Working Season from September to June

I’m at a crossroads. There are several options on the table, and I’m not sure which to take.

The question that has badgered me all summer is: What do I focus on between September and June?

More clearly put: What do I focus on in these 10 months to either deliver me to or reduce the distance between where I am and where I want to be?

Part of getting there is increasing my income. Writing alone won’t do it, so I’m looking for a full time job. Apparently, everyone is looking for workers because workers aren’t returning, so getting a job shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

Working 20 to 40 hours a week reduces my computer time, so that means focussing on what is vital to my writing and publishing.

Setbacks

We all have them. It’s how we respond to them that matters. On the morning of Sunday August 21st, I turned on my computer and received this message: I am dead.

Okay, it wasn’t that exact message, but the meaning was the same: the hard drive was dead. My last major backup was in late April. However, I backup current files I’m working on, such as the novel I completed only two weeks earlier, through other means, so that and a few other files were saved. But the book covers I was working on were lost.

Continue reading

Amazon Publishing Tip: Author Name

When  you publish your book on Amazon, be extremely careful with your author name. Be certain of the name you want to use before you publish your first book. Don’t use a slightly different name for your second book.

When you complete the details of the book during the publishing process, enter the name exactly as you want to use it for the rest of your publishing career. While you can jump through hoops and spend time discussing the matter of changing it with Amazon, save yourself the hassle and do it right the first time.

When I say enter the name exactly, I mean exactly. Understand that Amazon sees your name as it would a file name. Diane McGyver is not the same person as Diane Lynn McGyver or Diane L. McGyver or Diane L McGyver or Dr. Diane McGyver. No, I’m not a doctor. I’m using this as an example.

When you use exactly the same name, the computers at Amazon automatically link your books and create an author page with your author biography and a list of your books. Readers will find all your stuff in one location.

Amazon will not link Diane McGyver with Diane L McGyver. Readers will click on Diane McGyver and see books only published by her, not Diane L. McGyver.

If you make a mistake or tweak your name, you cannot change it in the detailed information. It, like your title, is permanent. Unless you go through the hassle of explaining the situation to Amazon and hoping they will understand and change it.

The easiest thing to do is use the same name from the start.

Using Kindle Create to Create eBooks

Let’s allow our minds to go drifting down that dusty road to years past when Kindle and CreateSpace worked together. One need only create a paperback book at CreateSpace, click a few buttons and allow Kindle to transform that paperback into an eBook.

Many writers took advantage of that, and the eBooks created by this ‘transformation machine’ did a decent job.

However, the control freak in me couldn’t relinquish control of such an import factor in my life, so I manually created each eBook I published.

Things have changed, and so has Kindle KDP/Amazon. Gone is CreateSpace and its clunky transformation machine. Now we have KDP Print and Kindle Create.

Continue reading

“The One We Forgot to Love”

This afternoon, I met with local author, Sandy Totten. She contacted me the last week of January about her book, The One We Forgot to Love and hired me to walk her through the steps of publishing it. I also edited the manuscript and designed the cover and interior.

The proof arrived from Amazon yesterday (Tuesday), so we got together to discuss it. She had ordered the book last Wednesday. That is the fastest delivery time I’ve ever seen with KDP Print. CreateSpace used to be this fast, but I thought that luxury was gone when KDP Print took over. I was wrong. At least for this shipment.

The One We Forgot to Love Description

Will a mother’s love save her family or destroy it?

Continue reading

My Free Book Promotions on Amazon are Over

Why are my free book promotion days over? Because of this review for Northern Survival:

1 Star: Am I missing something?

Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2021

I’m having a very difficult time relating to all these positive reviews. I made it to page 52 and gave up on these two thoroughly obnoxious characters and gave up on the book. Thank goodness I didn’t pay for it.

Amazon Review
Northern Survival

My last free book promotion took place in January 2021. When I saw this review, if I could have kicked myself in the behind, I would have. I had seen reviews like this for other books, and I always thought, “Beggars can’t be choosie. You got the book for free. Why are you so ungrateful.”

