Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Author Jane Jordan

Title:  The Beekeeper’s Daughter
Genre: Thriller
Author: Jane Jordan
PublisherBlack Opal Books
Find out more on Amazon and B&N
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Jane: I started wring seriously in 2004 after I rented on old house on a remote part of Exmoor, in England, for a week. That old house changed my life, giving me a story idea that just had to be written.
Perhaps, it was the atmosphere, the ancient history or the beautiful scenery of Exmoor that enchanted me, or just maybe, I was inspired by the ghost that shared the house with me.
The house was haunted.  I felt that element even before I listened to the caretaker’s stories. My first book turned into a trilogy and combined vampire superstition with a complex and modern love story.
Exmoor was hugely inspiring. A historical dark romance felt like the next logical step. At that time, I had worked in a 1000-year-old castle on Exmoor, and learned about the history of the surrounding estate lands going back several hundred years.
On Exmoor there are many old houses and ancient villages, and many more legends and mythical tales associated with them.  The Beekeeper’s Daughter is primarily set in Victorian times, it is a darkly romantic thriller combining a strong element of witchcraft and the supernatural. 
Is this your first book?
Jane: No.  This is my fourth book.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Jane: Black Opal Books is a boutique publisher—a smaller traditional publisher that does not release as many books as a big named publishing house.
I chose this method as I wanted to be taken seriously as an author, having previously self-published.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Jane: That’s a very long story! 
My first novel was called Ravens Deep, and it was a dark romance story combining vampire superstition and a modern love story.  I wrote it in 2004, before anyone had heard of ‘Twilight’ or ‘True Blood’.  I spent the next two years polishing and editing the manuscript, and sending query letters to countless literary agents, in America and in England. 
In the spring of 2007, I received a letter from a top London agent asking me to go up to her London office to discuss my book with her. 
I thought that I was on my way to being a successful author, why else would I get the invite? 
The meeting started off well.  The agent told me she liked my story.  She thought it was creative and had great potential.  She told me there were a few grammar mistakes, but nothing a good editor could not fix.
But…. and this is where my dream fell apart.  The agent declared that ‘vampires are not in right now, and she couldn’t sell this to a publisher’.
I was a little taken back, and reasoned that was why Ravens Deep could be successful.  The marketplace was ready for this kind of story, it was unique, creative and the last successful vampire book had been Anne Rice’s ‘Interview with the Vampire’, ten or so years prior.  The agent was not convinced.  She said that was part of the problem, there was not anything to compare it to.
Had I known the outcome of this meeting, I would have pushed harder. But I figured she was the big agent, and I was an unknown author, so she must know what she was talking about.  She sent me away after asking me to do a few edits on the first chapter, then, a few days later she turned my book down.
So imagine my frustration when only a few months later ‘Twilight’ hit the headlines followed by ‘True Blood’.  Suddenly, vampire romance was everywhere.  I knew submitting to any more agents would be pointless, I would be just another one out of hundreds of authors now writing vampire romance novels.
I had already received a couple of contract offers from vanity publishers, and I did not want to go that route.  Self-publishing seemed my only option if I were ever going to see my book in print. Ravens Deep was first published in 2008, when I was living back in England for a few years.  Ravens Deep became the first book in a trilogy. 
I sent my book everywhere and to lots of libraries up and down the county. I had a call back from the Richard and Judy show, an English television book club.  They had a copy of my book Ravens Deep and was considering using it on their TV show, but their representative warned me that they were in ongoing talks about the future of the show.  Consequently, that show got moved to a different station, the format changed, and Ravens Deep did not feature.
Having some small success with marketing Ravens Deep myself, and knowing no agent or publisher would pick up book two and three in a trilogy, I went on to self-publish the next two books. (Blood & Ashes and A Memoir of Carl).
I befriended the owners of many local independent book stores and even a gothic type shop around Exmoor.  They all kept my book in stock and I sold many books that way.  I did a couple of book signings and was asked to be a guest speaker alongside well known authors, at the Porlock literary festival on Exmoor.  This went well for me. 
Then, recession hit England.  Nearly all the independent book stores closed, and I moved back to America and Florida in 2013.
In 2014 I finished writing The Beekeeper’s Daughter, and began to contact both literary agents and publishers in earnest.
I quickly received a publishing contract from a small press.  Although, my elation rapidly turned into regret, as this episode was a complete disaster.  The owner/editor, gave me dates and then nothing happened, when queried she gave me a myriad of excuses, everything from her computer breaking down, illness, even death in the family, and this went on for months. She also became abusive and aggressive.  At that point, my patience was gone, and I requested that all my rights be re-assigned to me, as I did not want them to publish my book.  This publisher refused to co-operate, until I got a publishing attorney involved.
I got my rights reassigned to me and learned a valuable lesson – do your research properly on any publisher. Had I done this, I would have read other author’s horror stories of dealing with this particular publisher.
In 2015, I started to query publishers again, and Black Opal Books gave me a publishing contract.  Unlike the previous publisher, Black Opal Books have been a great publisher to work with.   
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Jane: I came so close to having my first book published and taken seriously only to be let down.  When it was published, the TV show could have propelled my book into the mainstream, but that wasn’t to be either.  It has been a very long journey to get to this point and so I suppose the real moral of my story is don’t ever give up.  If you believe in your work sooner or later, someone out there will love it too.
I would say don’t bother to query agents unless you are published.  Agents tell author’s they want something new, something creative, but what they really want is to pigeonhole your work, and compare you to someone else.
I saw something that a top London Agent couldn’t.  I saw the gap in the market, and she was too afraid to take a chance on me, because she could not compare me to anything on the market at that time.  
I like to believe that she regretted her decision, seeing how vampire romance stories became so marketable and lucrative.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Jane: Yes, a good boutique publisher is a sound option.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Jane:  Write what interests you and not what is the current trend.
If you truly believe in your work, someone out there will too.  Keep writing, hone your craft, and don’t give up.

