The news has probably already made it from one end of the book world to the other already, but in case you weren't previously made aware, CreateSpace is shutting down. Undoubtedly the most popular self-publishing platform out there, it was owned by Amazon and it printed two of my books. So what's gonna happen?
Nobody needs to be stressed out, though we can all be sad. All CreateSpace books will be moving to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) which has been printing paperbacks for a while now. I suppose that it was inevitable that it would eventually phase out CreateSpace but I'd be lying to you if I said that I wasn't kind of sad. It was so easy to set up a book (compared to my experience with Ingram anyway, I've never tried a KDP paperback) and the customer service was absolutely legendary!
So, what happens to my books? Nothing. They've already migrated from one platform to another and there have been absolutely no changes, disruptions or anything else whatsoever. Everything is business as usual over here. I've also added the expanded edition of Don't Let Me Go to the 'store' tab so readers can now buy autographed copies straight from me. For the moment this is the only place you can get them, but I'm thinking of creating listings elsewhere in the future if I set up a bigger online store.
Did you know? I was a shop owner from October 2012 to January 2015 in which I sold a wide array of handmade goods, vintage items and craft supplies. I closed everything up to pursue both writing and my education (both of which are still ongoing) but I do miss the side income it provided and I'm thinking of starting something up again. More on that later, for now let's mourn my favorite publishing platform...
Hello friends and fans! As you've probably already read in the email blast that I've sent out earlier today, the audiobook edition of my most recent novel Don't Let Me Go was released yesterday! My producer ran into a few hiccups that delayed production for two additional weeks but nonetheless the final product sounds great! Katie's (my narrator) sounds just like I'd imagined Joanie would!
Here's the best part about audiobook releases: giving away free copies! ACX, the production platform I use, gives authors and producers a bunch of free download codes to generate buzz and get reviews, and I want to give some to you! The codes are for the US and UK Audible websites, you do not have to be a paying member to redeem them and there is absolutely zero charge. You get to keep the audiobook forever too!
All you need to do to request a code is send in this form and I will forward you the code, instructions on how to redeem it and the download link by email. I also have a handful of codes left over from my previous book Innermost that I will gladly send as well (and yes you can have both, just say so) but only US codes are available.
In exchange for these codes I would love to have a customer review posted to Goodreads, Amazon and/or Audible along with any other platform of your choice such as your blog, etc. If you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know! Happy listening!
Last month I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the Read Write Club website in preparation for the release of Don't Let Me Go and am now sharing it with the rest of you! As always, you can read the original here or just keep scrolling! So, it's not my most flattering picture but what the hell, I look just as human as you do!
Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
My name is Jamila Mikhail and I’m a 22-year-old Canadian author of several books. I’m a polyglot and a human rights student with a passion for writing about important (and often controversial) topics and social issues. With whatever I say and wherever I go I manage to cause a stir but that’s something I enjoy, and that’s part of the reason I’m both a human rights student and an author!Although I’ve always loved writing and it’s always been my way to cope with life, I was inspired to go big and actually publish these writings because I know for a fact that books can be revolutionary. I don’t expect to change the world with my books, but I know that the stories I have to tell will leave a lasting impact on the reader. My inspiration to write and publish is precisely to inspire others much of the same way I’ve been inspired by books ever since I was a little girl. I guess you could take that as paying it forward being a source of inspiration to write.
Tell us about your books.
I currently have two published books available for sale and several more available to download for free on my website. My first published book was “Innermost” which is a collection of poetry that I’ve written and compiled over a period of about half a dozen years. To me poetry is one of the most beautiful art forms in the world and several of my poems have won me local awards over the years.
My second published book is called “Don’t Let Me Go” and it’s fiction aimed at teens and other young people. It’s a little mix of fantasy, history and philosophy with contemporary social issues that young people face today including bullying, domestic violence and mental illness. Tough themes are presented in an uplifting fashion to promote a message of hope for the future. This is the kind of book I wish I’d come across as a teenager facing many of the things written about in the book.
