Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Cover Reveal: Lost Wings, by Don M. Vail

We are happy to reveal the cover of Lost Wings, by Don M. Vail, the latest in the herd!

This debut novel is different from every other EBP offering. Our first urban fantasy novel, Lost Wings is also our first written with an adult audience in mind. Gritty and graphic, Lost Wings goes places no other elephant has ventured…

When Richard Eastman, a down-and-out veteran of the Gulf War, defends an injured woman with strange injuries on her shoulder blades, he finds himself battling an unexpected enemy — the devil. Hellish minions cut off the wings of the woman — the angel Avesta. But if she’s an angel, where is God and why won’t he help? With little to go on but his wits and experience (and what he can remember from Catholic school), Richard takes on a new mission: save the angel or die trying. But to do that, he must descend into Hell, confront the demons and the damned who exist there — as well as those from his own life — and ultimately fight Lucifer. He knows he can’t accomplish his mission alone, but who can he trust in Hell? Yet, if Richard fails, Lucifer will breed a new race of beings with the stolen angel. And if that happens, all hell could break loose.

While this is a debut novel, the author isn’t exactly new to writing. Robert K. Lewis is writing as Don M. Vail. Robert is a talented crime-noir author, but Lost Wings is not like his previously published work. While there may be some of Robert’s readers who enjoy the work of Don, we’re letting Don build his audience from the pebbly ground beneath his feet and work his way up.

“I wrote this novel over ten years ago,” Robert wrote on his blog. “Every so often I would take it out and rewrite it to the level of my abilities at that time. I just couldn’t give up on it.”

At EBP, we’re glad he didn’t. We were drawn in from the first few pages.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Revamping of the Elephant's Bookshelf Blogging Experience

Hey guys. It’s been a while, I know. Though it’s not obvious from the number of posts on this blog, I have been busy, and I believe the busy-ness will become evident very soon.

In a nutshell, I’ve spent the past several months working on expanding and developing Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, especially from a marketing perspective. What this means in the short term is that two books are being made ready for publication this year, with the possibility of a third also (though that one may run into 2018).

I’ve also been rethinking my blogging. Not just my schedule but also my purpose.

When I launched Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, my goal was to help unknown writers earn publication and begin to develop an audience. I’m very proud to have been the first publisher of fiction for more than a dozen writers these past five years. I’ve actually never sat down and counted them all; it could be upwards of twenty debut fiction authors.

That accomplishment – both mine and theirs -- has been on my mind as I’ve considered what my blogging should be about. There are a lot of writing blogs out there, and I know I don’t read as many as I used to. So why would anyone want to read mine? Well, I don’t know that they will, frankly. And that’s ok, because creating and building an audience takes time.

Writing is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done – before, during, and after the creation of EBP. These days, I’m not only a writer. I’m an editor, a publisher, at times a songwriter and musician. And increasingly I’m feeling confident that what we’ve been trying to do with EBP is the right thing for writers.

Let’s face it, publishing these days is a heck of a lot easier than it used to be, but building an audience is hard. Very, very hard. There’s so much out there. You’ve probably heard that a lot of it is garbage. To a degree, that’s true. But then that’s always been true.

What’s different is I’ve gotten know a lot more writers now, and the submissions I’ve gotten over the past five years always turn up several gems. Some of the submissions my review teams have rejected were stories I kinda enjoyed, even if too many of those relied on tired old tropes.

From now on, my blogging goal is to build something aimed at helping authors develop an audience. As I said, it’s a big part of what EBP has been about since the beginning, and if this company is going to be something I can expand and possibly even give to my daughters one day, then that topic needs to remain its focus going forward.

How will I do that? To be honest, I’m sure that’s going to evolve, too. I’ll write about author marketing -- the tried and true as well as the new. I don’t have all the answers, because smart new questions are being asked every day. But I’ve spent the past blurdy-blurdy years interviewing leaders of nonprofit organizations all over the country (and outside the U.S., too) about building constituencies, movements, followings; I am confident I can share lessons learned over that time.

