Monday, February 26, 2007


by Alvin Abram

I am an author, both published and self-published of seven books – 3 mysteries, 2 non-fiction, 1 anthology and 1 children’s book as well as more than thirty short stories and articles published in magazines: Women’s World (New York), and Chicken Soup for the Parents Soul to name two, plus newspapers, tabloids and mystery and general anthology books. Since I self-published my first manuscript, I have gone on to generate more than $100,000 in sales.

Key Porter Books bought the rights to the book in 1998, which I do not include in my count because I found my years with them to be unprofitable. It was because of my experience with KP that I chose to re-enter the self-publishing market. Still, I don’t recommend that anyone undertake self-publishing unless they know what they are getting into.

I believe most don’t.

I say I am self-published, which is not to be confused with being published by one of the vanity presses. There is a difference. A big difference. Vanity presses tout the word self-published as a means of promoting their product. You pay and they deliver. Both methods can produce a professional looking product that won’t physically appear any different than published by one of the traditional publishing houses. In most cases, it’s the quality of the words between the covers that determines whether the book has merit or not. But I’m not going to argue the pros and cons of self-publishing vs vanity presses here.

I have been told that the only reason I self-publish is because no one wants to publish my manuscripts. Not always true. I have turned down offers. There are a number of reasons for self-publishing just as there are many reasons why a manuscript is rejected by a publisher. Whatever the reason, most people who venture into this field will fail in even recovering their investment. I must clarify that I do not include the production of chapbooks as self-publishing. They may be enterprising and even profitable but in comparison to what is sold on the book market, they do not have the same physical characteristics.

So what is it that you have to do to meet the challenge?

First, write a manuscript. Write it to the best of your ability. Write it as if you are about to make a presentation to Random House or another in that esteemed group. But keep in the back of your mind that you are about to enter a gray area of publishing. It’s a gray area in which the unwashed display their wares. Self-published novels have earned a reputation for being substandard. Mostly, this is because there are deficiencies in the quality of the writing when compared to books published by traditional publishing houses. I’m the first to acknowledge that. But like the birth of the infant computer, which entered the market against the quality of the linotype machine and the vandercook proof press, the writing will improve as the unwashed are weeded out when they realize that selling a book is harder than just publishing one.

Your manuscript is now finished. Your friends and relatives have read it and claim you are the next Ernest Hemmingway. In all probability your manuscript is flawed. When struggling through the creation of a manuscript, after the fifteenth re-write, the words have lost their fire and what is on paper needs a red marker. Hire a competent editor with the right credentials that meet your needs. When I say editor, I don’t mean a Mickey Mouse copy cat whose discounted price attracts you. Self-help books may improve your ability to formulate your prose, but it’s only a quick fix. Get the manuscript out of your hands and into the hands of someone whose qualifications for good grammar are self-evident – not self-serving. And always keep in mind that, as in all occupations, there are good and bad editors. Avoid the so-called editor that feeds on your ego by claiming your writing is good because it sounds like you talk. That’s rubbish! Look for a published author who will recommend an editor. The right editor can only enhance your chances of creating a better manuscript – the wrong one will take your money and destroy your credibility.

So you have been trashed and rebuilt. The next step is to hire a graphic designer whose background is not only creative but has knowledge in publishing. The cover is more important at this stage than the contents because, if the potential buyer is not attracted to the book by the cover, he will never get to know what is inside. Too often, after years of struggling to put the right words on paper, the author is more apt to choose the cheapest and not the most talented person to create his cover. The right creative designer is critical. It has to reflect the contents. Make sure the person you engage can formulate your manuscript to meet the criteria of the printer. Too many designers’ creativity is limited to a computer screen and lacks the knowledge to take their creation to the next level without you incurring extra costs.

When I self-published my first book, I commissioned the cover and the book sold quickly. When KP offered their concepts, I rejected both presentations as having a negative impact and being visually morbid. They refused to alter their last presentation and made noise that I interpreted as threats. I capitulated. The book never sold unless I sold them. I believe the cover turned people away. After my contract ended, I again self-published with a new cover designed by someone who had read the book and have sold 4,000 copies since. The cover becomes the book until the word gets out that the content is worth reading.

