Self-Publishing News: 8.20.2019

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Once upon a time, way back when, we mentioned on this blog that Beatrix Potter self-published her most famous work, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (see our post here). This week the story is coming back around again thanks to this lovely piece on Mental Floss by contributor Garin Pirnia. Writes Pirnia, Potter wasn’t willing to compromise on her personal vision for her books, and:

On December 16, 1901, a 35-year-old Potter used her personal savings to privately print 250 copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. The book turned out to be a hit—so much so that, within a year, Frederick Warne and Co. (one of the publishers that had originally rejected the book) signed on to get into the Peter Rabbit business. In October 1902, they published their own version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, complete with Potter’s illustrations, and by Christmastime it had sold 20,000 copies. It has since been translated into nearly 40 different languages and sold more than 45 million copies.

We’re so glad that Potter went ahead and stuck up for what she knew was the right format for her book, and of course we’re grateful that the success of The Tale of Peter Rabbit allowed her to pursue more publications in that series. Pirnia also points out that Potter’s doggedness in seeing her vision through transformed the way that picture books are written, illustrated, and sold—a win for everyone, ultimately, in the end. Three cheers for more stories about one of the self-publishing greats!

The Missassauga is bringing us some interesting news this week with this article from contributor Carola Vyhnak, covering the self-publishing story of author Jenn Bruer, who looked to Beatrix Potter (how fitting for this week’s run-down of news!) for inspiration when she was getting started. Writes Vyhnak, “As a stay-at-home spouse and foster parent, the Mississauga resident was afraid traditional publishers wouldn’t take her seriously.” Relateable, right? But she had plenty to add to the conversation, Vyhnak continues, “So she wrote a book to help others and, using post-Peter Rabbit, digital-age technology and $6,670 of her own money, self-published it last December.” After moderate success in selling the book, Bruer reflects that the best part of the process had nothing to do with making a profit—it was seeing her book’s positive impact on the larger conversation around mental health and wellness. “‘I just thought it was the right thing to do,’ she says of the 224-pager, written ‘from my heart. […] Burnout is rampant in our society,’ especially among those in the helping professions, explains Bruer, who found her own way to physical, mental and spiritual wellness.” This is an important lesson for all of us, but usefully, the article doesn’t stop there—it provides hard numbers, additional anecdotes from others involved in the self-publishing process, and in general helps pull back the veil of one of the lesser-known aspects of self-publishing: the speaking of one’s truth out into the world. We can all do with more positivity and truth!


spa-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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Published Book Review: Tea With the Queen

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

tea with the queen charles lunsford

beverly hills book awards winner

Tea With the Queen

by Charles Lunsford

ISBN: 9781478766551

 

Synopsis*:

What do you give someone who has given you everything? What do you give your mother as a birthday present when she turns ninety years old? I gave my mother this story that you are about to read. My sister asked my mother what kind of party she wanted and with the wink of an eye she exclaimed, “a tea party!” Invitations were sent out to one and all to have “Tea with the Queen.” You were to wear your finest tea party attire; suits, ties, dresses and of course, hats. I sat down to read my new fairy tale to my mother and her guests from a copy I had printed by the local printer, with clip art I found on the internet and bound in black vinyl, I began to read the story aloud. You see, I come from a long line of storytellers. From my grandmother, to my nieces and nephews, we loved standing up to retell the history of our family.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

Once upon a time, the question was asked: “What do you get the 89-year-old queen who has everything?” Her family home for her birthday, of course! And that’s just what Princess Dawnellen sets out to get for her mother, Queen Bettyruth, in Charles Lunsford’s book, Tea With the Queen.

This adorable book begins with the queen bemoaning her upcoming 90th birthday, not because of her age but because her sons won’t be there to help her celebrate. Her very caring daughter, Princess Dawnellen, decides to make it happen and give her mother a party to end all parties, but all of the princesses’ brothers are spread out in the region! Can the princess make it happen? Will everyone be home for the party?

Based somewhat on a true story (the author’s sister asked their mother what she wanted for her birthday, and she answered, “A tea party!”), I thought this was a really cute tale about a daughter trying to do right by her elderly mother who has given her everything all of her life. The beginning half dragged a little bit, but once the decorating for the party began, things kicked into high gear. I especially liked the arrival of different people, with each arrival done in various humorous ways. My only [minor] quibble was that there was barely any attention given to the problem at-hand. We went from the queen wishing to see her sons to preparations being made for a party. I would liked to have read about some minor conflicts in the princess’ quest to bring her brothers home. There was also a subplot with the queen and her husband, King Bernard, who had suffered from a number of ailments and could no longer talk. I admit that a few scenes had me a bit teary-eyed, moved by the depth of their love for each other.