One way I’ll do that is by interviewing authors about what they’re doing and what’s working for them. I’ll discuss things like covers (because there are a lot of crappy covers out there. Yeeesh!), and I’ll provide my own experience with certain products to help other authors learn from my experience.

When my friends and I created the late, beloved blog From the Write Angle, the goal was to provide authors lessons from those of us slightly higher up the ladder. In a way, that’s the goal on this blog, too, and with this publishing company. I may even have some guest posts from some of my FTWA co-conspirators.

So, I invite you to check out my updated blog. It’s actually going to be at the EBP site – in fact, you’ll see this post there, too. And if you like what you see, please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll use many of the usual techniques – free stuff, newsletter-only exclusives, etc. – I hope you’ll come to back because you’ll want to read the items I’ll be sharing. So, take a look. And let me know what you like and what you don’t. Let’s get the conversation going.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thinking about the days of the week

For those paying attention at home, I’m in the midst of a blog rethink and redesign, at least as far as my writing approach to this blog is concerned. I will reupholster the electronic furniture a bit and possibly hang some new wallpaper, but suffice it to say, I’m aiming to make this a place worth visiting. 

Of course, I already have ideas and I’m putting some things together so I’ll be able to hit the ground running. Here’s one idea that I’ve been mulling.

Folks of a certain age will remember a song from many moons ago known as “I don’t like Mondays.” I want to do something about the whole Monday malaise. Ideally, I’ll make things better for writers rather than contributing to the “blahness” of the first workday of the week. But you never know.

My idea is “Marketing Mondays.” Most fiction writers aren’t any fonder of marketing than the rest of humanity is a fan of Mondays. So a couple Mondays a month, I’ll explore ways we writers can improve our marketing and promotion efforts. Yes, at some point I’ll probably talk at least a bit about email lists and newsletters. Hate them or hate them, if they’re done the right way, they’re highly effective tools for building your platform, which, among other things, help you stand out in a crowd. And few things are as crowded as the book publishing world these days.

So, what’s the right way to do marketing in such a busy field? Well, I’m hoping to get some comments on that type of thing from writers and publishers who can address it better than I can. If you ask me, the answer boils down to how you build an audience for your novels and short stories: Write something entertaining and engaging and write it well.

I’d love to hear some other topics you’d like to read about with regard to where your marketing and audience development efforts might be lagging. Feel free to share in the comments below or send an email to

Soon to come: other days of the week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to School

Remember the Staples back-to-school commercial from a few years ago? You know it: the one where the father is dancing through the aisles of the supply store behind his shopping cart while his kids plod along behind him, their heads staring at the floor, all while Johnny Mathis sings "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

Even before I had kids, that was one of my favorite commercials, and I'm not a big fan of watching ads. And now that I'm a dad, I understand it on another level. It truly feels as though things are falling back into place, the tumblers are landing in the correct slots to unlock the door.

That's how things have felt for me lately. We have just launched Billy Bobble the Witch Hunt, and I'm working on the next novel, Don M. Vail's Lost Wings. Busy, busy, busy!

But in the busy-ness, I have the exciting fretfulness of a student starting a new school year. I worry about the reviews for R.S. Mellette's wonderful book -- will readers think it's as engaging and provocative as I do? Am I doing enough to get the word out about it? (Probably not. None of us, not even Stephen King, ever do. Don't believe me? Without googling it, what were the names of his last two books?)

So I've been boning up again on online tutorials, re-reading articles about marketing and promotion, and trying to put lessons learned into practice. I wish I had one that I could share that has been hands-down better than everything else, but to me they all seem to be about building audience incrementally, reader by reader. Slow going, to say the least. But valuable, nonetheless

What has worked for you? Have you found anything that worked really well for your book? I'd love to conduct an interview with someone who has a great author-promotional effort to share. We can even do some shared marketing, where we'll give away some books -- yours and ours!

Who's game? After all, It's the most wonderful time of the year.