Now we come to the printer. Not any printer but someone whose experience extends to not only producing the product but to the bindery for the finished book. Gluing pages together is not always the recommended process. Sewing the spine may be necessary depending on the number of pages and the use the book will receive. If it’s a textbook, then the spine must be strongly attached so it doesn’t pull apart. Not all printers know about bindery. Not all printers can produce a book. The printer to look for is one who produces books, not one that will show you a book they have done.

Who will buy my book?

The quality of content of a book published by traditional publishers and those that are self-published at one time were huge. The quality gap is shrinking. Technology and an improved knowledge have made the difference. Also, traditional publishers have lately released too many weak novels from good authors and are driving the public to look for alternative reading material. But I digress. Before you even begin to consider self-publishing, the most important aspect of self-publishing has to be contemplated.


What sense is there in publishing a book if you can’t get it to market? Before the manuscript leaves your computer, you have to have a marketing strategy; an outlet to the public. Self-published books have a short shelf life if they can find a shelf, but with Chapters/Indigo’s new policy, so do traditional books.

Those who lack the experience of selling need to find someone who can sell for them. Distributors come in many sizes. Generally, they will handle your book for about 20% of list price. They will sell you a concept. Nothing is free – Chapters/Indigo and Independents charge 40-45% of list on top of the distributors charges. Your book is placed in a catalogue for six months and you hope that through the miracle of vision, it will be rapidly purchased by the major stores. Not so. If selected, the book is consigned. Loaned.

Did I mention I don’t have a distributor? I tried it. My cover looked good in the catalogue, but my distributor has many authors to sell. His staff and his time were limited to the product that moved fast. Some subjects need a push. If the salesperson doesn’t focus a few minutes on your book, then you must depend on luck. By being my own distributor, I have only one author to focus on and I have a stake in his future. I do the work of mailing, advertising and promoting. I don’t get a statement with pluses and minuses. I do get cash and cheques whenever I make a sale. My average sale per month is $1,000 and it’s all profit because by now I’ve made enough money to exceed my costs.

Self-publishing is a lot of hard work. Selling is hard work.

The name of the game is – selling. Selling yourself and your product. Reading groups, societies, service groups and schools should be solicited, over and above bookstores. That’s the author’s job. Promotional materials, handouts, bookmarks also fall into your domain, even when you are published by a publishing house. Learn to read out loud. When you read from your book, you are still selling. How many times have you listened to an excellent author mumble their way through a reading, using “uhs”, and “you knows,” to the point of ad nauseaum when communicating with his audience.

The next step is critical. I hire a publicist for thirty days. I tell them what my expectations are and what I would like to see happen in those thirty days. I outline an area of involvement I’m prepared to drive to in the event that television is involved. For my last book, I wanted to cover Windsor, London, Hamilton, Kingston and Ottawa. During the month my publicist was engaged, I appeared on television in London, Hamilton and Kingston. I was interviewed on radio three times, I had articles about me appear in several newspapers in different cities and I was involved in three speaking engagements and signings. Thirty intense days. Ooops! Did I forget about the day job I have; the five-day schedule to make a living? I had to turn down a Windsor and Ottawa television engagements due to business. All the work to sell my book has to be squeezed into this nuisance of making a living.

The word is out. And the money pours in.

You wish. In 2004, I published a 428 page murder mystery, a Holocaust story. It’s selling well. I’ve had 28 speaking engagements since it was launched at Word on the Street. I participated in the Winnipeg Book Fair, the Toronto Jewish Book Fair and I spoke during Holocaust Week. I’ve been on radio and television. And, of course, I have that pesky job that keeps interfering with my personal time. I’ve already recovered my investment. In 2006, I released another 428 page novel and have recovered half of my investment in six months. Oh, did I tell you that the 2004 novel won the International BookAdz Award in 2005.

My first book was self-published because I had no offers. It was about six children who each had an experience during the Holocaust that defied logic. I’ve sold over 7,000 copies. Because I self-published, two Holocaust families were re-united. They thought each had died. How do you equate that in dollars and cents? I’ve donated more than $20,000 of my profits to charity. My children’s book is part of the curriculum of several schools across Canada and my first murder mystery was nominated by Crime Writers of Canada in 2002 for the Arthur Ellis Award as one of the best New Novels. All self-published. There’s more, but you must be getting the picture by now.

