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World War II Heroes Denied From Their Own Memorial

  I meant to publish this blog at the time of the government shutdown in October 2013 but I was too infuriated and it was too emotional for me to suppress my anger and think clearly.  I thought I would let some time pass before I commented on the role of the Federal government in managing scarce resources during the budget crisis, particularly how they treated memorials to our fallen heroes.


World War II veterans came to Washington D.C. – some on Honor Flights with the help of donations from their neighbors and supporters or through their own personal expense – to see the memorial dedicated in their honor.  For many it was both the first and last trip they would make before they passed on.  They limped, staggered and were rolled up to the gates of the memorial and were faced with an obstacle more insidious than the ones they faced at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima and so many other battles in the War they won.  Not as dangerous to be sure but more gut wrenching and much more intimidating and disappointing that anything they could have faced at the point of a gun.  The National Park Service, under orders from the Administration, closed the World War II Memorial, and others, in response to the government shutdown.


But just like they did at Guadalcanal, Sicily and other contested beaches, they pushed their way through.  Good for them!!  Not so good for the country they saved.


These men are fragile, both physically and emotionally.  This visit was already too emotional for many of them.  To see Americans in uniform blocking them from their own privately funded memorial must have been devastating to each and every one of them.  Who in the White House could be so disgustingly insensitive to try to make political points with these men and women?  Vindictive and petty are the words that come to mind and a total disregard for the negative personal impact on these heroes who once put their lives on the line to win freedom for all of us.  It’s fairly obvious that the passage of time has not eroded my outrage.  Shame!! 


It would be nice to have a President who would have looked for ways to minimize the impact of a government shutdown rather than one who seemed bent on maximizing the pain and inconvenience.  After all, it was his office that decided where to spend the reduced resources of the National Parks Service and other “non-essential” agencies.  And they decided to close the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and the American Cemetery of Colville-sur-Mere overlooking Normandy Beach, among other high profile venues.  


Not to be political about this situation – and the Republican Party needs a great deal of introspection – but the Administration was running the show at the time.  The House was done!  They did their dirty work and refused to accept the Administration’s budget.  And when this situation called for a leader to ease the pain and suffering and minimize the damage, we got a petulant, pseudo-leader who made speeches, looked for ways to hurt the most people the hardest, blamed the other Party and sought political advantage. 


That has to be all too obvious to even his most ardent supporters.  I really have tried hard to avoid placing blame but the President or his minions called the shots on what to shut down and where to authorize critically needed expenditures.  And they chose to authorize National Park Service employees to go to work to close and block certain memorials!!   They certainly could have used those employees to keep the memorials open but choosing to spend the money to shut them down was obviously spiteful and pernicious.


I have never seen a more partisan political Administration in my lifetime and I have witnessed 11 Presidents endeavor to lead America and the free world.  They all had their strong points and weak areas and I didn’t agree with many of them on policy but this President appears willing to let his people suffer to gain what he perceives to be a political advantage.  I don’t think he is a bad guy but he certainly has surrounded himself with ideologues that value their philosophical agenda above all else.  And having no leadership or administrative experience, he is being taken for a ride by his so-called “inner-circle” experts. 


I wonder what it was like when Americans were free to walk through the forests or hike the Grand Canyon?  It must have been truly wonderful to live a life free from and heavy-handed Federal government and their ever-increasing intrusions on the lives and privacy of ordinary Americans.  The government has gotten so big and invasive that we are no longer allowed to do these simple things without their permission.  If this is not a frightening indication of which direction we are headed as a nation, then nothing is.


And I believe with all my heart that our World War II heroes fought and sacrificed to preserve something much nobler.  They earned and deserved better consideration than the government gave them during the shutdown.


Once Upon A Time In New York City – A coming of age “gun rights” story

The year was 1957.  I was not quite 15 years old as I stepped out of the 14th Street National Guard Armory with my book bag in one hand and my rifle in the other.  The streets were crowded with rush hour traffic and pedestrians heading home from work.  I crossed the avenue to wait for the eastbound bus on 9th Avenue.

It never ceased to amaze me that no one particularly noticed me carrying a gun.  Perhaps it was because it was covered in a padded green felt carry case but by shape and size it was obviously a rifle.  I was always self-conscious when I carried it to school and back home.  After all, I was just barely a teenager.

When Brother Augustine came around to each classroom to recruit members for his freshman Rifle Club, I was immediately interested and intrigued by the idea.  There weren’t many sanctioned after-school activities at St. Bernard’s, the Manhattan freshman annex to the Bronx-based Cardinal Hayes Memorial High School.  It would be good to get involved in something.  This could be fun if I could surmount some minor hurdles.  Specifically, I didn’t have a gun and I had no idea how to shoot one.

Most of the twenty students whom the good brother recruited fell into the same category.  However, old Brother Augustine had the answers.  First he made a deal with the local Marlin Firearms Company distributor to provide basic rifles at a deep discount.   Next the National Rifle Association would provide the safety course and certify and sponsor the team as well as provide safety literature, ammo and targets.  Brother Augustine, a lifelong NRA member, would show us how to care for and maintain our rifles and how to shoot them.  This sounded like a pretty good deal.

The Avenue D bus to Alphabet City pulled up and I got on along with a few other people.  It was empty as this was the turnaround stop.  After showing my bus pass I humped my heavy book bag and rifle all the way back to the rear seat.  Still, no one seemed to notice.  Trying to remain inconspicuous, I propped my rifle up by the window and opened a book to start some reading homework.

Joining the Rifle Club meant getting my parents permission as well as footing the bill for the equipment.  We were poor and I knew it would be a strain.  The single shot, bolt-action .22 Marlin could be bought for $15, a month’s tuition at Cardinal Hayes.  Besides, we lived in a tough neighborhood and I figured Dad would turn me down thinking it would make me a target.  After all, a .22 rifle was much more valuable to a gangbanger than a homemade zip gun.  But Dad surprised me.

The bus began to fill up at the next few stops.  A policeman got on at Union Square and began walking the aisle scrutinizing each passenger.  I furtively turned my rifle case around to show the NRA patches.  By that time I had already earned the Safety Course patch and two Marksman patches that Mom had proudly sewn on the flap.  The NRA patches, along with metal badges, were awarded as shooting scores increased and certain proficiency milestones were met.

