Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I ask the question
Why did he have to die?
So young
So much ahead
So little behind
No answers
Just sadness
My heart shatters

Monday, January 14, 2013

CreateSpace Part Three

From Buckeye to G.I. cover
On Saturday I received the proof of From Buckeye to G.I. from CreateSpace. The first thing I noticed was the color and trim of the cover. The color was a little lighter than the original book, but I actually like it better. And they managed to trim the cover so that the border is equal around all four sides - something that Lightning Source seemed unable to accomplish. So far, so good. Then I opened up the book and found the pictures, illustrations and even the text of the book to be considerably lighter than they appear in the original book. I already have a challenge with the photos and illustrations due to the fact that the scanned documents were over 50 years old. I don't need the printing to add to the problem.

I contacted CreateSpace on Sunday to inquire about the issue. Today I received a response that basically said there is nothing they can change, and perhaps I need to rescan all my documents to a higher resolution and resubmit the book. Since there are 144 of them in the book, there is no way I am doing what they suggest. They were all originally scanned at 300 dpi, which is acceptable for printing. Funny how Lightning Source didn't seem to have any problems with them.

So the question is, am I being too picky about this? Is it sort of like the television sets at Best Buy, where you can definitely tell the difference in resolution when you see them all side by side but when you get yours home it looks perfectly fine? I think I will have some other people take a look at the book to get some impartial feedback.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Questions to Ask a Book Coach or Ghost Writer

Kim Wolterman & Bobbi Linkemer
Today I am excited to share a guest post by Bobbi Linkemer discussing things to consider when approaching a book coach or ghost writer for your book. Bobbi and I met in 2007 when I took her class on writing and publishing non-fiction books at the community college. She became my mentor as I wrote and published my first book, and she has some great advice for writers.

What to Do Before You Meet with a Book Coach or Ghostwriter
by Bobbi Linkemer

Thinking about writing a book is romantic. You have a message to convey, or you know a lot about a particular subject, or you are certain your own life story would inspire others. Maybe people have been telling you for years, "Oh, you really should write a book!"  

Perhaps you have also read that publishing a book is easier now than it has ever been, which is good news for fledgling authors. If you are really excited about writing a book, you may just sit down and begin. On the other hand, you may realize that you could use a little direction. 
So, you surf the Web, looking for a book-writing coach or ghostwriter; the search engine provides you with many choices. You explore, choose one, and call or email that person with your idea.  Everything I have just described is almost intuitive. You have an idea, you need help, you Google the kind of help you need, and you follow up.   

As a book coach and ghostwriter, I meet with many aspiring authors whom, at first, are overwhelmed by the whole writing-publishing-promoting process. Trying to grasp all the steps involved in bringing a book to fruition can be daunting. My advice: Be prepared. Before you meet (by phone, on Skype, or in person) with the book expert you have chosen, do your homework. 

Then, you can participate in a two-way conversation about your book and your goals instead of swimming around in a sea of confusion. If you invest your time and energy on the front end, you are more likely to find your first meeting not only educational but also energizing.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:  

  1. Am I really committed to this project?
It's no exaggeration to say you have to be in love with your idea, because it takes real love, not to mention a long attention span, to see this through to the end. Pick up any book you like and think about what went into creating it. 
  1. What kind of help do I need? 
Here, the answer is fairly straightforward. If you want to write your own book or have written it and want it polished and readied for print, you need an editor. If you want to write your own book but want someone to hold your hand all the way through it, you need a book coach. If you have a solid idea but don't want to write it, for whatever reason, you need a ghostwriter.
  1. Is my idea solid enough for a book?
There is a way to find out, short of writing a full-blown book proposal: Answer ten basic questions. If you give them serious thought and research the ones you don't know, you should have a pretty good idea of whether you have a viable book idea. It is better know up front than after you have written the whole thing. 
  1. Do I understand the book-writing process?
There are six steps involved in taking a book from concept to completion. Each one is important—a link in the chain. If you are unfamiliar with these steps, read a book on the subject. There are many books on Amazon and in the public library. Here is one suggestion: How to Write a Nonfiction Book: From planning to promotion in 6 simple steps.  

  1. Where am I in that process?
Once you have a sense of the six steps, you will be able to identify where you are and whether you have missed any steps along the way. Many new authors begin on the second step, which is writing. That means you haven't worked your way through planning, which is essential. Read up on planning to see why you should do it first.  

  1. How do I want to publish my book?
This question may seem premature if you are at the beginning of the process, but it is something to think about. As you may have read, you do have several options. The two main ones are traditional publishing and self-publishing. Within each, there are more choices, but it's a good idea to choose one of these alternatives for starters. 
  1. Do I have a budget? How much can I afford to spend?
If you have no idea of the costs associated with book coaching, ghostwriting, or editing, this can be a difficult area for you; but if you have a ballpark figure in mind, it will help. Suggestion: Start at $5,000, just to be on the safe side, though ghostwriting fees will be higher.  

  1. Am I willing to spend months of time marketing my book?
Writing a book is only half the equation; the other half is publishing and promotion. No matter how you publish your book—traditionally or by yourself—you are responsible for promotion. A traditional publisher may provide some marketing assistance, but ultimately, either you get the word out or your book remains a well-kept secret. 

These questions are important for your own understanding, as well as to prepare you for meeting with the expert you have selected. A book coach, ghostwriter, or editor would ask the same questions. Without advanced preparation, you probably wouldn't be able to answer them. Now, you can; and even if you don't end up working with this person, you will both gain something from your conversation.   

About Bobbi Linkemer
Bobbi Linkemer is a ghostwriter, editor, and the author of 16 books under her own name. She has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a book-writing teacher. Her clients range from Fortune 100 companies to individuals who want to write books to enhance their credibility and build their businesses.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

CreateSpace Part Two

After I wrote the last post I received an email from CreateSpace indicating that there was a problem with my book cover. Here is what they said:

The cover contains transparency which is flattened during our processing and may result in a slight change in appearance.
The cover contains images that are less than 200 DPI which may appear blurry or pixelated when printed. For more information on image resolution, please visit:
The cover contained spine text that has been removed as we cannot accommodate the inclusion of spine text for books with less than 101 pages as the text will likely wrap to the front or back cover. We recommend you review a physical proof of your book to ensure you are satisfied with the adjustments made. Otherwise, you may remove the spine text on your original file and resubmit it for publishing.

Because I had worked with a professional book designer on both the interior and cover designs for my book, I was pretty surprised that they said an image on the cover was less than 200 DPI. And I was a bit concerned that they had removed the text from the book spine, mostly because I was worried about what it would look like. Did they leave the graphic (for lack of a better word) that was under the text? Or did they replace the spine with a solid color? I shot off an email to CreateSpace regarding the spine, and I had a response in less than 24 hours. Essentially they leave the spine just like you sent it to them; they simply remove the text. With that reassurance, I ordered a proof yesterday. (You can view on online proof at no charge right away, but that doesn't give you any idea about the actual printing quality.) Last evening I received an email that the proof had been mailed to me. The cost of seeing a print proof was $2.15 plus $3.59 for shipping. The local printer who did my first run of books charged me $35 for set-up and a proof, and the unit price per book was higher as well.

From Buckeye to G.I. book cover
While I was on a roll with CreateSpace I decided to go ahead and submit From Buckeye to G.I. LeRoy C. Kubler The War Years, 1942-1945. Originally I went through Lightning Source for this book because they could print the books out as they were ordered, and I wouldn't need to keep a bunch of books at my house. Also they have an expanded distribution system and can supply books to Amazon, among other places. However Amazon doesn't work that well with Lightning Source (or other competitors), and in my case the book always shows a 1 to 2 week shipping date. In this day and age of immediate gratification, most people will just move on to the next book rather than wait.

I received a couple of minor error messages on formatting (shame on you, my original book designer who set it up this way), but with Adobe Acrobat Pro I was able to correct them myself. Then I resubmitted the PDF and got an approval back from CreateSpace. I ordered a proof copy, which was the same price as my other book, and it was put in the mail to me today. In summary, I would say that my experience with CreateSpace has been quite favorable so far. But let's see what the proofs look like - as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Or perhaps I should say the pudding is in the proof?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Working with CreateSpace

In a previous post I talked about the fact that Amazon does not always play nicely with others in the publishing sandbox. Take my book Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home as an example. I published this book in 2009, using a local printer in St. Louis. While Amazon.com is aware that the book exists, it shows up as follows:

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Amazon page
The page indicates that two copies of the book are available from third-party sellers for $99.35 each! And they are used copies at that!

If you want to sell books on Amazon, there are ways to get around this issue. You can set up your own store on Amazon to sell the books, or you can go through their Advantage program and have them sell and ship the books for you. There are pros and cons to both of these options, which you can read about here. Since I don't want to get involved in shipping books, either directly to the buyer or to Amazon itself, I elected to go through their CreateSpace option to get Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? available on Amazon. In this scenario you set up a CreateSpace account, upload your book and its cover, and the books are printed and shipped by Amazon as they are ordered. There are no fees involved for creating an account or setting up your title unless you opt to use any of their services.

Because I had already printed my book in the past, I had PDFs of both the cover design and the interior of the book readily available. It was extremely easy to walk through the steps provided on the CreateSpace website to upload the book and the cover. Their system advised me of two possible problems with my book's interior (both involving low photo resolution) and gave me the option to fix those before continuing. At this point the ball is in their court as I await their review. Following approval, they will send me a printed copy of the book for my review. Assuming it looks good, the book will go live on their website. I am not anticipating huge sales due to the narrow scope of the book, but it is nice to have an alternative place for people to be able to buy the book.

The most interesting thing about the whole process this morning? When I completed the uploading I was immediately taken to a page to set the book up on Kindle Direct Publishing as an ebook. Another great marketing strategy by Amazon! Because I have already published the ebook Keys to Unlocking House History, I probably will not set Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? up as an ebook as well. But it certainly seems like it would be simple to accomplish.

For now I wait to see what the folks at CreateSpace come back with - hopefully I won't be eating my words about how easy this has been!