Most authors, even famous ones say they have received enough rejection letters to make a book, so don’t take rejection to heart, it’s just part of the journey.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets of 'Friend of the Devil' Mark Spivak

Mark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books: 
Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq.
For More Information
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Mark Spivak: I’ve been writing since the age of eleven, and knew from the time I was a teenager that this was where I wanted to end up. I carried the idea for Friend of the Devil in my head for many years---several decades, actually. It would be fair to say that I was obsessed with it
Is this your first book?
Mark Spivak: It’s my first published novel. Prior to this, I wrote two non-fiction books published by Lyons Press: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, and Moonshine Nation.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Mark Spivak: I went the traditional route, via a small independent press. I’m not a fan of self-publishing for many reasons.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Mark Spivak: It could fairly be described as agonizing. I had an agent for my two non-fiction books, but she didn’t do fiction. So I sent an early draft of the novel out to 200-250 agents, and they all said no. I put it in a drawer, pulled it out a few years later, rewrote it several times, and sent it to another 200 agents. They all said no again. Finally I started submitting to small presses that would accept unagented manuscripts, and one of them took it.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Mark Spivak: I was very lucky this time around to find Black Opal Books---it’s a kinder and gentler publishing environment. Dealing with a mainstream publisher can be a very unpleasant experience in many ways.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Mark Spivak: It may not be perfect, but it’s the only game in town. Most self-published books don’t receive competent editing, and most don’t sell more than 100 copies. If you’re serious about becoming a writer, this is the only way to do it.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Mark Spivak: Don’t give up.
About the Book:

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, sold his soul to the Devil to achieve culinary greatness. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Publishing: Interview with Robert J. Dornan, author of '23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.

Robert J Dornan is someone who wishes to leave a better world to his children. He realizes that the odds are slim but he will do whatever he can to increase the probability of success.  He is always open to discuss new and innovative ideas and hopes someday to see the building of a functional solar city as well as a fair and community-driven compensation system.

Robert’s latest book is the historical fiction, 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
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About the Book:

In the early morning of her sister's wedding day, Mila Kharmalov stared in stunned silence at the coloured sparks streaming from Reactor Four of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.  At that very moment, her life and the lives of everyone she knew changed

Years later and on another continent, Adam Byrd was writing biographies for everyday people looking to leave their legacy in book form. When the woman he loved phoned from Kiev offering him the chance to write the story of a lifetime, he jumped at the opportunity not realizing that his voyage would be a bumpy ride through a nations dark underbelly. With the help of his friend's quirky cousin, Adam is nudged into a fascinating adventure of love, greed, power and psychotic revenge, culminating with a shocking finale.

23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is a work of fiction based on factual events from Chernobyl and villages throughout Ukraine.

