Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Books Have Arrived!

Yesterday I received a box containing the 20 copies of my dad's book which I had ordered from Lightning Source. Now, what to do with them? Ha! I am readying copies to be mailed to one of my kind book reviewers, the Hump pilot from Texas. (My other little Navy reviewer recently lost his wife of 53 years to cancer, and has since relocated. I will let a little time pass and see if I can get a new mailing address for him.) A second book needs to be mailed to the Library of Congress, per their requirements in giving you a Library of Congress Control Number to place in the book. The Library of Congress number helps them maintain their catalog records and assists other libraries with the acquisitions of books. There is no fee charged, but you must supply them with a copy of the book when it is published. I also need to decide if I want to apply for the formal U.S. copyright. I did it with my other book - there is a $35 fee if you file online, and then you must mail them 2 copies of the book when it is printed. You have copyright protection by nature of the fact that you wrote the book, but this makes things more official and, I presume, easier to fight copyright infringement.

Then I think I will donate a book to the Delhi Historical Society and one to the Hamilton County Genealogical Society since those would both offer good exposure for the book. I also need to have some work done on my website so that the book can be purchased there as well.

I spoke with Lightning Source (LSI) about turning this book into an ebook. I did not even realize they handled ebooks until I signed up with them. Smashwords had indicated that they couldn't touch this book due to all of the images, so I was not optimistic that LSI would be able to work with it. Obviously there is no need to have it in a Kindle, Nook or other e-reader format. But it definitely would read well as a PDF on a computer or as an ePub on the iPad. My rep at LSI said that they could sell the ebook version. It is all ready to go as a PDF, though I need to assign a new ISBN number to it. And that would mean changes to the inside front matter as the ISBN is listed there. I haven't tried to do an ePub format yet, so I will have to research that some more. So much to learn!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blogging Bootcamp

As writers and/or publishers, at some point we all need to hop with both feet into social media. Blogging is a great way to start to build a following for your book, and a lot of people begin with This blog as well as my personal blog are both on the platform. It is very user friendly, proving in my case that you can teach an old dog new tricks. However when it came time to develop a blog for my passion of researching house history, I elected to go with I chose WP for a couple of reasons: 1) it looks more like a website, containing static pages as well as the pages you update more frequently, such as your blog pages; and 2) you can make sales on WP, which was important to me as I was just completing my book "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed(room)? Researching a St. Louis County, Missouri Home".

WordPress is not as friendly for newbies as, however. So when I learned that Show Me the Blog St. Louis (SMBSTL) was hosting a WordPress Blogging Bootcamp last weekend, I jumped at the chance to participate. Having attended two other workshops put on by Danyelle Little of SMBSTL, I knew my time would be well spent. More than 20 eager bloggers crammed the conference room at Nebula Coworking on South Jefferson. My head is STILL spinning from all that I learned, but I will try and summarize the points that struck home with me the most.

The first part of the workshop was conducted by Kesha Brown, founder of XD Web Solutions. Check out Kesha's website at First of all, you can set up your blog on either or With the .com site you have limited storage space, you cannot accept ads (a source of revenue for many bloggers), and you will have a long domain name. The .org site allows you to have ads, make sales, and own your web content. Both sites are free. Check out the site for lots of helpful articles. It is recommended that you grab the domain names that are pertinent to your business, such as and You will also want the .com and .net domain names of your business or the name of your book, for example.

Kesha then set us up on a WordPress blog so that we could all follow along as she went through the features offered by WordPress. This workshop was really hands-on, as we had been instructed to bring our laptops or tablets with us. It was so helpful to be able to actually do the steps as she was explaining them to us. Kesha finished up by going over her favorite plugins for WordPress.

Danyelle conducted the second part of the workshop, talking more specifically about blogging. Her suggestions for how you can get content for your blogs are as follows:
- pose questions on social media
- ask for guest bloggers
- blog on other people's sites
She also talked about using other forms of social media to increase your web presence. Twitter Tools is a plugin that will automatically upload your WordPress post to your Twitter account. Using Facebook and LinkedIn will also help build your social media rankings.

Following the workshop, I came home and made some changes to, incorporating my new-found knowledge. I still have things that need to be addressed on my WordPress site, but attending the blogging bootcamp gave me the confidence I need to not be intimidated by my own website!

This fall Show Me the Blog St. Louis will be offering a two day blogging workshop in St. Louis. You can find the details here. I highly recommend attending this extremely reasonable event. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Price is Right

After discussing my book price with my representative at Lightning Source (LSI), as well as showing the proof to a couple of established authors, I decided to leave the book price at $9.95 for right now. As one author pointed out, I will be discounting the book 55% for all wholesale outlets, so I need to make sure I make something off of each book once the printing costs are taken into consideration. Not to mention trying to recoup the cost of layout and design fees. My Lightning Source rep said he is very interested in WWII history, and because this book is high quality, he would not hesitate to pay $9.95 for it. (Hope he puts his money where his mouth is!)

The next decision I had to make was how many copies to order for myself. I get the books greatly discounted from LSI, in fact much less than I anticipated. I know I could not have gotten them printed in St. Louis for this price. I decided to start with an order of 20 copies since I had to pay for postage and it wasn't that much more to ship 20 than to ship 10. I know I will easily sell 10 to my family members, and I will be marketing the books to some Cincinnati retail outlets as well. I also need to mail one copy to the Library of Congress as required by my application for a Library of Congress number.

