Whether you are an aspiring author, a published author, a publisher or one who provides services to those who publish, the purpose of this SLPA Blog is to provide information and resources on a full range of author/publishers issues and ideas.
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2012 11:26 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    In preparation for our June speaker, social media maven Erica Smith, here is a post by an ex-literary agent and new kidlit author, Nathan Bransford, a great publishing/writing resource:


    Social Media is an Imperfect Sales Tool. Use it Anyway


    After Erica's presentation, we'll be taking another poll to see who is interested in small-group social media workshops (SLPA members only). These will concentrate on one aspect of social media at a time, ex. Twitter, Facebook, or blogging for authors, with hands-on instruction.  

  • Tuesday, May 08, 2012 11:03 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    SLPA member and board secretary Terry Baker Mulligan has won a gold Independent Publishing Award for her debut work, "Sugar Hill: Where the Sun Rose Over Harlem." Her memoir took first place in the category of multicultural nonfiction for adults. This is a prestigious award and we are very proud of Terry. Read more about her book here:


    St. Louis author wins IPPY award for Harlem memoir


  • Monday, April 30, 2012 9:44 AM | Anonymous

    By Peggy Nehmen, graphic designer, Nehmen-Kodner,

    I’m a graphic designer. You’re an author. Your manuscript is ready for layout . . . or is it? 
    Here’s a list of tips to use and mistakes to avoid when preparing your manuscript for layout.


    1. Your manuscript

    • Can you afford to produce a book full of errors? Hire an editor to edit your manuscript before design begins. Fixing significant edits and changes after the layout is completed can be compared to doing your project twice. If your manuscript has not been professionally edited, then you are not ready to proceed with a layout.

    • Contact Permissions Group ( for comprehensive copyright consulting. 

    2. Typography
    • Use only one space after periods, colons, exclamation points, question marks, quotation marks -- any punctuation that separates two sentences. Every major style guide --   including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style -- prescribes a single space after a period. One space is simpler, cleaner, and more visually pleasing.

    • Use correct apostrophes and quotation marks:
                ' is a foot mark, not an apostrophe.
                '' is an inch mark.
    • Learn the differences between a hyphen, en dash, and em dash:

                -   hyphen: A hyphen is used to join words, such as with a compound adjective.

                 en dash: An en dash is used to express a range of values or a distance.

                -- em dash: An em dash is used to set off parenthetical elements, which are abrupt changes of thought.

    • Use the tab key for paragraph indents. Do not use spaces.

    • Use the keyboard shortcut for inserting ellipses.

    • Turn off “track changes” before you send me your files. 

    • Always use upper and lower case or sentence case when you type. Do not type in all caps.

    • Submit your chapters as separate files. It’s easier to import the text into the layout. 
    • If you have photos, write compelling captions and label with the photo’s file name.

    • Send as much of the manuscript at once as possible -- missing materials will cause delays.

    • Are you going to have an index? If so, wait until your layout is completed, proofread, and corrected. Edits can affect page numbers, so create the index last.
    • Review and proofread your layouts. I provide PDFs at each step of the layout and production process. It’s your responsibility to review and proofread.


    3. Photos or illustrations
    • Organize and label your photos and images according to chapter: 1.1, 1.2, etc. Make separate folders for each chapter. Good organization saves production time and cost. 

    • If you submit photo prints (snapshots), please do not use paper clips to hold your photos together. Paper clips can scratch the emulsion or leave indentations.
    • Protect your photos from damage: use a plastic sleeve or envelope. 

    • Do not write on the back of your photos with a ball point pen or smudgy pen! Use a Post-it note. True story: an author gave me a stack of photos. He used a smudgy pen, and the wet ink touched the surface of each snapshot underneath. Not only did he ruin precious family photos, he had to pay for photo retouching to remove the ink stains.
    • For digital photos, good print reproduction requires high-resolution images, 300 dpi (dots per inch) or better.  If you don’t understand, ask your designer for help.

    • Make sure the images are yours. Don’t use photos you found on the web. They are low resolution (for web use) and you probably do not have the rights to use them.


    4. Printer’s proofs

    After your book layout is sent to the printer you’ll receive a proof to review and edit. When the changes are made, a revised file is uploaded for a second proof.  You’ll then receive a third proof to review and edit. Please leave enough time in your schedule for several rounds of proofs. This can take four weeks or more to complete.


    These extra steps might add a little bit of time up front, but they will save you time and money in the production process.


