Tag Archives: self publishing resources

Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word (my comments in red)

To: Laurie Gogh, traditionally published author of several books, including Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman's Travel Odyssey


Fm: Artist/VR/AR producer  Stephen Black, self-published author, including the bestseller i ate tiong bahru.(2000 paperback copies sold, with no media coverage nor advertising)

Re: Your recent submission to the Huffington Post

Dear Ms. Gogh,

Thank you for your submission to the Huffington Post. We at the Huffington Post are aware of, and truly appreciate, the time and effort it takes to write an outstanding essay. We sincerely hope the following notes from one of our  editors will assist you on your journey towards becoming a professional writer.

All the best to you.


Submissions Desk at the Huffington Post  (JUST KIDDING.)

Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word Laurie, Fantastic title! Clickbait yet literary!

As a published author, people often ask me why I don’t self-publish. “Surely you’d make more money if you got to keep most of the profits rather than the publisher,” they say.

Laurie, wonderful opening paragraph. A few things: a. add sales figures. Can't go wrong with sales figures.   b. your awards. Can you weave these in, in a punchy way? c. how about "Surely you'd make much more money or...much, much more money..."😉 And hey, just between you and me... haven't you considered self-publishing? What do you make per book? Forty, fifty cents? Do publishers still line up promotional tours these days? How's your backlist moving?

I’d rather share a cabin on a Disney cruise with Donald Trump than self-publish. Can I try to arrange that?  Ha ha! Actually it is a great line. Can you open with it? However, you'd have to come up with a follow up paragraph that would outline why you cannot see yourself in the world of self-publishing.

To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it (Can we rethink this? must we associate the word "respect" with traditional publishing?  +... want to read--or want to buy? 🙂 — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. Laurie, let's make this really work for us: can you make it personal and mention your editors' names?..and OOPS! Your sentence begins with "to get a book published... you have to go through agents, blablabla national and international reviewers". Reviewers aren't necessary to to get a book published, are they? Don't reviewers add value AFTER a book is finished? Remember, Laurie, we have to be clear and exact...we're not self-publishers, are we? lol These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. BLEH! Gatekeepers assure readers of quality. Something like that. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates(repetitious), to be vetted by professionals. Just like Fifty Shades and Wool and all of those wonderful books by Joe Konrath, who has sold millions. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have. Laurie, let's rethink those last two lines. Readers don't expect those things, though the world would be a better place if more readers did. For now, we will feign ignorance of excellent services like Reedsy.

Good writers only become good because they’ve undertaken an apprenticeship. Yes! The craft of writing is a life’s work. Yes! It takes at least a decade to become a decent writer, tens of thousands of hours. Your favorite authors might have spent years writing works that were rejected. But if a writer is serious about her craft, she’ll keep working at it, year after year. Yes! At the end of her self-imposed (move this 'self-imposed' up so that it modifies the first 'apprenticeship') apprenticeship, she’ll be relieved that her first works were rejected because only now (rethink your use of tense here!) can she see how bad they were. Laurie, isn't it also possible for self-publishers to have their work rejected, in many ways? If an honest friend or a teacher told you that your book was unreadable, would that be better or worse than an unsigned rejection form letter from the office of an agent or publisher?

Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? Rewrite, does not sound literary. At. all. When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said coolly replied, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”An anecdote Laurie, well done!

The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on a Amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Laurie, can we link to where Amazon provides this service?  lol Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book. Laurie, perhaps we can give this a little rethink? Most self-published books sell much less than a 100 copies. I doubt a bookstore would automatically share their valuable time and space with just anyone, self-published or traditional. So, let's give this paragraph a little thinkie, shall we? The appearance of being uninformed and writing with an ink made of sour grapes: no thank you!

And, when something is badly written, do we toss/throw/dump it into the trash or do we crumple it and then throw it into the trash? And, what do we do if the amateurish writing is digital, like an ebook or an online article?

The problem with self-publishing is that it requires zero gatekeepers. From what I’ve seen of it, self-publishing is an insult to the written word, the craft of writing, and the tradition of literature. As an editor, I’ve tackled trying to edit the very worst writing that people plan on self-publishing just because they can. Wow... that last line may not technically be a run on...but it ain't no dancer! And Laurie, dear, are all traditionally published books worthy of the tradition of literature? Dangerous waters here! And, what percentage of self-published books have you read? Aren't there also gatekeepers in self-publishing; that is curators? Or even Goodreads!? Only an idiot would pick up ANY book without doing any sort of checking, regardless of how it was published. And, historically, there have been some noteworthy self-published works. I certainly know what you mean about editing bad writing.

I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.

Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician. (Does "something" about that object truly validate you? And, the example of you screeching/recording a CD feels like an unnecessary repetition of the doctor story above. Pick one.) It’s the same with writers who self-publish. Literally anyone can do it, including a seven-year-old I know who is a “published” author because her teacher got the entire class to write stories and publish them on Amazon. It’s cute, but when adults do it, maybe not so cute. With the firestorm of self-published books unleashed on the world, I fear that writing itself is becoming devalued. Gosh, Laurie, I agree with you. But so far, your piece isn't realizing its full potential and could come across as an unresearched rant. Can you spend some time going through some bestselling self-published books and then tear them apart? It'll be a breeze and make for a better, strong essay. Grrrr... you go girl! Devalued writing is not for us!

I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Thank you for that! Me too! Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. Laurie, just say that they are going to die soon! Death adds drama! Make this piece come alive!  It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such.Memo to self: get Amazon to create a category for people who quickly write and self-publish books before they die but do not have the time to become great writers like Laurie. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. Rewrite. Clunky. Maybe something like: Self-published and published books share one thing: words on pages between covers. Or something like that. Laurie, you're the wordsmith:) Oh... we should say "traditionally" published. The similarities end there. And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly (not approximately? lol) why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or, in many cases, even six months(I believe the correct amount of time should be six months 18 days. lol), to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer.cliché in  a sentence that is 40+ words long. Intentional, right? Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.

Author Brad Thor (what has he written?) agrees: “The important role that publishers fill is to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’re a good writer and have a great book you should be able to get a publishing contract.” Laurie, can we give that quote a rethink? Not only is it bland and kinda wrong, but the cliché police are outside. They want you to come out with your hands up...lol

Author Sue Grafton (she wrote...what?) said, “To me, it seems disrespectful...that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy and s/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do the research. ... Self-publishing is a short cut (Hey Laurie, FWIW, my books usually take about three years to write and research, at least two months of that time winning and losing battles against the world champion editor Vikki Weston) and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if s/he’s ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall.” Laurie, if you want to criticize self-publishing, again I suggest a better strategy is for us to pick apart some of the self-published bestsellers that have sold, for whatever reason, tens or hundreds of thousands of copies, like your books have. These quotes you've chosen have nothing to do with your opening which is about economics and why you don't self-publish. And, please, do some research...with an open mind.

Writing is hard work, but the act of writing can also be thrilling, enriching your life beyond reason when you know you’re finally nailing a certain feeling with the perfect verb. 31 words, all "beyond reason" and smooth as buttahhh lol It might take a long time to find that perfect verb. (It might never happen and you end up making a clumsy sentence that is a weird present/future continuous perfect tense) But that’s how art works. Writing is an art deserving our esteem. (Writing is an artform that deserves our respect. Writing is an art form that should be held in high esteem. Ya wanna wrestle? lol) It shouldn’t be something that you can take up as a hobby one afternoon and a month later, key in your credit card number to CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing before sitting back waiting for a stack of books to arrive at your door...before being taken down to the bookstore for a signing and massive sales by sheep/buyers who do not recognize works of literary merit. lol. That sentence is 40 words long, clumsy and repetitious. Laurie, we get it, we get it: the doctor can self-publish, the seven year old can self-publish it, anyone with a credit card can self-publish....EDIT

Let’s all give the written word the respect it deserves. Laurie, not a bad closing, but I am still left hanging by the question posed in your opening: why don't you self publish? Surely you could afford an editor and no longer need to fear gatekeepers? Please rethink this entire piece and give it the work it requires. Get rid of the repetition and, remember, facts speak volumes. Your opener suggests that self-publishers make more money than traditionally published authors--and you never touch this important aspect again. I'm afraid I can't run this piece as it is; feels too much like an "intelligent" rant by a wine-fortified semipro blogger. Good luck!

Headtalker Notes: i ate tiong bahru glassware project

My HeadTalker i ate tiong bahru glassware campaign is here. My understanding of how HeadTalker works is this: someone who supports a HeadTalker campaign is agreeing to let HeadTalker, for only one time, post on his or her social media site.
In my case, if someone supports my HeadTalker project, a post will appear on his or her social media site on October 28, 2016 12:00pm Eastern Time (US & Canada)

The message, and a screenshot of the glassware project on Zingohub, that will appear is this:

"drinkers, art collectors, T-shirt wearers and book readers:welcome!https://hdtk.co/3DI6A"

That link goes to my crowdfunding campaign. My crowdfunding campaign is for an edition of glasses, "normal" glasses, T-shirts, books, ebooks and more, all related to i ate tiong bahru. My crowdfunding campaign is here. To say this another way, someone who supports my HeadTalker campaign will automatically, and for one time only, have a post that tells people about my glassware crowdfunding campaign.... for which I will be very, very thankful! Any questions, please ask...this is a first time for me, and I have researched carefully and I think the above sums it up. But yes, last time..If you support my Headtalker, they will, for one time only, make a post on your social media site for my glassware project. T H A N K S If you are a writer or considering using HeadTalker, or a similar service called Thunderclap, you should read this great post by Steve Vernon. Another excellent account of a user's experiences, this one by Paul Towers, on his Project:Startup Blog.


