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.

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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.

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I Do NOT Endorse Ads Posted to My WordPress Page, Especially those for Austin MacAuley Publishing Ltd.

I do NOT endorse adsToday, I’m supposed to be writing a genealogy column, sizing up a cover for a self-published author and helping two other authors self-publish their books, but I can’t continue with these tasks until I write this post.

I seldom – almost never – sign out of my WordPress account, so I have no idea what the site looks like to visitors. Imagine my surprise when I signed out today to update the site for an organisation I perform secretary duties for and found THIS!

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KDP Print Now Provides Proof and Author Copies

KDP Print ProofA welcomed message arrived in my inbox this evening. Amazon’s KDP Print will now provide self-published authors with the option of purchasing a proof of their book before it goes on sale for the public. The message also stated writers could purchase author copies.

In my post, dated April 17, 2017 (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), one of the major drawbacks of KDP Print over CreateSpace was the inability to order proofs and author copies.

CreateSpace marked its proofs with a large “PROOF” across the last page. KDP Print will take this one step further and “have a ‘Not for Resale’ watermark on the cover and a unique barcode but no ISBN”.

I’m not sure why the extra security is needed since proof copies were the same price as author copies and if a proof was good enough, more copies could be purchased. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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Review of Lulu’s Printing Service

With this ever-changing publishing world, it’s good to explore other options before the need arises. I feel this way about paperback printing services now that CreateSpace seems to be going the way of the megafauna. Before Amazon Print scuttles the boat (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), I want my books settled on solid ground at another printer, so I can still get copies with short notice.

At a friend’s recommendation, I tried the printing services of Lulu. She had printed several of her books using their service. She showed me samples, and the quality was good. I uploaded a book and ordered a copy to see how easy it was and to compare it with the quality from CreateSpace.

Lulu accepted interior files created with CreateSpace’s template, so I didn’t have to redo the book to order the sample. I later learned they accept InDesign files, too, as I assumed they would.

Since this was a new program for me, there were a few stumbles, but overall the process wasn’t too difficult. Ordering copies was easy. The benefit of Lulu is they accept PayPal. This is excellent for everyone who doesn’t have a credit card.

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6 Things to Improve Your Success in Life and in Writing

I arrived ten minutes early for my doctor’s appointment, hoping I’d get in and out quickly. The appearance of only one other vehicle in the parking lot supported my goal. When I walked into the waiting room, there was only one guy there. Sitting in the dark. Alone. The receptionist office window was closed with a sign that read: Gone for Lunch; Back at 1:15.

I knew it was around 12:30. My appointment was 12:45. I started to think I had made a mistake. I questioned the only person in sight. “Are they still taking patients even though everyone’s gone to lunch?”

“Yeah, they are,” he said. “But instead of the receptionist, I saw a doctor come out and take in two patients.”

“Good. I was worried.”

“Me too until I saw the doctor.”

I sat and looked up at the TV screen and saw a show I had never watched before. After fifteen minutes, nothing had changed. I was still in my seat, the man was still sitting a few seats away, the room was still dim and the doctor had not yet emerged.

More TV Watching

After another 15 minutes, other patients started to trickle in, and another show I had never seen came on the television: the Marilyn Denise Show. I only watch one show—Agents of Shield—now that Corner Gas no longer runs, so almost every show is one I’ve never seen or heard of before.

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What is Google AMP, and how can I deactivate it?

A few weeks ago, I noticed something strange when I checked the stats for my blog. In the Referrer Section was a referral from me, or at least it appeared to be from me until I revealed the complete address. It began as dianetibert.com.cdn.ampproject.org followed by about 50 more letters and numbers.

The Referrer Section reveals the paths visitors take to get to my website. The majority are usually through search engines, WordPress.com reader, Facebook and Twitter, but I often get visitors from other sites too.

The names are familiar and if a new one pops up, I check it out. Knowing where traffic comes from helps in many ways, including informing me of new websites that may have information that will help me in my publishing / writing journey.

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A Sincere Thank You

To everyone who has downloaded the free, Kindle-version of Shadows in the Stone since it went permanently free at Amazon, thank you. It has gone up and down in the standings the past week, reaching as high as 23rd in free Kindle Store.

At the moment, it sits at #43 in the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic category in Canada.

If you haven’t picked up your copy yet to read now, later or some distance year in the future, you can download it from Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Every download gives the book more exposure.

WordPress is Junk to New Users

If I was new on the scene and looking for a host for my first blog, I’d run from WordPress as fast as my feet would carry me. It’s junk today compared to what it was when I first started in January 2011. Back then, it was easy to navigate, everything was right there in the left margin and I could conveniently find my way with the drop-down menus.

