The Awesomeness of Ask the Authors 2022

Ask the Authors 2022

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

Ask the Authors 2022 in the ultimate writing reference anthology, with writing tips and advice from eleven talented writers at different stages in their writing careers. Each brings unique perspective to the table on all stages of the writing, publishing and book marketing processes.

To celebrate this awesome writer’s tool, seven of the contributing authors, including myself, are gathering on Mark Leslie Lefebvre’s Stark Reflections podcast to exchange writing wisdoms, much as we did for the anthology. Joining us was fantasy author L. Jagi Lamplighter, media tie-in writer and fiction author Bobby Nash, science fiction author Kevin Killiany, paranormal and horror author Roberta Eaton Cheadle, and speculative fiction author Mario Acevedo. Call it a meeting of literary minds… or maybe just seven authors hanging out on a podcast. No matter what you call it, you can catch the episode on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/4069021703323990 or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQrhSouh5aU. Of course, you can wait for it to come out on the podcast, if you prefer to just listen, too.

Just in time for NaNoWriMo, you can get this wonderful author’s reference in Kevin J Anderson’s Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle along with fourteen other great writing tools at a special bundle price. It’s a great deal. You can’t beat it. So grab your bundle today!

Writer’s Career Toolkit Bundle

Purchase Link: https://storybundle.com/blog/writerscareertoolkitbundle/


Dark Origins – The Sotho-Tswana and the malevolent Tokoloshe #southernAfrica #myths&legends

The Sotho-Tswana people of southern Africa comprise of the South Sotho (Basuto and Sotho), the West Sotho (Tswana) and the North Sotho (Pedi) people.

Most Sotho people were historically herders of cattle, goats and sheep and growers of grains and tobacco. The Sotho people were also recognised for their metal and leather work as well as their wood and ivory carving.

The Sotho people live largely in Lesotho and South Africa and as a combined group are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa.

Religious beliefs

The Sotho traditionally believe in Modimo who created the world and then withdrew to Heaven. He no longer concerns himself with life on earth. Modimo is not worshipped directly but though the ancestors.

The belief in ancestors is central to Sotho traditional religion. The ancestors are believed to have an influence over the daily lives of their direct descendants. Each family is under the direct guidance of its own descendants while the tribe, as a whole, is under the guidance of the ancestors of the chief.

Cultural differences

The Sotho-Tswana people have several linguistic and cultural characteristics that distinguish them from other Bantu speaking peoples of southern Africa.

  1. In Sotho-Tswana society each member has a totem which is usually an animal. Totems are inherited from the father and are passed down like surnames;
  2. A pre-emptive right for men to marry their maternal cousins;
  3. an architectural style characterized by a round hut with a conical thatch roof supported by wooden pillars on the outside;
  4. Cloaks made of skin;
  5. A preference for dense and close settlements; and
  6. A tradition for large-scale building in stone.

Tokoloshe myth

The Tokoloshe is an evil spirit that shaman create to to torment others as a form of punishment or revenge for a perceived slight. The Tokoloshe is dwarf-like, shriveled and hairy and, in some descriptions, has gouged-out eyes. When called, the Tokoloshe can be used for something as simple as scaring children, or can cause illness or even death to those it is tasked with tormenting.

The Tokoloshe is able to become invisible by drinking water or swallowing a stone.

The myth of the Tokoloshe is believed to have come about to explain why people mysteriously died while sleeping in their rondavels at night. Traditionally, people slept on grass mats on the floor encircling a wood fire during the winter. The fire depleted the oxygen levels in the huts and left behind noxious carbon monoxide with sank to the floor. A connection was eventually made that people who slept in elevated positions escaped the curse of the Tokoloshe. Some people still elevate their beds by placing bricks beneath the legs.

Picture credit: https://www.news24.com/citypress/trending/how-to-get-rid-of-the-tokoloshe-20180827

This is short reading from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Miller called Catching the Tokoloshe:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Roberta Eaton Cheadle and “The Bite” in Visions

Visions

https://josephcarrabis.com/2022/10/08/robbie-cheadles-the-bite-now-in-visions-anthology/

Thanks to contributing author Joseph Carrabis giving us a taste of the stories in the new Visions anthology from WordCrafter Press. Follow the link to learn more.

Pre-order now: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28


Dark Origins – African Myths and Legends: Castle of Good Hope in the Western Cape

The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa, was built in 1665 and became the scene of many bloody and tragic events. The Castle came about as the result of a ship wreck, a common occurrence at the southern most tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet.

On the 25th of March 1647, a Dutch ship called De Nieuwe Haerlem ran aground near present day Milnerton, as it journeyed from Holland to the East Indies. The ship sank and a junior merchant named Leendert Janszen was requested to stay near the site of the wreck, with about 60 crew members, to look after the cargo while the rest of the ship wrecked men boarded other ships and continued to Holland.

While he waited to be relieved of his responsibilities and return home, Janszen and his men grew vegetables, caught fish and bartered fresh fish from the indigenous people in the area. When he returned to Holland, he was requested to compile a report recommending the suitability of the Cape to serve as a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company’s ships travelling to India and back. Janszen was in favour of the idea and so was Jan Van Riebeeck, a member of the crew of the ship that picked up Janszen and his men.

In 1651, Van Riebeeck, accompanied by 79 men and 8 women, set sail for the Cape to establish a refreshment station. Van Riebeeck built the original clay and timber fort, called the Fort de Goede Hoop, which was replaced by a new fort made of stone between 1666 and 1679. The new building which still survives and is the oldest Colonial building in South Africa, has five bastions named after the main titles of William III of Orange-Nassau: Leerdam to the west, the Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje clockwise from it.

Picture credit: https://castleofgoodhope.co.za/index.php/news/100-news/149-history-of-the-castle

Legends of The Castle

The Castle was used as a prison and numerous prisoners were incarcerated for their sins (real or manufactured) in the ‘Donker Gat’ [Dark Hole]. This windowless dungeon was used as a torture chamber and it sometimes flooded during the winter, drowning any prisoners it contained.

The Castle is, of course, haunted and workers and visitors have reported hearing voices and footsteps in the Donker Gat and in The Castles narrow corridors. The bell in the bell tower sometimes rings of its own accord, despite having been bricked up centuries ago. It is believed that the ghost of a soldier who hung himself by the bell-rope rings the bell.

A vicious black dog is reported to haunt the castles grounds. It lunges and visitors and then disappears.

The most interesting of the ghosts, in my opinion, is that of Governor Pieter Gijsbert van Noodt. He had a reputation for mistreating his servants and the soldiers during his tenure. On the 23rd of April 1728, Governor van Noodt sentenced 7 men to hang for desertion. He was cursed by one of the men while he hung from the gallows and, that very same day, he was found dead in his office. Workers and visitors have seen him prowling the gloomy corridors of The Castle and heard him carousing and cursing in the upstairs rooms.

Do you know of any haunted castles? Share your story in the comments below.

An interesting historical connection

The Zulu King Cetshwayo also spent time as a prisoner at The Castle. This was after he was captured in the Ngome Forest after the defeat of the Zulu Nation by the British at Ulundi in 1879.

Subsequent to the defeat at Ulundi which dealt a death blow of the Zulu Kingdom, King Cetshwayo achieved the greatest victory against the British forces ever achieved by an indigenous army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetshwayo

I have recently written two short stories about this battle, and this is a short extract from my story, written from the perspective of the Zulus, called “Hell Hath No Fury Like an Army Scorned.”

“22 January 1879

The narrow bottom of the gorge was filled with men, women, and boys. The grim, motionless ranks of over twenty thousand squatting warriors set the tone, ensuring that the several thousand uDibi boys, of which I was one, and the women conducted themselves soundlessly. The silence hung heavily, like early morning mist.

In accordance with the orders of King Cetshwayo, the Zulu army had marched the 62 miles from Ulundi at a slow pace.  It was to “attack at dawn and eat up the red soldiers.”

Now, the men were resting and waiting for the ‘day of the dead moon’ to pass. Unless it was unavoidable, the army would not fight on this spiritual day.

“White men are coming!” The young herders appeared at the entrance to the ravine, driving the cattle before them. Their cries of warning echoed off the encircling rockfaces.

Looking up, I saw several white men on horseback starring down at our camp from the top of the overlooking ridge.

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

The observers fired down on us, before turning their animals and galloping away.

The dust from their horses’ hooves still hung in a thick cloud over the ridge when the great UNduna sprang into action.

“Prepare for battle, men,” Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khoza ordered. “We must attack now or lose the element of surprise.”

My belly roiled with fear.

The army’s not supposed to fight today. It’s bad khama, I thought.

“I hope the evil spirits in the air won’t bring bad luck,” my mother’s whispered words rang in my head as I set off with the other uDibi boys to prepare for battle.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends: Stories of the Western Cape – The Flying Dutchman #Ghoststories #FlyingDutchman #TableMountain

In the late Middle Ages, the spice trade from India and the so called Silk Road from China were of economic importance to Europe. After Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 the European overland trade routes were disrupted and they needed to find a sea route to India and China.

Christopher Columbus attempted to find a sea route to India by travelling westwards. He discovered the Americas.

Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cão, explored the African coast south to present-day Namibia, and, in 1488, Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, discovered the Cape of Good Hope. In 1498, Vasco da Gama headed an expedition which led to the Portuguese discovery of a sea route to India. This route around the Cape of Good Hope (current day Cape Town) came into use by the European East India Companies.

The Cape of Good Hope was also known as the Cape of Storms because of the treacherous winter storms that resulted in a total of 26 shipwrecks at Cape Point alone.

Legend has it that when Bartholomew Dias rounded this Cape of Storms and saw Table Mountain, he thought he was seeing a gigantic titan of the deep with it’s head veiled in white clouds. He imagined that the tides that foamed around the foot of the great mountain were the titan’s roar. The moment of Dias’ first sighting of this titan was described in the poem, Lusiadas, by Portuguese poet, Camoes. Camoes called the monster Titan Adamastor and depicted him as condemned to dwell imprisoned forever in the ‘furtherest confines of the south’ – the Cape of Storms. According to the poem, this sentence was passed by Jupiter when the Titans were vanquished following a war between these deities that lasted ten years. Adamastor and his brothers were imprisoned in various huge mountains around the world. Adamastor was filled with bitterness at his imprisonment and at losing the love of the queen of the sea, Thetis, and he swore eternal vengeance on all who should approach him and disturb his solitude. He shouted his rage and warnings of doom at Dias when he rounded the Cape.

