Tag Archives: Books

What Was That, Again?

Got thinking about titles. Titles of Books. Short Stories. Murder Mysteries. Fantasies. Poems. Lyrics. Just how important are they? Then I ran across this on Mental Floss: “What 10 More Books Were Almost Called” C so I’m supposing they’ve run series like this before. But I liked and was familiar with the ten they listed in this version. Which ones have you read? How many would you have read if they’d carried the “original” title?

 

ORIGINAL                                                                           AS PUBLISHED

They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen       Valley of the Dolls ~ Jacqueline Susann

Kingdom By the Sea                                                       Lolita ~ Vladimir Nabokov

HarryPotter & the Doomspell Tournament or
Harry Potter & the Triwizard Tournament      Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire ~ J. K. Rowling

Goodnight Room                                                               Goodnight Moon ~ Margaret Wise Brown

James and the Giant Cherry                                        James and the Giant Peach ~ Roald Dahl

A Week with Willie Worm                                           The Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ Eric Carle

Second‑Hand Lives                                                         The Fountainhead ~ Ayn Rand

Strangers from Within                                                    Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding

Something That Happened                                          Of Mice & Men ~ John Steinbeck

The Mute                                                                               The Heart is a Lonely Hunter ~ Carson McCullers

The titles changed for a variety of reasons, with occasional suggestions from various sources.

Jacqueline Susann went for a “snappier” title, while Nabokov wanted to pay homage to E. A. Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” the nickname Humbert gave his first teenage love.

J.K. Rowling’s working title (the first listed above) was leaked before the book was ready; she “kicked around” the other possibility above, but decided to go with Goblet of Fire to get the “cup of destiny” feel about it.

Brown’s title changed to give a more “ready to drift off into dreamland” feel to her story and Dahl felt a peach was “prettier, bigger and squishier.” He sure got that right!

Ayn Rand explained her “new” title on the dedication page of her manuscript: “To Frank O’Connor, who is less guilty of second-handedness than anyone I have ever met.”

There are those (possibly William Golding among them) who thought the original title may have had something to do with the reason it was rejected… SIX TIMES. (So, don’t give up: try, try again!)

Steinbeck’s original title would supposedly show, for better or worse, sometimes things just happen. And that’s the way life is. (It still needed a better title.)

Eric Carle’s editor, Ann Benaduce, suggested he make a slight change to the book, and Carle had no clear ending in mind. Switching the story to a caterpillar gave him a natural conclusion ‑‑‑ and is much more appealing, in my “book” anyway.

The sales manager at Houghton Mifflin suggested the changed title to Carson McCullers. Guess we need to look at anyone’s, everyone’s suggestions.

TITLES: make ’em snappy; pertinent to your story, or its mood or purpose; try out various possibilities on your critique partners and/or friends; lend a touch of magic, or inevitability, or warning where you can; consider your eventual target audience and appeal to that child, woman, guy’s guy, etc.

Listen to advice from ALL sources, but make up your own mind in the end. And if your manuscript is turned down, try something new and send it out again.

When Books (or Characters) Don’t Listen to You as the Writer

The first time I had a book character disobey me, I was in complete shock. I’d heard about it from other writers, but hadn’t experienced it myself. When I told one of my non-writing friends that it had happened, she was pretty sure I was crazy.

Whether you outline or discovery write, you know that sometimes your story will spin in a different direction than what you’d planned. Outliners will then have to redo their outline to fit it in, and discovery writers? They just go along for the ride.

Back to my first experience. My main character’s brother, Adam, was supposed to be a minor character. Someone who was only mentioned in passing.

And then he laughed at me. “No, sorry. I have to do this. For my sister.”

I stared in shock at the words in front of me as I saw him dart out of the room and try to save the day. I watched him get taken and move the story forward in a way that my main character couldn’t have. The story was so much stronger because of it. Then together, they were able to save the day, and the story wrapped up perfectly. Well, maybe not perfectly because another two books came after that.

There are times when you can reign in your story and tell them to behave, but before you do, weigh the consequences. Will the story suffer if you go a new direction? Will it be stronger? What are you going to have to change after this? Is it worth it?

One great indicator is how the story reacts. If you’re suddenly at a standstill and you can’t go any further, chances are you need to go back and fix a spot. Maybe that sudden inspiration wasn’t what the story needed. And sometimes the different direction is exactly what the plot needed to drive it forward.

