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Reviewing Books

The Riddle Report 06 14 2021

You are an author, and you want to get your book reviewed. Have you ever considered reviewing other authors’ works? If you have the skill to write a book it is possible you may have the skill to review a book. That said, there are a few sand traps to avoid.

I said that if have the skill to write you may have the skill to review. But that is not always the truth. In writing a book you make a commitment to yourself, but in reviewing a book you are making a commitment to someone else. And that entails a sense of truthfulness and transparency.

Let me tell you a story as an example. I’ve actually told this story before so excuse me if you’ve heard it before. Back when I wrote Perished The World That Was, I sought Christian Fiction reviewers. And that proved to be a good mood as I received four- and five-star reviews!

But one reviewer gave me two stars and it is his story I am relating. He was a young man who I later determined was a teenager at that time. He professed he was a Christian and loved the Bible. Because my novel was based on world history as found in Genesis, I accepted him and sent him a copy.

After a few weeks I received his review where he gave the book only two stars. Now normally I would not be bothered by this low score. Why? Because you can’t please everyone. However, in this case he was honest enough to relate why he gave only two stars.

And early on the review showed that he didn’t follow the unwritten rules. What are these? Here are what I believe they are:

  1. You are committed to reading the entire book.
  2. You are committed not to skip.
  3. You are committed to finishing the book reading.
  4. You are committed an honest review.
  5. You are committed to being as transparent as possible.

This young man objected to the scene where Eve was created although the wording of that scene used similar descriptions as found in Genesis and in the Song of Solomon. This may have triggered his following actions:

  1. He began skipping through the novel.
  2. He came across characters who had the same name (these were real people taken straight from the Bible).
  3. He assumed that these all represented the same person.
  4. He eventually quit reading the novel.

As a result, he was confused and decided that I was inconsistent with the characters. That would have been a serious error on my part if true, but the error was his. For example, in the Bible and in my novel, there were two Enoch’s. Because he thought both were the same man, he assumed I had been inconsistent in their character.

His skipping around also disrupted any continuity he would have gotten by reading the entire novel. When you make a commitment to review somebody’s book you follow through. You don’t let your feelings stop you!

Honesty demands that you take the time to read the book in its entirety. I am currently reviewing a book and sometimes I come across language I object to. Honesty says I continue on. I can later point out these problems, but I’ve made a commitment to review the book, so I continue in my review.

His reactions convinced me that he was not fluent in the Bible. Later in his life I think he was better, but I don’t believe I ever used him again. I simply didn’t know if I could trust him.

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at markting@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

Should I Review Books?

The only person who can answer that is you. Ask yourself some questions, such as: Do I like to read? Am I willing to take the time to read the book? Can I give an honest review?

If you can respond “yes” to these questions, then try it out. In the end, you might throw up your hands in defeat or you may discover that you enjoy it. And if you do, you may gain a following.

As a reviewer you will want to use some of your editing skills. It is not your responsibility to do actually editing, but those skills will help you find areas where the author made mistakes and you can let him or her know of their errors in your review. It is important to remember that the author is relying on you to provide a review to help in marketing, but also help in writing.

As a reviewer you watch grammar, spelling, readability, consistency, and accuracy. For example, if you are reading historical fiction is the book historically accurate? Does the speech or manner of dress fit the period? Questions like these will help you in evaluating the story.

Finally, remember that in effect you are critiquing and promoting the book. Your words are directed at the author so he or she can improve, and, at the same time, your words are directed at potential readers, to encourage or discourage them about buying.

If you are new to reviewing, you might want to stick to the same genre you write in or genre you like to read. It could be just what you need.

If you are reading this blog or listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Riddle Report Memorial Day Sale

05 28 2021

Today is Friday and the Memorial Day weekend is beginning. For us at T&R Independent Bookstore, this is a chance to give back to our community. At 6:00 p.m. today our first ever Memorial Day Sale takes place.

In honor of this even we are going big. As you may know our bookstore only recently opened offers a sizeable discount on all our books. Every book in the store sells for $2.00 less than the retail. That’s $2 off what you pay at Amazon or anywhere else!

Depending on the retail the discount ranges from over 7% to over 25% off. That’s a pretty stout discount. But that is our everyday price. For this weekend we are going to do more.

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at markting@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

I am a veteran. I served for four years in the Vietnam War. A war that saw many returning sailors, marines, soldiers, and airmen return to their home country disliked and often insulted. But they have lived to see that turn around.

This weekend, we take our place beside veterans of other wars, but there are thousands of men and women who died serving their country. Some died in far away and hard to pronounce places while others died in hospitals right here in America.

This coming Monday will be Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor those who didn’t make it back. They went out young, brave, and, sometimes, untrained. But, if they were lucky, they came home in coffins and are buried where loved ones can still honor them.

But others were never found, or their bodies were burned or sank to the bottom of the sea. However, they died, they died defending the American Flag and the ideal of our country.

I know many of you will see a living veteran and thank him for his or her service, but please remember those who died in war. That is what Memorial day is all about.

So, in honor of those who fell in battle, we are discounting all our books by an additional 10%. You still have to pay for shipping and taxes, but the book or books will cost less. Beginning at 6 p.m. you will find a banner on our website providing you a coupon. All you have to do is use that coupon code (the name of the coupon) at checkout and you automatically get the discount.

