Timothy Carter, Website Updates, and more!

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Hi Everyone,

The blog has slowed down a bit in the last month or so, as I’m dealing with some ongoing life stuff that should hopefully sort itself out by the end of July, beginning of August. Luckily, it’s only my posting that has suffered a bit. There’s been a lot going on with Pop Seagull behind the scenes, and we’re beginning to gear up for an exciting fall/winter season!

Website Renewal

Most of you probably know that I love this blog, but Pop Seagull, and my own author page which is currently at Meanwhile, In Canada, need a home of their own, on their own domain and hosting. This blog has been great as a place-holder while nobody in the company was able to commit to maintaining a website full-time, but now, with expanded time and resources, it’s time to re-open our website.  I’m happy to say that these WordPress accounts will still function as the official blogs for myself and Pop Seagull, but there will also be a ‘.com’ address that people can find more easily, that focuses more on product information and easy access to the books.

In the Fall and Winter we will be developing brand new sites, complete with dedicated book pages, better buying options, and some fun and interactive surprises that help readers to get closer to Pop Seagull’s worlds and characters. We will also be offering a quarterly email list with special offers and exclusive news.

The sites will go live by the new year, under the names:

popseagullpublishing.com

and

elizabethhirst.com

We’re looking forward to having new and easier ways for our customers to engage with us! Keep an eye out for announcements as the site builds progress!

Timothy Carter Joins Pop Seagull With: The 5 Demons You Meet in Hell

Timothy Carter, funny fantasy writer and all-around Awesome Dude.

Timothy Carter, funny fantasy writer and all-around Awesome Dude.

As of next Spring, Pop Seagull will be home to Timothy Carter’s hilarious novel of hell, demons and redemption, The Five Demons You Meet In Hell.

Cheeky, irreverent and boldly imaginative, this book has been described as a mixture of Dante’s Inferno and Kevin Smith’s Dogma… with a heaping dose of humor and a whole lot of weird.

And the best part? If you want a sneak preview of the book, you can still buy the old version of the e-book for the next few months at Tim’s Smashwords and Amazon page. This truly is one of those indie gems, so get it for $2.99 while you still can!

We’re thrilled to welcome Tim to the Pop Seagull family, and there will be many more updates as the release progresses. In the meantime, if you’d like to get to know Tim (and his zany antics) a bit better, you can check out his blog and YouTube channel:

Tim’s Blog

Tim’s Youtube

Oh, and watch out for the new cover and branding we’re creating… There will be butts.

Unsolicited Indie Advice, Part Two: Networking

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This is part two of an ongoing series in which I identify key skills and aptitudes which I have found necessary in order to have the best chance of succeeding as a self publisher or indie micro publisher. These articles are based on both my professional training as an author, editor and commercial artist, and my experiences in the industry, running my company for the last 5 years. They are not intended to refer to any particular individual without permission, and are merely my opinion. Please read lots of opinions and only use mine if they resonate with you.

I really believe in the power of indie authors to be great, and carve out a place of respect for themselves in the market and among their peers. But, to do that, we all must engage in a process of continuous self-improvement and learning about quality and industry best practices. I am still in this process myself, but I would also like to reach out and help those newer to the community. The better you do, the better we all do. It’s time to raise the standard and earn respect for everyone!

There’s been a lot of great feedback on this series already, and some of it has been positively inspiring!

After writing Unsolicited Indie Advice, Part One: The Dunning-Kruger Effect and the Novice Publisher, I was left thinking about one of my points of advice. In it, I advised novice publishers to beware working with family or friends due to the high probability that either a) they’re not qualified, or b) you’ll quarrel at some point over terms and lose a relationship that is more important than your business.

This advice is still sound, and something that new people need to hear. But, I think that a little bit of clarification is in order. After writing the article, I sat back and thought of all of the wonderful people that I currently do business with, and genuinely consider friends. I belong to a wonderful community of local writers that respect and support each other. So, how is this relationship different from the one I described in Part One?

The answer is about attitude. Professional friendships can be as real and lasting as any other friendship, but they generally start with networking. Meeting like-minded friends through networking is very different from the square-peg-in-round-hole method of trying to make existing family and friends fit your vision.