    Peggy Nehmen, veteran graphic designer, and her husband and partner, Gary Kodner, own Nehmen-Kodner, a St. Louis-based design studio. Peggy has a love of typography, book design, and all things creative. Nehmen-Kodner provides branding and marketing for indie authors, start-ups, and established companies. Peggy is a longtime SLPA member and former newsletter designer of “SLPA News and Views.” Her objective is to help authors through the design process to produce customized book covers and interiors. Please check out Peggy’s portfolio at

  • Wednesday, April 25, 2012 8:40 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    SLPA is all about how to get your book published and how to market successfully, without sp ending way too much money. But, it sure helps to have great writing. The St. Louis Writers Guild is a resource to help with that. At a recent conference they helped host for the Missouri Writers Guild, Jane Friedman, publishing expert and former literary agent, tore into some brave authors' first pages. Slash and burn!


    Agent Rachel Gardner gives her tips on How to Cut a Thousand Words Without Shedding a Tear.

  • Saturday, April 14, 2012 8:37 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Author Ann Weisgarber was so generous in coming all the way here from Texas to give us her insight into the professional world of writing and publishing. She'd planned to make it a vacation, but turned out she didn't have much time for fun and had to cut her trip short due to work deadlines. She had a lot of great advice for us, no matter what way we publish. She left us with samples of her successful query letter and what a book synopsis should be like, which we'll post in our Members Only section.


    SLPA member Margaret found an NPR interview of Ann, which talks more about her writing journey. Her book, "The Personal History of Rachel Dupree," is an excellent work of historical fiction about a young African American pioneer couple trying to survive in the Badlands of South Dakota. Complex and multi-faceted, it's available at B&N but not Amazon - go figure.








  • Monday, April 02, 2012 10:46 AM | Anonymous

    You Can Do It!

     by Mary Elizabeth Moloney, Heart Whisperings, author of Elizabeth: Learning to Dress Myself from the Inside Out,

    I retired from Pathways Community Hospice in 2001 and began writing my memoir, Elizabeth: Learning to Dress Myself from the Inside Out. Years of courses and seminars followed, and nineteen drafts later, a clean manuscript emerged. During its composition, others critiqued chapters and urged publication -- in my perception, a bewildering world of literary editors, big and small houses, and political intrigue. Marketing and promoting workshops decried self-publishing as unprofessional and expensive. In no way could you call yourself an author. Besides, no bookstores would carry such books.


    Questions assailed me. Who would handle my memoir, narrating my movement toward authentic womanhood, casting off crippling influences of family, church, and patriarchy in the health care world in which I had worked? Would literary editors and small presses, researched in the 2010 and 2011 Writers Market, understand the spiritual depths of my memoir, the intent of the critical dreams prodding me toward change? Given the splintering effects of the Women’s Movement since its 1960s inception, would my experiences find a niche among serious readers? And given my senior years and lack of computer expertise, who would guide me toward the publication of my memoir? Yet my inner writer insisted that I find a way to publish my memoir.


    After one year of sending off query letters to possible venues, of playing around with a literary editor in Denver and a small press in O’Fallon, Missouri, I withdrew, wanting more input in the design of my book. Self-publishing seemed my only option.


    Through SLPA meetings, I learned of sea-changes occurring in the book publishing industry: the waning influence of the big houses, the political jockeying of literary editors, the greed of small presses wanting a cut in the business, the phenomenon of e-books. Prompted by experiences of self-published authors, I contacted a local digital publishing company that offered guidance to new authors. After seven months of frustration, I canceled their contract.


    Only then did I meet Bobbi Linkemer, SLPA member and book coach. She listened to my story and urged me to recoup my initial investment. Within the week, the check came. She also advised me to start over with graphic designer Peggy Nehmen. Our collaboration was more than fruitful. Six months later, CreateSpace delivered onto my front porch five boxes of my memoir, Elizabeth:Learning to Dress Myself from the Inside Out, and it is now available on Amazon.


    At book signings, I urge others to write their one-of-a-kind story and make it available to others, a means of giving thanks for all that was and of moving toward an even more fascinating future. This has been my experience.

  • Wednesday, March 21, 2012 12:16 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)
    Today's writers have so many publishing choices available that they can be thoroughly confused by all the options. Here's a detailed summary of all these methods in the article Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing (But were afraid to ask).
  • Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:17 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)

    Why pay for a book review when you can get them free? A free review or interview by a popular book blogger can get you a big audience. At our SLPA meeting on Amazon strategies last night, Bob Baker talked about asking top Amazon book reviewers to read your book and post a review. Find top reviewers by looking at a few other books in your genre. See which reviewers have the most likes. Click on their name and their profile with email address will pop up. See how many reviews they've posted. Voila. To answer SLPA member Liz's question, here's an article about how exactly to approach these folks:

    Get Your Book Reviewed, by Christine Nolfi


  • Monday, March 12, 2012 12:39 PM | Linda Austin (Administrator)
    Every author should have a blog. It profiles who you are and your writing style. It's your substance. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are ways to drive people to your blog to get to know you and your work better. Make your blog worth their time. Social media man Mack Collier gives some tips in How to Write Better Blog Posts. (And don't forget your great post title.)
  • Friday, March 02, 2012 1:38 PM | Anonymous

    Amazon’s Not-So-Best Practices

    by Linda Austin, Moonbridge Publications, author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight,

    Amazon, friend of the self-published and delight of book readers wanting bargains and convenience, has been in the news recently for its latest strategies to conquer the publishing world. Business is business, but is Amazon taking the “nothing personal” to extremes? The purchasing public, mostly unaware or uncaring of Amazon’s new tactics, and many indie authors who feel they are unaffected still extol the virtues of Amazon, but all authors need to understand the repercussions of what Amazon is doing.

