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Viewing Blog: PubGuy, Most Recent at Top
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The PubGuy has over six years of experience with Print-On-Demand Publishing. He has been a professional journalist with bylines appearing in USA Today/Baseball Weekly, Soccer magazine, The Omaha World-Herald and The Des Moines Register among others.
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26. Mahoney, Severeid sign with The Literary Group Mi...

Mahoney, Severeid sign
with The Literary Group

Milly Mahoney sure doesn’t act dead.

While the titular character from Susanne Severeid’s mystery novel, The Death of Milly Mahoney does indeed come to an unfortunate demise, the novel itself has been living an active lifestyle since it was first published with iUniverse in the Fall of 2005. The latest milestone is a contract for representation with Frank Weimann of The Literary Group International.

The signing caps a surge of publicity for Mahoney, which has received both the Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice designations from iUniverse, that included a review on the POD-DY Mouth blog and a subsequent mention in Entertainment Weekly when that blog was the subject of a short piece in the magazine.

“The POD-DY review was a terrific break,” Severeid said. “Her blog has such credibility, especially since people know her level of objectivity. I felt so honored that she chose Milly over hundreds of other books to review, and that she loved it. To then have the Entertainment Weekly mention come out a short time later; well, you can't buy that kind of publicity. I was very happy when Frank offered to represent me.”

Weimann learned about Severeid and The Death of Milly Mahoney through a scout and elected to take on the project based on that recommendation.

“What we loved most about the book was the style in which it was written,” Weimann said.

Severeid did her research and negotiated before signing with LGI.

“It's a big step, signing a contract; you've got to be sure of what you're signing. I first checked with an attorney friend, and looked over various websites (the Mystery Writers of America has some excellent contract information). I also recommend buying the book, Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers, by Tad Crawford. There was a bit of back and forth along the way, but I don't think I've ever signed a contract or release without making some changes,” Severeid said. “And, having been a model and actress, I had some experience with all that. In agreements, everyone obviously tries to get the best deal for themselves, so consensus is vital. Some advice to other authors: don't let yourself feel rushed, and never sign anything you don't understand or that you don't feel comfortable with. A good contract should satisfy both sides, since once it's signed you’ll be a team, working together. But know what your "deal breakers" are, and be prepared to walk if you don't get them.”

While Weimann is shopping The Death of Milly Mahoney to traditional publishers, Severeid is hard at work on the second in the Trix Donovan series. Donovan is the protagonist in The Death of Milly Mahoney.

“I'm working on the next book in the series and am pleased with how it's coming along. I've even gotten several emails from total strangers who say they can hardly wait to read the sequel, so that's fun, and I'm hearing from librarians who say they can't keep Milly on the shelf, that it's always checked out or has holds,” Severeid said. “I love these characters and want to work with them for a long time if I can.”

Severeid said her iUniverse experience has been nothing but positive and has really helped her get the ball rolling.

“I've been very pleased with the professionalism every step of the way, and with the individuals I've dealt with. iUniverse gives a lot of personal attention and support to the author, and they produce a quality product. Unlike some of the other POD or self-publishing options, iUniverse is honest about what they offer.”

While the fact that the book was previously-published by iUniverse had no effect on his decision to represent the book, Weimann does see some positives with POD.

“I think it is terrific for authors, as it has taken away the stigma that used to exist around 'self-published' books; readers now take these books very seriously,” he said.

The Literary Group International represents a wide variety of titles and authors including Johnny Damon’s Idiot (Crown, 2005) and Mindy Starns Clark’s Blind Dates Can Be Murder (Harvest House, 2006). Upcoming releases include The Alchemyst (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2007) by Michael Scott and The West Point Way by General Joseph Franklin.

To read more about Susanne Severeid and The Death of Milly Mahoney visit http://www.susannesevereid.com/. The website for the Literary Group International can be found at http://www.theliterarygroup.com/.

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27. Wiprud walks Crooked Path to Publishing Success Br...

Wiprud walks Crooked Path
to Publishing Success
Brian Wiprud traveled a long and winding road to acquire a traditional publishing contract. The Brooklyn author managed to ride a straightaway stretch with iUniverse and drive his mystery novel, Pipsqueak, from POD to a deal with Random House’s Bantam Dell Publishing Group.

Dell published Pipsqueak in June 2004, and Stuffed followed in 2005. His third book, Crooked, hit the shelves in August 2006, and a fourth, Sleep with the Fishes, will be out in October of this year.

Wiprud recently discussed how he made the jump from POD to traditionally-published author.

How did you feel when Pipsqueak first got picked up by Dell?
Suspicious. Dell kept wanting to see the manuscript of the next book—as did a lot of people at that time, so I was sort of like ‘get in line.’ But a number of publishers and agents had requested Pipsqueak and a manuscript for Stuffed, and none had gotten back to me. Sending out my work became just a process with no goal. So when Dell said they wanted to offer me a contract, I didn’t know what they were talking about. They had to say the words “we want to give you a two book contract” to make me realize that they wanted to publish me. But I still was suspicious. I mean, this must be some kind of mistake, right?

How did it all come about?
When I published Pipsqueak with iUniverse, I sent it to everybody who was anybody in the mystery publishing biz and it snowballed. People read it, recommended it on the Internet, and next thing I knew, I was not only nominated for a Lefty Award, but I also ended up winning and being nominated for a Barry Award. Talent and perseverance can actually work!

Did you shop Pipsqueak to agents and traditional publishers before going to a POD company? If so, what kind of reaction did you get from the agents/traditional publishers?
I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 660 rejections for six novels prior to Pipsqueak—the actual letters are in a box in a barn being eaten by mice. By the time I penned Pipsqueak, I’d more or less given up on traditional publishers and agents. Some of the editors and agents I’d been submitting to for fifteen years, so they probably saw my SASE and thought, “oh dear—not Wiprud again.” I even tried changing my nom de plume and mailing address, figuring I was a marked man. But when I saw what was possible with POD publishing, I said,”Tthe heck with them. They don’t get the privilege of rejecting Pipsqueak. I’m just coming out with it”.

You first published Sleep With The Fishes with another POD company before coming to iUniverse with Pipsqueak. What prompted the move and what was your iUniverse experience like?
I published a previous book, Sleep With The Fishes (coming out again this fall as a Dell mass market paperback) with Xlibris, and I don’t mind saying that they were terrible. Aside from pre-publication nightmares, when my book came out, they jacked the price up by a third, and it proved almost impossible to actually buy for three months after my launch. It was a disaster. Who is going to pay $24 for a trade paperback that takes months to arrive? iUniverse was the complete opposite with an utterly smooth pre-publication process. When it was ready, it was actually available and people bought it. The rest, as they say….

How much different is the Dell version of Pipsqueak from the iUniverse version?
Nothing huge in a narrative sense, but there are textural improvements that as soon as I saw the edits I said, “Of course!” I can’t stress enough the importance of having a professional editor. It’s great. Anybody going POD should hire the best freelance editor they can afford.

How did you go about marketing the book while it was with iUniverse?
I could go on for quite some time about that topic. Fundamentally, I found on-line reviewers who read and reviewed my book. I went to conventions, got involved in my genre, and listened to what published authors had to say about what you as an author can do to promote your books.

What kind of marketing are you doing for Crooked?
The last two years I took myself on tour. The first year I drove across country visiting independent bookstores and the second year I did a circuit of Florida bookstores. I’m taking a year off from touring this time around. I made bookstands for mystery bookstores that like my work and sell it so they could get the books off the shelf and closer to point of purchase. Buyers have to see your book, and if it sits spine out on the shelf, they are less likely to notice it.

What are the differences between marketing a traditionally-published book and a POD book? What are the similarities?
Again, I could go on and on, but for the new author even at a traditional publisher, you have to do a lot of your own promotions, so it's really very much the same. You have to get out there to the conventions, to the stores, and to the reviewers. Your publisher will send out advance reading copies, but the rest is up to you until your sales warrant them putting more bucks behind your product. Makes perfect sense. It’s a business.

Crooked came out on August 1 and you have another book, Sleep with the Fishes, coming out on October 1. What's the thought process behind releasing another book so soon after Crooked?
A one-two punch—sustained and expanded shelf presence.

Another former iUniverse author, Jennifer Colt, mentioned you on her Web site and in my interview with her. Is it important to network as an author?
Important? It’s essential. A lot of other people have traveled the same path: learn from them. Most authors are pretty generous with their time, although I limit myself to helping humor authors.

What are you reading right now? Who are some of your favorite authors and your biggest influences?
My biggest influence would be Donald Westlake. I just finished two of his Dortmunder books. I love his work and his work ethic. His advice to new authors is taken from the Nike ad campaign, “Just Do It.” He means that writing classes and all that can help, but the most important thing is to write a lot and become a better artist. You can’t expect to paint the Mona Lisa on your first try. This requires honing your craft, which can only come by “doing.”

