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Paranormal Romance Guild: Scamming Authors Who Pay in Good Faith
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Paranormal Romance Guild: Scamming Authors Who Pay in Good Faith

Paranormal Romance Guild Scamming Authors

Note to authors who’ve paid for membership in the Paranormal Romance Guild: check to see if your reviews of the last few years are live on the site. If not, email the PRG.

Be aware that the board members of the PRG will launch a vicious personal attack against you if you point out that you paid for a service which they abruptly dropped without notification. Ask yourself if you really want to do business with a group whose idea of customer service lacks respect and courtesy and instead depends on ad hominem attacks.

**Update: The PRG board made a big fuss about how they are a volunteer organization. However, the Vice President is paid $400 per month. Did the PRG cut author services in order to pay the board? Is the board using the membership fees as their own private slush fund?**

I have been a member of the Paranormal Romance Guild for several years. As an author who is both traditionally and independently published, I seek always to publicize and promote my novels. This is imperative because I can write the best books in the world but if no one knows about my books, no one will buy them.

It isn’t always easy to promote a book. There are many book PR sites and companies that promise a lot and deliver little. I scour the internet for opportunities to introduce readers to my novels. Readers are usually glad to have found my books–I get a lot of good reviews online and I receive regular complimentary emails about my books. Anyone can check Amazon or my website to see what I mean.

So several years ago I discovered the Paranormal Romance Guild, probably through a book publicist. They started running reviews of my novels, especially my dystopian novels Fallen, Cold Light, Far Shore, and Blood Sky.

In 2011, a PRG reviewer submitted Fallen for a Reviewer’s Choice Award, and I rallied my family, friends, and readers to vote for Fallen. Fallen Won! Yay!

I started paying for membership to the site. It wasn’t a lot but it was something, and there were two tiers, and I budget carefully for book promotion. I bought the membership in good faith that my awards, books, and reviews would stay live. That’s what I’ve been paying for. I’ve been paying every year. I’ve been paying in good faith.

A month ago, the founding member of the PRG who was also a former board member and webmaster sent out a disturbing email. This email spoke of her experience of being unceremoniously dumped from the PRG, a book review site that she had helped to build.

She had devoted a great deal of time and energy to the PRG over several years and they arbitrarily dumped her.

Her email made me uneasy. Of course there were two sides to the story, but it seemed that she had been treated unfairly. I will copy her email to the bottom of this post.

Then a few days ago, I, a paying member of the PRG, discovered that the reviews of my award-winning books had been stripped from their new site.

I emailed to inquire and was told that this was a decision by the PRG. There was a lot of condescending hooey from the PRG in the emails that followed.

The bottom line is that the “new” Paranormal Romance Guild arbitrarily cut the reviews of my award-winning novels without even telling me that would happen–despite the fact that I am a paying member of several years.

This is a way to scam authors. It’s bait and switch: taking money and then suddenly changing the terms.

The Paranormal Romance Guild has behaved disgracefully.

***

Letter from the founding member dumped from the PRG:

Many of you know me fairly well by now. I am a founding member who helped create PRG 7+ years ago. I was webmaster, a former President & VP, and a board member, who worked all these years as though PRG was my 2nd job, even though for most of the time I was an unpaid volunteer. My largest fault has been that I work too hard and want things done right – because I believe that if we expect authors to pay for membership, they deserve a site that is done well and looks professional. I have taken great pride in all that I’ve done for PRG.

I have just been informed that I have been unceremoniously removed from my roles in the organization today. After 7 years of hard work (and friendship, I thought) I was not given a phone call for discussion of this major change, nor was the Board of Directors given opportunity to vote as they properly should have. This decision was made by President Kelly Abell & VP Fred Feeley because they have “decided to go in another direction”. I was not given an opportunity to speak on my own behalf about this important change and the Board was insulted by having this decision made for them as though they are incompetent for the roles they were elected to and their opinions are worthless. I did not even receive a professional email informing me of this executive decision until 10 hours after I was unexpectedly locked out of the PRG Reviewer’s Choice Award preparations I was working on for all of you. 

I have only ever wanted what was best for PRG. Our recent webhost problems were beyond my control, but I had prepared a new website and worked hard to ensure our members would experience minimum interruptions in service. A webhost change may ultimately be deemed necessary, but as elected WebMaster I had hoped to be part of the conversation and transition, rather than stepped over and kicked to the curb. Our elected Officers and Board Members are supposed to have opportunity to voice their opinions, and changes are supposed to be voted upon as a group – because we created a community founded upon group spirit. Please be aware that apparently, that is no longer the case in PRG.

I am disappointed that the organization I worked so hard to help create and grow over the years has so mishandled this transition. For all the times I dropped everything to quickly help members and co-workers with problems, or help with emergency site changes and review postings…for all the times I put my own writing career aside to help better PRG, this is an extremely unfair and cruel turn of events. In 7 years of emergencies and last minute projects, I have never let PRG down. However, PRG has let me down terribly. 

I have many wonderful memories from my time with PRG and have made great friendships that will continue on. I do not know what new direction The Paranormal Romance Guild will be taking in the future, but I wanted to let you all know that I will not be taking part in it, because for an organization to treat a hard working, loyal, founding member this way is disgraceful.

BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily: Excellent Promotion
book promotion | business | guide to independent publishing | independent publishing

BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily: Excellent Promotion

BookGorilla brings free or deeply discounted books to readers via an online subscription service.

As an independent author and the publisher of a small press, I am always, eternally, and forever looking for ways to market and promote my books. It’s an essential part of the job. I do marketing and promotion tasks weekly. Should do them daily.

I can write and publish the most awesomely delicious books, but if readers don’t know about those books, they won’t buy them.

Over the years, I’ve tried various methods for making people aware of my books. I’ve paid to have book trailers made. Those help; everyone likes to watch a short, well-made video that teases and intrigues.

I regularly submit my books to book review blogs, because those sites can spread the word about a book all across the worldwide web. In fact, I constantly troll the internet for book review sites that would be a good fit for my books.

I blog regularly, and you, dear reader, are tasting the fruit of that effort at this very moment. I write pieces for the Huffington Post. I create podcasts for an iTunes podcast channel. I’ve recently started a BlogTalkRadio show, “Independent Artists & Thinkers.”

Perhaps the single most effective promotion I’ve done, that has the most immediate and measurable impact on ebook sales, is run a promotion through BookGorilla and Kindle Nation Daily.

The way it works is that readers subscribe to BookGorilla. When they sign up, they choose their personal reading preferences from a detailed list of genres and sub-genres. Then, every day, subscribers receive an email tailored specifically to their individual preferences. This email lists top quality ebooks that are, for a limited time, offered either free or at a juicy discount.

Kindle Nation Daily is more like a news service for all things kindle, and it dovetails with BookGorilla to offer bargains to readers.

For my recent novel BROKEN, I paid for a Kindle Nation Daily feature, which includes an excerpt, and received a free slideover to the BookGorilla email blast.

The KND feature looked gorgeous:

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Beautiful, yes? Beneath the 5 Star Praise box was the excerpt, so readers could get a taste of the novel–so they would be tempted to buy it.

The same day, Broken was included in the BookGorilla email blast:

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Nice, right? But much more than nice. It’s effective. Immediately, book sales increased. Amazon ratings started rising. After a while, I took screenshots to capture those lovely high rankings:

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Then:

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And:

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It was extremely satisfying to watch the ratings rise! I didn’t capture the ascent at its peak, because I was busy through the day.

To be clear, the ratings rose because the book was selling and selling!

These screenshots speak for themselves. BookGorilla, with Kindle Nation Daily, was an effective way to market and promote my novel. I recommend it.

BookGorilla

The Never Ending Journey of the Independent Artist, My Latest on the HuffPo
5 star review | art | authors | autobiography | blogs | book promotion | dance | dance school | guide to independent publishing | Huffington Post | independent publishing | life model | Sabin Howard | Sabin Howard sculpture

The Never Ending Journey of the Independent Artist, My Latest on the HuffPo

I am an independent artist, married to an independent artist, with friends who are, yes, independent artists. This piece on the Huffington Post reflects what I’ve learned.

In part, the article says:

What I experienced was that the big traditional publishing companies had gotten mired in the quicksand of conventional thinking and groupthink. They had forgotten the importance of nurturing a midlist author through a few books to build a readership. They overlooked the appeal of richness and diversity in a book list and so refused to invest in truly original, unorthodox projects.

Worst of all, they had taken the selection of books away from people who love books—editors—and turned it over to people desperately searching for a business school algorithm to make every book a bestseller out of the starting gate—the marketing department.

Not that some wonderful books don’t sneak past the eyes of the marketing department. But, increasingly, legacy publishers emulate corporate Hollywood studios: turning out branded, franchise entertainment, mindless drivel that appeals to the horny, nerdy teenager in us all.

The great books and movies that make it past gatekeepers usually do so because they are spearheaded by someone passionate about the project. These projects come from the creative heart and soul of a dedicated individual. They require perseverance and vision in order to unfold in the world.

With no luck but bad luck with the legacy publishers, I embarked on my own passion process. I founded Parvati Press. I started independently publishing my own books and recently other authors.

 I’m fortunate to have two strong-minded individualists in my life as models for my journey: my husband Sabin Howard, and my friend dancer Lori Belilove, Founder and Artistic Director of the Isadora Duncan Dance Company and Foundation.

Catch the whole article here on the HuffPo.

Though I did realize this morning that there is one thing I forgot to mention explicitly in the post: the pleasure inherent in this path. It’s just fun to think ‘outside the box’ and to operate outside the confines of corporate mentality. It’s scary, yes, because it’s insecure. But it is ever so delicious.

 

independent artist

huffington-post

BROKEN on SALE via BookGorilla promotions
5 star review | book promotion | Broken | business | guide to independent publishing

BROKEN on SALE via BookGorilla promotions

FOR A LIMITED TIME, Traci L. Slatton’s BROKEN on sale for $0.99!!

Get while it’s hot!

Broken on sale
Free Kindle Nation Shorts
a free reader’s service from Kindle Nation Daily
April 21, 2015
An excerpt from Traci L. Slatton’s BROKEN

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel who has taken the form of a beautiful woman is trapped in the web of Nazi occupation. Can she save her two lovers and the Jewish widow and child she has come to care for?

“…incredible…a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, betrayal, and defiance…”

Sensual, spiritual and elegantly written, BROKEN is enthralling readers…

“…stunning. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read..”

Experience BROKEN while it’s 83% off the regular price!
Alia takes full advantage of her human form
in this Free Kindle Nation Shorts excerpt from

Broken
by Traci L. Slatton

4.5 stars – 13 reviews

Special Kindle Price: 99 cents!
(reduced from $5.99 for a
limited time time only)
Here’s the set-up:
Power is pornographic. Can love sustain light when the forces of evil close in?

Paris, 1939-1942. A fallen angel is trapped in the web of German occupation. The deadly noose of Nazi control grows ever tighter, ensnaring her and two of her lovers, a bullfighter and a musician working in the fledgling Resistance. Can she save them and the Jewish widow and her child that she has come to love, or will betrayal take them all?

5-star praise for BROKEN:
 “…a wonderful escape….exciting, intelligent…captivating…”
 “Compelling and transporting…”
 

See the Facebook posting!

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Foreword Reviews Spring Issue: Broken is “beautiful”
5 star review | art | authors | book covers | Broken | guide to independent publishing | independent publishing | special | writing

Foreword Reviews Spring Issue: Broken is “beautiful”

Foreword Reviews is the “library journal” of independent publishing. It’s a content-rich, beautifully put together magazine that’s published quarterly. The top of their Spring 2015 issue is emblazoned, “THE INDIE BOOKS WE LOVE” and this periodical means just that: they love indie titles. Foreword Reviews understands the value of independently published books and appreciates the quality of those independently published books with excellent production values.

It was with great delight that I received word, some months back, that my novel BROKEN would be reviewed and featured in Foreword Reviews. Not only that, but the editorial director politely wondered whether or not it was possible to get a jpg of the cover image, the painting upon which the cover is based.

In fact, Broken’s gorgeous cover is based on a painting by the extraordinarily gifted Roberto Ferri, an Italian figurative painter, and a hero of mine. Roberto’s work is utterly ravishing.

After a Skype session in Italian with my husband Sabin Howard (for whom Italian is his first language), Roberto graciously gave permission for me to use the painting for the book cover. He sent me a large file.

It was the one and only Gwyn Snyder who took that file and turned it into the book cover. And what a beautiful job Gwyn did! She’s so very talented.

So I happily asked Sabin to check with Roberto regarding Foreword Reviews featuring his painting, and he, again, generously gave permission.

The review of Broken is absolutely lovely. There’s a pix below. Allyce Amidon writes,

Slatton has created a beautiful, heart wrenching tale of humanity during the Second World War. …Slatton writes poignantly, with lyrical prose: “I have been shattered, the shattering is still with me. I am only shards now. There is no core.” This is a gorgeous philosophical treaty on right and wrong, the “why” behind impossible decisions, and what remains when everything is gone. Slatton guides the reader gently through to the end, all the more heartbreaking for its inevitability, imparting powerful, resonant themes as she goes.

Take a look online, and do consider a subscription!

 

Foreword REviews

Foreword Reviews

The Business of Independent Publishing
authors | Broken | business | errors | guide to independent publishing | hard work | how to write a book | Huffington Post | independent publishing | Uncategorized | writing

The Business of Independent Publishing

Regarding the business of independent publishing: A few months ago, I received a polite email from Professor John Maxwell of Simon Fraser University. Some of his students had come to him. Between the covers of the text he had ordered for his graduate class on publishing, The Content Machine by Michael Bhaskar, was the novel Broken by Traci L. Slatton, in its entirety. He attached a picture to show me, see below.

Here was an opportunity to spread the word about Parvati Press in general and about my novels in particular, I thought. “Are your students interested in the novel? Would you like more copies?” I asked. I am always looking for opportunities to promote the Press.

He accepted with alacrity. Ten copies shipped out to him at SFU.

Sometime later, during an email exchange, he invited me to guest lecture to his class via Skype. I accepted. It was a good experience; his students were bright, polite, inquisitive, and thoughtful. I enjoyed talking to them but finished with a feeling of frustration: there was so much else to say about independent publishing.

Much of it I’ve learned the hard way, too.

It has been an intense journey since the day I decided to expand the Press and take on other authors. I’ve learned some tough lessons. My first time out of the box, I took on a writer who turned out to be certifiably insane. Not, like, a little kookie, but off-her-rockers lunatic demented. I’ve blogged about that elsewhere, including a Huffington Post article about How to Handle eMail Harassment.

The next three writers weren’t crazy, but I still made a big mistake in trusting one of them.

After the debacle with the first writer, I realized I needed a solid contract for dealing with potential Parvati Press authors. I hired an attorney who had helped me on other matters. She wasn’t a publishing attorney, and the contract put off the other writers.

That was my responsibility, I knew. So I went out and found a real publishing attorney, I mean, the guy in publishing law, to create a contract that was clear, simple, fair, and had precedents in publishing. He did a great job.

He also yelled at me about the deal I was giving the writers. He explained that I could not sustain the Press with that deal. He was right, but I felt that I had given my word to the writers, so those first few would still receive the deal I had originally offered them. He called me crazy. But I was going to keep my word.

One writer refused to do a revision that his manuscript urgently required. Line for line, his prose was polished and perfect. Unfortunately, it was a good story badly told. His novel was boring. He had to revise it to bring it to life. He didn’t want to do the work required because he’s had a storied career as an author. But production values matter to me, so I declined to send him a contract.

A second writer saw immediately that I was being scrupulously honorable. She signed the contract and sent it back immediately.

Ah, but the third guy. He had been hemming and hawing, wringing his hands, and dragging his feet about signing a contract from the day I sent him one. Days and weeks would go by. He was always about to talk to his attorney, who was so busy…. When I sent him the second contract, he said, “I’ll sign it right away, I’ll tell my lawyer that I want to get this done unless there’s something major wrong with it.”

As the months went by, with all the foot-dragging and hand-wringing and excuses, I was working on this writer’s manuscript. I stupidly invested a great deal of my own time, thought, and energy into his manuscript. Now, it had a germ of a good idea, and the writer showed flashes of serious, big talent throughout. But it was no where near publishable. It was going to require sustained heavy lifting to get it to the point where the manuscript was professional and polished.

Also, it was tricky to deal with the writer because of the arrogance involved. Taking editorial criticism is a skill that requires learning for most of us.

I paid for the Parvati Press editor to do a thorough manuscript critique. It was still going to be at least three more revisions before the manuscript was ready to be published, two that I could do and one more from the professional editor. Note that this editorial critique is the work product of Parvati Press.

Despite my honorable behavior, there was only continued hand-wringing and hawing and excuses about the second contract.

I woke up.

I realized–finally!–that this writer had no intention of signing a contract with me. One tip-off was when he asked why there was now no “out” in the new contract so he could go to a bigger publisher if one made an offer.

It broke over me that this writer was out to get free editing for his manuscript so he could shop it around to other publishers.

I conferred with several experienced business people close to me. One woman with her own PR company told me that it happens all the time. Clients come to her, get her ideas, and then don’t sign a contract and pay her. They go off and use her ideas either by themselves or with another PR firm.

Essentially, they rip her off, the same way that this writer planned to rip off Parvati Press.

Another businessman said to me, dryly, “Welcome to the business world.”

Another friend said, “These are the early business mistakes.”

My publishing attorney said, “Never work on a project without a signed contract.”

I emailed back to him, “I’m learning.”

This is just writer relations, a tiny slice of the whole juicy pie. There is so much else to independent publishing, especially the way I do it: with integrity. The book has to be high quality in terms of content, and it has to look good, too. It has to be copyedited, proofread, professionally laid out with an appealing, professionally designed book cover, and given an ISBN and accurate categories…And all that is BEFORE the hard work of marketing a book so it stands out from the crowd: so that readers will know about the book and buy it.

Marketing is a big challenge. It deserves its own post, so I’ll pause here. Meantime, here’s Professor Maxwell’s post about finding BROKEN in his textbook, called, cleverly, “My Content Machine is Broken.”

Maxwell is a good writer himself. His post is worth reading, though his characterization of my novel BROKEN is condescending and pejorative. I emailed him to let him know this:

I would like to put out there (please indulge me) that BROKEN is more than a paranormal romance. It is based on a serious philosophical question with which I wrestle every day: How could a good God allow such pain and suffering?
In this vein, FOREWORD REVIEWS, which is the Library Journal for independent publishing, is reviewing BROKEN for its forthcoming Sci Fi issue, and wrote, “This is a gorgeous philosophical treaty on right and wrong….”

To his credit, Maxwell agreed with me.  He has yet to correct his post to reflect the respect my novel deserves. And this is part of independent publishing, too: Making sure that independently published books are valued and respected.

independent publishing