6 Steps to Publishing on a Shoestring

A while ago I did a article about 14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring, I thought to continue my thought process by writing an article about Publishing on a Shoestring.

I grew up in a poor family with parents who worked hard and didn’t have extra money to spend. Now I can go into a lengthy story of the whys, whos, and whatfores, but I’m not going to. Needless to say, we were a DIY family that lived on a shoestring. In most ways, now that I have my own family and business, I’m still a DIY person living on a shoestring.

In 2007 I was going the traditional route because the only thing I knew about self-publishing was from vanity presses and I wanted nothing to do with them.So I didn’t need to know anything about book cover design, interior book formatting, etc.

Fast forward 6 months. I met Ruth (Ruth Ann Nordin) and we started talking. I learned a lot about self-publishing and I started looking more into it. In 2008 I decided that was my route for a number of reason, the biggest one being time restraints. I can publish at my own rate with self-publishing, not so with traditional publishing if I want to make money at it.

My husband is uber-supportive of my businesses, both as a writer and a book cover designer, but that doesn’t mean that I had money to spend. That first year (2009) my hubby and I decided that we couldn’t afford much for start-up money. So I had to do everything I could at free or the lowest possible cost.

Basically my income from my writing and a little start-up money my hubby and I agreed we could remove from our tight budget would have to do me for a year. It almost didn’t support my writing habit. 😀

I learned a few lessons that year about publishing a book for as close to free as possible:

1. Write the book. This costs you nothing but time and effort, but it’s necessary. You can’t publish without a book. 😀 Articles on Writing Basics

2. Learn to format your book yourself. There are people who will for a price format your book for print and ebook. If you go with out of these people make sure they know what they are doing before you contact them. Also look for someone who doesn’t charge an arm, two legs, and your first born child. Some people can’t format, but they’ll charge you anyways. If you want to DIY it, there are some great articles provided by the eStore and print companies that will tell you exactly what you have to do. Articles on Formatting

3. Create a dynamic cover. You need a great cover to sell books. Drawing your own covers doesn’t always cut it. Yeah, I know some people can draw. More often then not, people can’t and will still draw their own cover. Taking your own pictures doesn’t always work either, Don’t believe me? Let me show an example. (Clicking on the covers will send you to a page where you can view a bigger version, no buy links.) Articles on Book Covers

My Lord Hades: the first cover was a picture of a friend of my sister who I cropped and changed his eyes. The image was blurry. The cover doesn’t work for the genre. The second cover was a dreamstime.com buy, the image was sharper and people responded more favorably to it.

Persephone: The first cover was a picture I took on a snowy, foggy day behind the house, I added a picture of a girl given to me by a friend. I liked the concept, but it needed more color. The second it a copy of the cover that I’m working on now. It works better for the genre and the book.

5. Edit your book. You can hire someone to edit your book, but make sure you hire someone good and don’t be surprised if you still get “this book needs editing” comments. I know a few authors who have been burned by editors that don’t really edit and still cash the check. I would suggest having people look over or book and point out the grammatical they see, or problems in the plot or characters. You can use Articles on Editing & Rewriting to help you.

6. Publish your book. I start with print and upload my files to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I wanted to use Lightning Source, but it was too expensive and out of my league of expertise. It’s still a great place to go if you have the money and everything formatted for print. Or you can use places like Createspace. It cost nothing to upload a print books on their site and sell them. Articles on Publishing

Hope this helps and good luck! 😀

How to Publish with PubIt

(this is an overdue companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator and How to Publish on Smashwords)

Go to http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/, log in and then choose Go to My Titles in the upper right corner

Choose “Add a Title”

This opens a new page where you need to enter your title, list price, publication date, publisher, and contributors. These are you – as the author – and then any illustrators, co-authors, etc. You are allowed up to five.