Use Coupon Code: MD10

As you take advantage of our sale and other business’s specials, please remember that men and women gave their lives so you could do that. Some were white, some were brown or black, and some were red, but all were Americans. They were also divided by faith, ethnicity, sex, and age, but none of that matters. They died for you; celebrate that!

If you are reading this blog or listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Pamper Your Desire to Write

05 24 2021

You love to read, and you have a desire to write a book. But you don’t have the skill or training to be able to write, much less get published and sold!

Ladies and Gentlemen put those concerns behind you! Instead of worrying about what you don’t control, pamper that desire to write! Your concerns may be appropriate, but they can be addressed and that is what you are doing as you read this blog.

You may not have natural skills, but you can develop what you have. You may not know how to edit, but you can be taught, or you can hire someone to do it for you. You may not know how to get published, but there are people willing to help you do just that.

You have fears and concerns. Fine. Contact TR Writing Services and we’ll talk. Whatever you do, don’t give up on your dream!

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at markting@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

Why do I say don’t quit and give up on your dreams? Because I believe that everyone, and that includes you, has a story to tell. A story that might be based on personal childhood experiences, or personal adult experiences. Nobody can guarantee sales, but we can guarantee getting published. That is why we started T&R Writing Services.

As an example of not giving up, I had a hard road to travel before I got published. But here’s a principle that I followed and still follow: Write what you love. I love history, so my first books were based on history. But since I also love God’s Word, my first books were centered in the Book of Genesis. Up until Moses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote by direct revelation, plus gathered, organized, and assembled the ‘Writings’ into what we call the Bible there was no written historical records. Evolutionists erroneously believe that men didn’t write back then and only related history by oral stories. In fact, Adam and Eve were geniuses by our standards, but man lost that ability to read and write at the Tower of Babel. But that’s another story in itself. The fact is that my love for history and Biblical history led directly to my basing my first novels in Genesis. Start with what you love!

There is another reason we started this business. Because once I was where you are. I wanted to write but didn’t know how. I looked around for help and it was hard to find anyone. I finally found help at a monthly fee. But I was in a low paying job and it strained my budget. I took the chance and began learning.

Unfortunately, I got laid off. End of writing course. So, I spent years learning the craft the hard way. There were times I didn’t even attempt to write a story. Instead, I diverted my efforts to writing computer code (self-taught), but when the software was upgraded, I didn’t have the money to upgrade myself, and upon investigation I found my previous experience didn’t help anyhow! So, I had to stop.

Then I wrote my first book using a Self-Publishing company. It cost me $400, which was a lot of money back then. Today, that same book would undoubtedly cost me $800 or possibly more at that Self-Publisher. But if I was a client of TR Writing Services, I could have my document edited, proofed, and published for only $145. That is a significant difference!

So, I understand the desire and the frustration. All you really want is a chance to write your book and get published. But it seems like the world is conspiring against you. You may not choose to use TR Writing Services, but whatever you do don’t quit on your dream. That dream is worth pursuing. You might find it difficult to pursue but do it anyhow.

Go on the internet and search for the services that will help you get your book print ready and publish your book. Contact them and discover what they have to offer you and the cost. If they are not willing to discus the price upfront, then that is a red flag.

When people contact us, we send them a free brochure that explains our services and we send a PDF of the book, T&R’s Guide to writing. It helps you with the basics of writing so you can start writing with more confidence.

Writing is an exciting occupation. When you get that book printed, and in your hand, there is a special feeling. You’ve done it! Your dream has come true! Take that step and work toward that moment.

And if you happen to be a Christian let me add that the world needs Christian writers. There is a lot of trash out there, but you can add fiction or nonfiction books that provide good content for readers to choose. So, seek God’s wisdom and guidance, then if He gives you the green light, go for it.

If you are listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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INDIE PUBLISHING

The Riddle Report 05 17 2021

These days the author has more responsibility than ever before and more opportunities! Indie Publishing plays a big role.

In days gone by the author wrote a novel, submitted it to a publisher, and once accepted, relaxed. But Indie Publishing has changed all of that !

There are all kinds of publishers out there. But here I want to present you with a different perspective. In a previous blog I have mentioned that there is a better way than self-publishing. You are about to see what I was talking about.

First a brief history. I published my first novel in 2003. Since then, I have written a number of books. The first four books were all published by self-publishers. But in 2013, I discovered Smashwords.com and published my first eBook. (My other books are also in the eBook format, but the publisher did this because I paid for it.)

This discovery has changed my life and now I am about to reveal to you what I believe is a better way to publish.

That better way is simply: You are the publisher!

At the time there was almost no information on the subject but today there’s considerable. It is called Indie Publishing which tells you right off the bat that as a publisher you are independent. This is an important distinction.

More about this issue on the other side of this break.

TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to keep you informed on the issues of today. Authors need to stay informed so that they can relate to their readers facts as well as entertain them with their imagination.

 TR-WritingServices.com is a service dedicated to help authors reach their potential as independent writers. Knowing the world you live and work in is essential to being a good writer, thus the need for the free flow of information.