As for the many free ebooks available on my website, they are a wide range of short stories (funny ones, weird ones, depressing ones, touching ones, a little bit of everything really), more poetry and more full length novels about contemporary issues. “The Distant Factory” is a contemporary crime novel told from the perspective of a street kid wrestling between wanting to fix her life and get revenge on a particular person who wronged her in the past. “The Florence Nightingale Effect” is exactly what the title implies it is: a nurse who develops inappropriate feelings for a patient. This novel also deals with other issues in the background, such as crime, redemption and the justice system.
How did you go about getting published?
Going down the self-publishing route was an easy choice in my case for several reasons, but the biggest one being that I retain complete control at all times. If I ever decide to change something, delete something or unpublish a book entirely I don’t need anybody’s approval or permission to do so. I don’t have to answer to anybody and that enables me to hire (or fire) anyone that I please at any time. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s been 100% worth it because I get to carve out my own path instead of being put on one that may not have been right for me.
While I have no doubt that there are many perks to using a traditional publisher, it’s just not what’s right for my vision as an author. I have some fellow author friends who ended up losing the rights to their precious works going down that route and that’s actually my biggest fear as an author. I’ve also met people who have certain books self-published and others traditionally published depending on their vision for that book and I don’t believe that you have to pick a single route for your entire career.
Nowadays you have a legitimate chance of being very successful at self-publishing with the wide reach of the internet and the many tools available out there so for me this was also a safe way to dip my toes into the publishing waters and it turns out that I’m completely comfortable in these waters.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
The writing process just sort of happens for me. I have to let it come naturally otherwise it doesn’t come out right. Inspiration can strike me anywhere at any time and I always bring a notebook to take down notes when that lightning strike does happen because otherwise it’s gone forever. To put something together “officially” I always sit in the living room, sometimes at my desk and most often in the rocking hair because my desk is a junk magnet for everything except the laptop.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
When I’m not writing I’m usually busy with school or other classes that I take part in to learn a new craft or refine an existing skill and that can be pretty time-consuming even as a part-time student on top of daily responsibilities. I now also have two cats living under my roof and my newest addition is quite the handful! Squeaker and Carling don’t allow me to sit still and get bored I can tell you that! I also keep my mind down to earth with various hobbies including collecting postcards, writing snail mail letters, participating in community events, doing activist work and lurking around thrift stores and flea markets looking for old or neglected action figure parts which I then recycle and turn into brand new creations. This doll-making of mine is in part what inspired “Don’t Let Me Go” and I actually made the doll of Adler’s character too!
Any advice for authors about book covers?
The only thing I would tell other authors is to look at the covers of other books in the same genre. This will give them an idea of what is mainstream but I would also advise them to not be a carbon copy of others. There needs to be a balance of both your book fitting in to where it belongs and standing out enough so readers will be drawn to your novel instead of another. For those with some experience in design there are many beautiful pre-made cover templates that you can edit and rearrange to your taste but for those who have no experience I would suggest getting a cover made by someone who knows what they are doing. You don’t have to pay a lot of money for something beautiful either!
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
First off, authors should make their books available in as many formats as possible (for me that’s paperback, ebook and audiobook) and distribute them to as many retailers as possible too. It may be tempting to capitalize on a single big market by going exclusive, but you also lose a lot of potential customers this way! I’ve personally sold books on very small and often ignored channels, plus I generally don’t buy from some of the biggest names in the business either. I want readers more than I want money and if you put people before profit you should be successful in creating a solid fanbase!
My second tip is to not underestimate the power of in-person marketing! Get cards, bookmarks or posters promoting your work printed and be loud and proud! Give these materials to people you know, your local library, academic institution, bookstores and other places where people might be interested in what you have to offer. Offering someone something tangible, even just a small business card, can go much farther than we think!
What’s your favorite book?
It changes just about every single day, but right now it’s the Diary of Anne Frank.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading “A Mother’s Reckoning” by Susan Klebold and although I’m not very far into it yet, I already recommend it to anyone who wants to read one of those books that will stay with them forever.
What’s your next book project?