Scroll down to upload your book. B&N accept word documents, HTML, RTF and TXT files. Us the browse button to locate your file, then click Upload & Preview. (You may get warning that you have not filled in all the information, but don;t worry, we’re coming to that)

This will upload an instant preview. you can use the tabs to switch between Nook and Nook Color views. use the Prev and Next at the bottom to navigate the pages. When you’re finished use the close preview in the upper right:

If the conversion looks good, then it’s time to upload your cover. (if not, make changes to the interior file and reupload.)  Your cover image MUST be a .jpg and has to be at least 750 pixels tall, but no bigger than 2000. To upload the cover use the browse button.

The cover preview will look a little fuzzy, but it will look fine on your final page:

Now to fill out the pesky questions that caused all those crabby “errors”.  They’re pretty easy: Do you have an ISBN? Is the book part of a series? Is it available in print and, if so, how many pages is it? Is it public domain? What group is it suited for? What language is it in? Where do you have publishing rights (aka, US, IS?Canada, or World Wide) and do you want DRM protection?

Now you want to add the categories your book fits in. Click the add/edit categories button

This drops down a box, and each selection you make may open another box to the right. When you have it chosen, click the Add Category button

You can choose up to five categories for your book, though you don;t have to pick that many (I have only three). When you’re done, click Save.

Now it’s time to enter your keywords (separated by commas), your book description and your author bio. You can also enter editorial reviews if you have them.

Double check that everything is the way you want it, and then it’s time to put your title on sale! Check mark the box to confirm that you own the work and hit “Put on Sale”

And that’s it! Now you just need to wait 24 – 72 hours for your book to become available through B&N.

On a side note, there was a rumor that Barnes & Noble promotes books published through pubit over those through Smashwords, so i have done some experimenting.

I published Ties of Blood directly through PubIt because, at the time,  Smashwords was having trouble getting books out to them and I had some Nook readers who wanted to read it. Though the advice was to remove the Nook version as soon as the Smashwords version showed up, I’ve left both to see what happened.  As you can see on the listing page, the smashwords version has the priority listing and you have to use the + NOOK book button to even get the PubIt published version:

This might have to do with the fact that Smashwords has an older Publication date.  When it comes to slaes it stands thus:

PubIt edition all time: 4 (all were sold before the smashwords version cleared)

Smashwords edition (through B&N for December only): 31

So, it’s safe to say that in this case that B&N isn’t pushing the pubit version over the smashwords. Whether it happens to other people I can’t say.


Concept Editing, What is it?

My new novel, Lockets and Lanterns, is in its final stages of production. One of those processes was concept editing.

What is that? you ask.

In a nutshell, it is looking at your manuscript as a whole.

Is your title inviting? Does it tell the reader what the story is about?

If your story is a romance, you can show that on a cover, but you also need to make sure your cover does not display a mystery or some other genre which is not your target audience. My book, Lockets and Lanterns, tells you this is a historical, and the bride and groom on the cover shows romance.

This is what a concept editor looks at as well as the overall story line. Is there enough conflict to enthrall readers? In my novel, there is a secret the groom keeps from his bride. This hidden promise will have tragic consequences. The story line must keep people interested in finding out the secret and have believable characters in which readers can empathize with during their times of heartaches and joys.

A concept editor also is your deleter-in-chief. You will see paragraphs and what you considered “sharp” dialogue gone. After staring at your work in horror, you realize the concept editor was on the right track. If layers of dialogue or descriptions muddle your story, what good is it? Once you understand that, you look at the strikeouts in new ways. The editor is helping you keep the readers’ interest. How often have you weeded through a story or read it halfway then shoved it to the side because of lack of interest? A lot more than we would like to admit.

Another task of the concept editor is to analyze sentence structures. Is the sentence clear or does it need to be clarified through rewording or using dialogue tags, such as she said, in certain circumstances to determine the speaker? Though, remember to limit tags as much as possible. I often use actions to let the reader know who is talking.

