Friday, December 14, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

50 Clean Tween Reads (plus win an ereader)

I may be in my thirties but I still love a good Young Adult book. Now that I have children, however, I realize that there are many books that claim to be YA that I would never, ever, ever let my child read. It gets even harder when you have children who are in that in between age. They are not quite old enough to handle teenage topics, but they are well past Minnie’s Princess Tea Party books. (Although I still love princess themed tea parties.) And not everyone has time to read every single book before their child does. So I got together with a few other authors and decided to compile a list of 50 Clean Tween Reads. I hope this helps other parents in their search to provide wholesome but not simplistic entertainment for their children.

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (PG)

2. The Priscilla the Great series by Sybil Nelson Rated PG

 3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid By Jeff Kinney (G)

 4. The Troubled Tweens: Jinnie Wishmaker By DD Roy (G)

 5. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy by Nikki Loftin (G)

 6.The Eyes of Pharoah by Chris Eboch (G)

7. Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls series by Meg Cabot (G)

8. My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond Rated G

9. Dark Marco Volume One by Sybil Nelson (PG)

10.Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (G)

11. Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb by MJ Ware (G)

12. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkein (PG)

13. The Mortal Enemy List by Tess Oliver (PG)

14. Enter Ten Tales for Tweens by Various (PG)
An added bonus to buying this books is that all the proceeds go to charity.

15. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (PG)

16. Big Nate by Lincoln Pierce (G)

17.The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (G)

18.Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (PG)

19. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (G)

20. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham (PG)

21. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (PG)

22. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (G)

23. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (PG)

24. The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaeffer (PG)

25.Timekeepers: Civil Disturbance by J.Y. Harris (PG+)

26. Redwall series by Brian Jacques (PG)

27. Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep by Liz Kessler (G)

28. Warriors by Erin Hunter (PG)

29. Theodosia by RL Lafever (G)

30. The Castle Sisters by Jason Krumbine (PG)

31. Broken Shell by Dalya Moon (PG)

32. Emotionally Charged by Selina French (PG)

33. Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick (PG)

34. Gasparilla's Treasure by Scott Clement (PG)

35. Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C Highley (PG)

36. The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson (G)

37. The Odd Job Squad by Karl Fields (PG)

38. Savvy by Ingrid Law (PG)

39. Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo (PG)

40. War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (PG)

41. Howl of the Wolf by Diane Rapp (PG)

42. The White Giraffe by Lauren St John (G)

43. Nashoga by Rebecca Weinstein (G)

44. Goosebumps by RL Stine (PG)

45. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (PG)

46. The Stone Bearers by R.E. Washington

47. It’s a Catastrophe by Sibel Hodge (G)

48. Alcatraz by Brandon Sanderson (PG)

49. The Sister's Club by Megan McDonald (G)

50. Nancy Drew

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are thousands of great books out there for tweens. Sometimes it’s just hard to know where to start. So, consider this list a launching point. Enjoy! Now as a special treat, just for reading this blog post I'm going to give you a chance to win a Kobo reader and a $25 gift card. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Question from Readers: Createspace

Occasionally I'll get questions from readers about the basics of self-publishing. I thought I'd start posting some of those here. That way there will be a searchable archive. Here is one from Nadia in the UK.

Firstly, I've heard rumours that the quality of the books is not all that it could be. The website itself describes its books as "library quality". As I've seen library books quite literally falling apart at the seams, that wasn't very reassuring. What is your experience?

I've seen different levels of library quality. When I think library, I think hardback book with the think sewn binding. Honestly, you don't see that very often anymore. Mostly, you just see the paperbacks with glued binding. That is what Createspace does. The quality is fine, but if you're looking for really nice, you might want to go with Lulu or Lightening Source. I haven't used them, but I here that they are really good. I would compare Createspace quality to that of the type of books you would pick up at the airport.

I was also under the impression that you had to pay to publish your books with Create Space but the website claims there are no set-up fees and the only paid services seem to be marketing, editing etc

Publishing with Createspace is completely free. You can list your book at and at the Createspace estore. However, if you want expanded distribution, you have to pay $25. Expanded distribution gets your books listed at libraries and other bookstores. For example, all the books that I have in expanded distribution can be bought at Barnes and Noble. I think it's worth the $25. Beware that to be listed in library catalogs, you have to use a Createspace ISBN. This is fine, but Createspace will be listed as the publisher. If you want to list your own publisher, you have to pay $10. Most people just make up a name for their publisher and pay the $10 so their book doesn't seem self published. I do both. I really want my Priscilla the Great books in libraries so I use the Createspace ISBN. All the books under my pen name, Leslie DuBois, have my company as the publisher.

