This blog is basically dead – You won’t find me here!

October 22, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This is just a reminder.  I’m way too busy to maintain two blogs, so I’m blogging exclusively on my R.W. Ridley blog.  I blog there everyday.  It’s not all about publishing and marketing.  It’s a little looser and a lot more fun.  I try to blog about important publishing news from time to time, but in large part, it’s about a little bit of everything.

R.W Ridley


Upcoming Contests for Self-Published Books

February 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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IPPY Awards – Call for Entries – 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards now open! Announcing the 13th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published titles. We’ll accept entries until March 21st, 2009 for books with 2008 copyrights or that were released in 2009.

17th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards –

ENTRY DEADLINE:  May 01, 2009

Win $3,000 in cash! Gain international exposure for your book! Catch the attention of prospective editors and publishers!

All books published or revised and reprinted between 2004 and 2009 are eligible. ( Writer’s Digest may demand proof of eligibility of semifinalists.)

Writer’s Digest is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. Whether you’re a professional writer, part-time freelancer, or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the only competition exclusively for self-published books!

The 2009 New York Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its annual program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the world’s publishing capital.

The 2009 New York Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publisher works. Click below for full details on entering the 2009 competition! Deadline: May 25, 2009

2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards®

  • Open to independent authors and publishers worldwide
  • Enter books released in 2008 or 2009 or with a 2008 or 2009 copyright date
  • 70 categories to choose from
  • Cash prizes and fabulous awards
  • Exposure of top 70 books to leading New York literary agent
  • Earn recognition and receive other benefits from having
    an award-winning book

Enter the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® by March 15, 2009 to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

Hollywood Book Festival – celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the film, television and multimedia industries. July awards program and day festival. Deadline: June 25, 2009 More information at

San Francisco Book Festival – the summer of loving reading starts with Spring’s top book selections. Deadline: April 25, 2009. More information at

Green Book Festival – The 2009 Green Book Festival honors books that contribute to greater understanding, respect and positive action on the changing worldwide environment on Earth Day. Awards and festival Deadline: April 10, 2009. More information at

Beach Book Festival – The hottest reads of the summer season submitted for your approval. Celebrate your victory with a special promotional campaign to beach readers. Deadline: May 5, 2009. More information at

Authonomy – The new way to a traditional publishing deal?

January 29, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Most writers spend their entire passion scratching, scribbling, and fighting for the ultimate confirmation of their writing genius, the book deal. It is an elusive creature that lurks in the shadows of all the major publishing houses in New York. To capture it, is at least temporary confirmation that we haven’t been wasting our time tapping out letters, numbers, and spaces on computer screens morning, noon, and night. We’ve all pictured the moment. There are minor difference depending on the dreamer, but by-in-large, it consists of an office space overlooking the Manhattan skyline, a huge mahogany desk, and a pleasant editor holding out an expensive Montblanc pen for you to sign the contract laid out on the desk in front of you. Your smiling agent places her hand on your shoulder and winks. You take a deep breath, and sign the contract. When you try to hand the pen back, the editor insists you keep it. “You’re part of the publishing elite now,” he explains. “No more Bics for you, and that parking ticket… taken care of.”

Okay, so maybe everyone’s dream of that moment isn’t as specific and twisted as mine, but you get the point. I want a book deal not so much for the fame and fortune. In fact, you can keep the fame, and give me a very tiny part of the fortune. I mainly want the acknowledgment that I belong. Is it ego? Is it insecurity? Is it a desperate cry for attention? Yes, to all three. I’m a writer which means I have serious self-esteem issues. Comes with the territory.

Turns out this is a bad year to be pursuing that first contract with one of the major publishers. They are struggling to keep their lights in some cases, and signing untested talent is not high on their priority list. True, I’ve been tested somewhat with my self-published offerings. I have a track record that includes fairly significant sales, awards, decent reviews, and a tiny bit of marketing acumen. Still, to them, I’m a small fish picking off scraps in a big ocean. They are looking for whales that bring their own gigantic current. Whoa… I carried that ocean themed analogy way too far. I apologize.

Here’s the point, I was perfectly happy facing the sea (technically it’s a different theme) of traditional publishing discontent this year. I know the publishing industry because that’s my job. I knew coming into 2009 that the obstacles had increased exponentially this year because of the economy. And then, thanks to a Facebook friend, I stumbled across, and hope reared its ugly head again. What is It’s a community created by HarperCollins made up of writers and readers. Writers submit their masterpieces chapter by chapter. Readers read the undiscovered tomes and rate them using their own set of criteria. The books that end up in the top 5 for the month, move over to the Editor’s desk where real, honest to goodness editors from HarperCollins read them and determine whether they are good enough to risk offering a publishing deal. Not only are the writers rated, but the readers are rated for the ability to spot talent. It’s really a marvel of online ingenuity. HarperCollins is using the power of Web 2.0 to minimize the risk of discovering talent. I admire and hate them for it.

