IPNE Member Blog

News - Members, feel free to contribute! Please make sure that your posts relate to independent publishing, writing, or other topics of educational interest to IPNE members. If you are unclear about what type of material to post, please contact our biog editor.
  • 08 Sep 2015 9:57 AM | Deleted user

    Joy of the Pen writing competition is now open for entries from year-round Maine residents! Entering is free! Writers are limited to submitting one piece in each category (a total of four pieces - a poetry collection counts as one piece). The categories are: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and Maine-related nonfiction. 

    Winners (and one honorable mention) from each category will have their work published on the Joy of the Pen Literary Journal and in a printed booklet that will be made available at the Joy of the Pen reception. 

    Get all the details here.

  • 07 Sep 2015 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    Our September Barking Planet blog featuring children's literature, movies and therapy dog focuses on  Hayao Miyazaki  and tales of wonder. Here's an excerpt: 

    Depending on where and when you live, the world can be a dangerous place.   Howl's Moving Castle, the award winning fantasy wonder tale, takes place during a time of war. A film for children and adults filled with magic and incredible visuals...it is set in the past,  an anti-war film that features a romance with a flawed wizard, and an incredible moving castle... 

  • 31 Aug 2015 7:58 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    Click here to fill out our volunteer signup form and let us know your experience, skills, and the areas where you'd like to help out - from event management to promotion to office operations and beyond! 

    You'll find that volunteering with IPNE gives you many more opportunities for networking and learning!

  • 29 Aug 2015 3:59 PM | Deleted user

    Amy Ray is a mystery/thriller writer who lives in New Hampshire. Her first novel, Dangerous Denial was published in 2014 by Barking Rain Press. Dangerous Denial has been nominated for a Silver Falchion Award™ in the category of Best First Novel: Mystery/Thriller. She has a short story featured in Love Free Or Die (Plaidswede Publishing, 2015) and will also have a story in Plaidswede’s upcoming anthology, Murder in a New England Newsroom.

    Here's a snapshot of her writing process and life as an indie:

    When did you know you were a writer?

    The thought first occurred to me when I was a freshman in college and my English professor chose an essay to read aloud as an example of good writing. I was shocked to hear the opening lines of my homework assignment, “Stranded in the Marsh,” about the time my father’s boat motor died and we had to row back to the dock as fast as we could because I had to get to work. It was part drama, part comedy! Hearing my essay read aloud and watching the faces of my classmates as they listened planted the idea that I might be a writer. It took several years for that initial seed to take root.

    What does your writing process look like?

    I spend a lot of time before I begin writing a book, thinking about the plot and working it out in my mind. To me, this is the most exciting part—thinking up the twists and turns. Then I write a couple of pages summarizing the story. From there, I break it into scenes and after that, the writing begins. Okay, maybe the most exciting part is when I type the last word in the final chapter. That’s a great feeling! But the process does not end there with several rounds of revising still ahead.

    What roadblocks or obstacles did you face when trying to get published?

    Plenty! I started out querying agents and after two years and hundreds of tries (I have all the rejections alphabetized in a three-ring binder if you don’t believe me), I suddenly had three agents interested in signing me. I was elated! Surely, publication was just around the corner, right? Hmmm, no. The agent got the interest of one of the big five publishers and a midsized publisher, but in the end, they both passed. I shelved the book for several years, not knowing what had held them back. After attending many writing conferences and continuing to work on my craft, I went back to that manuscript and gave it a complete rewrite and the new and improved Dangerous Denial was born.

    Why did you choose to publish with an independent press?

    I decided to try publishers to whom I could submit directly. A writer in my writers group had recently gotten a contract with an indie publisher, Barking Rain Press, so I decided to submit.

    Are you happy with the route you chose?

    Yes. Barking Rain Press put the manuscript through two rounds of edits. I worked with my editor, who was wonderful, and then the manuscript went off for a line edit. I wanted Dangerous Denial to be the best it could be, and was grateful to have professionals to guide me—and it has paid off. Kirkus Reviews wrote, “In Ray’s debut thriller, lives converge at a charity ball, where someone has planned a deadly act of vengeance…Ray takes her time establishing her characters, including the bad guys, and with a rousing, indelible payoff, it’s well worth it.” 

