Why I Keep My Books

The other day, I read Tim Covell’s post Books and Clutter. In it, he was commenting about an article he had read in a local publication that claimed it was okay to get rid of books.

Both the article and Tim note the trouble of getting rid of books left behind by people who die. That might be a family member or friend. One suggestion was to clean off the bookshelf before death, keeping only what is truly personally valuable.

I understand the philosophy, but I don’t agree with it. However, my opinion applies to the average person, not the extreme. The extreme being the ones who have tens of thousands of books. My view is for the average person who has less than 1,000 books, most having around 500 books.

When we cleaned out my mother’s house in 2019, I was glad I was there to save the books. Others in my family don’t give a hoot about books, so they would have thrown all of them in the trash. They care about books so little, they wouldn’t even have considered donating them. Into the trash they’d have gone without a second thought.

My mother was not the average book owner. She seldom bought books. In total, I believe there were around 40 in her house. Some were books I had written, and one was written by my daughter. A few were genealogy related with connections to our family, particularly her family in Newfoundland. One I had bought her while we were visiting her place of birth. It was locally produced, so copies were limited. I had a copy, too.

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Business with Small Presses

In an effort to grow my Quarter Castle Publishing business and publish books by more authors, I’m looking for help from authors who have been published by small presses. I want to be fair to authors while still being able to operate a successful publishing company that can expand and stand on its own two feet without government assistance.

I have never received nor will I ever request any money from government sources to publish books. You’ve seen those little notes of acknowledgement in the front of books, where publishing companies thank the government for funding. Getting  money from government means following their rules and fitting into their mould. Government money always comes with strings, and I don’t want them.

As more manuscripts arrive in the proverbial ‘slush’ pile and my assistant and I review them, I’m thinking about contracts, treating these authors with respect and wondering how their stories will perform.

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A Perfect Book for the Season

The mailman just delivered Laura Best’s newest book: A Sure Cure for Witchcraft. I bought the softcover from Chapters Indigo because I dislike reading eBooks and Amazon only sold the eBook.

Here’s the description.

Witches are hated in Württemberg, in what is now Germany, in the eighteenth century. It’s not so long since they were burned, and any woman who knows too much, who’s too clever or quick or skilled at healing, is suspect.

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Creating Your Brand and Why It’s Important

On my journey to promote my books, I took another look at branding. I’ve read about this many times over the past five years and each time, it gave me pause for thought and examination. This time was no different, and I reviewed my websites, my book covers and the few social media platforms I use to promote my books.

My focus was on my McGyver blog and the book covers. Everything else is designed to spread the brand further.

First, what is branding?

Experts who specialize in this will explain it better, but I’ll give it a shot.

The simple explanation is the manner in which you present your products in all formats across all public places.

The long answer is the themes, colours, tones, images, icons, graphics, fonts and messages used in and on your books, your websites, your business cards, your social media platforms, your promotional T-shirts and everything else associated with your products. It often means using the same banner on the top of your website and social media accounts.

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Introducing Blog Tours on Wednesday’s Word

In my effort to promote my books over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be a guest on various websites. As I search for more avenues to spread the word of my books, I’m finding others who want to do the same. It’s not always easy to find blogs to provide space for advertising, and finding free ones are more difficult. This is made all more necessary due to the lack of opportunities to meet readers personally at markets and other venues.

So, for the unforeseeable future, I’m offering up space on my blog each Wednesday for a writer to promote their book. This is ideal for authors doing blog tours for new releases.

What Can Authors Post?

  • Introductions to your book. It can be done freestyle or in question format. This is a great way to brag about your new release or upcoming release.
  • Interview: You create the questions and provide the answers.
  • 5-Question Interview: I’m posting 5-question interviews from now until the end of the year. You can answer those questions and use that as your post. Laura Best’s 5-Question interview has the questions and provides an excellent example of length.

Focus

I’d prefer, and it’s in your best interest, to focus on one book: your new release or the last book you had published. If this is a book in a series, of course, mention the series, but don’t discuss the other books.

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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.

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A New Season Starts Today

Can you smell that? If you were in Nova Scotia, you’d smell the crisp, single-digit morning that tells the primal self fall is on the way; time to prepare for winter. Or is it the unmistakable aroma of school supplies being sorted at the kitchen table with anticipation of the first day of classes that ignites your energy?

