Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Why Review?

Helping Authors Get Their Books Out There
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
Getting the word out about books is hard, but it’s even harder when authors don’t have reviews. No matter what it’s for, we always check the reviews in multiple places to make sure we’re getting the right product for us, and when it comes to our entertainment, we’re extra picky. 
Why should I review?
Well...why wouldn’t you review? Everything we purchase or try is based on reviews—and that doesn’t just mean reviews on Amazon. We try foods based on friends “reviewing” and saying they tried something new and really liked it. Looking for a new lawnmower? You look at reviews to see if the price—which I recently found out is way more than anticipated—is going to be worth the amount of time you’re going to keep and use the machine. Do you need a vet? Best find one that is clean and cares about Fluffy just as much as you do.
It goes on and on and on. Reviews are the lifeblood of any business, but for authors, it’s even more important because the amount of reviews—not necessarily the quality—signals to Amazon to start showing it in more places. Awesome, right?
What benefit does it have?
First and foremost, this helps authors get their names out there. The more reviews a book has, not only does Amazon help it out as mentioned above, but the more people are likely to stop to see what the book is about. If you had your choice between a book that has one-hundred reviews as opposed to one that has only three or four, you’re going to gravitate toward the higher reviewed one first consciously or unconsciously. 
This means that no matter how talented an author is, if they don’t have the reviews, they’re going to be passed over. Authors who self publish and authors who work with micro-presses and independent presses aren’t going to be able to compete with the Big-5 publishers that are putting out formulaic work.
A second, and huge, benefit is the more reviews that an author has, the easier it will be for them to get one of the coveted BookBub featured deals on their website and email list. If you haven’t heard of BookBub and you like to read, I would highly encourage you to sign up for their mailing list in genres that you love to read; you can find books at discounted prices or free to read. Any author who gets into one of these slots finds will find their sales drastically improving, and it can even translate into higher sales for a series already out, or an upcoming series because the author has landed a featured spot. 
Much like you see your friends and family say on Facebook and Twitter—and whatever other social media platform you young folk are using these days— “Support small businesses!” Well...authors are small businesses in and of themselves, especially independent ones. Help support them with reviews and buying their books. Sometimes it means the difference between giving up on their dreams or realizing people want to hear what they have to say. 
Can I only review if I have something good to say?
The short answer: No.
All reviews are welcomed, and anyone who requests only good reviews is violating Amazon’s terms of service. No review can be coerced by reward or quality, such as, “If you leave a review on my book, I’ll give it to you for free!” You might feel a small amount of panic at that one, but this is different than ARC (Advance Review Copy) readers because they will get the book whether they leave a review or not, and in no way is anyone to ask for only good reviews. 
Another pitfall that authors—and even publishers—fall into is saying, “If you liked my book, leave a review!” That’s coercion for quality. It’s such an easy thing to fall into, and it feels so natural to ask if you liked something, leave a review.
So all of this is a very long way to say: please support authors and leave a review, good or bad. 

Join us next week as we start a new monthly series about misused writing advice.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Reading for Audiobooks

Let’s look at how you can change your book into an audiobook!
By Renee Frey, COO Authors 4 Authors Publishing
As the sole extrovert (we are a group of writers, what did you think most of us would be?) I often get to do the more “outgoing” things with the publishing company. Things like talking to people, and recording and editing myself reading for audiobooks. 
Audiobooks are here to stay. Audible, Scribd, Overdrive, and other subscription services have made audiobooks accessible and easy. Just think, about twelve years ago you would have had to buy a massive binder of CDs to listen to Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World as an audiobook (I know, I borrowed it from the library). Now you can play it from your phone, then launch it at your work computer without missing a word. 
For our self-published colleagues out there, or for other non-traditionally published authors who retain the rights to produce an audiobook, you have lots of options! But what option is best? How should you proceed?

How Is An Audiobook Made?

