Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Reviews

#SelfPublishing Decisions . . .


There’s no way I could write a post (or, series of posts) that would capture all the decisions you could make in a self-publishing career… Notes from An Alien

Though you could delve into most of the important options by taking this Free Course

The reason you could never discover all the options? The selfpublishing landscape is always changing.

If you were to click on these links {from the Top-Tags widget in the left side-bar} for the archives of my posts about selfpublishing or self-publishing (even the word indicating its existence has two accepted forms…) and read them in chronological order, you’d see my changing coverage of the Whole enterprise.

I began my foray into self-publishing by availing myself of the services of FastPencil and had them help me publish my short novel Notes from An Alien (free to download) in print and e-book formats.

FastPencil distributed the books to Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and a few other places; then, more outlets than I’ve yet been able to determine joined the bandwagon (most of them charging more than I’d asked for from FastPencil {some day I just might figure out how they got away with that; though, I don’t much care if they make money off me as long as my book gets more coverage…}).

Over the last 6+ years since I first published it, I’ve:

Revised it…

Made it free to download here on the blog…

Published it, in serialization, on Wattpad.

Figured out how to make various e-book formats of it…

And, always had a link to it (plus all my other writings) in the left side-bar here…

Just over a week ago, I did something it took me around 4 years to finally accomplish.

I published the revised edition on Smashwords.

It would take a number of blog posts to explain why it took me so long to utilize Smashwords, since I’d blogged about them numerous times (check the Top-Tags widget, down a bit, in the left side-bar…).

Then, last week, I just Did It

Then… I discovered I had to get FastPencil to stop distributing it (they were ultra-nice about it and I’m hoping to get an interview with them here on the blog soon…).

It’ll take another week for the old versions to disappear; and, one of the things which it may surprise you to learn—I, in no way, bemoan not having it on Amazon (though, it will still be on all the other platforms Fastpencil was sending it to—PLUS, about 25,000 libraries…)

O.K….

There are more details about the why and how of this Self-Publishing Decision; but, since the book will no longer be on Amazon; and, since I want the reviews to be on my Review Page; but, since I have to have a post to link to in order to put the reviews on that page, here are the Amazon Reviews (there were more on Amazon; but, they were already included on my Review Page…):

By John Paul:

“Fantastic book that requires the reader to think and rationalize. If you like intellectual reads that inspire provocative discussion this book will not let you down.”

By Emmaleigh:

“Zoltai’s Notes from an Alien is a thought-provoking trip into alien worlds that makes the reader shudder with the close similarities that are often reflected on our own planet. The inhabitants of Zoltai’s worlds are bent on destruction of other worlds, over such things as greed, religion, and politics. Worlds are being lost, and civilizations are declining, all because one civilization assumes they are better than the other.

“This tale is an interesting and provocative leap into the realm of Sci-Fi. Using ties that reflect back on much of our own world history, the story is told by the view of a descendant of the first expedition to a new world. History unfolds rapidly, and the search for everlasting peace in the galaxy is profoundly written. The characters are finely crafted and the story unfolds with magnificent clarity, worthy of a movie. These characters, as they live and die, as they walk through time, leave a palpable change in their world.

“Notes from an Alien is a must read for fans of the Sci-Fi genre. In-depth, detailed, narrated by the fabulous Sena, the reader struggles along with each character, slipping into a world that mirrors our own. Well crafted and, if Sci-Fi novels are among the genres you like to read, definitely add this to your own TBR list.”

By Saran:

“Before reading, I knew very little of what this book was about beyond the title. But in nineteen chapters, each headed by an attribute of the Divine, Mr. Zoltai leads us through the struggles of a dual-planet civilization in achieving real and lasting peace. It is a deep rich read, a history, detailed with nobility and sacrifice, characters that I fell in love with, and mourned when they passed. There’s little humor, but what there is adds whimsy to the personalities of such as Rednaxela, Velu and the Artificial Intelligence Morna (btw, I would like an AI myself!). I also want to say that it’s the novel’s use of religion to create a united world, beyond the division and strife it’s blamed for on this, that appeals greatly to me. That is a subject very close to my heart – seeing the progression from one being and the resulting civilization to the next. I want that for us.”

