Friday, 23 December 2011

Determination and Organization

This past week I learned that it takes more than a little determination and organization to get a novel listed on various booksellers' sites.

In the end, I created a table to keep the various site names and and what to post where, straight. My table lists  site name, URL, format (e-book or print book), ISBN (yes, these vary by format and site - in fact I registered seven ISBNs for the various e-book formats), listing price, and a comment field for other valuable information. Otherwise it would have been a nightmare to keep organize. With respect to ISBNs, I learned that CreateSpace can obtain one for me at no cost, but I opted to do it myself for the experience (it was no cost as well - and it was great of CreateSpace to provide the link to the ISBN agency on their site.) One of the other fabulous things I learned was that an e-book posted at is then made available at .uk (England), .de (Germany), .it (Italy), .sp (Spain), and .fr (France). I checked the sites, of course. I'm impressed. Friends and family in those countries can actually buy my e-book (in English)! I also learned that Smashwords will make the e-book available on Kobo. If you're thinking of self-publishing, it's worth checking out their sites to understand the breadth of their offering in advance so you don't duplicate your efforts.

Then there's the Amazon Affiliates site, which lets you post an image of an item on your own website and link it to Amazon's website, which I've done here. (See the right side of the page. You may have to scroll down to see the links.)

I've also been considering how to get listed on sites that cater to other English-speaking countries. Australia, New Zealand, and India all speak English, so why not? This might be a bigger challenge, however. My initial research shows that one needs to have a bank account in that country. Hmm. That's a stumper.

All in all, a fulfilling experience. I just wouldn't want to rethink the entire process for the next book in the series, hence the resource table.

Yes, Marilee Bright's newest adventure is underway and I hope to have it out soon. Working title: The Case of the Purloined Poppy.

Happy holidays, everyone, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year's!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Announcing Blog Tour for Grounds for Death

Grounds for Death is now available from Amazon for $2.99 for those of you who have a Kindle or expect one within, let's say, less than a week ;) ? It will also be available by December 25th in print form, if that's your preference. I'll do my best to get the book up on Chapters and Smashwords today.

I'm also announcing a mini blog tour to kick off this, book two, in the Garden Plot Mystery series. Here are the websites and dates:

On December 18th, Grounds for Death is featured on Dru's Book Musings. Dru Ann has a wonderful feature entitled "A Day in the Life of..." that provides blog followers with insights into the inner workings of cozy mystery sleuths. There's also a chance to win a copy of Grounds for Death for one luck entrant. Hurry, entries must be submitted by 6pm on Dec 20!

On  December 20th, take a look at A Tale of Many Reviews, which asked me to provide an excerpt about Grounds for Death. I think you'll like it, and perhaps you'll be curious to know what happens next!

December 22th brings Lori's Reading Corner, just in time for the holidays. Here you can learn more about what's between the covers of Grounds for Death, and what pickle Marilee Bright finds herself in this time. And one lucky follower will receive a copy of Grounds for Death.

Happy holiday reading, everyone!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

How Many Cats?!?

Okay, I have confess that I inadvertently adopted a kitten last weekend. I say inadvertently because I had picked her up with the intention of giving her to my brother, who has spoken about adopting a cat for three years now and recently bought his first townhouse (he had a condo before). So I thought, good idea, right? Turns out it wasn't such a good idea. He'd been to the animal shelter and decided he wasn't around enough to give some poor kitty the attention s/he deserved.

So I'm sure you can guess what happened. My husband and I didn't have the heart to take her back to the pound. Add the new kitty, Nellie, to the bunch, and now we have four. Yikes. Thankfully, everyone's adjusted well to the new addition despite the initial hissing and yowling.

The moral of the story is this. They always say giving a pet as a present is not a good idea, and now I know that to be true. And if you dare to try it anyway, you might just end up being the unexpected owner of a new pet.

Coming Soon: Grounds for Death

If you've read my other two posts today, you know that Grounds for Death will be available for the Kobo, Kindle, Nook and other e-readers, as well as in print, within days.

