Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Goodreads Book Giveaway!

I've launched the Giveaway for "Own the Scrawny" on Goodreads - Take a look and enter to win a signed copy - Thanks for your support!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Own the Scrawny by Rich Samuels

Own the Scrawny

by Rich Samuels

Giveaway ends December 20, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, November 30, 2014

High Anxiety: Closer to Publication

It's been a busy month...

As I write this, proofs of the paperback editions of both Own the Scrawny and the new edition of My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain are on their way. I'll review, make any necessary changes, and approve for publication - probably in the next two weeks or so. I already have a few minor changes I'll need to make to Scrawny; Food Chain should be okay.

It's an anxious time. I actually sent PDF's to several people, essentially to begin the process of revealing the book to a few interested people. I've had a great reaction so far, though limited. A number of people haven't responded as yet. Naturally, my mind rushes to a negative conclusion (shades of Alexander...), but at least one person has begged off reading the PDF because it's simply not an easy way to read a book. It's awkward on an e-reader, and uncomfortable reading on a desktop, so I'll need to be patient a week or two until I can provide more traditional editions. Then, I can wait anxiously even longer for more people to finish reading the book.

I've started the process of recording the audio version of Scrawny; Food Chain is already available. I'm hoping that the Scrawny audiobook will be available on January 1st, the official release date of the book.

In a few days, I'll be starting a giveaway on Goodreads.com, getting the book into the hands of readers just before Christmas. Most other promotional efforts will wait until after the holiday.

I'm hoping to create promotional materials and a teacher's guide for Own the Scrawny, exploring the idea of online trolling. In Scrawny, Alexander takes the negative comments about him too seriously, until old and new friends lend him a better perspective For anyone—child or adult—creating online, it's important to keep that healthy perspective in face of all the negativity.

I'm also hoping to generate more of a presence for Own the Scrawny. More reviews on the retail sites and Goodreads are essential to making this effort work. If you read the book, I hope you're consider writing one (I don't require five stars!).  I also hope to encourage more YouTube review videos and interviews (and whatever else you can think of) - they would be especially helpful in getting the word out.

As usual, I'm open to your thoughts—if you do read the book, I'd be very interesting in hearing any ideas you might have to develop my marketing plan.

And yes, review copies will be available shortly...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Did you HEAR? Updates On My Publishing Empire!

Progress is being made - although it all feels like it's moving at a snail's pace, as far as I'm concerned.

In my last entry, I listed six tasks related to my upcoming and existing books. Most have already been accomplished, though I had a minor setback when the hard drive on my iMac died and some work was frozen. Luckily, once a new drive was installed and I restored the system, everything was there, just like I left it, and I was able to continue without backtracking.

The audiobook for "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" is now available at Amazon.comAudible.com, and iTunes. At around $6.00,  it's a fun, affordable way to pass a few hours on the way to grandma's for Thanksgiving!  I'll be starting work next week on the audiobook for "Own the Scrawny," which I'm hoping to have available at the same time as the book on January 1.

This week, I'll be submitting "Own the Scrawny" to begin the manufacturing process for both the paperback and ebook. Edits have been completed. We're all ready.

At the moment, I'm waiting anxiously for more of my "beta readers" to respond. So far, only one has. While I realize it takes time for people to find the time to sit down and read a book, my less logical side is driving me crazy - I'm nearly as neurotic as my main character!

One of my hopes this time around is that I can build some presence for "Own the Scrawny" even before the official publication.

If you're on Goodreads.com, I'd appreciate the favor of adding "Own the Scrawny" to your "Want to Read" list (press the green button). Between the beta readers and upcoming giveaways, I'm also hoping that there will be more than just a few reviews posted by January.

Once the manufacturing process is underway, I'm going to begin efforts to begin promoting the book, especially how it relates to the growing issue of online trolling. I'm hoping to conduct a series of interviews on the subject, so if you have a story to tell about your own experiences related to your creative work as a YouTuber, blogger or other online content creator, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alex Tasks: What's Next with "Own the Scrawny"

Now that I've finished writing Own the Scrawny, I'm focusing on a long list of what I'm calling "Alex Tasks," (after our main character) a long to-do list that I need to complete before we actually publish the book. I just finished reading the book aloud as a final review, which forced me to concentrate more closely on the manuscript than I could otherwise. For me, at least, it's otherwise easy to skim over a missing or misplaced word. It was also an excruciating experience, and tends to heighten a whole host of writing-related anxieties...

Here's just a hint of the anxieties I'm now facing:

  1. I need to finalize Own the Scrawny for publication. The paperback and the ebook require different format preparation before the hand-off.
  2. I still need to finish writing the acknowledgments for Scrawny.
  3. I need to compile and order changes to My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain, including a new cover to match the boy on the Scrawny cover, about a dozen fixes to actual book content, and the addition of the "Alexander Adventure" banner and icon.
  4. I need to finalize the Food Chain audiobook, and send it for publication (it will be available on iTunes, Audible and Amazon for digital download.
  5. I need to record the Scrawny audiobook, which I'm hoping to publish simultaneously with the paperback and ebook.
  6. I need to set-up ISBN numbers for the  Scrawny paperback and ebook, and then begin to establish an online footprint—with Goodreads, for example.
There's much more to think about, not the least of which is developing a strategy for promoting the book, and putting that plan into motion.  

It's a bit nerve-wracking, especially at this particular moment when I don't know if people will even like the darn thing! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Who Took Johnny" Documentary Review/Commentary

A change of pace today...

Recently, I had the opportunity to see the documentary, "Who Took Johnny," the first feature-length film to look at the unsolved mystery of Johnny Gosch, the twelve year-old school boy that ventured out early one morning in 1982 for his regular paper route — and never returned.

If you were around then, you'll remember the story. Then, as now, there was no evidence pointed to what had happened. There were no witnesses. He was simply gone.

For the first several days, the local police in Des Moines, Iowa refused to classify the disappearance as an abduction, then a common practice in law enforcement. Johnny's case wasn't initially treated with the urgency that we would expect today.  Ironically, his case would help to change that assumption, and recognition
that action is critical during the initial hours and days of a disappearance.

Months and years- and then even decades dragged on without an answer. Johnny's mother, Noreen, became an activist in child exploitation, and was one of those responsible for the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which fights against child abduction through awareness and prevention. Johnny's was the first face to appear in a wide-ranging campaign to place the images of missing kids on milk cartons.

Noreen also has claimed that a fearful Johnny Gosch visited her once as an adult, telling a story of being abducted and sold into a network of the the rich and powerful, forced into sex slavery for years. A few years ago, someone sent her 80's era photographs of bound boys, one of which she identified as Johnny. There have also been independent witnesses who claim to have been imprisoned in the same network.

Noreen's claims don't constitute hard evidence, however. Some have suggested that she has repeatedly been the victim of those who would exploit the fears of a desperate mother. While she claims the photographs are of her older son, her ex-husband denies the resemblance. 

As a documentary, "Who Took Johnny" is a frustrating journey. There is, of course, no conclusion. The case is still unsolved. A year later, another boy was taken under similar circumstances. His case, too, remains unsolved. There are no working theories.  The case of Johnny Gosch, despite it's notoriety, remains cold.

There can be no glimmer of hope. All prospects related to his fate are bleak—from murder shortly after his abduction to exploitation in a nefarious network, or even his survival as a deeply damaged adult. He would be over forty today.

Long term imprisonment or even brainwashing doesn't seem as outlandish as it may have when Johnny disappeared. We've seen women held in cage-like enclosures for a decade. Shawn Hornbeck was freed four years after being abducted and ultimately brainwashed into submission.

Anything is possible.

Perhaps what haunts me the most about Johnny's case—and the many others that still remain unsolved—is that, inevitably, the world moved on as they were held, tortured and exploited. It moves on today as unknown numbers of children and adults in this country are held against their will by both disturbed individuals and underground networks.

There are extensive efforts today to fight child exploitation. Law enforcement around the world has tracked down and arrested entire networks of the same description that Noreen has described. When Johnny disappeared, such investigations were rare or non-existent. Today, millions are aware of the concept of human trafficking.

Yet the central question, "Who Took Johnny?" remains unanswered. Whether his remains lay somewhere unclaimed since 1982, or he is alive today, mired in the wreckage of a world he didn't create, the documentary serves as a reminder that these highly publicized stories aren't simply sensational headlines and dated school photos.  Johnny was a living, breathing human being.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Alexander's Adventures Continue!

It's been almost two months since I posted a blog - which is somewhat surprising to me, since I have a wide range of topics I've been wanting to share with you. "Own the Scrawny" is moving closer to completion, of course, but I also have a range of overdue news and views I'll bring to you over the next few days. It's been both a busy and harrowing time (if you work freelance, as I do, you know what I mean - more on that, too).
Today, I'll bring you up to date on both "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" and "Own the Scrawny."

"Own the Scrawny," if everything goes well, should be out on or about January 1st. 

I'm recording audiobooks for both "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" and "Own the Scrawny," narrated by the author. I've just finished recording "Food Chain," and I have some independent ears giving it a first listen before I send it off for distribution.  The recording experience was both great fun and infuriating. It also pointed out to me how the story and the characters have evolved in "Own the Scrawny."  As soon as I have the final manuscript for that book, I'll start recording. I'm hoping release of the audiobook can be simultaneous with the paperback and e-book. 

I'm in the process of switching over the artwork on the original book so that it matches the second book. The first book featured a boy that I essentially found out of an online catalog. The boy that appears in "Own the Scrawny" (known on YouTube as DrewDudeTV) and shortly on the first book, is someone who participated in a photo session specifically for my "Alexander Adventures." The photos, by the way, were taken by DrewDudeTV's brother, known on YouTube as Fur. If you're on YouTube, show your appreciation for their fine work by subscribing to their channels!

To tie the books together, editions going forward will include an icon of Alexander, along with An Alexander Adventure. I decided not to simply indicate "Parts," since I think each book can stand alone (though "Own the Scrawny" does immediately follow "Food Chain").

In a future blog, I'll share a bit of how I'm hoping to market the new book. Alexander's reaction to online trolls is a key element of this story - a topic which is particularly timely. 

I'll have more in the coming days–thanks for your continued support!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


For the first time, here is the cover to my new novel!

It was bad enough embarrassing himself in front of the entire school,
but it was worse when someone recorded it,
horrible when it was posted online,
...and a disaster when it went viral.
But it’s the comments on the video that just might send Alexander over the edge...

Stop the trolls...

Own the Scrawny!

"Own the Scrawny" is a new adventure featuring Alexander, the central character in my first novel, "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain." It's coming out this fall.

This cover is really a team effort. As with my last cover, Steven Novak of Novak Illustration, created this layout, and made "Scrawny" a great side-by-side partner to the first book. YouTuber DrewDudeTV (check out his channel) portrays Alexander, and his older brother, known on YouTube as Fur (check out his channel, too!) led a fantastic photo session. Thanks to all for a fantastic job.

In the coming days and weeks, expect a series of vlogs, blogs and other content as we move toward the launch of Own the Scrawny.  First up: A vlogging trip to the Santa Monica Pier!

For more info on the "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" series check out your favorite online book retailer, or visit my author site.

If you'd like to keep track of my progress:

Follow me on Twitter: @rickflix
Join the Facebook Page for My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain;
or sign up for the mailing list 

As always, thanks for your continued support!