For More Information

  • 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is available at Amazon..
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Author: To give a proper response, I’d have to offer a brief description of myself. I am a quiet environmentalist and a closet revolutionary that agrees entirely with climate control advocates. My transformation from weenie to greenie is a byproduct of my research on 23 Minutes Past 1 A.M.
The thirtieth anniversary of the Chernobyl accident has received mild press attention this year, but the nuclear disaster that has been linked to the fall of the Soviet Union, has remained a mystery to many and even worse, forgotten or made irrelevant.  Cancelled television shows are irrelevant; an accident that has arguably caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands is not irrelevant and cannot be swept under rug like a childhood secret. The story must be engrained in our psyche.
The Da Vinci Code was chock full of interesting facts and/or beliefs. It was more than a suspense; it was a learning experience.  23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. is a compelling work of fiction filled with facts that will cause readers to question the need for nuclear power as well as question the long arm of the Russian bear.  That’s why I wrote the book.

Is this your first book?
Author: No, I have penned several books or at least have been involved in the writing of several books.  I have a series of books called Jack City geared towards teens. I released Part One a couple of years ago but have since made revisions and will re-release in November followed by the sequel.  Early next year, I will release another teen book called Gwydion and in mid-2017, my second adult fare, Sins of the Samurai, will be made available.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author: I’m not a young, up and coming novelist with years of book writing ahead of me.  Few if any mainstream publishers would take a risk on me.  I realize the notion of being published is exciting or even romantic but unless you’re an old school author, your books will get limited shelf time in corporate bookstores that have turned their attention to more profitable items such as greeting cards and lattes.  You’ll end up marketing your own book just as I am doing right now but unfortunately for a smaller margin.  
Self-publishing is an art form to itself and allows someone like myself to control my own destiny.  I don’t fear failure and I don’t write stories to make vats of money.   For someone like myself, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the like, are perfect partners.  There was no better option.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author:  When you take the self-publishing route, you have full control.  Unfortunately, having full control also means preparing for what feels like an endless number of hours of editing before you give it to someone else to edit.  Make no mistake about this; editing sucks. Editing is like screeching chalk on a blackboard.  It’s the Brussel Sprouts of writing.
Your family cannot purchase an infinite amount of copies of your book. Eventually you’ll have to unlock the front door, step outside and beg your neighbors to buy it too.  No?  Then lose your insecurities and hop on the marketing bus because selling a total of ten books is not a conversation starter.  Being somewhat of a border line introvert, this is not an easy task for me but it has to be done so here I am, hoping you continue to read my nervous dribble.
If you’re not careful, you can get scammed along the way.  One person may charge you twice as much for a book cover than someone equally as talented.  Don’t ask a friend or family member to do your book cover!  Keep family away from your creativity.
The benefits or pros is that I write at my own pace and I write whatever I please. I don’t worry if a publisher will accept my manuscript. I don’t worry about deadlines or being pigeon-holed into a specific genre.  Best of all, I release a book when I’m ready and only when I’m ready.  That’s kinda cool.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: With respect to everyone who has signed a publishing contract or works for a Publishing House/business, the industry has changed drastically in the last ten years and will continue to veer towards e-books and self-publishing.  Hard cover books are comfortable and nostalgic to a degree but so are LP’s and 45’s yet I still prefer to download all my music. 
Why should I pay twenty dollars plus shipping and/or gas for a new novel when I can download the e-book for one-quarter the price (or more). Nostalgia? To fill up my ancient bookshelf or hide a hole in the wall?
The common argument that publishers garner higher standards Is not holding as much water as it used to because established authors are going the self-publishing route and the smaller publishers are sticking to niches with the sole purpose of reducing budgets. 
23 Minutes Past 1 A.M. was edited a dozen times and I researched well over four hundred hours.  The lesson I learned is that if you take your time, research and edit until you’re blue in the face, you will produce a quality book.  A quality book that didn’t require a publisher.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: Most definitely. Everyone has a dream and if your dream is to see your name on the front cover of a novel, then go for it.  I would emphasize that it is YOUR name on the book cover so if your effort or lack thereof has produced crap, then you may wish to rethink your bucket list.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Have no fear.  If you worry about offending a specific group, your family or whomever, then your target audience should be readers who worry about offending their mom’s and whomever.  Good luck with that.
Include as many interesting tidbits as you can as long as they are relevant to your story.
Research. Research. Research.
Grow some thick skin because not everyone is going to like your story and many will try to debunk your claims.  No big deal…they read your story and hopefully paid to do so.
Thanks s much for your time.  If you’d like to discuss my books or the environment, feel free to email me at