So, the next two articles in the series are about networking with other publishing professionals, and how to make it work for you.

Common Problems of Indie Publishers Who Need Better Networking Skills:

1. You know there must be events out there for authors like you, but you’re not sure where to look, or who to ask.

Some communities have better advertisement for their events than others, but networking is a great way to tap into more events, and hear about opportunities you might want to be a part of. It’s also a great way to share knowledge about how others are being treated at certain events, and what is available.

2. You know where the events are, but they seem beyond your reach, due to lack of funds, equipment or enough titles to fill a table.

Once you find some like-minded individuals, it’s easier to team up to fill out tables, share equipment and reduce fees. This works out better for everyone, and you’ll be surprised how quickly that event that seemed out of reach becomes affordable with a little teamwork!

3. You’ve read every article you can find online, but there still seem to be huge aspects of the business that elude you in practice.

Speaking to real people who are making their businesses work in your local area can give you a wealth of information about your local market, sales, and the kind of best practices that can really pull up a whole community of indie publishers through knowledge-sharing.

4. You feel isolated, like no one around you supports your choice to start a publishing business, or working on your titles feels like an uphill battle that you’re fighting alone.

It can be very tiring and de-motivating to feel like you’re having to go it alone. Connecting with people who are doing the same things can provide a source of encouragement for all involved, and be a ready source of inspiration when you all brainstorm together.

If these problems feel familiar, you might want to try brushing up on your networking skills. In the next article, I’ll give my best tips for growing a supportive network of friends that share your vision.

If you liked this article, why not check out the earlier posts in the series?

Part One: The Dunning-Kruger Effect and the Novice Publisher

Part One Continued: Dunning-Kruger, Part Two-ger

Guest Blog: Stephen B. Pearl on Love, Worthiness and “Seven Days”

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From time to time, I like to feature other authors and commentators with something unique and interesting to say. Today, author Stephen B. Pearl talks a little bit about his inspiration for Seven Days, a story of whirlwind romance with a creature of the fae which appears in Love, Time, Space, Magic.

If you like what Stephen has to say, you can find more of his musings and published works at www.stephenpearl.com.

Hi all,

I’m Stephen B. Pearl author of, among other things, the story Seven Days in Love Time Space and Magic from Pop Seagull Publishing.

The original inspiration for Seven Days came from the Jethro Tull song The Whistler. The song seemed to lend itself so well to the fairy stranger format that the story almost wrote itself. A recurrent theme in fairy lore is the stranger who comes into the village and performs some act for good or ill that changes everything. On a personal level there are few things as devastating than romantic betrayal. Whether that betrayal is by the loved one or the universe is of little matter, it still leaves one bereft and hurting. Thus I saw Chanter, the fey servitor, as the fairy stranger, but instead of saving a village he saves a broken heart. One heart at a time he makes good his folly of the past.

With Seven Days I explored the gift of a transient fling. The idea that having someone there, even for a little while, to remind you that you are worthy of love and respect is a very powerful thing. I also, with the character of William, I take a look at the selfless nature of true love, the kind that can last a lifetime.

Finally, With Fawn and her issues I touch on the idea that we have to be open to love. Often we cut ourselves off from love because we don’t see ourselves as worthy. We have been taught that we aren’t attractive enough, smart enough, good enough to deserve love and so keep those who would love us at arm’s length.

Chanter in my story sees into the heart of the hurting soul and draws out the cause behind the cause. In my experience the wounds that hurt worst are the ones that open old injuries. It is like a piece of metal. Hit it once and it is strong. Hit it a thousand times and it will break. Thus when Chanter says to William, “Your wound was more raw but simpler, hers is deep; forged of years of hurt. I will do what I can.” Chanter is summing up a life of pain for Fawn that has opened with the romantic betrayal. Chanter makes no judgment as to which is worse, William’s pain of having lost his love to death or Fawn’s of having been cheated on and dumped after a life time of being belittled by those who should have loved her, because they are both pain. One is acute the other chronic and both can devastate a person, twisting them into something less than they should be.