If I had trouble performing a task, a quick google search for the information cleared the fog instantly.

My philosophy is, if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. However, in this tech world, companies are always updating and changing things usually for the worse. It’s as if it’s a competition: how many things can I change this week?

Because I’m grandfathered into WordPress, I can use the old-style menu of 2011. So, I’ll stick around with WordPress for the unforeseeable future.

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A New Formatting Tool for eBooks

The world is always changing, and nowhere is that more prevalent than the publishing world. What was once great last year, no longer works this year, and the tools we use are constantly upgraded and changed to accommodate this rapid evolution.

When I first began publishing eBooks, I formatted them myself in MS Word. But I could not format ePubs. I’ve tried Scrivener to format the file, but I was unhappy with the results. Then I tried Calibre for ePubs, and that worked great for a few years. Last spring during my six-month review, I found formatting issues with eBooks available at a few online retailers. There were no issues with the files I had manually formatted, but the ePubs were a mess.

So I took the leap and rented InDesign. There’s a large learning curve, but once I conquer it, I’ll be able to create eBooks and print books professionally.

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Scattered Stones Cover Release and Proof Order

The novel I conceived in the second half of 2009 is now in the birthing canal.

Yesterday I placed an order for a proof copy of Scattered Stones. After I hit the CONFIRM button, I sat back and thought about the journey to give me a better perspective of what I had done.

In May 2010, I had written the last 60,000 words in a rush to reach the end. Then the manuscript went through multiple edits, being read and sporadically edited by beta readers. I edited and revised when I found time, often between stints of working outside the home. For six months in 2014, I barely had a chance to look at it because I worked six to seven days a week, putting in ten-hour days at a garden centre. This sort of schedule doesn’t leave much time to eat, sleep and say hello to the kids, let alone hours bellied-up to a computer to edit a novel.

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Reclaiming my Disclaimer to reflect my personality and the story

A few months ago, I happened upon a post on The Book Designer blog regarding writing disclaimers. I have never given much thought to disclaimers; they’re as necessary for publishing as ISBNs, and just as boring.

I created the disclaimers for my novels by consulting already-published books to see the wording they used. It’s all pretty standard, and I’ve never read one that stood out. The main point was to tell everyone you didn’t write this book about a real person, so you wouldn’t be sued if someone thought they saw themselves within the story. Basically, you wanted to tell the world, “This is fiction. Nothing real to see here. Move along to the end and buy the next book in the series.”

Original Disclaimer

The disclaimer I created and used in print and eBooks came out to read as…

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Help Me Choose a Cover for my Epic Fantasy Novel

Scattered Stones 03Over the past few months, I’ve been toying with the cover for my next book: Scattered Stones. I’m usually not an indecisive person but with covers, I’m starting to flip flop.

A cover is vital to a book’s success. Almost everyone at some point in their life has judged a book by its cover. It doesn’t matter if the story is awesome or cruddy; the cover alone can sell a book. The goal, however, is to catch the readers’ attention long enough that they give you a second look to see if they want to buy your book.

I’ve learned a lot about how to make covers, but I know there is a large room for improvement. I also don’t have the programs designers use, so I use what I can. And I keep my ears and eyes open for tips.

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Writing a Book Acknowledgement

Scattered Stones Diane Lynn McGyverThere are many sections to a book. The two important parts that need the most attention are the story and the cover (in that order). For the past several months, I have focussed on these two things; without a doubt, I want them to be as close to perfect as humanly possible.

As launch day approaches for Scattered Stones, book 2 in The Castle Keepers series, I need to start playing with the other parts that go into a printed novel, the little details that occupy the spaces between the front cover and the story, and the back cover and the story. Playing is the exact word I want to use.

This time around, I want to be less formal and allow a slither of my silly side to lighten and brighten these little details. I love fun, funny and silly. And I love putting a twist into things that readers don’t expect. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I have never written an acknowledgement for any of my books, but I’ve seen many books that include them. In essence, it is a few words to thank the people who provided a helping hand to bring the book to life. This might be direct or indirect help.

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How to write a killer book description to attract readers

Lessons in Self-publishingDuring my Sunday morning reading, I came upon a podcast by Libbie Hawker posted by Johnny Walker at Author Alliance. Hawker spoke about writing book descriptions.

I loved the way Hawker broke down the process into five easy questions. I recall a similar discussion on promoting books last year by someone else. It’s so simple anyone can do it.

At the moment, I’m writing, revising, tweaking, second-guessing and editing the book description for my next novel, Scattered Stones. It’s an epic fantasy story, so I have to have an epic description.

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