Besides these, this editor will continue to examine for improper word usage like the word, “past.” This is a mistake I see quite often in books. “Past” is for an occurrence which happened in the past. “She thought of her past mistakes and shook her head.” However, “passed” is used when you move around an object or a person/s. “Nora passed her sister before stepping outside.” A concept editor should catch this as well as to look for misspelled words and when certain words, such as Pa, need capitalization or when awhile is one word or two. If it is at the end of a prepositional phrase, the usage is a while. But if you mean it took awhile for him to answer, it is one word.

I found the process unnerving at times, especially when your mistakes stare up at you and whole paragraphs are deleted, but necessary because that person is your gatekeeper in making your story compelling, well written and the best possible. But remember they also are human beings and can miss items which will glare at you later. Have a blessed New Year and watch for the spring release of Lockets and Lanterns.

Free and Cheap Resources Updated

Creative Commons

I have updated the Free & Cheap Images, Fonts, Sound & Videos for Trailers & Books post with several new links. If you know of a good site that offers free or cheap music, videos, photos or art for commercial use that I missed listing, please shoot me a message and let me know, or comment to this post. (Comments are closed on the other one for some reason).

The Synopsis – Opinions wanted!

The other day I had a conversation with fellow author David Knight regarding synopsis for non-fiction books. Long story short, there is an opinion floating around the cyber universe that beginning a synopsis for a non-fiction book with the book’s title is “amateurish”. Example (synopsis for the fictional book Trading with Trolls):

Trading with Trolls takes a look at how you can trade with the hairy creatures who live under the bridge. Though trolls may look scary, inside they are soft and warm and filled with the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us. One only has to discover what a troll is seeking…

etc. etc.

So what do you think? Does starting the synopsis with the title of the book mark it as “amateurish” or are we just sweating the details too much? I’m interested to hear your opinions!


How to Publish on Smashwords

(this is a companion to How to Publish on Create Space and How to Use Create Space Cover creator)

Go to smashwords.com, log in and click the Publish option in the overhead menu:

(You’ll notice I have a “requires attention warning – this is because I have a “test” book that is archived and unpublished that I use to test files before upload, so I haven’t given it an ISBN number. If you have this warning and don’t have something similar then it means one of your books needs an ISBN assigned.)

You will be taken to a new page. Here you will enter all the information on your book. First up is title and the short description.

You’ll see that there is a 400 character limit for the short description (not words, characters – aka letters, spaces, punctuation, etc.). This is one of the reasons I say it’s good to have several of different length ready to go.  Something to consider for shorter works: though Smashwords has the word count clearly posted on each book’s page, not all their distributors do, so it’s best to put Short Story, Novella, Short Work, etc. at the beginning of the description to avoid angry reviews on Barnes and Noble and other sites.

Now comes the “long” description.  If it’s the exact same thing as your short description then it’s up to you if you want to bother with it or not. However, if you have a good hook written up that was too long for the short description above then plug it in here.

Choose the Language of your book and whether it has adult content or not. (A note on this. Smashwords has changed its policies and when you first visit the site, or visit it without being logged in, all books marked with adult content will not show up. You now have to remove the “adult content” filter instead of having to activate it.  While I understand this change, it’s not one I’m happy with as most of my books don’t show up for a casual visitor. But, don’t try to be sneaky and skip marking it as adult content if it really is. It just hurts everyone in the long run.)

You can also see there are pricing choices. Free is obvious – your work is free for others to download. Is this a good idea? There are blogs by the thousands that tackle that topic, so I’m not going to.

The next option is Reader Sets Price.  My advice on this option is to only use it on a book you would have otherwise marked free because most people’s determined price is free. However, once in a while you run into someone who pays more (I has someone pay 10$ for one of my books when I had this option set.)

Lastly is to set your own price. Type a number in and suddenly these magical pie charts will appear:

Click to see how Smashwords divides up the “profits”

These show you what percentage of the price that everyone is getting from your book.  Again, there are articles galore on ebook pricing, so I won’t get into that here. I will say this; there are probably people out there who will pay $10 or more of an ebook (there’s at least one person!) but they are the minority.