Hello... To see me bray like a donkey as I briefly describe the books, click here. To see an informative interview shot in Bali, click here. For complete descriptions of the books being given away, click here. The schedule.... FIRES Red chairs, cyril wong and FIRES free downloads over for now... ........................................ FURIKAKE photography as part of book cover designiron fire riceballs and red thumbkway All the free days have passed... ........................................ I ATE TIONG BAHRUIATB_front in Singapore, available at Booktique, Naiise and Books Actually ............................................ OBAMA SEARCH WORDS Obama Search Words by Stephen Black free downloads over! ................................ BALI WAVE GHOST black and white book covers  Free downloads on Amazon: September 27,28 and 29.   Interactive Fiction...Go to the site to find PICASSO IN THE RAIN! https://ifcomp.org/   I ATE TIONG BAHRU AUDIOBOOK SAMPLE  Video interview about the books   Kickstarter coming soon!! Thank you for stopping by... Drop a line! And, honest reviews on Amazon or Goodreads are always appreciated! THANKS   Stephen Black

Review of the Book Merah ebook Giveaway on Amazon

The free download is still happening; until 11:59 April 12, California time.Click here for the books. Four books were given away during the five day giveaway. The books are here. Although the free offer expires  about 20 hours from now, at 11:59 PM on April 12, I would be pleasantly surprised if there is a large increase in the number of downloads. Analysis. 
book data

Results for Book Merah's free ebook download campaign on Amazon

125 free downloads. The above graph from Amazon does not provide on which books were downloaded, but from the data provided by my WordPress blog, I would say that the downloads were probably something like 45 each for Bali Wave Ghost and I Ate Tiong Bahru. I'd say that Furikake was downloaded about 25 times and Fires about  10 times. I did OK. Any time a connection is made with a reader it is a good thing. What should be made clear though, is that this is the first time that I have done this with a state of mental readiness. Although I'd done a few free promotions before, this was the first time I used a strategy, as opposed to before when I had only naive hopes and  a vague understanding of how the free download ecosystem works. Next time I will expand my strategy. For example, this time I did not use websites that are devoted to sharing info on free downloads, like those listed here. Hopefully I will have more reviews on Amazon. For example, at this time, no one has reviewed Bali Wave Ghost. Understandable because it just went online last week. (The cover does features two great blurbs and I have received other reviews, but they are not on Amazon.)
graph showing a significant spike

Graph showing documentation of 350 views

As I explained in this blog post, I did no marketing for the first ten years of Book Merah. So, yes, compared to some authors I am not even on the radar. But, compared to other  self-published authors that never reach 100 copies sold, I am moving in the right direction. Another point to consider is that my books tend to be cross-genre. They are full of well-researched history, but not historical novels. Love and relationships--yes, but chick-lit? No. Bali and Singapore are my settings so far, but do I write travel books? No. Not being easily classifiable is not a problem for the artist side of me, but the businessman knows that committing to a genre maximizes returns on time invested. So, the bottom line? I need to get to work on my next book, which will be a collection of essays and interviews on the relationship between VR, the eye and cinematography. So far confirmed interviewees and reviewers include Stelarc, Tracy Rowland, Eugene Soh, Alex Crampton and  Sasha Staojevic.
  These links may interest you if you are planning to market your ebook. http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/11/ebook-publishing-gets-more-difficult.html  (YOU MUST READ THIS) http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/how-to-sell-ebooks-5-proven-tip/ (YOU MUST ALSO READ THIS) How to Market Your Kindle Ebook in 10 Steps How Booktrope Turned a Free Ebook Into A Bestseller Blogs hijacked from Mark Coker at Smashwords    

