Crazy about books? Meet LitNuts!

Choices is happy to introduce you to LitNuts. Here’s what they are all about.

For Readers

So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!).

And authors, you’ll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers.

For Authors

LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and create positive word-of-mouth.


Co-founder Mike O’Mary gives us a deeper dive into LitNuts and why he wanted to bring booklovers a wide variety of great indie titles. Plus he has very generous comments about me, Madeline Sharples, the creator of this website.

Here’s Mike:

First of all, thank you very much to Madeline for having us as guests on her website—and greetings to all of Madeline’s friends and followers here, on social media, and in real life!

I have known Madeline and her husband, Bob, for many years now (since 2012, Madeline, if you can believe that!), and when Madeline made a trip to Chicago several years ago to promote one of her books, Kathleen also met her. Needless to say, we’re big fans—of Madeline’s writing, yes, but also of her rare combination of gentle spirit and fierce determination. We are fortunate to know her and to be able to learn from her.

Today, I’m going to give you a closer look at LitNuts, the free literary newsletter that Kathleen and I started earlier this year, but first, I want to tell you about how we got to this point, and why it’s so appropriate that our current “blog tour” to promote LitNuts should include a stop at Madeline’s website.

In 2009, I launched an independent book publishing company called Dream of Things. Our first books were anthologies of essay collections, but in short order, we turned our attention to memoirs.

The second memoir published by Dream of Things was Madeline’s Leaving the Hall Light On. Her memoir had been previously published, but her publisher went out of business (a constant concern for many small publishers). Madeline asked me to take a look at her book, I did, and together we went on to republish it—and to sell more than 7,000 copies.

In a book industry where million-dollar deals get the headlines and way too much of the focus is on “bestsellers,” 7,000 copies may not sound like a lot. But consider the following:

  • The average U.S. nonfiction books sells less than 250 copies per year and less than 2,000 copies in its lifetime.
  • The average author-published book sells 250-300 copies in its lifetime.
  • A book has less than a 1% chance of being stocked in book stores.
  • There are about 80,000 biographies and memoirs available for sale on Amazon.

Disclaimer: Statistics are notoriously difficult to nail down in an industry with thousands of publishers and with more and more sales occurring via nontraditional channels, but based on my reading of numerous reports and articles on book sales, I believe the above numbers are in the right ballpark.

Given that data on average sales, any book that sells more than 5,000 copies is considered respectable with a Big Five publisher, and a “home run” with a small publisher.

My point here is not to boast about or claim credit for sales of Madeline’s book. Without a doubt, all credit goes to Madeline for her commitment to and persistence in sharing her story. But as an independent publisher, the challenge of marketing books by Madeline and others was clear: How to you break through the “noise” of 80,000 other books in your genre to even get noticed by readers—especially when the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster) and their ~250 imprints dominate space in book stores and online?

The answer is guerilla marketing. A review in the New York Review of Books or a window display at Barnes & Noble are nice things, but by no means typical. More typical for the indie publisher or author is a marketing plan full of baby steps: a social media post here, a guest blog post there, a book promotion in a newsletter, a reading at a local book store or coffee shop, etc., etc., done persistently over months or even years. Eventually, those efforts will lead to online reader reviews, which are worth their weight in gold, and word-of-mouth sales, which I regard as the Holy Grail of indie publishing.

All of that brings me to a tidbit of information that I feel is very important for publishers, authors and readers: e-newsletters, websites and book bloggers play a critical role in connecting readers with any author or book not published by the Big Five. Such newsletters, websites and blogs are typically free for readers and (for the most part) affordable for authors and indie publishers.

With that bit of knowledge, Kathleen and I made e-newsletters about books a core part of our marketing strategy at Dream of Things. There are a lot of newsletters about books—from BookBub and eReader News Today, to Book Bassett and the Choosy Bookworm—and we tried them all. Along the way, we learned which ones work and which ones don’t. We had a simple hurdle: If a newsletter generated enough sales to recoup the $25 or $100 or $500 we paid to be in it, then it was a success. Even if it was a breakeven financially, that was a win—because we knew we’d also get online reader reviews and word-of-mouth, two things you really can’t buy.

Unfortunately, we learned that many newsletters don’t generate sales, and are in effect just preying on authors.

We also learned that even the good newsletters could be difficult to navigate, with convoluted promotion packages to analyze, or tiered pricing structures, or a focus on “bargains” that excludes many best sellers, recent releases and award-winning books (not all great books are $2.99 or less). And in the case of industry leader BookBub, prices got so high that many authors and small publishers have essentially been priced out of the newsletter.

All of that brings me to LitNuts—and the “closer look” you were promised at the outset.

After many years of experience using e-newsletters to promote books as a publisher, I began to think that there might be a better way to do this. Kathleen agreed, and earlier this year, we launched LitNuts. Here’s what we’re doing different:

  • A focus on indie books. No other newsletter has this focus, yet indie publishing is often referred to as the “lifeblood of the book industry.” While the Big Five are focusing on million-dollar book deals and the next big bestseller, indie publishers are nurturing new authors and emphasizing creativity and innovation over profits.
  • ..and more! As I said earlier, not all great books are $2.99 or less. LitNuts will feature plenty of deals (everybody likes a good deal), but by including a variety of books across a range of price points, we can bring readers a wide selection of great indie books from which to choose.
  • More types of writing. LitNuts will feature collections of short stories, essays and poetry—types of writing that many newsletters exclude simply because they don’t typically sell as well as novels and book-length nonfiction.
  • Customized content for each subscriber. We ask subscribers to share their genre preferences, and then we include only those types of books in that subscriber’s newsletter. (Preferences can be updated at any time.) This is leading edge technology for e-newsletters in any It means less clutter in your inbox, and less clutter in your newsletter.
  • Keep it simple. Everything I’ve mentioned to this point is mainly about benefits for readers (although indie authors also benefit from our focus on indie books), but keeping it simple is mainly for authors and publishers. So at LitNuts, we have no convoluted “packages” to analyze…no tiered pricing…no waiting to see if the date an author wants for her book promotion is available. It’s a very affordable $25 to be featured in LitNuts, and our simple order form allows you to select the date of your book promotion.

I sincerely believe that by casting a wide net and by keeping it simple, LitNuts can better connect readers with the incredible variety of books coming out of the world of indie publishing. If all you’re seeing is books from the Big Five, you’re really missing out. Give LitNuts a try and you’ll see what I mean.

Two incentives to try LitNuts:

  • Giveaway for Booklovers: Win a $100 Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Apple or Google Gift Card (your choice!) in a random drawing on Thanksgiving Day. Subscribe by Thanksgiving to be eligible.
  • Free Book Promotion for Authors: Get a free book promotion with LitNuts using discount code WOW! now through the end of 2020.


About LitNuts and owners Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary:

LitNuts is a woman-owned, family-run business founded by Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary, who share a love of literature and reading. Kathleen is an avid reader with 10 years of marketing experience, including with Dream of Things, a small press founded by Mike in 2009. During its 10 year history, Dream of Things published three New York Times Bestsellers, three winners of the Hoffer Award, and one book that has been optioned for a film. Kathleen and Mike drew upon their experience of publishing and marketing books on a shoestring budget to create LitNuts, in the hope of helping other indie presses achieve success.

Authors and readers, visit to sign up for their newsletter, where you can hear about incredible books from indie publishers that you wouldn’t hear about anywhere else.

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Thanks again for having LitNuts as a guest, Madeline!

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