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Book Publishing Secrets with Robert Wideman

Name: Robert Wideman
Book Title: Unexpected Prisoner
Genre: Vietnam War POW
Publisher: Graham Publishing Group
Link to book:
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Robert: I decided to become an author because I wanted to leave something permanent for my two sons and six grandchildren, and because I wanted to tell the complete truth about the Vietnam War POW experience. Up until now, the American government has misled the world about what happened in the North Vietnamese prison camps during the Vietnam War. It is time to debunk the propaganda that our government has promoted.
Is this your first book?
Robert: No, I published a master’s thesis about Litton Industries in 1976 for the Naval Postgraduate School as a requirement for a master’s degree.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Robert: I self-published because the few authors I knew said they tried traditional publishing and did not make any money. I also know that it is very hard to get a big house publisher to publish your book. The big boys will also ask you where is your marketing plan. You will respond by asking them where is it because they are getting 90% of the profits. They will in turn tell you that you don’t understand, where is your marketing plan?
I think my publisher told me that a marketing plan would cost $30,000.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Robert: Yes I can. The book design, front and back cover designs, and the interior design went well. However, when it came time to find a printer and distributor things got weird. IngramSpark was my first printer, and amazon was the distributor. Amazon took 55% off the top, which left $7.18. Then the printer took $6.44 a copy, which left me a profit of $.74 a book, and that was before taxes. I thought that was outrageous! On a paperback book that sold for $15.95 the profit was less than one percent. The whole idea of self-publishing was to make more than the typical 10% a traditional publisher sends to you. I felt I had been grossly mislead. Graham publishing group then replaced Ingram Spark with Createspace. That worked out much better because now I receive $4.25 profit per paperback book. I still use IngramSpark for the amazon kindle version and receive 60% of the retail price as profit. I still use IngramSpark to sell on Barnes and Noble. I have no idea what my profit is with Barnes and Noble.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author: I have learned that the publishing business it set up for the benefit distributors, printers, and publishers. It is not set up for the benefit of authors.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author: I don’t know. If you can find a traditional publisher willing to publish your book I think you might better off going that way in the long run. I was not told about a lot of things when I decided to self publish. I know someone who went with the Naval Institute Press. Naval Institute Press does all the marketing for my friend, and they have set up book signings and talks for him.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author: Be patient and don’t expect to make money on your first book. I actually think that you will not make any money on your book. You will make money on stuff your book leads you too, like a movie or public speaking.


Find on Amazon

About the Book: 

When Unexpected Prisoner opens, it’s May 6, 1967 and 23-year-old Lieutenant Robert Wideman is flying a Navy A-4 Skyhawk over Vietnam.  At 23, Wideman had already served three and a half years in the Navy—and was only 27 combat days away from heading home to America. But on that cloudless day in May, on a routine bombing run, Wideman’s plane crashed and he fell into enemy hands. Captured and held for six years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, Wideman endured the kind of pain that makes people question humanity.  Physical torture, however, was not the biggest challenge he was forced to withstand.  In his candid memoir, Unexpected Prisoner, Wideman details the raw, unvarnished tale of how he came to understand the truth behind Jean-Paul Sartre’s words: “Hell is other people.”

A gripping, first-person account that chronicles the six-year period Wideman spent in captivity as a POW, Unexpected Prisoner plunges readers deep into the heart of one of the most protracted, deadliest conflicts in American history:  the Vietnam War. Wideman, along with acclaimed memoirist Cara Lopez Lee, has crafted a story that is exquisitely engaging, richly detailed, and wholly captivating. Unexpectedly candid and vibrantly vivid, this moving memoir chronicles a POW’s struggle with enemies and comrades, Vietnamese interrogators and American commanders, lost dreams, and ultimately, himself.

With its eye-opening look at a soldier’s life before, during and after captivity, Unexpected Prisoner presents a uniquely human perspective on war and on conflicts both external and internal. An exceptional story exceptionally well-told, Unexpected Prisoner is a powerful, poignant, often provocative tale about struggle, survival, hope, and redemption.