Prepare for ‘Invasion Day’ — a new sci-fi short story by Adam Bender

With the winter holidays nearly upon us, I’d been thinking about what gift I could give my awesome readers. And then… it suddenly occurred to me! “Hey, I’ve got this great unpublished short story called Invasion Day!”

"Invasion Day" cover
Cover for “Invasion Day” by Adam Bender

On his tenth birthday, a boy living on the moon asks his grandpa about the blue planet glowing in the forever-night sky, and why they live the way they do.

I wrote this story earlier this year, based on a several-years-old idea from my notes, and inspired by the writing of one of my favorite authors — the great Ray Bradbury.

You can read the eBook free on Smashwords and other online retailers including AppleBarnes & Noble, Kobo and Scribd. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a review when you’re finished.

Happy holidays!

Haunting ‘Secret Path’ Tells Tragic Indigenous History Through Art and Music

Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire

In 1966, an indigenous Canadian boy named Chanie Wenjack ran away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School. He attempted a 400-mile walk home along the railroad through freezing weather, without knowing if he was even going the right way.

Through Chanie’s journey, Secret Path — an innovative combination of music and graphic novel available on Amazon as a paperback/MP3 download —  illuminates a darker part of North American twentieth-century history. Gord Downie of Ontario band The Tragically Hip wrote the words and music, while fellow Canadian and breakout comic book star Jeff Lemire drew the sequential art.

The first time I experienced Secret Path, I read the graphic novel with the music on in the background. The book is short enough to read within the album’s 41-minute running time, and is split into sections by song, so it’s easy enough to take this approach. Taken together, the music and art flow together well, with the images enhancing the words sung by Downie and the mostly acoustic folk rock bringing out the emotions in Lemire’s expressive character-work.

Since then, I have listened to the album quite a few times on its own. The music definitely can stand on its own. With the additional talent of Dave Hamelin from The Stills (another Canadian favorite of mine), Downie’s album carries the listener through the emotional highs and lows of Chanie’s walk, effortlessly evoking images of the boy’s tragic walk.

And as I listened, I found myself flashing back to the beautiful artwork by Lemire. I’ve been a fan of Jeff for some time — especially his more indie work like The Underwater Welder and Essex County, but also some of his writing credits for DC Comics including Animal Man. Lemire has a unique art style that I recall actually put me off the first time I laid eyes on it. But when I pushed ahead anyway, Lemire’s haunting compositions transported me to another world. From the first page of Secret Path, Lemire makes readers feel instantly sympathetic to Chanie’s plight. And he leaves us angry with the country that let such tragedies occur.

Angry, perhaps. But also glad that these fine creators have exposed this hidden history through such accessible storytelling. It’s beyond cool to see a project with such important purpose come together into an artistic masterpiece. What’s more, proceeds from the project will be donated to The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

So don’t wait — take the Secret Path. It’s a road worth traveling.

Bender Novels Featured in SELF-e Indie Pennsylvania

Now free at your library!
Now free at your library!

As a local Philadelphia author, I’m thrilled to announce that SELF-e is now featuring my novels WE, THE WATCHED and DIVIDED WE FALL in its Indie Pennsylvania collection.

SELF-e is a curated collection of self-published works by Library Journal and BiblioBoard, and is available to participating libraries across the county. Because I’m from Philly, my books will be featured prominently in the Pennsylvania Indie collection. When you visit a library in any state that has BiblioBoard, you can access eBooks of my novels on library computers or on your personal mobile devices by downloading the BiblioBoard app from the Apple, Google or Amazon app stores. Since you’re getting them through a library, the books are free to borrow, though the app includes a Buy link if you’d like to add the eBook or paperback to your personal bookshelf.

I’m excited to make my books available to new readers! If your library supports BiblioBoard, please let me know your experience finding my book. And if your library doesn’t have it, ask them to look into it!

