Book Plug Friday: The Cutting Edge

Welcome to the Wild West -- keep your keyboard loaded!

Welcome to the Wild West — keep your keyboard loaded!

This is Sarah speaking – since this has been an odd and over-full week for both Charlie and me we agreed I’d do the introduction, and he’ll do the links. [Which is actually usually the way we do it. –C]

For me, I caught some sort of flu – though it seems not to be flu-flu, or else I have a very mild case, as I’m getting better after a few days – which for three or four days made me very tired, but not tired enough not to work – if that makes sense. Instead, I was just tired enough that I couldn’t write new stuff.  (That part lasted almost a week, and I thought I’d just hit one of the patches of weird block, where I don’t have the strength to write the words even though I know what happens almost word per word.)

So I thought this was a good time to catch up with my publishing. I’m giving Draft2Digital a try.  They’re a reseller who will put the book in Apple and Kobo, who are problems for different reasons: Apple because it requires you to have a Mac (and I don’t. Um… wonder if I could borrow Charlie’s and come up once a month to upload stuff) [Of course.] and Kobo because their interface is a right pain.  Yes, I’ve heard about Draft2Digitals possible payment issues, and other horror stories, so I’m trying them, but keeping a close eye.

In the same way, I had a few books to upload to Smashwords, who were the original of these “reseller” ebusinesses.

Smashwords was the very first platform into which indie publishers could upload.  As such, it started by educating a lot of people – and let’s face it, most writers are the least technical people on the planet – about how to put together an ebook.

This meant that their “how to” was a comprehensive manual about how to put an ebook together, including how many spaces you could have clumped together, and exactly how things should look.

Part of the reason for this was that – to make it easy for those non-technical writers – smashwords had a piece of software called “the meat grinder” which took your doc file and turned it into all the sorts of ebooks on the market.

The end result was fraught with errors and often baffling (half of one of my books because small caps for reasons known only to the gods of software) but it allowed people who were otherwise incapable of figuring their way into ebook format to put books up.  And Smashwords placed it on all those other platforms too.  It was push-button. And they added other platforms every day.

Times have changed. Times have changed a lot.  Nowadays, needless to say, the big player is Amazon, with everyone else trailing.  I hear All Romance does well for Romance, and I must say that Barnes and Noble is not bad for mystery (though it is for everything else.)  Places like Amazon and Draft2Digital accumulate complaints and allegations they don’t pay properly and on time.  Partly this is because it’s not very easy.  My husband has written software to extract the numbers and correlate them and does the books for a couple of small publishers, but things change so fast, that every time he does it he has some puzzle in the numbers he encounters, which takes hours to resolve.  And frankly, given the complexity, we don’t know if anyone else has that type of precise accounting software.

Part of it is that things change so fast.  It’s the wild west.  It’s the unknown frontier.  So I’m trying Draft2Digital, and I still go through Smashwords for the more obscure ebook platforms: Sony and such.

But I only put stuff up there LONG after it’s gone up on Amazon and the others.  And I often do it when I’m tired/burned out for anything else.

Which is how I found myself yelling at the screen when they said I’d made some mistake in my format, and quoted their manual at me.  Even if I had read their manual, I wouldn’t have memorized it.

But I came to indie “late” and there were Amazon and Barnes and Noble, practically push button.  The idea of having to read a manual seemed absurd.

And yet, Smashwords is stuck in the far distant past, three or four years ago, and doesn’t realize its elaborate manuals and its careful rules are things of the past.  They were the cutting edge.  Now they’re not.  But they’re not aware of it.

If indie publishing is the wild west, Smashwords is the old, fastest gun slinger, who doesn’t realize the danger in the new kid in town.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be relevant again tomorrow.  All it would take is a change in interface and better up-to-the-minute accounting software.  And it would happen.

The advantage of wild frontiers is that you can always reinvent yourself. Right now people are mining indie as writers, as editors, as artists, as publishers – and nothing is written in stone.  Amazon is making all the right moves, but it could find itself dethroned tomorrow by some new kid in town with a brilliant idea and the right attitude.

Life on the cutting edge is tough – the edge cuts, and having cut moves on.  But it’s also a land of endless possibilities, exciting and fraught with danger.

And for you (and us, who also read) the endless possibilities include discovering new writers – which Charlie and I hope to foster with the books below. Download a sample that sounds likely and give it a try.  You never know.  You might like this wild west of ours.

(Email [email protected] for submission guidelines, which don’t include a multipage contract in the middle of a chapter, but which also don’t include a fully-furnished dungeon in a penthouse apartment.)


The Musketeer’s Apprentice
By Sarah D’Almeida (Sarah A. Hoyt)

When Porthos finds his pupil dead of poisoning, the four friends — Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan start investigating. Little do they know what the investigation will discover, and the past secrets that will reach out to shake Porthos.


Altering Course
By George Eliseo

Carmine LaRosa medically retired from the San Diego Police Department almost a year ago. So far, he hasn’t found anything to replace the thrill of police work until an old friend offers him a next to impossible job: find a local businessman that went missing after he sailed from the San Diego Yacht Club bound for Cabo San Lucas a week ago. Carmine takes the case but for reasons other than money, reasons he can’t tell anyone about.

During his investigation, Carmine discovers that a beautiful blonde bartender went missing in Las Vegas around the same time. A mysterious Russian lawyer with ties to the Las Vegas underworld hires him to find her. As both cases progress, a lot of people are suddenly very interested in the missing boat and the missing bartender.

The case takes Carmine from his dilapidated fixer-upper of a house in Pacific Beach to Cabo and Vegas then back, tracking down the boat, the businessman and the girl. As he gets closer to the solution, it’s obvious someone doesn’t want him to succeed, and will use deadly force to stop him.


Cobalt Agonistes
By Frederick Key

Cobalt is a retired superhero—retired after the rest of his team was wiped out in an apocalyptic battle against their greatest enemy. Now someone is trying to kill him. But he knows that all his enemies are dead… or are they?

Cobalt also is the creation of Gary Vykk, whose amateur comic books kept him sane in school. But nothing can help him now, it seems, with his best friend marrying his ex-girlfriend and his father dying of cancer.

Both men are racing toward destruction, faster than a speeding bullet. Can our heroes be saved?


By Frederick Key

Rex MacFinster has gotten a windfall — the father of his foster mother has left him a mansion. MacFinster takes a loan and quits his job to dedicate himself to his life’s unfinished business, from appearing in a play to dating his high school sweetheart. But a nephew of the deceased millionaire wants that mansion, and will stop at nothing to get it.

George Darmowycz explains how being MacFinster’s best friend can lead to all kinds of things — a part in a musical about whaling, an attack by vicious watchpugs, a dash through the woods in someone else’s bedroom slippers, and a death-defying race in the Rolling Coffin of Doom.

Hilarious and fast-paced, MacFinster is the great suburban adventure of our times.


31 Days of Marketing
By JP Jones

If you’ve avoided the prospect of marketing your product in the past, fear no more! In her book, 31 Days of Marketing, JP Jones unmasks thirty one different aspects of marketing that can be applied immediately — one day at a time. From press releases to public speaking you’ll glean the ‘how-tos’ you need without wading through a lot of confusing buzz words and trendy speech. For each marketing tactic, Jones shares practical advice and information in bite-size pieces for you to incorporate into your advertising strategies.

Pulling on her experiences and over 10 years in the ever-changing marketing landscape, JP shares openly about what works and what flops when it comes to successful promotion. Each chapter contains highlighted objectives and frequently asked questions to make the book an easy reference guide and great addition to your business library.