The benefit of a bounty of Beta-Readers

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I am constantly amazed at how many errors there are in my manuscripts.

And I don’t mean the first draft.

Nothing is more frustrating for me than finding errors in my books, or worse, having others point them out. As well as being patently unprofessional I feel it shows a lack of respect for the work, not to mention the reader. I suppose this could be resolved by hiring a professional copy editor.

Bookbaby’s Copy Editing services include, “A word-by-word edit that addresses grammar, usage, and consistency issues.” My soon-to-be-released novella, Cold-Blooded, The Mattie Saunders Series Book II, is about 100 pages and would cost $700.00 to have it copy edited by Bookbaby

If I sell the e-book edition of Cold-Blooded for $3.99 on Amazon my royalty will be $1.40, which means I’d have to sell 500 copies to pay for the copy editing alone (in my dreams). So I’d rather recruit non-professionals who are committed to making my work error free.

Beta readers can be anyone, though I tend to shy away from friends and absolutely won’t use family. I’m not asking them to review or comment on the story (though I don’t discourage it), just read it and make note of the errors. Right now I have two who had previously reviewed my books (favourably). I contacted them to see if they’d like to beta-read my new works. The other one is a friend. None are professionals and they all do it for a free copy of the finished book with their name on the acknowledgements page.

Prior to sending the manuscript to my beta readers, I’ve developed a process to make it as error-free as possible.

1. Each time I sit down to write I re-read and revise what I wrote during the previous session.

2. After I finish a rough draft I revise it thoroughly, then let it rest.

3. After I’ve got the story out of my system, which means I no longer have instant recall for each line written (minimum three months), I pull it out and revise it again with fresh eyes.

4. Then comes the computer spell-check.

Then I send it out to my three beta readers.

I used to be pretty confident once I’d done all that I’d caught at least most of the typos and filled in the dropped words, but it’s embarrassing how many errors they still find, and it’s also remarkable how what one misses the other catches.

Once they get back to me I do the corrections which entails another revision. Finally, uploading it to Smashwords, Kindle and Draft2Digital gives me another opportunity to check it since I always do a visual review for formatting glitches.

I strongly urge other indie authors to begin recruiting beta readers – from your email list, through your website, on social media, a supportive friend, a note pinned on the bulletin board in the local library, or like I’m doing here in a  blog (see below). You simply cannot have too many and they tend to fall away.

If you’re patient, methodical and persevere you can self-publish a respectable, error-free (fingers crossed) book.

Besides, there are no guarantees a professionally edited, self-publish book will have any more success than one that is carefully vetted by a group amateurs committed to making your work the best it can be.

Plus you’ll save a lot of money.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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If you’d like to become a beta reader and have an opportunity to read (and improve) my new work free, please send me an email at rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

Web links associated with this article:

Bookbaby Editing Services https://www.bookbaby.com/book-editing-services

Kindle Direct Publishing https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US

Draft2Digital https://www.draft2digital.com

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com

Rod Raglin’s Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

 

Original post:
rodraglin.booklikes.com/post/1638581/post

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A Book Launch case study

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I recently received an promotional email (no personalized salutation) from an indie author saying she noticed I’d reviewed a book similar to one she had just written and if she sent me a free e-pub edition would I be interested in reviewing hers?

What interested me was how she went about selecting reviewers? It must be an onerous task to go through reviewers on Amazon, even after applying the appropriate filters in regards to genre, and extract their emails. And once you have them there is no guarantee they’re going to review your book, or for that matter give you a good review.

So I agreed to review her book on the condition she tell me how she got my email address and any other tips she might have on marketing. To sweeten the deal I even purchased her book, very uncharacteristic for me.

She responded favorably and has been very forthcoming. Here’s what she has undertaken so far in producing and marketing her novel.

She says she wrote this book, her second in a series, taking into consideration the requirements and preferences of traditional publishers because she thought she might approach agents and traditional publishers with it.

“In the end, after reading several articles and consulting with the other authors in my two writers’ groups, I decided that self-publishing is actually the better option. If you’re interested in my reasoning, let me know.”

I am interested and will be asking her why she’d turn down a traditional publisher to become a self-publisher? Her previous book was also self-published so it’s not like she switched.

So how did she come up with my name and email address and those of other reviewers?

The answer is she bought a Book Review Targeter app for $200 (lots are available on the internet).