For those readers still with me, I must reveal an Important Self-Publishing Decision—I began this blog (on January 1st, 2011) as a means to promote my novel; and, it’s probably the most important decision I’ve made; since, constantly shouting about one’s book will not draw folks to reading it—it, most obviously, repels them…

I chose to make this blog an Exploration of Reading, Writing, and Publishing; while, sitting patiently in that handy left side-bar is a link to the novel…

As the broadcasters say: “Today’s Important Take-Away Is…”:

If you plan to self-publish, find a way to be of service to others that carries within it a path toward your book; but, always, Service First………

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O.K., If You *Really* Have to, Go Ahead; Write a Book and Publish It . . .


Six years ago, when I’d finished my novel and went through what I’d resolved as the best way to publish (for me…), I was pretty freely telling everyone to write and publish—immediately, if not sooner…

Those six years have seen me do a massive amount of research into the reading, writing, and publishing Scenes—all so I could write this blog…

Before I share four articles that should make most writers think in some new ways, I’ll share just a bit of what I said back in May of 2013 from what I consider the Most Important Post on This Blog:

“An extremely small percentage of writers sell more than 500 copies of a book…”

“Yet, writers can find tons of posts and articles and web sites that are based on the mistaken conception that Any book can sell like hotcakes if the author will do X, Y, Z, and, if possible, D, U, and P…”

And, a quote from someone I quoted in that post, bearing on why I call it the most important post here:

“…in business school there’s this point made that if you interview rich people who have won the lottery, you might come to believe that playing the lottery is the only way to become rich. I thought that was interesting. One of the things I’m constantly trying to point out is that we’re not doing nearly enough to highlight both median and failure modes, because that’s where the real lessons lie. As for myself, I find message boards where new writers struggle to sell more than a few copies interesting, and where I harvest data about the low end.”

There’s much more of critical interest to all writers in that post; but, while I hope you’ll go there now and read it and take notes, I’ll finishing writing this post so you have more to consider when you return :-)

So, from the running-around-shouting attitude I had about the book world six years ago , I’m a bit more mature; mostly from having so many assumptions shattered on the rocks of the Truth about writing and publishing and promoting books…

I suppose I could say these next four articles are what I wish I’d read six years and one month ago :-)

First, I’ll share an article called, The Art of Receiving Criticism.

After relating her Before and After experiences of criticism (and, how she now Carefully selects who should give their opinions on her work), the author says:

“Oscar Wilde once commented that to critique a work of art means creating a new work of one’s own. Critique, in itself, is a form of artwork. We wouldn’t demean another person’s writing like we do their critique of our own work. Why should we receive it with any less openness than we would a Van Gogh painting?”

The next article I’ll share is called, Warning: Discoverability Dependency is Hazardous to Your Fiction Marketing.

Discoverability is the buzz-word for doing things to help folks find your book; and, some “experts” will hit you over the head with the idea—I can only suppose they want to scare you so you’ll believe it’s the Only thing you need to do…

A core idea from the article:

“…don’t use discoverability as an excuse to avoid human interaction or to be passive in your marketing. Seek out the right people, don’t just wait.”

The next article could cause quite a bit of resistance from some writers…

It’s called, The Myth Of Reviews, and details some compelling ideas about reviews Not being a magic pill for sales.

Here are two excerpts:

Here’s the thing: If you want more reviews, sell more books. Only people who read the book will review it. If you’re seeing more reviews, it means more people are buying your book.”

“My opinion is that reviews only matter in the edge cases – those situations where the potential reader is either on the fence or is looking for confirmation for the decision they’ve already made. If you haven’t hooked them with both the cover and blurb, the reviews aren’t likely to convince somebody to overlook that pair of sins and take a sample.”

The next recommended article is from a site called, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity.

No excerpts for, Mega-List of Free Promotional Sites for Self-Published Books, since that title says it all…

And, if you want to give yourself some Bonus Credit, check out this post about what Jane Friedman has to say about Publishing (plus a few other important things…)…
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Something for #Readers & #Writers . . .


This blog is like me—more maverick than classifiable

I report on Reading, Writing, and Publishing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I Re-Blog others’ posts on those three topics the other days of the week.

I am an author and I like to give my stuff away (see the left side-bar…).

Of course, if you’re a regular visitor, you know all this; but, I get most of my traffic from unsuspecting folks putting words into search engines

There are two other kinds of bloggers who authors and readers especially like—Book-Bloggers & Bloggers-Who-Do-Book-Reviews—sometimes a person is really both but some folks want to be one or the other (and, finding clear definitions for either is difficult…)

I’ll share two sites that cater to these types of blogs.

First, The Book Blogger List:

What they say about themselves:

“We have created this site to help book bloggers find like-minded bloggers and help authors find book bloggers that might be interested in their book.”

