Wednesday, July 23, 2014
About mid-way through gutting the book, hubby asked if I wanted to go to dinner. I needed a break anyway, so we went out to eat. I told him on the ride to the Panda that I should probably look for a book formatting class and be done with it. I'm bumping that up closer to the top of my list for 2014. To Do: take a formatting class.
I'm also investigating ways to sell my ebooks directly from my Cora Zane and Grrl X websites. I've checked into it in the past, but all the shopping cart hubbub and dealing with paid-for site security makes my head spin. I'd probably have to hire someone tech-ish to help me set it up, and I truly prefer to go completely DIY wherever I can. One of the reasons for that is if I understand how to set something up, I can conceivably fix it if something goes wrong or breaks.
I was tooling around on twitter yesterday afternoon, and I came across part of a retweeted conversation that covered selling ebooks online through a service called PayHip. It looks really nice, it looks easy to use, and I actually found a tutorial for setting up the links, etc. on the website platform I'm actually using. I still have a few questions about it, mostly on the paypal end of things, but overall, it looks pretty promising.
If you're already using PayHip, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me about your experiences with it. Do you like it? Have you had any problems with chargeback fraud? I'm curious because I know paypal doesn't offer buyer protection for digital / virtual items. If you have already set up PayHip, did you have to convert your personal paypal to a business account? See, lots of questions. ;o)
Onward to writing! I have spent a lot of time dealing with little nit-picky details while writing this post. I need to jump in on a few files and get some words down before hubby makes it home. I hope you have Happy Hump Day. Until next time, happy wishes! ♥♥♥
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
A few days ago I called it a wrap for the second edition of Wicked Obsession. The ebook is now live on Smashwords, and I'm waiting for my proof copies from CreateSpace. I still have to review and approve the print version, but the paperback will likely be available by the end of the month at both Amazon and at CreateSpace Direct.
Out of all my backlist books, Wicked Obsession had the fewest changes I wanted to make to the actual story, that's why I chose to tackle that book ahead of the others. I still have, I think, seven or eight more backlist titles to rework after this one is taken care of. Another reason I chose to take care of Wicked Obsession ahead of my other books is because it's one of my more recent titles.
When I got the rights back to Wicked Obsession, I already had plans to revamp the series and put it in print. Since I'm still pretty new to CreateSpace I could only estimate the cost to get this book re-edited, formatted, and have a new cover made. While this isn't my first CreateSpace book, it was more challenging to deal with because it's a full novel.
I'm going to share some of my experiences bringing this revised book into the world and tell you how much it cost. After rewriting sections of the book, I outsourced to have the book edited and formatted. I could have saved more money if I had taken care of more of those steps myself, but I felt more comfortable hiring someone to handle those steps. Now that I have that little admission out of the way, let's move along.
After I finished rewriting parts of Wicked Obsession, I read through the book and marked it up several times. That was a long, tedious process. I read it cover to cover no less than four times. When I stopped seeing typos and could read the book aloud without tripping over what I was reading, I decided to send it off to be edited. I probably should have hired a beta reader at this point, and I probably would do that with a different book, but since Wicked Obsession had been previously edited, I skipped that step and began hunting for an editor.
I've discussed what freelance editors charge on average in the original post I wrote in May. It can cost anywhere from $1.00 a page and up. Wicked Obsession, when formatted for print, runs 274 pages. I knew going in that editing was probably going to be my biggest expense, but that was the one area where I really didn't want to scrimp.
I found a proofreader to go over the book for me, and in the end, edits cost me $107.00 US. The editing process took about two-and-a-half, to three weeks, which is a very good turn around time. Another editor I had contacted, he was going to put me off for three months. Three Months. I'm like, um, no. I wasn't interested in waiting three months just for him to clear off his stack to get to my manuscript. I would've had an additional wait time while he worked on my book. Since I wasn't looking to make Wicked Obsession a year long project, I approached a different editor, and I was given a much faster turn around time than was quoted by the first editor.
The lesson learned here is that if you're going to hire someone to edit for you, it's a good idea to expect that you'll have to wait at least a month before you can publish. More time than that will be needed if you plan to have someone format your manuscript after the edits. Definitely, as a good rule of thumb, when you get in touch with an editor, ask upfront what their current workload is like, what the turnaround time will be, and see how that compares to your expectations. It's definitely not an immediate process. Prepare to be patient. And it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to scope out one or more good editing services within your price range and keep them in your contacts in case your favorite editor is backlogged and they can't look at your manuscript within a week or two of initial contact.
