PublishDrive Blog


Self-publishing Sci-fi and Fantasy: Interview with Joseph Malik, Author of Dragon’s Trail

Sci-fi author Joseph Malik has not only collected favourable reviews on his first release, but has been selected as an eligible author for the 2018 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction/Fantasy. He published the Dragon’s Trail independently, by setting up his own publishing business, Oxblood Books. We asked him about his experiences on self-publishing sci-fi or fantasy: it is a fascinating read. You can find his bio at the end of the interview.

When did you start writing? Did you have any rejections?

I started writing when I was a teenager. I had sent out manuscripts early-on before I realized that writing a book didn’t constitute nearly enough writing to write a good book, but I didn’t get serious about the craft of writing until my mid-twenties.

Dragon’s Trail went through several versions which would probably qualify as separate books entirely over about fifteen years. I have a folder with 47 rejection slips in it. I am sure I received many more.

The biggest piece of my writing journey, though, is that I set out to write a fantasy novel that did for knights in armor what The Hunt for Red October did for the nuclear submarine. To that end, I did all of my research firsthand. While I was developing my writing and studying the craft, I was learning swordsmanship, horsemanship, mountaineering, blacksmithing, martial arts, pacing off castles and ruins in Europe, building a functional Elvish language, and on and on. I wanted to have the mundane elements of the world correct—if not historically accurate, at least mechanically and functionally feasible—before I introduced the magical aspects of the story. I was told repeatedly by major publishers and agents that this would never work, and that there was no market for a “realistic fantasy.” I finally quit writing fantasy altogether after about fifteen years of rejection.

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What Is a Beta Reader and How to Find One

Fanni SütőWhat is a beta reader and how to find one is brought to you by Fanni Sütő. Fanni writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. She writes about everything which comes in her way or goes bump in the night. She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants. Previous publications include: The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation. Fundead Publications, 600 Second Saga.

Being a writer is no easy feat, especially if one chooses the path of self-publishing where, to misquote a classic, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

One has to oversee every step of the production and one has to be in control all the time. This, however, doesn’t mean that you have to be alone. Quite the contrary, you should have a team of professionals around you who can assist you whenever you need them. Today I am going to tell you about the importance of beta readers and critique partners, and give you some ideas about where to find them. Last but not least, I’ll briefly speak about blog hops, which are a great way to get feedback and encouragement from your fellow writers.

what is a beta reader

What is a beta reader and a critique partner?

You finished your novel yesterday and you’re already planning to publish it tomorrow? I would strongly advise against it. After you let it rest for a few weeks, give it another read with a fresh eye and edit it like there’s no tomorrow. You’ll probably find a few typos, unnecessary digressions and things to rewrite completely. When you are more or less happy with the result, it’s time to ask for a second opinion.Continue Reading…


Brazilian Ebook Market in 2017: Trends and Predictions

To help us understand the Brazilian ebook market, we asked newcomer Pablo Araújo (straight from Recife, Brazil) to analyse the situation. Pablo graduated in communication studies, advertising and media, and he did an amazingly thorough job creating nice infographics as well. As always, comments are very welcome.

“If you want to see a rainbow, first enjoy the rain!”, said Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. His book, The Alchemist sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, hitting #1 in 18 countries, and giving him a spot on the Guinness World Records. If we consider a market with hundreds of millions of potential readers a rainbow, and the rain is the risk you take when joining the Brazilian ebook market, the rain is very much welcome.

Brazilian book market overview

Brazil has a population of 210 million people. According to a survey conducted in 2015, 56% of people over the age of 5 – almost 89 million people – consider themselves readers. 77% of these people have declared that they would like to have read more last year.

With the increasing amount of readers, especially among the youth, it’s not a surprise that according to the Book Market Production and Sales Research, 385 million books were sold in 2016, resulting in a total revenue of BRL 5.27 billion (almost 1.65 bn USD).

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Breaking news: Scribd drops monthly credit limit

Almost exactly two years after it was first announced, Scribd discontinues the monthly reading limit. In 2016, they have introduced a model which allowed subscribers to read three books and one audiobook for the monthly fee. As Scribd pays its publishers according to number of pages read, it seemed reasonable that they have decided to keep the service sustainable: neither decreasing publisher revenues, nor increasing subscription prices. But thankfully, they have now decided otherwise: Scribd Unlimited is here!

The change, so far, comes with no increase in price: for just 8.99 dollars a month, content-hungry readers can get their book fix from one single source. In their announcement, Scribd co-founder and CEO Trip Adler points out that this change will increase the company’s contributions in the publishing ecosystem.

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Amazon CreateSpace Stops Offering Author Services: What are the options?

Not long after Macmillan closed Pronoun, another publishing giant decided to step down. Amazon company CreateSpace will stop offering paid author services. CreateSpace has long been home of many self-published authors and its presence will be missed. Amazon itself has already taken over the distribution of print-on-demand paperbacks and even started offering author proof copies. The author services department, however, will be closed completely by March 15, leaving many aspiring authors looking for a new option.

What services did CreateSpace offer?

CreateSpace was a sort of marketplace for authors to purchase paid services suitable for their needs. The main difference between services like CreateSpace and vanity presses is that companies offering legitimate authoring services are very clear about what is included and what is not; and authors can choose only the services they need.

Paid authoring services often include editing, proofreading, cover design and professional, manual ebook conversion. Companies offering paid authoring services have a pool of qualified editors and designers to cater for the authors’ need. They might employ professionals on a freelance basis, or – as CreateSpace did – full time.

author services
Photo by Galymzhan Abdugalimov

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Bulk Import 3.0: Upload and import many books at once

We are happy to announce that our publishers can now import many books in one step. The new bulk import works via sftp and also via a graphic interface. Watch the video for details or read on.

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The Best Illustrators for Your Children’s Picture Book: How To Find Them?

Darcy PattisonIt is a long lingering myth that children’s books don’t sell well in an ebook form. Who would know this better than Darcy PattisonShe writes and markets her own books and has agreed to write us a guest post about finding the best illustrators to work with. Darcy identified 10 things she looks for when selecting the illustrators she wants to work with; and also created an infographic with her results. (You can find it on the bottom of this page.)

About the author

Writing teacher and picture book author Darcy Pattison founded Mims House in 2008. She teaches about writing picture books annually at the Highlights Foundation and online at Her new book, Clang! is getting released in March 2018.

The Best Illustrators for Your Children’s Picture Book: How To Find Them?

You’ve heard it ad nauseum: get a professional cover. The cover sells the book.

Likewise, for children’s picture books, the art sells the book.

I’ve been traditionally published (Penguin, Harpercollins, Harcourt, Arbordale), and now I have my own indie publishing company, Mims House. The biggest thing I took away from my experience in the trad-world was a commitment and passion for good art.

What Makes for Good Art for a Children’s Picture Book?

Quality. Of course, your aesthetic values will be different from everyone else’s. That is, show ten people a piece of art, and they won’t be able to agree if they like it or not. However, even when I don’t like a drawing, I can still recognize quality. The artist has taken great care to create the piece, and it reflects a distinctive world view. I ask myself, “Could this art hang in a gallery?”

I hear you scoff. Children’s books don’t need museum quality art. Oh, yes they do! Children’s librarians are fond of quoting Walter de la Mare, British poet and children’s book author, who said, “Only the rarest kind of best is good enough for children.” I firmly agree that you should get the best art you possibly can for your picture book.

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