Sunday, April 29, 2012

Self-Published vs. Traditional: Candid Tales from Frontline Authors

I’ve come across a number of intriguing blogs this week by traditionally published authors who, for varying reasons, turned to self-publishing. I’m not going go on about right or wrong on either side. I just want to share what I found, and I welcome your thoughts.

The first blog is from thriller author Boyd Morrison, who was under contract with a big six publisher. The first book in his series landed on bestseller lists, garnered decent sales, and good reviews. The second also received great reviews but sold fewer copies. His British publisher accepted the third manuscript, but his American publisher, Simon & Schuster, rejected the manuscript and demanded the advance back. Morrison tried to find an American publisher to pick up his series, however all refused, so he will be self-publishing the third book while his British publisher (who’s on board with his self-publishing plan) brings it out in other parts of the world. You can read more of his story at

Another interesting blog is from author Mark Terry, who compared his royalty statement from his traditional publisher with his self-published books. Terry reports that over a six month period, royalties on two of his traditionally published books came to a whopping $249.99. His agent took 15% of that, reducing his earnings to $212.49. He then had to give the federal and state governments a total of 28% in taxes, which left him $153 to pay his bills.

However, in March he received a royalty check, covering the month of January, for his self-published books. The check was for $1,013. He’s the first to admit that he’s not getting rich over this, but he’s convinced that cumulative books pays off for indie authors, but not so much for traditionally published authors. To read more of Terry’s blog, go to

A bestselling children’s author named G.P. Taylor turned away from traditional publishers because he can make three times the money self-publishing than through the traditional route. Taylor is already a multi-millionaire whose books have been made into movies. You can read more about his decision in the at

And last, but certainly not least, is a candid blog from author David Gaughram, who struggled with the decision to self-publish a year ago, and happily reported that this decision has been paying his rent since August. Just as importantly, he says that self-publishing improved his confidence as a writer after abandoning the often frustrating and demoralizing traditional slush pile route. He too quotes some of his sales figures, which you can see at

So, there you go, folks. I’m sure you see the pattern, but keep in mind, these are only four people. There are other success stories, and there are plenty of self-published authors who aren’t anywhere close to making a living. It’s all one big experiment, and I’d like to know how these four authors will be doing five years from now. Stay tuned!

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle)
THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arthur Ellis Nominees Named!

On Thursday, April 19th, Crime Writers of Canada announced this year’s slate of nominees for the Arthur Ellis Awards at events across the country. Established in 1984, the awards are named after the nom de travail of Canada’s official hangman. (Yes, we once had one, but not for some time). The Arthur Ellis awards celebrate excellence in crime writing, which can include all genres of mystery, espionage, and nonfiction. Eligible books were published in 2011, with the exception of the Unhanged Author, which awards a prize to the year’s best unpublished novel. Winners will be announced at the Bloody Woods Conference banquet on May 31, 2012. Good luck to all nominees. And the nominees are:


A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny, St. Martin’s Press
Before the Poison by Peter Robinson, McClelland and Stewart
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, Doubleday Canada
I’ll See You in My Dreams by William Deverell, McClelland and Stewart
The Guilty Plea by Robert Rotenberg, Simon & Schuster


The Man Who Killed by Fraser Nixon, Douglas & McIntyre
The Survivor by Sean Slater, Simon & Schuster
The Water Rat of Wanchai by Ian Hamilton, House of Anansi Press Inc.
Tight Corner by Roger White, BPS Books
Watching Jeopardy, by Norm Foster, Xilibris


Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones, Candlewick Press
Charlie’s Key by Rob Mills, Orca Book Publishers
Held by Edeet Ravel, Annick Press
Missing by Becky Citra, Orca Book Publishers
Empire of Ruins by Arthur Slade, Harper Collins


A Season in Hell by Robert Fowler, Harper Collins
Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret World of Stolen Art by Joshua Knelman, Douglas & McIntyre
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Steven Laffoley, Pottersfield
The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahder, Harper Collins
The Weasel: A Double Life in the Mob by Adrian Humphreys, Wiley


Gunning for Bear by Madelaine Harris-Callway
Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe
Snake in the Snow by William Bonnell
The Rhymester by Valergie A. Drego
Too Far to Fall by Shane Sawyer


A New Pair of Pants by Jas R. Petrin, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Beer Money by Shane Nelson, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Girl with the Golden Hair by Scott Mackay, Ellery Queen Mystery Mag.
The Perfect Mark by Melodie Campbell, Flash Fiction Magazine
What Kelly Did by Catherine Astolfo, North Word Magazine


La chorale du diable by Martin Michaud, Les Editions Guelette
Pwazon by Diane Vincent, Editors Triptyque
Pour Ne Pas Mourir Ce Soir by Guillaume Lapierre-Desnoyers, Levesque Éditeur

For more information about Crime Writers of Canada and the conference (to be held in Toronto this year), visit their website at

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle)

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at
 Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bestselling Fiction Authors of All Time?

One of the newsletters I subscribe to posted a list of the top bestselling fiction authors of all time. The list comes from Wikipedia, so I’m not sure it’s completely accurate, but it is fun to read. This list includes only those known to have sold 100 million copies or more. Since precise numbers are impossible to determine for many, a column of minimum to maximum estimated sales is provided. Not enough is known about the sale records of some well-known authors to include them in the list at all. Also, the list doesn’t include comic book authors, but it does include the number of titles each author published. Here’s the top eleven:

William Shakespeare, 2 billion minimum to 4 billion maximum (44+ titles published)
Agatha Christie, 2 billion – 4 billion (85 titles)
Barbara Cartland, 500 million – 1 billion (she published 723 titles!)
Danielle Steel, 500 million – 800 million (72 titles)
Harold Robbins, his minimum and maximum is 750 million (23 titles)
Geroge Simenon, 500 million - 750 million (570 published books!)
Sidney Sheldon, 370 million – 600 million (only 19 titles, my how lazy!)
Enid Blyton, 300 million – 600 million (children’s author with 800 titles)
Dr. Seuss, 100 million – 500 million (44 titles)
Gilbert Patten, 125 million – 500 million (209 adolescent adventures)
J.K. Rowling, 350 million – 450 million (7 titles. That in itself is one heck of a record)

You can find the complete list at Through that link, you can click on each individual’s name to learn more about them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to the keyboard. Clearly, I have some work to do.

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle)
THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at

M is for Missed My Mark

I always post here on the 14th of the month, so let's hop into the Wayback Machine and dial it back a day.

~wavy screen and weird music~

Okay, here we are on April 14, 2012.

I have a problem. Yes, other than a poor memory for when I'm supposed to post here. I've been granted a reversion of the rights to a novel, and I want to do a slight rewrite and reissue it. Although I will certainly make it clear that it's a reissue and cite the title it now holds, I want to change the title.

The title as it stands, and which I want to change:


NOW, people tell me, "Eee! Eels! I'm never gonna even read the description of a book with eels in the title!"

The Eel -- Where the coast meets the sea. Where merfolk with snake-like tails mingle with land-dwellers in uneasy truce. Where that truce is about to explode into violence.
Aunt Libby -- A crone, a short-tempered scrapper, a True Priest of Micah.
Loach -- A genderless young mermayd not above a spot of robbery.
When corrupt priests, greedy merchants, and local revolutionaries try to use Aunt Libby to enflame one side against another, they all learn that an old woman and a young mermayd make a serious stumbling block to their plans. Libby and Loach race against time, before the sea of the Eel runs red with blood.

So. I need a new title. The new cover will still have a big moon in a cloudy sky, a coastline, and blood in the water.

Any suggestions?

p.s. I really really missed my mark: I post here on the 21st!! So let's get back into the machine and pretend this is April 21. ~sigh~

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grief: The Great Yearning by Pat Bertram

I never set out to write a book about grief, but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to my deceased life mate/soul mate or simply pouring out my feelings in a blog or a journal, writing helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story. He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?

I wrote this letter to him exactly two years ago today. It shows some of the collateral effects of grief, such as the questioning, the yearning, the inability to make decisions. I did end up making a lot of decisions during that time. I decided to give up our home, get rid of about half of our things, donate his car to hospice. (I let them have him; it seemed only right to let them have his car.)

I still miss him, still hate that he's dead, still question the meaning of life and death, still feel his absence like hole in the universe. I never expected to feel this sort of grief. Never knew it was possible.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 6, Letter

I started crying today and couldn’t stop. I had to go to town to break up the crying jag otherwise I might have cried all day. I’m glad you’ll never have to go through this. I cling to that thought—that your death spared you ever having to grieve for me. We did so much together, and now our paths have divided. I can’t yet follow you. Are you gone? Snuffed out forever? Or does something of you remain somewhere? Are you warm? Fed? Have plenty of cold liquids to drink? Thinking about what happened to you makes me sick to my stomach still. The days after your diagnosis went by too fast. I still can’t comprehend your suffering or your dying.

I sometimes hear noises out in the living room when I am in the bedroom, and my first thought is that it’s you. It comes as a shock when I realize . . . again . . . that you’re dead. I truly don’t know how to get along without you. Or, more accurately, I don’t want to get along without you. You were my life for so many years. I wonder what my future holds. Love? Success? Failure? Loneliness?

I still can’t decide if I want to get rid of almost everything we own or put it in storage. I know I’ll hate having reminders of everything I’ve lost, but perhaps there will come a time when our things bring me comfort?

I don’t know what to do about your car. Keep it? Sell it? Donate it?

I don’t suppose you want to hear about these indecisions, but they do loom in my thoughts. I talk to you all day, but when it comes time to write you, I can only think of such trivialities. Yet that’s what our life together ended up being. I wanted only the cosmically important things to be part of our shared life, yet it devolved into basic survival, errands, household chores. I’m keeping up with the chores. Sort of.

When I was at the grocery store, the clerk asked where you were, so I told her. She hugged me and cried with me. Not enough tears have been shed for you—no amount of tears will ever be enough—so those tears gave me comfort. Your life—and death—shouldn’t pass lightly.

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning


Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Study Shows that More People are Reading

Not too many years ago, people were lamenting over decreased number of people who were reading, thanks to video games and other technological entertainment. Well, things have changed. Data from the Pew Research Center shows not only that people are reading more, but they’re reading in all formats. The survey also showed that men under age 50, who own e-reading devices, are among those who are reading more. Those of you who read last week’s blog on the Association of American Publishers data will note that the Pew Research’s info has drawn similar conclusions about the rise in both ebook and print reading. Here are some of the highlights from the Pew Center’s data:

43% of Americans age 16 and over report that they’ve read an ebook in the past year, or other material including articles, journals, and newspapers, on tablets, computers, cell phones, or e-readers. 88% of those who had read an ebook in the past 12 months have also read a print book, and generally speaking, they’re reading more books. People are reading not only for pleasure, but for research, current events, work, or school.

As I found in earlier studies over the past couple of years, ebook readers do read more books: approximately 25 books a year, compared with print readers who average 15 books a year. Ebook readers, however, are also fond of reading books in all formats. 30% of people who own e-readers report that they now read more, as do those who own tablets.

Not surprisingly, the main reasons people choose to read on e-readers or tablets are portability and speedy access. Print still wins out when people are reading to children, or sharing books with others. So, reading is alive and well for men and women of all ages! You can find more interesting data at

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle)
THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Revealing New Stats from the AAP

The Association of American Publishers has released its latest round of stats, and findings are interesting. First, we’re getting a clearer picture of the state of bookselling in the U.S, as the AAP has increased the number of publishers providing input from approximately ninety to 1,149. They’ve also added categories such as children/YA ebooks.

What’s really interesting to note is the 11.5% rise in both print and ebook sales. Those who claim that print books are on their way out might want to rethink that idea. The report suggests that an improving economy could explain why people are buying more books from brick and mortar stores. Also, in January of last year, Borders was returning heaps of books, which is not the case this year, seeing as how they closed shop. Adult trade books rose by 16.4% this year, although mass market books are still down.

Also interesting to note is that the increase in childrens/YA ebooks has driven sales of print and digital books up a whopping 80.5%. Publishers attribute this huge rise to the availability of books for reading devices designed for that age group.

These stats are a really positive sign. People are buying more books in both print and ebook formats. In fact, you’ll see the rise in almost every category AAP lists with only three exceptions. Religious paperbacks, mass market books, and children’s board books sales are down. You can see the entire chart through the Shelf Awareness article at

DEADLY ACCUSATIONS, (now also out on Kindle
THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at