Frustrations of Self-Publishing – New Book On the Way!

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I spent hours yesterday and will likely spend more time today trying to format my new book for publishing on Amazon. The new book is a combination of some of my more colorful, playful artworks and poetry bits for kids. I used the art itself to inspire the poetry. I think the book will turn out great once I finally get the kinks worked out with the formatting.

One thing I really wish Amazon would do is to make it easier to format books using Word, especially if you use quite a few images in the book. For some reason, Amazon can not recognize when you split up content on different pages in Word, at least not when images are mixed in. It is pretty frustrating sometimes.

Once I get the book done, can proof the hard copy, and get it up for sale, I’ll definitely be sharing it with you all. I hope you will like it!

New Children’s Ebook for Sale on Amazon: “No More Grumpies!”

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Yesterday I published a new illustrated children’s short story ebook on Amazon! It is called “No More Grumpies!“, and is a fun story about a little boy who just can’t shake the grumpies.

Here is the official book description:

Michael is having a very grumpy day. His mother keeps warning him that there will be “trouble” if the grumpies keep making an appearance, but what will happen if Michael can’t get rid of the grumpies? What kind of “trouble” is he heading into?

From multi-award-winning author and artist Maranda Russell, this illustrated short story is funny, cute, and sure to help get rid of the most stubborn grumpies!

The ebook is available for only $.99 per download (FREE for Kindle Unlimited members). If anyone would like a free copy of the ebook in exchange for an honest review on Amazon, let me know and I will hook you up!

Special thanks to my friend Brian Reinbolt for adding the illustrations to my story!

Kindle Direct Publishing’s New Reporting System and Some Author Updates!

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Yesterday I logged into my Kindle Direct Publishing account on Amazon and while looking at the reports, noticed there is a new “beta” reporting program they are working on that I could test (the picture above shows the new graphing, with part of the book breakdown below). I checked it out and it is WAY better than their old reporting program! It uses color coded graphs to plainly show which books you are selling, when you are selling them, and also easily separates books sold from “free” promotions vs. paid sales.

I am thrilled they are updating their system, because what they have had the last few years sucks in my opinion. It was hard to even tell which books sold! In other good news, while checking out the new system, I looked at my overall numbers from the last quarter and was pleasantly surprised to see that all together I’ve sold more than 230 ebooks (including promotions) during the last 90 days! Not bad for an indie author!!! It makes my heart happy to know that many people are reading my books!

If you use KDP publishing, I would recommend checking out the new program if you are able to under your own reports! By the way, if you want to check out my Amazon Author Page and maybe give it a follow, that would be awesome! I also have a FREE ebook promotion running today through Monday for my art ebook, “Stories Behind My Art” (if you like it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!)

Lastly, a few years back, I published a little short story/spiritual ebook called “Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham – A Parable about Love and Peace” under the name M.N. Russell ($0.99, FREE for Kindle Unlimited) . I decided to add that to my Amazon author bibliography, so you can check that out if you think it sounds interesting!

Goals for 2019 – Blog, Writing, Art

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I don’t set personal resolutions for New Years, but I do try to set some goals to try to reach the coming year, especially for my blog/social media, writing, and art. I did meet and even surpass some of the goals I set for 2018. For instance, I hoped to have 500 Instagram followers by the end of this year, and I’m already over 1,400!

When setting these goals, I try to be realistic but shoot a bit high. I figure even if I miss, at least I dreamed big and tried my best. I try to not beat myself up if I don’t meet a goal by the end of the year, I just set my sights on the next year.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2019:

Social Media
Blog – 1,500 followers
Instagram – 5,000 followers (dream big!)

Books
Write/publish 2 new books/ebooks
Sell 300+ copies of my books

Art
Sell to 2 new countries (would love to add Ireland, Germany, Japan, China, or India!)
Countries I have already sold art to: USA, Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, England, Wales, Norway, United Arab Emirates

Some of the best books ever written were self-published

It seems like there is a lot of condescension in the literary world about “self-published” authors. This annoys me. First off, because I have many friends who self-published excellent books, and secondly, because I have self-published two ebooks (even though my print books aren’t self-published).

So where does this bias come from? Is it because throughout history self-published books have been crappy? I highly doubt that. In fact, many of the best books ever written were self-published. Don’t believe me? Well, here is a short list of some self-pubbed classics:

*Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” was turned down by six publishers, but this didn’t get the young authoress down. She decided to self-publish the book. One of the publishers who had turned down the project saw the completed book, changed his mind and offered to publish the next edition of the book.

*Mark Twain, fed up with his previous publisher, decided to self-publish “Huck Finn”. Ironically it became one of his bestselling books, perhaps because he implemented a door-to-door marketing campaign.

*Edgar Allan Poe (my favorite writer of all time by the way), self-published his first book “Tamerlane and Other Poems”, thus effectively launching his career (even if he never did get the money or respect he deserved while alive).

*Charles Dickens self-published “A Christmas Carol” after having a fight with his publisher over the earnings related to a previous book.

*Some great authors like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters even struggled to get publishers to publish their books “all expenses paid”! In fact, Jane Austen’s family offered a publisher the opportunity to publish Jane’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, on ”behalf of the author who will incur all expenses”. Not only did Jane’s family pay for publishing costs, but they also had to pay a commission to the publisher for each book sold! Sounds like a rotten deal to me, but she did ok in the end.

*Ever read Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”? Neither have I, but it was self-published too.

*Even the manual that many writers use as their Bible was first self-published. Where would we be without William Strunk’s “The Elements of Style?”

*Some other authors who are said to have self-published at some point in their careers: Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, e.e. Cummings, Carl Sandburg, Ezra Pound, Stephen Crane, Rudyard Kipling, Alexandre Dumas, Henry David Thoreau (plus many, many more, but I really don’t want to type all their names, so Google it if you are interested).

In the end, I’m not going to say that all self-published books are good, any more than I would say all traditionally published books are good, but I do think all books deserve to be judged for their literary merit, rather than their publisher.