Tag Archives: Chris Graham

A challenge to all Readers …

Earlier in the summer, I wrote and posted this to my blog: Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?

Then I asked Chris Graham, aka The Story Reading Ape, to create three memes that promoted three of the ideas I’d covered in this post: Ask for a meme …

For the purpose of this challenge, I want to focus on the suggestion in one of these memes …

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Why not, indeed?

I recently began following two Facebook pages that were set up for the benefit of Readers. The gist of both sites was an exchange of reading recommendations and a place where readers could find out what they might want to read next. On the one site, there were a lot of rules posted restricting Indie Authors as to how much they could self-promote. Understandably so. However, authors were also restricted from posting links to our own blogs, and I was reprimanded by admin., even though my blog link in question was a list of the best books I had read this past year and not self-promotion at all. I’d apparently over-stepped the limit of one self-promotion post per week on the site. I’ve removed all my previous posts from that site and have stopped posting there altogether. I know, it is their site and they are allowed to make and administer the rules. But, in the meantime, other site members will never see that list of books by other authors I was recommending they consider reading. Not my own books, mind you, but the books of many other fine authors.

Meanwhile, I continue to read posts by other site members in which they’re asking for reading recommendations – and contributing to discussions surrounding reading books written by the same-old bestselling authors or series or genres that the members have already been reading. And no one is asking for something new, something different, something outside of their comfort zone. An author who is new-to-them who will make the reader stand up and take notice and have that reader recommending the author to every other reader they know.

So, this is my challenge to all readers out there … And this includes all authors, as well, because you’re all also readers, right? (If you answer “No” to that, then SHAME ON YOU! You SHOULD be reading. You can’t write well if you don’t read. But that leads us to another blog post: Writer = Reader. And I digress …)

Here’s what I challenge all Readers to do:

1. Discover a new-to-you author. Look for authors who write a different genre than you usually read.

2. Purchase a copy of their book or borrow from the library. (Preferably purchase. I understand if you can’t afford to buy. However, I give you the inimitable Seumas Gallacher as an example of someone who supports Indie Authors by making a point of purchasing one Indie-Authored book a month. That kind of committment is not going to break the bank.)

3. Read.

4. If you enjoyed what you read, tell your friends and other readers. And if you REALLY enjoyed what you read, become a champion of that author. Read more of their books. Follow them on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, their blog. Write a review if you like to write reviews. Post your recommendation to your own blog or social media sites. Spread the word about this new-to-you author as far as you possibly can. (If you want to write a review and don’t have your own blog or don’t like posting to Amazon, contact me about publishing your review on reading recommendations reviewed or this blog.)

5. Write to the author directly to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. Trust me! We love receiving fan mail!!

6. Repeat #s 1-5. Many times.

Simple, right?

I know you’re probably thinking, “It’s easy for her to say. She’s an author who has connections to lots of other authors and knows where to find new books to read. Where the heck am I going to find these new-to-me authors and their books?”

Well, yes, I am well connected, but I have discovered many of the authors I now enjoy reading by watching for listings on Goodreads, Facebook, and mainly through other bloggers. So here’s a list of places where you might consider looking for suggestions on the next great book you’re going to read so you may become part of my challenge!

My blogs (of course):
Reading Recommendations
reading recommendations reviewed
And specific blog posts:
Best Books Read 2016 – Part 1
Best Books Read 2016 – Part 2

And blogs written by many friends who support their fellow authors:
Seumas Gallacher
Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore
Chris The Story Reading Ape – Authors Hall of Fame
Allan Hudson – South Branch Scribbler
Tricia Drammeh – Authors to Watch
Dylan Hearn – Suffolk Scribblings: Recommended Reads
Anne Logan – I’VE READ THIS
Mary Bailey – 1WriteWay: A Different Kind of Book Review
Happymeerkatreviews

There are many, many more. I leave it up to you, Readers, to discover the best places for finding your own new-to-you authors. Don’t forget the local library, too! Most libraries have websites, and librarians are always eager to create and post lists of books that will be of interest to their patrons. (And, thanks to Calgary Public Library, my first novel, Island in the Clouds, has been listed on two such lists, their Around the World in 14 Mysteries and Accidental Sleuths and my second novel on the eponymously named One Woman’s Island recommendations!)

