Silent Night (2002) with Linda Hamilton

From the Archives: “‘Tis the SEASON to …”

Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: December 6th, 2013 ]

‘Tis the SEASON to …

Last year I pretty much gave up shopping—well shopping in the marketing-media frenzy sense, anyway.  My passion for books—and the authors I’ve worked with—inspired me to buy their books and send them to family and friends.  I enjoyed the “holiday bargains,” of course, but much more than that, I felt as if I was passing forward the legacy of writing (and good story telling) that my self-publishing clients represent.

It was also last year that I seemed to hit a wall of mounting disappointment as I listened to the younger generations of my family and friends talking about their “exasperating,” even “frightening”, holiday shopping experiences.  A long-hidden rebellion within me grew and my fingers flew over the keyboard writing op-ed pieces to send to every daily or weekly print publisher.  I wanted to make a statement!  I wanted THE SEASON to be different!  I wanted it to be PEACEFUL!  Full of GOOD CHEER!  LOVE and LAUGHTER abounding on every block, in every city, town and nation!  However, to my own discredit, not one of my pieces was sent.  Too many last minute details derailed my fervor.  However, this season, I’m thinking of pulling out those pieces—developing them into a book—and self-publishing it in plenty of time for next year’s marketing-media-frenzy.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in a taste of rebellion and allow your thoughts to stroll back to your favorite Holiday Season(s)—and WRITE about them.  Besides finding “just what you wanted” under the tree, what other memories do you see?  A favorite aunt bringing her deee-licious walnut fudge to Christmas dinner?  Your grandmother telling her version of “naughty” stories about your dad?  The next door neighbor stopping by with a handmade toy carved from oak wood just for you!

Over the years our family has enjoyed many traditions such as the youngest child placing the ceramic Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve and attending Christmas Eve church services.  One fairly new tradition in our house is watching a made-for-TV movie titled Silent Night.  This true-story, produced in 2002, stars Linda Hamilton as the German mother of a young son (age 12) who will soon be conscripted into Hitler’s army.  She takes him out of the city to a cabin in the woods—not far from “enemy” lines.  It is Christmas Eve, 1944, and unexpected guests arrive: first three American soldiers, then three German soldiers.  She demands a truce between them—for this one night.

You may be wondering why this movie?  Simple answer.  It inspired me.  This movie was created from an oral history interview with a high school student!  Her subject was Fritz Vincken, the boy in the “story,” and the one thing he remembered most about his childhood was war.  Many of us—many of our neighbors—and too many the world over hold such memories or actually live in war zones today.  I don’t want to forget that.  I don’t want to get so caught up in shopping or party-planning that I misplace my compassion for those who are hurting.  And, for me, seeing/experiencing a well-written, well-directed, well-acted movie such as Silent Night helps me hold my center; helps me appreciate the gifts I’ve been given that cannot be wrapped.

Plus, realizing that this story was developed (written/scripted) from a collection of oral histories done by high school students is exceptionally inspiring to me.  Important, vital, must-be-told stories are out there waiting for the right person to write them!  Is that YOU?



It may only have been two years since our friend Royalene first posted this piece for us on Self Publishing Advisor, but I personally think it’s worth bringing back every Christmas.  Why?  Because storytelling is what we do, and there’s simply no more fertile ground for storytelling than the holiday season.

“Holidays bring holiday memories, and, often a sense of nostalgia for good times long gone, perhaps even loved ones long gone,” writes Wynne Parry over at LiveScience.  “This bittersweet nostalgia helps us feel connected, both around the holidays and at other times. And, it can be a salve to those suffering through hard times,” says Parry, quoting psychology professor and “nostalgia expert” Krystine Batcho, of Le Moyne College in New York.

According to Batcho, “whenever there is a major change it can be very helpful to kind of keep grounded in the sense of who you are. That sense of nostalgia helps to link you to your own personal past; it helps you remember who you have been.”  By that definition, nostalgia is both an important element to our scientific understanding of the human brain and consciousness, and an important element of the way we tell stories about ourselves and to each other.

My thoughts, as we progress into yet another holiday season, following a year of both fantastic “highs” and incredible “lows”–personally, as self-publishing authors, and simply as human beings on this planet–are as follows: We ought not to be afraid of nostalgia.  We should use the nostalgic impulse as we use all others: that is, we should allow it to spur us on in our writing, to compel us to create new things that make the most of old things.  Do the holidays–does Christmas, specifically–make you feel something?  Use that as fodder for prose.  Do the holidays leave you hungering after something more substantial or just something different in your own life?  Use that as impetus for transformation, as a writer as in all other things.

