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Welcome to the New “Unstressed Syllables”

Aaron Pogue, Lead WriterIt took a little longer than I’d expected, but I’m proud to share with you the all-new Unstressed Syllables.

This site used to be a place for me to keep friends and family updated on my writing and other projects. About a year ago I moved all that stuff over to

I also tried to use the site to teach lessons about writing (whether technical or creative) and eventually about publishing, too. But over time my teaching style got a little stale and unfocused, and my schedule got a little busy, so the whole site gradually ground to a halt.

Something New

Instead of just making a New Year’s resolution to blog more, I went to some of my closest, smartest friends–all of whom also happen to contribute in their own ways to the publishing process at Consortium Books–and asked them to share their specialized knowledge with all the aspiring writers out there.

This week, you’ve gotten to meet the new staff of Unstressed Syllables. I owe them all a deep debt of gratitude for their contributions, and especially to Jessie Sanders who is also working as our Managing Editor. Without her help, none of this would have happened.

My vision for this site is to make it a one-stop resource for anyone who wants to participate in today’s publishing environment. We’ll discuss writing technique, editorial assistance, and the publishing technology that has made a massive new marketplace that makes it easier than ever for writers to earn a living.


Nearly everyone reading this right now knows who I am, but I have high hopes that the new focus and all the new content will bring in some new readers, so I’m going to take a moment to introduce myself.

I’m a self-published author. I started back in 2010 with a sci-fi mystery called Gods Tomorrow, and then hit the big time in the summer of 2011 with a fantasy novel called Taming Fire. In the last two years, I’ve sold 170,000 copies across both series, most of them in the Dragonprince trilogy.

That’s enough to qualify me as a self-publishing success story. I’m not saying that to brag–I can only take a fraction of the credit for my success, as you’ll see over the coming weeks–but to tell you why this blog matters.

Before I was a self-publishing success story, I was a hopeful writer who’d given up on ever being published. In fact, I spent five years avoiding writing altogether (and, incidentally, caught in some pretty serious depression). I was working the dreadful day job and figured I’d be stuck in that for the rest of my life. Then Taming Fire took off, and six months later I walked away from my job with the FAA and dedicated myself full-time to Consortium Books.

Consortium Books is the (tiny) indie publishing company I set up to publish my books and the books of some friends in my writing group. We borrowed the resources of some incredibly talented photographers, painters, and graphic designers for our covers. We were lucky enough to have a couple professional editors in our group, and they helped give us some of the cleanest indie-published books on the market.

And…I did help, too. My most significant contributions from the publishing side came from two places that had nothing to do with my love of writing.

My Best Resources

For ten years I’d paid the bills by punching a clock as a technical writer. In the process, I learned a little bit about formatting, layout, readability, and style. I’d also picked up some pretty useful programming skills along the way and maintained a close relationship with the college buddy who got me into programming in the first place.

That college buddy built a custom software package for me to convert ordinary Google Docs into consistently and accurately formatted e-books. And my experience as a technical writer helped me design those e-books to be reader friendly and professional in a way most indies could only dream of.

After two years of tinkering, we’ve just released that software package as a public service at But I’ve spent the intervening time learning everything I can about the digital publishing market.

I’ve researched the techniques that work (and the ones that are really a waste of time). I’ve kept tabs on the success stories and made friends with other aspiring writers and learned a thousand little tips and tricks for navigating the process.

That’s what I’m going to be sharing with you. My job is to teach you about publishing in today’s market. It isn’t all easy or obvious, but it’s all accessible to anyone who wants to try. There has never been a better time to be a writer.

My first word of advice: Subscribe to this site. Come back regularly. Get to know the experts who will teach you everything from prewriting to promotion, from fixing your grammar problems to Photoshopping your cover art.

And pitch in! Leave a comment if you have a question (or even a correction). If you’re participating in the market, use the Contact Form to find out about guest posting opportunities. We’d love to build a community here.

In the meantime, we’re going to start sharing what we know. See you next week.

Aaron Pogue is the head publisher at Consortium Books, author of the bestselling Dragonprince trilogy, and serves as the User Experience consultant at Every Saturday he shares an article about publishing and the new book marketplace.

Find out more about Aaron Pogue at his author website.

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