An Alien to Publishing With David Estes

Publishing, regardless of whether you are self-publishing or going the traditional route, is a lot of hard work. While nothing is ever perfect readers tend to expect novels to be as close to it as possible. We expect the novel to have a good story line, no typos, well rounded characters, eye catching cover art is a big plus, and an attention grabbing blurb. The standards readers set for the books they read are pretty high and writers need to work hard to make their novel a masterpiece. I regress, publishing is a crucial part of getting your book into the reader’s hands and one made all the more difficult when self-publishing.

This month Seven has welcomed established indie author David Estes to break down what it means to self-publish. He was very generous in his advice and we have that all here for you. David Estes has self-published since 2011 and has four series (The Dwellers, The Country Saga, The Evolution Trilogy and Nikki Powergloves) a total of 13 books which include Young Adult and Children’s novels under his belt. He is an amazing writer who has made a lifelong fan out of me. 🙂

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of indie authors or self-publishing, the first platform that comes to mind is Amazon. It is a leader as a publishing platform and one of the biggest online retailers. However, for someone looking into selling their books on Amazon, knowing the facts is a must. I think that if I were to look into every reason that this selling giant has been dubbed a monopoly I would be here for weeks. Yet when sticking strictly to the publishing world, it can be spelled out in two words: KDP Select. Kindle Direct Publishing Select is a program where Amazon targets authors looking to publish their novel. In essence it asks for a three month exclusivity contract in exchange for higher royalties and ensures your novel will reach a new audience with the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. When Estes was asked, ‘In your opinion what is the best and worst thing about publishing on Amazon?’ This is what he had to say:

Now that’s a loaded question! But it’s also an easy one. There are a few things that are awesome about Amazon:

First, their reach can’t be beat. They are still in a dominant position in the online (ebook) book-selling market. The vast majority of authors will undoubtedly get the bulk of their sales from Amazon.

Second, if your books are selling and getting good reviews, Amazon will help you. They will recommend your books to readers who enjoy similar ones and they will actually generate sales FOR YOU. This is an amazing thing once it really gets going. It can make or break your book.
Third, it’s really, really easy to publish on Amazon and the royalty rates are awesome if you price your book at $2.99 or above.

However, there are always two sides to every coin. There are some really frustrating things about publishing with Amazon that I’ve recently made very clear to them in a customer satisfaction survey:

First, their KDP Select program is a blatant attempt to monopolize the market, which is totally uncool. They promise nice perks like making your books available in a lending library (which you get paid royalties for) and give you the opportunity to make your book available for free every so often. However, in exchange, you have to SELL YOUR SOUL. OK, I’m being dramatic, but for me, it’s almost that bad. You have to agree to EXCLUSIVELY publish your book on Amazon. Like I said, not cool. It alienates readers who don’t buy their books from Amazon which I’m not down with.

Second, they have very strict pricing compliance rules that have been a royal pain in the butt a few times. They insist that your book must be priced as low or lower than every other retailer out there. I’m all for having my book priced the same everywhere, but it prevents you from doing, say, a Barnes & Noble promotion where you make your book $.99 on B&N for a few days. Uh uh, Amazon won’t allow it. They cry and shake their fists and say you have to include them at the party and make your book $.99 for them too. Of course, they have NO problem with you pricing your book at $.99 for a few days on Amazon but NOT on B&N. Yeah, double standards.

Third, Amazon has really annoying royalty rates for books priced lower than $2.99. It’s all part of their attempt to force Indie authors to price their books at $2.99 or above. The way it works is that if you price at $2.99 or above, you get an incredible 70% royalty rate, but if you price below that, you get a pathetic 30%. That’s frustrating because if I want to do a promotion and drop the price on one of my $2.99 books to say $1.49, although my price has only changed by $1.50, my royalty has gone from $2.09 to a measly $.46. For the most part, I price all my books at $2.99 or above, even if I don’t really want to. Otherwise it’s just not worth my while.

The bottom line, however, is that I can complain about my three big negatives until I’m old and gray and red-faced, but Amazon is still the key to my success. I own a Kindle, I buy tons of books from them, and I will continue to use them as my primary publishing platform.

Estes does an amazing job at breaking down what Amazon is to a publishing author. Now that the truth has been put out there, which is that through their good and bad Amazon is still a boss and a force to be reckoned with, you decide to still publish with them. Again, they are too big in the publishing world to look over. Just be wary of KDP Select. As in STAY AWAY!!! 🙂 But what’s next? When publishing you definitely shouldn’t stop there. That being said, Estes definitely has a criteria for selecting platforms to sell his novels, “My main goal in picking the platforms to publish on is to make my books available to as many potential readers as possible. I don’t like the idea of being exclusive to one platform as it completely ignores the thousands of readers who don’t use that platform and promotes the monopolization of the industry.” His goal is one I think all authors can relate to. He continues on to share with us his publishing strategy:

As a self-published author, I can’t possibly publish on every platform that offers ebooks, it’s just not feasible. Every day there are more and more ebook-selling platforms popping up, each with its own business model. At the end of the day, I’m a writer and I don’t want to spend my every waking moment on the publishing process. Plus, because I publish a book every 2-3 months, I need the process to be as streamlined and efficient as possible.

