Thursday, December 22, 2011

Taking a Break

We're taking a short break to enjoy the holidays - we'll be back in early January to share more great author interviews, book reviews, and news from the publishing world.  Stay tuned!  Meanwhile....

Happy Hanukkah!

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Total Beginners Guide To Selling Books Online

Guest post by  Isabella Woods of

Got a pen? Of course you have. Take this down in your Moleskine notebook, and commit it to memory. These strategies are free, and can be done from the comfort of your own home. In your pajamas if you like (on the Internet, no one knows you’re not dressed.) And believe me, some of this stuff you will be doing in bed, in the supermarket, on your nights out. Because you want to sell your book all over the world, don’t you? There’s a time difference to consider.

In the immortal words of the teacher from Fame "Fame costs. And right here’s where you start paying. In sweat.” So true. But you’ve written a book, so you’re no stranger to hard work. In some ways, that was the easy bit. You now need to sell it, which isn’t easy at all. But it’s not impossible, and some people have a huge amount of success selling this way, and as Darcie Chan showed, end up getting more revenue through private sales than via a publisher. Even well-known published authors do a great deal of their own selling these days, so don’t think there is anything lowly about hitting the keyboard like this. You may not have queues forming for a book signing yet, but then not many authors do, on the whole. A great number of them are hoofing round literary events, tweeting and showcasing and writing articles to get their latest book sold. You are in good company. You’re an author too, you just can’t boast an advance. But you may end up the winner in the long run. Read on.

You need to start spreading the word online, and no-one else is going to do it for you. Here are six things a total beginner can do today to get up and running.

Get a Facebook Fan Page  
This is essential. There are 520 million people on Facebook, and that’s a lot of potential customers. Regard it as your free personal shop front. From here you can link through to your blog, your website, and your Twitter Account. You can see statistics about who is visiting your page, and target them more effectively as a result. You can build up a fan-base, and appear miraculously in the timeline of Foyles, or Simon & Schuster saying something authoritative, witty and pertinent. It can get you noticed there, and tweak another contributor’s interest. Top Facebook tips:
  • Make your book jacket your avatar picture.
  • You will need to get 25 people to click on ‘Like’ to make it an official ‘Fan Page’ with its own webpage address, so get friends and family to start you off.
  • Update your page regularly with new content, but not so often that people get irritated with seeing you in their timeline.
  • Post interesting things on your Facebook page that your ‘fans’ might like. Read the papers and post the things you find relevant and interesting. The chances are they will too.
Set up a Twitter account

This is a great way to get your book noticed on the Internet. Some people take a while to get the hang of how it works, but once you ‘get it’ you’ll be hooked. Here’s how it works: just imagine a great big conversation going on out in cyberspace, which you can be part of. It’s a big party, which you have to mingle at. You can listen to others interesting conversations, try and join their conversations, or repeat what they’ve said if you think your readers will be interested in it. If that sounds a bit tricky to start with, just have your own conversation, and wait for people to hear you say ‘dragons’, or ‘romantic fiction’ or whatever your book is about, and wander over to listen. You have 146 characters to use for each tweet. It’s like Haiku. Some people are brilliant at it, and you can’t resist following the link the tweet because of how they’ve expressed themselves. You’re a writer, have fun with words! Top Twitter Tips:
  • Subjects are flagged up to others by means of a # - hashtag. So if you want everyone who is interested in spy novels to see you, make sure you use a hashtag in front of your subject. For example, you might start off by tweeting something basic like:
“New #spy novel published today – check out”
Obviously, that’s very basic. You can be far more creative with your tweets, but it gives you the idea of how to use a hashtag correctly.
  • ‘Follow’ people whose conversation you think might be useful or interesting to listen to. If you have written a spy novel follow Bond fans, (search ‘Bond’) or your favorite bestselling spy novelists. They might say something you think your readers will find interesting, which you could repeat (‘retweet’) or they might – if you are very lucky – ‘retweet’ you! If they do that, and they are very famous with lots of followers, then it could be the break you need. All their followers will read your comment, and that could be thousands of people. You can see why celebrities get badgered to retweet things. It’s not cool to ask, just just have to hope, and engage and you may get lucky.
  • Eventually you will get your own following of readers. You can post links to articles, reviews of your book, or go for the hard sell. It is up to you. Look at how others in your genre market themselves, see who they ‘follow’, and copy.
Start a Blog

A Blog is just a simple way of making your own website for nothing. If you are very broke it’s a great way to start. If you have a gmail account, you can just sign right up. Think of a title, chose a template and start telling the world about your amazing book. Keep posting articles, extracts, interviews and pictures. Look around to see who is blogging on the same subject. As if you can do a guest post (an article of about 500-700 words) to promote your book. Or ask if they would like to review it. If you want some income you can choose to put advertisements on the blog, or you can leave it pristine and clear. The choice is yours.

Communication is the Key to Sales
The sky is the limit with online marketing. Never stop trying to create a buzz about your book. You have to be the pushy parent, even if it is not in your nature. Be friendly, thank people for ‘following’ or buying your book, be generous with your time. Always answer questions. Get people to like you and what you say.

Sign up for any site that will allow you a free profile, update your Google profile with your book cover, keep your Amazon page professional, write to journalists and ask for a review…anything. Just keep working at it, and one day…who knows. There might be queues outside a bookshop somewhere for you.

If that doesn’t happen though, don’t be disheartened. It’s a fantastic achievement to have written a book and sold even a few. Be proud of yourself. Be proud of your book and never stop writing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Amazon Workaround

I've been suggesting to friends / self-publishers recently that they not put all their dependence on Amazon for sales.  While that's where many customers want to shop, not all shop there.  Look for diverse markets.  Here's a great article from Publisher's Weekly on the topic.

