On Getting Your Book Out There

Some thoughts on what appeals to readers and what impels them to purchase independently-published books, from another author with a bent for analysis.

Basically, the top three attracting elements are a good sample chapter or two, an appealing cover, and an enticing blurb.

And one of the ways of getting the word out? Participate in various on-line venues as a commenter – but read the whole article at the link.

Just for Fun

Weird Al strikes again. The only dissent I have from this is that yes, I firmly believe in the serial or Oxford comma. There is a reason for it existing, and I WILL ALWAYS apply it to Watercress and G&A books. You have been warned.

A Fascinating Discussion of Indy Publishing

A long discussion regarding independent publishing, vis-a-vis traditional establishment publishing, here, which includes these stirring words:

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have “nurtured” them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher or retailer becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.
The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. …
Read the whole discussion – it’s worth it.

Another Book Ruckus

Ho, hum – it’s Wednesday, so it must be time for another ruckus in the book world. This time it’s between one of the Big Five in traditional publishing, versus the retail Gargantua of Amazon. As near as I can make out, Hachette Book Group has their panties in a twist over the pricing of e-books, and how Amazon discounts print books for sale … oh, a pretty comprehensive account is here. Yes, it’s biased towards Amazon of course. Amazon is pretty good to those of us independent authors and small publishers. Which is not to say that they have not done some bone-headed and outright underhanded things in the past. But as it is, only the very, very, tippy-top of the pile in best-selling writers get anything like a fair shake from their publishers.

RIP- Mary Stewart

From the temple of Poseidon at Sunion, Greece
From the temple of Poseidon at Sunion, Greece
I see from a link from a Facebook friend that author Mary Steward has passed on to that great and ultimate publisher in the sky. (Facebook links and Twitter posts – I swear, this is how we find out news of a relatively minor nature these days.) She was well into her nineties, and the books that were her mega-popular best-sellers were all from several decades ago. ( No, she was not a Watercress Press author and – oh, I should live so long and have so many best-sellers! The books that earned her the greatest fame include The Crystal Cave – the first of a five-novel retelling of the Arthurian cycle; these are the ones which most readers remember.) I, on the other hand, remember finding, reading and adoring her earlier books – the romantic-suspense-mystery ones. Yes, because they not the least bit risqué, no bad language or anything more sexually-explicit than a fond kiss or a close and comforting embrace – I recollect that I first encountered them in the library when I was middle-school age and no one burst any blood vessels over me reading them. I might even have read them first in the Mount Gleason Junior High library, at that – since the movie that Disney had made from The Moonspinners was shown in the school theater over summer. Although I was a bit disappointed when I looked up the book and read it after seeing the movie. Everything was different, just about! But for the setting and … well, the setting; I did get to appreciate the books, later on – as the memory of the movie faded. Especially those of her books with a setting in Greece; My Brother Michael, (Delphi and environs) and This Rough Magic (Corfu), especially … and then I had a soft spot for her very first book, Madam, Will You Talk? – which was set in southern France. I never did get to check out Corfu – but I did visit Athens and Delphi – and Provence, as well – motivated in large part because of the beautiful way that she had of establishing a place and the character of it.
Never mind about the romance and all … dumpy and rather plain fifteen-year-olds, cursed with glasses and metal braces – still have a wistful affection for romance. Even if the prospective hero is at first meeting grumpy and impatient – even slightly mysterious. Someday, my fifteen-year old self hoped – I would go to Greece, or the South of France, although the romance part was perhaps a little bit too much to hope for.

And I did – but that is another story. At any rate, she and Rosemary Sutcliffe were among the first writers that I came back to, over and over – because of the way that they wrote about a place; every leaf and tree and flower of it. I would like to think that I have taken some lessons from them, or at least had their very good example before me when I began to write about specific places.

The New Shared Temporary Premise For Watercress Press!

Origami Earrings and Watercress Press Mobile HQWell, on those outdoor venues to sell books … mine or other Watercress/G&A authors. Although I do have to share it with Paper Blossom Productions…

It’s very … pink. And visible, in an open-air market where just about every other vendor has a white, or cream-color, or blue canopy. Bright pink and a black and white zebra-striped top are … visible.

And that’s the name of the game, in marketing. Being visible.

Although – it didn’t quite block all the UV rays. We both were slightly to rather sunburned after this last weekend’s turn at the Bulverde/Spring Branch Spring Market, in the parking lot of Beall’s at Bulverde Crossing and Hwy. 46 W.