What advice would you pass on to an author considering POD publishing?
I was fortunate to ride the first wave of POD publishing, but right after my wave came, a tsunami of authors with half-baked novels inundated reviewers and booksellers with crap. No doubt there were some decent novels in there that got washed away by the flood, books that with a little more work and polish may have stood out and survived. As you can imagine, people in the book business are now very picky about which POD books they will even consider reading. New authors contact me regularly, and they seem to think that it’s not so much about the book as about promotions. But it’s almost ALL about the book. You get one chance to be "new" to reviewers—don't blow it by pushing around a mediocre book. Your novel has to be terrific, a stand out, to make a splash, to be wildly original and at the same time embody a commonality to which readers gravitate. Have your book professionally edited and create a bold, pellucid opening chapter. Make the prose clean, and have a sharp cover done by an artist who does book covers. Amateur book covers scream POD mediocrity. It’s no secret that this market is very tight, and profit margins are slim. The big publishers have to be shrewd about what books they publish and what authors they decide can continue to produce a product that sells. For them to invest money in you, your work has to look like it will pay off. So expect to invest a lot of your time, and not a little of your own money, into becoming a professional author. This is not a get rich scheme. This is a career that requires diligence, practice, and fortitude, just like any other career.

Read more about Brian Wiprud and his books at http://www.wiprud.com/.

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28. Pratt Keeps Morcyth Saga Moving Along “To be cont...

Pratt Keeps Morcyth Saga Moving Along
“To be continued”—Don’t ya just hate that?

Can you imagine reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring and then having to wait years for The Two Towers to come out? Brian Pratt can, so he hasn’t wasted much time between releasing installments of his Morcyth Saga. He published the first book, The Unsuspecting Mage, in December 2005. The fifth book, The Star of Morcyth, just became available in June 2006.

In between, he’s also published The Fires of Prophecy, Warrior Priest of Dmon-Li and Trail of the Gods.

“Perhaps my main reason for writing the Morcyth Saga was due to the fact that other authors seemed to drag out a series and make the reader wait a long time for the next installment,” Pratt said. “Also, after having read many books over the years, I always wanted to try my hand at it. The series will be seven books, the fifth one is out now.”

Between the five books, Pratt has already sold more than 1,300 copies.

“Tried the newspaper announcement thing but that went nowhere; the one person who responded only put a small blurb in my hometown paper—hardly worth the effort,” Pratt said. “Chat rooms would be the most productive avenue I've tried. Drop your name, that you are an author and people start talking. Once they know you, they want to try your book. It's free advertising, all you spend is your time and I have a lot of that.”

Pratt discovered iUniverse with a simple Internet search after trying traditional publishing first.

“The publishers I've tried have all turned me down as well as the half dozen agents I sent letters to. At first, I was excited, but as the rejections came in, I sort of gave up on that avenue and am simply working word of mouth. The numbers say it's going well.

“Everyone I've dealt with at iUniverse has been most helpful. The publication process goes well and the cover design is great. Very happy all way around.”

Pratt list Raymond E. Feist, Isaac Asimov, Piers Anthony and J.R.R. Tolkien among his biggest influences. You can read more about Pratt and the Morcyth Saga at http://www.morcythsaga.com/.

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29. Photos by Eycke Strickland Severeid takes Sequi...

Photos by Eycke Strickland

Severeid takes Sequim

iUniverse author Susanne Severeid recently enjoyed a very successful book signing and self-publishing seminar in the Olympic Theatre Arts Center in Sequim, WA. Severeid, who's mystery-thriller The Death of Milly Mahoney was published by iUniverse in August 2005, moved to Sequim late last year.

About 70 people attended Severeid's event and she quickly sold out of her copies.

"I spoke off the cuff for some 2 1/2 hours about my experience writing and self-publishing "Milly"...plus answered tons of questions," Severeid said. "People were still asking questions, buying books, etc. I've already been asked to address a local authors' group, and have been asked to do this presentation again so that others who couldn't make this one can attend."

Read an early interview with Severeid here. Check out her website at www.susannesevereid.com.

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30. From iU to Broadway: Colt hits the 'Big Time' In ...

From iU to Broadway:
Colt hits the 'Big Time'
In one way or another, we all want to go to “the show”—whether that means getting called up by the Yankees or the Sox, landing a part in a Broadway play or signing a traditional publishing contract.

iUniverse helped Jennifer Colt hone her skills before she made her Broadway debut—literally! Colt’s series of comedic mystery novels featuring twins Kerry and Terry McAfee was picked up by Broadway Publishing Group, a division of Random House. Her first book, The Butcher of Beverly Hills, came out under the Broadway imprint in July of 2005, while The Mangler of Malibu Canyon hits stores in June 2006. Both books were originally published by iUniverse. A third book in the series, The Vampire of Venice Beach, is scheduled to be released in March 2007.

Colt shared her thoughts on marketing Mangler and her experience moving from iUniverse to the “big leagues” of traditional publishing.

How does the Broadway version of The Mangler of Malibu Canyon differ from the original version published with iUniverse? Can you describe the editorial process for the first two Broadway books?
The first thing my editor told me was that I needed to pump up the romance. I had been reticent about that because I planned to do a long-running series, and didn't want to burn out all my romantic storylines in the first few books. I was also afraid to slow down the action. But after the deal was made, I had many months in which to revise all three manuscripts before we signed, and I managed to develop the romantic arcs of my characters in a very fun way.

My editor also cut some of the gore, and gently pointed out to me that most novels contain detailed descriptions of characters and locations. I was so used to writing screenplays, I'd left too much of that to the imagination. All in all, the books are much better reads now.

What kind of marketing plans do you have for The Mangler of Malibu Canyon? Will you be doing a book tour of some kind? Anything that will take you to the fair state of Nebraska? Will you be at BookExpo America in D.C.?
Unfortunately, no to both venues. We’re concentrating on the West Coast (read: cheaper travel.) It just makes sense because the books are set here, and Los Angeles/San Diego is a big market. I'm planning to go to Bouchercon in the fair state of Wisconsin (which I've visited before), but that's about it for travel. If people are interested, my local schedule will be published soon on http://www.jennifercolt.com/. So far, I'm confirmed at B&N on the Third Street Promenade, June 21st at 7:30 pm.

How much of the marketing is your responsibility? Do you come up with your own ideas for marketing or does the publisher and/or agent dictate/contribute?
It's both. The publisher does a fair amount for new writers, but obviously the established names get the lion's share of the advertising and promotion dollars. (Chicken/egg controversy, anyone?)

I’ve been much more involved in promotion for this book. I've set up contests on other Web sites, and I’ve reworked my own site to include contests and games, etc. I didn't do much promotion on Butcher because my publisher had originally scheduled the books to be released six months apart, and I thought, “Holy cow, if they want books to release every six months, I'd better get cranking!” So I wrote a fourth while waiting for the contract and a fifth while I was waiting for Butcher to come out.

What kind of goals do you have for the book from a sales standpoint?
You have no control over it, so the only reasonable goal to have is that people will find the book and enjoy it. If they do, they'll spread the word.

Can you describe your feelings when Jenny Bent called to sign you, when Broadway picked up the books, when you held the Broadway version in your hands for the first time? Where does holding your first book from iUniverse rank on that list?
When I got my iUniverse copy, my husband and I both had the same reaction: "Hey, it's a book!" It was so different from the piles of loose paper lying around, and so gratifying to hold in my hand. It was pretty thrilling.

On my first call with Jenny, I sounded like a complete idiot. She asked me what kind of publishing deal I envisioned, and I'd given it absolutely no thought, so I blurted out something like, "Makes no difference. If you publish it, they will come." Apparently she felt strongly enough about the material to sign me anyway. She told me she thought people were going to be excited about the books. Next thing you know, we were off to the races.

There was much dancing around the living room when the Broadway version arrived in the mail. This time our reaction was: "Hey, it's a book! And it glows in the dark!" After the initial excitement wore off, I was scared to death about what was to come.

You've talked about it a bit in other interviews, but what role did publishing with iUniverse play in eventually having your books picked up by a traditional publisher?
Well, I'd have to answer "everything." Publishing with iUniverse gave me the sense of being a real author. I had to finish the manuscript because of a self-imposed deadline, then I had to let go of it (the hardest thing to do, stop editing). Following that, I got to experience that lovely jumping-without-a-parachute feeling that comes from knowing it's going to be typeset for all time, and people may reject it utterly as a book.

I was able to get reviews because it was a real, physical book that could be mailed out. The good reviews gave me hope that I wasn't wasting my time. I was on a learning curve in terms of writing a novel and became more confident each time I published. I think if I’d been picked up initially by a big publisher and sent out there to sink or swim, I might have been too addled to continue writing.