Finally, if you have to buy lots of copies to distribute to bookshops, isn't that really expensive?

It depends. If you're giving your books to bookshops on consignment, then yes, you have to buy the books and personally deliver them to the shop and make out a contract with them for how much you get paid per book. But since your book is listed with Createspace, the bookshops can order them themselves. Honestly, though, you get a great price from Createspace so it is worth it to order a bunch of copies and sell them yourself. You make more money. For example, I can buy copies of my book Priscilla the Great for about $4 per book from Createspace. The book retails for $12. I can offer the bookstore a discount of $2,sell it to them for $10 each and I'll still make a profit of $6. If they order the book themselves from Amazon, I'll only make $4 in royalties from Createspace.

If you have questions, send me a tweet @sybilnelson.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

5 Tips for Turning FREE into Profit!

I just wanted to let you know that I've started a biweekly radio segment about book marketing. My first show airs today and it is titled The Power of Free. In it, I give several tips for how and why you might want to give away your book for free for a while. Listen to the show here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Notes from the Decatur Book Festival

I was really nervous going into this festival because three days before, the author I was sharing a booth with cancelled on me leaving me with all the costs. The booth itself cost $465 dollars, plus there was the cost of gas, hotel, and food. On top of that, I had to drive four hours out of my way in order to recover over 60 of my books from her. Ultimately, it was worth it because I ended up needing those books to sell.

This festival was so incredible that I ended up making back the cost of the booth on the first day alone! I also sold out of Priscilla the Great book one and Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer.  Not only that, but I had some wonderful experiences. For example, first thing Saturday morning, I met Kara. She is a Priscilla the Great super fan who has read all five books! She came by just to take a picture with me! Because she had read all of the PtG books already, she ended up buying four of my Leslie DuBois titles and I gave her a copy of Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer for free. Kara was such a sweetheart that she came back on Sunday and gave me printed copies of the pictures that she had taken the day before.

On Sunday, more awesome things happened. Maya was a little girl who bought Priscilla the Great book one Saturday. She stayed up late and read the entire book that night! First thing Sunday morning she was at my booth wanting to by the rest of the series. Here’s the crazy part though. She had to buy the books with her own money and all she had was $23 in quarters! In the picture above, you can actually see her holding her bag of quarters. She sat there at my booth and counted out $23 in quarters. Her grandmother then lovingly chipped in the rest so that she could get books 2-4. I have labelled Maya my superfan of the weekend!

Almost directly after that, one of the coordinators of the festival came by and let me know that the person next to me wasn’t showing up so I could expand my booth. So for the entire day, I got two booths for the price of one. It was awesome! I was able to put all of my Leslie DuBois books in one booth and all of my Sybil Nelson books in the other. I went from having half a booth to having two booths!
At the beginning of Sunday, I was really nervous since I was all out of Priscilla the Great book one. But customers didn’t seem to mind. They just paid for book one and allowed me to mail it to them. Several people bought books two and three and let me mail book one for free. One person even bought books two through five and agreed to wait for book one in the mail.
All in all, I thought it was a fantastic festival. It was definitely my best so far. There are a few things I learned and a few tips that I will be stealing from other authors.
1.  Never under estimate the number of books you will need, especially if you write a series. Theoretically, I knew this. But for some reason I still only brought the same number of books each of the five PtG books. Next time I will make sure to have at least three times as many book one’s as the rest of the series.
2. I saw a few other authors had hired fans to walk around in their t-shirts or other garb and pass out bookmarks etc. For my next festival, I plan on doing something similar. I will find local fans willing to wear my t-shirt all day and hand out coupons for a free book. The coupons will be for a free copy of Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer or a short story from my Dancing Dream series.
3. You can never have enough freebies to give away. I also plan on having some stickers to give to kids to wear just as another way to get my name out there.
4.  My Kindle giveaway was great and I had well over 100 people enter. But I noticed that the booth next to me was also giving away smaller prizes every hour. I thought that was a great idea and I will definitely be stealing that.
5. I have 15 books of my own for sale, so for me, sharing a booth probably isn’t the best idea. I actually needed the space all to myself. If you have many books of your own, you may want to make the investment and have a booth all to yourself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


So I'm attempting something new today. I really want a collectors edition of the first five books of the Priscilla the Great series with hardcovers and brand new artwork. I estimate that the entire project will cost me around $6000. So instead of putting myself in debt, I'm going to give crowdfunding a try. I did a little research and decided to go with Kickstarter. The way the program works is that you explain what you need the money for and then offer a series of rewards for people who decide to back you financially. If you raise the money, you are responsible for getting all the rewards to the backers. If you don't raise the money, all bets are off and no one gets anything. So I figure I have nothing to lose. But now that the program is running, I'm not really sure how to go about promoting it. I'm too afraid that it seems like begging. Anyway, check it out if you have a moment.