To discover how we can help you be the writer you want to be, write to us at markting@tr-indbkstore.com. We will respond with a free copy of our Guide to Writing plus a brochure detailing our plans. We won’t ask for your credit card or any money, but we will send you these items for free.

Check us out and get your career moving.

Now back to the article.

Indie Publishing is the author taking ultimate charge. Basically, it means selecting a printer or publisher to print our books. And there are publishers out there willing to be our printer and even our marketer.

The one I am most familiar with is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). CreateSpace, whom I was with, merged with KDP so now all my print books are with KDP. Plus, I have eBooks with KDP and a few with Smashwords.

I will discuss KDP more in the example. I have also located at least one other printer called Best Value Copy. They are an online printing service that provides quality work at reasonable prices. However, I have not used them or any other publishing platform because KDP has proven to me that they are very capable and affordable.

In looking for a quality printer you can try your own neighborhood. For example, there is a Staples store not far from us that gives business discounts to authors using their printing services. That suggests the possibility that other office supply stores may offer the same services.

But assuming the role of publisher is more than just getting a printer. You literally take on the responsibilities of a publisher. You may have to seek your own ISBN, copyright, and other important items.

In our case, we listed ourselves with the State of Florida with a DBA (Doing Business As) name of T&R Independent Books. Because we use KDP we are able to use their ISBNs which are free, although they also sell other ISBNs for a modest price. Copyrights are free.

It is both exciting and scary. But the rewards can be awesome. For example, a self-publisher may give us anywhere from 8% to 40% royalty depending on volume of books sold. But as our own publisher the percentage jumps up to 60% and more (before costs and taxes).

In addition to that, we have virtual control over every aspect. It is true that with Kindle Direct some control lies with them, but it is also true that such controls are limited.

In establishing our own publishing business, we also took on the marketing of the books, which I may discuss in a future blog.  But in short, we will now be able to use the marketing tools that we used to buy from the publisher. Now we will have the authority to market the books as we see fit without incurring exorbitant costs.

Tip: As a publisher you pay the ISBN, the copyright, and other legal fees.                
Tip #2: Indie Publishers can get gross royalties of 60% or more. Even after taxes the profit is excellent.                

Example

I promised to discuss Kindle Direct Publishing and here we go.

When my wife first expressed the desire to start writing her own novels it fitted right in with the idea of T&R Independent Books. So, we immediately began researching what the costs would be to publish.

We searched the internet for both local and online printers. Eventually we settled on KDP because of three primary factors:

  1. We would retain ownership of all rights.
  2. Costs were reasonable.
  3. KDP would provide us worldwide marketing.

(At this time, we were dealing with CreateSpace but in 2018 they merged with KDP. KDP is virtually the same as CreateSpace and both are owned by Amazon.)

These are career changing factors. Although we have and will do our own expanded local marketing, being in the KDP loop will expand our marketing a thousand times over!

While the KDP name will be on our books, there will be no question of the identity of the real publisher which is T&R Independent Books.

Application

In establishing T&R Independent Books we also took over what was formerly known as RFrederickRiddle’s Bookstore. Initially, we closed down the store and opted to direct all potential buyers to Amazon and Kindle. However, in 2021 we opened a new store called T&R Independent Bookstore. In both cases, we have control over the marketing, including tracking of sales. Our initial relation with Amazon was the familiarity of Amazon for customers and KDP’s powerful tracking tools.

But our association with WordPress and Woo eCommerce has enabled us to set up our store using WordPress’s Storefront theme. It is another game changer and fits right into our Indie persona.

When using KDP, it enabled us to exercise several marketing options, some being free. Does this guarantee sales? Of course not. But it did give us, a relative newcomer maximum control and flexibility. And we still have them by our side with the primary difference that the controls, tools, and products (books) reside in our store while the eBooks are on Amazon.

When we started out in 2014 Indie Publishing was rather new and unknown, at least to us. But now becoming your own publisher is no longer a new idea. It has the potential to change the publishing landscape in years to come.

Not only the publishing landscape, but our future and yours. You should seriously consider this avenue. I can almost guarantee you that your book will be published sooner than traditionally, and it will cost you dramatically less. Quality is another story as it will be up to you to either do the editing or hire a professional.

Getting published doesn’t guarantee sales. But once again being an Indie Publisher involves great responsibility and great rewards. Being an Indie Publisher has great potential! If you are listening to this podcast, it is being brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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What Are Six Steps to Writing?

The Riddle Report 04 20 2021

This blog is written to help new authors or those contemplating the idea of writing a book.

If you are thinking about whether to write a book or not, don’t be afraid to step out. While there are thousands of writers out there, there is no one quite like you. And we need to see your work.

What follows are six steps to help you get started. These are not in-depth, and they are not all that difficult. But I believe that you should take them to heart.

#1 – The Concept

The Basics of the Story

A story has to start somewhere and that is usually in the mind of the author. Perhaps it is a childhood memory, college years, military service, or simply a job. All of these are potential sources of plots.

You may only know a ‘what if?’ concept or perhaps a specific event in your own life that has triggered an idea for a story. While I am primarily talking about a fictional story, you could also want to write a nonfiction account of your experience.

#2 – The Research

Beginning Research

I call it Beginning Research because research is something you will need to do a lot of throughout your writing. But here you are performing some basic research to get you off on the right foot.