In 1500, Dias returned to the Cape of Storms on his way to Sofala. As his fleet rounded the Cape it encountered a violent storm. Four of the ships, including the one captained by Dias, disappeared and Adamastor’s warning was fulfilled. From this unfortunate maritime disaster, the legend of the Flying Dutchman came into being.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship which is said to have never been able to make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever.

According to Wikipedia: “According to the legend, if hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman was said to try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. Reported sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries claimed that the ship glowed with a ghostly light. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom.” You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman

Picture of the Flying Dutchman from Wikipedia

This is my reading on YT of the story of The Flying Dutchman from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Mills:

A picture of Table Mountain from https://www.travelbutlers.com/south-africa/cape-town/table-mountain.asp

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has ten children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Book Marketing

Ask the Aurhors 2022

Welcome to the final segment of the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This week, a final introduction for Middle Grade & Y.A. author, L. Jagi Lamplighter, whose essay contribution is titled “The Trouble with Troupes” and a Q & A session on book marketing will be finishing off this wonderful series.

I want to thank all the readers who chose to spend their Saturdays hanging out with us for the past ten weeks, as we give this unique writing reference a send off, and let all the authors out there see why they need the plethora of writing wisdom contained between the covers of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology. And now it’s time to get started with this final segment.

Meet L. Jagi Lamplighter

L. Jagi Lamplighter is the author of the YA fantasy series: The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment, the third book of which was nominated for the YA Dragon Award in 2017 and the fourth book of which won the first YA Ribbit Award. She is also the author of the Prospero’s Children series: Prospero LostProspero In Hell, and Prospero Regained

She has published numerous articles and short stories. She also has an anthology of her own works: In the Lamplight. She also edits for Superversive Press and teaches “The Art and Craft of Writing”. She was also a presenter and panel member for both the 2020 Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference and the 2021 New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference.

Website: Welcome to Arhyalon: http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/

And now for the Q & A.

Book Marketing

Mario Acevedo: Here are my thoughts on Book Marketing.

I never thought much about branding myself and wrote what I wanted. Fortunately, everything tended to be in related genres. As for book marketing, if I knew what the magic lever was that you could pull and hit the jackpot, I would keep it to myself. I’ve tried all kinds of methods and gimmicks, some which worked okay, others which never moved the needle. What works for someone else, might not work for you. What works now may not work tomorrow. Remember, those masters in branding and marketing, Disney and Coca-Cola, have their share of million-dollar flops. What I recommend is to keep your name out there in a variety of streams: social media, newsletters, conventions, interviews, podcasts.

Good book covers are essential. Whatever you do, don’t have one that looks Photoshopped by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Websites are necessary though really fancy ones (read expensive) are not worth the money unless you have a lot of traffic and sales. You want something catchy and one that you update regularly.

Everyone loves great reviews and people who leave one-star reviews tend to be acting out an agenda not related to your work. Don’t hate them for it, instead pray that they either find Jesus or a competent therapist.

Once upon a time, book trailers were the cat’s pajamas. And about as effective. Two of my book trailers got tens of thousands of views, which is extraordinary for book trailers, but I can’t say how significant they were to sales. Book trailers work best when you play them at a signing booth as when people ask, “What’s your book about?”

Keep in mind that the world doesn’t revolve around you so don’t be a dick to others. Don’t be a doormat either; and in all cases, keep yourself a class act.

How do you brand yourself and your works?

Paul Kane: I think that changes depending on what book it is. So the Paul Kane ‘brand’ – whatever that is – would be more tied into horror, post-apocalyptic fiction or whatever, so I might get invited to a horror convention to talk about that material. While the PL Kane ‘band’ is pure crime fiction, and you’re more likely to see me talking about that at a crime fiction event. But it’s all still just me, when all’s said and done. I try not to cross the streams if I can help it, and I haven’t really ‘branded’ myself as much as the publishers who’ve put my stuff out there have done it for me.

Bobby Nash: Bobby Nash is my brand. I am usually the first point of contact with readers, so I want to make sure meeting me makes you want to read one of my books. I also brand the books. My BEN Books crime thrillers share a universe, so they have similar branding. It helps. I also use branding on title and cover design in series. You know that the Snow books are part of a series, for example.

Robbie Cheadle: My children’s books are primarily a series about a little man called Sir Chocolate who lives in a world where you can eat everything. Each book contains a rhyming verse story for small children and 5 recipes for children to make under adult supervision. It is in essence a first baking book series and I market it that way.

My adult books are all historical and paranormal in nature and I am at this market. I use hashtags for my books on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I write under my own name, using different variations to clearly separate my children’s and my adults’ books.

Nancy Oswald: I haven’t paid much attention to branding, but I think a brand is evolving based solely on my writing interests. With that said, the next book I want to write doesn’t fit the historical category, but I don’t want “branding” to stop me from doing it. I guess I’d prefer to write what my interests are than to worry about a brand.

What’s the most effective method of finding followers?

Paul Kane: I have no idea! I just keep doing the writing, promoting it on my social media accounts and seeing what happens. I think using humour on those is a good way to spread the word about yourself, and posting about other people’s work or what you might be reading, watching and so on, breaks up the sameness of just talking about yourself and what you’ve got out or coming out. I think genuineness comes across massively to people and maybe that gets you followers? I’ve only ever been myself online or at events, and I think people can see that. They can spot it a mile away if you’re fake.

Bobby Nash: Beats me. It seems to change from week to week. I try as many methods as possible to attract new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: A lot of my readers have come through my blog. I have two blogs: Robbie’s Inspiration which is for my baking, art work, and poetry, and Roberta Writes which is for my reviews of classic, horror, drama, science fiction, and other adult books. I also do a weekly prompt called Thursday Doors when I share pictures of my travels around South African and other places. I am an active blogger and have a lot of blogging friends who I have discussions with. Many of them have become friends who I email and correspond with.

Other social media I use are Facebook which is great for reading and writing groups, Twitter, and Instagram. I have a YouTube channel which I post to from time to time. I think being an active part of the writing and reading community is the best way of getting followers. Writers are also often reviewers while other readers usually don’t think to write reviews.

I understand that newsletters are a good way of staying in contact with your readership outside of social media. I have not as yet had the time to pursue developing a newsletter following or committing to a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter.

Have giveaways or social media book events been effective in bringing in followers?

Paul Kane: Publishers tend to handle all that side of things for me, so I can’t really say. You do see a spike in numbers when you do a giveaway I guess, or do a blog tour, so I guess they work. But if people don’t like your stuff, they won’t keep coming back no matter what you do. Keeping readers or followers is just as important as attracting them in the first place.

Bobby Nash: Short term, yes. Long term, not really. Some sign up for the giveaway then leave when it’s over. I do have a small fanbase and I try to grow it.

Robbie Cheadle: I do giveaways when I do book tours for the launch of new books. Living in South Africa, which is not a country of big readers due to the excellent weather, I market mainly to Australia, the UK, and the US and rely on social media to get the word out.

Giveaways certainly help bring in some reviews although not every free book has the desired outcome, enough winners do read and review the book to make giveaways a useful undertaking.

Social media events are generally not that well attended, in my limited experience, so I don’t think I pick up many followers that way. I am an opportunist though and will usually grab an opportunity for promotion even if a return is not guaranteed. I enjoy sharing about my books and the anthologies I’ve participated in.

Can you share your logo and the story of why you chose this to represent your brand?

Paul Kane: I don’t really have a logo as such. My main site is called Shadow Writer, after a story I wrote back in the late 1990s, and I chose that because it fits the kind of dark fiction I do as Paul Kane.

Bobby Nash: BEN Books is the name of my indie press. The name is simple. BEN is my initials. Bobby Edward Nash. I designed a simple design with a book and scratched metal half-moon coming out behind it to signify book pages flipping. I liked it. Years later, my friend, Jeffrey Hayes redesigned it for me and made the BEN Books logo look much more professional. I also use branding by putting genre under the logo. A BEN Books Thriller. BEN Books Pulp. That sort of thing. Now that crime thrillers is BEN Books’ main focus, I added a criminal’s mask to the logo. I like it.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: My SW site’s been going years and we’ve built up a good following on there. We get many unique visitors a month. One thing I did to help with that was to have a ‘Guest Writer’ slot; it was something I ‘borrowed’ from Simon Clark’s site. As with the social media posts, this stops things being just about me all the time, helps promote other people’s work that I like and also crosses over our readerships. People who are fans of their work might have a look around my site, while people who are fans of mine are reading whichever Guest Writer’s work is on there this month. It usually takes the form of a short story or extract from a novel. We’ve had some huge writers on there over the last couple of decades, including Stephen King, Charlaine Harris, Lee Child and Martina Cole.

Bobby Nash: I have a website for all things Bobby. It’s www.bobbynash.com and it has all of my books, art, acting, news, blogs, etc. It’s the hub for all things me.

www.ben-books.com is the home of BEN Books.

Abraham Snow has his own site. www.abrahamsnow.com has everything you need to know about the Snow series.

Lance Star: Sky Ranger also has a dedicated site. http://lancestar.blogspot.com

I like having dedicated websites. Websites are an easy to find way to keep up with things. Posts can easily get lost in the sea that is social media.

Do you have a blog or website where you drive traffic? How effective do you feel it is?

Robbie Cheadle: My blogs are my most effective marking tools, and my blogging friends often promote my work and posts by sharing them on other social media platforms and even on their own blogs. I also write posts for other bloggers sites, including 3 monthly columns for Writing to be Read. I always take opportunities to guest post and try to write engaging posts. I have enlarged by readership of both my books and my blog this way.

Can readers buy directly from you on your website, or must they go through third party venders such as Amazon, B&N, etc…?

Paul Kane: Through a third party. I don’t sell books through my site; as I say I’m not really a bookseller myself. The only thing I do sell on there is remarques, which are unique drawings I do inside the books sometimes for readers. I did a lot of those when Servants of Hell came out, drawing black & white pics inside the books of Sherlock Holmes and my Cenobite creations.

Bobby Nash: In addition to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., I have an on-line store where readers can buy autographed books, art commissions, book box sets, etc. It’s located at https://bobbynash.square.site. Please check it out.

Robbie Cheadle: Readers can buy the majority of my books from TSL Publications in the UK. Anne sends my books to readers in Australia, Europe, and the USA. My books are also available as ebooks from Lulu.com and as print books from Amazon and Lulu.com. Only select books of mine are available as ebooks from Amazon. My poetry books are available from Amazon and other outlets as well as the ten anthologies I have participated in.

Nancy Oswald: Website, Amazon

How do you get reviews for your books?

Paul Kane: Usually the book is sent out via the publisher, or it appears on NetGalley, although I have been known to contact bloggers directly if it’s to set up a blog tour. Most people are quite friendly and open to being approached, though you do get the odd one or two who don’t care for it.