I returned to school when I was 58 to learn how to put the stories in my head onto paper. So far, self-publishing has been the primary means open to me. I have my stack of rejections. Why has no one else made me an acceptable offer? I like to think it’s because I’m 70 and not because of the quality of my writing. If my writing is bad, then why are so many people buying my books? If age is a factor, then that kind of attitude will destroy this industry faster than begging, which the industry is known for. The quality of a manuscript should be determined by its content. I was once told that I was a one-book wonder. That was seven books ago.

There is another avenue that I haven’t delved into. Ghost writing. Since my debut as a writer, I have received in excess of $100,000 in commissions for re-writing other people’s manuscripts. The only doors that are closed are the ones that you lock yourself between.

I recently read that it’s hard to make it in fiction when self-publishing. That’s true. But it’s harder making it through the traditional method. Self-publishing is still an avenue open to the unwashed, but lately, I’ve noticed that I’m don’t smell as bad. And, oh yes, I have another book being edited and another baking in the oven.

See you on the bookshelf.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Divine News Giveaway

To celebrate the April release of Whale Song, I'll be giving away a prize package worth over $100.00.

The prize package contains a signed copy of each of my novels, plus some mystery gifts that I know you will enjoy and use daily. :)

To enter, simply subscribe to my Divine News newsletter.

All subscribers' names will be put into the draw and the winner will be contacted by email.
This contest is open to residents of Canada, the US and UK.
The draw will take place on April 16th, 2007.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, the New Canadian Author Liaison for Infinity Publishing

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song (April 2007), The River and Divine Intervention, has been made the Canadian Author Liaison for Infinity Publishing, based in Pennsylvania, USA. Cheryl's role will be to increase awareness of self-publishing options and to promote Infinity Publishing, creating a stronger Canadian identity. She is already preparing to speak about Infinity in April 2007 at Authors' Row at the Edmonton Woman's Show and at the Get Publishing Conference, also in Edmonton.

In September 2007, at Infinity's Valley Forge Conference, Cheryl will also be presenting, alongside some soon-to-be-announced big names. Rumor has it, one of her idols may be there. More on that later! ;)

"I am very proud to be affiliated with Infinity Publishing," Cheryl states. "I've been checking them out the past few years and have been very impressed by their growth and their goals. They are a company I can promote, knowing that they offer a superior service at an affordable price."

When asked about self-publishing versus traditional, Cheryl has this to say: "Although I am traditionally published by Kunati Books (which has been very supportive of my new endeavor) and I hope to capture the interest of some of the bigger traditional publishers, I believe that there is also a need for author-originated publishing companies like Infinity, and that it can be looked at as a stepping stone toward the higher goal of being 'picked up' by a publisher like Berkley, Random House, Bantam, HarperCollins, Penguin Canada etc. At Infinity, we want our authors to succeed in all their goals."

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, Writers Guild of Alberta and Women in Film and Television Alberta. For more information, please visit her websites: and

Authors in Canada or the US wishing to speak to Cheryl about publishing with Infinity, please email her at She will be holding an Infinity Meet & Greet sometime in March at the Cappuccino Affair on 50th Street in Edmonton, AB.

Be sure to check out Infinity publishing at

Infinity Publishing
1094 New Dehaven St., Ste. 100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428
1(877) 289-2665 x 24

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Can the generation that invented the ‘Youth Culture’, ever give it up?

Can the generation that invented the ‘Youth Culture’, ever give it up?

Hey fellow ‘Baby Boomers’ have you taken a look at the calendar lately? And then a quick glance in the mirror at … you?
I did the other day and I don’t recommend it.
All I could think of was – “Who is that old guy with the grey hair and who looks like he swallowed a basketball?”
I could go on – but I won’t. Way too painful.

Tell me, where was it written back in 1967 when my hair was long and curly and … brown - and my stomach was as flat as the concert field where I went to see the Rolling Stones, that this gig that I had signed on for that we call life, also included a hidden catch that we were going to get … older.

