If Practice Makes Perfect…

…how long do we have to practice before we get it down pat?

Here’s the story:

Quite some time ago, I thought it would be fun to send my Tasmanian friend a copy of The Story in the Stars. Rather than paying to ship it from here in the US, I figured I’d just order it from Amazon.au and have them send it directly to her. Simple, right? Well, imagine my surprise to discover that in Australia, my books are only available on Kindle, not in print.

Turns out CreateSpace has no printing facilities in that part of the world. To have it printed elsewhere and shipped there would be cost-prohibitive, so they don’t offer their print titles in Australia.

This caused me considerable consternation. When we discussed the possibility of helping my friend self-publish her book, we were talking about doing it through CreateSpace. However, it would make no sense to publish on a platform that doesn’t have the ability to print books in the country where she lives.

After making some inquiries, I learned that IngramSpark does have printing facilities in Australia. As I looked into it further, I decided that of all the various self-publishing options out there, that seems to be the best for our situation.

So, once I finished the manuscript for the JS Freeman project and while waiting for the covers to be completed, I decided to do a practice run (or four) with IngramSpark by publishing the Gannah series with them.

Starting with The Story in the Stars, I reviewed the CreateSpace manuscript, looking for errors and little things I wanted to tweak. I assigned it an ASIN and reformatted it for IngramSpark. I created a bar code for the cover and inserted it in the appropriate place. I uploaded the whole thing, it was accepted, and I received an electronic proof.

I didn’t look at the e-proof very closely, though, because I preferred to review it in print. So I ordered a print proof. It didn’t come… it didn’t come… it didn’t come… Finally I looked to see what the hold-up was and discovered I hadn’t completed the process of ordering it. Ah, that explained it… So I ordered a copy of the print proof and did it right, and when it finally arrived, I went through it with a fine-toothed comb.

My description of all this sounds pretty cut-and-dried, but it’s not. I’m not very techy. Through all the process, I ran into various complications, confusions, and frustrations. And I was very glad I’d ordered a print proof, because I found a number of rather substantial things I wanted to change.

Which I did. And then I uploaded the new-and-improved manuscript, only to discover that the cover needs to be changed, because the spine width was no longer sufficient for the number of pages. Argh!

I contacted the cover designer and asked if he’d be able to make that change for me—and while he’s at it, could he add the Gannah’s Gate logo? (That’s the name of the publishing company I established for these purposes.) Sure, he says, no problem – except he couldn’t use the logo in any of the formats I provided him.

Back back and forth with the company that designed the logo – finally got that wrinkle ironed out. But while we’re doing the cover for Stars, I’d better see how many pages the new-and-improved manuscripts will be for the other books in the series, so I can get all the covers appropriately revised. That meant going through each of the other three books carefully and making revisions and adaptations for the IngramSpark platform, then giving the cover designer the page count and spine width requirements for each.

At last, I think all that’s completed, and I think I’m ready to begin the uploading process, followed by examining the proofs, and then taking the plunge and making them available on IngramSpark.

Every step of the way, I feel like I shouldn’t have to struggle with it so much. I’ve self-published books before, right? I’ve done formatting before. I shouldn’t have to work up such a sweat over it. But yet, I do.

I hope by the time I’m ready to go through all this over again with the JS Freeman series (which I plan to do on both IngramSpark and CreateSpace), and eventually my friend’s book, I’ll be more comfortable with it.

They say practice makes perfect, and I’m practicing! I really am! But I don’t anticipate the end result to be perfection. Only God is perfect. I’m just shooting for acceptable.

I’ll keep you apprised as to developments.

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It’s About Time!

After keeping the same site format for almost seven (7) years, I’ve finally updated my blog! I like the simple format and the clean look. I may tweak it here and there yet–for instance, I’d like to find a good photo to set up as the featured image, if this template will allow me to do that. But because I haven’t posted anything since March, I’m letting it go out into the world despite its immature state.

As you might notice, I’ve made small revisions to my “About” page as well as the tab for the Gateway to Gannah series. And I’ve added three new tabs:

  • One for my upcoming speculative fiction series, The Four Lives of Jemma Freeman;
  • Another for the tiny house novella series;
  • And a third for the new publishing company I’ve recently created, Gannah’s Gate.

Check them out! What do you think?

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Gratitude: It’s Worth More Than 13 Scrabble Points

thanks-1804597_1280This is the time of year when people talk about things they’re thankful for. Gratitude is a healthy thing, and it’s refreshing to hear people express it instead of whining.

Today, I’d like to comment on how thankful I am that I don’t have to earn my living by writing.

Yes, I enjoy writing, and I’m probably fairly competent at it. But earn a living at it? Ha! In order to make money, you have to actually market yourself. And your product. And I loathe, abhor, detest, despise, and abominate* marketing in any form. Besides that, I dislike it rather intensely.

Though I might phrase it a bit more passionately than most, the majority of my fellow-writers feel pretty much the same way. We’d rather write than do promotion. But if you want to sell books (or articles, or whatever you write), you have to let people know your work is available. And worth buying. And there’s no way to do that without putting a good bit of effort into it.

I sell a book now and then. I think since my first self-published book came out in 2014, there’s only been one month when I didn’t earn a few cents’ royalties. (And when I say “a few cents,” I mean that literally. There have been more months than I care to admit when my total month’s royalties for all four books have totaled under a dollar.) But I figure even if I sell only one ebook, that’s one new reader who might tell one or two others about the Gannah stories and/or buy another book in the series. In other words, though I can’t really call it progress, it’s better than paying people to take a book.
to-write-1700787_1280
So I’m thankful my husband has always been a good provider. His provision allows me the luxury of spending my time writing without having to stress over marketing.

Which is not to say I don’t do any marketing. Awhile back, I submitted The Story in the Stars to Rabid Reader Reviews, and they liked it. Though the review was published a few years ago, they recently tweeted about it, and I thought, “Hmmm, that was a good review, wasn’t it? Maybe I should remind people it’s out there.”

So, in case you care, hop on over to their site and check it out. And if you haven’t bought the book yet, treat yourself to a good read. If you have a Kindle, you can pick it up for a mere 99 cents, so you shouldn’t have to break into the kids’ piggy bank to afford it. And I’ll get a 34-cent royalty payment. We both win!

Thanks!

*apple-1603132_1280In case you’re curious, that heart-felt phrase is borrowed from a poem I loved as a kid. While you’re clicking on links, check it out too!

 

 

 

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Who Doesn’t Love Free?

This post’s title suggests a number of interesting possibilities, but I really only have one thing in mind: free books!

New coverTwo of my fellow author-bloggers are currently conducting book giveaways on my behalf. Anna Weaver Hurtt is running a contest in which the winner gets a copy of The Story in the Stars, and India’s Crown blog is providing one lucky reader the opportunity to win The Last Toqeph.

Not only that, but both blogs offer the chance to read brilliant, scintilLost and Foundlating interviews with yours truly. That’s right, brilliant. Scintillating.

Or at least mildly interesting. Well, maybe not even that — if you’re a reader of my blog, you’ve probably already heard the answers to all their questions. But hop on over to both blogs anyway and enter to win a book or two. Even if you already own one, it’s nice to support the bloggers. And if you win, you’ll have a head start on your Christmas shopping.

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Beware the Polyspore Gock

polyspore GockMany mornings, I wake up with a random word or phrase in my mind.

Quite a few creative people find inspiration in dreams. Most of the writing “experts” advise us to keep a pad of paper and a pen (or the electronic version thereof) at our bedside, so we can write things down when they come to us when we wake up.

Indeed, these thoughts are fleeting, and if we don’t record them when fresh, they’ll soon vanish like dew in the morning sun.

In my case, though, that would be no great loss. Once the sleepiness clears, I invariably realize all that brilliant stuff that came to me in my sleep was utter nonsense.

Take yesterday morning’s wisdom, for instance. I awoke with this profound statement running through my mind:

Or perhaps he just fears the polyspore Gock.

This raises many questions. The “or perhaps” suggests that the first presumption was that he feared something else. Like what?

Would he fear monospore Gock, or is it just the polyspore variety that’s dangerous? Or is neither dangerous? Maybe this whole fear-of-Gock thing is a groundless phobia. I suspect that’s the case, as saying he “just” fears the polyspore Gock makes it sound like it’s not worth being afraid of.

The statement is shrouded in mystery, to be sure. But I think I can identify the “he” in the statement. My waking impression was that it referred to the Dr. Pik character from Gannah.

And that would make sense. Pik was on my mind when I went to sleep, because I’d just been reviewing the print proof for the newly-released second edition of Words in the Wind. And Pik, despite his physical size and strength, is afraid of many things.

But polyspore? Gock? I have no idea.

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday finishing up the proof. This morning, I clickedLost and Found “Publish,” so perhaps by the time you read this, it will be ready for purchase. I did find the page for the print version, but as of this moment, none of the reviews have been transferred yet, and the Kindle version is not yet live.

Once the whole Gannah series is up and running, I can start thinking about promoting it. Well, actually, I’m already thinking about promotion. But soon, I’ll be able to get serious about it.

While I’m working on that, I’ll have to keep my eye peeled for that polyspore Gock stuff. I’m not sure it’s something to fear, or if I’ll recognize it when I see it. But I know it’s out there, because I dreamed it. And dreams are always true, right?

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As The Old Saying Goes…

file0001772520894A man may toil from sun to sun, but a writer’s job is never done.

Oh, wait… it’s supposed to be a woman’s job, not a writer’s. But what if that woman is a writer?

[Side note: I looked online for free images for working, laboring, toiling, tired woman, and so on, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So these guys with the jackhammers will have to do.]

Using a jackhammer is work — a lot more physically toilsome than writing. So much so, in fact, that it isn’t fair to compare the tasks.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

BUT… at least when you’re done breaking up concrete, it’s done. I doubt any of the guys in the picture above went back to the job site later and said, “Hey, I want to revise that.”

Which is what this “elderly woman with laptop” (the caption given to this image by FreeDigitalPhotos) has a bad habit of doing. (In case that statement wasn’t clear, I’m talking about me, not the model in the photo.)

Okay, so I guess I’m not elderly yet. But I’m a gray-haired woman with a laptop, and that can be dangerous.

Old cover
Old cover
New cover
New cover

As you may be aware, Risen Books recently released me from my contract so I can self- publish the first two titles in the Gateway to Gannah series, with new cover art. And, although they offered me the manuscript files, I elected to use what I already had on my computer from the first time around, as I intended to revise them anyway. I didn’t plan to change either of the story details, just tweak a word here and there.

I embarked on that project about the time I contacted the designer to talk about doing new covers. So when he completed the first one last week, I had the first book revised and formatted and ready to go. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and checked the digital proof.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.18.47 PMHmmm… there were a few glitches. For instance, I omitted a drop cap here and there, or indented the first paragraph of a scene when I shouldn’t have. So I fixed the issues in my document and uploaded the corrected version.

Oops. Somehow one of the chapters was in a different size font. Redo. Upload again.

But then…. I’d put a fleuron at the beginning of each chapter (that little star-like thing you Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.24.36 PMsee in the example on the right) as well between scene changes. But it looked too cluttered that way, so I took out all the flourishes between scenes but left them at the beginning of each chapter.

Upload again.

Eventually, I was ready to order a print proof, which required a wait of several days until it arrived. During that time, I sparred with the cover designer over what to do for the next book. (I say “sparred” because I always feel like I’m a pain in the neck in these discussions. But he’s very nice through the whole process, and if he grumbles about it, I never hear him.) We discussed numerous options and he did a few preliminary sketches, and we finally came to an agreement as to what scene to depict and what it should look like.

to flourish...
to flourish…
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.33.17 PM
…or not to flourish…

Meanwhile, the print proof arrived, and, highlighter at the ready, and with a pack of little sticky flags at hand for marking pages, I went over it verrry carefully.

 

And made a change to almost every page! I didn’t find many actual errors, but I found LOTS of places where I wanted to reword something. And, hey, if I’m going to make any changes, I might as well make a lot of them, right?

Correct this, correct that, for 330 pages. Upload again. Review the digital proof once more!

WAK! Here’s another paragraph that’s indented, though it’s not supposed to be. And there’s one where the drop cap is missing. ARGH!

Correct. Upload. Review. Oh, and did I mention, each time I thought I was satisfied, I had to wait for CreateSpace to look it over before I could do the final proof? The whole process took several days.

But then, finally! After an uncounted number of repetitions of this exercise, I approved the proof. Publish the puppy!

And then there’s the Kindle version. When I first uploaded it and checked out the result, I remembered–belatedly–that I didn’t want those fleurons at the beginning of the chapters in the ebook version; I only wanted to use them to delineate scene breaks. (Just the opposite of how I did it on the print version.)

Revise. Upload.

Oh, you know what? The drop caps don’t translate well into that format. I should get rid of them in the ebook version.

Revise. Upload.

Well. All that to say… the new-and-improved The Story in the Stars is now available on  Kindle, and it should be available very soon in print. (If not, I’ll have to find out why, because it should be; but at present, the only print version I can find is the original edition. Which I thought was supposed to have been taken off Amazon as of February 15, but it obviously hasn’t been.)

Next, I get to do the same thing with Words in the Wind, once Ken Raney finishes up the beautiful cover he’s creating for it.

James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)
James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)

After that, maybe I can concentrate on some of these other projects I have on the back burner.

Oh, yes — another thing about writing that makes it never-ending: you can continue doing it long after you’re too old to use a jackhammer.

James Michener published his last novel at the age of 87, and shortly before his death at the age of 90, he published a collection of poetry. Maybe by the time I’m that age, I’ll have hammered out the ins and outs of this business…

 

 

 

 

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I Give My New Cover Five Stars

Lost and Found

 

The new cover art for The Story in the Stars is finished — and I don’t mind telling you, I’m delighted with it!

I hadn’t planned to reveal it before republishing the book, but I was too excited about it to keep it under my hat. Doesn’t this make you want to skate to Gannah just as fast as you can get there?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ken Raney of Clash Creative.

 

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