Tag Archives: smashers

Sharing the Smashwords Love: My Story On Why & How I Came to Self-Publish

It began with a vampire. No, not the shiny ones or lovers and fighters on the big screen, but a virtually unknown Russian named Vlody who first appeared in my consciousness eleven years ago.

I’d been traditionally published in a few different genres a few times and though this wasn’t my main literary focus, it was a fun, dark fantasy-filled tale I wished to share with the world. Since I had positive communication with one of my publishers, I submitted “Katrdeshtr’s Redemption,” The Night Cat, Book 1, which they said was well-written but didn’t work for them, as they accepted fantasy but didn’t wish to go into this type of sub-genre. Entirely their choice, of course, but instead of queuing back in line and laboring through the submit, decline and resubmit process, since my schedule was quite busy at the time, I decided to self-publish.

I first went to Amazon as I’d heard of their self-publishing application. I searched other websites and companies also, but as I didn’t have extra cash I wished to front for publishing my work, especially considering some of the fees being charged, I kept looking. I came across Smashwords through a simple surf on the web, by entering the question, “Best place to self-publish.”

After reading the Smashwords Style Guide, and all the little steps and tics to formatting a manuscript, at first I was overwhelmed and didn’t think I could do it. But I told myself, “Hey, you wrote the book in the first place, why shouldn’t you be able to take it a step further?” With Katrdeshtr’s beautiful, immortal voice also demanding to be heard, I did exactly as the guide suggested, I set aside several hours to devote solely to editing my story, formatting and rechecking my work. Using the guide, step by step, I found it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it to be, it just took time and dedication: just like writing a book in the first place.

Wishing to have my story in the Premium Catalog, I made yet another nervous yet thrilling leap, as I downloaded the free graphic art application Paint.net and created the cover image layering a photo I’d taken plus free images on the web. And so my character, Katrdeshtr the Night Cat (as he renamed himself after a few hundred years finding his original, Vlody, too boring) was given the face I’d imagined and his supernatural story was presented to the world with the help of Smashwords.

Soon after that I published three more titles at Smashwords, but for a particular work of mine since it was a lighter type of fantasy set in a contemporary setting, I regressed a little, I’d call it, I was interacting with that same publisher again and though they said again it was beautifully written, they didn’t think their readers would like it and that it wasn’t personally something they’d like to read and they only published what they liked to read.

…didn’t think their readers would like it….?

….it wasn’t personally something they’d like to read…?

….they only published what they liked to read….?

 

That didn’t sit well with me at all. I believe it is the reader’s choice what they want to read, and they should be given every opportunity to find something special for them. So with pleasure and new determination, I returned to Smashwords, self-publishing the title, “The Angel of Berlin”, and though my other works have received good reviews, it has been my most successful venture to date.

My Next Steps

I asked some of my friends who are also writers, but hadn’t decided whether to publish their work or who’d admitted not wishing to go through the extremely subjective process of acceptance by traditional publishing, I told them without hesitation and with great confidence, go to Smashwords! Do it your way!

Because too many indie and self-published books are still getting shunted to the side and dismissed by review groups, on 31 October 2010, I opened my review/interview site “Flying With Red Haircrow” utilizing the knowledge and methods I’d gained as a reviewer and intake coordinator for online literary magazines.  And a few months ago, though I’d self-published my own works, I opened the indie publishing side of my brand, opening it to other authors who may need help along the independent path. I’ve been fortunate to find a partner as enthusiastic about a few projects I had in mind. At both sides, authors are welcome to submit their press releases, promos and updates to have them post, shared around and auto-fed to other sites like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook, that I am a part of.

Our slogan and mission at  “Flying With Red Haircrow”:

“Enjoying the freedom of creativity…”

  • To provide unique perspectives.
  • To provide readers with more variety.

Our quote:

“Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”

— Red Haircrow

 My Testimony

With the advertising, marketing and online interaction I take part in every day, besides the many review requests received regularly, I get a lot of email, but one of the messages I always read first whenever it appears is the newsletter from Mark Coker’s Smashwords Blog.

Helpful, honest, willing to ask and answer the hard questions about publishing and the writing industry and market in general, it always provides a level of encouragement I find absolutely indispensable. On those days I feel like everything is going wrong with my writing or have those moments of doubt on whether this was the best choice, I reread articles on that blog. It never fails to provide me with the courage and motivation I need to continue.

