Rising Sign Books: Black Friday Holiday Gift Pack!

Get all three of the Immortalis books for one low price.

Ordering for a friend or loved one? Not a problem! We'll have each book signed by the author (to the recipient of your choosing). For no additional charge, books will be gift wrapped in holiday paper, ready to place under your Christmas tree!

Act fast, supplies are limited.

Only $25.00

(US shipping only.)

Order before December 10th to ensure product arrives in time for Christmas.

Social Networking Faux Pas

After receiving quite a few messages from random authors with requests to read their latest book, (many of these people were not on my friends list.) I felt this reminder was in order!

Your online personality is part of your overall platform as an author. It’s an excellent interactive experience for you and your readers.

However, you can’t treat your online presence as a virtual billboard for your books. The biggest part of social networking is the social aspect. I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but you need to be active online.

However, there is a caveat. “Active” means being a participant, not a spammer. 

If you’re on Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc., before you even think to post something about your work, go through your friends list and make sure you have given other people’s posts time and consideration. You’re not the only one out there. Your followers are your audience and your potential readers. Keep them close. They are the ones who will (hopefully) buy your next book; you want them to know you care about them beyond whether or not they will read your book!

Here are a few quick Social Networking don'ts to avoid.
  • Don’t directly ask someone to follow you.
There are millions of people online, and it may be tempting to contact them and suggest yourself as a person of interest. Trust me, don’t do this. Instead of coming across as cool and interesting, you come across as the type of person who will spam their friends daily with request of “buy my book.” Be interesting and social, toss out your screen name or Twitter handle when asked, but don’t go begging for new followers.
  • Don’t email or message strangers with advertisements for your book.
Don’t contact random strangers or new followers and shove your book’s information under their noses. If someone gets to know you, they will naturally learn about your book. That’s a better sales pitch than the hard sell.
  • Don’t use your social profile to only talk about yourself or your book.
Part of being social is the interacting. You are not interacting if you are just standing on your soap box screaming about your book.
  • Don’t forget to proofread your posts.
You’re an author—people will judge your spelling and grammar a little more harshly than they would any other average Joe’s. Put your best face forward and quickly proof your post before you hit send.
  • Don’t use links in every post.  
If all you do online is post links, you will be ignored very quickly. This is not interacting with your audience. It’s okay to post the occasional link, but your purpose for social networking is to be part of the conversation, not someone who stops the flow and directs traffic away.
  • Don’t post hundreds of updates a day.
Posting too little can be troublesome, but posting too much is worse. Instead of being creative and witty, your posts become white noise among the throng of thousands of other people spamming the system. Only post when you have something worthwhile to say; otherwise, stick to commenting on your friends’ posts.
  • Don’t pester someone who stopped following you.
There are many social “helper” sites that will let you see who is and who is not following you. If someone has dropped you as a “friend,” there was probably a good reason for it. Either you were not interacting with them, they did not like what you had to say, or you spammed them. No matter what the reason, leave them alone. Pestering a dropped follower is a sure-fire way to give you a bad reputation online!

Now that you know what you shouldn’t do, here are a few things you want to make sure that you actually do.
  • Do join in the conversation.
Did one of the people you follow say something witty? Respond to it. Get in on any good conversations that are happening. That’s the best way to be social and get to know your online friends.
  • Do share funny links, videos, posts, etc.
Just do it in moderation. Remember what I said above, don’t spam the system.
  • Do ask questions in your post to promote social interaction.
I have found that asking the audience really gets people involved. I write about vampires and ask lots of opinions of my readers, wanting to know what they like and don’t. The questions result in tons of responses.

Read more tips and tricks in my handy dandy little guide.

Available exclusively on Kindle!

A word to the self-publishing community

Actually, a few words if I may… Grab a snack and settle in, this could be a bit of a rant!

Self-Publishers… You are not an island. You are not some special and unique creature that exists within a vacuum where your actions are independent from anything else or anyone else surrounding you.

Let’s drop the whole “Indie” publishing title. It is too elitist and gives people the wrong impression. We’re not independent of each other, because whether you like it or not, you are part of a community!

Let’s break this down just a little for you. When a customer goes to buy a book they look at a few things: Genre, Cover art, Summary, and price. That price has a lot more to do with who published than what the product costs. I can’t count the number of forum threads I have read on various sites trafficked by both readers and writers, where people want to avoid self-published books. The most common response to the question of how to avoid them is price. The 0.99-2.99 price point is a dead giveaway for most that the book they are looking at is a self-published work.  There are other clues but this one is generally the best indicator. Let’s face it, we do dominate the bottom of the pricing pool. Even $3.99 is becoming a flood of self-published work.

