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Reviews - The Test

Bad reviews are a part of the business. What do you do with a bad review? To start with, don’t take it personal or get offended. There is no use talking to the reviewer; she/he gave their opinion; that’s what you asked for. You can edit out the bad, but I generally publish the good and the bad.

I never ask a reviewer to remove or edit an unfavorable comment; I strongly suspect they would refuse anyway. However, one person who reviewed Dead Angles put in several spoilers. When I first published it, I edited out the spoilers. Ultimately, I approached the reviewer about them and she cleaned them up. The full review is now linked on the Dead Angles section of this website under the SPR banner.

I sometimes edit a review for space, but what I edit out are parts where the reviewer gives a summary of the plot, which is not needed on my website.

I got a bad review for Spirit Fire. I realized the review was right. I pulled it off the market and did a complete rewrite.

I got a bad review for Dead Angels. Absolutely everything about it was the worst he had ever read. I occasionally think about publishing it so people can see what’s out there, but really, it’s a waste of space.

I have a review for my new book, Robyn, which is mostly bad, but I will publish it as soon as the book is released. The reviewer decided that, as a man and a person who hasn’t suffered the same trauma, I am not qualified to write this story. I am a fiction writer. I write about Neandertals and serial killers; and, oh by the way, Stephen King wrote a great book about the emotions and physical pain of a woman victim of spousal abuse, Rose Madder. After spending most of his review explaining why I’m not qualified, the reviewer says I did a good job and gives me four stars. He also says the book is not “overly graphic” and then complains that it’s graphic. When you put yourself out there, not everyone is going to like it.

Publishing a Paperback

Perhaps you would like to publish your book as a Paperback or Hardback instead of, or in addition to the Ebook platform. Amazon has Createspace that lets you go that route. Amazon and Createspace both use Lightning Source to print, package, and mail books directly to buyer.  Lightning Source has a subsidiary called Ingram Spark to help authors publish their books. Ingram Spark distributes globally through book marketing channels including; Barnes and Noble and Amazon. I chose Ingram Spark, so the discussion below refers to them. You will have to have a full cover design (front, spine, and back), and a formatted interior; both in pdf format. If you don’t have a cover and you feel up to doing your own, Ingram Spark will help – see step 17. To begin go to; and sign up for their free account. From the Dashboard click on Add a New Title and follow the steps.

1. Select Print & Ebook or Print Only – I use the Print Only because I chose Kindle to be my sole eBook publisher.

2. Imprint – your name as publisher

3. Title

4. Subtitle

5. Language –probably English

6. Contributors – enter you as author and others if needed (coauthor, cover graphics, etc.)

7. Subjects – the system provides an extensive list to pick from.

8. Description – a synopsis

9. Trim size – select from their list (I use 6” x 9”)

10. Interior Color & Paper – select from list (I use Black and White with Creme )

11. Binding type – select from list (I use Paperback with Perfect Bound) Note; if you select hardback you will need a dust jacket cover design.

12. Laminate type – select. (I use Matte for my Neandertal series because it gives a prehistoric look, and Gloss for the others)

13. Page Count – you have to get this from yourPDF file.

14 Print ISBN – if you don’t have an ISBN, you will be given an option to purchase one for $85.00.

15. Pricing – you can play with the different parameters to arrive at “Compensation” you decide on.

16. Publication Date

17. Upload your files; At this point, if you do not have a cover, you can get a template to help you with it. You can save and leave the book submission form to do your cover design and then come back to the form when you are ready.  If you are not given the link to the cover template in the form, you can get it by going to the Ingram Spark Home page (this will require that you sign out – upper right-hand corner under your acct number). From the Home page click Help > Cover Template Generator. You fill out a form (which requires the ISBN number you will have gotten on step 14) and they will email you the template with instructions. I had my covers already designed ahead of time, so I didn’t deal with this situation. You must use PDF for the cover and interior. Some of my books had error messages with an option to let Ingram Spark make corrections at no cost. I just clicked that, and everything was fine.

After the files have been uploaded and you have previewed them, the book will ready for printing. You are given an opportunity to order the first print of your book so that you can make sure it looks like you want before it goes live. When you go live, you will be given the option of having them put your book in their catalog for $60.00. Then you release the book. On my first book, they charged me a setup fee of $12.00, but on the other ones, there was no charge. 

Publishing on Kindle

Publishing on Kindle is about the fastest, least expensive (free) way to publish. So far, I have published 5 books on Kindle. You will need a cover in gif or tiff format. The manuscript must be in mobi or ePub format. If your manuscript is in Word, it will have to be converted. There are inexpensive or free conversion apps. However, you can’t just convert a Word manuscript because the result won’t work on Kindle. Kindle will do the conversion for a fee. There are instructions you can get on Google that purport to show how to do this, but I didn’t look at them. I got all my files in the proper format from my previous publisher.

