Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Create a Createspace Book in Four Easy Steps—Sort Of

Step One - write a great book.
Step Two - get a cover.
Step Three - have it formatted.
Step Four - combine the book and the cover and then go to the handy Createspace form and start inputting. VoilĂ !

Easy Peasy. Yeah. Well.

In the particular case of Strange Faces, I didn't write a book so much as compile a book—six short stories and one novelette under one cover. That completed, I went on to Step Two. 

One of my favorite evening zone-out pastimes is lounging on the couch, laptop on my lap, television on, and strolling through online pre-made book covers. There are plenty of cover artists who are doing this. Just do a Google search for "pre-made eBook covers" and you’ll see what I mean. Another pleasure of mine is ambling through Amazon and simply looking at book covers. (Go ahead, say it—I lead a boring life.)

In my case, I kept going back to Bookgraphics. I had already used her for a pre-made cover for Steal Away. I liked her work, and so I hired her to do up a "custom cover" for Strange Faces.

Oh, and another thing of note. You need a radically different cover for a print book than you do for an eBook. I kept wondering why, until I slapped the flat of my hand against my temple and thought, "Oh yeah, you got the whole back of the book to think about! And the spine!"

When you go to CreateSpace you have two options. You can pay or not pay. Quick, which would you choose? 

I guess it’s not that simple, though.  If you don’t have a cleanly edited copy (and more about that in a future blog, I promise), or if you don’t have a cover, you might want to try it. But I have no experience with it, and I don’t know anyone who’s done this. My advice on this score is to ask Dr. Google.

But since we already had a cover and a cleanly edited manuscript, we clicked on "start a title for free." When I use the royal "we," I’m referring to my husband, my book formatter, Rik.

With me looking over his shoulder, we opened an account and started the step by step procedure. Even though he has formatted almost 500 books, this is the first time he himself has "uploaded" anything to Createspace. He has formatted hundreds of Createspace books, but that’s where his job ends. Amazon’s guidelines suggest that the author/publisher put up the book herself. And you probably don't want Rik to know your bank account numbers.

Yesterday, after four days of back and forth (there’s always
something isn’t there??) our formatted manuscript finally met with Createspace’s final approval. We did a few high-fives, and then ordered our proof copy which should be in our hot little hands in a week or so.

So, no, right now, it’s not quite ready yet for general consumption, and unlike writers who traditionally publish with the Big Five - oops, I mean Medium Sized Five, us Indies don’t get to put "pre-order" buttons on our Amazon pages. But ya know? Maybe that’s somewhere down in the pipeline, too. 

For latest on the Amazon/Hachette dispute, Jim Bell, a Hachette author and an Indie author and a buddy of mine has written an excellent blog post about it. If you are really geeking into this, scroll down and read all the comments underneath. Very insightful!

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's All Up To You, Baby!

And when you're Indie publishing, it is all up to you, and that includes editing and covers and marketing and promotion and getting reviews. Oh my!

That first review of a book is always a milestone. Will people like it or does it suck? This one came in and had me picking up my pom pons and dancing around my living room on tiptoes. Alice Munro!!  Really and truly?! My writing reminds her of Alice Munro?! The Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro?! That Alice Munro?! Okay, enough with the question/exclamation marks, already!

But, it did make me feel good! Thank you to my beautiful reviewer.

Social Media - 

For the past few days, I’ve been working on getting Strange Faces eBook out in the social media stream so people can find it, read it, and hopefully review it. That mean all the usual suspects - Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. As soon as the paperback becomes available, I’ll be sending out a newsletter. Make sure you sign up! 

Create Space -  

My husband Rik and I have been up to our ears with the spring cleaning of our sailboat, aptly named Mystery. This boat is our summer cottage. When you buy a cheap old boat, though, things break. This year it needed a humongous amount of fiberglas poured into a hole in the bottom. Don’t ask. 

But, when that is finished, we plan to set up a Create Space account and get Strange Faces out there as a paper book.

Can I go for a walk with you? - 

I love audio books. They are great for 1) driving, 2) walking, 3) nights of insomnia 4) cooking. Soon we'll be looking into getting Strange Faces up there as an audio book

Amazon vs. Hachette - 

Okay, time to weigh in. I don’t fully understand what these two monopolous bullies are actually fighting about, (some of that is shrouded in secrecy) but I read the blogs and listen to talk NPR and Slate. 

Here’s what I think - It’s not big, bad giant Amazon (Even the name is 'big!') coming down on poor defenseless little Hachette. Nope. They're both pretty much big guys, but they represent two different and distinct camps in the publishing industry. In one corner, Hachette represents all those authors who are published by traditional publishing houses and like it that way, thank you very much. Their mantra is  - ‘We’ve always done it that way.” 

And in the other corner of the rink is Amazon, the upstart, the guy with the big fists who wants to come in and change publishing from the inside out and from the bottom to the top. 

Because I’m an Indie author, I tend to take my pompoms and flags and balloons over to Amazon's corner of the rink. Here’s what Amazon has done: Made it so I can put up my books for free. Case in point—I love short stories. I actually buy books of eShort stories. Yet, the gatekeepers in traditional publishing decided that for whatever reason, they don't sell. So, they're not going to publish them. But, I can. I can take my favorite stories and get them out there as an eBook and have readers actually buy them. 

They have developed a platform called Create Space where I can get my books in print with a minimal outlay of money by me. Take your time machine back to the bad old days of publishing. First of all, people who self-published their books were the acne-ridden, unpopular kids on the playground.  They paid Vanity Publishers enormous amounts of money, sometimes into the tens of thousands of dollars and ended up with garagefulls of expensive hardbacks they couldn't sell. 

Amazon has changed all that. Amazon has taken the stigma of self-publishing. Self-publishers get to wear the Cool Kids tee shirts. 

 They have another platform—ACX, which allows authors, again with minimal outlay of moolah to get their books narrated and turned into audio books and into places like

As an Indie author I'm glad we have people like Joe Konrath sticking up for us. Here's another take on it, a thoughtful one which I found on the Maine Crime Writers blog site. 

And if you're nerding out on this, just Google Hachette and Amazon and you'll find enough reading material to last for days and days, until maybe the dispute is hopefully, resolved.