Friday, March 31, 2017

STATE OF HOPE (Collapse Series, Final Installment!): Cover, Synopsis and RELEASE DATE REVEAL!

Title: State of Hope 
Series: Collapse Series #10 
Author: Summer Lane 
Release Date: June 9, 2017 
Series Cover Artist: Steven J. Catizone 
(holla at this guy for his amazing covers - he always does a rock 'n' roll job!)
GoodReads: Add to your Shelf!


This is it.
Cassidy Hart and her comrades have returned to their home: California, the final battlefield in the fight against the global terror, Omega. Commander Chris Young is in critical condition, the United States Navy has acquired new weapons, and the militias have just made a discovery that could change everything.

Faced with tragedy, heartbreak, and destruction, Cassidy is tempted to give up.

But she is a fighter. Defeat is not in her blood.

When confronted with the possibility of resurrecting the leadership of the United States of America, she will do anything to make the dream of stability a reality. She and Lieutenant Uriah True, along with the legendary strike team, the Angels of Death, undertake a dangerous and outrageous mission, unlike anything they have ever attempted. They will find themselves in the very epicenter of Omega’s stronghold.

Yet doubt remains. No one can be trusted in this dark new world, and their hope may not be as black and white as it seems. Disappointment and rejection cloud Cassidy’s judgment.

Friends will be lost. Tears will be shed. Sacrifices beyond the imagination will be made. The grim reality and bitter destruction of war will inflict one final sucker punch. 

The militias desperately attempt to hold their ground, and the Freedom Fighters will do everything they can to destroy the greatest evil this world has ever known.

The apocalypse has taken everything from Cassidy, but she will not stop until her heart ceases to beat, and until there is no breath left in her body.

She holds onto hope – hope of a future, hope of victory, and hope of love.

There is no going back. It all ends here.

Are you prepared?

There. Are. No. Words. 
This series has sustained me for the past 5 years - Cassidy Hart is dear to me; as is every single character that has ever surfaced in her world. I cannot BELIEVE I am getting ready to release the final installment. 

It's emotional. It's gritty. It's difficult. It's shocking. 
And, for me, it's sad to say goodbye. 

I can only say that this series has been good to me - the READERS have been good to me. This will be the 10th book in the main series, and the 17th installment in the Collapse Universe. Overall, I'd say that's a rockin' achievement. 

This installment will be a long book - longer than any book that has come before it. It will include a surprise announcement at the end, and some bonus materiel, as well. 

Trust me when I say, this "bonus" material is VERY IMPORTANT. If you're a fan of the series and have been following the story for the last few years, YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS IT. 

That's all I can say about that

But seriously, guys.
Book 10. 
Installment 17. 

I am anticipating sales and downloads like never before. 

And to be honest, I'm nervous. Nervous to release the final book, nervous to say goodbye to the major plot of the Collapse Series, and nervous to allow some characters to leave me. I'm actually getting keyed up and woozy just writing this. 


But the characters of Collapse will always be a part of me - just like Cassidy Hart will be a part of all of us. 
A fighter. A force. 
A girl. 

Until June, my friends. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Barry Eisler: NYT Bestselling Author of John Rain Series

Image Credit: BarryEisler.Com, Photos for Media
Barry Eisler is an author I came across a few weeks ago, and his books are so cool that they were definitely worth mentioning during my 2017 Author Promotion Program. For those of you who may not know, Barry is a Bestselling (And New York Times Bestselling) American author of the John Rain Novels (among others). Not too long ago, Barry did an interview on Jennifer Jayne's website, where he talked about turning down a 500K publishing deal in favor of independent publishing. He explains his decision here - check it out, it's totally worth it! 

To readers, Eisler is famous for his gripping novels. According to his website: "Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA's Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler's bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous "Best Of" lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he's not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law." ( 

Today, I'm featuring the first book in his John Rain series, A Clean Kill in Tokyo (previously published as Rain Fall). 

Official Synopsis: 
(From Amazon.Com) 

Name: John Rain.
Vocation: Assassin.
Specialty: Natural Causes.
Base of operations: Tokyo.
Availability: Worldwide.
Half American, half Japanese, expert in both worlds but at home in neither, John Rain is the best killer money can buy. You tell him who. You tell him where. He doesn’t care about why…
Until he gets involved with Midori Kawamura, a beautiful jazz pianist—and the daughter of his latest kill.
A Clean Kill in Tokyo was previously published as Rain Fall, the first in the bestselling John Rain assassin series.

Grab it on Amazon today: Buy It Now!

Check out a full and complete list of Barry Eisler's published works right HERE. 

If you're looking for something new and exciting, give his books a shot today! 

Brought to you by:
Interested in having your book featured? 
Sign up HERE if you're an author!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Summer Lane: The Journey of The Collapse Series (How I Found Myself Here!)

If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be where I am right now in life, I would have laughed. Please understand, I wouldn't have laughed because I'm a scoffer, or anything short of a dreamer...but because sometimes, life surprises you. 

Let's get personal. A lot of people ask me when I decided to "become a writer." The truth is, nobody decides to "become" one. They either are or they aren't. For me, I chose to pursue the craft of writing professionally when I was 13. I was a young writer already, but professional? Hardly. I was a child! Yet that's when it started. To put it plainly, it was the best opportunity afforded me at that point in my life, and I chose to go after it with extreme aggression. I dedicated my entire being to reading and learning, to sharpening my skills. Let me note here that part of the learning process was feeling the blunt and necessary sting of rejection from magazines and publishers over and over again. 

First PR photo, barely 19 years-old. Original cover for debut novel.
At first, I'd cry every time I was rejected. Then, gradually, I realized that every "no" was merely one step closer to a "yes," - or at least a better opportunity. Besides, as time marched on, and the thousands of pages poured out of me, I became a stronger writer, wiser and more knowledgeable. I learned so much about the publishing business itself. I studied it for years, absorbing everything I could, like an optimistic sponge. I remember being positively overjoyed when, at the age of 17 (and still a Senior in High School), I landed my first paying freelance job as a writer. I was making pennies per word, and the work was difficult. Very difficult and never-ending. But it was a job - and more importantly, it was a writing job. From there, I went on to hundreds of more journalistic freelance jobs, writing everything from eBooks and product catalogs to travel articles, movie reviews and collegiate essays. By the time I was 18, I had already written thousands of professionally published articles - all of them ghostwritten and credited to someone else's name. 

My passion project of 2015.
It didn't matter: I was getting paid to write and to learn - therefore, I was happy. I went on to hold positions at small publishing houses as a publicist (both a freelance publicist and a staff publicist), a staff journalist, and a magazine co-founder (at the time, a big deal for me!). I began to be hired locally to teach creative writing programs to both classrooms and individual students. My resume and experience were both growing rapidly. By the time I was 19, I had more experience working in publishing than a lot of veterans did. I'd done every odd job, every small job, and every unwanted task out there. I wasn't afraid to take any job, and I think that really helped me improve myself. 

While I was working during this time, I had a small online magazine called Writing Belle, where I played around with book reviews for fun. When I was done with High School, I sharpened it a little and began featuring and interviewing other authors as a sort of internship for myself: a way to grow my journalism skills and circle of author friends at the same time. By 2012, I had a substantial group of writing peers and a relatively loyal reader base - both of whom were curiously awaiting my debut novel (I had always planned to release a novel, but I wasn't sure when). 

The Sequel. June 2013.
Writing Belle gave me the platform I needed, and in January 2013, I released my debut novel, State of Emergency. I'll be honest: while I had an entire array of stories for this universe in my head, I honestly didn't expect for the first installment to be anything more than a standalone novel. I ended the book on a cliffhanger, with the assumption that if I had enough readers and interest, I would publish the sequel. When I first released the book, I barely publicized it, wanting to merely watch how it performed on the merit of its story-line alone. Busy with other writing work, the mid-January release was relatively mediocre (certainly not bad - I sold a few hundred copies right off the bat, which surprised me!), and I didn't think much of it. But in February, I suddenly realized that I had buoyed in sales, and that I was sitting on bestseller lists on Amazon - a surprise to me! I remember the shock. TOTAL, UTTER, SHOCK. I couldn't believe it. I was suddenly receiving fan mail, and people were telling me how much they wanted me to write the next book. SO I DID. 

After the second installment (State of Chaos), my audience had grown by a few thousand. I was gaining traction - not losing it! The stories were popular, and suddenly, I was dropping other writing jobs simply so I keep up with the demand of readers who wanted the next installment. With the third book, State of Rebellion, my life changed: I was a full-time novelist and a #1 bestselling author. I began publishing other stories (The Zero Trilogy, The Bravo Saga, etc.) that I had always wanted to write, and now I had an audience to read them. After I sold my first 100,000 copies, I remember thinking, "I can't believe I'm here. I can't believe I've come this far!" It was a sort of dreamy haze, a funnel of disbelief. Was I really doing this? Yes, I was! 

I would by lying if I said that my own life experiences haven't heavily shaped my novels. Collapse itself is a showcase of loss and pain, and the spirit of human perseverance, the ability to fight back, and to conquer evil with love. I write about this because I've seen it...and to an extent, we all have. When Cassidy has felt pain, I've felt pain. When she's wanted vengeance, I've wanted vengeance. When she's wanted love, I've wanted love. In some ways, she and I are parallels - in other ways, she's so different than me, the person I want to be, the imaginary version of myself, the one who is strong and afraid of nothing. I think that's the appeal of Cassidy Hart, to be honest: she's just like us. All of us. 

Cassidy Hart is my hero, because she has been my undying friend and companion through some pretty rough patches in life. Cassidy herself has been an idea for many years, long before I ever published Collapse. She simply didn't develop properly until then. Much of her journey has been my own. When I published State of Emergency, I also met my future husband, and my love and affection for him helped me to better understand Cassidy's love and affection for Chris Young, the kind of love that you would die for. There's also the saying that you should never annoy the writer, or they will put you into a book and kill you! Funny, yes. True? In some instances, yes. Writers channel pieces of their own life and frustrations into their books - it's often so disguised that you can't see it, but we know. 

So here I am. The final installment of the Collapse Series will be releasing in just a few months. Since 2013, I have released 16 publications in the Collapse universe, and State of Hope will be the 17th. After this, I will have more authorial journeys to take, but the original series - the story of Collapse and the long, uphill journey it took to get here in life - will always reign supreme in my heart. If you're a writer (or anything else!), I encourage you to really give it your best shot. Don't be discouraged. If you have a good story, and you have talent, you will find just have to be willing to sacrifice for it. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hold for Hiker Trash: New Adult Outdoorsy Read by K.A. Hrycik

Title: Hold for Hiker Trash 
Author: K.A. Hrycik 
Grab it here: 

Watch the Book Trailer:


After her car goes up in flames, Vika Carmichael finds herself stranded in Northern Washington at a Victorian house that hasnt seen upkeep in longer than shes been alive, owned by an eccentric, foul-mouthed artist whose goal of reconstructing the old house is to aid Pacific Crest Trail hikers. 

  The Pacific Crest Trail—or PCT—is a continuous footpath that stretches 2,660 miles from the Mexican border in Southern California to the Canadian border in Northern Washington.

  In Hold for Hiker Trash, Vika, a recent college graduate, found comfort in her reputation as a perfect student,but her knowledge of art history is hardly applicable in the foreign culture of long distance hiking or in the reconstruction of a 140-year-old house. Vika is immersed in the company of the backpackers as they join to help Dane, the artist, and his mother, the affectionate Grandma Peach, strip the house before they can build again.

  Will Vika be able to find common ground with her new hosts and the rugged hikers who visit the house, or will she be left on the outside looking in?

“A Glimpse Into a Hike On The Pacific Crest Trail” 
Guest Post by K.A. Hyrcik

We all have that place. 

That place where uncertainty and fear float off, and the world makes total sense to us. For some, that place might be loud and colorful, for others it might be quiet and monochrome. Or maybe it’s loud and monochrome, or quiet and colorful. It might be inside, outside, on the water, in the air, on solid ground, caught in movement, or in stillness.  

For me, life makes sense on the trail. The sun comes up and I hike. The sun goes down and I sleep. Magic happens in the time in between. My place has the creak of trees, chatter of squirrels, smell of mud and vegetation, and the rumble of the wind as it cascades down the leeward side of a mountain. There are some woods I know better than others but really, any woods will do. I go there to explore, sometimes I go to run, and every once in a while I go because it’s cheaper than therapy. Usually it’s some combination of those three.

Luckily for me, there are hundreds of trails across the country for exactly this. I’ve spent months on the Pacific Crest Trail, a footpath that stretches from the Mexican border in California to the Canadian border in Washington, and so it stays near and dear to me. This trail has miles through high desert, alpine tundra, old growth forest, and coniferous forests, but the diversity doesn’t stop there. Hand in hand with the shifting landscape, the weather holds no shortage of dynamics. I’ve slogged over snow, walked close to fires, been pelted with hail, and caught in blistering heat.

And the wildlife! 

Now, I’m from a small town in Western New York. Rumor has it that black bears have been moving back into the area from parts south, but I’ve never seen one in my backyard. Let’s be serious, though: squirrels in the bird feeder and raccoons tearing through garbage cans are the biggest wildlife problems we have. Those brazen little buggers will rob you blind while you’re sitting around a campfire. 

California, Oregon, and Washington are a different story.

130 miles into my hike, I opened the door to an outhouse and what did I find in the toilet but a black widow spider. Along with every other kid around, I could identify their red hourglass pattern by third grade from picture books, but no one told me how my stomach would drop at how unsettling it is to see one up close and way too personal. It sat in a gnarly, asymmetric web that looked like a spider version of a haunted house, it’s narrow body carried around on long loooong legs and my brain just chanted, “venom, venom, venom.” Needless to stay, I bolted out of that confined little building and didn’t look back.

The first bear I saw on the trail was a young black bear, but unlike its name, it was brown in color. I startled him and he ran up a tree, but he must have eaten too many berries that day because he only made it up about three feet off the ground. He peeked around the tree and didn’t seem to want to move anywhere, but I wasn’t about to hang out to see if he’d change his mind. 

The first rattlesnake I saw was in Southern California on the approach to Walker Pass and the Sierras. He was sunning right in the middle of the trail and was motionless until I stomped my foot and those vibrations in his belly had him coiled and rattling immediately.  

I should have known … 

I should have known that all the bears wouldn’t simply run in the opposite direction; I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to spot all the rattlesnakes from fifteen feet away.  

The third bear I saw that summer was at night. I had set up my sleeping bag at the base of a pine tree in a little depression between the roots that caught needles that fell and created a comfy bed. When I woke to the rustling I knew to be my bear can, even my groggy, barely awake brain knew what I would see when I looked up. The bear stood on higher ground than where I slept about fifteen yards away, and he looked absolutely massive. I froze. I watched his hulking shadow as he tried and tried to get into the bear can, while I thought about yelling, making noise, wondering how fast I could stand up and shuck my sleeping bag because I probably wouldn’t be able to do much wrapped up like a burrito. Before I got a chance to do any of that, he had wandered over to a bag I had clipped into a tree. It popped when he swatted at it and it must have scared him because a second later, he took off at top speed, crashing through whole trees from the sounds of it, leaving a path of total destruction in his wake. 

I put up my tarp quickly and waited for his return, and return he did. About half an hour later, I heard the same rustling noises, but this time I was prepared. I started flashing my headlamp, yelling and banging tent stakes together. And victory! He ran away again and this time, he didn’t come back.  

I didn’t even see the second rattlesnake right away. The trail was packed dirt, north of the Sierras in California, and wound through towering trees — not exactly what I would consider optimal rattlesnake living conditions. This step — one of millions — was different. My foot planted and as my weight shifted forward there was a rustling and rattling six inches to the right of my shoe in the debris that lined the trail. My muscles reacted in total primal instinct and launched me backwards a couple feet. By the time I turned around, a rattlesnake lay in the middle of the trail coiled and rattling. My entire body was shaking, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I just stood there and yelled at this snake as though he could understand — and care about — my petrified state. We stood in a stalemate for a handful of minutes; neither of us approaching or retreating. Eventually I conceded the trail to the rattlesnake and picked my way over sticks and brush to get around while keeping a decent amount of space between the two of us, tossing in a few curse words over my shoulder as I made my way around him.

Even so, bears, snakes, black widows, hail …  none of that will scare me away. That’s my place. That’s where the world makes sense, because those same places have trees that are hundreds of years old, places where I can see the next row of mountains, and streams that crash over rocks and memorize me for hours. The trail is where uncertainty and fear drift off with the cascading wind or get tangled in roots, and I can’t wait to go back.

About the Author 
K.A. Hrycik grew up exploring the wilderness of Western New York. At 18, she got into a plane for the first time — and jumped out. Then came a summer in Alaska, time on a tall ship in the Pacific, and travels abroad. In May 2014, Hrycik started the Pacific Crest Trail at the Mexican border at dawn. Three and a half months later, she reached Canada proud, dirty, hungry, and with phenomenal calves. In addition to her travels, Hrycik received a degree in biology and minor in art history from Vassar College. WNY is her home base, where she tutors and teaches swim. Follow her on Instagram!

Brought to you by:
Interested in having your book featured on Writing Belle? 
Sign up HERE if you're an author!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Scott McDermott: Election 2064 (New Thriller!)


Election 2064: Book One
Scott McDermott
Publication date: February 13, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Political Thriller

"History doesn't repeat itself. It outdoes itself."
- Acton Granger, 54th President of the United States


Nearly five decades from now, America is finding its legs again after years of bitter conflict. Civ-2, as the Second Civil War came to be known, turned many of the nation's cities into battlefields and took millions of lives. Early in the 2060 campaign, Reformation League candidate Acton Granger made an unprecedented concession – he would forego a running mate and offer the vice presidency to his chief rival, whomever that may become. It was a gesture of unity that rocketed Granger to victory. Still stinging from defeat, the Conservative League’s Elijah Schroeder chose to swallow his pride and accept Granger’s offer, alienating his own supporters and political allies in the process.

Now two years into their fragile partnership, the 2064 campaign looms, and Elijah learns his selection was more complicated than the call for healing he and the country were led to believe. He must decide whether to continue toiling as a false symbol of harmony, or turn against the man who is now his boss and leader of the free world.

Meanwhile, other national figures emerge with their own designs on the election, from the Freedom League’s rebellious darling Shelby Monroe to the Progressive League's technology mogul Ben Allen, who could become the country’s first gay president.

As each contender charts their strategies and the barnstorming begins, a terrorist attack – orchestrated by a new, horrifying weapon – rocks the nation and turns all of their campaigns upside-down.

That is, all of them but one.

This is the first volume in the Election 2064 series.

Loop. Around. Under. Through.
The knitting needles flashed in her hands, throwing off metallic jangles with every stitch.  The only other sounds in the room came from the regular pings of the heart monitor and the less steady whoosh of the respirator pump.  Her husband’s chest rose and fell as the oxygen fed into him.
Loop. Around. Under. Through.
The blanket was coming along slowly.  When she was really humming, she could do forty rows an hour.  Right now she was barely managing half that, but it kept her hands steady and her mind occupied.
A cough seized him.  She dropped a needle and took his hand, feeling the convulsions through his limp fingers.  She massaged his palm, reflexively checking his pulse as it settled back to normal resting.
“Bear,” she whispered.  “Come back to me.”
But he remained unresponsive.  The monitor resumed its pinging drumbeat, the PanoScreen on the far wall dimming its glow.  Another screen cocooned around his chest, projecting his vitals in a softly luminescent holo.  She stroked his hair and leaned in, brushing a kiss on his temple for what felt like the millionth time.
Her Bear looked smaller already, as if the hospital bed was swallowing him at the edges, but he was still a giant of a man.  She let out a quiet sigh, picked up her dropped needle, and resumed working.  He might already have plenty of blankets, they draped over his body in cascading layers – but she felt he needed this one to truly be warm.  Because it came from her.
Loop. Around. Under. Through. 
My husband might die at any moment, and all I can do is tie a bunch of knots.
As her fingers maneuvered the yarn, turning it around and back again – repeating, repeating – she felt the repeating of their lives.  All of this was unnervingly similar to the time she met this sleeping giant, three decades ago.  It felt like yesterday, in that she could still picture every detail of his face when she first laid eyes on it, and twenty lifetimes ago, in how that face had aged.  But governing will do that.
And the circumstances between now and then, though mirrored in setting, had their differences.  Then, the hospital didn’t block off an entire floor for this single patient.
No, then he was just a kid who’d run into some hard luck (though, considering what could have been, he was lucky indeed).  Another casualty of conflict, bouncing around the convoluted bureaucracy of the VA before finding his way to the Long-Term Recovery Ward.  She almost forgot what war he’d been wounded in.
But she remembered that day, clear as noontime sun.  She even recalled the thoughts going through her mind, as if she could pluck them like grapes from a vine – the first thought being, How could someone that immense ever get wounded?
And how he’d smiled at her from his hospital bed, sipping groggily out of a milk carton.  “Ma’am, I got shot in the ass,” he said, as if to answer her thought.  A morphine drip may have slurred his speech, but it put him in a breezy mood.  “You gonna fix me?”
Her second thought was, Handsome, probably, when not doped up.
“Fortunately,” she responded, “the backside is an alright place to take a bullet, considering.  My guess is, whoever shot you couldn’t reach your head.  Is the army growing soldiers in labs now, or are they breeding you with grizzly bears?”
He gave a mock bear’s roar, clawing the air – then began to laugh, a gurgle of spittle escaping his mouth.  Her toes inched toward him, as if she was drawn in by his gravity – a stray comet, chancing upon a star, finding orbit.

About the Author
Scott McDermott lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two furballs. You can find him on Twitter @DudeWhoWrites.

Brought to you by:
Interested in having your book featured on Writing Belle?
 Sign up HERE if you're an author!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Independent Publishing Tips: How to Get Started!

Fun fact: Independent Publishing is just as powerful as traditional publishing these days. I love it. So many more writers in this world have a chance to get their work into the world because of the platform of the Internet - it's awesome. 

I get a LOT of questions - daily, almost - about independent publishing, and what it takes to actually MAKE it in this business. Many of those questions are actually the same - over and over again, the basic inquiries about how to get started, how to market, how to sell...the list goes on. 

Below, I have written up answers to the most commonly asked FAQs that I receive every week. If you are a newly-published independent author, or plan to be, you may find this guide interesting and helpful! 

How and where do I even START? 
Getting started is the most difficult part, for sure. It's literally THE MOST common question, too. How do you start? When do you start? Why? The answer is that you need to have a few ducks in a row before you even consider hitting the publishing world. First, you need a finished manuscript. Second, you need a book cover. Third, you need a clear idea of who exactly your target market is. For example, are you looking to sell to children? Women? Young adults? This is important and you should know exactly who your audience is at the beginning of your publishing journey. 

What kind of an online presence do I need? 
Seriously, it's so cool to live in the 21st century, because we as authors can reach people all around the world! This means that you need a slick, fun and accessible online presence for readers. You need a website, possibly a blog (but ONLY if you intend on actually keeping it current - nothing looks worse than a blog that you started and never use...) and a Twitter account. I recommend Twitter because it's easy to use, FUN to use and quick to access. Facebook is another option for sure, but again...only if you intend on keeping it updated. 

What about editing? 
Here's the thing: a lot of people who self-publishing don't hire editors. I understand why: it's another business expense and most people feel that they can edit their own work. I'm here to tell you that this is the WRONG way to approach publishing. Everybody needs editors. I structure Writing Belle Publishing and everything I do exactly like a traditional company - editing and all - in order to crank out high quality stories. Quality attracts customers, customers pay for your work, and that, in turn, is money that you can use to hire more editors on your upcoming work. Editing is not only worth it - it's a MUST. 

Marketing: do I need to hire a publicist? 
It depends, really, on how you plan to sell your book. For example, if you're going to mainly market your book locally in book stores and boutiques, you can totally do that yourself. In fact, you can do your own PR work FOREVER if you want, as long as you're staying consistent and working hard. A lot of "hired" publicists don't make a dent in spreading the word about your novel - I do most of my PR my work myself. I hire out when I'm swamped with work and need someone to pick up some of the workload, but you can worry about that down the road. Off the bat, I'd recommend doing your own PR work, then branch out when you expand your business. 

What about literary agents? Do I need an agent? 
If you intend on independently publishing a book, then absolutely not! Lit agents are great if you're trying to get a Big 6 publishing deal, and even then, it's nigh impossible to net anyone's interest. My philosophy is this: why have someone else take a cut of your hard-earned work if you don't have to? There are some projects I consider lit agents for, and others that I don't. It's really up to you. Just be prepared to get a LOT of "nos" from agents before you get a yes. 

How in the HECK do I format my book to sell on Amazon and Barnes & Noble? 
Lucky for you, there are tons of online services that offer conversions for manuscripts these days. A quick Google-search will provide you with tons of options - and price ranges - to choose from. This is no longer as difficult as it was when I was first starting out - it used to be incredibly complicated to find someone who could properly format a novel! Not so anymore. 

What about "self-publishing" companies? 
Here's where it gets sticky. Some companies out there claim to offer self-publishing services to independent authors - providing formatting, paperback printing/distribution and publicity packages. This is often - though not always - a scam. I have fallen prey to such scam-houses in my career, shelling out thousands of dollars for simple services that never materialize, royalties that are NEVER received, and publicity that doesn't happen. Be very careful who you sign contracts with - publishing is a dog-eat-dog world, and there are a LOT of sharks in the water, hoping to make an easy buck. 

What's the real key to success here? 
Consistency, quality and content. Be consistent with the content you create, and make sure it's GOOD. People will always come back if you have those three elements. 

If you're an author who is just starting their publishing journey...good luck! It takes a lot of stamina to do this crazy job, and to stay afloat in this intense business. I salute you.