To Share or Not to Share?

Bruce Witzel photo

I’m guest posting over on the Alliance of Independent Authors Self-Publishing Advice Blog today. My topic is the sometimes tricky issue of sharing our manuscripts with the significant others in our lives.

Please pop over and check it out.  How to Share Your Manuscript with Your Partner.

The Alliance of Independent Authors Produce an Ethical Author Code

Alli Ethical Author Campaign

I want to spread the word today about the Alliance of Independent Author’s Ethical Author Code. The word author being defined as any writer who has published a long-form work of fiction or non-fiction, either via a trade publisher or self-publishing platform.

Here’s what the code is all about.

Guiding principle: Putting the reader first

When I market my books, I put my readers first. This means that I don’t engage in any practices that have the effect of misleading the readers/buyers of my books. I behave professionally online and offline when it comes to the following practices in my writing life:


I behave with courtesy and respect toward readers, other authors, reviewers and industry professionals such as agents and publishers. If I find myself in disagreement, I focus on issues rather than airing grievances or complaints in the press or online, or engaging in personal attacks of any kind.


I do not hide behind an alias to boost my own sales or damage the sales or reputation of another person. If I adopt a pen name for legitimate reasons, I use it consistently and carefully.

Reviewing and Rating books

I do not review or rate my own or another author’s books in any way that misleads or deceives the reader. I am transparent about my relationships with other authors when reviewing their books.

I am transparent about any reciprocal reviewing arrangements, and avoid any practices that result in the reader being deceived.

Reacting to reviews

I do not react to any book review by harassing the reviewer, getting a third party to harass the reviewer, or making any form of intrusive contact with the reviewer. If I’ve been the subject of a personal attack in a review, I respond in a way that is consistent with professional behaviour.

Book Promotions

I do not promote my books by making false statements about, for example, their position on bestseller lists, or consent to anyone else promoting them for me in a misleading manner.


I know that plagiarism is a serious matter, and I don’t intentionally try to pass off another writer’s words as my own.

Financial ethics

In my business dealings as an author, I make every effort to be accurate and prompt with payments and financial calculations. If I make a financial error, I remedy it as soon as it’s brought to my notice.


I take responsibility for how my books are sold and marketed. If I realise anyone is acting against the spirit or letter of this Code on my behalf, I will refer them to this Code and ask them to modify their behaviour.

I’m definitely signing on – taking the pledge, so to speak and I thought my own readers might be interested in how a group of independent authors has gone about defining for themselves what constitutes ethical practice. Bravo and kudos to all who worked on such a straightforward and comprehensive document

The campaign has its own hastag #ethicalauthor and, if you’re interested in signing on, you can download code for a nice graphic that you can display on your own social media sites. I’ll be putting mine up on the sidebar of my main blog page soon – well, as soon as I remember how.

Cauldstane–the latest novel by Scottish writer, Linda Gillard

CAULDSTANEFrom the award-winning writer, Linda Gillard, comes a Gothic novel in the romantic suspense tradition of Daphne du Maurier and Victoria Holt.

When ghostwriter Jenny Ryan is summoned to the Scottish Highlands by Sholto MacNab – retired adventurer and Laird of Cauldstane Castle – she’s prepared for travellers’ tales, but not the MacNabs’ violent and tragic history. Lust, betrayal and murder have blighted family fortunes for generations, together with an ancient curse. As members of the family confide their sins and their secrets, Jenny learns why Cauldstane’s uncertain future divides father and sons. But someone resents Jenny’s presence. Someone thinks she’s getting too close to Alec MacNab – swordsmith, widower and heir to Cauldstane. Someone will stop at nothing until Jenny has been driven away. Or driven mad. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Especially a dead woman.

I hope I’ve got your attention! Linda Gillard’s latest  release promises to keep her reputation as an author with a finely honed talent for dealing with mystery/romance alive and hopping. And what about that cover? Talk about a hit!

Author Linda GallardI first met Linda, via social media through The Alliance of Independent Authors. She was so generous with her time answering my questions on the Alliance’s members only Facebook page that I got curious about her. I downloaded and read her novel, A Lifetime Burning. After that I was hooked by the ability of Linda’s words to wrench my emotions, paint a breathtaking landscape and tell a darn good yarn. The Glass Guardian and House of Silence soon found a home on my Kindle.

Linda has agreed to do a guest spot on my blog later in February. She will share some pictures of Scottish castles and talk about her inspiration for writing Cauldstane. I can’t wait.

Meanwhile – let’s all get over to Amazon and grab Linda’s latest. I’ll meet you there. You can also join Linda over on her Facebook page and keep up with all her adventures.

Still Partying: My Book is Free on iTunes


The party continues! Disappearing in Plain Sight is free on  iTunes right now. What are you waiting for – get over there and download a copy. We’ll be right here when you come back. Promise.

Check out the guest post I did over on the Alliance of Independent Authors Self-Publishing Advice Blog –  It’s Called Fiction for a Reason People.” I was honoured to be asked to write for this prestigious group and blog. Tried to put my own unique spin on the topic.


Remember – all likes for the entire month of June get entered for a draw with the lucky winner getting to do a guest blog on the topic of their choice. All comments are going in a draw for a $5.00 Amazon gift card. Pingbacks and new followers are entered to win the big prize – a trade paperback edition of Disappearing in Plain Sight.

So let’s hear the chatter people!

Reassessment Time


If you’re over the age of two, I’m guessing the essential process of reassessment rolls around periodically. I admit to never enjoying this turn at the wheel of life. Think about it. The root word here is assessment . . . not such a terrific start. Add the revisiting prefix and you see what I mean . . . like it wasn’t bad enough the first time around. Just saying . . . .

This blog started out with the purpose of sharing my self-publishing journey. Was the intention to inspire and inform? I’m not sure. I’m a bit too ego conscious to make such claims. I wanted to write the kind of blog that I might want to read.

With that in mind, I’ve had a few struggles since Disappearing in Plain Sight was published, and these relate to the self-publishing route I chose. I’m not going to go on a rant. I will provide two enlightening links to material that I wished I had read before skipping, gleefully down my chosen path.

A discussion forum related to the various claims made by Friesen Press

Alliance of Independent Authors – and informative post on Agent Assisted Publishing

Suffice to say that I am now saddled with just about every negative part of the assisted publishing process they describe. I’ll let you, my astute readers, connect the dots.

One should always strive for balance when in the process of reassessment. My book is available through a number of distributor channels, the trade paperback and hardcover books are of good quality for the price point, the book is selling, the marketing guy I worked with was very friendly (well, to be honest, almost everything he gave me I could have gotten from the internet, but still – friendly does count for something), I may have spent a lot of money in my opinion of things, but it was only a fraction of how bad it could have been.

Have you ever had the experience where your priorities for choosing something were the entirely inappropriate things to be focusing on? (i.e. I grew up in the era of Trudeau mania and so I’m all gaga for Justin Trudeau, or Christy Clarke is a woman, and we should have more women as Premiers in Canada, so I’ll vote for her. Hmmm . . . maybe not the best logic.)

Setting out on the self-publishing journey, I was nervous. I wanted someone to hold my hand and lead me through the process. As it turns out, there was a high price tag for that service (upfront and ongoing) and the hand holding didn’t turn out to be all it was cracked up to be – like many such promises in life.

Here’s the crux of my reassessment: I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t know what questions to ask when I went out Googling for information. I’m not sure what the answer to that dilemma might be. I’m sure blog posts like the one I’m writing now were out there.  

One kind person told me that every self-published writer has gone down a road or two they wished they hadn’t. It’s comforting to be in such good company.

Writing update: I wrote close to 5000 words yesterday and the first draft of The Light Never Lies is almost ready to be printed out in hard copy. When that happens, I’ll let it rest a bit before plunging through the pages on the lookout for glaring inconsistencies, parts that stretch the believability quotient, redundancies, and the vital emergence of themes that I didn’t even realize were there. I find it hard to believe that I can write something and actually miss what it is I’m writing – but it happens.

Epilogue – I am actively seeking a new road for the publication of The Light Never Lies. Insights welcome.


Post Publication–One Month and Counting


Disappearing in Plain Sight has been romping free in the world for a month. Taking in that bit of excitement is an ongoing process. My publishing agreement with Friesen Press means I access sales information through my author account with them. The reports for outside venues are slow to arrive – 2nd week of the month for sales in the previous month for most places and closer to the end of the month before I get any information on Amazon Kindle sales. It is a waiting game on that front.

I try to satisfy my curiosity by constantly checking my Amazon ranking, which is so silly I cannot even imagine why I’m broadcasting the news. The numbers are meaningless from a statistical point of view. No one seems to have any idea how Amazon calculates rankings. Ah well, I am as guilty as anyone of clinging to straws in the absence of actual data.

The month has not been totally taken up with nail-biting ranking checks. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time building my social media platform, researching and learning about the marketing /promotion options that will work for me, and writing. I’ve logged about 10,000 words on The Light Never Lies.

Promotion and Marketing Update

Three of the things I decided to pay for:

  • One advertisement – I chose BC Bookworld – this publication is distributed free of charge to multiple venues in the province and has a large circulation – if you have ever ridden a BC Ferry you may have picked up a copy from the ship’s gift shop.
  • Join one professional organization. I chose the Alliance of Independent Authors. The annual membership paid for itself in knowledge and contacts almost immediately. Access to discussions on the members’ only Facebook page is priceless.
  • Enter one contest. After quite a bit of internet research, I chose the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award. An expensive gamble after entry fee, providing them with a copy of a real book, and mailing it to the US – but it was something I wanted to do.

That dreaded word – budget

I’m working from a limited marketing/promotion budget. We spent a good deal of it on the above items and purchasing books for local sales,which, by the way, are going exceptionally well. Bruce has turned out to be an enthusiastic promoter and salesman. I’m planning to attend a few local events where book selling will be my goal. I’ve got a couple of launch events in the works. I’m also working to have the book made available on a consignment basis through two local book stores.

Making community work for me

Vancouver Island loves its local artists, and I want to tap into that love. I’m working on a couple of different press releases – one for local papers and one for venues where my name would not be familiar, always emphasizing that I am a long-time Vancouver Island resident. Every little bit helps. I’ve recently put up posters on community bulletin boards and hope to get a few into the staff rooms and lunch areas at various places.

Using my academic connections to my advantage

I believe Disappearing in Plain Sight will have an appeal to mental health care workers (counselling themes, counsellor as a main character, youth who struggle with real-life issues). I have provided some key people with a copy of the book. I am hoping this can create buzz in what is often a tight-knit community and perhaps lead to an endorsement of the book for this group.

Social media

I’ve been promoting my Facebook author page. Feel free to click and check it out. I’m taking the advice of many who say that the author page had better be about more than me promoting my book in update after update. I put up links to my blog posts, intriguing quotes and pictures.

Book reviews

I’ve been quite fortunate on this front. In the first month that Disappearing in Plain Sight has been out, it has garnered six 5-star reviews on Amazon. A few of these reviews also appear on Goodreads, which in turn allows its reviews to be picked up by the Kobo Store. Huge thanks go out to all of these people for taking the time to read and review!

Best Advice to Date

I asked a question on the Alliance of Independent Authors Facebook page about how one goes about getting early reviews. I had read that the first days out on Amazon were crucial. A few experienced self-published authors were kind enough to respond at length. One spoke of how self-publishing is more of a marathon than a sprint. Building a loyal fan base is the goal. Focus on writing and producing a good sequel novel and the rest will fall into place.


The journey continues . . . .

If you are a newly self-published author – any tips you would like to share are more than welcome. If you are considering or working toward self-publishing, is any of this helpful? Please let me know what you think.

If you write what’s in your heart – will you lose friends and loved ones?

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The answer to the above question is – possibly. I used to think that writing fiction would be a good defense against such a state of affairs. My previous writing had been in the realm of academia. At a certain level, (peer-reviewed journals) even academics have to take a stand – albeit one that can be backed up in the literature or with one’s own research findings. I put myself out there on more than one occasion. When asked, in my oral thesis defense, how I would respond to the criticism that being a qualitative researcher meant I lacked objectivity, I responded that quantitative researchers are not objective either. Objectivity in any type of research is a myth. Now that was taking a firm stand, and it was one that many did not appreciate.

I’ll just fast forward to the life of a fiction writer. Let us first define the word, fiction.



Prose literature, especially short stories and novels, about imaginary events and people. Invention or fabrication as opposed to fact.

Synonyms: figment, invention, fabrication

That would appear to say all that needs saying about fiction, but not so fast. Here is a conversation that I had the other day.

Book recipient (suitable excitement on his/her face) Is it a true story?

Me: No, it is a work of fiction.

Book recipient (not in the least daunted) Yes of course but is it true fiction?

The term “true fiction” would appear to be an oxymoron.

I recently joined a fascinating discussion string on the Alliance of Independent Authors (members only) Facebook page. It related to how the friends and family of an author might view a work of his or her fiction. A few people shared having lost friends and angered family members because of what they had written. A fictional character may knock on a door to close to home. Perhaps the situations that the writer makes the characters endure are unacceptable. Maybe a friend or family member sees something familiar about a certain character and finds that a treasonable offence.

Authors must be free to explore a whole gamut of life situations without the fear that those close to them will lose sight of important realties. To write about a lifestyle or behaviour does not equal an endorsement, and the word fiction is synonymous with figment, invention and fabrication.

I had an enlightening experience at a social justice workshop years ago. In order to participate in a mock debate, we divided into two groups. One group had to speak in favour of the Gulf War. I found myself in that group. I took the exercise seriously and did a good job at the task assigned. I spent the entire weekend under attack for my stance on the Gulf War while enduring barely concealed looks of outrage. What part of mock debate did they not understand?

Later, when I taught communication skills at the undergrad level, there were often options for mock class debates. I never staged one. Words are powerful, and when wielded well they tend to stick – no matter the parameters of an exercise.

Is there truth in fiction? Yes, indeed – but it is the nature of that truth that needs to be explored. In a good work of fiction, I would expect to find a truth or two about human emotions, and most importantly, a truth about myself as I explore my own reactions to the story. I do not expect to find the author’s life story.