Self-Published Book Review: “Christmas Secrets”

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:

christmas secrets by uncle pappy

Christmas Secrets

by George R. Kuper AKA Uncle Pappy

ISBN: 9781478799108

Synopsis*:

Secrets of Christmas Revealed! This edition of Christmas Secrets is a first in a series of Christmas books. This book allows adults and children alike to enjoy discovering the secrets of the holiday season together. Many of the children’s questions about Santa Claus and the Christmas season are answered. The stories are interactive with prompts and questions to encourage children to think, analyze and become involved in the adventure

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

Adorable Throughout – Great for Interaction with Kids

–  Verified reviewed on Amazon

Other Reviews

Interactive Christmas Story Focused on Entertaining Discussion

– reviewed by Al on Amazon

Wonderful Christmas Story

– reviewed by Greg 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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5 Steps to Creating a Culinary Cookbook

What separates good cookbooks from bad ones? Just like everyone’s individual palate, the answer to that is largely a matter of personal taste, but these five hints just may help keep your cookbook from leaving a bad taste in someone’s mouth.

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  1. Include full-color photographs
    The number one most important thing you can do for your cookbook is include high-quality, full-color photographs of the food. Rare is the self-publishing author who can afford to spring for a professional photoshoot, but with today’s cameras, some 3-point bounce lighting, and a photo editing program like Photoshop, there’s no reason to limit your 5-star tartare to a 3-star photograph.  There are simply too many cookbooks on the market to publish one without images, or in black & white.  The old adage says you can’t judge a book by its cover and while that is proven false time and time again, nobody ever said such a thing about a cookbook – where you definitely CAN judge it by its cover. And its cover better look delicious! And so should the inside!
  2. Include original, unique, and exclusive recipes
    No matter how appetizing the pictures look, there has to be a reason for someone to buy your cookbook.  Sure, the design might be amazing, and the images breathtaking, but content trumps design every time, and that is especially true for cookbooks.  Your target market already knows how to make spaghetti, pot roast, and shrimp cocktail; you have to include recipes they’ve never seen before, or at least feature startling new takes on old standards that will justify their purchase, as well as satisfy their cravings.
  3. Allow content and design to dance
    Speaking of design and content, formatting a cookbook is much like dancing the tango, with the content and the design making magical music together as they flow in unison. Cookbooks require larger print than other books because people don’t “read” cookbooks, they “use” them (typically with wet fingers or flour-caked palms).  So, if you have too many recipes to hit your target page count at 14- or 16-point font, don’t decrease the font size to 12 just to make it fit.  Remove a recipe. Or, better yet, find a way to reword those three-page recipes into two-page spreads.
  4. Include finishing flourishes
    A good meal is like a good story (or a good cookbook); it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Anybody can print a recipe for baked Alaska from the Internet but only your cookbook contains the amusing anecdote about how making it for the first time led to a food fight with your grandson, which turned into a fond memory told over Thanksgiving Dinner for years to come.  Don’t be afraid to sprinkle some saffron into your prose to excite the senses and make the recipes in your cookbook truly your own.
  5. Obsess over the details
    The details of your recipes can make or break your cookbook. This includes the ingredients, as well as the instructions, down to the units of measurements and the cooking equipment.  If your audience is comprised mostly of US residents, don’t refer to grams or liters when your cook wants to see teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups, instead.  If your recipe calls for a very specific ingredient that is not available at the local grocery store, advise your cooks where to get their hands on it – a farmer’s market, online, a quick trip to China, etc.  By the same token, be informative and detailed about the pots, pans, molds, presses, graters, utensils, etc. you’ve used to create your inspiring dishes.  The purists will appreciate the opportunity to match your expertise and it gives the lay-cook something other than their prowess to “blame” when their soufflé flops.

To make a soufflé you’ve got to break a few eggs, but nobody warned you publishing a cookbook would be such a headache. It doesn’t have to be! Check out this One-Click Cookbook package over at Outskirts Press.


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer: 12/04/2015

LET ALL THE WORLD KNOW

 

“There was a MOMENT—just a flash of an idea—that would not let me go.” My friend Lorry Lutz (author of ten books, soon to be eleven) was explaining that she simply had to write her most recent book. “I don’t remember exactly how I came across this woman’s life story, but when I did I felt like I knew her. Her Faith was a passion and her compassion for women who were being forced into bondage led her into many dangerous situations. I simply had to bring her story into today’s world, so people will realize that each one of us can make a difference.”

And, there we have it—the Personal KEYS to writing—the moment (idea flash), the message (expressed through actions/events), the memory (personal connection) and the miracle (making a difference).

For many writers I know, the moment the writing idea formulates is when we’re half-asleep—or half-awake—whichever side of the moment we’re experiencing. Other times of awareness hit us when we’re driving, stopped at a red light and happen to glance across a beautifully landscaped park, or up into the brilliance of an evening sunset. And, of course, there is the shower moment or the kitchen-sink-full-of-dirty-dishes moment or the changing diapers moment. I’m certain that you can add many such idea flashes of your own to this list. The point being—these inspired moments DO come and we need to grab hold of them as quickly as possible.

Grasping the idea is crucial and so exciting! From that momentary idea flash comes the whole.

