Announcements for 2017

Suzanne will no longer be offering discounts for first-time clients as of 2017. She has now been with us for two years, and has built up a solid reputation as a whipsmart, savvy, and knowledgeable editor. We are considering offering genre-themed sales for a smaller discount at points during the year (possibly in the realm of mystery and LGBT manuscripts).

Due to her more recent promotion at her day job (now the store manager of an independent bookstore in Worcester, MA), Suzanne is currently tackling one round of copy edits every two weeks and developmental edits in one month. She is working to take on only one large project and one small project a month (one large novel and one short-story novella) until she can finally come back to working for us full-time, which she hopes will be one day very soon. You can follow her on Twitter for updates and publishing news, or on her own blog, An Andro Named Sue, where she writes about mental illness, folklore and paranormal studies, gender and sexuality, and the publishing community.

We are also working to keep a regularly updated page for Convention Appearances. Suzanne loves to go to conventions all around the North East coast. She is currently planning to attend Boskone, NECON, Readercon, and Howlercon. Last year she was given a place on a small panel discussing independent publishing, and is looking forward to getting more involved this year. You can also find her at events with Writer’s Coffehouse New England, run by River City Writers, as well write-ins with Worcester Writers Collaborative.

That’s all folks! Hope everyone’s 2017 is off to a great start, and we look forward to seeing all of your marvelous stories in the months to come.


You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: getting serious about self-publishing

Let’s get a few things straight here.

Self Publishing is not:
-for people who can’t write

Self Publishing is:
-time consuming
-for anyone who wants to run a small business

Okay but why the Jaws analogy?

Because self-publishing is a lot like fishing. Anyone can do the basics, but to be successful at it you need to have the right rod and tackle, dedication, and willingness to learn from your mistakes. Often times when first time writers give self-pub a go, they realize they’re in way over their heads. What was thought to be a “click and upload” quickly becomes a giant ravenous shark set to devour your bank account and your sanity all in one fell swoop.

chummin for sharks.gif

So do what Peter Benchley would do – your homework. Self-publishing requires at least five people or skills to be successfully accomplished.

  1. The author
  2. The editor
  3. The cover artist
  4. The book formatter
  5. The PR pro

Either you are going to be doing all of that on your own, or you’re going to hire someone. I’m an author, an editor, and a book formatter – but I know my limits. I know how to market a website or an online business, but not an author. That requires additional knowledge and training that I will never be able to acquire on my own. I also can’t do cover art; I can barely make my handwriting legible. (You should all be so lucky that we’ve done away with hand-written edits. Your novels would come back looking like something your English professor graded.) Know your strengths and limits.

How do you hire the right people?

That’s entirely up to you. Different genres require different needs. You may want to go for a more modern model and background cover for a contemporary romance, or a traditional artist for a high fantasy. (Typography should be a deal breaker – if they can’t do it, walk.)

Your editor should be someone whose worked on books in your genre and charges fair rates. They should always have a list of previous clients/books worked, and be mindful of your unique needs. If you don’t like them, walk. There will always be more editors.

Book formatters should always mention ‘by hand’. Don’t hire a book formatter who offers less than one week turnaround and charges $50. You will get $50 worth of work, and it will show. The book format is how you package your product to sell, and packaging is everything.

Your PR pro is your marketing and your fairy godmother more or less rolled into one. They should be able to help you with everything from a marketing plan to setting up social media to getting you in places for book signings. (If not physical signings, then blog tours). Without great PR, the prettiest and most well-polished book will still be dead in the water.

(You can also think of this as a heist movie, if it helps.)

Oceans 12 awkward crew gif

Your self-publishing tool box will need to include the following:

  • One professional email account
  • An html-editing program (examples: J-edit or Dreamweaver)
  • Book-creating program  (example: Calibre)
  • Latest Word (anything newer than 03 will do)
  • Pdf reader (primarily for print book formatting)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Modern web page that is frequently updated
  • SEO keywords
  • Excel 

Additional skills include:

  • Networking: this includes everything from chatting at places like Absolute Write to keeping up with social media, and should always include attending conventions and conferences
  • The Pitch: the ability to summarize your book in 2 minutes to potential buyers. Become the master of making everyone love your book.
  • Online Identity: your social media needs to do more than just spam your book; you need to find the Thing that puts the U in Unique and present that to the world. (You’re a writer, I guarantee you’re not that boring)
  • Business savvy: includes but is not limited to- knowledge of the publishing industry, keeping up with news in the writer’s market, trends in cover design, whose buying what, and number crunching (your taxes are going to suck, there’s no easy way around it).
  • Legal know-how: ISBNs. Contracts. Right to Print. Keeping your rights in-tact while still making money.

bigger boat

So, how much does it cost to publish an e-book? That depends on length, formatting, and you. What skills do you have or are willing to learn, and what do you need to hire-out for? If you’re paying for everything, here’s what you’re looking at:

Comprehensive editing packing for 80k novel: $800
Cover art: $200
E-book format: $150
Print format: $150
Promotional services: $50-200 (varies on services requested)
Total cost: $1,500

And that’s just an approximate. You could need to spend more on a cover, or more on formatting, or your book may be longer or shorter. You may need to even hire someone to build you a website if you don’t have one already, which would cost $500 for a custom build by a professional graphic designer.

Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. But that doesn’t make it impossible, far from it. The business of being an author is just like any other, do your research and have a set of plans and goals in mind. The only way to get serious about making money as a writer is to get serious about writing.

Don’t treat it like a hobby.

Treat it like the career you want it to be.

FREE NOW – Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Review by Alexis ArendtDare to Love

“When it comes to family, billionaire football team owner, Ian Dare gives his all, but in relationships he offers the bare minimum. Until one glimpse of sensual Riley Taylor arouses his dominant and protective instincts. He will do anything to possess her … and does. But any future with Riley must include him dealing his half-brother who is a constant reminder of the pain he’d rather forget.

Riley Taylor believes herself immune to domineering men – until charismatic Ian Dare turns a simple kiss into an all-out assault on her senses and she discovers she likes his brand of control in the bedroom. As their affair heats up, they soon realize this is more than just an affair. But Riley’s past is closer than she cares to remember, and her struggles with Ian’s dominance might just cost her everything.” –

Dare to Love is an intelligent and engaging contemporary romance. I was impressed by the well-rounded characters: Ian’s relationship with his family and his sincere efforts to meet Riley halfway keep him from being just another alpha male. I liked the way his sisters kept him grounded and challenged him at the same time.

Riley also has significant depth to her story. Her past with an abusive father is portrayed realistically, without being either underplayed or eclipsing her as a person. In a genre where abuse is being treated more and more often as a romantic trope, this is very refreshing.

With a compelling story line, plenty of ups and downs, and a handful of steamy sex scenes, this is a book well worth picking up!


Title:  Dare to Love

Author:  Carly Phillips

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Publication:  CP Publishing 2013

Price:  FREE (e-book, all formats), $12.29 (paperback)

Author’s Website:

Review: Fire of Fryslan by Jen Minkman

Fire of FryslanReview by Alexis Arendt

“Aska, Tjalling, Sytse, Enna, and Royce have fallen into the hands of Mayor Edison. The corrupt leader of Brandaris knows what they have done, but what he doesn’t know is what motivated them. In a desperate attempt to regain power over the island, he uses the five rebels as bargaining chips to force the Skelta to reveal who is part of the Skylger resistance. Anglian girl Melinda and Skylger girl Dani team up to free their friends from prison, but their task won’t be an easy one.

Meanwhile, some of the Sirens from the deep visit the indigenous Skylgers to help them to reclaim what was once theirs. And when Tesla and his assistant set sail for the island of Skylge to come to the people’s aid as well, all bets are off. Edison will not give up his family’s position of power without a fight, and his struggle will involve Anglians, Skylgers, and Sirens alike.

The War of Currents is about to be fought, and nothing will ever be the same again.” –


Fire of Fryslan is a thrilling conclusion to the story begun in Sound of Sirens. It’s more fast-paced than the previous installments, which is fair because it has a lot of loose ends to wrap up. Practically every character with a major role in the previous two books has some kind of closure due to them.  To Minkman’s credit, each of them gets it in a way that doesn’t feel too neat or rushed. In facts, she brings the strand of each story together so they bind together in a very satisfying way.