Some of the research you will do is as follows:

  • What is the uniqueness of the subject?
  • Has someone else already written on the subject?
  • What genres will it be in?
  • Is it fictional or nonfiction?

You get the idea. These are areas that you should consider, and you will probably come up with other areas. And none of the above will probably ever get in your book. But they will help you formulate your ideas.

Other areas of research may cover location of the story (i.e., Florida, Maine, etc.), type of industry in area, manner of speech and dress in the area, and so forth. The answers to these questions will have a direct impact upon your story.

In short, research is a valuable tool that you can use to help you throughout writing your book and, indeed, throughout your writing career.

#3 – First Draft

Your initial Work

New authors often fall in love with their first drafts because they poured their hearts into it. But you should always consider the first draft as a rough draft not meant for publication. No matter how much effort you put in this first draft it is going to require work.

I have never met an author who wrote a first draft and successfully published it. Someone out there may claim they have done so, but I can almost guarantee you that the draft is full of errors.

#4 – Review and Edit

Edit or not?

Some writers don’t edit until they have finished the first draft, others like to edit every page. Neither approach is wrong. But I would suggest that making use of your built-in grammar checker can be a help. But it is critical to remember that the grammar checker does not know whether you are writing an academic paper, which requires very stringent grammar, or a novel, which is not that stringent.

The other thing to remember about grammar programs is that they know the rules, but those rules are aimed at the academic level. Plus, the program does not know you are writing a novel, does not know your plot, does not know the education level of your characters, and so forth. So, use the grammar checker as a tool and interpret its concerns accordingly.

That said, I recommend that you strike a balance between constant editing and waiting until the end. Edit is necessary, but too much of a good thing can disrupt your flow of thoughts. In this first draft your story’s development is the most important thing going on. And when you finish your first draft you will find it necessary to go back over the entire book and check out your spelling, grammar, and other issues that may pop up. You find these issues by reading your draft. It is called reviewing.

What you are doing for each draft is reviewing and editing. And it may take several drafts before your book is ready to be published.

#5 – Get Help

Professional Help

After you have finished the first draft and done your review & edit, you can then write your next draft. But after you third or fourth or fifth draft you may realize that you need help.

The temptation is too do it all by yourself. And the hard truth is that even your very best authors don’t publish error free books. I know, I’ve read some of the best and still found errors. Sometimes minor and sometimes major. When you are talking about thousands of words, the likelihood of errors increases even when you use professional help.

But you don’t necessarily need professional help. Consider relatives or friends. But make sure they understand that you need honest reviews. It is not helpful if they tell you what they think you want to hear. What you need are another pair of eyes.

Even so, if you are on a tight budget, you may not be able to do that because if someone helps you out like that you should do something for them. If you are on a tight budget you may have to do it yourself, in which case, I would suggest that you take a breather after finishing a draft and do something else. Then go back and reread your story. You might consider reading with a view for spelling errors, such as ‘their’ instead of ‘there’. Then, reread the story and look at the grammar.

But if you go the do-it-yourself-approach, remember that you are the author and know what you think you wrote. Your mind might trick your eyes into seeing the words that you thought you wrote instead of the words you really wrote.

More about this issue on the other side of this break. TR-WritingServices.com brings you this blog post or podcast to help you be your absolute best as a writer.

The problems associated with self-editing are why there are professional editors out there. We exist to help you prepare your book for publishing. We read your book thoroughly looking for errors in grammar, spelling, etc. Then we work with you to improve the story.

In fact, if we are doing the editing, we do so with your story in mind. And not only your story, but your writing style. It is unique to you and we believe it should be preserved. So, we edit and proof the book, then we make sure you are happy with the results. Only when you are happy, and it meets the requirements of KDP is the book published.

And you haven’t spent a fortune to have it done.

Now back to the article.

#6 – Getting Published

Kindle Direct Publishing

At TR Writing Services we use KDP because they:

  • Allow the author to have total control except for a few technical issues
  • Allow you to determine your royalties, which range from 35% to 70%
  • Pay directly to an account you indicate
  • Provide you a large potential readership
  • and much more.

There are self-publishing companies out there that you should learn about. Don’t be confused by the term self-publishing. It does not mean that you have control over the publishing process. They do. And if you want them to edit your book, you may be giving up any control you have there as well.

But there are publishing criteria that you need to check out. One is the book cover.

It is important that after all the work you have put in to the book that your cover be good. And you have some options.

  • KDP gallery, which provides templates and pictures
  • Professional designers who will design a book cover for you

The KDP gallery should not be ignored. They have a small amount of pictures that may fit your need. I wish they would expand that gallery. However, they also have preset templates for book covers which allows you to upload your own pictures, such as designed for you or you purchased off the internet. Some designers will design the back cover for you but unless these people are KDP certified it could prove difficult. So, take the time and find out if they have worked with KDP, because KDP has criteria that must be met.

Professional designers offer their services at varying prices. Just because someone offers their services at a high cost does not mean that their services are better than anyone else’s. Check out their work.

Here’s thought. Why not make use of istock, pexels, pixabay, or others. Then upload to KDP the picture you bought or downloaded. Then let KDP do the rest.