Brother Augustine turned out to be an excellent teacher and I seemed to have a “shooters eye”.  We shot at a distance of 50 feet at 3-inch targets over open sights from prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions.  I really wanted those Expert and Sharpshooter badges and dedicated myself to becoming better.

The ammo was strictly controlled and range safety rules were scrupulously enforced, initially by the bear-like Irish Christian Brother and eventually by the self-governing actions of the students. He divided us into 4 teams of five each.  We rotated through the weekly routine he posted conspicuously at the range and while one team was shooting, the other teams were performing other tasks.    We knew that any serious transgression or accident would spell the end of the team at best and seriously injure someone at worst.  By then we had all bought into the program and enjoyed it immensely. We were doing something very special; we knew it and we relished it.

The officer shot a glance my way and for a moment I thought he would question or challenge me.  I pretended not to notice and braced for the embarrassing third degree.  I always carried my Hunter Safety Training Program certificate, issued by the State of New York Conservation Department, in my rifle case.  I also carried my membership card for the NRA-sanctioned St. Bernard’s Rangers, the name we chose for our team.  It could have been the patches, the Cardinal Hayes book bag or my tie and sport coat that convinced him there was no problem.  He got off the bus at the next stop.

Mom was probably behind the “great compromise” that bought me the Marlin.  All I needed to do was keep my grades up and get a haircut.  I got the better of the deal.  With a little extra effort, my grades would not be a problem, even for me coming from a public to a parochial school.  Insofar as the haircut, my long hair and DA back would never have passed inspection when I went to the main Bronx building the next year, anyway.  So I got the haircut!  Dad even threw in another $3 for the sling, which was essential for steadying the rifle on the center of the target.  He remarked that the NRA certification is what sold him.  I still think it was the haircut.

When the bus pulled up at 6th Street and Avenue D I got off and crossed the street into the Jacob Riis Housing Project.  We didn’t have a Starbucks back then but the few times I stopped at Rosie’s candy store for a newspaper or an egg cream, I never freaked anyone out.  Rosie never asked me not to come back.  It seemed like people looked more at the person and their demeanor than simply the gun.

My building was alongside Franklin Delano Roosevelt Drive and I walked the one block briskly toward home.  I made this walk every day but it was on Tuesday, while carrying my rifle, I felt most self-conscious.  I sauntered past the 2 Housing Authority policemen who seemed to be in the same spot every day discouraging the after school crowd from playing any kind of ball game.  Invariably, a game would start up as soon as they left but for the moment I had to get by them without incident.  They glanced over and let me pass without intercepting and questioning me.  I nodded to my friends who were gathered on a bench but I would not linger to chat.  We were advised to get home as soon as possible, without loitering, while transporting our rifles.  It made sense to avoid any unnecessary encounter so we followed that admonition, most of the time.  Finally, at home, I placed my rifle under my bed where it would stay until next Tuesday morning.

I really loved being part of the St. Bernard’s Rangers Rifle Club.  We went on to become an extremely competent and disciplined group of shooters.  Almost everyone shot the open-sight Marlin.  Only a few more affluent kids had sophisticated target rifles with covered sights.  One of them was the top shooter on the team.  I was second.  We only had one inter-school meet where our top 5 shooters competed against another high school’s top guns.  We lost but were competitive, disciplined and respectful.  Being held to the high standard of responsibility required to handle firearms built character, even for young teens.  A lot was expected from us.  We learned to handle that responsibility and didn’t disappoint.

The memory of those times and circumstances astounds me to this day so many years later.  I, a young teenager, once traveled on public transportation in New York City, sometimes stopping for a drink and walked through a public housing project with a cased .22 rifle and never had an incident.  Not one, for the entire school year.  Has the world changed so much?

I was saddened when the school year ended.  Tuesday became my special day and I always looked forward to that after school activity.  The group of us learned the essentials about firearms, how to handle them safely, maintain them and enjoy the competition.  It was a new and different set of skills.  We also developed confidence in ourselves and learned to accept the responsibility that others had expected from us and entrusted to us.

The National Rifle Association enabled all of this with their safety training, skills development and support.  There is no telling how many competent and responsible adult firearm enthusiasts exist today because of the help from the NRA.  How many young men and women have thrived, grown and had character building moments because someone taught them and trusted them to handle firearms at a young age?   It’s a sad commentary that New York City has become a hostile and unfriendly “gun free zone” and the NRA has been demonized and excoriated for supporting gun owner Second Amendment rights.

I suppose the world has changed that much.  People now focus on the inanimate object, the gun, and not the person.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem like progress to me.

I eventually earned those Expert and a Sharpshooter badges.  And the level of expertise I achieved served me well years later as a soldier in the U.S. Army.  But that’s another story.

Interview as it appeared in J.E. Barrett’s Author Blog (Author of SPILLED)


Interview with John E. Nevola, author of “The Last Jump: A Novel of World War II”.