Notes on an Ebook Giveaway

To celebrate Book Merah's tenth birthday, four books were given away on Amazon: Bali Wave Ghost, Fires, Obama Search Words and Furikake. Stephen Black, the author of three of the books and the founder of Book Merah was based in Bali at the time of the event. He has also lived in Singapore for most of the past fifteen years. Thus, some of the following points may be unique to Bali, Indonesia and Singapore. Notes from an Ebook Giveaway that took place on April 8-12, 2016 1. AMAZON BUNDLES THE REQUESTED EBOOK WITH OTHER BOOKS. I was told that the bundle included Pride and Prejudice, Aesop's Fables and Treasure Island. This is not a problem, but when I was told that the download included books besides mine, I was shocked! 2. AMAZON REQUESTS/SUGGESTS RECIPIENTS WRITE A REVIEW?The person who wrote the following is not a native speaker, but it seems like Amazon suggests or asks that the person who downloads the book.... also writes a review? From the email of someone who downloaded on of my books: "...and in order to be  able get your books, I should visit Amazon which review your books. Is that correct?" I do not have a Kindle and have not yet downloaded any ebooks so I cannot comment. If you have downloaded a free ebook (from anyone) can you tell me if Amazon suggests you write a review or not? 3. DOWNLOAD COMPLICATIONS 1. ... Same person as above, a few minutes later: "I gave up for now. Does not work when I tried to download your book. I'll try later on". This comment may be linked to the slowness of the internet. No other complaints like this were reported. 4. DOWNLOAD COMPLICATIONS 2 "I can't download your book. The price is still displaying so if I put them in the cart I assume they  will charge me. I'll ask my friend who is using kindle" Hmmm 5. INDONESIA DOWNLOAD RESTRICTIONS. My friend Komang received this message from Amazon: Komang, this title is not available for you. Due to copyright restrictions, the Kindle title you're trying to purchase is not available in your country: Indonesia. Did you recently move to a new country? "You can easily update your country for your Amazon account." Not sure what the answer is here. Is it related to the content of my books? I doubt it. Obama Search Words includes  a couple of chapters set in Jakarta, where he lived as a child, but, in my opinion, the chapters contain  nothing offensive or anti-government. The stories are even a bit nostalgic. I Ate Tiong Bahru is about the food and history of a community  in Singapore. Bali Wave Ghost is set in Bali and I can't imagine why it would be considered troublesome. Cyril Wong is an award-winning poet and his book, Fires, is not inflammatory. Perhaps Amazon sees downloading books in Indonesia the same as downloading to pirates who would copy the books and sell them illegally? I would welcome this, actually. Are my books so popular that bootleggers want to copy them? Great!Are readers are so desirous of my books that they will risk getting viruses from illegal vendors? If so, I wish they would just write to me and ask for a free copy! Happy to give them one! 6. AMAZON DOES NOT PROVIDE EBOOKS TO SINGAPORE (and other countries)
Obama Search Words on Amazon

Amazon does not provide Kindle service to Singapore and other countries. This is what is displayed when a Singaporean tries to download a book.

Singapore and other countries not serviced by Amazon. Actually, at the time of this writing the ebook giveaway will continue for about another 12 hours. You are invited to read the books. Any feedback or questions about this post or the books are much appreciated. I have been collecting notes for a post that reviews what went wrong and what went right with my free download campaign. Subscribe to the blog if you are interested... Onward!   Stephen Black  

Crowdfunding Blues (Part 1)

OK, I am doing a crowdfunding project with Publishizer and, with 10 days left in my campaign, my goal is very, very far away. Am I disappointed? No, because I understand the main reason why. Am I positive? Yes! Do I have to work my tail off? Yes, yes, yes! Before I start, I would like to say that I am writing this not only to publicize my campaign but to give insights and share experiences that will help others. Although I will work hard for the success of my Publishizer campaign, my book project, entitled I Ate Tiong Bahru 2, will get made one way or another. I believe in IATB2. Background: Tiong Bahru is an estate in Singapore which was started by the British in 1929. Because of its architecture, food, history and small town atmosphere, it is now considered to be trendy in Singapore and beyond. I have lived in Singapore since 2002 and three of those years were spent living in, and researching, Tiong Bahru. I Ate Tiong Bahru was published in 2013. It was well received by both the Tiong Bahru community and critics. It is almost a bestseller in Singapore, where a bestseller is defined as 2000 copies sold. So…2016! Publishizer specializes in crowdfunding books, and originated in Singapore. My campaign was approved. My plan was to first approach those people to whom I had sent a free ebook of IATB. In a perfect scenario, a percentage of the people would have responded and I would have a sale or two already in place before I started to make big social media noise. I have given out almost 500 free ebooks and sent a crowdfunding-related email to all of them. Response: zero. Fortunately, there were three people who did support the campaign at the very start. One a friend, and two who came in “cold”, probably from twitter. Now, the rest of my plan was/is pretty straightforward: send out direct emails as well as post photos and excerpts. Although the people of Tiong Bahru have been extremely supportive of IATB, I am not surprised at their response, or more accurately, their lack of response. To simplify, the population of the TB community is composed of three groups. The first are the ”indigenous people”, who have been residents of TB all of their life, some being second generation. The next group are Singaporean "hipsters" who can afford to live in the area. Some are genuinely interested in the TB community and its history. The third group are expats, perhaps on a housing package, or in an industry like banking or law. This last group has varying levels in the history and/or culture of Tiong Bahru, though many enjoy the culinary results of gentrification. Though I have no data, my feeling is that the audience of IATB has been mainly the “indigenous people”. These people heard about IATB from their neighbors, friends or relatives. Or, from me, as I maintain a physical presence in the neighborhood as much as possible. The TB residents/supporters of IATB, however, are not as big on social media as are the other groups. Some are elderly, some prefer to communicate online in Chinese, some do not understand how crowdfunding works.I do not know how to efficiently, and "nonspammily"reach those who are online and may support the campaign. Yes, I posted once on TB Facebook groups, but I don't want to do so again. Because I am not in Singapore and cannot generate interest in person, the best I can do is an email campaign, first targeting the owners of businesses who would like to be written about. This reward, as well as others can be found on my Publishizer I Ate Tiong Bahru 2 campaign page. Ok, gotta go make some Publishizer/IATB2 noise, lah... End of Crowdfunding Blues Part 1

