To be or not to be…

What does your sales report look like?
Stepping into the publishing industry for the first time can feel like standing on a high diving board without knowing what it feels like to fall through the air and jump in. We climb up the ladder with our fictional manuscript in hand, learning the do’s and don’ts each step of the way. What kind of advice have you been getting? “Find a good editor,” says the editor on the first step. “Learn how to write a good query letter,” says the traditional publisher on the next step. “Have a good website,” says the website designers. “You’ll get a better royalty if you are an indie author,” says the self-publisher, and the list of advice goes on and on. Finally, you agree on publishing your final draft, you’re at the end of the diving board, and it’s time to jump. SPLASH! You swim up to the surface, and you take your first breath of fresh air. You are thrilled your book is released and ready to sell to the public. Then that moment comes. Reality settles in when you look at your sales report to see if anyone bought your book.

What is the first book in the first Giant Tales series?
In February of 2013, Giant Tales came out with a new anthology book for fiction readers to enjoy titled, Giant Tales Beyond the Mystic Doors. With four interesting themes in the book, curious readers are pulled in right away. The first fifteen stories are based on the theme, Mystic Doors. Readers can challenge themselves to find the mystic door in each story and learn why the doors are mystic. The next fifteen stories are based on the theme, Beasts. Readers will be amazed to find a different beast in each story. The next sixteen stories are based on the theme, Sunflowers. Readers will discover a variety of ways a sunflower can be presented. The last fifteen stories are based on the theme, Mysterious Boxes. Readers will be surprised to find something new inside each box. The stories are short enough to give the reader a sense of accomplishment while feeling entertained at the same time. Sixty-one short stories in book 1 are approximately 3-minutes in length, a quick, satisfying snack for the mind.

What are the other Giant Tales anthology books?
In August of 2013, Giant Tales came out with a second anthology book titled, Giant Tales From the Misty Swamp. Four more delightful themes pull the reader in once again. Stories are about a misty swamp, climate change, carnivals, and masks. In 2014, two more Giant Tales anthologies from the original 3-Minute Series launched. Giant Tales World of Pirates launched in January, and Giant Tales Dangerous Days was released in September. A variety of short 3-minute stories fill the pages from four Giant Tales books. The stories are so enjoyable that Giant Tales came out with a second series for 10-minute stories with an emphasis on an apocalypse setting. In April of 2014, Lava Storm In the Neighborhood was released. And in November of 2014, Final Ships In the Neighborhood was released.

What are the Giant Tales sales ratings from 2014?
When combining print sales with Kindle sales, the 2014 Giant Tales book sales came in as follows:

First Place – Giant Tales World of Pirates
Second Place – Giant Tales Dangerous Days
Third Place – Giant Tales Mystic Doors
Fourth Place – Giant Tales From the Misty Swamp
Fifth Place – Lava Storm In the Neighborhood
Sixth Place – Final Ships In the Neighborhood

A modest amount of book sales in 2014 caused Giant Tales to begin to take a look at book promotions more seriously in 2015. What can anthologies be used for if they are not in high demand on the New York Times Best Seller list? An author should consider the purpose of publishing a short story in an anthology. There is value in publishing in an anthology. Given the fact that anthologies are not known for raking in the dough, anthologies can be an excellent tool in a number of different ways. Anthologies are excellent for readers to take in a quick read, for conversation and other talking points, resume builders, connecting with editors and other authors, experience, offerings on social media, marketing connections, awareness in presentations, gifts for all types of readers, and giving people samples of your work.

Can book promotions increase sales?

In a nutshell, yes, they can. It is clear that book launches stir some interest among authors and readers. But more importantly, it is very clear that intentional book promotions can boost sales in a dramatic way. In 2015, Giant Tales held two free-book promotions. At the end of July, Lava Storm In the Neighborhood sold a significant amount of Kindle books for free during a five-day promotion. At the end of May, Giant Tales Beyond the Mystic Doors sold a significant amount of Kindle books for free during another five-day promotion. These two free-book promotions are directly related to the book sales results from 2015.

First Place – Lava Storm In the Neighborhood
Second Place – Giant Tales Beyond the Mystic Doors

Lava Storm and Mystic Doors pulled ahead by a far lead in the number of books sold, most of which were given away for free during a limited-time, free-book giveaway. As an author, if you are looking to boost the number of sales for your book, consider planning a successful promotion by providing a free-book giveaway for a limited time. It worked out well for Giant Tales.

Lava Storm In the Neighborhood 99 cents on Kindle

*NEW* Writers 750 Program

Writers 750 is pleased to present a brand new opportunity for fiction writers. After thirty-six consecutive months of providing the Writers 750 Contest from April 2012-February 2015, a writing program has been developed.

