Meet J.A. Stinger!

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Jennifer Stinger is the author of the Generations series:  Generations Beyond and Generations Unbound. Both titles are nail biting stories about the unimaginable.  If you like science fiction and fantasy based books, then you definitely should dive into this series.  Read more about her life and books below.

 

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for many years. Early on, I would practice my characters and character development on an online forum. This is actually how I met my now husband and co-author.

What is your most recent literary/artistic project? 
We published the second novel in our series about a month ago. However, I plan and plot our books out so we have the next four projects already in the works. Two of them are for another series that runs in tandem with the Project: Generations series. It has the backstories of some of the characters so readers will have a better understanding of how they came to be the way they are.

What inspires you to write? 
The most honest answer I can give is life. Life and the little things around me will sometimes spark an idea that I take with me and run away with it. I’m a people watcher and I will use those interactions as the inspiration for scenes.

Who’s your favorite author and why? 
I would have to say that my favorite would be Diana Gabaldon. I started reading her novels when I was in high school and the books were passed between myself, my mother, and my aunt. I remember being so excited when the next book in her Outlander series would come out. I’m more than excited that it was made into a TV series as well. However, she’s responsible for my unrealistic expectations for men.

What advice can you give to other authors or writers? 
Be patient. Don’t rush to get your book out. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is putting an unpolished work in the hands of readers. First impressions mean so much and your name, your picture, is your brand. People remember.
Where can readers go to find out more information about your work? 
I do my best to keep my website up-to-date. It can be found at http://www.jastinger.com. I am always open to being contacted on Social Media as well. My information is also on that site.

Read more about the Generations series below.

 Project Generation

Generations Beyond
Hidden, buried deep within the government’s archived files of failed military experiments lays a troubling secret. For years, 1953 to 1972 to be exact, a team of doctors and scientists tried unsuccessfully to alter test subjects, hoping to build living, organic weapons for the future.

Now, years later, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original test pool are different, superior, and dangerous. Project Generations was spawned, a systematic collecting, or scrubbing, of an experiment gone awry. The Generations are hunted, collected, and eliminated before someone discovers the key to controlling them…or perhaps someone already has.

Generations Unbound
LA. Montana. Virginia. Colorado. Jonathan Cross must find a new home for himself and his new charge, Gabriela DeLuna, after the tragic events that shattered his world. The decorated Special Forces Army Captain must learn a new skill set, how to blend in with his new cover as an older brother to Gabriela and keep her safe after an attempt was made for her. Who is after her and why? Do they know where they are?

 

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Is Self-Publishing Profitable?

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Admittedly I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to self publishing success stories. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that self published authors have what it takes to reach phenomenal success in the field of publishing.  My skepticism is mainly directed towards mass media reporting of that success.  Think about it.  Traditional publishing houses have dominated this industry for centuries.  These power companies have forged impenetrable  relationships with media outlets, distributors, libraries, and publishing clearinghouse.  To think that their influence in mass media is silent would be naive.  Now maybe I’m a bit of a conspiracist, but it would not be to the benefit of top publishers to tout the success of the underdog (a.k.a self published author).
I believe our success is always underrepresented.  According to an article written in Nougats Blog, only 40 self published authors make money.  Purportedly this is based on information directly from #Amazon.  Now if this information is true, then  Amazon has  provided a  valuation of  self published authors that is rather bleak.  Fact is, according to their February 2016 Author’s Earning Report – self published authors account for a big chunk of ebook sales, even surpassing top publishing companies.  The book selling giant also reports:
  • 4 of Amazon’s overall Top 10 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 10 of Amazon’s overall Top 20 Best Selling ebooks were self-published indie titles
  • 56 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks — more than half — were self-published indie titles
  • 20 of Amazon’s overall Top 100 Best Selling ebooks were indie titles priced between $2.99 and$5.99
Those numbers are pretty impressive if you ask me.  Now I get that these sales may not be indicative of whose actually turning a profit; however, the accuracy of that information will always be skewed in favor of the big publishing houses. The presumption is that if a self published author hasn’t become successful by scales, then he/she probably isn’t turning a real profit. Yet for many indie authors, any amount of success is profitable and worth the journey.
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Musings of an Indie Author

I haven’t written poetry in awhile, so imagine my surprise when my thoughts collided with a pen

and gave birth to a verse that was unrehearsed and  went something like this…..