Author O’Brien Browne and his experiences at the 2015 BookExpo/BookCon in New York City

Being the son of a book salesman who specializes in books for school libraries, I became very familiar with a certain type of book fair. However, now that I have books of my own, I have become very interested in events like the Book Expo/Book Con in Manhattan. Someday I hope to attend...

When my friend O'Brien Browne told me that he was going to New York, I ignored my jealousy and asked him to share his experiences. I learned a lot from the following and hope you will too. Michael also attended the American Library Association book convention in May 2015 in San Francisco, California, where he discussed and autographed his novel, My Back Pages. With his publisher he is currently exploring attending the world's largest book event, the Frankfurt Book Fair this October in Frankfurt, Germany. Stay tuned.. 1.Background/background as a writer.

Born and raised on the California Central Coast, I blog for the Huffington Post (latest) and am a Contributing Editor at the premier MHQ: the Quarterly Journal of Military History. My award-winning pieces on history, fiction, culture and self-development have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Air & Space Smithsonian and elsewhere. An international seminar leader and personal and career coach as well as writer, I have lived and worked throughout Europe and the Middle East. My website is: www.michaelobrowne.com.

2. Description of the book you were introducing or promoting at Book Expo.

This is the blurb to my novel, My Back Pages:

Have you ever wished for the summer to end?

This was the summer that broke America's back, a time of passion, promise and destruction: the summer of 1968. My Back Pages is the story of Del Turner and his family as they live through this hot summer of change in Central California. Against the backdrop of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, student riots and deadly fighting in Vietnam, Del's world is blown apart. As he discovers rock music, LSD and sex, his innocence vanishes. Simultaneously, his life is shattered as he deals with racism against his Afro-American girlfriend while his mother abandons the family. After ’68, nothing will ever be the same again.

My Back Pages is a dramatic tale of youth, rebellion, and transformation.

You can order the book here, on Amazon, or at Barnes and Noble or from my website.

3. Regarding the Expo, what were your goals?

To network with book industry people, readers and other writers and to return home with no copies of my novel. Also, to effectively, boldly and unabashedly market my book, realizing that if I don’t do this, nobody will do it for me. I was successful on all counts. The idea is to get your book out there to readers, reviewers and “influencers”: those with some reputation or position in the industry who will read your work, and hopefully tell others about it via print media, TV/radio or a blog.

My other target was to enjoy myself and the energy of the event, and to go into it with an open mind and to learn from it.

OBrowne BookExpo6

4. Please describe what you did and, if applicable, what you wish you had done, before the Expo.

I dressed well and professionally, as befits such a major event in a major city. I had the staff take pictures of me signing my book for later marketing use. I was polite, open and friendly to all staff members, who are there to help writers and are excellent and willing door-openers. And I warmly talked to industry people, readers and writers, and generously gave them signed copies of my book. This creates great good will and makes you unforgettable. At all times I appeared professional, not like a neophyte whom nobody is interested in, nor arrogant, which simply repels people from you.

Another key thing I did was to make two large posters of my novel, which I stood up on a stand to advertise the book more effectively. Also, I spread colorful flowers and two LED blinking lights in flower-pattern “candleholders” (all bought from a $1 shop) and a .50 caliber machine- gun bullet (emptied of powder, from an army surplus store!) to symbolize the 1960’s and the Vietnam War. Indeed, one Vietnam veteran came up to me and exclaimed, “I fought in that war. I have to read this book!”

Finally, I had bookmarks made using the book jacket and blurb, which I freely distributed.

What I wished I had done before the convention was to clearly locate the IBPA booth! The Javits Convention Center, where the BookExpo was held, is huge and I lost valuable time and energy running about trying to locate my booth and signing table – very silly of me.


None, really. My publisher, Black Rose Writing, covered everything except the flight, which was covered by my Miles and More program. And I stayed with a friend in Brooklyn, so had no need of a hotel.

6.The Expo staff were helpful?

Yes, especially the staff at my booth, the Independent Book Publishers Association. They energetically fed people to the signing table and pitched the novel aggressively. I was extremely delighted with them.