And don’t forget, you can also get WE, THE WATCHED free by joining the Underground, my monthly mailing list for fans.

Readers seek great books, not big publishers: Bibliocrunch CEO Miral Sattar

Indie authors can’t do it alone. Believe me, I’ve tried. What I’ve learned over the course of writing, self-publishing and marketing three novels is that it pays to get help.

Over the last year, I’ve featured several tech companies and indie book promotion websites that aim to put indie authors on a level playing field with the traditionally published. These include Reedsy, The Fussy Librarian, NoiseTrade and Story Cartel.

Miral Sattar, Bibliocrunch CEO

Today I’d like to feature Bibliocrunch, a company that’s actually been in the indie publishing game since 2011. The service connects authors to freelancers for editing, marketing, graphic design and much more. The site also hosts book giveaways and provides useful advice about indie publishing. Check out my profile on Bibliocrunch as an example.

I spoke with founder and CEO Miral Sattar about what Bibliocrunch hopes to accomplish and where she sees the publishing industry headed. Miral leads a team of seven based in New York City.

Adam: What problem is Bibliocrunch trying to solve?

Miral: Giving authors access to tools resources to publish the best book possible. We have a vetted marketplace that connects authors and publishers with vetted publishing professionals. But we also have our series which is growing very popular.

Adam: Today’s authors can self-publish a book all by themselves if they want to. Why is it important that authors pay for freelance help, and how big of an investment does that need to be?

Miral: If someone is paying for your book, then you need to make sure that it is in the best state possible. You need an eye-catching cover, a well-edited book that’s error-free, and readable on all devices and formats.

The investment varies. You can publish a quality book on a budget or pay what a typical publisher would pay for one of their authors. I have written articles on both. It’s different for each book.

Read Miral's articles on this subject!
How to Self-Publish Your Book on a Budget
The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book

Adam: The publishing industry is in a state of flux right now. Where do you think it’s going, and how well will self-published authors fare against industry published authors?

Miral: I don’t think this is a relevant question. I think it’s more important that traditional publishers start offering more to their authors. Right now, 40% of the books on Amazon’s best-seller list are self-published. People usually don’t care whether a book is self-published. They want a great read. If they love the book, they will recommend it to their friends.

Adam: What was your background before starting this company, and what led you from there to here?

Miral: I’m an engineer and writer by background. I went to both graduate (NYU) and undergrad (Columbia) in the city. I had been working at TIME Magazine for several years, leading a lot of the editorial product development. I was also finishing up my Masters at NYU at the same time.

In 2011, I noticed that people were publishing books based on breaking news events and selling tons of books. The people who were publishing were not professionals, and they were doing it through Amazon. So I went back to the higher-ups at TIME and pitched my project: publish books based on breaking news events. We had the best writers from all over the world between TIME, Fortune, People, etc. But like any big corporation, they were slow to approve and execute.

I ended up leaving and starting my own company, Bibliocrunch, several months later. We launched as a tools platforms where authors and publishers could write and convert their books in the cloud. However, we kept getting requests from authors asking if our platform could convert PDF files into eBooks, or design covers. We referred so many people that we made a marketplace out of it.

Adam: How many customers do you have?

Miral: We have about 20,000 authors and 1,500 vetted freelancers who provide services to authors and publishers.

Adam: What is the most popular service authors seek freelance help with?

Miral: I’d say editing and then cover design.

Bibliocrunch offers a variety of paid VIP services to authors.
Bibliocrunch offers a variety of paid VIP services to authors.

Adam:  Do you typically get authors who are looking to self-publish, or are they polishing things up with the intention of querying a big publisher?

Miral: We get all types of authors, though the majority of our authors are self-published. We also have publishers who have hired freelancers because they don’t have the budgets to keep qualified folks in-house. Each author is different, so we tell them the first thing they should do is define their goals.

Adam: Do you have minimum qualifications for the freelancers? Must they have professional experience in the publishing industry?