 

“I digest this quest for life, as it burns a hole in my soul

leaving me whole – not in pieces – or in search of rhyme or reasons

for no longer am I a child of darkness but a child of seasons

destined for greatness, destined to become ONE with the one who made me

then shaped me out of  mud and clay.  Yes, I was formed out of dirt but defined

by precious jewels tucked deep within the Earth; so I’ve learned how to lean in to it and

not run away from this type of birth.

Written by Andrea Jamison

Meet Author Dennis Calloway!

Return to Earth by Dennis Calloway
Return to Earth by Dennis Calloway

Return to Earth is groundbreaking science fiction thriller, written by Dennis Calloway.  Amid rave reviews, this book has been gaining a lot of attention on the indie book scene.  Be sure to read his interview below and purchase a copy of his book!

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing for roughly 12 years, but not consistently. Since I have a “day job”, I can only write when I have the time, which is mostly on the weekends. Even though I’m not able to write consistently, I find that I regularly “catalog” many potential stories that come to me during long airplane trips or long drives.

What is your most recent literary/artistic project?

Return To Earth is my first novel and it was published just a few short months ago on February 4th.  Now that RTE is out there, my focus has been on executing my marketing plan to bolster its success. Originally, my plan was to continue supporting RTE and strengthen the outline of my next book (a potential zombie apocalypse story), but because of the overwhelming positive feedback I’ve received from my readers regarding a sequel, I’ve shelved the zombie story in favor of a sequel to Return To Earth.

What inspires you to write?

I like to think that I have an active imagination. I see potential stories everywhere I go — science fiction, horror, high drama, alien invasions, time-travel, man-eating plants and so on. Most of these types of stories have either already been written or turned into movies; but occasionally, I can see a unique twist in one or two of them. If I envision a storyline that gets me excited and has all the ingredients of a great story, then I feel compelled to write it and driven to share it. It is these types of stories that inspire me to write.

Who’s your favorite author and why?

I remember the first time I read a Stephen King novel many years ago and I was utterly amazed at how well he crafted his world and his characters. The impressions I got, as I read more and more of his works, were of walking into a huge, dark building, old with age. The building is surrounded by a tall, rusty gate that locks behind you. If you decide to walk into the building, you don’t get released until Mr. King allows it at the end of his stories! The people you meet in this building, his characters, are so well-developed, that you either love them or hate them (or you hate the fact that you love them!). And many of his stories are connected or revolve around the same world, or town in his case (Derry, Maine). I thoroughly enjoy Mr. King’s writing style and character development and have tried to create a style that has the same level of intensity that he creates.

What advice can you give to other authors or writers?

Although writing is not my “day job”, I thoroughly enjoy it! It allows me to create a world that exists within the boundaries that I design. I enjoy getting to know my characters and what makes them tick. I even have a measure of guilt when I have to cause something negative to happen to one of my characters, good or bad. But making that journey with them, whether it’s the hero’s rise from darkness and despair or the villain’s fall from power, is very cathartic and produces a unique bond between the writer and the characters. I say all this because I’m trying to point out that you must write about something that you enjoy. If you don’t like the storyline, then it will be extremely difficult to maintain your focus and create a realistic world with real and relatable characters.

 Where can readers go to find out more information about your work?

 My website is www.dennis-calloway.com and from here, readers can check out my Return To Earth Facebook page, blog or connect with me via Twitter.

Are you a self published author? Would you like to have your book featured? If so, send me an email: info@s-iai.org OR send a direct message to @AchitownJ via Twitter.

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How to Market Your Self Published Books to Libraries!

If you are a self published author, your goal is to sell your work and  inevitably, see a return on your investment.  In order to do this, you must (wait for it…) market, market, market your product.   In an earlier post, I recommended that you mimic the big fish in order to be successful.  Well, how do big fish gain recognition and earn sales? They place their products everywhere?

Libraries are definitely good places to help you gain momentum as a self publishing superstar. As a professional librarian, I have had experience working in school, public, and academic libraries.  In the aforementioned role(s), I have had the tedious responsibility of maintaining library collections.  Although I love my career, maintaining a collection is a very cumbersome process.  For one, librarians are inundated by sales reps.  We have to select books that are appropriate for our respective libraries and that  requires a lot of reading.  We also have to balance our budgets.  We have to stay current on popular titles/trends.  And in order for libraries to stay relevant, we have to strategically plan innovative services to offer patrons with interesting/popular resources.    Due to all of the hidden intricacies attached to librarianship, libraries seize opportunities to stay current on good literature.  So if you have a good title, make it known to your local library. It is a good launching pad for helping you gain a presence in your community.  Libraries can help you showcase your work,  gain exposure, and potentially distribute books among a large population of readers.  If you’re lucky, all of this could translate into more sales.  I’ll explain the “if you’re lucky part” in another post.