I was done with a series last year. My character had saved the day and everything was exactly how I wanted it. Except … my story had other ideas. One day in the middle of church, a whole new plot came to mind and screamed at me to write it.

So I did. Except that I got to the ending and sat there staring at it. Nothing worked. The ending I had planned out didn’t solve anything, and in fact, made it too similar to the ending of the third book. I took a step back and talked to a few friends before suddenly realizing that this wasn’t the end. It had to go a different direction or I would have broken promises I made in the book. After I made that decision, the story flowed perfectly, and I was able to finish it later that day.

And now I have another book to write. But you know what? That’s okay, because I know that going off the beaten path will make this story stronger.

So what’s the craziest thing your characters ever made you write?

Diary of a Bipolar Writer

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I’ll be honest. I know A LOT of writers. Some highly successful and some… not so much. Yep, they’re all different, but similar. Most tend to be flippers. Not like the dolphin, but their moods swing like pendulums in a Harry Potter movie. Let me explain briefly by giving you a slice of life for an example. (Disclaimer:  All Facebook statuses posted are factious even though they may seem like actual living breathing people you may know. Reading discretion advised.)

Facebook status:  11:23 am

I just cut 15,000 words from my novel. I suck. Everything I write is total crap. #thismightnotbeforme #whatwasithinking

Facebook status:  11:27 am

@AgentX thinks I’m the best writer in the world! They emailed and requested a full! I just know I’m going to make it big. #showmethemoney

Facebook status:  11:33 am

My file is gone. I don’t know what happened?! My life is over. I think I’m seriously having a heart attack or maybe a stroke. I cut ALL my words NOT 15,000! #call911 #iamamoron #nevergettingthatagentnow #stupidstupidstupid

Facebook status:  11:43 am

Called my friend and they saved the day! I will be the next J.K. Rowling! #lifeisperfect #irock #iwillwalktheredcarpetinamoviepremire

This was twenty minutes in the life of pretty much most of the people I know. Looks familiar doesn’t it? This may not be something that happens every day, but it does happen; sometimes quite a bit more than we care to admit to ourselves. In thinking of the highs and lows writers experience, they can be pretty extreme. It’s both sad and funny at the same time. ALL of us can relate. This is when a comical little thought about being “bipolar” took a turn in a more serious direction–from being a cute little observation to our lives as writers, to something that quite possibly …could be true. Are a great deal of writers really bipolar?

So what do we do when we have a question? We Google it and I found some interesting information. I wanted to know if writers had a tendencies to have bipolar disorders. Here’s just a small portion of information on what I found.

ParttimeIndianSmokesignals

I’m a huge fan of Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as well as the book and movie titled Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre, 1998). If you aren’t aware of either one, I highly suggest checking them both out. Some people have put his “part-time Indian” book on the banned book list. In my opinion that only makes the book that much more interesting. In this short video clip, Alexie talks candidly about being bipolar and the positives and negative effects it’s had in his life.

 Sherman Alexie on Mania, Bipolarity and Great Art | BillMoyers.com (click link)

Alexie has some interesting thoughts on creatives and being manic/bipolar. People have argued the topic for years. Evidently they feel there’s a fine line between being mad and creative. In this article, The Bipolar Brain and the Creative Mind by Sarah Eberhardt, Sarah sheds some light onto the subject on how they differ. For more information on mental illnesses and writing, check out or podcast with Robison Wells. He also speaks very candidly on the subject of mental illness. 

I wanted to shed some light on writers with bipolar disorders and how our minds work in the creative process. I found this information extremely interesting and I hope you do as well. I’m not saying everyone who writes has a bipolar disorder, but we do need to be both aware of ourselves and the world we live in. If you think you may have a metal disorder seek professional medical help or if you have information you’d like to share on writing and/or mental disorders feel free to leave comments. Happy Writing!

 

Jennifer Bennett

About Jennifer Bennett

Jennifer J. Bennett was born in Southern California as the youngest of six children. Her imagination began to develop as a child creating worlds in her backyard. Books have always played a big role in her life; favorites growing up were “The Country Bunny” by Dubose Heyward, “The Light in the Attic”by Shel Silverstein, and “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’ Dell among many, many others. She also enjoys music, theater, travel, and cooking.