By the time I'd finished Vampire of Venice Beach, I had begun to understand my writing process, and the reviews I'd amassed made all the difference in getting an agent and a deal.

Love the covers of the Broadway books. Did you have any input on them?
I love them too, but can't take any credit. I know they worked very hard on them at Broadway because I saw several iterations before they came up with the final series look.

Who are some of your influences? Who are you reading right now?
Right now I'm gazing longingly at a stack of unread books on the end table. They include works by Robert Crais, Patricia Highsmith, Jeffrey Deaver, Nero Wolfe, Brian Wiprud, Barry Eisler, Richard Matheson, Zadie Smith, plus a nonfiction book entitled Spook and a metaphysical book called The God Code. The last book I remember reading was Hannibal (again). What a trip!

My comedy/satire influences are: Janet Evanovich, Dave Barry, Carl Hiaasen, Donald Westlake, Loony Tunes (seriously), Christopher Moore, Elmore Leonard, Susan Isaacs, Tom Robbins, Helen Fielding, Lucille Ball, Peter Sellers, Preston Sturges, P.G. Wodehouse, and many more...Saying they're "influences" is just another way of saying I love them.

Two fabulously funny writers I've recently discovered are Mark Haskell Smith (Moist) and Tim Dorsey (Cadillac Beach). Also, a guy named Duane Swierczynski, who wrote an amazing book called Secret Dead Men. (Sorry to get carried away with the answer, but I'm a fan first and foremost.)

You mention Brian Wiprud on your Web site, another iUniverse author who has gone on to the big leagues. Is it important to network as an author? Do you exchange ideas for stories and marketing ideas?
We all exchange marketing ideas, but rarely talk about the actual books. I have a new friend I met at MWA (Mystery Writers of America), a genius by the name of Brett Ellen Block. Strangely for a genius, she possesses a good business sense. Without her prodding I might have procrastinated promoting the book until two weeks before the it came out. Brian is always on me about that stuff, too. Writer friends are great for keeping you mentally afloat in this wacky business.

What can you tell us about your next book, The Vampire of Venice Beach (March 2007)?
That it kicks ass! Basically, it's more of the same. An outrageous plot, funny dialogue, lots of action, plenty of twists. My protagonists Terry and Kerry McAfee (identical twin PI's) are hired to do crowd control at the "Coming out of the Coffin" parade in Venice Beach. When Ephemera, Queen of the Undead, falls out of her coffin with puncture wounds on her neck and her blood drained, the McAfees are on the case. They pursue the murderer into the murky underworld of "social vampires"fanged individuals who live on the dark side of the street (and who are addicted to the taste of human blood.)

I like the publisher's line: "Will the girls get their ghoul?"

Read more about Jennifer and her books at www.jennifercolt.com.

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31. Morning Glory Blossoms With POD-DY Mouth Review ...

Morning Glory Blossoms
With POD-DY Mouth Review

Brian A. Massey’s Morning Glory’s Long Lost Order of Worship recently collected the Needle Award in the Literary category from blogger POD-DY Mouth. The momentum from the award has helped Massey, who has published four books with iUniverse, land an agent. Massey selected Kristin Nelson to represent his work after receiving inquires from six agents and one editor following the award announcement.

Getting a review for a print-on-demand book from a reputable outlet can be difficult, but blogger POD-DY Mouth, a traditionally-published novelist who chooses to remain anonymous, waded through over 6,000 requests and reviewed 50 print-on-demand books over the past year. From those 50, she chose 10 Needle Award nominees, five in the commercial category and five in the literary category, before choosing a winner in both areas.

Ms Mouth raved about Morning Glory in her review. “This is the hidden antique in the corner of the old store that no one realized was a rare artifact. This is that diamond, that needle. The lotto ticket just came in,” she said.

Morning Glory follows Steer McAlilly, a young Presbyterian minister, who’s life is jumbled after a sexual indiscretion with a beautiful 19-year-old member of his congregation.

What was your initial reaction to winning the Needle Award?
I was honored and delighted. Girl on Demand says that she received nearly 6000 requests to review novels. Girl chose fifty, and every one she picked was excellent in its own way. Ten were nominated for the Needle Award (five literary, five commercial), and these were judged by two separate panels of New York agents and editors. You can only pray to finish on top in a competition that fierce. To do so is to take a lesson in unending gratitude.

How did you first hear about the POD-DY Mouth blog? How did you go about submitting your book to her?
I heard about the blog in April of last year, not long after its inception, via a message board. Soon after Morning Glory was published, I emailed Girl the sell sheet I’d put together with the help of iUniverse’s marketing toolkit. She said she was intrigued and asked me to email her the PDF.

What kind of interest has the Needle Award generated for Morning Glory? I understand you signed with an agent. Who did you sign with? Did you have multiple offers for representation? How are you coming on landing a traditional publisher?
Six agents and one editor wrote almost immediately to ask for copies of the novel. The agent I signed with is Kristin Nelson, head of the Nelson Literary Agency. She called to say she had finished Morning Glory in one night and loved it. I cannot say enough kind things about Kristin to do her justice. I was impressed--no--overjoyed with her conviviality, as well as her knowledge of literature. From our first conversation, I knew Kristin was the right agent for me. What a delight it was to be offered a place among her impressive list of clients. I’m happy to report that Kristin has already begun shopping Morning Glory
to traditional publishers.

Can you describe your writing/revising/editing process? What kind of critical feedback do you receive prior to submitting the book and from who?
Some writers are sprinters, but I prefer the marathon approach: I write five days a week, trying to get each line right as I go I compose on a computer and use a pen for revising. Each day, my first task is to revise the previous night’s printout. After I’ve typed in changes, I’m warmed up and ready to begin writing new material.

Once I have the first draft of a novel completed, I like to let it breathe awhile and work on something else--sometimes a shorter piece of nonfiction, sometimes the rough draft of a previous novel. This gives me distance. When I start revising, I like to feel as if the work were written by someone else. Revision typically takes as long as the actual writing. On average, I go through a manuscript eight to ten times. At first, I’m on the lookout for any larger story and character elements that need work. The final passes are about smoothing sentences, copy editing, fact checking.

Fortunately, I’m married to someone with excellent editorial skills. My wife, Maria, has a degree in English and received quite a bit of creative writing instruction from her grandmother, M. J. Amft, a widely published author of short stories. Maria gives me feedback during the early stages of a project, and she helps a great deal with proofreading and fact checking in the later stages. POD publishing gives both of us that extra motivation to make sure the book is camera-ready, as perfect as we can possibly make it. We are always aware (and wary) that it will pass through no editorial filters beyond our own.

Tell me about the cover for Morning Glory? How did you come up with it? Was it difficult to get permission to use?
The cover art is a reproduction of an original painting by my father-in-law, Warren Linn. Warren has been a freelance illustrator for many years. He’s a dedicated artist who has showcased his work in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The New York Times--places all of us would like to see our work. Was is it difficult to get permission? No. Warren’s a generous guy. The piece is titled St. Francis. I love it for its central image of a red-nosed man climbing toward the light of heaven with a rosary in his hands. The hero of Morning Glory, Steer McAlilly, is a Protestant minister, but I love the ecumenism of Warren’s painting. Aren’t we all climbing toward heaven with a peace offering to God in our hands? Aren’t we all in some way saying, ‘I didn’t do my best. Forgive me?’

What's your latest writing project?
The best perk of fiction writing is that one asks his own heart in solitude and secrecy to explore big questions about the meaning of life. An artist searches for answers that will truly enthrall him, pump into him enough ego and adrenaline to go on and write a book. Only after this enchantment occurs within himself does he dare hope that others might wish to see the record of his travels. So, my latest project is my place of solitude for now. I hope others will want to come and visit later. It’s like your best and quietest fishing spot. You want to keep it to yourself for awhile; then you start to invite your friends along.

You mention Jack Kerouac in your author bio. Who are some of your other influences?
Yes, Kerouac and all of the Beats are favorites of mine. They are possessed of a joy that paints in all of human experience, an irreverent exuberance that doesn’t exclude the poor, the downtrodden. At its best, their work has all the harmony and dissonance of jazz; it’s verbal music, sentences and stanzas created one breath at a time. From the larger world of literature, my greatest influences have been Shakespeare, Cervantes, Voltaire, Moliere, and Balzac. Among modern Brits, I admire Graham Greene and John Fowles. As for Americans, my true favorite is John Steinbeck. Without sacrificing his sense of place, his roots, he attempts to write a different sort of book each time out. As our great novelists go, he is one of a very few who possesses that enormous variety of emotion, the palette of bright and dark humanity that brings us to the truth of who we are; laughter competes with sobs for page space in his work. Happiness usually loses the battle in a Steinbeck story, but his characters go on hoping for better times. America has yet to produce a writer more worthy of emulation.