I’m currently about ten thousand words into “After Anderson” which is my latest attack on social issues expected in 2019. Like my other writings, this won’t be a book for the faint of heart or those seeking to escape the real world. It’s a hard to swallow story about a school shooting and the people whose lives have been turned upside down in the aftermath. Having witnessed much violence at school, including gun violence (though thankfully not a massacre), this is a topic that is particularly important to me. This is a book project that I also hope will help me in healing from those experiences at school. You know when they talk about whether you write for yourself or write for others, “After Anderson” is definitely writing for myself.
You've all been waiting for it for the last three months and it has finally arrived! Don't Let Me Go has hit the market as is available for all you YA fans out there! The book actually launched two days ago but life has sort of a way to disrupt your plans sometimes, like sending me on an emergency visit to the dentist and then running for the hills (the basement actually) because of a tornado warning! That wasn't exactly how I'd planned to spend release day, but all turned out just fine at the end of the day!
Don't Let Me Go is also available in an expanded edition containing a variety of bonus materials. This edition is paperback only but the regular edition is available in ebook (for a special launch price of only $0.99 for a limited time), paperback and the audiobook will follow soon. My producer needed some more time to complete the project so I'm not expecting the audiobook until next month but don't worry, I'll all let you know when it comes out and how to get a code to listen to it for free!
In all fairness, I must also acknowledge that there are many good, honest, devoted and ethical book bloggers out there. I have been fortunate to make contact with some of them and they are gems in the sea of spam and scams targeting independent authors, and particularly new and inexperienced authors.
Despite this, I probably won't be wasting anymore of my time on sites like IndieView (even the admin didn't respond to my emails) looking for reviews or anything else for that matter. I'll probably just hire one of the many companies that get book you a complete virtual book tour complete with reviews, interviews and guest posts often for only around $50.
They'll handle all the dirty work and the frustration for me, and I'll only be paying them to do that service. None of the people who will be reading and reviewing the book will be getting a dime. That's the real difference between hiring a company to do the work and paying someone to read what you give them for free, something that I find absolutely disgusting considering how difficult and expensive it can be to put out a book by yourself.
This is a cautionary tale for other indies who might just be starting out and trying to find their way around this maze. My advice to you is that you should never pay an average joe to read your book. The only time you should ever pay for a review service is when getting a professional editorial review from a trusted company who is a reputable name in the publishing business. There are many out there, do your homework and you'll be rewarded instead of scammed.
As we go along, I will be sharing my own experiences with different services and companies that I'll be using and that I have used up until this point. Ultimately you'll have to decide for yourself what you want and what works for you as no two authors will be successful the same way, but with my two cents I hope to pay it forward and thank those who have advised me and guided me on the right path.
If you have any questions or just want my objective opinion on something don't be shy to post a comment or send me an email. I won't ignore you (unless you spam me of course) and I'll try to help you as much as I can, free of charge.
Any independent author knows that it's hard to make a meaningful connection in a sea of people when new faces are popping up constantly. Any author also knows how important it is to make these types of connections, but what few people are willing to talk about is how hard and frustrating this process can be, especially when it comes to book bloggers.
Since the very start of my publishing journey one message has been the same: book bloggers are your best friend. In theory they can work a miracle for your career, but in reality is that what's really going to happen? After two books I've come to this conclusion: no.
This month alone I must've sent out between two and three hundred queries to different bloggers and it was probably the biggest waste of time of my career. First off, good luck finding one who still accepts submissions! I understand that they are busy and in demand people but it makes it no less frustrating at the author's end trying to find what's basically a needle in a haystack.
Secondly, good luck getting a response. You will not get any type of response from the majority of those who do accept submissions. In all fairness, some do write on their blogs that they'll only write back if interested, but for the rest how hard is it to actually politely decline a submission? Or at the very least, acknowledge the person?
The part that gets under my skin the most has to do with those so-called "reviewers" who only want your money. I did get a bunch of responses to my many queries, mainly from people who wanted me to pay them to review a book that I'd be giving them for free despite being listed on websites such as IndieView who list bloggers who review for free. At least it's all supposed to be free.