I find myself helplessly drifting back to that dream of the Montblanc pen again. How dare they make me think I have a chance at traditional publishing happiness! Now, it’s not as simple as uploading your manuscript and waiting for the praise to rain down on you. You have to participate in the community, and make connections just like with any pursuit of art and business. But the opportunity is there, and it feels more proactive than the strategy of submitting the old fashioned way and finding my way onto the slush pile. Thankfully, I have an agent who does that for me now, but still if I can backdoor this thing with a deal through, she may yet be able to put her hand on my shoulder and give me that wink.

Too Busy to maintain two blogs

January 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ve been too busy maintaining two blogs lately so most of my blogging has been taking place at  Join me there until further notice.

Upcoming Book Awards for Self-Published Books

November 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Book Awards News from Jenkins Group – updates on all four of our Book Awards contests

  • IPPY Awards 2009 – Early-bird Entry Deadline Nov 15th
  • Axiom Business Book Awards Entry Fee Price Rollback & Final Deadline Nov. 24th
  • Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Results
  • Announcing the LIVING NOW BOOK AWARDS – our new Lifestyle Book Awards
  • Why enter book awards contests?


INDEPENDENT PUBLISHER BOOK AWARDS – 13th Annual Awards – Early-Bird Entry Fee Deadline Nov. 15th

Enter now at:

  • World’s Largest Book Awards contest, for indies only
  • 65 National Categories – 20 Regional Categories
  • Great Publicity & Great Awards party at BEA

Early-bird deadline is Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008. Enter now and save $5 per entry. Enter online by midnight on the 15th or postmark your mail-in entry by the 15th.

Enter now at:

Launched in 1996, the Independent Publisher Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. Established as the first unaffiliated awards program open exclusively to independents, the “IPPYs” recognize hundreds of the year’s best books, bringing them to the attention of booksellers, buyers, librarians, and book lovers. The IPPY Awards contest is among the largest and most recognized book awards events in the world, and all independent, university, small press, and self-publishers who produce books intended for the North American market are eligible to enter titles copyrighted or released in 2008. Final deadline is March 21, 2009. No price increases this year!

2009 IPPY Guidelines and entry info:

Here is the link to the 2008 Awards results article online, with links to event photos, press release, etc:

Enter your award-worthy books today, and get the recognition and exposure they deserve. Cool medals! Shiny stickers! Awesome party!

Questions? Contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director,


2009 AXIOM BUSINESS BOOK AWARDS – “Success Through Knowledge” –

Early-Bird Entry Fee Extended to Final Deadline Nov. 24th

To help ease the current economic slowdown, we’re rolling back Axiom Awards entry fees and extending the early-bird price until the final deadline, November 24th. With today’s financial turmoil, business people need new, inspiring ideas. Enter and compete with the best business books of the year and get on this hot business book reading list.

Enter now at:

Now in their second year, the Axiom Business Book Awards are designed to bring increased recognition to the year’s best business books and their creators. This year’s contest will accept entries until November 24, 2008, for books with 2007 or 2008 copright or release dates. The goal of these business book awards is to celebrate the innovative, intelligent and creative aspects of the books that make business people think, see and work differently every day.

Early-Bird Entry Fee extended through Nov. 24, 2008: $115 per category. Enter online or postmark your mail-in entry by Nov. 24th.

Print out guidelines and entry form:

Axiom online entry site:

Complete results and photos from the 2008 Axiom Awards:

To learn more about the Axiom Business Book Awards visit or contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director:; 1.800.644.0133 x1011.



“Celebrating youthful curiosity, discovery and learning through books and reading.”

Final results have been announced. Congratulations to all medalists! View results here:

Click here to receive 2009 Moonbeam entry guidelines


Announcing the first annual Living Now Book Awards –  “Books for Better Living”

The new Living Now Book Awards are designed to honor the year’s best books that help readers attain healthier, more fulfilling and productive lives. The new book awards program will accept entries until February 21st, 2009 for books with 2007 or 2008 copyrights or that were released in 2007 or 2008.


Print guidelines and entry form:

People all over the planet are sensing the ever-quickening pace of technology and consumerism, and realizing the need to slow down, see and feel the natural world around them, and to find balance in their lives. We need to work, play, and spend time with family and friends. We need good nutrition, exercise, and relaxation. We need to keep ourselves healthy, and need to keep the Earth healthy – today, and for future generations. The Living Now Book Awards will recognize books that help readers help themselves, to learn about enriching their lives in wholesome, Earth-friendly ways.

