One wheel of Tara’s cart at the craft store knocked rhythmically, thump, thump, thump, causing Isabelle to giggle and clap her chubby hands.
Tara shook her head. “Oh yes, this is great fun, isn’t it?” The baby grinned, showing her two new bottom teeth.
Ignoring the clanking wheel, Tara turned down the Christmas isle. Now that it was November she was on the lookout for decorating ideas. Filling the Bed and Breakfast Inn with cozy Christmas items was a favorite chore, and the endless options on the shelves made her pulse race.
She reached out to touch a plastic flocked pine bow. There had to be fifty to chose from, not an easy task. Finally she tugged a few from the basket, taking her time to separate them, careful not to knock any more glitter than necessary on the floor.
“Is that a no?” Tara chuckled. The baby fussed and arched her back, pushing at the cart handle. Tara put the decorations in her cart and turned to head toward the check out. “Okay, okay, I know you’re tired of this,” she soothed. “But someday you’ll love shopping here, I promise.”
Like most writers, I write because I’m drawn to put my thoughts on paper. Okay, these days it’s more like converting thoughts into digital data, but you know what I mean. We as writers have something inside that we want to share.
For some of us, it’s a spirit of adventure we want to communicate to our readers, a mystery or thriller that’s been rattling around in the back of our minds. But for me the desire to write is a combination of exploring experiences and outcomes while living vicariously through a fictitious character. My characters are free to travel through events I survived, but they will be far more intelligent, less dramatic, more diplomatic, and all around handle it better than I did. Through my stories I can put my characters into settings I struggled with, then I can manipulate them and the conditions to come up with a far better ending.
Even more fun is to have the characters get opportunities I wish I had been given, and to live through their eyes as they get to do things I may never get to do. I get to explore what would happen if a personality were presented with the conflict and excitement of moving outside their comfort zone and into situations of success and triumph.
Writing gives me the opportunity to travel another road and walk in another’s shoes. So what happens when you come across someone who has actually lived the experiences of a character in your book? My mother used to say “truth is stranger than fiction” but when it happened to me and my work, I was caught off guard.
In my novel Hometown Girl After All, Julia moves to a small town to start over when her life in the city has become unbearable. She finds a love of gardening, which builds her confidence and she eventually opens a flower shop. Imagine my surprise when my daughter sent me a link for an article she read on boredPanda.com that reminded her of my book (link below). The brief article featured a florist’s Instagram feed, filled with photos of her beautiful flowers. The post said Erin had given up her life in the city to live in the country and through planting a few flowers her grandmother had loved, she found she had a gift for growing flowers. The photos in the article were exactly how I had pictured Julia’s flowers in my novel. And the way my daughter had envisioned it too, evidently.
Immediately, I had to follow the chain of links to find who this woman was. Erin’s blog Flower Farm Journal is truly lovely. One of the things I love most, is that the whole front page is devoted to promoting other women who are florists, farmers, and photographers, like herself. What a refreshing view in this day and age of never ending self-promotion! And it keeps getting better from there. As you click through pages of Erin’s site, you find tutorials on how to grow beautiful flowers for yourself. I could spend hours reading these pages filled with brilliant photos.
As I read the story of Erin’s farm for the first time, I felt as if the spirit of my book was coming alive. Julia’s story in Shabby Chic after All is one of recovery, unexpected friendship, love of neighbors, and healing. I was thrilled to read the following quote from the “Our Story” tab of Erin’s Flower Farm Journal web page.
“Years ago we left the hustle and bustle of city life and moved to the Skagit Valley to pursue a slower, simpler and more intentional lifestyle for our little family. We dreamed of eating fresh vegetables from our garden, tending a flock of chickens and planting a small orchard. Shortly after we moved in, a generous neighbor brought his tractor over and tilled up a new plot of ground so that we could plant a garden. His kindness that day offered a glimpse into what country life would be like.”