I’ve done it. They also let you upload of bio picture of yourself along with a short biography and a description of the book. Then they let you know if you need to do more work on any of those items. When done, you have a quality book cover.

There you have it. Six basic steps to help you get started. There are several more items we didn’t discuss, such as ISBN, color vs. B&W, and more. But KDP will work with you on that as will just about any publisher that exists.

Find out the difference between Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Indie Publishing. I’ve written about this subject in the past. And remember this, Indie Publishing means you have more responsibility, better royalties, and, of course, more work to do. Why not be an Indie?

If you are listening to this podcast, it has been brought to you by T&R Independent Bookstore. We want to be your local bookstore and we are located on the internet at tr-writingservices.com. Drop in and check us out.

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Are Brick & Mortar Bookstores Dying?

The Riddle Report 04 2 2021

It has been evident for a long time that brick and mortar bookstores were declining and the culprit has been the Internet. However, despite media coverage suggesting that bookstores were dying, a resurgence started several years ago. Covid-19, also known as the Chinese Virus (it started in China), has had a crushing impact on almost all industries. But the bookstore industry seems to be coping and is ready to continue its comeback.

News Item #1 Overview

There is a long history of bookstores dating back hundreds of years. They were the primary, and sometimes only, venue for selling and buying books. When I started my writing career in 2003, bookstores were still the primary place to sell your books. And it was in bookstores that I conducted book signings.

At that time, it was getting more difficult primarily because the superstores dominated and could be picky about the books.

Sometime after that the brick & mortar stores began declining as the internet was growing and people found they could shop from home. Thus, began a deep decline that saw chains that once dominated going out of business. Borders, one of the largest superstore chains, eventually closed its doors. But others continued.

News Item #2 Decline

As mentioned above bookstores, and we are talking primarily of brick & mortar bookstores, went into decline. Here is Port Charlotte, Florida I understand that there were bookstores, including at least one Christian bookstore.

Shortly after arriving here in 2008 we discovered that the Christian store was gone, and the only general bookstore was Books-a-Million. That hasn’t changed much. A Christian bookstore did open up and operate for several years, but it too went out of business. Books-a-Million is still here.

Why?

Part of the reason is that the new Christian Bookstore only had a minimal presence on the internet. Basically, a single page providing directions and when open. I also suspect that the manager of the store underestimated the competition that the internet was bringing. I talked to him and he was quite confident, yet his confidence seemed to me to ignore or not be aware of the purchasing power, not to mention low overhead, of internet stores.

News Item #3 Comeback

We currently have two bookstores in Punta Gorda, Florida, which is right across the Peace River. Both are Independent and have an online presence that compliments the physical store. In addition, I know Copperfish makes use of emails, virtual events, and Zoom to list just a few innovations. And I believe all Indie Bookstores have similar methods of outreach.

The comeback of bookstores in general and Indie’s in particular began in 2016 or shortly after. That was the year that Family Christian went bankrupt and disappeared. But the vaunted age of eBooks didn’t happen quite the way anticipated. Yes, eBooks sell well, but they did not replace print books which still sell well.

And the bookstores, particularly Indie bookstores that included Church bookstores, learned to survive and thrive!

News Item #4 In The Year 2021

The year is still young, but bookstores are doing well. Indie bookstores have invested time, money, and energy in coping with the restrictions from the Chinese Virus. As a result, they are ready to continue the comeback. Locally, I have seen at least one bookstore expand its virtual offerings while moving to a new brick & mortar storefront.

Scanning the internet for information on bookstores I found optimism. And that speaks well of the industry.

News Item #4s What About the Internet

The internet is well and doing fine. Just as there are millions of people wanting to hold a book in their hand before buying, there are also millions of people willing to buy a book from the comfort of their homes. The internet and brick & mortar bookstores can coexist and, in some cases, have a foot in both segments.

Here at T&R Independent Bookstore and Services, we are looking forward to opening are own bookstore, TR Bookstore. It will be exclusively on the internet and, at least in the beginning, sell only our books. This will allow our books to be sold both at Amazon and at our bookstore, where they will be discounted.

So, in conclusion, I believe it is way too early to mourn the bookstores whether brick & mortar or internet. And neither should we mourn the eBook or the Print book. Both are doing fine!

So, if you are looking for a fine book to read go to your local bookstore or your internet bookstore (which when you think about it are also local).

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Subscribe to Author Alerts (click and submit signup form)

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”) contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

==========

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld and his Parler page is authorriddle.

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Self-Publishing vs Indie Publishing

The Riddle Report 01 02 2021

A new year has started, and you are dissatisfied with your writing career. Perhaps you are making money writing for someone else, but publishing books has not really happened for you. You wrote a book that you think is the all-American novel, but you can’t get it published.

You’ve tried the traditional press and they won’t look at your novel unless you have an agent. So, you went out and submitted your books to agents, most of whom turned their collective noses down on your book. And those interested were either in the wrong genre or too expensive.

What to do When Traditional Publishing Doesn’t Work.

There are several options, but we are only going to look at two: Self-Publishing and Indie Publishing.

Self-Publishing.

Self-Publishing has been around for a while. The name suggests that by using their service you are self-publishing your book. That you are in control.