Here are my tips to help you improve your chances of getting your title into a library. Keep in mind, that libraries differ from location to location so this advice is not a “catchall” solution.

School Libraries

School libraries can be rather challenging, depending on the school district you are targeting.  All districts have different policies. So you must first find out the school district’s policy on book ordering/purchasing through the district’s main office.  This is especially important if you are marketing to a large school district with many schools.  Such districts may require vendor approval before any purchases can be made by their schools.  If this is the case, you will need to try to obtain a vendor’s license via their process.  In my experience, districts that require vendor approval generally tend to control their purchases and prefer established distributors with whom they create accounts with.  Approval may be difficult for the lone author who is soliciting his/her work.  However, don’t dismay!  If you are able to get approval to sell your titles, you will still need to market your book to the individual schools in much the same fashion as the big vendors.  If you are not so lucky, you may want to employ a few of the following tricks:

Donate Your Book

Donating a book is a great way to get your product in the door.   Although you may not be able to garner sales directly from the library, it is a great way to make potential readers aware of your work.  This could later translate into sales elsewhere.  In order to donate your book, you would need to find out  the name of the librarian for a particular school or library.  You can accomplish this by simply calling or visiting their website. Once you identify the  librarian, plan to establish a relationship with that librarian and/or library.  Contrary to popular beliefs, libraries want to build relationships with organizations and people within their communities.  We are really nice people!

Introduce yourself to the librarian first via a short email or phone call.  Brevity here is important as librarians receive tons of solicitations.  Let the librarian know that you are an author and that you have a book that you would love to donate.  If you are interested in doing a presentation, you may want to mention it during your initial contact.  Often libraries like to host programs and having an author appear for a book talk is a good way to engage the community.   Next, ask the librarian if you could send them some information about your book or if you could schedule a time to visit them.  Some librarians may not agree to an in person visit.  If this is the case, ensure that you send them information that will get their attention!

Package Your Materials Well!

If you have been given an invite to submit your materials to the librarian, use it as your one and only opportunity to make a great impression.  Submit your book along with any information about the book that might be helpful to the librarian.  Librarians will decide whether or not to shelve your book based on its quality and usefulness.  Therefore, you may want to include a brief statement synopsis of the book and how it could be beneficial to the readers that the library serve.  If you have a children’s book, briefly discuss the skills young readers will learn.  If you have a non fiction title, discuss the importance of the information provided in your book.  Tell why it would be beneficial to the community or population served by the library.

Include Marketing Materials

I began this post by emphasizing the importance of  marketing your title.  It’s only appropriate that I expand on this element.  If your book is selected to become one of the titles added to the library’s catalog, you don’t want it to just become title number 65 out of 165,000 books.  No, you want that title to get noticed.  As a librarian, I love the opportunity to decorate the library with color and/or eye catching materials that will invite patrons to “read”.  If you send a collection of bookmarks to me, I am going to distribute them.  If you send other promotional items as well, I am likely to give it space in the library as long as it fits the purpose of library.  For instance, I am not keen on posting posters throughout the library advertising a personal business or sale of something.  However, if it is a promotional resource highlighting a book or novel- I will probably post it.  And, I don’t care if a website or business logo is inconspicuously embedded on the promotional item.  Functionality for the library is the only thing that matters.   Character “stand ups” are great promo items to give to the library. Places like  Party Stand Ups will allow you design your own life-sized cutouts.  You could also try a site like iPrint to customize your own bookmarks.  Although I can’t guarantee that a library will post or distribute your items, but it’s very likely especially if your work is tastefully done.

You may also want to consider sending a poster of the book along with the title.  Even if you donate the actual book, send promo materials any way.  Libraries like to decorate their spaces with colorful and interesting items  that may appeal to their readers.  Make sure your poster is inviting enough to make someone want to seek out your book.  If you are lucky, your book may have a moment to shine!

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Meet Joe Williams – Nelson

LCTA

“Lights, Camera, Take Action:  52 weeks to a better life, one movie at a time” is Joe Williams Nelson’s debut book.  This title is a self help book designed to help readers achieve their “best life now”.  The author is a premiere life coach and mogul who has dedicated her life to helping others achieve success in life.  Her book is a unique combination of good cinema review and excellent advice to help readers “direct” their best life yet.  This title is available on Amazon.  To purchase your copy of this book, click here.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing creatively since meeting my best friend in elementary school. Academics were not valued in my family. So it goes without saying that my exposure to language arts was limited to school. When I went to the library, I checked out cookbooks. After meeting Andrea Jamison, I learned that writing as an art form was a thing, and I was good at it. I’d memorized poems and passages for school, but I wrote my first poem when I was 13 and have never stopped. So the official answer is 30 years now.

What is your most recent literary/artistic project?

I am presently collecting the movies, action steps, and life lessons for the sequel to my book, Lights, Camera, Take Action. In it I teach my readers how to take their life from good to great, one movie at a time. That’s my thing, movie coaching. I fell in love with movies those first twelve years of my life and now I get to combine everything I love and am passionate about into written word for the masses. In order for my words to ring true for my readers they have to be truly integrated by me. So I literally and figuratively put blood, sweat, and/or tears into every lesson and therefore page. Now that is art.

What inspires you to write?

Sanity

Who’s your favorite author and why?

I have two. John Steinbeck makes me a better black woman. That may sound strange, but I am not black enough to identify with the struggles of the women of Morrison, Angelou, and Walker’s novels though I enjoyed reading them. When I read East of Eden for The Oprah’s Book Club, I was finally able to identify with a universal struggle that exists for us humans here on earth. Universal struggle is a big part of the work I do as a Spiritual Life Coach and now writer.

Erma Bombeck is my second favorite author. She has made me a better wife and mother through her humorous works. When I discovered her books, I was a woman struggling to get a handle on the huge responsibility that is motherhood. She helped me to know that things that were stressing me in the moment would be hilarious later. She helped me make it to later.

What advice can you give to other authors or writers?

The best advice I have is the gift Andrea gave me three decades ago which is to believe that your work has value. Everything will not be great, or good, or even marketable, but it still has value. As independent authors we have qualified ourselves and that takes moxie, but self-validation can also breed insecurity and self-doubt in our weaker moments. Remember that your writing is not meant to go with you to the grave. Writing is an art form. Art is meant to live more lifetimes than its creator. The job of art is to be living proof that we are ever connected to God. That is why art must exist beyond its creator to touch as many lives as possible. Write like life depends on it, because it does.

Where can readers go to find out more information about you or your work?

My website will be live soon if I get the domain names I like. Readers can find me there sharing more of my movie coaching, blogging, poems, and opinions. You can Google me and find me all over social media and the Internet. I am from the west side of Chicago. Though I consider myself a West Side Success Story, I am always up to thangs [sic].

Are you a self published author?  Would you like to have your book featured?  If so, send me an email: info@s-iai.org

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Self Publishing Tips

Although opportunities for “indie” authors abound, selling your book is another challenge.  If you are considering self publishing, you may want to heed sage advice:

1. Find a networking organization that allows you share resources, learn from other “indie authors”, and promote your work.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned as an indie author is that there is strength in numbers.  Sometimes relying on your own wisdom, social networks, and contacts aren’t enough to reach masses.  You may have to use the resources of others. Likewise, someone else may need to use information or contacts that you possess.  Don’t be afraid to ask and share resources.  There are quite a few organizations out there whose missions is to help create a platform for resource sharing.  Among them are: Goodreads, SpaNnet, The Society of Authors, and (of course) Society of Independent Authors and Illustrators.

2. Mimic the big fish!
In order to truly be successful at marketing your book, you have to mimic the key players in the publishing industry. In this scenario that would be big publishing houses.  Consider the various ways they market their authors and try to employ some of their strategies.  If you are limited by budget, go for quality versus quantity.  In other words, brand your work the same way they would brand their authors.  Make your work look attractive, invest in quality and/or professional cover art, send out press releases, hire editors, and make sure that every piece of marketing material you distribute looks top notch!

3. Develop your online presence.
Your website (alone) may not be enough to drive the sales of your recently published books.  You may need to develop your online presence by having multiple streams of visibility.  It’s great if you have a blog for your book, a Facebook page, Twitter account, etc but you will also need high visibility on other sites as well.  You may need to place a few ads on Google, ask friends to sponsor your book’s fan page, or place ads on websites geared towards readers.

4. Seize the day!
If you ever wanted to make a name for yourself as an author, now is the time.  So many shifts are occurring in the way we communicate information that will make it easier for savvy indie authors to gain exposure!