Have You Checked Out Writers2Writers?

I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the TV interview series, Writers2Writers, I was a part of. Originally aired in the Fall of 2014, the series features guests talking about all sorts of author- and writer-related content. There’s something for everyone! [Update: I’ll be adding new episodes to the list below as they are released throughout the year.]

Episode 1 covered writing an anthology, NaNoWriMo, and using Kindle Direct Publishing (with yours truly!).

Episode 2 discussed paranormal fiction writing, outlining your novel, and the dos and don’ts for landing a literary agent.

Episode 3 featured memoir writing, scifi/fantasy world building, and the author/editor relationship.

Episode 4 talked about the New Jersey Authors’ Network, writing conflict for characters, and facts and figures on selling your book to a publishing house.

Episode 5 discussed the ebook price war, how to mend a “broken” scene, and starting your own writing group. 

Episode 6 covered historical fiction writing, overcoming writer’s block, and book cover design.

Episode 7 is about character creation, revision checklists, and strategies for time management.

Episode 8 delves into writing young adult (YA) fiction, tips from guests at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, and an action plan for book marketing.

I hope you find these videos informative and helpful! 😀

Photo a Day for 1 Year – An Interview With Artist/Photographer James Cornette

Writers have National Novel Writing Month, where the challenge is to write 1667 words a day for 30 straight days. Now, imagine that challenge stretched out across an entire year! While taking photographs might seem simpler than writing a story, I bet many photographers would beg to differ. Good friend, photographer, exceptionally talented artist, and occasional book cover designer, James Cornette took that challenge in 2013 and succeeded, producing an enviable breadth of fantastic photography in the process. He recently finished putting together a motivational book aimed at those who might attempt the same feat.

Artist, photographer, graphic designer… author? You’re a modern-day renaissance man! What made you take the leap into self-publishing your book?


“Selfie” ©James Cornette

I love torture! I never fancied myself as a writer and it was never a desire. But, after looking back at the project as a whole, the “how did I actually stick to something this long?” had to be told. The amount of effort the “photo- a-day” took kind of sunk in. A few friends commented on how they didn’t know how I stuck to it for a whole year and how they could NEVER do that themselves. That was my cue.

I was actually excited to share just how I did it and what a great payoff it was personally. This idea of sharing took more shape after listening to a Dan Miller podcast about ebooks. Curiosity took over and I jumped into “figure it out” mode. It amazed me that sharing information was such a driver for me. As an artist I love to show work but I tend to get a little “guarded” on my process. I realized this was nothing more than insecurity. If I could show work AND share how, that was a win-win situation.

You and I talked throughout the process of creating this book and I love the way it turned out. It’s really great. What did you think of Kindle Direct Publishing and the path to publication?

Thanks, Scott! You were definitely a motivating factor in seeing this through. KDP…That is a tough one! I LOVE the platform and what it offers. The Help Topic section was thorough and helpful but a bit overwhelming at first. A video guide would have been a bit more reassuring.
One issue that came up right out of the gate was what format was best for my book. Initially I laid the book out in Adobe InDesign. This set me up for false expectations of how my book would look. I was in full on Graphic Designer mode and had 2 columns, dropcaps, nested images. My book was 50% text and 50% graphics so I naturally wanted certain chunks of text to be grouped with specific photographs. I gave the Kindle Pluggin for InDesign a go. FAIL! This churned out text and graphics all jammed together. The wind was sucked right out of my sails. I am sure you remember that conversation!

Regroup! Next up was Kindle Kids’ Book Creator followed by KindleGen v2.9. Kindle Kid’s Book Creator gave me the look I wanted but rendered out massive jpgs of each page. The result was a file too large and text that was fuzzy at a zoomed in view. If I were to go this route I would use Createspace instead. KindleGen never actually worked. I would get a command line popup (that scarey black box with lines of code on a PC) that would crash immediately. My ADD kicked in hard here and I left KindleGen in the dust.

I was determined to figure this out. Next up was HTML. I am no developer but have spent some years building site in HTML. There was enough guidance in the Help Topic section to get me on my way. This was the best option for me and got me the closest to the original book layout. It was not 100% but if I wanted to get this book out the door I was going to have to make some compromises. The result was live text and photos that were in the correct proximity to the text. I then zipped up the HTML, CSS, and images to upload to KDP. It was a bit tedious… upload, review, make edits to formatting, repeat. KDP has a great emulator that shows what your uploaded book looks like on multiple devices and gives you the option to view it horizontally or vertically.

So, when’s book #2 coming out?

Hehehh! I got the writing thing out of my system. I am leaving that to you professionals!

You’re a really great photographer and your art is pretty damn awesome too. Do you think the two go hand in hand?

"DoubleDutch" ©JamesCornette

“DoubleDutch” ©JamesCornette

Way to butter me up! Great question! It so difficult for me to separate the two. One skill feeds the other and vice versa. At times I believed both skills were different outlets for the same content. But that ignores the nuances of each practice. They are siblings that get along. Make sense? I don’t believe it is a requirement to be multi-disciplined but it sure helps! My art background provides me a different way of looking at and composing a photograph. Being an artist allows me to be more abstract in my approach. I use some of my art suggestions in the book. The artistic approach keeps you engaged in the process and the project. We are doing so much more than just recording an image daily or writing a blog post… we are “painting” a story, emotion, or thought.

