Archives for category: advice and tips

1. Keep your eye on the ‘events’ calendar in newspapers and online if you are an indie author of a nonfiction paperback book. This genre sells best person-to-person. It doesn’t sell as well as fiction does in e-book form. My income tax figures show I made 80% of my money selling books on the ground from September to December and perhaps you are the same. March is the time to start making phone contacts for another successful year.
2. Go back to your 2016 phoning lists. You may have missed some events because you were too late calling. I just phoned about one such event planned for late September each year and discovered the registration opens April 1st.
3. Many cultural organizations have annual conferences with book tables authors can rent. This is a new venue for me to try this year and I’m very excited about it. Last year I missed out on selling to the West Quebecers and members of the British Isles Family History Society but I won’t make the same mistake in 2017!
4. Even if you go into book stores for signings, it is still seasonal. You have to go when they are busiest. There’s fierce competition between authors to get one of those good spots. I was missing a receipt for my income tax return so, just now, I phoned the bookstore where I had sold nine books to get it. I took the opportunity to arrange to sell my books there again on the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May.
5. The store clerk put a bee in my bonnet by asking, “Do you really think it’s worth it? I mean, if you have already been here?” I must try to get into some bookstores where I failed before, not always the same ones. However, last time I was in her store I sold to every person I tried to persuade, except one, and I’ll try my best to do that again.

I remain optimistic. I’ll let you know. There are many wonderful readers out there and I hope you’ll have the joy of meeting and selling to them, just as I do year after year! virany

shalottavatarThe theme of a book can be compared to a diagnosis. I declare my novel is on the conflict between community and individuality. The two protagonists embody that classic divide. They are still grappling with it at the end of living more than sixty years together. My book will present itself as a story about marital love but its trouble-maker is this underlying malady. It will entertain the reader with anecdotes and antics from the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties. It will also shed light on the all-in-you and the you-in-all.

Some Queries to Stimulate Your Interest in My Theme

  • Do you juggle community and individuality well enough in your life?
  • Are texts from a book versus your own preferences irreconcilable?
  • Do you think the balance should be 50-50? Who knows? Is that integrity?
  • Can you change either the community or the individuality in the one you are with?
  • Is the best society the one with strong individuals in charge of strong communities?
  • How can we make ourselves good heroes and heroines of the battle and not get discouraged? The compromises of my protagonists were successful. See their joy!

Writing Secret #5 from Reclusive Lady of Shalott

Tip: Consider your theme well. Imagine your reader relating it to personal and political problems of their own and the world’s, past, present and future. See it as a change agent.




If you really want to delight your reader, aim to tie up all the details that make for delicious, quirky threads of plot. These will make your book fly out of the luggage and into a compartment inside your reader’s heart. It is never too soon to begin thinking about what you will write in the last chapter of your book. Every novel is a journey to take a reader to a destination. It carries a core message and new ideas they can apply to their own life adventure. 

To get this process moving, I’m taking steps in my novel to make sure nothing is lost and the plot stays exciting and satisfying right up to the end. Try them to see if they work for you too:

  • Click on the square in the upper right of your tool bar so you are typing in a small window. Open a second window, save it as ‘Ending,’ and keep it small too. Now you can transfer copy from one box to the other as you work.
  • Let’s say you work on the left of the desktop and transfer to the right.
  • My book is about a couple’s long marriage, and I begin each day by going back to the beginning and asking myself questions.
  • If you see something that could be swept under the carpet, copy and paste a phrase or two to your right-hand box.

Here are Potential Ironic Trouble-makers

  • A beloved coat. Could this be the root of a tragic downfall?
  • A superficial disagreement. Did they go on arguing about this for sixty years?
  • A joke. Who laughed the last and the longest?
  • A promise. Surely he was kidding!
  • A soloist dilemma. Was it not over until the fat lady sang?
  • A dream. Sounds to me like it had eerie implications.
  • A wish. Oh, oh. Be careful!
  • An unfinished ‘to-do’ list.
  • Favorite color, collectible, fetish, habit — any of these might be significant symbols in the end.

Tip: To make your book dynamic to write and delicious to read, start thinking about the ending right from the beginning and make notes as you proceed.



