Tag Archives: Larry Brooks

Ten Steps to Select a Publisher

As an Indie author, I chose Amazon’s Createspace for paperbacks and its Kindle Digital Platform for my ebook distribution. Two reasons dictated this choice : initial cost is free, and I maintain total control of my work. To insure this control, I provide my own ISBN. This means I do all the work unless I contact out work such as designing the cover and editing. I have professionals do that. So, there are costs, but those costs I control.

Marketing is another cost. This cost is a balance between the cost of the program and the revenue it most likely will generate in book sales. Again, I have control, and in January, I spent nothing on marketing and banked the revenue, but paid the price in reduced book sales for that month. Since Amazon pays on a three month lag, March revenue will be down. I knew that and budgeted for it.

However, many new writers, for one reason or another, need the help of a publisher. They are lost as to how to get an editor, how to format, how to find a cover designer, and all the things that have to be done to become a successful author. Perhaps, they have a day job or run a household with active kids. They turn to a wide list of publishers and stare at rows of smiling shark’s teeth. A whole industry of “milk the author” has evolved. It’s an author beware publishing world. However, within that mix are good guys who honestly want to help the bewildered writer. How to find the needle in a haystack?

Why am I blathering on about this? Because I know several writers searching for guidance, and I recently stumbled across Jane Friedman article on what to look at when deciding on a publisher. Her blogs are invaluable and you must check them out.


As you will notice, this blog is dated November 2014, but was recently updated. The information is still valuable. It doesn’t cover all the names of publishers currently out there, but it’s a guide for the questions you need to ask. For example: Just being able to control the price of your book is important, particularly if you want to advertise. An overpriced book with no exposure to readers is a lonely book indeed, even if well written. A bad cover often turns away an interested buyer. Make no mistake, with the advent of easy publishing, the book market is flooded and cleverly marketed books are the ones to gain the overwhelmed reader’s purse. Even so, the market is challenging. These ten suggestions may save  you a lot of money and heartache.

I am now working on the last quarter of the second book in the Terran Trilogy called Somewhat Alien. Once again, I want to suggest Larry Brooks and his storyfix blog. He has several books with his ideas, one called Story Engineering. He provides a framework for writing a story while still letting your characters surprise you.

… And they are surprising me with their actions. Right now the immigration of aliens into our country is a hot topic, and this story is exactly about aliens trying to immigrate onto an inhabited planet. I just have to check the headlines for great story ideas.

This week my book selection is Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell. This book was recommended by Peter from Powell’s Bookstore at Cedars Crossing. Peter is an expert in science fiction and fantasy, and this book delighted me.

If you like Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War ) or Joe Abercrombie, (The First Law Trilogy), Traitor’s Blade will suit. It has a bit of swashbuckle in it.

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats, once the elite corps of 144 men and women, who traveled throughout the kingdom, dispensing the king’s justice. That is, until King Paelis ordered them to stand aside, and his head found is way onto a pike atop his castle, put there by conquering feudal lords intent on expanding their land and power.

Now jeered at and called “tattercoats,” Cantor and his small band must follow secret instructions given by the king in order to unite the ragged remnants of the once proud Greatcoats. If they fail in their mission, their kingdom will be destroyed.

Character and bantering dialog make this a stay-up-late story. His aching loyalty to justice puts Cantor into impossible situations as he struggles to rebuild the Empire and clean out the rot.
The book uses the technique of flashback, returning to the story of the king’s final battle, and then jumps forward to Cantor’s present as he struggles to save his world.

Peter recommended this; I recommend this. Soon, you’ll be recommending it too.


Filed under Best selling author, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing

Story Structure Specialist

IMG_0165Discovering titles to read and actually obtaining them depend are certain variables. Easy access, pricing, and availability are a few factors.

Last week I read The Lies of Lock Lamora by Stephen Lynch first because it sat within quick reach on my night stand. It had been enthusiastically recommended by Powell’s knowledgable science fiction special, Peter, and I looked forward eagerly to reading it.

It delivered big time.The Lies of Locke Lamora

What surprised and caused me wild hope was that Lies was published in 2006 in Great Britain and I’m just now hearing the buzz about it from a local Portland bookstore and noting recent popularity on Amazon.

Eight years ago.

Maybe it takes some time for even a really good book to catch on…

That’s why I maintain optimism and consider myself writing for what they call the “long tail” (tale?) Fingers crossed.

Red Skies under Red SeadI enjoyed it so much that I’m currently reading the next in the series, Red Seas Under Red Skies and finding it also delightful and engaging.

Either way, my second book on my 2014 list to read is fresh out of the publishing house and was within fingers reach off the new book shelf at my local library.


So this week I’ll review The One Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitte.

But first, since I’m organizing and crafting the next novel in my series, I wanted to mention Larry Brooks who has published a non fiction book called Story Engineering. For anyone working on the writing of a story, I found his words of wisdom useful and would like to pass along his name.

I first met him at Orycon when he gave a lecture on structuring a story. Writers often get an idea and then start writing without any consideration of the way a story should be crafted or where they want it to go. For anyone who is writing, I suggest you consider his ideas…they may make your story stronger and give you direction on how your story should flow…because they are rules to the writing game if you want to succeed.

His blog, www.storyfix.com was voted top blog for writers in 2010 and still runs strong.

Here’s an interview on Utube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGq84WOQfqM.

Now for my second book on the 2014 list.

L.E. Modesitte is certainly one of the more prolific science fiction writers around. He has several series under his name that entertain significant popularity.

The One-Eyed ManThe One Eyed Man is a stand alone novel that opens with Paul Verano coming out of court after a nasty divorce that leaves most of his wealth to his cheating wife and ungrateful daughter.

Paul is a consulting ecologist with a PhD in ecology from the University of Bachman and has made a reputation for himself in the field. He is offered a lucrative contract to Sittara, a colony planet and chief source of anti-aging biologicals that extend life expectancy more than two fold for the wealthy residents of Bachman. So, invaluable.

For Paul, the trip will be relatively short, but his expected return will be 125 years later on Bachman…hopefully by then all problems and players will be distant memories. So the contract, while too good to be true, is compelling for him in his current situation.

Sittara is an interesting planet with such high winds that most of the population live underground and the dominant vegetation is a low growing purplish green grass. Foreboding whirling sky tubes roam the skies, but no one knows whether they are sentient or not.

The One Eyed Man is essentially a mystery that slowly our ecologist unravels. It explores the issue of human impact on an alien environment. True to form, politics and economic greed also create problems. Verano keeps insisting he is only there to measure and insure that the colonies are not hurting the environment, but no one believes him.

Some try to murder him. Most lie to him.

If you are a fan of Modesitte, you will enjoy this slow paced mystery. The alien world itself is intriguing. The egnimatic woman who wanders the planet with the mind of an eight year old and the age of an ancient knows more than people suspect. And Paul gains access and disrupts every big corp executive as he methodically measures air quality, chemical output and various parameters so he can complete his job properly.

Wild escapades, nonstop action and bantering dialog in The Lies of Lamora make an interesting foil for the more intellectual and thoughtful philosophical mystery of The One-Eyed Man...

But I liked them both.


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