Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe crop

It was the beautiful cover of this book that first attracted my attention on Goodreads. I bought the book and WOW! This is my new favourite book…

Totally unexpected and original I was captivated from the beginning and could not part with this book – for several weeks after I finished it I still carried it around with me. I don’t usually like Science Fiction, but this book has a more Dystopian feel and the plot was so unpredictable with twists and turns that kept me hanging on for dear life.    5 Star

Recommended age 13+

Across The Universe
Series:
 Across The Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Publication Date: 11 January 2011Across the Universe
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository

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A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder. 

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone – one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship – tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.  — Extract from Goodreads.com

Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Being an Indie Author in South Africa by Rachel Morgan

Introducing  author Rachel Morgan (see my review on her book here). Thank you so much for agreeing to write a guest post on my blog!

Creepy Hollow

Being an Indie Author in South Africa

Self-publishing has taken off in a BIG way overseas, due mostly to the ebook revolution. If you have any interest in the publishing world, you’ll have heard of names like Amanda HockingJ.A. Konrath, and Hugh Howey (and there are loads more!). But what about here in South Africa? What does it mean to choose the self-publishing route?

As a South African author who’s chosen to go independent, let me share a little of my experience …

Amazon is great but FAR away!

Amazon is the biggest player on the board, so after deciding to self-publish my books, it was only natural that I’d upload my works to Amazon before looking anywhere else. When it comes to ebooks, it doesn’t matter how far away Amazon is. Having internet means that no matter where you are in the world, purchasing an ebook is little more than one click away. When it comes to print books, however, Amazon isn’t quite as convenient for the South African author. Yes, using Amazon’s print-on-demand service, CreateSpace, is easy and inexpensive (free, if you take care of the cover and formatting yourself). Printing a single copy of my first book, The Faerie Guardian, currently costs $4,42. That’s cheap! To get a unit price that low from my local printer, I’d have to order at least 200 copies, possibly more! So that’s a plus for Amazon. BUT the problem comes in when I want to have that book (or several books) sent to South Africa. To deliver one book to South Africa, the shipping cost is $11. And the book will only arrive on 15th APRIL if I order today! APRIL, for goodness’ sake! The earliest I can get the book delivered here is 7th March, but then I have to pay $46! Now let’s just say I want to order, say, 30 copies to do a book launch and signing. Can you imagine the cost?!

Bottom line: Amazon’s CreateSpace is awesome if you’re an author based in the US (and I do use them to get my print book listed on Amazon so that international customers can easily purchase it). Otherwise, I recommend Mega Digital if you’re a South African author looking for a good local printer.

Getting paid by cheque

Amazon won’t pay into South African bank accounts. Full stop. They also do not use PayPal. This means that South African indie authors are stuck waiting for Amazon to send cheques. Cheques are made out in a foreign currency, which means when we cash them, we have to pay sizeable foreign exchange fees. Sure, if the cheque is enormous, it’s not a big deal (I can keep dreaming, right?!), but for the very first cheque I cashed, the fee worked out to be more than 10% of the value of the cheque!

The mission of getting an ITIN

Amazon automatically deducts 30% of an author’s royalties for tax. If you don’t want this to happen (because you’re technically supposed to pay tax in the country where the work was produced, and because the US has a tax treaty with South Africa), you need to apply for an ITIN number. This was a mission that involved me driving into scary parts of the center of town to find the US embassy so that I could get a US notary to notarise a copy of my passport. I then had to send that off with forms to the IRS and wait a number of weeks for my ITIN number to be sent to me. And then there were more forms to send to Amazon and Smashwords and CreateSpace …

Bottom line: MISSION! (But worth it.)

 Print distribution is tough

You can’t simply walk into Exclusive Books and say, “Will you please put a few copies of my book on your shelf?” They work with approved distributors, which means I’d have to approach those distributors. The distributor wants to make money, Exclusive Books wants to make money, and it would be nice if I could also get paid a bit for the books I spent many months slaving over! And that all results in a book that is just too expensive for the average browser to think about buying.

Bottom line: I’m still investigating options for print distribution in South Africa…

It can be a little “lonely”

There are other South African indie authors out there. I know there are. But they’re difficult to come across because there aren’t nearly as many of them here as there are overseas. I see all the many, many authors I interact with online meeting up with each other, going to conferences, attending and hosting workshops … and it feels a little lonely to be on this side of the world. (But that will be changing soon, thanks to the efforts of the lovely Carlyle Labuschagne and the upcoming SA Indies Rock Book Festival!)

Readers love a good book, no matter how it’s published

I’ve visited a number of schools, and I’ve chatted to many teen readers, and it doesn’t matter to them who published my books. They don’t care if it went through a Big Five publisher, a small publisher, or whether I produced the interior format myself (which is exactly what happened). All they care about is whether they like it or not and where they can get copies for themselves.

Bottom line: WRITE A REALLY GOOD BOOK! That’s the most important thing!

Thank you so much, Sue, for hosting me today and allowing me to share my indie author experience with your readers 🙂

A little bit about Rachel …

Rachel MorganRachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn’t for her—after all, they didn’t approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults. She is the author of the Amazon bestselling YA fantasy series, Creepy Hollow.

Are we ready for book-free libraries?

Are we ready for book-free libraries?

