Stop Chasing Oprah!

When I was about 18-years-old, I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet my idol, Oprah at a cocktail party in Las Vegas. She was everything you’d believe she would be and more. She glowed and emanated a presence  that was indescribable to me. I was excited, not only because I idolized her (and still do) but because I believed, she could be “the answer”.

She could be the one that would rescue my family out of American poverty, turn me and my screenplay into a star and make all my dreams come.  Pleasant as she was, none of that happened. And I spent the next 15 years or so trying to chase other phantom Oprahs; people that symbolized “the answer”.

It’s something a lot of writers and artists in general do. They believe, once that savior picks their project, then all their dreams will come true. Whether it’s agents, studios, book publishers, stars, music labels, the national news media or even popular bloggers, artists believe that their fate lies in the hands of these anointed people.

Well, I’m here to tell you, that ain’t true anymore.

There may have been a time when blessings by these people meant the world and could super-launch your career and they were believed to be the only way to “make it” but not anymore.

Nowadays, there’s nothing they can do – nothing – that you cannot do on your own.



Book publishers used to finance authors through advances, edit their work, print and distribute it. But we know that bubble burst a long time ago. Everyone knew it was an illusion but we hoped no one else would notice. Advances have dwindled in half or less, literary agents complain that editors don’t edit anymore, some say editors only have time to project manage.  Book publishers do distribute to bookstores on consignment but most books are returned, their marketing and publicity departments are understaffed and not able to service the books they have already, so the only thing publishers have to offer that you cannot get anywhere else is printing copies on a massive scale. But why? So, that they’ll be returned and you’ll get your $.75 cents royalty rate a copy after agent cuts and taxes (that is, if you’ve even earned your advance out).

Nowadays, authors can hire their own editors (many of whom are from the masses of people who were laid off at the publishing houses or moonlight), get their own book covers for less than $100, market themselves through social media or hire a small firm, print on demand and distribute the book on their own to bookstores as well.  Look at how many indie authors are hitting the New York Times bestsellers list on their own with zero marketing budget?

I’m not saying New York publishers aren’t needed. There are some amazing people that work at them that I am proud to call my friends and colleagues. But when we’re honest, their power and influence has dwindled to the point where they’re just another right that you can sell.

Look at how many literary agents are forced to close their doors.  Most were so overwhelmed, they didn’t have time to service the books they already represented, let alone the hundreds of submissions they received every week.  Nowadays, you can just hire a reputable book consultant to give you the hand-holding agents used to have the time to do and you can hire a reputable publishing attorney to negotiate your contract for you.

I’m not saying literary agents are  not needed, because if you can find a really great one, they are, especially when it comes to foreign rights and many of the innovative agents have adapted their business models with the times and service their eBook indie published authors in a way that makes financial sense for everyone.



Movie studios and networks used to finance, attach A-list talent, distribute and market films and they were the only ones that could do it. But not anymore.  Nowadays, you can finance your film with Kickstarter, attach an A-list star (now that your film is funded), distribute through Gathr or, get it on Netflix and DirectTV through Distribber and market for free through social media. Advertising rarely works.  National media doesn’t either.  How many studio films do you know were given multi-million dollar marketing budgets and bombed big time?

Sure, studios give you credibility and have an easier time getting films into theaters. But how many little films ended up successful on their own. It happens every year.



It used to be that a talented band would come off the street, go through the A&R department and come out the other end a star. But nowadays, they want you ready-to-go with your own fan base before they’ll even think about distributing you.  But you don’t need that anymore either. Most of the sales are from digital downloads and you can use TuneCore to distribute on your own.  You can hire a reputable music industry consultant to coach you along the way. You can hire the same publicist that the stars have for the same amount of money or you can just do it on your own through Youtube videos and once you create enough of a following, they start looking for you. And where do you get the money for hiring all these great people? Kickstarter.


