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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Trailer for "The Amazing Adventures of Toby the Trilby"

This is the Book Trailer for one of my fellow Scribophile members. I had the opportunity to critique this book while she was preparing it for publication and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I thought I would share.

 Its Hump Day!

Reading List: Cozy Book Hop

Another Blog Review to Check Out!

Ellie at Wellies, Crochet, & Cows is the latest in the string of bloggers to review my book. Yes, sirree, she is the second one! (I didn't say it was a long string of bloggers, just a string)

Please stop by and check out her blog!

I'm still actively courting bloggers to review my book but if the reviews you have seen so far have you sold, you can purchase it on Amazon now by following the links below.

The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Author Update!

We are a few days away from the two month anniversary for my first self-published novel.

The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts

So I thought it would be good to step back and look at how things are going, if only to illustrate how much of a waiting game self-publishing is. 

This is a quick statistical report, just the facts ma'am, and all that good stuff. 

Reviews on Amazon not from Family-1 
Number of Ebooks Sold-10
Number of Paperbacks Sold-4
Number of Paperbacks Gifted-2
Number of Ebooks Gifted-3
Total Profit So Far-Roughly $5

So none of those numbers look all that impressive (especially the $5 part), but hey, I know for a fact that my book has been read by people who aren't me, who may not even be friends or relations, and I've walked with a special "published author" spring in my step. 

I'm well ahead of schedule in my quest to get Dragon's Curse to the presses. I had originally hoped to have it available by next summer, but unless I decide to do some major overhauling (which so far I have not seen the need for), I think I might be able to have it up on Amazon by Christmas. If anyone is interested in an advance copy (in PDF form), email me at hlgstrider@gmail.com. I am interested in both honest critiques and any social media shout outs  you might be able to give my work in advance.

Claire the Collector

If you have ever parented or spent a lot of time around a toddler, then you are probably familiar with toddler gifts. Usually they are worthless objects (scraps of paper or a pebble). Occasionally they are kind of gross (partially chewed, soggy cookie or something completely unidentifiable they picked up off the sidewalk). To that baby, however, they are priceless and important and because they love you, they want you to have them.

Today while we were waiting in a parking lot, Claire Bear started amassing a large selection of such gifts. She gave me a pebble. Then an acorn. Then a tiny white feather. Eventually it became too much for me to hold in one hand and since I didn't have any place to put them, I started lining them up on the curb. She seemed to like this, maybe she felt they were properly on display there, because she continued to add to the collection but now she put the treasures down on the curb rather than handing them directly to me. Then she sat down and admired them.

Of course, she eventually ended up putting things in her mouth.

But I still loved her artful little collection of leaves, rocks, and other natural things she found to be special and beautiful.

Have you ever received a special gift from a toddler?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Editing is a Cruel Cycle

As an author, once a book is finished, there is this honeymoon period where everything you wrote is perfect, but eventually that ends and you have to actually get some work done. I've outlined how this works in three easy steps.

1. At first your book is still your perfect baby, but you  suspect that there is something that could make it better, perhaps some spelling to correct, so you dive in.

2. Two usually hits about the same time you get some "constructive" feed back. No matter how constructive feed back is, anything but, "OH MY GOSH! THIS BOOK IS PERFECT! HOW IS IT NOT A BESTSELLER WITH A MOVIE DEAL RIGHT NOW?" pains me. Some authors are notoriously bad about accepting criticism but still manage to produce masterpieces. Tolkien sometimes responded to mild suggestions by scrapping everything and starting over again. Sometimes it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is a lot of work, after all.

3. But eventually, you stop dragging your feet and you make changes. You rewrite scenes. You cut and polish and you ask for another opinion. It is starting to look pretty darn good again!

Which generally  starts the whole dang process over again.

Reading List: Cozy Reading Spot

Monday, September 23, 2013

Doctor Who Easy Reader: Part Two

Another chapter in the on going saga of a girl and her Doctor (check out part one here).

Coryn sees someone.

"Someone is here," she says. "It is the Doctor. The Doctor is my friend."

"Hello," says the Doctor. "I am looking for an alien. He is small. He has ten hands. He ran away. Have you seen my alien?"

"No," says Coryn. "I have not."

