When Everything Else Gets in the Way of Blogging

Friday, May 31, 2013
I've been a very bad girl concerning my poor blog lately. I've barely had the time to post once a week. And have visited other bloggers even less.  I'm hoping in July I'll get better about all that because I won't be working on editing four manuscripts at once by then.

But seriously, it takes a lot out of you to go through four different stories simultaneously. As soon as I finish re-reading one, I pretty must just start on the next. For the stories I'm self-publishing, I told myself I'd be done editing once I went through the story and found less than ten things to correct. But I keep finding WAY more than ten corrections each time I read through each one.  I'm beginning to fear I'll never reach the less than ten mark. So...maybe I'll just keep going through them until they're all published!

For all you self-published authors out there: how many times do you go through your story before you call it completed?

In the creating-new-stuff end of my writing life, I'm trying to come up with a title for my teacher/student story but every time I think up something, I check Goodreads to discover there are at least a dozen out there with that same title already, which means "Making the Grade", "Hot for Teacher", "Teacher's Pet", "Teach Me", and "Teach Me to Love" are not going to work. I wondered about "Teach Me, Love Me," but I'm still not sold on it. I would like something original but clear about it being a romance story a student hooking up with a teacher.

The professor will be a literature teacher, but I'm coming up blank for any good literature titles too. I though maybe I could play off some classic literature title, like make it "To Love a Teacher" from "To Kill a Mockingbird", or "The Grapes of Scandal" (meh), but yeah, I'm not loving the things I think up. Oh well, maybe something will come later.

Oh, the struggles of creating a good title.

It's been raining a lot here. I had to detour down a muddy, washed-out, low maintenance dirt road to get to work this morning. The road where I live has a "road closed" sign on it which is the first time I've seen anyone do that. And we're supposed to be getting more rain today.  Bluck!

The kiddo is learning storm protocol very well. Now, whenever you even mention rain, she starts talking about the electricity going out and having to go down into the basement, then she asks to check the weather radar on the iPad. It's kind of cute to listen to her sound like she knows exactly what she's talking about. But I also worry we're teaching her to freak out every time the sky gets cloudy. Either way, I'll be happier when tornado season is over.

And that's all I have to talk about today. I hope you all are doing okay and staying out of trouble!  Have a good weekend!

Cover Reveal - KISS IT BETTER (Reprinted)

Friday, May 24, 2013
Here is what my cover for the revised edition of KISS IT BETTER (coming out in July) looks like!!! The cover was created by Viola Estrella at Estrella Cover Art. I just love it!  I also opted for a full jacket print cover. I said the "plain" version was fine.  But look how pretty and sophisticated the boring old plain spread looks.  Love it too!

And here is what the current cover looks like!  I received my rights back for it the other week. This version will be taken down at the end of June. I'm really going to miss working with this publisher, but I'm still excited about my new adventures with the story!  Can that be possible? 

Anyway...Today, we're taking my kiddo to the zoo for the first time. This is probably the smallest zoo ever, but I'm still looking forward to seeing her reaction to all the different animals she's only see in pictures or video. So, I should probably go and get ready for that.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend.  Be safe and take care.

Oh, and a huge thanks to Tasty Reads Book Tour for helping me spread the word about my new book cover today. Then another huge thank you to all these blogs for joining my cover reveal:

Self Publishing Expenses

Friday, May 17, 2013
I'm so proud of myself; I think I have the basics of this ebook formatting thing down! I am ready for July when I upload my reprinted editions of Kiss it Better and How to Resist Prince Charming.

Which reminds me, my cover reveal for Kiss it Better is a week from today: woo hoo!

Anyway, I plan to distribute those two books to Amazon, Smashwords (which, if I upload my manuscript correctly will in turn distribute to "Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, the Diesel eBook Store, and more") and AllRomanceEbooks. Plus, I learned how to make a PDF, MOBI, and EPUB version of my books for reviewers to read it before the release date.

I have all three versions of my YA novella, Bad Boys Don't Play Hero, up on my website if you want to check out my mad formatting skills!!

If you can't tell, I'm really getting into this stuff. I have a new respect for people who self publish. There is so much to learn and do.  But it's really exciting to have all the authority over every step of the project. Oh, the power!!!

And since we're on the topic of self publishing, I found this blog post (here) that breaks down the cost of self publishing. Depending on how much you want to spend, you can do it for free or spend tens of thousands of dollars.