Marg&Tom EyesFalling in love can happen in a split second as the eyes carry the code and the chemistry to make the bond.These tips come from an octogenarian who carefully recorded the real-life voyage of her parents who stayed married down to the core of their hearts and souls for 61 years. Sixty years ago she found her own soul mate at age 22. They still squeeze hands by the fireside in their snowy homeland. I hope their experience will help you find the answer to your love quest too.

1. Buried inside you is a fairy tale dream of being married and living happily for ever after. No one wants to live alone and be unhappy.

2. Since birth, you are taught by word and example how you are supposed to behave, believe and be a good person.

3. As you grow, certain experiences stick in your mind because they excite you and make you happy. You are discovering your uniqueness.

4. Approaching independent adulthood, you doubt or even panic over whether your dream will ever come true. Life has become a search, a quest for your ‘other’.

5. You may need to accept your parents’ support for longer than you or they wanted because it is vital to nurturing your dream. You must be able to afford to mix in likely circles for your prospective mate. Getting into debt now could derail your life plans.

6. There is not just one person, but a type of person, who is right for you. Don’t give up after a failure. Although you may not have analyzed it, you have been building up a picture of what you want in a mate since early childhood, such as build, smile, eyes, a sense of humor and a sense of adventure, so you will never be bored.

7. Falling in love can happen in a split second as the eyes carry the code and the chemistry to make the bond.You may be climbing up a flight of stairs or just finishing tying up your shoe laces. You already know this person but see them anew in a body-shattering flash.

8. Pause for sober afterthought to make sure your reason, not passion, is in control.Take your time; you are considering making a lifelong commitment.The feelings are right, but what do you know about this person, his or her personality, health, friends, parents and reputation? Check out your loved one’s connections and relationships. Does any little thing ring an alarm bell? How does he/she measure up to your dreams? The eyes know it all but you have to do your part realistically.

9. Are your basic religious values and family traditions the same? Even if the answer to the questions in (8) are good, you have to ask this one.  If your beliefs are not the same, are you willing to compromise completely in order to make the marriage work? Most importantly, you must be true to yourself. You will not be happy if you abandon the really basic values or behaviors your parents taught you. You will open a breach between yourself and your ancestors. Does your prospective partner feel the same way in an opposite direction? Resolve this now if you want to proceed hand-and-hand into your dream together.

10. Accept that you and your partner are imperfect people. Just trust each other completely by being totally honest and keeping whatever vows you make. You will have a lifetime of happiness together if you accept the challenges of building a relationship founded on trusting the eyes (the mirror of the soul) and never giving up on one another. If you think the lasting marriage prospect is too risky, do not be disheartened. Promise you will be good friends for life and bless each other if you go on to marry someone else. Keep on searching and you will find.

Tip: If you enjoyed reading this blog, you may also enjoy reading the real-life courtship, honeymoon and life adventures of Jack and Kay in A Book of Kells and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, available in paperback or e-back version from Amazon.

The UPS store on the other side of the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge helps some Canadian authors save on shipping costs.

The UPS store on the other side of the Prescott-Ogdensburg International Bridge helps some Canadian authors save on shipping costs.

If you want a successful book launch, stay organized while awaiting your order from the printer and getting ready to sell at events you’ve already arranged.  These tips may help you avoid the blunders and adopt the time- and money-saving techniques I acquired in past launches, as well as the one I’m doing at present.