What are some of the tips I have for writers on self-publishing and Smashwords?

  • First of all, believe you can do it, because you can!
  • Secondly, conceive, write, edit and revise to the very best of your abilities, get help if you need it and accept constructive criticism from those who have your best interests at heart and understand you and your work. That way you can be 100% confident in whatever you produce, and when/if you do receive a review where someone didn’t like it, you still know your work and you are worthy. It just might not have suited their personal tastes.
  • Follow the Smashwords Style Guide closely. They have carefully provided a manual for your work to look as best as possible.  Presentation and quality are two of the keys to your success.
  • The Smashwords Book Marketing Guide can save you a lot of time and angst, don’t be too proud to rethink things when you need to. Remain true to your purpose, but also be willing to adapt as the ebook publishing industry is continuing to evolve.
  • Even on those days when you feel sales aren’t meeting your expectations, or you’d think about what more you could do to make your books a success, take time out to read other writer’s heartfelt expressions of how Smashwords helped them achieve their goal of being published. Sharing the proverbial love is a great way to receive positive feedback and support. Help other and help yourself. Visit the Smashwords page on Facebook. Reach out to others, as there are plenty of indie enthusiasts out there.

And just a few tips for writers from the standpoint of a reviewer:

  • No matter what the reviewer says, remember you took the steps to write, publish and share you work, and for that alone you might be congratulated.
  • For reviews where constructive criticism is offered in an objective way, take it for what it is. No writer is infallible, and we can see that when even well-known and widely successful writers are critiqued heavily. Take it as encouragement to improve your craft, something we can all try to do, whatever level we’re on.
  • Reviews are inherently subjective. Even though it’s hard to receive a chancy or poor review, remember that one person may not care for your work, but that doesn’t mean someone else won’t either. On the other hand, if you find a number of people saying the same thing, this should give you an indication of what might need attention.

What Smashwords can do for you and what I love most about them!

Smashwords is an excellent website and great opportunity both for authors and publishers to get their work out there were readers can read it!

After writing your blurb and description, deciding on the genre and tags for your work, and creating or commissioning a cover image (if you would like to be included in the premium catalog), you can take your well-edited manuscript saved as a Microsoft Word file and upload it with just a few clicks then their specialty application converts it into several different formats of your choice.

After passing a necessary inspection and being checked for errors in formatting, your work will be available on the site. If your file meets further simple requirements regarding presentation, cover and quality, your ebook will be included in the Premium Catalog which ships out to online distributors like Sony, Apple, Kobo and more if you wish. You can opt in or opt out of any of these choices.

Easy to read graphs and reports can show you how your ebook is selling across the web, and you can receive notification at your personal email address whenever you have a sale on-site. If you have any questions, Smashwords has a great staff who’ll answer as soon as possible. Create your profile, add your website and feeds from other sites like Twitter and WordPress, and Smashwords can be your central location for telling readers more about yourself and your work.

The thing I love most about Smashwords is the upfront and no non-sense, yet professional and friendly approach they have. If they’ve made an oversight or error, they tell us. They regularly post site updates so you can know what’s going and to help you get as much exposure for your work as possible. It is an interaction process that I greatly appreciate because I feel they honestly and personally have my best interests as a writer at heart.

7 Comments

Filed under Writers and Writing

Reviews Upcoming This Week & The Rest of July

Just a quick update on reviews that will be posted this week, and then others throughout the month of July. Also, for those writers who’ve submitted a request within the last days (a week or so), I’ll be sending out responses also within this timeframe.

For those seeking a review, don’t forget to put “review request” within the subject as this automatically filters your email into a special folder, and take a little time to read our guidelines to see if your work will be appropriate for this site. I’ve updated a couple of issues that developed regarding religious based material, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. My comments on the topic can be read on a review post here on the site. If you’ll see, the reason why I don’t accept it isn’t because I don’t necessarily find it of interest.