Jennifer moved from Southern California in 1989 and finished high school in Southern Utah where she met her husband Matthew Bennett who currently works in educational administration. They reside in St. George, Utah with four amazing kids: Haylee, Chase, Conner, and Libby. After her father was diagnosed with cancer, she began writing her first novel, “The Path”. Her father encouraged her to move forward with her writing and she has continued since. He passed away in 2009.

Jen, as her friends call her; can be found buzzing around California from time to time in search of magical elements from the past. She tries to balance fun, being a mom, and trying to be a grownup (which she really isn’t sure she ever wants to be).

How to Write an Opening Chapter Worthy of a Bidding War

I posted this on my own blog and it got some great feedback. I thought I’d share it here too. A while back I had the opportunity to hear Jennifer A. Nielsen teach a class on writing middle-grade books. During her instruction she shared a little about her book The False Prince and how it made every author’s dream: it got into a bidding war with publishers. Nielsen said what made the publishers so interested in this book was the opening chapter. Like any smart writer I immediately went out and got hejen-nielsenr book. I read it in about two days (which for me is amazingly fast). It was that good! The story was fresh and kept me turning page after page. However, the whole book is NOT what got Nielsen into a bidding war—it was the first chapter. So I went back and started pin pointing the things that made this chapter so compelling. Without spoiling this book for anyone who hasn’t read it I am going to try to give an analysis on some of the things Nielsen does to make a book worthy of a bidding war.

  • (Write the story in the correct POV.) Every story is different and not every book should be written in the save point of view. Nielsen chose to write The False Prince in 1st person. I thought this was a bold move considering the secrets Sage keeps from the readers throughout the book—or does he? Reading back through its amazing how many clues Sage give the reader about what is to come in the first few chapters of the book.
  • (Start with questions.) The first two sentences immediately start the book by posing questions in the readers mind. “If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life. Then again, I’m not sure I ever had a choice.”  Who is this? What life are they leading? What life did he leave behind? Did he have a choice? Who forced him into this situation? These are questions that readers take on. Instantly we want to read more because we want answers.
  • (Don’t start slow—start with action or suspense.) Next the reader finds themselves in a chase scene. Sage has stolen a roast and is being pursued by a meat cleaver wielding butcher. We learn that 1. Sage is hungry, 2. He is an orphan, and 3. He is a thief. The chase scene lasts a whopping four paragraphs before Sage is caught. It’s fast.The False Prince
  • (Show more character and pose more questions.) When Sage is caught, a nobleman gets him off the hook by paying for the roast. Sage is forced to follow the nobleman to the orphanage where we have a brief conversation with the caretaker, Mrs. Turbeldy. We learn that the nobleman is named Bevin Connor. We also learn that Sage wasn’t stealing this roast just for himself—he is trying to feed the other boys at the orphanage, so he is willing to risk his neck for others. Then the questions start in the readers mind. Who is Bevin Connor? What does he want with an orphan boy?  Who is Sage?
  • (Give more information about the main character.) Nielsen chooses to do this by Connor giving an interrogation of Sage (which also poses the question in the readers mind: who is Connor looking for?). Sage is identified as being illiterate, no good with a sword, a thief, and a liar. We also learn that Sage is snarky and has authority issues. A  s readers we like this kid!
  • (Create more questions and end the chapter on a cliff hanger.) Next Connor tells Sage to get his things. Mrs. Turbeldy says he’s been bought and paid for. You get another hint at Sages character as he alludes to the fact he can’t be owned by anyone. Good, so Sage is a freedom fighter too—all the more reason to like him. When Sage doesn’t come willingly, Connor’s men knock him out. Nielsen ends the chapter with Sage being taken away into the unknown by a complete strange not opposed to violence.

Add this chapter to the fantastic hook Nielsen has and you have a book worthy of an agent or publishers interest. “An orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes. Choose to lie…or choose to die.” And that’s how you write a killer fist chapter. the-runaway-king

Let’s review just the bullets here:

  • Have the right POV.
  • Start with questions about your main character.
  • Speed it up—don’t start slow.
  • Create a character easily related to that shows us good characteristics.
  • Pose more questions.
  • End on a page turner or cliff hanger.