As with print or ebooks, audiobooks go through distributors. You’ll see a lot of the same choices you already see for self-publishing: producers like Amazon Creative Exchange (ACX) where you can distribute solely through Amazon, ACX and other companies that partner with you to create the audiobook in exchange for a portion of the royalties, or companies like Findaway Voices and Author’s Republic that are distribution only, but allow you to distribute wide. 
So basically you record the audio, edit and master it, upload it to the distributor, and voila! Audiobook!
Sounds too good to be true? Yes and no. 
This sounds easy, but generating the audio is the hard part. There are tons of blogs out there about what equipment is best, what programs are best, comparing services, and lots of other things. I don’t want to go over that—but I DO want to tell you what I typically use for when we make our audiobooks. 
I also want to highlight the easy and affordable things you can do to make this process easier and more affordable for you. 

Step 1: Recording Audio

Okay, you’ve written your book. Congratulations!
Have you looked at the price of getting professional voice work done? 
I mean, it makes sense. You’re paying for EVERYTHING (they edit and master the audio too). But most self-pubbed or indie authors I’ve met aren’t exactly rolling in money. ACX does have a profit-sharing option. But why lose out on profits if you can do some of the work yourself?
Option 1: Get an amateur to record
If you’re close to a high school with a decent drama department or a college with a decent performing arts program, look into hiring an amateur to do the recording. An experienced actor (even if that experience is amateur experience) will have a lot of fun doing the recording, and won’t be shy about really going out there with their voice. If the thought of hearing your own voice for tens of hours fills you with dread, I highly suggest this option. While you may still need to pay, the cost would be MUCH less than hiring a professional studio. 
Along that note, if you have connections with a professional actor, these guys are almost ALWAYS looking for more work. And with the wonder of the Internet, it’s relatively easy to send them a copy of your book for them to mark up, and for them to send you audio files. 
For both of these, you’ll have to do work at the onset to make sure your project is ready. You’ll need a contract for how much you’ll pay, how many re-records you can request, pronunciation guides (looking at you, fantasy and sci-fi writers with your crazy made-up words) and the timeline for the project.
Word to the wise: Be prepared to give these artists a good length of time to do this. This isn’t their primary job, and life will happen. 
Option 2: Record Yourself
If you have acting or theatrical or voice background and don’t wince when you hear a recording of your voice, take a stab at recording the book on your own! As I already said, there are TONS of blogs about what equipment to get and what programs to use. I’d rather focus on what you may already have or what is FREE, and what you can do to improve the recording. 
First, your phone can record you. If you have a smartphone, you can record an audiobook. However, since that mic isn’t the best, you’ll really need to make your recording space do the work that the mic can’t.
  • Find a small, QUIET space. This may sound weird, but a clothes closet is your best friend for this. The clothes help absorb sound, like echos, and if you can hang a curtain or towel across the door and plug up the crack at the bottom of the door, you can really improve your recording space. Pay attention, and stop if you hear an unexpected noise (dog barking, ambulance, etc). Trust me, it’s MUCH easier to re-record what was interrupted now than to try and remove that sound later. 
  • Be as far away from other electronics as possible. If you are using a laptop and USB mic, don’t bring your phone in. If you’re using your phone, put it on airplane mode. Silence or turn off anything in your house that may make a noise. Yes, that includes Alexa. 
  • TEST TEST TEST! This is probably the hardest part about using a phone. It’s always easier to adjust levels before recording. Adjusting afterward is difficult, and may even require expensive software you don’t have. Check to make sure you sound clear, not too loud or too soft, and that you aren’t popping the mic. If you don’t have professional diction training, BUY A POP FILTER. They cost like $5, and make the difference between acceptable and unusable audio. Once you find a good setting, LEAVE IT. That means if you’re using a phone, leave the phone in a place where you aren’t touching it. 
This seems obvious to me, but aside from preparing your space, prepare yourself. Bring a bottle of water, tissues, anything you may need. Remove jewelry, especially dangling earrings (ask me how I know this…). And most importantly, mark up your script. Use colors, underlines, markings, whatever you need to know when to breathe, when to change voices or inflection or volume, or anything else. 

