It’s easy to get a list of what indie books are out there (click here for the latest indie best sellers on indiebound.org), but what are the books that have influenced these writers?
I have collected over two years of indie author profiles on Who’s That Indie Author. I’m always interested in what a person’s favorite book is, so now I have lots of info about books on the tops of these writers’ favorites lists.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
John Kennedy Toole
So a great mix of books and genres, and this in turn results in a great mix of new books! And whether you are a reader, a published writer or an aspiring writer, you certainly have books that have influenced your life and your writing. Do they line up with the books and authors on the list above? Leave your favorites in the comments section!
Jane’s sometimes boyfriend, Chris, is playing hard to get. Tentative plans to get together have ended in a tense phone call and Chris has powered off his phone. Jane has recruited her friend, Adrienne, to visit Chris’s apartment to see what’s what. Adrienne investigates while Jane waits in the lobby. When Adrienne arrives on the eighth floor, she meets face-to-face with Chris. Were those sparks flying between them? After a little banter, Adrienne makes a quick retreat down the stairwell to fetch Jane, just as Chris pushes the down button in the elevator. What will happen next is anyone’s guess!
Now you’re set – I hope you enjoy!
Jane fumed in the lobby. Where was Adrienne? Why hadn’t she texted her updates? She had been desperate for info when she finally called. Had Chris come out his door and caught Adrienne spying? He’d surely recognize her friend and put two and two together. Chris may be a bonehead in relationships, but he was sure to detect this scheme if he saw Adrienne. He might even think it was funny, but no, things hadn’t gone well on the phone. There was nothing funny about his blowing her off last week and now tonight. And Jane was not going for funny here anyway. Chris needed to realize how great they were together. That was serious business.
The rubber tree plant in front of her was a comic disguise. She’d gotten more than one crazy look while she waited. Thank goodness there wasn’t a doorman to chase her away. She had a good view of the elevator from behind the fat leaves and, if Chris came down, she could spot him and crouch low as he passed. And Adrienne was on her way anyway. If all went well, Adrienne would come down first and the two of them could run out of the building and Chris wouldn’t be the wiser.
Adrienne strode down the eighth floor hall, hoping that Chris would enter his apartment before she had to fake knock at an unknown apartment. She heard a door open and close just as she arrived at 803. Thank goodness! This would definitely be a story to laugh at, she thought, fifty years from now, but there was no time for that now. She pulled off her heels and made a dash to the stairwell exit. This would be a good warm-up for the dance floor, she reasoned.
Adrienne’s bare toes gripped the waffled surface of the metal steps. Her lacrosse training in high school and college was serving her well, even if she hadn’t done much since. Well, there was dancing. That definitely counted. She was moving fast. In a half a minute, she’d get to the lobby, grab Jane and they’d hightail it out of there.
The only thing Chris needed in his apartment was a door to hide behind to see what Adrienne would do next. He opened and closed it loudly, then quietly re-opened it to peek through the crack. He was sure that after Adrienne pretended to visit the cat lady, she would head down to the lobby, but he needed to know whether she’d take the elevator or the stairs. When he saw her head to the stairwell, he smiled. He was ready to play the game, but first, better grab his phone. Chris may not like the device very much, but getting a new number in it might be a good thing.
Thank you for reading – come back next week!
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Books: Just the Two of Us; The Soulless; Stage Fright
Bio:Michelle Scott received her MFA from Wayne State University. Her stories have appeared in such places as Tales of the Unanticipated, All Possible Worlds and Realms. Straight to Hell, the first book in her Lilith Straight urban fantasy series, is published by Carina UK, an imprint of Harlequin Romance. Michelle lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and three children.
Favorite thing about being a writer: I love being able to create characters and see how they interact. To me, it’s kind of a grownup way of playing with dolls. I also like to take a single situation and turn it into a story.
Biggest challenge as an indie author: To me, the biggest challenge is staying organized. When I’m trying to juggle several different books, plan a blog tour, and design covers, things can get a little crazy.
Favorite books: Anything by Stephen King. On the other hand, I also love Elin Hilderbrand and Jody Picoult.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about reading a hardboiled detective novel from the 1930s, even though I remember liking the Humphrey Bogart movie years ago. But one page in and I understood why Dashiell Hammett is considered a master of this genre. It’s a tightly written story about detective Sam Spade, three murders, a valuable falcon statue and an assortment of shrewd characters on both sides of the law.