This is not accurate. You, the author, are actually paying a publisher to publish your book and the publisher gets the benefits. Here’s a quick look at the advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  1. No agent required, although some suggest you should get one.
  2. Time from signing contract to actual publication usually only a few months.
  3. Virtually able to have book published.
  4. Author owns ISBN.
  5. Royalty paid.

Disadvantages:

  1. Publisher still in charge.
  2. Author gets low royalties, usually a formula that starts out at 8% or something similar.
  3. Marketing tools available with a price.

On the face of it self-publishing looks good for the author. And for some it probably is good. But if you want to have control of your book from creation to marketing, then there are problems. In the list of Disadvantages, I listed “Publisher still in charge” as the first disadvantage. Why? Because if the publisher is in charge of your book then you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

Try this simple quiz:

  • If I use their editing services, do I still have final say?
    • Most self-publishing companies offer their authors their editing services. In some cases. they may charge for it.
    • When I published my first book, I used a self-publishing company, but I chose to do my own editing. Why? Because I did not want them to make any corrections unless I agreed to it and I wasn’t convinced that they would do that.
  • How long do I have to review a Proof before returning it for correction or publication?
    • In self-publishing the publisher makes the rules. When I was with a self-publisher, I was given 72 hours to proof the book. Sounds like a lot of time, but you are proofing to find any and all mistakes. For example, I found errors that were repeated throughout the book. I found some and noted them, but not all. So, some errors remained in the published version.
  • Can I pull the book, edit it, and republish after I have already published it?
    • Yes, if you are willing to pay for another book. Generally speaking, once your book is published, it is done.
  •  If so, how much does it cost?
    • This varies but I would estimate between $400 and $800 for one book.
  • How much help do I get marketing the book?
    • I didn’t get much. They did have a variety of tools I could purchase. But actual help, no.
  • What do the marketing tools cost?
    • That varies from publisher to publisher. In my opinion, too much.

Although the answers to the above questions are not ideal, self-publishing is still better than traditional publishing in that you do have more control than before and the book gets published faster.

INDIE Publishing

In 2014 my wife, Teresa, and I went out to lunch at a small McDonalds located in Murdock, part of greater Port Charlotte, and made a very important decision. As we sat there and discussed my writing career and the possibility of hers, although at that time she hadn’t started writing her first novel yet, we decided to establish our own publishing company called T&R Independent Books. The T was for Teresa and the R for Ronald.

Let’s look at the Why form our own publishing company.

Up to that time I had been publishing using what is commonly called self-publishing companies to publish my books. But as I studied these companies I discovered:

  • They controlled the content
  • They controlled the cover
  • They determined the royalties
  • I still had to do the marketing

In other words, while I had more freedom and control that I’d have with a traditional publisher I still didn’t really have control of anything. By going independent and truly publishing by myself, I would:

  • Have control over the content
  • Have control over the cover
  • Determine the royalties
  • Still do the marketing

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t consider myself a control freak. Rather, I believe that if the author is going to invest his or herself into writing a book, any book, then they deserve to benefit from it.

Case in point. With traditional and self-publishing companies the average author’s royalties are scaled. It varied from publisher to publisher but in general it might go like this: 8% of retail for the first 2,500; 15% for the next 5,000; 25% thereafter. Now the numbers I just used may not be accurate (I did it from memory), but the concept is true.

But by doing my own publishing I can receive 35% or 70% right from the start! That is a major difference.

What about the content?

With traditional publishers you generally have to first go through an agent who then tries to find a publisher. The agent has certain criteria which may involve you changing the content. But just finding an agent can be long and frustrating. Then the agent gets to tell you whether the book is good enough for publishing based on their expertise.

Even self-publishers exert control. For example, say you are writing a book and you quote from the King James Version Bible. It is possible they will substitute a different version whether you agree or not. They may also reject passages they don’t like. In other words, just because you are pleased with your results they might not be and can act accordingly.

Another thing involved is the ability to correct. No matter how or to what extent you have had your book previewed and edited, there is always the chance of errors. Moreover, the publisher may have printing errors. I ran into this with my books. I was sent a ‘Proof’ copy and given about three days to review, find errors, make corrections, and return (electronically, of course). (For more on this see above in section about Self-Publishing.)

But by publishing the book myself I am able to take my time and do a more thorough job of previewing and editing. And, if there are still errors in the published version, I can correct the errors and republish at no cost to myself!

What about the Cover?

I have discussed Cover Creator in previous blogs, but Kindle’s Cover Creator and Photo Gallery provide free pictures or frames in which I can upload my own pictures. Moreover, if I am willing to hire someone to do a professional picture including the bar code, I can do that. Just have to meet KDP’s criteria.

And one last thing: Writing a book can be and is stressful; so is marketing. Having greater control over the publishing removes a lot of stress; and having greater control over price and royalties is far more rewarding.

The result is that you can approach marketing with far less stress than before.

Have you considered Indie Publishing?

More and more authors are discovering the value of the Indie approach. Yes, it requires more work on your part, but it’s worth it. Go to our website and check out our videos, all free, that give you a head start on building your own writing and publishing business.