The thing I always try to remember is an artistic bent is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we try new things and engage in discovery. The curse is that we are easily bored and have trouble with follow-through. This is why I wrote the book… follow through.

You’re in the process of finishing up a “sketch-a-day” for a year project. Which project was more of a challenge?

HAHAHA! I am starting to twitch! The sketch-a-day is killing me! Let me start by saying that “a-day” should be pulled from the title. Let’s call it “365 sketches.” So, why am I not keeping the same pace? I get lost in my sketches. The photos were better thought out because I followed my 12 step process! I stuck to the plan. With the daily sketch I tend to make it more of an illustration than a sketch. I will finish all 365 sketches but not without some angst. The thing you will notice more readily in the daily sketches is the level of engagement in each sketch. I have some solid ones and some duds.

"Gear" ©James Cornette

“Gear” ©James Cornette

What’s the best thing to come out of this whole experience so far?

I wanted it to be personal growth. That is just a side product. The true benefit is the ability to time travel… to sit down and go through a year of photos with your family. To remember the day, the weather, the sounds, the vibe, the laughter, the pain. It all comes rushing back. To share a journey and encourage others to join in is such a great feeling!

So, photo-a day, sketch-a-day, …what’s next?

A 6-pack a day! Actually, a few friends and I were considering a weekly project. This would obviously be more a study in time management and fighting procrastination. The end goal is always the same though… growth! I know I can’t just coast.



$1.99 on Amazon. Free for Prime and Kindle Unlimited members. Great gift for that photographer in your life. 🙂

Awesome stuff. James, thanks for giving us a little insight into what went into the creation of your book. I’m sort of proud to have been able to contribute to it, as you’ve always helped me out without asking for anything in return.

Be sure to check out James Cornette’s new book on the challenge of taking a photo a day for a year. It’s informative, inspiring, and motivational on many levels. You can see James’ full collection of photographs here, his online portfolio here, and his sketch-a-day work here. I look forward to seeing and sharing more of his work in the future.

Comments or questions for James? Drop a note in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!

Kindle Scout


Planning on publishing your Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, or Fantasy novel with Amazon soon? Not in a rush? Well, you might want to consider submitting to Kindle Scout. Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing arm has put out a call for work. Check out the home page and eligibility requirements.

Per the site,

If we select your book for publication, you will be entitled to a $1,500 advance and royalties on net revenues at a rate of 50% for eBooks, 25% for audio editions and 20% for translations.

If you do not earn at least $25,000 during any 5-year term, you’ll have six months after the end of that 5-year period in which you can choose to stop publishing with us and request your rights back.

Be sure to read the fine print before you submit. Another way Amazon is trying to become the publisher of choice. They are certainly dangling another carrot here.

UPDATE (11/4/14): The reader portion of Kindle Scout is now active and you may nominate books for selection. Having seen some of the choices, I wonder if Amazon might help authors with their covers prior to publication. Some are pretty awful. :-/

What do you think? Would you/will you submit? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Amazon Sweetens the Select Deal

But are they just making the rich, richer?

If you haven’t seen this post from Amazon about the new Select All-Stars program, I suggest you head over and take a look, especially if your books are in KDP Select. Essentially, Amazon needed an additional $2.7 million (on top of the standard $2 million), just to get August’s KU/KOLL borrows payout to $1.54. They had to more than double the pot, and it still came out almost $0.50 below the average for the last two years!

In addition, they’ve installed an All-Star program for the Top 100 books and authors per month who are in the Select program. The numbers look amazing, but when it comes down to it, Amazon is simply rewarding those who are already successful. And, if these top authors are then further thrust into additional spotlight, what chance does it give to anyone else wanting to break into the top? Are they just making it better for those who already have it good?

As always, the folks over at kboards are already heatedly debating the possible issues. 😉

What do you think? Good for the author or bad for the author?

Important Kindle Request – A Letter from Amazon


If you’re a KDP author, you might have checked your email this morning and found a rather interesting letter from Kindle Direct Publishing. In it, there’s a brief history lesson on how paperback books were initially perceived by the publishing industry, an explanation of how traditional ebook pricing is hurting everyone involved, and a request to email bomb Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch. If you’re not a KDP author, you can read the letter here: http://www.readersunited.com/.

My first reaction was, wow… it’s come to this. While Hachette has rallied its authors against Amazon during this dispute, Amazon has kept things fairly low key. Yes, they’ve posted letters to public forums, but this is taking the battle to a whole new level. A call to arms, so to say, to its KDP authors. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m OK with it.

We’re talking about a corporate battle between two giants and each side has, in turn, asked its minions to throw their weight into the mix. While Hachette has a cadre of well-known authors, Amazon must have contacted hundreds of thousands of authors with this single email. Even if only a percentage respond, you’re probably still looking at 10x the number of Hachette’s authors. But, what’s the point? Does Amazon really believe that overwhelming this poor schmuck’s email inbox with 100,000 letters from unknown authors will sway the tide? Or, is this just a symbolic gesture to say, “You say you’ve got author power? I’ll show you author power.”

In all, the letter leaves me with a bad taste. I hope the two sides can come to an agreement soon, as I’m losing my patience in the whole matter. I agree that low ebook pricing makes sense on many levels, but I don’t appreciate being made a pawn in a battle I’m not involved in.