Robert’s Roundup #40 (May 2023)

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MAILING LIST: I just started a mailing list for my publishing company. Will mail out every 2 months and will include excerpts from my Robert’s Roundup columns and other random stuff. MASTADON:

Abbreviations: KU means Kindle Unlimited,  and APUB means it was published under an Amazon imprint.NYP means “Name Your Price” (that’s an option on Smashwords and other booksellers). If you’d like to submit an ebook to me for review or mention in this column, see my instructions here.


Last month on a whim I changed my WordPress template. It still looks kind of crappy, but I’ll be gradually adding changes. That has led to a total rethink of this blog which I’ll be implementing over the next month or so. (Follow my progress here).

I wrote a really wonderful essay about fave childhood reads. Lots of book titles, nostalgia basking and ruminations about a writer’s development. A week ago I had the idea of encouraging other writers to add their own fave childhood reads, and so far, 4 have contributed. The ironic thing about this question is that it was the last question I asked Clay Reynolds before he died. Reynolds had already given voluminous answers to all my questions — and the interview was essentially finished. Then he shared his scary news about his pancreatic cancer– and at that point I realized that his days were numbered. I sent him this question anyway. He managed to write back a very short note where he agreed the question was great but he simply could not answer it in his current state. As disappointed as I was, I really appreciate his effort in letting me know this.

I recently contacted another distinguished writer about doing an interview, and sent him that question as an example of an interview question. A week later he wrote back saying he didn’t feel comfortable answering that question; he didn’t like to talk about his internal processes of writing and reading. Okay, that’s strange, but everyone is different. After that rejection, I started to write this essay — and it turned out to be a lot longer (and more interesting) than I ever could have imagined. Perhaps that unnamed writer was right; it is a fiendishly complicated question!

Finally, ever since I listed my blog on Booksirens, I’ve been contacted by authors seeking reviews. I almost never have time to read books or write reviews these days, but I really really really love doing so. If anything, I feel an obligation to explore titles from the indie world because I am really open to new kinds of stories. The problem with services like Booksirens is that they nag reviewers too much; you have 3 weeks (or 1 month or 2 months) to read and review something. I’m sorry. I do this whenever I have time for it, not when some website insists on it.

Kobo Deals and VIP

Kobo 90% off deal. I have started to buy things from Kobo instead of Amazon — more for consumer reasons than anything else (Kindle app is still better). What book did I pick for my 90% off coupon? I settled upon Garner’s Modern English Usage. ($20) Someone pointed out — and I agree — that even though I have the ebook, it might still be worth it to have the printed edition. The ebook is somewhat cumbersome to go through — though to its credit, the book has amazing indices and navigation aids.

I’ve been looking into the Kobo VIP membership for $10. That’s for one year membership only. I decided not to get it this time, but I probably will for my next purchase. $10 gives you 10% of your ebooks + points which you can redeem for more ebook purchases. Also, you get bonus points which you can redeem. Here’s what I calculated: To purchase $1 of store credit, you need to have 900 points. Spending $45 earns you an additional $1

Indie Author Spotlight


Under the Radar


Library Purchases/Printed books


Creative Commons/Freebies


Literary Articles and Essays

Dalkey Archives publish a FREE book preview newsletter which consists of generous excerpts from current DA titles. Each issue is 25 pages or so and can be downloaded in PDF form (note: it requires registration). I love DA press, but its titles are too expensive and seem geared only to institutions.

Happy to discover that Pulitzer is hosting lots of previously paywalled articles which won people their prizes. To start, here’s some dazzling litcrit by Andrea Long Chu. (Hanya Yanagihara, Moshfegh, Octavia Butler, Asian fic, etc. )



Capsule Book Reviews


Multimedia/Podcasts, Etc

Personville Press Deals

I run Personville Press, a small literary book press where all the ebooks cost less than $4. Prices normally appear highest on Amazon, Apple, Kobo and BN, somewhat lower on Google Play Books and lower on the two DRM-free stores which are Smashwords and Payhip. Personville Press is committed to selling DRM-free ebooks and audio files directly from the Personville Press payhip store or from SmashwordsThe prices listed here are the non-discounted price on Amazon. Check the links to see if they are discounted at the moment (it happens often).






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