Rochelle Carter-Spotlight Author

Please welcome a guest post from Rochelle Carter, author of Authorpreneurship and the Spotlight author of December for Rave Reviews Book Club.

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The future of self-publishing


Self-publishing movement forces authors to think beyond the written page

The number of self-published books released in 2012 jumped more than 59 percent over 2011, totally more than 391,000 titles, according to an Oct. 9, 2013, statement from Bowker. Of that total, 40 percent were eBooks, the majority of which were released with publishing support from companies such as Smashwords and CreateSpace.

Bowker, which provides services for small publishers and independently-published authors, analyzed the self-publishing market and found that many self-pubbed authors identified marketing as one of the most significant challenges, even those authors with multiple releases. Bowker’s researBook Cover ch found that many authors are hiring experts to help them overcome such shortfalls or investing in their careers in other ways.

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services.

This dual-role dynamic for self-published writers has become known as “authorpreneurship.” It is a concept gaining more and more attention, in part because of the increasing viability of self-publishing.

“New technology has opened up a host of exciting new professions—the most fulfilling of which for many people is that of becoming an authorpreneur,” said Ellechor Publishing House author and business owner Bill Pottle. “Yet, it’s not easy. In order to make it, you need hard work and good advice.”

Authors, whether traditionally or self-published, need to take ownership of their writing careers and consider the full whole of their career and plan it out from beginning to end so they can be successful.

The plethora of options available to authors in today’s publishing industry brings an equal number of opportunities to succeed…or fail. Self-published authors willing to become authorpreneurs significantly increase their chances of achieving career success than authors to remain intimidated by the evolving publishing model.


Follow Rochelle online!Author Pic 2


Reading and Your Brain

ebookRecently, posed an article stating that reading an actual book, i.e. a printed hard-bound copy, is actually better for your brain than reading ebooks! Reading itself is good for your brain. Reading exercises the brain and aids in preventing Alzheimer’s. Plus, like laughter, it helps to reduce stress levels with only a few minutes of reading per day. (Obviously this depends on what you are reading and why.) Both of these reasons work with either the traditional paper copy or the digital copy.

Huffington Post noted in a 2013 article that a study done on undergraduate students using an fMRI showed increased connectivity within the brain after reading a novel over the course of several nights, with effects that lasted several days even after the novel was finished. These connections were noted in the language center of the brain.

Comprehension, according to the article, is increased by reading a fixed text, paper copy, as well as feeling the weight of the paper. Our brains like order. Human beings often like to make order from chaos, hence constellations in the sky or sightings of Jesus on potato skins. We want order through which to understand the universe. A paper book with fixed text allows our brains to associate the words with their precise location on the page and the relationship with other words on that same page. This sense of order gives the brain a chance to delve deeply into the context of the words without struggling to analyze constant changes.

Reading long sentences without links is a skill you need — but can lose if you don’t practice.

According to studies, we are losing our ability to read in a linear fashion the more we read on screens. We don’t read whole sentences anymore, but prefer to scan the text for keywords. This, in conjunction with constant distractions from our environment, deplete the ability of the brain to comprehend text passages.

I agree with this conclusion. When staring at a screen for too long, I just want to get finished and move on. I’m usually in a hurry to find the tidbits of info I need for the moment and discard the rest. This may work for non-fiction information gathering (or it may result in media-like sound-bites distanced from the truth of the subject), but it doesn’t work well when reading fiction or poetry.

Literary works are written not only for subject matter but for beauty. Authors take many hours perfecting the way words play on one another and how they sound, in essence creating a musical melody in spoken words, or pursuing a certain emotional impact through specific combinations.

The act of reading itself is still being studied as we try to discover why some people learn to read more easily than others. Different people use different areas of the brain to decode written text depending upon their reading skill level; and, in some, the way they process sound affects their ability to read. While speaking has been hard-wired into our bio-systems over 10,000 years of evolution, we do not actually have genes coded within our genetic structure for reading – it isn’t a survival skill. Wiring our brains to read and comprehend is a complex and complicated skill, one that is being lost in technology.  Reading is not a natural ability, yet many of us take for granted that it is. (See Learning to Read, pg 35)  We have to keep practicing this skill in order to use it properly. Add this factor to the difference between reading on screen and reading a physical book and you might see the conundrum we face to effect a literacy rate of 100%. Get real books into the hands of readers to improve their abilities!