The one-star review doesn’t bother me. Not everyone is going to like my book. That’s a given. Pick any big-name author or popular book with thousands of 4 and 5-star reviews, and you’ll find one-star reviews.

The problem is this little phrase: “Thank goodness I didn’t pay for it.” That grinds my bones. However, the lesson has been learned. I will NEVER again put my books up for free. This will prevent this phrase from ever being added to another review.

Continue reading

“Northern Survival” Sales Update

Just over a year ago, I launched Northern Survival. It was the first book in the Laced with Romance Collection. Sales were extremely well during the last four months of 2020. This was due to the high number of promotional ads bought. I did a lot of promotions, both paid and free. It was the first time I had money to invest in marketing, and it definitely paid off.

In total, I spent $275.42 in marketing this one book. It was all focussed on the launch months: September, October and November. I’ve spent nothing since, and still this book sells on average 5 copies a month (either paperback or eBook) and has a minimum of 5,000 pages read in the Unlimited Kindle program. I earned back the money spent on promotions by the end of November.

Continue reading

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging – Most Popular Posts

As the title states: This blog is ten years old. It turned ten on January 3rd (The First Step in Blogland), but I had forgotten about the milestone. When I started this blog, I had no idea I’d still be blogging a decade later. I’ve covered a lot of material and had a few controversial posts. How controversial? I was threatened with a lawsuit for one incident, but I’m not allowed to speak about that. Those who know, know.

Ultimately, I stand on the side of writers, not publishers, book sellers or anyone else. Well, let me clarify that. I stand on the right and just side regardless of the costs to my reputation and book sales. I despise those who take advantage of writers; it’s one reason I keep this blog alive.

Statistics

Over the past ten years, I’ve made 667 posts, had 97,205 visitors and 168,374 views. I have 860 followers through WordPress and 75 by email (total: 935).

WordPress also breaks down years with stats. In 2020, I wrote 69 posts totalling 38,894 words, averaging 564 words per post.

Continue reading

Results for January FREE Book Promotion

My survival and adventure laced with romance novel Northern Survival has done quite well since it’s release in September 2020. I’m using this book as my flagship. It’s a quick read, contains all the elements most of my novels do (survival, adventure, romance) and has been well received by readers.

For the next couple of years, I’m going to focus my promotions on this book to introduce Diane McGyver to new readers, who will hopefully check out my other books. My philosophy at this time is to have one book promoted like crazy that does excellent and leads to my other books instead of spreading my energy thin to promote multiple books. I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the three months it has been available, Northern Survival has sold (as of December 31, 2020) 498 copies and the number of pages read by Kindle Unlimited Members is 21,441 (x $0.0045 = $96.48). Since the book is about 200 pages, that’s about 107 copies read, give or take. Several readers may have read only part of the book and lost interest or was distracted by life.

Continue reading

Starting a Self-publishing Career from Scratch

Every other week or so, a writer contacts me and asks how I do something or where to find information in regard to self-publishing. Often, these are writers who have been writing for a long time but have never entered the publishing world either traditionally or non-traditionally.

Sometimes they ask a question I can answer in one sentence. Other times, I can go to my website – this website – find the post or page on which I discussed that topic and send the link. Still other times, they have many questions. I try to answer the best I can, but my time is limited, and I can’t spend an hour crafting an email with links and details.

An hour to write an email? Yes, because I double check information or I find a reference to it on the web to ensure that information hasn’t changed and to provide a place where they can learn more. Then I read it carefully a few times to ensure I’ve said things properly, didn’t leave out a word and included everything I wanted to say.

It’s Already Online

The truth is, most of the information I provide is already on the web. Many times it’s on my website because, believe it or not, on January 3, 2021 (The First Step in Blogland), I mark ten years in blogland, and I’ve written about every step from writing that first draft to getting that published book in hand.

Continue reading

Comparing the Printing Quality of Lulu to KDP Print

Back in May, I had ordered two copies of Healing Stones from the two printers I use regularly. I wanted to compare the quality of the printing and paper for both the interior and cover. Here’s what I found.