I can't wait, and to give you a sneak peek, I've attached a copy of the cover and synopsis below. Many thanks to Kathleen Collins Howell for the illustration and to Rebecca Swift for the cover design.

Who’d have thought a garden center owner could unearth the dirt on murder?
The season is off to a good start for Marilee Bright’s garden center and landscaping business. When skeletal remains are found at the bottom of a well during a landscaping project, things start to go downhill, and fast. Who is the dead body, and when was it dumped down the well? Is the killer still at large in the quiet town of Sandalwood? Amateur sleuth Marilee Bright needs to dig up the dirt on this murder before the “green” goes out of her business and she loses her hard-won new career.

I hope you take the opportunity to check it out.

Publishing a Print Book with CreateSpace

While the primary medium for publishing Grounds for Death is planned to be electronic (that is, e-books), I also had the cover designer provide a complete book cover file - front, spine and back. At the time I made the decision I didn't really expect to create a print book, I just thought it would save time and money in the long run if the two files were created at the same time. Now I'm glad I took that approach.

I've known for months that if I were to publish a print book, I would print it through CreateSpace. I hadn't realized how easy this is until just a couple of days ago when I set up a user ID in CreateSpace on a lark just to see how it would work. It looks like they've thought of everything. The process is easy to follow, you can always go back to a former screen, and links providing additional information open in a separate window so you never lose your spot in the process. Not to say it's fast - it took quite some time for me to work my way through all the screens. At one point, CreateSpace electronically assesses the correctness of your book's format and lets you know what major issues stand in the way of finalizing the book. I had two, which I figured was pretty good. The first was that I had too many blank pages between my title page and the next page, which I fixed in minutes. The second was that the fonts used in the book had to be embedded in the file. I had no idea how to do this, but CreateSpace provided screen-by-screen instructions, so I was able to address this also within minutes. (And my PC is using Word 2003, so I was pleased to see instructions still available for that version of Word.)

So far, so good. I'm now at the stage where I've ordered a printed proof to see how it will look, which will be here by Dec 13th (I paid extra for fast shipping, to keep to my timelines).

I hope to be able to let you know within days that both my e-book and print book are available. 

Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I'm in the home stretch with my new mystery, Ground for Death. These last few months have been an eye-opening experience, all in a good way, of course. My editor has completed her work, and so have the cover illustrator and the cover designer. The cover file and book text file are both with the e-book formatter, which is the final step before the files are uploaded to the various book sellers. The false start I had with the original cover illustrator cost me two months and will cause the entire project to squeak in just before Christmas (fingers crossed).

You may think that a launch at this late juncture spells disaster for Christmas sales, but I don't see it that way. I expect that a ton of people will receive e-readers and gift cards on December 25. My blog tour will have just finished (it runs from Dec 18 - 22), and people will be looking at their favorite book bloggers' websites to see what new books are out there to read. And voila, Grounds for Death will be right there for hungry readers to read about.

In addition to the great learning this activity has provided, I've made one significant observation. To explain, I need to outline this book's timeline. I finished writing Grounds for Death at the end of July 2011. By mid August I had found an editor and finalized the editorial contract. She took about six weeks to complete the edit (to end September), which is well worth the time spent. During this time I researched other resources I would need to bring this project to completion. Now that the cover design and illustration process is complete, I have learned that it takes about 2 months for the detailed type of illustration I wanted. The cover designer worked simultaneously, and once the final illustration file was in her hands, it took mere days to finalize the cover design. All of this to say: next time I will start the illustration process much earlier in the process. Makes sense. All you need is an idea of what the cover should be about - you don't need to have a completed entire manuscript in your hands! This accelerates the time to market immensely; if the illustration is ready when the editing is complete, you're days from launching. Ignoring the illustration problem, it took about three and a half months from manuscript to published novel. And now that my learning curve is complete and I have a great team to work with, I think this can be reduced to at most 2 months.