All that being said, my approach to publishing also needs to ensure I get the highest possible royalties for all my hard work. At the end of the day, this is my career, how I make a living, and choosing the right platforms can have a major impact on my success. There are distribution platforms out there, like Smashwords, that can help a self-published author distribute to a number of other ebook distributors. Through Smashwords “premium distribution” it can distribute to B&N, iBooks, Sony, and Kobo, to name just a few. However, as a fee for their service, they’ll take an extra 15% of your royalty. So not only will B&N take a percentage of each book’s sale price, but Smashwords will too. This can really cut into your royalties in a hurry.

Thus, I highly recommend publishing direct to as many major platforms as you can within your time constraints. Because I sell most of my books on Kindle and Nook, I publish directly to each of those two platforms. Then I use Smashwords’ service to publish almost everywhere else, like iBooks, Kobo, and Sony. However, if you choose to use Smashwords to publish some places, but not others, be sure to “Opt-Out” of distribution to the platforms you’re publishing to directly. Otherwise your book may be listed twice. So I lose a little bit of my royalty by not publishing directly to iBooks or Kobo, but it’s a minimal loss as my sales from those distributors isn’t a significant portion of my overall revenue. For me the trade-off between minor loss of revenue and the time it would take me to publish to iBooks and Kobo myself, is worth what Smashwords takes as the middle man. But if I had more time, I’d definitely consider publishing to a few other platforms directly. Finally, I publish to up and coming Google Books on my own through their Partner Program. It’s incredibly easy and already I’m seeing my sales from Google increasing each and every month.

That covers ebooks, but I also recommend publishing a paperback version in at least one place. That way your readers who don’t have ereaders can still access your books. Personally, I publish my paperbacks through Createspace, which is an Amazon company. That makes all my books available through Amazon as print-on-demand with no upfront cost to me.

The last question I asked of Estes was, “To a writer who doesn’t know their way around the selling platforms what advice would you give?”

There are a few key pieces of advice I would give to writers who are new to navigating the many selling platforms that are out there:

1. Focus on ebooks! That is the place to be, especially for Indie authors. You can offer your books at a better price than big published books and reach a growing market. You’ll also receive MUCH higher royalty rates than by publishing through print.

2. Focus on the biggest platforms because that’s where you’ll get most of your revenue. Amazon and B&N still have a stranglehold on the ebook industry. Although they will both inevitably lose some market share over time, the market is growing rapidly, so the overall pie will be getting bigger too.

3. Be aware of trends in the market. Do your research. For example, Apple and Google have both been pushing resources into their book-selling platforms, which will likely mean growth from them.

4. Take advantage of a worldwide market! Amazon and Barnes & Noble are only available in some countries. Use platforms like to reach almost EVERY country. I’m selling more and more books in places like Asia, Africa, and Europe through Smashwords.

5. Use the templates provided by the platforms you choose. You absolutely need your book to be formatted nicely for each of your platforms. Otherwise readers will get frustrated with how hard it is to read your books and they won’t come back for the next one or recommend it to others.

When you are new to the publishing world and it is alien to you, there is always someone out there who has done what you are trying to do and is honest, open and giving with their advice. So ask questions. Also, be sure to let us know what part of the publishing process has you stomped and we will tackle it to the best of our and an experienced professional’s ability.

David once again, thank you so much for allowing me the pleasure of working with you and giving aspiring authors all this great advice. As per his words from the guest post listed below, “Read, read, read! Be a reader and a lover of books first.” So readers and writers out there, be sure to check out his novels which can be found on Goodreads and Amazon (and all the selling platforms listed above). To hear more on what Estes has to say about writing, publishing and promoting be sure to click on these sites: Advice For Writers That Are Just Starting by David Estes
Indie Author Advice Series #2 by David Estes

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Dunkin Donuts w/Baileys French Vanilla

Benvenuto a Sip of Espresso! Today’s beverage is an original Blend of Dunkin Donuts coffee with a kiss of Baileys French Vanilla delishishness…courtesy of Kitchen Ymelda (it’s my actual kitchen…due to the dooming sequester one has to cautiously spend those hard earned dollars, SOMEONE HAS TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE ijs). We will be exploring a couple of things you were probably thinking about and some that maybe are a little outdated, but come up in conversation nonetheless. What’s your coffee say?


Where do you like to read?