Reviews coming this week:

KGB In High Heels by Valentina Maltseva

A Kiss Before You Leave Me by James Hulbert

Lakebridge Spring by Natasha Troop

She’s My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff

Tower of Parlen Min by Matt Xell

Raven’s Kiss by Toni Lo Tempio

In the next two weeks:

Vallar by Cindy Bourgne

The Red Gate by Richard Sutton

That Which is Human by Bruce C. Davis

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves by Tara Wooply

Reboot by Carl Rauscher

World Trade Center Writers by John Blandly

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Writers and Writing

Special Deals at the Annual Summer/Winter Sale on Smashwords Through 31 July 2011

Through 31 July 2011, my titles “The Angel of Berlin” and “Katrdeshtr’s Redemption, The Night Cat Book1” will be 50% off their cover price to help celebrate Smashwords annual Summer/Winter Sale. So if you’ve been thinking about buying, here’s a great opportunity to get a special deal!

But even if you’re interested in other works, head on over to Smashwords, as you’ll find literally thousands of books 25%, 50&, 75% off or even FREE to suit your individual tastes, until the end of July. If you’re a Smasher, and hadn’t read the site updates, you too can participate in this promotional offer. Help support the Indie Revolution!

* * * *

Katrdeshtr’s Redemption, The Night Cat Book One. Description: “Ancient, brutal beauty, Katrdeshtr the Night Cat, Russian vampire and incorrigible mischief maker turns to old pleasures to relieve his eternal boredom, yet when his sometimes partner finds a new love, satisfaction takes on new meaning. This change of events can only end in someone’s eternal death and Kat doesn’t intend for it to be him!”

Reviews:

“…these long-lived, almost immortal, vampires have had to come to terms with so much through the centuries and I think this is probably one of the greatest strengths of Red Haircrow’s Katrdeshtr’s Redemption.”Top2Bottom Reviews

“Written in vivid detail and elegant prose, the author has created rich characters with emotional depth, and provided a glimpse into the heart, soul, history, and people of Russia.”Outlaw Reviews

“The best vampire stories always have an element of the exotic to them, but it’s rare that an author is able to saturate the story so thoroughly.”Queer Magazine Online

“Red Haircrow embraces the nature of the vampire, adds in a Russian setting, and then wraps it all up in a narrative that is exotic enough to capture your attention, but which flows so well you never feel interrupted.”Bibrary Bookslut

The Angel of Berlin. Released 23 May 2011…Description: “When Robin, a young university student, saves the life of a beautiful youth, he finds he’s made a devoted friend. But without memory and voice, the newly named Angel is a mystery, occasionally exasperating with his child-like qualities yet with touches of darkness which makes Robin wonder what kind of being he’s really taken in.A speculative fantasy of magical realism and innocent love set in modern Berlin.”

Reviews:

“No matter what he’s writing about, Red has an absolutely gorgeous style to his writing, with a narrative voice that is almost hypnotic.

This is a story that began with a dream, and that dreamlike quality comes through in the story. Red draws us into his dream with beautifully seductive language, painting a picture in our minds that is, at the same time, both vivid and subtle.”Bibrary Bookslut

“There is no doubt Red Haircrow has a gift for descriptive prose; the vivid imagery the author presents through the selection of language sketches a picture for the reader that is rich in feeling and atmosphere. It is, in its way, quite poetic, and in the case of The Angel of Berlin lends to the dream-like quality of this lovely fantasy.”Top2Bottom Reviews

And for a sneak-peak excerpt of my current work in progress, Hazardous Confessions, please visit my GLBT Bookshelf pages, The Journey of Red Haircrow.


Description: Starting a new life wasn’t turning out as easy as he’d hoped even though Andi Schaeffer is returning to his family’s ancestral home in Germany. After a failed affair and very public break-up with his former lover in America, life in the small picturesque town of Bad Alder is just what the former police officer is looking for: quiet anonymity and a place to regain his inner balance and calm.

But like the wide waters of Schartig Lake seen through the rear windows of the stately house, beneath the village’s calm surface lies a secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden. Though he no longer has a badge, with the help of the quietly charismatic local polizist, Gerald Dahlke, Andi sets out to unravel the mystery and motive of murder.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

DBoyz of Dogwood by C.B. Smith

Review: This is the second book I’ve read by author C.B. Smith who seems to focus on young adult novels.