Once your price is set determine how much sampling you want by changing the numbers. If your ebooks is free (mine is), then this will be grayed out.

What is sampling? Go to any smashwords book page (in a new window!) and scroll down past the description and you’ll see a table that looks much like this:

See where it says 50%? The author has chosen to share a 50% sample, or half the book, for free. It’s up to you how much you want to share, but I do recommend making at least the first chapter available.

Now it’s time to choose the categories your book fits in.

You’ll initially have one box and, as you choose subcategories, new boxes will appear. Find the best fit for your book. For instance, there is no vampire category (sadly) and though this particular story doesn’t really have any horror in it, the other stories in the series do, so I chose Fiction>Literature>Horror so that it is in the same category as the rest of the series.

Now add some tags

Use words that you think someone would use if they were searching for your book.  As you type them in they will appear above the box. If you decide you don’t like one – or you have a typo – then use the “remove” to take it off.

Now you need to choose what file types you’d like your book to appear in

Rule of thumb is the more formats, the more potential readers, however, some books just don’t work well in all types. For instance, plain Text means text only – no images. If your book needs pictures then you should uncheck this option.

Now we’re ready to upload the files!

Use the Choose File button to get a pop up box and find your book cover on your computer. As the box says, it must be a .jpg, .gif or .png and needs to be at least 600 pixels tall. I prefer to use high res images, myself, but it’s all a matter of choice.

Now upload your pre-formatted document.  (For help with formatting see some of our previous posts).

Check over the publishing agreement and hit the happy publish button!

Usually my browser window will sporadically pop back up to the middle of the page and stare at me for a few moments. If this happens to you, don’t panic. First, check the bottom left of your browser window and (depending on your browser) you will likely see something that says “Uploading” and has a percentage. This means your files are uploading – it can take a moment. If you don’t see that, then scroll through the page to make sure there are no red errors. If several minutes pass and still nothing has happened, then check your dashboard in a new tab to see if the book is listed. If not, then hit the publish button again or refresh the page and redo the forms.

Once the files are uploaded a new page will appear that says something like:

Your number will be different. As it says, you can leave it opened or close it out. I prefer to leave it opened.

When it has finished converting you will get an email with the conversion results – including any file errors – and the page should change. If you have no errors it will look like this:

Click on the “View this page’s Smashwords page” link.

An aside. I said the page SHOULD change. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes it will say “complete” next to all the files and just sit and stare at you. If that happens then 1- be sure to check your mail to make sure the conversion has no errors and 2 – go to your dashboard and access the book’s page from there.

Check the page over – make sure your synopsis is correct, that the book cover looks right, etc. Then scroll down to the table of download options and save the epub version to your computer (I throw mine on the desktop).

In a new tab head to http://threepress.org/document/epub-validate

Choose file (make sure it is the epub version you just downloaded and NOT the doc you used for smashwords!) and then hit the validate button.

It may take a few minutes, but if there are no errors you’ll get a screen like this:

If so, then you’re done. Share your new Smashwords link with the world and revel in your accomplishments!

But, what if you have errors?  There are too many possibilities for me to cover in this blog, so if you have errors, either in the epub or with the meatgrinder, be sure to check Smashwords FAQ at – http://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq

Assuming you have no errors, pop back to smashwords and go to your dashboard and then your ISBN manager (or if you have that handy warning on top of your page just click it!)

There is a LOOONG article describing the different types of ISBN numbers. Read it and choose the option that is right for you (I use the free ones).

When you’ve decided you’ll find, at the end of all that text, a table listing all your books and telling you whether or not you have ISBN numbers – as you can see Benjamin does not have one (and neither does my test book)

Click Assign ISBN.

You’ll go to a new page where you make your selection:

Make your choice and click “Review Order” (don’t let this scare you – it does not mean you’re paying for anything .)

You will get a new page detailing your choices (and I assume payment options if necessary). Check to make sure it is what you want and press Confirm.