If you haven’t read The False Prince I invite you to go out and get the book. It is well worth your time and you will NOT be disappointed. I can’t tell you enough about how much I love this book. It will keep you turning pages and surprise you with the way it ends. Try to craft an opening chapter using the key elements I have found in the first chapter of this book. Not every story is going to be the same and not every story should start the same, but they should all start RIGHT. Happy Writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Audiobooks: An Indie Author’s Experience

books wearing headphones by Thanunkorn
Image courtesy of Thanunkorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am a huge fan of audiobooks. For years I have listened to them while driving in my car, working, or just relaxing at home. A book becomes more real when it’s told through a professional storyteller. Some know that I turned down a contract with a traditional publisher because they wanted my audiobook rights but never planned on making an audiobook. As you can see—audiobooks mean a lot to me. When the opportunity came for me to turn THE DREAM KEEPER into an audiobook I went into it with little knowledge about the ins and outs of the process. I hope by sharing my experience, those of you that are interested in audiobooks will gain some insights.

I chose to go with ACX an Amazon Platform. I like the way Amazon runs their services to indie authors so I thought this was my best choice. It’s not your only choice; however, I will not be discussing your many options in this post. My advice for that is to ask other authors that have self-published audiobooks and see what they have done, or do what I do—Google it. ACX distributes you audiobook to online retailers such as Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes.

acxLogoACX has many options for authors. You can be your own producer and narrator, or you can get a talented voice to narrate for you. While I love to read picture books to my girls and I have a background in theater which allows me to do voices and dialects, I would never subject my readers to have to listen to the sound of my voice. It’s bad enough that people have to hear it on the Podcast.  I chose to go with finding a narrator.

woman showing microphone by imagerymajestic
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ACX allows you to post a script (or section of your book) that you will post for auditions. You also have the option of whether you want to have a more cost effective option (a 50/50 split of the royalties with the narrator) or a more upfront option (paying the narrators upfront at the rate of $50-$100 [amateur] or $200-$400 [professional] per FINISHED hour. All royalties go to you as the author).  I chose to go with the 50/50 split for two reasons:

  1. I do not have the funds to support a talent. My book is about 80,000 words long, so around 8.5 hours in time. To go with the upfront cost in hiring out the narrator I would be sinking $500-$1000 (amateur rate) or $2500-$5000 (a professional rate) in the audiobook before even selling one copy.
  2. My marketing brain tells me “if there are two people with their names on this book and they are both getting money from it, than that is one more person pushing for sales.” (This is just my mindset, not a guarantee.) I assume the narrator expects me to do a lot more to market this audiobook, but I think having them push it for it to will only help sales in the long run.

So how do you get talents interested in your project? ACX has you link your existing book from Amazon. This pulls in your rankings, meta-data, and cover. Then you get to write a short blurb about your book—basically a sales pitch. This is what I wrote for my project:

audible-logoThe Dream Keeper has only been out a little over a month but has done well for itself. Within the first week of release it hit #41 on Amazon’s top 100 for Action-Adventure and #62 in Fantasy, both very competitive categories for children’s books. It has continued to get terrific reviews and the word about this book is spreading. The sequel The Dreamstone will be coming out in time for Christmas and that will also create some exciting buzz.”

This isn’t all that, but I thought by sharing the few brief successes the book has had it would draw more attention.

Once I posted the project information and the script I was ready for auditions. ACX also allows you to seek out talents. You can select what type of voice you are seeking and then listen to the many samples narrators have showcased for themselves. Within the first 24 hours of sending out the call for narrators I received 3 auditions. I gave it full week and collected several more. Then came the cool part—I got to listen to talented narrator’s read me my book! This was an experience all on its own.

ACX allows you then to like, maybe, or dislike the auditions you receive. I really like 3 of the narrators and had to listen to them over and over to pin point the things I felt were right for my book. Having listened to literally hundreds of audiobooks in my genre I knew what I was looking for. If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, I encourage you to do so. Different genres will have their own style of voice. For example: I had one audition of a deep, baritone voice that although would have sounded great doing an adult thriller, didn’t fit my book that featureditunes-logo a 14-year-old boy. Tip: know what you are looking for. I got my choices down to two talents, and let me tell you it was harder than nails making a decision between them—they were both amazing.