The best way to blunt the e-tailer’s clout is to support a diverse marketplace

Fear that Amazon will come to dominate the bookselling market is nothing new in the publishing industry. But last week, as booksellers continued to decry the company’s price check app (which could be used to access prices on booksellers’ sideline items, like toys and DVDs) and as information about Amazon’s aggressive demands to publishers regarding co-op and retail discounts surfaced (PW Daily, “Is Amazon Pushing Publishers to Brink on Terms, Co-op?” Dec. 15), some insiders began suggesting that the time had come to actively explore ways to lessen publishers’ dependence on the e-tailer. With this in mind, PW asked a number of people in the industry what the best course of action would be. The consensus was that developing and supporting initiatives that would create a more level the playing field would be the best approach to ensure a diverse marketplace.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday Morning Introductions

Here's a sample of the books that came in for review this week.  Check them out and then stop by our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, in a few weeks to check out the reviews.

Letters to Zerky: A Father's Legacy to a Lost Son . . . and a Road Trip Around the World by Bill Raney Both a memoir and a memorial, these collected letters and diary entries recount one family’s adventurous journey in 1967 attempting to drive around the world in a VW bus. Not intended as a book at the time of the writing, the intimate and poignant story details the family’s travels through Europe, the Middle East, and into Asia, challenging preconceptions about different cultures and illuminating how one-year-old Zerky had a magical effect on everyone they met along the way. The book features maps and pictures of the trek yet is more than just a travelogue; Zerky and his mother died shortly after the trip and this narrative serves as tribute to their lives.

Letters to Zerky: DVD

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau Joanna Stafford, a Dominican nun, learns that her favorite cousin has been condemned by Henry VIII to be burned at the stake. Defying the sacred rule of enclosure, Joanna leaves the priory to stand at her cousin’s side. Arrested for interfering with the king’s justice, Joanna, along with her father, is sent to the Tower of London. The ruthless Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes terrifying steps to force Joanna to agree to spy for him: to save her father’s life she must find an ancient relic—a crown so powerful, it may hold the ability to end the Reformation. Accompanied by two monks, Joanna returns home to Dartford Priory and searches in secret for this long-lost piece of history worn by the Saxon King Athelstan in 937 during the historic battle that first united Britain.

Almost a Senior by Brenda Faye Collie This a fast moving story with great characters about a girl who is a Junior in a fictitious Harlem High School. The book tells the reader what Loresha must do once she is elected president of the student body.

It's a Big World, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi Poppy, the adorable, persistent, dreaming-big pig, has a new adventure in store for her: the World Games ice-skating championship in Paris! Poppy is nervous about meeting so many new people, in a new place. But, ever courageous and supported by her family (Emma, too!), Poppy embarks upon this exciting adventure head-on! Poppy begins to realize that although these animals look different, act different, and are from different places, they are all the same at heart. We all smile in the same language!

Peep in the Deep: A Sea Creature Counting Book by Richard Miller Smith Beneath was a peaceful, quiet place when barely a peep gave way to something in the deep. Your child will love learning their numbers with this bright, and colorful book. Watch the ever growing number of sea creatures chase their former group across the pages 'til the last but not least! Each spread displays each group and number in a large, easy-to-read typeface.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Readers Returning to Book Stores???

E-Books, Shmee-Books: Readers Return to the Stores

Facing economic gloom and competition from cheap e-readers, brick-and-mortar booksellers entered this holiday season with the humblest of expectations. For the rest of this NYTimes article on shoppers' trends this Christmas season, follow the link.

The Future of Publishing


I recently had a very enlightening discussion with Jane Friedman, a University of Cincinnati professor and author of The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations.  Jane’s the former Publisher of Writer’s Digest and author of Beginning Writer’s Answer Book. And with more than 135,000 Twitter followers, she’s among the most influential thought leaders in publishing today.  To Read the rest of this article, go to the Children's Book Insider website.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Opportunity Knocks for the Independent Bookstore

Borders Closing, Community-Building and"Shop Local" Movement Give a Boost

First there were the bookstore chains, then Amazon, then digital books, all seeming to threaten the very existence of the brick-and-mortar bookstore. Yet, in the wake of the recent closing of the Borders bookstore chain, a new surge of independent booksellers is rising, seemingly against all odds. 

Just before Thanksgiving, Paz & Associates, a bookstore training & consulting group, helped open Mitzi's Main Street Books, an independent bookstore in Rapid City, South Dakota. The owner, Ray Hillenbrand, opened the store as part of a new Main Street Square, which was developed to rejuvenate the area and make it more of a destination.  "The opening of Mitzi's bookstore shows how entrepreneurs and developers now regard an indie bookstore as a 'must have' in rebuilding their town centers," Donna Paz Kaufman observed. "Consumer surveys consistently show that locally-owned independent bookstores are one of the most desirable businesses," she continued.
The Staff at Mitzi's

"It's not just the closing of Borders that is fueling the resurgence of  independent bookstores," says Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, "but a more complex array of factors including the growing national acceptance of the "shop local" movement; an extraordinary level of innovative and creative entrepreneurship; a sophisticated use of social networking; easier access to Small Business Administration loans; a willingness to adapt to changing retail trends including selling both print and digital books online; and, most importantly, continuing to be an unmatched source of  credible information about books and authors."

"We are a gathering place for the community," says Kiona Gross, who left a job at CNN to open The Curious Cup, a children's bookstore in the seaside town of Carpinteria, California. Gross organized a 'shop local' day in her store on November 26, part of the American Express Small Business Saturday campaign that successfully highlighted the general public's awareness of the importance of local merchants across the country. "We strive to be community-centered.  We sell tickets for the local theater, we hold chamber luncheons, and meditation classes. We are all about the community."