One of the most important parts of books for children are the illustrations, and I think they were well-done in this case. I believe that the author noted on Amazon that he used clip-art. The pictures were therefore simple but vivid and colorful, giving even more life to the characters therein. My only issue with the pictures was that Princess Dawnellen and her siblings looked a little young to be in their 70s or even 60s; while I’m guessing about their ages, I don’t think I can be too far off since the queen’s children all had grandchildren of their own. Even if they’re young grandparents, their pictures made them look to be no older than their early 30s, if that. The queen, on the other hand, did look to be elderly, though she could have done with a few more wrinkles.

I thought that the theme of family love was very well portrayed, and it was fun meeting everyone in the extended family. Even so, I will make one minor note. One of the couples included in the book is homosexual, which I had no problem with. The thing that did give me pause, however, was that one half of the couple looked at the other’s behind and smiled. Due to the language in general, I think this book is aimed for slightly older children (maybe 10 and up), but that aside was a little too much even for me, and I’m quite a bit older than 10! While I realize that this book started off as a gift to the author’s mother, thereby making that scene “no biggie”, it’s now on Amazon and posted as a children’s book, so I think that one sentence should be edited out.

Insofar as the editing in general, I don’t think that this book was professionally edited. It’s only 56 pages long, and I managed to find well over the ten grammatical errors we need to note, with the first ten being found in the first 6 pages. Most of the mishaps were punctuation missteps, but there were also a few instances of incorrect word usage and one time that “they’re” was used when it should have been “their”. I strongly urge the author to have this book edited now that it’s being seen outside of the family because it has important themes that shouldn’t be lessened by bad grammar.

Due to the typographical issues, it is with a heavy heart that I give Tea With the Queen 3 out of 4 stars; the minor issues I mentioned don’t warrant a lower drop in the rating. I also recommend this book to older children or tweens as well as adults who like children’s books based on family and love. Fans of fairy tales may also want to give this tome a try.

And with that, MsTri was done with her review, and they all lived happily ever after.

Tea with the Queen is a heart warming true story written in fairy tale form. The book is a testament to family values, family diversity and most importantly, family love. Worried she will not see her beloved family on her birthday, her daughter conspires to have family members converge on the castle for a birthday tea. The lessons she and her husband have taught their children and grand children are time old lessons of honesty, integrity and love. I was a reading/language arts teacher for 40 years and I highly recommend Tea with the Queen for every classroom library.

– reviewed by Michael on Amazon

What a delightful book! I was enchanted to learn the fairy tale had been inspired by the author’s real life: a desire by his 90-year-old mother to have a birthday tea party. I recommend this for kids over age 7 because of its length and a few ‘adult’ words kids may not know. I do feel it would be perfect read aloud at story-telling events and at bedtime. The illustrations are a lot of fun and enhance the plot. The essence of the book is the importance of generational love and how love and family traits continue to live on in future generations. Who doesn’t agree and appreciate that message?!?

– reviewed by Amy Light on Amazon

 

Book Trailer

 


tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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Self-Publishing News: 8.6.2019

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

It’s always exciting when self-published works are associated with, well, anything “high-brow,” and this week Highbrow Magazine’s syndication of NewsUSA covered the story of Jess Michaels, a successful author who just happens to have made her break through self-publishing after previously publishing a number of titles via traditional means. Says Michaels, “I’d begun developing an audience for my books and wanted to try something different. Authors I respected had success and greater control over their work with self-publishing, so I was eager to try it for myself.” Going self-published after completing her pre-existing book deals allowed Michaels to target the audience she knew she most wanted to reach, and to do so with full command over the hows and the whens and the whats. The article, in addition to covering Michaels’ story, advocates for those still considering their options to think about self-publishing’s benefits in respect to three things: creative control, speed to market, and proportional rights and royalties. “Who knows? Maybe the best-seller list is closer than you think,” write the article authors: the perfect happy ending to our romance with self-publishing!