Feb 13, 2013

 I recently had the opportunity to sit down and interview author John E. Nevola about his book, “The Last Jump: A Novel of World War II”. The work falls into the category of historical fiction and focuses mainly on Soldiers in the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and their efforts to stay alive throughout the Allies struggle to wrest control of Europe from the Axis powers. The novel does not tell the story solely from the point of view of the Soldiers on the battlefield. It also touches on the lives and loves the Soldiers left behind, as well as the social, political and economic changes our nation went through in order to meet the challenges it faced at the time. I strongly recommend this work for any fan of military history, World War II, the Airborne, or anyone just looking for a good story. Below, you will find a transcript of my interview of Mr. Nevola. I encourage all of you to take the time to preview his free first chapter on
J.E. Barrett:  You addressed many political, social, and economic issues in the book that America and the world were facing during World War II. Was there an overall message that you were trying to convey and how difficult was it for you to address everything you touched on in one novel?
 John E. Nevola: In researching the time period and recalling events in my own young life along with the stories told by my father, uncles and their friends, I was both motivated and inspired to understand their lives and stories in greater detail.  Upon learning more about them, I felt compelled to tell their story, speak for those who no longer had voice and attempt to educate modern America about those genuine heroes who preceded us.
Many felt, and still feel, that this period was a dark cloud over America’s legacy.  They use the examples of segregation and the bias and poor treatment of ethnic minorities, African Americans and women as examples of America’s shortcomings and failures.  I prefer to view that period as a turning point in American history.  The necessities of waging War compelled every American to participate and provided opportunities that may have otherwise not become available for years, if ever.  Those who took advantage of those opportunities to prove their worth changed the world forever and the march to true equality began in earnest during the War.
The overall message is that America’s greatness comes from its people and we are at our best when challenged and struggling to attain certain goals.  We’ve lost some of that spunk and spirit as more people rely less on themselves and more on government.  I simply wanted to point out what great things have been accomplished through determination, courage and the belief in American exceptional-ism.  Americans can overcome any obstacle and we are at our best with our backs against the wall.
J.E. Barrett:  You obviously spent an enormous amount of time and effort on the research alone for this book. What inspired you to begin such a massive undertaking and what kept you going through it all?
John E. Nevola:  I always loved to write and hoped to someday apply myself totally to that aspiration.  Over the years, I had started a number of projects and not completed them. Then I received some advice that changed all that.  I was advised to “write what you love and what you know about”.  I had already been a “student of history” based on my own curiosity and interest and especially the history of World War II.  The saga of the airborne had always captivated me.  Putting them together seemed natural.  Once I got started, the story sustained itself and would not allow me to let this project go uncompleted.   At times, the story wrote itself and at other times I had to push my way through a particularly hard passage or plot twist.  When it became difficult, I allowed myself to be inspired by the sacrifices of the 400,000 who died, 16 million who served and the rest of the 130 million who found a way to contribute.
J.E. Barrett:  How long did it take you to compile all the research material for the book?
John E. Nevola:  I did most of the detailed research as I went along.  I already knew the battles, timeframes and outcomes but in order to write an accurate historical novel, the key historical figures must interact with the fictional characters in the appropriate and accurate time and place.  So each scene had to be researched to assure the units and formations along with the real and fictional characters were where they were supposed to be.  Primarily because of this insistence on complete accuracy, the book took nearly 4 years to write and another year to edit.  I must confess, however, there was only one instance in the book where I took a bit of literary license and had a well-known historical figure interact with the wrong unit in the wrong place.  I’m still waiting for someone to call me out on that (smile).
J.E. Barrett:  Was there anything you learned during the process of writing “The Last Jump” that surprised you?
 John E. Nevola:  I learned a lot and a lot surprised me.  I thought a bigger book was better and was surprised to find that not to be the case.  It certainly is desirable for the likes of Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Stephen Ambrose but new authors should be brief and concise. Much of my editing time was consumed reducing the original manuscript by about 15%.
Insofar as content, I was already reasonably familiar with the campaigns in World War II but found some of the details on the Home front surprising.  The amount of material collected in scrap drives, the number and places of Victory Gardens, the process of rationing and how it was managed were all interesting revelations.  The fact that America had to run 7 separate savings bond drives to pay for the War and was just about broke when it ended was definitely a surprise.  A War-weary America financing the cost of the War (for itself and much of the Allies) through its people’s largess and virtually tapped out makes one wonder what would have happened if the War would have lasted another 6-12 months.
J.E. Barrett: You spend quite  a bit of time in “The Last Jump” capturing the culture of America during World War II, including people’s changing roles and the sense of national unity that made it possible for the country to accomplish the amazing things it did at the time. The people of that generation are often referred to as “The Greatest Generation”. Do you think they are deserving of the title and if so, why?
John E. Nevola: I certainly do.  And I would if their sole accomplishment was simply winning the War.  Remember, the vast majority of American’s wanted no part in another European war.  We were a nation of pacifists and simply wanted to be left alone.  While Germany and Japan armed themselves to the teeth and had tasted blood in combat for years, America eschewed a rapid expansion of its military and tried and hoped to remain at peace.  Having been attacked, the mood quickly changed but it took a Herculean effort to change our industry from peacetime to a war footing.  Catching up to our formidable adversaries and finally surpassing them in production, technology and manpower was truly an amazing feat.
However, to accomplish this off the back of The Great Depression makes the accomplishment all the more unbelievable.  This was the generation who grew up without some of the barest necessities of life.  They were the impoverished remnants of a nation struggling through horrible economic times.  They all had to figure out how to make do or do without.  The children, mostly born in the 20s, made up the bulk of our fighting forces and while every strata of society participated in this War, the sons and daughters of mostly immigrants, having grown up poor and destitute, bore the brunt of the combat assignments and the preponderance of casualties.  And yet despite this enormous handicap which took its toll on people’s education and health, this generation gathered itself and won what many thought was an un-winnable War.  And then they came home, started families, got themselves educated and built a great economic society with soaring character, integrity and morality.
This book has given me the opportunity to meet many of these folks at book signings, speeches, re-enactments and community events.  They are humble but surprisingly forthcoming in the twilight of their lives.  I have made, and already lost, some very good friends I would have not otherwise had the honor of knowing.  They are leaving us at the rate of about 1,500 per day.  There are less than a million left of the 16 million who served.  We all owe them all a great debt and our gratitude for what they accomplished.  It is in their memory that I donate a substantial portion of my royalties to charity to assist the children of the fallen.
I am humbled and gratified by whatever recognition and acknowledgement The Last Jump can bring to this wonderful generation, but I fear it will never be enough.
For those of you interested, here are Mr. Nevola’s websites:
John E. Nevola
Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II
Amazon Top 5 Rated Historical Fiction Book
Stars and Flags Best Historical Fiction Book of 2011
Follow me on Twitter –> @TheLastJump

Kindle Online Lending Library (KOLL) – Use it or Abuse it?