"Not a day passes that someone doesn't come in to say how happy they are that we're here, says Janet Geddis of the Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia which opened in September. "Loud cheers, applause, and even a teary-eyed thank you show how much people in Athens have embraced Avid Bookshop and have led us to a stronger start than I'd ever imagined," Geddis added.

Nikki Furrer, a former lawyer, opened Pudd'nhead Books in Webster Groves, MO in 2008. It was named the 2010 Riverfront Times Best Indie Bookstore in St. Louis and the 2010 St. Louis Magazine A-List and "Most Amusing Bookstore" in the St. Louis area. Furrer, a believer in indies and shopping locally, was also instrumental in developing the St. Louis Independent Booksellers Alliance. "My family has all started businesses themselves, so I knew that opening a bookstore was going to be a lot of work for not a lot of money, and it would be that way for years. But I also knew that the work would be worth it. The rewards are feeling like my work makes a real difference, watching kids and adults alike grow into readers."

"What indie booksellers can do that gives them a competitive edge over any online retailer or big-box store is to create a comfortable atmosphere that is inviting and facilitates interaction and events that contribute to the life of the community," suggests Ted Baylis, owner of the leading bookcase manufacturer, Franklin Fixtures. "Add to this an online presence, social networking, and the ability to sell everything, including competitively priced e-books on their websites, and you really have a winning combination. The future is Clicks & Bricks, to have the deep resources that come with an online sales capability plus the ability to create both virtual communities and physical gathering places that are local in nature and where store staff, customers and special guests can share their knowledge and experiences."

"With inventory that is hand-picked to suit the needs of its local customers and events that bring the community together, a locally-owned bookstore can provide a special sense of place." says Donna Paz Kaufman, of Paz & Associates, who runs a five-day bookselling school for booksellers in training. "Now is an excellent time to open an independent bookstore. The demise of Borders has created both demand and opportunity for an all-new variation of an old-fashioned independent bookstore -- small, cozy places with a sense of community and neighborhood that creates local connections."

Photo credits: Donna Paz Kaufman

Monday, December 12, 2011

Author Interview with Henry Mosquera

Today we're talking with Henry Mosquera, author of Sleeper's Run

FQ: Your book, Sleeper's Run, is fantastic. It's a mystery to me, speaking as the parent of an author, why good writers, like yourself, have to self-publish. In this economy, the Big Six don't seem to want to take on new authors. How was your experience in the world of self-publishing?

Thank you so much. I’m always elated when people enjoy my work. To be honest, how and why the industry chooses the works they publish is a mystery to me as well. The obvious answer seems to be current trends. I’m sure if I were writing about vampires or zombies, with the tween demographic in mind, I’d have a better chance of getting published. A few years back, it was cryptic, conspiracy mysteries that had their day in the sun. As we stand today, political thrillers have been largely relegated to established authors. Apparently, the industry thinks there’s no room for new blood in this genre. It seems to me that publishers have taken a passive position towards their business. They wait to see what hits and then they flood the market with it. When people get tired of it, they move on to the next thing. The days of publishing houses investing in a writer’s potential are long gone. It’s all about large, quick returns now.

My experience in self-publishing has been interesting, if not eye opening. I received 183 rejection letters from literary agents. After over three years of work researching, writing and polishing my work with editors, I found myself with two choices: either quit or do it myself. I love the creative control and the freedom of self-publishing. The downside is that you essentially have to run your own company and that takes away a lot of time and resources from writing. The book is only 10% of the work; the rest is all about selling it. When I’m asked, “What are you working on now?” the answer is “selling my novel.” Then again, if I had gone through a publishing house, I’d have to do all the promotion work anyway for less than 10% of my book’s returns.

Author Henry Mosquera

FQ: The genre of Mystery/Thriller is a personal favorite of mine. You did a great job describing everything this poor man went through. Are you planning any others in this genre?

Thank you, that’s very kind of you. I’m partial to thrillers as well, but I do want to dwell in other genres. Maybe something that requires less research. I have a couple of novels in the pipeline, but right now, everything is taking a backseat to selling Sleeper’s Run. I probably won’t be going back to thrillers for a while.

FQ: You must have had to do ample research on PTSD and brain washing techniques. Did you visit any of the places talked about in your book?

I researched the novel extensively. The knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder came primarily from talking to people who have dealt with it. Since I’m an unknown author, I thought it disrespectful to directly interview people regarding this issue. We’re talking about something very serious and to make someone open up about this for a novel didn’t sit well with me. So, I learned about it from the periphery. Talking to the friends of those affected, reading about it and watching documentaries on PTSD. The problem with post-traumatic stress disorder in the military is that it’s the veritable elephant in the room. It’s there, but nobody wants to talk about it. We have a generation of soldiers returning home with this malady and little has been done to solve it. There is a great documentary called Wartorn 1861-2010 that talks about the very real and ignored issue of PTSD in soldiers.

For the brainwashing techniques, I started my research when I watched a documentary about the CIA secret experiments using LSD, psychic drive, hypnosis, etc. to program people. Some of these experiments involved using unwitting Americans. This blew me away, so I started digging deeper and found some fascinating items regarding mind control. Some of the modern elements like the hypothetical use the drug Propofol to induce selective amnesia, and the rudimentary possibility of mind reading technology through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), really fired up my imagination.

To me, the plausibility of brainwashing isn’t as important as the issues it represents in the book: black budgets, operations lacking congressional oversight or accountability (black ops), interventionist policies, an ends-justify-the-means mentality, corruption, greed, and the denial of human or citizen rights; I can go on. That’s what’s really important and extremely relevant about the novel. Sleeper’s Run is one of those stories that can be fun and entertaining, but it can also stimulate very interesting conversations. It all depends on the reader.

