Sunday, May 30, 2010

eBook Piracy: Should pirates walk the plank or be set free?

The issue of ebook (and print book) piracy is being debated on JA Konrath's blog. While he is all for piracy, I am not.

Here's a bit from my most recent post:

This is my recent reply on JA Konrath's blog where piracy pros and cons are still being discussed. I am a bit concerned about new authors taking everything Joe says to heart without looking into the issue--illegal copyright theft and sharing. As much as I respect Joe for his marketing abilities, I am not sold on his argument that since we can't fight them we should embrace piracy and do nothing, turn a blind eye. I'm just not wired that way, and I'm not alone.

Read my entire post at:

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of The River (and more)

Progress Report #4

These past few days have been spent waiting to hear my editor’s comments on the first eleven chapters I revised. As I mentioned last week, to keep busy during the lull, I resumed work on my fourth novel Casey Holland novel. It’s been a treat to let my thoughts go in all kinds of creative direction without deadline pressures. As often happens with me though, that creative direction went off track in spots, and my critique group offered insightful comments to make me rethink a few things. Right now I’m up to chapter four and hope the momentum will keep building. Oddly enough, I’m getting my best ideas while I’m walking at work these days, so I’ve spent more than a few breaks scribbling down notes.

On Thursday I heard back from my editor about my revisions to those eleven chapters and her comments were positive, thank heaven. But she too has been in the zone with new ideas—terrific ideas—so I’m back to tweaking some of those first ten chapters and working a couple of major rewrites on the latter two. After four days of heavy focus on chapters nine through eleven, I’m ready to move onto chapter twelve. What puzzles me most about this process so far, is that after writing nine drafts of this book before I even sent it to this publisher, why didn’t I think of these ideas sooner? Sheesh. One of the many things I’ve learned from this process is the benefit of having experienced readers or editors read your book in its entirety. You’ll never know what ideas they might come up with and some of those ideas could turn your good book into a great one.

The working title, Deadly Resurrection, which I’ve been using for quite some time is too similar to another mystery my publisher released, so it’s back to the drawing board for titles. When we’ve decided on the right one (and this is a joint effort), I’ll let you know.

As always, my amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Friday, May 28, 2010

Top 10 Tips for Editing Your Book

Here is a list of the top 10 tips for editing your book, once you have completed the first draft:
  1. Run the manuscript through your computer's spell check and grammar check. Use spell and grammar check, but DO NOT RELY ON THEM to catch everything. That is NOT the end of your editing. It's only the beginning.
  2. Read your work and edit it, chapter by chapter. Start from the beginning and edit each chapter, looking for issues with plot, characters, continuity, typos, grammar and more. This is your first main edit.
  3. Do a synonym check. Go through the manuscript and look for synonym errors (too/two/to, your/you’re, their/there/they're, rode/road, where/wear, its/it's, etc). If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can use the Find button to help you search for these terms. As you come across synonym errors, make a list for future use of the ones that seem to catch you up most frequently.
  4. Do a tense check. What tense are you writing in? No matter what tense you use, make sure it's consistent throughout the book. “Look especially for tense errors in dialogue tags,” I said. “I will,” she says.
  5. Do a ‘was--ing’ check. 'She was walking down the road...' should be changed to 'She walked down the road...' or 'She strode down the road...' We want the action NOW. There are some exceptions. If something else happens as a result, then you can use ‘was--ing’, such as in ‘She was walking down the road when a car appeared out of nowhere, heading straight for her.’
  6. Format your manuscript like a published book. Copy your file and title it "final edit". Format it so it looks like a book you'd find in a bookstore, one of similar genre. Single spaced. Sized according to trade paperback (5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9). 1/4 to 1/2 inch margins. Then print it out. Seeing your work resemble an actual book is the first stage of your final edits. You need to see how it physically looks. After you’ve completed ALL editing, you can reformat the layout and size.
  7. Look at the whitespace/text ratio on the printed copy. Whitespace is where the reader's eyes take a quick break, where they absorb what they've read. Our eyes instinctively search out whitespace. Being able to recognize a good balance is almost an art form. When in doubt, find a book you really enjoyed reading and examine the balance. You want a flowing mix of both whitespace and dark text. Too much whitespace on a page means too much dialogue or one-liners and not enough "meat" or description or information. Too much dark text means many readers will start skimming. Paragraphs should be broken into manageable chunks. Keep individual paragraphs to less than 1/3 of a book page and make them random in length.
  8. Mix up the chapters and edit again. Take out individual chapters at random and edit them without the benefit of the preceding or following chapters. This helps you focus on the actual writing. You can also pull random pages and edit them out of order. This gives you a bit of a break from the story, so you can focus on technical issues.
  9. Read your book aloud. Reading your work aloud, chapter by chapter, helps you focus on the rhythm of your words, not just the words themselves. Think of it like music. A well written book has a natural flow. If you find yourself hesitating, that usually is an indication of a problem area. Mark it with a highlighted dot so you can return to it after you've read the entire chapter. Edit all highlighted areas, then review it (aloud or silently) again.
  10. Find at least 2 editors who know HOW to edit and 2 readers to evaluate your work from a reader’s perspective. Have the editors edit your work, preferably people who know HOW to edit. Professional editors and English teachers/professors/majors are your best choice. Once they’ve gone through your book, really weigh their suggestions. If what they say improves the book, make the changes. The trick is to be able to remove yourself from the personal attachment of your work so you can recognize when someone else’s suggestions will make it better. Sometimes you’ll need to think on their feedback for a day. Once they’ve given you their feedback, make changes and go through the manuscript one final time.
If you’ve done all of the above, your work should be quite polished by this point. There are, of course, numerous things to watch for when editing a book, but this tip list will at least point you in the right direction and get you off to a good start. While editing is work, it can also be inspiring. This is the time when you see your work pulling together into a creation that will be more marketable and more acceptable. There are no shortcuts with editing. Not if you want a career in writing books. Happy editing!


Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling suspense author and book marketing coach living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has been featured on TV, radio, in newspapers and magazines. Cheryl has presented at writers' conferences on the topics of book marketing. Her next release is Lancelot's Lady, her debut romantic suspense written under the pen name of Cherish D'Angelo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Promote My Novel: What is an avatar and how should you use one to promote your novel? is an online service that helps writers

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Out of the Zone, For Now

On Thursday, I finished editing the first eleven chapters of my mystery and sent them to the editor for review. It’s the first lull in the editing process in a month, and while I spoke about being in the zone last week, my mind seems to be in rest mode for the moment, at least when it comes to this book.

But I like to keep busy, so rather than sitting around waiting for the next chapters to edit, I’ve begun working on my fourth Casey novel. Actually, I started it a few weeks ago, then had to put it aside because the edits had begun. It’s been interesting because first drafts definitely require the creative part of the brain and I’ve been so immersed in analytical, critical thinking lately that the switch has been quite a change.

Perhaps one of the most challenging things for writers is to go from creative to analytical thinking. After all, fiction writers do what they do because they’re creative people, but this doesn’t mean all of us are terribly analytical, especially when it comes to our own work. Still, critical analysis is a terrific skill to develop and if you can’t do it, then find a good critique group or experienced readers in your genre with great analytical skills. It will definitely help you in the long run.

As always, my amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Publisher Shares Tips on Marketing at a Minimum

Publisher Jerry D. Simmons, who worked for Warner Books for over two decades before branching out to form his own publishing company, shares his insights on marketing books with some easy to follow tips.
"Selling books without a minimum marketing effort will result in poor sales. Here are the basics every author should follow when marketing their book..."
Read Jerry's tips on marketing at Shameless Promoter.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Persistence is critical," says author Scott Turow

In my writing experience, I know my energy and determination waxes and wanes. Some days, my literary skin is Iron Man tough and I believe it's only a matter of time before my next project gets picked up. Other days, I wonder if I can write a sentence and why I can't recall the correct spelling of 'awkward' (I ALWAYS have to look this up!). I get rejections and send out query letters at an equal rate. What I've learned is that this process is not for the faint of heart. That's why I so enjoyed this terrific article and video Q&A in which author Scott Turow shares his journey and advice that will fire you up, whatever your passion may be.

"The truth of the matter is that the people who succeed in the arts most often are the people who get up again after getting knocked down. Persistence is critical." - Scott Turow
I've been Karen Harrington, author, Janeology
Come visit me at

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creating Credible (But Incredible) Characters

What makes you the unique individual you are? Is it your looks? Your personality? Your upbringing? Your heritage? Your hopes and fears? Your strengths and weaknesses? Your likes and dislikes? It is all of that, and more. Those are the very same characteristics make fictional characters unique and so vital that when you’re reading a book, you feel as if the story people are a part of your life.