The story begins when a beautiful and mysterious Miss Wonderly hires Spade and his partner Miles Archer to keep an eye on man she claims has run off with her teenage sister. Spade and Archer might not believe their new client, but they take the assignment and her retainer. When Archer and the man he’s following turn up dead, the first person the police suspect is Spade. That begins the reader’s view into the long-standing antagonistic relationship between Spade and the police, specifically Detective Polhaus and Lieutenant Dundy.
Written in the external third-person narrative, the reader gets no look into the characters’ thoughts and must decide their motives and truthfulness based entirely on their words and actions. There are plenty of shady characters to figure out, too. Spade quickly discovers Miss Wonderly is lying, that her real name is Brigid O’Shaughnessy and that she’s deeply mixed up in a scheme to get the priceless falcon. But the truth is also muddled up by others who want the bird, a bejeweled and fashionable Joel Cairo, a slick-talking Caspar Gutman and his bodyguard Wilmer.
Spade’s character is a fascinating mix between calculating, cutthroat, self-serving and occasionally soft-hearted, particularly around beautiful women. That makes for plenty of romantic tension between him and O’Shaughnessy, who is just as slick to manage. She says she’s hired him to help her get the statue, which she’s promised to Gutman. Whether it’s a square deal is for the reader to discover in a twisted and fast-moving plot with plenty of red herrings.
The only woman who has Spade figured out is his loyal secretary Effie Perine, who is willing to put up with a lot of guff because she genuinely likes him. The fondness is mutual, but seemingly platonic, with some teasing affection, and maybe that’s why it works.
The big showdown at the end between all the bird’s players is a section worthy of several re-reads, first to get the facts and later to enjoy the smart and manipulative negotiations between Spade and the rest. It’s never clear, until the final page, who has the upper hand.
Every word counts in this terrific story which is just over 200 pages and both easy and fun to read. I recommend The Maltese Falcon to readers of crime fiction and to all readers who are looking for a great story.
Did you know that the number of self-published books in the United States grew to over 1 million in 2017? That’s a 28% rise. I’m not surprised, are you? Publishers Weekly posted an article this week with all the numbers. Click here to read the full article, but here’s a rundown of the report, compiled by Bowker.
But first, I didn’t know what Bowker was, so I had to look it up. The company is the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs). They also compile a lot of data, including bibliographic information on published books. Their statistical reports which include publishing trends are free and you can download them here.
Here’s where the data is a little tricky to understand. The increase was mostly due to rise in the number of print books issued ISBNs. The number of ISBNs for e-books decreased, but that is likely because authors are switching to Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform. KDP doesn’t use ISBNs, so Bowker’s data doesn’t include this segment of e-books and Amazon does not make these numbers public.
Amazon’s Create Space is going strong too, with a 50% rise in title output of print books in 2017. These numbers are part of Bowker’s data. Smashwords and Lulu are still in the e-book game, but their numbers fell in 2017.
What’s interesting is that the number of print ISBNs issued by Author Solutions dropped 19% in 2017. Their numbers have fallen every year since 2012. Author Solutions is the parent company of a bunch of self-publishing companies, including AuthorHouse. They also have partnerships with several traditional publishing houses.
Numbers a year ago, showing only an 8% gain in self-published books, suggested that maybe the self-published market was reaching maturity. Maybe not now!
So those are a lot of numbers to digest, but the story behind the data is that the self-publishing segment is a significant player in the publishing market.
Are you a self-published author? Do these numbers confirm what you already know? How did you get your book out there?
Books: Serial-killer thriller Deadly Fare; mafia thriller Blood Sons; currently working on the third book in the Hannah Summers series.
Bio:A newspaper reporter and magazine photojournalist for over thirty years, I was fortunate to cover crime of all sorts, including organized crime, murder investigations and dramatic court trials. I live on the Massachusetts coast with my wife and dog. An avid sailor, I’m also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician, occupations that inform my writing. I continue to write articles and make photographs for magazines.
Favorite thing about being a writer: I get to exercise my imagination.
Biggest challenge as an indie author: Marketing the books. It takes a tremendous amount of time.