And don't even get me started on all the unsolicited spam emails you'll then be getting from even more people wanting to dip their fingers into your wallet. This enormous frustration of mine has even boiled over to me starting my own (actually free) book review service. I don't promise you the world, my opinion probably won't be the break your career has been waiting for, but I'll be your ally. I'll give you the time of day, I'll acknowledge your hard work, and most importantly I won't demand any money from you.
I also won't be accepting all the submission requests that I get, and I probably won't be advertising this review service outside of my own social media (at least not for now) to keep things clean, honest, ethical and personal.
On June 26th I had the great privilege of being interviewed by Mistral K. Dawn on her blog of the same name, and I must say that this has probably been my favorite interview so far. Read the original post on her blog or just keep scrolling for the text!
The fabulous Jamila Mikhail is here with us, today! Jamila, will you tell us about yourself and how many books you have written?
Jamila: Hello everyone! My name is Jamila Mikhail, I’m 22 years old, I’m a human rights student from the capital of Canada and earlier this year my dream of publishing my first book finally came true! In January I published Innermost which is a collection of poems written over half a decade. In February I was also one of the people awarded the title of Top Writer for the year 2018 on Quora. That was quite a shock (but a good one) because I never in a million years would have imagined that my writings about World War II, Islam and my bad experience wearing braces for 4 years would ever earn me such a title!
Me: Congratulations! What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Jamila: The only book I currently have published is Innermost, my collection of poems that includes both free form and fixed form poetry. It’s about a variety of topics but mostly the human experience; the good and the bad, from romance to war and everything in between. For most of my life writing poetry (and just writing in general) was the only socially acceptable way to express myself so I did it a lot. I’ve also written a few short story compilations (about just as many topics as my poetry book) and novels that are available for free download on my website. I’m also very much working on some new projects that will be released shortly right now as well!
Me: Wow! Sounds like you've been busy. :-) What are you working on now?
Jamila: I’m working on my first young adult novel called Don’t Let Me Go that is currently available for preorder on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords. It’s only $0.99 (USD) for a limited time too! It officially comes out in ebook, paperback and audiobook formats on August 1st and I actually have quite a list of people already anticipating it. While I’m at it let me share with you guys the blurb! On top of battling the normal teenage angst that everyone goes through, Joanie is also reeling from her parents’ bitter divorce and having to cope with her mother’s new boyfriend and father’s new family. Alone in a new town and without friends, she turns to passing the time by indulging in her longtime hobby of making toy models of soldiers and is both amazed and shocked when one of them comes to life. Despite her millions of unanswered questions and having to make sense of new mysteries every day Joanie comes to find a loyal and trustworthy companion in Adler, a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht and a member of the German Resistance during World War II who must also find a way to handle living in modern times on top of being invisible to most of the population. The two of them will have to fight several battles on many fronts in both the physical world and unseen realms as they both try to comprehend Adler’s new existence and piece Joanie’s broken life back together.
Me: Sounds interesting! What authors or books have influenced you?
Jamila: I could probably write an entire book just about the other books that have influenced me in life! I especially like to read non-fiction, in particular the memoirs and autobiographies of those who lived through major or unbelievable events. I’ve been particularly influenced by Elie Wiesel and Irene Nemirovsky since I am a huge history buff who fully intends to write historical fiction in the future. Stories about war always have a profound effect on me because my grandfather served in both WWII and Korea and it’s in large part his stories that have motivated me to get into human rights.
Me: Cool! What are you reading now?
Jamila: Aside from my own proof copy of Don’t Let Me Go, I’m only reading a few books about 20th century history for school. My final essay is due extremely soon but this is in fact quite boring and irrelevant because I’d much rather be reading the books of a fellow indie author! Last month I’ve just began a free review program for my fellow indie authors where I get a free book and they get an honest review posted to Amazon, Goodreads, my book blogs and other social media pages.
Me: That's kind of you. I'm sure there are a lot of authors who are grateful. :-) For those who might consider reading your book, what would you tell them to expect?
