Thursday, December 29, 2011

Isn't a good book enough anymore?

As the new year approaches, I find myself torn. The year 2011 was a watershed year for me as a writer, having published a novel I wrote more than ten years ago. So far, readers love it, and I am ecstatic to be able to offer it in print. I also started a blog, designed my own website, opened a twitter account, and created a google alert on self publishing. The marketing phenomenon that is Three Women/Three Books was born, with fellow writers Nerys Parry and Jasmine Aziz. With a precious few holiday hours I put in some serious writing time on the new book, The Third Road, about a young girl in Malaysia in the 1950s who becomes a Communist geurrilla. It's all good, right? So why oh why, on the eve of the eve of the eve, am I torn? Because I need to make a decision if I am to finish the second book before I sign up for lessons on how to use a walker. Seriously. The commitment of time needed to finish a book, as any writer will tell you, is enormous. But as a self published author, I need to market myself. Those Google alerts are killing me....every day there are a good ten articles telling me what I should be doing to get my name out there. But a morning spent blogging, tweeting, posting, not to mention being a polite networker, which means reading a lot of other people and commenting and so on, is a morning spent, well, not writing the next book, the one you hope incorprates everything you learned from writing the first one. And what if that morning is all you have for that week, in between working full time, looking after elderly parents, spending some time with your immediate family, shopping, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, paying the bills...what if that morning is all you have? I think I need to spend it doing what fuels my passion for living....writing. If there is any spare time leftover, I will do some marketing. Otherwise, I will be promoting a hollow and inauthentic self, even if that self is well connected by social media standards. Thoughts? And while I am here, may I wish everyone a splendid 2012, filled with joy, good health, and creativity.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Marketing the self-published book...divided loyalties

I am awash with divided loyalties....every day I am made aware by the flood of information about how to market my book that I am not doing everything I could! of course, I could be doing it 24 hours a day! Blogging, tweeting, networking, giving away, posting, etc etc etc. As someone pointed out on Facebook the other day -- you guys are everywhere!!! Referring to the publicity phenomenon that is Three Women/Three Books. is a nice article from Ottawa This Week.... Together, as a threesome, Jasmine Aziz, Nerys Parry and I have managed to crack the CBC (Talking Taboos), get coverage throughout the city, and show up just about everywhere we could! We are a quirky threesome, and that gets attention. We are, however, having trouble getting a review in The Citizen, with the exception of Jasmine....who says sex doesn't sell? And while we were happy to be talking the unholy triumvirate of sex, politics and religion on All in a Day, we have all tried to get a feature profile on each of our books individually without success. Are we being taken seriously as authors? Female authors? Driving home last night I enjoyed the interview with Matthew Firth on his new book of short stories on....All In A Day. Alan Neal is a brilliant interviewer. But I have had two CBC producers try to sell an interview with me on my new book, without success, and I know Nerys' publisher and Jasmine have also tried. Why is this? The last book interview I heard on All in a Day was with Mark Frutkin. I love Mark's work, but can't help but notice....another guy. Prior to that it was Frances Itani, but she is in the big leagues -- you can't ignore her. But what about supporting writers who are starting out? Hmmm. The people at The Ottawa Citizen who look after reviews are....guys. This all disturbs me...looking at reviewers in the major papers here and in the US, top heavy with men, winners of the Canada Reads contest, and so on. There seems to be a double standard. Let's hope I am wrong.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Getting reviewed: the deafening silence

Greetings gentle readers. Happy to announce that the Three Women, Three Books reading and panel discussion at Library and Archives Canada was an awesome success! I was delighted to be sharing the stage with Jasmine Aziz, author of Sex and Samosas, and Nerys Parry, author of Man and other Natural Disasters. We had a lot of excellent questions about the pros and cons of traditional vs self publishing, a lively discussion, and of course, animated readings from three very different books. So now on to reviewing. As a result of sending our press releases and backgrounders, I got a few nibbles for review copies, which I dutifully sent out. But now I have been faced with a deafening silence...everyone said they were looking forward to reading the book, and hopefully doing a review or a profile, and now....nothing. Am I too impatient? I know it isn't because of the quality of the far reader reviews have been wonderful. So why should I care? Because I want to reach people....a wider set of readers, and sometimes a good review is all it takes. More on this soon, but for now, it seems a frustrating business, after all the hooplah of the launch and the anticipated success of the book. Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Goodreads author program

