Meet Rebecca Vnuk of IndiePicks Magazine

Rebecca Vnuk


Rebecca VnukToday’s blog post is an interview with Rebecca Vnuk, Editor in Chief of
IndiePicks Magazine. Rebecca was most recently the Editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach with Booklist Publications and has an MLIS from Dominican University. Before her editing career, Rebecca worked for a decade as a public librarian, in a variety of positions from Readers’ Advisor to adult services management. She is the author of three reference books on the topic of Women’s Fiction, as well as a best-selling book on weeding library collections.

Please explain why IndiePicks was formed and what it hopes to accomplish.

Our publisher, Naomi Blackburn, is a huge fan of indie authors. She noticed that the review magazines she’d look at in her local library rarely mentioned indies and never mentioned any self-pubbed authors, so she decided she wanted to create a review magazine that would.

Do you see IndiePicks as filling a void in the industry?

Yes–it’s hard enough for librarians and readers to keep up with what the “Big Five” are putting out there, and many times, libraries won’t/can’t order books without a professional review.

Which categories or genres does IndiePicks consider? Are there genres that IndiePicks won’t consider?

Right now, we have started with ten reviewers who cover General Fiction, General Nonfiction, YA, Children’s, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Mystery/Thrillers. We hope to grow in the new year to separate out even more fiction and non-fiction categories. We’ll consider any book that’s well-written!

What is meant by the statement that “IndiePicks is a recommended-only resource”?

Some review sources do offer negative reviews, but we’d prefer to use our space to promote only books that our review team would recommend to readers or purchase for their own library collections.

Why don’t libraries include independently-published books? Or, do some libraries carry these books that you know of? Is there a process for considering them?

Some do, many do not. There are a lot of factors at play, from whether or not they are getting requests for these books to whether or not they are seeing reviews for them (can’t buy them if you don’t know about them!). That’s where we’d like to think we come in. Several of our reviewers are actively adding indie books to their public library collections, and that’s part of the reason they’ve been selected to review for us!

Why do you think some libraries are hesitant to include independently published books?

I would wager that it’s mostly because they don’t know enough about them. If they aren’t getting professional reviews, then librarians don’t know if they are any good or not. We are in tough times right now for most library budgets, and many librarians simply aren’t comfortable spending precious dollars on unproven works or unknown authors. It’s a difficult spot to be in.

What is your vision as editor for IndiePicks Magazine?

I hope that we continue to grow and add more reviewers, which equals more books that we can review each month! I also would love to see us branch out into a one-stop shop for indies. Who knows? Webinars? Lists? All kinds of opportunities await.

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Platform Building & Media Relations for Indie Authors

Chris Well recently joined me on a Conversations with Frances broadcast. Hear what he had to say about media relations and platform building for indie authors.


Chris started young in the media; by college he was writing for national magazines. Later, he worked in radio and worked as an editor with a magazine. Over the years, he has accumulated 25 years in the media working with a number of brands. This is what he had to say:

The right email to the right reporter will get you coverage. That said, any author can find media coverage.

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How to Sell More Books with Less Social Media with Chris Syme


Last week, Chris Syme of CKSyme Media Group was my guest on Conversations with Frances. The hour-long webinar was wide-ranging but mostly focused on Chris’s belief that social media needn’t be time consuming as long as you have goal-focused strategies.

Here are a few notes from the webinar. Be sure to watch the video to hear all of Chris’s advice and suggestions.


The best ways to use social media to sell books: Use social media wisely. Social media is just another tool; a community-based tool that has revolutionized everything. It is a powerful tool for both sales and engagement. It’s the only tool that does that.

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Protecting Your Rights and Your Wallet with Helen Sedwick

In this hour-long webinar, attorney and author Helen Sedwick reviews a wide range of issues from intellectual property, copyright issues, publishers to be wary of, and fraudulent entities wanting complete control over your book and its film rights.

Here are a few notes from Helen’s presentation:

  • Intellectual property is a product of the mind.
  • You can protect intellectual property just like you can protect your car or home.
  • There are people and companies who will try to take control of your intellectual property from you.
  • Some of the worst entities are contests where the prize is the content sponsors get the right to publish your book, merchandizing rights, film rights, etc.

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Indie Author Weekly Update – June 16, 2017

ndie Author Weekly Update

In this week’s Indie Author Update, bloggers write about book launches, legal myths, how to write remarkable content, and how to pitch your book too media. Great topics, right?

Meanwhile, summer is here and I’m thrilled. In Northern California where I live, our winter and spring consisted of one rain storm after another. While our water-starved state needed those downpours, I’m so happy that summer is here and with it, warm, dry weather. What’s happening in your world?


Indie Author Update

Launch Higher: How to Get Book Reviews Before Your Launch Date by Kate Sullivan: “We all know that reviews sell stuff. After all, when’s the last time you took a chance on buying something online, sight unseen, without checking the reviews? You want to know what other people who’ve already bought it think so that you can be sure you’re making the right choice.”

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Secrets of Successful Book Launches with Howard VanEs

In this webinar, as part of my Conversations with Frances series, I interviewed Howard VanEs about successful book launches. A master at selling books, Howard shared some of his best strategies.

Here are some notes from our conversation:

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Indie Author Weekly Update – May 12, 2017

Indie Author Weekly Update

Enjoy this week’s Indie Author Weekly Update with posts from Brooke Warner, Joanna Penn, BookWorks, Rebekah Radice, and Adam Connell. You’ll find information on Amazon’s new strategy, a new app for authors, image editing tools, and more!

Summer is almost here and after the rain we’ve experienced in Northern California, I can hardly wait for the warm, dry days ahead. What about you?


Indie Author Update

BuzzTrace: New Social Media Software Review from BookWorks: “BuzzTrace is a new software program to help authors and independent publishers manage and grow their platform. BuzzTrace accomplishes this by giving suggestions about what to post online and sending alerts when someone is talking about your book online.”

How Amazon, once again, is driving down the value of books and undermining authors by Brooke Warner: “On March 1, while the only people paying real attention were hypervigilant third-party sellers and book geeks on Reddit, Amazon enacted a policy change that allows third-party sellers to compete for the Buy Box for books in ‘new condition.'”

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What It Feels Like to Be in the Zone with Lisa Tener

My interview of author coach Lisa Tener was perhaps the most unusual webinar I’ve ever been a part of. But to find out why, keep reading!

Lisa started us off with explaining what it feels like to “be in the zone” when writing: “You have this sense that you can be there forever. You have a heightened sense of flow. It feels inspired. You feel like you captured something.” Yes!

When you sit to write, be mindful that you're entering sacred spaceClick To Tweet

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Blockbuster Author Kevin Tumlinson Reveals His Writing and Book Marketing Secrets

Kevin TumlinsonSeveral months ago I used Draft2Digital to convert one of my books to an ePub and distribute it to online book retailers. I was impressed by the customer service I experienced and how easy the staff made the entire process for me.

Then, I recalled hearing Kevin Tumlinson of Draft2Digital speak on Joanna Penn’s podcast about eight months ago and decided to invite him to join my Conversations with Frances webinar series.

Earlier this month I interviewed Kevin Tumlinson, marketing director for Draft2Digital and a bestselling author. We had a wide-ranging conversation about Draft2Digital and Kevin’s writing and book marketing tips. Here are some of the points we covered:

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Creative Visualization for Writers with Nina Amir

Creative Visualization with Nina Amir

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nina Amir, the Inspiration-to-Creation coach and Certified High Performance coach. She recently published Creative Visualization for Writers, which I had the pleasure of reading. Whether you’re just starting out as a writer or beginning a second or third or fourth book, Nina’s Creative Visualization workbook is a worthy guide. Quite plainly, there’s nothing out there on the market that compares to this book.


Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and, at last, you create what you will. George Bernard Shaw

Creative Visualization with Nina Amir

Why did you decide to write this book now?

I saw the adult coloring book trend happening and started thinking about doing one for writers. However, I didn’t think writers would want to just color—since most don’t have enough time to write.

I did think writers needed a book that helped them work through the blocks that stop them from writing, increase productivity and creativity, and move consistently toward their goals. And I could see the benefit of coloring—if focused on the end goal of successful authorship.

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