And then – congratulations – a new page will appear that will list your title, ISBN, etc. on it. Save the info to your records (if you do that) and then  go back to your dashboard.

Now we need to double check the distribution, so go to your Distribution Manager

Scroll down to your book and make sure that it is opted in – and out – of everything that you want. If not, make changes. (As of this posting Smashwords is still not distributing to Amazon, however, I recommend adjusting the settings for this so that when they do you’ll be ready).

And that’s it. There’s nothing else to do until your book is approved for the Premium Distribution (you can check the status on your dashboard at any time.) It takes a few days, and even after it is approved it takes some time to ship. I uploaded Ties of Blood on September 10th and it has still not shipped a month later, despite being approved, meanwhile, the last story I uploaded shipped within two weeks, so I think it depends on volume at the time of your upload. Either way, be patient and, if it seems to be taking too long, file a ticket through the help at the top of the page.

And that’s it! Pretty easy, huh?

How to Use Cover Creator on CreateSpace

NOTE: As per information from the CS team, if you use Cover Creator to make your cover you can only use the cover to publish with them because the file was created by their creator.  

By popular request, I’m doing a post on how to use the cover creator on Create Space.

To get to the cover creator you will need to have your title and author name entered. If you want to see/edit the spine, you will want to upload your document pdf first, otherwise all of your options will be “spineless”. (as in the first example of templates)

Under the cover options on your setup page, click to open cover creator

You will see cover templates.

Which template you want to use depends on how much of a cover you have constructed already. For instance there is a cover template to use if you have your front and back covers as single images – like this and this and another template to use if you have the whole cover made as an image – like this without the spine text. (I will show a screen cap of each at the end of this).

But what if you have a front cover and no back cover? No problem. There is a layout for that, too.

The rest of the templates are to build your cover from scratch – you choose the images and put both the front and back cover together. (I will also cover this briefly at the end)

For this how to I am going to go with “we have a front cover but no back cover”.

You will see there are several “headings” on the left side; theme, title, authors, front cover image, author(s), front cover image, author photo, back cover text, background color, & font color. A the bottom is also Change design  – if you decide you want a different template at any time, then click that and you will start over.

Because we want things to match, let’s skip down to front cover image first.

Upload the image you wish to use – it MUST be a jpg or Tiff. If your cover is a PNG, BMP, GIF or other file it will need to be “converted”. Though you can change an image into a JPG using paintbrush, don’t. Paintbrush creates horrible little “fuzzies” – called artifacts – in the image that will show up when it prints.  Instead, you may want to use the free online converter at http://images.my-addr.com/ (following is a mini tut on this)

Choose your image type from the sidebar on the left – mine is a PNG so I want PNG to JPG

click for full size image

When the new page loads scroll down and browse for your image – make sure to leave quality at 100%

click for full size image

Then press the Go button. It will take a few moments to upload and will then ask you to choose a folder to save the jpg file. Save it and voila! You’ve got a jpg.

One other important thing about your cover image is that it MUST be a High res image – aka a BIG image that is around 1800 pixels wide (you can find these measurements under properties on most operating systems).  If your image is smaller it will not print up as nicely.

Now back to CS. Upload your cover image. And it will automatically put it on the front cover (cool, huh?). You’ll also see that you have some new things under cover image  – alignment and rotation. In this case we don’t need any, but if you do, they’re there for you.

Now let’s go to Themes. Themes are basically your font. Use the drop down box under themes to find a font you like.

Under title you can edit the title that appears on your spine. Chances are you don’t need to (Since I named my project Testing, I had to). Make changes in the text box and hit apply.

Author(s) is the same deal except it has the option to make the author name visible – or not visible – on the spine. Use the check box to make it disappear.

Author photo is also optional and has a visible check box as well as an upload button. Just like the front cover, it must be a jpg or tiff. Just because it says author photo, however, does not mean it has to be an author photo. I am using my books “symbol” in place of my photo.

