Tag Archives: small press

A Book-Nerd’s Nightmare (and some complaints)

2 Mar


If you’ve followed me here for a while, you know that I’m working on three books series at once: Acephalous, Humans In My House, and Nova June: Inventor. I give myself deadlines to stay organized, and I typically try to finish one novel completely before cycling to another series. I publish about one book per series per year. But the addition of Nova June is a new experience, and I’ve been working on it and Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 simultaneously.

Nova June: Inventor is a children’s picture book, and I’m doing the illustrations myself. As I expected, but hate to admit, my self-imposed deadlines for this one are hard to stick to. Illustrating takes forever when you’re not really an artist (and no, I’m not saying it’s quick for true artists. I acknowledge the time and effort that goes into artists’ work). I’ve already missed my cover reveal deadline for the book by a day. It will likely be out next week. But, I digress.

One of the hassles that pile on top of these deadlines when you’re an indie author is marketing and publicity. I recently sent off all of my novels to Barnes and Noble’s small press department for consideration for placement in their stores. The books are available online and for special order, but you won’t see them on their shelves.

In a much quicker period than expected, I got my to-the-point rejection letter essentially saying that there are too many print-on-demand books out there to consider. They won’t accept mine only because of that reason. It made me angry because I’m guessing they didn’t even read them, otherwise there might have been some useful criticism. They (probably) flipped to the back of the books, saw the CreateSpace printing address, and sent them to be pulped. I hope they at least donated my books to a charity instead.

I’ve seen CreateSpace books on their shelves before, so at some point, they were giving us little names a chance. Their online guidelines for making these submissions said NOTHING about not accepting print-on-demand. If they don’t want to consider them, they should give authors the advance notice (like Books-A-Million does). Getting the materials ready to submitting was a time consuming process. To make matters worse, print-on-demand does not mean the books cannot be purchased at wholesale, but big book stores care that print-on-demand makes it more difficult to return overstock for a refund (but Ingram does this via CreateSapce direct, so that reasoning for their rejection is moot).

book vortex

All the print-on-demand books swirling away into the pulper. (*facetious*)

I won’t bore you with additional ranting about the ins and outs of the publishing industry. In fact, I didn’t realize I was still so riled up by this whole thing. My point in telling you all this is to lead into the stress-induced book nightmare I had the other night, which I find hugely amusing in concept now that it’s over.

Picture it. Sicily: 1912. (Just kidding.)

I receive a package with a paperback copy of Acephalous and a rejection letter from Barnes and Noble. Their reasoning for not accepting the book is the same as in reality: no print-on-demand books. The letter additionally includes notes about how poorly formatted it is, that it is unreadable. I scoff and make some angry comments about them then decide to flip through my book to see just what they mean.

To my horror, the book is indeed as illegible as they claim, and at this point the dream turns to black and white. It’s grainy like an old TV. Every page in the book has multiple fonts and sizes of text. Some of the words are huge, dark, bold. Many of them are tiny, grey-scale. The pages aren’t even in order. I go to the table of contents to see if it could help me read the book in the correct order, but the table of contents (which my book doesn’t even have in real life) is just a list of random words from throughout the book and arbitrary numbers beside them.


If you’ve ever had one of those elevator dreams where the button doesn’t take you to the floor it says, or one of those “dial 911” dreams where the numbers on the phone are in the wrong place or don’t dial as the number you press, the table of contents part was just like that. Totally useless. As if looking for the word “the” in the TOC would be descriptive enough. Come on, subconscious.

And even though there isn’t the slightest bit of scary material in this dream, it still woke me up as if it was a nightmare. For a book-nerd, an author, editor, publisher, it was truly horrific. No one should see their brainchild mangled up like that in dreams. (I’m being dramatic. I really find it funny, now.)

Amazingly, until this dream, my Red Ink Enthusiast-related work had NEVER crept into my sleep. And that’s really saying something considering how much better I work under some stress and a deadline. Looking back on it, I’m certain the dream was expressing my lingering irritation with Barnes and Noble, essentially saying that unless my books looked as bad as it did in my dream, there was no reason not to accept them.

I can’t stand knowing the only reason they were rejected is because there are too many others. It would be easier, almost, if they just thought my writing was bad. That I can improve. But it’s not. Especially Humans In My House. I really thought they’d bite with that one, and it’s my dream to see that series in the kid’s section. But, I can’t do anything about the amount of other writers out there trying to do the same thing as me. So, I’ll plug on, hunt down the (dwindling) indie stores, shmooze with the people who make decisions, and try to compete in the current market while many of my methods are still stuck the 1900s–in person, with a small budget. 

Here’s to getting discovered.


Who Is Nova June? 10 Things She’d Want You to Know

5 Feb

Nova character watercolor 2 - Copy

Nova June is a curious and determined innovator and the main character of Amanda Marsico’s newest book, Nova June: Inventor, for readers aged 3 to 7 years.