Why would people want to avoid a well-priced book? Why do people want to avoid a self-published book?

Because there is a lot of crap out there!

Sorry guys, I’m mad, and I’m not sugar coating things today.

You may not want to hear this but it gets right down to the heart of the matter. There is a whole lot of crap out there! Books with terrible cover art, books that have been published with no editing, books that were published as first drafts with no beta reading, proofreading, or critiquing. But, among the mass of crap there are also a lot of wonderful, well-written, beautifully edited, and polished books too.

Problem is, once a reader is burned on as little as one bad self-published book, they give up on all of them.

That’s why we’re not “independent.” There is no differentiation in a readers mind between one self-published book and another. They aren’t going to buy your book, no matter how many stars you have next to it because it’s self-published. Price doesn’t really sway their opinion. People are still buying overpriced traditionally published books because they know the quality of the work they are getting.

So why am I mad? Why am I jumping up on my soap box about this today? Because I am sick of seeing the elitist attitude some people in the self-publishing community take toward other authors.   

In the last couple of days it was widely announced that Book Country, a subsidiary of Penguin Books had a self-publishing service. Many self-published authors, including myself, were very active on blogs and indie community sites spreading the word of caution about this new Vanity press.  The response to this was split down the middle. Some self-published authors were outraged that yet another company was taking advantage of other potential authors. But there were others who seemed to take the cavalier attitude of “If another authors fall prey to this, it’s their own damn fault for not being informed.” It seemed to me, that there were many people not only defending this new Vanity Press, but they also seemed annoyed with anyone who dared to post the warning about it.

And that, my friends, is what pissed me off. Self-publishing is not a one size fits all thing. There are literally thousands of ways to get your book into print (or ebook) and for many new authors it’s hard to differentiate between what is potentially a scam and what is legit.

As a newbie myself, it took a year of work and research before I felt I had a handle on how to properly self-publish a book. Two years later, I am still learning new methods and making connections with freelancers. I don’t care how much research you do, there is always something for you to learn. And the community is where you should be sharing these things as well as learning them from others. The more you know, the better you can make your own work. The better your work, the better the community looks as a whole.  

So, when someone puts up a warning to the community, they should thanked and the link shared, not chastised by people who claim to know it all. Knowledge is the way we fight against self-publishing being labeled as crap. Make it easy for that new author to find the right information, don’t just sit idly by and watch others being taken advantage of!

Even though “self” is the first word in self-publishing, it does not mean you’re alone. You are a part of something bigger. And the only way we can help make self-publishing a true force in the publishing industry is to strengthen our ranks with information and the tools to successfully do the job right!

Book Country - Publishing Service (aka Vanity Press)

Self-publishers beware, there is yet another company trying to get in on the self-publishing action and make a quick buck or two off of a perspective author.

Book Country (a subsidiary of Penguin) recently announced that it is offering Self-publishing services.

Professional Print and eBook: $549
Let us do the work for you! When you choose the Professional option, Book Country formatters will transform your raw manuscript file (.doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt files accepted) into polished print and ePub files. Choose from six different elegant interior styles designed specifically for genre fiction.
Please note that the use of the word "polished" here does not mean edited. I've seen nothing on their site to indicate they edit your work which is a crucial step in the publishing process. Also, $549 is a hefty price tag for book formatting.

There are plenty of freelancers out there who can produce a nice clean interior book block (print) or ebook ready files (Epub, Mobi, Doc (smashwords)) for a whole lot cheaper.

Rising Sign Books
Just to give you a couple off the top of my head.

User-formatted Print and eBook: $299
Are you more the hands-on type? This option provides you with all the tools and services you need to format a professional-looking interior file. Your Publishing Kit includes a special Book Country interior template designed to work for both print and eBook, instructions for preparing your manuscript and front matter for production, a checklist to keep you on track, cover design tips and recommendations, and ideas for marketing your book after it has been published. This option requires Microsoft Word version 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, or 2010.

I'm not sure what the "service" is here. It seems to me you are paying them for the privilege of your hard work formatting your manuscript and all they do is use your files to create the final product. 