It works like this – you choose as many books as you want that you feel are similar to yours and receive what’s essentially an excel list of all the people who reviewed those books. The vast majority don’t have an email address but there are plenty that do.

So what to do with those email addresses?

She down loaded an app called Group Mailer because it makes sending out group emails easy.

So how is she doing?

“In about three days I’ve had about forty-five people agree to read and review a free version of the book and an additional twenty who declined the free copy and purchased the book to review it.”

Now that’s impressive, not the forty-five who agreed to review it, but the twenty who declined a free review copy and bought one. Who are these people?

She says she has another three or four lists (from additional similar books) she has yet process.

She’ll be running a 99¢ campaign for the e-book edition for two days on Amazon and one day free book promotions on Pretty-Hot Books and Discountbookman, spending ten dollars for a featured promotion on bookreadermagazine and running a giveaway on Goodreads.

She also has had no problem asking friends, colleagues and clients to buy her book and she anticipates reviews from about twenty percent of them.

She’s asked the other writers in her writers’ groups to share information about her book on their Facebook pages and has started looking for blogs to ask bloggers to mention it.

If that isn’t enough, and it probably isn’t, she’s considering spending $720 to have BookBub promote her book. BookBub claims the campaign will sell 2700 books, and the members in her writers’ groups unanimously support these stats saying they’ve received three times the return on their investment with such a promotion.

There’s a caveat here – BookBub only accepts professionally produced, error free books. They seldom accept new releases, preferring you have a proven track record with reviews. If you qualify be prepared to cut your price to the bone. Even if you want to promote with BookBub you may not make the grade.

To produce her book she hired two beta readers at $50 each and got a book cover artist from her writers’ group to design her cover for $65. No editor was needed as she just happens to be one herself.

So far her hard costs have been $375. Results are pending.

A lot of what she’s doing I’ve done:
– I have an Advance Reading Team e-mail list of a little over 200 who receive my new books free to stimulate buzz and encourage reviews.
– I have offered giveaway promotions on Goodreads, LibraryThing and BookLikes.
– I send a press release to local media offering them a book in return for a review
– I blog, and promote on Facebook and Twitter
– I have three beta readers who read my books free and are recognized on the book’s Acknowledgement Page.
– I edit my own books and design my own covers

Some of what she’s doing I’ll never do.

I have never solicited family, friends, colleagues or clients to buy my books. In my opinion it’s unprofessional. Besides I want my books to be bought because they’re well written and entertaining, not out some misguided obligation or as as way for someone to ingratiate themselves to me.

My hard costs on my last book were zero.

And so have the results.

Of course, there’s always the elephant in the room – the quality of the book.

I’m watching how this book launch does and hoping I can learn something. Maybe you will as well.

Speaking of book marketing…

CreatorCollabs Boosted Tweets
So out of the blue I get a promotional tweet about CreatorCollabs (CC) Boosted Tweets. Basically, post a tweet and share it on CC. Other CC users see your Tweet and share it with their online audiences. In-turn, you need to share content created by others to ensure your points stay high to continue to get access for your tweets.

There’s a free and paid plan. Of course, I used the free one.

For a week I loaded Tweets about my plays, Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope, available free on Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin until December 31, 2017. In return I retweeted content about the books of other authors.

They have a stats bar so you can check how many people you’re apparently reaching. Here’s the results of one of my tweets.
– The number of retweets my tweet received from my own twitter followers = 0.
– The number of retweets my tweet received through CreatorCollabs Community = 7
(increase 700%)
– Number of my followers my tweet reached = 50
– Number of followers my tweet reached through CreatorCollabs Community = 10,131
(Increase 20,262%)

Increase in books sales in response to this enormous increase in reach = 0
Increase in activity on my website and book sales platforms = negligible.

Just another case of nobody being interested in anyone (or their books) but themselves – including me.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

Web addresses associated with this article:

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/home/overview.php
Book Reader Magazine http://bookreadermagazine.com/
Discount Book Man http://discountbookman.com/
Pretty-Hot.Com http://pretty-hot.com/
Groupmail http://group-mail.com/

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https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Facebook
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Produce your own Theatre – Free Scripts and Production rights

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This time of year is when theatre groups, big and small, amateur and professional, experimental or conventional unveil their new season.

I love live theatre. I was even a member of the Vancouver Playwrights Theatre Centre and under their mentorship wrote two plays.