Was there some sinister metaphysical deal or ‘Faustian’ contract that I unwittingly signed all those decades ago? That fine print that I obviously blew by in my rush to plunge headfirst into all the best that inexhaustible youth had to offer. Don’t you think that I have a great case for one of those lawyers you see advertising on TV? You know, the ones who say, “if you’ve been injured in an accident …” Well I have! Run over. Smacked flatter than a pancake by that run-away 18-wheeler Semi called – aging.
I mean I don’t want to sound like sour grapes after having cashed in many years carefree romps with my younger self, but haven’t I, me – you, we – all been a victim of the cruelest kind of ‘bait and switch’? Assuming as we did for all these years that just because we acted like teenagers, we’d look like one – forever! Well come-on, it seems to have worked for the Rolling Stones.
And come to think of it Mick Jagger doesn’t look too bad for a sexagenarian. Nor does Keith Richards for someone who was embalmed three or four decades ago.
Oh all right – yes the ‘sour grapes’ are kicking in again. But I mean really … Yes, I drank way too much and Yes, I partied way too hard, but really – put next to the Stones – I was a ‘freaking’ choir boy! So how come they look OK (well outside of Keith Richards internment and subsequent mummification back in the 70’s) and I look like 40 miles of bad road?

All right. This time I promise – no more self-flagellating, aging ungracefully, self-pity. Even if I am pouting and mentally giving the ‘bird’ to every attractive, youth oozing twenty-something I see.

For all of my fellow Boomers who haven’t yet achieved that dubious distinction - crossing over the Sixty mark is about as much fun as the first time you ever went to a chug-a-lug contest and awoke the next morning to a hangover and asking yourself the age old question… “Did I really do that?”
No – I take that back. At least with the youthful hangover, you knew that by the time the sun went down you’d be ready to party again. With aging, you’re not gonna be ready for anything by nightfall except for maybe a little Jay Leno and falling asleep in the Lazy Boy.

Arrrrrugh !!!
OK ….. That’s it – no more feeling sorry for myself !

I have read that 60 is the new 40. And 40 is the new 20. And … (hey, if this keeps up I’m gonna have to start buying Clearasil again).
But recent unpleasant birthday angst aside, I am beginning to see a trend as the generation that indelibly stamped youth onto not only our, but the collective consciousness of the world, approaches their fifties and sixties.
From where I sit (poised on the edge of my ‘Lazy Boy’) it does not appear that we have any intention of going ‘gently into that good night.’
In fact I’m willing to make a bet here and now that the Boomers are going to make history yet again by becoming the first generation ever to ‘flip off’ the Grim Reaper and make a serious stab at staying young … Forever !

Don’t laugh – I think we just may do it. Come on, wouldn’t you like to show all those teachers and parents and every well meaning adult who ever warned us, “just wait until you turn sixty – or fifty – forty. Then you’ll be sorry that you … (you can fill in your own blank here).

But are we? Sorry I mean. - that we burned that candle at both ends. And maybe got our fingers singed along the way?
Yeah, there might be a few things you’d change, but all in all would you really want to trade in all those fun, wild times for a fully functioning liver and a good set of eardrums that haven’t been blasted out by too much music played way too loud (just like mama warned). Would you?
Nah. I didn’t think so. Me neither.

And buck up guys. I was watching good old Jay Leno the other night between popping my pills for high blood pressure and a bad back. (yeah, too many cheese dogs and nights spent sleeping in a VW Microbus) and he had on two great icons from our generation, Dianne Keaton and Sally Fields.
Wow – Woody Allen’s sweet, cute, ditzy chick (no pun intended for the Dixie Chicks) and the girl who played both Gidget and the Flying Nun! I mean how cool is that!
And you know what? They both looked damn good!
And hey – what with all that we know about nutritious diets, exercise, tossing away the smokes, cutting out the booze and ‘other substances’ (well at least cutting down on them) and our generations answering to sagging libidos – Viagra – well who knows; we just might make it…. Forever !

See ya’ there!

Ric Wasley
Shadow of Innocence
Kunati - April 2007

Click here; Shadow of Innocence to pre-order your copy of Shadow of Innocence on Amazon.

Ric Wasley has spent almost forty years wandering through corporate board rooms and honky-tonk bars. He now divides his time between writing mystery novels – Shadow or Innocence – A McCarthy Family Mystery – Published by Kunati, , and observing the really ‘juicy parts’ of the human condition


New from Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence! From Kunati Publishing.

Advance Praise for Shadow of Innocence:

“Colorful and exciting.” Says David Pitt of Book List
“Wasley is well versed in the 1960s New England music scene (he was a folksinger and rocker), and he is able to make us feel as though we are in that time and place.”— David Pitt – Book List

“Here's a recipe for a page-turner: Take a moment of high American drama - the tumultuous year of 1968. Add some cool New England locations - Harvard Square and the Newport Folk festival. Throw in a wisecracking Boston detective. No, wait... make that a whole family of Boston detectives. Let Ric Wasley cook it all up for you. Then sit down and enjoy. You'll be glad you did.”