You might say that Seven Days has a lot of emotion.

I hope this insight has been of interest and would just like to say you are worthy of love. Let yourself embrace it and grow in it and it will stay long past the seventh day.

Unsolicited Indie Advice: Dunning-Kruger, Part Two-ger

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This is part two of an ongoing series in which I identify key skills and aptitudes which I have found necessary in order to have the best chance of succeeding as a self publisher or indie micro publisher. These articles are based on both my professional training as an author, editor and commercial artist, and my experiences in the industry, running my company for the last 5 years. They are not intended to refer to any particular individual without permission, and are merely my opinion. Please read lots of opinions and only use mine if they resonate with you.

I really believe in the power of indie authors to be great, and carve out a place of respect for themselves in the market and among their peers. But, to do that, we all must engage in a process of continuous self-improvement and learning about quality and industry best practices. I am still in this process myself, but I would also like to reach out and help those newer to the community. The better you do, the better we all do. It’s time to raise the standard and earn respect for everyone!


This article builds on the arguments previously made in this installment of Unsolicited Indie Advice. I highly suggest you read it before continuing on, as it elaborates psychological concepts that not everyone may be familiar with.

Beginning indie publishers usually have one, maybe two or three skill sets that they do well that are applicable to the publishing process. If they’re lucky, those three skill sets are writing, visual art and marketing. If so, great… but guess what? There are way more than three skill sets that go into publishing a really good book, and it is quite literally impossible for one person to do them all flawlessly, especially at first, and most especially if they are publishing their own writing. Many people don’t even know what all these skill sets are when deciding to publish a book. Even if you were to execute a perfect performance in all of the technical aspects of producing the final book, no writer can edit themselves. That’s another weird human psychological thing for which I don’t know the technical name, but it is nonetheless true.

So, you’re starting out with a dream and very little technical knowledge, and you have decided to wing it mostly on your own. Sometimes, due to budget or lack thereof, there is little choice but to go some of the process alone. But, you’re inexperienced, and everything we know scientifically (and a lot of what I’ve experienced over the years) has shown that you are highly likely to overestimate your own abilities and be blind to the ways in which your product needs to improve in order to meet the standards of the wider industry. How do you avoid the exceedingly common pitfalls caused by the Dunning-Kruger effect that will affect how seriously people take your products?

Based on my experiences, I have compiled a handy list of key skills to develop in order to be more successful at self-assessment. These will be a common feature of all the Unsolicited Indie Advice columns, and are intended to be used as jumping-off points that can be easily implemented in daily practice.

1: Approach all tasks with an attitude of humility.

This point applies even more strongly to disciplines that you think you know than those that you know you don’t. Read. Listen. Explore what others have done and been successful with. Sit at the feet of those who have come before and absorb their insights and process. Read up on what steps go into any given task, and what the risks are for taking shortcuts. When you are humble and take the time to listen, you absorb the attitudes and mental orientation that you need to be successful. That brings me to the next tip:

2: Be patient.

It is better to bring out one amazing book in five years than five terrible books in one year. Books are a slow medium. They take time to read, and time to produce. Make peace with this, and take the time you need to learn and work with the appropriate professionals to develop your product right. I budget at least six months between the delivery of a finished manuscript and release, and many people would say that’s far too short a time frame. I’m actually working at lengthening my production window to enable further quality safeguards and better strategic planning.

If you’re anything like most indie publishers, you haven’t bet the farm on publishing. You’ve got a life outside of publishing, so live it. Keep doing what you do for your day job, as hard as that may seem sometimes. The project will keep while you’re learning to do it right, I promise.

3: Learn to seek out, and take, critique.

This one can sometimes be a sticking point for those who have never pursued the arts professionally before. Critique is hard to take, and often when we are unused to listening to criticism of our work, it can raise feelings of low self-worth, anger and resentment. For me, critique has been a part of how I do things since my late teens, and I like to think that I’ve worked through most of the bumps and jolts that come from exposing my work to others. You might still need to go through that process, and it can be a very vulnerable one. But let’s be clear: if you want to avoid Messrs. Dunning and Kruger, you cannot avoid taking critique. And, once you receive critique, you must make every effort to listen to what the critiquer is trying to convey to you and actively make changes.

