for a traveler like me, not all countries/places have easily accessed or appropriate voltage to do so. I hear there are solar powered rechargers available now but I don’t have one. Maybe I should put the bug into Hot Stuff’s ear …

So how about you? Which side of the fence do you park your bum on?

Show Me the Money … (in 10 steps or less)

19 Jul

Show Me the Money … (in 10 steps or less)

 I have a debut novel, “Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest ” published, with Book Two of the intended trilogy just a smidge away from being finished and ready to publish as well. I published Book One in 2010 through iUniverse, as I was brand new to the world of self-publishing or indie-publishing (whatever term you are comfortable with) and a complete technophobe.
Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest

In 2009, I had sent my manuscripts out to a few traditional agents (OK, several dozen, but who is counting, really??), because that’s how I thought you had to do it, and had a few requests for partials and fulls, but became frustrated when the last agency said (and I’m paraphrasing here): “This is really good, but it’s obviously YA and we don’t have a YA section. We strongly encourage you to submit to an agency that specializes in YA.” Trouble was, the second to last agent that I had heard from had said (more paraphrasing): “This is really good but it’s probably a little too realistic/intense for YA.”

(Too Intense? Um …thinks me, have you read or at least heard about YA’s  The Hunger Games?)

About this time, a friend sent me an article on the rise of self-publishing and within the article was some sort of rating system of the available services out there at the time. iUniverse scored well in the ratings. and Lisa Genova, well-known author of Still Alice had first published with them. I emailed her and asked if she had been satisfied with their book creation services. She replied that she had been very happy with iUniverse and felt that, without having gone through them, her book would have still been sitting on a shelf as an unsold and unpublished manuscript. ( She was picked up by one of the big publishers after she had marketed her novel herself).

So, I paid for their Book Launch Premier Pro package for $3830 US. I also devoured blogs about the publishing business and marketing and publicity. Here is an abbreviated version of my experience in spending and gains for my book so far (all cussing and tears of dejection and depression have been removed) :

MY RATING SYSTEM: 1 – worthwhile;  2 – not sure, maybe worth it;  3 – wouldn’t do it again

1. iUniverse Package – beautiful book, loved my cover ( it has since been changed to the one you see above, as iUniverse wanted $750 to release the rights to it to me), the paperbacks and hardcovers got many compliments. ebook was offered as well. They set up a web page and other social media sites for me, but not until AFTER my book was live. Too late, in my opinion. I did, however, have several paperbacks and hardcovers to sell on my own, which was great for an initial blast. ( See book launch party below.)  
Rating: 3 (There are better options out there now) You can get your books edited, formatted by a professional, and have an awesome cover made (The Book Designer ; Creativindie Covers ; extendedimagery) for FAR LESS money than my package cost me. **However, if you have more money than you have knowledge in the area of getting your book published, they DO offer a very complete and professional package and are very helpful. It’s one-stop shopping to get your book out there.

2. Book Awards – I got caught up in the need for validation and entered 20 of them (what can I say, other than a previously undiagnosed OCD seemed to have manifested itself…) However, Quintspinner won 14 of the awards in Best YA, Best Historical and Best Commercial divisions . (Woot! Woot! puts a smile on my face) I got a couple of small cash prizes ($100 or less) and listings in online publications, but no boost in book sales (takes the smile off my face …) Honestly, I don’t remember what I spent in entrance fees but they ranged from $25 to $125, so you do the math. I really hoped that listing the awards it won on either my book’s front or back cover would tempt some readers but I don’t think it has. Rating: 2 (I’m still proud of the awards and people still come up to me and mention them, but I wouldn’t enter them for most or maybe any of my future books).

3. Book Launch Party. (key word being Party). It was a fun-filled evening: we sang ribald sea shanties, I gave an author talk about my publishing journey and about pirates and life in the 1700’s (featured in my novel), and an author reading, complete with a stunning live enactment of a couple of chapters in the book, done by a group of rowdy and authentic looking pirates. I served grog to those of legal drinking age and iced tea, coffee, and tea. There were platefuls of hor d”oeuvres with a seaside theme, door prizes, and a give-away of spinner rings ( also featured prominently in my novel). Many members in the audience came in pirate costume as well. I sold 150 books at $25 each, 20 of which were hard-covers at $35 each, and autographed for what seemed like hours. A local bar/restaurant offered plates of appetizers, for the cost of “4 gold doubloons”, (which attendees were given at my reading – play gold coins,) for a post-party get-together at their establishment. Book Launch Party lasted 3 hours. Rating: 1, for a debut author, because it got the word out locally that I had a book published and that it was for sale. It also, through word-of-mouth, got me two author reading invitations at two other cities’ libraries, as they had heard about the “Pirate Book Launch Party”.

4. Numerous author talks at high schools, middle grade schools, and community gatherings, a writer’s meeting, and as, mentioned, libraries. Although fun to do, they resulted in not even a cost recovery in book sales. Rating 3. (Gas costs too much these days, not to mention the time and money lost from my regular day job to do these.

5. Book blog tour – did a 10 blog book tour for the bargain price of $65. You get what you pay for…. blogs that hosted me, chosen by tour planner were not really genre appropriate and had low follower numbers. Even so, the interviews took a lot of time to write answers to, with each one having slightly different questions, and me not wanting to repeat myself too much. Rating 2. If I were to do it again, I would be much more selective with the hosting bloggers. Note: I did some singular author interviews ( Let’s Book It ; drey’s library ; Scribbles and Tunes) and they were followed with a short upward blip in sales.

6. Book reviews – back in 2010, reviewers still wanted paperbacks. Few accepted ebooks. There was then the cost of the books, as well as postage to send them (usually $20 per book for postage, with tracking and insurance); I sent them with tracking availability, as most were going from Canada to the US, and the postal system, on more than one occasion, “lost” the book. Rating 1. I believe book reviews are essential, and now with the growth of ebook acceptability, this is far less costly.

7. Webinars – a great way to increase one’s knowledge level about any topic. For me it was so convenient, without even having to leave the house, to be able to learn from experts about a variety of topics such as how to twitter, how to do attractive web pages, and how to do effective publishing and marketing and I highly recommend Joanna Penn’s How To Promote Your Novel: 21 Ways to Sell More Books Online.

Rating 1. Attaining knowledge is a worthwhile thing. And I was sadly lacking in many areas.
8. Online radio interview, CBC radio interview, West magazine feature, University of Sask Green and White Alumni magazine, local newspapers – I have no way of knowing if they helped sell books, but they were free to me, and I can’t help but think they had to be worthwhile in getting my name and novel’s title out there. Rating: 1.
9. Book Fair entry/display – I paid a fee of $175 each time to have my book displayed at the London Book Fair and again at the Book Expo America and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Rating: 3. Total waste of money. Not even one inquiry generated.
10. Amazon’s KDP Select Program – this gets a category all of its own. Quintspinner was placing at a dismal #351,000 out of a million Kindle ebooks until I enrolled it in the KDP Select program for 3 days over a long weekend. By breakfast time on the first morning, it had risen to # 351. It continued to bump around the 300 – 400 range for the rest of the free period, then slid back down into the #100,000 at the end of the free days, and has now risen again into #21,000 without any further marketing by me. Sales have been in England, Germany, and the US. I’m still watching the numbers and they’re climbing …
Rating: 1. KDP Select costs nothing to join, and I will even have a royalty cheque coming for the first time in a very long time.
What have YOU experienced as being worthwhile to spend money on, or even pursue for free, in your book publishing journey?
(Book images from Amazon’s online pages)
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