Indie Publishing: My Journey

By Gail Johnson

If you google indie publishing, you’ll find umpteen dozen sites offering advice on how to publish your book. There, you’ll also find an opinion on why, where, and when to do it. Believe me!

Warning: You can spend years obtaining endless trails of information, or you can write a book and publish that puppy. One thing is certain, you’ll have to make your own decision on what is the best technique for you.

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalIn 2017, I published my memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. In this article I will share a little of the process and some surprises I encountered through that experience. Note: I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert, so I’ve added links for you to discover your own path. Let’s get started.

Write

The first step is obvious. Write your story.

Editing

The second step should be obvious. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. The more eyes you have on your story the better to catch those mistakes. Hire an editor. Apply those edits. I hired a developmental editor and a copy editor. It was one of the best decisions I made during my journey.

Formatting

Some writers hire formatters while others do their own formatting. I did a little of both. For the print book, I used a template by Book Design Templates. For my e-book, I hired a formatter. The reason for that was I ran into problems on the e-book that neither the template techs nor Amazon techs could figure out. As weeks turned into months, I chose to hire someone to do the e-book. (I would like to add, a friend used Book Design Templates for her historical novel and had no problems.) I still recommend the templates.

Covers

You can order e-book covers any time during the writing process. But a print book cover must have several elements in place before ordering. Formatting your book will give you the needed page number to determine the width of your spine. No guessing. The page number must be exact.

By now, you should have the title and an idea what you’d like the front of your book to look like. To choose your photo you can visit the following sites. You can either choose a free photo or you can buy one. The main thing is to make sure you get the rights to the photograph. The following sites were suggested to me.

Bigstockphoto.com
Depositphotos.com
Unsplash.com
Shutterstock.com
Fotolia.com
Istockphoto.com
Dreamstime.com
Peopleimages.com

Another thing you will need for your cover is a blurb. A blurb is a description of your story printed on the back of your book. Psst. I had someone to help me write mine. You will also need an author picture and bio.

The last thing to think about for your print cover is the ISBN number. Some authors buy their own while others use a free CreateSpace ISBN. Read more here.

Now you are ready to order your cover or make your own if you so choose. I’m not that creative. I hired a cover designer.

Categories and Keywords

While you wait on the cover, think about your categories and keywords you’ll use once you’ve uploaded your manuscript. Categories describe the genre while keywords are the words you think people will use when searching for your book.

For instance, my book is a memoir, but it can be, and has been, used as a devotional and a study guide. So, three out of the seven keywords were memoir, devotional, and study guide.

Publishing

This part of the journey was a surprise to me. When my covers arrived in my inbox, the e-book was a jpeg, and the print copy was a pdf. Who knew? Next, I visited my friendly neighborhood publisher, such as KDP, CreateSpace, BN, IngramSpark. Again everyone has their opinions.

As with every new project, we may feel apprehension in the doing. I did! So, let me encourage you. It isn’t as hard as you think. Once you create your account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard that will lead you through the entire process. Just follow the direction and you’ll do fine. And if you run into any problems, contact the publisher. I had no problems getting my questions answered.

After uploading a pdf of your cover and manuscript to CreateSpace, they will review, print, and snail mail you a copy of your book. You will need to proof it. If you find a problem, correct it, and reorder. They will send you another proof. When you are satisfied with the result, you are ready to share your story with the world.

So there you have some of the interesting things I learned while publishing my book. If you’re an indie, what things would you add? If you published your book, what were the surprises in your journey to publication?

Click to Tweet: “So there you have some of the interesting things I learned on my publishing journey.” @GailJohnson87 for @InspiredPrompt #indie #author

Writing Prompt: Today, make a plan and add a date to publish your book.

Celebrating the Simple Life

by Gail Johnson

As a young mom, I planned awesome vacations and field trips for my kids. I wanted them to learn not just from books but by visiting places and experiencing life. However, after several outings, I gave up. It wasn’t about bickering and fighting in the car. My kids never fought. They still don’t. Maybe it’s the four-year age difference.

Neither was it the usual crazy things that can go wrong on field trips or vacations.  No. The reason I quit was my kids, like hobbits, preferred (prefer) to stay in the shire. Because if they left, they had to wear shoes or had to stop playing in the sandbox.

Another reason was riding wore them out. To this day, they will sleep while traveling and most of the next day.

Once, I planned a trip to a state park famous for wildlife. While wandering around the park,  I pointed to an animal crossing the grass in front of us. My son’s reaction? “I can see that at home. Can we go, now?”

It took some time, but I finally understood while I wanted my children to experience the world my way, they were experiencing the world in their own way at home. That year, I embraced the simple life and decided to transform our backyard into a never-ending field trip.

My first project was to create a beach. I had a sandbox (prior the endless grass-planting days) and the sun. All I needed to do was to buy a pool. Soon we were enjoying the laid-back beach life. Best decision ever! It’s still my favorite getaway.

Next, I constructed a zoo by planting grass and tasty plant life. After my yard make-over, rabbits, squirrels, deer, gopher turtles, snakes, and birds of the south, including wild turkeys, moved in to destroy taste my delectable yard. (I hope you’re catching the dry humor here.)

Later, I opened a get-away for family and friends. For Christmas, we bought four-wheelers for the kids and created mazes and trails to ride. Our house was filled with the laughter of all ages throughout the holiday season and for years to come.

Now, in their twenties, the kids love traveling with us. We may have gotten off to a late start, but we’re making up for lost time.

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

Looking back, I can see what I would’ve missed if I hadn’t listened to my kids because God used the backyard as an instrument to reveal His purpose for our lives.

The pool became a place for sharing problems, hopes, prayers, and dreams. The four-wheeler trails became the paths my children walked as they prayed for guidance, and the animals taught us His faithfulness to supply our every need. It is for these blessings that I celebrate this simple life!

Now it’s your turn. How do you pass your summer? Do you go on vacations, or do you prefer to stay at home?

Click to Tweet: “It is for all these blessings that I celebrate this simple #life!” ~ @GailJohnson87 on @InspiredPrompt #family


Hognose 2-1Writing Prompt

Mary was happy with her morning progress. She had weeded the garden and gathered tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.  It was time to call it a day. Reaching for her basket, she froze at the sight of a snake making its way around…

 

The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.

 

Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith

 

Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.

 

Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)

 

Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.

 

 

I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?


Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

 

3 Questions Wednesday with Laura V. Hilton

Happy Wednesday!

This morning we welcome award-winning author Laura V. Hilton. Readers, be sure to leave Laura a comment for a chance to win a  copy of her book, Love By the Numbers.

Laura, here’s your first question.

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Laura:  Quiet, bookish, family-oriented

Family-oriented. I like that! 🙂  Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Laura: Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. There is a new Amish community formed up there. Plus I’d get to see my son.

A great idea. Now…

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Laura: Fame, I think.

 An upbeat song, for sure! Laura, thank you for joining us on Inspired Prompts. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Readers–don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Love By the Numbers, reader’s choice of format (print or ebook)  (Print USA only.) 

Click to tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday interview with Laura V. Hilton. @InspiredPrompt  #interview #giveaway


Love By the Numbers   

After her fiancé dies in a buggy accident, Lydia Hershberger is invited to Jamesport to manage her Mennonite aunt’s gift store while her aunt and uncle are on a mission trip. While there, Lydia gets acquainted with her aentie’s best friend, Bethel Bontrager, and her grown son, Caleb. Lydia is surprised to find herself drawn to handsome clockmaker, Caleb Bontrager. But in spite of an instant flame of attraction between them, he doesn’t seem interested. In fact, pesky Caleb treats her like he doesn’t even like her.

Bright and sparkly. That’s Caleb’s first impression of Lydia. He’s always been attracted to sparkly things. In fact, his affinity for those things, and the trouble they can cause, are exactly why he’s determined to change his ways and settle down. With Lydia’s aentie gone, he is handling the books for the gift shop and is forced to spend too much time in her presence.

When God offers Lydia a second chance at love and family, will she take it? Or will the secret Caleb harbors cause her even more heartbreak?


Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.

Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.

When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/

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Nonfiction: Inspired from Conception to Publication

Covering the nonfiction genre in one post is impossible. Instead, I chose to encourage and inspire you to seriously think about nonfiction. So let me ask you…

books, NarniaAre you a fiction writer or a nonfiction writer? Regardless, did you know that you can use fiction techniques to create a gripping story? For instance, nonfiction writers begin with voice, use compelling dialogue, and include a beginning, middle, and ending to ensure their readers an unforgettable experience.

Now, that I have your attention, here are different ways you can distribute your writing.

Magazine Articles
Do you know how to plant a perfect garden, repair a broken household sink, or cook mouth-watering apple pies? Well then, why not turn all your hard-earned wisdom into an article.

Newspaper columns
Are you a news junkie? Traveler? Foodie? Photographer? Newspapers are always looking for local talent. Share school activities, church socials,  neighborhood street parties, your destinations and experiences.

Anthology
If you’re not ready to tackle your own book, why not collaborate with other writers. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a perfect example of collaboration. Submit your story, and if chosen it’s published as part of a collection. Be sure to check their guidelines before submitting.

Books
This includes memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, self-help, travel guides, cookbooks, photography, and devotionals, just to name a few.

As you can see, there are many aspects to consider. Let’s take a moment and talk about the writing process.

Getting Started

journaling.jpg

Ideas– Everything begins with an idea. The problem is we may lose the inspiration if we don’t capture the moment. Always carry something to catch the unexpected. When I don’t have pen and paper, I use my phone (Samsung Note 5). It has a pen (And you know how much I love pen and paper). Or if I can’t write, I can record my thoughts using the recorder app.

Research-How will you gather your info? Consider using interviews, online articles, library visits, or an experiment in your own kitchen. No matter where your investigation leads, record and date your facts. This will save you hours of time and frustration when you begin writing.

Write-Look over your notes. Decide what you will say and in what order you will say it. Write the article without editing. Read it. Edit. Revise. Rewrite. Repeat until it’s the best it can be.

Submissions-Finding a place for your story can be harder than writing your story. But there are a few books that can help you find a home for your idea. The 2018 editions of The Christian Writers Market Guide and  Writers Market Guide are treasure troves of potential publishers.

In today’s world, we have so many options in publishing. Why not take a chance? Spread your wings and ride the wind. Who knows where the gusts will take you!

Writing Prompt: Take one of your ideas and think it through from conception to publication. Make a to-do list and check off each one as you finish it. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Click to Tweet: Why not take a chance? @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87 #writetip #nonfiction