Available for pre-order in March, and publishing April 7, 2018

10 Things About the Leading Lady

  • Nova’s inventions don’t always work, but she never stops trying.
  • Her pet box turtle, Georgie, is a great secret-keeper and helps to keep her projects under wraps until the big reveal.
  • Sometimes the neighborhood kids don’t want to test Nova’s inventions, but most of the time they’re excited to see what she made.
  • Nova likes to collect posters of her favorite people and role models. She hangs them over her desk so she can see them while she’s creating.
  • Silver is her favorite color because the robots in her favorite books and shows are made of metal.
  • Like many kids, Nova loves to play hide-and-seek, and she wants to invent an invisibility shirt so she can sneak back to home base before the seeker finds her.
  • She wants to see space and the bottom of the ocean and the inside of a volcano.
  • Nova knows she’ll have to do some great inventing to get to some of those places.
  • When she’s not in her room hard at work on a project, she’s at the library reading about the inventors that came before her.
  • She realizes it’s important to give her brain a break, too, so Nova likes to climb the trees in her back yard and skate with her neighborhood friends.


Check back for the next installment of “10 Things…” where Nova shares her top 10 role models in science!

ANNOUNCEMENT! NEW Children’s Book, Nova June: Inventor

1 Feb


If you’re part of my mailing list or frequent my Facebook page, you know I’ve been teasing this announcement for a couple of weeks.


Nova June: Inventor is coming April 2018.

This picture book is for readers aged 3 to 7 years and features leading lady, Nova, age 7, and her pet box turtle, Georgie, in her quest for innovation.

Preview the concept art for Nova June below, and keep an eye out for the cover reveal and summary March 1, 2018.

Nova character pencil 2

Nova concept 1: Prismacolor pencils and Copic Marker; a bolder first sketch, very time-consuming

Nova character watercolor 2

Nova concept 2: Prismacolor watercolor pencils only; lighter end-result (which would be enhanced digitally), but very fast application

Talk to me! I welcome your thoughts on media used.

Please keep in mind that these images are CONCEPTS/media tests and are not the cover design or any particular interior illustration.

Where are all the parties?

26 Jan

When I set out to become a writer, especially when I was young—I mean 13, 14-years-old-young—this glamorized image of what that would entail seemed unreachable. I realized as I aged, as I published not one, not two, but three books, with more on the way that it really IS unreachable. And it’s not because I’m not popular enough, rich enough, good enough.

It’s because it doesn’t exist, at least not in its original form.

cocktail party.jpg

The days of lavish launch parties and book tours with throngs of fans clamoring for an autograph are mostly behind us.

The industry just isn’t like that anymore.

I mean, sure, if you’re a brand name writer, a big name that still manages to get the Today Show and Good Morning America so many years after both productions canned their book review and author segments, then potentially these parties and fans still abound.

But I’m not that writer and, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you aren’t either.

No offense meant. It likely means, no matter how excellent your work, you came into the game too late. We started the journey at a time when that approach to publicity was dying or already gone. There’s no way to change it or yourself or your writing to turn the book industry back into one that flocks after its writers rather than the writers flocking after it for attention, contracts, marketing. Ugh, marketing.

We are in the age of DIY (even if traditionally published). So what do I say of those images of a bygone era in publishing still floating in my mind from 15 years ago?

I say I’ll throw my own party.

I’m still not sure at what point of publication success I’ll deem myself deserving of one of those huge affairs, and this is despite the fact that every book release makes me feel like going out and spending a bunch of money on sushi to celebrate. But once release dates come and go, it’s always, “OK, maybe with the next book.” And I’ll probably never feel like I’ve done as much as I could to garner that attention. I’m a one-person operation, and it’s a ton of work to be your own manager, marketer, publicist, accountant. And I certainly don’t know enough people to pack a rented space, but I keep telling myself that one day I’ll release the book that shoves me out of the shadows and makes that party a no-brainer.

It’s not a matter of the previous books not being good enough to do that. It’s a matter of how many people were watching when I was brand new versus now, five years from now, and so on.  Some authors get lucky and have that with the first book.

It’s what we all dream of.

But there’s nothing wrong with writing myself out of obscurity and into the public eye with a shelf of previous publications behind me. Books make great step-stools, and the unreachable gets just a bit closer to the fingertips when you have a pile of them to stand on.

(Plus, I’ll need a big stack in order to reach the candles at the top of the enormous cake I’ll have when I finally throw that party.)


New Release: Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-Imagined

24 Jan

An anthology of short stories and poems published by Between The Lines Publishing of Saint Paul, MN, Copyright 2017.

It was a pleasure to write another short story for Between The Lines’ yearly anthology. Last year, contributions like my short story “Family Phoenix” focused on the theme Liminal Time Liminal Space–a cerebral topic which challenged authors to consider worlds between.

This year, our theme was more mainstream, but the contents of the completed anthology are anything but. The authors I had the privilege of joining in this publication are talented word-workers. They do not rest on the familiarity of their respective fairy tales and folklore to evoke emotion, set scenes, or build character. My short story, “Grey Man” (Marsico 246), and those in its company are true re-imaginations.

Check out Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-imagined for yourself.



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