In another success story made good, WHO TV out of Des Moines, Iowa, recently published an article by Megan Reuthers about Iowa author Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Smith, whose works mostly live on the postapocalyptic fiction shelf, has quite the writing work ethic: he sits down for ten hours a day and turns out four to five completed books a year by doing so. (We’re not jealous! We promise! OK, we’re jealous of that work ethic.) His works appeal to readers, among other reasons, for their groundedness and realism. Writes Reuthers:

He gets inspiration from his previous profession as a disaster mitigation specialist with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. He said, “It not only inspired me but scared me, and I was able to use that experience on different disasters or threats that we face to implement those in stories and then I used a sci-fi twist.’

He was, writes Reuthers, eventually picked up by a traditional publishing house, and is now producing multiple series simultaneously. But the real trick, Reuthers records, is “treating [writing] like a business. ‘Now is the best time in history to be a writer because you can self-publish a book, and if you know, even generally what you’re doing, in terms of marketing, you can have success,’ he said.” We are always excited to celebrate these both/and self- & traditionally published authors, who consistently demonstrate the fact that everyone’s publishing journey looks different, and there’s a path for everyone!


spa-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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.30.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

This article came as a bit of a (welcome) surprise, courtesy of The Richest, and contributor Karen Simao. Simao provides brief biographical snippets about each author she features, with a quick reminder that “the internet has also changed this market. Since some years ago, the public has seen talented writers who self-published their books online and are making a fortune. Some of them were rejected many times by traditional publishers.” A quick note, though: this list is not synonymous with the top ten authors in regards to earnings, but every author included has become a millionaire as a result of their work, traditionally or self-published—and that alone puts them all in the top tier of author-earners. Of the self-publishing authors she profiles, we’ve mentioned a few already here on the blog: Amanda Hocking, EL James, and David Chilton come to mind. A number of other authors, including Michael J. Sullivan, have published through both traditional and self-publishing channels, demonstrating yet again that these choices are not always in competition with each other. Self-publishing has a healthy and important role in the marketplace, democratizing access for both readers and authors.

Another great article this week comes from Nicole Serena Silver, an author as well as founder of Ignitingfp.com and GROWmyfuture.org, two entrepreneurial-inspired (and inspiring) portals for the curious-minded. Silver set out to write without a clear idea of what the publication process might look like. She writes, “I did not realize the complexity of the journey I was about to embark on.” The challenges were numerous:

Did you know paperweight makes a huge difference on how potential buyers subconsciously perceive the quality of your book? Yup, I did not know that. Did you know that the newest trend is soft touch books? Soft touch books feel cheap like wrapped plastic books, yuck. At least in my opinion — no offence meant if you like them. Did you know that Shopify rocks?! It’s a super helpful resource for selling your book independently without Amazon taking a ginormous cut and it can also increase your brand quality. There are lots of little details, all which I am figuring out every step along the way.

And while Silver’s article is not itself long, it opens an important door in the conversation about self-publishing, and also points readers to more of her thoughts on the subject, which can be found through her various social media platforms. More at the link!

This piece from Barbara Lane of Datebook is an important one, as it deals with a question at the heart of self-publishing: what is the value and role of a so-called “vanity press”? Many times, you’ll find self-publishing companies fighting to create linguistic distance between what their businesses do and what vanity presses do, given what Lane is talking about when she writes that “In many cases […] having your book published by a vanity press, as the name implies, carries something of a stigma. After all, if your book is any good, wouldn’t one of the reputable publishing houses want the honor of bringing it into the world and pay you for the privilege?” The answer might be a surprising one to some, given that Lane sees vanity presses and hybrid publishing companies as helping to fill a growing void and answering a need in the publishing industry. Writes Lane, “As the publishing world becomes increasingly competitive and the purse strings ever more tightly drawn, it’s become harder and harder to get a contract with a traditional publisher. To meet the needs of writers dying to get their work out, a new crop of hybrid publishers has sprung up. It’s a whole new game out there.” Nobody likes to spend money if they (a) don’t think they need to, or (b) are not receiving fair value for their investment. And Lane acknowledges that $7,500.00 (the cost to publish through She Writes Press) is a hefty price tag, but she also notes that many authors who choose a similar route are turning to crowdsourcing in order to pay off publishing fees. She also notes that one’s reason for publishing plays an important role in determining which publishing route is best suited. A worthy opening salvo of what we hope is an ongoing conversation!


spa-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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: Keeping Ahead of the Summer Rush

Holiday suitcase

Look, summer presents unique challenges to writers, doesn’t it? By July, everyone’s deep into their vacations, children are running riot while out of school, family streams in and out in a series of reunions, and … it can be hard to continue writing.

