Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wow - a year has flown by

This blog is about the publishing and it's the publishing that is making it too busy for me to mind more than one blog. (!)

When I re-read my last blog post, I detected a fair spot of BA - Bad Attitude. I apologize to any readers who found this offensive. I was very caught up in the drive for success, and things weren't going fast enough. It turns out that patience is rewarded.

P'kaboo is coming on beautifully. We're at and I've programmed a lot of that website myself (ok one can see it - but it is functional). We are now proudly distributing 5 books and a CD, with 4 further books overtly lined up for publication and one to three books and four CDs hiding in the woodworks.

Having the website has made it such a lot real to me, how strange that is! I also had to grow into the process and conquer this terrible, horrible shyness that stops me from picking up the phone and making the relevant calls. My editor (winks at Colonialist) has tried to persuade me various times to call rather than email, and still I remain people-shy - but admitting it has helped, for heavens' sakes I'm forty not four, and it's time that my self-confidence matched my physical size.

Friday I had an interview at the local newspaper, Rekord East, they are also reviewing the Solar Wind for me and are interested in attending book launches. Which are within grasp now, after a year of weirdness and karma.

My last post was done before our last studio concert, and before, in fact, that wave of life hit me.

On the 23rd of April my car was stolen. Sure, I live in South Africa so one sort-of expects this - but not the horrible after-shocks. The insurance taking 6 weeks to pay out, and then only half of what it costs to get a replacement vehicle of similar age, brand and quality. Being without a car for more than a month, juggling work, and home, and everything.

Just as I was in the throes of finding a replacement car, I stepped on a sewing needle and it broke off in my foot. I couldn't believe it was still in there (because it was such a large piece, and it didn't hurt quite as much as I thought it would). So, being unable to get it out or even see it, I carried on with life... for a number of days, until I realized that my foot didn't want to heal and got seriously tired walking. This wasn't good in the light of no car, so we took it to X-rays, which revealed half of the needle still in there, and migrating towards the bone. The Doc booked me into hospital to have it removed surgically because it was too deep. It was taken out at 2h30 at night by a young surgeon who admitted to being more scared of this op than the bullet he'd dug out of someone's intestines earlier that evening. Because there is such a lot of fine machinery inside a foot, and because finding the thing was a matter of luck. He did find it.

I spent the next ten days on crutches; an experience I DON'T want a repeat of! I was still on crutches when we bought the car I drive now. A 16-year-old Jetta - a year older than the Toyota that was stolen.

I put my head down and worked, and nursed my foot and taught hundred violin lessons, and then the message reached me that my grandfather had fallen down the steps and was in hospital. A week of sheer madness on all parts, preceded his death after we all were under the impression that things were picking up. He had been a very charismatic and highly independent and revered man, and his sudden death rattled the family badly. We were emotionally incapacitated for a month, until his memorial service.

There have been other things after that, my daughter breaking her arm, and my having to defend my studio against some low-lives, but nothing further to stop the flow with the publishing. I'm back.

Publishing is fun - producing a brand new book from thin air. The publicity is the part I have to grow into, and am slowly getting the swing of it.

Items covered in the interview on Friday were:

Where is P'kaboo going?

We are an (as yet) small publisher, with our main goal to launch new talent. There are such a lot of truly deserving authors out there! We are picking up volume faster than I had anticipated.

We also help already self-published authors market, if we find their work deserving. From my own experience I know how blasted difficult it is for a writer, an essential introvert, to punt his own work. It is easier to latch onto an established machinery and allow us to market, and sell the books at a mark-up from the price at which you sell to us. My friend Mark would call it "putting the cat over the fence".

We offer author services too, which obviously also form part of our publishing. We offer professional editing, graphic design and some other minor items. If you are self-published we might insist that you have your book or CD cover done professionally, and that your book gets professional editing before we agree to market - it all depends on the quality of your work. Of course it helps if you've already done so on your way to self-publication.

We want to diversify into music and art as well. By now there are three music books in the cooker. One is a re-publication, authorized to us by the author, and what a privilege to have him aboard - I'm not going to let on yet who it is, suffice it to say that in violin circles, he is well-known. Only one of the three (my Violin Tunes) is on the "Coming Soon" page of futurology in P'kaboo. There are, as mentioned above, four CDs waiting to be released - once again, not yet advertized. As for art, I'm looking not only at two full-colour books in loving memory of two great artists, but simpler things too... calenders, postcards, art books by artists, prints. These I'm looking at because I know a number of young people (all under 20) whose art deserves publication; and for variety, to keep the business interesting. This is fun.