Well, it has been while, as I know you are tired of hearing but I am ecstatic to report that I had a fantastic book launch at the Raw Sugar Café and I am now in the process of trying to get my book out to a wider audience. I sent out media advisories and press releases, which netted me interest from two magazines and a weekly newspaper, as well as some interest from the CBC, although in the end All in a Day did not pick it up. Oh well, once I win the Leacock, hahaha. Meanwhile, I have been checking out the Goodreads Author Program, which is great fun for booklovers everywhere -- writers, readers, reviewers, of which many of us are all three! Through this program you can participate in an online Q&A session with your readers, publicize upcoming events, share excerpts, post videos, and recommend books, among other things. Check out my profile, which is still in progress, and if you feel inclined, become a fan!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Canada Post strikes again

I have been heartened to receive emails and Facebook messages from friends across the country who want to read And the Seas Shall Turn to Lemonade. However, I had not bargained for the greed of Canada Post. My book fits nicely in a small bubble envelope, and innocently I set off to post one to a friend in the Maritimes, with an invoice for $15, the selling price of the book. Canada Post charged me $12 to post it. No express delivery. No special priority. Just regular mail. Add that to the cost for me to purchase the book for sale, and I find myself in the ridiculous position of losing money on the sale of a book. I am now going to have to rethink things. Even if I charge shipping costs, if I charged enough to make it worthwhile it brings the cost of the book into the prohibitive range. Suddenly the ebook format seems especially appealing. Which I will do eventually. But for all of you out there who want to read it in a print form, and hold the book in your hands, please order it through the following link -- it will be the best for me as the author: . Anyone with thoughts or suggestions to share in this regard? I would love to hear from you....

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amazon customer review

Well, my book is on and I now have a five star customer rating and review. Honest! But still, who really knows the book is there (except you, faithful blog readers). I have many promotional ideas but also want to ensure that if these efforts succeed, people will be able to actually walk into a bookstore and buy it. This involves the kind of thing writers hate: selling themselves. But sell I must, and apparently, I must also "populate the inventory" of if I want my book to be available there. In plain english, send them copies. And as far as book retailers such as Chapters go, there is a distribution company associated with Createspace, but the choice as to whether the retailer takes the book is up the the retailer. So it is up to me to convince that bookseller that I will bring people to their door to buy my book. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg. I have now prepared a press kit, I have a snazzy author photo, and I never leave home without ten copies in the trunk! One never knows. More soon, on the promo journey, the hardest part of this whole equation so far. And of course what I want to do now is work on novel number two, but there isn't enough time, because I am trying to sell this one. Go figure. Book launch, by the way, October 5 at the Raw Sugar Cafe in Ottawa. See you there.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It is with tremendous excitement and a slight amount of pride that I can announce today the book is out: on Amazon, in a box in my office, and on my createspace estore!!!!!!! Now it is time for shameless self promotion.....and the organizing of a book launch. I will be blogging about this too....what I learn, what works, what to avoid. At the moment it sits in a lonely virtual space it's up to me, and to you, dear readers, to change this and put Tabitha and Nathaniel into the lexicon of quirky and unforgettable Canadian characters! If you want to order a copy for a friend, or if you just can't wait for the launch, or you live out of town, or whatever, you can order from or my createspace estore, at . The good thing about the store is higher royalties for me, but Amazon sales are also good. Remember, Christmas is coming. Hahahaha. More soon -- now I am trying to discover how to get the Search Inside feature put on my book on, and also sign on for Author Central and Listmania. More soon.....with much excitement, I bid you adieu. Oh, and here is a funny story...when I was typing in my name on to see if the book was listed, I kept getting this sub-listing: Sandra Nichols found dead!!!!! I checked it out -- it is actually someone's novel -- can you believe it!!!I feel like ordering it for a, well, a souvenir????? LOL. Anyway, help keep me alive folks and order my book!!!!! Ciao....more soon on the launch date and location.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The book arrives!!!!

