The Wild West of Publishing

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Wild West of Publishing


Have you signed up? In case you hadn’t heard the Wild West of Publishing is coming to Steamboat Springs, Colorado on Saturday, May 23rd from 9am to 1pm.

A whole morning of information aimed at authors needs for knowledge so they don’t get shot in the process of publishing. Thanks to sponsorship of the Steamboat ArtsCouncil, this educational presentation from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association is very affordable – $15 per registrant.

An overview of the May 23rd program:

Traditional vs Independent publishing – Dr. Patricia Ross, Publisher Hugo House Publisher and Patty Moosebrugger of Blue Ink Review

Editing and Design Production: Nick Zelinger, NZ Graphics and Melanie Mulhall, Dragonheart Writing and Editing

The Publishing Process – Joe and Jan McDaniel of BookCrafters, Mike Daniels, The Publishers Coach and Patricia Ross

Marketing – Sue Leonard, Kathy Mason, Mason Works Press and Mary Walewski, Buy the Book Marketing.

You may register on-line  or sign up the morning of the program or call 970-879-9008.

See you in Steamboat!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, an award-winning author of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.


Syllabus: Gratefulness for Book Buying Customer

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Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” ~ Harry S Truman

I just read an article on e-book pricing that made me literally laugh out loud. The article posed the question “Doesn’t pricing your e-book at 99 cents attract the wrong kind of reader?”

Since when do we place value on whether a book buying customer is “good enough to purchase a book?” Has it boiled down to needing a litmus test to determine whether a reader is worthy of reading your book or not? Attracting the right kind of reader or the wrong kind of reader, really? Are you kidding me?

This concept further complicates  book selling in this ever changing marketing landscape. Do we need to develop a scale for book pricing based on “worthiness of the reader?” Would a well qualified buyer pay more or less? Hmmmm….what a conundrum.

I am not suggesting that all e-books should be priced at 99 cents. In my opinion, it’s an individual call. If an author is willing to sell their e-book at a price less than what they would normally charge for a book-in-print, so be it.

Perhaps the person who asked the question “Doesn’t pricing your e-book at 99 cents attract the wrong kind of reader?” was just being facetious. If not, perhaps a 101 course on “How to be Grateful You Have a Book Buying Customer” is needed.

Today, I am going to end this blog post by practicing a lesson in my new course “How to be Grateful You Have a Book Buying Customer.”

  • Lesson 1: Smile and say, “Thank you reader! I appreciate your interest!” 

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. Meanwhile, I’ll be  further developing the syllabus for a class in “Finding Fulfillment in a Book Sale.”

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Fulfill Your Need to Tell Your Story!

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“Knowledge is Power.” ~ Sir Francis Bacon 

Tomorrow, SHe Writes Steamboat will be hosting the Colorado Independent Publishers Association at the Bud Werner Library.  What an opportunity this will be to find out more about writing your own story. Learn about the educational programs, vendor affiliations and services that are available from CIPA to help you through the process of independently publishing your story. 

We are so rich in individual narratives in this corner of Northwestern Colorado and the Elk River Valley. Retirees, career professionals, and interesting individuals who have unique stories to tell of their lives in other places seek out this part of the country so they can begin a new chapter of their lives – one that includes fulfilling dreams, passions and interests. 

If you have ever had the thought “I could write a book about that!” join us, tomorrow at 9:30 am at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Library Hall. The morning informational session is free and open to the public. Stay for the afternoon, but do pre-register, please, through this link. (look for the September 9 Steamboat seminars)

Can’t come, but still interested? There is an 18 minute webinar now available on-line that will give you an overview of the independent publishing industry. It explains how a new generation of book publishing including e-commerce and e- marketing has evolved. The publishing universe in this new century now includes anyone willing to tell their story. That includes you!

See you tomorrow at 9:30 am sharp!

Another day of  independent thoughts, words and a views from

Speaking the Language of Books

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This morning I had the honor and privilege of interviewing the award-winning writer-producer-performer Mara Purl. For the back story of Mara’s professional career, please visit yesterday’s blog Portrait of a Consummate Artist. Mara is on a month long virtual book tour to promote What the Heart Knows” which will be released in hardcover next month.

The Interview: 

Sue: Mara, we met when my company, Cornerstone Fulfillment Service, LLC  joined the Colorado Independent Publishers Association as a vendor member. You were President at the time. Can you tell us what you learned as an independent publisher that led you to a new publisher, Bellekeep Books?

Mara: Primarily, I have always been an author.  I had gotten an offer from the  London office of Random House books many years ago and because of very complex situations between an agreement with the BBC relating to my radio drama series and some changes that were going on with Random House I felt it was not a good time to engage in a contract with them.

So, I and five other authors and our teams independently published our books through Haven Books. It really began as a test marketing phase of the books and to get to know who our readers were. What I didn’t know was NY publisher Eric Kampmann was watching me. He was a very wise man.  He recognized the trend that began the implosion of the larger publishing companies and saw that good books were getting lost because they weren’t getting into the system. He founded Mid Point Trade Books , and has now roughly 400 imprints under his umbrella. He became a distribution arm for the independents, including my new publisher Bellekeep Books.

Sue: What did you learn from first independently publishing your books?