Bobby Nash: Not easily. I sometimes beg on social media, but that rarely works. Most of the time, you just hope for the best.

Robbie Cheadle: I have been fortunate and some of the purchasers of my books have written and posted reviews to Goodreads and Amazon. Some readers can’t post to Amazon because of their reviewing policies, but I am happy to receive reviews on Goodreads and also on TSL Publications’ website.

What are your thoughts on paid reviews? Have you ever used them?

Paul Kane: No, never. And never will. I think if you’re paying to have your book reviewed it kind of defeats the object of it being an objective review of your work. You’re paying for a service, rather than offering the book to reviewers for their honest opinion – good or bad – of it.

Bobby Nash: I do not like paid reviews. I do not use them. How can I trust them?

Robbie Cheadle: I have never paid anyone to review one of my books. I do include a paragraph at the end of my books asking readers to leave a review and share their opinion. I have had readers approach me on Twitter and Goodreads offering to review my books for a fee, but I haven’t accepted any such proposals as it is disingenuous.

Nancy Oswald: Yes, a couple of times. I don’t think they drive more sales, but there are times when a good quote or two is needed for publicity materials and they come in handy.

Different book formats appeal to different audiences. How do you market differently for the different formats your books are available in?

Paul Kane: I’m not quite sure what you mean here, do you mean do I market audios differently to print or whatever? I suppose you have to look at what prices are being charged for the product and that affects how your promote it, for example ebooks are quite cheap so you’re reaching a different kind of reader to the ones who buy a limited hardback because they want something special as a keepsake or to increase in value. Again, that’s more in the realms of bookselling than what I do. 

Bobby Nash: When looking for places to market, I research. As a small press publisher, I try to make my BEN Books titles as easy to find in as many different formats as possible so readers can get the books in the way that works best for them.

Do you prefer online advertising or face-to-face events for marketing your books? Why?

Paul Kane: I think there’s a place for both, and if the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that we can also do events via Zoom and reach audiences that way. So sometimes it’s the only way you can reach people, because face-to-face is out. For me, personally, though I prefer getting out there and meeting readers who’ve enjoyed your fiction and signing copies of books for them. There’s no feeling like that in the world.

Bobby Nash: Both work, but I have found that I have better success with face-to-face events in terms of introducing my work to new readers.

Robbie Cheadle: I enjoy face-to-face events, but I haven’t found them to be particularly useful for books sales locally in South Africa. South Africans are not big readers as they prefer sports and outdoors activities, and our weather is good all year round which facilitates an outdoors lifestyle. In addition, there are 11 official languages in South Africa and the English-speaking community is a minority.

As a result, I mainly market my books through on-line advertising and marketing events and initiatives. I believe the face-to-face marketing is better if the environment is conducive to readers and I would do more in that line if I lived in the UK or USA.

Nancy Oswald: Face to face by far. It’s where I seem to sell more books, but it might be because I haven’t taken advantage of online marketing opportunists. I’m trying a few, now, but the jury’s out.

Do you use paid advertising or stick to the free channels? How effective have they been?

Paul Kane: I always stick to free. If it’s a paid advert, then it’s been paid for by my publishers – for instance I know there was a fair amount of promotion online on Facebook or Instagram for the PL Kane books, but that was down to HQ/Harper rather than myself.

Bobby Nash: I have a low budget, so I used paid advertising sporadically, but targeted. I try to take advantage of free promotion channels as often as possible.

Robbie Cheadle: I have run paid advertisements on Facebook, but I’ve not had a lot of success with them. I haven’t tried any other paid avenues for book sales.

Which book advertising platforms have you used: Bookbub, Fussy Librarian, Booktopia, Facebook, Amazon, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Paul Kane: I’m on Bookbub, mainly because one of my publishers told me I needed to be on it to promote a specific book. And I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. I think they all have their place and if I push a book through one, I tend to do it via all of them, so there’s no real way for me to see which one is working for the best. I just promote through them all.

Bobby Nash: I’ve used Facebook, Amazon, BookBub, and a couple of others. Effectiveness varies.

Do you have a newsletter? How effective do you feel it is?

Paul Kane: I do have a PL Kane newsletter, which has helped me reach more readers. It’s a place where I can share more of my news on a personal level, plus offer recommendations for things I’ve enjoyed reading or watching. To entice people in, I also write new fiction that’s exclusive to the newsletter so I feel like it works both ways. Readers are getting something out of it as well as me.

Bobby Nash: I do have a monthly newsletter. You can subscribe to Nash News at http://www.subscribepage.com/NashNews. I have about 230 subscribers. I don’t get a lot of feedback so I can’t say for certain how effective it is or how many sales result from the newsletter.

Do you use book trailers to market your books? How effective have they been for you?

Paul Kane: I haven’t personally used them, but some of my publishers have and obviously I’ve shared the trailers as and when. There was a great one for The Rainbow Man, which was my first YA novel, and I got a friend of mine Brad Watson to come up with one for Arrowhead when that came out. But generally speaking, I have no idea how much of an impact they have on sales or anything.

Robbie Cheadle: I have tried book trailers to market my books, but I don’t believe they have been at all effective. I don’t think many people bother to watch the video, even if it is short. I can tell from the average viewing time of the video that few people have watched until the end.

Have you ever tried using press releases for your books? How effective has that been for you?

Bobby Nash: I write press releases for all of my books, even if I am not the publisher. I want to get the information about the book out to the word, as well as how to contact me in case of interviews, quotes, etc.

Nancy Oswald: I typically get a press release out to all the local papers. Hard to relate to sales, but they’re free and add to reader recognition.

Do you have a street team or reader group that you use to get reviews? How well does that work?

Bobby Nash: I don’t have an official street team. I have some fans and friends that share my news and I appreciate each and every repost, retweet, and shout out.

Robbie Cheadle: I have a few blogging friends who always offer to read and review my books and they always post reviews. It is kind of them, and I am grateful for the support. I never ask people to read and review my books as it goes against my upbringing to ask people to things like that for me. I had a very strict and conservative upbringing, and some things are very difficult for me as a result. I read and review over 100 books a year and I beta read books for certain individuals too. I always try to help other writers when I can.

Nancy Oswald: For many of my books, I’ve asked other authors with a track record to read and write cover blurb material. I’ve also swapped Amazon reviews with other authors. 

How do you handle marketing for multiple genres, since each one appeals to different audiences? Can a single brand encompass multiple genres or should they be marketed separately, with a different brand or pen name for each one?

Bobby Nash: I tailor my marketing based on the book’s genre. I don’t promote my crime thriller at the same sites where I promote my sci-fi epic. As an author, I only have the one brand. I don’t use pen names.

Robbie Cheadle: As mentioned previously, I market my children’s books and poetry separately from my horror, paranormal and historical adult fiction. I have two blogs, two Twitter accounts, to Facebook pages and I try to keep them as separate as possible. I have different followers on the two profiles and only a few follow me on both. That is what I was aiming for when I created the second profile. I wanted people who were interested in my children’s writing, art, and poetry to enjoy that aspect of my creativity without having to filter out my adult orientated interests and vice versa. I do believe it has worked quite well.

Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?

Paul Kane: I have a few, as you can probably guess from some of the other answers. I think it helps to differentiate between the kinds of fiction I write. So if you pick up a Paul Kane you’re likely to get horror, dark fantasy or the like, while PL Kane books are straight crime. Detectives or domestic noir. There can be some scope for crossover here, because I have fans of all my different kinds of books, and sometimes there are elements from my other work that slip over – The Family Lie is a crime book, but also deals with cults and has elements of folk horror too – but for the most part I try to keep things separate. It just makes it clearer for myself and my readership.

Robbie Cheadle: I do not use a pen name. I was going to because of my professional life, but my husband didn’t like the idea of my not using my married name. I publish my children’s books and poetry under Robbie Cheadle and my adult books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. The names are linked, but sufficiently different for people to be able to differentiate between them and the different genres of my books.

Nancy Oswald: I used a pen name for my very first published book, but when people started asking me how they would remember and find my book under a different name I gave it up. This book went into a reprint, so I switched mid-stream. It was published by Scholastic Canada, so in this case it made very little difference in sales.

Are your books available in brick-and-mortar stores and libraries? What are the challenges with having your books in these outlets?

Paul Kane: Yes, certainly. At the moment, the challenges seem to be down to distribution, all the knock-on effects of Brexit and such, but I’m hoping that calms down in the future. I know some stores and libraries have had shortages lately because of all this. Luckily, I think most of my publishers are doing okay on that score. There always seem to be plenty of copies available to ship out to stores at any rate, which I’m very grateful for.

Bobby Nash: My books are available to them, though they are rarely shelved there due to the print on demand nature of my small press. You can order them in any brick-and-mortar store, but it’s doubtful they will be on the store shelves. Some libraries have stocked my books though.

Nancy Oswald: Libraries, I usually donate copies.  Brick and mortar is a lot of leg work and there’s a difference in percentages and how you get paid—a lot of record keeping. But I do get sales through these outlets, so it’s worth it, and they collect tax which saves another headache or two. I like craft fairs for face-to-face sales, but I’m choosy about where I go.

Covers are important. They can be one of your best marketing tools. How do you come by your covers: DIY, hire professional cover designer, buy pre-fab covers?

Paul Kane: That’s all handled in-house by the publisher. An indie might ask me if I have a preferred artist, or I might say to them I like a particular image that fits the contents of the book – like Les Edwards’ painting for my Body Horror collection Traumas from Black Shuck Books – but more often than not I might not get a vote at all, especially if it’s a bigger publisher. I have to say I’ve been very lucky with them, though. There’s never been one I’ve absolutely hated in my entire career, and I hope there never will be. There have been some that have grown on me over time, but all in all I’ve been very happy.

Bobby Nash: I prefer to work with professionals because they know what they are doing and do it far better than I can. I do some design work, but not all covers are created equal. Evil Ways, Suicide Bomb, and the upcoming Evil Intent had a simple, design element. I handled those myself. Deadly Games! has a photo cover. I took the photo and designed the cover. The Snow and Sheriff Myers series have covers by Jeffrey Hayes and Dennis Calero. I’ve not used any pre-fab covers. I prefer to have the cover designed to fit the story.

Robbie Cheadle: I design the covers for my children’s books myself because I use my own fondant and cake artwork. I tried using a professional photographer, but that didn’t work that well for me, so I invested in a better camera and I take my own pictures.

I use a professional designer for my adult books. Tim Barber of Dissect Designs designed the covers of While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold. Teagan Riordain Geneviene has designed some of my newer covers. I worked well with both designers and am always very happy with my covers.