Just like with the front cover, you will get some alignment and rotation boxes, which again I don’t need, but if you do, use them.

Now we’re ready for back cover text. You can also make this visible or invisible. If you want it visible, copy your book description from wherever you have it (you should have it saved in a word file somewhere). Then hit apply.

Next is background color.

Click the box and a pop up with lots of colored squares in it will appear. Click on the color square of your choice (I’m using white) and then click the apply button

Font color works the same way:

And then submit cover! You’ll get a “working” pop up. And then will be returned to your set up page.

If you’re using the “I have a full cover” template, it will look like this:

All the tools work the same, but note that the author name goes at the bottom so in the case of this cover it would cover up the symbol I have there.


If you’re using the “I have the front and back as separate images” template it will be like this:

All the tools are the same with the addition of “Spine color”.

But what if you don;t have any of it?

Then choose a template you like. Different ones work differently – for instance the Aspen has a black stripe that goes over your front cover image:

While The Cottonwood uses one image and stretches it across both the front and back:

Experiment to find the template that works for you. (You will want to use photos or illustrations for these templates – not pre-made covers with text on them)

And that’s it. Your cover is done!

How to Publish on Create Space

I often get questions about the exact Create Space procedure, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to post it for everyone.This is going to look like a long post because I am using screen captures. Also of note, this si current as of this posting. Create Space may upgrade in the future and the upgrade may look different. However, it should function primarily the same.

First, if you haven’t got one already, you’ll need an account at Create Space – https://www.createspace.com/ – I’m going to assume that you have one and are pretty much ready to upload.

Log in and go to your member dashboard. You’ll see a big happy button that says “Add New Title”

A new page will display where you enter your project name and choose what kind of product it is (paperback). You can also choose what setup you want. For this article I’ve used the Guided Process. Now click “Get Started”

On the next page you’ll want to enter your title information. This is pretty self-explanatory and includes title, author, contributors, subtitle, volume number and a place to enter your book’s description. If you don’t have one yet, then don’t worry, you can enter it on a later screen. When you’re done, hit save and continue (save will save your progress where you are, while save & continue moves you to the next step)

On the next screen you will enter your physical properties, including interior type, paper color and trim size. For the interior: there’s a huge difference between the price of a color page vs the price of a black and white page, so unless your book needs color (ie. an illustrated bonk) you’ll want black and white. There is also a small price difference between cream and white paper (with cream the more expensive) but it’s nominal and basically  a matter of taste. The Trim size is the physical size of your book, aka what it is “trimmed to”. Your choice should be influenced by a number of things (including what size your manuscript is formatted for!).

On the next screen you will choose your ISBN option. I just choose the Free CS Assigned ISBN (this makes Create Space the “publisher” – you still keep all rights), but you can also choose a custom ISBN for $10 (where your own imprint is the publisher), a custom universal ISBN for $99 (Your imprint is the publisher and your distribution/publishing options are left open) or provide your own (aka one you have purchased through Bowker)

details on the free ISBN- click to enlarge

Depending on your choice, on the next page you will be given your ISBN and ISBN 13 – write these down! You will need to put them on the copyright page of your manuscript. If someone else is formatting your book for you, you will want to do this before they’ve finished. If you’re doing it yourself and the book is ready to go, then open your file and plug in your ISBN number now. Save and PDF it.

Now we’re ready to upload the interior files of your book – aka the book itself. On the next screen choose whether you want to pay 300$ to have Create Space format it for you, or whether you have one from another source. (I do my own, so I chose the second option)

The box will expand and you will see some input fields. Use the friendly Browse button to locate the PDF of your book interior. Yes, it must be a PDF. No other format is accepted. There are also bleed options. As you can see by the illustrations, if the bleed ends off the page that means your content stretches all the way to the edge, while ending before means it doesn’t. For a regular novel choose “Ends Before”. Press Save and Continue.

an “Uploading” box should pop up. If it doesn’t, try pressing Save and Continue again. (of note – if you get an error message about your trim size formatting then it means your pages are not formatted for the trim size you selected. This is very important, so make sure your page size is set to the same as your trim size.)