The actual physical book arrived, and it is a joyful thing. I can't really describe how different it is to see the thing in book form, as opposed to "flat" covers and pages.....I started to read it, since I must now approve the book itself, and it felt like a new work, something different, another life form! Createspace did a terrific job -- it looks perfect. The paper quality is excellent, all the lines are straight and even, the finishing is clean, the cover looks awesome, it is everything I could have hoped for and more. Now if the IRS would only send me my tax identification number I could be off and running....ordering copies for the launch and starting to market. I think I will get that started anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for reading my blog and keeping me honest -- couldn't have done it without that. And I have to say, about this self publishing thing -- it is an incredible high you get when you look at the book and realize you did it all yourself -- took all the chances, made the decisions, carried the process forward...fanfuckingtastic. More soon on my adventures in self promotion!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Five days to a book!

Physical proof has been shipped.....and promised within five business days. Can't wait to see it in book form. I will let you know more about the quality of the book once it arrives -- paper, cover stock, and all that cool stuff.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cover uploaded to Createspace

Hallelujah! The final pdf of the cover has been uploaded to Createspace, with the spine adjusted for the total number of pages and the spot for the barcode ready and waiting. LAST STEP BEFORE PRINTING!!!! Busy planning the launch now, which will be complete with words, music, wine and treats. And I was just interviewed on the radio, with hubby Roddy Ellias, about how we worked together to create the songs on Roddy"s latest CD, Acts of Light. Listen to CBC In Town and Out between 7 and 9 Saturday morning, July 2. Whoo hoo....and now the fun begins.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I just approved the final proofs of the interior......I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Completion is in sight.....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Interior proofs -- finito!

Createspace returned the proofs based on my corrected edited text within a week, and they look fantastic. Now we know the page count -- a respectable 220 pages -- so we can adjust the cover in terms of the spine size. Cruising in on the last few steps in terms of getting ready to print anyway. I had about 7 corrections to make, and they will make up to 20 for free. There is a standard form they provide online for corrections, but I had already put them on a separate sheet, which they accepted ( again, as a one time courtesy). Next time I will know. Next thing to adjust is the size of the space left for the barcode. I generated the barcode easily enough (the numbers) but the actual bar design I decided to leave up to them. It is a free service, but the size may be a little large. We shall see. Of course I must now take in a deep breath as I realize that the biggest challenge of all -- marketing -- awaits me now. Endless and ruthless and shameless self promotion, always a hard landscape for writers to navigate, writers being people who prefer skulking in the shadows, writing. More soon --

Friday, June 3, 2011

uploading the manuscript

After a prolonged absence, blog girl has returned. All the errors in the manuscript have been fixed, and ater Createspace kindly agreed to let me upload again, as a one-time courtesy, we are back on track. Design proofs will be sent to me made on the revised manuscript. Again, I need to reiterate that CreateSpace has been both professional and humane in allowing me to do this -- resulting in a better product for both of us. I guess it just goes to show you though how important it is to proofread again and again and again, at every stage. Still not sure how some of the errors were introduced, but I would have been heartbroken had they remained in the book, after having worked so hard to ensure the manuscript was flawless, at least as far as being grammatically correct and with the right spellings and usage of words. The rest, well, you will have to judge that for yourselves, oh gentle readers. Still aiming for a summer launch, but may wait for the fall, when I anticipate that the first draft of my second book will be done. A nice synchronicity there....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Converting from Word

Having now received the first 20 odd pages of interior formatted text from CreateSpace, I have a few words of wisdom to pass on. First, never stop proofreading! After uploading my word manuscript, which had been edited by a professional book editor, I spoke with CreateSpace about design options and ideas (where to put the page numbers, choice of fonts, font size, where to start each new chapter and so on) and waited for the first design mock up to arrive as a pdf. It looks quite good, but errors had crept in which were not in the original uploaded manuscript. Fibres had become fibbers, Sobeys had become Sobers, and so on. Also, indents changed from the original uploaded manuscript. I don't know enough about the technology to understand how this happened, but it is important to be aware of. I had blithely assumed that if it was perfect going in as a Word file, it would remain perfect after the formatting as a pdf. WRONG. So, I am accepting the kind offer of another book editor friend of mine to go over the whole thing for me to spot the new errors. This is important, because if the mistakes are the result of their formatting, they are printers errors and you will not be charged for having them corrected. If you change your mind on something however, of course these are author's alterations and you must pay for them to be fixed, and I believe CreateSpace was charging a whopping $5 per change, which could soon add up. Which all goes to show, keep proofreading throughout the process. I would have been devastated to find all these errors once the book was in print, after thinking I had done everything within my power to submit a "perfect' manuscript. On the plus side, CreateSpace has been very helpful, making suggestions for design and also responding to any and all questions. Their community space is also very helpful, with fellow self publishers responding to questions with helpful tips and personal experiences. Until the next proof....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Out of the drawer and uploaded!!!!

