Monday, April 30, 2012

Affordable Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace

From my author buddy, Deanna, I just found out about what may be the coolest thing Amazon has done yet! Well, maybe not quite as cool as free Kindles apps for your computer, phone, etc. coupled with all the free ebooks available every day, but still very cool.

So what cool thing am I talking about? CreateSpace, Amazon's print publishing solution for all us aspiring DIY authors. Through CreateSpace, you can  have your book available in print easily and, are you ready for this? AFFORDABLY! That's right - it's finally affordable to self-publish.

So how affordable is it? Well, how about FREE if you do all your own formatting, etc. Does that sound good to you? As near as I can tell, there are no required upfront costs (unless you opt for expanded distribution). And the royalties you earn from each sale (after a reasonable fixed charge per book) range from 40%-80%, depending on distribution channel. Wow! Have things ever changed!

If you're not fully appreciating the coolness of this, let me give you a real-life example for comparison. While I don't have the hard numbers at my fingertips, my MIL self-published We Walk the Tall Grass back in 1999. I don't remember her exact upfront costs but I think it was around $200. The book currently retails for $25.95, which is WAY too much for a 200 page paperback. And she only gets royalties after three sales per quarter and then it's a pittance (I'm talking around $6 total).

Through CreateSpace, the same size book could retail for under $9 and still generate royalties for her on every single sale, regardless of distribution channel. And if she opted not to have expanded distribution, she could price the book at $6 and still make money on every copy sold.

But there are a couple more reasons I am so jazzed about CreateSpace. Firstly, my hubby is currently combining his mom's story about their adventures moving here to the wilderness with an unpublished manuscript written by his dad. We've been researching publishing options and it looks like CreateSpace is it! Secondly, I've got a few book ideas myself - quilt related, of course - and I could publish a full color, 8.5x11.5, 50-page book that retails for less than $10.

So, are you seeing the coolness of all this now?

Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers

PLEASE NOTE: That image of We Walked the Tall Grass is an Amazon affiliate link. If you're just dying to find out all about how these remarkable folks made a life in the wilderness with three small boys and almost no money, go ahead and get the book. But if you can wait, the book my hubby's working on expands the story and will cost considerably less than $25.95. Also, I just signed up as a affiliate for CreateSpace so those two links are affiliate, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

So How Much Do You Need for Retirement?

My first article on Penny Thots, How Much Money Do You Really NEED for Retirement, published today! For those who don't know, Penny Thots is a new personal finance blog with about 20 contributing authors - and I'm on of them! So go check out my article and then browse around. There's a LOT of great info there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Penny Thots and Possum Living

Penny Thots, If Your Money Could Talk, What Would It Say… is a new personal finance site that I'd like to share. Offering wisdom from a select group of writers on a variety of personal finance subjects, Penny Thots is sure to have something of value for everyone. And I'm proud to say that I am one of the contributors, so head on over there and check it out!

Now for Possum Living. Have you heard of this book? If not, let me tell you a little about it. Way back in 1978, a young woman not quite out of her teens wrote Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money. In her no-nonsense style, with wisdom well beyond her years, Dolly Freed provides instruction on self-sufficiency and tips for being extremely frugal.

If you haven't read Possum Living, I highly recommend it. I do not recommend following every bit of advice in the book, however. And actually, neither does the author. In the Afterword found in the Tin House Books edition published January 2010, the author shares additional insight that came with age and experience - from the perspective of a former NASA aerospace engineer rather than from that of a kid. At any rate, it’s an excellent read so find yourself a copy and enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Custom Memorial Quilts Trio Finished

I've just finished a trio of custom memorial quilts. What do you think? Although I used my Loving Arms quilt pattern, each is unique due to the shirts selected to create the diagonal design. These lap quilts measure a generous 60x75 inches and will provide decades of comfort to each of the daughters (and grandchildren) of a very special man. If you'd like to know more about how you can create quilts from clothing, or if you might like me to create a custom memorial quilt for you, please see my Custom Memorial Quilts website.

If you'd like the Loving Arms Wrap Quilt pattern, an instant-download PDF for this quilt design is now available! Just click the link to go to the purchase page on

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Amazon Book Review Rebuttal - Are You Kidding Me?

I'm in an ebook downloading and reading frenzy lately. Not only have I found Ereader News Today, which lists 20+ free Kindle books each day, I've also discovered how to find free Kindle books on the Amazon site listed by genre, subject, etc (just click on "Best Sellers" under Kindle eBooks). Wow - all these great (and maybe not so great) FREE ebooks and so little time!

When I started downloading free ebooks, I planned to post a review of each. The Amazon site makes it easy and I figured it was the least I could do in exchange for the author doing a free promo. I'm no literary critic but thought my opinion might be of use to another regular person trying to decide whether to devote precious reading time to a given book. In fact, before I download a book, I read at least a few of the best and worst reviews and especially appreciate the folks who are willing to say what they didn't like. After all, I do not have enough time left in this life to read even a fraction of what is available (with more choices added daily!) so why would I want to waste even a few minutes on something I am unlikely to enjoy?

Ok, so now for my rebuttal story. I posted my honest opinion of Heartbreak Trail, a westward migration tale. I wasn't mean. I didn't say I didn't like it or that it sucks or was poorly written or anything negative. I even gave it 3 stars for "ok".

Warning - spoiler alert!

My main issue was that the main character didn't stay true to character and then the story totally lost me when it got too outlandish to be remotely believable. Yes, I realize that the author wanted to throw in a steamy romance scene. Fine. But I don't have to keep reading when it comes at a blatantly implausible time, both from an environmental and physical standpoint. This woman spent the first part of the book as the picture of propriety and then did a complete turnaround in the middle of a wagon train while under the watchful eye of her zealot BIL shortly after the death of her husband and miscarrying her first child. So I decided to move on to another book and left a brief review.

Well, I got a rebuttal. Yes, I did have a typo (woman instead of women due to incomplete editing when posting my review), which was pointed out to me first - with an exclamation mark! So I fixed that. But why anyone felt the need to take me to task for stating my opinion and not finishing the book is beyond me. It appears this person feels that only positive reviews are appropriate but I disagree. Like I said, I rely on positive, neutral and negative reviews to help me decide where to spend my limited reading time.

So that's my rebuttal story. How about you? Do you leave reviews of books or products purchased on Amazon? Have you ever gotten a negative review of your review?

BTW - I downloaded a graphic and link to the book. I realize this is providing a small bit of publicity for a book I didn't bother to finish and that's perfectly ok with me. Go ahead and read it - you may like it just fine.