In short, you want someone who is actively working - that tells you that they are doing a good job. They have a client base and they're steadily working. But unless you don't mind waiting for months and months, you probably won't want someone who is so busy you have to take a number.
Overall, as far as the end result of hiring an editor: I was very satisfied with the cost, which is half what I anticipated paying. I was very satisfied with the turn around time and the quality of service I received.
While proofreading isn't the same as a fine tooth comb line edit, I was very impressed with the final result, and I feel like I received the level of edits that I needed to polish this particular book. That was what I set out to accomplish when I began searching for editors and proofreaders.
In the future, I imagine some of my older titles will need a deeper edit that what I wanted for Wicked Obsession. I will probably send some of my older books to a couple of beta readers before I attempt sending those books out to an editor. I'd do that simply to make the process easier for the editor and to hopefully cut some of the editing time and costs.
Once I received my finished edits, I found a beta reader to look for anything that might have been missed, anything that a reader would notice. I made a handful of additional changes after edits, then began looking for someone to format my book for both Smashwords and CreateSpace.
About the formatting... I've formatted my own work in the past. I can do a passable (don't judge me, bro) job of it, when it's required of me. I call that duct tape formatting. Function over fashion, all the way. A few months ago, I formatted A Trick of Light for CreateSpace. That was my first CS formatting experience. I'm happy to report, I still have some hair left. What a job that was. I'm not even kidding, I ordered something like 10 proof copies of that book, which cost about eight dollars each (Proof + Shipping.) before I was satisfied with the format of my book. I didn't want to go through that with Wicked Obsession.
Once I got my edits cleared away, I began searching for someone to do the formatting. In the past, I had a friend format a couple of Smashwords books for me, and they turned out beautifully. However, my friend doesn't do CreateSpace formatting, so I had to find someone else. When I started searching, cost was the biggest factor for me, turn around time was a close second, and I also wanted to find someone who would give me a package deal on formats. I knew I was going to need two separately formatted documents. I needed a Smashwords copy, and one for uploading at CreateSpace.
I found a service that had a pay chart listed on their website, and they based the costs of service on the number of pages in a book as well as the number of formats needed. I knew right away this was the company for me. I love seeing the cost upfront. A pay chart on the website is a big solid plus. You go in knowing what to expect, and you don't have to worry about someone trying to swindle you or take advantage of you. That's especially good news if you're a first time author, and you're not sure what services cost.
In the end, I was able to get my book put in two different formats for $80.00 US. That's an extremely fair price, and as an added bonus, the turn around time was fantastic. Overall, I received excellent service. I'll definitely be using Polgarus Studio again.
Once I had my formatted documents ready for uploading, I began working on the book cover. In the past, I've bought premade book covers from several sites online. I DO like using premade covers. What you see is what you pay for. However, I already had a stub cover on my website for Wicked Obsession using the actual stock art I had bought and planned to use.
Before I go any further. I realize that making the book cover isn't something that everyone will decide to do themselves, but it is what I chose to do in this case. I've been making book covers for myself and close friends for several years now, so I felt comfortable enough to do it. The cover is where I decided to save money on this particular project.
If you are planning to make your own book cover, and you've never done it before, please be aware there is a steep learning curve to making covers - especially if you've never worked with a graphics program before. Sites like Smashwords have specific cover requirements. If you're building a cover for CreateSpace, you'll also need to download a cover template based on the trim size you want, the type of paper the pages will be printed on (white or cream), and the number of pages that will be in your book. You also need to purchase stock images and make sure that the fonts you're using for your cover are commercial friendly and royalty free.
|The finished ebook cover.|
If you would like to learn to make book covers, God bless YouTube, because tutorials. Seriously, get thee to YouTube. I am a certifiable tutorial junkie. If you don't know how to do something, go to YouTube. If someone has done it, tried it, or thought about it, chances are likely there's a YouTube video to show you how to do it at home. Everything I've learned about book covers, I've learned from watching YouTube videos.
Back to the topic of the cost of making the cover for Wicked Obsession... First things first, I knew I was going to need two book cover types:
|My cover flat for CreateSpace. Full wrap cover. This is a|
cropped screen capture from within the digital proofer on CS.
The dashed lines next to the spine are for reference
only and won't appear on the finished product.
- I was going to need a standard ebook cover. Basically a simple rectangular cover. There are websites that can suggest a good length to width ratio for an ebook cover. Just Google it, you'll get a lot of results. I tend to use the mid-range size as recommended by Smashwords. I think you can find all that information in their free formatting and style guide on the Smashwords site.