I should remind you it is `100% free to upload your ebook ready files to Pubit! (Barnes & Noble Nook), Amazon KDP (Kindle), and Smashwords. Those are just the top three places you can upload to. There are more. For print books you have the option of going with Createspace and they cost next to nothing to setup a book to be printed and distributed.

I guess the $299 goes to cover the cost of their tips and recommendations, and ideas for marketing your book but for that price you better get more than just a few tips! I'd expect some kind of a media blitz for the release of the book for that kind of price. At the very least a blog tour or something to that effect.

User-formatted eBook Only: $99

Again, I will point out that  it is `100% free to upload your ebook ready files to Pubit! (Barnes & Noble Nook), Amazon KDP (Kindle), and Smashwords.

The only benefit I can see here is that they claim to do all the legwork for you, but for me, I'd rather save that $99 and just do it myself.

But... publishing is not the end of the fee's. They will still take a cut off the top of your sales as well.

For a $2.99 eBook sale of a Book Country title on Amazon, Amazon takes $0.90 and then the author is entitled to $1.47.

If you were to upload and sell your book directly on Amazon, at $2.99 you would be entitled to 70% royalty meaning you earn $2.09 on the sale of that book. Amazon takes their cut, yes, the 0.90 but that's it.

According to Book Country, Amazon takes their money and the author gets $1.47 . They conveniently forgot to mention that they are going to take $0.62 for themselves. That amounts to roughly 30% of your expected profits per book after Amazon takes it's cut.

That's the ebook percentage, they also state that print books can be as high as 50%. Something to keep in mind.

There are better and cheaper ways to get your book out there to a wide distribution network. Please don't fall prey to the big businesses trying to make a profit on your dreams!!

Code of Darkness by Chris Lindberg

Chris - Chris Lindberg was born and raised outside Chicago, Illinois.  After graduating from Northern Illinois University in the mid-1990s, he headed out to the west coast for a couple of years, where he began writing as a casual pastime.  

Some time after returning to Chicago he began attending writers workshops at StoryStudio Chicago, where he wrote two character studies, both of which have since been developed into key characters in Code of Darkness.

Chris now lives outside Chicago with his wife Jenny and their two children, Luke and Emma.  You might catch him working away on his second novel while commuting on his morning train into the city. 

K.S.  Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

CL – I’m very excited to be here, thanks for having me!  About me, why is that the hardest question, right?  My name is Chris Lindberg and I’m a proud Indie Author.  I recently published my first novel, a dark thriller titled Code of Darkness, in August.  I live outside Chicago with my wife, son and daughter, and an ornery old cat. 

K.S.  Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

CL – a strange writing quirk I have is that I write much better while in motion.  I wrote much of Code of Darkness while commuting to downtown Chicago on a commuter train to work (the same train line Scott Turow wrote Presumed Innocent on, I’ve heard), so it’s kind of become a frame of mind, I guess.  I’ve written some of my best stuff through turbulence on plane rides, pothole-filled streets on buses … but I haven’t tried it in a cab yet.  I figure that’d be pushing my luck. 

K.S.  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

CL – I’ve always had creative bones in my body.  As a kid I wanted to be the next Charles M. Schultz.  I started in college as a Graphic Arts major before realizing it wasn’t the right career path for me.  Once I was out of the art world, I found I still needed a creative release.  So when I began having to take long train rides every day, and had read a bunch of other people’s novels, I thought I’d try my own hand at writing one. 

K.S.  What genre do you write?

CL – Code of Darkness is a thriller, but it’s got elements of science fiction, intrigue, and horror, too.  But in the end it’s more thriller than anything.  I’ve got another thriller I’m working on, but I’ve also started a coming-of-age space opera that would probably be classified as science fiction.  The one common theme is, everything I’ve worked on has had a supernatural element to it. 

K.S.  What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?

CL – I’m always curious about this question with other writers, too.  Because I figure any source of inspiration is a good one, and you can always learn new things from other writers.  I’d say what inspires me more than anything is just the stuff I see every day.  Not everything obviously, but sometimes I’ll notice a random thing for which I have no idea how or why it caught my attention: a conversation on the street, the shape of a cloud, the sound of shoes on pavement, wind blowing through trees … anything, really.  Sometimes witnessing those things sparks a stream of thought that turns into an idea for a storyline, character, or plot element.  I can’t really explain how it happens, but it does. 

K.S.  What does your family think of your writing?