One of the biggest thrills I ever experienced was to have professional actors perform a reading of my one-act play, Harry’s Truth. It was truly mind-blowing to witness other people interpreting my work in ways I never imagined while still staying true to the script.

To celebrate live theatre I’m offering the scripts of Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope free until December 31, 2017 to any individual, drama class, amateur or professional theatre group to read, workshop or produce. Here’s what one reviewer had to say about Harry’s Truth.

“You show the interactions between the five of them and let us have a glance at everybody’s past. A lot gets revealed in every scene. I like the detailed stage instructions and the symbolism in the last scene. One can read Harry’s Truth as if it were a short story. I’d really like to see this play on a stage someday…”

Often theatre groups are inhibited by the price of mounting a production. I will sign off on all production rights during that period and also authorize you to reproduce the copies of the script.

If you send me an email I’ll forward the website address and the coupon codes so you can download your free e-book scripts of Harry’s Truth and End of the Rope.

rod_raglin@yahoo.com

As the reviewer I quoted pointed out, these plays also make entertaining reading even if you’re not a theatre buff.

If anyone would like to take advantage of this offer I’d love to be involved as a script consultant or in any other aspect (no, I won’t pay to produce the production). Who knows maybe I’ll even come and see it.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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Website:   http://www.rodraglin/com

Amazon Author Page:   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00SD6LEU

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

 

 

Using sales to segregate good writers from bad – and save the e-book industry

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According to Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, the leading news website devoted to digital publishing, e-books, and e-reader news I’m a bad writer.

How does he come to that conclusion? In his own words, You are only considered a real author if you can make your living solely from the book sales. If you can’t, you are merely a writer… the industry needs to define the good writers from the bad. The primary way we can do this is by sales figures; if authors make their living from publishing, they are often considered good writers.  Once we can define a good writer from a bad, we can start to segregate them.”

Which brings us to another of his suggestions, segregating self-published books according to sales.

“My suggestion is for all major online bookstores that take submitted indie content to create their own sections for self-published writers. These titles should not be listed side by side with the traditional press.  Indie titles should have their own dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore.”

Why, you ask, does Kozlowski think this is necessary?

“There are a copious number of online self-publishing companies that promise aspiring authors the opportunity to distribute their e-book all over the world. Millions of authors publish with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital, Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press and Smashwords. Most “authors” who self-publish an e-book never sell more than a handful and over seventy-five percent of all authors never earn a living through their writing.”

And the result of this plethora of self-published dreck (my word) is that “We live in a world full of terrible e-book titles that ruin e-book discovery and make it difficult to find a good book. It is no small wonder why e-book sales have plummeted in recent years.”

The comments on Kozlowski’s blog https://goodereader.com/blog/author/michael-kozlowski on this topic are mostly specious in that they don’t respond to the problem he’s addressing. They range from outright denial to dismissing his ideas because there’s a typo in his text. As one who actually reads and reviews the work of unknown, randomly selected indie authors I’d have to agree with his assessment and his solution.

When I decided to write fiction about ten years ago I had about forty years of journalism as a formative base. But even though I’d written hundreds of thousands of words up to that point it, fiction was a different style of writing. To learn how to write fiction I attended writer’s groups, joined online critique sites and read dozens of books and I continue to do so.

Writing fiction is a craft and it can be learned and mastered, to some degree, by learning the fundamentals and then practicing – a lot. It’s evident that the vast majority of the indie authors I’ve read haven’t even bothered to learn the basics and have spent no where near enough time practicing.

As Kozlowski says “Indie titles have no quality and control, often they are merely submitting a Word document to Amazon and clicking publish.”

Kozlowski’s not suggesting all self-published books are crap and all traditionally published books are classics, just that “there is some expectation of quality” in reading a traditionally published book”, and that’s definitely not the case with reading a self-published work.

From the beginning of my venture into writing and publishing fiction it became apparent to me the only way to measure success was with book sales. This is an industry of illusion and delusion and the majority those involved are, as Kozlowski suggested, subject to the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

“Unskilled individuals that suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude.”

I have come to accept that I am “inept” until my book sales prove otherwise.

Accordingly, I’m prepared to have all my books segregated in “dedicated sections until such time as they reach a certain threshold in sales. Once they can attain an arbitrary sales milestone, they are drafted to the big leagues and listed in the main bookstore.”