- And I was going to need a CreateSpace cover. It's a basic cover flat, or wrap around jacket. I've heard it called several different things. It's the front, spine, and back of the book as a whole.
The final cost that I encountered was ordering proof copies from CreateSpace. You can digitally proof your book for free, but I highly recommend ordering a proof copy, especially if you've selected a matte cover. Several weeks ago, I posted a video on my blog about some of the difference between matte and glossy covers. In my experience the matte covers come out darker. Glossy has brighter, truer colors. But that's my take on it. Your mileage may vary. The proof copy I ordered of Wicked Obsession cost me $7.72 US - that's the book itself plus shipping. I believe CreateSpace gives us an author discount for the proof copies. I'm not sure about that, though, so don't quote me.
So here we are. Let's take a look at all the costs for putting this book together.
- $107.00 ...for edits
- $80.00 .....for formatting
- $12.00 ....stock images for cover
- $7.72 ......proof copy
The total cost = $206.72 US.
It came out cheaper than my initial estimate, which is good. It will be much cheaper for the savvy DIY author, or the author who doesn't want both print and ebook. It would've been much cheaper if I had done only an ebook, or only a print book, but I knew going into this that I wanted to do both. The cost of outsourcing the formatting and editing was worth it to me. I saved myself a lot of time and frustration by outsourcing those steps in the process. I'd absolutely do it again.
Once the print proof copy arrives, I'll share the pros and cons, and let you know how the final product comes out. I'll also let you know if I'm going to have to order more proofs. I'll adjust my total costs when and if. We'll have to wait for the proof copy to arrive and see what happens then.
I hope you find this post helpful on your own self publishing journey. Until next time, happy wishes! ♥♥♥
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
So much is going on at home, I can barely organize my thoughts. I've put off writing this blog post for several days, because it has felt overwhelmingly difficult dealing with anything and everything that requires more than five minutes of my attention span.
My grandmother passed away on July 12th. She was my last surviving grandparent. The last of her generation. For the past several years she had battled with cancer that started in her breasts and later, after a double mastectomy, spread to her lymph nodes and throughout her body. Cancer ravaged her. I can't think of another word for it.
I drove my mother to see Grandma last month. I think it was last month. The days blend. That's how it is for me lately. It's difficult to concentrate on anything, much less keep up with important dates. Anyway, the trip. Mom and I did a day drive, which is to drive across state, see the family, then drive back home all in one hit. It's a long long drive and a physically draining trip. It was worth it, of course, but I didn't take into account how mentally taxing that trip would be.
I guess I was expecting to see the Grandma as I remembered seeing her last time. Frail, but getting around. Opinionated. Independent. I wasn't prepared to see a woman reduced to bones, and that's what I saw when I walked into the room. I recognized her face, she had the same curly gray hair, but the rest of her was bones covered with a sheet. You knew she was dying when you looked at her. I can't tell you how heartbreaking that is. You have to keep up good spirits, and you can see what's happening. You can't deny it.
Mom didn't think Grandma would make it to her birthday (she didn't), so she brought Grandma's birthday gifts: a couple of pretty nightgowns with dragonflies on them. And then we sat with her for a couple of hours. Grandma didn't seem to know who everyone in the room was, but she did have a few lucid moments, and I know she definitely remembered who I was. She bragged to one my cousins that I'm the granddaughter who writes books - so, evidently she recognized me, remembered what I do, and was proud of me for it, which I will be eternally grateful for. Just that she recognized me. That was probably the only thing good I took from the entire trip. I was too sick with a cold to hug on her too much, because she had no immune system left.
I held it together for my mom while we were there, but this has been a terrible summer. Everything is in chaos. A couple days after mom and I made the day trip, Mom called grandma at the nursing home/hospice. Grandma didn't remember her daughter's voice, not even when Mama said her name. She didn't even remember that we had come to visit, due partly to her advancing dementia and partly to the amount of morphine they were giving her to manage the pain.
Her funeral was yesterday. We couldn't all attend. We had to arrange and rearrange to make it so Mom could go. So I ended up taking care of things for Mom while her and dad made the trip. This is the bad thing about living in a state away from the rest of the family.
Today, I am empty. I feel like I've been baking in the sun. My skin feels hot and tight, and my nerves are on edge. I'm burnt out from the emotional roller coaster of the past month. We knew this was coming, and we've tried to prepare for it. But you can't really prepare for it.