Step 2: Editing and Mastering Audio

Once you have your recordings, you need to edit them. Most distributors require audio to pass a quality check to distribute your audiobook. That means removing extraneous sounds, including breath and mouth sounds, tightening up pauses, and fixing any issues with the recordings. 
Since our focus is affordability, I’m going to just say it: get Audacity. Audacity is a FREE open-source sound editing program. There are also tons of free ad-ons, and while it isn’t as powerful as paid software, it does what you need for audiobooks. 
When I edit, here is what I typically do:
  • Noise Reduction: So when you record (or instruct your actor to do this when they record), leave about 3 seconds of “dead” space at the beginning of each separate track. Use this portion for your noise reduction. It will filter out the ambient white noise in your recording space. 
  • Remove breaths. In Audacity this is SO easy. Highlight the breath sound, then press ctrl+l to change it to silence. Breath done!
  • Tighten up timing by deleting portions of really long pauses. If you recorded yourself, remove your mistakes, sighs, throat clearings, etc. 
If you have sound editing experience, or really want to learn a lot and take this to the next level, you can add dimension to your “recording room” using offsets, enhance the recorded voice with the equalizer, or other things. These are more advanced mastering techniques, and while they will make your audio sound great, they aren’t absolutely necessary. 
Export your audio as required by your distributor, then upload it!

A Few Final Notes

Audiobooks are one of the fastest-growing segments in the publishing industry. You should get your book out there. To help, a few things to note:
Fewer recording sessions is better. Your voice changes from day to day, and you can hear it! Obviously don’t read yourself hoarse, but doing fewer longer sessions is better. Not always possible, I know, but there it is. 
Consider working together with other authors. Editing your own voice might seem intimidating, but editing someone else’s may not be. It also gets another set of ears on the sound, which like having critiquers and beta readers is a good thing. 

Join us next week when we talk about the importance of reviews.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Interview with Alex Cabal

Alex, thanks for sitting down to interview with us! Let’s dive right in: What inspired you to create Scribophile?

I've always been a big reader and very interested in the writing and publishing industry. I knew I wanted to work in the industry in some capacity, but I wasn't sure how that would happen—especially considering I was a computer guy! Then 2005 or 2006 rolled around, and the web started taking off in the direction of the web as we know it today. They called the web in those days "web 2.0" because all kinds of new technologies were being introduced that changed the way people made and interacted with web sites. Web 2.0 opened up a lot of opportunities for creating rich sites that had functionality nobody had ever seen before. I thought, why not put together a community where writers could meet other writers and exchange feedback, and put it all together in a nice package that took advantage of these new technologies? So I did!
Being users of the site ourselves, we’re very happy that you did. Without the site, we founders of A4A would have never met and we would have never formed. What, in your opinion, is the best thing about the site, or what unique ability does it offer?

The best thing by far is the community we've built. I might be a bit biased but I think the members at Scribophile are the friendliest, most helpful group of people I've seen online. This is something especially difficult to achieve in the context of peer critique, where people are putting their work and their feelings out there in order to improve themselves. There's a lot of opportunity for feelings to potentially get hurt. But despite that, our members write hundreds of thousands of words of critique for each other each day, and everyone comes and goes in the friendly spirit of helping each other succeed. It's really something special.

Our members regularly form long-term friendships, and we've even had a few relationships sprout out of the community too. It's our great community that makes people want to keep coming back.
There definitely is a sense of camaraderie when we’re all working toward the same goal—getting our work to be the best it can be before publishing. Are there any new developments coming for Scrib?

One of my long-term goals is improving groups in general: tweaking the group homepage a little bit, sorting and displaying groups in a clearer way, and improving the tools group leaders have at their disposal. Things like having the ability to have multiple group moderators, that sort of thing. A lot of this will come out bit by bit in the future, it's not something to release all at once.

Another thing on the long-term radar is improving the main homepage, where your various feeds and notifications are. The feeds are overdue for a rethink in how they aggregate and display items, to make them more useful to people. And the homepage itself needs to be organized better for mobile device users.

We’ll be looking out for the updates! Do you have any recommendations for new users?

I always recommend jumping in with a critique right away. Many new members get intimidated because they feel like they don't have the writing chops to give good critiques. But actually it's the other way around—good critiquers don't necessarily need to be good writers, but they do need to be good readers. And almost anyone who's looking at a career of writing is already a pretty good reader by default! So just jump right in—the most basic critique is just telling the author what you, as a reader, think they could have done differently to make the work better. That's all there is to it!
Jump right in—that sounds like good advice for a lot of things in life! I’m sure on the site you get a lot of brand new writers. What advice do you have for them?