One other source for discovering new-to-you authors – especially poets, in this case – and even new-to-you music, as well, is Bob Chelmick’s The Road Home. This is 24-hour streaming of Bob’s radio program’s that have long been featured on CKUA Radio. Give it a listen. It’s addicting!! (I’m listening as I write this and just heard one of my favourite authors, Robert Kroetsch, reading his poetry.)

So, off you go! You’ll find a lot of fun in the discovery, but I hope you find even more enjoyment in the reading!

Ready, set … READ!

(No need to comment here that you’re taking my challenge, unless you do find a new-to-you author you’d like to crow about. I always welcome accolades for authors! And if you already review books and authors on your own blog, please include your link in the comments section below.)

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Ask for a meme …

And Ye shall receive!

Especially when it’s being asked of the wonderful Chris Graham, or as we all fondly know him,
The Story Reading Ape!

After I posted that last blog about reading well-written books, I asked Chris if he would be able to create several memes using (somewhat) pithy statements I made in the post. And, likity-split!, here they are:

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Original photo by Jamie Taylor

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Original photo by Andrew Neel

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Original photo by Kari Shea

And here’s some information from Chris about these memes:

All background images are adapted from free photos from UnSplash.com (original photos by those noted below memes)

Memes made by Chris Graham – TSRA PROMO GRAPHICS & VISUALS – Check out the services Chris offers to Indie Authors!

Please feel free to share these memes, but remember to give credit where credit is due (as above).

Resources for Authors …

I’ve gathered together the Best of the Best! Here’s a list of bloggers – friends of this site, every one! – who offer services to authors, mainly in the area of promotion (guest blogs, reviews, interviews), but also design covers design, create trailers, and edit. Most of these services are free, but for some there is a charge. With the exception of Chris The Story Reading Ape, all are authors themselves, and they have been promoted on my own blog, Reading Recommendations. I’ve included links back to their promotions on my blog. I encourage you to check out their blog links to see what they have to offer, and also buy and read their books, while you’re at it!

tsra-sketch-02-1024x684 Chris Graham (Friend to all Indie Authors!) – Chris The Story Reading Ape

Seumas Gallacheron Reading Recommendations fd96ze6tg1l3gzy1ha93

11942321_415085482024566_2343643988952741064_o Sally CroninSmorgasboard – Variety is the Spice of Life

Tricia DrammehAuthors to Watch me

logo Janice SpinaJemsBooks

Allan HudsonSouth Branch Scribbler 12821608_1743938849173975_3479675423719876312_n

me Don MassenzioAuthor Talk

Kevin BrennanScribable: Indie Editing Service sonoma-county Kevin also posts a lot of great information on his blog about writing, publishing and the direction we’re moving in with regards to creating books and finding readers for them.

If you’d like to be listed on a future blog post and outline services you offer to authors (and I’d particularly like to list book reviewers here) please let me know your link (email me at susanmtoy (at) gmail.com) and tell me what it is you can do for us. If you’ve already been promoted on Reading Recommendations … Bonus!

The problem of book theft …

Close to two years ago, I discovered that my eBooks, both of them, were being listed for sale on a site about which I’d never heard before. They were not under contract to sell my eBooks nor was I receiving any payment for the nearly 1000 times the site reported my novel had already been downloaded. There was a link on the site authors could write to, if they felt their copyright had been infringed. So I wrote, asked them to take down my books, and … nothing happened. That’s when I contacted my friend Tim Baker, whose books were also listed on the site, and he wrote this blog post about our experience. Many of our friends also took up the cause, sharing this blog post and following up with more information as they heard of it – good friends like Chris Graham who blogs as The Story Reading Ape, and has created a permanent warning on his own site about the problems of copyright infringement with information for all authors who find themselves in this situation. What we did learn since Tim first posted about the problem is that these sites aren’t so much about copyright infringement or “stealing” our books’ sales as they are “click farms” that gather identity information and credit card numbers from those unsuspecting readers who “click” on the site or authors who lodge a complaint.

Here we are, nearly two years later and, while we haven’t managed to rid ourselves of these “pirate” sites (because as soon as one is closed down, another pops up in its place) we do know that they are not the threat to our copyright we thought they were and they are not making money from our hard work, in the first place, of writing our books.