On the other hand, having so many narratives needing attention can get a bit distracting, if not confusing. Melinda and Dani are technically the point-of-view characters for this book. It’s actually great to get inside Melinda’s relatively privileged mindset, and watching her change long-held opinions provides a small-scale model of what the rest of her society is going through. Dani falls a little flat; she seems to be little more than a romantic foil, first for Sytse and then for Melinda. I didn’t remember much about her from the first book, so it was hard to be very invested in her story.

The ending was a heart-wrenching mix of tragedy and triumph, though I could have done without Mayor Edison’s “revelation,” which felt heavy-handed.  It broke the spell of the world that Minkman had so carefully woven throughout the series.  Overall, though, I think Fire of Fryslan is my favorite of the series, and I highly recommend the Tales of Skylge from beginning to end.


Title:  Fire of Fryslan (Tales of Skylge, Book Three)

Author:  Jen Minkman

Genre:  YA Fantasy/Science Fiction

Published: Amazon Digital, June 1, 2015

Price: $3.99 (eBook, all formats), $8.99 (Paperback)

Author’s Website:

Review: Light of Lorelei by Jen Minkman

Light of LoreleiReview by Alexis Arendt

The second book in Jen Minkman’s Tales of Skylge series picks up a few months after the events of Sound of Sirens, and features a different main character: Aska, the daughter of an Anglian and a Skylger. Confined to the convent of St. Brandan for being the product of a forbidden union, Aska’s life is dull and hopeless. Unlike most of the girls in the convent, she is pledged to serve St. Brandan for life, not just a few years. The only bright spot in her existence is her best friend, Melinda.

However, beginning when she meets a strange Skylger boy on the beach, Aska’s life quickly begins to change.  Soon she’s embroiled in a conspiracy that may change the course of her life, and the fate of the entire island along with it.

This book was incredibly suspenseful. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and I found it very hard not to peek ahead to see what was going to happen! Many of the questions asked by Sound of Sirens about the island’s history and the mysterious Nixen are answered here, in some very surprising ways.

Aska’s character was well-developed and interesting, and it was nice to see the island from a different point of view. Her reactions to the revelations about her own history and the romantic feelings she may or may not have for two of the other characters were realistic and heartfelt. Her internal struggles made me care about her fate as a character as well as the overarching plot.

One small quibble I had concerns the character of Melinda, Aska’s best friend, and her sexuality. Melinda states early on in the book that she’s bisexual, but thereafter Aska refers to her as a lesbian. It was most likely an oversight on the author’s part, but I was still disappointed by it. On the other hand, there’s no negative reaction to Melinda’s sexuality, which is nice.

Light of Lorelei is a brilliant installment in the series, and I can’t wait to read the next book, Fire of Fryslan, which is already out!



Title: Light of Lorelei (Tales of Sklyge Book Two)

Author: Jen Minkman

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Publication: Dutch Venture Publishing (January 29, 2015)

Price: $2.99 (Kindle, Nook, Kobo), $8.99 (paperback)

Author’s Website:

September Theme Discount – 10% Off Horror Stories!

Word Vagabond has BIG NEWS for up-and-coming authors! We will now be featuring a sale each and every month on a different genre or theme of writing. You can now receive a 10% discount on all editing and formatting services for manuscripts fitting the theme.

This discount will apply on all works with that theme booked in that month. However, this does not mean you have to book the service for the month of the sale. It’s okay if you’re still working on your novel, short story, press release for world domination via summoning Eldritch gods (hey dude, we don’t judge here). For example, if you contact us in September to schedule a Comprehensive edit on your zombie novel for December, you will receive 10% off the total fee!

I don’t know about you guys, but this was the sight that greeted me this morning.

That’s right – LEAVES CHANGING COLORS. PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. Or, as also called it at my second job yesterday, HALLOWEEN SEASON! 

So if your project falls into the horror genre (Any kind of horror! Be it zombies, or flying killer rays, or just humans killing other humans), contact us anytime in September to receive your 10% off discount. Our primary goal is to help authors looking to submit to horror anthologies next month get their short stories, horror novels, tales of terror (maybe you’re the crypt keeper, we’d be great friends if you were) to spine-tingling perfection before your deadline hits.

And if you’re not a horror writer, stay tuned for next month’s theme!