Family and friends help make you who you are, or at least help show you who you are by the way you interact with them. In the same way, an author shows a character for who or what she is. If a character has that never-satisfied mother, that funny uncle, that supportive best friend, the author doesn’t even have to create the character, for the family and friends already have. It’s the character’s interactions that show who she is.

Enemies also make you who you are, and they make characters who they are. The stronger the enemy, the stronger the character. For example, a character who combats dragons is perceived as stronger than one who combats teddy bears. It is also a character’s enemies who help create the story because they give the story conflict, and without conflict there is no story.

And finally, how you talk makes you who you are, or at least makes people think that’s who you are. Do you talk with a lisp? Do you talk with an accent? Do you talk slowly as if savoring every word? Do you use four letter words? Do you speak softly, either because you are timid or because of passive aggressive tendencies? In that same way, dialogue shows who a character is.

The more an author knows about a character, the better she can show you who that character is. In older books, especially the classics, authors wrote page after page of character description, telling us who their characters are. Today’s readers, myself included, have no patience for such long drawn-out passages that go nowhere. We want to get right into the meat of the story. We want to learn who the character is by what she does, who she knows, and how she acts.

But first, the author needs to know who her character is.

(To help you learn more about your characters, click here: Character Questionnaire.)


Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Editing Progress Report #3

Many writers talk about being in the zone while they write, especially when creating new work. I’ve experienced this somewhat over the years, but a long immersion in my work is a rare event. On average, my focus lasts twenty or thirty minutes a couple of times a day. My mind’s always pulled away by my kids, errands, day jobs, housework, driving, cooking and so on. Certainly, my thoughts drift to writing projects now and then, especially while washing dishes, but those thoughts don't last more than a few moments.

For the first time, though, I think I understand what it means to really be in the zone. Since I began the editing process five weeks ago, I’ve rarely stopped thinking about this book. New ideas and improvements are popping up all the time.

Five weeks ago, I never dreamed of the changes I’ve come up with over the past two weeks. My editor says I’m making great progress and she’s pleased with my suggestions so far. Over the past four days, I’ve edited chapters 7, 8 and 9 and will begin chapter ten later today. Chapter 7 took two full days of work because I was cutting a character whose purpose can be transferred to another character. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Once I started incorporating my ideas with my editor’s and tried to simplify the chapter, I quickly realized it was going to take a lot of concentration and several run-throughs in places.

This week, I’ll be sending my editor the first eleven chapters to read through to see how the edited version reads. It’s a third of the book and if the changes are good, the next eleven should go by fairly smoothly. On the other hand, who knows how many new ideas will pop up the next time I’m washing dishes?

As always, my amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Guest Post: Anthony Bidulka shares The 5 'C's of Promoting Your Book

The morning after.

Means a lot of different things to different people, but to writers it means one thing: promotion. What to do the morning after you’ve landed that long sought-after publishing contract. It can be a shocking thing, the morning after, when you realize there isn’t some marketing guru whose sole responsibility every day is to figure out more and better ways to get your book into the hands of readers. It can be shocking when you realize that marketing guru needs to be YOU.

When it happened to me, after some hits and misses, I came up with:

The 5 ‘C’s of promoting your book.
  1. Confidence
  2. Circulation
  3. Communication
  4. Capitalization
  5. Creativity
  • A successful career comes from within:
  • Be confident - Portray confidence no matter what is happening with your career.
  • Protect your confidence – don’t let critics, reviewers, jealous neighbours and frenemies get you down.
  • Nurture the confidence of colleagues – it will come back to you ten-fold.
  • YOU are the best salesperson of your work.
  • Do not rely on your publisher/agent/booksellers/distributor/best friends to do it for you.
  • Help them help you - Get out there/ be seen and heard.
  • Lack of publisher promotion strategy? Create your own and see how far you get.
  • Research what other authors are doing.
  • Ask for nothing from you publisher, get nothing. Ask for 100 things, get at least one or two.

There are a plethora of choices for (a) Who you communicate with/to and (b) How to communicate

  • Publishers
  • Bookstores – owners/managers/suppliers
  • Your Readers
  • Other writers – critique or writing groups, joint readings, conferences, online groups
  • Book clubs
  • Writers groups – local, national, international – professional and otherwise
  • Website
  • Book trailers
  • Readings and public appearances
  • Facebook
  • Myspace
  • Blogging
  • Online discussion forums
  • TV interviews
  • Radio
  • Newspapers
Means of communication are proliferating – important point: know you can’t do them all without jeopardizing time for other things. You need to begin by selecting a few communication choices and stick with them for a while – then evaluate, be flexible, and change it up over time.