  1. Learn how to add a sticker to improve the sales appeal of your front cover. Even if your book hasn’t won a gold-star award badge, it is legitimate to put a sticker on it to attract customers. After having stared at the cover of my proof copy for days, I saw that the lower third was bare and needed ‘oomph’. It is easy to learn how to do this and not too time-consuming if you just apply stickers on the number of copies you need as you go. I found that the local Staples stores sell colored or white labels of various shapes, sizes and finishes made by Avery. Never having done this before, I made all sorts of mistakes. I tried to cram too much text into each 1 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ label and wasted a lot of hours and stickers trying to center and control the layout inside six rows of three oval shapes on a sheet. In desperation, I turned to the Avery website. Believe it or not, they provide a free, blank template for download to use as a guide. From there on I was able to print my stickers out perfectly, ready to be put on my books.
  2. Now is the time to make sure you have a good supply of updated business cards on hand. You can also buy a packet of blank business cards, download a template to your computer and compose them by a method similar to the one used for sticker labels.
  3. Try to find out the precise ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how much’ of your book order delivery, or else pick it up. An author can lose money by having to pay a  heavy warehousing charge, for example, or missing a lucrative event because an order of books didn’t arrive. Get all the precise information you can over the phone in order to track your books, if they are coming a long distance, and be in the right place at the right time with the right payment method. A tip for Canadian authors (many of whom live an hour or two’s drive from the border and have their books printed in the United States) is to look at the UPS website for information on their $5 fee for a service that provides their depot as a U.S. delivery address for Canadian customers. Sometimes my printer, CreateSpace in Charleston, South Carolina, offers free shipping but only for books delivered within the continental U.S. My books always arrive promptly and we enjoy the scenic drive down to Ogdensburg, N.Y. to fetch them.
  4. Calculate what your total expense has been to produce your book and save your receipts. For me, this included $21 spent three times over to get successive proof copies from CS via the fastest mail; the cost of the 50 books I ordered, shipping, sales tax and UPS fee; and the cost of the stickers. I threw the receipts for more general business expenses such as lunch, mileage, business cards, computer paper and ink into my income tax file. You need to know what your books cost you so you can estimate such things as ‘What share of the money from each book sold can I to donate to the church or charity who is sponsoring my book launch?’ or ‘Does this book store retain too big a percentage or ask me to leave too many books on consignment?’
  5. Satisfy the Government’s legal-deposit  requirement to immediately provide two copies of your newly published book to the national library. You will then be listed in its catalog, available to distribution agencies, book stores and library branches wanting to locate or order copies of your book. In my case, this means dropping the copies off at Library & Archives Canada on Wellington Street, Ottawa. I talked by phone to Rachel in their office who remembered me from when I applied for my ISBN years ago. She said I should attach a note requesting my copies be brought  to her attention. She would post the Amicus cataloging information on the LAC website asap and from there I could unload it to the inside front cover page of my book, to appear in future print runs.
  6. Take copies around to the book stores and event sponsors who have invited you to sell and sign copies. The stores can start selling your book and put up a poster to advertise and stir up interest in your upcoming signing. Give your proof copy to the person who is sponsoring your book launch so she will be inspired to help promote it. Fulfill any other promises of advance copies you have made — in my case to a radio host who interviewed me when my paperback was published as an e-book and has now invited me back.
  7. Every day, update your calendar with the time, place, exact location, contact name, email address and phone number for all the events you are planning.
  8. Set goals for how many books you aim to sell within what period of time. You cannot make a person buy a book or predict how many events you will need to sell enough books to make your goal. What you can do is make a realistic estimate based on your past experience and that of author friends. Ask the book stores’ owners how many copies of their books other local local managed to sell in their shop on a certain day at a certain time.
  9. Enjoy being an author as you visualize and assemble what you will need to go public with your book. Ruminate in your mind on your sales themes (eg. war centennial, Christmas), your sales pitch, your book’s price at different locales, what  you will wear, your table’s covering, and conspicuous novelties to attract buyers to your table. It’s a great way to have fun meeting people!

Next blog post: How to accomplish live sales of real books

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, CreateSpace or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

Final Proof of a paperback edited with phone help from Createspace

Screenshot of a paperback edited with phone help from CreateSpace

You can do a near-perfect job of self-publishing a paperback, or converting an e-book to print. Here are last-minute tips about how I made use of phone calls:

 1. Help! My pictures are blurry. They don’t have 300 dpi (dots per inch)!

Answer: If you want to have images in your book, CreateSpace guidelines ask you to go back to your original photos and save them at a resolution of at least 300 dpi. I did this but CS sent a message saying that, except for one, they were only from 75 to 176 dpi. What was happening? By Googling around, I found out many authors have this problem. If you are typing your manuscript in Microsoft Word, the final step before submitting it is to change it into a pdf. At this point, apparently trying to be helpful, MSW ‘compresses’ or ‘resamples’ the file to save space and that means they reduce the dpi. After a long discussion with the CS representative who answered my phone call (a 24/7 service), he finally suggested I could submit my manuscript as a docx instead of a pdf. It worked and my old, authentic pictures came through clearly.