I think there are two pieces of advice I would give to new writers. The first is that the best writers are always the most voracious readers. The more good (and bad!) writing you read, the more you start unconsciously picking up what it means to write effective prose. Voluminous reading also goes a long way to improving a writer's vocabulary, and word choice is critical to truly magic prose.

The second is that if you're just starting out, you'll see a lot of discussion about the "rules" of writing. The people on one side of the discussion will tell you that writing is all about rules, while the other side will tell you that it's all about breaking the rules. These two camps are constantly at war. But, I think effective writing lies, like many things in life, somewhere in between those two extremes. As you start your writing career, learning the "rules" is a good way to help shape your prose into something more acceptable than it would have been otherwise. Then, once you've developed a prose style you're comfortable with, you can start breaking those rules in creative and interesting ways. But the key is that it's not possible to break a rule if you never knew the rule in the first place!
That’s really great advice. We want to ask you one last question—well, two—before we let you go: Are you an avid reader? Do you have favorite books or authors? 

Yes, I read quite a lot. One of my other projects is a project called Standard Ebooks, at Our volunteers take books that are out of copyright in the US and produce commercial-quality ebook editions that are distributed for free. Consequently, I've spent a lot of the last few years reading public domain books. So many of them are really incredible. Some of the favorites I've read for the project are David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus, F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons, G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, and Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent.

As far as modern writers go, Dan Simmons' Hyperion books are my favorite sci-fi. I also really like Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series, and I think he's a consistently excellent sci-fi writer outside of that universe too. Nabokov is my favorite fiction writer. I also like Gore Vidal's historical fiction.
That’s a great undertaking, and something we hope gains a lot of traction! Thanks again for sitting down to talk to us! For those who are interested in Scribophile after reading this interview, the site is free to join though you have the option to upgrade to the paid version.  

We’re taking a little break for the holidays, and we’ll see you after the new year when we talk about audiobooks!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Meet Our Newest Member

Meet Heather Hayden
As we grow and expand, so will our number of members. 

A Little About Heather
Fueled by chocolate and moonlight, Heather Hayden seeks to bring magic into the world through her stories. A freelance editor by day, she pours heart and soul into her novels every night, spinning tales of science fiction and fantasy that sing of friendship and hope. She is the president of Rowanwood Publishing, LLC, and the author of a YA science fiction novel, Augment, as well as many short stories. When she isn’t writing (or reading), she can often be found gaming with friends or walking around in search of small critters to catch in magical balls.