Favorite book(s): The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway; Cannery Row by John Steinbeck; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and so many others.
From the archives – here’s one of my first author interviews – with Heather Walsh, a self-published author of two books, The Drake Equation and Dented Cans. I enjoyed both of these books and it was great to learn more about Walsh and her writing process!
I’ve been very interested in the self-publishing business and this growing marketplace. I recently had the chance to interview Heather Walsh, a self-published author from Brookline, Massachusetts. Her two novels, Dented Cans and The Drake Equation are available for sale in both print and digital formats on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites. Here is the story of how she was able to get her writing published.
BCM: Tell me about yourself. What kinds of jobs did you have before you started writing novels?
HW: I’ve had a number of different jobs. I taught high school English in Brooklyn for a year, was an IT technical trainer, worked as an IT business analyst, learned SQL, and am now taking some time off to be with my two young children. But I’ve been writing through it all!
BCM: Do you write full-time? If not, what else do you…
For sixteen-year-old Alyssa and her family, the drought in southern California was nothing new. It meant conserving water, as in shorter showers and no watering the lawns. Life went on otherwise and no one was thinking disaster. No one except the McCrackens. But they were the strange, reclusive neighbors across the street who had taken their survivalist hobby to the extreme. No one to take seriously.
Now what the news channels had been calling a flow crisis is a sudden Tap-Out. No water. And in a matter of days, throughout the region, civilized communities become desperate rioting mobs, with no way to get out. When Alyssa and her younger brother, Garrett are separated from their parents, it’s up to the kids to survive on their own. But how and for how long? With a hurricane occupying the rest of the nation’s attention, does anyone outside of southern California know how bad it is?
It’s anything goes as friends and neighbors face the grim truth and Alyssa and Garrett must ask themselves how far they will go to survive, whom they will trust and just how much they will help others.
In Neal Shusterman’s brand new book (published 10/2/18), he teams with his son, Jarrod to write a fantastic Young Adult study of climate change and human behavior under extreme stress. They offer a mix of realistic characters with emerging traits of leadership and changing degrees of moral standards, selfishness and violence. Told in the present tense, in varying points of view, Dry is an intense, consuming story that will make readers ask themselves, “What would I do?”
I recommend Dry to readers who enjoy fast-paced action stories that look into how people react to threats and danger.
For another story about the effects of a drought on a town, check out:
Title: Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds
Author: Nick Foles, with Joshua Cooley
Rating: 3.5 stars
What’s it about? This is a first-person account of the journey that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles experienced in the 2017 season, which culminated in the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory. After entering the season as the backup, he was thrust into the starting role after the starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, tore his ACL. Foles embraced his faith in God and overcame countless odds to achieve the greatest feat in an NFL season—winning a championship.
How did you hear about it? I’m an avid member of the “Eagles Twitter” community, so I get most of my Eagles news from there. It was hard to not hear about the Super Bowl MVP’s book while following the aftermath of the championship.
Closing comments: I learned a ton about Foles in this book, including information prior to his days in the National Football League. I was glad he included these parts instead of just focusing on the 2017 season for the entire book. It was great to hear about how he was recruited in high school, his eventual transfer from Michigan State to Arizona, and even aspects of his personal life. He’s an honest and open individual, which quickly becomes clear when listening to his interviews, and luckily, this translated into an honest, humbling book. Of course, Foles is no author, so the quality of the writing (despite the help of a real author) is not going to blow anyone away. The book probably could’ve been cut by about 40 to 50 pages and still have been just as interesting, but it doesn’t drone on and on either. Personally, I found the references to his religion a little over the top at times. I am glad that Foles’s belief in God helped guide him through his experiences, but for readers who aren’t into that kind of thing, it might come off as him pushing his religion too much. I’m sure this wasn’t his intention, so I can’t criticize it too much. However, for many people who don’t have as strong religious beliefs, it can be easy to glaze over entire paragraphs because it becomes rather repetitive. Overall, though, this was a fun, easy read and gave me some great perspective into the man that’s going to be at the top of the list in Philadelphia for a long time.
Contributor: Austin Vitelli is an assistant editor for a medical publishing company who recently graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism. He’s been a Philadelphia Eagles fan his whole life. His blog, which mostly focuses on the Eagles, can be viewed here.
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