Mara: I learned after rejection that there were some publishing elements that were important and missing. Every field has some language and that was rapidly evolving. I always thought I was a fiction writer but really I was writing women’s fiction. Then I began studying displays at book shows and in bookstores. I learned that my book covers did not speak the language of the women’s fiction code. I learned about developing a vision for my brand and each decision I made for my books were art projects designed to make sure they fit the genre and they would catch the eye of the buyer of women’s fiction.

Although my new publisher Bellekeep Books did not require that I rewrite my book, I did go through “What the Heart Knows” with my editor and brought some story elements foreword which added 100 pages to the hardcover book. I also learned that the cover of my book, which was a line drawing, did not fit with the character of my protagonist, Miranda Jones, who was a painter. So the hardcover has a new cover design. Mary Helsaple, who has been my art research expert and is a nationally known artist, painted a watercolor cover for my book. I loved it! Now the cover design matches the integrity of the inside of the book.

Sue:  As you well know, independent publishing is continuing to grow and now represents over 50% of all publishing revenue. Where do you see the publishing industry going and how do e-books fit into your assessment of this new generation of publishing?

Mara: I notice that people are reading incessantly. As I travel, I see people reading hardcovers, on laptops, trade paper books, hard cover books and using e-readers. E-books are just another platform. People still love the tactile experience of holding a book. They are tracking book sale trends and surprisingly, those that like an e-book are treating them as a morsel for a real book. If they really liked it, they want to purchase not the paper back but the hardback version to keep on their bookshelves as part of their permanent collections.

Mara: People value time they can carve out for themselves and they use that valued time to read on all different kinds of platforms.

Sue:  Mara, many lives are changed through reading non-fiction, but many say that women’s fiction has the same ability to change lives. How do you go about getting messages across to women through a fictional narrative?

Mara:  Well…non-fiction is about facts and fiction is about truth. Through non-fiction you can’t access every nuance.  You can only record the facts. For example: If you are telling a story of violence –  facts are sometimes distasteful and you can use fiction as a lens to magnify theoretical cases and go inside the mind of the victim and perpetrator.

In the case of a positive issue of relationships – through fiction you can follow the development of a romantic attraction and the personalities involved. Through fiction writing you can present a picture for people to understand what is going on inside the story.

Read the rest of our in-depth interview with on Tuesday, August 23rd when Mara will be back on All Things Fulfilling to discuss her career and how she has incorporated her love for the Arts into her books. 

That is it till Monday, folks!

Yankee Writers Gathering!

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“If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”~  Thomas Edison

 New Englanders are hearty souls! I can attest to that after having lived in the State of Vermont for 35 years!  On March 25th and March 26th there will be a gathering of New England Writers focused on how to “Survive and Thrive” as independent publishers. The New England Publishing Conference will be held at Chapel Hill-Chauncey Hall School in Waltham, Massachusetts. 

Veteran publishers, industry experts and vendors to the independent publishing industry will be on hand fulfilling the need for knowledge for those who are starting out in book publishing. Book promotion and selling through e-marketing and other channels such as libraries, book fairs, bookstores and to non-profit organizations will be topics of discussion, too. 

Cevin Bryerman from Publishers Weekly Magazine will address the crowd. Don’t miss out on that! Cevin always has a lot of interesting things to share about the industry. There will be workshops focusing on e-books, blog writing, e-marketing, and other information on the business of publishing both domestically and globally. Another important speaker, Tim Brookes from Champlain College will be speaking about Publishing in the 21st Century – The Campus Revolution. The keynote speech will be given by publisher David R. Godine

For more information on this important educational conference, please visit For questions, e-mail There are special conference lodging rates at the Holiday Inn Express in Waltham, MA. Make your reservation now, so you can take advantage of this block of rooms set aside for the IPNE Publishing Conference. 

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Tantalize, Tease and Entice

Owning a company that is a vendor to the independent publishing industry, I often enter into discussions with writers about book covers.  The importance of book cover design can not be overstated.  Good cover design is what leads us to pick up a book in the first place. It is what makes us decide to venture further and take a peak. Good cover design draws us in.

One time, a poet came to me with his book of poetry which was hot off the press – a print on demand publication. He was proud as a peacock that his first published work was complete. The poetry was good. Actually, I liked it alot! He painted visual pictures with words quite effectively. He had used the caption of one of his poems as the title for his book of poetry – it was something like “Hot, Steamy Sunset: Poetry for Evening Reflection.” The cover design, however, was nothing more than a blank canvas – just the name of the book, the author’s name and a solid color (sage green) background.

A discussion ensued about the cover design and I inquired about the lack thereof. He said he had chosen the “least expensive option” available from the print on demand company because  ” he didn’t know how many books he would sell.” 

The cover did nothing, absolutely nothing, to make me want to open up the book of poetry and read it.  So, please remember, the cover needs to be reflective of what is on the inside. It needs to grab a reader and make them yearn for more!  I am not in the book cover design business, but to my way of thinking, the choice of a cover design would have been quite obvious.


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Before……Not After

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Many independent publishers make the mistake of concentrating on the writing of their book foremost. Marketing should not be thought of after the book is written. For the best outcome for book sales, it should be considered before a word is written. Think of  your audience – who you are writing to and for. It is often easier to identify target markets for non-fictional publications, and you can often market to wider, broader markets. 

With fiction, ask yourself, is your publication more age appropriate to adults, children, ‘tweens, young adults, preschoolers? Throughout your writing, keep your writing age appropriate to your identified market. Are there any special interest groups within the age group you have identified?

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