When you are ready, go to  and create a username and password to set up your free publisher account. You will then be taken to a dashboard where you can enter a new book. You will be prompted for the following info:

Book Name and subtitle (if needed)

You will be asked if it is part of a series and, if it is, you will be asked the number in the series

Description; This is a synopsis like you see on the back of a published book.

Contributors; There must be at least one – you as the author. You can add co-author, cover design, etc.

ISBN; That is optional. Put one if you have one.

Categories; That is like the genre – fiction, non-fiction, biography etc. Your book may be more than one.

Age Ranges; I think these apply to children’s books. I left them blank.

Keywords; These are words that people may use in a browser to find your book. You can use up to seven. Things like; serial killer, mystery, romance, sci fi, etc. Serial killer would count as one word.

Upload your cover; If you can have more than one ap open on your screen, you can drag and drop this, otherwise you can browse. It must be in gif or tiff.

Confirm you have digital rights; If you wrote it, it’s yours, and you have all the rights even if you don’t have a copyright.

Upload the content: You can drag and drop or browse. This must be in mobi or ePub format.

Verify publishing rights; Like digital rights, if you wrote the book, you have the rights.

From here you will go through a process of setting a price. You can put a price in the blank, and the last column will tell you what your royalty is. When you settle on a price you like, select it.

After that, you Save and Publish.

Your book will then go into review. The note says it will take at least 12 hours. I always waited until the next day to check. In all cases the book was online the next day. If you have all the files in the right formats, it will have cost you nothing. If the grammar is horrendous or the book is a mess, they may send it back for editing – but it has to be pretty bad.

Publishing a Novel

So the novel is written, polished, and ready for prime time. Now what? The traditional approach is to put together an engaging book presentation, an eye-catching letter, research publishers to find those who are publishing your type of book, and send out stacks of query letters. Another version of this is to find an agent who likes your book and will peddle it to the publishers. Finding an agent is approximately the same process as finding a publisher, but you have the added problem that you will most likely have never heard the name of the agent, so it is hard to know if he/she is reputable, though there ways to


Writing a Novel

Writing a novel: I start with an idea that consumes my interest. I begin mulling it over, researching, and asking myself “what if” questions to suggest a story. As the story develops, I pick a genre to tell the story in an interesting way. I read several novels in that genre. When I am satisfied I have the right genre, I look at the novels I have read to see what the formula for that genre is. I see what parts of the formula don’t fit my story and decide how to change the formula without alienating the readers. I don’t outline.

I begin writing the rough draft, usually by hand in theme books. Some of my first books were written on the backs of paper placemats at Burger King or Carl’s Jr. where I ate lunch at work. I redline the draft and type it into my computer, editing again as I write. Each chapter is a separate file. I print it on yellow paper. I redline it and print the revised manuscript on blue paper. I redline it and print the revised manuscript on white paper. I redline, and I then combine all the chapter files into a manuscript on the computer. I have the manuscript evaluated by a professional.

The evaluation contains:

Basics; suitable for the target audience

Title & Cover; reflect the content, clear and appropriate cover copy

Opening; grab the reader, draw the reader on

Basic Premise and Tone; interesting, believable, unique, clear, accurate, language appropriate for genre

Point of View; consistent, insightful, appropriate, convey the story

Structure, Plot, & Pace; focused, propel the reader, appropriate struggle, high point, appropriate climax, good foreshadowing

Setting; describe without slowing pace, enhance novel, provide sense of place

Characterization; clear characters, effective, image, behavior, plausible challenges, motivated, flawed, emotional connection, believable

Dialogue; easy to read, reflect speaker’s personality & background, distinguishable from character to character, sound authentic

After I have addressed all the evaluator’s concerns (this could involve several revisions) I have a professional copyedit to address grammar & punctuation. Done—next, the publishing process, but that’s another story.

Writing – how I do it

There are probably about as many ways of writing a novel as there are authors. This is how I do it. I start with a subject that captures my interest and a "what if" question. What if it were possible to download one person’s emotions and upload them to another person? Could someone experience or develop empathy from that? (A novel on my to do list). With the idea, I begin research. For a book like Heart of the Bison, that included reading 27 books along with unnumbered articles. By some process I can’t explain, the research suggests story points. When all that is swimming in my head, I figure out a general point I want the story revolve around.

When I have the story and the reason for wanting to write it, I look for a genre that will best tell the story. I do not have a particular genre that I write in. Even after I have selected a genre to use for a particular book, I don’t concern myself with the rules and formulas for the genre if I find they interfere with the story I want to tell.

Once I have organized the research, I begin to write. Usually, I don’t have a clear picture of how the story will go, so I don’t try to outline it. As I start writing, the research and “what if” questions suggest how the story proceeds. Generally, it turns out I have started in the wrong place and proceeded in a disjointed fashion. From this point, I massage the story in a way that will lead the reader forward and build interest. Each scene creates a problem and a new scene has to be written to solve the problem.

Ultimately, I will have reorganized the scenes and chapters and thrown out some scenes I really liked, but turned out to slow the story. 

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