I’m really surprised they don’t mention Readers………

Perhaps they feel it’s way too obvious that a reader would like a place to find blogs about books…?

Now, their “rules”:

“Instructions for Authors

“This database of book bloggers is organized by genre of interest. If a book blogger has expressed interest in multiple genres, they will be listed in each category. Any book blogger that is listed here has asked to be listed.  Keep in mind that when approaching a book blogger about your book, use your manners and your common sense. Don’t approach a blogger who only reads children’s lit to read your non-fiction business book. Choose bloggers that are interested in your genre.”

“Instructions for Book Bloggers

“This is a site for you to list your book blog as well as find some bloggy friends. All the entries will be checked every two months. If your blog has not been posted to during those two months, your listing will be removed. If you are taking a blogging break – or going on a really long vacation, let us know and we won’t pull your listing.”

Now, let’s take a look at The Indie View.

First, “Indie” generally means “not from the big, old, traditional publishers”

The Indie View has three main sections:

Latest Indie Book Reviews from Around the Web

A List of Folks Who Review Indie Books

A List of Authors Who’ve Rated High in Indie Reviews

If you’re a writer looking for reviews, use their main link and scroll the right side-bar for Registration Requirements.

And, partly because there are so many book-blogs and partly because I want this post to be of value, here’s one more place to visit:

http://bookblogging.net/
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52 Book Review Sites


Do you like to read book reviews?

Book Reviews

Image Courtesy of Mikhail Lavrenov ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/miklav

Do you think book reviews can determine what you choose to read?

Ever read a review of a book you’ve read that you totally disagree with?

Here are a few Book Review Quotes:

“In my reviews, I feel it’s good to make it clear that I’m not proposing objective truth, but subjective reactions; a review should reflect the immediate experience.”
Roger Ebert

“I’ve rarely gotten a good review in my life, yet, to paraphrase Noel Coward, I am happy to console myself with the bitter palliative of commercial success.”
Steven Weber

“A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.”
Danielle Steel

“What I really like is an intelligent review. It doesn’t have to be positive. A review that has some kind of insight, and sometimes people say something that’s startling or is so poignant.”
Patti Smith

Not all those quotes are from book reviewers or authors but I think they still apply…

Now, courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily, here are 52 Book Review Sites ( the links aren’t purple but they do work :-) :

American Scholar Books
Atlantic Books
Australian Literary Rev
Australian Book Review
B&N Review
Book Beast
Books & Culture
Bookforum
Boston Globe Books
Chronicle Review
Claremont Review
Complete Review
CS Monitor Books
Denver Post
Dublin Review
Economist Books
Financial Times Books
Globe & Mail Books
Guardian Books
The Hindu Books
Independent Books
January Magazine
Jewish Review of Books
Literary Review
London Review
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Review of Books
Melbourne Age
Metapsychology
The Nation Books
New Statesman Books
New Republic Books
New York Review
NY Times Books
New Yorker Books
Newsday Books
Open Letters
Public Books
Salon Books
SF Chronicle Books
Scotsman Books
Slate Book Review
Spectator Books
Spiked Books
Tablet Books
Telegraph Books
Times Higher Ed Books
The TLS
University Bookman
Washington Post
Washington Times
WSJ Books

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“…well-written and well-argued book reviews, essays, and other articles in the realm of ideas.”


Writers are usually open to nearly anything that will feed them new ideas—seems to be one of the few traits that could be attributed to most writers

The title of this post is a quote from the Wikipedia article about Denis Dutton; it refers to a site he founded called Arts & Letters Daily.

Here’s the full quote:

“Dutton was best known for the web aggregation site Arts & Letters Daily, which he founded in 1998 and which secured him a place among ‘the most influential media personalities in the world’. The site, described as ‘the first and foremost aggregator of well-written and well-argued book reviews, essays, and other articles in the realm of ideas’, features links to articles across the web about literature, art, science, and politics, for which Dutton wrote pithy teasers. In recognition of Arts & Letters Daily, Steven Pinker called Dutton a visionary for recognizing that a website ‘could be a forum for cutting-edge ideas, not just a way to sell things or entertain the bored’.”

I discovered A&LD many years ago and promptly forgot about it; rediscovered it a number of times; re-forgot about it; and, now, will make it known to you, hoping some of you will remember and use it :-)

It truly is a long-lived and remarkable web site.