    Amazon’s publishing services arm, CreateSpace, has been a godsend for self-publishers. For lower cost and with less negative stigma than other publishing services companies (e.g., LuLu, AuthorHouse), ease of use, and decent financial returns to authors, CreateSpace became the smart way to self-pub. Sales are only via Amazon, but for many authors that’s good enough. They can pay extra for the Expanded Distribution package, which gets their books into other systems such as Ingram and B&T (major wholesalers to bookstores and libraries), but Amazon won’t reveal its terms with Ingram and B&T, and it appears they are less than what booksellers and librarians are used to getting in order to stay in business. In other words, they won’t buy Amazon Expanded Distribution books unless customers order them, so think twice before coughing up the extra money. Authors can, however, purchase their own CreateSpace books at discount and approach local bookstores to carry them on consignment (bring along a marketing plan and be really gracious).

    Enter Amazon’s bullying tactics. Last summer, Amazon began listing new books printed through Lightning Source stating delivery times of 1–4 weeks or more, even though books ordered were shipped immediately. Is the purpose to push Lightning Source (LSI) authors to also use CreateSpace for instant Amazon access? LSI books via Barnes & Noble show normal short delivery times. Authors printing new books via LSI will now need to check the stated delivery time on Amazon and be prepared to purchase or have friends purchase their books on Amazon until the delivery shows “in stock.” A few years ago, Amazon tried to force LuLu and other pub-services companies to use CreateSpace to print (instead of LSI), but a lawsuit caused them to back down.

    Recently, Amazon began promoting its Kindle e-books lending library to Amazon Prime customers (one loan a month), and offered those e-books free to all customers during a five-day period if the author promised to sell their e-book exclusively through Amazon. This Kindle Select program was called a promotion to help authors gain publicity (and Amazon would gain customers for its Kindle undefined the Fire had just come out). Fortunately, due to the uproar, authors were then offered a percentage, based on how many of their free e-books were downloaded, of a pot of money Amazon set aside for them. Some authors have seen an increase in downloads of their free e-books and increased purchases of their regularly priced e-books. Of course, author marketing helps as does having multiple books or a series. Results are mixed from single e-book authors.

    In late January Amazon attacked Goodreads, the top online reader community and review site, demanding that within one week Goodreads link only to it for sales. Goodreads refused, scrambling to arrange a deal with Ingram for its database. Amazon no longer allows Goodreads to pull book information from the Amazon database. Amazon Advantage authors and those using CreateSpace with Amazon ISBNs must enter their own book information into the Goodreads system so that readers can post reviews. A friend using Goodreads can also do this if provided with book information. Goodreads has kept their Amazon Buy links, but they are now buried under Options.

    In another development, Midwest Book Reviews, long an important reviewer of self-published books, is no longer allowed to post its reviews to Amazon. Authors themselves must post their Midwest Book review to their book’s profile page.

    Amazon has entered the publishing field in a big way via its own imprints to handle almost all genres (e.g., Montlake Romance). It acts as any other publisher vetting, buying rights, and producing books. Amazon has also struck deals with traditional publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) to have it produce Amazon-purchased manuscripts via new HMH imprints Mariner (in 2011) and New Harvest (in 2012). As of the New Harvest deal, B&N, Books-a-Million, and most surveyed bookstores have announced they will not be carrying any Amazon-pubbed books. “Hell no,” was apparently a common answer of indie bookstore owners. It remains to be seen whether Amazon will allow Ingram and B&T to offer their usual wholesale discount and returns to bookstores and libraries, a necessity for them to remain alive. The latest news is that Amazon will open a small storefront in Seattle to showcase its Kindles and its own books that no other bookstores want to sell.

    Amazon is skating on thin legal ground with its demands for exclusivity and its willingness to sell books (and Kindles) at a loss to lure readers to purchase other (profitable) Amazon products. With Amazon throwing its massive weight around and the threat of neighborhood bookstores closing, taking author events and consignment sales with them, authors must keep up-to-date about choices that will determine the future of their book sales. Think carefully before letting Amazon (or any other company) own your ISBNs.

    For more information on this topic, visit these websites:




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