You see, there’s nothing they can offer you that requires you to put your career on hold until you receive their blessing. There’s no need to chase Oprah anymore. Go for it. Be brave enough to spend all the time and energy you were wasting to get someone’s blessing for you to continue on your career and re-invest it in making yourself the best artist you can. Be great, be fantastic, be breath-taking and most importantly be yourself, and literary agents, book publishers, music labels, movie studios and television networks will come chasing after you.

Interview with Emlyn Chand

Emlyn Chand, author of Farsighted (1)Juggling teen and kids book simultaneously ain’t easy but bestselling author, Emlyn Chand has it down.   Whether it’s teaching young people how to say, “Please” and “Thank you” or dealing with school bully’s, Emlyn is able to write both with ease. I had to find out how she’s able to do it all and in my interview with her, she explains it all.

You write both kids’ books and YA, how do you approach each differently?

Oh, the writing process for these two types of books is completely different. For the children’s books, I start with an initial idea and mull it over for a few weeks or months until I know the story well enough to write it. I’ve tried this method with my YA, but it only results in an endless period of procrastination and a litany of excuses not to write.

I generally write my kid lit within the span of a day or two; whereas, my novels take about two months of active and feverish writing to reach completion.

Still, I love both genres. Trading off between the two keeps my writing fresh and enjoyable for both me and my readers!


What is it like for you to see kids respond so well to your books?

It’s been an absolute joy! My favorite reviews, of course, are those that come from the children. I’m so delighted that they connect with the feathery goofballs in my Bird Brain Books and that they also take time to reflect on the lessons within. I’ve heard there are quite a few children out there asking Mom and Pop for their very own pet birds. I think I may have started something here. 😉


What’s your writing process like?

To write, I always have to leave my desk and go somewhere else. I’ve tried writing in my office, and it’s simply impossible. Favorite haunts include Panera, Caribou Coffee, and—most recently—in my bed with a cushy lap desk. I tend to write in large chunks and have penned many of my children’s books within a single afternoon.


What have you done to promote your books that has worked and what has not worked?

Marketing is another area where children’s books differ vastly from novels. Still, I’ve learned that the best way to get people talking about your books is to offer something special to readers. Don’t just publish and wait for people to buy your books—engage. My pet sun conure, Ducky, serves as the spokes model for the Bird Brain Books (and my business, Novel Publicity). He even keeps a weekly blog that discusses issues real kids face from a birdly point of view. I also like to offer giveaways to fans of the series. What’s more fun than reading a book while hugging a plush version of that book’s hero, after all? Coming soon, the Bird Brain Books will have read-along audio versions for children to enjoy with or without their parents. I can’t wait!


For those aren’t familiar with your most recent kids’ books, what are they about?

Ever noticed that dogs, cats, and teddy bears get all the attention in kids’ books? I have, and while I love these furry creatures, I’ve made it my mission to give our feathered friends the spotlight they so rightly deserve.

And so the Bird Brain Books were born. Six are available now with three more coming in 2013. Each of these books teach important lessons in entertaining beak-sized bites. Remember to say thank you when someone does something nice for you, know who you are—rather than what you look like—is what makes you special, appreciate love, friendship, and beauty where ever you can find it, and enjoy the simple bliss of being a kid.

Oh, and I love to chirp about my books with anyone who will listen and have special sections on my website for readers, parents, teachers, librarians, and more. I hope you’ll stop by and visit me and Ducky at

How to Create a New York Times Bestselling BLOG TOUR | Jennifer Martinez Tells All

Jennifer Martinez AuthorWant to make your indie book a New York Times bestseller? You might think about contacting Jennifer Martinez who among other things, helped Shanora Williams launch a successful book tour that landed her on the list.  It can happen to you too and as you’ll see from Jennifer’s interview below, it may take a little elbow grease but it’s not impossible to do on your own.

Stay tuned to our LIVE Google Hangout Class this Wednesday, March 13th at 12pm ET where Jessica will take us through the process step-by-step.


One of the services you offer are blog tours. For those who aren’t familiar with what a blog tour is, can you explain it?
A blog tour is an online, web based tour through blogs and other sites promoting a specific author or book.