For more information contact Jim Barnes, Awards Director,



Entering your book titles in awards programs — and winning — brings credibility, publicity, prestige, and personal satisfaction. It can extend your publicity campaign, get you a whole new round of attention from the press, and open new doors with distributors and vendors.

See the recent blog entry from book PR expert Nettie Hartsock, Your Book Can’t Win an Award if You Don’t Enter:

Awards do influence reviewers and buyers. A 1999 Cookbook category IPPY finalist was discovered this way, and 187,000 copies were sold to a pharmaceutical company. A cookbook winner in our inaugural 1997 contest has reordered stickers continually and the book keeps on selling, thanks in part to the gold seal on the cover.

Winners are featured prominently in our monthly newsletter, which goes out monthly to over 7,000 subscribers worldwide, many of whom are editors, agents, buyers, booksellers and librarians, and appear indefinitely at We distribute a results program at BookExpo, and send the results press release to an additional 500 media outlets.

“Winning the silver award last year (Useppa, a Passage in Time, 2007) improved our ability to market the book in a multitude of ways. It gave us credentials that we used in our public relations and marketing; it made a real difference in our ability to get book signings and presentation opportunities; it enabled us to get radio and TV interviews; and often people selected to purchase the book because of the silver award medallion sticker. We actually had a couple of people return the book because their book did not have the medallion sticker. It also made the author and the artist feel appreciated and honored, and gave us a reason to celebrate their success!” – Chris Ludwig, Passages Press

“The fact is award stickers help to convince buyers to purchase. I’ve seen this happen with librarians — when faced with two competing titles and a limited acquisition budget the librarians will take the one that won an award, any award, over the title that doesn’t have an award to its credit. I’m confident that this same phenomena works for bookstore patrons browsing the shelves as well.” – Jim Cox, Midwest Book Review


Our intent is to keep you informed. To delete your email address from our contact list, simply click the link below:

Change my subscription preferences.

Jenkins Group Inc.  –  1129 Woodmere Ave, Ste B  –  Traverse City, MI 49686  –  231.933.0445

Why Not Review Books?

September 24, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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You should always try to get your name out there in the book industry if you’re a writer (published or not). One way to do that is to do book reviews. Find a publication that will take reviews for no other reason than they are well written. Don’t worried about getting paid if you’re a newbie. Submit reviews in hopes of building a portfolio that will eventually lead to paid gigs. Check out SACRAMENTO BOOK REVIEW. They are looking for reviewers. This is from their website:

We’re always looking for people to review books. Send three sample reviews in the body of an email to, along with the category areas you are interested in reviewing. Reviews are uncompensated, except for a review copy of the book and publishing credit. But you do get to read books before all your friends, so that should count for something.

Click here for helpful hints on writing book reviews.

2009 Axiom Business Book Awards Call For Entries – Reminder

September 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Jenkins Group presents,

2009 Axiom Business Book Awards Call For Entries

Enter.  Compete.  Win.
And Then Sell More Books.

Jenkins Group has announced the call for entries for The 2009 Axiom Business Book Awards.  These annual awards bring recognition to exemplary business books and their creators.

Register by September 15, 2008 and save $20 per entry!

Our awards are in their second year and celebrate the innovative, intelligent, and creative aspects of the books that make us think, see, and work differently every day. The awards offer no global boundaries, giving participants from every continent the opportunity to earn further recognition for their English-language titles.

Through the nomination of your title into the Axiom Awards, you will be competing against the greatest business titles of the year in twenty-two different categories.

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded in each category.  Winners are also supplied with certificates for their achievement and the ever important book cover seals signifying your book as an award winning title.  Set your books and yourself apart and gain the exposure you deserve.  Enter today.

Download guidelines and register online:

Early-bird entry fee until September 15, 2008 – $115 per title, per category. (A $20.00 Savings)

This year’s book awards program will accept entries until November 24, 2008 for books with 2007 or 2008 copyrights or that were released in 2007 or 2008. The contest is presented by Jenkins Group Inc., a Michigan-based book publishing and marketing services company that has operated the popular Independent Publisher Book Awards contest since 1996.

Celebrate with us and experience the greatest business books the world has to offer … yours!

Questions? Visit or contact Awards Director Jim Barnes at 1.800.644.0133 x 1011 or via email at

Our intent is to keep you informed.  To remove your email from future mailings, click the link below.

Change my subscription preferences.