FQ: I am a huge fan of Inglourious Basterds too and also a fan of books written about World War II and during that time frame. Have you thought about heading into this area? If you do, I'd surely be interested.

Not as novel. Although, it’s quite an interesting time. I loved The Eagle Has Landed. That mixture of history and fantasy is right up my alley. I had an idea for a comic book dealing with WWII and also an unrelated screenplay, but no books. You never know, though. I might bump into something that captivates my imagination and a book might ensue.

FQ: So many novels have been written about the War on Terror. How did you come about writing this stellar novel, using this theme and still making it new and so readable?

That’s a good question. Maybe because it doesn’t really deal with the War on Terror per se and more with elements that relate to it directly: the mentality behind it, certain stands on how geopolitics are conducted, questions on patriotism and ethics, collateral damage (which is not limited to the battlefield) and the impact of the war in our society and the world at large. After all, Sleeper’s Run is a work of fiction based on non-fiction sources. It’s sort of genre fiction with literary fiction aspirations.

Also, I come from a different country and I’ve been influenced by different cultures. That sets me apart right from the get go. I tend to see things in broader terms. A lot of political thrillers read like a mainstream comic book. They have a one-sided point of view and are ethnically homogenous; nothing is questioned and everything seems to be justified. The characters are divided into good guys and bad guys, and they only exist to serve the plot. Sleeper’s Run is a departure from all of that.

FQ: I usually ask about pets but, you already answered that question in your bio. Anyone who has animals is OK in my book. However, I'm glad you put your wife first. Did your wife have any input in the writing of this novel?

The book’s dedication says it all. She has been my greatest supporter from day one, but she was also my harshest critic. My wife wanted me to do the best I could and would not settle for less. She knew my aim was to be as accurate and as realistic as fiction will allow me to be, so she was very critical of what ended up on the page. You can easily say she was the first editor I worked with on the book. She’s an amazing writer, but has no interest in pursuing it despite my repeated efforts to change her mind. It’s really a shame. I don’t think watching me going through my trials and tribulations in self-publishing has helped much either.

It may sound cliché, but writing is a very lonely process, and if you self-publish it’s literally you vs. the world; having someone by your side who loves and believes in you makes a huge difference.

To learn more about Sleeper's Run please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Monday Morning Introductions

Here's a selection of the books that came in for review this week.  Check 'um out and stop by our review site, Feathered Quill Book Reviews, in a few weeks to read the reviews.

Such Wicked Friends: A Sandy Reid Mystery by Rod Hoisington In the third of an exciting new series, Sandy Reid runs into a problem of the dead kind and soon the police want her to butt out, the State Attorney wants her disbarred, and the killer wants her dead. Not the best situation for a brand new lawyer who's trying to live down a reputation for being sassy and reckless. Fresh from passing the Florida bar exam she stumbles over a potential client--shot between the eyes. Sandy believes the murdered woman is asking her to find the killer. How else to explain the mysterious spot of blood Sandy later discovers on her own hand? That drop of blood changes everything.

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer When Dr. John Merriman goes on a shooting spree at the office, his business partner, staff, and two patients are killed in the bloodbath. Then Meacham turns the gun on himself. The blame falls on Dr. Lou Welcome. Welcome worked with Merriman years before as a counselor after John's medical license had been revoked for drug addiction. Lou knew that John was an excellent doctor and deserved to be practicing medicine and fought hard for his license to berestored.. After hearing the news of the violent outburst, Lou is in shock like everyone else, but mostly he's incredulous. And when he begins to look into it further, the terrifying evidence he finds takes him down a path to an unspeakable conspiracy that seems to lead directly to the White House and those in the highest positions of power.

Field of Our Fathers: An Illustrated History of Fenway Park by Richard A. Johnson The definitive, illustrated history of Fenway Park, this comprehensive volume captures the momentous occasions of America's most beloved ballpark. Featuring posters, ticket stubs, and fan memorabilia, this history contains firsthand accounts of the many baseball and nonbaseball events that have helped characterize the park since the days of Tris Speaker and Babe Ruth. The book celebrates the teams, the fans, and the quirks of Fenway Park as it nears its centennial in 2012.

One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner The Brighton to London line. The 7:44 am train. Cars packed with commuters. One woman occupies her time observing the people around her. Opposite, a girl puts on her make-up. Across the aisle, a husband strokes his wife’s hand. Further along, another woman flicks through a glossy magazine. Then, abruptly, everything changes: a man collapses, the train is stopped, and an ambulance is called.
For at least three passengers on the 7:44 on that particular morning, life will never be the same again. There’s Lou, in an adjacent seat, who witnesses events first hand. Anna, who’s sitting further up the train, impatient to get to work. And Karen, the man’s wife. Telling the story of the week following that fateful train journey, One Moment, One Morning is a stunning novel about love and loss, about family and – above all– friendship. A stark reminder that, sometimes, one moment is all it takes to shatter everything. Yet it also reminds us that somehow, despite it all, life can and does go on.

The Betrayals of Grim's Peak by Sean Quirk Augustus Tomlin is found floating face-down in the waters just off the Florida coast when he is just a year old. He spends most of his young life trying to overcome a paralyzing fear of water, and when his adoptive parents bring back to the Keys from his home state of Arizona at age fourteen, his life changes forever after a ferocious attack by several nightmarish creatures waiting for him in a cove, and a daring rescue by a girl riding a massive sea creature that resembles a dragon. Not long after that Augie is introduced to the magical world of Grim's Peak where underwater lakes, trimsticks and wimballs, cryptoquariums, and water arches are the order of the day. Augie is immersed in this new world and must make new friends, learn how to co-exist with the sometimes unfriendly plants, adverse underwater weather conditions, and amazing creatures like the hippocamp, which is a creature of legend said to be half-horse half-fish; all the while trying to figure out who his parents were; who is trying to kill him; and what his connection is to the town's founding fathers whose centuries old secrets threaten to throw the residents of this amazing world into complete chaos...