How did you get started doing them and why? 
I got started in them to help out an indie author friend. I had taken part in a few of them and decided to try organizing one for her. I am all about helping out my favorite indie authors in any way possible and this is a great way to do it.


What goes into putting one together? And how many blogs do you need in order to make a real impact on sales? 
It all depends on your goals and your time frame. With a lot of the larger established book blogs you often have to send requests in months in advance. Usually I suggest at least a 7 blog tour or a 15 blog “book blitz” where everyone posts on the same day.


Shanora Williams said that you helped her start a blog tour even before she finished writing the book. Why is that helpful?
It is helpful because it allows the readers to anticipate… Think of Christmas morning, you’ve been staring at the boxes under the tree for two weeks and now the day has finally arrived. What’s the first thing you do? Head straight for the tree and start tearing open the wrapping. It is the same concept with the tour. Giving people time to get to know your book and characters allows them to get excited and to know something in advance so it isn’t a blind purchase.


What mistakes do authors make when trying to put together their own blog tours?
Organization and marketing. Authors have so much on their plates it’s hard to add a tour into that as well. I will spend on average 15-20 hours on a tour from start to finish. Add that time into the time an author spends writing, editing and keeping up their day jobs and family lives and something’s gotta give. Another problem is marketing. A lot of authors will only post about the tour on their web page. For an effective tour you have to have marketing everywhere, book blogs, Facebook, Twitter. You are trying to draw in new readers not just keep old ones.


If an author wants to put together their own blog tour themselves, give us a step-by-step guide: 
1. Lay out realistic but high goals. I am releasing my book March 13 and my goal is “Reach Amazon Top 100 within 2 weeks of my release”
2. Determine the length of your tour. For a new author with only a few works a 2 week tour is best. If you have a large following you can have tours lasting up to 2 months.
3. Determine “post types.” You should choose post types based on your book style. The typical post types include Spotlight, Promo, Excerpt, Author Interview and This or That. If you have a book with lots of action, love or drama you can add in fun stuff like Character Bios, Character interviews and Book Playlists. These types of posts help create a relationship between the character and the reader.
4. Find blogs you DO NOT know. This is the hardest part for an author. You have to scour the internet and find blogs that don’t know about you and convince them they should feature you. This is one of the main reasons many authors hire a Tour company like mine. I have a list of over 75 blogs that I work with that all review and promote different genres.
5. Make your schedule. It is imperative you have a blog on each day and you know their post types. Not only will you have to check on these posts but you will want to post your schedule to either your webpage or in a Facebook (or similar) event.
6. Make your Media Kit. All posts should contain the purchase links (if available), Book Cover and Synopsis. People can read all about your characters but if they don’t know what the book is called they can’t go buy a copy. A media kit should include: your book cover, synopsis, genre, any warnings (i.e. 18+ read for heavy language and adult situations) approx. page length, author photo and bio, and author links.
7. Get your materials out there early. Send the media kit in a mass email to everyone in your tour and send the additional materials such as excerpts and interviews individually.
8. Send out reminder emails about posts and check your tour EVERYDAY. Once the post is live you have to share it. Twitter, facebook, tumblr… everywhere. The more you share the better it is for the author and the blogger.
9. Enjoy the spoils of your hard work


What do you charge to do blog tours and what is included in it? What other services do you provide? 

Blog tour prices range and I am always willing to work with authors on a budget. My standard prices are
1 day “Book Blitz” (7-15 blogs): $50 (+$3 per blog over 15)
7 day “Blog Tour” (7 blogs): $60 (+ $21 for 2 blogs a day)
14 day “Blog Tour” (14 blogs): $75 (+ $42 for 2 blogs a day)
21 day “Blog Tour” (21 blogs): $100 (+ $63 for 2 blogs a day)
30 day “Blog Tour” (30 blogs): $150 (+ $90 for 2 blogs a day)
45 day “Tour Extravaganza” (45 blogs): $225

These prices include: 24 hour access to me and my knowledge, all set up and blog finding, custom graphics for your tour, event hosting through Facebook or Books, Brownies and Barkers, all marketing and promotions on all social media platforms and all organizational needs. I will be the one who is up at 5 am checking to make sure the posts are live with no type-o’s. I also offer additional services including the creation of your media kit and important links for your tour.