If reading were a natural phenomenon, everyone would be doing it.

There are two distinct reasons why I find ebooks difficult to read.

  1. The text moves. Maybe you haven’t noticed it if you read a book straight through on a single device, but depending on many factors, the words on the page aren’t always in the same place. Depending on which direction I’m flipping pages, lines jump from the end of one page to the beginning of the next. Moving between devices of different sizes, nothing matches up. I lose my place and I lose my interest.
  2. I love rereading favorite passages in books. I can go to many books on my shelves and with ease locate such passages simply by opening each book purely by measuring the distance from the cover with my fingers. With an ebook, unless I remember to bookmark the passage or highlight it the first time through, I’ve a slim chance of finding it again. Nor does the passage feel quite the same because, once again, the words have moved around.

We all know the reasons why ebooks are so popular these days. They are cheap. They are easier to carry around. These are two very good reasons, and I have to admit I have a quite a few books amassed in my digital library, more than I can read in one year – though I am making every effort to do so. I can change subjects and genres on a whim, and I can keep two books going at the same time with a simple touch of a button.

Ebooks also provide quick and widespread access to books of many kinds: classics, new best sellers, text books, memoirs – every genre imaginable and available on-line. And with the easy use of a built-in dictionary, people have the ability to expand their vocabularies with instant gratification.

A health drawback I find to my ebooks is insomnia. I mentioned in a previous post how it is noted that insomnia may be caused by light sources. The best time for me to read is at night in bed after everyone else in the house is asleep and no one is asking for me. Digital devices are bright light sources stimulating the brain to believe it is daylight. I even have the brightness turned down on my ereader to as low as I can get it and still be able to read. Reading a traditional book does require a light source, yes; but if you think about it, that light source isn’t shining directly in your eyes. It’s usually above or to the side, indirectly illuminating an innately light-mute sheaf of paper. I should experiment to see if going back to real books in bed helps curb this continuing problem.

So, I urge all readers to pull out a favorite dog-eared paperback from the old bookshelf. And if you’ve recently purged your library inventory in favor of your new e-reader, buy yourself a new hardcopy. Find a new author and read a new favorite. Feel free to use scraps of paper to bookmark your new favorite passages and savor the physical presence of someone else’s world written just for you.


What every indie author wants for Christmas


Hit the nail on the head with this message. Giving a book as a gift has a special meaning.

Originally posted on Suffolk Scribblings:

Christmas Present

I was going to write a long post on the best things to buy an indie author this Christmas but I hit writers block. It wasn’t that I’d run out of ideas, it was because one gift idea completely swamped the others in terms of relevance. What is it that most indie authors would like for Christmas?

That a book of theirs was given as a gift to somebody else.

Most of us are too modest – or think the idea too crass – to give our own work out at Christmas. We hate self-promotion at the best of times but even for those of us who have reluctantly grasped the marketing nettle, giving out our own work as presents to friends and family is a step too far.

However, this doesn’t stop us from gifting the work of our peers that we’ve enjoyed to our friends or family, or from you for…

View original 267 more words

The Marketing Beast


Ah, Marketing, wicked devil that exists as the bane to independent writers everywhere.

Is there a magical incantation that will stop this evil? A mystical word that will banish you from the peripheral borders of my self-ordained kingdom?

No, dammit. At least I haven’t found one yet.

Marketing is a common topic of many a writer’s blog, offering generalized tips, dos and don’ts, and an occasional rant at the newbies to back off. Some people get terribly upset if you cross some sort of invisible line out there in the virtual world.

I have been at it for a year now, a long, slow year of valid attempts to get my work noticed and purchased. All the while, I’m observing what is getting noticed and postulating why.