With regards to my account and my ebook Keys to Unlocking House History, I am still waiting to be approved for the premium catalog. Normally this takes two weeks, and I resubmitted for inclusion on June 15th. I was hoping that since this was a re-submission and that I hired a designer familiar with smashwords to make the changes, I would breeze through a second time. Apparently not.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Much is Too Much?

Well, the proof of my dad's book arrived yesterday at 5:15, thanks to my trusty UPS man in brown. My first impression was, "Man this box is small!" My second was, "Man this book is small!" After a quick glance at the cover (which looks great!), I had to set the book aside because I was in the middle of an online chat with my daughter in Prague. After that I had to prepare supper, eat and do the clean up. Then I sat down to look at the book. I am seriously concerned that I have priced the book too high at $9.95.

Before deciding on a price I went to the bookstore to look at other books in this genre and of a similar size. Most of them carried a higher price tag. I also knew what my expenses were on the book, except for the price that Lightning Source will charge me to buy my own. I also know how much time I put into scanning documents, doing the research, and writing the book. There are some fantastic historical documents that appear in the book, and some of them can't be found anywhere else. The price seemed fair at the time. But now when I look at the size, I am not so sure that people will be willing to pay that much for it.

It is not a done deal yet. I could send the book back to the designer, and she could modify the price that is listed on the order form inside the book as well as in the bar code on the back cover. This, of course, would incur additional expenses. Or I could try the book at this price and if it doesn't sell, then make the changes. And any books I sell myself can obviously be sold at whatever price I want. I could make the audience feel that I am giving them a real break. I think I will bounce the whole price thing off of some other authors and book sellers before I make a decision.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Today I received the revised copy of Keys to Unlocking House History from my Smashwords formatting wizardess, along with an invoice for $20. Really? I spent more than $20 trying to decipher the Smashwords manual. I know who is getting all of my future ebooks for formatting. I uploaded the revised document to Smashwords and it flew right through the first acceptance level. Hopefully this will put the book on a fast track to get in their premium catalog.

I also learned today that the proof of From Buckeye to G.I. has been mailed to me, and I should be receiving it tomorrow. I am very excited to see the print quality of Lightning Source, and to learn about their distribution channels. I really don't intend to purchase too many copies for direct sales - probably just enough for my family and perhaps the Delhi Historical Society and veteran's association in Delhi (which is where my father lived). I do wish that I had targeted completion of this book to coincide with Memorial Day. That would have been a good launch day for it. Unlike my house history research book, I am not sure that this book lends itself to speaking engagements. Unless I tailored the presentation to the importance of documenting the stories of the WWII vets before it is too late?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wait for it

Saturday evening I uploaded From Buckeye to G.I. to the Lightning Source website. I did not receive any error messages, so I assumed it uploaded okay. And while I had previously received an email from LSI with a listing of all of my contacts there (wow, I feel so special!), none of those esteemed contacts had emailed me to say there is a problem. What I was expecting, though, was an email advising me that the proof was ready. On a whim, I went into my LSI account and found that they were waiting for me to tell them how I wanted to pay for the proof, and to verify the mailing address. Whether that means the proof is ready to be shipped or they will now prepare the proof, I am not sure. I certainly thought with all the legions of paperwork I completed, including those entailing how I would pay and how I wish to be paid, my payment on the proof would be self-evident. Not! So now I wait for it...

On the ebook front, I found a woman willing to make the appropriate changes to Keys to Unlocking House History so that it can be included in Smashwords premium catalog. She said she will be able to get to it this week since the book is so short and there were only a couple of things that needed to be corrected. She attempted to explain to me what Smashwords e-geek speak was saying, but she may as well have been writing in Greek. For $20 or $30, I am going to let the pros do their thing with all upcoming books.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not So Lightning Fast

Approval of my account with Lightning Source (LSI) finally arrived today. This was after emails going back and forth on completion of online forms, downloading of multiple documents requiring signatures, and faxing forms back to LSI. In talking with more established LSI clients, apparently this is all new as they never had to complete all the paperwork or experienced any delays. My word to the wise is to apply for an account with LSI well before you are ready to send a book to them for printing.

Having just downloaded the six page document on uploading my book, the next step is to see if I can make that happen. I am hoping there is something in there about uploading large files, because I had problems sending the book back and forth to my designer.

On the ebook front, I was informed by Smashwords yesterday that there are two problems with "Key to Unlocking House History", preventing it from getting into their premium catalog. One has to do with Heading formatting and the other to do with NCX for the e-pub format. Googling these two items resulted in me understanding that I have absolutely no idea have to fix the first problem, and no idea what the second problem actually is. So I have emailed one of the ebook conversion specialists recommended by Mark Coker to see if she will take this on, and how much it will cost me. I am definitely learning something new every day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Cover Up

My new go-to cover designer should be sending me a copy of the cover of my dad's book this weekend. She was going to work with the cover Katie came up with and somehow marry it with the spine and the back of the book. I am excited to see how it looks. She was complimentary of Katie's design, so that was good to hear. Of course, she could have just been trying to be nice, but I did ask her for her opinion and said modifications could be made to it.

I am still waiting for Lightning Source (LS) to approve me as a publisher. They sent me an email with a bunch of questions I had to answer, like how many books do I intend to publish with them in the next year? and will the books be print ready or would I need design assistance from them? I didn't realize that they were in the position to be so picky. Maybe they are only accepting publishers who will do a lot of books. If so, I'll need to explore my options. Perhaps Createspace? When this book is finally ready to go to print I don't want it languishing because LS can't decide it they want me or not.