Aside from Blog Tours, I also offer digital media services as well as beta reading, proof reading and editing. Just like blog tours my editing, beta and proof reading services have prices based on the length and complexity of the work. For a complete list of prices on these services feel free to check out my Brochure.

How to Get a New York Times Bestselling Quality Book Cover for Next to Nothing | Steph Cover Designs

As an indie author, your book cover can make or break you.  On some level, most authors know this but their concern is that to get the cover that they envision, it’s going to break the bank. That doesn’t have to be true, as Steph from Steph Cover Designs explains in my interview with her below.  I was first turned on to Steph by New York Times bestselling indie author Shanora Williams who used Steph’s services on her New York Times bestselling book, Hard To Resist.

Why shouldn’t authors just save a buck or two and try to create the cover themselves?

A lot of authors do, but a cover needs to look professional and fit the genre that the book is intended for.  This includes the use of the right font and the right placement of the title and author name.  Also, If the cover looks like a professional book cover instead of just a picture, people tend to take the author more seriously. We are all very visual creatures and we do buy with our eyes. If you feel like your book cover is lacking something it’s likely others will too.


What does it cost to do a really great cover?

Well, it’s different for every book cover. If you have to pay a model or buy exclusive stock photos it can get pretty pricy. A lot of people don’t realize that if you do a cover that is legally able to be copyrighted under the author’s name you have to purchase a license to use just about every element that goes into it. It can cost me anywhere from $20 to $50 to get the pictures and things that I need for one cover.


The cost for the author can range very widely. You can spend up to $500 for a cover. I like to keep my prices low because I started out doing cover work because I was writing. I needed a cover and like most authors couldn’t afford to pay someone $200 to $500 for a cover.  My prices vary depending on the work I will have to do and what I have to buy. I charge $90 to $185 for my covers. I hope to help those who struggle with the costs get their work out there in the best light they can.   


Do you create the covers without the authors input or do you collaborate?

I always listen to the author’s opinion and what they would like to see on the cover. Their input is a very important part of the process. If they have an idea of what they want and I think that it won’t work I usually try to explain why and give them an idea of what I can create.  The more insight I have about the characters and the story line the better!


How long does it take for you to create a cover?

It can be a very long process. I have all my clients sign a contract and they pay a deposit on the cover that gets me my materials. I take the time to discuss and look at pictures with them. The actual creation of the cover is usually the shortest part. I can do a cover in a few hours if it is simple and if it is complicated it can take a few hours a day for several days. The longest it has taken me I think was about 17 hours on the actual photoshop work. The whole process can take a couple of weeks.


 What are the important elements that belong on a cover?

The most important thing, I think, is the feel of the cover and if it matches the writing inside.  Also a lot of people would think that the picture is the most important part, but I feel that the typography (the title and author name) is extremely important. The title should be designed and somewhat original. The font is very important to the feel of the entire cover. It should send the right message and fit the picture and the book.


Is Shanora Williams’ cover your first New York Times bestseller? What does it feel like to be part of that success?

Yes! Shanora Williams is my first New York Times bestseller! I am so happy to be a part of her success! She has come so far and I am very proud to be her cover artist and friend! She is truly an amazing person!


What should not be on a cover?

Well, I say if it fits the book and the story it belongs there. Never put elements on your cover that has nothing to do with the book itself. Putting every single element from an entire scene in your book can be a bad idea also. Some scenes may work but for the most part you want to keep it clean and simple not cluttered. It really is all about getting a message across in an attractive yet simple way!


What are some of the biggest mistakes authors make when creating covers?