After reading a couple of similar articles, the main consensus is that if you really care about doing the project right but want to be as economical as possible, you'll spend between $500 and $5,000. 

Here is where I think I stand in the expenses department for my September book, Price of a Kiss.

Write Book:
$0 (but lots of time)

Edit Book:
LOW END - $0 Friend who is an English teacher
ME - $280 for a 95K manuscript
HIGH END - $5,000

Proof-read Book:
LOW END - $0 Friends and colleagues
ME - $275
HIGH END - $1,000 or more

Cover Design:
LOW END - $0 "Royalty free or own photos and text only made into a .jpg on Microsoft Publisher"
MIDDLE GROUND - $30 - $300 for a cover artist
ME - Not sure yet, but the base price will be $250 plus the price of images.
HIGHER END - $1,000 or more

Typeset Book:
LOW END - $0 Find templates and free formatting programs
ME - $0 (hee-hee, taught myself!!)
MIDDLE GROUND - $20 to $150
HIGH END - $500 or more

Publish Book:
LOW END - $0. Publish at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.
ME - $0 (going the low end route!)
MIDDLE GROUND - no clue, sorry!
HIGH END - according to this blog post linked above "$1400 for 250 copies of your print book from a self-publishing/printing company."

And the post didn't include promoting but you really do need to think about it!
Promote Book:
LOW END - $0. Get a free blog for your website home page and use social networking like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
ME - $205 ($25 Facebook banner, $105 book tour/cover reveal, $25 for book blast release day, $50 for 1 year of website hosting fee)
MIDDLE GROUND - Again, no clue!
HIGH END - This one is honeslty unlimited, so I have not clue.

So, there you have it.  I believe I'll be spending just over a grand (holy cow, that sounds like a lot when you put all the dollar signs together) on self publishing one teeny-tiny little book.

But to not think of how big of a debt I'm putting myself into there, I'm working on a new story!  What do you think of the forbidden teacher/student plot line? I'm making it a college story so there is no icky, pedophile theme in there. There hero and heroine will only be about two or three years age difference. But there is still the unethical factor. So... opinions?

Okay, that's all I have to say today!  Talk more next week. 

(PS: Here's another good post about the cost of self publishing)

She's Growing Up! Sniff-Sniff

Friday, May 10, 2013

This is a picture of my big girl on the phone this past Saturday, calling grandparents and aunts and uncles to make her big announcement.

"Guess what?" she started pretty much every conversation. "I pooped in the potty!"

The hubby and I feel like we've won a war. After an hour and a half of arguing, begging, promising, and scaring our poor child, she finally accomplished it. And she's done it every day since. She received a new bicycle and helmet that day for her trouble, and now she can go the pre-school in the fall! I am just so proud of her. For us, this is a major accomplishment because she's been resisting it for months.

Next goal: Getting rid of night time diapers. Blech...

I don't have anything quite so newsworthy in the writing department, but I am learning how to format books. That's kinda cool, right? I have CreateSpace print format, Smashwords, and I think Kindle down. Now I have to wait until July when I upload them to see if I actually did it right!!

It's also been a decent-sized week in editing for me. My editor (lots of love to Laura Josephsen!! woot-woot) for Price of a Kiss is half way through that manuscript. I've been hearing good progress reports back from her. It's getting me excited all over again for this book!

And my first-round Omnific Publishing editor for Cry completed her edits this week. I think I did my biggest re-writes (after selling a story) for this woman. When I submitted this manuscript to the company, it was 85,000 words long. Yesterday, I turned it back in at 93,000 words. It was challenging, kind of intimidating, but in the end, completely exhilarating. And now I'm really excited about this story too, though fingers crossed that she actually liked what I did!

And to bid you a happy weekend, I'll share a line from Price of a Kiss that sort of reminded me of this picture I saw on Facebook yesterday.  Take care!!

"He laughed. Yes, the b@#*!d laughed as if spider murder was some kind of joke. He had no idea just how much peril his life was in for laughing at me. Honestly, have you ever been so freaked-out scared that you could bawl and commit murder in the same breath because someone thought your fear was funny? Well, I had jumped off the high dive and was swimming in a whole vat of that kind of crazy."