Sybil's Kickstarter Page

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Authors Around the World

In addition to winning a Kindle Fire from the Authors around the World blog, I also wanted to give you an opportunity to win a $15 Amazon gift card. This just might be the easiest giveaway you've ever entered. All you have to do is connect with me through some social media and you're entered! Contest ends August 12th. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below. And be sure to check out the other authors on the blog hop. There are lots of great prizes to be won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I did it!

I had a goal to write 1k words a day during the month of July and I reached it! Last night at 11:35pm, I typed word 31,045. So for August, I aim to write 50k words between my new Leslie DuBois novel Somehow, Someday and my Sybil Nelson book Dark Marco Vol. 2.

I've also decided to take a different road to marketing for the rest of the year. I intend raise my followers to 10k strong between facebook, twitter and my blogs.

Starting point.
Sybil Nelson blog: 47
Priscilla the Great blog: 757
Priscilla the Great facebook: 1,108
Leslie DuBois facebook: 357
Sybil Nelson twitter: 674
Priscilla the Great twitter: 1240

Total: 4183

So I need 5817 new followers by the end of December. I'm going to attempt to do this through contests and blogging my butt off. Let's see how it goes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Authors Around the World

Welcome to my leg of the Authors Around the World blog hop! Today we are getting to know Jennifer Laurens, author of the fantastic book Grace Doll.

Grace Doll had everything a girl could want: Fame. Fortune. Beauty.  
Everything except her freedom. So when a powerful movie producer forces an experimental treatment on Grace--one that's purported to make beauty immortal--she stages her own death to escape him. With the help of trusted friends, Grace slips into hiding. She's forever flawless. Forever young, and forever pursued by herpast. 
But when a stranger arrives on her doorstep, holding the key to a life she thought she'd left behind, Grace must decide between the safety she's known...andembracing the role she was born to play.

What gave you the idea for the book? 
After college I worked in the entertainment business. I met some fascinating people, saw some interesting human behaviors and learned a lot about the business having an on-set view.

Who are your main characters? Grace Doll, Brenden, Rufus Solomon, Oscar, Jonathan and Judy.

Who is your favorite character and why? Oooh Grace was challenging to write because she’s lived 80 years but she’s in a teenager’s body. I loved the complex nuances of her.
Share one quirky trait in one of your characters. Grace lived through the depression, so she can’t throw anything away.

What was your biggest challenge writing this book? No question—Grace’s character having lived a lot of life but having been immortalized at seventeen made her a challenge. Also, the entire book takes place over 3 days – making the love story bloom in a believable manner was also a challenge.

Spill a secret, mystery or hidden thing in your book: I do these ‘taylor swift-ish’ secrets in all of my books. In Grace Doll, the Vanity Fair article is ‘written by’ a fictitious character after a nickname given to me by my step father, L. Duvall. He passed away this year, and he’d have gotten a laugh out of that.

Where do you live? Utah.

What's a cool, unknown spot? Bear Lake – but every natural place here is well-known. Utah is an outdoors-man paradise.
Tell us a little about an interesting landmark in your country. 
The USA is diverse, and I’ve been lucky to travel to most of it. I adored the swamps of Louisiana and the mystic mood of New Orleans.
What’s the most well known city in your country and why? 
I’m from SoCal, so I have to cheer for Los Angeles. Hollywood. I think those two words say it all.
What's a little known fact about where you live? 
Utah is a very safe state. People leave their doors unlocked. Not me, because I’m from Los Angeles, haha.
Name two famous people who’ve been sighted in your corner of the world. 
Robert Redford and Donny Osmond.

What is the one thing tourists must do? 
See Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It’s the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and it’s beautifully done, and the heart of the state and why Utah is here today. A must see.

What's your favorite thing to do? 
Travel away from Utah.

What's your favorite restaurant and what type of food do they serve? 
Utah does ice cream better than any other state.