Heather’s writing projects

For her Senior Project in college, Heather decided to combine her love for writing, computer science, and genetics. The result was a fast-paced young adult science fiction novella. Here’s the blurb:
By Government-enforced mandate, genetic augmentation and implant technology cannot coexist in the same human body. Sixteen year old Viki's life has depended on her implants since she was five.
Now her implants are failing.
When Viki discovers that the malfunctions are due to illegal augmentation, she is determined to find those responsible. However, Agent Smith of the Search and Retrieval Bureau is also looking for the geneticists who augmented Viki, and his orders are to capture them by any means necessary--even if it requires risking Viki's life by using her as bait.
Viki's friend Halle, a rogue AI, is doing its best to help her search, but Halle has its own problems. Agent Smith had been closing in on the AI before being reassigned to Viki's case, and Smith's partner is still on the hunt. Searching for the geneticists risks exposing Halle, but Viki and her friend must find them first--they are her only chance for survival.
The process of writing and publishing Augment is what led Heather to start Rowanwood Publishing, LLC. More on that in a bit!
The long-awaited sequel to Augment, Upgrade will be releasing in early 2020. In this novella, Viki and Halle will face new threats when they are contacted by another rogue AI.
Upgrade gave Heather a lot of trouble during the editing process. In part, this may have been due to her starting it during National Novel Writing Month, but she also believes she just wasn’t quite ready to tell the story as it needed to be told. Revision round after revision round, she struggled to figure out why the story wasn’t quite clicking into place.
Then, a flash of inspiration struck—and she realized exactly what needed to be done. Another round of in-depth editing was required, but the results were a success, with her beta readers applauding the changes and asking when it would be published.
The story is now in the final stages of editing, and she can’t wait to finally share it with the world.
Moonlit Fairy Tales
Although every fairy tale retelling within this short story series can be read on its own, the tales are set in the same world and often feature a cameo—or larger part—played by a recurring character. Currently, there are five tales in this series, but more are always on their way!
Each story features a beautiful illustration by the talented artist Heidi Hayden. They can be found in their respective anthologies, available in paperback or ebook, on Amazon. They are also being released as standalone ebooks, and eventually, Heather plans to publish an omnibus edition as well.
"Beneath His Skin" (selkie myth) – When a young selkie befriends a human girl, a single mistake will cost him his freedom. Will he ever see her—or the ocean—again? Available on Amazon in the illustrated anthology From the Stories of Old and on its own.
"Solstice Flames" (mash-up of A Christmas Carol and The Little Match Girl) - Ben has no patience for the frivolousness of Solstice celebrations or the impudence of poor matchsellers. But when a mysterious visitor appears in his workroom, the miserly mage must face the truth of his life—or risk losing everything. Available on Amazon in the illustrated anthology Of Legend and Lore and on its own.
"Monsieur Puss" (Puss in Boots) – Pip has always had a knack for storytelling—and daydreaming. When his family sends him off with only his ginger cat for company, Pip would be more than happy to drift around the world, seeing new places and learning new tales. However, his cat has other plans… Available on Amazon in the illustrated anthology A Bit of Magic and on its own.
"The Frog Prince" (continuation of the fairy tale) – A young frog named Gil sets out to find his father, who abandoned their family years ago. Although Gil believes he is prepared to confront his father for leaving them behind, he is not ready for the truth that awaits within the castle walls. Available on Amazon in the illustrated anthology Fractured Ever After and on its own.
"The Phoenix Feather" – In this original tale, a young ribbon dancer named Eveline uses a magical feather to seek out the powerful phoenix. She needs her own magic to right a terrible wrong, but first she must prove she is worthy. Available on Amazon in the anthology The Magic Within. Although its anthology was not illustrated, “The Phoenix Feather” will be released in an illustrated ebook format sometime in 2019.
"The Tale of the Phoenix" – An original myth of how the phoenix came to be. Will be published in the Just-Us League’s ninth anthology in April 2019!
Other Works
Heather has also had several other short stories published in the Just-Us League anthology series. More information can be found on her website.

What made her start Rowanwood Publishing, LLC

As Heather was putting together her Senior Project plans in college, she realized that it would be impossible to publish Augment in a reasonable time frame if she pursued traditional publishing. She also knew she would have little to no say in the publishing process itself. For this reason, she started researching self-publishing.
When she brought up the idea with her sister Heidi, they soon realized that it would be a relatively simple matter to start their own micropublishing company. Through this, they could share the products of their imaginations with the world while maintaining complete control over the process through which their stories are released.
A bit of paperwork (by Heather) and some lovely logo design work (by Heidi) later, Rowanwood Publishing was born. It now boasts a lovely range of publications from Heather’s own science fiction novel to a variety of anthologies released by their writers’ group, the Just-Us League. More stories are always underway.
For those unfamiliar with the term, micropublishing is a variety of indie publishing that uses POD and e-book services to distribute books. Because Rowanwood Publishing doesn’t own and run a printing press, they save a lot of upfront costs—and also a lot of trees, because no more paperbacks will be printed than will be sold.

What made her join Authors 4 Authors Publishing

As a member of the Just-Us League, a private writers’ group that the founding members of Authors 4 Authors also belong to, Heather had the privilege to watch A4A develop from an idea to a full-fledged company. She has cheered them on since the beginning and offered advice whenever possible, though she is still learning the ropes of publishing, too.

When A4A approached her about becoming a member, Heather was delighted to accept. She will be serving in the capacity of an editor and is already diving into her first project with them. Like the others at A4A, she hopes to help make the world a better place, one fantastic story at a time.

Join us next week for an interview with Alex Cabal, founder of Scribophile.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Author Interview: B. B. Morgan

B. B., thanks for sitting down with us today. Let’s dive right in, shall we? What inspired you to write Hard as Stone?

I’ve always had a soft spot for steampunk, but it wasn’t until I read Andrea Cremer’s The Inventor’s Secret trilogy that the idea for Hard as Stone really took root. I loved the world she built, with crazy-impossible machines and steam tech, and falling in love with that world and those characters gave me the final dose of inspiration to turn the “steampunk story” amalgamation of notes into a real story. 
Isn’t funny how one thing can just change things completely? Are there any themes in your story? 

There’s definitely the theme of flight, but not of airships—of the spirit. I know that sounds super cheesy. Raven, my main character, leaves home for the first time. Her flight opens her eyes to the world that she’s only heard about and daydreamed about. She learns that there are a lot of different people out there, not all of which have good intentions. 
I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. Can you tell me who your favorite character is?

This is a tough question. I love Raven—she’s a sheltered dreamer who doesn’t think she’s as smart as she is. She shares my love of adventure and pirates and the beach. I also have a soft spot for Ivy because she’s spunky and clever. 
Hmm...I’ve got a hard time picking my favorite too. So, how did you craft your world? 

I crafted the majority of the world and characters as I wrote the first draft (I had an abnormal streak of inspiration and creativity). I knew kind of where the story was going, so I had a lot of room to play with characters and places and magic. After that first draft, I started the good old notebook system where I write down everything I made up—names, places, rules, legends, etc. 
It’s always nice when things work out like that. Is this your first time writing Steampunk?

Yes, and it won’t be the last! I loved the dynamics of a world with over-the-top tech. It reminds me of Final Fantasy. I have very fond memories of Final Fantasy X and X2. 
That’s good to hear! How did you decide on a setting? Is it based off of anywhere you’ve been in real life?

Rhynweir is reminiscent of southern Illinois, namely the Shawnee National Forest - there’s a lot of trees, rocky cliffs, coves, and streams. Raven’s home of Silver Glen isn’t unlike my home town. It’s small, everyone knows everyone, and most are traditional in their way of thinking. 
It’s always nice when you can throw in those extra touches easily. Let’s switch gears—see what I did there? I’ll show myself out—a little. Who are your favorite authors? 

I’ll read anything by Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, or V. E. Schwab. Each has written a book that has kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. I’m also a big fan of Stephanie Garber. I loved Caraval!

We’ll add them to our reading list. Finally, before we take up too much of your time: What can we expect next from you?
Book two in my Stars and Bones series is dropping this spring, and then there are the next two books in the Hard as Stone trilogy. And, of course, there is the Aladdin retelling that I keep talking about that’s still sitting on my computer.  

Thanks again, B. B., for joining us. You can find her newest novel, Hard as Stone, here. Don't forget to join us for her launch party on December 7th!

By B. B. Morgan

Seventeen-year-old Raven Thane wants an adventure...and she’s going to get one. Just not the way that she expected. Bored and disinterested with a routine life in her remote underground community, she fails to notice a thief during her turn at guard duty. Zander, a charming sharpshooter, tasks her with helping him retrieve the mysterious stolen item. Posing as a couple on the road, they’ll face deadly automatons and Gray Elite soldiers, entangle themselves in a complicated world of spies and freedom fighters, and hide secrets of their own. Can Raven fix her mistake and prove herself more than a simple country girl? Or will she create even more chaos?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Year in Review

Our First Year as Publishers
Rebecca Mikkelson, CBD Authors 4 Authors Publishing
We’ve officially been publishing books for a full year now, our first book coming out in November 2018. We’ve learned a lot about publishing, a lot about books, and a lot about ourselves and we want to share that with you. 

Books, Books, and More Books!