If you wish to receive updates and launch invitations, please connect with the mailing list on and email me your request.

Now excuse me please... I don't know when I'll be by again but I will.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

mind maps and flyers

Things are getting fairly busy now. The third run of the Solar Wind, this time with the edits of Les Noble and a new ISBN number, is under way (except that I need to battle them about the cover). A batch of flyers has been created and is being distributed to bookshops. The logic in those is that instead of handing out precious, expensive book copies for "consignment", we hand out flyers and get them to order copies of the books they want. COD. Iain's constructing a website, it's beginning to look (at least in concept) like something usable.

Les has teamed up with me re the sale of our books. P'kaboo officially represents his books (although the publisher is JustDone). I've also taken on a novel that Douglas was sweet enough to hand me for experimentation - his brilliantly written "Almost Dead in Suburbia". I've got a bedtime story by Ominiki that we're straightening out; and hopefully, once written, a novel by Les. Then of course there is my "4-leafed Clover" but the catch is that that book, like the "Waterwolf", the "Violin" and whatever else I wrote way back, needs a complete overhaul. I'm hopeful for "Clover" because it's only got 30 000 words - a nice short little novelette. But it will be a challenge to present all those rebellious, violent ideas in an acceptable format (not for the reader who is 11 and associates fully, but for the teacher). Ikki, who tries to present herself as "Vicky" and can't get rid of her old nickname though, is actually a very troublesome teen! I'm afraid Connie will have to moderate all the way where Ikki's wild horses run away with her.

Then, the "Assassin" needs a re-read, aloud with Iain listening, because despite the professional edit it still feels to me as though, from a dramatic point of view it falls short. Too much sop and mood and not enough substance. Oy vey! At the same time I'm squizzing through "Freedom Fighter" to straighten it out for Les and his edit. But the Assassin has to be a winner or else people will never bother with Freedom Fighter. I need a "test run" and reader feedback. What Ruthven fed back was not encouraging, neither was what Karin said. (Both fell off the series at book 2.) The Assassin also needs a cover and the financing for the first run.

I made a mind map of all that needs to happen. I gave the different classes of "things" different colours, the "next step" red, the marketing yellow, the separate books blue and the processes green. I noted that there were several processes that worked by themselves once started (e.g. Douglas edited by Les - a necessity, both ways, once for the fresh pair of eyes and outsider assessment, and secondly then for the professional "shliff", because self-editing can only take you that far). There are other processes that need my hands-on involvement or even direct own input. Case in point, Susetti Soletti.

Reviewers are a sore point. I mailed off a whole lot of books and got nary a review. Sure, Fran Lewis did indeed post one - a sweet one, but it's more a precis than a review. Nevertheless it has utterly usable bits in it. But the reviewers from the newspapers??? I'm at the point where I want to say, hang them, we'll make our own waves until they can't ignore us anymore and then we'll graciously "allow" them to review - if we still need it. (I suppose, with books they really want to review, they buy their own copy and review it anyhow. Well that suits me just fine - less overheads for P'kaboo.)

Newspapers - I'll bet on the Rekord East so far, for launches. There are two or maybe even five in the offing. Near future: Assassin, Almost Dead. Later (hopefully this year still): Freedom Fighter; Ominiki's story which she forbade me to mention the name of; and possibly the 4-Clover.

Idk what further I can do to generate publicity. No, that's not quite true, I have a few ideas. But, a step at a time.


- the 'orse

Saturday, March 13, 2010

the wheel is turning...


What a busy time! The Assasssssin is finished where edits are concerned, only one scene still needs to be approved.

LOL about the title. A quick search on "smashwords" reveals 47 titles containing or dealing with assassins. A very favourite topic these days! Well, I'm not the first and won't be the last, but it's still a catchy title and mine is different from the others (as is everyone else's). It doesn't matter, it seems to be obligatory to have a book titled "Assassin" so that one is taken seriously. (I could have called it "field of shards", much more abstract, or "Master Plan" - probably tens of thousands around with that title too - but it's already advertized as "The Assassin", so there you are. I bet you there are countless books titled "Freedom Fighter" too, but none called "The Morrigan", other than from Wiccan literature! There is a reason for this. There are only so many words in the English language. Many more writers than words.

So stepwise the following has to happen:

- The fliers, once printed, need to be distributed
- Solar Wind print run of 50 (can't afford 100 at this point).
- Sales need to happen rather fast;
- Launch of the Assassin.