First of all, I learned late that you have to start a solid marketing campaign before the book is live. I made sure all of my friends and colleagues knew the book was coming out; but to really push to the public, I didn’t start until after the first edition was up. There are a lot of things about marketing a book that I didn’t know anything about – picking a sub-genre, posting on Goodreads, Smashwords, how to tweet, where to find readers, etc. And while there is a ton of info on the web about these topics, there is no way to read all of it first and understand it without context, and there are a lot of contradictions between experiences. In other words, what works for non-fiction doesn’t work for science fiction, and what works for romance doesn’t work for urban fantasy. One author might get away with using a certain marketing tool that is useless to someone else. So, I began researching little-by-little, and trying different things to see what happened.

I did a give away on Goodreads with a decent response on people adding the book to their shelves while entering the drawing. I sent out copies to the US and Canada. Hopefully they read and liked, but I haven’t seen any reviews. There is no evidence that any of the recipients even cracked eh spine. I decided to pay some money for ads on Goodreads and Facebook–there were a few click-thrus, but not much evidence of successful sales.

I continued the journey. I changed the price. I offered the book for free, and joined a few book club sites. This didn’t multiply things. My Twitter account, mainly a dead thing I found useless for everyday life, gained hundreds of followers instantly.

I was rewarded with spots of far greater attention, such as being nominated on Noveltunity as one of the Book of the Month votes, and a #Pushweek by Rave Reviews Book Club. Sales increased by a few volumes.

Then, I pushed harder to find a real publisher, someone to help market in places I didn’t know about and couldn’t reach.

Before the internet (ancient history, right?), finding info on publishing came from magazines, library books, and Writer’s Market. My mother purchased my first copy of Writer’s Market as her way of encouragement. We lived in a small town amidst the Kansas plains, and it was difficult to find anyone who knew the ins and outs of getting written work into the hands of a publisher. Finally, I’ve gotten success in finding a publisher – now for the magic to happen with marketing and sales!

Marketing “experts” will give you all kinds of generalized tips on how to make this marketing beast bow to your whims. Many of them are just like me, treading water in an extremely large ocean saturated with self-published books both well-written and terrible.

I’ve read quite a few the last few months, and I try not to judge too harshly, but some are too awful to even continue to read. Many are good, but end up being too long or riddled with typos. I’m trying to learn from these, see if there is something these writers do that brings the market to them.

There still is nothing magical that I can find.

Other than putting a scantily clad couple on the cover. I see A LOT of that.


Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

Poem of the Past

As I was once again cleaning out drawers, hoping to declutter and make room for other items of more importance, I discovered several bits of paper I’ll stripped from old notebook in an earlier purge, disposing of the junk I’d written in my early years and holding onto a few mementos of bygone years.

This is a sonnet, an early attempt at poetry written when I was about twelve years old.

Daydreamer’s Sonnet

To wander by the river that so flows,
Take time to sit and gaze up at the sky.
The wind that chills and thrills you as it blows
Takes feathered friends and lifts them way up high

My mind takes flight and soars along with them.
Mine eyes are filled with light that streams from sun.
The daylight star shows like a shining gem,
And I feel like a fighter who has won.

A lonely traveler on the sandy shore,
I watch the fishes swim beneath the clear.
I pause to drop the petals in by four
And gaze at my reflection in the mirror.

I daydream when it suites me fair and smile
And wish I should stay in my mind awhile.

©Colton Witt

©Colton Witt




Insomnia – Lacking Some Z’s

Everyone struggles with an occasional night being unable to get to sleep, tossing and turning in bed, waiting in the dark for the moment when consciousness gives up the fight and you can get some rest.

This can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including food or drink, an unusual worry, an annoying neighbor…. Things that can be accounted for and avoided and cause maybe 1 night in 100 to slip away into the realm of lost sleep.

For some, however, the lost nights of sleep are more than occasional. It is a chronic, persistent problem that somehow must be addressed in order to continue to function in daily life without excuse. For example, these last two weeks, I climb into bed with the full intention of laying my head on my pillow and closing my eyes. I feel tired, almost to the point I can’t keep my eyes open. Yet, as soon as I turn the lights out, I feel fully awake, just lying there staring into the dimness. In the few weeks prior to this, I was waking up at 4 am for no apparent reason and unable to go back to sleep. This cycle of initial insomnia and terminal insomnia alternates back and for every few weeks. In either case, the result is a tired, cranky, achy me and no underlying cause is evident in order to make a change.

Why Sleep is Important

Those who regularly get a refreshing nodder every night might take for granted why sleep is an important psychological and physical requirement, hence their lack of sympathy for those humans who just can’t capture those elusive z’s. It’s easy for many and guess what – they feel great about it!

Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Sleep recharges our bodies and our brains and promotes our immune systems. Those who have healthy sleep patterns are better adjusted to stress and are less irritable.

In some ways, insomnia is viewed similarly to a mental illness: why can’t you just change the way you feel? Trying going to bed on time. Won’t that help? There is little sympathy for those who are plagued with sleepless nights for no clear reason. There are many tips and tricks purported by experts on how to beat insomnia. I’m going to take a realistic (and sometimes sarcastic) look at a few of these.insomnia-poster

Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. – This is great if you have no other responsibilities to anyone. In a house of four with shifting daily requirements, this is not always ideal. My intention is to go to bed may be interrupted by someone else’s upset stomach or urgent drink of water.

Avoid caffeine or alcohol late in the day. – I rarely drink caffeine at any point during the day, and alcohol less frequently. If anything, alcohol helps me go to sleep in small doses.

Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep – Again, this isn’t ideal in a busy house.

Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex. – I’ve tried this, but my bed is also home to kid snuggles, reading books, writing, and sometimes movie watching.

If you can’t fall asleep and don’t feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not overly stimulating until you feel sleepy. – I would gladly use this extra time for writing, but if I get out of bed, everyone else in the house is wondering what I’m up to. One day, we’ll finish the basement so I can hide there and not bother anyone.

For most people who suffer from occasional transient (a few days) or acute (short-term) insomnia, the underlying cause will eventually disappear after a reasonable time. That inkling of worry will clear up when the time comes. Your cold will work its way out in a few days. Or you’ll ask those pesky neighbors not to play basketball on their driveway at midnight on a week day. Eventually, a good night’s sleep will be had and you’ll start feeling better.

For chronic suffers, this is a different story. I can’t even figure out the reason why I can’t sleep. I just can’t. And once I find myself lying awake in bed, what am I going to do?

Modern Causes

The National Sleep Foundation notes several lifestyle habits that can lead to the body being out of synch with a healthy sleep pattern. I believe many can be attributed to our modern, technology-driven lifestyles.

Working at home – Work, as well as the lighted computer screen, stimulates the brain and upsets the natural clock. Since I work a corporate job during the day, I often work on my writing at home after dinner as well as try to keep up with laundry and housework. This could very well be a key component in my recent struggle.

Shift Work or irregular hours – these schedule changes upset the body’s routine. I can attest to this, as my worst sleep challenges occurred in my college days when I worked three jobs to pay for living expenses, each with whacky schedules that were always shifting, including overnight desk shifts at residences halls and late night data entry shifts.

Taking Naps – I wish I could have one right now.

Adopting unnatural sleep habits – This is my husband. In the summer, he sleeps in, then works on marching shows and lesson plans past midnight. He then has to shift his sleep habits back the other direction in order to rise at 5:30 am during school months.

The Brain

Some people are just biologically prone to insomnia. Chemical interactions in the brain may actually be interfering with sleep habits. So despite following any and all advice to reach restful and healthy sleep, some of us just can’t do it. Our own brains are working against us. There are even entire families that for some reason have inherited a nocturnal dispositions and must adapt themselves to living in a diurnal population, often to their own detriment.

The Negative Effects of Insomnia

Lack of sleep isn’t just a nuisance. It causes several detrimental effects on the human body that can cause damage not only to the sufferer, but to those around them.