First and foremost, we want to talk about our wonderful authors and their books. As a micropress, we only publish ten books a year, so we choose our books very carefully. 
What will it take, might you ask?’ve got to keep our attention for one. We read books all. the. time. So if you’ve kept us wanting more until the end—and even more after it’s over—then fair chances are, we’re going to ask to contract your book with our company. 
Our Authors
We’re not just saying this because they’re our authors, but our authors are the best. Especially the ones when we were just getting on our feet—they took a chance on a brand new publisher and learned right along with us how things happened. They all have a heart for books, and we feel like we’ve found kindred spirits in all of them. 
We want to brag a little on the very first author who took a chance on us: C. Bradley Owens.
C. Bradley Owens was born in the small coal mining town of Grundy, Virginia. After a stint in the suburbs of Chicago, C. Bradley’s family settled near the even smaller coal mining town of Haysi, Virginia, where he spent most of his childhood in the woods on the side of a mountain in the heart of the coalfields of Appalachia, dreaming of a larger, more complex world.
Through reading, he found a more complex world, and as an adult, he seeks to create such a world through his fiction. He writes for all of those children sitting alone in their rooms, whether in the woods or in the city, hoping, longing, wishing for just a glimpse of another world, another possibility.
He writes for the outsider in all of us, for the kids that desperately want to fit in but consistently find that they cannot for whatever reason, and he writes to let everyone know that, no matter what age or condition of birth, they are not alone on that mountainside or in that forest or in that apartment building or in that house in the suburbs.
Our Books
We specialize in escapist fiction, and our stories range from shorts to epics. At the moment, we have eight short stories—soon to be nine—and twelve novels published. And that’s just the start. We’ve been lucky enough to have our 2020 and 2021 calendar fill up quickly, and we’re working on our 2022 calendar as we speak. 
But before we take too long puffing ourselves up, we want to go back to Owens and talk a little about his book, The First Story:
Matt lives to write stories. And those stories might be the only thing keeping his best friend alive after school bullies brutally attack him for being gay. At the side of John’s hospital bed, Matt weaves together tales in the hopes of waking him from his coma before it’s too late...
Storytelling itself comes to life in the world of Creativity. When unexpected changes cause chaos there, personified character archetypes known as Aspects must find the source before everything they know is lost. They suspect that someone has stolen the most powerful thing in all of Creativity: the First Story. But who is powerful enough to wield it?
Follow the Aspects as they journey through an ever-changing series of folktales, ghost-stories, tragedies, comedies, classic fantasy, and modern science fiction to piece the clues together. If the Aspects cannot trust in reality—or even their own memories—can they work together to find the thief and restore their world?

What we’ve learned about publishing

Guys. Publishing is hard. We’ll be straight with you—it’s very hard and all time-consuming. There isn’t a single day where we don’t think about what more we can be doing for our authors and how can we be better for them, but there are only twenty-four hours in a day. 
We know the query process is hard for authors—we’re authors ourselves, and it’s nerve-racking waiting to see if an agent or a publisher will accept or reject your manuscript. But what you might not know is that it’s hard on the agents and the publishers too. There are a couple of reasons, one of which you might not expect: the abuse from authors who get rejected. You can get yelled at in emails saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, and don’t you know their work has been lauded elsewhere? You can be called anything from stupid to unprofessional and cruel and be blasted on social media for sympathy likes when you tell authors what you found in their work you thought was an issue. On the other side of that coin, there are authors who will genuinely thank you for taking the time to even bother critiquing their work.
The second, and even harder part, is having to reject books that are good. As a micro-press, we have very limited space for what we can publish per year, and that means sometimes having to reject books that are good. 
Editing and Proofreading
This takes a lot longer than you might think. The whole publishing process takes a lot longer than you might think, honestly. To get a thorough job done, you’ll need at least two passes in both editing and proofreading by your respective editors, and even then, you’ll still need a continuity reader because after reading a book so many times, the editors can become blind to some of the issues. 
Getting Reviews
You would think that this is an easy thing to get; our authors are amazing, and they write good quality work. Getting reviews should be a breeze, right? Wrong. It takes a lot of work, getting reviews, finding good ARC readers, and getting enough to trigger those good ol’ Amazon algorithms to get your book viewed more. 

What we’ve learned about ourselves

Starting and running this company has been a life-changing experience for all of us. I, personally, have learned a lot more compassion...and tact. Tact was the hardest and most useful thing for me to learn. But we’ve learned to appreciate the art we’ve dedicated our time and money to, even with all the unexpected roadblocks. 
No matter how long the hours get, and sometimes overwhelm us, we would never quit, because we get to help our authors achieve their dreams, and it’s such an honor and privilege to do it. 

We’ll be taking a break from next week’s blog post for Thanksgiving, but join us in two weeks for an interview with A4A author, B. B. Morgan, on her upcoming book Hard as Stone

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