With all the interest in the new Kindle Online Lending Library and the discussions and debates flying around Cyberspace, I thought I’d change-up this BLOG content just this once and share a post about KOLL.  I promise the next entry will get us back to The Greatest Generation  🙂

A debate has been raging in Cyberspace ever since Amazon announced the Kindle Online Lending Library (KOLL).  What’s the issue?  According to some, Amazon is throwing its weight around, trying to crush the competition with this new offering.  If an author allows their e-Book to be “borrowed” by signing up for KOLL (for a minimum 90 day stint), the author must grant Amazon exclusive rights to distribute their e-Book.  In exchange, Amazon will pay the author a certain sum of money for each time someone (Amazon Prime Members only) “borrows” his or her e-Book.  Thus, the name Kindle Online Lending Library.

 Some authors criticize Amazon for using its clout in an apparent attempt to drive out competition.  Barnes & Noble (Nook) and Smashwords promise to be particularly hard hit if Amazon can control the e-Book marketplace.  Some see this eventual domination by one company as bad for all authors.  These authors would eschew this offering from Amazon and try to convince others to do the same.  In some cases, an additional justification to ignore the KOLL is simply a matter of pride, as some authors prefer to see their book available from as many sources as possible.

 On the other hand, getting ones e-Book “borrowed” can only increase exposure and provide the author with another source of revenue not available today.  Proponents would suggest a financial analysis to determine if the additional “borrow” revenue offsets the lost revenue from other sources.  In addition, Amazon will permit a free e-Book giveaway promotion for any 5 days within any 90-day period.  If this doesn’t appeal to you, I get it!  It certainly didn’t appeal to me when I first signed up but hang around to see how that turned out.

 Insofar as the social, moral and philosophical aspects of Amazon’s play in this space, I’ll leave those esoteric arguments and judgment to others.  I couldn’t care less how Amazon is leveraging its size to improve its market share.  I looked at this opportunity solely on the basis of how it affects my book royalties since I donate part of those payments to charity.

 The digital e-Book has created a revolution in our industry and all the old rules no longer apply.  Authors are now much more in control of their own marketing, distribution and sales and are obligated to use this freedom to support their causes and further their aspirations as authors.  So I preferred to analyze the Amazon offering from the viewpoint of a newly published author operating on a shifting landscape in a new and changing publishing world.

 I decided to take the plunge back in December 2011 when Amazon announced KOLL after realizing that my Amazon sales were 10-15 times greater than all my other channels combined.  It was also out of curiosity and I only needed to commit for 90 days.  Why not?

 After committing, Amazon had exclusive rights to sell my e-Book, The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II.  I gave up NO other rights to my work but I had to un-publish my e-Book from all other channels which included Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Google Books and my publisher’s website.  Amazon certainly didn’t take my word for it, as they must have launched a search-bot to verify they were the only seller.  They found something out there, never told me what it was (it could have been my own website) but asked for a pile of additional information from me in a seriously threatening email.  We eventually cleared this up but they certainly need some training on how to deal with customers and business partners.

 Amazon originally announced they had placed $600,000 in an account for the first 90 days of the program.  At the end of the quarter, they split the pot among all books borrowed (to get a rate per book) and paid each author that rate times the number of books borrowed during that 90-day period.  Since then the have placed $500,000 in the pot and because the number of books, borrows and authors per 90 days varies, the rate also varies. 

 Here is how much Amazon has paid per “borrow” since December:


Dec $1.70
Jan 2012 $1.60
Feb $2.01
Mar $2.18
Apr $2.48
May $2.26

 In my case in the first 90 days, the revenue for “borrows” exceeded the royalties paid by all other sources (besides Amazon) combined.  I easily made much more per month lending The Last Jump than I made selling it through the other sales channels. From a math point of view, KOLL made sense for me.  Therefore, after 90 days, I re-upped for another 90-day tour and those results were similarly successful.  I’ve given it a reasonable trial period and I like the results so I’m sticking with it and I will as long as Amazon can keep paying in the $2.00 per borrow range. 

 My biggest concern was having The Last Jump in the KOLL would suppress sales. The interesting part of this analysis was my worst fear was not realized.  I assumed that my sales might diminish by about the same rate as the “borrows” increased.  I was surprised to find this was not the case.  Sales remained constant at about the same level (before KOLL) while at the same time the additional “borrows” actually increased my monthly revenue.

 Another feature of the KOLL is the author is allowed 5 days during each 90-day period in which they can give their e-Book away for free.   Without royalties, of course.  Obviously, at first blush, this didn’t interest me at all.  But after noting that 2 other authors (who I knew) were promoting their own books with a free giveaway promotion, I decided what the hell, let me try it too.  So we teamed up to offer free e-Books in honor of the fallen around Memorial Day.  One of the authors built an  “e-poster” with all 3 books featured and we collaborated to distribute emails and posts to our respective friends/families and social media sites. Again, I was concerned that this giveaway would impact sales but was willing to try the experiment and observe the results. I was astounded by what happened!

 First off, The Last Jump received over 21,100 free downloads.  Unbelievable! The other authors were in the same ballpark.  At first I figured there goes 21,000 e-Book sales.  But a strange thing happened.  I sold as many books in the 3 days after Memorial Day as was sold in the entire month of May prior to Memorial Day.   So far in June my sales are running about 8-9 times normal and my  “borrows” are at roughly the same multiplier.  I haven’t seen the same acceleration of hard book sales at this time but June results are still preliminary.  Besides, I’m not expecting any shift in hard book sales since I consider this unique to the e-Book world.

 In June my sales ranking on Amazon has gone through the roof.  I don’t know how much longer this phenomenon will last and I can’t explain how or why this occurred but the cause and effect are clear.  Getting so much exposure for The Last Jump based on the free e-Book promotion somehow stimulated further interest and increased sales and borrows dramatically. So, beside the financial benefit of earning money for each borrow, the opportunity to provide a “giveaway” turned out to be the bigger benefit ofthe Kindle Online Lending Library.  It propelled sales immediately and pushed my ranking and daily sales numbers to a new level. Needless to say, I will be doing this free promotion again on Veteran’s Day.

 I’m sure personal experiences will vary according to the many factors that are different for each e-Book.  Style, genre, quality, size and subject vary all over the place and will influence results from joining the KOLL.  And there are those who will refuse to consider utilizing the KOLL for reasons of principle.  However, I thought I ‘d share my experience, as one story among many that will play out during this remarkable digital revolution.  Perhaps it will help someone else out there.

 Good luck to all of you on your journey.

 John E. Nevola – Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II

A Roadmap For Self-Publishing

A Roadmap For Self-Publishing

by John E. Nevola

Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II


So you’re done with your manuscript and perhaps even tried to get an agent or publisher to read your work to no avail.  And now you’ve decided to self-publish and are wondering what pitfalls await you and perhaps how you might do this without having to pawn your engagement ring or your Mickey Mantle rookie card.

This roadmap will help guide you through the minefield based on my hard-learned lessons in self-publishing The Last Jump.  It is by no means a comprehensive “cook book” for self-publishing and it’s certainly not a “Self-Publishing for Dummies” style article.  It simply points out where I stepped on a land mine and what I will or will not be doing the second time around.  I’ll provide some references at the end of the article should you choose to delve into the life of an indie author and the art of self-publishing more deeply.

Let’s get started.


Mistake number one for me was assuming a bigger book would provide a greater value for my readers.  The fact that it would be more expensive to produce (and thus carry a more expensive cover price) eluded me.  I was compelled to reduce my manuscript by 20% to get the book into a reasonable price range.  As you know (or will find out), taking words OUT of your manuscript is the hardest thing you will ever have to do as an author.  In my case, it was a blessing in disguise as the reduction revisions tightened up the plot and improved the flow of the story.   But it took forever.  So try to keep it tight and do it right the first time.


If all you ever wanted out of life was to see your name on the cover of a book, then you can let Aunt Bertha edit your masterpiece.  But if you have any expectations of getting good reviews or perhaps getting mentioned in a book contest, you had better take the editing task more seriously.   This problem is unique to self-published authors as traditional publishing houses provide editing services for their writers.  So the final quality of your book is squarely on you.

Your worst enemy in this effort will be yourself as you become impatient to see your book published and tend to rush through this final but critical stage on getting your book out there.  Professional editing can be expensive but the final product will indeed make you proud.  And if you look hard enough, you may find people who discount their prices for any number of reasons (to get started in the business, a college student, a fellow member of the Military Writer’s Society of America, etc.), which can save you some money when compared to “professional” book editors.  And since few or none guarantee their work, it may be worth a shot to take a chance on a hungry unknown.

What did I do, you ask?  I had six close relatives read and edit my book.  They found hundreds of errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling (spell check does not flag the correct spelling of a wrong word).  Then we published.  Some friends who read the book flagged another seventy errors.  The publisher required a hefty “reblocking” fee to make corrections after publishing.  We paid that fee and republished.  Then some other “friends” found another forty errors and we paid the fee once again.  I think we finally have a credible book on the market although my relatives are no longer considered “editors” nor are they even close anymore.



To avoid confusion, let’s define how the term publisher is used in this article.

The traditional publisher dominated the field until just a few years ago.  They are extremely business oriented and therefore very selective in the manuscripts they choose.  They tend to favor established authors.  This is because they take all the risk as well as the lion’s share of the profits.  Only they could afford to print ten thousand copies of a book at the same time to enjoy the economy of scale.  However, Print On Demand (POD) technology has altered the landscape.  An average size book can now be printed and bound along with its cover in about a minute.  Large print runs are no longer necessary to produce a cost-effective book.  If you’re a client of one of these traditional publishing companies, you’re in the wrong article.

Pure self-publishers do everything themselves including editing, formatting the book, cover design, printing, distribution, marketing and retail sales.  This requires great skill and an “insider’s knowledge” of the industry.  This article is also not for you.

The third choice is the subsidy publisher, also known at one time as the vanity publisher.  These companies provide all the services of a traditional publisher for a fee.  They are capable of doing all of the specialized tasks required to build, print and distribute a book.  There are literally dozens of these companies and they all have different business models which translate into different pros and cons for the author.  The use of the term publisher in this article refers to the subsidy publisher.  So which one should you choose?


Books have been written on this topic and I will offer references at the end of this article for the ones I felt most helpful to me.  For now, I’ll just point out the most important points to consider.

  • You want to retain all the worldwide rights to your work
  • The publisher should allow you reasonable options to price your own book
  • Cover art for the book cover should be included
  • They should be able to provide an eBook version in multiple formats

We’ll talk a bit more about marketing later on but you should know your two biggest expenses will be your up-front publishing package fee and your editing services.  They all also try to hose you for as much “revenue” for marketing add-ons as they can squeeze out of you.


If you are solely publishing an e-Book, skip this section.  You already have total control over every element of your book from cover to format to pricing.  However, if you are also publishing a traditional book, hang in here.

Before your price is printed on the book cover, some publishers will offer a choice of what’s called the retail discount.   Typically, they will let you choose some percentage between 20% and 40%.  This represents the percentage the bookstore can discount the book and still make a profit.  Therefore, the higher the discount, the higher the book must be priced.  And you will be told bookstores will not handle any book with a retail discount of less than 40%.  You will also be told you need to purchase a returns guarantee to cover the cost of unsold books.

Don’t do it!

First of all, the publishing world is undergoing a huge metamorphosis driven by POD technology and the emergence of online eBooks.   Large publishing houses are losing their clout and bookstores are going out of business left and right.  What you need to do is take the lowest retail discount allowed to keep the price of your book as low as possible.  You’re competing with other books and you want as much price advantage as you can get.  Don’t be bullied into the larger retail discount just to be in bookstores.   Not being in traditional bookstores won’t matter.  My book, The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II, is available online in hard and softcover versions as well as an e-Book.  Seventy-five percent of my sales are for the Amazon Kindle.  So, focus on getting (a) the lowest price and on (b) the online buyer.  You won’t be sorry.

One final thought.  You can still get your book in local bookstores with a 20% retail discount.  Local bookstores may be interested in stocking your book, having book signings and capitalizing on the notoriety of a local author.  You just need to send out email queries and/or make some personal visits or phone calls to aggressively pursue this opportunity on a one-on-one basis.  Doing this I was able to place my book in the Army Heritage and Education Center bookstore in Carlisle, PA and the Toccoa Military Museum in Toccoa, GA.  Exactly the kind of bookstores I want to be in.


Finally!  Your book is published and available on and  Some of you may even have it available on  If you don’t, you should.  Smashwords makes your eBook available in multiple formats compatible with Sony iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Palm and other e-readers.  The formatting requirements are stringent but the service is FREE!

But I digress.

When you are done making your title available, it’s time to market your book.  There is “old” marketing (magazine ads, radio ads, personal appearances, etc.) and “new” marketing (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).   Some marketing approaches are expensive and some are free or cheap and the benefits do not always accrue to the more expensive (the saying “you get what you pay for” does not apply to marketing a book).

Here are some of my expenditures that yielded little return along with others that I rejected out of hand.

  • Banner Ads – in America in World War II magazine and in As A Mom’s monthly eZine – MinuteMom. 
  • Web ads – in It is very difficult to gauge the effectiveness of magazine and web ads but I never saw that spike in sales that would justify the expense.  So, never again for me unless I get a great promo deal.
  • Paid for book reviews – Book reviews are important and you should get as many as you can but avoid wasteful ways of accomplishing this.  For example, don’t mail books until you get an agreement from the other party they will do a review.  Send email queries instead until you get a response committing to a review.  Even then, you won’t get them all back.  I also paid a small fee for a book review “service” who was supposed to hook me up with lots of reviewers.  I’m still waiting.
  • Book Contests – If you choose to enter any, contact the contest owner directly and do the work required to submit your entry.  Some publishers sell this as a “package” but it is nothing more than a rip-off.  They charge exorbitant prices to do the administrative work that you could easily do yourself. 
  • Press Releases – Some publishers try to sell a service that would send/fax the press release of your book to a million contacts.  (Well, maybe not a million but they exaggerate the number too).  Don’t bother.  It’s a waste of money.
  • Publicist – Some publishers try to sell a publicist services but their staff is typically not full-time publicists.  This is one mistake I didn’t make and I hope you don’t either.
  • Promotional Materials – Some publishers try to sell a package of business cards, posters, magnets, bookmarks, T-shirts and all sorts of unnecessary junk.  The business cards are the only item that makes sense and could be acquired much more inexpensively via online vendors like Vistaprint.
  • eBook Formats – My publisher sells multiple packages designed to provide various e-Book formats for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android etc.  Smashwords provides this service for free.  My publisher charges to provide a Nook book.  Barnes and Nobles provides this for free through their Pubit service.  My point is, do not bite on these packages from subsidy publishers until you adequately explore alternatives.  You will almost always find a less expensive option.





FREE MARKETING (Or at least cheap)


  • Website – This is a must.  It’s home base.  It’s where you send everyone who shows the slightest interest in your book to get more information.  It’s where outsiders can contact you for comments or get information.  You can link to your book’s online product page directly from your site.  You can get a website for free from (some upgrades may cost a little money but the basic setup is free)
  • Facebook Page – This is also a must.  A Fan Page for your book to go along with your personal page will keep your book in the public eye.  Post frequent updates and expand your friend base in order to get your message “out there”.  Sign up to join “groups” that share your passion for your book subject (whether it be romance, mystery, history, etc. there are likely to be more than a few groups who share your interest).  Post whatever updates you can to all of these group pages and your fan page as events transpire and things occur.  It’s free.
  • Twitter/LinkedIn – Social networking is just beginning to shape the world of communication and marketing.  Getting in on Facebook and Twitter as well as LinkedIn is essential for the new author.  Joining them is free but learning how to use them efficiently will take some time.  But the effort will result in more free exposure than you could have ever hoped for.
  • Email Signature Line – Populate your email signature line with your book(s) names, awards, website, Facebook and Twitter addresses.  Every time you send or respond to an email, you will be promoting your book.  As you develop your persona as an author, along with your book title, your every-day interactions on the Internet will become a promotional vehicle for you and your book.
  • Media Coverage – Local radio stations and local newspapers often look for local content.  I was able to successfully obtain 3 radio interviews on a local radio station just by calling the station manager.  In addition, I had 4 articles in local newspapers published shortly after my book was published.  All I had to do to get these “Local Author Makes Good” pieces published was to email the newspaper editor.  However, even though I got these goodies for free, I’m still not at all sure how much of a positive impact they had on book sales.



  • Facebook Ads – I have had some great sales months in the last year and for the most part sales have grown quarter to quarter.  Since I’ve tried so many different things, it’s impossible to determine precisely which efforts fueled my sales growth.  But one thing has remained constant throughout and that is my paid Facebook Ads.  So I’m staying with them.  If you decide to go with this I recommend you study the guide on Facebook.  Set your demographic and interest profile to reach at least 7 million people (more if possible).  Also, use the daily expense cap to limit your expenses.  Finally, I found paying for a thousand images more effective than paying for each click-through (to my website).  And I bid well below the Facebook recommended range.  (Facebook recommends I bid in the range of .42-.62 per thousand images but I bid .10 -.15 and usually hit my $2.00 daily cap every day).  I also suggest you keep track of your impression count, and expenses alongside your sales on a spreadsheet.  Change your ad content regularly and analyze sales within the same expense periods.  This should help determine which ads work better than others.
  • Business Cards – I found this to be a worthwhile investment.  When you meet new people or discuss your book with old friends, it’s always helpful to leave them a card.  Make sure your website address is on the card.  I always carry a few cards in my wallet. When I go to well-traveled public places (doctor’s office, automotive service, restaurants, etc) I always leave a small stack of cards.
  • Appearances – Most of my appearances are at military-friendly functions.  I attend as many re-reenactment events, reunions, air shows, recognition functions, etc. as I can schedule and drive to.  There you can meet people who share your interests, take pictures for your social media sites, pass out business cards and develop relationships.  The cost is in the travel expense including an occasional layover at a Motel 6.
  • Organizations – In order to stay in touch with like-minded people, you should bite the bullet and pay the dues to join organizations with people with similar interests, challenges and perhaps solutions.  Being continually “wired-in” keeps you engaged and in touch with the rapidly changing trends and technologies of  interest to the author.  The ones I recommend are the Independent Author Network, Goodreads and, of course, The Military Writers Society of America.





If you were able to secure a traditional publisher, all of these worries would be on someone else’s desk.  But you decided to self-publish.  The upside is you have much more control over your writing adventure.  No one is telling you what to do, arranging your appearance and book-signing schedules or making decisions you might not agree with.  And you got your lifelong “dream book” on the market while you were still young enough to read it.

The downside is you’ll be hard pressed to make great progress on that second book while you’re functioning as the Marketing Executive of your own first book.  It is a demanding job with many false starts, dead-ends and dumb mistakes.  Hopefully this piece will help you prevent some of them and chart a course fraught with less danger.  Now you need to delve into the particulars and do the research necessary to utilize the tools available to you.


If you have anything you would like to add or discuss, just contact me on

All my best and good luck!

John E. Nevola – Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II

Twitter: or @TheLastJump

Facebook Home Page: – !/

Independent Authors Network:


See what I mean?



The Independent Authors Network



The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Fourth Edition – Everything You Need to Know About the Costs, Contracts, and Process of Self-Publishing – Mark Levine

This book will help you select a reputable publisher for your self-published book.  Available in paperback and Kindle


The First Ten Steps: Ten proven steps to build a solid foundation for your e-Book using free social networking – M.R Mathias

There are some interesting tidbits of information about social networking in this book.  Even if your book is available in hard or soft cover, these tips apply.  Besides, it will like be available in eBook form some day.

How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months  – John Locke

This very popular book (see 225 reviews) provides much useful information for the indie author.  John Locke has good Internet karma.  We exchanged emails on a number of occasions as I asked him for clarification of some of his points.  This book is like panning for gold but the few nuggets in there are worth the effort.

Is Hollywood On Our Side?

One of the characters in The Last Jump, Major Frank West, is having lunch with J.P. Kilroy in Washington, D.C. in 1997.  Frank was a World War II paratrooper veteran who had just visited the Wall and was complaining about the lack of patriotism in the country while explaining why America was more united during World War II.  He ended his rant on page 229 by saying, “It wasn’t always all perfect but we didn’t have any ‘Hanoi Jane’. Hell, even Hollywood was on our side back then.”

The sentiment was clear and many contemporary Americans share it.  Scores of actors enlisted and dozens saw combat while many actresses entertained troops and boosted morale.  Why are today’s Hollywood stars not as patriotic as they were during World War II? 

Fast forward to The Union League in Philadelphia on November 29, 2011.  The World War II Foundation sponsored a reception and panel discussion to honor two legendary World War II airborne veterans; Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron.  They were made famous by the television series Band of Brothers and have become admired folk heroes in their own right.  The purpose of the event was to raise money for the Richard D. Winters Leadership Project with the intent of erecting a statue in Ste. Marie du Mont on June 6, 2012.  The statue will be in the likeness of Major Winters and has the approval of his family.  Before Winters passed away this past January, he approved the project with the stipulation that the statue be dedicated to all the combat leaders who served in Normandy.  Such is the trait of selflessness shared by most, if not all, of the Band of Brothers and many other veterans.


To round out the Evening With Bill and Babe, former Governor of Pennsylvania and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge served as co-host.  The other co-host was Curt Schilling, all-star pitcher and 3-time World Series winner.

The chairman of The World War II Foundation, Tim Gray, served as organizer and moderator for the panel discussion.

The room was comfortably large and there was ample room for the hundreds who showed up.  Some were lined up at the bar while others were filling small plates with hors d’oeuvres but most were gathered in small clusters around the room.  Each group engaged in conversation with the “celebrity” they surrounded.  The affection in the room and the fondness showered over Bill and Babe were palpable.  For their part they patiently signed every object thrust before them with a nod and a smile.


Bill Guarnere is a sweet and gentle man.  One can only wonder how he got the nickname “Wild Bill” after meeting him and exchanging a few words.  We have a common friend, “Red” Falvey of the 506th PIR and I passed along Red’s greetings and well wishes.    Bill patiently  sat in his wheelchair,  posed for endless pictures and engaged in chitchat until it was time for him to sit on the panel.  He is a true hero although he never would admit to that.


Babe Heffron is a gregarious and wisecracking machine.  He would have a joke for almost anything anyone said as he posed and signed the night away.  Babe would crack the room up when he spoke on the panel.  He told a story of being flown into a combat zone on a tour in Iraq when they were told to put on flak jackets.  “Why?” asked Bill.  “Because we’re going into a combat zone,” answered Babe.  Bill answered, “The hell with the jacket, give me a  g__ d___  gun!”   Babe also brought the audience to near tears as he described how he “spoke” to fallen brothers-in-arms  in Mass every Sunday.

Curt Schilling and Governor Tom Ridge attracted a fair share of attendees after people finished with Bill and Babe.  Both were extremely affable, approachable and warmly engaged their fans and admirers.  Schilling weathered the Yankee comments in good humor and Ridge entertained the groups with accounts of his two very meaningful public service jobs.

And then there were the three actors.  They were absolutely fantastic.  They took photos, signed autographs, and engaged in conversations with enthusiasm and obvious delight.  On any other evening, that would have been sufficient but these three surprised me with what would come later.


Ross McCall played Private Joe Liebgott in the series.  Born in Scotland, with a touch of an accent, he played a Jewish soldier who also spoke German.  His scenes involving the liberation of the concentration camp were among the most compelling in the series.  His “veteran” (the actors would refer to the person whose life they played as “their veteran”) had passed away so he had to resort to interviewing other veterans to construct a framework for his role.  He worked very hard at it because he felt an “obligation” to get the role perfectly right.  It was obvious that every one of the actors in the series took the honor and responsibility seriously, so much so that they only called or referred to each other by their “role” names for months!  And Ross was obviously very proud of his work in the series.  In addition, Ross serves on the Board of The World War II Foundation.


James Madio played the role of Frank Perconte.  Jim was all over the reception area tending to the needs of the veterans as well as engaging with the people in the room.  He is a native of the Bronx, a regular guy who smiles easily and obviously enjoys the company of others. His veteran is still alive.  Frank Perconte lives in Chicago where the three actors had a layover on their trip east.   Jim arranged to get Frank to the airport so they could spend the two-hour layover having lunch.  Those actors who were fortunate enough to play veterans who were still alive (and Jim attests to the great advantage they had) obviously met or spoke with those veterans frequently in preparation for the filming.  But that was over 10 years ago.  And Jim confided that he had not seen Frank in 2 years and missed him.  Obviously Madio has kept in touch with his veteran over the years and has developed a great affection for him.  And was happy to report Frank was still spry and chipper at 94.  James also serves on the Board of The World War II Foundation.


Sitting next to Bill Guarnere was a young man whom I initially thought was a member  of the family.  He would take and hold the small gifts some people had given Bill, fetched him a glass of water and would occasionally lean over to whisper or listen to something private just between them.  He doted over the old soldier to the point where I was sure he was a grandson.  It turned out he was Frank John Hughes who played Guarnere in the series.  His hair was longer and he sported some scruffy facial hair so he was not easily recognizable as the rugged GI he portrayed.

Frank and I developed a bit of a bond in the short time we spoke.  He is also a Bronx native and it turns out his father went to the same high school as I did.  Frank confessed that he loves and admires Bill Guarnere and Frank’s son knows Bill very well.  The Hughes family has obviously spent a lot of time with Bill.  All of Bill’s relatives at the reception knew Frank well and treated him as another familiar family member.  The affection between the older and younger “Guarnere” was evident.  I’m told that those kinds of secondary relationships are not that uncommon among the cast of Bands of Brothers but it was special between Frank and Bill.

Once on the panel all of the actors reinforced my observations.  They expressed deep love for all the men who served but especially those they met.  They traveled the world with many of the veterans on premiers and anniversary celebrations and have seen many of them pass on.  I asked them all if the role in Band of Brothers had changed their lives and they agreed to a man that it did.  But not so much in a career way as much as they became more appreciative of their country and the men who made the sacrifices that allow us to remain free and enjoy or way of life.  Because of that they stay in constant touch with the veterans as well as with the other cast members and have formed a unique bond among themselves.  These very special relationships are testimony to the impact the older paratrooper veterans have had on each of their lives.

At the end of the night I had to conclude that each of these guys “get it”.  No matter how good these actors are, they could never have faked the great respect and reverence they showed to Bill and Babe and their brothers, living and fallen.   I knew I would be in awe of the veterans before I arrived but as the night ended I found myself very approving and thoroughly impressed by these three remarkable young men.  It was a pleasant surprise.

So yes, Hollywood, at least the small slice I saw that night, is very much on our side!

Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Hollywood?

 In 2008 candidate Barack Obama stood before eighty-five thousand people in Invesco Field at Mile High and talked out fairness.  In his nomination acceptance speech he complained about CEO pay…a little throw away line that outrageous CEO compensation is “not fair” and needs to be changed.  What did he intend to do, put a cap on CEO compensation or, to be fair, on all high-salaried people?  

 Add to that the quote “at some point people make enough money” and you have captured the inner essence of wealth distribution. 

 Recently, the Occupy Wall Street crowd has taken up that battle cry and the President has given them a wink and a nod of approval. 

 So do they really want Federal Government to regulate compensation; to decide who should earn what?  Is it no longer good enough to let the free market decide the worth of a person’s skill or talent?  Will the Federal Government now decide when enough compensation is too much?  Will they dictate how much a Captain of Industry, a creator of goods and services and jobs, is really worth?

 The Liberal/Progressive movement would froth at the mouth at that possibility.  The “class-warfare” crowd goes wild at the prospect of dictating “social justice” and “equal outcomes”.    

 However, someone ought to remind them that there are many other jobs and professions besides CEOs with outrageous salaries that should also be capped, to be FAIR.  If we really want to go there with this outrageous idea, then more salaries besides the CEO that should be regulated.  Someone needs to tell Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters that, they make too much money!  Sports are not that important.  Are they included in the protests and criticism of people making too much money?  Occupy Yankee Stadium?

 And what about Hollywood?  They pay directors and stars outrageous sums of money to “play make believe”.  Sorry, but you’ve reached that point where you’ve already made enough money.  You see, we have a ceiling, not glass either, on how much a person can make in America.  Remember, we promised you CHANGE.  Here it is! 

 At the risk of letting facts get in the way, the top 10 celebrities in the United States (who contribute virtually nothing productive to our society) make more on average than the top 10 CEOs (who manage jobs and the production of goods and services used by all Americans).  It’s a fact.  Google it! 

 Danielle Steele and J.K. Rowling would be fat juicy targets along with Martha Stewart and Oprah because they make mega-bucks.  Should the Federal government strike a blow against women and cap their earnings?  

 And last but not least by a long shot are the news anchor-people. 

 Someone needs to tell the talking heads, if they can shut up long enough to listen, that the mega-contracts they have become accustomed to are no longer allowed under the new People’s Republic of America.  After all, Diane and Brian, you really are overpaid for what you do.  Just because you look good on TV and can read a teleprompter does not make you worth millions.  Sorry.  We spanked the CEOs, sports stars, celebrities, authors and others that make too much money.  We can’t give you a pass on this just because you slant your news to be “government friendly”.  We’re going to cap your compensation just like all the rest.  Not to worry.  It’s going for a good cause.  We found a new species of Water-Lilly that needs saving and we have to fund the Corporation For Public Broadcasting so they can continue to carry the water for their favorite politicians.

 So, would we expect to shortly see an Occupy Hollywood or Occupy The Media movement sometime on the horizon? 

 Don’t bet on it!

 What does this have to do with The Last Jump?


 The people of the Greatest Generation would never seriously entertain any notion that the Federal government should intervene and interfere with personal liberties to the extent of limiting wages and demonizing the most successful members of our society.  In a free country, every individual deserves to earn what a free market determines they are worth.  Everyone!

 They would not stand for the idiocy and lawlessness of the crowds greedily demanding they be given the fruits and benefits of the labors of others.

 They would scratch their heads, grit their teeth, become silently angered at this outrageous behavior and then mourn for the future of the country they saved.

 Why?  Because they willingly gave more to America than they ever asked from it.

 By John E Nevola

Author of The Last Jump – A Novel of World War II

October 20, 2011

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