You published The Revenants with iUniverse in 2001. How did you first learn about iUniverse? What are your impressions of our process?
The first time I heard of iUniverse and seriously considered using their service was when Marshall Frank wrote about his experiences in the Southeastern Mystery Writers of America newsletter. His testimony was so close to my own, I was convinced to give iUniverse a try. I’ve been consistently impressed by your process--it is efficient and user-friendly.

Did you shop your books to agents and traditional publishers prior to submitting to iUniverse? What was that process like? Any memorable rejections?
Several years before I sent my work to iUniverse, I was under contract with a large literary agency in New York. With a good deal of regret, I left that agency in the hopes of finding more creative freedom. For a writer with serious aims, this is the most laudable thing POD publishers offer: the opportunity to speak truths you may not be let to speak in the traditional marketplace. None of my last three iUniverse novels were seen by agents or traditional publishers. At that time, I felt I had to focus my energies solely on getting the books written and out into the world.

How have things changed at iUniverse since your first book (besides price increases!)?
The most palpable change in POD publishing since the printing of my first book (2001) is the steadily eroding promise of print-on-demand technology in bookstores. That is, I believe, why many authors signed on. For some reason, the miracle machines never landed in the chain stores. No POD author with any sense ever expected to compete for shelf space with the big houses, but many of us believed in the fairy tale of our own corner cupboard, a small space where our POD books would be made for the customer one copy at a time.

Where can iUniverse improve the most?
It’s an uphill battle to get bricks and mortar stores to carry POD books, but if iUniverse could work out a way to accept returns, authors might at least be able to see their work in their hometown bookstores. This said, I still must praise iUniverse for treating each of my books with respect and delivering a fine product each time. Were it not for iUniverse, my novel would never have been reviewed at POD-DY Mouth, I would never have won the Needle Award, and I most certainly would never have signed with the agent of my best dreams without sending out even one query letter. I began this interview by using the word gratitude, and believe me, I have a heart full of it for the good folks out in Lincoln, Nebraska who took a box of paper called Morning Glory’s Long Lost Order of Worship and transformed it into a book.

In addition to Morning Glory's Lost Order of Worship, Massey has published The Revenants, Shadow Clock and Blind Horses with iUniverse. Visit his website at www.brianagincourtmassey.com.

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32. Boy King Mystery Investigated in Tut Investigatin...

Boy King Mystery
Investigated in Tut
Investigating ancient mysteries has become a hot fiction genre over the past few years. Whether it’s Dan Brown searching for the Holy Grail in The DaVinci Code or Elizabeth Kosovo tracking down Dracula’s Tomb in The Historian, solving those puzzles has held millions of readers entranced.

iUniverse author Robin Berard, a middle school teacher in South Florida, investigates the mystery surrounding the death of King Tut in her juvenile fiction novel, Tut: The story of the pharaoh and the girl who loved him.

The story is told through the eyes of 15-year-old JoAnne Wilson, who’s bored with her school work. JoAnne gains first-hand knowledge of Tut’s fate, when her social studies teacher finds an interesting way to challenge her.

Ms Berard recently shared some insight on how she came to write the book.

How did you first become interested in the mystery surrounding Tutankhamun? What inspired you to begin writing the book?
This is a very long story, but the short version is: I had been looking for an idea, wondering if I could write a novel. I was teaching 6th grade social studies at the time (I now teach 8th grade Language Arts) and we were doing a webquest—studying whether or not King Tut was murdered or died of natural causes. One of my students commented, "Wouldn't it be great if we could take a field trip back in time and find out what really happened?" That was the moment at which the book was born.

What kind of reaction to the book have you gotten from your fellow teachers, your students and the community?
All have been very supportive. I was a bit nervous when I decided to publish the book because I didn't want people to feel that they had to say nice things; however, my whole school has been positive and supportive. We recently used the book for a book club discussion. That was very strange for me -- listening to other people interpret the book. I have received wonderful emails from people I don't know.

Are you able to incorporate the book into your class?
More for the writing than the content. I use it to show kids how I revise and so forth. Many of our sixth grade classes, who cover that content, have been able to use it. Also, the Tut exhibit is currently nearby in Ft. Lauderdale, so there are many Broward schools currently talking about the book. It also just made the middle school summer reading list (we have 40 middle schools!), so that is VERY exciting.

Who are some of your writing influences?
Another long story. I cannot claim to have had that one influential teacher -- at least not in middle or high school. When I was about 35, I went back to school to earn another degree, and that was the first time a teacher suggested that I should consider writing. Her name was Dr. Cyrene Wells at the University of Maine. Of course, I have read so many wonderful novels...

Did you seek traditional publishing prior to coming to iUniverse? Can you describe that experience?
Yes, I started to do that, but then I found out that the Tut exhibit was due in Ft. Lauderdale in a couple of months, so I decided to "get the book out there" to coincide with that event. It's important to note, however, that I've never thought of this book as valuable only in light of the exhibit. I did query a few agents; those who responded were not interested in EGYPT (politically unpopular?), and many of them did not want to handle "time travels." The publishing business is so difficult to break into... as we all know.

What is your impression of the iUniverse process? Was the editorial evaluation helpful?
My husband and I are both impressed with the iUniverse process, and we think that we got our money's worth and then some. The editorial evaluation certainly gave me a good deal of confidence as it was very positive.

How have you been marketing the book?
Lucky me to be in the school system. I feel this has been a HUGE factor, and it will continue to be a factor as summer months approach. We have notified Barnes and Noble stores and Borders stores throughout Broward that the book is on the summer reading list. Also, I have been told that the Broward Public Library system just ordered copies of the book for their collections in order to provide books to summer readers. Many of my teacher friends have passed the book to their friends in public and private schools, so there is currently a lot of buzz being generated. The museum people have been less helpful. I approached them about carrying the book in their bookstore, but they seemed wrapped up in red tape.

The end of the book strongly hints at a sequel. How's that coming along? Can you share anything about where Jo travels?
Yes, definitely a sequel—I'm thinking possibly a trilogy. I want to share a comment that a parent made to me at the recent book club discussion. She told me that the book had changed her daughter's life because she "would never view social studies the same way." Wow. That took my breath away because way back in the beginning, when I first started writing this book, I wanted kids to enjoy social studies and to understand that people who lived long ago were REAL and lived fascinating lives and fell in love... So, I love the thought of breathing life into social studies. As to the setting of Book Two (untitled, but about half done), you can probably guess the time period (if you reread the last page or two) but I'll keep LOCATION a secret for now. The research I am currently conducting is fascinating!

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33. Vlad Heads Back to Europe! iUniverse author Michae...

Vlad Heads Back to Europe!
iUniverse author Michael Augustyn and agent Judy Klein have sold the Italian rights for Augustyn's historical novel, Vlad Dracula, to Newton & Compton Editori.

Movie rights for the novel have been purchased by Our Thing Productions.

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34. Novelist Harley Jane Kozak grew up in Lincoln, NE...

Novelist Harley Jane Kozak grew up in Lincoln, NE.

Kozak's career takes her from Lincoln to Hollywood and to a Barnes & Noble store near you

What do iUniverse and traditionally-published novelist Harley Jane Kozak have in common? Roots. Kozak spent many of her formative years in Lincoln, NE. The same place iUniverse calls home.

Before her first book, Dating Dead Men (Doubleday, 2004), hit the book stores, Kozak was wandering the halls of Lincoln East High School (she graduated in 1975).

She made her name as an actress with roles on daytime’s The Guiding Light and Santa Barbara as well as big screen releases The Favor, Necessary Roughness and Arachnophobia before her writing career moved to the forefront.

Kozak’s second book, Dating is Murder, was published by Doubleday in March 2005. Both books feature protagonist Wollie Shelley, a greeting card artist turned amateur detective.

She recently shared some of her thoughts on growing up in Lincoln and how Dating Dead Men moved from manuscript to published book.

How did growing up in Lincoln influence you as a writer, actress and person? Any role models from Lincoln that helped encourage you to pursue acting and writing?
Lincoln was a great place to grow up in. As we lived on a farm through most of my childhood, there was a lot of alone time, with the dogs, the cats, the fields and the sky. At the time I thought I was lonely, but in retrospect I see that it was perfect for developing my imagination.

I had a lot of role models in Lincoln, including Jon Peterson and E. Mike Dobbins from Lincoln East High, Dave Landis, an incredibly generous and talented man who made me believe in myself, and David Bell and Dr. William Morgan at UNL in the theatre department. Writing didn't come until later in life for me, so my influences there weren't so much Nebraska writers, although there is certainly no shortage of literary talent in Lincoln.

I saw you had a book signing in Lincoln in March 2005. Do you get back this way much? Any public appearances planned?
I probably won't get back there until my third book comes out, in 2007.