The Axiom Business Book Awards are owned and operated by:

Jenkins Group 1129 Woodmere Ave. Suite B Traverse City , MI 49686 ~  231.933.0445

Publishing Rant

August 21, 2008 at 8:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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To say the world of publishing is in a constant state of change is a lot like saying the sun is hot. The ever-advancing realm of technology has not only transformed the method of production and delivery of books, it has also changed the buying habits of the reading public. Because of print-on-demand and the growth of online commerce, the barriers to getting a book to market are virtually gone. Anyone with a computer can write a book, upload it to a POD provider and make it available for sale with an online retailer. Inventory is no longer necessary. The cost of publishing is frighteningly reasonable, certainly more so than it ever has been before. The publishing world is no longer for the elite. It is an industry for the everyman. In short, we are in the midst of a publishing revolution. The question begs, however, is it too late?

Trends suggest we are reading less, yet more books were published last year than ever before. In fact a greater percentage of Americans would rather write a book than read one. I doubt this phenomenon exist with any other product on the market today.

So what is our love affair with writing, and ultimately publishing? Why is there a seemingly compulsive need to be an author in America when there’s arguably a relatively small market for books? It is a desire based on a lie or at the very least a misconception. Popular culture would have you believe that an author lives a life of leisure and luxury. They attend parties and rub elbows with celebrities from every walk of life. People want to publish for the same reason they want to be on reality shows. It seems less work and more like being the center of attention.

If you want to write to be famous, put away that story idea. There are easier ways to be famous. Becoming a doctor and separating conjoined twins in a 27 hour surgery may be easier. It is certainly less time consuming. Training everyday for the Boston Marathon may be easier than achieving fame through publishing. You’ll certainly be in better shape than 99.9% of writers. Winning the nomination for presidency from one of the major parties may be easier than becoming famous through the written word. You will at least get to do less work and attend those parties with celebrities that you wanted to attend.

Writing is hard work. Publishing is hard work. Selling books is hard work. The rewards are not usually commensurate with the amount of work you will expend. Write because you love it not because you think there is a pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow. If you’ve ever said, “I need to publish this book because I have to pay some bills.” Back away from the computer keyboard and start flipping through the classifieds.

Publishing should come from a place of passion. If you want it to be your main source of income, then plan to do the following:

  1. Practice your craft.There are enough crappy writers on the market.Don’t be one of them.
  2. Hire a professional designer for the interior and cover.Don’t be all things to your book.You’re the writer.Leave the rest to more qualified artists.There are rare cases where one person can write and design the book, but chances are you’re not one of them.
  3. Work with an editor you trust, and by all means don’t be your own editor.
  4. Invest time and money in marketing.If you think the book can sell itself, you’re wrong.If you don’t have a lot of money, spend a lot of time marketing your book.If you don’t have a lot of time, spend a lot of money on marketing your book.If you don’t have either, don’t plan on selling a lot of books.
  5. Read books.If you’re not a reader, don’t kid yourself, you’re not a writer.
  6. Give it time.Don’t measure in months here.Measure in years.

    If you follow these six simple rules, you can succeed in publishing even if this new publishing revolution is too late in coming. The reading public is hungry for books of high quality. Give it to them. It’s your duty as an author. You’re part of the revolution. Act like it. Write like it.

    Reprint: If I had a Million Dollars… and a Gun to My Head

    August 15, 2008 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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    I’m reprinting an old post because this subject has actually come during a couple of conversations lately.

    …I would start a “commercial” publishing company. Let me amend that a bit – a small “commercial” publishing company. “Commercial” publishers, for those of you who don’t know, are publishers who purchase the rights to manuscripts and employ a staff to get the book into publishing shape and peddled to various distributors. In most cases a small advance on royalties is paid to the author and once the book earns back its advance in sales, the author is paid a royalty ranging from 10 – 15 percent.

    The success of a “commercial” publishing company relies on three things. They are as follows:

    One – the competency of the staff. This is not unique to publishing. All businesses have to start from the ground up. Every employee is crucial to the company’s success. In the case of publishing, there are a number of different hands that touch the book before and after it goes to market. Each one has to be highly trained and passionate to make sure the book sells.

    Two – the source material. As much as the truly cynical would have you believe otherwise, the quality of the writing is absolutely essential to a books success. If the words on the page are nothing more than uninspired tripe, it’s not going to sell no matter how well it’s packaged. Word of mouth can kill a book.

    Three – the author. In this age of instant information through the internet and television, the person behind the words is extremely important. Let’s face it, we live in a celebrity driven culture. Author’s can’t shelter themselves from this aspect of media and entertainment any longer. Most people buy authors not books. An author has to be willing to put themselves out there. In addition, an author should know the publishing business and what it takes to sell a book. Can a well-packaged author save a poorly written book? Initially, maybe, but book sales would eventually drop off because of the word of mouth phenomenon we discussed above.