Picture this… it’s a lazy Sunday morning. If you are up north, it’s probably snowing/raining/icicles are probably cascading on your head as you try to find cover and crack open the pages of that new book you received in the mail (WHOO HOO AMAZON!!). If you’re lucky enough to be in South Florida (or unlucky), then it’s probably a sunny breezy day. It’s not warm enough for the beach, but cool enough to finally sit down and read that new Kindle book you bought a couple of weeks ago, while warming up with some hot Green Tea (Namaste). So, where do you like to read? Follow us on Instagram 7themag hashtag us at #7themag or tag us in the photo and let us know all about your favorite place to read. We will re-post our favs on our Instagram account and select one (our staff will take a vote) and publish it in our next issue.

In the meantime…here’s our favorite spots.

reading1Ymelda Ramirez

Ok, maybe this isn’t my ideal spot. I would rather be laying out on the beach, with my Kindle, feeling the breeze on my skin and the burn of the sun. HOWEVER…it’s been cold recently (Miami winter averaging about 65-75 degrees, don’t judge me) and I couldn’t make it to the beach, like I had planned, for my very cute self photo shoot. Soooo, my favorite next best place is at home. I love lounging on the couch and facing my balcony. There’s something about the palm trees and the sun that I find relaxing. As soon as I can afford patio furniture (again with these horrific budget cuts) I’ll be moving out onto the balcony and making that the fun place to read/write. I just love LOVE LOVE the outdoors. Don’t you?


Like J.K. Rowling’s boggart, find me in any “dark, enclosed spaces.” My usual haunts tend to be “wardrobes, the gap beneath beds, the cupboard under sinks” among other things. I’m pretty open minded when it comes to places to read…

Ok, seriously, I absolutely love to read and would love to spend more time reading than I do sleeping. But life doesn’t often work out the way we want it to, so I do the next best thing. I read whenever I can, where ever I can. On the couch, bed, floor, toilet, on a train, bus, in the car, in waiting rooms, in the cupboard under the sink… 🙂 The truth is that with my life is pretty hectic and I have to make my spare moments count. So in truth I don’t have a favorite place to read- any place that allows me the opportunity to read is a great place. After all, reading is one of my greatest pleasures.

reading3 K.S. Pratt

One of my favorite places to read is at Hawks Cay (a private island) a small community in Duck Key, Florida. I enjoy lounging on the dock by the water, being caressed by the intoxicating ocean breeze, while the sun playfully warms my skin. I enjoy being by the ocean for it’s calming effect on the mind, body and spirit.

Self Publishing

There was a time that if you wrote a book and wanted to publish it you had to find an agent. Back in the day, publishing houses would not accept book proposals directly from writers and where then forced to shop for an agent. Once said author found an agent that didn’t reject him, the same game would begin anew with the agent and publishing houses. Not only did this mean twice as many rejections but it also meant less money from the pie being given to the writer.

However, in the past few years, another scene has been playing out called SELF PUBLISHING. A writer writes a book, says what the heck- maybe they don’t want to deal with rejection, maybe they want the biggest piece of the pie available or maybe they know they have what it takes to be successful and want to be successful on their own. All likely possibilities but what is self publishing? Because of websites like Amazon, Smashwords and lulu; authors can publish a book within days of finishing it. Yet, with self publishing everything is left on the writer’s shoulders. Editing, making the cover, deciding on blurbs, advertisement and finding the way to get your book out there and into the reader’s hands. It’s all tough work.

A funny thing has been happening out there in the self publishing world. Successful indie writers, those that are among the highest grossing self published authors are being approached by publishing houses. At the end of the day, when a publisher picks a novel to be published the general idea is to pick the novels they believe will meet the most success. If an author is already a known success, where is the risk for the publishing house to pick up this novel? Not only are times changing where self publishing is a growing trend and a great possibility for authors but publishing houses, like Random House, no longer obligates writers to have an agent. Authors can go directly to them with no middle man.

A lot is changing in the world of the published word. What are your opinions on this? Do you think that self publishing is the way to go? Or do you believe that the traditional way is always the best way? Next issue we will be looking into this: The beauty and logistics of self publishing versus the route of traditional publishing. As always, we are curious about what you think…Let us know. =)

Writing Forums


Have you ever heard of wattpad? Recently, I was on the hunt for an online community of writers where I could have my work reviewed by like minds and also to have that extra push that I need to write (where my procrastinators at?). I discovered this site by means of another site (to be reviewed at a later date) and fell in love instantly. Wattpad is a healthy place to post and read everything from stories to poetry. The community is alive with variety and, with what many of us enjoy, free books!!

Upon visiting the site, you will learn that you have to create a user name and password in order to read/share stories. They send you an activation email (provide them with your real email address) and once you respond, you are free to read and post. It took a while for me to get the activation email, so don’t become discouraged if it takes over four hours to get yours. Trust me, it’s worth the wait! You can read other writers work and comment directly to the writer. They have a couple of mainstream writers that post their work on the site as well.