What are you giving away on your blog? 
An ARC of Grace Doll.

Who is the author you are highlighting on your blog?
Courtney Vail, author of Kings & Queens

Where can readers connect with you? www.jenniferlaurens.com @jenniferlaurens on Twitter and on my Amazon author page.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Kindle INDIEpendence Book of the Day

Synopsis: Kings & Queens is a gritty, twisty Young Adult mystery thriller. When 17-year-old tomboy Majesty Alistair can't budge police in her sleepy, rich town after overhearing two fellow students planning a church massacre, she aims to ID the nutjobs herself before they act. But, their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and she becomes the centerpiece in a ruthless game that casts even her closest friends under suspicion.

Buy link:

When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved writing and majored in Jornalism Advertising, so I was aiming for a copy writing and design carrier. But I got bitten by the novel bug through my husband. He wanted to start writing short stories for publications and received all these query packets and he also took a remote writing class through the Stafford Institute and received a few of the books in the Write Great Fiction Series. I read them and was inspired with an idea for a novel and wrote away. After reading more and more books on craft, I realized my first book had major issues, so I wrote another one, Kings & Queens. I poured everything I had into this book and polished it up with the help of some awesome reviewers at I now know, novel writing was what I was always meant to do. I am so glad my characters found me!

Why do you Indie publish?

I was shopping Kings & Queens to agents, and though I got some great feedback and some requests for partials and fulls, no bites. My book is good, but on the surface it doesn’t have that oooo concept right up front. The best part of it is the surprises that come in along the wild rollercoaster ride. And that’s a hard thing for an agent to sell to publishers. There’s no juicy sound bite, so to speak, there. I had some early readers asking me how my characters were doing and I wanted to know too. So, I wrote a sequel Sapphire Reign for fun, which opens ten years later, but after receiving some love for it, I decided it was too weird and different and good to get possibly stuffed because it doesn’t hit the same market. When a Big Sixer offers you a 2 or 3-book deal, it’s for one imprint and market. And I didn’t want SR to end up being just a self-pubbed companion book with a different cover and layout. So, my vision of success changed, being that I craved to go traditional through all the lovely gatekeepers, but that just didn’t work for this series. There was too much risk in that direction. So, I set out to find a smaller publisher that would give me more flexibility in doing what I wanted to do with the series. Me and my book are happily with Little Prince Publishing. I have creative control, flexibility and cool authors to support me. Oh, and I get all my royalties!

What inspired you to write your book?

The three main characters came to my mind first. I just pictured this girl named Majesty as a manager of a baseball team on which her two best friends, Alec and Derek, play. And each one commands her attention for different reasons. But, that’s all I had. Those three weirdos just stumbling around in my brain. That wasn’t enough plot for me. I needed plot. I crave plot. Something suspenseful preferred. But I had nothing. Then one night I dreamt I was running for exercise and overheard these two guys planning a church massacre and I escaped them in this little town. Boom! That gave me exactly what I needed and the location too. And then my story grew and grew into something totally unexpected and awesome. I’m kind of glad I had all that time to get to know and ponder my characters first. When the plot came to me, I was able to just write fluidly, with them popping off the pages.

What are three things you want people to know about you or your book?

Kings & Queens is a twisty, complex, gritty read. It is not for the faint of heart nor for those who prefer simple, breezy beach reads. It requires some mental thought and will take your mind on a whirlwind trip and back. If you’re looking for a read that doesn’t feel like anything you’ve ever read before, that’s suspenseful and weird, then this is the book for you.

What advice do you have for parents to encourage their kids to read more?

To study genres, skip around to some MG and YA blogs and look for what’s hot and interesting to other kids of that age. If your kids see you taking a vested interest in books and know that you’re on the look for cool books, rather than telling them what they can and can’t read, then you can engage on a new level and be excited about books together. Website: Facebook Page: Twitter:

Kindle INDIEpendence Day Giveaway

Win a Kindle Fire for your they'll leave yours alone!

It is time for the second annual Kindle INDIEpendence Day giveaway. This year we have even more authors and prizes. Contest begins July 1st and ends July 7th!