Good morning to everyone! My novel is actually out of the drawer and has been uploaded to CreateSpace, along with the cover! It was remarkably easy, and I am taking advantage of their current sale for interior formatting and design. The next time vampire is the IRS. Because there is normally a 30 per cent witholding tax in the US with Amazon, and because Canada has a treaty with the US so that we don't have to pay it, I need a tax identification number for the IRS, which involves a form known as W-7. I have to send that off today and hope they give me a number quickly. I am impressed with the way CreateSpace is set up, very neat and step by step, with explanations, and they have called me a number of times to set up the initial consultation on the interior design but I have always been out, so we have done it all through e-mail and my CreateSpace message centre. So far so good. There was a lengthy design questionnaire which I filled out, and I must say, I was very glad to have done some reading on the subject before I had to fill it in. Also, when I signed on with CreateSpace, they sent me a link to a downloadable book with 555 ways to promote my self published book, which seem very useful. More soon....time to start filling the empty drawer with my second novel, The Third Road, set in 1950s Malaya.

Monday, March 28, 2011

April publication?????

I am ashamed to see that it has been weeks since my last entry. However, here is the scoop. I went to Collections Canada and obtained my ISBN, free of charge, and with surprising ease!!!! The interior text has undergone a thorough proofreading. The cover is finished, and I have just discovered a free online barcode generator . Life is good. It is interesting though, with every step of the process, you hit a fork in the road. Current prongs: Canadian price for the barcode, US price, or a generic code which does not indicate price? The latter seems preferable, except the big book chains won't accept them for sale. Hmm. Also, the price itself: 12.95? 14.95? And now, should I take advantage of the current sale at CreateSpace which allows them to design the interior formatting of your book so that it matches the cover? Despite the templates, the formatting seems like the biggest hurdle for me, being completely non-technical and challenged even by how to insert tab stops. Ahem, there, the truth is out.  Questions, questions, questions. More answers soon, and I am hoping for publication in April!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Using templates

Being highly intimidated by the formatting requirements for my manuscript, I was delighted to discover cover and interior templates provided by "tinhorn" through the Lulu site. Check them out at the following link: . I was blown away by the ease of using them. I selected the size of book I wanted to publish, went to the interior template, downloaded it for free, then pasted my manuscript in it. Easy. It came out looking great. I changed the justification and the font, but it retained the sizing, as far as I can see, and also allowed me to find out the page count, which I will need to get the ISBN number. Highly recommended, especially for neophyte self publishers. I have not tried the cover templates, because I have a designer looking after the cover, but if they are as easy to use as the interior ones, go for it. Now my head is swirling with questions about the ISBN -- should I create my own or use the CreateSpace ISBN service. Issues seem to be basically -- if I create my own, and remain as the publisher, can I use the same ISBN if the book is picked up by a mainstream publisher (owing to the millions of readers I will have, ha ha ha) or will I need another one, which could screw up pricing, cataloguing, etc. Then there is the question of access to their extended distribution channels. (CreateSpace, that is). If you supply your own, you have less access. Questions questions. More soon....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog girl surfaces!

Ah, what price art? I went on a wonderful silent writing retreat at the end of November to work on my second novel, The Third Road, managed to churn out 10,000 words, then got a horrible case of bronchitis which was misdiagnosed twice and so effectively I have been out of commission for almost two months. BUT! Blog girl surfaces from the murky depths of isolation and the right antibiotics to get back in the saddle and back to the publishing extravaganza that is known as "And the seas shall turn to lemonade"! I now have a second wonderful back cover blurb from Diane Schoemperlen, and so I am good to go. Only hitch is that my graphic desgner has gone off to Costa Rica to get married (how thoughtless of him!) and so I need to work on the interior formatting while he is gone, then back to the (back) cover design once he returns. Some of my followers have suggested I look into other self publishing sites than Lulu, for example, CreateSpace, which I will, but I must confess that I have a soft spot in my heart for Lulu, as they came first, and I was impressed with their site and their dedication to producing high quality books. So, that is it for today, but I promise to be blogging more often now that I am well again!