I am COUNTING on those fliers - lets hope that they don't let me down!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Solar Wind Log, 12 Feb 2010

I'm about to reread and re-edit the Solar Wind 1 for the last time, integrating all Les' edits as well as smoothing some of the terminology. This will of course mean she needs a new ISBN number. The back cover also has to be redone to incorporate the review, but the cover pic stays the same. So what if she's not square-rigged but Bermudan? It's nearly a tradition to have the cover pic not quite fit the correct description.

After smoothing her, next print run. After that: Flyers. Yip. So here we go.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

the next step - pamphlets

Alright, let's get our mind together here.

My next step in the plan was to produce pamphlets, to distribute to all bookshops in lieu of 5000 consignment copies. Well, Bernhard from did a beautiful job on them (see below); there are single details (e.g. a sentence elucidating that Les' books are only marketed by P'kaboo) that need to be changed, and that is all.

But: If I print all those flyers and suddenly there is a demand for MORE THAN 36 BOOKS... (which is the stock I have currently) - I have to have the next print run in stock! I can't do this and sell out and oops - 3 weeks no books! So at least I have to print 50 more books, which means, the edited updated version, which entails, new ISBN, maybe the cover graphic improved... definitely the blurb improved and the review added.

So, step 1 AGAIN, fix up SW1 and get print-ready, print a run of 50 new books, and THEN go for the flyers!

The flyer does not want to load. It's a zip file. Zipped closed.

I'll return to Federi now and see what I can do for him.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Editor update

After searching for editors and despairing over their fees last year, I posted my lament on my other blogsite, on letterdash ( One of the self-published authors there who has an impeccable command of the English language as well as personal yachting experience (! - how lucky can I get!) came forward and suggested he help me edit my books.

Thank you, Lesley Hyla Winton Noble, author of Tabika (1 and 2), Baa Baa Black Belt and Regina! (All available on too.) L'chaim and here's to a long and prosperous association!

that purple monster

There are certain ways of NOT going about publicity.

Reputation is imperative. I noticed this with my studio... reputation is invisible, they will never tell you what they heard about you. But you will feel it, in people's attitudes and in your numbers. I'm now at the point in my violin studio where I can tell a prospective student to the face, "my fees are quite high", and they sign on anyway. Reputation pops out in small ways - strangers call in and ask for lessons, and when I tell them my name (our posters have no name on them, just numbers), they say, "aah!". (Not, "aargh!" - LOL!)

Now the best way to ruin a reputation right on the outset is to set up a truly professional, highly visible, public event - and then make an unprofessional mess of it. People remember. "Ah! Lyz Russo - that idiot woman who set up all her books here and then brought the creche to tear down the place! We couldn't eat our breakfast in peace! She and her rugrats also put us off looking at the gallery. Eww!"

I shan't set up another booksigning until the following are in place:

  • a bookshop calls for it
  • there have been newspaper reviews and the book is freely available
  • the book is making waves

  • someone is babysitting - paid for the day, preferably in another city!
How is it that when a woman dumps her children on her husband in an important professional event, they feel sorry for the man and they regard her as a selfish, inept mother? But when a father dumps his children on his wife while she's busy with an important professional event, onlookers feel sorry for him and regard her as an inept professional and a selfish woman who is an inept mother and wife?

I can see why behind every successful man there is a very active wife -
behind every successful woman there's a broken marriage!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What am I doing wrong?

Another "book signing" with me hanging about uselessly for 5 hours. People saw the books and the poster. They did nothing. One acquaintance came and bought - one of mine and 2 of Les' books.

If people rave why doesn't this book sell? And if it's not selling, why do they rave? What's going on here?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yippeeh a sweet Review!

Jinxed? Nah. The only thing that seems to be jinxed at this point are my megabytes!

Fran Lewis, author of the Bertha series of books and Memories are Precious, decided to review the Solar Wind volume 1 for me. I kept her waiting (not by choice) for an easy 3 months and yet she was still prepared to review, and wrote me a stunning review (which I'll be sending to all newspapers I can come up with).

Here it is:

Powerfully written: Mind Stimulating: Terrifying and Full of Twists and Turns:

(The mystery of)

The Solar Wind

By Lyz Russo

Secrets, mysteries, lies, deceptions, intrigue and murder are just some of what you will encounter when you board the Solar Wind for your journey into the 22nd century. This will not be just any ordinary journey, it will keep you spellbound, alert, terrified, inquisitive and more, to learn about the new regime and the new world powers of the year 2116 and just what changes are in store for you. With a cast of characters so diversified, yet so alike, you will want to not only learn the reasons why each crewmember signed on to the Solar Wind, but go along with them on their dangerous journey to find freedom and safety in a world filled with fear.