That’s no reason to become complacent, however, about the copyright we own for any intellectual property we’ve created, because if there’s a way to cheat an author (or anyone, for that matter) out of money due to them, there’s always someone out there willing to come up with a scheme to do so.

It was with great interest then that I read the following article about an Irish author who discovered her many-years out-of-print series of crime novels was being reissued, with different titles and slightly rewritten, by another author altogether – and that they were selling very well on Amazon! Please read The girl who stole my book: How Eilis O’Hanlon found out her crime novels were swiped by a stranger and then come back to read the rest of what I have to say.

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Okay then … so my take on what happened to Eilis O’Hanlon is that this could be a much bigger operation than what she believes to be the case, and rather than this one thieving author, it’s actually an organized group preying on out-of-print books that they hope no one will notice have been copied and rereleased as something new. Maybe this is just the curse of my being a mystery writer speaking, and I tend to see conspiracies everywhere, but I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t more widespread a problem than we imagine. In the meantime, we may never know the extent that this kind of copyright infringement happens. It’s good to know, though, that Amazon will do something about this problem, once they are sure it’s true that an author is infringing on our copyright, and they’ll take them down completely. If it is a bigger operation overseeing this, it will only be a matter of time before more books appear on the site purporting to be new works by a different author who has been “created” and now publishes and sells these books that actually belong to someone else.

In the meantime, I’ve had my own brush with a situation of possible copyright infringement or, at least, the copying of my original idea and novel. I haven’t wanted to talk about this in public, hoping that the situation would go away and, for the most part, that has happened. But it still irks me someone has “stolen” my hard work I had in writing the novel in the first place. (And I have proof that I began writing my novel in 2001.) Fortunately, for me, I’ve been slow to finish writing the second book in my series, so this other author couldn’t possibly copy it as well, but he has continued on with my original premise for the series, it seems. And, to date, his books have not been sold here on Bequia in the bookstore. (Of course, not many of MY books have been sold through that bookstore, but that’s another matter …) I don’t believe this other series has had any impact on my sales or on my readership – which is actually more important to me. i.e. I’m not losing readers to this other series. And I still have people asking when my next book will be published (soon, I hope!) so I know I continue to maintain that fan base I worked so hard to build.

Isn’t it interesting, though, that on top of all the hard work we authors must put into writing, preparing, publishing, promoting, marketing, developing a readership, and getting on with the next book … we also have to worry about people who believe it’s okay to steal our ideas and our IP and benefit from them themselves. With nary a thought as to those, we authors, who created that IP in the first place. Very frustrating!

How about you? Have you encountered any similar situations as above, or do you know of other authors whose copyright has been infringed upon? Have you heard of any other scams out there that infringe upon an author’s rightful copyright?

Happy Birthday to The Story Reading Ape!

When I discovered it was Chris Graham’s (aka Chris The Story Reading Ape) Birthday today, a simple greeting from me on Facebook just wouldn’t suffice! I knew I had to make my wishes that much more special, because this isn’t any ordinary Ape, you know! Chris has been a terrific support to me and many other Authors and Bloggers in the Internet-o-shpere, so I wanted to be sure he knew exactly how much I appreciate all that he does.

So I recruited the help of Snowy, one of the gardeners who works for Dennis, to help me make this video for you, Chris (or Mr. Ape, as I like to call you) and am sending Big Birthday Greetings your way and all the best from Bequia for the New Year!

A Bunch of Birthday Bananas from #Bequia!

Also, in lieu of the usual singing of “Happy Birthday to You” I thought you might rather enjoy this little ditty that is more in keeping with my video gift … Enjoy! And do please sing along, Everyone, because I know you all know the words!

Day-O by Harry Belafonte (from Beetlejuice)

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How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book …

So, you’ve written and published a book. Congratulations! Good for you!

And welcome to the club … I have some sobering news, though. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to write and publish a book – TODAY! So far this year, 2,396,061 books have been published, worldwide. How do you expect it’s possible for any one book to compete with numbers like that when searching for interested readers, not to mention buyers with money to spend? And how can any one author ever suppose their newly published book is better or more important than those other 2 million+ books, so much better that one author can expect readers, bloggers and reviewers to fall all over themselves in an attempt to help promote and publicize said book?