7. What exactly did you do at Expo?

High quality networking, making valuable contacts, proactive listening, and passing out copies of my novel and the bookmarks. Before and after my signing slot, I walked around to other booths, talking to staff, press people, industry professionals, readers and writers. Everybody I spoke with got my business card, which was also on my signing table in copious amounts.

book cover psychedelia

My Back Pages by O'Brien Browne

8. Results?

I made many valuable contacts in the industry, most of whom I have networked with via LinkedIn, etc. I learned of the Indie Book and the Mother’s Choice book awards by meeting the organizer who, at the end of our talk, had a copy of my novel in her hands, which she is now considering for the awards. In a business sense, more people are now reading, talking about and buying My Back Pages.

I powerfully saw the value and vital importance of marketing one’s novel – writing it is the easy part! The event also strongly reconfirmed my feeling that there is a large and growing audience of readers who are hungry for authentic works, and are sick of being bombarded with thrillers and vapid books on how to get rich or some celebrity’s sex life.

Actively attending such events is also important to add to your “story” of your book and marketing it successfully. It produces a positive “wow!” effect and makes you look professional, serious and dynamic. And, it creates a wonderful wave of positive joyful energy, which is shared and produced by all.

portrait of a man against a blue sky

Author and writer O'Brien Browne

author at book signing

O'Brien Browne, later in the summer, at the 2015 ALA in San Francisco.

Authors Signing Signboard

O'Brien Brown and other authors on a signboard of the Independent Book Publishers Association, at the 2015 ALA in San Francisco.

Many blogs for the Huffington Post. Latest. Many online articles. See also michaelobrowne.com or OpenMinds OpenMarkets.com

My Back Pages on Amazon.

My Back Pages at Barnes and Noble.


Why I use Google+

www.blacksteps.tv Facebook is  a 500 pound shrinking party hat; Google+ is a custom-made, constantly updated digital Swiss army knife.
Google+ in action

Screen capture, July 1, 2014

  I'm not really a techie, but I try to learn about tech stuff. Why? Because the internet is what is happening. Do I want to be famous? No. Do I want to be #1 on the top of a search engine result? No. Do I want my artworks and books to be in front of like-minded people who are searching for ideas related to mine? Yes, yes, yes! I was nicely surprised today that when I searched for a Singapore-based crowdfunding organization, Avvio, that my name came up close to theirs. This happened simply  because I think they are interesting and I shared that view on Google+. So that's it. I could go on  about other Google+ advantages, but the above example is simple enough: you either get it or you don't. If you give it some thought, the example above is seemingly positive  and definitely profound. It is also the future, as long as there is Google and people who search. Techies: Yes, I know there are a quite a few factors involved in the placement of search results. There is no guarantee that this sort of thing will happen every time. But we both know that my same post on Facebook went between a post of a cat and a promise of beautiful skin...and my post stayed there. Not only stayed there, but was  seen by an unknown-but-probably-small  fraction of the people I wanted to share that info with.

Stephen Black at Booktique PRESS CONFERENCE (writer video info @ bottom of post)



CONTACT: Anthony Waugh Koh waughak@gmail.com



Artist/writer Stephen Black, a Singapore-based American launches a campaign to create a free ebook with the internationally recognized Unglue it organization. The book, entitled Contact With Shadow, is a contemporary love story filled with references to Singapore’s history.

Additionally, Stephen Black, with Eugene Soh, is now working on Spoken, a dynamic mashup of virtual reality, curated artworks and short stories. Although the project originates in Singapore, the launch will take place in Brooklyn later this summer.


Who: Stephen Black

What: Press Conference and/or opportunity to schedule an interview before June

Where: Boutique, Dhoby Ghaut, Cathay Building, next to Starbucks

When: Monday June 2, 1-10 PM OR by appointment until June 8

Note: ebook copies of Contact With Shadow for press review available upon request


About Stephen Black

A multidisciplinarian who has lived in Paris, Tokyo, Bali, Hong Kong, NYC and Singapore, Stephen Black’s creative journey has been diverse. Besides authoring articles, art criticism and novels, he has an extensive record  as an artist working with photography and video. In 2007 he created Book Merah to facilitate the production and distribution of books, ebooks, music and art. Titles include Fires by Cyril Wong,as well as Furikake, Obama Search Words, Bali Wave Ghost and I Ate Tiong Bahru.


About the Press Conference on Monday/other interview opportunities

From 1-10 PM on June 2 at Booktique, Stephen Black will be informally meeting fellow writers and members of the  press.To request a fixed time, contact Anthony at waughak@gmail.com

To request an interview any time before June 8, email preferred day/time to bookmerah@gmail.com.


About Contact With Shadow

“It's a double pleasure to read this wonderful scrapbook of historical facts and metafictions. First, there's the joy of gleaning nuggets of knowledge about Singapore and the printed word hitherto unknown; and second, there's the childlike wonder of never knowing what Stephen Black has in store for us on the next page.”