  • Know your strengths and capitalize on them. Know your weaknesses and either improve, work around them, or get someone else to do it!
  • The best example is a colleague of mine who is, self-admittedly, a poor public speaker. His books are terrific, but to hear him read from one was pure torture for both him and his audience. He practiced and got pointers from everyone he met, but nothing seemed to help. He came up with a brilliant solution. He still organizes readings, but instead of doing the reading himself, he simply asks a local celeb (like a radio DJ or a bookstore owner) or even his wife, to do it for him. Afterwards he handles the Q&A. Genius I think.
  • Be creative with how you promote yourself and your work. You can use tried and true methods – but spice them up. Ask other authors what creative things they have done. It’s a competitive industry – get noticed! It doesn’t have to cost big dollars.
  • Key- there is no one golden bullet - have a basketful of tricks.
  • Take control.
  • Think outside the box.
  • Sometimes it’ll work. Sometimes it won’t.
  • Oftentimes you won’t even know for sure.  
  • Having no budget is no excuse to do nothing.
  • Never give up.
* * * * * * * * * *

Anthony Bidulka’s Russell Quant mystery series (please visit tells the story of a world-travelling, wine-swilling, wise-cracking, gay, Canadian prairie, private detective living a big life in a small city. The series is a multi award nominee, including for the CWC Arthur Ellis Award, and winner of the Lambda Literary Award. Aloha, Candy Hearts is currently shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How I Published on Kindle and Smashwords

What you need to know how to do to publish on Smashwords and Kindle:

It really isn’t HARD to publish on Smashwords and Kindle, just fiddly. Here’s some stuff about it.

First, why publish both places, since Smashwords formats for Kindle? Well, mostly because I wanted to fast-track into the Amazon catalog.

Downside: Amazon wouldn’t let me price my book for less than $1, and the publishing agreement was that I wouldn’t price it for less anywhere else. I wanted books to GIVE AWAY as promotional items.

Workaround: I priced the books for $1 on Amazon and $1 on Smashwords, but Smashwords let me generate a coupon for the price of the book, and I sent the code to people on Twitter and Facebook and certain email lists. So it was sorta free and sorta not free.

So anyway, I went to and signed up and downloaded their free Style Guide. Then I found OUT STANDING IN THE FIELD: THE INDIE AUTHOR’S TWO-STEP GUIDE TO PUBLISHING IN THE KINDLE STORE by FREE PRESS Publications. I got the free Smashwords edition, but it’s also available in print: Print Edition: ISBN 1438293461

Good stuff. I recommend you read both documents. They both walk you through doing this and that, but just in case they want you to do stuff you don’t know how to do, a walk-through from me follows this blah-blah.


Okay, so I downloaded and read the Smashwords style guide and the FREE PRESS Kindle guide. I saved the document I wanted to publish in two new places: Kindle Version and Smashwords Version. Tell you why later.

I went through the Smashwords style guide point by point and made the formatting revisions asked for. In MA’S HOT FLASHES, I used block paragraphing because my paragraphs in the micro-mini-flash fiction are so short indentions would seldom show up. In THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK, I used first line indents. The style guides are really good at telling you how to do these, especially with my walk-throughs as additional guides.

I went through the FREE PRESS Kindle guide and made the formatting changes for that. I like the notion of setting the size of the page and the margins to emulate what the Kindle format will look like. ONLY A GOOD NOTION FOR THE AMAZON SITE PUBLICATION! Smashwords publishes in multiple formats, and what you see on your screen is NOT what you’ll get in most of those formats. Amazon only does the one version, though, so using FREE PRESS’ suggested page size and margins works really well for formatting your book for them.

My graphic arts skills are practically non-existant, but I have a daughter and a friend who are wizards at it. I knocked together a cover for MA’S HOT FLASHES and emailed it to both of them. Each gave me a critique of it, which helped me make it look halfway decent. I also read the THE NON-DESIGNER’S DESIGN BOOK by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams–a different Robin Williams), a most excellent book about typographic design principles using just fonts (proximity, alignment, repetition and contrast). MOST useful.