Changes of mood, lack of energy, and irritability are just a few of the emotional and psychological effects of not getting enough sleep. In fact, I have believed for years that a major factor in road rage is the fact that so many people suffer from sleep deprivation, a growing problem supported by industry and commercialism and the social need to earn, shop, watch, and keep up with the Jones’. And there is a vicious cycle in feeling drowsy, which makes you feel tense and preoccupied, and the worry over the inability to sleep becomes a cause as well as a result.

The physical effects manifest themselves in an increased vulnerability to infections, increased aches and pains, and excessive sleepiness during waking hours.

Operating cars and machines while sleep-deprived is similar to doing the same while intoxicated. Your reaction time slows, as does your ability to problem-solve and adapt. There are studies that show that lack of sleep increases the risk of a variety of accidents, including motor vehicle accidents. According to reports from the National Highway Safety Administration in 2002, high-profile accidents can partly be attributed to people suffering from a severe lack of sleep, costing millions in damages and over 1500 lives.

Making Changes

Clocks – One thing I’ve done in hopes of relieving my insomnia is removing clocks. Now that we have smart phones with alarms (and every other tool possible), we no longer have glowing red clocks on our bedside tables. This prevents me from staring at the clock and worrying about how little sleep I’m going to get. It also removes a distracting source of light from the room.

Keeping things cool – At night, we drop the thermostat into the 60s, 68 during the summer so the AC will kick on and keep the air moving, and 63 in the winter so that the heater doesn’t kick on too much during the night. Keeping the bedrooms cool helps the entire family sleep more soundly, and we are less prone to waking from the discomfort of being too hot.

Turning off the lights – Because light signals affect nerve clusters in the brain and prompt the secretion of melatonin, darkening the house in the evening helps set up the body for better sleep. Because not all activity can cease just because the sun goes down (we’d never have clean clothes in the winter when it’s dark at 5:00 pm), reducing the amount of light provides a starting point for relaxation of the mind. It also helps reduce the electric bill.

Kids – I expect the best change will come when the children are old enough and responsible enough to get themselves to bed and get themselves up and ready for the day without my intervention. This would shave off an hour of our typical morning routine and probably another hour in the evening. Currently, they spend quite a bit of time realizing they haven’t played with each and every toy today and suddenly have twenty things to tell Mommy about before they can close their eyes. And I can send them to bed 15 times before they finally give up. Maybe it’s the kids who have insomnia and not me?

#NaNoWriMo Update – 2

Now that we’ve ended the second week – Day 14! – of NaNoWriMo 2014, I am proud that I’ve reached the 25,000 word mark right on schedule.

On Monday, I took a day off from other duties (day job, house cleaning, etc.) just to stay home and write. I poured out over 5000 new words, and then began to dig into old places where I had written down notes throughout the years, including my Facebook page, where I had written about Grandmother spider and the hospital, in order to further my memories.  I’m glad I made such notes, because the details I remember now have shifted from what I remembered then.

Throughout this journey so far, I’m amazed at the minute, almost trivial actions, expressions, and words that I can recall, while I flounder among my mental file cabinets to remember the details for moments that I know were important. I ponder if one day human memory will improve to be like that of a machine, with instant, exact recall–and I realize such enhanced brains would probably be plagued with viruses and operator errors that misplace those files from time to time.

I am also planning on inserting at least two of the poems I wrote last month during #OctPoWriMo. These poems will add texture to the work.DSCN2263

I jumped around quite a bit in the chapters, because as I write about one thing, I’m reminded of something before or after and hurry to get that written down. There is no chronological order to the flow of memory. Everything just exists together in the same space-time of my gray matter.

As I continue down the path of this non-fiction, I realize that there are many legal considerations I must work through. Unlike fiction, where everything is made up and therefore a lawsuit would be improbable for any libel or slander, a non-fiction story of this type is fraught with statements that could be seen to have a negative impact upon some local establishments. So, I am looking at my options on how to proceed once this reaches the publishing stage.

I am also searching for the best picture from our Sydney archive to grace the cover. Gladly, I took hundreds to help me remember. I haven’t looked at these in a while.