Of course … there are remedies. And this week, I suggest trying your hand at a schedule––and then, of all things, sticking to it!

Now, those who know me well know that I’m not aways given over to structured practicalities and organizational tricks. I know how to kick back and relax, especially in summer. After all, if you work in publishing or with authors, as I do, you’ll know that victories are hard-won and well worth celebrating! So … don’t take this as heavy-handed pontification from someone who’s eminently hypocritical. I often suggest many things which I do not myself do all the time, since I’m as firm a believer in changing the habits to fit the situation as I am that success in self-publishing is the nexus of persistence, skill, and good luck.

I recommend schedules for everyone. If not for always, than for a season––and there’s no better season to try your hand at scheduling in summer, when the emotional, physical, and social stakes are so high … and very little writing is getting done anyways, so why not try a new approach? You may be writing by a pool with a mimosa at your side, but you can still work a schedule like nobody’s business, and churn out more writing than you would otherwise. Anyone with a plan can make it work!

In garden a woman surfing on internet with laptop.

Oh … but a plan? How do I come up with one of those?

Here’s where I get a little bit … experimental. As the first step to developing a schedule, I recommend starting a bullet journal. You have probably heard this term before, and associated it with highly neurotic, organized, possibly even OCD? people with phenomenal artistic skills. sure did, and refused to start a bullet journal, until I dug into a great conversation at the local library with a young mother named Melissa.

Melissa bullet journals. No surprise there! But wow, she has zero artistic skills. I mean, not a single artistic bone in her body! She was a bit reticent to show me her bullet journal, since she felt insecure about the lettering and such, but I was eventually able to persuade her. And I was incredibly impressed! Melissa has gotten to the heart of what a bullet journal is all about, which is to say, she started hers with lists––shopping lists, to-do lists, etc––and by tracking the little things she does throughout the day. Then she took it one step further and started to set goals … once she knew what her days usually already looked like, and what was feasible.

That, my friends and dear readers, is the value of a bullet journal. It can eventually help you shape behaviors, yes, but first it shows you what you already do––and therefore, what you’re already good at, and maybe some areas to work on. It’s like Google Analytics, but for a person’s daily productivity!

Printable Journaling Cards with Rooster Illustration. Line Style

You can put a bullet journal to work describing your days and then use the data you gather––when meals happen, what they look like, how many hours you’re sleeping a night, what your weekly and daily commitments look like and how they change in the summer––to transform or tweak your schedule just a little to squeak some more writing in. Poolside, or otherwise.

It’s all about sustainability. Radically altering your writing behaviors without a plan just isn’t a good idea––and it isn’t, ultimately, sustainable. Small changes are great, however, and over time you can build one change upon another until your summers are your most productive months, rather than the opposite! But it starts with knowing where you are, first.

If you’re looking for insight into bullet journaling, hop on Google or YouTube! There are literally thousands of them out there, but beware: many are a bit deceiving, touting life-altering effects and demonstrating uncannily beautiful hand lettering skills. You don’t have to make all the big changes at once, and you don’t need to be a gifted artist to figure out a better summer schedule by bullet journaling!

Still, here’s a quick snippet to get you started:

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Self-Publishing News: 7.23.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Our first item of news is a fascinating one, coming this week from the GoodEReader’s Michael Kozlowski, who sets out to answer the question of “why are there so few places to buy ebooks?” The answer, he explains, is not quite as complex as you might think: the big distributors—all of which are familiar household names, from Amazon to Apple, Barnes and Noble to Kobo, and Google—already have created a collective monopoly, and they’re able to exert pressure on small startups by virtue of their existing partnerships with the Big 5 publishers (who would be distributing traditionally published ebooks) and major self-publishing companies (who would be distributing many self-published ebooks). Writes Kozlowski, “Starting an ebook store is challenging. Major publishers refuse to do business with anyone that wants to get involved in selling digital content, they have their small list of preferred vendors and that’s it.” It’s a difficult market to break into, and there are few structures in place to make it happen. And since competition is an engine of affordability, the availability of diverse options is something readers would definitely benefit from. Worth keeping in mind.

Adam Rowe of Forbes shows up for self-publishers everywhere yet again in this week’s article on book cover design, a subject we’ve discussed numerous times here on the blog ourselves. But first, what is the “7-second test”? Rowe explains:

You might not have heard of book cover design’s “7 second” test, but if you’ve ever wondered through a bookstore, you’ve undoubtedly tried it yourself. Pick up a book, glance at the front and back covers, and you’ll likely make the decision to either nestle it back on the shelf or seriously consider buying it. That tiny window of time is all an author has to sell their story, and it all comes down to a great book cover design.

