Thank you, Mr. Friedlander

Award-winning book designer, blogger, and author Joel Friedlander passed away on May 7, 2021. Mr. Friedlander was a guiding light for self-published authors, and he was a great friend to Indies Unlimited. His popular website reposted scores of blogs that were first published on Indies Unlimited, graciously opening up our article writers to a whole new audience.

In his memory, we’d like to recall some moments that we’re thankful for.

I was teaching a one-day self-pubbing seminar several years ago. I was doing the whole day solo, and I was nervous as hell. I got to the venue early and on my phone, I checked out whether any of the blogs I’d submitted had been accepted to Joel’s Book Designer website. As many of you know, it’s a super popular blog for indie authors. My blog was featured that day. Joel Friedlander to the rescue. Just in case I needed any extra credibility, I was able to brag myself up to the students in my class by showing them what a big deal I was on the Book Designer site. I’m so thankful for all the information I learned from that site over the years and any time I had a question, Joel was always available to shoot me an answer back. Thank you for all that you did for the self-publishing industry, Joel. You made a difference.
– Martin Crosbie, Author

While I never personally knew Joel Friedlander, his site was like a good friend. It provided a font of information, and I found myself often harkening back to it in order to reference so many of the tidbits he shared. The copyright page samples, while so simple, were the type of nitty gritty, just-in-time data that was not glitzy but necessary for authors to know. When creating layouts for my print and ebooks, I referenced the Book Designer site often, glad to have the information handy and easily accessible. Joel’s willingness to share and collate so much information on his site and ask nothing in return is evidence of his kindness and giving spirit. While those who knew and loved him best will miss him most, the indie publishing community has also lost an important and impactful voice.
– RJ Crayton, Author

I think the thing I most appreciated about Joel is that he didn’t discount indie authors. He believed that we could create books that looked just as good, or even better, than those sold by traditional publishers. He will be sorely missed in the indie community. Plus Joel was the very first person to agree to a LynneQuisition interview, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
– Lynn Cantwell, Author

I’m greatly saddened by this news. Joel was very generous, not just with authors, but also with sharing his site with others, like IU. It was an honor and a pleasure being on top resource lists next to The Book Designer. Joel was always classy and that was one of the things that made him special. The Book Designer was a finalist in the Indies Unlimited Excellence Awards a number of times, and it was well deserved. Whenever I teach self-publishing, I always list The Book Designer as a resource site for my students. The industry has lost a leader and an advocate. Rest in peace, Mr. Friedlander.
– K.S. Brooks, Author & Executive Director of Indies Unlimited

Online relationships are tricky. Sometimes you get a false sense of who someone is. With Joel, this was never the case. He wouldn’t hesitate to give advice, but always tempered it with encouragement. We were honored to be associated with him. On behalf of Indies Unlimited and self-published authors everywhere, thank you, Mr. Friedlander.

In Memory of Lou

author lou silvestri
This is the photo Lou provided for his IU Anthology bio.

Normally, we don’t post things like this on Indies Unlimited, because, sadly, we lose so many friends over the years, and  their families know best how to share their memory and their legacy. In this case, however, as best as I can tell, Indies Unlimited was Lou Silvestri’s family.

There isn’t a lot of information about Lou out there. We’re not certain where he was born – New York City is a good guess, though. We have learned that he passed away in December at the age of 90, in Phoenix, Arizona.

What we do know about Lou is that he was a sweet, wonderful, thoughtful, funny man who, even at age 90, was competing in our weekly Flash Fiction Challenges – and he was having fun doing it. As I went back through our many emails to find quotes or anything I could use in this post, it brought me great happiness. He was always so grateful to IU for giving him the platform to write, and even made friends with some of the other flash fiction contestants who also encouraged him to publish his stories in books. And that he did – in 2017 he self-published two collections. So if you hear someone say “I’m too old to self-publish,” Lou proved them wrong.






If there was a week when Lou didn’t post a story, the IU staff would notice. Nearly all his stories had some element of humor in them, and many times he won Editors’ Choice honors and was included in the Anthology at year’s end. And in his honor, the 2020 Anthology will be dedicated to him.

Lou was so sweet. He sent us his very first royalty check. Here’s a snippet from that email:

Received a check for $5.76 (Yippee!!!)  from On Demand Publishing (Amazon???) for  4 “royalties”??? dating back to February 12, 2017 from the only two books I ever (self) published. Get a load of me, a very first time PAID author.  Dose that finally make me a professional???  🙂  Hey, I’m gonna be 90 next Thursday, 3/28.

I couldn’t bring myself to cash it, and I still have it to this day as a memento.

Lou, you will be greatly missed. We already miss your presence during the flash fiction challenge. Please know you are in our thoughts, and our hearts.

One of many lovely holiday greetings made by Lou for IU staff and the other Flash Fiction contestants.

Technical Issues

Hey All,

WordPress made a major update last night, and now the admin end of the website here doesn’t work. We’ve got calls into Tech Support, but….

In any case, hang in there, we’re working on it.

– The Frazzled Management

(We’d add a funny photo of a stressed out person here, but sadly, we can’t…)

Writing to Cope or Whatever Works

IU Exec Director KS Brooks eats too much whipped cream
Whipped cream is delicious.

I hope each and every one of you is home safe, and that you and your families are healthy.

This is a troubling time, with the future uncertain. Many have lost their jobs, and most of those who haven’t are now working from home. Many of them have their children home as well. None of these scenarios are exactly the greatest ambiance for writing.

Yet writing (and eating lots of chocolate or whipped cream) is a great coping mechanism. Even simply jotting down what you saw and felt in an attempt to document the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020 can provide some relief, and it won’t make you fat.

As the notes come out, it’s not a far reach to imagine using them in a post-apocalyptic novel or a science fiction book. Of course, you could just use them in an actual memoir. Or, you could not use them at all, or file them in a drawer. Then, there are some of us who use humor to cope – and will end up writing a spoof or comedy. Maybe you just want to have something documented to share with your grandchildren. None of these ways is wrong. Whatever helps you cope is the right thing to do.

Those of you who have been working on projects may feel a little lost and unable to focus. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. These are times the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Feeling a little funky is to be expected. I’ve had a huge list of things to get done forever and now I’m at a loss for what those are. If looking at memes on Facebook was on the list, I’d be an overachiever. In any case, give yourself time to deal with things.

I think a lot of people feel helpless right now, but the reality of it is – staying home is doing something. It’s pulling dominoes out of the line and hopefully preventing something even more catastrophic.

An activity that might help could be playing a writing game with your kids. Ask them to write down how they feel about being home right now. Maybe you want to ask them to write what they would be doing if they could do anything. They could also write about what worries them. This will give you insight into what they’re going through and be an easy way to open up discussion and help them overcome their fears. Just don’t forget to write your own assignment at the same time. If they’re too young to write, have them draw.

Many authors are making their books free so people (and kids!) can have something to read to pass the time. Reading is such a great escape. Smashwords is having a big sale right now and many of those books are free.

If it moves you, take advantage of those free books. Take advantage of the new time you may have. Read, write – do what helps you find your balance. If it’s neither, that’s fine, too. Find something that works for you, and don’t feel guilty about it!

Keep safe and healthy. Whatever the “new normal” ends up being, we’ll get there together.

All the best from me and the IU staff,