The Nightmare: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft by Nancy Means Wright Rebel with Many Causes Dismissed from her governess post in Ireland, Mary Wollstonecraft lands on her feet in London. After the 1792 publication of her ground-breaking Vindication of the Rights of Woman she gains entrée to a circle of celebrated artists and intellectuals. But Mary falls into obsession and infatuation with painter Henry Fuseli after his hauntingly erotic masterpiece The Nightmare is stolen. When a young artist is wrongfully accused and imprisoned, and a bluestocking friend is strangled, Mary's passionate nature does not allow her to stand aside. Her quest for the truth will lead her into personal notoriety, a trip to a madhouse, and confrontations with more than one possible murderer.

The Nightmare: A Mystery with Mary Wollstonecraft by Nancy Means Wright Rebel with Many Causes Dismissed from her governess post in Ireland, Mary Wollstonecraft lands on her feet in London. After the 1792 publication of her ground-breaking Vindication of the Rights of Woman she gains entrée to a circle of celebrated artists and intellectuals. But Mary falls into obsession and infatuation with painter Henry Fuseli after his hauntingly erotic masterpiece The Nightmare is stolen. When a young artist is wrongfully accused and imprisoned, and a bluestocking friend is strangled, Mary's passionate nature does not allow her to stand aside. Her quest for the truth will lead her into personal notoriety, a trip to a madhouse, and confrontations with more than one possible murderer.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How I Became a Best-Selling Author

Here's a Wall Street Journal article detailing how a self-published author sold 400,000 (!) copies of her debut novel.  Yow-za!  We should all be so lucky!

Every Bookcase Should Have a Secret Door!

How cool is this?  Make a secret door for your bookcase!  Follow the link for details:

Secret Door...

Friday, December 9, 2011

American Booksellers Association Open Letter to Amazon

In response to Amazon's new price check app, ABA CEO Oren Teicher wrote an open letter to Jeff Bezos with his thoughts.  You can read the letter here.

Amazon's New App Angers Many

As if independent bookstores don't have enough to deal with, trying to compete with Amazon, the giant online retailer has just introduced a new app that will make it even harder to compete.  The free price check app allows readers to scan a book in a store and then price check it against Amazon AND get a 5% discount (up to $5.) for doing so.  So, take advantage of a bookstore, shop their products, see, touch, scan through the books you want before buying from Amazon.   The Retail Industry Leaders Association is leading the charge against this new app, saying,

“Amazon’s aggressive promotion of its Price Check App shows the lengths they are willing to go to exploit this tax loophole, and is a stark reminder of why Congress needs to act to protect retailers on Main Street.  A failure to act is an implicit endorsement of a subsidy of Amazon, a subsidy that distorts the free market and puts jobs on Main Street at risk,” - Katherine Lugar, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs (Read the rest of the press release here)

Whether or not Amazon is stopped (doubtful at this point), it does appear that this action will help push the collection of sales tax for internet sales into the realm of reality.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Justice Department Confirms E-Book Pricing Probe

There's been a lot of talk lately about pricing of electronic books and whether there was collusion to prevent discount prices by some publishers and ebook device holders.  Yesterday, the Justice Department confirmed a probe to look into allegations.  Here's a blurb from the Wall Street Journal on the probe.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Morning Introductions

Another week - another interesting selection of books.  Here's a sample of what came in during the past week.  Stop by Feathered Quill Book Reviews soon to read the reviews.

A Life Lived Ridiculously by Dr. Annabelle R. Charbit When a girl with obsessive compulsive disorder falls in love with a sociopath, she must fight for her sanity and her life. Maxine's brain is stuck. Everything around her feels wrong and the only way to fix it is to check, double-check, rearrange and count everything. What Maxine can't fix though is her parents' constant nagging over the absence of a husband. A humiliation that is further compounded when her younger brother runs off with Miss Perfect. Then she meets Sam, a smooth-talking charmer with the weight of the world on his shoulders, and enough terminal diseases to wipe out a small village. Maxine decides that Sam is her salvation, never mind that his life is more complex than a Greek tragedy, and others are urging her to get away from him. The problem is that Sam has Maxine under his spell. Will Maxine escape from Sam before it's too late?

What is Love? Perspectives on Love by Fadi Hattendorf What Is Love? Perspectives On Love offers a look at the meaning and application of “I love you” as well as whether or not, these words ever come off as sincere as we want them to. “What Is Love? Perspectives On Love” contains fictional stories to explain one of the most complicated feelings human beings will ever come to know. These real life based stories demonstrate how people find love in one another, and why some begin to search for it again right after they have found it. We often say, “I love you.” We experience love with our parents, our friends, our significant others and many other people. “What Is Love? Perspectives On Love” introduces the many hats love wears in our lives. Every chapter of the book is uniquely detailed. Through these stories, you may discover others’ love lives, learn from them and perhaps even put them to use in your own relationships.