Nancy Oswald: I’ve been spoiled by my publisher who used an artist for most of my books. I hired the same artist for my latest book that I self-published to stay consistent with the covers in the rest of the series. I know it cost me more money to do this, but felt it was worth it.

Which marketing strategies do you use: rapid release, perma-free, reader magnets,.99 cent promos, etc…? Which have you found to be most effective?

Bobby Nash: Yes. I try everything. Some things work. Some don’t. I don’t know until I try. Plus, I’ve discovered that an effective method for one book might not prove effective for another. It’s an on-going, evolving experiment.

Nancy Oswald: I used to do postcards, but they were expensive, and to mail them was expensive. A few years ago, I switched to bookmarks only—two sided with general info about me on one side (contact info, bio, etch) and images of all my books on the back side. My newest bookmark only has the Ruby and Maude Adventure images with a list of my other books.  (Space consideration.)

___________________

That was a great final Q & A session, with so much information. Of course, book marketing is a topic that could fill an entire book and then some. But that wraps up this week’s segment – and it wraps up this Saturday series.

Thanks to all of the contributing authors for their willingness to share their writing wisdom with us in both blog and book. They are who made this wonderful reference possible. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Thanks to all our readers for joining us. I do hope you readers gleaned some useful advice in this series, and if you missed any of the segments, you can find them all here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session.

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session.

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session.

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session.

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing and Dialog Q & A session.

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense & POV Q & A session.

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/ Setting & World Building Q & A session.

Segment 8: Introduction for Jeff Bowles/Editing & Revision Q & A session.

Segment 9: Introduction for Mark Leslie Lefebvre/Publishing Q & A session.

Segment 10: Oh, wait… This is Segment 10.

Well then, I guess that’s about it for this segment… And for the series. Again I thank you for sticking with us through all ten weeks.

_________________________________________________

Where can you find publishing industry experts willing to share their secrets? 

Ask the Authors 2022 is the ultimate writer’s reference, with tips and advice on craft, publishing and book marketing. Eleven experienced and successful authors share what works for them and offer their keys to success in traditional publishing, hybrid, and indie. You’ll learn industry wisdom from Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kevin Killiany, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Bobby Nash, Paul Kane, Nancy Oswald, Chris Barili, Jeff Bowles, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Mario Acevedo and Kaye Lynne Booth.

This book offers tried-and-true ways to improve your craft and explores the many options in the current publishing and book marketing worlds. Take a peek inside and find out what works for you.

Ask the Authors 2023

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”

—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

The special promotional price of 3.99 is good through today, since this is the last blog segment in the series. Tomorrow, it goes back up to the regular price of 4.99. If you’ve been following, you may have already gotten a copy of Ask the Authors 2022. If not, be sure and grab your copy today.

Available from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

_______________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Publishing

Ask the Authors 2022

Welcome back once again to the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series, where we’re offering glimpses into the content of Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology; a unique reference packed full with the writing tips and advice from ten different authors and myself. The Q & A sessions can run a bit long, with all of the contributors weighing in, but they are only a small taste of the wisdom contained in this book. I want to thank all of you who have joined us for each session and keep coming back for more. If you haven’t purchased a copy of your own yet, there’s a link for the UBL at the end of this post, where you can grab one from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of 3.99 for the duration of this blog series.

If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing & Dialog Q & A session

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense & POV Q & A session

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/Setting & World Building Q & A session.

Segment 8: Introduction for Jeff Bowles/Editing & Revision Q & A session

Today’s segment brings you an introduction to award winning author and publishing industry expert Mark Leslie Lefebvre, whose contribution to the anthology is “Publishing Trends to Watch” and a Q & A session on Publishing. So let’s get started.

Meet Mark Leslie Lefebvre

A self-confessed book nerd, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, who is a former President of the Canadian Booksellers Association and the former Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Rakuten Kobo (and founder of Kobo Writing Life), thrives on innovation and excellence within all aspects of the publishing and bookselling industry.

With more than a quarter century of experience, Mark has been involved in bookselling as it evolved from strictly bricks and mortar operations and into online and digital venues, and has continually been at the forefront of applying digital solutions to publishing and book selling.

An author who has embraced both traditional and self-publishing opportunities for himself as well as the thousands of authors he has coached, advised and consulted with over the past two decades, Mark not only believes that each author’s journey is individualized and personal, but that each specific project a writer embarks upon can have its own unique goals, elements and desired outcomes.
He can be found online at www.markleslie.ca

And now on to the Q & A.

Publishing

Are you independently published, traditionally published, or a combination of both?

Mario Acevedo: I’m traditionally published by a large and regional/small presses.

Paul Kane: Combination of both. I started out in the small, indie presses, before working with some of the bigger places, so I like to go back there and write fiction for them when I can. Plus, it gives me a bit more freedom to experiment or write something that might not be that commercial; because the indies don’t have the same kind of print runs as bigger publishers there’s a bit less pressure to appeal to huge audiences. The flip side of that is you get read by a lot more people when you’ve done something for a bigger publisher, simply because they have the money to put behind advertising, production, distribution and marketing. Having said that, I still try to do as much of that as I can myself – I never assume it’s all being done for me. I’ve been known to set up blog tours myself, even when working with bigger publishers because sometimes the personal touch is what bloggers and book reviewers respond to.

Bobby Nash: Both. I’m what they call a hybrid author. I work for traditional publishers of all sizes. I also have my own indie small press, BEN Books.

Robbie Cheadle: Most of my books are published by TSL Publishers in the United Kingdom. I love working with Anne Samson and find her fair and helpful. I self-published Open a new door, a collection of poems which I co-wrote with another South African poet, Kim Blades. I did not enjoy the self-publishing experience and prefer to work through a publisher.

I have short stories and poems published in a number of anthologies which have been published by the editor and compiler through their own publishing enterprises.

Nancy Oswald: A combination.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I am a combination of both traditionally published books, independently published books, as well as a hybrid mix of selling work to or collaborating with indie publishers in a slightly traditional way.

What factors influenced you to take your chosen publishing route?

Paul Kane: Things just seemed to slot into place for me, rather than choosing a particular route. I went to art college thinking I’d go into some kind of career in the arts, but it turned out I was better at theory than the practical stuff, so I went to university initially to study History of Art, Design and Film. While I was there, I chose an optional module called ‘Professional Writing’ and loved it, which led me into the journalism – and I figured I could at least make a living writing non-fiction that way, with articles and reviews.

Because I was writing for the day job, I thought I’d do some stories for pleasure – and they ended up being published too, in small press magazines. Then the fiction started to overtake the non-fiction, and the rest is history.

I don’t think I consciously chose any of that, it just sort of happened. I definitely didn’t think to myself when I was younger ‘I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.’ That, honestly, never even crossed my mind because I came from a very working class background where you did manual jobs like being a builder or joiner or whatever. My dad was a miner, so his was a hard job – especially compared to mine – but at the same time he never discouraged me going down the creative route. He did, however, instill in me a solid work ethic which I still have today. 

Bobby Nash: When I started, doing it yourself was not as accepted as it is today. Working for a publisher was the only way to get a book published at the time. Fast forward and there are more options. This allows me to do some projects the way I want through my own press and still do work for other publishers as well. For me, it truly is the best of both worlds.

Robbie Cheadle: Initially, I submitted my Sir Chocolate story ideas to four or five small publishing houses and TSL Publications responded to say they were interested in publishing them for me. I was fortunate as I didn’t experience a lot of rejection and I benefited from the experience and expertise of a publisher right from the beginning of my journey.

Nancy Oswald: For me it’s been like water finding its way through a channel. My course had often determined by which barriers are encountered, force and velocity, and other influencing factors like an unexpected change in the weather, excessive rain, drought, and human factors.

Please briefly share the story of your own publishing journey.

Paul Kane: A lot of that’s covered in the above, but if I’ll take you through from when I started to get stories accepted in the small presses to today… When I got back into writing fiction again in the ’90s, which had been something I enjoyed tinkering with back in my teens, I wrote a lot of short stories. Some of them worked, some didn’t, but it was all practice. I’d been doing a correspondence course to help with my non-fiction and my fiction, and I sent the tutor a story I’d written that had come to me, fully formed, in a dream: ‘The Cave of Lost Souls.’ She loved it and told me I had to send it off somewhere. I’d been toying with the idea of entering it into a writing competition, but then I saw an advert in a trade magazine for a publication called Terror Tales. I sent the story off to the editor, John B. Ford, and he wanted to use it in an upcoming issue. He also lived locally, so invited me to a gathering of writers. I sat around listening to all these stories about what they were doing and thought to myself, ‘wow!’ But also, if they’ve done it, maybe there’s a chance for me too. They gave me pointers as to which publications to try my work with, where I could find listings and so on. That led to more acceptances, attending more events and eventually getting a couple of collections out. I also found out about something called The British Fantasy Society who were looking for volunteers for positions, one of which was for Special Publications Editor. That enabled me to work with such names as Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, Muriel Gray and Clive Barker. I was helping out running their convention FantasyCon as well, and indeed years later ended up co-chairing a few. In the meantime, someone I’d met at an event – Jonathan Oliver – was looking for ideas for post-apocalyptic novels set in a universe called ‘The Afterblight Chronicles’, mass market books brought out by the publisher he worked for, Abaddon/Rebellion. I pitched a few and Jon loved the Robin Hood idea. I worked up a chapter breakdown, which got me the first book – there ended up being a trilogy of novels a couple of shorts and novelettes and one novella – and suddenly my longer fiction was getting some attention. I’d also gone into editing professionally, putting books together with Marie for places like Simon & Schuster, PS Publishing and Constable & Robinson. Anthologies like Hellbound Hearts, A Carnivale of Horror and The Mammoth Book of Body Horror… All of this enabled me to try my hand at things like film and TV scripting, comics, audio and theatre scripting, which broadened the scope of what I was doing. And it led me into writing crime thrillers for HQ/HarperCollins, which I’m doing today as PL Kane. In a nutshell, that’s my journey.

Bobby Nash: I started writing comic books. I then wrote a novel, then a second, which was published, Evil Ways. Then, I did a mix of comics, novels, and shorter stories for several years. These days, I’ve added screenplays and audio scripts to the mix. I like to try new things.

Nancy Oswald: Published, two large publishers, one it Canada and one in New York, published small Colorado owned publisher, self-published twice, each time for a different reason.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I started off in the mid 1980s when there really was no other choice but to submit short stories to magazines in order to slowly build yourself a name within writing and publishing and hopefully attract the attention of an agent or editor who might take your book proposal seriously because of your proven track record.