And yes, be a rebel.  If the popularity of dystopic young adult literature has taught us anything, it’s that people–our readers–are thirsty for change, to see the world move away from the sorrows and griefs and injustices that sometimes rule it.  Readers are rebels, too, and they love it when they stumble across that voice which perfectly captures the carpe diem spirit of a spirit in search of positive change.  Just as that German mother portrayed in Silent Night brought a small slice of peace and change to that cabin in the woods, you can do great things in this world.  We’re excited to see where the holiday nostalgia leads you! ♠

Silent Night (2002) with Linda Hamilton


KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,
Publishing Contract

News From the Self-Publishing World: 11/30/15

This week in the world of self-publishing:

In this November 29th article for the Belleville News-Democrat, Teri Maddox writes from across the pond of Deborah Heal’s work.  Heal, who has self-published both what she calls the three-book “History Mystery Trilogy” and the “Rewinding Time Series” of four books, is a retired English teacher from Waterloo now fulfilling her dreams of becoming an author––and finding a great deal of success in it.  Maddox prompts her readers at BND: “Imagine being able to fire up your laptop and experience history in real time, whether at the Old Slave House near Equality or on the Trail of Tears in Golconda.”  And this is just what happens in Heal’s books, to Southern Illinois woman Merrideth Randall and her friends, “But their magic software works only when they’re visiting old homes.”  The premise is plenty interesting on its own, but what follows––Heal’s own story and route to success––is equally fascinating!  Heal isn’t content merely to use a textbook; she does her own research.  Maddox quotes Heal’s husband, Bob, as saying: “Debbie does a lot of deep research [….] The history is right. She makes up the characters, but she doesn’t fudge on the facts.”  The hard work has more than paid off; as Maddox chronicles, “More than 3,000 people have downloaded the Kindle version of ‘Time and Again’,” Heal’s first book––and now, of course, she’s making news across England for her unique approach to (religously-infused) history.  To read Maddox’s original article, follow the link.

Not every foray into self-publishing is made in the serious spirit of authors seeking self-actualization (although those forays are lovely, too).  According to Peggy Sturvidant in this November 27th piece for the Ballard News-Tribune, we have a new self-published entry into both our holiday canon and our updates-of-classic-science-fiction canon: Santa Meets Frankenstein.  The book, put out by illustrator Jan Harvey-Smith and Q13 morning meteorologist (turned author) M.J. McDermott, is shaking things up in the seasonal literature department––and raising eyebrows, in the best of all possible ways!  Says Sturvidant of McDermott, “She bubbles with the creative juices that led her into majors in drama, atmospheric sciences, and fuels her love of writing. She calls it ‘writing in the cracks,’ between work and family.” (Emphasis mine.)  What a beautiful way of expressing what so many of us indie and self-publishing authors know to be a daily reality!  And the spirit of the book, according to author and illustrator, could be considered a modern “Christmas fable, ‘for middle readers and the young at heart.'”  For more information, check out Sturvidant’s original piece!

Do you know how to find Reykjavík on a map?  Well, it’s a beautiful place and absolutely chock-full of brilliant writers––writers as diverse as Nordic Council Literature Prize winners Gyrðir Elíasson, Sjón and Einar Már Guðmundsson.  In this November 28th post to the Reykjavík Grapevine, Kári Tulinius writes a brief but to-the-point piece to all fellow Icelandic authors in search of that “next step”––and actively advocating for indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms while at it.  Tulinius, a poet himself, writes that “generally, if it is a good book, Icelanders do not look down on writers who self-publish […] so if you have no patience for regular publishing, go for it.”  His piece is straightforward, to-the-point, and––I think––perfectly on point for anyone (in Iceland or outside of it) looking for that final word of encouragement to pursue a non-traditional mode of publishing.

Esther Ashby-Coventry, contributor to the New Zealand-based paper The Timaru Herald, documents the self-publishing adventures of the Geraldine Writers’ Club members Edna Huber, Bernadette Joyce, Faye McGunnigle, and Judith Farley.  According to Ashby-Coventry’s November 27 article, which went on to be re-posted to the even more widely-read, these four women don’t think of self-publishing as “their only option,” but rather “the best option” available to first-time authors themselves.  The distinction may seem like semantics, but we happen to think this particular set of semantics is an important one!  “It’s a catch 22,” Ashby-Coventry quotes Farley as saying: “If you are not known the publisher won’t take you on but how do you get known?”  While the article closes with somewhat depressing words from HarperCollins’ New Zealand marketing manager Sandra Doakes (“It is rare to make a genuinely good living in New Zealand; a lot of authors still have day jobs.”) it doesn’t seem that the Geraldine Writers’ Club is suffering because of their decision to seek success outside of mainstream publishing.  Current members like Huber look to the example of Alice Mabin, who moved from New Zealand to Australia and whose 2014 novel, The Drover, has sold more than 21,000 copies.  “Success is not in bookshops competing with every other book,” Ashby-Coventry quotes Mabin as saying.  And that is, we think, a very wise final thought to close out this week’s news!