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Subscribe to Author Alerts (click and submit signup form)

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”) contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

==========

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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TR Writing Service 2021

The Riddle Report 12 29 2020

Today we are looking at TR Writing Services in 2021

TR Writing Services was founded in 2019 as a service of T&R Independent Books. Since that founding, we have been slowly building it up. In 2020 we have already helped clients and expanded our services. Now, we are looking forward to 2021.

What follows is an overview of the business and a look into the future.

TR Writing Services is for the Little Guy

Back when I was in my twenties, I had a desire to write books. I found and signed up for a writing course. Although the course was not considered expensive by the experts I ended dropping out because of lack of money. This was at a time when I was laid off which wiped out my savings and delayed my writing career by decades. I never forgot!

Over the years I have discovered that just about any kind of writers’ aid that is out there is beyond the budget of most people. This includes the art of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. The “little guy or gal” doesn’t have much of a chance. Having experience this problem myself I increasingly felt a desire to help others get published.

Why We Founded TR Writing Services

Our first love as far as writing is concerned is writing our own books. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of writing, whereas my wife, who published her first book in 2020, is currently experiencing the same. All writers must face obstacles, overcome them or change directions. But getting the help they need at the time they need it is a great need that is often priced out of their reach.

TR Writing Services was established with the purpose of creating a low-cost service that addresses the editing and publishing aspects of being an author. When considering our services you will find that our service is considerably lower than our competitors.

What is TR Writing Services?

TR Writing Services is Entry Level Proofing and Editing for the author(s) who cannot afford the more expensive services you find online. If you are looking for a professional extensive treatment of your manuscript, then this is the wrong place. We at TR Writing Services are here to expedite your ability to publish your book at an affordable price yet with high quality. You will have a book that you can be proud of

This service will focus on such things as grammar, spelling, formatting, and other quality issues. This is not aimed at academic books but rather fiction, nonfiction, and how-to.

What Plans Do We Offer?

We have a variety of plans beginning with our Custom Plans (120 and 150 plans). These custom plans are designed for small books of 120 pages or less and 150 pages or less. Both of these custom plans will edit and prepare your books of less than 100 pages for publishing, but the actual publishing is left to you. In these cases, you would publish using local printers and we would work with you and your printer to get the book published.

Those are custom plans at minimal cost, but we also offer the following 4 plans:

Bronze Plan

This plan is for books up to 50,000 words and slightly higher. We edit, proof, and publish the book for you. The entire process involves us working with the author and the author is in charge. That means that we may advise you something is not recommended or not professional, but you may want to stick with what you have. We do everything we can to adhere to your preferences.

The cost may change in the future but as of 12/29/2020 it is $145 plus an additional $150 for eBook service. For both the Print and eBook formats you can provide your own book cover image which we upload and use with a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) template or your own book cover privately prepared (it must meet KDP guidelines).

You have the option of a free ISBN (recommended), free copyright, and free KDP account setup.

Total cost is $295 (Print and eBook) plus any other expenses you incur on your own.

Silver Plan

The Silver Plan includes all of the Bronze Plan but is for books up to and slightly more than 75,000 words.

The cost for this is currently $195 for Print only or $345 for the Print and eBook combination.

Gold Plan

The Gold Plan includes all of the Silver Plan but is for books of up to and slightly more than 90,000 words.

The cost for this is currently $295 for Print only or $445 for the Print and eBook combination.

Platinum Plan

The Platinum Plan is the best plan. It is for books up to and above 120 words. If the word count exceeds 120,000 the price will reflect the costs described below. This plan comes with the eBook, however if you do not want an eBook published, the cost would be $150 less.

The cost for this is currently $390.

If you have priced out our competitors you have already seen that our most expensive plan is approximately less than half their standard plan.

What Does It Cost?

Cost varies depending on page count and what you the author want.

As the years have passed, we’ve noticed that the high cost of help remains. Some services advertise a word-by-word cost. For example, they may charge $0.005 per word. That sounds great until you do the math. A book of 50,000 words would cost $250 just for the proofing! We at TR Writing Services charge only $0.002 per word meaning the same book would cost $100 for the proofing, a saving of $150.

A book of 100,000 words at $0.005 costs $500 while TR Writing Services would charge $200, a whopping savings of $300. In addition, TR Writing Services offers many FREE services, such as Setup of KDP Account if needed, Copyright page, ISBN (KDP free), Uploading your manuscript, Uploading Bio Picture for Back Matter, and more.

That is just the basic costs. But it gives you an idea. For greater detail simply contact us at marketing@tr-writingservices.com and we will email you a free copy of our brochure at no obligation on your part (we also will email you a copy of our book A Guide to Writing for free).

Can I Use TR Writing Services?

The short answer is yes. Basically, we accept anyone who submits a form (found in our free TR Writing Services brochure) plus the first three chapters of your book. We examine the form and the chapters to determine whether you fit the profile that we are looking for. If approved, we send to a letter of approval with a link to a page where you can purchase the service.

What Is Prohibited?

We are a Christian organization that applies Biblical standards.

We do not work with anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, excessive graphics, profanity, or any work that violates our Biblical stand.

If during the course of the contract excessive graphics or any profanity is found the author shall be informed and corrections/deletions required. Failure on the author’s part to provide this update will constitute a violation of the contract and subject it to termination.

