Friday, May 30, 2014

The Inconvenient Widow Giveaway

Okay, so Goodreads had some sort of e-mail glitch (according to them) and since they couldn't e-mail me a confirmation, my Giveaway for The Inconvenient Widow (an inspirational historical romance) didn't go live until a few days ago. I kept changing the "end date" to reflect the not getting posted, but they posted it when there were only a few days left.

So, I am drawing your attention to it - just click the link above to enter. Goodreads picks the winners and I send them the book, but I have to agree to a very strict contract that prohibits me from doing anything with that information except that.

I want this giveaway to end before I tell you my opinion on these. Then I will have two under my belt and I can better give you a rounded opinion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Balancing Self-publishing and Freelancing

Whether you are interested in self-publishing or whether you are interested in freelancing, both require a lot of work and a lot of promotion/marketing. For me, freelancing is my income. When I cut off my freelancing work, as I have done for the past month and a half, I make no money. Yes, I have begun to sell some of the books I have been self-publishing, but they are no where near the level of sales I need to give up freelancing. For me, freelancing is much easier than trying to promote my self-published books by myself.

Self-publishing also costs money - lots of money in the beginning that you might not have unless you are independently wealthy. So, I work as a freelancer and then watch all my money drizzle into my self-publishing efforts.

I spend money on editors, translators, and book cover artists. I spend money buying books to give away on Goodreads and to friends and family members. I am constantly seeking people who will review my books on Amazon, but I haven't discovered the legal way of finding them yet. All this takes time - a lot of time that I could be making money freelancing.

So, I have spent most of the last month self-publishing. I wish I could jump back into freelancing, but I still have some obstacles to sort through first. Primarily, I have to finish Johnny 5's rewrite (which is technically a freelance job, but one that has been on my plate too long). Actually, two of the early books I wrote for him have been published and they have many favorable Amazon reviews... maybe I should ask him how he does it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting a hardcover on Createspace.

*PLEASE NOTE: CreateSpace no longer offers this feature.

Several weeks ago, I posted about how to start the process of turning one of your paperbacks into a hardcover on Createspace. The person I spoke with told me this process would take about 10 business days once I had paid and set everything up. He was wrong.

The process of turning your paperback into a hardcover takes more than a month from the time you paid. To review:

1. You contact CS (Createspace) customer service through the message screen on your account and tell them you would like to turn your book into a hardcover.

2. The will e-mail you within 2 business days and ask you some preliminary questions. Right now, you can get laminate or hardcover with dust jacket options. I chose the dust jacket, but this costs $2 more per book when you order them. If you ask any questions, expect a response time of 2 business days. Also, you can speed the process by knowing which book (have the title and CS id number that you see next to it on your dashboard) and which binding and telling the person this information up front.

3. In 1 - 3 days, you will get a notification saying the item is in your cart. You must click on the cart tab to access your cart and pay for it. (At the time, this service cost me $99.)

4. In another 1 - 3 days, you will see the item appear on your dashboard. Instead of the usual CS book icon, this one will have an icon that is a little different in front of it. Click on this and answer the questions (some of the information will be asking you again what binding you want).

5. Wait. When you finish with the questions, it will say that CS is processing the information and will let you know when the next step is needed. There is no next step, so this seems kind of strange.

6. In about 4 - 6 weeks, the hardcover will be available for you to order. WARNING: There is no proof step. There is also NO WAY to change the files when you finish. Unlike the paperback titles on your dashboard, when you click on a hardcover title you will be taken to a "dummy" screen that will have none of the adjustment options you see with paperbacks. Make sure your paperback is immaculate BEFORE you take this plunge. We just put out The Corruption (hence my silence for a few weeks), and we will be offering that in hardcover soon, but not until we are sure most of the bugs (read typos) are well out of it.

I am attaching some pictures to show you that my hardcover came out just as nice as my paperback. I was very impressed. The pages of the hardcover are a little thicker and are glossy white. CS does a much better job with its POD hardcovers than Staples (although Staples will get them to you faster).

(I had to choose white pages when I set up my paperback because it is a color children's book. Since The Corruption is going to be done on cream paper, I will give you an update how that comes out - probably next year.) 

The downside is that you can only order the hardcovers yourself. They will not be on CS or Amazon, so you need to either have an outlet (someone you can sell them to out of your home) or you need to have a website like ours where people can buy items directly from you. In some ways, this is good because you don't have to set unreasonably high and non-competitive prices, which CS would invariably make you do if you marketed through them. However, at the same time, it is bad because you do not get the exposure for your hardcover.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Trying to Gain Ground

Well, I have been putting out 4 books so we can fill a shelf at the New York book expo - more on that later. However, I have one more book to "fix" and then it will be off (the other 7 are already heading to NY).

So, I had to check on Goodreads because my Sal Giveaway ended this week. (Wow, I have so much to blog about it is crazy.) You will notice that the Sal Giveaway link (above) will be replaced by a Widow link soon.

Now, the purpose of these giveaways is to give a book away in exchange for a review. (Yeah!) However, I noticed on May 6th I got a one star review of the book from Erin Roberts on Goodreads.

At first, I thought about sending her a message, asking her why she didn't like my book (she didn't actually take the time to write a review). But then I remembered why I am trying so hard to get Sal reviews - that is the ONLY book I have not sold 1 title for. Yep, no one has bought the book and since I just mailed the winners their copies today only my friends and family could have read a copy (because I have been giving it to them).

Now I suppose Erin could potentially know one of my friends or family and have read my book without purchasing it, but I doubt it. Call me suspicious. I should think that she has somehow found my book, read it, and disliked it because it makes no sense why she would randomly choose me to bestow her hatred on. Or maybe she is angry because I she did not win the giveaway (over 1000 people entered to get 5 books.) However, I do not pick the winners. She should give Goodreads a one star review not me. They simply send me the winners along with some serious warnings that I had better get them their books ASAP.

Thankfully, my mother has also reviewed Sal (I gave her a copy, so I assume she read it.) Sal now has a Goodreads rating of 3 stars. :( Looks like it's going to be a long time before I will sell my first copy of this book I love.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Selling Books at McDonalds?

Sigh. I frequently work in unusual places. The library and McDonalds are actually two of the more normal places (I am typing this on my grandmother's couch right now).

As part of my Goodreads Giveaways, I am required to send the books in a timely manner. So, when I was sending Sal, Captain of the Baby Guards, I had to address the envelopes while my kids played at the McD's play place. Now, here there I was with a bunch of children's books and many non-related kids running around. Oh, it was so tempting to try and hawk them, but I am sure there was a "no soliciting" sign that I had previously never paid attention to posted on the door.

I was good. I didn't even broad cast I had these books by moving them from the chair to table (probably more because I didn't want them to be ruined if something spilled on the table). However, perhaps I should ask management if I can set up an author signing there in the future? If I become desperate enough to sell Sal in the future, and do this, I will let you know the outcome.

For the record, I have talked with my local Barnes and Noble manager about doing a book signing. There are problems with this (CreateSpace does not offer returnable books, so I would have to buy all of the 30 copies that do not sell at retail price, and not all of my books are listed through expanded distribution to keep prices down. In short, if you don't list your books so they can be sold on B&, you cannot sell your books in a B&N store). However, I am also planning on approaching some independent retailers.

The B&N signing won't occur until late July. I will update later on that, too.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Library Writing Group Part II: The Critics

As I went to the next writing group, I was more happy with it. This, I was told, was a group that would critique your work. I also ran into a professional writing couple whom I am sure guest taught one of my writing fiction classes fifteen years ago.

There were a lot of people at this group, but they schedule reading so that only two people can read per meeting. They do, however, meet twice.

As I sat there looking at two manuscripts, I thought of the irony of the situation. After all, I won't even critique my friends' things without asking for money. Yet, here I was, critiquing two other people's work for the chance to read my work in July. I needed a critique now. The book was soon to be published and the prologue is still not where I want it to be. Sigh. I don't have the money for an editor and I know I need one.

But, I only had to go over the manuscript once - and while the author was reading it at that (so while I wrote a comment, I missed several things). This kept me from over scrutinizing. In general, when I am paid to edit or comment on a manuscript, I spend days pouring over every inch of it three times. I usually find hundreds of typos per page and have about one or two comments. On these manuscripts, I found several typos in all 14 pages, and only about 3 major comments.

I need the input, so I am fully willing to spend the $5 that this group charges per year to join it. I just wish I had done so sooner, then I would have felt better about that prologue.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Library Writing Group Part I: The Encouragers

All authors need feedback. The more feedback you get as an author, the better an author you can be. You can take accredited college writing courses to help improve your writing through feedback, but the highest degree available for creative writing at this time is a masters. Eventually, you are going to run out of classes, but you will still need feedback.

You can get feedback in a variety of ways. Some people use beta readers, others pay professional editors. Then, there are library writing groups that can frequently be helpful.

Now, some people need a how to write/ how to get published type of writing group. I didn't really need one of those. Some people need an encouragement to keep writing publishing group - I don't need one of those either. What I needed was a feedback group that is going to tell me what is awful about my writing. So, I headed to my favorite local library and joined the writing group.

Unfortunately, it was an encouragement to keep writing type group. Every month you are expected to bring something in to read to the others that you have been working on.

You can find these writing groups online too - for example at Harlequin in the community area of their webpage. Look for writing support groups (they also have submission support groups). These groups are good for writers who don't have motivation to finish working. However, if you have this problem, you should probably look into publishing and not freelance writing - freelance writing requires you to be extremely motivated and finish things every day.

However, they did at least refer me to the right kind of writing group - at a different library that was still nearby.
(I am really luck that I live within 10 minutes of five libraries and this group was at one of them).