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Interview with Self-Published Author Jon David

Today we’re talking to author Jon David. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

My book is the first of a trilogy. “Diary of a Lonely Demon” follows a young woman named Morgalla who happens to be a demon from Hell. She tries to have as normal a life as possible and tries to find her way in the world. She’s afraid to show her true self to anyone, human or demon. It’s available at createspace:

You can also “LIKE” Morgalla on facebook and see many illustrations of her and the world she lives in.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I think it comes from the same reason all authors like me decide to: Sick of hearing NO from publishers and agents. I know of many writers who are great but if publishers don’t think their work won’t sell, they’ll never get published. It also kinda comes down to luck. When you look at how many submissions they get, it’s almost a miracle that a certain author gets accepted.

So writers are faced with two difficult questions: Wait around for years for something that might never happen? Or do it yourself?

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Good question. I suppose it might be finding the right people to trust, or maybe getting your work out there and finding the right people who will enjoy your work.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

Every time I autograph a copy of my book to someone who is enthused about it or who enjoyed it. There is no thrill that equals that.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Read a lot and many different authors. You’ll discover what authors you like and which ones you don’t. That will strengthen your own work, make it as ironclad. That is the foundation of making your work popular. People can tell when you’ve spent a lot of time and effort making your writing as professional as possible. Don’t even THINK about going forward until you’ve had a professional evaluate your writing.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Morgalla has the opportunity to be a very popular character but she only needs a chance. I looked at other characters, particularly female, and saw what was lacking or what was common among them. I then went and molded her in a way to make her unique. I’m very proud of what I’ve done so far and I cannot wait to hear what people will think not only of book one, but of the other two as well when they’re ready.

Thanks so much for telling us about you and your book Jon. Good luck with book sales!

What about you? Do you need help with your self-publishing efforts or have some good tips to share with our readers? Let us know here! Thanks!
Today, we interview author Diana Layman, Author of "The Magic Strand,"

Why did you start your business?

In the summer of 2007, on a family trip to Glacier National Park, we visited an electromagnetic anomaly with "mysterious" properties. I had an idea that this place would be the perfect spot for an access point between dimensions (alternate-earth time-space). As a long-time professional ghost-writer and mother, with my eldest child approaching puberty, I thought about writing a book about a human girl who is raised in an alternate dimension who is returned home to (our) earth as she turns 14 - sort of a reverse Wizard of Oz, mixed with Gulliver's Travels, Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and Harry Potter.

After feeling out-of-place growing up as a giant in a magical Lilliputian world, Aurora (aka Rory) finally comes "home" only to be confronted by all the issues facing teens in America today. I wanted to explore the concept of "fitting in" in a way that empowers young teens and confront some of the issues they face without lecturing like a parent. Under the guise of fantasy and adventure, I wanted the story to teach or at least present issues without giving clear answers or making a parental opinion clear while still providing tools for good decision making. Further, I wanted to explore the issue of how the Internet, movies, TV and phones influence our perception of reality without our knowledge or permission. Several teachers who read the completed manuscript indicated that they believed I had created a classic story that could benefit anyone who read it, and it seemed like I had a responsibility to make sure people got a chance to read it.

What unique challenges did you face in starting your business and how did you overcome those challenges?

Even though I had professional writing credentials, to date I have been unsuccessful in finding a literary agent. This happens to many thousands of writers, both good and not so good. To make light of the acceptance of a difficult situation, I say that I could, "wallpaper my bathroom" with the rejections I have received from the agents I have contacted. I have not given up and will continue to contact them, hopefully strengthening the case for traditional publication as I go. After receiving my 40th rejection, I began to lose hope that the book would ever be published. I saw my dream of making something of value available to parents and children nationwide slipping away. Somehow, I just couldn't let that happen.

As I spent many years as a marketing exec in high technology business and I had a vision the whole time I was writing of what a great movie this story would make, I started thinking that I could make the book available on the net in a really cool and possibly unique way. I liked the idea of taking the elements found in a movie and inserting them into the book and onto a website to spark interest. I also believe that if agents and publishers can get a real “feeling” about the story from the web site, I might be able to “strip” the wallpaper away.