I’m sure there will be very good books that never attain that threshold (mine?) and I’m just as sure there will be those who, rather than hone their craft to the point they can write a good book, will find ways of attaining that threshold fraudulently.

However, this is a solution I am prepared to considered in hopes “the cream might rise to the top”.

If Kozlowski’s is right that by 2020, fifty percent of all digital books will be written by indie authors and that will account for 25,000 new titles a month being submitted to online bookstores than something, indeed, has to be done.

So just how many books would you need to sell to meet the threshold and advance to “the majors”?

Amazon has author and sales ranking graphs that are updated hourly. On Sept. 5, 2017, someone purchased one (1) e-book edition of my novel Saving Spirit Bear. That single sale boosted the novel’s ranking from 8,787,432 to 201, 692 an increase of 8,585,740 points. My author ranking subsequently increased 582,673 points from 825,278 to 242,605.

What do these numbers mean? I’d say a few sales a month and an indie author would be among the top 100,000 selling authors on Amazon. Would that get you into “the majors”?

Who cares, you’d still be making peanuts.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my eight novels and two plays at

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, and discounts regarding my books

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486&fref=comp

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

Tree Therapy, Indian Summer – Facebook vignettes

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Tree Therapy

Most days I get ahead of the morning. I’m up and busy with the mindless tasks that paradoxically fill my mind. It’s good to be engaged, interested, anticipating the challenges and rewards of the day unfolding.

Then there are days I awake anxious and for no particular reason. I don’t indulge these moods but despite my best efforts they prevail. I become disconcerted and irritable. Little things seem difficult, difficult things seem insurmountable.

On days like these I’m more keenly aware of intolerance and bigotry, of ignorance. I despair at people’s motives and am appalled by their actions. Frustration gives way to anger, gives way to cynicism, gives way to a feeling of hopelessness.

I’m running out of optimism. I know for a fact that everything is not going to be all right.

I would surrender, but to whom? I would retreat, but to where?

Nothing constructive or creative will happen until I shake this pall of despondency. I gear up and head out.

Even as I approached them my mood begins to lift.

The Maples of Kensington. Eight stately giants – so huge, so proud, so magnificently impersonal.

These are Bigleaf Maples (Acer macrophyllum), the largest of the Maple family perhaps 300 years old, maybe 50 metres high. Being tightly clustered they have developed a narrow crown supported by a trunk free of branches for about half its length.

I stand beneath them, I press my palms against their bark, I take a deep breath and listen.

And they speak to me.

High in their lofty branches the leaves rush and whisper and their sound soothes and reassures. Slowly their benign energy renews my confidence and restores my vitality. The desolation passes, and I feel unburdened, at peace and prepared.

 

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Indian Summer

The summer had inhaled
And held its breath too long*

A strange mood ascends on me as summer slowly draws to an end.

The days have a listless quality, time seems suspended. There’s a feeling of deja vu – though not of an experience, rather an emotion, a dream sense, vague and inarticulate.

It’s like a lost memory – tinged with warning.

It’s about ending – something good, something sweet and easy. It’s about something approaching – new, different, challenging. The anticipation of change sends a ripple of foreboding, but I feel resigned, accepting.

One afternoon I find myself at Trout Lake, the local swimming hole.

When I was a kid the entire family would walk here from our home on East 4th. Sometimes I’d go with my neighbourhood buddies. It was a different world then, no structured play dates, we roamed free seeking and finding adventures. Most of these people are gone now, yet standing on the shore I can hear their happy voices, catch glimpses of them splashing into the green water.

This lake was witness to many rites of passage and figures prominently in my writing. The beach is small and less crowded than I remember. The raft I nearly drowned trying to swim to is not so far. Could it possibly be sixty years since I swam here?

Suddenly I’m enveloped in a sense of longing for a phantom life that almost was, but never will be.

I run across the hot sand, splash through the shallows and dive in.

The water is cool, slightly murky, exactly as I remember it and for brief seconds it washes the years away. I kick hard, go deeper, then roll over. Up through the depths the sun sparkles, shards of diffused light. I’m eight years old until I break the surface and look back to shore.

They’re gone.

And I’m still here.

*From Coming Back to Me, written by Marty Balin,
On Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, 1967

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6HEU

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486&fref=comp

The last chance get my books free – really

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The 9th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is drawing to an end with thousands of E-books, including mine, offered free or at deep discounts through the month of July, 2017.