What is also cool about ACX is that you can message your narrators. The one talent I fell in love with I noticed was registered as a pay only narrator (meaning he only took on upfront payment). I was so disappointed and felt like I was going to have to settle for someone who would accept the royalty share option. I emailed him and explained how I loved his audition but I was unable to make an offer on anything but a royalty share project. He emailed me back accepting to do the royalty share. I was thrilled!! Being able to communicate with the narrators is great. Since that email, I have had conversations over the phone to discuss the details of the book. I believe any book that has a collaboration of talents need to work in a partnership. We have to both be givers in the situation to make this audiobook the best it can be.

amazon-logoOnce you have selected your narrator, ACX then has you make an offer to them. You agree upon the terms or royalty and time. You give the narrator a deadline to record the first 15 minutes of the book and also a deadline to record the full book. I highly recommend contacting your narrator before you send an offer. Make sure they are on the same page as you. Ask them about their time schedule. Because my narrator is on a royalty share I want him to be able to make his recording times convenient to him. He is not being paid for his work until later and I don’t want my project to interfere with paying jobs. We agreed on a deadline before I sent him the offer. COMMUNICATION IS KEY! Talk about the possible concerns or ideas about how you want your characters portrayed.  Once you have a firm agreement, send the offer in through ACX. Once the offer is accepted this become your contract. Both parties are in ACX_Logoagreement on the pay and deadlines selected. The offer you send to the narrator is for them to produce the book and you give them a deadline to respond to the offer within 24, 48, or 72 hours.

This is how far I have gotten in my process and I am enjoying every minute of it. Being able to listen to my book being read by a professional gives me the same amazing feeling I had when I first saw my book in print. Feel free to ask me questions and I can try my best to answer them. I will be posting a follow-up to this post when the book is available. That way I can give you the details of how it all worked out. Best of luck with your audiobooks and happy writing!

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.

Self Publishing: Is it for You?

This is going to be a series of Self Publishing Tips and Resources

So you’ve finished a book and you want to publish it. In today’s fasted paced market you can upload your book’s files and in the matter of days get it into the hands of your readers. It can take months of submitting queries to agents and editors and then once your book gets under contract it can then take anywhere from 12-18 months before you even see your book on a shelf. Compare days to years and self publishing becomes a better option—but is it for you?

There are many benefits that come with self publishing. The first is that, unlike traditional publishers, you have the ultimate say in how your book will appear. You take on the role of not just the author, but the cover designer, editor, proofer reader, marketer, distributor, and publicist. Of course you can outsource all these roles for your book, there are many talented cover designers and editors willing to help self published authors; just because you are doing it on your own doesn’t mean you have to be on your own. Knowing that you are in charge is very important in self publishing. There isn’t anyone who is going to take control and sell your book for you—that’s your job.

Okay, so you feel fine with taking on all the responsibilities with your book, now what? Now it’s time for you to choose which publishing format you want to go with. The two major publishing platforms are CreateSpace.com (an Amazon owned company) and LightningSource.com (an Ingram affiliated company). There are other places you can go to publish your book via ebook such as Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple iBooks, and Nook, but I will mostly be discussing CreateSpace.com and LightningSource.com.

CreateSpace.com https://www.createspace.com/ offers many services for wlogo-csp-no-tmriters including interior formatting, cover design, and distribution, but make sure your read the fine print before agreeing to anything because all their services cost money. Most of the formatting and other things your need for your book you can do on your own for free or outsource to freelancers. Make sure you look through their FREE tutorials and templates they provide to help you create your files for upload. I have personally found Createspace.com very fast and very affordable for indie authors. Their customer service is also top notch. They are extremely helpful when you have questions and very upfront with the costs of printing. They also have a strong connection with Amazon which is a great place for your book to be. They offer FREE ISBN numbers, but make sure you check into them before going with that option, they are limited and are owned by CreateSpace.com so you cannot use them anywhere except for CreateSpace.com. You can purchase your own ISBN number through Broker click here for purchasing options: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/index.asp. CreateSpace.com also offers an expanded distribution option for $25 that gets your book placed onto BarnesandNoble.com and other online retailers, however, I have not seen much success with their expanded distribution and it also makes your book available in Amazon’s online markets (meaning the day you publish your book a discounted ‘used’ book can become available from one of these retailers and you don’t get any royalty from used book sales). CreateSpace.com also makes it easy to transfer your metadata and book information to Kindle and that option becomes available once you have uploaded and proofed your book. Another thing you should be aware of is that CreateSpace.com only offers paperback books. You can have your book converted and made into a hardback book through their server (an additional cost of $99) but your hardback book will not be made available on Amazon.com or CreateSpace.com but YOU can order them directly through CreateSpace.com and distribute them however you feel. They also do a great job with picture books; however, the quality of paper isn’t as amazing as it could be. Once your book is uploaded you can either view your proof electronically via their online previewer, download it as a PDF, or order a proof copy at a very reasonable price (normally $4.50+). Once you review the proof, set the price, double check everything, click accept proof and BAM! your book is published and available to purchase directly from LightningSource.com and on Amazon.com within 12 hours. Isn’t that better than waiting 1-2 years?