Book Festival!

Setting up in the shade of the Big Enchilada
Setting up in the shade of the Big Enchilada

So, this is only the second year running for the San Antonio Book Festival, sponsored by the San Antonio Public Library Foundation, which seems to have modeled itself on the Texas Book Festival – at least, the principles and requirements for books to be considered for it are identical. This means that independently-published books, like my own, and subsidy-published books like … well, Watercress Press authors are not eligible for consideration as part of the festival, only as exhibitors. In the eyes of strict book trade professionals, indy and subsidy-press books have literary cooties or something. (Insert Bette Davis-sized eye-roll here and a heavily sarcastic sigh of “What-ever!) This is ironic in the extreme, as we publish John Igo’s poetry collections, and he has a public library branch named for him.

So, off to the festival, where the exhibitor booths were set up in three or four rows of pop-up pavilions in the parking lot of the South West School for Art and Craft. The School, by the way – used to house the convent and boarding school run by the Ursuline sisters. This was the first girl’s school in San Antonio, and was considered to be a very fine one in the 19th century.

Deacon Jose Guadalupe Diaz, with his book, Laredo: Memoirs of My Home Town
Deacon Jose Guadalupe Diaz, with his book, Laredo: Memoirs of My Home Town

It was chilly and overcast all day Saturday, which may have discouraged some participation – as well as some of the exhibitors – but on the other hand, better that then too hot, or too cold, as we experienced in December at Christmas on the Square at Goliad last December. Yes, it would have been more pleasant if the sun had come out … but outdoor events in Texas are a challenging thing, most times of the year, whatever that time is.
We had arranged for four Watercress Press authors to take a turn at the table with their books. At the very last minute, Aubrey Smith Carter had to cancel on grounds of health, but Jose Guadalupe Diaz, Paul Burrier and Letty Lozano all were there, in turn.

Paul Burrier with The Confederate Military Commission
Paul Burrier with The Confederate Military Commission


Jose Diaz sold a couple of his books, so he was happy. When Paul Burrier and I were at the table, when a woman looking for authors to come out to Randolph and sell our books took our cards and information, so we were happy. And Letty Lozano signed up with the Texas Authors Association, which will have her books as well as those of other members at a wide number of book events that she can’t afford or doesn’t have the time to attend – so she was happy.



Letty Lozano with Traveling Blind
Letty Lozano with Traveling Blind




I am planning to do this again, of course – and to have a Watercress Press author table at the Christmas Market in New Braunfels in November. We don’t do marketing – it says so in the contract – but affording a venue for selling books twice a year is something that I believe we can do.

Latest Update for San Antonio Book Festival

Just had a call from Aubrey Carter – she has been ordered by her doctors to spend the weekend on bed-rest, so she will not be at the Watercress booth tomorrow – but I will have a couple of copies of her book, and contact information for anyone wanting to take a look!

Marilee Manatee is an children’s book – a collaboration between Aubrey and her high school best friend, the artist Adriel Jacobs McGill. They skulled out this little book many years ago, and Audrey took it into her head to publish it last year, as a children’s book. We at Watercress loved the original art. Sadly, Adriel passed away the very week that the book was finished.

I should have information about where to buy a copy of Marilee Manatee by tomorrow at the Watercress Press table – and here is the cover to it:

Marilee Manatee Cover

Watercress Press at the San Antonio Book Festival

We’ve just been given our booth assignment for the San Antonio Book Festival, which will be Saturday, April 5th from 10 AM to 5 PM at the Central Library in downtown San Antonio. The booths are set up in the parking lot at the corner of Navarro and Augusta – we’ll be in Booth #18. There will be heaps of book-oriented activities going on all day at the Library and the Southwest School of Art – more here!

10:00-11:30 – Aubrey Carter, with her beautifully-illustrated children’s book – Marilee the Manatee!

11:30-1:00 – Jose Guadalupe Diaz, the author of Laredo: Memoirs of My Home Town

1:00-2:30 – W. Paul Burrier, who has just brought out the second in a series of five books. This is The Confederate Military Commission Held in San Antonio. Mr. Burrier does not yet have a website

2:30-4:00 – Letty Lozano, author of Traveling Blind. Her website is here.

And I will be there throughout the day, with my own books, and information about how to go about publishing – either through Watercress or G&A – or any other means of publishing. See you there!

First Quality Books – for 35 Years