Ng Yi-Sheng, Singapore Literature Prizewinner


A Cambridge research student comes to Singapore to research the history of printing. His wife, however, dies unexpectedly and his attempts at writing become a mix of focused research and an impassioned sense of loss. A bureaucratic “assistant” and an alcoholic movie producer are further challenges to his sanity.

About Unglue

Unglue is dedicated to working with authors, libraries and a committed group of supporters to create free ebooks. Combining crowdfunding with a revolutionary approach to ebooks, Unglue has been featured on the TechCrunch and Wired websites, in addition to many others specializing in ebooks and technology.

These images and others are available on request: Contact With Shadow IATB_05_100513_cover (1) Steve and Eugene In gallerysg square crop SB Portrait by Lek

........................END PRESS RELEASE...................................

Writers and lovers of good books have a new resource center in Singapore. Booktique opens tonight!

I will be in Booktique on Monday, June 2. There I will informally launch the Contact With Shadow ungluing campaign. I also hope to informally chat with anyone who wants to discuss writing, art and ebooks.

SB at Booktique 2SB at Booktique 1 There may be a surprise or two. Also, I will be happy to explain SPOKEN, an upcoming project combing short stories, virtual reality and an exciting groupof artists. I am excited to be working with Eugene Soh, That Dude From Singapore. Eugene is the artist/visionary who created Singapore's first 3D virtual gallery.  http://gallery.sg/


>>>>>>>>>>>>>the following is only for the MONDAY WRITERS PROJECT<<<<<<<<<<<<<<


OK..we are doing informal short interviews... The idea is that you answer one question at a time, with time in between questions to review your notes. Simple, right?

Here are some questions...we will likely add a few more, so please check this space on Sunday night or better, Monday before you come down. Please send a bio and a jpeg with your name to bookmerah@gmail.com ALSO... send links to anything you have online.

1. Please introduce yourself and say the names of the books you have written.

2. What is the book about? (To be repeated for each book.)

3. Please read a few paragraphs from your book. (Yes, you need to bring a copy of your book(s).

4. The advantages of being a writer in Singapore.

5. The challenges of being a writer in Singapore.

6. Your thoughts on paper books versus ebooks.

7. Where are your books available? Website? Blog?

8. Next book/writing project?

9. Please think of a question you want us to ask you.

Please thank Lorraine Koh, the author of POP ROCK LOVE for volunteering to make this happen.

AND... Doug Schwarz is an author  who is helping other authors.

Take a look at these questions.

If you are interested in, get in touch with Doug.


Ebooks: Born to Click (3 of 3)

A few years after I wrote this series of posts,  I was contacted by Vinoth AJ, of Apoyo. He sent me this helpful assessment of book writing tools. (This is not an endorsement of Vinoth -who seems to be a nice guy, nor of any of the software in this nice reference guide.ALTHOUGH,  I am now pleasantly surprised and pleased to say that we are now collaborating on a writing project that may be of interest to those writers who self-publish. I will link to the first post as soon as it is online.)


What, if anything, can the fiction part of the ebook world learn from the nonfiction side? Are the relationships between authors and publishers the same? How does a paper make its way from an academic (for example) to a reader? Average cost/wordcount of a nonfiction document? Professors seem to be unofficial gatekeepers; their decisions affect libraries, bookstores and students. In terms of ebook production, nonfiction is usually heavy with images, charts, graphs, footnotes etc....is this fact an issue? In terms of marketing, are fiction and nonfiction apples and oranges?


My dad can provide better service and deals on K-12 books than your dad.


Tried once. A book about Singapore, romance and pre-Linotype printing.


Your book is reading you...


I was lucky with I Ate Tiong Bahru. I had storage facilities, and a distributor. Additionally, the Tiong Bahru area in Singapore has a great bookstore, where IATB is often prominently displayed. Otherwise, I probably would not have printed another book.

Options for print books that I have yet to explore:


Lightning Source

Comparison of the two I

Comparison of the two II

An opinion on Lightning Source


I am lucky to have a star...


"You are in a noble profession," said surprise guest Bill Clinton to the heads of houses attending the Association of American Publishers "21st Century Publishing Solutions" AGM on Wednesday. "Pollute it as little as you can and still keep going. We all still need to read things that take more than five minutes to read and more than five months to write . . . The public still needs access to books for perspective. Facts are not enough."