Jamila: I’ll say straight up that my work isn’t for the faint of heart! I like to write about important and relevant issues in society and I don’t shy away from hard topics either. I don’t write to escape reality, I write about reality. My poetry book is for mature audiences only, but Don’t Let Me Go is geared towards the 13-17 age group (though adults will be able to enjoy it as well) and deals with domestic violence, bullying at school and teenage anxiety with a bit of history and a twist of fantasy!
Me: Sounds intriguing. What’s your favorite part of being an author?
Jamila: It’s definitely being able to push boundaries. Your writings don’t have to be socially acceptable. You can write whatever you want, create worlds that would otherwise not exist and experiment with whatever you want as much as you want in a safe environment. When I’m writing nobody can tell me what is right or wrong, or what I can and cannot do.
Me: I agree; writing is definitely liberating. What motivated you to become an author?
Jamila: It was my therapist that suggested that I begin writing seriously actually. While I was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2011 and 2012 I told him that writing journals and snail mail letters he challenged me to write a full-length novel. And so I wrote what is now known as The Distant Factory available for free on my website but it was many years before it went from a messy file to an actual book.
Me: Yeah, there's certainly a learning curve when it comes to writing books. Do you have a day job as well?
Jamila: No, I’m still a student actually. I’m currently studying human rights and it’s a small job in itself. For many years my “job” was caring for my grandmother but she recently passed away in March of this year so you could say that I am in a transition phase in my life, actively looking for what to do next.
Me: I'm very sorry for your loss. What would you tell up and coming writers?
Jamila: I would simply say to go for it. A world of opportunities and amazing things is waiting for you out there. Believe in yourself and let the world know about your book. I honestly didn’t think that I’d make it in a sea of authors but my first book did much better than I ever could have expected, and poetry is just about the hardest thing to sell! The sky is the limit as I don’t believe they have books in outer space.
Me: Yep. You never know unless you try. Thank you so much for stopping by, today, Jamila. And thank you, as well, to the rest of you who joined us.
Can't wait another month to get your hands on my upcoming novel? I have some good news for you! You can not get a digital copy of Don't Let Me Go on NetGalley! I am seeking some pre-release reviews and feedback in exchange for you getting a free book. What do you say? Request your free copy by clicking on the link below!
In other news, I'm also happy to tell you that the audiobook version of this novel is very much underway and is sounding fabulous! The ebook, paperback and audiobook versions will be released to the world at large on August 1st and don't forget that you can pre-order the book for only $0.99 for a limited time!
Much like Innermost before it, Don't Let Me Go also went through various creative stages and processes, including creating the perfect cover that would well represent the story. Below are the three tries it took before getting it right the fourth time.
Click on each image to view the full size cover but I promise you that there's not much to see there. These covers were particularly hideous and I'm grateful that the one that was actually used didn't look like one of these!
Do you like audiobooks? Do you want a free one? You've come to the right place! While searching for a producer for my newest book I've come across long forgotten Audible.com download codes for my poetry book! I'm kind of embarrassed that I forgot about them for a total of almost six months but you're lucky day hasn't gone away!
I'm not interested in doing some big raffle for these codes since I'm slowly building a marketing campaign for "Don't Let Me Go" that comes out on August 1st so if you want one of these just fill out the form below simply saying that you want a code and I'll forward you one straight to your email. You don't owe me a single thing in return, through I would be extremely grateful for an honest review on Audible, Goodreads and whichever other platform of your choice.
These codes are sent out on a first come first serve basis so don't delay if you want to get your hands on one! Below are instructions on how to redeem your free audiobook if you're new at this.
1. Go to my book's page on Audible.com.
2. Add the audiobook to your cart.
3. If you are prompted to sign in, please create a new Audible.com account or log in. Otherwise, proceed by clicking “Do you have a promotional code?” beneath the cover artwork of the audiobook.
4. Enter the promo code, and click "Apply Code."
5. A credit for the audiobook will be added to your account. Click the box next to “1 Credit” and click the “Update” button to apply the credit to the purchase.
6. After you select “1 Credit” and click “Update” to modify your shopping cart, the price for the audiobook will change to $0.00. You may proceed through the checkout by clicking “Next Step” and “Complete Purchase” on the subsequent page.
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