I opened GIMP (like Photoshop, only free) and clicked File, New and made it 600 wide x 900 tall, with a dpi (ppi) of 300. I think I didn’t need to do this, because I think either Amazon or Smashwords or both turned out to have a cover design wizard or something I could have used. Since I work on dial-up, I do as much work off-line as possible, so I preferred to mess around with GIMP myself. Also, I just like to mess around.

I went to and signed up and signed in. DTP stands for Dead Tree Prevention. No, it doesn’t; it stands for Digital Text Platform. Anyway, I followed the on-screen instructions, remembering to click Save Entries at every step, previewed the book on a Kindle emulator, liked it, and clicked Publish. A couple of days later, I saw that lovely word, LIVE next to my manuscript!

Meanwhile, I went to and signed up and signed in. Followed their on-screen instructions, sat there for a bazillion years while their “meatgrinder” converted my manuscript to various formats. It converted. Came back a couple of days later and saw that my manuscript wasn’t up to snuff for the Premium Catelog because of poor formatting–I had forgotten to enter twice before page breaks (about which more later). So I did that to my Smashwords Version manuscript, uploaded again, sat there for another bazillion years for it to convert again, and came back a couple of days later to find I had done it right.


What you need to know how to do to publish on Smashwords and Kindle:

Know how to look at the formatting codes of your document.

Why? You need to make sure you know if you’ve gotten rid of all your tabs and junk.

Here’s how: Click the backward P thing on your toolbar at the top of the page, just below the menu bar.

Know how to save your book or story as a Word .doc or .rtf file, OR format HTML.

Why? Smashwords prefers a Word .doc or .rtf file. Amazon’s first choice is HTML, but a Word .doc works fine. Smashwords “converts” your document into many formats, including HTML and plain text. Their HTML and text versions tend to want to delete centering, so centered text become uncentered, but not many people will care about that, so I don’t worry about it. I just don’t. There are more important things than that to worry about. Listen, don’t get me started.

Here’s how: Open your document. Click on the word File in the menu bar at the top of the page. Instead of clicking Save, click Save As. A dialog box will open, letting you choose where you want to save the file and what you want to name it. Toward the bottom of that window is a place where you can choose the file type. Choose Word .doc. Save it. Ta-daaa!

Know how to modify the Normal template.

Why? Word inserts all kinds of stuff you can’t see. Even if you turn on the Show formatting feature, there are codes embedded. So you have to make “normal” be what Smashwords wants it to be. Or, if you want to, you can set up a Style called Smashwords. But I just modified the Normal style.

Here’s how: Click Format, Style and click on Normal. Normal needs to be Times New Roman, 12 point, flush left, single space. You can change all these and more from this dialog box by clicking Modify, Format then selecting Font (to select Times New Roman, 12 point), Paragraph (to make sure your Indents and Spacing settings are Alignment = Left, Outline level = Body Text, Line spacing = Single and Indentation, Special = First line, By = .3).

Know how to turn off the AutoFormat As You Type feature of Word.

Why? Smashwords doesn’t like curly quotes or em or en dashes. Smashwords likes straight quotes and double dashes like this: — Like you get when you type in plain text, like you do in Notepad.

Here’s how: Open Word. On the menu bar, click Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type. Uncheck any boxes that are checked. Now select the AutoFormat tab in the same dialog box and uncheck any boxes that are checked. Close the box.

Know how to find and replace curly quotes, curly apostrophes and em or en dashes or ellipses. After you change all these to straight quotes, straight apostrophes and double dashes, save the document under another name or in another folder. I have a folder for Smashwords Version and a folder for Amazon Version. The reason for this is that Amazon’s Kindle DOES like curly quotes, etc., and it’s easier to open a curly doc and uncurl it and then save the uncurly version elsewhere than it is to uncurl a doc and replace the curly one and then have to re-curl it for Amazon. Never mind. Just do like I’m telling you. You want a document with the pretty punctuation for Amazon and a document with the straight punctuation for Smashwords.

Why? I told you already–Smashwords doesn’t like curly quotes or em or en dashes. Smashwords likes straight quotes and double dashes like this: — Like you get when you type in plain text, like you do in Notepad and triple-dot ellipses(…) not real ellipses (…).

Here’s how if your document has pretty punctuation and you need to make it plain for Smashwords: Highlight a curly quotation mark then click Edit, Replace. The fancy quote mark should be in the Find what place. Type a quotation mark in the Replace with place. Click Replace All. If this doesn’t take care of the opening quote mark AND the closing quote mark, select the one it didn’t fix and repeat. Do the same to replace curly apostrophes with straight ones and solid dashes with double dashes.

Here’s how if your document has straight quotes/apostrophes and double dashes and you want to replace them with fancy punctuation: Go into Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat As You Type and AutoFormat and CHECK the boxes for “straight quotes” with”smart quotes” and Symbol characters with symbols. Then highlight one of your straight quotes, click on Edit, Replace and type a quotation mark into the Replace with place. Repeat with apostrophe and dash.

DON’T depend on a page break to make a new page. I mean, it’s okay to do that–Kindle will understand–but ALSO hit enter (make new paragraph) a couple of times before the page break. Otherwise, the Smashwords formats that don’t recognize the Page Break command won’t put any break between the last paragraph you want on a page and the first paragraph you want on the next page. Some formats don’t do pages–it’s all one solid document. And they said scrolls were a thing of the past.

DON’T get frustrated if you can’t make your pages look like you want them to. They won’t look the same in the various formats. They just won’t. Just remember to hit enter a couple of times before you insert a hard page break.

DON’T space down a bunch of times to isolate text on a page. No more than four space-downs, or your readers will get blank pages, and they don’t want blank pages.

DO remember, when publishing on Kindle, to click SAVE ENTRIES at each stage of publishing.

Although Smashwords tells you to enter the price of your book giving the example $0.99USD, DON'T enter it that way. Enter 0.99 or 1.00 or 5.64 or whatever you want to charge, without the dollar sign and without the USD.

Well, that’s about all I can think of. It’s really pretty easy. I mean, if I can do it, you can do it. If there’s anything I didn’t cover and that wasn’t covered by the Amazon and Smashwords FAQs, ask about it or share your answers.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Over One Million Books Published in 2009

I subscribe, free of charge, to John Kremer’s weekly newsletter which offers great marketing tips, useful facts, and other things related to the world of book marketing. If you’re a writer with a published book and you’re not familiar with Kremer, his is a good name to know. He’s the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, now in its six edition. I have a copy of an earlier edition and it’s an excellent resource for both fiction and nonfiction writers.

In his April 19th newsletter, Kremer wrote that after compiling information from its Books in Print database, Bowker states that 288,355 books were published by traditional publishers in 2009, but a whopping 764,448 titles were published by print-on-demand services. That’s over one million titles released last year!

Traditional publishers published 45,000 novels, 32,300 children’s books, 19,300 religious titles, 15,400 science titles, and 26,000 economic titles. Also, three companies, BiblioBazaar, Books LLC, and Kessinger Publishing reprinted almost 700,000 titles which means authors are not only competing with new titles, but nearly another million re-released books. I’m beginning to think it’s a small miracle that anyone sells anything.

Kremer went on to add that the main POD publishers were CreateSpace with 21,819 titles, with 10,386 titles, Xlibris with 10,161, AuthorHouse with 9,445 titles and PublishAmerica with 5,689 titles.

Since these are print titles, that’s an awful lot of paper, don’t you think? If you’re interested in Kremer’s newsletter, visit his website to find other good stuff at

As always, my amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be found at:

Climbing Mount Momentum

Becoming a successful, money-making author is like being a mountain climber. You can't fulfil your big dream or goals without a lot of hard work, sweat, and a plan of attack, but once the momentum starts rolling, the climb becomes easier as long as you take it one step at a time. The successful, money-making author and the mountain climber must first prepare themselves, and they have similar checklists.

Mount Momentum Checklist:
  1. You have to assess your goals. What do you want to achieve? You want to make it to the top, of course. How will you get there? How long will it take?
  2. Scope out the landscape. What are others like you doing? How are they making it to the top? Can you duplicate this? How hard will it be? What are you prepared to sacrifice to get there?
  3. Practice on smaller mountains. Don't just rush up the biggest mountain you can find. Practice on some smaller hills first. Practice makes perfect--or at least it'll help keep you alive. Practice with a safety net or harness. Don't quit your day job to go running off to that mountain. Use others for support too.
  4. Accumulate the right gear and tools. You wouldn't try climbing Mount Momentum with stilettos and a pair of driving gloves, would you? If you answered 'yes', please go to the next post in this blog. If you answered 'I'm not that stupid', keep reading. Make sure you have the right tools, the stuff that'll make your goal much easier to reach. Be prepared. Sometimes this step can take a while. But that's better than slipping and falling off the mountain, isn't it?
  5. Invest a huge amount of physical energy. Once you've taken that first step up that mountain, be prepared to become exhausted. This is draining work. You're trying to haul your butt up to the top of a peak you can only imagine, unless you've been there before. Your body is going to hurt. Your mind is going to hurt. Take frequent pauses along the way, but don't stop too long. Keep your eye on the prize.
  6. Maintain a bulldog-like persistence. Keep your eye on the prize. Yes, I know I just said that, but it bears repeating. Go after what you want with all you've got. Don't stop until you get to the top. If you lose your grip and slide down a bit, take a breath, reconsider where you're at and where you want to be, then start climbing again.
  7. Climb with a friend. Use the buddy system for safety and encouragement. Pair up with someone who has the same goals. Arrange joint climbing ventures. Learn from each other. Support each other and cheer each other on. And if one of you falls, make sure the other is there to catch. Or at least make sure he falls first so you can land on him (ok, joking).
  8. Re-evaluate your goals. If you fall off Mount Momentum completely, it'll suck. You have to start all over again. First, make sure you really want to get to the top. Maybe you could do some other kind of extreme sport--like kayaking or ping-pong. Maybe that damned mountain just isn't all that important. But if it's still your deepest desire to get to the top, pack on your climbing gear and get moving. The longer you sit on your butt, the faster the momentum disappears. Until one day it's just a dream again.
  9. Pray to the Universe for a streak of luck. All it takes is one misplaced foot, one wrong slip, one faulty piece of equipment, or one giant thunderstorm to set you back. Luck plays an important role in your success as a successful, money-making, author mountain climber. Without luck, you're dead in the water--even though this is a mountain analogy. Without luck, you wouldn't even be in the position to consider climbing that freakin' mountain.
Now go out and conquer Mount Momentum, before you lose your courage--or your place in line.

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

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Editing Progress Report #2

Timelines, timelines, and more timelines. I suppose I’ve come a long way in two weeks. Today, I finished charting, on an Excel spreadsheet, a detailed timeline of all events in my mystery novel. I’ve also compiled a chapter-by-chapter outline, a list of editing changes to make, and a list of characters. The character list includes their purpose in the book and their relationship to my protagonist, Casey. Now I’m creating another spreadsheet that will show me and my editor exactly when Casey meets these people. As mentioned last week, it’s a lot of work and given that I’ve worked on this task every day, except one, over the past fourteen days, I’m feeling a little punchy.

Oh, but there’s more. My publisher’s publicist (isn’t it good to know that some publishers still have one?) has requested an author statement and a synopsis of my book. By the way, I’m not mentioning the title because that might change too. Anyhow, I thought the author statement wouldn’t be too much work because I’ve written my biography before. So I nearly fell off my chair when I discovered that the document she sent me is ten pages long and filled with much more requested information than the biography. Of course, I see the relevance, but I hadn’t anticipated detailed questions regarding sales and marketing strategies, and contacts, etc. this early in the process. Still, a big kudos to the publicist for getting the ball rolling. Mercifully, I finished this task today. I also had to spruce up my synopsis because it was written quite some time ago.

So, now I have 59 days left to get the revised manuscript to the publisher. Tonight, I just received the first two chapters with editorial suggestions, though I haven’t had time to read them. And so it begins. Here’s hoping things go smoothly.

FATAL ENCRYPTION can be purchased at
TAXED TO DEATH can be purchased at

Saturday, May 01, 2010

National Crime Writing Month explores one hour in the lives of fictional crime fighters

May is National Crime Writing Month in Canada, and a new website has been created to honor this tradition. As part of this month's festivities, I was invited to guest blog and share one hour in the life of my crime-fighting sleuth, PSI Agent Jasmine McLellan (from Divine Intervention). Jasi is the leader of a team of psychic government agents who use their psychic gifts to solve crime.

So here is a never-before-seen look into Jasi's life...
    It wasn’t every day that Death came knocking in the middle of the night―at least not for normal people. But PSI Agent Jasi McLellan wasn’t normal.
    Neither was her visitor.
    Knock, knock!
Read more at Midnight, Mystery and Cheryl Kaye Tardif