CL – they’re all very supportive of it.  A few of them have read the book, even though the thriller genre isn’t quite their cup of tea.  My wife and some of her family have even helped with a few of the promotional elements, which is really cool. 

K.S.  What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book/s?

CL – besides that I was actually able to do it?  (Ha)  Seriously, probably the fact that creating and studying character helps you understand people better.  Putting your characters in different situations or challenges, creating their interactions with one another, gives you a chance to study and better understand human nature.  I feel like in some cases that I understand people better as a result of writing.  I didn’t expect that at all. 

K.S.  What inspires you?

CL – other good writing, but in a lot of different ways.  The detail of some authors, the prose of others, efficient dialogue or different things that yet other authors do well.  Great use of metaphor.  It’s always inspiring to read an entire story, or even a chapter or passage when the writer just nails it.  It makes you want to push your boundaries. 

K.S.  Can you tell us a little about any of your novels?

CL – so I’ll lead off with the fact that Code of Darkness is a dark thriller that includes elements of sci fi, intrigue, and horror, and then I’ll turn it over to what’s on the back cover: 

When a routine bank robbery takes an unexpected turn, veteran Chicago police officer Larry Parker witnesses a heroic act by a mysterious intervener. But seconds later the Samaritan disappears, leaving Larry with only unanswered questions. 
Suddenly, vigilante activity begins popping up all over the city – including several murders. Larry finds evidence the Samaritan might be tied to them, and learns the man’s identity – a loner known only by the name Rage.
But Rage has also drawn the attention of a covert Black Ops division within the Pentagon.  Seen as knowing too much, Larry suddenly finds himself in the crosshairs. After a deadly standoff, Rage is captured, forcing Larry to search for answers while on the run.
The deadly chase leads cross-country to a top-secret military facility in Virginia, where Rage and Larry uncover the greatest danger of all -- and only they can stop the unthinkable from happening. 

K.S.  Where can we buy your novel?

CL – you can find it in e-book form on Amazon, BN.com, and the iTunes Bookstore by searching my name or “code of darkness” … it’s also in paperback on Lulu.com, but by the end of October it’ll also be on Amazon and BN.com in paperback as well. 

K.S.  Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

CL – I sure do, thanks for asking!  You can find me at www.codeofdarkness.com, and on Facebook by searching “code of darkness”.  I also have a Twitter handle, Chrislindberg7.  You can also email me at chris@codeofdarkness.com – I’d love to hear from you! 

K.S.  Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

CL – yes.  Just keep writing.  We’ve all heard the whole “your brain is a muscle” spiel, but that’s because it’s true.  The more you do it the better you’ll get.  And support other new writers.  We’re not in competition with one another; we can learn a lot from each other, and you never know what kind of friends you might make along the way. 

How many more words do you have until you’re done writing that book?

So my dad comes over the other day. He pokes his head into my makeshift office. He sees me typing away in a MSWord doc and asks, “How many more words do you have left until you’re done writing that book?”

“Oh probably 30k or so more words,” I said with a bit of a groan. I’d been working through a particularly hard scene and the words were not coming fast enough for my liking.

To that, my dad responded with, “Great. Can I get you to help me with some typing when you’re done?”
Dad’s question got me thinking. An author’s view of a word count is different than most people. Non-authors don’t really know what it’s like to write a book. It’s a creative process which is a very abstract concept to non-creative types.  It’s not a matter of just hitting a word count.  You can’t take my average words per minute typed and use that to estimate how long it would take to write an 80k novel.  If that were the case, I’d be churning out stories by the truckload monthly! That would be pretty awesome though, wouldn’t it?

A lot of “writing time” (and I’m using myself as an example here) is spent staring at a blinking curser, making odd faces at it while you work through a plot issue in your head. There are also many hours of research that need to be done for some stories.  Distractions like: Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Message boards might have something to do with that too, but we’ll just ignore their influence for now. =p

For me, an average writing session can last anywhere from 1-3 hours, and in that time I may not get more than 1k words down on the paper.

Of course, some stories take longer than others to write. My first novel took 5 years. The second, only 6 months, but by the time I got to the fourth one, I was back up to taking a year to write it. Each story is like a living, breathing thing, which requires its own amount of time to grow and mature.

So, while I’m stating a word count goal to my dad, it’s really not a measure of how long it will take me, just an end result. Which means I won’t be getting out of helping him with his typing project any time soon. =p
Alas, a writer’s work is never done.