With that in mind, authors have to pump up the visual appeal of their book covers in order to have a chance of out-competing fellow authors and seeing their books fly all the way from physical or digital bookstore shelves to the checkout aisle (or virtual checkout, as the case may be). Rowe has some suggestions, all of them good, from reflecting genre expectations to expressing emotion, crafting an attractive thumbnail image, keeping it simple, and ensuring it’s unique. Even in a digital age, when authors aren’t always holding physical books in their hands, Rowe implies, it’s important to consider all of the elements that go into making a beautiful and attractive book cover. A must-read article!

Last but not least, a sweet little article from Laura Hamm of The Bookseller, a privately-owned industry magazine and news engine. Writes Hamm,

I didn’t think I’d ever call myself part of the publishing industry, I’m still not sure I can. I started approaching stories with digital eyes, and have come full circle to print. So I’m now a double self-publisher – I started a self-publishing platform for kids, Fabled, and now I’m creating a book of kid-authored stories, The Future Is Make Believe (live on Kickstarter now). A strange sort of industry beast to be sure, but I think how I’ve grown may be of some interest to the traditional animals out there too.

Hamm’s goal is to render self-publishing accessible and useful to children, a population that by and large has been left untargeted by self-publishers. (There are reasons for that, including the prohibitive costs associated with producing beautiful hardbound books in all the various unusual sizes typical of picture books.) After describing her process and background in creating not just a platform but a book full of stories written by real kids, Hamm closes out with a moving endorsement for all self-publishing authors looking to reach kids:

I think the strange fluidity I’m in as I build my brand mirrors the way children interact with stories. Children are story first and format second – they don’t come with our snobbery about form. They play at Spiderman mashed up with Harry Potter, they read Winnie-the-Pooh, collect the Shopkins and watch Paw Patrol, and it is all fodder for their imagination. It all gets whirled and re-spun in daydreams and their stories. If we give them space to do it that is, if we listen. And I intend to.

We love that.


spa-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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 7.17.2019

July

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

If you needed a laugh (that’s also, admittedly, kind of a groan), check out Kelly Burke’s article on 7News.com.au (an Australian news website), in which she covers the duplicitous exploits of “contrepreneur” and “demotivational speaker,” Mike Winnet. Winnet, who more or less makes his living (or earns his street cred) from similar pranks and social media efforts, set out to tackle Amazon’s self-publishing process this time around. His prank was simple: self-publish a book (titled How to get a #1 Amazon best-seller) that contains nothing but blank pages, and see what happens. In this case, the system, which is designed to pick up on fraudulent sales of this nature, missed the mark and Winnet’s book became listed on Amazon as a best-seller, even though it sold fewer than 50 copies. The book was only pulled from distribution after Winnet ‘fessed up on social media, which begs the question of how closely Amazon is actually watching its self-publishing platform, and what sorts of legitimately fraudulent activity may be taking place on the site. This may or may not impact authors’ decisions to publish or not publish through Amazon, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

To end this week’s news post on a positive note, cast your eyes toward author Amanda Alcántara, whose most recent book Chula inspired this article by Erica Nahmad of BeLatina.com. Writes Nahmad, Chula is “an autobiographical look at her childhood as a Latina in the Dominican Republic and later in the United States, is exactly as inspiring and entertaining as you might imagine.” What follows is a resoundingly positive and lengthy look at Alcántara’s background and the details of the book proper, as well as the author’s decision to self-publish. Says Nahmad, “Author Amanda Alcántara had a story to tell, a story that could not wait and that needed to be shared. And despite the typical obstacles in getting a book published, she took matters into her own hands and told the tale she was born to tell.” Later in the article, Nahmad includes a lengthy section titled “How Alcántara was Empowered by Self-Publishing Her Debut Book,” in which she details Alcántara’s experiences. Writes Nahmad:

“I didn’t want to wait one year to find an agent then one year to find a publisher. I didn’t want to wait three years to publish my book,” she told People En Español. “I didn’t want to compromise on the Spanish and English or the format.”

And that creative control allowed her to preserve the very personal tone and also ensure that she built a team that was connected to her vision and her experiences — the editorial team, cover illustrator and photographer are all of Dominican heritage.

How cool is that?


spa-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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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