In my novel Julia finds healing through the growth of her garden as well as love and friendship as it draws people to her. Here is another quote from Erin’s page.
“…word got out and someone ordered a jar of flowers for a friend. I’ll never forget that day as I nervously knocked on her door and awkwardly thrust the bouquet into her hands. Surprised, she buried her face in the flowers and tears immediately welled up in her eyes. She was instantly transported back to her own childhood summers, to a time of great happiness and to her own grandmother’s garden…right then and there I knew I had found my calling.”
I’ve personally have never had the opportunity to move to a small town in the country and start a flower shop, but in my mind it felt lovely. It seemed like a scenario that would be healing and promote friendship and confidence. I couldn’t be happier to see, at least for one woman, this has been a real life experience. Erin’s business has grown far beyond anything Julia ever dreamed in the novel, bravo Erin! But who knows, maybe Julia will return someday in another novel, and her dreams may have burst their seams as well.
Thank you Erin for being an inspiration to many, and for living your dream. I encourage you all to check out her blog and enjoy the gorgeous flowers and photos that she creates. And never stop dreaming!
Items required to post
your book for sale online
Your novel is edited, rewritten and ready for readers! Next comes the little-known part of the process where multiple computer files must be created to post your book for sale online.
Chances are, you’ve created your novel on a computer. Some writers still prefer to use an old fashion typewriter, but be advised, if you want to self-publish your novel, you will need the manuscript to be in digital format (such as Microsoft Word).
To sell a printed book online you will need to create a Print Layout (Sometimes referred to as a book block). The Microsoft word document of your manuscript will be reformatted to create the print layout, so editing must be complete. The print layout file is the file that will be sent to the printer to print all the interior pages of your book. You will be able to open the file on your computer to see exactly how your book will look.
When creating a print layout you must make choices about the inside of your book. You’ll be selecting trim size, which is the size in inches of your book’s length and width. You’ll choose text fonts and sizes for the main body of the book, as well as font sizes and types for chapter headings. Paper type is a factor to consider as well because this will affect the width of the book spine. You’ll select page header and footers, which could include your name, the book title, and the page number. The print layout will include the copywrite page that contains the author’s name/names, the publisher info and address, the date and edition number. You’ll also create a page for dedications.
If you hire a self-publishing firm to help you create the print layout file (like I do) there is a process of creation and approval you’ll go through to be sure you’re happy with the finished product. They’ll create and send you the file and you’ll check and approve it or mark up changes. Once the print layout is complete, you’ll know the page count of your finished printed book!
At this point the cover needs to be designed. You’ll need two cover files, one for the printed book and one for eBooks. The cover for your printed book will include the back cover, the spine, and the front cover in one PDF file. The back cover will be on the left side, the spine in the middle, and the front cover on the right. When printed, this will become the paperback cover that will wrap around the printed pages to complete your book. The spine width of your book is dictated by the page count in the print layout, (And paper type) so you must complete the print layout before designing the full cover. If you plan to sell only eBooks you need only a front cover. You may have noticed that when buying eBooks you don’t see a back cover unless the book is also available in print.
When you post your book for sale you will have the option to create a cover for free, or to upload an already designed cover file (such as a PDF file you have already created or one professionally designed). Some authors are much better at creating a cover than others. Many factors come into play with cover design, including the genre of your novel. I personally want my books to look as professional as possible, so I pay Book Fuel to create my covers, and they are absolutely lovely, if I do say so myself.
No matter if you use a free cover creator, or if you hire a firm to design your cover, you have to provide all the text you want included. Firm may help you with fonts, etc., but you must write your own synopsis as well as the other components you want on the cover such as your website link, etc. (We’ll discuss creating a synopsis in another blog. The synopsis a very important marketing tool and one of the most difficult things to write.)
If you decide to create your own cover, you’ll have the option to use your own photo or select one within the creator, just be sure you own the rights to any photo you use. Just because you buy a photo online (from Shutterstock etc.) doesn’t mean someone else can’t buy the same photo and use it on their book cover as well. Read up on rights to photos.
Your cousin may have drawn a lovely picture for you, but will that picture on the cover look professional? Maybe, maybe not. You can find people on Google, Twitter, and even Instagram, who will create covers for you for as low as $99. If you’re good with graphics and text you can create a decent cover using the free cover creators. On the other hand, some of the covers I’ve seen were obviously created by a novice. The idea is to make your book look as high quality as possible. After all, the reader is looking for a good book, not one that may be thrown together. Most readers don’t know which books are self published, but they will be able to spot a book that looks cheap, poorly done, or even down right strange.
When I published my second book and it went live online, I was horrified to see that the title of the book was not visible against the background graphics. It looked fine full size on the computer screen, but when thumbnail size, (like on an Amazon page) it looked as if it had no title at all. I’d paid hundreds of dollars and waited months to have this cover designed by a publisher in Canada and I was very upset. Be critical when designing or approving your cover. Open an online bookstore, go to your genre, shrink your cover small, and compare it to the other books. Be honest about how it compares. Have people you trust look at it too. You’ve worked far too hard to have your book overlooked because of something as trivial as a color selection, artwork, or font style of the title. You’ll also want to watch text font and size, especially on the spine where it will be smaller than on the front. Will the font you choose make the printed spine too hard to read?
Next in the process is to create the eBook files. This is the actual file that readers will download when they buy your eBook online. Amazon has a specific file format and other eBooks such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook, have a different format. I tried to create these files myself, but they were admittedly way above my techno level, so I paid Book Fuel to create them for me. Multiple types of software are required and the files created are complex. Depending on your computer, you won’t be able to open these files, you’ll need a specific reader or translator to check them. Creating these files yourself can be done if you’re very savvy, but there are many places out there to help you create them. When I posted my books online myself for the first time, I found it very reassuring to know that the files were created professionally and my readers would not see glaring errors in the format of the book.
A few more notes about the cover. If you want your website to be on the cover, you will of course need to purchase a domain (website address) and then create your site. (More about this in another blog) Most traditionally published books include quotes on the cover by reviewers, so you’ll need at least a few reviews. The back cover is also a good place to put your author bio as well, so you’ll need to write one.
There are several other vital items you will need to publish your book. One of these is an ISBN. An ISBN is a number that uniquely identifies your book, and facilitates the sale of your book to bookstores (both physical and digital) as well as libraries that want to buy your book. With an ISBN, your book will be listed in Bowker Books in Print®, which is used by all major search engines and most bookstores and libraries. You will need to purchase an ISBN or have your publisher purchase one for you. You can do this online at http://goo.gl/nDZFHF You’ll also need a bar code for your printed cover. You can purchase barcodes online. There are many options, here is one http://buyabarcode.com Self-publishing companies, such as book fuel, will furnish you with a bar code when they design your cover. This bar code will be used to scan and manage your book in all types of bookstores.
That sounds like a lot, but in short you’ll need to create the print layout, the eBook files, the cover, and all the information you want on the cover. You’ll also need an ISBN and a bar code, as well as other optional items such as a website address.
It can all seem very overwhelming, but don’t give up. Take it one bite at a time and you’ll be able to complete the process. Good luck and keep writing!
Next blog post we’ll discuss the actual processes involved to post your book files and make it available for sale!
Preparing your manuscript
to be self-published
Now that you know what self-publishing is all about, lets look at your manuscript.
First and foremost you need a completed novel manuscript, referred to as a draft. The hard cold truth is, you must have a finished draft that is complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end. If you get stuck while you’re writing you can hire all kinds of help, but we’re talking about publishing.
Be sure to do some homework on the formatting of your word doc. Line spacing, font size, font type, and margins are all very important. You don’t want one glance at your work to prove you’re an armature.
When you type the last line of your story draft and punch that final period, you are far from done. Editing is vital to refining a draft into a novel.
The first editor of your work is you! Reread everything multiple times. Reading out loud will help you find errors. When I sit down to write, I reread what I wrote the previous day. Not only does it help me get back into the swing of the story, but also I find missing words and typos. If you’re like me, your typing skills may not be top notch, so as the story comes out I get excited and fat finger keys.
I once read some fabulous advice that really helped me polish my writing. It said that once you finish you novel and you’re sure it’s perfect, put it away for a few weeks, maybe a month, then come back and read it again. This can be a real challenge, especially if you’re excited to get things moving, but it’s worth it. It’s amazing how a little time gives you fresh insight. This alone has been one of the best tools I’ve ever used to find and correct problems within my story. When you’re too familiar with your work you become blind to problems, kind of like sitting next to something stinky for a long time and you can’t smell it after a while. (Not that your work is stinky) Let your writing marinate, then come back for another look. Again, it’s about presenting the best product you possibly can.
Next comes the plot and character development edit. This edit helps you polish the story line and the characters. Much of this type of editing can come from family, friends, and reading groups (groups who meet locally or online). They will read your story and say things like, “I’m confused at this part” or “What are you trying to say here?” See if readers can pick out the turning points. Ask them questions about characters like “Can you feel how upset (sad, happy etc) she was?” or “Do you understand why he did that?” If you have a complicated scene, don’t fill them in in an advance, see if they can understand and picture the scene as they read it. This is the point you’ll get feedback such as “What ever happened to…?” or “I’m lost.” Feedback is fundamental to plugging the holes in your writing.
My early novels needed to be heavily edited. Even now, as I get a better grasp of my writing style, I still need a fresh eye to help me. As I write, I see the setting and characters in my mind’s eye, so I understand the motivation and thought process behind my character’s actions. I may or may not have done a very good job at portraying all that in a particular scene, and a developmental edit will catch this. Developmental edits will also help you monitor the “speed” of a scene, to see if you are rushing through a part pr skipping ahead, causing your readers whiplash.
A copy or line edit comes next to catch grammar and typos. Traditional publishing houses spend a vast amount of time editing, even the writing of the most gifted and popular authors. Every professional writer knows beyond a doubt, that professional editing is required. Unfortunately, since self-published authors are most likely paying for the process (and editing is pricey), they want to skip this step. It’s a well known fact that first time authors usually believe their work is super fabulous. In reality this opinion is based on inexperience. Your writing most likely isn’t a mess, not hopeless, just needs more work. Please believe me when I tell you, if you haven’t had a professional editor look at your work, you’re in for a shock. I’m not talking about friends or neighbors or family, the people who love you. I’m talking about someone who’s JOB is to find every little problem, who knows the industry and isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings. No matter how great your work is, it WILL need to be edited. Do not consider skipping this step.
For me a copy edit looks horrible when it comes back because the punctuation is all marked up. Don’t expect any high fives back from the editor, they are looking for even the tiniest of error such as the number of spaces after a period, and comma placement. This edit is the polish on your book. Again, edits can be a bit painful to the ego, but the more time and money you spend on edits, the better your novel will be.
Every time I send a piece of work to be edited, I have delusions it coming back with only notes of praise attached. The truth is that an editor’s job is to find problems, and they will. They are looking with a critical eye, in order to catch and correct errors or omissions, before your readers find them. And in the long run, I’d much rather get one or two scathing returns from a professional editor than disgusted feedback from a multitude of readers. Imagine how bad it would feel when you finally get your book finished and published and when comments come in from readers, they aren’t about the characters or the fabulous plot twist, but about typos and bad grammar.
A good editor will also immediately find your less favorite parts of the story; the parts that you rushed through or weren’t very “into” as you eagerly moved on to a more exciting part the plot.
A processional editor will mark up your word document and you will have the opportunity to accept or reject their changes with the click of a button. If you are being published the traditional rout, you will just see the work after the edit is completed, it’s not your choice what gets changed. (Some publishing houses are more considerate than others.) A self-publishing firm will want to be sure you approve the edits before they proceed because you own the writing.
Note that all computer files for both printed books and eBooks will be created based on your word document, so every space and return is important. You will only be able to make minimal changes to a few words once you have approved the word doc and moved forward. This is because the format of the print layout and eBook files are rigid, and if you try to change out a short word for a long word, for example, it may throw off the margin or footer. As far as punctuation, be aware that little things, like hitting return twice or more, or extra spacing, can throw off formatting software. These tiny errors in your writing can really gum up the works moving forward.
After you receive an edit you get to do a rewrite. This is where you stare at your brainchild and attempt to find a way to incorporate another person’s opinions and attitudes into your story. I once had an editor tell me that I was one of the best rewriters she’d ever worked with. I’ve never forgotten that rare compliment. She said I was very good at weaving in corrections and solutions without them feeling like a fix. As you work through an edit, always keep in mind that rewriting is a part of writing.
To add insult to injury, editing will be, by far, the most expensive part of self-publishing. Having said that, it is also the most fundamental for success. No one wants to spend money to be told their writing has problems, but be assured that your writing, like mine, needs to be edited.
Perhaps your cousin is an editor for a newspaper, or your mother is an English Lit professor. If so, you may be able to get quality copy editing for nothing. Just remember that friends and family likely have jobs and lives of their own and it may take them a long time to edit an entire novel.
Another option to save money on initial editing is to work with a writers group. Readers within the group will edit each other’s work. Just be advised that these are usually not professionals, and they can be opinionated or worse. There is a big difference between good feedback you get from a beta reader (someone who reads your unfinished work and offers you advice or support) and a copy editor. You want someone who won’t squash your “Voice” or style, but will help you understand what is expected within your genre.
Edits are very important because in all reality, our readers deserve the best books we can create.
So finally your manuscript is edited and perfect and ready to present to the world! How do you go about that? Read part three!
Self-publishing is a popular term these days, so what exactly is it? Can anyone publish a book? Maybe you’re writing a novel, but you’re unsure what all is involved to publish. Here are some insights into the process. Hopefully knowing what lies ahead won’t deter your efforts, but will enlighten you. This will be a four part blog, simply because we have so much to talk about!
Part one will cover the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
In part two we’ll discuss preparing your manuscript to self-publish.
Part three will go over many of the processes involved to put your novel on the market.
In part four we’ll talk about marketing and sales.
What does the term Self-Publish mean?
The difference between Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing
Before the internet changed the world (and Amazon became a leader in book sales), there was only one way to publish a book, the traditional way. You had to get an agent and beg and plead with a publisher for your writing to be considered, sometimes for years. For most authors this process ended in failure. Publishers considered themselves the gatekeepers of good literature, making sure that only quality works were published. (But of course, the value of literature is subjective) Only a select few authors were ever chosen to be published, partly on the merit of their work, but also by spending years struggling and finding connections in the industry. With the advent of digital files and accessibility to readers online (as well as Amazon’s broad reach and power in the market) anyone can now publish writing themselves, for better or worse. As a reader you now have the option to purchase (or even get free) work written by anyone and everyone. As a matter of fact, you probably have no idea which of your favorite authors are self-published, and which are traditionally published. For example, authors such as Terry Goodkind, who have been traditionally published for years, have switched to self publishing their books. The author of Twilight, Stephanie Meyer, was self-published before she was selected to be traditionally published. And of course we all know that J.K. Rowling was turned down for years by traditional publishers before someone took a chance on people being interested in books about teenage sorcerers.
To begin, lets talk about the basic differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
A traditional publisher buys your novel from you and then they own it. It’s theirs. You maintain only the right to put your name on it once they’ve worked it over. The publishing company will change the content of your work, design the cover, sit on it for years, anything they want really, because they own it. Typically the traditional publisher will pay you a tidy sum upfront, then you get a percentage of the royalties per sale. The traditional publisher pays for all the editing (editors on staff) as well as the preparation and printing cost for thousands of books. They then pay for distribution of eBooks as well as shipping the printed books to bookstores across the country or even the world. They also pay for your airfare and hotel expenses to travel to talk shows and book signings to promote your book, including all the posters and banners and blah, blah, blah… You get my point. The tradition publisher is making a huge investment in your book, and you are along for the ride. (Thus their fierce pickiness) Sadly, unknown authors don’t get much promotion, and if your book doesn’t sell well within 30 days, you’re pretty much dropped like a hot poker and you have to buy back thousands of books. Funny how that part isn’t usually mentioned.
But now we can self-publish! What does this mean? Basically, self-publishing means you pay for (or do yourself) all the services the traditional publisher would do. This includes paying to have an editor edit the manuscript, formatting the printable files and eBook files, book cover design and creation, printing costs, distribution (both paperback and eBooks), and the big thing most all authors hate, marketing. One of the biggest differences between self-publishing and traditional pushing is that when you self-publish, you continue to own your novel through the whole process, because no one is buying the rights from you.
As the option to self-publish gained popularity, firms offering publishing services popped up overnight. For a fee, these firms will do the work of a traditional publisher for you. It will cost you several thousand dollars per book though, and those fees have to be paid in full before you get the finished product to sell. Not a happy thought. However, at least one self-publishing firm, Book Fuel in Denver Colorado, (the one I use) allows me to make payments over time, so I can get my books out there and continue paying for their services from my royalties.
Bear in mind that as a self-published author, no one is paying you for your novel up front. The only money you will receive are royalties from your book sales at the very end of the publishing process. The good news is you get higher royalties than you would through a traditional publisher, depending on your book prices. Having said that, be sure you understand any conditions set by your self-publishing firm. Most firms who handle distribution of your novel will control your work once it’s published and take a portion of your royalties. You will have to go through them to change anything about your book, including the price and sales or coupons. With some firms, changes are impossible or very expensive. (You can handle the work of distribution on your own if you want to, and we’ll talk about that in part four) The whole point of self-publishing is that you can do as much or as little of the process as you choose, (or are able) but if you have someone else do it, it’s gonna cost you.
It’s important note that most self-published authors sell the majority of their books online. No matter if you chose to sell printed books, eBooks, or both, much of the work to prepare your book for self-publishing has to do with creating files in specific formats for online sales. Only traditional publishers (through their closed traditional system) can get books into stores such as Barnes and Noble (sometimes referred to as brick and mortar stores because they are actual stores not virtual stores). Brick and mortar stores are still tied into traditional markets to purchase books to sell, and they tend to ignore the pleas of thousands of self-published authors. If your book is selling exceptionally well online and people begin requesting it in stores, the corporate office of a store may buy multiple copies to sell in the store. (Great news!) But as a new self-published author, you are pretty much looking at selling your book online. Some bookstores will allow self-published authors to do book signings, but you will be responsible for contacting the store and convincing them that you and your book are worthy and professional.
In all honesty, a few self-publishing firms have always existed, but they were called vanity press or vanity publishing. Due to the huge price of editing, design, printing, etc, only wealthy or crazy people spent thousands to print a book knowing they had no way to get the books into stores. It was referred to as vanity because authors had the audacity to believe their writing was good enough to publish outside the system. This all changed with the advent of the internet and eBooks, giving self-published authors a sales outlet beyond brick and mortar stores.
Admittedly, with the option for anyone to publish anything, comes the opportunity for tons of crap to be published. The decision of whether writing is good or bad now falls to the reader rather than an unseen person in a publishing office. Many changes have rolled through the publishing world as a result of this. Since the traditional system can be circumvented, people working in that industry have suffer significant income losses and have spent the last ten years shouting out about the danger and evils of self-publishing. Prices have also been affected. In 2009 Amazon wanted the right to sell all eBooks for $9.99 and to release them on the release date of the hardbound book. Court cases ensued and new rules had to be established pertaining to pricing and when eBooks are released, similar to the regulations on video vs movie releases back in the early 90s.
In a nutshell, self-publishing means you can get your book on the market without the help of a traditional publisher. You won’t have the support either, task wise or financially, but you can do it yourself. In the past it was nearly impossible to get a publisher to invest in you or your writing. You had to get an agent with connections in the industry to even have a chance at getting your foot in the door. Now, with the power of the internet, and a lot of hard work, you can publish your book on your own.
Read parts Two, Three and Four to see how!
What is it about spider infested, filthy old things that make my hearts race?
How could dragging and manipulating a half ruined piece of furniture that weighs more than anything I ever lifted in my heyday at the gym, be so thrilling that instead of collapsing against the wall with my eyes bugging, I still have the energy to circle the thing with my eyes shining?
When did roaming the paint department looking for brushes and rollers and tape become more fun than the shoe store at the mall?
At what point of my life did I decide shabby was better than shiny, old was better than new, and something that needed completely worked over was so dang attractive?
When did I decide that an old farmhouse with no plumbing or electrical was my dream home?
I may never be able to pinpoint when the shabby chic bug bit me, but I’m so glad it did. I’m more productive, less wasteful, more creative, and far more stiff and sore. My thoughts wander through the possibilities of an item; what is once was, what it could be, and then what would it be if I did something entirely new with it. I stop to chat with folks about their gardens and their projects. I search out the odd little shop with an artistic owner rather than a brand name box store.
Did this happen when I wandered into that first little boutique and my mouth fell open in surprise and pleasure at someone else’s creativity? Was it the day I looked at the item thinking I understood what it was, and yet someone had come up with another way to use it that was gorgeous?
Or maybe my heart had simply forgotten how much I’d loved crayons and play dough and finger paints.
All I know for sure is that as my attention narrowed to focus on what some call a trend, my heart and mind opened to encompass a broader and far more colorful world.
Each morning I log onto my computer and spend well over an hour visiting my social media friends. First I visit my Romance Novels Face Book page where I post photography of shabby furniture and quotes about reading or things famous authors say, as well as snippets from my novels and blog posts. Then I open up Pinterest and visit the pages of the people who liked my pins. I see so many beautiful and inspiring things there. Sometimes I wonder how many of us have our home designs, travel, cooking, and wardrobe fantasies parked on that site.
This morning as I was scanning through photos of amazing places and fabulous ideas I got a comment on one of my novel pins! You may not think that a comment on Pinterest would make someone’s day, but I consider Pinterest one of my major marketing sources. I spend a great deal of time taking photos of my shabby style projects, as well as sorting, pinning and organizing pins that represent my novels. I get nearly half of all the foot traffic to my author website from Pinterest so to have someone comment on a pin of my novel cover was very exciting. To add to the warm fuzzies, she said that I was the first author she’d met on Pinterest! Is this a major breakthrough moment for me??!
My novels are a new concept in that they are novels about a lifestyle. The stories are very character driven and about ladies who find comfort, strength and satisfaction in shabby design. Tara saves and restores old homes, Julia works in her garden, and Lizzie love prairie style comfort; plus some sweet romance with a handsome man to round out the fun. Come by and check them out!
I hope you’ve all got a Pinterst page full of tabs containing things you love, and I hope you take the time to comment on a pin that touches you. You just may make someone’s day!
I want my author website to visually represent my novels, so this week I contacted a professional web designer to rework and redesign the whole thing from the bottom up. Now the big question, if I had to choose five or six pictures that would immediately bring to life my stories, what would I choose?
Those of us who love to rework, remodel, recycle, and pick through treasures know that shabby style is not a goal but a process. It’s a journey. It’s a vision not only to redesign a space, but to search out lost and unexpected gems that will come together in a way that is charming and meaningful.
Most of us have experienced the stress and joy of tearing things completely apart and pieced them back together. Shabby style is that excursion, the whole tour from ugly and horrible, (outdated and nasty dirty) to unthinkable, (How will I ever fix what I just uncovered?) to salvage, (I can except this) to fabulous, (Not exactly how I’d planned it in the beginning, but…) and then the never ending tweaking (Ohhh this would be perfect in the…)
The photos I select will need to include the bare and naked middle part of reworking a piece or a space, as well as the calm and serene, comfortable and beautiful part at the end; maybe a few piles of junk, stripped screw heads, or a second hand shop? Nothing could convey the aching back or the endless brain drain involved.
And what about the characters in my stories? How can I ever hope to capture the essence and wisdom of Winnie, or the meddlesome charm of Marge? How to convey frustration and sadness and joy?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words mean ten thousand things to five different people. So perhaps I will use words to convey my design goals to the web designer and believe that her talent lies in translating them into visual representations of my novels.
I’m happy to report that this week I got back final proofs for book two of my Shabby Chic series! I received not only the book block, which is the formatted version of the text part of the book, I also received the cover design! Needless to say, this blog is late because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in proofreading.
For some reason I can work for months on editing and rewrites of a novel, but when I see the cover design, the book finally seems real. The digital artist at Friensen press, along with my author rep Brelan, have a done a great job on both novels to come up with designs that reflect the core of my story.
I loved the grubby feel of book one to represent Tara and her issues, and I am just as thrilled with the outdoor rusty garden jibe they sent me for Book Two. Julia would love the peeling teal paint and the roses on the back cover.
If you’d like to see what book two, Shabby Chic After All, will look like, you can check out the front page of my website. Authorkirstenfullmer.com
I’m home! After a month of travel out west, and enjoying my sweet new grandbaby, I’m finally home again. I’m stationed on the sofa with one leg tucked under me, my computer on my lap, and Bingo curled up and snoring by my side, just where I belong.
Yesterday I spent the morning making Mother’s Day cards for my mom and my mother-in-law. Both are in poor health and I’m not sure how many more Mother’s Days I’ll get to have the honor. I can never just pull out a few supplies to make cards, I have to drag out every box full of paper stacks, stickers, pencils and markers, embellishments, two sided tape, glue, stamps and stamp pads I own. Then I am forced to dig through each and every box to find the items that suit the situation and my mood. Yesterday, for some reason, I fixated on birds and flowers, spring theme. My table was piled with stacks of crafty items that had to be continually shifted and sorted and moved over to make more space to work. Am I the only one who can’t create without everything I may ever need in plain sight?
As for my own mother’s day, my sweetheart bought me a Yonana! For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a cute little appliance that turns frozen bananas into what looks like soft serve ice cream. It tastes like guiltless smashed frozen bananas, but feels like a treat. My naughty sister Melanie told me I could also put chocolate chips and cookies through the thing to doctor up the banana, but I’m trying to forget that and stick with my low sugar frozen fruit. I’m thinking I can keep this up until at lease next week, when mother’s day actually happens.
Book number two of my shabby Chic series, Shabby Chic After All, is getting close to release! On Monday I should receive the final proofs for approval of the cover and finished text. It seems like it takes forever to publish and I’m very excited to get book two out to my fans. As soon as folks finished book one, Shabby Chic at Heart, their first question is always “When will book two come out?”
Book three, Shabby Chic Forever, is well under way, and I have to say that I’m loving Elliot. He has become one of the quirkiest male characters that I’ve written. Funny how they take on a life of their own!
I better get back to work now. I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day. If you don’t have someone to celebrate with, may you search out someone who has mothered you and send them some love!