Afghan Boomerang by Dr. Oleg Novinkov Former Soviet officer details his time in 1980s Afghan war to highlight dangers of America’s current war “Afghan Boomerang” - winner of NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award (November 2011) by Dr. Oleg Novinkov details the dangerous consequences of having foreign troops occupy Afghanistan using the experiences of the former USSR HOUSTON – Dr. Oleg Novinkov’s “Afghan Boomerang” (ISBN 1439274517) details his years as a Soviet Air Force flight surgeon stationed in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Considering the current war in Afghanistan, he finds it better than ever to share his experiences and thoughts on international relations. Novinkov explains what it was like to live in the middle of combat during the Afghan war of the 1980s. He compares and contrasts the previous war to the current situation in Afghanistan, showing that he feels the United States didn’t use history as a learning tool. The author states that when the United States engaged in the current war with Afghanistan, they did not consider the Soviet’s experience nearly three decades ago. The author brings up these points to ask a terrifying question: Will the results of the U.S.’s war in Afghanistan boomerang and have many of the same outcomes as the Soviet’s war, such as a complete collapse of the country? Novinkov shares his thoughts about historical events in involved countries, including the U.S., Russia, Iraq and Pakistan, to lead readers beyond what the media portrays. “I had the opportunity to return to Afghanistan 30 years after serving in the Soviet-Afghan War,” Novinkov says. “I show how things have changed and how they have remained the same. I share personal experiences to help readers, especially U.S. audiences, understand the world situation and the effects of war.” Novinkov believes that his book will move those who really want to understand the events in Afghanistan, but from a different perspective than the mainstream media portrays. He hopes that readers learn the dangers of sending foreign forces into Afghanistan through an historical perspective. Since Novinkov has lived in both socialist and capitalist countries with opposing views on many issues, he took the liberty of expressing his thoughts about politics and prominent politicians.

The Faces of Angels by Lucretia Grindle On a sweltering day in Florence, art student and newlywed Mary Warren wandered into a shady tunnel of trees. Within minutes, she was brutally attacked and her husband murdered. And within months the killer was identified, caught, and dead. It’s now two years later, and Mary has returned to Florence at the invitation of her lover – a relationship that predates what she insists on calling the “accident.” Crumbling and beautiful, Florence is eternally compelling. But more and more, what Mary sees is not the glories of the city, but its dark underside – specifically, one dead young woman after another. She also can’t help seeing a terrifying pattern: Either this is a copycat killer, or her husband’s murderer is still on the loose.

Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany by Richard Lucas One of the most notorious Americans of the twentieth century was a failed Broadway actress turned radio announcer named Mildred Gillars (1900-1988), better known to American GIs as "Axis Sally." Despite the richness of her life story, there has never been a full-length biography of the ambitious, star-struck Ohio girl who evolved into a reviled disseminator of Nazi propaganda. At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Mildred had been living in Germany for five years. Hoping to marry, she chose to remain in the Nazi-run state even as the last Americans departed for home. In 1940, she was hired by the German overseas radio, where she evolved from a simple disc jockey and announcer to a master propagandist. Under the tutelage of her married lover, Max Otto Koischwicz, Gillars became the personification of Nazi propaganda to the American GI. Spicing her broadcasts with music, Mildred used her soothing voice to taunt Allied troops about the supposed infidelities of their wives and girlfriends back home, as well as the horrible deaths they were likely to meet on the battlefield. Supported by German military intelligence, she was able to convey personal greetings to individual US units, creating an eerie foreboding among troops who realized the Germans knew who and where they were.

The Thorn & the Blossom: A two-sided love story by Theodora Goss One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever. When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself...The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Penguin Sees Dark Clouds After Strong Christmas

Interesting article about this year's sales performance and what John Markinson, Penguin's Chief Executive, forecasts for next year.  Read here.

A new place to sell your e-books!

There's going to be a new guy in town - a new place to sell your e-books.  Set to release to beta testing in about 6 weeks, Bilbary hopes to give Amazon and B& some stiff competition.  Good news for publishers who will have another option for selling their ebooks.  Check out Bilbary's site for more info.

Publishers warm to e-books on their own terms

Interesting article about e-book trends and the more or less flop of "extras" added to digital books.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Note that Feathered Quill Book Reviews has no connection to this award competition.  Posting the information here does not mean we endorse or have any knowledge of the competition.  We post it to get word out and ask that authors do their own research about each and every competition.

LOS ANGELES _ The 2011 DIY Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its tenth annual competition honoring independent book authors and publishers.
The 2011 DIY Book Festival will consider entries in cookbooks, science fiction, non-fiction, fiction, biography/autobiography, children's books, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, photography, art, comics, 'zines, fan fiction, poetry and e-books published on or after Jan. 1, 2007.
All entries must be in English and have been self-published or issued by an independent publishing house.
*** Please note that authors with iUniverse, Infinity Publishing and other print-on-demand outlets are eligible for the DIY competition.
Entry forms are available online at or can be faxed on request.
Our grand prize for the 2011 DIYBF Author of the Year is $1500 cash and a flight to Los Angeles for our gala awards ceremony at the Roosevelt Hotel, home of the first Oscars, in March, 2012. The event is part of the 11th annual DIY Convention: Do It Yourself in Film, Music & Books.
Submitted works will be judged by a panel of publishing industry experts using the following criteria:
1) General excellence and the author's passion for telling a good story.
2) The unique use of guerilla marketing tactics to reach a wider audience. This includes innovative marketing, merchandising, publicity tactics and other unique methods of reaching an independent audience.
ENTRIES: Please classify your book and enter it in the following categories. Multiple entries must be accompanied by a separate fee for each book.
1) General Non-fiction
2) General Fiction
3) Children's books
4) How-to
5) E-books (word or .pdf file acceptable)
6) Comics
7) 'zines
8) Photography
9) Fan Fiction
10) Poetry
11) Art
12) Teenage
13) Biography/Autobiography
14) Audio/spoken word
15) Best Published/Unpublished Short Story (all manuscripts welcome)
16) Cookbooks
17) Science Fiction
In addition to honoring the top selections in the above categories, The DIY Book Festival will award the following chosen from submissions:
1) DIY Author of the Year-Honors the outstanding book of the competition.
2) DIY Book Design of the Year - Honors outstanding and innovative design.
3) DIY Independent Publisher of the Year - Honors the top publisher based on materials displaying excellence in marketing and promotional materials, as determined by our judges.
FESTIVAL RULES: DIY Book Festival submissions cannot be returned. Each entry must contain the official entry form, including your e-mail address and contact telephone number. All shipping and handling costs must be borne by entrants.
NOTIFICATION AND DEADLINES: We will notify each entry of the receipt of their package via e-mail and will announce the winning entries on our web site ( Because of the anticipated high volume of entries, we can only respond to e-mail inquiries.
Deadline submissions in each category must be postmarked by the close of business on January 25, 2012. Winners in each category will be notified by e-mail shortly after the final entry deadline. Please note that judges read and consider submissions on an ongoing basis, comparing early entries with later submissions at our meetings.
TO ENTER: Entry forms are available online at or may be faxed/e-mailed to you. Look on the right hand side of the page and click on the red "register" button underneath "2011 DIY Book Festival." Please contact our office for fax requests. Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee.
Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC. We're sorry, but entries must be mailed and cannot be delivered in person or by messenger services to the JM Northern Media offices.
Entry packages should include one copy of the book; any relevant marketing material; your official entry form or a copy; and the entry fee or receipt. Entries should be mailed to:
JM Northern Media LLC
attn: DIY Book Festival
7095 Hollywood Boulevard
Suite 864
Hollywood, CA 90028-0893
Phone: 323-665-8080
AWARDS: Winners of the 2011 DIY Book Festival will be honored at a gala ceremony held in Los Angeles. You do not need to be present to accept your award or accompanying prizes.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Review Removal - Recap and Update