The Los Angeles Times published an article earlier this month about America’s first all-digital bookless public library which has opened in San Antonio:

The article goes on to clarify that while this isn’t actually the first all digital library, the Tuscan-Pima public library in Arizona opened a book-free branch in 2002, this didn’t stay book-free for long – books were brought back after complaints from the public!

So the question is – are we ready to give up print books altogether?
What do you think?

003Personally, while I have no problem reading on my kindle or ipad, there is one thing that I miss – seeing the book cover every time I pick up the book!

I love book covers and am not afraid to admit I judge a book by its cover…  those with boring covers tend to gather dust at the bottom of the pile of to-read books.

Our school library was one of the first in South Africa to introduce an e-Library, but this runs alongside our traditional print library and adds value by being available to students anytime & anywhere, thus allowing them to exchange books outside school hours, even while on holiday at the beach.

The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

The Faerie Guardian by Rachel Morgan

Faerie Guardian crop

AMAZING! I love this book – in fact the whole series!  Okay, I know what you’re thinking – I’m biased because I am proudly South African. Well maybe a little… but this series is good!

Rachel Morgan has created captivating new Faerie world full of magic, romance, betrayal, action and adventure. You will fall in love with the characters as you are sucked further and further into a world like no other, wondering if, when the story is over, you will find your way back home…

What more could you want? Read this now..! You won’t regret it!

5 StarRecommended Age: 12+

The Faerie Guardian
Series: Creepy Hollow
Author:
Rachel Morgan Faerie Guardian
Publication Date: 27 October 2012
Publisher:
Rachel Morgan
Source:
Purchased

Buy this book:
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Amazon UK
Book Depository
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Enter a hidden world…      

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until a cute human boy who can somehow see through her faerie glamour follows her into the Fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion. — Extract from Goodreads.com

In anticipation of Divergent – the Movie

I began jotting down my thought for this post a few days ago and the first line was “I can’t wait for this movie! Divergent by Veronica Roth is one of my favourite books.”

While I am still looking forward to this movie and I still love the series, I am glad it is more than a month away from release. I need the time to come to terms with the dramatic ending of Allegiant, the third book of the trilogy. I was totally blown away and am not sure I can see the characters from the beginning without the thought of the ending clouding the experience.

Enough said! I hate spoilers and for those of you who have not read Divergent yet – read it now before the movie is released on 21 March 2014. You may be in for wild experience, but I promise you, you won’t regret it! Be brave…

Divergent – the Movie is due for release on 21 March 2014.

Watch the trailer on Youtube:

Divergent by Veronica Roth: YA Book Review

Divergent by Veronica Roth: YA Book Review

Divergent Crop

Divergent is a powerful story which captivated me from the very first page. Believable characters I love – the edgy ‘messed-up’ kind that get under your skin and become part of you so you can’t remember a time when you didn’t know them. Brilliant!

I read this book in 2012, and it was without doubt the best book I read in that year. I am reviewing it now on my new blog in anticipation of the movie to be released this year. Co-incidentally I am about half way through the third book, Allegiant, and all I can say is WOW!5 Star

Recommended Age: 13+

Divergent
Author: Veronica RothDivergent
Publication Date: 2 February 2012 (1st published 25 May 2011)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source:
Purchased

Buy this book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Book Depository
Loot.co.za

Add to shelf:
Goodreads

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five 

factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. — Extract from Goodreads.com

Today I am thankful

I am lucky enough to work in a school library in South Africa, not only because so many of our schools are not privileged enough to have a library. But sometimes I forget how fortunate I am. I tend to be drawn up in my dream of where I would like to take our library, only to be inhibited time and time again by financial constraints. I often look around the room just seeing the ‘if only’ and forget how far we have come in the seven years I have been working here.

This week was ‘Back to School’. In our corner of South Africa, January and February are stifling hot and humid and during these months our library is particularly popular for its ice-cold air conditioning. Add that to students returning from their six week summer holiday  desperate for something new to read and you can see why my first week of the year is always busy.

I needed someone to wake me up… New to our school he arrived one lunch break, stopped in the doorway and exclaimed WOW! Wow… He went on to explain that the school he came from did not have such a big library. He asked for a particular book, one of our more popular titles and as I handed it to him he clutched it so hard to his chest I was a little concerned we may never see it again! His old school didn’t have this series, and he couldn’t wait to read it…

Needless to say this student made my week, and probably my month… I look around our library and I am thankful.

Small indie bookshops vs. online retailers

In recent news France hopes to pass a law banning free shipping offered by online book retailers in a bid to protect the small physical bookshops.

French senators pass ‘anti-Amazon’ law to protect small retailers

What is your opinion? Should governments endeavour to save small indie bookshops or is it inevitable that large corporate businesses will eventually take over this industry, especially as eBooks increase in popularity?

I live in a small rural community, where the only book shop available is a small branch of a large chain. While my personal purchases are largely digital, I do buy the majority of our library’s physical stock online, and yes I would definitely miss the free shipping! Without it our library would contain fewer books and lack the diversity our students deserve.

Having said this there is one indie book seller who would be sorely missed. She travels around South Africa with her vehicle stacked to the hilt with a wide range of books, dispensing encouragement, advice and friendship to anyone lucky enough to meet her. I owe basket full of gratitude to Audrey of ‘Hedgehog Books’ who has over the years given me invaluable advice. Her product knowledge is phenomenal and it is this, along with her enthusiasm, that makes her the success she is! Thank you Audrey 🙂

To contact Audrey  at Hedgehog Books email: hedgehog@iafrica.com

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