Sometimes I see some covers that look very cut and paste. They’ve cut out a picture that is lighter and put it into another background that is darker or the pictures have different coloring. The pictures (when blending more than one) need to look as if they were always there. They should look as though someone has taken the picture with a camera. Another is stretching or squishing a picture to fit the cover. If you have a picture that is too big to fit on the cover (without making the picture look too skinny or very stretched out) don’t be afraid to cut some of it off. It will look better in the long run, but if you can’t then I suggest using a different picture.  Also, another mistake I see a lot is font usage. I love fonts and there are lots out there to choose from but some just aren’t meant to be used on a book cover. If the font is hard to read or is too curly and not bold enough to see small on amazon then it doesn’t work. Another is making the author name compete with the title. The title needs to stand out and be remembered first and foremost. Unless you are already a well-known author of course!


What other services do you provide?

I design just about anything. I do promotional pictures, banners, posters, bookmarks, and logos. I can also do CD cover art. I design just about everything an author might need to promote their book! 


For more information about Steph, visit:

Live Class with New York Times Bestselling Author Shanora Williams

If you’ve ever dreamed of being an indie author that has hit the New York Times bestsellers list, then sit up and pay attention because New York Times bestselling indie author, Shanora Williams spills all, step-by-step on how you can do it too.

Shanora’s recommendation for cover designs:

(under $100 for covers and will do payments)

 Shanora’s recommendation for her blog tour:

Interview with Nathan Bransford from Literary Agent to Bestselling Middle Grade Author

 Nathan Bransford’s changeover from being an agent to an author has been quite a thrill for him. Now, the proud author of the Jacob Wonderbar titles (which are everywhere here in Costa Rica),. Bransford’s career as a middle grade author is skyrocketing. 

In my interview with Bransford, he shares insight on what is really happening in the publishing industry and what we can expect in the future. 

Nathan, you began working as a literary agent but then switched to becoming a full time middle grade author. Why?

I left agenting because it had been my first job out of college and I was ready to try something new, though I actually didn’t leave to become an author. I took a job as the social media manager at CNET, where I oversee our social media strategy, which involves managing our different social accounts and making sure our content is as shareable as possible. I’ve enjoyed the move to the tech world a lot.

What has changed in the children’s and middle grade industry since you began?

If anything the children’s publishing industry has only grown bigger and popular, with more and more adults reading YA especially. I don’t know that middle grade has quite experienced this phenomenon, where adults feel comfortable reading middle grade books. Even the Harry Potter books didn’t really catch on with adults until they grew more YA-ish. But there are incredible books being written for children, and it’s great that people of all ages are finding them.

If you were giving someone advice who is interested in “breaking in” the children’s book industry today, how would that differ from advice you would have given 5 years ago?

I don’t know that my advice would be that different, actually. There may be some more opportunities afforded by self-publishing, but for now the bulk of the children’s audience is still in the print world, and thus traditional publishing is still the primary way in.

What is your creative process like?

With a busy day job I can only write on the weekends, so I have to make every minute count. I wake up on the weekend, make a pot of coffee, and work until I’m exhausted.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

6-9 months.

How do you juggle writing with a full-time job?

It’s not easy. I try to stay on track by blocking off days on the weekend and force myself to work even when I don’t want to. It definitely can be tough to work a very busy week and then wake up on Saturday and Sunday and keep on working on a novel, but it I power through on days I don’t feel like writing by remembering that it’s all worth it in the end.

Out of all the things you’ve done to promote your books, what has worked and what would you never do again?

I think my social media presence as a whole was extremely helpful because people were familiar with my writing style and were hopefully more inclined to buy my books. In terms of what I wouldn’t do again, there was a post I made where I said something along the lines of, If you like my blog, which is free, consider buying my books. The post rubbed some people the wrong way because they felt like I was guilt-tripping them or attaching strings to something they were accustomed to reading for free and which had given me a platform. I don’t know that I necessarily regret it because I still think the post was pretty harmless, but it was definitely a reminder that there’s a very fine line authors have to walk with self-promotion.