When you first began writing Dating Dead Men was getting it published always your main objective or did that goal emerge later?
Once I realized that what I had on my hands was a novel, not a short story or screenplay, yes. I knew from the start that publishing it was the goal.

How did you pursue publication for the book? Did you send out a ton of query letters to agents? Was your notoriety as an actress helpful in landing an agent and a publishing contract? How did that process go for you? Any particularly memorable rejections? Any advice for a new author going down that path?
I pursued agents in the regular way, accumulating rejection letters, but then found my agent out in left field (so to speak.) A friend of mine named Karen Joy Fowler (a remarkable writer) had my manuscript on her kitchen table when a friend of HERS, named Kelly Link (another remarkable writer) picked it up, read it, liked it, and called HER agent, who then asked to read it.

As for my notoriety—as an actress, I'm not notorious enough for it to have made much of a difference for agents or editors—I doubt most of them have heard of me. But it certainly didn't hurt when it came to marketing the book, as booking actresses or former actresses on TV or radio is much easier than booking novelists. And of course, any old fans of mine out there are more likely to buy my books than are total strangers, so it's undoubtedly helped with sales.

One memorable rejection came from an agent who said, "you may have a publishable book in you, but this isn't it." (it was sold 8 months later to Doubleday.)

The only advice I have for new writers is: make the book as absolutely perfect as you can, using whatever resources—classes, books on writing, friends with a good editorial eye—and then, when you KNOW it's good, send it out and don't give up. If your instincts and intuition tell you it's good, as well as a few trusted readers (your mother may or may not qualify), don't give up. Of course, for me, that point came after 8+ years and 17 drafts. But I'm slow.

After the book was picked up, was the editorial process what you expected? Was it a difficult process or smooth sailing? Was the second book easier in that respect?
It was all pretty smooth sailing. With the second book, the only tough thing was a title change, which I ultimately got used to. In both cases, I was blessed with people at Doubleday who were lovely to work with and genuinely liked my books.

Do you have much input on the cover designs?
Very little.

How much responsibility do you have for the marketing of your books? Any particular aspect of the marketing process that you especially enjoy?
You can do as little or as much as you want/enjoy/can afford, but it makes a huge difference. An author who's willing to take charge of her own marketing will enjoy much more success, and much more support from her publisher, than one who sits back and waits to be told what to do. In my case, my publisher was sufficiently impressed with my own efforts on the first book, that they started to pick up the check for my tour halfway through it, and with the second book, duplicated what I'd done the first time out, paying for the whole thing.

I saw in another interview that there was some discussion of a movie or TV series based on the books. Any news in that department? (after reading Dating Dead Men, I thought it would be a great sister show to Monk).
Thanks! Dating Dead Men has been optioned for TV development by Aaron Spelling, but in Hollywood, that means very little. It's only Step 2 or 3 in a 798-step process required to get something from printed page onto the network schedule. We could all grow old waiting for it to happen.

How’s the third book coming along? When can we look for it in stores?
I'm on page 402 of the first draft, which sounds like a lot, unless you're me, who makes HUGE changes between Draft 1 and the subsequent 14 drafts. I expect it will be out sometime mid-to-late 2007, as it usually takes a year from the time you turn it in (my deadline is August 1, 2006) until it hits the bookstore shelves.

Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors? What book are you reading currently?
Right now I'm reading my friends Sarah Strohmeyer's upcoming book The Cinderella Pact and I just finished a phenomenal book by a new author named Cornelia Read, which will be out this year very soon. It's called Field of Darkness. I'm also reading my friend Marcus Wynne's book Brothers in Arms and—oh, yes. The Iliad. As research for the book I'm writing.

Vist Harley's website at www.harleyjanekozak.com.

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35. Young Oregon Author Defies Classification Don’t t...

Young Oregon Author Defies Classification
Don’t try to pigeonhole MaCherie Doerfler or her writing. When she self-published her first book with iUniverse, Tabitha, as a high school sophomore, she generated comparisons to young writing phenom Christopher Paolini. While Tabitha fell into the romance category, Doerfler’s latest effort, Internal Gold, is in more of a fantasy vein. It’s Fairy tale–themed plot may invite comparisons to one of her heroes, Gregory Maguire.

How long have you been writing stories? When did you begin to think about publishing your work?
Like most writers, I suppose, I started out as a reader. Read everything, everywhere, all the time. Nearly got ran over by a car once. Then I began writing short stories in sixth grade for school, and found out I loved it. In seventh grade, I made a few feeble attempts at writing a novel, and in eighth grade I did it. I'm definitely ambitious; and I knew right away that if I was going to put so much time and energy, and so much of my soul, into writing this novel, that I wanted to publish it.

Who are some of your favorite authors? How do they influence your work?
I love Robin McKinley's books. She has strong, independent heroines, realistically flawed in a rather endearing way, and she has a unique sense of magic: vague, yet a part of life. Lately, I've also become a fanatical fan of Gregory Maguire. What I love most about his writing is his sense of irony, his edgy dialogue, and his insight on human nature. And yes, I'm a Harry Potter fan. The characters and places in Harry Potter seem to truly exist. I feel like I've gone to Hogwarts with Harry. These are all things I value a lot in a story, and I think that they definitely show up in my own writing.

How do you approach writing. A newspaper article mentioned that you try to write at least 300 words a night? How much revision do you do? Do you have a group of people that read through the work for you?
My 300 hundred words a night became: "Okay, so I'll write 1,000 words a day over the break, and uh, 800 on Saturday, and 1,500 on Sunday, and I could probably fit in 200 words a day over the week after I finish my homework, tomorrow's impossible..." I don't really have much of a revision plan. I rewrite when I feel like I need to rewrite. As long as I don't hear that little voice screaming, "This sucks! Go back! It stinks like your brother's gym socks!" I usually just keep going. When I complete a chapter, I send it to a friend whom I can trust to be honest to read it for content. My first novel was read by a teacher, while Internal Gold was read by a classmate/friend who reads almost nothing but fantasy novels. Still looking to join a writing group...

Who are your biggest supporters? (friends/teachers/parents)
I'm fortunate to have people around me who support me at school, at home, at iUniverse, and around the community, but when it comes down to it, I am my own biggest supporter. It's because I have to be. I'm the only person who knows how serious I am about writing. I can't ever doubt myself because there's always someone else to do it for me: "But it'll be really tough writing as a career...You should have a back up plan...It'll be a hard life..." People with back up plans fall back on them. I just have to remind myself during the difficult parts that this is what I want to do, and that I can do it. And when I'm feeling really overwhelmed, I tack a photo of the person on the wall and throw darts at it. (To those who haven't tried it, it's a blast.)

What do you enjoy most about writing? What do you feel you’re best at? What is the most difficult part of writing?
I've been told by teachers that I have a rare gift for dialogue. (Which is funny, because I never know what to say in real life.) I enjoy writing dialogue; I think it moves the story along in a way more interesting than stating what's going on, and it gives more personality to the characters. This can be translated into playwriting, and I've written a few plays and have won an award for one. However, with plays I have a lot less freedom because I must always be conscious of whether it can be easily staged and how it will look performed.

I think my other strong point is creating funny, interesting, believable characters that readers grow to care about. I love having people who have read my books come up to me and talk about Tabitha and Gleda as if they were real people, or say they cried when...well, I don't want to give anything away.

The most difficult is making enough time. With school, art, chores, and rehearsals if I'm in a play--well, it's no wonder I'm already a coffee nut.

What kind of goals do you have for your books and your writing career?
Nothing huge. New York Times Bestseller. Maybe a Pulitzer one day. That's about it. But in all seriousness, I want to grow as a writer throughout my life, learn all I can, and shoot for as high as I can.

How did you feel when your first copy of Tabitha arrived?
Probably how my parents felt when they first held me: "Isn't she beautiful!" And then, "Is it just me, or is she a funny color?" And finally, "Now what do I do?"

What kind of reaction did you get from your classmates when Tabitha first came out?
Mostly, "Did you write a book?!" The most surprising reaction I got was "You're my idol!" The notion that I was anybody's idol seemed absurd and made me laugh for quite a while once I got home. However, what I will always remember most is, "I read you're book and...and it was really funny! I never knew...wow, it was funny." Yes, I do have a sense of humor. Shocking, isn't it?

What kind of media attention did you get when Tabitha came out?
A lot of local papers did articles, and the school paper, etc. The biggest appeal to reporters, I suppose, is my age, and the articles tended to focus on that. While "Wow, she's only fifteen!" is totally fantastic, sometimes I secretly wish they would have put, "Wow, what a great read!" regardless of my age. The reporters didn't seem to have read even the back cover. I'm grateful for any publicity, but "She's so young" doesn't necessarily translate into "She's a good writer"--and I believe a lot of people have low expectations of my work, which is really frustrating. An article came out in the Stayton Mail today about Internal Gold, and there was about one to two short paragraphs about my actual book, which didn't really capture what it was about at all.