After years of rejection my first short story was published in 1992. I earned $5 USD and a contributor’s copy of the digest-sized quarterly magazine with a circulation of perhaps 500 people. And as time went on, I started selling to bigger markets with larger distribution and higher pay. (At the time 5 cents a word was considered a “professional rate” for a short fiction sale).

Over the years I sold dozens of stories to various small press magazines and anthologies, but my work never remained in print for more than maybe six months maximum. So, in 2004, I collected a number of my previously published short stories along with a couple of ones that hadn’t appeared anywhere, and I self-published them in print (using Ingram Lightning Source for making a Print on Demand (POD) book entitled One Hand Screaming.

Back then self-publishing was a dirty word, and most self-respecting authors serious about a writing career would ever consider that path. All of my friends who had publishing deals with big publishers told me that self-publishing was the best way to kill my writing career.

But I did it anyway.

I did so because after all those years of writing, I still didn’t have a book out. In addition, the majority of the stories had not only already graduated from the slush piles of the various magazines they’d first appeared in (thus having an editorial “seal of approval” but they had also been edited.

I secured an ISBN, established a publishing company (Stark Publishing – which I use to this day), had a logo for the company created, and had a book cover designed. (The cost for the logo and book cover was about $24, the price of a case of beer paid to my best friend who was a graphic designer.

In 2009, I used the Stark Publishing imprint to publish an anthology called Campus Chills. I solicited sponsorship for this anthology from three university bookstores (University of Waterloo, University of Alberta, and McMaster University Bookstore) so I could pay contributors pro rates for their original stories. The book was a historic publishing first. It was the first professional anthology to be produced exclusively for the Espresso Book Machines that the three bookstores owned.

My first full length book traditional deal was Haunted Hamilton, which was published in 2012 by Dundurn, Canada’s largest independent publishing house.

Since then, I have continued to work with traditional publishers and also use my Stark Publishing imprint to publish my own books as well as a few selected titles from author friends. 

What do you see as the pros and cons of traditional/independent publishing?

Paul Kane: The pros of traditional publishing are, as mentioned, more money behind things like advertising and marketing, distribution and so on. You’ll also likely get paid more as an author. The cons are the restrictions of the marketplace, in that you’ll have to deliver something that’s more of a crowd-pleaser than you would if it was only intended to be a limited book of say 500 copies. That’s where the indies shine, because they’re more likely to take a chance on something experimental. But don’t look for fortunes that way, if that’s your goal. I straddle both traditional and indie and adore both. I’m lucky enough to enjoy writing mass market thrillers, and at the same time put out horror books with huge monsters in. The best of both worlds, frankly. If, by indie, you mean self-published, I’ve never done that, but I know a lot of people who do – some make a very good living at it – so there’s nothing wrong with that either. Do whatever makes you happy as a writer, I say, because that will come across in your writing.

Bobby Nash: Traditional publishing handles the production work, which is nice. They handle the cover, printing, and distribution. If the publisher has good distribution, that’s a big plus. The more places your book is shelved, the better your odds in terms of sales.

Indie publishing offers more freedom to do what you want with a shorter lead time. You handle production, cover, and there’s usually only Amazon and a few on-line retailers carrying your book.

No matter which you choose, you, the writer, are expected to handle almost all of the marketing and promotion.

Robbie Cheadle: Working with a publisher taught me a lot about the publishing process and spared me having to do all the research and experimentation myself. I find it beneficial to have a second set of experienced eyes read and edit my books. My publisher gives me advice about formatting my books and also deals with Lulu.com and Amazon on my behalf. This lifts a lot of the administration from my shoulders. As a full-time working person with a demanding corporate job, I don’t think I would manage the proofing, type-setting, and other administration on my own as well as have time to write and market my books. My publisher also does some marketing of my books which is helpful.

Nancy Oswald: It depends on personal goals, opportunities, and life’s circumstances. Money and control and time are issues that have played into my decision. Marketing is not. You still have to get out and promote yourself.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: First of all, I embrace both, and I recognize that there are unique pros and cons for each of them. I’ll try to boil them down to a few things.

With self-publishing (or indie publishing), you’re in full control. You are the publisher, which means you control everything. Whether or not it’s published, when it is published, how it’s edited, the cover design, the price, what markets it is released to. That is both a blessing and a curse because there are a lot of moving parts; and many authors don’t like the idea of having to do all that work – or, more specifically, having to hire out the right people for those tasks and project manage the process.

On the plus side, because you’re in control, you don’t need to wait for a gatekeeper to anoint your book from out of a slush pile of millions of manuscripts. If you want to change something you don’t need anyone else’s permission, you can do it.

And, of course, you can earn much higher royalties (up to 70% in many cases) and get paid monthly rather than perhaps once a year or maybe twice a year.

The biggest downside to self-publishing is that while you have easy access to digital sales (eBooks, Audiobooks, and POD print book online sales), you have extremely limited access to “in store” and “on shelf” placement in bookstores. That’s one area where traditional publishing outshines self-publishing significantly.

Traditional Publishers are part of an “old boys” network of a complex and often confusing supply chain requiring warehousing and returns (a business practice instituted during the Great Depression and which remains to this day). But they are the best way to get your books into bookstores.

Dundurn, the largest traditional publisher I work with, not only gets my books onto the shelves of chain and indie bookstores, but has also gotten my books onto the shelves at Costco and Walmart. That’s something I’d never be able to afford to do as an indie author publisher. But with this type of distribution comes setbacks, that I’ll get to shortly.

Another great benefit of working with a traditional publisher is they take care of the majority of the business aspects. They have in house or hire out all of the professionals needed to bring a book to market. From developmental, copy, and line editors to proofreaders, to professional book formatters and cover designers, to in house marketing and sales (to pitch your book to bookstore buyers), they not only project manage all of that, but, more importantly, they pay for all of those services.

The advance an author receives from a traditional publisher is, typically, significantly smaller than it used to be. There was a time when a midlist author could make a full-time living off of their book advances alone. That has not been the case for many years.

Authors also have no idea how their book is selling. They may receive an annual, or perhaps twice-annual statement of their book sales, and are perhaps paid once or twice a year for the previous year’s sales. There is also a 30% withholding on those payments against the aforementioned returns. This means, for every $100 owned to you in royalties, they hold back $30 as protection against the cost of returns.

If I can use two examples of my own books, here’s a bit of a breakdown on earnings.

For one of my traditionally published books that sells for $24.99 in print, I earn 8% on each sale, which is about $2.00. I get paid for that once a year with 30% withheld for a full year. I’m not even going to talk about the eBook sales as that’s a joke and barely adds up to enough sales to even talk about (because most traditional publishers don’t sell a lot of eBooks because they price they high enough to drive people to buy the print version, which is often cheaper, or just a dollar or two more than the eBook price).

For one of my self-published books, which sells for $14.99 in print, I earn $3.20 per sale. But I don’t sell a lot of print on my self-published books. The majority of my sales come from eBook sales. When I sell an eBook for $4.99, I earn $3.49. And I get paid on those sales every month, as opposed to once per year.

One thing most authors misunderstand is that they think working with a traditional publisher means you won’t have to do marketing. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Authors have to do their own marketing regardless of how a book is published.

One last thing I always consider when thinking about the pros and cons of traditional publishing versus self-publishing:  If it’s important for me to earn money and sell a lot of units in a digital manner where I’m in control, then I self-publish. If it’s important for the book to be in print and on bookstore shelves, then I look at traditional publishing. Because each book I write, or plan on writing has its own unique path often depending on my goals and how they relate to those factors.

Which formats are your books available in: ebook? Print? Audio? Hardback? Large print? NFTs?

Mario Acevedo: My books are available in print, ebook, and audio. My few hardbacks are out of print.

Paul Kane: All kinds, it just depends which book it is. Most are ebook and print. Some have had audios made of them, like The Rot from Horrific Tales. Encyclopocalypse have turned a lot of my back catalogue into audios, but also published a recent collection called The Naked Eye as an ebook and print, paperback and hardback. So it really does depend on what book it is and who brought it out. Doing searches for Paul Kane, PB Kane – my YA pseudonym – and PL Kane will come up with a bunch of stuff from me.

Bobby Nash: I have books available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio. For BEN Books, I make an effort to get the books in as many formats as I can so readers can find it. On projects I do for other publishers, I don’t always have a say in format.

Robbie Cheadle: My YA and adult books are available as ebooks from Amazon and Lulu.com and as paperbacks from TSL Publications in the UK, Lulu.com, and Amazon. My children’s books are available as ebooks from Lulu.com and as paperbacks from TSL Publications in the UK, Lulu.com, and Amazon. My two poetry books are available from Amazon as paperbacks and ebooks and Behind Closed Doors is available through a variety of other distributors too.

Nancy Oswald: Ebook, print, both hard back and soft cover. It has varied from book to book. I’d love to have audio versions of my books, but I don’t think there would be a market for the ages I write for.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: My books are available in eBook, Print (trade paperback, hardcover, large print) and Audiobooks. Not all titles are available in all formats. And, ironically, my self-published titles are available in more formats than my traditionally published books.

I also have a small selection of self-published titles available in an NFT-type model and will likely expand that over time.

If your books are available in audio format, which distribution platforms do you use? Can you tell us about your audio book experiences?

Paul Kane: Usually Audible, though a few have come out as CDs as well. Her Last Secret was a CD release, as well as a download. I tend to just let the publishers get on with that, as they know more about it all than me. Sometimes I get sent audition clips from people who want to do the narration, and indeed I was put in touch with the guy who did the narration for Arcana from Wordfire Press, Robert Power, because he wanted to ask some questions and I spent a very pleasant evening on the phone chatting to him. But generally, I don’t really have anything to do with it, other than I might listen to some actors reading bits of the book and say which one I prefer or who I think suits the story best.

Bobby Nash: Audible is the biggie. We have also experimented with other audio publishers. I love audio books and have been blessed to work with some fantastic narrators. I love audio and will keep putting them out in that format as long as I can.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I primarily use Findaway Voices for audiobook distribution to more than 40 retail and library markets.

When it comes to audiobooks, the expense to produce them is quite high and I’m currently in a position where I’m thousands of dollars in the hole on earning that money back. But for me it’s a long-term thing, that I know will earn out over time. For me, it’s a long-term investment.

Are your books available wide or exclusive to Amazon? Or a combination of both? Why?

Paul Kane: Most, if not all, of my books are on Amazon, but also available from the publishers themselves too – as well as from all good bookstores. Again, I don’t really have much to do with all that as bookselling isn’t my field. I leave it to people much more qualified than me to sell my wares, I just write them in the first place!