You’re published traditionally but any thought on publishing independently?

Self-publishing is definitely something I plan to explore at some point. Stay tuned!

Jeff Rivera is the bestselling author of the children’s book, Um … Mommy I Think I Flushed My Brother Down the Toilet. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO

Um ... Mommy, I Think I Flushed My Brother Down The Toilet



Raymond Bean’s ‘Sweet Farts’ | Indie Author Success!

Raymond BeanRaymond Bean is my hero, not only because he likes to write fart books but because he really is a fine example of an indie book author that has made serious headway above the pack and found success.  His first Sweet Farts book is probably one of the funniest books, hands-down that I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of books). If your kids, especially your boys, hate reading, I would suggest having them start with the first book in the serious.  He’s also an educator so he knows first-hand what it is kids enjoy.


You were touted as a prime example of a self-published author who triumphed with the support of Amazon. I mean, you landed an agent and a traditional deal with an imprint at Amazon. For those that don’t know your story, what lead you to that point?
I’d been pitching Sweet Farts to editors and agents for a while.  After several close calls, I learned about Booksurge (now Createspace) and viewed self publishing as a way to get my book out there.  The way I saw it, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I gave it a shot. Luckily, the book quickly became popular and word of mouth helped drive sales and rankings.  Later I partnered with Amazon Publishing to turn Sweet Farts into a three book series.  For me, self publishing was the perfect beginning.
What has been your experience crossing over into a “traditional” contract with Amazon’s imprints? What do you wish they would do more of that they haven’t?
Amazon has been amazing!  They’re doing so many things to help authors find readers.  Between Createspace, KDP,, and the Amazon imprints, every author has a chance to experience success.
How do you stay in a kid’s mentality and write with a voice that they’ll like instead of coming across as an adult Sweet Farts“trying” to do so?
Fortunately for me, I never grew up.  I still remember vividly how I viewed things when I was young.  I try to write books that I would have enjoyed as a kid.  Also, I have two kids of my own and teach during the day.  Spending my days teaching reading and writing helps me stay in touch and understand my readers better. 
You’re also a full-time teacher. How do you balance the time to be a family man, a teacher and an author and what suggestions do you have for the readers who want to do it all too?
I try to keep to a writing schedule and never stray too far from whatever I’m working on.  When you’re a teacher, every minute of the day counts.  At school we follow a concrete schedule everyday to make sure we get the most out of our time.  I take the same approach with my writing.  I stick to the schedule!  I generally write at night and on weekends after the family has gone to sleep.    
When you do sit down to write, what is your process? Outlining first and then writing? And how many pages or words do you write a day?
           In the early stages of an idea, I try a little of everything.  I’m in notebooks, Word, sketching, you name it.  As the idea takes shape, I usually start out in a marble notebook and transition to Word.  Once I;m on the computer, it’s full steam ahead.  
           I go for a word goal every time I write.  I find between 1,000 and 2,000 words is realistic.  Of course, every now and then I’m below or above the goal, but I’m satisfied when I’m between 1,000 and 2,000. 
Out of all the things you tried to promote your books, what has worked and what would you never bother doing again?
           Great question!  I’ve found that giving books away is a great tool.  Giving away paper copies to libraries and classes has been an amazing way to spread word of mouth. 
           I don’t know that there’s a promo I wouldn’t try again.  What may have failed miserably in the past might just be the perfect promo now.  
What else are you working on?
           Thanks for asking:)  I’m in final edits of School Is A Nightmare #5 Winter Breakdown.  I’m also working on a fun new book called Benji Franklin Sixth Grade Zillionaire. 

New York Times bestselling Indie Author Shanora Williams is ‘Hard to Resist!’

Hard to Resist (Hard to Resist, #1)Fresh off the New York Times bestsellers list, indie author Shanora Williams proves anything is possible no matter what your age.  I was so excited to interview Williams because she has personally inspired me that you can accomplish your dreams even if you don’t have an agent, or a major publisher and even if you are a person of color.  In my interview, Williams explores what she thinks the secret sauce is for her success, what she did step-by-step to hit the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list, and her words of encouragement for anyone thinking about following in her footsteps.