For the past three days - the day before the funeral, and today (Monday / Wednesday) - I've been wrangling with college scheduling, paperwork, registration. The college website is in need of updating. The information found there is incomplete or outdated, or otherwise there are important steps missing to what you need to do. In person, no one tells you where you need to go or what you need to do to satisfy requirements, you're supposed to magically know, I guess. They look at you like you're an idiot when you start asking questions, and try to quickly shoo you out the door. If I had a dollar for every time I've been given the deer in the headlights look, or the "you're an idiot" look over the past few days, I'd be able to buy dinner for four. That has been my experience with registration so far. Add to that, my heart isn't in it.
MY HEART IS NOT IN IT, which makes it extremely difficult to weather anyone's bullshit.
I just want to cry and sleep, but there's no time to do either of those things.
Last night while dozing with SassiePup, I had this nightmare that all of humanity was on this large, slow moving conveyor belt. At the end of the line was this drop off into...I don't know what or where, but when one generation would reach the end mark, they would simply drop off the conveyor one person at a time, until none were left, then this bar would raise and the next generation would be progressed along another conveyor belt to the drop off point, and the process would start again.
In the dream, I watched my grandmother, as I'd seen her on her death bed, dropped off the conveyor. The moment she was out of sight, the conveyor moved under my feet. I was moved forward to a waiting point, and when I looked around, I realized that was where my parents had been standing five minutes before. Terror shot through me. I looked up and saw my mom and dad's conveyor moving into the final section of the conveyor belt. The section closest to the drop off.
I woke up with this horrible sense that everything was ending. And that it was inevitable. That life is just a short ride on a conveyor to a drop off point. Once you're tossed off, someone else takes your place, and life just keeps going. Rinse and repeat. It was a horrible dream. I haven't been able to forget it. It's still very vivid in my mind.
I'm supposed to give a Savvy Author's workshop on Critical Reading starting the 21st, but I've postponed it til late September. I don't have any new dates yet. I'm terribly sorry about that. I hope those who registered will understand and forgive me for the delay. Our family needs time to grieve. I need time.
Until things settle down with family, I won't be online as much. I'll still be reachable through Facebook and emails on and off throughout the day. I keep those channels open because Oldest is deployed, but for the most part, I'll be offline and focusing on family. Thanks for understanding. ♥♥♥
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
|A cozy summer rain shower as seen |
from the patio.
I wrapped up A Trick of Light last month and immediately began revisions on the cowboy story. The cowboys are an ongoing headache. I got the edits back for Wicked Obsession last week, and just today I managed to work my way through the list of suggested changes. I want to read through it one more time, then it's off to a friend's formatting service to be formatted for both Smashwords and CreateSpace. When I know how many pages the finished formatted product will have, I'll start worrying about the cover. I have a stub cover ready, but I want to make a few improvements to it before the book goes live. I'm still buried under back list books that need my attention, and I can see already it's going to take time to sort it all out. Breathe, Cora. One book at a time. I have to tell myself that daily.
On the 1st of July, I registered for fall semester. I'm officially a Delta Knight. (If you've ever seen that movie, you know why I'm giggling about that.) I received my student ID a couple of days ago, so everything processed and is on track for August. I go in for orientation and to speak to my adviser next Monday. Once that's done, I'll be free and clear to focus on my Savvy Author's workshop that's coming up on the 21st.
Whew! That makes me twitchy just thinking about it. I won't have another free day until after August 3rd, and then I'll only have two weeks free until school starts for both Mini and me. I'm thinking an early August vacation is in order...if I've gone off my rocker by then. ;o)
That's all the news for now. I need to start the laundry and go pick around in the kitchen and start dinner. Until next time, happy wishes! ♥♥♥
In the spirit of Summer, click here and *dance, dance* with me!
Thursday, June 26, 2014
I received another proof copy of A Trick of Light from CreateSpace today, and I'm blown away by how gorgeous the colors on the new cover turned out. The print quality and ink saturation is fantastic. (Unlike my blurry pictures - very sorry about that!)
The new cover is everything I hoped it would be, so there won't be any need to reorder a proof. This is the third cover attempt, and the final product. So, if you're one of the folks who ordered a copy with the old cover, you are now in possession of an extremely limited run edition of A Trick of Light. ;o)
Regarding the new cover, I kind of feel like I hit the jackpot with this one in terms of printing and ink quality. I've noticed that sometimes, no matter how nice an image you upload for your cover, it's like the printer can't get the saturation just right. So even though you have a gorgeous cover that looks nice as a digital image, and it looks nice uploaded in the CS builder and proofer, the covers can still turn out darker or lighter than you expect.
The new cover for A Trick of Light came out right on target. I did order a glossy cover this time, because I figured it would preserve color and fine details better. If I'd ordered matte, like I did last time, I'm pretty sure some of the light on rain flashes shown on the cover would've been lost in the printing, because matte covers seem to come out darker and a little muddier. I think it's just the nature of the paper, not a flaw with inks or the printing process. Just throwing that out there while I'm thinking about it.
In other news, I received my edits back for Wicked Obsession this afternoon, so I'll be tackling that shortly. After I'm through with it, it still has to go to the formatter, so it will probably be mid-July before the book is released. I'll post more about it as the time nears. In the meantime, I'm getting my files together for the workshop I'll be presenting in July at Savvy Authors.
Speaking of workshops and classes... yesterday, I managed to track down my vaccination records and had them updated so I can get my ducks in a row for registration at Delta in August. I had to get three shots to update my file. Two shots in one arm, and one shot in the other. I guess it's a good thing I decided to do all this, because while the nurse was glancing over my file, she realized my mother had missed one of my MMR shots when I was a child. Freaky. I've been hearing about measles, TB, and other illnesses making a comeback, and just... yikes! Well, now I'm up to date on all my shots. Tdap, MMR, and meningitis.
Ya know, after people get shots, doctors and nurses should start giving out metal jingly tags like what they give SassieBeast and JakeDog at the vet. We could wear them around on bracelets and collars to show that we're vaxxed and presently not rabid. Of course, I'm just kidding. ;o)
That's it for now. I have laundry to take care of, and I better get started on it before I get too tired. There are never enough hours in the day, are there? Until next time, happy wishes!♥♥♥
Monday, June 23, 2014
Welcome to my stop along the "My Writing Process" blog tour!Hi, I'm Cora Zane, the author of Wicked Obsession, How to Date an Android, What She Doesn't Know, and the Werekind Werewolf series of erotic romances. I've also appeared in several erotica anthologies, including The Dirtyville Collection, Never Say Never, Coming Together: Hungry for Love, and Morning, Noon, and Night.
For a complete book list, please visit my website.
I was invited to participate in this intriguing write-craft Q and A blog tour by the lovely and talented Yolanda Sfetsos. Next Monday, Nancy Henderson will be joining the tour, and sharing interesting tidbits about her writing process. Her blog and website are linked below.
Onward to the Cora Z. Writing Process Q and A!
What am I working on?
I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a backlist vampire novel that I plan to self-publish at the end of the month, and I'm revising a category romance novel that I plan to submit in July.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Everyone's perspective is unique. The same goes for a writer's style and voice. You could tell a room full of men and women to write a 100 word flash fiction story revolving around a popular trope or theme, and everyone in that room would bring a unique story and perspective to the table. My work is different, because I'm me. :o)
Why do I write what I do?
Everything I write about has to be deeply interesting to me in some way, or I'll end up abandoning the project. Regardless of what genre I choose to write in at a given moment, most of my work explores my characters' secret desires, both whom and what they've always longed for. Until the start of the story, they've simply been too afraid or too busy to go after what they really want in life.
How does your writing process work?
When I get an idea for a story, it may be a scenario or a character that catches my attention first. If I start with a scenario, I play around with a chain of possible events to see if my idea can be worked into something I can actually write from start to finish. If I come up with the character first, I open up a new file in Word and try to figure out where that character comes from, what their job is, who their friends are... A character may morph into someone else several times before I make the decision to actually use them in a story.
I also plot heavily before I ever begin writing. I do a lot of pre-writing. Many, many pages of pre-writing. I try to figure out what the logical plot points might be, and I build back stories for my main characters - profiles that may or may not ever end up being used in the written work. I do that to help cement their personalities, and when I actually start writing, I begin in the middle of the book, in media res.
I call the midpoint starting scene in my draft the Big Bad Event (BBE) of my story, because everything my character does after that scene is done in order to fix what's broken and resolve the conflicts in play. Everything at the beginning of the book leading up to the BBE is story setup and initial character development.
Most of the time, this process works for me. When it doesn't, it's usually a sign I didn't flesh out the plot or develop the characters enough before I started writing.
Until next time, happy wishes! ♥
Friday, June 20, 2014
How to Date an Android
Milo Swain spots Caitlyn, and it's sparks at first sight. He's never experienced such a strong physical reaction to anyone. He'd love to get to know her, but Caitlyn has no idea how to date an android.
♥♥♥Looking for an erotic futuristic romance to heat up your Friday? How to Date an Android is available at Smashwords for only .99 cents.
Short story length. Contains graphic sexual situations. For mature readers over the age of 18. To download a sample, please visit http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357055