Category Archives: Dayna Says

Congratulations! You’ve written a book… now what?

Wow, you’ve written a book! That is really amazing since so few people have the persistence to sit down and write their stories out. Even fewer take the time to craft their stories into books. Congratulations.

So now what do you do? Right?

I’m not going to lay out the process for finding an agent or publisher, since that is explained in detail by many people. Writer’s Digest has been around for longer than I have been writing and they have lots of advice.

Publishing business models have really changed over the last decade. The e-Books and self-published books market is going up dramatically. Authors (and readers) no longer need publishers to get access to each other. There are some pros and cons about your choices moving forward because there are more publishing options.  Authors need to make more informed choices based on individual goals.

There are many publishing choices:

  • Traditional: using an agent, get into a big press
  • Submitting to small and university presses
  • Hybrid presses (They do what they are good at and you pitch in and do what you are good at – it’s a collaboration)
  • Fully self-published (both print books  and/or only eBook, blogs, articles, etc.)

Pros for the Traditional Model

  • Professionals create your cover, format your book, edit it
  • Professionals market it (they have established relationships and a strong reader base)
  • There is status when you are published by a major press

We all know the negatives, so no need to go into them here. However, it is important to note that you will still need to do much of the marketing yourself, will likely have to sign over rights, and won’t make any money on your first book until your second book is about to go to press.

Pros for the SMALL PRESS Model

  • You may get a small advance
  • You usually get some input in book cover design
  • They have people to help with marketing – but you will be expected to do the bulk of it
  • There is status when you are published by an established press


  • Do lots of research before choosing so you find a good fit
    • There are lots of organizations out there happy to put their hand in your pocket to pull out money for very little value. Be careful.
  • It takes a long time to hear back from them and they seldom give advances
  • You probably won’t make a profit
  • You need to be very careful of the contract points

Pros for Self-Publishing

  • You’re in control
  • You retain all your rights, which is very important, especially if you want to produce derivative works
    • You can do multiple versions of the same book for different markets
    • You are unlikely to be put in a box (once successful, only write that kind of book; but will still feel the pressures from you readers)
  • You get all of the money (minus costs and/or discounts)
  • You have total control over formatting and book cover
    • It is relatively easy and inexpensive if you have the skill sets
    • Or you can develop relationships and barter skills with other artists (e.g., you write marketing copy for their websites and blurbs and PR and they design your book cover…)
  • Their is a whole wonderful world of possibility for cost effective marketing on the web
  • If your book does well, it may be picked up by a big publishing house (once the risk is gone)
  • There is real satisfaction at every successful step of the “product” rollout

Negatives for Self-Publishing

  • They really center around 2 things: time and quality
  • You are 100% totally responsible for how the book turns out and all of the marketing, which really cuts into writing time and involves many different skill sets.
  • It’s difficult to edit your own work and expensive to pay for a great editor who gets your vision
  • Which is the very reason there is a stigma to self-publishing – too many of these books are poorly edited, badly formatted, and have deplorable covers
  • Marketing and promotion of your book is entirely up to you. This is a different skill set and can really bite into writing time

Reaching out towards a whole new world

Going to the bookshelf in a store or a library, I reach out with a tentative hand – towards a world – a whole new world. The books are waiting just beyond reach, ready to pull me into their orbit. My hand hovers, not quite touching any of them. I’m looking, wafting, not quite ready to commit yet. In that delicious anticipation I linger until a color or word catches my eye and my hand closes around the spine of my choice. I flip to the description and my journey begins.

Words matter; we surely must know that by now. They inspire us, ignite us, open our hearts, and make us laugh ’til tears stream down our cheeks. We are connected by them, mind to mind, heart to heart. In the end, what we know is that words tell our stories, lighting our way on this bumpy, human path, reminding us, as our shoulders brush against each other’s in the darkness, that we are all in this together, making our way home. – Jody Seay

It is rewarding to write something that resonates in another person and connects heart-to-heart. I love hearing stories and I also love the feel of books, the smell of books, the weight of a book in my hand. I love to read. So it is my honor, to present to you, our new book

… about a scared young mother and wife, who was lost in a new world, who did not have the support and protection from those that promised it. And what she did, which was terrible. And it is about one man who was not prepared to take on her terrible burden – but he did. And it is about his family who suffered because of his compassion and bulldogged refusal to let bullies win. His clan suffered, but they fought too, to keep the family intact and that is a terribly beautiful part of this story. And, finally, this book looks at our American justice system…

… and at the end of it, I am more proud to live in this country than I ever have been. And that is because of this book.

So, we share our new book, ALMOST A MURDER, with you. We hope you enjoy it. We’re confident you will.

Please let us know you enjoyed this “new world” we offer – tell us. And spread the word, too! The book is out. It’s spinning in the universe and creating it’s own gravitational pull. Choose it. Hold it. Sniff it. Enter it. Love it! And tell others about it. Happy explorations…

  • The Publisher, 2018

Cudos for Guido Henkel

You may not know about an eBook formatting genius named Guido Henkel. He has always been very generous about his knowledge and we here at Koho Pono have benefited from it. He is still formatting eBooks and as his experience in the field has grown, he has decided it was time to once again share his knowledge with the world. Therefore, he has just published “Zen of Ebook Formatting,” a book that takes readers deep into the mysteries of professional grade eBook formatting.

Guido’s book is currently available on Amazon and will shortly appear also on all other major eBook stores. For more information, including a look at the Table of Contents, you can also stop by his blog.  We recommend you do that anyway as it is loaded with information.

If you are a DIY (do it yourself) author and want to get your eBook out into the world, this man knows his stuff.  We recommend his book. We also recommend his services if you want someone do format your book for you. His prices are reasonable. He is quick and does a good job. We’ve used his services and were pleased.


Jody’s Book is Launched

As a fairly new publishing company… well, we just had our first ever book launch at Broadway Books here in Portland, Oregon. OMGosh! We had a blast.

First of all, one of the bookstore owners, Roberta, gave a stellar introduction. She had us laughing before Jody ever got up there. It’s amazing what a good introduction will do to set the tone of an event. Roberta also set up the displays and they looked very nice. We all felt honored by her care and professionalism. This is the glory of independent bookstores – homey, individual attention, great and easy to browse selections, and feeling important throughout the book browsing/buying experience. This is what independent bookstores excel at.

Anyway, author-Jody took the stage and then the whole audience went on a glorious ride. Whew, I have been bucked off a horse before, but I wasn’t prepared for this. My horse has taken off running for the horizon with me still on its back and we jumped logs and bounced around trails, but I’ve never had a ride quite like Jody took me on. I guffawed, I cried, I chortled and giggled and crowed and snickered and whooped (while taking a sip of bubbly water, which I sprayed on my very tolerant partner, Scott). Jody is always entertaining, but when reading her own words, my gosh, it is really something to hear.

We ate cake.  Did I tell you the cake had a cowgirl roping the cover of the book? That’s right, Roberta used the bakery across the street from her bookstore to make the cake (Mango poppy seed, in case you are wondering) and they somehow printed the book cover in frosting. Wow. There was wine and bubbly water to drink, which we needed after all that laughing.

The audience milled around the store after Jody’s reading. They picked up books and read back covers and exclaimed over favorites. Books were sold. Jody signed them. Everyone was talking and exciting. I handed out cake while Scott poured the drinks and Roberta helped customers. We chatted about books and publishing and boy-o-boy did we talk about Jody Seay.

As far as first book launches go, I’ve got to say, this was one for the records. Thank you, Roberta, for everything. Thanks, Jody, for your big heart, honest writing, and funny-funny wit. Thanks everyone who came out to participate in the exciting evening – you made it a night to remember.

P.S. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can still buy Jody’s book, Dead in a Ditch, at Broadway Books. The address is below.
Broadway Books
Open 7 days a week!
1714 NE Broadway
Portland, OR 97232


The Market for Print Books is Not Dying

The print market for books is not dying. People still love to hold a story written on paper. They enjoy cracking it open, sniffing the new book aroma, feeling the heaviness of a new world in their hands, and anticipating the journey.  Just like paper books did not replace the oral tradition (helloooo, can we say audio books, theater, etc.), eBooks will not replace books on paper.

The only thing a dedication towards new media will overwhelm is the devotion to a stagnant business model.


Innovation for Writers Who Don’t Fit the Machine (Part 2)

At the heart of this series is this statement: We believe that innovation for writers can help storytellers find/refine their voices and connect to their audiences AND produce a reasonable ROI for all concerned.

In Part 1 of this series, I said that we at Koho Pono are currently working with an author that doesn’t write cookie-cutter saleable stories for today’s marketplace – she doesn’t fit in today’s big publishing machine. Regardless, we here at Koho Pono want to help produce Jaki Harvell’s stories and present them to her right-sized audience because we believe that her tales are important to the human community.

In Part 2 (and final part of this series), I more deeply explore other aspects of ‘fitting in’.

From the author’s point of view (POV) the bottom line is: artists have a drive to express what is inside them. Authors have a passionate urge to give birth to an internal tale, release that creation to live its own life, and connect their creation to its proper audience. When all of this happens, a current flow through the audiences and artists and through the work; it’s a wave of connection. Every thing fits.

Although many people have one story to tell, once that one story is told, the compulsion is gone and they go on with the rest of their life. This is valuable and worthwhile. However, what sets a writer apart is

  • a writer thinks in terms of making an impact through telling stories
  • once a writer get a taste of connecting their work to a hungry audience, they want to go through the process again and again
    • After writers get this first taste of ‘connection’, they start thinking about how they can afford to do this full time
    • This ‘taste of connection’ may happen at an early age or late in life
    • This is the point a smart writer begins to address the business aspects of their passion and craft
  • a writer’s passion helps them through the creation process
  • a writer wants to constantly improve their skills and develop their craft

So it all starts with an urge, recognition that this story must be imparted. It is the author’s responsibility to carefully examine and monitor their urge because: (1). In the highest aspect, passion can create work of timeless import and catalytic effect, and (2). In the lowest aspect, the same passionate drive may result in work that is self-indulgent, unexamined, and poorly crafted, (3). In between these two extremes is a whole gradation of skill, talent, vigilance, and honesty.

People with one-story-to-tell often do not care at what end of the gradation they are working. Even if they care, sometimes they do not have the refinement to recognize where along the gradation they are working. A writer is willing to constantly improve their skill, refine their talents, apply more vigilance, and be brutally honest with themselves.

Jaki Harvell (the writer who inspired this series) needs to write about great, gritty, girl heroes. It’s her nut, her common thread, her constant devotion. She is not the type of writer who gets satisfaction by writing only to appease popular demand. Instead, she must create the stories that are burning inside her. She has something specific to say. Rainer Maria Rilke says it beautifully:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Of course, we all hope that her works are runaway hits, but in the end, it is our job as publishers to make sure her stories reach their right audiences and produce a reasonable ROI for all concerned. It is her job and our job to improve our skills, refine our talents, apply more vigilance, and be brutally honest with ourselves.

In our experience, some in the publishing industry have gotten so caught up in being the gatekeepers of quality, they focus their attention on defending the current processes and their guiding principles have more to do with volume than quality. Today’s publishing professionals seem to have created an oppositional relationship with other aspects of the industry including: distribution, printers, employees, new authors, customers, booksellers, etc. Optimizing profit from every interaction has become more important than building partnerships/relationships. Short term benefit is more important than long term satisfaction.

Noted American author/professor/philosopher, Sam Keen, says

There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood, but it is essential to keep the question alive. To return the sense of dignity and honor to manhood, we have to stop pretending that we can make a living at something that is trivial or destructive and still have sense of legitimate self-worth. A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.

This quote addresses why we at Koho Pono are dedicated to telling important stories, helping authors find their voice and their audiences, and find innovative ways to make our processes economical.


Innovation for Writers Who Don’t Fit the Machine (Part 1)

I am currently working with an author that ‘doesn’t fit’ into a big publisher’s pigeonhole. Jaki doesn’t write what is ‘cookie-cutter saleable’ in today’s marketplace. And yet her stories are to-the-bone correct. They are well written and tight. They speak directly to the scared young hero within us all. Her stories are like old fairy tales. You know the kind of story I’m talking about: the hide-in-the-crook-of-Mama’s-arms-scary, an archetypal tale to resonate our deepest aspects, the Brothers Grimm kind of story.

However, the publishing industry’s cookie-cutter machine is not producing these types of stories.  “It’s not what is currently popular,” Jaki has heard; and “The numbers are just not there”; “it’s not what the marketplace is looking for, I’m sorry.” Apparently, the parental masses are not buying this sort of fiction to read to their children. The story is too dark and scary.

As for us here at Koho Pono, we think the world needs more coming of age stories for girls. Little girls need to hear stories about how ‘the buck-stops-with-me’. Too many of our youngsters are only taught to attract-what-they-need and that doesn’t give them a full toolbox full of life skills. Being a girl is rough. It takes a lot of gumption to grow from innocent babe all the way to wise old crone. G.K. Chesterton tells us why these kind of scary tales are important,

“Fairy tales do not tell children dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

We at Koho Pono agree with G.K. Chesterton. He-ay-hee-ee! We believe there are little girls out there who need to hear Jaki’s stories. And there are wrinkled old granddames, abuelas, and babitsa dragas who need to tell this kind of story to their ‘chillens. There are spicy aunts and tanten who need to explain why it is important to grow and widen and exclaim out loud. And there are mothers who need to tell these stories to themselves. It’s not only a female thing. In the hearts of some boys sits a hunger for a heroic girl companion to go on adventures with.

We think this kind of story is worthy and timeless. And we think there are people out there who agree with us, which is why we’re publishing it.

Also, are innovating a delivery system to match up the correct audience to this story. It doesn’t have to be volume sales; just the right amount of sales.


Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins

This post explains some common contractual points for Artist-Author-Publisher (from out POV). If there is ever anything in a contract that you do not understand, ask a lawyer who specializes in that particular industry. Do not ever sign something because someone tells you that a contract is “a boilerplate” that it’s normal, everyone signs it, etc.

On the other hand, be very aware of how much are you willing to give up? Are any there any points in dispute that are deal-breakers for you? Know your bottom-line. You do not want to lose a deal or a great illustrator because you got subborn about something that is tangental to your main goals. Realistic expectations will help you continue to create win-win situations for everyone.

Here are some basic contractual points to consider.

Information about the Project

Who is involved: Who is the Buyer (Author and/or Publisher) and who is the Artist? What is the name of the project? What is the name of the Manuscript (working title)?

Include a brief description of the illustration project such as: how many total illustrations, approximant sizes and shapes (square, rectangle, etc.), and intended usage (cover, full-page, two-page, etc.).

Information about Milestones and/or Deliveries

What is the final completion date and on what is that date based? This lays out the risks.

Should the work be delivered in stages or all at once? Will there be feedback and/or adjustments/ revisions/ corrections?

Who owns the original work? If the artist retains ownership, then how long can the buyer keep the art before it must be returned?

Information about Payment

How will the artist be paid (money, barter, credit, free copies, royalties, etc.)? How will the payments be split up (% up front, % upon completion, etc.)? Will the artist be reimbursed for supplies?

What are the royalties based upon?

Information about Rights

Who owns the rights? What rights can be transferred? Give illustrative examples. This is important.

Remember about electronic rights, other editions, other languages, derivative works, and merchandising. Also remember about public displays and performance rights, internet references, and marketing/promotion.

Are the rights exclusive or non-exclusive? What happens if the project is discontinued? Is there a kill fee? To whom do the rights revert?

Information about Releases

Are there any? Why and what? Who indemnifies whom?

Anyone out there with other ideas? Let me know what you think. Comments are welcome.


What to serve at negotiations: Calming Rice-Mango Salad

Ever at an impasse and wonder, “What could I serve to calm tensions during negotiations?” A great dish to serve at the negotiation table. Serves 4

  • 1 cup Dark Brown Rice
  • 1 cup Black Rice
  • 4 cups Water
  • 3-4 large Mangoes, peeled, sliced, and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Coconut (or 1/4 cup coconut milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Green Onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pickled Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cilantro
  • Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette
  1. Combine brown rice, water, and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to low and simmer for 45 min.
  2. Take it off the heat and pour in the maple syrup/brown rice syrup and coconut milk and fluff the rice. Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes. Serve with mangoes and a sprinkling of sesame seeds (if you so desire).ecipe for the Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing


  • 1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4  cup orange juice
  • 2  tablespoons (or 2 teaspoons) minced fresh ginger
  • 2  tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 4  teaspoons Olive Oil / Canola Oil
  • 2  teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon Cilantro
  • 1/4  cup thinly sliced Green Onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2  tablespoons Sugar (or 1/4 cup maple syrup/brown rice syrup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper 


Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Stir in green onions and the remaining ingredients. Chill vinaigrette in an airtight container for 2 hours.

Whisk 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce in another bowl. Add rice, mango, and onions; toss well. Cover rice salad; let stand at room temperature.


Synergies & Contradictions with “Vendors”

Small companies need to create synergies and resolve contradictions. As publisher, we at Koho Pono wear many hats including vendor-to-authors and project manager. In both of these roles we are trying to develop a satisfying process for everyone. Our goal is for authors to be fulfilled by the publishing experience and for the correct audiences to receive tales that resonate powerfully with them and are delivered in a satisfying manner. So why did I throw a spanner in the works when new author, Jaki Harvell, tried to hire an artist to illustrate her book? After all, she chose well; the illustrations were synergistic with her story.

The trouble was, Jaki was negotiating with the artist without considering how their final deal would affect the book publishing process. She was negotiating as if she was commissioning a work of art for her home rather than building an agreement for art to be used as part of a product that was going to have a life of its own. This distinction is important for all concerned.

If the author had signed the initial contract with the artist, it would have been extremely difficult for Koho Pono to publish the book. Thank goodness we saw the contract before signatures were inked. We all got together (over a superb home cooked meal, I might add) and hammered out revisions that satisfied everyone: author, artist, and publisher. So now, the book will be amazing AND everyone’s rights and responsibilities are accounted for.

Koho Pono wants to put out quality products AND we want to deal with honorable, talented people who we admire AND we want the process to be fulfilling for all concerned AND we want every goal to be designed for win-win-win-win = wins for the author-artist-publisher-audience. (And we also love great negotiation-food)

In summary: it is important for the publisher be mindful of every contributor’s needs on our way to the final product – to keep the ‘customers’ happy. And within that process, we’re hoping to educate authors and artists about the importance of at least thinking a bit about some of the steps required to get their work out to an appreciative audience so they don’t accidentally agree to something that makes it impossible to present their work or that creates a win-lose scenario.

Coming soon will be a series of blogs dealing with some of the contractual points that an artist-author-publisher might want to take into consideration if the goal is win-win-win for all. Look for the titles, Contractual Points for Artist-Author-Publisher Wins.

Also, look for Calming Rice n Mango Salad, which is one of the home-cooked salads we devoured during our negotiation luncheon.