Six Steps to Self-Publishing Your First Novel

“It looks so professional,” the woman said, looking from the cover of my first novel to my face and back again. I sat behind the desk at a book signing in my wonderful hometown of Arnold, Nebraska. “There’s a bar code and everything! How did you do that?” “Well…” I started, before realizing that there wasn’t any way I could launch into the specifics of self-publishing a novel without getting unnecessarily windy.

I’ve had this question time and again. For anyone who hasn’t self-published a novel in the past, the concept of going from an empty word processing document to a finished, professional novel physically resting in your hands is daunting. In reality, it’s not all that tough! Here’s what the process looks like:

1. Brainstorm. As you know by now, I’m a big Stephen King fan. In his novel On Writing, King explains that writing is like an archaeologist uncovering bones in the ground. The writer should just write, without extensive planning.

I’ve always been a planner, but in my first novel I didn’t—I simply sat down and wrote. And it worked well, until I came to the editing phase of my process and realized much of my plot didn’t make sense. I had to rewrite like mad. I cut full scenes, added additional ones, and overall cleaned up my own huge mess.

Before writing my second novel I decided to do some planning in order to have a smaller mess to clean up when finished with my first draft. I wrote out some character descriptions for new additions to the sequel. I also visited Some of the plot generation tools on that website are extraordinarily useful. And it worked! The second novel took much longer to write, but brainstorming ahead of time meant that editing was much quicker and easier.

Sorry, Mr. King. I disagree with you on this one. :)

2. Write. Whether you wrote an entire outline for your novel or just organized a few bullet points, you’ve arrived at the best part—writing! Set some time aside for yourself and your writing. It’s tough when you’re working a full time job. Maybe you have children. Perhaps you have social obligations. But, you can always find SOME time each week for your writing.

Some authors claim that to write well, you have to write every single day. I tend to disagree. I simply don’t have time to write each day! But I’ve found that if I give myself a word count goal each week, I can find time to get it done.

Think about it for a moment. If an average novel is 90,000 words, you could write a novel in just 9 weeks if you wrote 10,000 words a week (as I did for my first novel). Or, if you gave yourself the much-more-achievable goal of 5,000 words a week, that’s just 4 ½ months! As long as I can write a novel in less time than a woman takes to grow a baby in her belly, I’m good. :)

3. Edit. I hate and love editing at the same time. It’s far less creative than writing. The storyline is mostly set. Going back over adjectives to ensure they are correct, removing passive voice, and fixing dialogue tags is boring as hell.

But I also love it, because by this point you’re seeing some real progress. You’ve met characters. You’ve set up cool scenes. You’ve taken yourself to amazing landscapes or beautiful buildings. They’ve said neat stuff, and shown their bravery/idiocy/love. Once you start editing, you get to revisit what you’ve done. It’s always fun to see progress.

I highly recommend hiring an editor who will read and edit for you after you’ve done a few initial passes of your work. No matter how amazing you are at writing, fresh eyeballs will catch more mistakes. Friends can read first drafts as well, but they won’t be able to match the skillset of a professional editor.

My first novel I had seven drafts. My second one, I had only three. Again, that brainstorming is coming in handy!

4. Cover art. You need some kind of cover art, even if it’s just the title on a black background. But let’s be honest—you have some talented friends, don’t you? There’s at least one person in your life who has a knack for graphics and design.

Even if you don’t have talented friends, it is possible to look at bestselling novels and find out what looks best for the genre and style of your novel. That being said, I’m hiring someone to take a stab at the art for the second book. I’m not visually creative, and I don’t want to do it. :)

5. Get an ISBN & bar code. You probably remember ISBN numbers from when you bought college textbooks. I remember typing that number into various book search engines before recoiling in horror at the prices. is the place to go to get these! If you’re doing both a printed book and an ebook, you’ll need a 10-pack, as you can’t share an ISBN across different formats. As of today, that’s about $295. You can also get a 10-pack and a barcode for your printed book for $320.

6. Format your file. I highly recommend buying Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur or APE by Guy Kawasaki. Though it’s not a perfect book, it does a great job of explaining file conversion for each platform. This is something I didn’t even consider when first writing a book. But if you don’t convert your book properly, the second someone opens it they will notice poor formatting, which will distract them from reading the beautiful words you’ve written.

For printed books, you’ll be able to order a test volume to make sure the font you’ve selected looks nice and the cover art ended up the color you anticipated.