Bobby Nash: A little of both. For BEN Books titles, the ebooks are exclusive to KDP so they can be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. This is a way for me to promote the books to those who subscribe to KU to try my books for free and still make a few pennies. Paperbacks are at Amazon, B&N, Books-A-Million, etc. I also have an on-line store where you can buy autographed books from me directly.

Nancy Oswald: Back to marketing—Amazon on all of them, but I have them in as many local venues as possible; Book stores, gift shops, local stores.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I am wide beyond the limited perspective of “wide or exclusive to Amazon.” I could go on for hours, days, and weeks explaining it. You’re better off reading my budgie-basher of a book released in 2021 called Wide for the Win: Strategies to Sell Globally via Multiple Platforms and Forge Your Own Path to Success.

What factors help to determining the pricing of your book?

Paul Kane: I have absolutely no idea honestly. My second thriller, Her Husband’s Grave, has been available for about a year now at just £2 in paperback – and I have no idea why. I’m just delighted it is, because it’s been my biggest seller to date. It’s something to do with price matching, but I have no idea how it all works.

Bobby Nash: The base cost is your starting point. From there, you see the cost the bookstore or Amazon will take. Then, I round up a bit. I make about $1.50 profit per book. That’s why sales quantity is important.

Robbie Cheadle: My publisher prices my books and I am not able to run promotions for free or discounted downloads of my ebooks.

Nancy Oswald: I look at similar books and make my best guess about the market. On my two most recent books, I considered inflation.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: When it’s a self-published title (ie, when I get to determine the price), it’s a combination of understanding the markets (the global markets, and not just the US markets) and the genres. So country, genre, size and format of the book all play a factor in determining the right price.

One thing I like to remind authors is that they should think of price as a verb rather than a noun. It’s fluid, and can and should change over time to match market conditions and other factors.

Which self- publishing platforms have you used? Please tell us about your experiences with them?

Bobby Nash: I mostly use Amazon/KDP. I have used Smashwords for ebooks in the past and Lulu for hardcovers. The experiences are generally good.

Robbie Cheadle: I have only self-published through Amazon, but I had assistance with the typesetting, cover, and administration.

Nancy Oswald: Only KDP (Create Space first, then KDP) Great experience both times. Books look good, hold up, and I like the POD aspect of ordering.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Again, for a blow-by-blow of the majority of them, read Wide for the Win. It’ll take dozens of pages to try to go through them in detail.

But in a nutshell, by default, here’s how I self-publish.

  • I publish direct to Amazon via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for eBook and Print
  • I publish direct to Kobo via KWL (Kobo Writing Life) for eBook (and for selected audio titles)
  • I publish direct to Google Play for eBook (and for selected audio titles)
  • I use Draft2Digital for distributing to numerous other eBook retail platforms (Apple Books, B&N Nook, a handful of others), and most of the major library platforms (OverDrive, Baker & Taylor, hoopla, Bibliotheca, BorrowBox, etc) as well as for print via D2D Print (which is partnered with Ingram Lighting Source)
  • I also do print distribution via a combination of Ingram Spark and Ingram Lighting Source direct. (This is a side effect of being doing it for so long that I have different titles in different systems based on what was and wasn’t available at the time)

When seeking out a traditional publisher, what should an author look for? What should they beware of?

Paul Kane: I think you need to look at the publishers who are releasing books like the one you want to write and sell. You probably wouldn’t approach a religious publisher with a book about demons or zombies, say, but one that’s had some success in this area would definitely be more open to it. As for things to be aware of, run a mile if any agent or publisher asks you for money to look at or publish your book. They should be paying you, not the other way around.

Bobby Nash: What does the traditional publisher offer? If you like what they can do for your book, then go for it. Do they help with promotion? Do they offer an advance? What is their distribution platform like? Where are their books sold? Ask questions and research before signing. Reach out to other authors they publish and ask questions. Never pay to be published though. That’s not traditional publishing.

Robbie Cheadle: I am very careful of the publishing contract. I do not want my characters and ideas becoming the property of the publishing house and my stories continuing to be written by another writer if I die. I retain the rights to my characters in my publishing contracts.

Nancy Oswald: For me, I was lucky to find a small publisher who liked what I wrote. So, I’d say look for a good match. Do your homework in terms of other books the publisher puts out. When I started out, I targeted only big companies with a name, but have since learned that there are lots of small and mid-press companies that can be rewarding to publish with. With that said, trust is a huge issue. I entered into one joint publishing enterprise with my small press publisher, but that is only because we had similar goals and years of trust built up before we agreed to do this. There’s never a crystal ball, and I was lucky. Besides researching the publishers and their lists, you might consider locating and reaching out to some of the authors a certain publisher has worked with and ask them about the publishing experience they’ve had with company X. I have a friend who publishes with X Libris which some experts say you should NEVER do. But she has had a great experience, now has 6-8 books out and is completely happy. Find the publishing match that fits your goals and project.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: First and foremost, if it’s a proper traditional publisher, the money should always flow TO the author from the publisher, and NEVER, EVER, from the author to the publisher. No exceptions. If there’s any money paid to a publisher, they’re not a real publisher, no matter how much they protest or wave their arms around and explain some asinine and convoluted reasons for it. End of story.

Anyone can hang up a shingle and call themselves a publisher, but if they do not have “old school” traditional publishing supply chain distribution through bookstores where there’s a very likely chance and easy availability for the book to be stocked in a bookstore, they’re typically not offering you any better chance of having a book in stock in a bookstore than you can do on your own. (Yes, they might pay for editing, design, etc, but the “in store” distribution is a MAJOR hurdle).

Also be aware of signing over the rights to formats that the publisher is not actually using. IE, if they want audio rights but don’t publish audiobooks, don’t sign away your audio rights. You can earn more selling them to someone who does.

Any publishing advice for new authors?

Paul Kane: Just to hang in there, and never give up. It can be a hard business with ups and downs, so you need a thick skin and you need staying power. It’ll happen for you eventually if you’re good enough and just keep going. Also, don’t take rejections personally; it’s all subjective and what one editor hates another might love. Just look at some of the big releases that have been rejected so many times before being given a chance.

Bobby Nash: Have fun and enjoy the experience. Yes, writing is my job and there are days it’s a tough job, but t’s still a job I love. That’s what keeps me going.

Nancy Oswald: Just start, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Do your homework if traditional publishing is what you want to do. Go to conferences and take advantage of one-on-one interviews with publishers and agents. When a book is returned, even if it’s a form letter without comments, sit down and re-write your book all the way through. You’ll be surprised at how those re-writes will improve your writing.

Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Patience, Practice, and Persistence are three of the main traits needed for a long-term publishing career. Also, you’ll never stop learning and there is no magic bullet for any of the hard work that is required to be successful. So, stop wasting your time looking for one.

Publishing, regardless of whether or not you choose traditional publishing or self-publishing/indie publishing (or, ideally, some combination of both), takes a lot of work, a lot of constant learning and re-learning, and dedication to continuing to work at it even when nothing seems to be working or all the cards are stacked against you.

To get through those times, which will happen to every single writer as the markets continue to shift and change and bend and flow, you need to believe in yourself and never give up on the dream and desire. And, ideally, if you get intrinsic pleasure in the act of actual writing itself, that could be enough to sustain you through the process during those “dry” periods.

What are the advantages of creating your own publishing imprint? Do you recommend it? Why or why not?

Bobby Nash: I started BEN Books to get some of my older, out of print works back into print. Eventually, I realized that I could launch projects there that I might not be able to pitch to a traditional publisher. When I started writing crime novels, I was known for doing comics, sci-fi, horror. It was a hard sell to convince publishers I could write a crime thriller. BEN Books became a way to get those stories told. Now, I’m more known for the crime thrillers. Go figure.

Nancy Oswald: The jury’s out for me on this. I just recently created an imprint and registered it with the state of Colorado. I have no idea what I’m doing, and it’s weird for me to associate with and imprint and not myself as an author which I’ve done most of my years publishing with a small press.

Do you use crowd sourcing or subscription services to fund your publishing endeavors?

Paul Kane: A couple of things I wrote have had Kickstarters, but they’ve been a short film and a comic and the people behind bringing them to life have handled the campaigns. All seemed to go well, though, so I can’t complain.

Bobby Nash: I haven’t crowdsourced any novels yet, but I’m considering it for a box set next year. I’m still working out the logistics. I do have a Patreon page ( www.patreon.com/bobbynash ) that works like a subscription service.

___________________

That’s all for this week’s “Ask the Authors” blog segment. Thank you all for hanging with us. Next Saturday we’ll be wrapping up this Saturday series with an introduction to YA and middle grade author, L. Jagi Lamplighter, whose anthology contribution discusses “The Trouble with Troupes”, and a Q & A session on the most formidable of subjects, book marketing.

This must have writing reference is available through Barnes & Nobel, Rahkatan Kobo, the Apple Store, Amazon, Scribd and many more. As the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series is drawing to a close, be sure to get your copy of Ask the Authors 2022 at the special send-off price of $3.99 for the digital edition, from your favorite book distributor through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

____________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Editing & Revision

Ask the Authors 2022

Hello and welcome back to Segment 8 of the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This week brings an introduction to speculative fiction and horror author, Jeff Bowles, who shares a his thoughts on editing in the anthology, “Contrary to Popular Editing Beliefs”, & a Q & A session on editing and revision.

If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them here:

Segment 1: Introductions to Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session.

Segment 2: Introduction to Bobby Nash/Pre-Writing Rituals Q & A session.

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session.

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A.

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing and Dialog Q & A.

Segment 6: Introduction to Nancy Oswald/Tone: Voice, Person, Tense and POV Q & A.

Segment 7: Introduction for Chris Barili/Setting & World Building Q & A.

And now let’s move right into this week’s segment.

Meet Jeff Bowles

Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint StoriesFear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, Dark Moon Digest, Whispers of the Past, and Spirits of the West. His story, “A Peaceful Life I’ve Never Known” was the winning story in the 2019 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest.

Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff also has two novels published, God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, and Love/Madness/Demon.

On to the Q & A.

Editing and Revision

How do you feel about the editing process? Love it or loathe it?

Mario Acevedo: The editing process is what turns the rough clay into art. The second draft is when your story begins to shine.

Paul Kane: I really enjoy the editing process. I don’t find it half as much work as getting the words down in the first place. I know for a lot of people it’s the other way around, but I like having written, when I’ve got the chunk of words down and I’m going through, refining it, making it better with each edit or pass. It’s like a sculptor with a lump of stone, each time you chisel some of that away the sculpture starts to take shape. The more you work on it, the better the shape becomes. I like having that lump of stone to work with, I’m just not that mad on getting the stone and carrying it to the studio or workshop in the first place, if you see what I mean. 