With the interior upload, it’s time for the cover. You have three choices: 1- Use their “cover creator” to assemble your cover online (this is actually a pretty powerful tool for simple cover designs and easy to use), 2-pay 300$ for CS to design you a cover (holy cats! I need to charge more!) or Upload your own ready-made PDF wrap around. (if you don’t know, a wraparound cover looks like this)

Make your choice and click save and Continue. If, like me, you’re uploading a print ready file you will get the same “uploading” box again. (of note, if you get an error message that your cover does not fit your book, then it means that a) your trim sizes don’t agree – ie. the cover is for a 6×9 book and your interior files are for a 5×8 – or the spine width is not correct)

On the next screen you will want to review the file names to make sure that you’ve uploaded the right files. And then it’s time to submit your files for review!

You’ll get another pop up. Click continue to finish filling out your sale information

Remember I said you can enter the description later? This is later. (you can do this in another sitting if you need to by accessing your project on your dashboard). There is a 4000 character limit on your description, so choose your words carefully. Here you will also enter your books language, the country of publication, and some search keywords to help people find your book (for instance I use vampire, vampire war, vampire romance, paranormal, action). Check the “adult content” box if applicable.

You must also choose your category – or genre – whether you like their choices or not. (I don’t. I feel they’re missing several options). Use the choose button to get a drop down box. As you choose categories new boxes will pop up along the side to help you fine tune your selection.

The next screen will be about sales channels and setting your price. You can see that there is a minimum price that must be used for each channel. For instance, I must price this book at $7.02 or higher to publish it. If I want to sell it through my CS e-store I have to charge $8.78 and, if I want it to appear on Amazon, it has to be priced at $11.70.  If you opt for the $39 “upgrade” you can price your book cheaper – but there’s a catch (besides the 39$). If you want to take advantage of those extended distribution packages (libraries, bookstores, etc) you have to jack the price up, again. However, if you pay for the upgrade but don’t choose the other distribution options,  there is a price decrease to sell on Amazon and the e-store. Is it worth it? I’ve upgraded one book, but not the other. I don’t think it’s made any difference and, as far as I know, I have sold zero through those extended channels. You may have different luck, though.

Once you set your price high enough, the CreateSpace Store and Amazon Select button will turn blue. Click them both. Under CS e-store, choose the correct Sales Region (probably US and International). Then choose “save” to turn that annoying “awaiting information” into a green checkmark (It will say pending if your book is not yet published). (Of note – this is also where you will want to go to customize your estore, such as changing colors, wallpaper and banners on your store front. If you don’t know what I mean then take a look here and you can see where I’ve customized it. When you click the customize estore link you’ll get a new page. No need to worry about that now, though.)

Now, there’s nothing to do but sit back and wait. It can take CS up to 48 hours to review your book and send you an email.

We’re going to fast forward the universe and assume that all your files were perfect and needed no corrections. Yay! Now it’s time to order your proof!

Log in to Create Space and go to your dashboard. Next to your project’s name it will say “Awaiting proof order”. Click the title of your project to go to a new screen.

This is your projects page. You can see the book cover, your description, etc. You’ll also see a row of semi-bizarre “folders” – this is where you need to look. Each “folder” is a “section” of the process: Set up (Title information, ISBN, Interior and cover files, etc), Review (Order & review Proof), Distribution and Sales and Marketing. The green check marks next to an item indicates that those steps have been completed, while a red minus sign means you need to complete a step. A yellow triangle means it requires your attention and, in this case, it’s “order proof” that requires our attention. So, click on Order Proof.

Yay! Our files are printable! You may, or may not, have the option to skip a printable proof. If you have not published the book before, then I recommend getting a proof. If you have and are simply updating a file (such as fixing typos), then you may be confident enough to skip it.  This is my first shot at Ties of Blood, so I ordered a proof.  (you’ll also note that you can change your files here, but then they will go back for review and you will need to wait for them to be approved, again. This is the case any time you change your files.)

