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Critics Agree: Backword Authors KO Self-Publishing Doubters!
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A new publishing enterprise, Backword Books (www.backwordbooks.com), brings together seven new literary novels by independent authors from around the country. The fact that they’ve combined high-quality and riveting content under new imprints proves the publishing industry is changing. The mistaken notion of “self-publishing” is crumbling. 

Take a taste of just some of what the critics are saying of the novels: 

Bonnie Kozek’s Threshold is a take-no-prisoners noir thriller whose protagonist, Honey McGuinness descends into a dark, seedy, and dangerously seductive underworld in the fearless pursuit of her best friend’s killer. (ISBN: 978-0595497584) 

  • “This book kicked me in the teeth…. Every few scenes your get you jaw rocked and your gut punched. It hurts like hell, but once the literary adrenalin starts juicing, there’s no way you are going to stop.” –Ron Fortier, Pulp Fiction Reviews

 

  • “Let’s face it, living life can be pretty graphic. And, ignoring it doesn’t solve problems. Ms. Kozek takes the reader into such a seedy world brilliantly.”

          —Susan Haley, Fascinating Authors 

Kristen Tsetsi’s Homefront has a cab-driving former English professor, an unpredictable alcoholic Vietnam veteran, an  anti-war soldier, and a morbid mother in-law coming together in this realistic, sensual, and darkly humorous semi-autobiographical tale of waiting through a war deployment. (ISBN: 978-0615139906) 

  • “One of the most powerful and brilliant books I have read in a long time. Make this the next book you read.” —PopCultureZoo

 

  • “Tsetsi has illuminated this part of war with her crystalline prose and near-perfect rendering of a story about those who wait under the awful burden of not knowing an outcome. Love and pain is the plot of Homefront but in the hands of this talented artist they are a mighty force.”   —James Moore, co-author of the bestselling, Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

 

Andrew Kent’s Spam and Eggs: A Johnny Denovo Mystery has the world-reknown detective finding a message hidden in a spam email, which sets in motion a case filled with metaphors and double-meaning. (ISBN: 978-1598588644) 

  • “This book is different from any other that I have read. ‘Spam & Eggs’ is a clever, intellectual mystery that will leave you wanting more of Johnny Denovo in the future. I look forward to many more intriguing cases!” —RebeccasReads.com

 

  • “This is a book that in fact puts the writing of a lot of very seasoned and famous mystery writers to shame. . . . If true talent rises to the top then this is not the last we have heard from Johnny Denovo and his creator Andrew Kent.” —The Book Friar

 

Eddie Wright’s Broken Bulbs tells the story of Frank Fisher who finds himself involved in a twisting mystery full of addiction, desperation, toothaches, hamsters, a vindictive postal worker, and self-discovery. (ISBN: 978-0578004259) 

  • “A brilliant and stunningly original work, by far the best novel I read in 2008.”

           —Alternative Reel  

  • “This slim volume is the bastard child of Memento and William S. Burroughs, absolutely not for the faint of heart nor for anyone seeking a nice, simple beach read.”   —Jason Pettus, The Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

R.J. Keller’s  Waiting for Spring takes readers beyond the Maine tourists know, beyond lighthouses and lobster and rocky beaches, and drops them instead into a rural town whose citizens struggle with poverty and loss, yet push onward with stubbornness and humor. (ISBN 978-1440461163)  

  • “A strong debut. Her voice is strong, her talent is evident. [...] This is the spring of Keller's work, the beginning and now we can anticipate the full bloom of summer in her next work.” —Barb Radmore, Front Street Reviews

 

  • “’Waiting for Spring’ is a very well-written, consistent story with a skillful eye for characterization. It’s not a showy fantasy or clever comedy or groundbreaking genre-maker — but it accomplishes something even better. It shows you a main character, and unfolding group of secondary characters, that live and breathe and...touch the reader’s heart and mind.” —Sarah Suleski, Web Fiction Guide

 

Christopher Meeks’s The Brightest Moon of the Century brings Minnesotan Edward Meopian across thirty-six years, and such situations as an all-boys high school, a drive-in in mid-winter, and a mini-mart in an Alabama trailer park to find his place in the universe.  

  • “Meeks manages to put together a thoughtful, fresh-feeling portrait of how we become who we are.” —Cherie Parker, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

  • “This focus on introspection is what pins the story together into more than a series of vignettes. No matter where Edward is, or what age he may be, his talent for both engineering frustrating, socially awkward situations and learning from them make him supremely sympathetic.” —Jennie Blake, Book Geeks

Henry Baum’s The American Book of the Dead finds Eugene Myers writing a book about the end of the world, and he soon discovers that his novel is predicting real events. (ISBN: 978-0578026930) The novel will be published in September. Critics said of his previous novel, North of Sunset:  

  • “A page-turner and an example of an effective piece of storytelling that should be envied.” —Susan Tomaselli, Dogmatika

 

  • “The writing is stellar….I think you'll agree it is not so much who influenced the writing; it is who this writing will influence. Trust me when I say that this book is one you buy and one you keep.” —Poddy Mouth

 

“The point,” says Christopher Meeks, one of Backword’s authors, “is that the new digital printing technology combined with high-quality writing and old-fashioned marketing and the adept use of the Internet allow a new niche in publishing: smart self-publishing.  