2. Help! This is my second book cover design (on right below) but it still looks terrible!

My first and second front cover design attempts

My first and second front cover design attempts

Answer: I phoned to talk to one of the ever-helpful CS representatives and told him that my cover proof was a big improvement over my first one, with the horse’s head chopped off, except for one thing. I would like them to superimpose a black and white photo of my mother on the landscape. That would make it engagingly human, and give an inkling of the kind of authentic, historic tale that lay inside. He said “No”. I would have to search through the pre-designed templates and images they offered and find another one. It seemed like a hopeless task until I found something very simple (photo at top). From the huge palette of background colors they offered, I chose sea-foam for the background and midnight blue for the font — both of them just right for my content and theme! The quirky font was one of the immutables in the template. I like it because a cariole ride is a bumpy, incongruous thing, like my mother’s life.

3. Help! No imprint logo appears because there’s no spine and no space provided for it on the back. This looks unprofessional!

Answer: Patient as always, the CS rep at the other end of the line (in some faraway part of the world) told me my paperback had no spine because it was no more than 120 pages. What other authors do, he said, was to insert their logo on page two beside the copyright and ISBN information. He assured me it would look very professional, so I did it.

4. Help! I’ve received the new-covered proof in the mail but I still see inconsistencies in the interior copy.

Answer: Obviously the dozen or so times I and others had proofread the book were not enough, so I went through it carefully two more times. The mistakes I found were often things I thought had been corrected by using the ‘Find’ and ‘Replace’ options in MSW.  However, when I changed ‘JACK’s name (it’s an acronym) to ‘Jack’ for easier reading, it didn’t always do it. Also, I had decided at one point to write out numerals up to 100, instead of just up to ten, and had missed some of them. I was shocked to find a mistake that had not been caught in the e-book version. In places I still referred to ‘Mother’ instead of  ‘Kathleen’ as I had called her in my original book about my parents. Another error was that the capitalization and italics lacked consistency. As an author, I believe in being fastidious because your mistakes are multiplied with every copy and every buyer so you might as well be your own best friend and get a reputation for being smooth and accurate.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

(Next week I will write about how I plan to promote and sell the paperback.)

scrnshot kcrI am finding that an author who is converting an e-book to a paperback has a lot of work to do. Fortunately, my publisher CreateSpace is a pioneer in the process and has honed it to perfection. My job is to type the manuscript into Microsoft Word according to their guidelines, edit it and get at least one other person to proofread it. By now I have learned how to scan pictures into my computer and use the picture program from the MW toolbar to size them and insert them into the manuscript. With more and more practice, I have become quite expert at getting them placed precisely!

When I am ready, I go into the CreateSpace website and click on the commands that let them know I am here to publish my Kindle e-book as a paperback. Because CreatSpace and Kindle are both owned by Amazon, they will convert my book to the new format at no cost! All I need to do is follow their explicit instructions and fill out their forms. They ask for details of my identity, my book’s title, the number of pages, my choice of dimensions, etc.

They also require an ISBN (international standard book number) so that it can be cataloged by libraries and distributors. I got my number from Library & Archives Canada, although I could have had CreateSpace get it for me. Mine was Canadian; theirs would have been American. I had been advised by Canadian publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2003 to follow this path and also to create my own imprint name and logo.This makes the author’s copyright solid.

Making a cover was easy with the CreateSpace cover creator, since you can choose from a variety of templates, fonts and pictures to find what suits  your book best. You can experiment and see previews of your book title in different designs and colors until you are satisfied.

When you are ready, you convert your manuscript to a PDF by clicking the appropriate line in MW, then go into CreateSpace. It will tell you when to press ‘upload’, ‘submit’ and ‘save’ until the job is done. If you are in doubt at any step of the way, you can contact support and get immediate help over the phone or by email.

I found the whole process very satisfactory and am now waiting for them to finish reviewing my files. Then I will ask them to send me a proof copy by priority post. Changes can still be made but everything takes time. The last decisions are to accept  what they say the price will be and order as many copies as you wish. Besides the postage for the proof ($25) the books will be your only expense.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Rideand Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

(Next week I will write about how I plan to promote and sell the paperback.)