Tag Archives: self-publishing

courage_hi_resIn my last blog post, I mentioned that revisionist historians report that as many as one in four cowboys was black. Some estimates go as high as one in three and this is from new research since about the year 2000 into actual US Census data from that era.

This should not be a surprising premise since after 1865 there were thousands upon thousands of newly freed and unemployed blacks moving westward. I’ve also learned recently that between 1/6 and 1/3 of ALL frontier settlers are African or mixed-race ethnicity, that is, a mix of black, white, native, and/or Mexican.

But did you also know…?

A number of cowboy detectives were actually… women! That’s right. Alan Pinkerton established the Pinkerton National Detective Agency originally in Chicago. In the beginning his employees had a reputation of hired thugs with badges who busted organized strikes for the big companies.

Later, though, across the frontier, well-educated and highly skilled hunters and detectives were needed to help bring justice across the land. In fact, cowGIRL detectives were hired right along with cowboy detectives to do research and intelligence-gathering work to profile frontier criminals. These Pinkerton women were every bit as skilled with guns (some were even sharpshooters) and as educated as their male counterparts.

Get a realistic look at Pinkerton cowboy and cowgirl detectives in my new historical western Courage, as they employ their hunting skills against Jason Peares, the most notorious outlaw gunfighter in history, coming really really soon in ebook.

In my next posts I’m going to talk about the politics of the Indian wars, the famous Ninth Cavalry, and a Native leader whose name the army thought no one would ever remember. So follow me below on your favorite media for more revisionist history.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Sign up to get an email notification of the FREE pre-release historical western ebook “Warriors” and “Courage” (coming early 2014) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

There’s a lot of discussion on the Interwebs about the utility of professional editing for indie and self-published authors. I don’t think anyone would argue that such editing is essential for turning out a top-quality novel that rivals the production standards of traditional publishing houses. The main issue for indie authors is the not-insignificant cost of editing. I’ve paid for two rounds of pro-editing so far with “American Terrorist”, my latest thriller novel, and I also have proof-readers standing by.

But what’s all this talk I’ve been hearing lately about BETA readers, and what is it exactly? Really, it’s the same as beta testing new software or web services. You sign up and check it out to see how and if it works for you. You note bugs and send feedback about how awesome or terrible it is. Then the creator fine-tunes the product and fixes the bugs and releases the finished product into the world.

I first learned of this concept from Guy Kawasaki in his APE book (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur). He released his beta book to thousands of beta readers and he says the feedback he received was invaluable.

I saw the concept expressed a bit differently by Joanna Penn in her ebook “How To Market A Book.” She advocates releasing a beta version of your book to a few hand-picked readers that you trust.

The result is the same. You get feedback and so you get a better book. Personally, I think it’s an incredibly helpful part of your editing strategy, but I agree with the pros who say only release your beta version in its near-finished state.

As it turns out, I happen to be releasing “American Terrorist”, my new thriller novel, TODAY to beta readers. So if you want to help a fellow author create a more perfect novel, sign up at this link for your free BETA copy: http://eepurl.com/AqAQ1

Find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

legacy_of_an_outlaw_hi-resAs an author of historical westerns it’s easy to get into debates about “what history was really like.” After all, it depends on what history books you read. What may be documented fact according to one source might be countered by the documented facts of another source.

Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve found that the trend is toward “revisionist history.” It seems that historians are setting out to debunk previously held historical truths, and they’re backing up their claims with, for example, census data from the era.

When I got my first hardcover western published by a major New York publisher (The Peacekeeper, 1997 – soon to be republished in ebook as “Legacy Of An Outlaw”), I had well known western authors tell me that my premise of a black outlaw-gunfighter was unrealistic in the American West. Now, however, revisionist historians report that as many as one in four cowboys was black. Some estimates go as high as one in three! These estimates are based on documented census data on file at the time.

This should not be surprising since after 1865 there were thousands upon thousands of newly freed and unemployed blacks moving westward. These folks scratched out a living doing the same things that everyone else did – Anglo, Hispanic, Native, Asian, etc. They wrangled cattle, sought gold, worked on farms or ranches or railroads, and they built towns. Some became outlaws and gunfighters.