4: Enlist professional allies to help you find your way.

Once you’ve identified your areas of weakness through humility, patience and seeking out critique, you will want to find experts who can help you smooth over your weakest areas. This can be done on a variety of budgets. Editors, professional, experienced editors, are an absolute must for any self-publisher. Barter, save, pay however you must, but you must get a good editor on board somehow or your book will be severely lacking. This is the same for writers of all levels of fame and quality. You may also find that there are other things, like layout and cover design, that are actually cheaper to farm out if you don’t have the proper software licenses. Once you know what you don’t know, don’t ignore this information and cut corners. Every dollar you don’t spend to make your book right will inevitably be compounded by poor sales when the book doesn’t look as it should, and vice versa. While there are no guarantees, a fine looking, well-produced book will inevitably sell far better than an amateurish offering. Also, don’t fall into the false economy of hiring less-qualified artists because you’re getting a deal. Consult with experts before signing on with any amateurs! Deviantart is often not your friend, especially when you still don’t know what you don’t know.

If your budget really is rock bottom, my advice is to put your money into good editing and glean the rest from study and information gathering with design professionals. After all, services cost money, but advice is often free, and many professionals use free advice as part of their online platform these days. Be aware, though, that with this route comes a steep learning curve. I went this way, and even with a lot of professional design training, I still made rookie mistakes for ages.


So, that’s my list, and those are my unsolicited tips for beating the Dunning-Kruger effect. This advice is going to serve as a base for the other articles in the series, as we should always begin each phase of learning with humility and understanding of our lack of knowledge. Coming up next, I will break down book production into its various stages and skill sets, and provide a no-nonsense guide to making it work with little previous experience.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and found it helpful! Feel free to ask for some solicited indie advice in the comments section, or to weigh in on my strategy!

Unsolicited Indie Advice, Part One: The Dunning-Kruger Effect and The Novice Publisher

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This is part one of an ongoing series in which I identify key skills and aptitudes which I have found necessary in order to have the best chance of succeeding as a self publisher or indie micro publisher. These articles are based on both my professional training as an author, editor and commercial artist, and my experiences in the industry, running my company for the last 5 years. They are not intended to refer to any particular individual without permission, and are merely my opinion. Please read lots of opinions and only use mine if they resonate with you.

I really believe in the power of indie authors to be great, and carve out a place of respect for themselves in the market and among their peers. But, to do that, we all must engage in a process of continuous self-improvement and learning about quality and industry best practices. I am still in this process myself, but I would also like to reach out and help those newer to the community. The better you do, the better we all do. It’s time to raise the standard and earn respect for everyone!


A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

These are old sayings, but they point at something intrinsic to human psychology that wise people have always known is there. Wisdom is self critical, and yet inexperience is bold and brash.

It wasn’t until 1999 that psychological science was able to put a name to this phenomenon, and proactively measure the ways in which the inexperienced are blind to their own failings. Two scientists, named Dunning and Kruger, conducted a series of experiments which measured people’s performance on different types of tests versus their estimation of their own abilities. The results are well summarized in this wikipedia article.

In brief, the Dunning-Kruger effect states that those who are under-qualified in a particular set of skills are more likely to rate their abilities highly, whereas those who are highly skilled in a given discipline are more likely to under-rate themselves, be critical or their own performance and overestimate the ease of doing what they do. The research implies that although the severity varies, these behaviours are intrinsic blind spots in our psychology, hard-wired into the human brain, and everyone does them at one time or another. It has no correlation to intelligence, but often causes others to perceive the person suffering from it as clueless at best, unintelligent and arrogant at worst. But, this is not true. It’s a failing common to all of us, and it’s possible to break through.

The Dunning-Kruger effect can have many manifestations in the world of indie publishing. In each article of this series, I will compile a list of some common possible problems people may encounter if they have an issue with the skills addressed in the article.

