Friday, June 28, 2013

What is the "Rust Belt" Anyway?

So several days ago the Head and the Hand Press of Philadelphia ( was in my town (Detroit) promoting its new book: "Rust Belt Rising Almanac." I was there enjoying the music and storytelling and was asked to read my included poem, "The Straits," which was well received by a supportive audience.

"Rust Belt" is like the term "Midwest." Words which everyone thinks they understand until they are asked to define them. Then the precise meaning tends to slip away. I used to think that Michigan was Midwest until I lived for a time in Kansas City which I always thought of as "out west." Residents of that town told me that, without a doubt, KC is Midwest and Detroit is "back east." No way, I said. Way, they said.

"Rust Belt" is like that. What is the "Rust Belt" anyway? What cities qualify for that title? The Head and the Hand Press includes Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Philadelphia. Philadelphia? Since when? But why not, if the criteria is an old manufacturing town where the manufacturing base has declined along with the population base and the infrastructure (another word that defies definition).

In any event, other than my small contribution, the content of the "Rust Belt Rising Almanac" is fantastic and you should all get a copy, especially if you think you live in the Rust Belt.

Robert Tell, Author

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why the huge difference in prices for e-books vs. print books?

This is a question I've been asked by many of my readers. I thought the answer should be obvious, but that may be because I'm immersed in the topic. And of course, we're addressing mainly the issue of indie authors. Traditional publishers continue to charge high e-book prices that cannot be justified, in my opinion, by their costs of publication.

Let me explain.  When a self-published author sells a paperback book through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc., there are all sorts of expenses that must be met right off the top. The printer must be paid for printing the book. The retailer must be paid for featuring and distributing the book. The shipper must be paid for shipping the book. And royalties must be split with some of these partners.

On the other hand when an e-book is published, there is no cost for hard copy printing, and no cost for shipping. All that remains is the on-line retailer and the author to split the royalties. In many cases, an author can actually receive a larger reward from selling an e-book at, say, $4.99, than from selling a print book at, for example, $12.

Of course, when a traditional publisher sells either a print book or e-book, its expenses of doing business plus a profit margin, must be added to the cost the reader pays, or the author's royalty must be further diminished. The theory is that this author will make it up on the volume of sales. This is becoming less and less true as e-book publishing continues to outpace print book sales.

The above is a somewhat simplified analysis, but I hope it will help with an understanding of this issue.  This marketplace will continue to evolve and change as will the technology of publishing.

Robert Tell, Author

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul and other good news

I can't resist shouting about the honor I just received from a reader's comments about my poetry in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology. 

1) My poem, "Mushy Face is No Disgrace," was just republished by Chicken Soup for the Soul along with a companion piece from a woman writer in Seattle who was dramatically affected by her reading of the original work. She wrote that my poem had a life changing and uplifting impact on her attitude about aging. This anthology is the "20th Anniversary Reader's Choice" publication from Chicken Soup for the Soul and was just released to bookstores.  I was thrilled to be included in this way.

2) My poem about Detroit, "The Straits" is included in The Rust Belt Rising Almanac, a new anthology whch will hit the street on June 7th. This is the first title for the Head and the Hand Press in Philadelphia. It's focus is on meaningful stories and poetry from locations throughout the rust belt.

3) I recently published an e-book of short stories and poetry on hospital and medical themes called "The Medical Director's Divorce and other stories." These are based on my 25 years as a hospital administrator. It is available from all e-book retailers and through my website:

I will have some more news for you in a few weeks about my soon to be published new novel. It will bring my catalogue of published books to five.

Happy reading and writing.

Robert Tell, Author