Good luck, and happy writing! SP

“Four” Reasons to Love the Insurgent Movie More Than the Book

Insurgent BookInsurgent Movie*Warning - Contains spoilers!  I love the Divergent series. These thrillers are almost impossible to put down and are relatable in many ways. I almost always prefer the book version of any movie based on a novel. But with Insurgent, the movie is better! Here’s why:

1. The acting. Shailene Woodley (Tris) is a super-babe. There’s no doubt about that. She also happens to be a singularly gifted actress. One scene in particular comes to mind—Tris must suffer through a test in the Candor faction to prove that she did not have anything to do with the attack on Abnegation, as Jeanine (Kate Winslet) claims. While reading this scene in the novel, I couldn’t imagine how someone could act the way Tris is feeling. She’s struggling against the truth serum in a vain attempt not to reveal her deepest secrets. Eventually, they come spilling out, and her closest friends learn she killed her friend Will while he was under a simulation. Woodley nails the scene, right down to the ugly-cry that most of us would be too ashamed for anyone to see, much less millions of strangers around the globe.

Another notable performance in the film is Kate Winslet, whose Hitler-inspired super-villain helps the viewer to realize just how easy it would be to succumb to the calm logic inspiring her choices, and ignore all human emotion and feeling.

Finally, Theo James (Tobias) is easy on the eyes. ‘Nuff said.

2. The plot. Much has been made of the fact that the movie barely follows any of the original plotline of the novel. This is mainly due to plot problems with the novel structure; however, there are many scenes I wish they would have included (like the election of new Dauntless leadership).

The movie plotline is much easier to follow and Tris’ reasons for her choices are clearer. For instance, in the novel Tris inexplicably abandons Tobias to team up with Marcus—Tobias’ abusive father. We never receive a clear reason why she can’t find the information she’s seeking while accompanying Tobias and the rest of Dauntless on their mission to destroy Erudite. The film does an exemplary job of giving clear reasons for Tris’ actions.

3. The sex scene. Bucking the trend of the virgin hero a la Twilight and Hunger Games is a risky move! The thing I love about the sex scene in Insurgent is that Tris really does own her choices. In the prior film, we see that she’s nervous about losing her virginity and tells Tobias when to stop. In Insurgent, she makes the choice for the right reasons—she is comfortable with herself and her decision.

The sex scene in the novel is a bit harder for me to get behind, because Novel Tris seems a little mentally unstable at that point. I don’t love the idea that she’s soaking up her grief with physical affection, which is how it comes off.

4. The heroine. At the end of the novel, Tris is unable to finish her task of exposing the truth by showing everyone the video footage recorded by the community ancestors. Instead, she is bound and branded a traitor, waiting to find out what the factionless will do with her. Her boyfriend, Tobias, has to come to her rescue and finish the job of acquiring and showcasing the footage.

On the other hand, in the movie, we get to see Tris complete five simulations which unlock the box containing said footage. She’s branded a hero. This version would have made no sense in the book, as Tris spent the majority of the novel making rash decisions and throwing her life in danger for nonsensical reasons. That Tris wouldn’t have been strong enough to complete the sims. Luckily, this Tris is.

I prefer the movie version. What do you think?


Love, Travel, Write!

Dynam fans! I’ve missed you! Gosh, has it really been nearly a year since my last blog post? I hope you don’t feel abandoned—I promise there is GOOD reason for my absence. Keep reading. :) I woke up Sunday morning thinking, “Is it really March 1st, 2015 already?” Wow! How is that possible? Where did 2014 go? Last we spoke, it was April 2014 and I was still living on cloud nine with the success of Dynam. From the book launch, to the display in Tattered Cover and even making it to the 2nd round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, I had to pinch myself—my dreams of becoming a published author finally came true.

Your support inspired me and it wasn’t long before I jumped right back into writing…and a few other things. 2014 was a busy year for this working gal. Thought admittedly, it wasn’t all work. There was quite a bit of play too! Confession time!

Samantha and Chuck 2One of the main reason for my absence on the blog is a certain love interest. Gah! He’s totally going to blush when he reads this. But, since you guys are my loyal fans—and since we’re coming up on our one-year anniversary—I think it’s time to tell you that Ms. Peterson is officially involved and completely smitten. You’re going to love him, I just know it! I’ll keep you updated on things with Mr. Perfect, but in the meantime just know this hopeless romantic is all smiles these days!

The past year also harbored many exciting travel adventures for Mr. Perfect and me. This last October, life took us to Panama. It was absolutely incredible! We enjoyed visiting the Panama Canal, but my favorite part of the trip was flying in a prop plane to Las Perlas Archipelago, named for the pearls once harvested there. Panama Prop PlaneUnfortunately, the man-friend came down with a bit of a bug one day—perhaps it was the seafood we’d had the night before—but overall it was a fantastic trip.

In November, we headed to Fisher’s Island, New York for Thanksgiving. It has already become one of my favorite places in the world. If you haven’t visited, you need to! We topped our year off in December with a trip to Vero Beach, Florida for Christmas and some much-needed beach time. Ah! Is this really my life? Can you see why there was no time for blogging? Ha! Chuck on Vaca

And lastly, as some of you already know, in 2014 I re-located to a beautiful loft in Downtown Denver. This is my happy place. I absolutely love the city life and I even created my own little “zen space” to craft the perfect inspired spot for writing! You can check it out here: 5 Home Office Must Have’s for Real People.

Speaking of inspiration…(drumroll please)…I am bursting at the seams to tell you that the sequel to Dynam is COMING SOON!

I can’t wait to share what Calista’s been up to, but until then—any guesses on the title for book #2?!

You guys are the best! Talk soon!



Losing the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition

It's a gray day at the Peterson residence. I didn't advance to the Quarter Finalist round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. As a highly competitive person, there has been a nagging little burn in my chest all day. It's like when you're in junior high -- a guy you have a massive crush on walks across the cafeteria to talk to you....r best friend, who is standing right beside you. This is the part where I burst into an explosion of inspirational quotes and feel-good success statistics. Hold onto your pants, ladies and gents!


“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas A. Edison

Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, was denied bank loans 242 times while trying to start his company.

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” - Napoleon Hill

J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times and told "not to quit her day job" when trying to publish Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don't bother to brush it off. Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you.” - Joseph Campbell

And don't even get me started on Walt Disney...


Still have your pants on? Whew!

We could go on with these all day. All of them are really great, but it doesn't help that nagging burn go away, now does it?

No, it doesn't. And the reason is that, while we all aspire to end up like J.K. Rowling -- richer than the Queen of England with a tower of best-selling books, or like Thomas Edison -- one of the greatest inventors of all time, we know deep down that it's not always going to be us.

The best we can do is reach for a high bar, do our damnedest, and evaluate our failures in the hopes of doing better next time.

So here you have it -- an evaluation of myself, losing the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

There were 10,000 entries. Making it to Round 2 (which I did) took the count to about 300 entries per category. Since there were five categories, that means that Round 2 consisted of the top 1,500 entries. I made it to the top 15%! That's pretty damn good! But even if I didn't get past the first round, should it matter to me that a small group of people did not like my novel?

Maybe not. Perhaps I should look at this experience and remember that writing, like so many things, is ART.

Just like theater, or painting, or any other kind of art, the worship or disgust of an artistic endeavor is subjective. Some people will like it, and others may hate it. Lots will ignore it entirely. But in the end, the most important person to please is the artist herself. The question we've got to ask ourselves is whether or not we would do what we do if nobody ever applauded our efforts.

For me, the answer to that question is yes.

Maybe it's not about how many times you fail before you finally succeed. Maybe we should simply adjust our definition of success.

And, maybe losing the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition wasn't such a bad thing after all. :)


5 Home Office Must Haves for Real People


To say that I'm a "nester" would be a colossal understatement. Anytime I move to a new apartment or house, I drive the people unlucky enough to exist in my crazy-sphere nuts with my overzealous, Type-A desire for everything to be just so. I also tend to combine moving with a general refresh of my living space, since it always seems easier. It's not.

When moving in February, I decided my color scheme would be pink and gold and girly, and proceeded to complete the following tasks -- while simultaneously working full time starting our marketing company,, keeping up with book stuff, maintaining friendships, and getting general life things done.

  • Painted a random of assortment of vases, picture frames, knickknacks, and the mount to my deer antlers gold.
  • Found pleasing arrangements of fake pink flowers.
  • Printed a ton of new photos to frame.
  • Searched high and low for a pink rug that didn't make me feel like a third grade girl.
  • Slept on the couch while new carpet was laid in the bedroom.
  • The list goes on...

That's not to say that I buy a bunch of crap I don't need. On the contrary, I like my space to be clutter-free and organized so I can be productive. I find it particularly annoying when I come across articles that stress how much I need a giant pen-holder with a minimum of 50 pens in it. (I only use one at a time, so why do I need 50? And if I don't have 50, why do I need the giant pen-holder on my desk?) Or those articles telling us how we've got to buy a shredder. And not, just a shredder, no. It has to be an expensive shredder. Considering my business is almost entirely paperless, I have no idea what I would do with a shredder.

So, let's chuck all that out the window.

Here are 5 home office must haves for real people.

1. A desk that suits you, and only you.Home Office Desk Ikea Samantha Peterson Author

Okay, it's obvious that you need a desk, unless you prefer to work from the couch with your computer on your lap (which I've also done). For all intents and purposes, we're calling that a desk too. My desk is from IKEA and is three parts, two cabinets that each hold up one side of the glass table top, which looks like a giant fingerprint.

I spent a lot of time trying to decide what desk I really wanted, because a lot of the modern desks that have no drawers look really neat-o. But then, I thought a little harder about what I really need in a desk.

See that top left drawer? That's full of a windstorm of brightly-colored index cards that hold the rough outline of my next novel. There are two pens in there (not 50), and some ear buds. The second drawer has a lot of gum in it, because when I'm writing I get a super bizarre oral fixation and chaw and chaw and chaw.