The two printers I used were Lulu and KDP Print. All aspects of the books were the same, including the matte cover.

Cover

Healing Stones front coversWhen placed side-by-side and compared closely, the Lulu copy is a shade darker and the greens in the girl’s hood are greener than that by KDP Print. If the books were held apart, these differences are not noticed.

However, the squares around the “T” on the spines are noticeably different if held apart. The Lulu version is the blue I had chosen and looks like that on my computer. The KDP Print book has a purple square.

Healing Stones spine

The back covers look identical.

Thickness of Cover: It may be my imagination, but when I finger the cover, the KDP Print version feels thicker. However, the more I compare the covers by fingering them, the more I think I’m crazy. Maybe it isn’t. But for this exercise, I’m going to say the KDP Print cover is a breath thicker than the Lulu cover.

Continue reading

Why Lulu Books are Better to Sell at My Local Markets

For more than ten years, I’ve had my books printed by companies that are not local. In other words, they’re not located within my province of Nova Scotia. I’ve always wanted my books printed in the province, but the logistics weren’t there. I can’t afford to order a minimum of 250 books, nor do I have the space for 250 books x the number of titles I’ve published. That would reach over 1,000 books quickly.

While newer possibilities are opening up all the time and I will one day look into them further, for now, I’m depending on the printers I’ve come to know: Lulu and KDP Print (though I’d much prefer their former company CreateSpace).

I’ve written about my experiences with Lulu and KDP Print on a few occasions, including my recent post, Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu. In that post I mentioned selling my books at local markets as a Canadian and the concern I have with KDP Print.

Continue reading

Book Printing, Embedding Fonts and Lulu

Healing StonesAs mentioned in my post on August 17th Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu, I ran into trouble with Lulu’s newly designed website and their more user friendly tools. While frustrating, once I figured out the source of the problem, I solved the problem for the print file for Healing Stones and other books I plan to upload in the future.

The problem? Embedding Fonts.

My Lulu History

To understand my problem, we have to go back to the beginning when I uploaded my first interior file to Lulu. This was about two years ago. Back then, I did as instructed and saved the file in PDF. However, Lulu rejected every PDF for the interior that I tried to upload. I tried to figure out why but couldn’t.

Reading further, I saw they also accepted .docx files, so I uploaded my formatted book in the MS Word document file I had originally created. SUCCESS. Lulu accepted the file, and I never looked back. From then on, I always uploaded a .docx instead of a PDF.

Continue reading

Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu

In May, I was working on the print version of Healing Stones, book 4 in the Castle Keepers series, and encountered issues at both Lulu and KDP Print. Here are the details of the challenge of getting a print copy in my hand. I had already ordered a single proof from Lulu in March, examined it and made corrections/changes to the file and sought to get a second proof.

Changes at Lulu

Lulu did a major overhaul of their website in April. They claimed it was more user friendly and much easier to publish and print books using their new tools and design.

I first learned about these changes in early May from the writer friend who had introduced me to Lulu a few years ago. She has used the company as her printer for several years and loved working with them.

However, on the day she called, the honeymoon was over, and she was having a heck of a time getting her current project uploaded and accepted for printing. We tried several options, then she decided it was time to give KDP Print a try because she could sell her books directly from this vendor to readers at Amazon and cut out the middleman (Lulu).

Continue reading

A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.

However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.

I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.

However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.

Sigh.

Continue reading

No One is Surprised: CreateSpace Closes and KDP Print Takes Over

Amazon CreateSpace KDP PrintBetween putting the laundry in the washer and hanging it on the line and while I was making pancakes for my youngest child, washing dishes and waiting for the buzzer on the oven to go to indicate the cinnamon rolls were ready for extraction, an email popped up in my inbox.

The subject told me all I wanted to know, and if Amazon thought they’d surprise me, they couldn’t have been more mistaken: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing to become one service

I didn’t bother opening the message; I was too busy, and I knew what it was all about.

Continue reading