It’s a fast-paced story centered around Kyrie, a skater girl wanting to get in with one of the best teams around, the DBoyz of Dogwood. From mental conversations ranging from sexploration with her skater boyfriend, to whether its possible to “hook up” with an older pro, or finding her “bio-dad”, we are inside Kyrie’s head, with her likes and dislikes, things that gross her out and others she doesn’t understand like her mom Monique’s unique personality and way of being. The whole tale moves up to a climax that touches your heart, as it’s a situation almost anyone can empathize with.

The story has all the skate terms, slangs, euphemisms and references to ring true with those who are “in the know” about such stuff, but there is so much of it seemed like overkill to me. It took attention away from the central plot and character development for me, but it depends on what you looking for out of a book.

Overall, I really liked this book. It’s got great messages for young people, some serious things to think about, and certainly events that would try even an adult’s emotional maturity, plus it’s fun. I’d definitely recommend this book to both teens and adults.

Description: The only thing standing between Kyrie Elias and her skateboarding dreams is one hard-headed skater who seems to take great joy in breaking her stride. But when you go up against a girl who has the desire, the will, and mad skater skills to boot, you ve got a whole world of hurt on urethane wheels ripping for you at full throttle!

Published: August 17th 2010
Publisher: M.H. Dartos
ISBN: 0011071699
ISBN13: 2940011071690
Available at Smashwords
Source: Author

Author Bio:

C.B. Smith is a full time writer. He spends his days chasing words around the page to capture just the right ones for his latest work. Website: http://www.freewebs.com/authorcbsmith/
*
Per the author, 13 July 2011, regarding this title:

D-Boyz of Dogwood has morphed to Krazy Dreamz and was rereleased on 30 June 2011. This title can be found at Smashwords and http://www.freewebs.com/authorcbsmith/    Readers wishing to contact me can do so by emailing: cbsmith3000@yahoo.com

The new cover image…

7 Comments

Filed under Child/YA Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Reviews

Globe Hurler by Robinson Mason

Review: The story of “Globe Hurler” is engaging, and the settings and landscapes are very imaginative and realized as the author presented a strong vision of their world creation, Hadanum. It’s fairly fast moving, action packed and detailed as we follow Balon, a young watchware searching for his exiled father sensing that the self-serving and overbearing judgements of the hierarchs wrongly sent him and others away to their likely deaths.

The hierarchs supposedly guard the tribe of Jana people by regulating all aspects of their lives including marriage and procreation, but they have a secret they are struggling to contain, which if revealed, will tear the fabric of their society apart and end their rule. Balon and his friends are the very ones trying to find out what mystery their leaders are hiding so the people can be free to love, live and survive as they can.

I did have some issues with the characterization, as I always like to find someone I can really believe in and root for. Sometimes I felt that for Balon, but other times his errors and outbursts, like his friends, were so exasperating, I felt they deserved the punishment they received. The characters felt more like some modern day young adults in their aims and occasionally petulant behaviors than survivors who’d grown up on a harsh planet and should have instinctively developed certain skills of survival, both social and environment.

Overall, I thought Globe Hurler was a good sci-fi/fantasy read, as it combines elements of both, though I thought the prologue and epilogue could simply have been included in the main narrative for they were part of the story anyway. It ended in such a way, by giving the reason for the title later in the book and introducing a certain character, suggesting it might have a sequel, which I would be quite interested to read, if so. Quite ambitious in a good way, Globe Hurler is a worthy read.

Description: On the savage planet of Hadanum, the last reengineered remnants of humanity struggle for survival. Thallsen, home to the Jana, is surrounded by massive megas, organisms that cover the land and sea, hosts to smaller, but no less terrible creatures.

The Jana have relied on ancient machines from Dead Earth to protect themselves for generations, but their dependence is about to be tested. In search of his father, Watchware Balon has instead found something that will send the Jana hurtling into a conflict for which they are not prepared. On a journey that takes him far from the security of home, he will discover that his people can and must find the strength within themselves to throw off the shackles of their past, or be wiped out forever.

Published: April 3, 2011

ISBN13: 2940011273872

Source: Author

Available at Smashwords, Amazon Kindle, Sony EReader StoreDiesel,

and in print at Blurb.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Fantasy, Reviews, Science Fiction