By copying it’s side-bar of links, I’ll relieve myself of writing more in this particular post; but, really, I’d be hard-pressed to do it justice by trying to describe such a wide-ranging resource. ENJOY :-)

Nota Bene Clive James: By the book Not these words! Top literary pet Slabs of bleeding cow Exhuming Neruda Have money, will publish Heart-sinking comma Proust’s handwriting Thesis hatement Hitler’s food taster “Creative” writing Word aversion The Bard, tax dodger “Ungoogleable”

Breaking News ABC / AP / BBC / CBC / CBS / CNBC / CNN / Fox / Google / MarketWatch / MSNBC / NBC / NPR / Reuters / Yahoo

Newspapers The Australian Beirut Daily Star Boston Globe CS Monitor Chicago Tribune Financial Times Globe & Mail Guardian / Observer Ha’aretz The Hindu The Independent Japan Times Jerusalem Post London Telegraph Los Angeles Times Moscow Times National Post New York Times New Zealand Herald SMH USA Today Washington Post

Magazines Aeon The American American Conservative American Heritage American Interest American Journal Rev American Prospect American Review American Scholar American Scientist American Spectator Armed Forces Journal Art News Artforum Atlantic Monthly Axess Azure Big Questions Boston Globe Ideas Boston Review Chron of Higher Ed Chron of Philanthropy Chronicle Review CIA Studies City Journal Columbia Journal Rev Commentary Common-place Common Review Commonweal Defining Ideas Democracy Discover Dissent The Economist The European Evolutionary Psych First Things Forbes Foreign Affairs Foreign Policy Fortnightly Review Harper’s History Today Hoover Digest Hudson Review The Humanist Humanities Independent Review Intelligent Life In These Times Jacobin Lambda Literary Review Lapham’s Quarterly Le Monde Diplo The Liberal Maclean’s Miller-McCune Mother Jones Ms. Magazine The Nation National Affairs National Interest National Journal National Review New Atlantis New Criterion New English Review New Left Review New Republic New Scientist New Statesman New York Magazine New York Observer New York Press NY Times Magazine New Yorker Newsweek Parameters Paris Review Philosophers’ Mag Philosophy & Literature Philosophy Now Poetry Poets & Writers Policy Policy Review The Progressive Prospect Psychology Today Quadrant Reason Salon Scientific American Seed Skeptical Inquirer Slate Smithsonian Magazine The Spectator Standpoint Der Spiegel Technology Review Threepenny Review Tikkun Time Magazine US News Utne Reader Village Voice WSJ Opinion The Walrus Washington Monthly Weekly Standard Wilson Quarterly Wired World Affairs

Book Reviews American Scholar Books Atlantic Books Australian Literary Rev Australian Book Review B&N Review Book Beast Books & Culture Bookforum Boston Globe Books Chronicle Review Claremont Review Complete Review CS Monitor Books Denver Post Dublin Review Economist Books Financial Times Books Globe & Mail Books Guardian Lit News Guardian Books The Hindu Books Independent Books January Magazine Jewish Review of Books Literary Review London Review Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Review of Books Melbourne Age Metapsychology n+1 Books The Nation Books New Haven Review New Statesman Books New Republic Books New York Review NY Times Books New Yorker Book Blog Newsday Books Open Letters Philly Inquirer Books Salon Books SF Chronicle Books Scotsman Books Slate Books Spectator Books Spiked Books Tablet Books Telegraph Books Times Higher Ed Books The TLS University Bookman Village Voice Washington Post Washington Times WSJ Books Wilson Quarterly

Columnists David Aaronovitch Janet Albrechtsen Eric Alterman Anne Applebaum Timothy Garton Ash Michael Bassett Bruce Bawer Alex Beam James Bowman Robert Boynton Samuel Brittan David Brooks Trevor Butterworth Jon Carroll Noam Chomsky Gail Collins Joe Conason Clive Crook Meghan Daum Miranda Devine E.J. Dionne Jr. Michael Dirda Maureen Dowd Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Suzanne Fields Daniel Finkelstein Robert Fisk Thomas Friedman Robert Fulford Frank Furedi Malcolm Gladwell Ellen Goodman Victor Davis Hanson Johann Hari Nat Hentoff David Horowitz Jeff Jacoby Clive James Robert Kagan Mickey Kaus Roger Kimball Martin Kramer Morton Kondracke Chas Krauthammer Paul Krugman Howard Kurtz Norman Lebrecht James Lileks Tod Lindberg Salim Mansour Mark Morford Brendan O’Neill Camille Paglia John Allen Paulos William Pfaff Melanie Phillips Daniel Pipes Katha Pollitt Virginia Postrel Dorothy Rabinowitz Jonathan Rauch Carlin Romano Milt Rosenberg Roger Sandall Sam Smith Thomas Sowell Mark Steyn Andrew Sullivan John Tierney Tunku Varadarajan Shankar Vedantam David Warren Margaret Wente George Will Keith Windschuttle Jonathan Yardley William Zinsser