You've likely read our comments about Amazon and what has happened with their heavy-handed removal of reviews posted by sites such as Feathered Quill.  While we've been trying to work with other sites, most seemed to have given up from the start, stating Amazon is just too big to fight.  Only a few sites were interested in continuing the fight and soon, it was down to just two sites, Feathered Quill and ReaderViews.  Kudos to RV site owner Irene Watson for "fighting the fight" and having the best interests of her authors at heart.  Alas, with just two sites willing to continue, it seems like we'll have to concentrate our energies on more useful things such as posting great reviews to our site.  We have begun to post our reviews to, a good review site with a high SEO.  We hope this will bring added exposure to our authors' books.

Here are Irene's comments on the whole Amazon mess (posted with permission): 

I've been giving updates for the past year on the aspect of removing reviews and banning reviewers from posting. At first it seems it was just review sites like us but then it flowed over to removing reviews from individual reviews unrelated to any site or blog. There is no consistency except a stock email that says "you violated the guidelines" but the specific violation is never disclosed by

We became victims of the removal/banning in May but after many communications back and forth we were reinstated and promised it would never happen again. Several months later, against their own word, removed/banned us. To this date we haven't been able to find out exactly why they did this and why they didn't stand behind their own word.

In the meantime, to my knowledge, 15 other sites have been banned. The surprising one is Midwest Book Review; one of the oldest and most respected review sites. I noted a review on one of my books is by MBR is still there, yet, when attempting to view them all a window comes up saying the reviews aren't available and the profile page is empty, the same as Reader Views'. I know at one point removed at least 10,000 reviews posted by MBR. We had about 7500 removed.

Several months ago I contacted the other sites I knew were banned to see if they want to band together and attempt to deal with Amazon or go to the media. Eight out of the 15 responded, two saying they aren't interested at all, 6 responded indicating they are on board, and the rest I didn't hear from. I assume there was no interest. One of the reviewers set up a Yahoo group so that we could communicate. Each one was invited but in the end only 4 reviewers joined the group. We did hear from several others that had ideas of what "you should do" but neither was interested in spearheading the idea.

During this same time many authors contacted but either got a stock email that basically said nothing or didn't get a response at all. Some even contacted the media and their legislators. But, I don't think there is enough impact because most of the reviewers declined to contact their author/publisher list, explain the occurrence and ask them to make a noise. The support, or concern, just doesn't seem to be there, either from other reviewers or authors/publishers. For example, Jim from Midwest Book Review posted on a self-publishing group that his reviews were removed and banned. I chimed in explaining what had happened to many others and asked for support from the group. A group "mom" rejected my post.

One author volunteered to create a FaceBook page and Twitter account titled Occupying Amazon. I, along with several other reviewers (I think,) let our list know but in the end only 16 "liked" the FaceBook page. In the meantime FaceBook removed the account and Twitter is removing the hash marks.

Personally, I'm exhausted in working diligently on attempting to get reinstated again or moving toward being noticed by the media or legislators of unfair treatment. In the end it seems like only one other reviewer and I are left to deal with the issue but I'm sure that if we were successful the others would be extremely happy and we may get a thank you...maybe. I'm not sure if it is worth it at this point. I've spent many hours dealing with this issue and several thousand dollars to pay staff to repost the reviews when we were reinstated the first time and then removed again.

Authors do have an option of posting an excerpt under Editorial Reviews through their Author Central account and those that have done so are happy. Some even said those seem to have more impact than the reader reviews, especially when they come from unknown people with pen names like "poop-doop" or "anonymous." (Yes, those are for real!) Credibility in the end becomes important and Editorial Reviews offer credibility.

For us, not being able to post the reviews on hasn't been an issue as orders continue to come in. I know that some of the reviewers are suffering because they aren't asked to review books and they feel this is a direct result of not being able to post the reviews on This is sad because it's just another indication where a huge corporation can push out a small business owner in a click of a mouse.

Why we are removed/banned is still a mystery, especially when continues to favor some reviewers that don't adhere to their guidelines, those that show signs of being a fake, for e.g. reviewing in the realm of 70 books per week (This is humanly impossible even for a speed-reader.), those that ask for huge charitable donations in exchange for a review or those that charge for reviews. My personal assumption is that review services like ours are in direct competition with for obtaining reviews since they are now offering outrageously expensive reviews through their own CreateSpace program.

So...what next? I really don't know because two or three people can't do it alone, and yet represent a whole gamut of others with great expectations that we can make changes. I do sincerely appreciate those of you that took the time to contact, write to your legislators, join the FaceBook page, sign up for Twitter, and give moral support to me. I thank you profusely.

At this point, if an occasion arises, I will make noise but I am refocusing to business at hand in creating more ways to support the authors, especially those that don't get noticed otherwise because they are self-published, use self-publishing firms, or published by a small press and are on constrained budgets. In other words, I'm "movin' on."


PS - be on a lookout for a "new" publicity package we will offer in the New Year. Susan, my assistant, has been diligently working on it and it will be ready to launch soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Introductions

Here's what came in for review this week. Check them out and then stop by our site soon to read the reviews.  Visit Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Sleeper's Run War on Terror veteran, Eric Caine, is found wandering the streets of Miami with no memory of the car accident that left him there. Alone and suffering from PTSD, Eric is on a one-way road to self-destruction. Then a chance meeting at a bar begins a series of events that helps Eric start anew. When his new job relocates him to Venezuela–the land of his childhood–things, however, take an ominous turn as a catastrophic event threatens the stability of the country. Now Eric must escape an elite team of CIA assassins as he tries to uncover an international conspiracy in which nothing is what it seems.

Catch and Release A botched drug raid took her father’s life when she was 7. On her 13th birthday she witnessed her mother’s murder. Alone in the world, Jennifer Blade sets out to even the score. At 33, enmeshed in a game that knows no rules, she is about to fulfill her quest when everything unravels. Fleeing for her life, she heads to the mountains of upstate New York, where she unexpectedly finds new reason to live. Steve Sanders, a 38-year-old psychologist with a predictable life, is on a fishing trip in the mountains. Little does he know that all vacations are not created equal. Within 24 hours, they catch a few trout, have a passionate affair, shoot and kill a man, are involved in two gun battles, receive wounds, and end up in Miami, Florida. All this, and as Steve says, they still have six days of vacation left. Their relationship touches long-buried feelings in Jennifer, and shatters the mundane existence suffocating Steve. Catch and Release, a romance/suspense novel, is the story of two lives from vastly different backgrounds, drawn together by fate and a common love of the great outdoors. The crossing of Jennifer’s and Steve’s paths releases an explosion of love, passion, adventure, and ultimately a reason for a shared journey.

Tall, Dark & Determined Welcome to Hope Falls where three enterprising young females are accepting applications for husbands-for-hire. With one woman already snagged, Lacey Lyman is one of only two remaining. No one really catches her eye until a handsome hunter arrives. Will Lacey find a way to bag her prey? Determined to investigate why Hope Falls’s mine collapsed, Chase Dunstan poses as a potential husband and a hunter, giving him the perfect excuse to poke around inside and outside of town. If only he could get the chatterbox Lacey Lyman off his trail. Can he keep his cover while solving the mystery of the mine?

The Good Father As the Chief of Rheumatology at Columbia Presbyterian, Dr. Paul Allen's specialty is diagnosing patients with conflicting symptoms, patients other doctors have given up on. He lives a contented life in Westport with his second wife and their twin sons—hard won after a failed marriage earlier in his career that produced a son named Daniel. In the harrowing opening scene of this provocative and affecting novel, Dr. Allen is home with his family when a televised news report announces that the Democratic candidate for president has been shot at a rally, and Daniel is caught on video as the assassin.

Everneath Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen. As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Beyonders: A world Without Heroes The magic begins again as bestselling author Brandon Mull brings his newest blockbuster-ready fantasy series directly to Aladdin!
Jason Walker lives a predictable life: going to school, playing baseball, volunteering at the local zoo—until one day he falls through a tunnel near the hippo tank and ends up in a new, utterly foreign world. In Lyrian, the people dress differently, behave differently, and all live in fear of their malicious Emperor, Surroth. But in Jason’s search for a way home, he learns of a magical, ancient word that could destroy the terrifying Surroth. With his accidental knowledge of one of the word’s six syllables, Jason finds himself in great danger and must embark on an epic quest to discover the remaining syllables and take down his powerful new enemy. Jason and his companion, Rachel—a fellow Beyonder who also arrived in Lyrian suddenly and without understanding why—must face challenges to their bodies, minds, and hearts and encounter places and people they can barely believe are real. In a world with no heroes, and no hope, Jason finds himself faced with the prospect of becoming the hero he never imagined he could be.

Every Other Day Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human. And then every day in between . . . She's something else entirely. Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

A Discovery of Witches In a sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches became the "it" book of early 2011, bringing Deborah Harkness into the spotlight and galvanizing fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and the descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript deep in Oxford's Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar's depth to this riveting story of magic and suspense.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oops: Public backs web blocking in Google-funded poll

Analysis Talk about an inconvenient fact. A survey into US attitudes to internet piracy shows strong public support for blocking access to websites guilty of serial copyright infringement. No fewer than 58 per cent support the idea of ISPs blocking the pirate sites, and 36 per cent disagree with this. Of the respondents, 61 per cent want sites like Facebook to take more action to screen for infringing material.

For the rest of this article, follow the link to "The Register."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why Might A Publisher Pull Its E-Books From Libraries?

Following yesterday’s news that Penguin, citing security concerns, is pulling its new e-books from libraries—and making none of them available for library lending through Kindle—many are wondering why the publisher would do such a thing. (Penguin and Random House had been the only two “big six” publishers to offer unfettered access to e-books through libraries; now Random House is alone in doing so.)
To read the rest of this very interesting article, please follow the link to the article.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

We're taking a few days off to celebrate Thanksgiving with our family and friends.  Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving and we'll "talk" soon.  Oh, and enjoy a good book while you're at it!!!