"Is he under your bed?" asks the Doctor.

"No, he is not. Just a cat."

"Is he in the yard?"

"No, he is not. Just a dog."

"Is he on the car?"

"Yes, there he is. A small alien with ten hands is on the car."

The Doctor goes to get him. The alien hits the Doctor.


"Oh no!" says the Doctor. "This alien is slap happy!"


The alien hits the Doctor's chin.

"Ouch!" says the Doctor. "You little Dalek!"

"Stop, alien!" says Coryn. "Do not slap and smack. It is not nice."

The alien looks sad.

"Sorry," he says. "I  just want to play. Can I go for a ride in your big blue box?"

"Yes," says the Doctor. "Let us go."

The End

For now. . .

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reviews and Writing: Small Victories for the Self-Published Author

Today, as I was preparing to post about something else, I happened to click on my self-published novel on Amazon and, low and behold, another review! What's more, I have no idea who Cheryl K. Saiki is! I'm not related to her. As far as I know we have never met in real life and if we've bumped into each other on the world wide web, she never took the time to tell me her real name (I will admit to having online acquaintances who I only know by screen names, so it is possible). And yet, in spite of this lack of familiarity, she not only purchased and read my book, she gave it FOUR STARS! 

I know her review title only says "pretty good" but as far as I'm concerned, that's high praise because, come on, four stars! I just started this self-publishing thing and little victories like this make me feel like a superstar!

You can read the full review (and also purchase my book as a paperback or ebook) on Amazon. I know it is cut off in the picture. You really want to know what the rest of that cut off sentence says, don't you? You really want to go to Amazon and read the rest, don't you? You really really want to purchase the books, share links, and review it with glowing praise (Are you susceptible to hypnotism? Am I getting to you yet?)!

So click on the link above to view the review on Amazon. 

In other news, I got my first blogger review (full disclosure, I gave her a free ebook). You can read that here, on Carolynn's blog "Kitty Adventures." I am still searching for bloggers who would be willing to read and review my book. Only two have responded (Carolynn being one of them), but if you are a blogger who is interested in reading my book and would consider doing a review on your blog or another platform you  can check out my post requesting reviewers here or email me at hlgstrider@gmail.com for details. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Getting Critiques: Scribophile!

I have posted so often lately about the woes of editing and the difficulty finding people to honestly critique your work that I know I'm repeating myself. Who do you trust? Where do you go?

As with most things, I ended up turning to the Grand High Most Ruler of the Interwebs!

The Googles.

A few clicks on Google links later and I stumbled onto Scribophile. If any or my readers are on this site already, go  ahead a favorite me. We can maybe trade reviews.

Scribophile is an online writing community where you can post works for critique and comment and critique and comment on the works of others. Now before you go getting all excited and rush off to post your entire 400 page Great American Novel and have other writers swarm to read and praise your work, take a deep breath and prepare to work for your readers.

And I do mean work.

After you join Scribophile, you are probably going to want to complete your profile and poke around the site, and you are definitely going to long to post some work for critiques, but you can't. Not yet. You have to earn the ability to post works by reviewing the works of others.

go go magic paint skills!
They do have a paid subscription service (I think it was $75 a year, not awful, but not something I'm interested in right now) that allows you to post more works for less points or gain points faster or something . . . I kind of stopped reading after the $75 part. Have I mentioned before that I am cheap? I marked that with a yellow arrow so you could see it.

Inside the pink oval are my current "karma points," a measly 1.32 (it takes 5 points to post a 3000 word chapter or excerpt) so I'm a ways from being able to post another piece. This section where you can view your points is also where you can go to edit your profile, look at the writing you've posted so far, or post another piece when you have gained enough points.

So since you have to read before you can share, let's go check out that page. On the top of whatever page you happen to be on, you will see a tab that says "writing." Click on that and you should get to the page pictured below:

These are the works that are currently in the spotlight. A spotlight piece is one that has either been recently posted and has not received its first three reviews or which the author has used premium services to put into the spotlight. It is worth more points to review a spotlight piece than a regular piece, so I would suggest starting with one if at all possible.

Now, if you remember me speaking about "genre bias" in a previous piece, you should know that this bites both ways. Look inside my red ellipse. You see that the first piece listed is "Novel, Paranormal, Young Adult."

When you post for your piece you have to select the form of writing it is (novel, short story, script, memoir, etc) and then you are allowed to pick two "genres" (I really wanted to pick three, but I'm difficult that way). As you can see, Robin Pletcher writes paranormal, young adult fiction (at least in this instance). If that is not your cup of tea, do not click on it and critique it saying, "I like it but all this paranormal stuff isn't my cup of tea. You should have less of it."

She  (he? I think that's a girl in the profile picture but you know about assuming. . .) is intentionally writing Paranormal Fiction. She wants critiques from people who like paranormal fiction. You are not her intended audience. Stay away. Your critique will not be helpful to her and will squander one of the three critiques she gets before her work leaves the spot light.

If you are extremely picky about your genre fiction, there is a browse by genre menu at the top of the screen. Go ahead and click on that, pick the genre you are interested in writing and reading about, and go for it. This will not only make sure that your critiques are useful to other authors but will put you in contact with writers who have the same tastes as you which will lead to them noticing your work and you getting better critiques when your turn comes.

They have pretty much every genre and groups devoted to Christian writers, erotica writers (Oh my! Adult content is supposed to be indicated, so if you are like me and don't like reading a lot of sex, violence, and f-bombs, take heart and  just watch out for the "adult content"  label), and even some gaming enthusiasts (green oval). You may have to sacrifice your "bonus points" if you can't find something spotlighted that is in your genre, but you are overall better off having to review a few more things you can give insightful input on than just reviewing one thing you don't really care for and being half-hearted about it.

Oh, and the blue arrow! You have to post your work 3000 words at a time, so most people do it in chapters. It can be difficult to judge a piece half way through, but don't be afraid to jump in to a critique midway through a book (especially if you can't find a "chapter one" you are interested in). They have chapter summaries and other tools to help you decipher what is going on. If you really like a piece, you might want to click on that author's writing and see if she has the earlier chapters up for review (usually they will have fallen out of the spotlight but there is a good chance they are still on her board. They will be worth reduced points, but the writer will probably appreciate you bringing up their neglected pieces for another look and if you are enjoying the piece, it can actually start to be an enjoyable experience, starting from the beginning).

I blurred out  names and faces because I didn't ask permission to use them.
 Remember two paragraphs ago when I said that reviewing authors with similar taste/styles will get you better critiques? That is because they get what you are trying to do. They are probably  fans of the same genre (authors can also post their favorite writers on their profile page which is a good thing to look at) and will hopefully understand where you are coming from.

The first two authors whose works I critiqued I'm going to call "Gray" and "Blue," both wrote me on my profile's "scratchpad" letting me know that they appreciated my critique and would be willing to review  my work in turn when it was posted. They both kept their promise and those are two of the three critiques I have received so far. They were also the most helpful of my critiques as the third person, I feel, didn't really get the character of the Dragon and wanted me to make him more sinister/suspicious. You have to choose who to listen to, and the writers that you have read and had positive input about are going to be the ones whose opinions you respect the most.

And you do have to pick and choose because your readers are not going to always agree. For example?

This reader did not like this description at all. 
The reader (Gray from above) went out her way to tell me that the exact same passage was "lovely."

Which am I going to agree with?

Well, I am already biased towards the positive review, but I have been reading Gray's work (it is honestly my favorite on the site so far. I'm about to tell her that if she does self-publish as she intends to I'll feature it on my blog etc), and I think her writing is more in line with what I like. That is why I'm more inclined to accept her negative along with her positive and that is why when she disagrees with reviewer 1 (who I have not had the time to look up yet to see what he writes), I'm more inclined to agree with her.

I finally got some useful feed back and words like "lovely description" are thrilling my little writer's heart. Also  the other writer, Blue, I mentioned posted this:

Yes, it is technically criticism but it is the very definition of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. This I can use. This is something I can work with. Yes, it means I have work to do, but I know what that work will be and I'M EXCITED!


So in conclusion: Scribophile is a lot of work, but it is also very useful. I can't wait to earn more points and post more work!

Oh, a note, if you are really concerned about people being "mean" to your work, the site has a lot of guidelines against non-constructive or nasty reviewing. You are allowed to rate reviews to say whether they are constructive or not and flag reviews you feel are not helpful. Because of this, a person who is on this site just to be nasty would not last very long, so while you will have to be willing to stomach criticism, you should not have to deal with trolls who may lurk on less structured review sites.

EDIT: I just wanted to come back and add in the one major disadvantage I have found to a free account verses a paid account: you can only post two chapters up for critique at a time.

Now on one hand this is annoying. However, you can work around it. If you have already received enough critiques on a chapter to give you an idea of what needs to be done, simply print up the critiques (or copy/paste them into a file on your computer, write them down in a notebook, etc), and delete the chapter. You can post it again after you've done the suggested edit and get new feed back or you can post a later chapter in its place.

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Diana Rambles: Pin Me Party

Amanda’s Books and More

The Chicken Chick

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Editing Woes

Last night, right before bedtime, I was typing away on my laptop, writing out a pivotal scene that involved a character fending off a knife wielding attacker. Matt climbed into bed next to me and glanced over.

"Do you want to hear it? It's the scene I asked your advice for."
"My advice?"
"Yeah, remember, when I asked you how you would fend off a knife wielding attacker who tries to surprise you from behind if you were unarmed?"

I have a husband who has been trained by the US  government in multiple forms of combat, so I recently decided to start taking advantage of his expertise. Plus he reads a lot of fiction that involves fights and battles and the like.

"Yeah, and I said I'd stomp down on his foot to break his instep."
"That's what I did. Do you want to hear it?"

So I  read him the three or four paragraph section.

"What do you think?"
"It's too wordy."
"Yes, a fight scene should be less wordy and more violent."
"My intended audience isn't as bloodthirsty as you are."
"Still, even for your intended audience, it is kind of wordy."

I asked him to indicate a part of it that could be eliminated, cut out a sentence, and sulked about how he refuses to edit my work because it isn't his genre (Admittedly, he is not my intended audience AT ALL, but I still think he could put up with my sappy love story at least long enough to give me some constructive criticism. He read the first installment and gave me some vague comments, but nothing really helpful.).

As I have mentioned once or twice before it is hard to get opinions on your work and editing on my own always feels like plucking my eyebrows, both because it is mildly painful  and because I'm always afraid I'm taking away too much.

There is also the word count issue, and this one is a little silly. A traditional length for a novel is 50,000 words. It is the length set for the NaNoWriMo challenge and while a lot of novels are longer, you don't see a ton that are shorter.

Dragon's Curse currently sits at 52,780. That includes chapter headings and dedication and all the non-story stuff too. I'm a little worried that it can't afford to loose too many words. It's such a thin little novel. It feels wrong to put it on a word diet.

Still, if the words aren't needed, I really shouldn't have them, right? Even if they pad my word count.

I went on a bit of a "well that's my writing style" sulk for a bit too, but I know that isn't really an excuse. It's like saying bad grammar or incomprehensible sentences are your writing style. You can't just embrace an obvious fault and move on. I do think that there is a place for "sparse" writing and a place for wordier descriptive pieces, but my problem is more rambling than describing. I take a sentence and I stretch it out and twist it around and add clauses and commas and a lot of it is me saying the same thing in a different way because I like how both ways sounds and want to use both, which really isn't necessary (and which I kind of just did with the sentence you just read).

I returned the book to the library and can't find it on the interwebs, so I don't have the exact quote, but Neil Gaiman wrote in his introduction to The Thirteen Clocks that he used to pretend he had to pay for his words rather than think he was being paid for them so that he only used the most essential. If an award winning, internationally beloved  writer of such classics as Coraline, (my personal favorite. I haven't read everything he has read, just Stardust, Neverwhere, and the Graveyard Book, oh and watched his two episodes of Doctor Who. . .), anyway, if that guy has advice on how to write, it is kind of conceited to ignore it and say, "Well that may work for you Huge, Newbery, and Carnegie Medal Award Winner Neil Gaiman, but I'm going to do it THIS WAY!"

So what to do?

My first instinct is to print up a copy and go through and red line every word I can't justify. My second is that I desperately need a second opinion. This is what professional writers have editors for! But I'm on my own for the most part. No one is getting paid to work on my stuff.

I recently joined Scribofile which is an online writers critique community, but you have to give critiques to earn the right to post works to be critiqued, and I haven't had time to really do this (if I do critique something, I take it seriously. I don't just do a read through and give some half-hearted good/okay/whatever at the end.).

In my wildest dreams Neil Gaiman would see this and loan me one of his editors, but if Neil Gaiman jumped every time he was mentioned on the internet he'd be like one of those super bouncy balls constantly "boing, boing, boinging" around the world. 

So the question is, how ruthless with the red pen am I going to be this time?

 Its Hump Day!

Wordless Wednesday: Quiet Claire

Last week some sort of sickness ran through our family. It hit all of us to different degrees. Matt stayed in bed all day and couldn't keep any food down. Claire had a fever a few days later and was lethargic all day. Coryn only got cold like symptoms and I got those plus a day long head ache.

It feels awful every time we say it, but Matt and I agree, Claire is so sweet when she is sick. When well she is a trouble making busy bee, but add a cold or a flu and she melts into your arms and sits still for hours, holding the bear she picked out from a thrift store a few weeks ago who is now her "mostly companion."She is quite cuddly and calm.

We are all better now except all of have a lingering cough. I hate coughs.

Amanda’s Books and More
Wordless Wednesday Hop
Jenny Evolution

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Self-Publishing With Create Space

I chose Create Space for my self-publishing ventures because they allow you to make your self-published work available in paperback form with no sneaky charges. Though there are several options for paid services (for editing, professional cover design, marketing promotions, etc), none of these are required and unless you  are very bad at reading, it will be obvious to you which services are free and which involve a charge and you can choose to avoid any extra costs.

The only "non-free" option I chose was ordering a physical proof which cost me only $7 late in the process. I found this to be a worthwhile expense. Others might choose to go with the "electronic proof" they provide for free.

So, let's get started!
Once you have gone to Create Space's website and signed up you will have what is called a "Member Dashboard."

We can play around here another day, but I'm going to get right into book creating fast lane!

I currently have two projects on my Member Dashboard (for the sake of expedience, I'll be showing you screenshots from the Dragon's Curse project). As you can see one is "Incomplete" and the other is "Available."  Even when you novel is "available" meaning people can go to Amazon and order it or you can order copies for yourself, you can still go and make adjustments to any of the sections you desire (with a few exceptions such as the ISBN which once assigned cannot be changed).

As my professionally added black arrow shows you, at this point you want to push "Add New Title" so you can get started.

Here we are on the "Title Information" page. If you are familiar with online forms in general, most of this is going to be easy for you. Things marked with an asterisk (*) are required. Things without this mark are optional.

The only part of this page that was confusing to me, personally, was the "Add Contributors" bit. I left it blank the first time and the page told me "You must have at least one contributor." I  had assumed since they have a box for "primary author" that was that, but you also need to select "Authored by" from the contributors drop down menu and put your name in that box as well.

In the case of Dragon's Curse I had my cover art worked on by another individual, so this is one place I need to give her credit.

Other people you may want to give "contributor" credit to include people who gave editing help, wrote a prologue for you, or provided you with research, etc. The drop down menu has a ton  of options.

The next page is for your ISBN. I'm not an expert on this by any means, so here is a link to wikipedia. Your book cannot finish the process without an ISBN and Create Space with assign you one for free if you like. I chose to go with this. If you already registered your work somewhere else, you can type in your existing ISBN. Let's move on to the next screen where I have some more input to give.

Here is the first screen that is going to involve an investment of time. Here you have several options for your book's layout. They recommend the 6''x9'' size. You can flip through the options if you would like.

Now, at this point, you kind of need a book to work with. Up until this point, you could  just have had an idea for a book, but here is where they want you  to upload a file. I do recommend downloading their template (inside the green ellipse I so cleverly placed for you). It will automatically set margins for you to their specifications. If you are very good with Word and like to do things manually, that is great, but to me that is kind of reinventing the wheel. If you already have a formatted, ready to go novel, however, click the "Upload your Book File" box (marked by  a black arrow. My paint skills are so ridiculously 1337).

Here, in the red oval, is one of the first instances of "professional services" they will offer you for a serious financial investment. For a little under $400 you can have them professionally format and design your book. Now, there are reasons for these services, and they don't really apply  to a self-published novelist, in my opinion.

A lot of Create Space users are not traditional writers. They are, instead, people who may want a book to give as a gift, as a marketing tool, or even as part of a resume. These people are more interested in having something that looks professional than actually making money and chances are they are writing off the cost of editing as a "business expense" anyway. It just impresses people to have a book with your name on it and whether you are a college professor or a real estate agent, being an author can be a big star on a resume.

So if you have a prepared manuscript file at this point, click upload, select the file from your computer, and then click save. This will start the automatic checker which will look for anything blatantly wrong with your formatting (ie it doesn't fit the page size you selected at the top of this screen), and it will ask you if you want to move on to working on the cover while you wait (which you can, but it is only a few minutes for the checker to do its checking, so let's be patient and wait it out. Besides, covers are probably going to involve their own post because there is a lot to do there.).

Now, if you have chosen to  use the template that they have provided, chances are you have a decent amount of work to do before you can hit upload. You may even want to save that for later and skip ahead to the cover section of this tutorial. I will cover this in more detail in a future post, but basically, you are going to have to insert your text, type chapter titles and page numbers into the "table of contents" section in the front, make sure you have added appropriate page breaks, make sure you have chosen a legible font, make sure that your chapter headings stand out, fill in the information for  the author page, the dedication page, etc.

In other words, I'll tell you about that later. Let's move on.

For the majority of your process the "Interior" spot inside the red square I have drawn for you  is going to be stuck at "action required." That is okay. A lot of time that action is simply you waiting on them to approve the file (which takes about 24 hours) or them waiting on you to approve the files. I  had to get mine approved multiple times because of my interior title/author information not matching those I provided on the "Title  Information" screen (I had changed my use of initials and one small word in the title but forgotten to update those on one of the document pages).

Now at any point, even after publication, you can go back and change your work. You just have to upload a new file (which you do by pushing on the red words marked by  my black arrow.) and let it go through the approval process again. It takes about 24 hours for your updated book to be available, but this is handy especially if you happen to notice a typo you missed during your first hundred or so read-through-edits (it happens. After you've read the text a dozen or so times you start seeing the words you expect to be there rather than the words you may have actually typed so that a "they" that is supposed to be "the" may slip by you several times before you see it and think, "How the heck did I miss that?").

Now let's click the "Launch Interior Reviewer" button (green rectangle) and see what your book looks like inside.

The main point to the interior reviewer is checking layout. I would not suggest checking grammar and spelling in this format. For one thing, the words are kind of tiny. For another, you can't edit it, so you might as well do editing reads on the document on your computer (or print it out. Having it on paper gives a fresh look at the words and helps you find those last few pesky mistakes). What you are going to want to do is scan each page looking to see if the margins are all set right, that there are no empty lines or pages, things like that. Also, you should evaluate your font choice. If it isn't readable in this format, you are probably going to want to change it.

An example of something you will want to look out for?

Do you see that space between the paragraphs? That should not be there and I swear it wasn't there when I uploaded the file, but somewhere during my font alterations and margin tweaking, that space appeared and it must be eliminated! I'll go get it and then upload a new file and start over again.

By the way, if you are paying attention, you are getting some awesome spoilers to my next novel in here.

Admittedly, this is a boring process but essential and it shouldn't really take that long because you are not reading the text, just noting how it appears on the page.

So I fixed the spaces and uploaded the altered file and now I'm moving on to the cover.

I've done a few posts on cover art (you can see the graphic my friend Jennifer designed for me here). Since this is a rather wordy post I'll just cover this quickly and maybe make another post in with more detail later.

Here is the "Cover" page on Create Space:

If you are extremely independent and confident in your ability to create a cover from scratch unaided, the green arrow points your way.  You can upload a pdf at this point. I'm not that good. That scares me a little bit.

If you are terrified of designing on your own (and rich) check out the red arrow and pay your way to a better cover design (what's $400 in today's economy, anyway?).

Fortunately for the rest of us, there is the black arrow option. Go ahead and hit  "Launch Cover Creator."

They have 30 different cover layouts in total to choose from though each can be personalized by changing the colors, font styles, and pictures (you can provide your own picture or choose from a stock image they will provide). I'm not exactly sure which one I want at this point, but for your sake I'll just grab one and get to work (You can also go back and change it at any point, just like with your interior files).

This really deserves its own post, so I'll just give you the cliff note version here.

Once again we are faced with a basic internet form. You can go down the list in order or skip around. For instance, if you have an "Author Photo" ready but not a "Front Image Cover" you can upload one and leave the other for later. You can also choose not to have some of the fields visible (you may not want a picture of yourself, especially if you are choosing to publish under a pseudonym or are writing about your love of Furbies. The Furbies fad is over. I'm sorry. You just need to let it go.).

Also which cover design you choose may  limit or expand your options. The cover design shown above is one of the most basic. Here are some of the options provided on another cover layout:

You notice the green dots next to some of the items? These mean that a default is already selected or I have already provided what is required. This does not mean that they cannot be changed. It just means that, if I so choose, I can let that part be. Red arrow and blue arrow point to two fields that are optional that I do not plan to use. Just click on them and deselect the "visible" box and they won't bother you any  more.

Background color (black arrow) can be one of the fun ones to tweak. If I'm counting right they have 80 different color options ranging from boring beige to blaring purple. I encourage you to play around with it. You can go impulsive and just pick your favorite color or you can think analytically and research how colors influence buying decisions. It is up to you.

I'm not ready to submit this novel so I'll have to switch to my completed project (The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts available now on Amazon in paperback and ebook) to show you what happens next.

You will have to stop and wait for them to approve your cover and interior files at this point which can take a day or two (more if they find something they want you to fix), but once that is done you will have to approve the proof of your book.

As you can see in the above image after you complete setup, they do the file review, and once that is complete you have to "Proof Your Book." At this point they will offer you three options "Digital Proofer" which is very similar to the interior reviewer you dealt with after you submitted your interior files, download a pdf of your book, or purchase their physical proof for what comes to about $7 including shipping. I chose the later because I wanted something I could write on and I feel it was worth it. Some errors and alterations were much more obvious when seen on a printed page than they were when I was staring at computer files for the umpteenth time. (You can check out my reaction to getting my printed proof here as well as get a glimpse of it). Getting the proof in your hands is also very good for cover lay out issues. 

Once you have approved the proof (or made changes and resubmitted it and then approved it), you can start working on distribution. You  basically select where you want your book to be available for purchase. Free options are Amazon, Amazon-Europe, and the CreateSpace eStore. You  should probably select them all. If you pay $25 you  can get expanded distribution which makes your work available to be purchased by bookstores and libraries. I plan to pay for this eventually. It just makes sense to be available in more markets and the price is not prohibitive. My plan is to wait until I've actually made $25 on the book and then purchase it as a reward for myself . I priced my ebook so cheaply, however, that this might take a little while. 

Pricing is where we get to the disadvantage of Create Space: you don't make a ton of money per book. The minimum list price is $6.09. If you choose the minimum to  be your book price, you don't make anything. I chose to make my price $7.99 of which I get $1.14 every time someone purchases it through Amazon and $2.74 for each purchase through the CreateSpace eStore. I chose to price my book low and I'm not really that concerned about the large chunk they are taking out of my "profits" because I put the book up for free and if I hadn't been able to do that, not only would I be making nothing at all, but I wouldn't be able to call myself a "self-published" author. You can also choose to publish on Kindle. I get a much larger chunk of that money, though my ebook is very cheap, and a large chunk of $1.99 is still not very  much money.

This was all somewhat intentional. At this point in my "career" I am much more interested in being read than making money. A lot of self-publishing firms charge you for their services. Create Space does not, and therefore I  am shouldering no financial risk to make my book available. For me, the low royalties are worth the peace of mind and also seeing my book on Amazon. 

Moving on:

The description section is basically what people will see when they look at your book on Amazon. Click on the link below to see what that looks like.

I chose for mine to be a synopsis and of course you have the author bio which I've been told can be an important marketing tool, but  I hate writing the dang things, and mine is pretty cheesy. You can also pick your "BISAC Category" (mine is Fiction/Fantasy/General) and search keywords for your book.  

On another note, I just noticed that I finally have a review! Of course, it is from my aunt. Still counts, though, right?