Many of these delusional, self-centred authors do exist, unfortunately … so many, in fact, that I feel the need, once again, to point out to them that their “activities” on social media and in seeking promotion are definitely not gaining them any champions – certainly not me nor a few other bloggers/reviewers I know. A couple of blogging friends have written about this same topic previously, and I’ve asked them to return now with a few more wise words to add to this blog of mine in the hope that – collectively – we may have some effect at getting through to these authors who continue to behave badly.

Tricia Drammeh, a published author who writes a couple of blogs promoting writing and authors, discusses in a post, The Death of a Book Blog, the problems she’s had to face dealing with difficult authors. (It was through this blog post that I came to “meet” Tricia online when I threw my support behind what she had to say.) Tricia also wished to add to my current post: Bloggers are overwhelmed by the number of requests and demands for reviews and promotional features. It’s impossible for them to feature every author who queries, so many have begun to delete emails from rude authors, or to ignore requests that do not follow their submission guidelines. Your best chance at earning a spot on a blog is to be courteous. Be respectful of the blogger’s time by following their submission guidelines. And, if you are featured, do your part to promote – not just yourself, but other authors featured on the blog. Authors really do need some guidelines, and those who are misbehaving are hurting not only themselves, but the community as a whole.

As well, The Story Reading Ape has recently found it necessary to thump his chest and rant about the problem of authors approaching him for promotion on his blog. Here’s what he has to say: As someone who makes online contact with authors on a daily basis, with the aim of seeing if I can help promote them (and their books) on my Author Promotions Enterprise Blog, there are a few issues that constantly IRK me. To read about these Irks in more detail, go to, Authors, Don’t Be Twits When Tweeting. Basically, it boils down to AUTOMATIC SELF-CENTRED REPLIES! These abominations exist in almost all media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, et al. I rarely find an author who thinks about a follower/friend request for a few moments and asks themselves WHY did this person start Following/Liking/Send me a Friend/Connection Request? A simple matter of looking at the person’s profile (in whatever media they contacted you) BEFORE you return their approach, will enable you to PERSONALISE your response and make them GLAD to have contacted you. Did I just hear you say something like “Bah Humbug – I don’t have time/I’ve got BETTER things to do/What do I care, they’re only a means to boost MY Follower numbers/Book Sales stats/etc.”? NEWSFLASH: You have just LOST yourself a Potential Book Sale/Reader/Fan/Follower/Friend! In my case, you’ve just lost a Ready Made (and FREE) Authors’ Platform with possibly more reach than your own! DON’T EVER FORGET – A Stranger is just a Friend you haven’t met or got to know yet! So GET RID of those ‘easy to set up once’ Automatic Replies and GREET WISELY and PERSONALLY. (Phew! The last thing we want is an irate Ape, so better do as he says, authors!!)

Since so many authors continue to do the same annoying (to us) things in an attempt to promote themselves, I decided they might actually see themselves in this following list, identify, and STOP DOING WHAT THEY’RE DOING!!! Let’s hope they’re all still reading …

How NOT to get promotion for yourself and your book:

1. Believe you’re the only person to have written and published a book. (See explanation above)

2. Publish without professional assistance in editing, cover design and formatting (whether eBook or print).

3. Spam social media about your book. Spam-a-lot, in fact, if you really want to irritate potential readers.

4. Don’t develop a fan base.

5. Don’t take part in any writing/reading communities – other than to exhort them to buy your book.

6. Don’t offer anything of value when engaging in social media. Don’t become engaged in social media at all.

7. Don’t read blogs and don’t comment on blogs.

8. Don’t write your own blog or offer value to the blogging community at large.

9. When seeking promotion and reviews for your book from bloggers, DON’T read their blog first, or engage with the blogger, or show any interest in their work if they themselves have published, or ask how you may help promote their blog, or read their submission instructions, or think that perhaps there are many more-worthy books ahead of yours already being considered for promotion or review. (Because, like, we’re all so impressed with you and your one book that we’ll immediately drop everything in order to help you get the word out about it … Yeah, In your dreams, maybe.)

10. DON’T think the rules pertain to you. (They’re meant for the other 2,396,060 books that have been published this year.)

And, to finish off, if you don’t believe me and the other bloggers, perhaps you’ll listen to Anne Enright …

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