Common Problems of Indie Publishers Exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

1. Over-inflated ideas of where the project will go.

Yes, some authors do hit it big right away, but in my experience, their great luck is also combined with a lot of research, skill and hard work, no matter what. Expect a slow start. The common turn-around time for an arts business of any kind to turn a profit (of any discipline, even if run by experts) is ten years. Expect people to be skeptical of you at first, and to pay your dues and build relationships in the community. Also, you will quickly learn that a huge marketing budget and a lot of flash and branding can’t make up for a shoddy product. Readers are, by and large, some of the best critical thinkers, not to be swayed by window dressing. Resources, especially at first, are almost always better centered on the core product.

2. Stopping at ‘good enough for me’.

Many people suffering from this phenomenon fall into the thinking of ‘I’m an average person, and it’s good enough for me, so it’ll be good enough for other average people.’ Wrong. So wrong. People are learning creatures, and their entire reading lives, they have been taught that traditional publishing standards are what they should look for in a book to read. They do, to rehash an old chestnut, judge a book by its cover. It’s a snap, split-second judgement. Do you really think that any amount of argument or charm on your part is going to change an ingrained, instinctual reaction? Changing those types of assumptions takes time, and colossal societal movement, and I guarantee that it is not in your budget unless you’re a Gates or a Disney.

So, why not take the time to learn industry best practices and make people’s assumptions work for you? It’s much better and more fulfilling than playing the misunderstood starving artist/martyr, I promise.

3. Working with friends when it’s bad for the business.

This is another one that I, unfortunately, have had to learn the hard way. Naturally, you want to think your friends, lovers and relatives are talented, and cool, and give them that big break they’ve been waiting for all these years, or maybe just some good work experience and a reference. And, they’ll usually work for cheap to free! What could be better than that?

A lot of stuff, actually. First of all, I know it would be fun to work with all people you know, and cost is on their side, but the likelihood that you are going to be able to pull the level of people you need in order to be taken seriously from your friend and family pool — from volunteers among your friend and family pool — is exponentially low. You’re sinking a lot of money into this process, or at least a lot of time and heart. Don’t you want to make it work the best it can?

Secondly, you need to think about the potential complications, and whether your personal relationships are worth sacrificing for this. What if someone does a bad job and then either won’t listen or gets angry when you can’t use their work? What if they start getting indignant about all of the work they’re doing for you and think you should start paying them, or paying them more? What if they offer to work for a reference, then don’t perform to your satisfaction, and don’t get the reference? You think it won’t happen now, but people change the agreements they’ve made all the time, and conveniently forget what they signed on for, no matter how up-front you are. Depending on the circumstances, you could get sued, or they may threaten to smear you on the internet to anyone who will listen.

These are all things that can be devastating to your personal relationships, and result in substandard books being put out into the world. Don’t let emotional attachments trip you up. It may seem cold at first, but in the long run it is much kinder and saves a lot of hurt on both sides. Trust me, I’ve been there, and it wasn’t pretty.

4. An overall sense of being ignored, dismissed, or not taken seriously.

A huge problem with suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect is that often, other people will be too embarrassed or not assertive enough to tell you what is wrong. They will simply ignore you, exclude you, and walk right on by your booth. Just like the clueless guy with his fly undone at the club, very few people, unless they have a very specific personality and relationship to the subject, will step up and address the issue. The people that do stop to help may seem blunt, harsh, and a tad on the rude side. Chances are that if they are assertive enough to break the taboo, these things are true of them, and that can cause barriers to improvement because it is easy to get indignant. But, they are actually giving you a great gift, and you must learn to treat it as such.

Many indie authors encounter resistance, questioning, and even outright hostility from some people when they do their first few events. It is not necessarily a quality indicator if you meet one or two genuinely rude people. But, if you sell less than perhaps ten books per show, if people seem to be glossing right over you when they walk by, or treating you with open disdain or dismissal, it might be that your product is obviously inferior and people are embarrassed for you. If you get an overall sense of dismissal from people and it’s hard to pinpoint why, your answer most likely lies with the Dunning-Kruger effect. Your work looks okay to you, but it is far from meeting industry standards in some key way. You need to dig down and figure out what the problem (or problems) are.