The world is not the same any more. The governments in most parts of the world are no longer democratic. The Unicate and the Rebellion are two opposing World Domination Governments that have taken over and captured many countries on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Let’s meet the Captain of the Solar Wind: Radomir Lascek, who sails his illegal trader ship around the world doing shady deals and illegal trading of ships and much more. Next we have three teenagers that were rescued and brought aboard in Dublin, escaping the wrath of the Unicate Government. What would happen if everyone in the world that needs medical care did not have to pay a co-payment for service but instead a hefty fee for a medical care license, just like a driver’s license? This license has to be renewed on a yearly basis and if you cannot afford the fee, you do not get the care. What would happen if you had to flee your country because you were accused of murder but did not commit one? Wait until you learn why and how the Donegal kids came to work and live on the Solar Wind: Paean, who has the ability to forecast when something bad will happen and has an understanding of herbal medicine and more; and her two brothers Ronan and Shawn who have skills of their own that make all three invaluable to the captain of this dangerous ship.

There are many more interesting characters: Federi the gypsy, who has a secret of his own; the captain himself, the doctor and the centenarian, and all of the others on this ship who are trying to escape the government and find freedom. But will they?

And what about the mysterious Ailyss who is on the ship but seems cold and stays to herself? Paean tries to befriend her, but is aware that she might be dangerous. Paean is the one character that you can fall in love with despite everything that is going on. She is tough, adventurous, kind, straightforward and will do anything to win the captain’s favor even if it means breaking the rules. Proud that she is now considered part of the crew and a pirate, she does more than her share to keep everyone stitched up, safe and properly hydrated with her own brand of medicine and coffee.

Added to this mix is the captain of the Hun, Anya Miller, an angry bounty hunter who was humiliated by our captain and will resort to anything to bring him in and collect the reward.

Most importantly let us meet the Solar Wind, the most unique ship ever to sail the seas. A ship that has more sensors than the government and more eyes than the FBI of CIA when tracking predators, sharks, change of temperature and current. This ship is smarter than any person that mans it and its computer is constantly processing the information from the sensors all the time. Elusive and able to change appearances, its name and location, this ship can hide from just about anyone. Or can it?

The Unicate with its army of Stabilizers is trying to track the Solar Wind, with the help of Anya Miller. With the crew of several other ships aiding him, our captain manages to escape capture and get through the Panama Canal almost unscathed. But what happens next will astound the reader and only author Lyz Russo can tell it in her brilliant way and keep the reading on edge throughout the entire novel.

Their frightening finds on the Pacific island of Hiva Oa lead them to a trap that endangers the lives of two of the crewmembers. Vanishing lizards; killed tourists. Sunken treasure ships that were not supposed to be there, with fifteen skeletons left behind. Shawn Donegal steals a metal device from the body of a dead hobo, and Paean, wanting to return it, soon finds out that this is the missing piece of a data capsule from the Hun, and might provide the information they need to uncover what the Unicate had planned. Going back for the rest of the bounty, both Federi and Marsden are captured.

Throughout the novel the reader learns about Federi and his life before coming to the Solar Wind in letters he writes to his sister. Paean decides to keep some of her thought on paper too, helping the reader to understand her even more.

Who is the spy for the Unicate or the Rebellion on the ship? What happens when another ship’s crew comes on board and the Captain of the Solar Wind befriends them?

Keeping the enemy busy on board their ship allows Captain and Jon Marsden the time to dig deeper into the information on the two capsules, continuing their spy work right under the Unicate’s nose. For years the Unicate has hunted the Solar Wind hoping to finish off the rest of the crew that they led into a trap two years before. Is the Solar Wind at the heart of a political plot against the Unicate?

With the Unicate aboard and the Rebellion on their tails, the crew struggle on through a storm. But what is wrong with the radar? The Captain demonstrates his power over the ship and his ability to control it in his own elusive way. But then the rebel ships capture Paean and Sherman; and Federi, Rushka and Ronan Donegal will stop at nothing to find them both. With Paean and Sherman in trouble Federi risks more than his position on the Solar Wind to save them.

Who is the spy and why is this person on the ship? What does happen, will surprise the reader and renew your faith in loyalty, friendship and understanding. Will the Solar Wind ever be free from the Unicate or the Rebellion forces? Will the world succumb to being dominated by evil? Wait for the sequel and find out!


Fran Lewis: Reviewer and author of Memories are Precious and the Bertha Series of Books.