Traditional historical assumptions derived from a narrow perspective and pre-1990 media reinforced what was commonly believed to be true. Readers nowadays, however, understand that revisionist history presents a new and more diverse set of possibilities, and I’m convinced that modern readers are looking for something just a little bit different from mainstream.

In my next posts I’m going to talk about women Pinkerton detectives, the politics of the frontier wars, the famous Ninth Cavalry, and a Native leader whose name the army thought no one would ever remember. So follow me below on your favorite media for more revisionist history.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Sign up to get an email notification of the FREE pre-release historical western ebook “Warriors” (coming early 2014) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

 

warriors_hi-resAs an author of Historical Westerns it’s easy for me to exploit my uniqueness. I know, a black guy who writes Westerns… crazy, huh? What can I say… my childhood hero was Clint Eastwood. I loved Westerns so that’s what I wrote.

I published a paperback, a hardcover, and two audiobooks. I actually have the distinction of being the only black author ever to have a Western published in hardcover by a major New York publisher with THE main character being black. But when I sent my books out to be reviewed and to get promo blurbs, I actually had “established” big-name Western authors tell me a book about a black outlaw cowboy was not realistic. They told me not to put my picture on the back cover because… well, you know. But that was 20 years ago.

Then a curious thing happened to me. I went to my first booksigning at a Western book expo. There we were, all 50 authors. 49 of them were guys in cowboy boots and hats. And then there was me.

The black guy who writes Westerns

I was an anomaly, a curiosity. Everybody came over to see who I was. And they all bought my book! The other authors sold maybe 10 books and I sold a TON. The same thing happened at almost every booksigning I went to. I was a rock star. I was different, and I discovered that readers want something different. Not VERY different, but kinda different. A little bit different.

My westerns are just like those of every other Western author. My thrillers are just like those of every other thriller author. My characters – heroes and villains and sidekicks alike – look just like all the other authors’ characters, except maybe just a tad more diverse.

What’s different about my books is ME and I’ve learned to use my uniqueness as a marketing tool. People remember me as the black guy who writes Westerns (and high-octane thrillers, too).

You, too, have something unique about you. Discover what that quality is and exploit it. Use it as your marketing angle so you’ll stand out among your author peers. Use it to find readers who want something just a little bit different from mainstream.

Want high-octane adventure with an edge? Get the FREE pre-release ebook “American Terrorist” (coming Dec 2013) at www.JeffreyPoston.com or find Jeffrey Poston on Twitter: @jeffposton or Google Plus: +Jeffrey Poston or www.facebook.com/JeffreyPostonBooks

hat n saddleIt has taken me 24 years to figure out why my first western wasn’t any good (I know, a black man who writes westerns… go figure… but more on that in a later post), but I got published that first time by pure blind luck, no two ways about it.

I just happened to send my query letter (this was in 1991 when we still mailed stuff) to an editor from a mid-size publisher in Los Angeles who had an author that was going to miss his delivery deadline. The editor called me Wednesday and asked me if I could overnight my manuscript to be prepped for his Friday deadline.

Well, I had just bought a cutting-edge new computer so I overnighted a high-tech 3.5″ floppy disk and… BLAM! I was published a month later in paperback.

Two things were missing, though: copy editing and proofreading. The editor was in such a hurry to make his deadline that he sent my manuscript into the publishing process without those key tasks.

Looking back over my 24-year writing career, every time I reread my first book I have to laugh at how amateurish it is. There were a few spelling errors that would have been picked up by even a cursory proofread, but there were glaring character and plot discrepancies that should have been corrected, too. In fact, a local newspaper had a well known western author review my book and, well, I was crushed… but I didn’t know why!

I read a lot of fiction from new authors, and I can always tell those that skipped professional copy editing and proofreading. If there are two things I recommend paying for, it is those (also a third would be a professional book cover). If you can’t afford these expenses, then either trade or barter or delay publishing your book. It’s hard to overcome a first impression in the media of producing slack work.