I started with a shoestring budget, pulled and melded together two separate flash templates which I purchased online for less than $200, researched the Internet for the right kind of music and images, wrote all the text and hired a web design company to get it all up and running. I applied for copyright and an ISBN number and the site went live on April 15, 2011. I give visitors illustrated story excerpts and two sample chapters to read before purchase. There is a testimonial section with comments from other readers, a Q&A section with the author, and photos of actual places that appear in the story. To make sure parents feel comfortable purchasing the book online, I provide a printable document explaining the concept of the book and how to purchase it online. Even if the traditional publishing world doesn’t get it, I believe that young readers will. Why do I believe that? Keep reading.

Increasingly, books are becoming available online. The advent of the Kindle and the Nook are converting readers to e-books at an astonishing rate, "...$90.3 million in revenue in February -- roughly triple the sales reported in the same month last year," (source: and paper book sales decline every year. And these figures do not even include phones as sources for electronic reading.

In addition, schools are getting into the act changing from paper text books to online textbooks in an effort to save districts money and tap into the growing positive feelings about online reading and learning. "Nationwide, 15 percent of elementary schools have turned to Studies Weekly {online materials} for their core materials in social studies and science." (source:

Young people love working with online materials and are excited by the kinds of graphics that make reading materials more interesting. Although most 9 to 14 year old readers don't have access to their parents' e-readers, many do have access to a computer at home.

To meet the growing demand for computer-based reading material, entrepreneurial authors like me are designing their own web sites and graphically illustrating their work to make reading more attractive for online readers from 9-14 and on up, to adulthood.

Finally, as many teachers will readily admit, comic books have always been an impetus to spur reluctant readers. You have only to investigate the growing popularity of graphic novels (virtually unheard of 20 years ago) to know that illustrated work appeals to a stratum of readers who rarely, if ever, read anything of novel length unless it is illustrated. If I can reach younger readers who do not read traditionally published novel length fiction, especially with this kind of message, so much the better.

What kind of publicity activities have you done for your business?

My public relations activities are in their infancy. First, I built The Magic Strand’s Face Book Fan Page (now accessed through Like). Every bit of publicity will be posted on it as well as on my personal Face Book page. I designed business cards and have been distributing them through school libraries wherever possible as a spur to reluctant readers as mentioned above. I have sent business cards out to 150 friends and family and have asked them to distribute them as well. One of my college friends forwarded one of my Face Book postings to a famous sci-fi writer (Robert Greenberger) who gave me a plug on his Face Book page. I am pursuing “mom” bloggers and children’s book reviewers, offering free copies of the book. I have a friend who is a public relations agent who is pursuing several avenues for me, but the most important thing I hope to do is make The Magic Strand available online for free at public libraries across America. I intend to get nationwide editorial coverage to publicize the availability to the general public.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs out there who want to make their business ideas a reality?

Never say die. There are few things as strong as faith - people are willing to die for it - and I have faith in myself and my story. The hardest thing I face every day is the knowledge that the odds are stacked against me. In some ways that is a freeing experience, because there is no place to go but up, but in others, it makes every activity feel like climbing Mount Everest. I believe in myself and I believe in the quality and intrinsic value of my story and its message. I just keep thinking that I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and that if I can help one kid understand how to make a good decision when there are no good options, it is worth it to me. I think every successful entrepreneur needs that unshakable personal faith and faith in their product or service to succeed.

I will send a free copy of the e-book to anyone who knows of a child whose family cannot afford the price of the book. Contact me at

Thanks for your great tips and advice Diana. How about you? Do you need help with your self-published book? Please contact me here or at Thanks!
Today at jexbo, we’re talking to Linda Hoagland, author of nine self-published or print-on-demand books. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

"Watch Out for Eddy" is a story about a fifteen-year-old named Eddy, whose life is forever changed when he, while riding a bicycle, collides with a car.

Eddy’s mother, Ellen, tells the story of her son’s survival as well as the survival of the family. While she was waiting for Eddy’s brain to heal, Ellen looked for help with handling the monster that the brain injury had created. The part of Eddy’s brain that was injured was the part that led to aggression and hatred. His brain seemed to be stuck in that mode. Her quiet, passive son changed to one that was determined to kill her and his younger brother.

Ellen needed help and wasn’t able to find it. It became her goal to write a book so others, who might be in her situation, could have whatever guidance she was able to offer.

"Watch Out for Eddy" is available at and from the author. It was published in 2009 by Henderson Publishing of Pounding Mill, Virginia.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I live in a rural area of Virginia where there are no national chain bookstores, no literary agents, or direct paths to the large publishing houses. The only way my words were going to be put on the printed page was by self-publishing and, of course, selling those books by personally presenting them to the public.