As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,


Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 11/27/2015



Thomas Edison once said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” This clear and truthful statement applies to every writer/author no matter what season of life we are in. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you may remember me writing about Lois Beebe Hayna. This author of poetry, fiction, essay and gardening advice will soon be 102 years young—and she continues to write and publish her poetry.


So how do we who are much younger (yes, if you’re 92, you are much younger) encourage ourselves to keep writing? How do we avoid looking at the winter season of our lives and write for all seasons? Here are a few quotes I’ve saved to encourage myself. I hope they will encourage you, too.

  • From Laura Ingalls Wilder, who published her first novel at the age of 65:
    • “The real things [of life] haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.”
      • When my characters are arguing with me (the writer), this statement brings them in line.
  • From C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia series and Screwtape Letters, who wrote until his passing at the age of 65:
    • “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.” “Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.”
      • The many layers of meaning within these thoughts continue to help me create authentic characters. Plus, Lewis’ life-journey and his “collection of author-friends” is an example for all authors to consider.
  • From Alice Ann Munro, a Canadian short story author who, in 2013 at the age of 82, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature:
    • “People are curious.…They will be driven to find things out, even trivial things.” “Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.” “…if she let go of her grief even for a minute it would only hit her harder when she bumped into it again.”
      • These statements give me even deeper insights into the creation of characters and the circumstances that can be written for them—the corners to back them into.


After Munro received her Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy applauded her as the “master of the contemporary short story.” When asked about that statement, she gave writers further encouragement: “I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you’d got a novel written.”

So it is that in closing this month’s series of Blogs on Seasons, I hope you’ve been inspired in your own writing life. Being a writer is part of our DNA and becoming the best writer we can be is a life-long process—a process that leads us to be published authors at a variety of steps along the way. ⚓︎

RoyaleneABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

self-publishing bounty

In Your Corner : Giving Thanks for Self-Publishing

Why am I thankful for self-publishing?  Let me count the ways!

self-publishing bounty

  • I’m thankful because I don’t have to wait for an agent to read and accept my next book.  We just need to write a book in order for that book to exist out there in the world and be read by others!
  • I’m thankful because I get to keep my rights and royalties.  In a competitive market, this gives us both a leg up over authors who are published through traditional forms and processes, and a leg up on an industry that constantly seeks to inflate the profit margin for the publisher or film house–at the expense of ideas and the author at the heart of it all.
  • I’m thankful because I will maintain control over every aspect of my book that I want to, and I have a whole host of options to turn to (including my own employer, Outskirts Press) if there are aspects I don’t want to control.
  • I’m thankful for more flexibility.  We get to work from home, on our own timeline, meeting our own personal goals and performing according to our own expectations–and not racing to constantly measure up to someone else’s designs, or match our schedules with someone else’s calendar.
  • I’m thankful that we don’t live in fear of progress, but rather surf the cutting edge of the digital and silicon revolutions.  We are innovators, ambitious dreamers who make change happen and get stuff done.  Right now we self-publishers are masters of the ebook, including the e-audiobook.  What’s next?  We’ll figure it out.  And we’ll embrace it, I guarantee you, before anyone else in the publishing world.
  • I’m thankful that as a part of my job I get to help others sidestep the “information gatekeepers” who have historically limited access to publication for reasons to do with bias, influence over the industry, and profit.  When has a small group of people determining the parameters of another, larger group of peoples’ lives ever turned out well?  Vive la révolution!  The more voices we hear, the more lives we witness, the more we know of the world and the way other minds work, the better we can live as individuals and a collective whole.  I really believe that.
  • I’m thankful that this has been a big year for breakthroughs in terms of mainstream recognition and presence.  Ridley Scott’s adaptation of self-publishing superstar Andy Weir’s The Martian is still rocking the box office.  A film adaptation of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice received its wide release this year, too, and walked away with an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild Award (among others).  And that’s just two of many self-published works that have been adapted for the big screen (and television) this year–a great litmus test and indicator of mainstream success.  Countless other self-published books have seen more moderate success, too, and the indie industry is as a whole seeing diversification and stabilization.
  • And lastly, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if I didn’t mention one of my greatest joys: the indie, hybrid, and self-publishing authors that I work with day and day out throughout the year at Outskirts Press. As a company, we are so very thankful for the authors that have made us a leading self-publisher in an energetic and ever-expanding market.  We never tire of learning how we have helped authors realize their dreams, how we have helped author after author to put their ideas and words into beautifully bound books to be enjoyed by others.  You inspire us to better ourselves every day.  You inspire me to believe in the power of the written word, and in the power of helping others sound their voices throughout the world.