Favorites Arion Baker Street Irregulars Big Think Bloggingheads Butterflies & Wheels Climate Debate Daily Cognition & Culture CounterPunch Cultural Weekly The Daily Beast Daily Caller Debka File Drudge Report Ducts Economic Principals Edge Ethics & Policy Eurozine FrontPage Gene Expression Fora TV Globalist Guernica Magazine I Want Media Ifeminists Improbable Research Jewcy Jewish Ideas Daily Killing the Buddha Lapham’s Quarterly Logos MEMRI Mr. Beller’s ‘hood Nationmaster Nthposition Obscure Store Open Culture Open Democracy Overlawyered The Page Poetry Project Syndicate Quackwatch Romenesko Rutherford Journal Science/Creationism Shakespeare Web Skeptic’s Dictionary Smart Set Snopes Social Issues Centre Spiked-Online Strange Maps Table Matters TED ThoughtCast TomPaine Top Ten Books Web del Sol Wimp.com Woodpile Report Words Without Borders

Weblogs Ira Altschiller Amygdalit Bryan Appleyard Armavirumque Larry Arnhart Atrios Adam Baer David Barash Matthew Battles Graham Beattie Becker and Posner Two Blowhards Bob’s Art Blog David Bordwell Brainstorm Britannica Copy, Shake, and Paste Crooked Timber Lawrence Solum Chicago Boyz The Corner Colby Cosh Eric Crampton Culture Wars Richard Dawkins Brad DeLong A.C.Douglas Epicurean Dealmaker Amitai Etzioni Stephen Franks Peter Ginna Instapundit Michael Kaplan Allen MacNeill Marginal Revolution Norman Geras Lester Hunt IWF Inkwell Steven Johnson Brothers Judd Satoshi Kanazawa Daily Kos Brian Leiter Little Green Footballs Derek Lowe Colin Marshall Grant McCracken Steve McIntyre Warren Meyer Middle East Strategy D.G.Myers John Naughton The New Inquiry Gloria Origgi Overcoming Bias Bibliographing Chequer-Board Page Views Michael Phillips Political Animal Matthew Price The Revealer Matt Ridley Stephen Romei Alex Ross Lib Samizdata Russell Seitz Peter Stothard David Sucher Talking Points Memo Three Quarks Daily The Valve Volokh Conspiracy Nigel Warburton Will Wilkinson James Wolcott Wonkette Woodward & Hall Toby Young

Radio News NPR Hourly News: RealAudio 24hr Stream: Windows C-SPAN Streams: RealAudio/Windows BBC World Service: Bulletins: RealAudio 24hr Stream: RealAudio CBC Radio One: Windows Australia ABC: RealAudio/Windows VOA News: RealAudio Deutsche Welle TV: Video World Radio Network: WRN Schedules Windows streaming Public Radio Fan

Radio Music ABC Classic Real/Windows AccuRadio classical Instant Bach BBC 3 Real WCPE Windows/Real Classic Archive Concertzender Bartok Radio Real KUOL Real/Windows Klassik Hamburg Windows Bayern Klassik Windows RNE Clásica KBPS Classic Real KING Windows KUSC Real/Windows Swiss Classic WFMT Windows WNYC Windows/ITunes WRCJ Detroit WGBH Boston WGUC Windows WQXR Windows WQXR’s Q2 Windows Cool Blue Windows Classical links Europe Classical links USA

Diversions Scarlatti Sonatas Bad Writing Contest Blackjack Cracked Darwin Awards Dilbert Leno, Letterman jokes The Onion Poetry Daily Smoke-Free Carmen Wine Lovers’ Page

Classics Francis Fukuyama on the End of History Robert Kagan on Power and Weakness New York Review of Books, vol. 1 no. 1 The Russian Empire, 1910, in full color Elizabeth Loftus on False Memories Kahlil Gibran, forsooth Is God an Accident? The Death of Lit Crit Keep Computers Out of Classrooms Newsweek on Threats of Global Cooling Julian Simon, Doomslayer Martha Nussbaum on Judith Butler George Orwell: English Language World’s Worst Editing Guide The Fable of the Keys The Snuff Film: an Urban Legend The Abduction of Opera

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