Bobby Nash: Editing is part of the job. A novel gets multiple edit passes. I do a self-edit while writing it, usually going over yesterday’s work before starting on today’s writing. Then, I give it another edit after I’m finished. Once I’m satisfied, it goes to the editor then back to me for adjustments, changes, discussions. There may be two edit passes here. Finally, there’s the galley edit, which is my chance to look the story over in the form it will be printed to make sure it looks good.

Robbie Cheadle: I enjoy editing and I find it easier than the initial writing process. Re-writing and amending to create a better story is rewarding and satisfying for me. I edit as I go along and at the end of each chapter. If something changes in the story that effects what I have already written, I go back and update it. I cannot leave a change undone and just move on like some writers do. It bothers me too much.

Nancy Oswald: I look at it as an opportunity to make your book better, but there are times I’ve loved it and other times, not so much.

What roles do alpha and beta readers, critique partners, proofreaders and professional editors play in your editing and revision process?

Mario Acevedo: All are necessary and have helped improve my stories. My critique partners are my beta readers.

Paul Kane: I don’t really use alpha or beta readers. It works for some people, but not for me. I find if I get too much feedback, especially if it’s conflicting, it just confuses me more than it helps. I prefer to trust my own judgment initially, or – if she has time – my wife Marie has a read before it goes off somewhere. The editor you’re working with, especially if it’s a bigger publisher, will have things they want you to change or cut or whatever, which is absolutely fine. That’s the process for me, and part of the job. I just prefer to not let anyone see it before then. I think maybe it’s bad luck or something, as I am quite superstitious.

Bobby Nash: I have used beta readers, but not often. I do have a small group of patrons that get stories early. Some offer feedback. I work with editors, proofreaders, and others to get the books as close to perfect as I can make them.

Robbie Cheadle: I am part of an   on-line writing group which meets for 2 hours every second week. We all read excerpts from our stories and give each other advice and feedback. One of the members of this group, beta reads each chapter of my novels as I go along and gives me constructive criticism and feedback.

Once the book is complete and I’ve edited it to my satisfaction, I send it to my developmental editor who provides feedback on structure, plot holes, loose threads, unnatural dialogue, and other important elements of my writing and story.

Once I’ve updated the novel for her comments, I send it back to her for a final read and make any last changes.

I then send it to a proofreader who helps pick up spelling and punctuation errors which I correct before sending the book to my publisher who does a final read and edit.

How do you handle your editing: hire professional editors? Trade-off with other authors? Critique partners? Beta-readers? Self-edit? Have a publisher that handles those things?

Paul Kane: I self-edit until it’s time to send it off to my actual editor at whatever publisher I might be working with at the time. If she has time, Marie has a look through and does a pass, but more often than not it’s me who goes through and does the drafts. Then it might go through several more once the editor has come back to me with notes, then finally the proofing and final editing stages.

Bobby Nash: I have editors I work with on my creator-owned projects. For books I do for other publishers, they provide the editor I will work with on the book. Before it gets to them though, I have done a self-edit pass or two.

Nancy Oswald: All of the above at different times, but bottom line, I like to be involved in all phases.

What do you look for in an editor?

Paul Kane: As I say, I don’t send it to an editor I pay or anything. It goes to the editor at the publishers, and you don’t get a choice in that, seeing as their company is paying you for the story or book. Having said that, I’m very lucky to have worked with some of the best editors in the business and there’s been nothing that’s really had me tearing my hair out. So, I guess what I’m looking for with an editor is someone who’s easy to work with, and we can go back and forth on changes or edits that will hopefully make the whole thing better in the long run.

Bobby Nash: Editing is more than catching typos and grammar errors. A good editor asks questions about story, points out inconsistencies, and offers advice and solutions. It’s a partnership. The writer and editor have the same goal. We both want to put out the best book we can.

Robbie Cheadle: In a developmental editor, I looked for someone who could help me resolve issues with my story without changing my voice and writing style. I found a ‘good fit’ editor a few years ago when I was writing Through the Nethergate and used the same lady to assist me with A Ghost and His Gold. While the Bombs Fell was developmentally edited by a different person. I was very happy with her feedback, but she was not available to help me with my most recent two books.

Nancy Oswald: Editors need to “get” the book. They need to be attentive to details, but not insert themselves into the MS to the extent of it sounding different.

Have you ever received an edit where it was obvious the editor didn’t get what you were trying to do? How did you handle that?

Paul Kane: I’ve had edits where I’ve felt the need to explain certain things, or argue my case about a specific point, but that’s only really been a small part of the overall edit. I’ve never had an editor do a complete hatchet job on one of my books, and for that I’m truly grateful.

Bobby Nash: It happens. Did I not explain it well? If so, then a rewrite needs to happen. The writer and editor talk. You discuss and work it out. As I mentioned above, the editor and writer are partners. The editor is not my enemy. We both want the book to be the best it can be.

Robbie Cheadle: This has not happened to me. Both developmental editors I have worked with have helped me tremendously and so does my beta reader. I am very open to suggestions and comments to help me improve my writing and stories.

_________________________

That wraps up this week’s “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. Be sure and drop by next Saturday, when we introduce author and industry expert Mark Leslie Lefebvre and share a Q & A session on Publishing. You won’t want to miss all the useful information in that one. See you there.

Ask the Authors 2022

But first, just take a minute to grab your copy of this writing reference anthology which no author should be without from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of $3.99, using the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

_______________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Dark Origins: African myths and legends – The Zulus Part 3 #Zulucreationmyth #sausagetree

The Zulu Creation Myth

The Zulu myth on the creation of mankind and the world is as follows:

The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, came from the reeds and from them he created the people and the cattle. Unkulunkula created the mountains, streams, and all creatures, both wild and domesticated.

He taught the Zulu’s how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.

You can listen to me read the Zulu myth: The Story of Creation here:

The Sausage Tree and Zulu mythology

When I visited Ghost Mountain in Kwa-Zulu Natal in March 2021, I learned about the iconic Sausage Tree which grows in this area.

This is a picture of Ghost Mountain, doesn’t it look just like a screaming head?

This tree’s incredible sausage-shaped fruit weighs between 5 and 10 kilograms and can get to 3 feet in length. The unripe fruit is poisonous, especially to humans, but the skin is ground to a pulp and used externally for medicine. It is used to cure skin ailments especially skin cancers. The fruit is also burned to ashes and pounded using a mortar with oil and water to make a paste to apply to the skin. The rind of the fruit is also used to aid the fermentation of local brews.

The sausage tree has beautiful blood-red to maroon flowers with an unpleasant (to humans) smell. It’s scent attracts its main pollinator, the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat.

Many animals feed on the flowers when they drop, including impala, duiker, bush pigs, and lovebirds.

Zulu myth about the sausage tree

During our stay at Ghost Mountain Lodge, we went on a game drive to a nearby private game park. The ranger told us that the sausage tree is the subject of an age-old myth that it has the power to enhance libido and sexual prowess in both humans and animals. The sausage tree is also believed to hold the answer to impotence. These ‘cures’ are prepared by traditional doctors and are shrouded in mystery.

Did you know?

Did you know that I have two short stories in the WordCrafter Press anthology, Spirits of the West, that are based on South African history?

If you would like to read and review a copy, please email me at sirchoc[at]outlook[dot]com.

Here is a short extract from my story, The Ghost in the Mound:

“Grasping the baby tightly, Sara clambers out from under the wagon and sits back on her heels next to the wheel. After passing her the baby, Susanna crawls out, followed by Clara. They both kneel beside her.
In front of them, through the smoky haze, the blurred and agitated forms of the adults move frantically; fire, reload, fire, reload. The noise is immense.

Pointing to the huge baobab tree which stands directly in front of them, Sara whispers to the two younger girls.

“You need to run straight past Mama and get behind that tree. Run as fast as you can, I’ll be right behind you. Are you ready? One, two, go!”

The three girls lunge forward and begin to run, their faces drawn and tight with stress and their eyes fixed on the prominent tree. Their swiftly moving feet are accompanied by the crashing of the guns and the shrieks and yells of the enemy.

As the tree draws closer, Sara can see the detail of every leaf and the smooth shininess of its bottle-shaped trunk. The threesome circle behind the great trunk, gasping for breath. Sara drops to her knees;
Kobus is heavy and her chest throbs.

The tree’s heavy, white flowers are already starting to fade, and a few have already turned brown and fallen to the ground. Their sweet fragrance has a cloying smell of decay. Sara looks around, considering their options.

Where can we hide?

Her eyes settle on the termite mound, standing proud and tall, surrounded by veld. The yellowy green grass between their position under the tree and the mound is tall and thick, offering protection from
searching eyes.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has ten children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Ask the Authors 2022 Book & Blog Series: Setting & World Building

Ask the Authors 2022

Welcome back to the “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. This is segment 7 of this Saturday series, which brings you a glimpse of the fantastic writing tips and advice featured in the Ask the Authors 2022 writing reference anthology, and today we introduce contributing author Chris Barili, who shares his thoughts and methods for character development in his own “Character Blueprint” in the anthology, and a Q & A session on setting & world building.

If you missed any of the previous segments, you can find them here:

Segment 1: Introductions for Kaye Lynne Booth & Kevin Killiany/Writing Life Q & A session

Segment 2: Introduction for Bobby Nash/Pre-writing Rituals Q & A session

Segment 3: Introduction for Roberta Eaton Cheadle/Plot & Storyline Q & A session

Segment 4: Introduction for Paul Kane/Character Development Q & A session

Segment 5: Introduction for Mario Acevedo/Action, Pacing & Dialog Q & A session

Segment 6: Introduction for Nancy Oswald & Tone: Voice, Tense, Person & POV Q & A session.

Let’s get started.

Meet Chris Barili

Chris Barili is a speculative fiction and romance author who was also my cohort in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Western. He writes in a wide range of genres, including weird western (Hell’s Marshal series), and science fiction (Shadowblade) under his own name, and romance (Smothered) under the pen name B.T. Clearwater. Chris was a presenter and panel member for both the 2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference, and the 2021 WordCrafter New Beginnings Virtual Writing Conference.

Besides writing, Chris lifts weights, mountain bikes, practices martial arts and battles with Parkinson’s disease. Writing just may be his salvation. Chris also was a contributor to the original Ask the Authors writing reference project, back in 2018. When asked about a future where writing left him rich and famous, Chris said he would write more.

Now let’s see how our contributing authors responded in the Q & A.

Setting & World Building

What elements do you take into consideration when creating a new world?

Mario Acevedo: Time, place, setting, and the one many writers forget, mood.

Paul Kane: I’ve very rarely created entire worlds, but the ones I do write about – even in crime stories – I always view as just slightly to the left of ours. Alternate worlds that look very much like our own, but are just slightly different. I always make up locations, such as Norchester in The Gemini Factor, or Redmarket, Golden Sands and Green Acres in the PL Kane thrillers, simply because then you own those places and can do what you want with them. It’s much harder with real places like Nottingham or Sherwood, because someone might spot a mistake you made, even if you’ve done tons of research – for example we went on a private tour of Nottingham Castle just to make sure I could accurately describe things in Arrowhead. Nobody’s going to question something you do in a made-up place, that a street shouldn’t be in a certain spot or whatever. I like creating places anyway, though, because they very often feel like characters themselves. Norchester, for instance, is very much a character in The Gemini Factor. It even has two ‘faces’ as I say in the first chapter: the nice side that most people see, and a seedy underbelly that’s not very nice at all, full of drug-pushers and pimps. Or in this case, where a very unique serial killer operates. 

Chris Barili: As many as the world requires. If I am sculpting an entirely new world, as I did in Shadow Blade, I consider everything from culture to economy, clothing to foods, and so on. Kevin J Anderson covers this really well in his book on world building, and I’ve been lucky enough to learn under him a bit.

Bobby Nash: Most of my stories take place in the real world so I start with the parts that are familiar. The basis for a town is the same in medieval time, modern day, and on another planet. Start with the familiar and build from there.

Nancy Oswald: Since I write historical fiction (mostly) the world has already been created, so the trick is to get to the heart of the historical period and let some of the actual history dictate parts of the story. For instance, the two fires in Cripple Creek in 1896.

Do places that you’ve traveled to ever end up in your books?

Mario Acevedo: Yes. Los Angeles, Hilton Head Island, Florida, St. Louis, Pacoima, New Mexico, Iraq. Haven’t been to outer space yet.

Paul Kane: It’s the same thing I talked about with characters, I put bits of places I know in stories. Unless they’re actual places like Nottingham, then I’ve made them up of various places I know. Redmarket is very much a mish-mash of Northern towns I know very well, Golden Sands is an amalgamation of various run-down seaside towns I’ve visited, mixed with dollops of other fictional towns like Broadchurch from the famous TV series. When I was writing about Glaive City in my comic book stories based around the gothic superhero Mortis-Man, I was very much thinking about cities from famous comic strips I read as a kid, and still read, which might resonate with readers. To give them a certain flavour of what the tales will be about, you see. So, I guess you could say I visited those places, only I did it through the medium of comic books and graphic novels.

Bobby Nash: Oh, yes. I often take photos while on a drive and have found locations that spark story ideas.

Robbie Cheadle: I do include places I have visited in my books. It is easier to describe a place and give a ring of authenticity if you have visited the setting from your story. I have also included places I have not visited and that required a lot of research of various crucial elements like climate, vegetation, and lifestyles.

Nancy Oswald: Yes. Visited the Sand Creek Massacre site, explored Cripple Creek, and the Jewish Colony is practically in my back yard.

What type of details do you add to help create a mental picture for your readers?

Paul Kane: I think the key is not to overdo it, just a splash here, a splash there. That builds up a picture in a reader’s mind, and very often they supply the rest from places they might know. If I say that Golden Sands has a Fish ‘n’ Chip shop, like I’ve just done in the novelette Corpsing, then I don’t need much of a description because chances are the reader will have been to a seaside chippy themselves at some point in their lives. All you need are broad strokes to paint that picture. Unless you’re doing something very specific with a place, making a certain point. If you’re going to have a character get thrown off a building, you need to describe how high it is in order for a reader to know they probably wouldn’t survive the fall. Things like that.

Chris Barili: Again, whatever the story needs. For example, in Hell’s Marshal, I opened in old wet Tombstone, right near the OK Corral, so a detailed description of the saloon in which the story opened was needed, but since many readers have at least seen a recreation of the corral itself, I was able to use fewer details.

Bobby Nash: I describe people and locations pretty well, I think. I try not to overdo it though. If I say a character walks into a bedroom, I don’t have to describe every item in it. The readers know what a bedroom looks like. They will fill in the details from their own experiences.

Robbie Cheadle: My writing style is descriptive, and I try to incorporate all of the senses into my stories.

Nancy Oswald: In my genre, this is a place where historical photos are invaluable, but I don’t see why historical photos or other photos couldn’t be helpful for fantasy and other types of world-building. They would just need to be tweaked appropriately.

Would you share a brief excerpt from one of your favorite setting descriptions? What is it about this setting description that you like?

I received several examples of setting description from contributing authors which made this section too lengthy, so if you want to see them, you’ll have to buy the book.

How do you choose the right sensory details for your story?

Paul Kane: It depends on what you’re trying to say, you have to pick and choose what’s important again – or what feels right. That’s something you only really develop over time, I think. Don’t feel like you have to throw everything in there: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste or whatever. It might be that less is more again, so you have to decide what it is you’re trying to say about a place or person. I don’t tend to put smell in there much, as I don’t have a sense of smell myself – so I’d only really be guessing. Obviously, if someone was near to a chemical plant, or a sewage works, I could probably hazard a guess that the smell is bad, but having never smelt that before, my description would be loose at best. Ask yourself what it is that’s important about a scene, because that should help you decide what to put in and leave out.

Bobby Nash: It’s all by feeling. Senses are important so I use them where I feel they work best.

Robbie Cheadle: I try to use all the sense in my writing. If the circumstances lend themselves to the incorporation of descriptions relating to smell, taste, or touch I try to bring them in. Descriptions involving sight and hearing work their way into my stories easier than the other sense.

Nancy Oswald: Try to stay character driven and historically accurate.  

How do you communicate the rules of the world that you’ve created to your readers?

Paul Kane: The rules of most of my worlds tend to be the same as the one we’re living in, so it’s not that hard in most cases. If you’re writing something like a SF story, you’ll have to give the reader a sense of how that world works obviously, but it should be as the tale goes along – they’ll see through the telling of the story – rather than an info dump. So, in Arcana – which is a parallel universe – I had to show how the magic worked through the course of the story. I do have one bit near the beginning which is a flashback to a school classroom, but that was just to establish we’re not in this universe and that the history of it is different. The vast majority of what I set up in that novel comes through the telling of the story, that way it’s not too obtrusive. It’s not wise to have so many chunks of exposition or explanation too often or the reader will get bored.

Chris Barili: Through character actions words, and interaction with the world. Never by rote exposition.

Bobby Nash: I write the details, flesh things out with dialogue, stuff like that. I’m not a fan of the info dump, so I try to make that happen organically.

Robbie Cheadle: The Boers and the British soldiers in A Ghost and His Gold have their own codes of conduct, religious beliefs, and lifestyles. I bring these elements into my stories through descriptions and also through the use of thoughts and dialogue.

For real settings, do you explore the physical locations in which your stories are set?

Chris Barili: Usually just via the internet.

Bobby Nash: When I can, I do. That isn’t always possible though.

Robbie Cheadle: I explore the physical location when it has been possible for me to do so. Through the Nethergate is set in the English town of Bungay in Suffolk. I have visited Bungay twice as that is where my mother comes from. We have looked around the town and visited the churches, pubs, and the ruins of Bungay Castle.

A Ghost and His Gold is set in South Africa, and I have visited several of the places featured in the book including Irene, Pretoria, Mafeking, and Kimberley. It is easier for me to write about places I have visited, especially as I take lots of photographs.

Nancy Oswald: Yes, whenever possible.

Have you ever had a reader tell you that you missed the mark on a particular detail?

Bobby Nash: Sure. It happens. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they aren’t. I’m happy that my story moved them enough to take time to let me know what they thought.

What techniques do you use to help readers visualize your world?

Paul Kane: I think it helps to see the world through a character’s eyes. A good device might be to take a ‘fish out of water’ character and throw them into this setting, so that you’re learning about the world as they do, as they go along. If you think about characters like Buck Rogers who gets flung into the future, or Stallone’s cop in Demolition Man, you get the picture. Hopefully then, if you’re giving the reader the right amount of information in the right way, they’re right there with the character seeing what they see.

Bobby Nash: Words and phrases. It’s my job to paint a picture with these words. The reader also helps by bringing his or her imagination into it as well.

Nancy Oswald: Always watch the verbs and passive voice.

Do you plan out your world or build as you go?

Paul Kane: It depends on the kind of world you’re building. If it’s a place that’s going to be a sprawling metropolis that you’re going to need to know inside out to tell your stories, it’s probably a good idea to know which bits are where. Is a new bit next to an old bit, are dangerous bits just a hop, skip and a jump from a nicer bit. I have a place called Graffitiland which is mentioned in my PL Kane books, and was the focus of the novelette of the same name. As you can imagine, this bit of wasteland is so-called because it’s covered in graffiti, so quite rough, but I also wanted it to be within spitting distance of some of the newer parts of the town I was writing about for plot purposes. I didn’t have any maps drawn out or anything, but just needed to jot down that this was the case – especially if I write about it again down the line. But if the whole story revolved around that sprawling city I was talking about, then you might want to start mapping bits out so you don’t contradict yourself.

Chris Barili: I start with an initial world-build, adding to it or changing things as the story progresses.

Bobby Nash: A little of both. When I created Sommersville, the county and town in several of my stories, I went in with a pretty well-established map, but I reveal important places, landmarks, etc. to the reader as needed in service of that particular story.

How do you keep track of the details of your world to avoid inconsistencies in the stories?

Mario Acevedo: Through rewrites and multiple drafts.

Paul Kane: By jotting down notes, essentially, or creating maps. Personally, I wouldn’t spend ages doing all this, because it’s enough to know roughly where things are for the purposes of my writing. But I do know other writers, especially if they’re writing Fantasy say, who spend a long time getting all these details right and recording them. It depends what kind of genre you’re working in.

Bobby Nash: I try to keep good notes.

Robbie Cheadle: I have a spreadsheet for my work-in-progress The Creeping Change as it involves a large number of characters. I write down the names and descriptions of certain supporting characters in my books, so I remember the details correctly.

___________________

That’s it for this week’s “Ask the Authors 2022” blog series. Drop by again next Saturday for an introduction to Jeff Bowles, whose essay contribution, , offers up a view on editing & revision, along with a Q & A segment on the same topic.

Ask the Authors 2022

“Ask the Authors is an up-to-date and broad-based compendium of advice from today’s working writers, to help you with understanding your own writing career. Great information!”

—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of Spine of the Dragon

Don’t forget, you can purchase a copy of this must have writing reference from your favorite book distributor at the special send-off price of $3.99 through the Books2Read UBL: https://books2read.com/u/3LnK8e

______________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.