Internal Gold is science fiction/fantasy while Tabitha was a romance. Was it difficult to switch genres? Was it your goal to do something completely different the second time out?
The first novel I ever attempted was fantasy. Then I got stuck and tried a Regency romance, because I was in phase where I positively adored Jane Austen's books and anything else in the same time period. I still enjoy her books, but fantasy is my first love. While Tabitha was fun, writing Internal Gold was more adventurous, magical, and an altogether transforming experience.

What are you working on currently?
I'm currently working on another fantasy, called Ice Everlasting. I'm about halfway through. Like Internal Gold, it takes basic elements of a fairy tale--this time Snow White--and turns it into something totally unique. It has magic, a heroine who can beat up a guy twice her size, cheeky monkeys, an evil queen, a company of performers, a bohemian city located within an enchanted mountain, a wronged prince seeking revenge--all the fun stuff.

What are some of your other interests outside of writing?
Art and theatre. I've been doing art before I was writing. Shortly after, I got involved in theatre, and I've done several plays at school and at a community theatre. Art helped me become more creative. Theatre taught me about people. It taught me to be open-minded, and not to be afraid of failure. I believe art and theatre have helped me become a better writer. I also consider art and acting as career options in addition to writing.

How did you go about researching your publishing options? What led you to choose iUniverse?
Simplicity. Friendly people who didn't say on the phone, "Uh, could I talk to your parents?" And an amazing package! Nothing really compared.

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36. Don Haskins (left) and Ray Sanchez at a booksignin...

Don Haskins (left) and Ray Sanchez at a booksigning to promote the rerelease of Haskins: The Bear Facts.
Sanchez talks with Josh Lucas, who plays Coach Haskins in the upcoming Disney film Glory Road.

iU Author Ray Sanchez
Helps Pave Glory Road

Disney’s new film Glory Road chronicles the high point of legendary basketball coach Don Haskins career, his run to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship with Texas Western (now known as the University of Texas-El Paso).

Haskins and his Texas Western team made history by being the first team to start five African-American players in the championship game. The contrast between the two teams in the final was stark as the Texas Western Miners faced an all-white team from the University of Kentucky.

El Paso sportswriter Ray Sanchez reported on Haskins’ team and later published two books, Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball’s Biggest Upset. Both books have been reissued through iUniverse’s Authors Choice/Out-Of-Print program.

How did you first become involved with Coach Haskins on his biography?
As a sportswriter and sports editor I followed and covered Don Haskins' career since he arrived in El Paso in 1961. In fact, I was the first news person he met on his arrival in El Paso. We began a long and exciting connection and friendship.

Can you describe the process of writing Haskins: The Bear Facts?
Haskins became the greatest coach in the history of University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) and one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. But no one had ever written a book about him so I took on the task myself. After much urging, he agreed to co-operate with me on his autobiography. We would meet in early mornings (he was still coaching then, 1986) for many days and he told me the history of his life. The book, Haskins: The Bear Facts, was published in 1987 and was re-released this year with an update.

What was your involvement with the new movie Glory Road?
The whole process of the movie Glory Road started with my books. Screenwriter Christopher Cleveland called me, said he had read both Haskins: The Bear Facts and Basketball's Biggest Upset and wanted to do a movie. He and Disney Studios used my books extensively for background and I became a consultant for the movie. I'm officially listed as a consultant in the credits. I helped Christopher with the script, all the players in the movie were provided a copy of Basketball's Biggest Upset and I helped actor Josh Lucas, who portrayed Haskins in the movie, with background on the personal habits and personality of the coach. I also helped Disney researchers and provided them with information.

What led you to republish the books with iUniverse?
The demand for both books increased with the announcement of the movie. I sought advice on re-publishing them from Jim Fensch, who had published many books with iUniverse before. He had moved to El Paso. He encouraged me strongly to contact iUniverse because he had much success with that company.

How has the process with iUniverse worked for you?
Fantastic. The people are friendly, co-operative and have done one whale of a job.

You were at the El Paso Herald-Post for the Texas Western championship. Tell us more about your journalism career and what you are up to today.
I started as a sport writer at the El Paso Herald-Post while still in college (Texas Western College then) and went on to become sports editor. I covered almost every conceivable major sport, including Super Bowls, World Series games, Triple Crown races, the Dallas Cowboys and, of course, the Miners and NCAA events. After my retirement in 1990 my services were highly sought locally. I wrote a weekly column for the El Paso Times and I am now writing a sports column for a new paper here, El Paso Inc. I am also freelancing. I have written or co-written four other books. They're The gods of Racing, Baseball: From Browns to Diablos, El Paso's Greatest Sports Heroes I Have Known and The Miners: The History of Sports at University of Texas at El Paso.

I have received many awards, including Scripps Howard awards for column writing and news reporting and have received UTEP's highest honor for journalism, the Hicks-Middagh award for "Excellence in Journalism."

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37. Angels book comes Out of the Blue While the Bost...

Angels book comes
Out of the Blue

While the Boston Red Sox’s “Reversing the Curse” run to the 2004 World Series Championship has been well-chronicled and who knows what kind of tomes the White Sox 2005 title will bring, not all World Series championships are as well documented.

Joe Haakenson helps give the 2002 Anaheim Angels their due with Out of the Blue, published with iUniverse.

Haakenson, who covered the Angels for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, a group of papers that includes the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune among others, was pleased with his iUniverse experience.

“I’m happy with it overall,” he said. “I especially like how the cover and back cover came out. However, the quality of the pictures on the interior were not as good as I expected.

“The production process went smoothly. Cecilia (Cuevas) was my contact and she was helpful with the questions I had.”

Haakenson said he has some modest plans to market the book since it is coming out three years after the championship season.

“I’m hoping to get an advertisement in the newspaper I worked for,” he said. “I feel a little weird trying to come out and advertise hard now considering the book is on the championship season of 2002, over three years ago.

“I’ve gotten a word of congratulations from one of the top people in the team’s front office. I plan to sign a copy to give to the manager, Mike Scioscia. I’m going to look into finding out if they would be able to put the book in the gift store at the stadium.”

Haakenson, who is now the sports editor at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, has several other ideas for books kicking around.

“I would like to write more books,” he said. “Probably related to Major League Baseball. I also have an idea for a fictional story revolving around a baseball beat writer.”

Haakenson had shopped Out of the Blue to traditional publishers before coming to iUniverse.

“The traditional publishers seemed very excited and led me to believe there was a chance of publishing with them. Ultimately, they weren’t serious,” Haakenson said.

“I received advertising emails from numerous self-publishing companies that I’d look at now and again. For some reason, iUniverse stuck out. I don’t know exactly why. I think the simplicity of the process is very important. Going over the steps needed and breaking it down like that was very instrumental in pushing me to get it done.”

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38. Shedding some light on Into the Unknown Hans Krau...

Shedding some light on Into the Unknown
Hans Kraus has a story worth telling. A medical pioneer and a legendary rock climber, Kraus also was one of the first to sound the alarm about America’s slide into an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. But when professional journalist Susan Schwartz approached traditional publishers, they refused to get out of their chairs.

Schwartz brought her book, Into the Unknown, to iUniverse and now Kraus’ story is available to all.

How did you first become aware of Hans Kraus' story and what inspired you to write the book?
The book grew out of a magazine interview I did in 1994 for the leading climbing magazine, Rock+Ice. I used to write regularly for the climbing/outdoor magazines, and this particular one asked me to write a series of articles on leading climbers, one of whom was Hans Kraus. When I met Hans, then 89, I was so impressed and left feeling that there was a remarkable story that couldn’t be captured in a standard 3,000 word magazine feature. And indeed there was.

What type of research did you do for the book? How long did it take to do the research?
The research was extremely complex and involved, requiring lots of different kinds — historical into the Nazi era, medical into back pain and surgery, the Kennedy years, as well as sports history. One of the many challenges was figuring out how to go about such diverse types of research. Occasionally I would find myself go off on tangents, because the research was so fascinating, then ending up with considerable amounts of material that I would later cut.

Did you shop the book to traditional publishers and agents before coming to iUniverse? What kind of experience was that?
I did, and even though I had an established reputation in the climbing/adventure world, I got the same response again and again. . . You write like a dream, write a great proposal, but you’re a first time book author, writing about someone who is dead and is no longer famous, so the experience with these kinds of biographies don’t make best sellers, which is what everyone is looking for. Understandably too, given that publishing has always been a tough industry, but more so than ever. People forget that it was always tough to get your first book out in print. There’s a long list of famous authors who ended up self publishing their first book, such as Emily Bronte and Beatrice Potter.