William Martin, bestselling author of Back Bay, Harvard Yard, and The Lost Constitution


And don't forget to check out my fellow Kunati author Cheryl Kaye Tardif and her tragic yet uplifting novel Whale Song, the story of a young woman haunted by the assisted suicide of her mother and the mystery that surrounds her death. Read more about Whale Song at and check out Cheryl's site at

Monday, February 12, 2007

Read About Cheryl in the Edmonton Sun

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of the highly anticipated new release Whale Song, was recently interviewed by Edmonton Sun journalist Chad Huculak. The interview was a full page feature in the 'Jobboom' section (page 61) on Sunday, February 18th, 2007.

In the interview titled "She has the write stuff", Cheryl talks about her long road to success, the choice to self-publish earlier in her career and the resulting contract with Kunati Books, an edgy traditional publisher. She also shares how she is inspired, what her week is like, where she likes to go to write, and the process of submitting manuscripts.

And she mentions the upcoming launch party for Whale Song, on April 7th, 2007, held at South Point Chapters in Edmonton, AB.

Check out the Sunday, Feb. 18th, 2007 Edmonton Sun to learn more.
(This section does not appear online.)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Watch A Total Write-Off!

Well, the day has finally come. A Total Write-Off!, that exciting reality show that I was honored to participate in, will be airing shortly and I have promised to get the word out!

So here it is...the official announcement:

Watch writers battle using their creative power in the Edmonton made Comedy Reality Series

Airs Wednesdays at 9:00pm MT on ACCESS starting February 14

(Edmonton, February 6, 2007) - A Total Write-Off! is the fast-paced and fun television series where two teams of writers match wits in a writing showdown as they compete to create short stories based on spontaneous audience suggestions.

With comedian Barbara North as host and ringmaster, it's a hip Whose Line Is It Anyway meets Just for Laughs for both wordsmiths and fans of the written word.

A Total Write-Off!'s guest authors run the gamut from novelists to screenwriters to journalists- even some not-so-famous writers who collaborate with our pros. Anyone who writes, whether it be novels, grocery store flyers, technical journals or even obits was eligible to enter the fray. The object is to gain what all writers desperately crave - the thumbs up from an adoring public.

Each week for 13 weeks four authors are paired up in front of a live audience to do battle, armed with their creative powers and a laptop. Out of the 52 guest authors on the show 32 are from Alberta and 21 hail from Edmonton. Local authors participating include David Belke, John Acorn, Timothy J. Anderson and Alice Major. (and Cheryl Kaye Tardif :)

Here's how it works - with Barbara interacting with the audience and the writers in their "pit," these impromptu literary masterpieces unfold, based on plot parameters tossed out with wild abandon by audience members. Barbara also interviews the writers to find out where they get their inspiration, how they face the blank page and to hear about their current projects. It's a car wreck of creativity, featuring a ticking clock, cliché alarms and instant reviews of the works-in-progress by literary critic Alan Kellogg.

After "pencils down," the completed short stories are read aloud by the writers - while simultaneously acted out by the comical A Total Write-Off! Mime/Dancers, Kevin Gillese and Matt Alden. And it just wouldn't be a complete write-off without the audience choosing their favourite story to close the show.

A Total Write-Off! is created and hosted by Barbara North, who has appeared on Just for Laughs, CBC, W Network, Canadian Learning Television, and more. She also created and starred in the CBC TV comedy special Army Brats.

A Total Write-Off! premieres in Alberta beginning next Wednesday, February 14, on ACCESS, with its national launch starting on March 14 on Canadian Learning Television (CLT) and on March 16 on BookTelevision.

A Total Write-Off! is a Panacea Entertainment production, produced by Lisa Miller and executive produced by Josh Miller. The series was produced in association with Canadian Learning Television, produced with the participation of the Canadian Television Fund, created by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Cable Industry, produced with the assistance of the Government of Alberta Film Development Program, the Government of Canada Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit Program and produced with the participation of Rogers Telefund. Additional interim financing was provided by the CHUM Television Prairie Bridge Fund.

(reproduced with permission from Panacea Entertainment)