So, we’ve identified a key problem facing indie publishers today, and identified some of the ways it can manifest in our business practices and attitudes. But, how do we ditch the Dunning-Kruger effect? The short answer: learning and patience. In part two of this blog, I’ll give you my tips for breaking down false images of your work and building attitudes that lead to more accurate self-assessment.


I hope you enjoyed this article, and found it helpful! Feel free to ask for some solicited indie advice in the comments section, or to weigh in on my strategy!

Friday Fun: Victoria Feistner Reading from ‘Melanie in the Underworld’

Stephen B. Pearl isn’t just the awesome author behind Seven Days, a sexy story of the fae set in modern-day Hamilton. He’s also a lover of all things video!

Stephen sent us this lovely video of Victoria Feistner reading from her story, Melanie in the Underworld, at the Love, Time, Space, Magic launch party. So, if you missed the party, you can get a teensy peek at what you missed! Enjoy!

Read the anthology, and want more Stephen? Looking for more videos and stories? Check out Stephen’s website at www.stephenpearl.com

How to Dive Into Indies (Without Getting Lost at Sea) A Handy Five-Step Guide

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This post is the beginning of a series of posts about the vital role that fans play to indie publishers, and simple things that fans can do to help indies along. One of the most important, and obvious, things that a book lover can do to promote indie authors is to buy their books.

It sounds simple, but fishing around for indie books has some unique challenges. First of all, there’s usually very little advertising and fewer reviews to help weigh decision-making. Second, there is a lot of material out there to choose from, and thus the vast ocean metaphor I chose for the title of this post. And thirdly, with infinite choices, how do you deal with finite time and money?

As someone who not only publishes indie books, but has been a long-time buyer and consumer of indie books (since the early 2000’s) I thought I might be in a favorable position to offer a few tips.

Liz’s 5 Tips for Sailing the Indie Book Seas and Arriving With Wallet Intact

1. Know what kind of book you want to read.

I know it sounds simplistic, but narrowing down the kind of book you want to read can really help to navigate the vast sea of indie offerings. If you go into the search with a kind of book, or even a genre, in mind, it can be easier to decide which works you want to purchase. From there, you can browse popular book sites by category and keyword, and narrow the number of selections down to something that seems manageable. You can also search out ‘best of’ lists and reviews for that category. A warning, though: indie reading is all about discovery, and sometimes lists and reviews can actually hinder your progress rather than help. As in any industry, it’s not always the best products that reach the eyes of the reviewers… just the ones that have the best budgets or the most persistent promotional efforts. I’m not in any way questioning the integrity of the reviewer here, as they can only review works that they know exist, obviously. I merely wish to point out that there can be amazing books out there that don’t have any formal reviews due to lack of resources.

2. Try E-books.

E-books are great, because they’re very low cost, and low stakes. Don’t like that book you’ve downloaded? It’s just a file, rather than something that will sit on your shelf until you finally haul it over to Goodwill. You can ignore it, or delete it. Plus, there are a wide variety of indie offerings available in e-book that would be hard or impossible to get a hold of in real life. Another e-book perk is that there are a lot of freebies, depending on the title and platform. Make a Smashwords account, and watch for deals. Smashwords often holds promotions where they encourage their authors to deeply discount their books, and even offer them for free! Other e-book sites offer a pay-what-you-wish format, with incentives for paying their desired price. Look around and see what deals you can find. Beware mass downloads, however tempting they may be. Some e-book users hoard thousands of titles, but read very few of them, and it’s easy to just forget about what you have. Conscious consumers get more out of their e-reading experience! And, needless to say, if you’re doing this because you care about indies, try to find a legal way to get the file, that benefits the creator either through download numbers or money.