Book Banners

Friday, May 3, 2013
I saw this really cool countdown banner for an upcoming book that had a quote from the story in it, and I totally loved it. So I played around and tried to make a quote banner for one of my stories. Problem is, I don't have a nifty image editing program to make it all professional and sophisticated.

But I made the attempt anyway. And here is what I did.

On my first banner, I started with the big, blown-up cover of the book that my cover artist sent me and went into fotoflexer.com. After uploading the entire cover, I went into "crop" under the "BASIC" tab. And I cropped out the portion I wanted to keep for the banner. I resized and then flipped and rotated until I got it where I wanted it.

Then I checked out the EFFECTS tab for this particular banner and chose the "lomoish" option to make it a funky coloring.

(by the way, to make a picture out of what I saw on my screen, I googled and found out you push the print-screen button--might look like "PrtScn," then go into an image editing program--hint, hint: Microsoft Paint--and chose the paste option.  I just discovered this and had to share!)

I found the adding-text feature under the DECORATE tab. You can make the text box transparent. You can move it where you want it, tilt it, change size, color, and there are some different font options. So I played around and experimented with those until, voila, I came up with this banner!

It might not be the best banner I've ever seen, but it wasn't the worst either! Except, I wanted more, MORE!

The next attempt at a banner was a bit more detailed. I'm not sure if it came out looking better or worse, but...here's what I did.

I found a free photo reflection site, reflextionmaker.com, and uploaded my book cover from my computer. If I had wanted my banner background to be white, I would've pressed "generate" then. But, no, not me. I had to be difficult.

So, I picked a background color I thought matched the title font, and wrote down the 6-digit color code that for it once I chose it (it was 880015 in this case). And THEN I generated the new picture. After the new "reflected" cover generated, I hovered my mouse over it and pushed the right button, chosing "save picture as" to get it stored as a file on my computer. These reflection people like donations, so if you want to leave a little something-something for them, that's cool.

In the next step, I needed more numbers for my 6-digit background color code (880015, remember?), so I went to http://tech.pro/tutorial/653/javascript-interactive-color-picker and scrolled down until I found this nifty interactive color picker thingy. I typed in the 6-digit code  of the color (880015) in the HEX box and then clicked into another box so all the rest of the code numbers I needed would pop up. Then I wrote down the new numbers that came up in the red, green, and blue boxes. (red was 136, green 0, and blue 21)

After that, it was off to Microsoft Paint I went!! Once I set up how big I wanted my banner to be, I went into the "edit colors" box and typed in my written-down numbers for the red (136), green (0), and blue (21) boxes, so it would create a the color to match the reflected part of my cover.

After I used my little Microsoft Paint bucket to fill the entire banner, I had my nifty new background color. But who wants one boring color for their background?? To make it multicolored, I put some black lines in and filled in a black chunk. Two-toned!

I found my reflected cover I'd saved on my computer, and opened it in a new Microsoft Paint program. I resized the picture so it would fit onto my banner (maintaining aspect ratio, of course) and then chose "select all". (Actually, it'd probably be better if you re-sized in Microsoft Office Picture Manager before you even do the reflection stuff for a better chance of keeping the cover having a better quality image. But alas, I forget that step)

After a quick CTRL + C to copy what I had selected, I went back into the Paint program with the blank two-toned banner background waiting for me. Then I hit CTRL+V to paste in my cover, and I moved it until I got it where I wanted it.

I could have added some text straight from Paint, but putting text on a picture in the Paint program always seems to come out grainy and gross, IMHO. At this point, I saved that picture into my computer, and back to FotoFlexer I went to add some text. (actually, the quote part of this banner WAS written in the Paint program, so you can actually see how much grainier it looks than the rest for the fonts).

AND here is what my second quote banner looked like.

I think banners are a neat promotional item for authors. It makes a nice visual touch and adds color and some life to your blog, website, Facebook page or whatever.

You can always go the fancy route and pay a professional to make you really good banners. Those are amazing. Or you can purchase an image-editing program to make it easier to do. Someday, I'm going to do that (Sigh. Someday). And if you already have such a program...I'm so totally jealous of you. Grr. Or you can do it this free, inventive way. Whatever works for you!

So, do you have any cool banner-making tips to share with me? I'm all ears over here, always looking for a helpful way to promote. Since I was self-taught in this art, there's so much more I want to (and really need to) learn about this aspect of advertising!

PS: I ended up making seven banners total for this book. Here's a peek at one more! Which one is your favorite?