Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe crop

It was the beautiful cover of Across the Universe 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

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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.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

The Secret Life of Prince Charming crop

This beautifully written book examines relationships and how women are so often seduced by the idea of love and end up in relationships with all the wrong men.

I started reading on Valentine’s Day, in the mood for a fun, light romance promised by the gorgeous cover. Was I disappointed? Maybe a little at first, but soon I was caught up in the lives of these incredibly brave, strong women, their stories and their determination to prevail, and just like life, romance came along unexpectedly – not the sweep you off your feet only to drop you later love – but the real thing – the one where he sees the real you through all the armour you’ve put up.

The women in the story are all linked by their relationship with Barry. Wives, girlfriends, daughters – he let them all down. It was through the daughters who embarked on a journey to help right the wrongs and in doing so, enabled friendships and healing to touch and positively link the women together. This is a feel good story that will 4 Starstay with you for a long time.

Recommended age 13+

The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Author: Deb Caletti
Publication Date: 16 March 2011 (First published 2009)The Secret Life of Prince Charming
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Purchased

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Maybe it was wrong, or maybe impossible, but I wanted the truth to be one thing. One solid thing.

Quinn is surrounded by women who have had their hearts broken. Between her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, Quinn hears nothing but cautionary tales. She tries to be an optimist — after all, she’s the dependable one, the girl who never makes foolish choices. But when she is abruptly and unceremoniously dumped, Quinn starts to think maybe there really are no good men. -Extract from Goodreads.com

Quote from ‘The Secret Life of Prince Charming’:
“I went for Prince Charming himself at High School. Barry was my first serious boyfriend. If you look up ‘charming’ in the dictionary, you’ll see that it is not only has reference to strong attraction, but to spells and magic. Then again, what are liars if not great magicians?”

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.

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend crop

I had high hopes for Legend and was really disappointed. Although there is probably enough action and tension in the story to make it popular enough with readers new to the dystopian genre, it fell flat for me.

The story was predictable and lacked the originality needed to compete with this growing, ever popular genre. 3 Star

Recommended age 13+


Legend
Series: Legend
Author: Marie LuLegend
Publication Date: 16 April 2013 (1st Published 2011)
Publisher: Speak
Source: Purchased

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From different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths…

Until June’s brother is murdered, and Day becomes the prime suspect.

In a shocking turn of events, the two uncover what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths to which their country will go to keep its secrets.

Extract from Goodreads.com

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