I hope that you have a splendid Thanksgiving Day today.  As it is at all other times of year, it’s important to remember one simple fact this holiday season: You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Demystifying the Digital Census : Self Love Levels Drop

Two weeks ago, I launched this series by laying the groundwork for understanding what the FutureBook (and its parent organization, The Bookseller) is all about and, as a result, what the annual Digital Census seeks to measure and comment upon.  (In summary: it tracks emerging and outgoing matters of interest for authors and publishers and other trade experts invested in digital publishing, whether through traditional or indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms.)  I also took a quick peek at the FutureBook‘s first confirmed trend of 2015: the fact that mobile has overtaken both tablets and dedicated e-readers as the primary means for reading ebooks.  And last week, I applied a microscope to the FutureBook’s second confirmed trend of 2015: the fact that digital sales are still growing, but that growth is slowing.  


This week, I’m going to examine the FutureBook’s third confirmed trend for the year.  Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak: “Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels.” The FutureBook publication, which you can read here, says:


Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.44.01 PM

You can imagine how deeply sad I feel when I see a well-respected and industry-enriching publication commenting on authors tanking in the self-love department.  As it turns out, the data indexed by the Digital Census isn’t necessarily asking authors to psychoanalyze their performance and self-satisfaction, so “self-love” may be a bit strong of a term––but then again, maybe not.  Many authors do equate self-satisfaction (and their identity, really) with their performance in respect to sales figures.  And that’s a deeply problematic way to measure self-worth, as everyone is well aware … but sometimes we can’t help but believe it to be an accurate yardstick, especially when we’re spoon-fed a certain narrative by the mainstream media: the narrative in which success means J.K. Rowling, means Veronica Roth, means Tom Clancy and P.D. James and Agatha Christie, means George R.R. Martin, means blockbuster film adaptations and interviews with Ellen or Oprah or Jimmy Kimmel.

Maybe other self-publishing authors and bloggers might be content to state that this is wrong and it shouldn’t be the case, but I can’t just let it lie.  Where does the narrative of success originate?  And how can we alter the conversation to reflect a more holistic, life-affirming reality––the selfsame reality that indie, hybrid, and self-publishing authors of great quality and phenomenal worth experience on a day-to-day basis?

I think a lot of it comes down to the whole do as I say, not as I do syndrome that applies to many other grand social narratives in our modern world.  For example, we affirm again and again to our children that whatever path life takes them on, they have value––as plumbers as well as princesses, as garbage collectors and astronauts––but we flood their lives with films, television shows, and books that highlight the “exceptional” nature of the same “grand narratives” that the world will later try and tell them are impossible to actually attain, in adulthood.  (When was the last time we turned to a college student and said, “You can totally be a princess!” … and actually mean it?)

It’s the same with publishing, including self-publishing: we tell warn aspiring authors again and again that success doesn’t look like any one thing, and it certainly isn’t equatable with sales figures.  But at the same time, the narratives of “successful” authors that we learn about and spread through news articles and social media are almost always about authors who rake in the big bucks and attention from the Big Five publishing houses (after a successful “grassroots campaign,” of course), and about rags-to-riches stories like Andy Weir’s and Christopher Paolini’s.  And I’m here to say: it’s too little, and too late.  It’s simply not good enough to affirm our indie authors as individual successes with trite sayings and cold comfort.  By the time we need comforting, it’s too late.  We have to break the stereotypes and unravel the threadbare story before authors publish.

Otherwise, we’re always going to be playing catch-up and damage control.  I will always, always be on hand to affirm that you’re a success simply because you did the hard thing and you (self-) published your book, but I think we can do more to set you up for a healthy sense of your own value and worth and general excellence, and do it earlier and better.  Let’s start by teaching the next wave of future authors that numbers do not an identity make!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