While some look at September as an ending to summer, I see it more as a start to a new year that holds the potential for something fantastic to happen.

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Reviews Sought for “Good Mothers Don’t”

In a post earlier today, local author, Laura Best, requested those who have read her most recent book Good Mothers Don’t to kindly post a review. Reviews can be posted to the reader’s website, Amazon, Goodreads and/or Indigo.

As you know, reviews are important to authors. They help spread the word about their book and introduces them to new readers. The review doesn’t have to be long or elaborate. It could simply be choosing the rating (usually from 5 stars) and writing something. Anything.

  • “I didn’t think I’d like this book, but I loved it.”
  • “This book was weird from page one, but I couldn’t put it down. Looking forward to the next book.”
  • “It must have taken forever to write this book. It was so long. It took me 3 months to read.”
  • “I didn’t know anything about goats until I read this book. Now I want one.”

You get the idea. Just write something. If you’ve read Good Mother’s Don’t or plan to read it, please, take a few minutes and leave a review.

You can read Laura’s full post here: Reaching Out to Readers.

book reviews Archives - NovelRocket

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.

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Book Review: Cammie Takes Flight by Laura Best

The full moon reaches its fingers through the tree branches and grabs at the furniture in my bedroom.

Cammie Takes Flight by Laura BestIn my opinion, this is the best line written by Laura Best in Cammie Takes Flight. There are many good lines in the book, but this one instantly created an image that made me pause.

We were introduced to young Cammie Deveau of Tanner, Nova Scotia, in Flying with a Broken Wing. She was living with her Aunt Millie then and at the end of that story, we learn her world was about to expand greatly.

The opening of Cammie Takes Flight puts us in the Halifax School for the Blind, where Cammie is adjusting to life in the big city, making new friends and trying to make sense of the actions of her father, Ed, and her Aunt Millie. Her ultimate goal turns out to be finding her mother, who had abandoned her at birth and who supposedly lives in Halifax.

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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.

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News Flash: The final proof for “Northern Survival” arrived today!

As they say, “It’s hot off the presses.” The final proof for Northern Survival arrived at my door today. The fast-paced adventure, survival, romance novel is set for release in September. The story takes place in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Description

Surviving the plane crash was the easy part.

Olive Tweed planned her trip for two years. She’d vacation at Summer Beaver, gather the research material needed to write the next book and spend a few days hiking the vast wilderness. When she is called home unexpectedly and boards a chartered plane, she never dreamt it would crash, leaving her alone with a man who knew nothing about survival or the woods. If they don’t put aside their differences and work together, they’ll never escape alive.

Northern Survival was inspired by a video created by a pilot who recorded the crash of his small plane in Northern Quebec. The only reason he survived was because the plane had a parachute.

If you love stories of adventure, survival challenges and characters who test each others ability to endure, you’ll love Northern Survival.

Northern Survival book
Front and Back covers

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).

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A Busy Spring and a Book Launch Sale

I can’t get over how busy the past four months have been for me. While I have been writing a little, editing a lot and formatting books, an equal amount of time (if not more) has been spent offline, away from the computer.

Life is going in the direction I had planned, so I’m far from complaining. However, I am rethinking a few things I had planned.

For instance, I wrote two short novels last year, both under 70,000 words. They were not fantasy and because of advice from other writers and Amazon’s algorithms, I had decided to publish these and others of similar fashion under a new pen name. Of course, a new pen name would create a few challenges of its own, but I was prepared to tackle them.

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Repeating Ourselves Too Many Times in a Novel

Healing StonesOne thing I’ve learned while editing to a specific word count is to provide the information only once. Readers are smart; they’ll understand. If I have 300 words to tell a story, every word matters. I don’t need to say the car was blue twice.

Saying something once in a 300-word story is easy to do because I can see the entire story on one page. I can remember what I’ve said and how I’ve said it. It’s a little more difficult in a 130,000-word novel.

But it’s still important not to repeat things multiple times because readers who read fast or have great memories will remember. Even those with weaker superpowers will notice if you continue to tell them Sarah’s hair was naturally blonde but was dyed green. I know because I read book reviews on Amazon, and I’ve seen many readers complain about the number of times something is stated: How many times does she have to say his eyes were blue? I heard it the first ten times.

That’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. More complaints arise when a situation is overstated: I get it; he’s broke and he lost his job at the construction site because he was late two days in a row. Stop telling me that in every chapter!

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