    Let’s assume I’ve put a crack staff in place and I have every confidence in them. Because of the measly salary I will be able to offer them, they will be in it because they love books not money. I have an obligation to reward their sacrifice in riches, by building the business by carefully selecting source material and authors. So, for their sake, I would put the following rules in place:

    1. We will not accept unsolicited manuscripts
    2. We will not accept manuscripts at all from first-time authors.
    3. We will actively seek first time authors

    How can you have a publishing company that doesn’t accept manuscripts from first-time authors but actively seeks first-time authors? Easy, I would only take self-published books represented by an agent from first-time authors. Now, for those of you who aren’t “commercially” published let me explain to you what just happened. An author who was fortunate enough to secure a deal with a “commercial” publishing house by submitting a manuscript to a publisher (in most cases through an agent) just did a spit take. In other words, there is coffee all over their computer’s screen because they can’t believe what they just read. Self-published books used to be the doormat of the publishing community. Terms like “vanity press” were created to set them apart from books that were published through legitimate “commercial” houses.

    In the days of old (or back in the day, if you prefer), it was extremely difficult to sell a self-published book by any means other than from the trunk of your car. Distribution was a huge stumbling block. Bookstores didn’t want the book because they were perfectly happy stacking their shelves with the latest offerings from Simon and Schuster, Little Brown Books and Random House. Who can blame them? Their shelf space is valuable and the bigger houses had money to market and move books. A one-man operation rarely has that kind of fiscal muscle to rely on. A self-published author would go broke buying a warehouse full of books leaving no money for marketing.

    Then two things happened in the mid to late 90’s that changed the landscape of self-publishing. First, the internet became a reliable, convenient place to shop and second, a method for printing books one-at-a-time (print-on-demand) was developed. Over the next decade both of these technologies grew and advanced until their two paths converged. Suddenly, it isn’t necessary to warehouse books. They can be stored virtually. And happily, it is no longer necessary to beg for shelf space at the local bookstore. The internet offers unlimited shelf space.

    With distribution and warehousing, no longer an issue, the self-published author is free to spend money and creativity on marketing. People rightly point out that most print-on-demand books don’t sell more than a handful of copies. I believe that is because we are currently caught in the gap between two publishing eras. The old era built around the brick and mortar model and the new era built around the digital model. The old era mindset still exists with most self-published authors. They are struggling to get their book into the local bookstore when they should be concentrating on digital retail outlets.

    For the self-published author who has switched to the new era mindset, it is a much better sales experience. These authors are not focused on distribution. They are focused on utilizing new media marketing trends (many of which are discussed on this blog). This author is an educated publishepreneur (Wow, I just made up a word). They know what it takes to sell a book and they are putting themselves out there as the face of the book. They are the kind of author I was referring to in point number three above.

    Currently 70% of all books published by “commercial” publishers do not earn back their advances. Seventy percent! Is the risk worth the reward? How can it be? Why do so many books fail? Because there are too many unknowns when a publisher takes a manuscript from the slush pile to print. Remember point number two. Source material is essential to a publishing company’s success.

    That’s why I would put a call out to agents to bring me self-published material. The book has been test-marketed. The author is motivated to sell books. The degree of risk is greatly reduced. I would be open to paying a bigger advance and attracting real, proven talent. I would then turn my resources toward building the existing fan base. A volunteer sales force (fans) is in place, and I would use them to help my publishing company sell books. And finally, I would be able to pay my people a livable wage.

    I know this post is long, but what do you want? It takes time to save the publishing industry.

    Can You Sell a Book Without Marketing?

    August 5, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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    Internationally bestselling author M.J. Rose serves up some sage advice in the latest edition of Writer’s Digest. In her article Why Authors Must Be Marketers Too she rightly points out that writing the book isn’t the end of the road for writers. It is the beginning of the journey. You have to pimp your own book. You have to pimp yourself. There were over 400,000 books that made it to market last year in this country alone. You have to make your own space on the shelves (real and/or virtual). If you don’t want to market your book (and I’ve talked with authors who don’t), fine, but be prepared to not sell any books. It’s as simple as that. Or as M.J. Rose puts it:

    Some authors are good at self-promotion and others shouldn’t bother. You have to figure out what you want to do, what you can do and what you can’t. You have to figure out if you want to promote your own book or if you want to hire someone else to do it for you. Or you can take your chances and do nothing.

    I can tell you that it will take a miracle for you to find a spot in the market if you do nothing.

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