For me, this desk is perfect, and it's big enough that I don't feel cramped when I need to spread my notes out. For you, it might not work at all. Maybe you're the kind of person that needs all of your files right where you can see them. Maybe you'd feel at home with just a tabletop rather than a formal desk.

I have a couple of chairs that I use interchangeably. I don't like rolling office chairs. I realize that's pretty uncommon. But again, it's all about me! Just like yours is all about you.

What kinds of things are you looking for in a work desk?

2. A System

Pink File Folder System Pink file folder system

I don't have much by way of papers, but I do have a lot of things that I feel guilty throwing out. For example, I have owners manuals, vaccination records, maps I've used traveling, and sheet music for the piano. I really don't like file cabinets for this type of thing. They look impersonal, cold and are pretty expensive.

Instead, I created my own system for organizing these things. I bought two packs of Ikea file folders and some pink scrapbook paper. Girly labels that I trimmed in gold completed the look. It cost less than $30.

Whatever system you decide upon, it has to work for you.


3. Things That Make You SmileOwl Scentsy

That's right folks -- an owl Scentsy makes me smile. Oh, come on, you know what a Scentsy is. It's one of those little ceramic things with a light inside and yummy smelling wax that goes into a dish on the top.

And it's DAMN CUTE. <Insert Smile Here.> See! It worked!

On the left, there's a photo of my brother and I. Clearly, I'm pretty amped that I'm smashing him. He's pretty amped to be smashed. Without fail, this makes me smile.

I also require a lot of natural light. I'm a little like a plant that way -- stick me in a dark cubicle and I will die. I'm sure of it. Notice in the photo above that my desk faces a giant window. During the day, sunlight comes in and half-blinds me. I love it.

What are the little things that you need to make you smile through the day? Anything that can help you reduce stress and get done what needs to get done is worth some valuable desk real estate.

4. Equipment & Stuff

Of course you need your computer, printer, mouse, or whatever else you need to do your job. But that stuff is boring to talk about. So let's move on to the last thing you (a real person) must have for your home office...


5. A Pal

Black Cat on a White Fur Rug Ciaran

If you're lucky, you have a pal as good as mine. Ciaran (pronounced Keer-in) is my kitty. He likes to lay on the white faux-fur rug beneath my feet and sleep.

If you're lucky enough to work from home, I hope you have a pet, friend, or someone to hang out with.

It can get pretty lonely without one!


Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Round 2 - Dynam Made It!

I've been very sick with the flu the past few days, but I did get some amazing news! Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Dynam made it to the Round 2 finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition! Amazon accepts 10,000 entries to the competition, and making it to Round 2 means that I'm in the top 2,000. There are still several more rounds of the competition to go, but I'm so pleased to have even made it to the second round in such a competitive environment full of talented writers.

For those of you who have been asking when the sequel comes'll just have to wait and see. ;)

If my novel makes it to the next round, I'm going to need your help in voting on Amazon!

Thanks for your support!


5 Amazing Novels To Read. Did you forget about them?

Lately I've been on a little kick revisiting some of my favorite novels. Reading other author's beautiful words sets my imagination crack-a-lackin'! Here are my favorite 5 amazing novels to read, and a few quotes from each. Just a little taste!


The Fountainhead Quote Ayn Rand To Say I Love You One Must First Know How to Say the I.The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead emphasizes themes of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. But, even if you're not into the philosophy, the novel is full of vivid, multi-dimensional characters. Protagonist Howard Roark is excellently drawn, and as much as you may disagree with his methods, it's hard not to root for him to win!

Favorite Quotes from The Fountainhead

  • If you want my advice, Peter, you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want?
  • Don't worry. They're all against me. But I have one advantage: they don't know what they want. I do.
  • To say "I love you," one must first know how to say the "I."





Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Where the Red Fern Grows Quote


Where the Red Fern Grows doesn't have the heavy philosophical overtone of the previous novel, but boy, does it pack an emotional punch. On the surface, this is just a simple story of a boy and his dogs. But when you dig deeper, you see themes of honesty, loyalty, compassion, and strength of character. 

Favorite Quotes from Where the Red Fern Grows

  • There is a little good in all evil.
  • It's strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man's mind for so many years. Yet, those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just by something you've seen, or something you've heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.
  • People have been trying to understand dogs since the beginning of time. One never knows what they'll do. You can read every day where a dog saved the life of a drowning child, or lay down his life for his master. Some people call this loyalty. I don't. I may be wrong, but I call it love -- the deepest kind of love.



We were the mulvaneys joyce carol oates “It simply fell from him, like a heavy overcoat he'd shrugged off, no longer needing its warmth or bulk to protect him.” 