Miral: Absolutely. We check to see if they already are a member of a pre-existing organization, their LinkedIn profiles, their testimonials,  works samples, and website.

Adam: Have you had any major success stories so far?

Miral: We’ve had a few authors hit the top 10 on Amazon. Most recently, Howard Kaplan, author of The Damascus Cover, bumped James Paterson and Patricia Cornwell one week.

Bibliocrunch offers a free 4-book box set of books to help indie authors. Click the image for more details.

Adam: What do you believe is your competitive advantage to other companies offering similar services?

Miral: I think we’ll see the rise of marketplaces in 2016. Almost everyone has one now which is great! Blurb, Publishers Weekly, Publishers Lunch, just to name a few.

We have a VIP Service that guides authors through the self-publishing process with a real person on the phone. We also have our author training courses, which come with tools, templates, blog posts and guides. Our most popular course is our marketing intensive.

Adam: What’s coming next for Bibliocrunch? What can you tell me about any plans to further expand or enhance your services?

Miral: We’re expanding our series to include children’s books and also launching a few children’s book initiatives later this year.

Adam: Besides Bibliocrunch, what other innovative companies helping indie authors do you like?

Miral: I love Wattpad and BookBub and recommend both to all our authors. Wattpad is great if you’re good at social media and have a fantasy type novel. BookBub is a great way to kickstart sales if you get accepted.

Thanks so much to Miral Sattar for the Interview! Miral also contributed a new year’s prediction for my article on indie publishing in 2016! For more on innovative indie publishing companies, check out my interviews with ReedsyStory Cartel, NoiseTrade and The Fussy Librarian.

Want to be featured or suggest an innovative indie publishing company? Contact me.

Book publishing to be ‘more mainstream than ever’ in 2016?

Indie publishing gurus gaze into their crystal balls.

Happy new year, everyone! As the proud indie author of two self-published books, I thought it’d be fun to see what people closely involved in supporting and promoting indie publishing predict for book publishing industry in 2016.

Here’s what they had to say!

Emmanual Nataf, co-founder of Reedsy

Photo of Reedsy co-founder Emmanuel Nataf

“Most forms of publishing have dramatically changed in the past few years: it’s become incredibly easy to publish photos (Instagram), song tracks (Soundcloud), videos (YouTube), blog posts (WordPress), etc. In 2016, it’s book publishing that will become more mainstream than ever. Through books, more people will express who they are and communicate their vision of the world with others. With 2016 set to break all records with hundreds of thousands of titles pushed to the market, authors need to have a clear idea of what they can expect from publishing a book. In most cases, it will be a gratifying and enriching experience; but only those willing to work hard will find it lucrative.”

Jeffrey Bruner, founder of The Fussy LibrarianJeffrey Bruner, founder of The Fussy Librarian

“I predict that Barnes & Noble’s eBook division will either be sold or auctioned off through bankruptcy proceedings and acquired by a tech startup that will reinvigorate B&N’s website and database and create a little more competition for Amazon.”

Miral Sattar, CEO of Bibliocrunch

miral-sattar_headshot“Now that there are more and more quality books being published a day, largely due to self-publishing, you’ll see a rise of companies that provide marketing tools or services to help the best ones reach the top and get discovered.”


Meanwhile, Smashwords founder Mark Coker wrote an excellent post on his own 2016 predictions. I’ve quoted a few of his predictions below, but definitely read the full article!

Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords

Photo of Mark Coker, Smashwords

  1. Indie eBook authors will gain market share at expense of large publishers”
  2. “The overall market for ebooks will shrink in dollar terms, but unit volume will increase”
  3. Kindle Unlimited will gut single-copy sales and drive greater eBook commoditization”
  4. Print will remain steady, though those sales are the sole domain for authors of traditional publishers”
  5. Wattpad will be acquired

What are your predictions for 2016? Sound off in the comments below!