For those who are not familiar with your books, what types of books do you write and why do you think they have connected so well with your readers?

I’m a huge Romance reader so anything that has to deal with it, I go for it. I write Paranormal Romances and Contemporary Romances. I believe they have connected because everyone wants to read about a little spice that goes along with love. Some also enjoy reading about drama and life. I love reading about drama myself so writing it is even better.


You’re barely out of your teens.  What encouragement do you have for other young writers who have dreamed of doing what you’re doing but are worried they’re too young or too bogged down with college course or just life in general?

Ah, I say go for it! Never feel discouraged because there will always be people that will make you feel less than what you are. From this process, I’ve learned a lot and although I paused on a semester of community college, I’m going back in August to fulfill my degree in Creative Writing but I still plan on writing novels in between. It’s a lot. It’s really tough. From a girl that’s graduated high school less than two years ago, I know there are some that are curious as to how I even started. I started at the age of seventeen. It was tough because some looked down on me and thought of me as just a kid with no experience. I’ve been writing all of my life and I knew since day one of writing that it was something that I wanted to make a part of my life. I wanted to make it a career and what’s better than to start young? I encourage all young writers to go for it. If you have a dream, chase it. You’ll learn a lot and some may even drill you about things, but it’s worth it in the end. It only helps you to become better at what you love.


What is your creative process like? Do you outline first? Do you rewrite to death?

I outline sometimes. If it’s something that I’ve just thought of, I’ll write it down and write down the main events and what I want to happen in it. I do rewrite to death! Sometimes I’ll rewrite so much that I actually forget that I rewrote it when I read over it.


How has your life changed since hitting the New York Times bestsellers list?

It hasn’t changed much. I still feel like the little girl that stays in contact with her mother. It may be because I don’t have the money yet but even then, I know that much won’t change. I know there will be more opportunities for me and I will grab at them. I will say that it’s made me completely happy because there are few that doubted me and to show them that I actually did it is fun to do… (Not bragging, though!)


Have you been approached by agents or publishers? If so, any deals in the works? [Shanorapic-1.jpg]

I have been approached by several agents that want to get me to a traditional publisher. I don’t have any deals yet, but I plan to be signing with and agent fairly soon. Right now we’re in the process of re-editing and fixing minor things to make Hard to Resist better.



You’re one of the first indie authors of colors to hit the eBook New York Times bestsellers list. What do you have to say to people who feel that people who are not of color will not support books by or about people of color?

I really can’t say much about it. To be one of the first indie authors of color to hit the list is awesome, for one, but if there are some that won’t support me, I can’t make them. I have actually received some emails asking about my race. Some are rude, some are actually sweet. I believe that we are all equal. Some may grow up in a different ways with different views but to the ones that do support me, I love them and I thank them so much for believing in me. I’ve even had some people ask me how I wrote a book about Caucasians when I’m African-American. I find it funny because they aren’t being rude about it but they make it seem as if it’s impossible. Anything is possible. Really. I just put my emotions into that character. I have a lot of Caucasian friends. I went to David W. Butler High School where the majority of the race was White.  I have a lot of Caucasian friends and, trust me, they are awesome. I’ve learned a lot from them.


What did you do step by step from the moment you finished your books to sell THAT many books? And how many books have you sold so far?  How many books did you sell during the week that you hit the New York Times list? 

The first thing I did was share a few teasers from the book. I got a huge amount of interest and feedback on it from my readers and I told them that since they loved it so much, I would complete it by spring or before it. Afterwards, I got the cover created by my cover designer. After it was revealed, that brought a lot more attention to the book. I then made a book trailer (which took me all night) but it was really worth it in the end because many people shared it and enjoyed it.  I’ve also created trailers for other indie authors. The New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author, Gail McHugh that wrote Collide is one of them. The trailer drew some of the people in even more. Some even emailed me and told me that the trailer is what had gotten them thoroughly interested in Hard to Resist.