What were the biggest challenges to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

The cost became my biggest challenge to getting this particular book published. It took a great deal of time to get the funds gathered to begin the process, but I couldn’t have been happier about the end product.

I wanted my book edited for spelling and grammar but I didn’t want the content changed in any other way because it was a true store and I wanted it to remain true.

Self-publishing allowed me to keep my story true and factual with only the names changed to protect Eddy.

What was the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

In order to get my books into the hands of the readers, I have to get out and meet the public, which I gladly do at every function where they allow me to set-up a table. Most of the time I get to talk one-on-one to people and tell them about my writing and how much a part of my life it has become.

I have discovered that because I self-publish or use print-on-demand, that I get a bigger portion of the profit than if I were published by one of the large publishing houses who limit the writer to a very small percentage of the profit for each book sale.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

If it is your desire to be the next John Grisham or Danielle Steel, then you should seek the services of a literary agent and pound away at the big publishing houses. But – if you want to see your words in print the way you wrote them, then self-publishing is the route to follow.

I would love national recognition for my writing, but I’m very realistic with my dreams. If my books are read by my friends, neighbors, and those I meet and greet at the fairs and festivals in my region of this wonderful country, I will be happy.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Keep writing – the more you write, the better you get.

I have eight other self-published or print-on-demand books available. They are:


Checking on the House, 2011

Death by Computer, 2010

The Backwards House, 2009

An Awfully Lonely Place, 2008


Quilted Memories, 2011

Living Life for Others, 2010

Just a Country Boy – Don Dunford, 2010, Edited

The Little Old Lady Next Door, 2006

They are available from the writer,, PublishAmerica, or local outlets in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Arts Depot – Abingdon, VA

Holston Mountain Artisans – Abingdon, VA

Appalachian Arts Center – Richlands, VA

Historic Crab Order Museum – Tazewell, VA

Bubba’s Book Swap – Kingsport, TN

Hearthside Books – Bluefield, VA

Brainy Boston Bookstore – Princeton, WV

Thanks for the great information about self-publishing your books Linda! Good luck with more book sales!
For more information on self-publishing, visit

How to Start a Writing Group

Some writers work well on their own, and writing is a solitary business. But something that can really help you focus on your writing is joining or starting a writing group. Writing groups can hold each other accountable for reaching personal goals, and they can help fine tune the work each member is writing.

First of all, you should check to see if there is already a group in your area. Many community halls have a variety of groups that meet, and they might already have a writing group. You might also check with your local library.

If you can’t find an already established group, you can start your own. Find out what the requirements are for using a local community center or library. Is there a charge? Are you allowed to eat or drink in the venue?

Next, decide how you want the writing group to work.
  • Will you each read a piece of what you’re working on?
  • Will you have a different subject each meeting, and everyone writes on that subject and critiques each other?
  • Are you going to focus on a specific topic, such as children’s books, or science fiction, or will you be a group for all writers in general?
  • How often will you meet?
Once you know the when and how of your group, you need to find members. Most community centers and libraries have bulletin boards where you can announce an upcoming meeting, and some also have newsletters and you can advertise for a low cost. You could also let people know about your group through online chat rooms and message boards.

Good luck starting a writing group!

Do you have questions and need help with writing and marketing your self-published book? Please contact me here or at

3 Top Tips for Dealing with Rejection Letters

Most writers, myself included, have received their share of rejection letters from publishers. While it is disappointing every time, there are some things you can do to make the rejection hurt less.

First of all, remember that a rejection of your book is not a rejection of you as a person. Although our books are like pieces of ourselves to us, to an editor it’s just a book, and you are just getting their opinion.

Second, make sure you are submitting books in the proper format that each editor asks for.

Are you sabotaging yourself by not including a cover letter if one is required?

Is it a publisher who requires you to have an agent?

Do your homework before sending anything so you can be sure your book won’t be rejected for a reason that would’ve been easily corrected before you sent it.

Finally, take action if your book is rejected. If there are comments from the editor, read them to see if you can make changes in your manuscript. Maybe it’s just a small change you need to make and you can resubmit it with a greater chance of having your manuscript accepted the second time around. Or do what I did, and find a self-publisher and publish your book yourself.

Do you have questions and need help with writing and marketing your self-published book? For additional resources, check out our self-published interview series on this blog and the information