You've got some great blurbs for your book? How did you go about obtaining them?
Thanks so much. Lots of perseverance. The most famous ones were literally cold — that is, not family or friends. There were people I tried to get blurbs from, but they didn’t respond. Others, such as Katharine Hepburn (obviously when she was alive!) and Mike Wallace, were extremely gracious. I was quite gratified by the power of writing a thoughtful, direct and sincere letter.

How did you determine that iUniverse was the right place for your book?
I researched the range of smaller publishing companies and looked at the pros and cons of going with them, and weighed that alongside self publishing and the options that presented. And for me, I decided that iUniverse was the best place for my book. No regrets at all. I’m very grateful to the opportunities that iUniverse opened up for my book.

What kind of experience did you have with iUniverse, the editorial evaluation in particular?
It’s been a great experience. Everything was laid out, very professional, very clear. Of course, I say I particularly loved the editorial evaluation — it was extremely extremely positive!

What is your impression of the end product?
I get loads of compliments on the book, the quality of the writing, but also on the appearance.

It looks like your doing some neat stuff with your book signings (a slide show, etc). Can you describe what all your book signing entails? How have those been going for you?
The book signings and slideshows are so much fun — I love them. As an author today, with iUniverse or a small or even large publishing house, you carry responsibility for much of your marketing and need to take the initiative. I realized that you have to treat the promotion/pr/marketing as a necessary part of being an author. I joke that depending on how you look at it, now that the actual writing is finished, I either promoted or demoted myself from author to SVP of Distribution and Marketing for the book! That included putting together an appealing package for promoting the book. I spent literally weeks putting together several different slideshows to promote the book, including buying a MAC rather than using my old PC, as I had researched that the slideshow capability on an Apple was better. And it’s really paying off. I’m getting wonderful responses to my slideshows . .. And when I give them, I get wonderful responses to the book. And wonderful sales.

What's your next writing project?
I have a couple of exciting ideas in mind . .. But first, I’m, going to concentrate on getting the world out there about my current book, Into the Unknown!

Visit Susan's website at www.susanebschwartz.com.

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39. Christopher Moore talks about his first time… publ...

Christopher Moore talks about his first time… publishing.

I thought it might be interesting to hear from some traditionally-published authors on how they became just that—traditionally published.

I just finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore and after checking out http://www.chrismoore.com/, I emailed Mr. Moore a few questions about how his first book, Practical Demonkeeping, came to be published.

Moore is the author of eight novels including Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, Fluke and The Stupidest Angel. The Stupidest Angel won the 2005 Quill Award in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror category.

Moore’s literary agent is Nick Ellison, who shows up on POD-dy Mouth’s list of great agents.

I kept the email short, asking only six questions, to help improve the chances of a response. Of course, when Mr. Moore wrote back in less than 12 hours (better than I do with my email), I wished I had asked a few more.

When you started writing Practical Demonkeeping was publishing it a thought that was always there or did that goal emerge later? If so, when?
I always had thought of publishing it. I started writing novels instead of short stories because I wanted to make a living at writing fiction.

You mentioned in another interview that you just followed the advice that the magazines offer, sending query letters to a ton on agents and then waiting. Was that a frustrating experience? What kind of feedback did you get from agents? Any particularly memorable rejections?
It was about as frustrating as I'd been led to believe it would be. They're not kidding about that. The first agent that accepted me wanted so many changes in the manuscript that I actually turned him down. That was tough. I ended up getting an agent through a connection with a friend who was in the TV business.

You mentioned that film rights to Practical Demonkeeping sold before the publishing rights did, was that through the same literary agent? How did being picked up feel?
No. It was sold through a Hollywood agent. It felt great. It was a ton of money. Would have been nice if they'd actually made a movie, but it was a ton of money.

How has your relationship with your agent (Nick Ellison) and publishers evolved since Practical Demonkeeping?
Nick has been great. He's been out there slugging for me for years, and I think we're pretty good friends. As far as publishers, I had mixed feelings about my first two publishers. I felt that they could have done a lot more with the books, but I felt as if they sorta didn't get what I was doing.

How involved were you in the marketing of Practical Demonkeeping? How has your involvement and approach to marketing your books evolved?
I was only involved in that I went to the few places that my publisher told me to go. I still do that, but they send me to a lot more places and a lot more people show up. I've also cultivated a pretty loyal following through the internet, as I've had my e-mail address on the books since 1995 and I make an effort to personally answer every letter I get.

What’s your latest project?
I've just finished a book about Death, called A Dirty Job and I'm starting the sequel to my 1995 vampire novel, Bloodsucking Fiends.

Check our Moore's website at www.chrismoore.com. He has several interviews available there including one on writing. There are some cool video interviews as well.

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40. Vlad Dracula by Michael Augustyn Robin Hood, Ki...

Vlad Dracula by Michael Augustyn

Robin Hood, King Arthur, Charlemagne—great heroes all, with legends enhanced by classics of literature. But Dracula? Certainly the vampire of Bram Stoker’s novel won’t show up on any such list.

Michael Augustyn, author of the historical novel Vlad Dracula, might beg to differ. In his book, Augustyn lays out the life and times of the Romanian prince that inspired Stoker’s vampire tale, and describes the duality of a man celebrated in Romania as a national hero, but who’s blood thirst inspired the tag “The Impaler” and an image of ultimate evil.

“I was inspired to write about Dracula for two reasons,” Augustyn said. “First, there were no historical novels on the subject in English. Second, I wanted to get into his psyche, and that of Romania. How could he impale 10 percent of his population, including women and children, and still be considered a national hero, a Robin Hood actually?

“His people had been so abused by Hungary, the Ottoman empire and their own nobility and church that they welcomed his sense of justice, hard as it was. It was kind of like his insanity versus his enemies' terror tactics. And he outdid them.”

Augustyn’s research is evident throughout the book lending authenticity to the tale.

“It took me seven years, on and off, getting down the history of Dracula. Some will quibble with some of the things I presented, but I would challenge them to cite sources that clearly contradict my interpretation,” he said. “There are significant disputes about the number of his brothers, his sons, the name of his first wife, and the facts surrounding one of his protagonists, Janos Hunyadi, a hero of Hungary. I assembled the facts from as many sources as I could find in English and wove my novel around them.”

Augustyn first published Vlad on his own before revising and republishing the book with iUniverse.

“(iUniverse’s) Editorial Evaluation process is an excellent asset,” he said. “They check the quality of writing and make specific suggestions, leaving the choice of change up to the author.”

Augustyn counts Edward Rutherford (Sarum, Russka, The Princes of Ireland) and Wilbur Smith (The Triumph of the Sun, Blue Horizon) as two of his favorite authors and also enjoys reading some ancient texts.

“I also read the classics, manuscripts written by the ancients themselves, like Livy’s The War with Hannibal and things by Herodotus,” Augustyn said. “They might be slanted—they are—but they give a flavor to the period that a writer can build on. They give a sense of the subject era.”

Vlad Dracula is currently being considered for translation into Portuguese by a Brazilian publisher and Augustyn is working on a second novel.

“I have two-thirds draft of another novel completed, one aimed at a younger audience, historical in background, but much looser in regard to relying on facts.”

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41. iUniverse author Susanne Severeid signs copies of...

iUniverse author Susanne Severeid signs copies of her newly released murder mystery, The Death of Milly Mahoney, at the Flagstaff, AZ, Barnes & Noble.
Photo by Bea Jacobs 2005.

The Death of Milly Mahoney by Susanne Severeid

Hollywood—where dreams come true—at least on the big screen. But Tinsel Town can be a bit tougher when the cameras aren’t rolling.

iUniverse author Susanne Severeid, a former actress herself, captures a bit of the seedy side in her mystery novel, The Death of Milly Mahoney. Severeid’s protagonist, Trix Donovan, is drawn into a mystery when she receives a call from an old friend that she has lost touch with.

What inspired you to write The Death of Milly Mahoney?
A couple of things. A close friend of mine, who was gay, was murdered. It was brutal and senseless and it gave me a lot of emotional background for this book. I had written a short story about his death, really as a way to work through my grief and confusion, and it was published in an anthology. I had also reached a time in my life where I was ready to sit down and write a book, and I knew I wanted to draw upon my years in the entertainment field and Southern California. I began my career as a model at 19 in Los Angeles, which is where I grew up, and moved on to top t.v. commercials, t.v. shows & some films, anchoring documentaries, radio... For me it was all fascinating and I'd met so many bizarre, colorful characters, but didn't want it to be too autobiographical. Fiction is much more fun, because you can take more liberties. I had lived in Malibu in a beach cottage, like my protagonist Trix Donovan, so that's for real.

Who are some of your writing influences? Who do you read?
I've always enjoyed the genre of murder mysteries, from the old-fashioned classics like Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, to Ellis Peters, P.D. James, Grisham, Paretsky. But so few out there on the mass market have believable plots--unlike real life, which is my main influence. I mean, if you know what really goes on backstage and in politics, truth can be stranger than fiction...and a lot of it isn't very pretty.

It seems like you did a lot of research to make sure the police procedural issues and legal issues were portrayed accurately. How did you go about doing the research?
Much of The Death of Milly Mahoney is based on firsthand experience in the sense that I've really known people who were like some of my characters in the book. But where I had less personal experience was with police and the judicial system, so I called and visited local police stations and officials, attorneys, etc and I enrolled in our local Citizen's Police Academy. It was amazing! A twelve-week course where we did everything from high speed car chases to visiting the maximum security prison in Winslow, Arizona. I had extensive conversations with the Medical Examiner, viewed crime scene photos, you name it. Everyone I spoke with was so helpful in answering my questions. I'm really happy with the feedback I'm getting from readers who tell me the dialogue and characters in my book are honest and ring true. That's gratifying.

You had a number of people write cover blurbs for you prior, to publication. How did you go about obtaining them?
They're all authors whom I respect; that was important to me. I simply asked them to read and evaluate my manuscript. You know, "Ask and it shall be given unto you." Don't be afraid to ask, all someone can say is "no." Think of who you know, or friends who may have contacts, and ask them to look at your manuscript and give you a quote if they like it.

Did you send the book out to agents and traditional publishers prior to coming to iUniverse? If so, what kind of feedback did you get?
Yes, I spent--or should I say wasted--months of my time before deciding to go with iUniverse. It became so clear to me that without a track record or established contacts in this particular field (even though I had a children's book published with a traditional publisher in Europe, and several articles in U.S. periodicals) that it just wasn't going to happen. I did get some very positive feedback along the way, including a top agent who saw its potential, but said they just couldn't take on a debut novel. I was trying to figure out my next step when I heard about iUniverse from a couple of authors who'd been happy with their experiences. "So, stop beating your head against a wall, just get it out there," they told me. One even said, "Susanne you cannot, must not let this manuscript languish unpublished. It's too good!" That was like a breath of fresh air and I thought, hey, if I can't walk in through the front door, then I'll climb in through a side window, but I will get my book out there in the marketplace. I knew that this book was good and deserved it's place in the sun, and I wasn't about to let it decorate the interior of my file drawer just for lack of contacts.

How was your iUniverse experience in general and the Editorial Evaluation process in particular?
Excellent. Honestly, I approached this with a lot of trepidation, knowing nothing about the self-publishing field or what to expect. But my PSA, Rachel Krupicka, was fantastic--she really held my hand every step of the way--and I've been totally pleased with the process and the final product. It's been 100% professional. I mean, I was probably a total pain because I had very particular ideas about certain aspects of the book, and its cover. The Editorial Evaluation is always a little scary, being judged always is, but there, too, I was very pleased with the comments and felt they were right on the mark. I paid attention to them and made some changes, which I feel improved the book. I'm very proud of having gotten the Editor's Choice distinction for The Death of Milly Mahoney.

You recently had a book signing at the Flagstaff Barnes & Noble. What all did that entail and how did it all turn out?
Beyond my wildest expectations! The assistant manager said that it was the most successful author signing she remembered at their store. To do it, I just picked up the phone and called the manager, who was totally receptive to the idea. I think most stores generally are very supportive of local authors. We set a date and I went in a few days before with the iUniverse marketing posters & bookmarks, a stack of books, a bunch of flowers in a vase, and a plate of cookies. Oh, and I also emailed every local friend and relative I could think of! Not only did they buy, but to my surprise, several shoppers who I didn't know were drawn to us and also bought the book. I'd sent press releases out to our local press who picked it up and wrote a couple of great articles and/or put it in their Calendar section.

What are your goals for The Death of Milly Mahoney? What type of marketing plans do you have?
I'd really like to see this book out there in a big way. And, yes, I'd like to make money with it! It's a quality book with commercial potential and, in time, I hope to see it marketed in the mainstream as a mass-market paperback. I plan to try to market it internationally to English-speaking countries and countries where a large number of people commonly read books in English. I lived in Europe for ten years and there's a huge market there for this kind of book. As a matter of fact, the manager of the American Bookstore in Amsterdam has already told me he'll order and display several copies. After that, translated versions. And...maybe film rights. My husband and I have, over the years, been very involved with the motion picture business.

Do you have a sequel in the works yet?
Yes. I hope The Death of Milly Mahoney will be the beginning of a continuing series of "Trix Donovan Mysteries"!

What other things (writing and otherwise) and you working on/involved with?
Well, I have a nine-year-old at home and a very busy life generally. I'm finishing up a second children's book, and I'd like to see my own book on public speaking & presentational skills, which was used as a course book at the University of Amsterdam and for corporate training seminars, published in the States.

You have a pretty wide and varied background in entertainment and media. How does your knowledge of Hollywood and the movie industry color Milly Mahoney?
In a huge way. The characters in my book, and much of the pathos and humor, are a composite of some of the many people I came in contact with over the years, and the strong sense of place comes from the fact that I lived and worked in Southern California for years. That was my turf. My husband was also in the business as a top motion picture historical advisor & researcher, writer, and photographer.

Visit Susanna's website at www.SusanneSevereid.com.

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42. Adventure on Dolphin Island by Ellen Prager So...

Adventure on Dolphin Island by Ellen Prager

So you think magical creatures exist only in the imagination of J.K. Rowling at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts? Don’t tell that to Dr. Ellen Prager. For Prager, a noted oceanographer, and the heroine of her book, Kelly Wickmer, dolphins are at least as magical and mysterious as any old hippogryph.

In Adventure on Dolphin Island, Prager tells of Kelly’s courage as she tries to navigate her way back home after being separated from her parents and brother. Kelly learns about many of the real world magical creatures from the residents of Dolphin Island and she’ll rely on some of them in her quest to return home. Prager seeks to both entertain and educate with Adventure on Dolphin Island.

What inspired you to write Adventure on Dolphin Island?
I'm passionately committed to finding new ways to engage the public (young and old alike) in learning about the oceans, appreciating their beauty, importance and the problems we now face. While I've enjoyed writing non-fiction books, I thought that combining a fun, fiction adventure story with ocean science and conservation could be a powerful new way to reach the public. And it is a way for me to share some of my own adventures and wonder for the sea.

Who is the primary target audience for the book?
The primary target audience is children, principally middle school age, and their parents. I'm finding that it is also appropriate for older kids, young adults, and as a book for parents and teachers to read to younger children as well.

What led you to publish the book with iUniverse? Did you shop it to traditional publishers first?
I shopped a very early version with a few traditional publishers. However, it doesn't fit into a simple fiction or non-fiction genre - as it is a mix. Also fiction for kids is notoriously difficult to break into and this was my first fiction book. After getting some terrific feedback from parents, educators and kids on an early version, I decided it was worth the risk and investment to self publish through iUniverse. iUniverse was recommended to me by someone that had previously used it and had a good experience.

What was your experience with iUniverse like?
Excellent! iUniverse was wonderful to work with. Very professional, timely, pleasant and the final product came out great. I've already recommended it to other authors.

What are your goals for Adventure on Dolphin Island? What are your marketing plans for the book?
I hope that Adventure on Dolphin Island will become a popular read for children of all ages, in school and at home. And that it will inspire people of all ages to learn about the oceans and appreciate the wonder of the seas. I also hope after reading the book, kids and their parents will become more actively involved in activities that help to protect and conserve our oceans and marine life. The book could also make a great movie!

In terms of marketing I am hoping to reach the public through specific niche groups like marine educators, the diving industry and community, and my own network within the media and ocean-interests. I am also applying for grants that will combine a traveling promotional tour of the book with education about the oceans.

You've been published traditionally before. Tell us about those projects.
I have published two popular science books, The Oceans and Furious Earth: The Science and Nature of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis, with McGraw-Hill. Both are easy to read books that bring what we know and don't know to the public.

In addition, I published three children's books (SAND, Volcano, and Earthquakes) with the National Geographic Society. These are illustrated books for kids 3-8 years of age and are a fun, simple look at a few fascinating earth science topics.

But of all the books so far, I enjoyed writing Adventure on Dolphin Island the most!

How was your traditional publishing experience different than the iUniverse experience?
The experience of working with iUniverse on the whole was much more pleasant than with traditional publishers. They were more professional, courteous, timely, and available. I also felt like I had more control on the overall product. The one drawback is in marketing and distribution. The fact that copies are not returnable and the discount is not as much for retailers is problematic. And the word doesn't get out through traditional sources such as publishers weekly or booklist.

What is your next publishing project?
Hopefully, a sequel!

Learn more about Dr. Prager and her work at www.earth2ocean.net.

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