You might want to take advantage of this offer and download some of my books free since I am resolved not to give anymore of my work away with the exception to my ADVANCE READING TEAM.

Why is that, you might ask? And why now?

There is a school of thought among book marketeers (no, it’s not a typo since I consider them in the same category as racketeers) that giving away your work will create readers who will write reviews that will generate book sales.

It’s a lie.

Take for example this Smashwords promotion. A total of thirty-seven copies of the five books I offered free were downloaded. My other five titles were offered for fifty-percent off. Zero were downloaded. The vast majority of the two hundred and five books that have been downloaded from Smashwords over the past five years have been free. They’ve generated zero reviews.

There are two things about offering your work free to readers:

– there’s no downside. The reader has invested nothing, so if he doesn’t read it he’s lost nothing.

– free is equated to no value. The reader thinks the work is garbage (and he might be right) and that’s why it’s free.

I think my work has value, but I’d still might consider offering it free during the launch if I thought it would generate future sales. It doesn’t so there’s no point in continuing to demean it.

The exception might be the first book in the Mattie Saunders Series I’m writing featuring an independent young woman with a social conscience and a bad attitude, who loves animals, but not so much people. There’s some good evidence that offering the first book in a series free encourages readers to buy the rest of the series. I’ll let you know once I have a few more books in the series written and published.

Members of my Advance Reading Team will continue to get free and discounted books as well as an opportunity to read new work before it’s released to the public. You can become a member by clicking this link

http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

No spam, no tips to live by, no click bait,

Here’s a list and the link to my books, in e-book format, available free or deeply discounted for two more days during Smashwords sale.

Loving the Terrorist – Free

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/579221

 

The Rocker and Bird Girl – Free

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727720

 

The LOCAL RAG – Free

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/671782

 

End of the Rope – Free

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/655643

 

Harry’s Truth – Free

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649522

 

Saving Spirit Bear – 50% OFF

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575296

 

Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients – 50% OFF

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700967

 

FOREST – Love, Loss, Legend- 50% OFF

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515038

 

Abandoned Dreams – 50% OFF

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/573742

 

The BIG PICTURE- A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic – 50% OFF

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515877

 

If you’re an indie author you can check out this promotion at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

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East Van Saturday Night – submissions – round two

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East Van Saturday – four short stories and a novella, has just been sent out to three more Canadian publishers.
The process began in November of last year when I decided that self-publishing another work (currently I’ve self-published eight novels and two plays) wasn’t going to achieve what I wanted.
What do I want?
Critical, serious consideration for my writing and you’re not likely going to receive that as an self-published author.
Why? Because it’s now dead easy to self-publish and guess what, everybody’s doing it. In 2015 alone, 625,327 ISBN numbers were issued for individual indie books.
In the past six months I’ve submitted to five publishers. If you think sending out submissions is easy, well, I guess it depends on what you’re comparing it to.
Consider:
– publishers are obsessively specific about how your manuscript should be presented: what font style, what type size, margin widths, headers, etc.
– part of the submission package is to explain why you think your work is a good fit for them,
– you must provide details on how you’re prepared to market your book,
– in most cases they will not accept simultaneous or multiple submissions,
– they don’t let you know they received your submission,
– you are under no circumstances allowed to contact them in any way,
– they don’t let you know if they reject your work, they’ll just shred it, using “a secure process”.
Okay, so it’s not that difficult, it’s just extremely annoying to have to deal with their arrogance – and that’s without ever having the opportunity to speak with any of them.
To make it even more galling, in 2014-15 these guys (and gals) received $30 million dollars in Canadian government subsidies – that’s my tax money.
And what exactly do they do for this money now that all the services: editing, cover design, production, marketing and distribution can be done by the author or purchased from experts relatively inexpensively?
One thing.
They’re the gatekeepers to literary acceptance. If you’re an indie author you’re a joke, if your traditionally published you’re accepted by the literati.
Not that I’ll make any more money. Emerging authors are lucky to receive a fifteen percent royalty on traditionally published books.
So here we go again.
East Van Saturday Night – four short stories and a novella, is to some degree autobiographical and impart to the reader why you can take the boy out of East Van, but you’ll never take East Van out of the boy.
 
Though the stories are all set in East Vancouver (with the exception of Hitchhike, which is a cross Canada misadventure during the “summer of love”), the themes have universal appeal and the music, the fashions and the culture are distinctly familiar to “boomers”.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs