Libby Grandy

Libby's Blog
Writing Articles
Writing Tips
Marketing Tips
Fun Stories
Inspirational Stories
Articles on Aging
Desert Soliloquy Novel/Mystery/Available on Amazon
Promises to Keep (Ghost Story) Book One of the Haverford Trilogy/Available on Amazon
Lydia, Book Two of the Haverford Trilogy/Available on Amazon
True Abundance, Book Three of the Haverford Trilogy/Available on Amazon
The Decision (short story)
About Me
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Writing Articles

You are a good writer, or so you’ve been told. You’ve written a book that totally objective people like your family and friends love. Your book has been critiqued and edited more than once. Maybe you even have had an agent, albeit one unsuccessful at placing your book. You’ve queried a slew (that’s quite a lot) of agents and publishing companies that are not “agented only.”

Now what? Should you just continue writing books that only a few people will ever read? Actually, for some, there’s nothing wrong with that. Others, however, may decide to self-publish.

There is an evolution going on in the world of publishing. It started with the introduction of eBooks a few years ago. No one paid much attention for a while. Then the Kindle and Nook became financially available, and people began to buy them. Some writers actually have been making money with their self-published eBooks. A writer making money—what a concept!

Self-publishing is divided into two groups. One is called Independent Publishing (Indie); the other is “subsidy.” Indie publishing is for the more computer literate.You basically become your own publishing company. I went, with a writer friend, to a seminar discussing what you have to do if you go the Indie route and halfway through, he leaned over and said, “My head is exploding.” Mine was, too.

Consequently, I began researching subsidy publishing companies. AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, CreateSpace, BookLocker, etc. provide packages, usually starting around $600-$700 (without editorial services). I finally chose CreateSpace and am very pleased with their services. Deciding to self-publish is exciting, but it’s essential that you don’t rush the process. These are the steps you should follow if you want to successfully self-publish.

Choose the publishing avenue that is right for you. Take your time and carefully research the self-publishing arena. Read books such as, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, by Mark Levine. Mark compares the subsidy companies’ contracts, in detail. You may be surprised at how he ranks the various companies. For example, some of the well-known ones set prices too high. Readers are willing to pay $13.00-$16.00 for a book but hesitate at $19.00 and higher. Consequently, there are fewer sales. I highly recommend Levine’s book but do check the publishers’ websites to make sure his facts and figures are up-to-date. The publishing world is constantly changing. The important facts you need to research when shopping for a subsidy publishing company. Will you retain all rights to your material and will you be able to terminate your contract at any time? How often will you receive royalties—monthly, quarterly? (Monthly is better because of marketing evaluation.) How much royalty will you receive from your print copy and your eBook? Will the price for the package you choose cover both? Will people be able to go to a bookstore like Barnes and Noble to order a book, as well as Amazon and the publishing company store? How much will you have to pay for your book (to take to book signing? Will you be able to talk directly with your representative at the company at any time (during business hours) if you have a question? Will you receive both a digital copy and a print copy of your book for proofreading? If you find a mistake in the published copy later, how much will it cost to correct it and how quickly will it be correct? Before you decide on a publishing company, do a final editing of your manuscript. Hopefully, you belong to a critique group and have had it critiqued. If you can afford editorial services, give it to writer friends to check over line by line to make sure it is camera-ready. The cliché what you see is what you get,” is the unfortunate truth in self-publishing, and once the book is printed, it can be expensive to get mistakes corrected. You want your book to be as error free as possible. You also want your book to look as much as possible as one published by a traditional company and should pay close attention to is formatting. Chapter headings should be 1/3 down from the top of the page. There should be one space between sentences rather than two spaces. (I was relieved to discover that in Microsoft Word I just had to "find" two spaces and replace with one). The indentation should only be 3 or 4 spaces. Learn the difference between serif and sans-serif where the font is concerned and don't get fancy with your font. It is distracting. Why is this important? The answer is flow. You don't want the reader thinking about any of the above. You want the reader to become so engrossed in the story that he or she can't stop turning the page. Look at several books at a bookstore or library and check out the formatting. Take your time and produce a book you can be proud of

The final step will determine how many books you sell. Most self-publishing authors sell less than 1000 copies. That may be enough to pay for publishing your book but aim higher. Learn everything you can about using social media: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, UTube, Goodreads, etc. There are many books on this subject. We Are Not Alone, The Writer's Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb is a must read. Kristen takes writers by their hands and leads them through the maze of Social Media Marketing. She discusses the importance of creating a brand and a platform. This entails building a website and/or blog before your manuscript is published. Finally, don't get so caught up in the excitement of seeing your words in print that you forget to do what you love to do, write. Publishing your manuscript is icing on the cake. Writing creatively is what nourishes your writing soul.

Blogs chronicling step by step process with CreateSpace
November 13, 2014

I’m about to self-publish my third book with CreateSpace, Lydia, Book Two of The Haverford Trilogy. I plan to share this journey each week until it is available on Amazon—to help other writers understand the process and make their own decision about self-publishing.

People have talked to me about having a small traditional company publish the rest of my books. One may even be interested. But I don’t want to do that. Why? Three words: money, control, longevity.

Let’s start with money. People assume that self-publishing is very expensive. It can be if you go with the wrong subsidy company who bilks you for thousands of dollars for editing and promises to help promote your book, which usually doesn’t happen. (You can go on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Goodreads yourself.) It isn’t that expensive for someone like myself, who is fortunate enough to have a great critique group and friends who are excellent writers who read my manuscripts. Because of that, I don’t need editing services. I just need the basic publishing tools for a print book and ebook. I only have to sell 200 books to cover my costs. This is because CreateSpace has such good royalties—35% for print books and 70% for ebooks priced over $3.00. People are always surprised to hear that authors with traditional companies may only receive $1-$2 per book, before giving agents their 15%.
I do recommend that writers research all the subsidy companies. Mark Levine’s book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing is an education unto itself.

Now all this doesn’t matter to some people. They have the necessary money, and they prefer for others to do the legwork.

However, there’s also the next word: control. Take the choice of cover for a book. I’ve read some wonderful stories with awful covers. I always feel sorry for the author, because traditional companies (except for some small publishers) have control of the cover and the formatting. When you self-publish, it’s your choice. I found the cover for my mystery, Desert Soliloquy, in Google Images by a photographer in Canada. Bought it for $50.00 and CreateSpace designed the rest for me. I love it. I found the photograph of the Victorian house on the cover of my ghost story, Promises to Keep, on ($17). It is a replica of the house in my mind. The photographer contacted me recently and said that she was thrilled to see her photograph on my book. I found the photograph for my next book, Lydia, at ($15). I can’t wait to see what the designers at CreateSpace do with it. I also have control over the formatting of my novels. I’m visual, so the look of the pages inside is important to me. I could go on, but I assume you get the picture (pun intended).

Finally, longevity. Books published by traditional companies do not have a long shelf life, unless they are bestsellers. And, if they don’t sell well, eventually will go out of print. Self-published books are on Amazon for the long run. So when I’m old and gray (which, of course, is eons from now), you can still buy my books.

So there you have it. My reasons for self-publishing. As I walk through the process over the next few weeks, it will be clear that it takes a certain amount of work and a lot of patience.

For me, it is so worth it. Others can make up their own minds.

November 20, 2014

I have begun the process to self-publish Lydia, Book Two of The Haverford Trilogy. I’m going to post the various steps in my weekly blogs, so that those who are debating whether or not to self-publish understand how it works. I discussed my reasons for self-publishing in my last blog, so please read that one first if you missed it last week. This is a very personal decision for writers and should be carefully considered.

I made my phone call to CreateSpace and spoke to a friendly, personable woman. This has been my experience with the company, talking to really nice people—maybe because they’re located in the South (just saying). My conversation was relatively short, as I have published two novels with them and only had to explain that I wanted exactly the same service, same formatting, etc. New clients will have an account set up and ID numbers assigned, and the consultant will have a lot of questions and information for them. My consultant double-checked a few items with me then processed my payment. As soon as I hung up, I received a receipt and email from her with detailed instructions, phone numbers, etc. Shortly after that, I received an email from the CreateSpace team saying, “go into your account, attention required.”

If a writer can follow clear instructions, the next steps are easy. The title of your book appears on the home page, and all you have to do is click on it. First there is a questionnaire. I already knew what I wanted for my cover and had a synopsis ready, so that was filled out quickly. As you continue through the instructions, a checkmark is placed beside that item. If you’ve missed anything, it will continue to say “attention required,” directing you back to complete the information.

The last item on the list for the day was “file upload.” You click on the “choose” button, choose your manuscript file, which must be on just one file, and click on “upload.” Watching the upload happen is a little nerve-wracking the first time, as you hope you’ve done everything right. If you haven’t, the computer will tell you what’s missing. If that isn’t clear, you have a free phone number on the email from your consultant, and someone will walk you through it. That is what I like about CreateSpace, everyone is kind and patient if you need guidance or clarification. At least everyone I have ever dealt with.

When the manuscript is submitted, a message appears stating that it’s been received, will be reviewed and that there will be an email in 3-5 business days as to the next step.

Everyone is nervous the first time they go through the process. That is perfectly normal, as this is a very important goal for a writer. However, if a writer has diligently prepared his or her manuscript, had it critiqued, edited and proofed, and readied the necessary information needed by the subsidy publishing company, all should turn out well. Writers shouldn’t hesitate to call CreateSpace and ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question. Well, maybe there is, but no one will make a writer feel that way.

Under CreateSpace on my computer, I have the following files: double-spaced Microsoft Word manuscript, a synopsis, a Dedication, Acknowledgements, About the Author, and the information for the back of the book (blurbs, etc.). As I go through the different steps, I only have to copy and paste or upload the files. A writer should have all this carefully proofed, as whatever is sent to CreateSpace is exactly what will be published. If there is a misspelled word, guess what?

I suggest that writers go to a bookstore or library and look at the layouts of the different books. Everyone has a personal preference. Some writers like to have Acknowledgements at the front of the book. I like mine at the back. Or maybe you don’t want to thank anyone (just kidding).

If the above sounds a bit intimidating, it really isn’t. CreateSpace has made the process as customer friendly as possible. And hired patient, personable people to help writers achieve their dreams.
Will let you know next week what comes next.

November 28, 2014

First I want to say Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you had a wonderful day.

I’m now going to continue blogging about self-publishing. If you missed my previous blogs on the subject, go back and catch up, so that the necessary steps are clear. Last week I explained that when the manuscript is uploaded and submitted, a message appears stating that it’s been received, will be reviewed and that there will be an email in 3-5 business days as to the next step.

Two days later, I received an email telling me to check the messages on my account. The message stated that the design team would be calling me the following week. I agreed to the date then realized I might not be available on that day, so I went back into my account and used the message center to email them a change. A day later, there was a message in my account, changing it to the new date.

When they called on that day, the design team member asked what I had in mind for the cover and the formatting for the interior. Again, my conversation was relatively short, as I only had to tell her that I wanted the same formatting as my last two books. New clients will spend more time with their design team. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions or call back later, if you need clarification. This is your “baby” that you’re sending out into the cold world, and you want it to be as perfect as possible.

As for the cover, I uploaded the picture I had purchased from—a country scene. CreateSpace will provide a cover, but I prefer to find my own. As the design team member and I looked at the picture, I told her my preferences for color, etc. She said that, within ten days, I would be receiving two samples of the cover, as well as a digital copy of my manuscript to proof. You can request a print copy, but I like to proof a digital copy first, as a final print copy is always sent before publication. You should also proof that carefully before clicking on the “approved” button. Because what you see is what you get.

You can begin to understand why it takes 4-6 weeks to have a book published. Much of the time has to do with proof reading. Even when everything is sent in as perfect as possible, there can be computer glitches. The good news is they can be fixed. The first time doing all this may be a bit frustrating, as we all want our books available as quickly as possible. But don’t be impatient. Trust that your book will be published when it’s ready, meaning that everything has been carefully proofed. Trust me, it’s worth the extra time.

Will let you know what comes next—after recuperating from eating Thanksgiving leftovers.

December 4, 2014

Okay, things are moving right along with my novel, Lydia. As I noted in my previous two blogs, I uploaded my manuscript and a week later talked to a member of CreateSpace’s design team. I told her what I wanted for the interior formatting (same as last two books) and uploaded the picture I wanted for the cover. We talked about how I preferred the cover to look (color, etc.), and she said a draft of the cover would arrive the next week.

It did. And I love it!

I did suggest a slight change in spacing. I could have made additional changes. The first set of changes are free. If a writer wants more after that, there is a small charge.

CreateSpace also requested information for the back of the book. I had several blurbs from writer friends but am only allowed 150 words. Since I needed a synopsis at the top of the page for Lydia and a synopsis of Promises to Keep at the bottom (for those who may not have read Book One), I could only use one blurb.

Bummer. (See how articulate I am.)

Anyway, two days later I received the revised cover. It looked great, but I noticed that I had a lot more space available on the back. I called CreateSpace, and they agreed that I could add 100 more words. No charge. I uploaded another file, reinserting the two blurbs I’d deleted earlier. They will edit the back and send me a new draft to approve.

I called CreateSpace again the same day to make sure they received my revised file. No one said, “For heaven sakes, we just talked to you. What the heck do you want now?” No, another friendly young woman talked to me and assured me that all was well. Their calm voices, and, sometimes southern drawl, always calms my nerves.

Now I’m waiting for the first draft of my manuscript. This is where patience comes in. Some writers want to just quickly review the draft, approve it and see it up on Amazon.

I want to carefully proof every page.

One step at a time. See you next week.

December 11, 2014

This past week a print copy of my novel, Lydia, arrived for me to proof. There's nothing quite like holding your book in your hands for the first time.

While waiting for its arrival, I finished the computer program with CreateSpace. Chose the price for my book, etc. When I’m finished proofing and approve the publication of Lydia, it will go up on Amazon. I’ve chosen the option for CreateSpace to format it for them (part of my contract with them, no extra charge). That will take a few days to process, but then everything will be available.

I’m going to give away free ebooks of Promises to Keep, Book One of the Haverford Trilogy on December 19, 20, 21 for those who have not already read it. This is a good marketing idea (those who like Book One hopefully will want to buy Book Two). Also, although Lydia can “stand alone,” readers will enjoy it more if they have already met most of the characters from the previous book. This is why people like to read sequels and series, to find out what happens next in the lives of the characters. At least, that’s how I feel.
Now that I’m almost finished working with CreateSpace, I want to address one more thing for those who are reading this blog. Someone recently said to me, “You make it sound so easy to self-publish.” That bothered me a bit, because I don’t want to mislead anyone.

If you are computer literate, it is easy. And, if you are like me, relatively computer-literate, it’s not that hard. Maybe a little nerve-wracking off and on, because you want to make sure you did everything right, but not really hard. However, if you aren’t computer literate at all, I recommend you ask someone who is to go through the process with you.

I also recommend patience. Computers are computers and sometimes do strange things. Don’t yell at the nice people at CreateSpace when you make a change or correction, and it may not show up when you proof it a second time. Just give them a call, and they will do what is necessary. If it’s their problem, there’s no charge.

Don’t rush the process and miss mistakes you might have made in the original manuscript. If I find something I missed when I proof my final proof copy, I’ll pay for the correction and fix it before approving it for publication.

So there you have it. Hope this had helped writers who are contemplating self-publishing. I’m going to add copies of these blogs on my website after the first of the year. There may be writers who want to refresh their memory about what I wrote when they are ready to consider self-publishing.

I hope sharing my publishing journey has be helpful. One of my goals in life is for people to say, “If Libby can do it, I can do it!”

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