I’ve sold over 35,000 copies of HTR so far. During the first week I sold over 10,000 which took me by surprise completely. I hit over 20,000 the week after and then was told that I was on the USA Today’s Best Seller list and the New York Times. I was completely blown away and never thought that at such a young age, I would make it that far.


What are you working on next?

I’m currently working on the sequel of Hard to Resist. I just finished another New Adult Contemporary Romance and Thriller novel titled Falling for Trouble but it won’t be released until August of this year. I’ve also just started another New Adult Contemporary Romance novel but I don’t have a release date for that yet . . . but I do have a title: Who He Is: Book One of the FireNine Trilogy. That book is going to be about rock stars! I love rock stars and I can’t wait to get into their story a bit more!


Interview with Paul Moxham

When most people think of mystery books for kids, they think of the old Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew Series but mystery books have come a long ways.  Author Paul Moxham, has a new spin on mysteries that is definitely worth the look.

Why mystery books for kids, Paul?

I read many books by Enid Blyton when I was younger, and I enjoyed the mystery in them. So when I was thinking what to write, I thought I would write something that I would enjoy reading. As a result, The Mystery Series, which now comprises of two full length novels and three short stories, was born.


For those who aren’t familiar with your books, what are they about?

The Mystery Series is about the adventures of three siblings – Joe, Amy, and Sarah –  staying at Smugglers Cove, a small village on the coast of Britain. Along with a local boy, they get mixed up in all sorts of hair rising adventures that involve secret passageways, underground tunnels, abandoned castles and so on.


How are your books different than others out there?

My books are set in the 1950’s and there aren’t many current writers, if any, that write children’s books set in this period. Also, the current trend is for stories like Harry Potter and the Hunger Games which involve violence, witches and other things that I don’t think are suitable for young children. I believe that my mystery series are suitable for children of all ages and that’s what I set out to achieve as that’s an element I think is missing in a lot of children’s books these days.


What advice do you have for those aspiring authors who have a good kids book in them but yet haven’t come out with them?

I’d always enjoyed reading when I was younger, and wrote a number of short stories while in school. But it wasn’t until I published my first book and saw the sales that I thought that, if I put out more books, I could gradually grow and grow until I became a full time author. That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m getting closer with each passing day. And that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t written my novel and put it out as an e-book on Amazon. So my advice for would be authors, is to write and put it on Amazon as an e-book. It’s free to do and that’s the only way you will ever know if you can succeed as a writer.


What you done to promote your books that have worked and what was a total waste of time?

When I first put my books out, I joined KDP Select, which is the exclusive program of Amazon. This means that for every five days out of thirty, you can make book free. I made my mystery book free a week after I joined and got a ton of downloads which allowed me to get some reviews. They were mainly ho-hum and negative, but it allowed me to see that if I improved my book, which I did, then I could make some money. I did, however, try this with some of my other books and for some reason or another, they were not as successful, so it will depend on genre.


Also, there are a few websites, Pixel of Ink and Ereader News Today to name just two, that I tried to get my free book listed with them, and this has proven to be successful in getting large amount of downloads. Basically, if a book is free all the time or free for just a day, I try to notify as many of these sites as possible. The more sites that list the free book will result in more downloads which means that once book goes back to paid status it will result in being higher up the popularity list which is a good thing. If I could, I would give out tens of thousands of my first book just to get the word out there.


By making my short story, which is part of my mystery series, free for a number of months, has also helped a lot. I had to put it on Smashwords and wait for Amazon to price match it, but since that was done three months ago, I have had over 43 reviews which have been mainly positive. While I may make a loss for that particular story, anyone who likes the book will go on and buy the other books in the series.

What else do you have coming out?

I am currently writing The Mystery of Hidden Valley, the third full length book in The Mystery Series. It is currently set for release this summer. If anyone wants an exact date, sign up via my website –