Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let the reading public decide which titles are worth reading

           This came in the email tonight and I welcome it as a further sign that indie writers are coming together to further the goal of their organization 
          After barely eight months in existence, we number 200 plus members all over the globe, have issued Seals of Good Writing to five self published books and 21 titles are in the process of being evaluated. Where we haven't succeeded yet is in persuading booksellers to carry titles which do not have a traditional publisher behind them. It is as if they are saying to authors: "If you are not known as yet, we won't bring you to light". It will be up to their customers to demand the right to decide which books they want to read. If books are not offered to the readers, the booksellers are willy-nilly exercising censorship.  August 12, 2012, 8:46 pm (EST)

Hello Jasha,

            My name is Cindy Smith, and we have a friend in common—Jenny Milchman (see email below).  I don’t know if you know her personally or not; we became friends via our mutual authors’ group (Author Central).  She is such a lovely girl—so caring and helpful.  In fact, she was the one who told me about IndiePENdents, and I immediately went to your website, filled out the forms, and started communicating with Julia (also a wonderful lady!)  I sent her a copy of my book, entitled Nettie Parker’s Backyard, and it is now in the process of being reviewed by your group.

            When Jenny told me of your IndiePENdents, I, of course, submitted my novel to have it approved and put on your coveted list; however, even beyond that was the joy of finding an organization such as yours.  The home page of your site with its mission statement had me literally jumping for joy!!  Jenny and I have had many discussions about the very real need for a group that does just what IndiePENdents does:  to rate books for readers, without bias, and based on strict standards of grammar, acceptable writing style and content, etc.  In fact, when Jenny asked me to contribute to one of her blog’s “Made It Moments”, I at first declined, saying that I didn’t think I’d “made it” at all.  I was resentful that just because I was self-published, I couldn’t get into bookstores, large or small, and that since anyone could self-publish (and did!), there were thousands and thousands of new books on the internet marketplace monthly that were of very poor quality for one reason or another.  Yet, all of these books comprised my stiff competition.  Jenny and I agreed that some kind of body was needed to rank books fairly, which would not only be a boon to readers, but also to good self-published authors such as myself.  I told her that she had the intelligence and personality to create a body with this goal; she replied with a chuckle and declined.  It wasn’t long after that she emailed me about your group.

            To tell you briefly about my children’s WWII historical-fiction mystery, I must first tell you that the book’s themes are the very timely and important ones of anti-bullying and tolerance for all.  The story is about how my African-American heroine from South Carolina comes to care for eight, Jewish refugee children of the Holocaust in war-torn London.  It is both multi-cultural and multi-religious, and has had wonderful reviews by both children and adults alike.  After having worked as an educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District for almost thirty years, I saw first-hand the bullying, prejudice and hatred that children show each other.  The inspiration for my story actually came from a very vivid dream, and I decided to expand upon that dream and write a story for all children, regardless of their race, religion or physical challenges.  Hence, there’s quite a mixture of these topics going on in the story, but they all work and come together in the end proving love really does conquer all.

            I wrote my novel 6 ½ years ago, and I launched a massive, second promotional attempt 1 ½ years ago.  I have done many author presentations/book signings at schools.  This has resulted in the book being currently shelved in 2 public libraries (in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills), and it is also in a dozen private/public/synagogue school libraries.  I spoke about “’Oh, the Places I’ve Been’ on the Rocky Road to Self-Publishing” at the annual national AJL convention in Pasadena in June.  Of course, along with the other 1.5 million new books that are self-published yearly, I am listed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

            I have worked almost full-time this past 1 ½ years to promote and market my book.  Unfortunately, although it does not seem destined to be a “commercial success”, I feel that I have achieved some measure of success in other ways.  I know that children who have read it, loved it, and that hopefully they have learned from the valuable lessons interwoven in the plot, and have tucked those ideals into their hearts for future reference.  I have met wonderful people like Jenny along my “rocky road”—people who loved the book and tried to help draw attention to it in any way they could because they believed in it, too.  I feel privileged to be in contact with you, Jasha, because I truly respect you—for what you have had to endure because of your religion and homeland, that you are a survivor who now writes books to educate others about this horrendous time in history, that you have conceived and brought to fruition the IndiePENdents, such a needed organization especially in today’s crazy world of publishing, and lastly, the fortitude and mental awareness you still possess at age ninety.  What accomplishments you have reached! 

            If you have any ideas you can suggest to help me further the acknowledgement of my book, I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.  If my story has stopped just one child from becoming a bully or from hating another merely because of race, religion, or outward appearance, then I, too, have accomplished a great deal.  Just think how many more children I could potentially reach, help and change for the better via further distribution!  The book’s website is, and Julia already has the paperback copy.  I hope to be hearing from you in the near future. You could reach me by email at
            Again, many, many thanks for all that you are doing for us writers in today’s uncertain and upside-down world of publishing.

            Best regards,

            Cindy (CV) Smith

Hi Jasha,

I wanted to write and see how you are doing. I hope your summer is going well?

I'm copying an independent writer named Cindy Smith on this email because Cindy has learned about IndiePENdents and I was telling her what a noble and intriguing area you're delving into.

I think you two may have a lot to say to each other!

My best,

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