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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Winners and a Bit of Ennui

I'm proud of my last two blog posts. I was very fortunate to have two great Indie bestselling authors agree to do an interview. Not only did they share a few insights, but they both kindly offered up a free e-book of their respective guides: Jeff Bennington's 'Indie Author's Guide to the Universe' ( and Scott Nichoson's 'The Indie Journey' ( I am terribly slow in getting around to announcing the giveaway winners for these two awesome Indie guidebooks. Sometimes life needs attending to, and I have been a little lax with my blogging as a result of being away at a convention for a few days, and then catching up on my life once I returned home.

How dull! But that's why.

Without any further ado or lame excuses, I will avert my eyes and get my friend to enter the room and arbitrarily choose a winner from the kind folks who left comments on these recent (and I hope helpful) blog posts. In case you missed them, here are the links to the interviews with bestselling Indies Scott Nicholson and Jeff Bennington:

Drumroll please...

Aaaaaaaaand the winners are:

Lisa Lane gets a shiny e-copy of The Indie Journey!

(Wild applause!)

And TJ Reed gets The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe!


I hope you both find these books helpful and encouraging. I know that I did. If you didn't win a copy, they are worth the investment if you are serious about pursuing the Indie author's path. Check them out!

And now here's the ennui I mentioned at the outset-- Henri the cat:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bestselling Author Jeff Bennington Shares Tips from the Indie Author's Guide to the Universe!

Today's special blog guest is author Jeff Bennington. Jeff has written some great spooky thrill-rides-- Twisted Vengeance, Reunion and Creepy-- and learned a lot along the way. He shares some of that process in The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. As always, check below the interview for links. As a special bonus, Jeff and I will give away an e-book of this fantastic guide! For a chance to enter the draw, just leave a comment and share this post around.

(And now for a quick, cheeky word from our sponsor- me! Jeff makes great use of his KDP free days-- it made all the difference to his sales. I will be offering my newest short story 'Family Secrets' on April 7/8th- check it out this Saturday and Sunday only!

*Cue music: Jeff Bennington walks through a virtual curtain, waves to the audience and has a seat by my desk*

Welcome, Jeff!

Thank you, Ruth. I appreciate the invite.

1- First off, tell us why you decided to write this helpful guide.

I decided to write this book for two reasons. As my blog, The Writing Bomb ( has grown, I’ve seen a demand amongst indie authors for creative ways to build their platform, market their books, get motivated, and sell their books. They have questions in an overwhelming business and are seeking answers wherever they can find them. Well, I like sharing so I’ve basically blogged about everything I’ve learned. And of all the blog posts I write, the ones about self-publishing, marketing, cover design, platform building, etc, have been the most popular. And these posts seem to resonate with a lot of authors.

This leads to the second reason. As I looked at the content that I had accumulated over the previous year, I noticed that I had enough material to fill a book. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is not a pamphlet-sized guide. No; this dude is 220 pages of solid indie-author coolness. In the end, I added a few more chapters covering subjects that I didn’t want to miss like marketing layering and my “floatation pricing strategy”.

2- Let’s jump back in time: if you were just starting out on your own Indie journey, what are the top three things you wish you had known from the outset?

Okay. That’s easy.

The first thing I would have wanted to know is that it’s possible to turn my love of writing into a profitable business, but that it would take a lot of patience and multiple titles before that happens. I think that information alone would have created healthier expectations on my part.

The next thing I really needed to know is how important it is to hire a professional editor. Family, friends, old teachers and spouses are the last people you should use to edit your work. They are too emotionally attached. The best person to hire is someone who is an editor with experience, and has a good reputation in editing novels.

The third thing that is so important for writers to understand is that they will no longer be writers when they publish. They will become businessmen and women. I believe authors, both self-pubbed and trad-pubbed completely underestimate how much time and energy they must put into marketing their book.

3- a) What was your biggest misstep?

Not paying for editing on my first try.

b) How did it make you feel?

Like a failure. But I’ve felt that before, and I didn’t like it then either, so I did what I’ve always done; I peeled my sorry ass off the floor, shook the dust off and dove into fixing my mistakes and learning what it takes to write a novel that can compete on a professional level. The results of those efforts paid off when Reunion hit the top 100 on Amazon and is still consistently in the top 100 ghost category.

4- a) What was your greatest triumph?

When Reunion hit the top 100 on Christmas Eve. Next to my wife and children, that was the greatest gift I had ever received.

b) You’ve had some great success along the way. What makes this the most outstanding example?

Mostly because it paid in dollars, and not just accolades. Accolades are great and can in fact sell books. But cash is tangible and it affirmed the effort I had put into my writing.

5- What is the best thing about being an Indie author?

Control. Writers seeking traditional publishing have no idea how little they will have. I can re-edit, make a new cover, reset my pricing, change marketing strategies, add excerpts of one book to another, and the list goes on and on. Being my own publisher has its down side, too. I am responsible for everything. But that’s okay. It’s my life and I can live it they way I want to without being held to deadlines by folks that think my life revolves around my books, because it doesn’t.

6- There’s a dark side to everything in life… so how about the worst thing?

I write about the dark side of life; abuse, hatred, pain. But I also write about the bright side. You can’t have one without the other. That works in indie publishing as well. If you aren’t careful, your writing and marketing can ruin your life. It has the power to grow like a weedy vine and totally consume you if you let it. My advice is, don’t let it. Be proactive in managing your craft and family/life. Darkness and light, good and evil; they can be found on the indie road just as easily as any road you choose.

7- Not only have you produced this great guidebook, but you are also behind The Kindle Book Review ( What inspired you to establish the site, and what sorts of helpful things can Indie authors find when they visit?

Well, first of all, they’ll find a website that is growing at the same rate that indie authors are accepted in the eyes of readers.

This site acts as a filter. That’s bad news for the indie authors who expect us to feature their book when it has not been tested by the public. We won’t do it. We require a minimum of 10 reviews and a 4-star rating.

We do this because we want to strengthen the world’s image of indie authors. So to those indies that have crafted an exceptional read, we give them a voice, a place where they can reach out to readers willing to try new authors. We offer several promotional opportunities, and give free reviews. And now we have initiated The Best Indie Books of 2012 contest. This contest awards cash to authors and prizes for readers, too. This is just another effort in bringing Kindle readers closer to the indie author, which is the ultimate goal.

8- Last but not least… what’s next for Jeff Bennington?

I’d like to finish Twisted Vengeance II, re-publish my political thriller series as in collaboration with Caleb Pirtle and Stephen Woodfin, two highly experienced authors. I am also collecting true ghost stories, believe it or not, from my fans, for Creepy II coming in October 2012. So all in all, I plan to publish 4 books in the coming year and then I think I’ll get back into a non-fiction I’m working on called Spiritually Self-Medicating, the one book I have to write before I’m dead.

Thanks for your time, Jeff!
Thank you. And thanks for being patient with me.

The Happy, Helpful Jeff Bennington!

Check out Jeff Bennington's Amazon Author Page for links to all of his awesome books!

And don't forget to leave a comment below for an entry to win this fabulous book:  The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Scott Nicholson Shares Tips for Indie Authors!

A lot of authors have made the same comparison: we have all found the world of Indie publishing to be like the new Wild West. It’s exciting! There are no set rules, and every author can gallop across that open plain into the sunset without an agent or a publisher telling them what they can and cannot do. Gatekeepers? We don’t need no stinkin’ gatekeepers! Yee-haw!

Maybe not… but some guidance sure would be nice. Gets a bit lonesome and scary out in the middle of nowhere, just you and your horse… er… book.

(Quick commercial insert here: As a result of the marketing tips I've gleaned from my blog guests, Base Spirits is currently on at 99 cents! )

For the next two blog posts, I am pleased to be hosting the authors of two of my favourite Indie guides. The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington (, and The Indie Journey: Secrets to Writing Success by Scott Nicholson ( are must-reads for any Indie author. Not only are both books packed full of great ideas, practical tips and inspirational moments, they are a delight to read. The authors’ true voices come across loud and clear: these are two engaging men who approach their subject with heart and humour. You couldn’t ask for better companions out there on the Frontier.

But don't just take my word for it-- read for yourself! Scott has very kindly provided a free e-book to give away. Just leave a comment below, and Tweet or otherwise share this post to win!

Scott Nicholson is a prolific author of dark fiction, and you can find out all about his books and contact Scott here: There are too many books to list, but some of my own favourites are The Red Church, Drummer Boy, The Vampire Shortstop and Creative Spirit. Scott has been out and about on the traditional publishing route as well over the years, and that background certainly informed his own Indie journey. His invaluable experiences are generously shared in The Indie Journey: Secrets to Writing Success.

Welcome, Scott!

1- First off, tell us why you decided to write this helpful guide. 

I'd seen so much attention placed on rankings and money and trad-pub hate that I wanted to present a more philosophical approach, focusing on happiness as the goal instead of the latest tricks to game the Amazon algorithms. Algorithms constantly change, but a metaphysical and spiritual satisfaction with your career never fades.

2- Let’s jump back in time: if you were just starting out on your own Indie journey, what are the top three things you wish you had known from the outset?

1. Jump in earlier and with both feet. 2. Be fully committed. 3. Don't get caught up in the noise.

3- a) What was your biggest misstep? 

I sat on the sidelines for at least six months waiting to see where the Kindle was headed, trying to get agents to sell my books and all that. And I was still talking with agents the first six months after I put in a couple of books, and I was holding out books to try to sell the old way. That was foolish in retrospect.
b) How did it make you feel? 

My generation of writers was trained that only hacks self-publish and that it kills any chance of a "real career."

4- a) What was your greatest triumph? 

Fulfilling my only real writing goal of being able to do this for a living.

b) You’ve had some great success along the way. What makes this the most outstanding example? 

Because I never required stardom or the ego baggage, only the satisfaction of the universe making room for the thing I loved to do. I accept that as proof that my writing has enough value to others to be worthwhile.

5- What is the best thing about being an Indie author? 

Wearing ratty sweatpants to work.

6- There’s a dark side to everything in life… so how about the worst thing? 

The firm belief that this digital era will not last in its current form, and the uncertainty ahead. Of course, that is also a joy, too.

7- Obviously, you have the experience of having been published traditionally as well as going Indie. What do you think are the top benefits of each route? 

Trad? Your book in a store, which is still cool even if less useful to sustaining a career. Indie? You get paid every month and the boss doesn't suck, hopefully.

8- Last but not least… what’s next for Scott Nicholson?

I am launching a Kindle giveaway site because I believe free books are not only here to stay, they are going to become the dominant model. And writers might want to figure out how to monetize the next era if they want to continue writing.

Thanks for your time, Scott! 

Remember to leave a comment/share this post to enter the draw for Scott's book... and for more great swag and free books, drop by !