 We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

We Were the Mulvaneys is a somber novel following the tragic demise of a "perfect" family after one of the children is raped. Though not exactly a fun read, this book will grip you like no other. It was published in 1996, and was a feature on Oprah's Book Club.

Favorite Quotes from We Were the Mulvaneys

  • In that way you recall, suddenly, sharply, in daylight, a trace of a dream of the previous night -- but even as you recall it, it begins to fade.
  • Did you know, Marianne: how by breaking the code that day, you broke it forever? For us all?
  • It simply fell from him, like a heavy overcoat he'd shrugged off, no longer needing its warmth or bulk to protect him.






Bel Canto by Ann PatchettBel Canto Quote

Bel Canto is a PENN/Faulkner Award winner. This novel is the fascinating fictional account of a birthday party held hostage by terrorists. It speaks to the unshakable bonds we humans have to each other.

Favorite Quotes from Bel Canto

  • It was never the right time or it was always the right time, depending on how you looked at it.
  • It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how.
  • Love was action. It came to you. It was not a choice.








The Giver Quote "Of course they needed to care."The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver is a 1993 children's novel. But even adults can take something away from this dystopian / utopian world. It challenges the reader to think, "How much is too much in trying to remove risk from our lives?"

Favorite Quotes from The Giver

  • I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.
  • There was nothing left to do but continue.
  • Of course they needed to care. It was the meaning of everything.









I hope you all enjoy these novels as much as I did!


the BookWorm Giveaway for the Reading Obsessed!

Update: February 1, 2014 Congratulations Della Dailey, of Arnold, Nebraska for winning the BookWorm Giveaway!



Hey Everyone!

I'm hosting a giveaway on Facebook!

Today through January 31st, win your choice of one of these two book-nerd prizes in the BookWorm Giveaway. I want both of them for myself!

Requirements to Enter

  1. "Like" the Dynam Facebook Page
  2. "Share" the Giveaway Post on Your Wall

Prize #1 - Personalized Library Embosser

Make a crisp impression on all your precious books with an embosser personalized with your name (up to 18 characters/spaces) in the style shown. It's the perfect accessory for someone who is constantly loaning out books.

Personalized Library Embosser - Book Giveaway Prize #1


Prize #2 - Set of Two Scroll Wine Rack Bookends

Love to curl up with a good book and a class of red? Me too! This set of two wine rack book ends will keep both your wine and your reads within easy reach!

Bookend Wine Rack - Giveaway Prize

I'll select a prize the week of February 1st and will announce the winner on Facebook and on this blog!




Bookworm Giveaway - DynamBook - Author Samantha Peterson


Radio Interview on Self-Publishing and Dynam with KCNI / KBBN

  This week, I was lucky enough to participate in a radio interview on self-publishing and Dynam with KCNI / KBBN  radio by Julie Toline. It was a great time, and as I mentioned on my Facebook page, I learned that the interviews that don't require make-up can sometimes be the most fun!

We chatted a little bit about my journey through the self-publishing world and about Dynam. It's always hard when someone asks you details about a mystery / suspense novel. I don't want to give away the surprise!


Have a listen here!

Dynam Interview with Samantha Peterson KCCI also published an article about Dynam, which can be found right here.


Exciting week!



How to Host a Book Launch Party to Sell Out

For many authors, a book launch is an exciting shove of your "baby" out into the world. It's a celebration of completion, an "I did it!" to share. For others, it's a cause for gut-twisting, fingernail-picking nervousness. For me, it was both! If you're planning a book launch, here's how to host a book launch party that might sell out -- just like mine did!

  1. Choose a Venue.This seems pretty obvious, but it can be a tricky decision. You need to decide if you should host the event in a bookstore or somewhere else. In making this decision, consider your most important guests, your VIPs. In my case, the guests whose attendance I value most are my family and friends. While they would attend an event in a bookstore (because they are awesomely supportive), they would enjoy it much more in a relaxed atmosphere, like a bar or coffee house. For this reason, I selected a bar we all frequent for an official "launch," and a local coffee shop in my hometown in order to cater to those hometown folks who could not make it to Denver.
  2. Invite Your VIPs.Of all the people you would like to show up, who is the most important? Who are your VIPs? This is going to be different for every author. It might be family and friends. It might be media. It could be fellow authors. Whoever these people are, consider the most appropriate way to invite them. Paper snail mail invitations? Email? For me, my family and friends use Facebook, so it was a no-brainer to set up a Facebook invite. I also called a lot of family and friends on the phone.

    Another important win for me was asking friends and family to help at the launch. I had a friend who took pictures. Another friend manned the Square Card reader for book sales. Another one helped answer questions when I was busy signing.

  3. Show Off Your Cover Art.Creating an over-sized image of my book cover was the smartest thing I did for my book party. It helps people unfamiliar with your venue to know they are in the right place, is a great addition to photo opportunities, and helps passers-by gain familiarity with your book. Plus, you spent time and / or money creating this gorgeous art. You deserve to show the world your stuff!

    To make mine, I purchased a foam tri-fold display board, which was about $20. I also visited Staples Copy & Print and ordered a two-foot by three-foot poster of my book cover, which was also about $20. I adhered the poster to the BACK of the display board using double-sided tape, which was $2.  Once adhered, the "arms" of the tri-fold can flip out to hold the cover upright, eliminating the need for an easel. One less thing to carry the night of!

    The quality of the poster I received was sensational. I still cannot believe how amazing it looks, even up close. As you can see, it was well worth the $42.

    Samantha Peterson & Brittany Conrad Dynam Novel Launch Party at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

  4. Do What Feels Right to YOU!I cannot emphasize this point enough. If you're hosting a book launch party at a super-fancy wine bar, and you're neither a fan of wine nor super-fancy, you will spend the entire evening feeling uncomfortable. If you hate public speaking, don't feel compelled to do an excerpt reading. If you love food and can't imagine a party without it, order what you like. If you don't care and don't have the money, don't!

    This is, after all, a celebration of you! You did it! Enjoy the party! And enjoy it as YOU, in your natural, authentic, completely unique way.

  5. Promote, Promote, Promote.Promote your book launch party with whatever budget you have, even if that budget is $0.  I used Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I also submitted the event to local event organization websites, like, Westword, and These are all free, just make sure you give them enough time to get it up and on the site after submitting!
  6. Encourage Sharing.Some of the people who attend will want to share their fun-time vibes through social media. Help them! I created a sign with my social media sharing hashtag -- #DynamBook -- for free! I also included a QR code linking to the book on Kindle, in case attendees wanted the e-version as well.

    I already had an 8.5" x 11" document frame, so this was a cinch! And it's another thing on your table to generate interest. Millennials like me love to have a reason to share via social media. The hashtag generated as much interest at the party as the book cover!

    Dynam Novel QR Code Sign

  7. Say "Thank You!"Talking to every person who is kind enough to attend your launch and extending a heartfelt "thanks" is extremely important. These people had plenty of options for entertainment. They chose your party! That means a lot, and they deserve some appreciation.


I was lucky enough to sell over 50 copies! I should have ordered far more, but since most of my friends already ordered copies in advice I assumed that would be enough. Good luck to fellow authors in their book launch parties. Hopefully this helps!




Denver Novel Launch Party for Dynam

Hey Everyone! As you know, I hosted the official Dynam novel launch party on Friday, December 13th 2013 at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew. The launch was a great success! I was lucky to have a large number of friends, family, and strangers in attendance. Here are some details and photos about this Denver novel launch party!

The Venue

In case you haven't been there, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew is an amazing micro-brew on 28th and Larimer Streets. They opened one year ago, and have contributed to the rapidly expanding neighborhood atmosphere in Five Points. I am lucky enough to know a few of the employees at OMF, which is why my party was hosted there. (They are also mentioned in the book! Can you remember what page?)

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Logo

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

The Set-Up

I made a giant book cover because it seemed like a fun thing to do. No other real reason. I have two amazing friends who brought flowers (awww!) so those dressed up the table nicely. In the lower right picture, you can see Jaime Palmucci, who is the cover model!

Samantha Peterson & Brittany Conrad  Dynam Novel Launch Party at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

Denver Author Samantha Peterson Dynam Launch Party Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew Denver Colorado

Jaime Palmucci & Samantha Peterson at Dynam Novel Launch, Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew, Denver Colorado

The People

A large number of people showed up, but unfortunately I neglected to get a final count. Maybe next time!

Rick Peterson, Justin Peterson, Chris Depew at Dynam Novel Launch Party at Our Mutual Friend in Denver Colorado

Me and my big brother!

Justin Peterson & Samantha Peterson Dynam Novel Party Denver Colorado

This big crowd of people is from my hometown of Arnold, Nebraska!

Dynam Novel Launch Party Denver CO

Dynam Novel Launch Party Denver CO

These are my parents, Rick and Barb Peterson, and my brother, Justin Peterson.

Barb Peterson, Rick Peterson, Justin Peterson at Dynam Novel Launch Party Denver Colorado

Rick Peterson, Justin Peterson, Joelle Carlson at Dynam Novel Launch Party Denver

Samantha Peterson Denver Author, Brittany Conrad, Glenn Pelster

Thanks everyone for the support and love! I was truly touched at the number of people who came out, and the book sales weren't too shabby either!



Tattered Cover will Stock Dynam


It's frigid in Denver this week, but I got some good news last night that warmed me up nicely!Dynam Quote Tattered Cover will stock Dynam in their selection of local authors!

For those of you not familiar with Denver, Tattered Cover is a community gathering place, a literary landmark, and a true destination. The store started as a 950-square foot retail space in 1971. Since that time, it has grown to three massive locations in Denver. A new location will open soon at Denver International Airport.

Tattered Cover boasts an enormous collection of literary works. One of the best parts of the company is their strong, community-centric culture. They offer children's outreach, business services, book club outreach and support local authors like me!

I visited Tattered Cover today to grab a copy of Gillian Flynn's Dark Placeswhich is next on my list to read. (If any of you have read Gone Girl, you know why I had to dig into another Gillian Flynn book! Gal knows what she is doing for sure!) The atmosphere in Tattered Cover is pretty remarkable. Hidden corners and cozy armchairs allow readers to quietly peruse books. The friendly and attentive staff stands readily available to answer any questions. Local art and literature event flyers color the community boards. In short, Tattered Cover feels like a big, warm home.

I'm incredibly honored and excited to be a part of the local authors on display at Tattered Cover. I'm not sure of the exact date my novel will be available in-store, but I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, here's an inspiring quote from the novel.

Happy trails!


30% Off Any Book With Code BOOKDEAL - Amazon Black Friday Book Promo

Hey Everyone, 30% Off with Code BOOKDEAL - Amazon  Black Friday Book Promotion I'm so excited! has a promotion for Black Friday on books! Since they almost never do this, and since coupon codes are a recent addition to Amazon, it's pretty cool!

The deal is for 30% off any book with code BOOKDEAL.


Terms & Conditions

▪ To use this promotion, you must enter "BOOKDEAL" at checkout under the "Gift cards & promotional codes" section to receive 30% off any one book.

▪ This offer is only valid on print books. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks.

▪ The promotion is valid for a limited time only, from November 27, 2013 at 9pm PST to December 1, 2013 at 11:59pm PST. Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel this offer at any time.

▪ Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by

▪ Limit one promotional code per customer and account.

▪ The maximum benefit you may receive from this offer is $10.

▪ Offer good while supplies last.

▪ Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.

▪ The offer discount will be allocated to the highest priced book in your order.

▪ If any of the products or content related to this promotion are returned, the value of the offer will be subtracted from your return credit.

▪ This promotion may not be combined with other offers, including promotional certificates.

▪ Items must be purchased in a single order and shipped at the same speed to a single address.

▪ If you violate any of the Terms & Conditions, the promotion will be invalid.

▪ Void where prohibited.

▪ Shipping charges may apply to discounted and free promotional items.

▪ Offer does not apply to Amazon Gift Cards.


Don't forget to share with your friends! Even if they don't like this genre of book, they might like to get something else!


Quotable Quotes - Favorite Love Quotes and Empowering Quotes


I've always had a thing for quotes. She is incandescent.   Just like the first time I saw her, those vast and fervent eyes took me by surprise, because in them I realize a reflection of my own soul.   She is my weakness, the chink in my armor.   My undoing.   -Dynam by Samantha Peterson

There's something magical about a few sentences that are so well written and/or so emotionally poignant that they slap you in the face.

They are forever posted on my wall, as a background on my phone, and on my Pinterest boards. I'm back in good ol' Arnold, Nebraska this week for Thanksgiving, and I have discovered that this fascination must have started sometime in my childhood. There are framed quotes around my room, empowering quotes written in journals, and even a feeble attempt at decoupaging a quote to a book end.

More specifically, I've always had a thing for love quotes and empowering quotes.

Some favorites among the millions...

Love Quotes

  • "I asked her if she believed in love, and she smiled and said it was her most elaborate method of self-harm." - Benedict Smith
  • "The smell of her hair, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of her skin seemed to have got inside him, or into the air all around him. She had become a physical necessity."  - George Orwell
  • "According to Greek mythology humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves." - Plato


Empowering Quotes

  • "When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, 'Plot twist!' and move on." - Anon
  • "If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sun beams and you will always look lovely." Roald Dahl
  • "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." - Sylvia Plath
  • "The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before." - Albert Einstein
  • "You're off to great places, today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." - Dr. Seuss


And my current favorite, which is the background of my phone:

"You can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will." - Stephen King

That got me to thinking, "I wonder if anything from my novel would ever be considered quote-worthy..."

So I had to create a pin for myself. :)

Happy quoting.


Dynam Denver Book Launch Party at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew!


It's all ready to go! Dynam is officially for sale! I've spent the last year:

  • Writing
  • Re-writing
  • Editing
  • Realizing it wasn't good enough, and editing again
  • Hiring an amazing copy-editor, Susan from Adirondack Editing to clean up my messes
  • Fixing all of my mistakes
  • Discovering that formatting a book is WAY more challenging than one could ever guess!
  • Accepting the help of amazing friends for cover art, website help, and design suggestions
  • Drowning in marketing options

And it's finally ready!

The official Denver book launch party will take place in Denver, Colorado on December 13th at Our Mutual Friend Malt & Brew. I am lucky enough to be friends to a few of the people who own and work at this fantastic Denver landmark. They brew some tasty beer, and the atmosphere is perfect for the Dynam launch party. They are also mentioned in the book. Can you guess what page?

The party is "Buy a Book, Get a Free Beer!" so make sure to bring your confirmation code from and you'll get a free one, on me! Click the banner below for more details.

Friday the 13th could be good or bad! What's your vote? Are you superstitious?

Dynam Denver Book Launch Party



To begin, Dynam will be available on Amazon as a paperback, and on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo as an ebook version. Are there other versions you would like me to add?



Goodreads Giveaway for Dynam!

Hey All! I'm running a Goodreads giveaway for my novel starting TODAY!


For those of you that have toyed with the idea of running a giveaway, but haven't quite figured out if you want to do it, I highly recommend it. This is my second giveaway for my novel. The first one had over a thousand entrants! As giveaways are completely free (except for the cost of mailing the book to the winner) you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus, it's a way to connect with new readers!

Many excellent articles exist online about Goodreads giveaways and how to gain the maximum benefit from these marketing tools. My favorite is an article by Emlyn Chand on Novel Publicity & CO's website. She discusses how the strategy laid out on Goodreads website is not necessarily the best idea. She's done research to support her own ideas, which I followed to much success in my giveaway.

443 people have Dynam on their to-read list! I hope you will add it to your list as well!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dynam by Samantha Peterson


by Samantha Peterson

Giveaway ends November 27, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thanks for entering, and please share with your friends if you know other people that enjoy freebies!


Bawling My Face Off While Reviewing My Novel's Proof Copy


Dynam NovelAfter reading your own work for the seventh or eighth time it gets pretty boring. It's not that you no longer love the characters, or that you don't enjoy the twists and turns of the plot. It's like hearing "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen for the 100th time. It just gets a little stale. Okay that's a huge lie. I still listen to that song on repeat.

I guess my point is that after reading your own work so much, you lose sight of the whole and begin to focus on the details. You start considering adjective choice, whether or not you need more white space on the page (usually the answer is "yes" in my case, right Susan?), or how wide the margins should be. You review whether your characters are lovable or if the plot is engaging.

When I got the first proof copy in the mail, I was surprised at how much it impacted me. My lovely future sister-in-law jumped up and down and squealed at me to open it. I was about to walk out the door on a date, so I quickly ripped open the cardboard to reveal the book that lay inside it.

My book.

But even though I was thrilled to have a "real" book in my hand, I immediately picked out six or seven things that would need changed.

It wasn't until I received this copy in the mail today that I actually cried. When you mull over the hours of yourself you dump into a project, the self-doubt, the late nights, and then finally see all of it culminate into something real, the feeling is indescribable.

So I bawled. :)


Book Formatting Disasters in InDesign


When learning how to self-publish, I read article after article about all of the little things that a self-published author needs to keep in mind when using a POD (print-on-demand) publishing service. Alignment, "em" indentation, and running headers were not things I ever noticed or considered while reading on my own. But, of course, if you design the interior of a book correctly, the point is that you don't notice the interior design. The only time a reader really notices design is if it is poorly executed. Or, if you've tried doing it yourself!

Nearly every article stressed how challenging it is to format your book. I didn't believe it...

...and I should have. So far I've spent about a week trying to make my book pretty on the inside. I'm getting closer, but InDesign has caused me way too many headaches as I deal with the book formatting. A few tips for anyone else out there trying to do this:

Do as much as you can with styles in Word before moving your book over to InDesign. It will save you lots of time. If you wrote your book using styles, you're already far ahead of the game.

book formatting indesign

  • Take a look at books that you've read and note the size of the pages BEFORE you place your text in InDesign. Don't forget to look at margins!  I assumed that it would be simple to change my book size in InDesign after editing my paragraph styles. It isn't.
  • Review the interior of  some professionally published books and check out what your preferences are as far as running headers, page numbers, and white space. Keep notes!
  • Leading should be 50% larger than typeface. (In other words, use the 1.5 spacing option.)
  • Turn ON optical margins.
  • The first paragraph indent for each new style should be flush left. The other paragraphs shouldn't be 1/2 inch, the way it's set up in Word automatically. It should be em indented instead.
  • Use an established font like Garamond, Minion, Janson, Electra, Caslon or Bembo. Your print book font should be 10 point. EBooks should be 12 point.

The good thing about self-publishing is examples of professional publishing formats abound on your bookshelf. Anytime I felt stuck, I opened books at random on my shelf and figured out what I liked and didn't like about various set-ups. Copy the masters!

Food for thought!