    As an author, you’re also a marketer, accountant, sales person, and many other titles. How do you balance it all?

    This is true of almost all published authors whether they are self-published, published by a small press, or by a large publisher. There’s no such thing as writing the book and being done with it—if you want to find readers. I’m fortunate that I enjoy the business side of being an author, and it probably doesn’t hurt that I ran my own business for several years. (I bought the store that I was working at the day I was “Stranded in the Marsh.”) Balancing it all is still tricky for me and I find that I often run out of time for the most important task of my workday—writing my next book.

    What are some of the ways you market your books?

    I’ve tried a little bit of everything! I did a blog tour which lasted a month. Every day was terrifying and exciting all at once, hoping the reviewer liked Dangerous Denial. Less stressful are events like the Boston Book Festival and the Made in New Hampshire Expo that provide great exposure and allow for interaction with book lovers. I also enjoy going to libraries as part of the Mysteries and Scandals Panel (with Emma Leigh Reed and IPNE member Joyce Shor Johnson.) We do readings and take questions from the audience. It’s a lot of fun! We have upcoming appearances at the Rice Library in Kittery ME on September 9th at 6 pm and at the Kelly Library in Salem NH on October 22nd at 7 pm.

    How did you choose the cover for your debut thriller Dangerous Denial?

    The publisher presented me with pictures of models and let me select the one who best represented the protagonist, BK Hartshaw. BK is a strong young woman, but she is hiding secrets that are putting her in grave danger, so I needed her expression to be right as well as her ‘look.’ Both the publisher and I the same pick, so that made it easy. Then the cover designer took it from there, putting the title in the crosshairs of a gun and adding a special effect evokes movement. It sets the feel for the opening of the book where BK and her ex-boyfriend are being held at gunpoint, hostages at a charity ball gone wrong.

    What advice do you have for other indie publishers?

    Keep learning, network, and continue to hone your craft! A great way to do this is by attending as many writing/publishing conferences as you can. IPNE’s New England Publishing Conference is coming up on September 25-26 in Portsmouth NH. There are workshops on marketing, revision strategies, writing to a niche audience (you’ll see me in the front of the classroom in that one), podcasting, print on demand, metadata, book reviews, distribution, publishing a series, and more. The keynote speakers are from Publishers Weekly, Ingram, and Shelf Awareness.

    How can we find your books?

    Dangerous Denial is carried at my local indie bookstores, The Book Outlet in North Hampton NH and RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth NH, and can be ordered at any bookstore. Or you can buy it online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or on the Barking Rain Press’ website.

  • 10 Aug 2015 12:41 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    There's still time to get in on available exhibit tables, meal sponsorships,  and catalog display advertising (full page free with exhibit table), but you'll need to act soon. 

    Thanks to our Sponsors/Exhibitors to date: 

    • ForeWord Reviews, a customizable online and print magazine providing reviews, editorial and opinion pieces in the interest of bringing greater attention tindependent publishers and their authors;
    • Friesens, a book, yearbook and packaging manufacturer;
    • HFGroup/Acme Bookbinding, providing print-on-demand, fine and edition binding, digitization, thesis and library binding and a full line of preservation services;
    • IBPA, the largest not-for-profit trade association for the independent publishing industry;
    • McNaughton Gunn, offering offset and digital printing as well as ebook conversion.


    The historic seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire is an increasingly popular tourist destination and it will sparkle this fall at the start of "leaf peeper" season in late September. Get your hotel rooms early if you're planning to stay for a few days!

    The area near the conference is eminently walkable, full of quaint buildings, lovely seaport vistas and boat docks, and many shops and restaurants. For those interested in history, Strawberry Bank Museum in Portsmouth features dozens of restored historic homes. The Sheraton Portsmouth, home to the conference, is a sparkling brick facility across the street from the harbor, with water views, a fitness center and indoor pool and complimentary high-speed internet access. 