How Do I Sign Up?

It’s simple. Simply go to our Facebook page and click on the “Learn More” link. This will take you to our web page. You can also simply go here. In either case you arrive at the first step that explains what you need to do to get started.

Basically, you will email us and seek a free copy of our TR Writing Services booklet. This booklet describes our services in greater detail and provides a form to fill out. Once filled out you copy it and post in another email along with the first 3 chapters of your book. No fee at this time.

We will review and decide. If we decide to accept you, we will email you a link and password to get you into the secure payment page. You then select the plan you want and pay for it.

Simple as that!

Then What Happens?

We go to work!

We will examine the entire book. Since we use Kindle Direct Publishing for our books we will examine your book in the light of their criteria. We will diligently examine the grammar, spelling, and more depending on the plan.

2021 Outlook

We have all had a tough year (2020), but we are excited about the future. No matter the outcome of the Presidential election there will still be people writing books. And some of these people will need our help. We stand ready to assist them (and you) in producing a quality book at a budget friendly cost!

As authors, we will be publishing our own books and you can learn about them at our website (just go to tr-WritingServices.com and look at our catalog where you have links to Amazon.com).

In the meantime, we wish you a happy and productive New Year. May your writing career be all you want it to be.

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Subscribe to Author Alerts (click and submit signup form)

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”) contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

==========

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

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Ron’s Lit Tip Website

10 15 2020

Welcome to Ron’s Lit Tip. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I will share a tip with you.

You’ve worked hard on writing and getting your book published. But what do you do next? Do you have a website where potential readers can find you? If not, you need to consider having one. Below I will discuss different types (type names are products of my imagination). Let’s begin!

Starter Website

Many people who’ve never built a website before have to begin somewhere. I call this type a Starter Website because this is probably their first and they will eventually move to more complicated websites.

Basically, a Starter Website consists of about three pages: Home, About, and perhaps a Product Page. The last one may vary according to needs. This type is rarely an Ecommerce site. It most likely is a beginner, but it could also be a site that directs people to a store. This has value for the store because potential customers can learn about them, their location, their hours, and their products.

Next Step

I call this Next Step because an entrepreneur who wants to succeed will quickly discover that the Starter doesn’t meet the needs. In this phase the entrepreneur may add additional pages such as more product pages, biography of owner, Question & Answer page, and other general information. At this time there is no activity such as eCommerce. In other words, it is still basically an ad.

Pre-Ecommerce Website

This is a site that authors should consider.

If you are an Independent Author, but don’t want to be involved with credit card transactions, and such, the Pre-Ecommerce site may fit your needs.

As an example, I will use our website at https://RFrederickRiddleBlog.Com. While I once owned an Ecommerce site for an online store I operated, that store no longer exists. My site is the home of my blog and the home of T&R Independent Books. By the way, I built that website using WordPress and have been very happy with it.

It is a website designed to inform people about our products (books) and services (TR Writing Services). One of our pages is a Catalog which lets readers search through it for our books with the purpose to buy. Here we show all our books, both mine and my wife’s. Each book’s cover is shown with a brief description and a link to their Amazon page where they can purchase the book.

Amazon takes care of all transaction details, including shipping, tracking, and delivery. This relieves the Independent Author of a great deal of stress and work, enabling the author to focus on the writing.

In our case, TR-Writing Services provides the would-be writer the opportunity to contact us and learn more about our services (beyond what they see on the site, which is a lot). If we approve of a request for our services, we will email a link to an order page that links to the PayPal System. Again, just as Amazon above, PayPal handles the order, processing of the payment, and notifies us of the transaction.

Ecommerce Website

This is structured similarly to the Pre-Ecommerce Website. The major difference is that the site provides the means to purchase right there. For you, the author it means you must have an ecommerce financial source.

Shopify, Wix, and others provide you with all the tools you need. You will want to be able to accept major credit cards like MasterCard, Visa, Discovery, and others. You will absolutely need a Privacy Page (good idea for your Pre-Ecommerce site as well).

In this type of website, you will be responsible for the order fulfillment, which includes packaging, shipping, tracking, delivery, as well as returns. When I owned my online bookstore, I was able to handle that, but the financial transactions were handled by a bank. And, most important for a writer, I was still able to have time to write.

So, which Should I have?

I indicated earlier that I think the Pre-Ecommerce site is ideal for an author. You can have unlimited pages (depending on the hosting plan) which allows you to put your products out there to be seen. In fact, you can do everything you feel capable of doing except the Ecommerce.

Grading Your Website

There are a lot of tools available for you to build a website. One tool you might want to check out is a website grader. There are free online graders, such as the one Hubspot.com provides. These will examine your website and grade it. The higher the grade, the better.

I use the one provided by Hubspot.com and it will tell me of any shortcomings my site has. I am then informed how to improve it with or without their help. I find it a helpful tool.

Tip: Check with various hosting plans for the type of website you want. Then go for it.

Get free Guide to Writing at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Subscribe to Author Alerts (click and submit signup form)

For information about us (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com and get our Free Brochure which tells you about our services.

AUTHOR’S PAGE: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? Want to review our books? Contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. Such as, ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ Be sure to indicate your email address and your name.

 – – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.