A *new* Writers 750 Program is available to the public as a four-year fiction  program for creative writers. The writing program has been designed for fiction writers to explore a new theme each month while learning tips to writing quality fiction. Writers will gain knowledge and experience by producing a short story each month, taking it at an individual pace. The program is set up for writers to develop a new short story in each class, one class per month, beginning in the fall semester. Writers can start at any time during the three semesters that are offered each year. Classes are held year-round for four years. It is recommended, however, that writers begin as a freshman and start with the first month in the fall. The fall semester runs from September to December. The winter/spring semester runs from January to April. The summer semester runs from May to August. Writers will work independently. Writers can refer to the Giant Tales books to read examples that relate to each class. Click on the “Writers 750 Program” in the menu bar and scroll down to “Year 1” to get started.



"Elementary, my dear Watson"
“Elementary, my dear Watson”

My short story, “The Mystery of Dunhill Jam” came in just under 1,000 words. The main character is a young female descendant of Sherlock Holmes. Miss Letty Holmes and her good friend and photographer, Dr. Watson, help a client discover the person who is responsible for the death of Dunhill Jam.

Tips for Writers


 by Heather Marie Schuldt


Fiction writers know how important it is to network with other authors. What is the point of writing a story if it is left in a drawer where no one will ever read it? Of course, it can feel scary in the beginning for a new writer to let someone else read their work, but there has to be a first time sometime. All new writers face the same question: Who is going to read my story? Even seasoned authors need to ask this question as it becomes more important to “find your audience.” One of the most exciting benefits of the Writers 750 Contest is that each participant will have their story read and feedback is available for everyone.

1. Remain Flexible – Not everyone is open to give or receive feedback. When you are in a small group with one, two, or three other fiction writers, but sure to find out if your recipient has the time. We all have different schedules and work loads. Timing is a key issue when we go about reaching out to one another. Remember to not take it personal if someone else cannot participate. Don’t force the issue, but following up can be a real mark of success. Take into account holidays, weekends, vacation days, sick days, and heavy work loads. How you reach out can make a world of a difference. What you say matters. Be as professional as you can and move on when you need to.

2. Know Your Procedure – Be sure to find out what is expected ahead of time. You can be spontaneous if you want to, but your results might be much more effective if both parties are on the same page before you start exchanging feedback. You can write a general critique similar to a book review; these comments can be short or long. You can also make an effort to show personal edits. It can be very helpful and productive when you decide to exchange copies with edits and comments. I have people send me attachments with edits or emails with short stories pasted right in the email where the changes and comments have been marked. It doesn’t really do any good if you edit a story and send it without highlighting or making your changes stand out. This kind of free editing service can be a valuable learning experience.

3. Be Honest and Kind – This is where it can get tricky for some people. I’ve just about seen and heard it all when it comes to feedback. You’ll find that some people just won’t like your work no matter what you do; stay away from these people. There is nothing productive about listening to someone who will never like your work. While some authors have thick skin and want to hear the gritty details, no matter how poor the delivery might be, other people will not be so keen with harsh words. Giving a good honest review might come naturally to some people, but others might struggle a bit more when trying to find the words and when making a judgment call. On the other hand, a friend or family member who raves about your work might not really be helping you to make the improvements you need to make. We all know what it’s like to get a good hair cut and a bad hair cut. Some hair dressers are just a bad fit. It’s the same way with giving and receiving good honest feedback. Be thankful if you find someone who can give you the help you need. You might need to search around for a while to find someone who can be helpful and encouraging at the same time. It might be a good idea ahead of time to let the person know what you are looking for. Again, if you leave the door wide open, then be ready to receive just about anything.


4. Make a Good Effort – My suggestion is to put forth a good effort to give helpful feedback, and be patient to receive it. We’ve all heard the cliche, “What you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it.” You might find yourself in a group with people who are all busy or unable to participate for one reason or another. My suggestion is to find out who is available in another group and go from there. It does not do any good to try and force others to participate, so don’t even bother. There is no such thing as a slush pile when exchanging feedback. Either you make up your mind to participate or you don’t. If you can get to it later, then set a date, but never leave it in a so called slush pile. Find out who is ready and willing and go where the activity is happening. It could be that all it takes is for you to reach out with a friendly email. Good beta readers are out there, but it takes an effort to find them.

The following list is a group of fiction writers from the FEBRUARY OAK STREET writing prompt. These authors will be placed into a small group for a limited time in order to exchange feedback during March 2015.

SARCASM by Todd Folstad







THE BLUE LIONS by Norma Freeman

THE CIPHER by Gene Hilgreen




THE PLAN by Karen Hopkins

NUMB by Arlene Lagos

COMING OF AGE by Shelly Heskett Harris

S’NOW WAY THROUGH by Randall Lemon

WHAT’S MY NAME by Martin Meador