    The Sheraton site is also perfect for arranging meetings with colleagues outside of scheduled conference time and for rejuvenation.

  • 05 Aug 2015 4:51 PM | Anonymous

    When Shunryu Suzuki said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few," I was sure he was speaking about how we learn to create wonderful books, and it all boils down to editing. Of course, it's also important to start with a wonderful writer who has a great story, but, a terrific book is ultimately dependent on working with careful and thoughtful editors who can bring the work to its full potential.

    1. Developmental editing is book bootcamp. Here we focus on structure, tone and theme. Is the voice consistent? Is something missing? If it's fiction, are the characters believable? These kinds of questions from editor to author will bring the story into big-picture format.

    2.  Line editing focuses on making sure that every word is appropriate to the overall content. Does the book read smoothly? Are there lumps and bumps along the way? Here we have moved from story to style.

    3. Copyediting digs a little deeper. This is the final step before the book is typeset. Grammar, spelling and word usage get a closer look. Are there errors in capitalization? Is style consistent with a reference like The Chicago Manual of Style.

    4. We may have thought that it's impossible to find a mistake after the previous three steps, but, believe it or not, those tiny blunders are almost inescapable without proofreading. Are the correct page numbers in the table of contents? Are there spelling errors still lingering?!!! (don't forget about the tyranny of auto-correction).

    5. Finally, let those fact checkers do their job. An incorrect date for a well-known event can be an embarrassing subject at a book signing. Are you sure about that date for the Apollo launch? And which rocket was that? Fact checking editors will know.

    Books that have been carefully edited allow the reader to have a more enjoyable reading experience. You may even sell more copies! Join us at the IPNE annual conference for more ideas about creating great books.

  • 04 Aug 2015 1:26 PM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    Exhibit to Booksellers, Librarians, at the famed Boston Book Festival, & more!

    We call them the "Big Three" - NEIBA, NELA, and the BBF. Add in the Annual Conference, and IPNE’s Fall event schedule is packed with exciting, affordable opportunities for members to learn, network, and expand their businesses.

    NE Independent Booksellers Association

    Who do we love? Independent book stores… and they love us! New England is a hotbed of indie bookstores, and they're experiencing a revival, thanks in part to the efforts of the book-lovers at NEIBA, the New England Independent Booksellers Association. You can be a part of it on October 6-8, 2015 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. 

    By exhibiting with IPNE, your titles are presented to an estimated 1,000 actively interested individual booksellers, 250 independent bookstores, and hundreds of top buyers, agents, editors, authors, and industry insiders at the largest regional show of its kind in the U.S. - for far less than an individual exhibit would cost. 

    Special exhibitor signings and presentations are among the IPNE add-on options.

    Boston Book Festival

    Showcase your titles at New England's premiere book event! Everyone at IPNE is excited to again have a booth at the Boston Book Festival (BBF) on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 in downtown Boston. What's even more terrific is that even though self-publishers are not allowed as solo exhibitors, IPNE can represent self-published members' books at this important event.

    New England Library Association

    2015 will be IPNE's 10th year as exhibitors at the New England Library Association Annual Conference (NELA). This year finds NELA at the Radisson Hotel Manchester (NH) Downtown on October 26-27 . The event is co-sponsored with the New Hampshire Library Association, which expects 600 attendees.

    Librarians are looking for books they know will interest their patrons as well as books to expand specific collections, so they are as interested in “back list titles” as those that have just been published.  By exhibiting at NELA we give independent and self-published books greater visibility in the important library market, and boost the overall reputation of independent publishers.

    Many librarians will already be familiar with IPNE; a few will get to meet us for the first time. Over the years, librarians have been delighted with the quality of books on display. All eagerly pick up the IPNE catalog with its NELA insert showing all books exhibited.  Librarians frequently gather information for future use when their budget permits, and they often pass along a copy of the catalog to a colleague.

    We arrange the books by genre in order by publisher. Attendees can easily locate the book they've spotted in the catalog, or find descriptions and contact information for books that catch their attention on the racks. Five to eight word “page talkers” are an extra invitation to browse in the books.

    It’s the responsibility of those of us who staff the booth to introduce attendees to IPNE; note what catches their eye and engage them in conversation; and wherever possible to point out that we have just what they’re looking for!  If you’d like to volunteer for one of a limited number of time slots to promote IPNE and the range of books displayed, as well as promote your own books and your availability for programs as appropriate, please contact organizer Tordis Isselhardt.

    Click here for the IPNE-at-NELA schedule and registration form.
  • 04 Aug 2015 11:51 AM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    The mission of our 350-plus-member Independent Publishing community on Google Plus is to share our passion for publishing and to help members learn, grow, and prosper in this fast-changing field. 

    Membership is open to all small, independent publishers and self-published authors. Several of the IPNE moderators for the community also belong to IBPA, the educational and trade association for small and mid-size independent book publishers, with which IPNE is affiliated. 

    New members are more likely to be accepted if their Google+ profile clearly indicates areas of genuine interest and a track record of broad, diverse postings about books, publishing, and/or related fields. Authentic engagement is the watchword here. 

    Please identify yourself by full name when you request membership, and don't join to harvest contacts or overtly promote specific books.

    Google+ IPNE Community

  • 31 Jul 2015 5:47 PM | Deleted user

    Scott Adams, in his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, gives us some tips for success that seem contradictory to what we have always thought. Instead of finding your passion and setting goals, he suggests that the path to success is based on suffering defeats, lots and lots of defeats. Here are his Ten Tips for Failing Your Way to Success. 

    1. Success is entirely accessible even if you happen to be a huge screw-up 95% of the time
    2. Commercial lenders don’t want to loan money to someone following their passion because they are in business for the wrong reason and tend to quit when things do not work out. Business success generally goes to someone who has no passion, just a desire to work hard at something that looks good on a spreadsheet.
    3. Success causes passion more than passion causes success
    4. It’s better to have a system instead of a goal. The system is to continuously look for better options.
    5. Goal seekers are always short of their goals. They exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.
    6. You can’t control luck, but you can move from a game with bad odds to one with better odds. Identify your skill set and choose a system using those skills to vastly improve your likelihood of getting “lucky.” There is plenty of luck to go around. Keep your hand raised until it is your turn.
    7. If your get-rich-quick project fails, take what you learned and try something else.
    8. Have an entrepreneurial plan. Create something the public wants that has value, something that is easy to reproduce in unlimited quantities. Do not try to sell your time because that has upward limits.
    9. Good ideas have no value because the world already has too many of them. The market rewards execution, not ideas.
    10. You do not try to fail, but failure happens when you try new things. You want your failures to make you stronger. But you also should want your failures to make you smarter, more talented, better networked, healthier and more energized.

  • 17 Jul 2015 4:33 PM | Charlotte Pierce (Administrator)

    by Brian Jud, IPNE Board Member

    Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make all the difference. The same can be said for selling an indie book on Amazon. If you’re looking for a quick way to generate more sales, here are two simple tweaks to consider:

    Modify Your Keywords

    Like Google, Amazon has a built-in algorithm that helps return relevant results when someone performs a search. You’re allowed seven keywords or keyword strings on Amazon. Make sure to include seven, filling the keyword section in your book listing. You’ll also use these in your description on your actual Amazon page. You can change your keywords often, so perform some tests to see which ones are working well. Without keyword stuffing, your primary keyword should appear two to five times for every one hundred words in your book description.

    Swap Categories

    As previously mentioned, you can easily revive your book listing by alerting Amazon’s algorithm that you’ve made a change. Another way to do this is moving your book into a different category or categories. Opt for one broad and then a smaller, niche category that is still relevant to the topic of your book. Choosing the right categories takes a bit of time. This list can help get you started. Don’t switch categories too often. Every few months is a good balance. Test a category to see how your book does in that niche and then move it, to see if it performs better in another category.

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