LightningSource.com https://www1.lightningsource.com/ is another great option for indie authors. Like CreateSpace.com they offer guided publishing at a cost. Where Cls_logoreateSpace.com is super fast, LightningSource.com is a little slower and you will have more fees involved. You first have to set up an account with them as a publisher. Once you have filed for an account it takes a few days for the account to be set up. They you have to send in all your tax information (all this is done electronically on CreateSpace.com). Once your account is opened you can then begin your process. LightningSource.com assigns an agent that will help you handle all of your materials and they have live customer service if you have any questions. You will need an ISBN number LightningSource.com does not provide one for you. You will also be charged a fee for uploading both your interior file and your cover file. Both upload costs are $35 each. You have an option to add distributing thingram-logorough Ingram for the cost of $60. This gets your book added to the catalogue that all major bookstores use to order books. One thing LightningSource.com offers that CreateSpace.com doesn’t is that you can have either a paperback or hardback cover. If you are interested in picture books they also have a premium paper option which is much better quality than CreateSpace.com. You set up your pricing much like CreateSpace.com but at LightningSource.com you have the option of setting the discount that retailers can place on your book. You can also opt for the guaranteed returns (meaning if the bookstores stock your book they can return them to you guaranteeing they are not out any money, which gets them to actually place your book in their store). However I have not had experience with this option. I’m not sure how it works best for the author/publisher if a bookstore orders 20 copies and only sales 2 and you get stuck with their bill. When I have more information on the returns option I will let you know. If you are planning on requesting a proof copy of your book make sure you’re comfortable paying $30 for a copy. This price is not negotiable and is mostly covered in the overnight delivery. If you prefer you can download the PDF proof and review it that way, but I strongly recommend always getting a physical copy. It wasn’t until I received my proof copy of my book that I decided I hated the cover. Some things look better on a computer screen than they do in print. Once you approve your proof you can then set a date for publication. Know upfront that you have many more options with the way your book will look but also remember you are going to have a lot more fees before you even get to see your book. Any changes you want to make after your initial upload will cost you another $40. The books however are better quality and very professional.

So there are a few of the ins and outs of self-publishing. I plan on sharing more information on how to get freelance editors, illustrators, cover designers, formatters, and other self publishing tips on marketing so check back. Never go into self-publishing lightly. It is a lot of hard work—I’m not kidding here folks. You will never have worked so hard. It’s easy to get your book out there, it’s harder to get it noticed and then get that book to sell. As you have seen you can spend a lot of money upfront and you will be out money if you can’t get readers to purchase your book. My best advice is to have passion for your work. Next make sure you have an amazing book. Get it edited and then have it proofed by several people who will give honest feedback. Start building your platform now, work on setting up your network and website (yes, you do need a website), and plan on working your tail off. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, at times I don’t think it’s for me, I’d rather have a publisher helping me out with all this, but there are rewards in self publishing too. You get all the royalty off books, you have the freedoms traditional houses don’t offer, and you have the power to control what you write.

I hope you have found this helpful and happy writing! CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO

Mikey Brooks

About Mikey Brooks

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is an award-winning author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His other middle-grade books include: The Gates of Atlantis: Battle for Acropolis and The Stone of Valhalla. His picture books include the best-selling ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures, Trouble with Bernie, and Bean’s Dragons. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works fulltime as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’ (emblazoners.com). You can find more about him and his books at: www.insidemikeysworld.com.