3. Start an indie reading circle.

Because I want to be aware of what’s going on in my local publishing community, I have a lot of new material to read very year, especially after conventions, but I’m proud to say that I manage to read most of what my friends and colleagues are publishing, despite being of relatively modest means. How do I do this? Well, I use tip #2 when I can, because it helps with storage and e-books still give the author a fair cut while lowering price. I do book trades. This is something, unfortunately, that is out of reach for those who are not in the writing/publishing business, although you may have something else that an author may want to trade in kind. I also team up with friends to get maximum coverage on the physical books that I want. Often, my friends and I will try to buy as wide a variety of books, with as few doubles as possible, and then we will share them. I, personally, do not see this as the same thing as widespread file sharing. This system has many upsides, including having at least one reviewer you really trust, and somebody to discuss your latest finds with! And hey, if you both like a specific book, you’ve got a ready-made birthday or Christmas present idea for them.

4. Always read the blurb and sample chapters.

Sure, it has a cool cover, but what are the chances that the author actually made the cover? Unless they’re a multidisciplinary art freak (like yours truly) the old adage about books and covers holds true here. All a good cover proves is that the publisher had $200. That’s why the blurb and sample chapters are so important. First, the blurb: accurate, concise writing is an art form, and if someone can give you a clear vision of the contents of the book with just a few hundred words, there’s a good chance they could steal your heart with 70,000 or so. Good blurbs also mean that the book likely has an organized, consistent plot that can be described easily, which is almost always a good thing, unless you’re really into avant-garde literature. As for the sample chapters, look for spelling mistakes, run-on sentences and formatting errors. If it’s going to grate on you when you read the book, it will probably show up in the sample.

5. Start Local.

Another way to sort your indie book explorations is by region, rather than by genre. Go to local arts events and meet some authors and publishers face to face. Take a trip to your local independent book store and ask what local authors they recommend. Attend a convention geared to writing or fandom and browse the dealers’ room. Or better yet, talk to that guy who’s selling his books out of his coat or his car… there’s always at least one per convention! This is one of the most fun ways to explore indie books, if you’ve got the time and inclination. Not only do you have new books, but you may just end up with a whole new group of local literary friends!

Conclusion

One of the things I love about the indie publishing community is the richness and variety of offerings out there, and the above techniques are some of the ways I’ve found to turn that variety from a confusing minus into a big plus. Another thing I love about these explorations is the sense of community that develops from getting to know an approachable group of grassroots artists.

In that spirit, I want to open up the floor to you… what do you do to discover new books that are off the beaten path? What do you think of my tips? Comment, tweet, or come to our Facebook and let us know!

Excellent Review for Love, Time, Space, Magic from NewMyths.com!

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I just got the news that Love, Time, Space, magic is being featured on the front page of NewMyths.com! This is such exciting news!

Reviewer Scott T. Barnes had a lot of nice things to say about the anthology. He writes:

Elizabeth Hirst has gathered a beautiful collection of stories in Love, Time, Space, Magic.

The overall theme is “love” of course. Love in various guises, always with an important speculative element. While all written by different authors, the “feel” of the stories reminded me of Spellcast by Barbara Ashford, a novel which combines love, magic, and musical theater.

Romantics, dreamers, and believers in magic—particularly the magic of love—will enjoy this collection of short stories.

Scott goes on to write individual reviews of all twelve stories, which are well worth the read. This is going to be our go-to review for those who are wondering about the individual stories!

Read the rest of the article here.

Congratulations, Robotica Contributors!

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As of tonight, everyone who submitted to Robotica has been answered.

Congratulations to all who were accepted, and a sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted, and most especially those who stuck with us through our longer-than-usual reading period.

We received some truly wonderful material for this anthology, and over fifty submissions. I am also happy to report that the amount of Canadian submissions went way, way up.

Stay tuned for more updates as they happen!

News on the Robotica Anthology

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I’ve been very busy lately with Robotica anthology submissions, and a couple of other projects I’ll be announcing later, but I just wanted to drop in and give an update on progress for the new anthology.

If you haven’t received a letter from me by this time today… congratulations! Your story has made the second round of submissions. I will be extending offers of acceptance to those who have made it by the end of next week, as promised in our submission guidelines.

I just want to thank everyone who submitted work for Robotica. As usual, your creativity, inspiration and passion has bowled me over and exceeded all my expectations. It’s going to be another great book!

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