  • The Headline that will be highlighted on the back cover of your book.
  • The Summary and/or synopsis that will draw readers and publishers.
  • The Heart—or Thread—concept that will carry your main points throughout.
  • The Passion that you will exude when presenting your book to agents, publishers, and most importantly, to readers.
  • The Significance or Take-Away Value that readers will grasp and carry into their own lives.

Author Lorry Lutz will see her book Boundless (her working title) released in December, 2016. The heroine of this historical fiction novel is Katharine Bushnell (February 5, 1855 – January 26, 1946) who became a medical doctor and social activist at a time when very few ladies were willing to take the risks she did. Her desire to reform conditions of human degradation took her to back-country mining and lumber camps in America, villages in China and palaces in India. I hope you will bring Lutz’s excellent story into your homes when it appears online—an exceptional example of grasping an idea and developing it to its fullest.

 

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Lorry Lutz  (courtesy of her Twitter account)

 

Of course, timing is always a factor: the moment in time when the idea hits us, the months and quite possibly years in the research and writing, and the investigation and decision-making season when publishing options are weighed. Authors today have a quiver full of possibilities when reaching the moment to publish. You already know that mainstream publishers will not come knocking on your door to hand you a contract. However, if you know someone (who knows someone) in the big houses, there is at least the possibility that your manuscript will be read and considered. For those of us who are not in that position, the self-publishing presses have multiple packages that will not only get your book in print, but ONLINE for all the world to see. So talk to your author friends, query writing conference directors, read the Writers Market and Writer’s Digest, and discover where you and your book fit. Then … get it published!  ⚓︎

 

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.

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.

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[ 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?

– ROYALENE DOYLE

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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 blog.outskirtspress.com, 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, kellyschuknecht.com.

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.  

self-love

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:

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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 selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

News From the Self-Publishing World: 11/23/15

This week in the world of self-publishing:

We pretty much love i09, the millennial go-to forum for all news fandom-related.  And when an article begins with the line, “At an anti-library closure protest, local magician and comics legend Alan Moore had some surprising words” you can bet we sit up and pay attention––particularly when those “surprising words” end up rallying support to the self-publishing cause.  The article by Kaila Hale-Stern, which posted to i09 on November 19th, records Moore as saying “Publishing today is a complete mess. I know brilliant authors who can’t get their books published [….] Publish yourself. Don’t rely upon other people.”  Says Hale-Stern, “It’s rare and refreshing for an established writer to promote the potential boons of self-publishing and be honest about their perception of what lies behind the industry curtain.”  Moore’s words aren’t exactly  hot off the press (the protest actually took place back in 2011), but Hale-Stern’s decision to resurrect them––and to a high-traffic website like i09––says a lot about what millennials are hungering for.  HINT: It’s not more bureaucratic red tape and rejection by traditional publishers.  For more of Hale-Stern’s article, visit her article here.

In another article published on the 19th, GalleyCat contributor Dianna Dilworth updates readers on the latest development for self-publishing authors looking to break into the audiobook market––and, fittingly enough, this week that involves the launch of a new self-publishing tool by the audiobook industry supergiant, Audiobooks.com.  (When you own the domain name, you must be close to the top of your pyramid.)  The platform is being called Author’s Republic, and according to Dilworth it will allow self-publishing authors to “submit titles to Audiobooks.com, Audible, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Downpour, and tunein, as well as library providers such as Findaway and Overdrive.”  The benefits seem (from a cursory glance at least) to be notable: “Most of these platforms will pay authors an average of 35 percent royalty on what their titles are sold for. iTunes and Amazon will pay a 25 percent royalty.”  Only time will tell if this new service measures up to existing competitors, of course.  For more information, follow the link.

Self-publishing made it into the Huffington Post this last week!  In an article for HuffPost Books on November 20th, contributor Brooke Warner writes that “Most writers have traditional publishing aspirations” in that “They want an agent to fall in love with their project and champion their work; they’re looking for the external validation of being accepted by a publishing house; their fantasies about getting published involve a red carpet experience that’s increasingly elusive in this industry.”  But so few aspiring authors receive that validation, despite having genuinely rich material to submit.  The solution?  According to Warner, you can fine-tune your approach to agents and publishers alike, but the one option which will always be open to you is that of the indie, hybrid, and self-publishing market.  Says Warner, “Independent publishing is a blossoming middle ground for authors, and in many cases you can replicate the experience you always dreamed of having–though you pay for it instead of being paid for it.”  Obviously we’re a little biased here at SPA, but we fully advocate for more creative control!  To catch more of Warner’s article, check out the original post.

When it comes to self-publishing, or publishing in general, “art books” don’t get a lot of love or attention.  But they should!  I mean, what’s more eye-catching and giftable than a beautiful oversized book full of illustrations and photographs?  And with the digital revolution has come a parallel evolution in the creation and editorial tools now available to artists and photographers––so really, seeing someone pay attention to them is both refreshing and necessary.  In this November 20th piece for Publisher’s Weekly,  Ryan Joe writes that “despite the amount of work that goes into such an endeavor, numerous creators—some big names in their respective fields, others up-and-comers—are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to getting their art books published.”  He goes on to document the ways and means in which several of these creators have trailblazed the way for other artists to follow, and in so doing Joe creates a summary guide for authors looking to flex a different self-publishing muscle.  Well worth a second look, we’d expect!


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 blog.outskirtspress.com, 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, kellyschuknecht.com.