The quotes above and below are from The Booksellers Blog

Barnett is adept at getting huge advances, but asserts, "I want to see the publisher make money. There have been only two instances when the publisher hasn’t ended up making money – of course, that doesn’t mean the book earned out." When David Young asked Barnett what annoys him about his dealings with the book business, his quick reply provided some unpalatable food for thought: "Some of the young people who get hired, who get too big a chance too soon, the editors who aren’t up to it. They can’t write, they say ‘like,’ ‘you know,’ every other word. It reflects poorly on the publisher, on me, and on the process."
Publishing, once a national/international network of editors, agents, proofreaders, publicists and assistants, truck drivers and sales clerks, is now the work of one. No machinery, no smell of ink or the crispness of paper. A click; publishing is a button.

Buy a book...


How does an unknown author find readers? Targeted advertising is a sure way. Giving away free copies and advance review copies (ARC) helps. Bookbub (only after one has enough reviews)


Word of mouth recommendations and reviews are invaluable. Amazon, especially, knows this and wisely took steps to stop the "sock puppets":


-Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Benjamin Franklin, James Joyce and Virginia Wolf self-published. John Milton self-published a pamphlet against censorship (Areopagatica) in 1644. Charles Dickens self-published A Christmas Carol.

-Assuming the quality of the story and presentation are professional, the self-publisher's biggest challenge is to equal or surpass the audience that the traditional publishers already have.

-Self publishing:stigma or stardom?


Smashwords vs. Bookbaby


24 Symbols



Kindle Owners' Lending Library

Noveltunity Oyster





Besides being a bestselling author, Stephen King is an ebook pioneer.Riding the Bullet, was available for download in 2000. It required a free software called “SoftLock”. He was also involved with pay-as-you-go serial projects, including "The Plant." His latest release, "Joyland", is paper only, a show of support for brick and mortar bookstores.


Will try this again. Different book. No hurricane.


As I said, I believe in books. Reading a book is one of the few times that we allow another voice deeply into our being. For days, weeks, sometimes even months, we walk in another’s shoes, see life through a different pair of eyes and maybe even sometimes (surprisingly) learn something new or change our minds about something. Books are a powerful and in some ways unique force for creating a different, greater YOU. Books are one of the few places that where we can discover what more life can offer. And what I saw in digital was the promise of bringing books and reading to more people than ever before. When I got into book publishing, people in the industry told me, about 5% of Americans go into a bookstore in an average year. For me, that was staggering. “What about the other 95%?” I thought. Yes, some go to libraries, but how do we touch everybody? How do we create a nation of readers? The promise of digital is to have any book, the book that you most need available to you, RIGHT now on whatever device you happen to be carrying, from your smallest phone to your big screen tv. It’s any time, anywhere, any device.

Dominique Raccah, founder of Sourcebooks, upon receiving the Muriel Siebert Entrepreneurial Champion award, given to female entrepreneurs who have created an innovative new product or service with global implications.


The son of a book salesman, I probably began reading Publisher's Weekly when I was in second grade. The bestseller list on the last page always fascinated me: the numbers and the words seemed like a secret code for understanding the world. My dad's specialty is, and was, educational materials for school libraries. I grew up in a world that was a cross between a warehouse and a grade school library, surrounded by books, cassettes, Newberry and Caldecott winners, globes, EZReaders and Permabound paperbacks. In 1994 I went to Cannes with my dad for something called the Electronic Media Fair. That was the age of CD-ROM. I held a Newton! I don't remember when I first heard the word ebook, but I don't think it was then. I came to Singapore in 2002 to work for a project that was part Youtube, part Second Life, part educational media. In 2008 I decided to write and create an ebook.

For what its worth, I proudly believe that the cover of Furikake, my third book, has the most amateurish and ugly cover on Amazon. I made it myself! I should add that my last book, I Ate Tiong Bahru (softcover version) is becoming a national bestseller in Singapore.

The Agaricus blazei Murrill Notebook was published in 2003 with a print-on-demand service. In 2008: Obama Search Words. Ignoring common sense, charts and photos were used. At the time, Kindle only displayed tones of gray and was not very friendly toward images. OSW was probably the first ebook completely created in Singapore, where I live. I then produced Contact With Shadow, Fires (by the poet Cyril Wong) and Furikake. Even now, Kindles are not officially available in Singapore. Bus Stopping, a printed book of photographs, was published in 2006. In 2007 I set up Book Merah, which is meant to be more of an incubator than a publisher.

I have been a visual/conceptual artist all my life and have also worked with musicians galore.To pay the bills I have worked for companies like Fox, CNN, Cartoon Network, MTV, Turner Classic Movies, France 2 and Fuji TV, doing everything from directing to cinematography to writing. I also have extensive experience as a food/video photographer. I have done these things in Hong Kong, Paris, Tokyo, Manhattan and Singapore.

Why Do I Want to Give Away 1000 ebook copies of I Ate Tiong Bahru?

Here is a tip: if you have a blog, research blog directories. BlogFlux seems to be a good one. Blog Directory I think there might be a way to put that in the sidebar, but I haven't yet been able to figure out how.