“I’d worked for a publisher, Prelude Press, for eight years as its senior editor,” says Meeks, “so I came to see how to publish from the inside. A light bulb went off: I could start my own imprint. I’ve hired by own editors and designers, and I create books the way the big publishers do. I’d also worked for many years in PR for a college, so I’m using those skills, too. Everyone associated with Backword has skills for the group.” Meeks is best known for his collection of short fiction, The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea. 

Henry Baum, author of North of Sunset and editor of Self-Publishing Review (www.selfpublishingreview.com), says, “Publishers are less willing to take chances with literary fiction while emerging media make it easier for quality writers to reach readers. Backword Books is a new approach to the book business.” 

Named to give focus on old-fashioned values in quality writing, Backword Books is positioned at the vanguard of what’s to come. Publishers, squeezed in this economy with higher costs and fewer bookstores, are more reluctant than ever to take chances on edgier books or books that straddle genres. These seven authors are going directly to readers. The Backword Books website not only profiles each book and author, but also lets the authors blog with helpful advice. 

Dale Scott, in reviewing Bonnie Kozek’s novel Threshold on Amazon writes, “This is much more than a noir novel. It is literature that shocks, provokes, and informs, but more than that, it makes us fall very much in love...”  

Adds Eddie Wright, author of Broken Bulbs, “People dig rebels.” The books of Backword aim to be more than the usual fare.  

For more information on Backword Books, Self-Publishing Review, or any of the authors, please visit www.backwordbooks.com, call Henry Baum at (310) 402-9367 or henrybaum@gmail.com.

Comments
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I like what you all are

I like what you all are doing, Kristen.

I had to self publish my book on "honor" killings because I was living in Jordan, it was intended primarily for an Arab/Jordanian audience, and there is not much of an English-language publishing industry there.

It turned out to be challenging in some respects for cultural reasons (e.g., there is no freedom of the press, so the government has to approve all publications), but I didn't find it at all technically overwhelming.  I am a trained, experienced marketer.  It's my primary occupation.  I'm used to having to proofread documents that will be reproduced by the millions, so I wasn't that daunted by proofing my own work.  And I'm totally familiar with the printing process, as is any marketer worth her salt.  I definitely know how to segment, target, and position, and how to get attention.  And I'd been published before (in another field of endeavor). 

And so, now that I am back in the States, when I think about publishing more work and see the current state of the industry here, I'm kind of scratching my head and asking myself, but, if publishers here are relegating the promotion back to the authors, why should I let them keep a large percentage of any revenues? 

Right now, I think there are still a number of advantages to working with publishing houses. But I can see the day when, for those of us who are already published (but not on the scale of, say, J. K. Rowling) and skilled at marketing, the scales will tip in favor of doing more of it ourselves.  It seems to me this is the direction it's heading, and technology is a huge enabler.

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very true.

That's what a large percentage of self-publishers are saying now, Ellen. It's a slow but sure movement. You might enjoy some of the articles at the Self Publishing Review (www.selfpublishingreview.com), many of which discuss this new publishing trend.

I, too, can see the advantages to being published by a real publishing house (I'd really enjoy it, I think), but I've learned a lot about marketing through this process, and I've enjoyed being in absolute creative control of my book (cover art was important to me once the inside work was finished...sometimes I'm still afraid I'll get lucky and be picked up by a publisher and that they'll want to slap on a cover image of a woman with a soldier, or - worse - a big yellow ribbon...and without irony!).

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As a marketer, I know how

As a marketer, I know how important the cover design is.  No yellow ribbon for yours. . .I agree.  Nor Tony Orlando & Dawn, for that matter.  :-) 

I was lucky to find a Jordanian-based Abu Dhabi graphic designer who had a passion for my subject, and she designed the cover in exchange for a cover credit and a copy of the book.  I'm pretty sure a mainstream publisher wouldn't have wanted a bold cover like the one we ended up with because they'd have been afraid of the repercussions.  But we got a lot of compliments on it, and no hate mail.

What I could've used in the process was a good editor.  And help with distribution would've been nice, if only to save on the wear and tear on me.  But, like you, I was able to get my book into bookstores in Jordan.  One owner even sold it without taking a commission and placed it on his bestseller shelves because he thought it was such an important subject, and he was disappointed no Jordanians had yet written a book about it.  But the rest of the non-Amazon sales were pretty much from me going from place to place selling it, often in bulk.  However, that was an exhausting process.  I would've been happy to delegate that if only it had been an option.