Now we will be whisked away to our shopping cart! Check to make sure you’re only ordering one proof copy and that nothing else is in your cart (unless you want it there.) Then head to shipping.

As you can see, there is a big difference in shipping price. In this instance, the standard shipping is $3.59, while the next step up is $11.18 – almost $7 more for a five day difference, and $1598 for the “fastest”.  I placed my order on August 18th and went with the cheap shipping. My order shipped the next day and I got the proof on the 22nd of August. However, I ordered a proof last October and it took about eight or nine days to get it, using the cheap shipping, so times vary.

Review all of your information on the final screen and place your order. You have to wait 12 – 24 hours before you can then log in and approve your proof, though I recommend actually waiting to get it and reviewing it.  Once you’ve approved it, log back into your CS dashboard and in that bizarre row of folders choose “Review Proof” and then – approve it!

Be sure to finish filling out anything you slipped before, such as product description, sales channels, and customizing your estore.

And that’s it! Congratulations!

How was your CreateSpace experience? Did you find it easy to navigate, or was it confusing? What advice do you have for others publishing through CreateSpace?

eBooks Color?

Since I do book covers and formatting for other authors, in addition to my own, I get a lot of questions about whether or not to include images in ebooks, and whether those images need to be black and white.

The short answer is: Yes, put in as many pictures as you want (so long as you can compress them to the file size limit for your publisher of choice) and leave them in color.

Barns & Noble have the color Nook. Though Kindle may be in black and white, the kindle applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android are in color. Not to mention that there are plenty of other brands of eReaders with color displays.

There is one thing to keep in mind, though, especially for technical diagrams. If readers use a gray scale device, such as kindle, the color image will be displayed in black and white. If you use images for tables, charts, etc you need to make sure that the colors have a good contrast so that readers can still distinguish the segments, or arrows, from one another.  As for general illustrations, you’re probably fine.

Personally, I think it’s only a matter of time until all the ereaders are in color, and the black and white issue becomes a moot point. In the meantime, if you’re worried about how your images will appear in black and white, then try this “converter” – http://tjshome.com/imageconverter.php. Choose the black and white option (It’s the first one) then choose your image and hit the submit button.  If you want you can right click on the results and save the converted image to your computer.




Transferring the Rights from One Smashword’s Author to Another

For the last year or so I’ve offer Smashwords formatting services. Many authors ask me about pictures in Smashwords books, and it was a pain to try to find one they could look at for free so I dusted off an old children’s book I’d written back in 2001 (complete with those pesky images) and uploaded it as a free read. That way, I could show curious people what it would look like. Fast forward and, to my dismay and surprise, one day I notice that this free kiddy book has not only “sold” over 400 copies , but it has reviews on B&N as well as Smashwords and was even featured in a blog!

I have other kiddy books I wrote at the same time and with all the downloads I thought “hey, maybe I should upload them too.” But, I don’t want to be known as a children’s author. I have a tough enough time trying to convince people that my vampire books are not YA (There is a rape scene in the first book, for crying out loud! this is not twelve year old material), so linking that same author name to books that ARE child friendly… well, that’s what you call cross genre nightmares.

A pen name fixes the problem, but what about the book that’s already uploaded? The one that has reviews and links to it? Smashwords allows authors to transfer book rights to Publishers, and from publishers to authors, but what about author to author?

Turns out yes, you can do that.

I sent a mail to Mark and he explained that they have to do the switch manually (Neurosurgery, he called it) but that if you send the links to the book and both author pages – the one the book is now under and the one you want it moved to – either he or Bill will make the swap for you.  How handy is that?  Just another example of the excellent customer service aspect to Smashwords.

Thought I would share this as I’m sure I’m not the only one something like this has happened to, and this method is a lot easier then un-publishing and re-uploading.