I don’t believe that you can download them, but they do have an app for the Kindle and the iPad. The Kindle app (Android version) allows you to read and comment on what you’ve read. However, you are not able to post directly to the site. The ipad version DOES let you post directly and you can pretty much do what you would normally do from the computer.

If you are looking for a place to share your writing and get some encouragement, this is a good place to start. **enter shameless plug** If your curious about what it’s like or need a friend, look for me on wattpad! For suresies I will be posting on a weekly basis.

Do you NaNo?


NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. This even occurs every November where writers from around the world abandon everything and everyone they know and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel a month. Sounds difficult? Well, it is. However, it’s a month that will change your writing life for ever. Twice a year they host a crash course in preparation for the November event. April happens to be the first session, or as it’s referred to Camp NaNo Wrimo.

Part of the NaNo organization was also Script Frenzy. Unfortunately, due to budget restraints AND the fact that they are a non-profit organization, they had to cut one of the programs. So, I have been a Wrimo for two years now. The first year, I lost by 38 words. The second year, I gave up half way. This year, I plan on finishing my second novel in November and thought that in the mean time, I will participate in both Camp Sessions.

The new features are that you can set your own person word count and you choose what would you like to write…from a script to a novel. It’s a fun event. If you have some extra dollars collecting dust, send it their way. They are very appreciative and do a lot to keep the love of words around. Also check out their online store. Tons of word inspired swag there.

Hey Tiff, books or e-readers?

I believe e-books are pretty awesome. They are affordable, easy to carry, take up little memory on your device and you can get within seconds from the convenience of your home. Pretty amazing, I know. In truth it is for these reasons that my Kindle library grows so swiftly. However, for me there is just something about a physical book that can’t be beat. I’m a big advocate of investing in an e-reader but at the end of the day, I’d love nothing more that to be able to cuddle up with a paperback.

What do you guys prefer?
Leave us a comment below and let us know =)

© 2013 Seven Magazine

An Espresso With Seven Splendas Please…

A Sip of Espresso is where you come to enjoy a different beverage every month and see what we talk about when our minds are supposed to be resting. What do writers normally talk about? I can’t speak for everyone, so this is what we contribute our Seven cents to (used to be two cents…I blame inflation).

The books we are currently reading:

Ymelda Ramirez

I am reading The Force of Favor by Dr. Dave Martin. My goal this year is to be a better everything. From being a better friend to a pet parent. My list of titles go on and on. I’m not one for self help books, but this is an exception. Dr. Martin teaches you how to increase the favor in your life. Think of it as an investment account. The return is spiritual & relational healing.

K.S. Pratt

This month I’m reading The Cupid Effect by Dorothy Koomson. The main character Cheri is a warm loving woman, who plays accidental therapist and modern day cupid to friends and strangers alike. Everyone tends to bear their souls to Cheri, in exchange, she provides them with infinite wisdom helping them repair their relationships or capture the person of their dreams. The problem is, she has the ability to affect everyone’s love life but her own.


This month I will be Spotlighting the talented Cindy C. Bennett and will therefore be focusing my efforts on reading her works. She caught my attention and captured my heart with Heart On A Chain. It is an emotional read told from a 17-year-olds point of view that explores the affects of abuse, human nature and the idea that love conquers all in this absolutely heart wrenching yet heart warming tale. If you pick up this book be prepared to shed tears, smile and fall in love. It is suspenseful, captivating, romantic and not a novel you’ll regret reading. To see this review and others of Bennett’s novel throughout the month be sure to check out my blog TiffanyLovesBooks

The blogs we recommend check out:

For social commentary and various political views: Polite On Society

For Dominican recipes and cooking tips: Dominican Cooking

For book reviews to find your next YA read: CuddleBuggery

For some laughs check out this amazing writer’s blog: Dianne Gray

Competitions you might want to look into:

From the website: The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination–to help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.

They give you the first line for a short story and pay you $30 if your story is selected for publication. The next deadline is May 1, 2013 and the line is: I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old. Check out the site for more information and how you can submit your story. Good Luck!

Blue mountain arts is running their 22nd biannual poetry card contest with a deadline of June 30th 2013, check the poetry link on the home page for the specifics on this contest. Also, they are always looking for submissions for their greeting cards follow this link for their writing guidelines:

What do you think?:

Unless you’ve been walking with your nose stuck in a never ending book, you’ve probably witness the down fall of one of my favorite book stores BORDERS and the emerging awesomeness of the Kindle (I still prefer page turning books). What do you prefer a good old fashion book OR the convenience of an e-reader & why? If you chose an e-reader, which is the best one out there? Email us your answer:



© 2013 Seven Magazine