Grand Prize: 1 Kindle Fire
1st place: 1 Kindle with special offers
2nd place: a choice of 20 free ebooks from the 29 participating authors
3rd place:  a choice of 15 free ebooks from the participating authors

There are tons of ways to enter including tweeting about the contest, following the authors on facebook or Twitter, blogging about the contest and even purchasing the participating books. Just fill out the rafflecopter form below!
This is also a blog hop. Be sure to visit the other blogs on the list and learn more about Indie authors of YA and MG novels. You can add your blog and get extra entry points as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Halfway Point

So tonight is June 30th and we are technically halfway through the year. I've accomplished a lot of my writing goals (not so many of my marketing goals). At this point in my career, however, I have so many ideas that I just want to get written down that I don't feel bad concentrating more on writing than marketing. This is what I have done so far this year:
Shadows of St. Louis
Priscilla the Great 4
Priscilla the Great 5
Priscilla the Great versus the World
Priscilla the Great Omnibus 1

Two short stories for different anthologies
The Saint Of Petersburg
Dark Marco vol 1

There are 184 days left in the year. My goal for the second part of the year is to keep on a strict 1,000 words a day schedule. That means I plan to write 184,000 more words this year. I've even decided how to allocate those words. I want three 50k word novels and then the other 34k words will be split between two short stories and Dark Marco Vol 2. I'm not saying that all of these will be published in 2012 since they would still need to go through editing and everything. But I am planning on publishing at least two more novels and two more short stories in 2012. With what has already been published and written, that would give me seven books published and four separate anthologies. Not bad. For 2013, of course, I will try to raise the bar even higher.

I have definitely found that I prefer writing to marketing. I think having more available content will eventually boost my sales organically. Sometime in August I will go back to pushing my public speaking career, but for right now, all I want to do is write.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tip #58: The Other Amazons

Every once in a while I will have a giveaway and the winner will be international. It is always a hassle sending things overseas and it costs extra. So with my last giveaway winner who was in the UK, I decided to try something new. I logged on to, order the books she won and sent them directly to her. I have Amazon prime so I didn't have to pay shipping and I didn't have to do any shipping myself. It worked out perfectly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tip #57: Radio Interviews

So I just had my first live radio interview yesterday. I was so nervous that I spent hours researching how to have a successful radio interview and then took notes on all the suggestions. When the interview started, I ended up not using a single one of them. I just went with the flow and did what came naturally. The interview took a completely different turn that I hadn't even prepared for, but since I naturally like to talk, I was able to just speak to the topics that were asked. There are a few tips that may prove useful in the future so I'll share.

Almost every source I found said to not use a cell phone for fear of the call getting dropped. But I was in Florida in a hotel room and I didn't want to pay long distance fees for a call to California. My husband noticed that we had great reception in the hotel room. I also noticed that on the very program I would be on, many people were calling on their cell phones so I decided to give it a try as well. There were no problems. Reception was great and the call wasn't dropped. So if you have great reception and are not moving around, I suggest going ahead and using your cell phone if you have to.

I made copious notes about the topic I was supposed speak on which was about working mothers and their relationships with their children. I ended up only using one note as the conversation took a completely different turn about integration in schools. Thankfully, it was a topic I was completely comfortable speaking about and I was able to plug one of  my other books.

I was able to get the host's email address and I plan on sending him a really nice thank you note for the interview. I suggest always doing things like this as it will help you the next time you need an interview or may even get you recommended to someone else.

Now without further ado, here is my interview:

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fire up the Future

In honor of the release of Priscilla the Great book five, I'm having yet another giveaway. The premise is that you have to name three things that are going to happen twenty-five years from now. Here are my thoughts:
 1. Flying cars - In my opinion, we are about 10 years to late on this. Come on, smart science people. Get to work on my flying cars. I want flying cars.
2. DNA based shopping - Instead of credit cards, we will be able to just swipe our fingers to make purchase. The good thing is that there will be no more identity theft. That bad news, I bet finger theft will go through the roof.
3. Smartphone implants - Our brains will become like human smart phones. We will be able to answer calls with a blink and post on facebook by twinkling our noses.

 What do you think? Visit Priscilla's blog and enter to win a Kindle Fire!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Authors in Bloom Giveaway Hop/Enter to win a Kindle/Enter to win a Nook

Traveling story phrase:

Line 40: We all want to be “picked,” cherished as the most beautiful creation of all.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 (8 ounce) can jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, water, bread crumbs, and minced onion. Roll into small meatballs.
3.Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning once.
4.In a slow cooker or large saucepan over low heat, blend the cranberry sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Add meatballs, and simmer for 1 hour before serving.

Now you can win a copy of The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to visit the other authors involved in the hop,
conveniently located on the linky below: