On Missed Author Events

I imagine many of you have been to an author event of some kind. I know y’all have because I’ve written about them on here. Well there’s only one store authors really come to in Houston. And I have attended multiple events there before.

Well I just randomly checked the list for the first time in months, and one of my favorite authors had an event last month. And when I say he’s one of my favorites this is what I mean. When I’m asked about my favorite authors I say three names. Robert. B. Parker. Michael Connelly. Robert Crais. That’s it. No one else gets into that sentence.

It turns out that Robert Crais was here. *sad face* Even if I couldn’t make the event I could have gotten my books signed. Costs nothing but the price of the new book. Ugh.

Has an author ever visited your hometown without you knowing it and then you found out fairly soon afterward?

Sarah Palin Holds a Book Signing Where?!

Evidently Sarah Palin has just released a new book. Which isn’t all that surprising considering that she is all but out of the public eye. But eh, politicians write books all the time.

What makes this a bit odd is that she recently held a book signing in California. I’m not sure I’d have picked that particular state for her signing, but I’m also not in charge of anything. It wasn’t at a bookstore. It wasn’t at a political event. It was at a gun range.

Wait, what?

Yes, you read that correctly. Sarah Palin held a book signing at a gun range in California. Why? I’m sure she’s got plenty of support from those in favor of gun rights, but I just don’t see the point. If she wants to make a statement on guns, then she could just as easily make an actual statement, right?

I just think it was mostly done to attract a certain amount of attention. And it worked. She ran out of books to sell because the line of people was so long. I won’t even comment on why people would even be following her at this point. Oh well.

Do you have any thoughts on having a book signing at a gun range?

Indies, Read This!

I normally don’t even say indie for self published authors because it seems like they’re trying to legitimize their work by avoiding “self published” author. Which is ridiculous because if you self publish then you self publish.

Anyway, now to the point of the post. One thing I was looking to do when I first self published two years ago was book signings. And I know the thought has crossed your mind if you’ve self published recently or are planning to.

I’m here to tell you that there is a place that has a nice customer base and will be happy to help you host an event. Obviously different locations are going to have their own guidelines and rules, but let me tell you about my Half Price Books. We have author signings most Saturdays. The authors set up near the door so everyone can see them. And the author leaves with 100 percent of what they make during their time in the store. There’s no fee or percentage taken by the store. AND most authors stay for three hours and the manager makes announcements every half hour or so telling customers who is at the front of the store and why.

How cool is that!? Half Price Books of course isn’t in every city or town. But there are more than 200 locations spread across the country, and I bet most have signings and guidelines similar to mine. So give your local store a call and see if you can get yourself in front of plenty of people who are already looking for books!

Ever Been to an Author Signing?

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I mentioned in a post earlier this week that I’ve been to a couple of author events. They were for authors T. Jefferson Parker and Steve Hamilton. Now you may not know either of them, but they have both won two Edgars. I’ve written about the Edgars and they are a HUGE deal when it comes to mystery writing. And both of these guys have won an award twice. Not an easy feat.

Let me tell you about the actual events. They were both held in a small indie bookstore by the name of Murder by the Book here in Houston. And let me tell you, ALL of the big mystery authors who go on tour come to this store. There are a couple other indie stores in Houston who have author events, but I’d have to think that this is the most successful. Anyway, the events I attended were pretty much exactly the same. Both times the author spoke for maybe 20 minutes or a half hour and then started signing everyone’s books. The 20 minutes may not seem like much, but if you listen you can learn quite a bit about them. I know I did.

The best part for me was definitely when they signed my books. I think I got four signed by both. I don’t feel like snapping pictures, but trust me that they’re signed. AND another great thing that I learned was that both of these famous authors who have surely sold millions of books are no different from anyone else you might know. T. Jefferson Parker helped me get my hands on a couple of his books that were unavailable from any of the major retailers. And Steve Hamilton snapped a photo! How freaking cool were they?

I have some minimal experience as an author on the other side. Maybe some of you know that I had a signing at my university all the way back in November. It happened just a couple of weeks after my book was released and I had a lot of fun. I sold all but four of the books I’d taken with me. And I’d had classes with a bunch of the guys who were pretty happy to see that I’d written a book literally right out of school. Of course, I never heard anything from any of the 21 people who bought one that day. So who knows what they thought of the actual writing.

The point of this post is to tell you all that I think author events or signings are actually pretty great. I don’t think they necessarily drive many new readers the author’s way, but I’m certain that plenty of his or her regular readers will attend events year after year. And it gives the author the opportunity to interact with readers in a manner that social media or other public appearances just don’t allow.

Two things: Have you ever been to an author event? Or have you ever had one of your own?

This was from my signing. It was CJ Majors Day.

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This is NYT bestselling author Steve Hamilton. Oh my goodness. This was three years ago, I was teeny tiny with braces and just ugh.

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Self Publishing with CreateSpace: My Experience

I’ve been promising you guys a post dedicated to my experience self publishing. Well, I’m finally going to make good on that promise. I’m going to go through all of the steps that it took for me to transform my manuscript into a book. The timeline will cover the entire book writing process, even before I began the self publishing process. So, let’s begin.

May 31, 2013 – First chapter complete

Some of you have followed my blog since its inception at the start of June. For those of you who haven’t, now you know that the first chapter of my book, Divided Within, was written all the way back in May. This came less than two weeks after I walked across the stage at my university graduation ceremony.

August 15, 2013 – CreateSpace account setup

After pushing through almost three months of writing my first book and looking into the prospect of finding an agent to represent my work or self publishing, I’d decided to self publish my first book, for a number of reasons. But in deciding this I had to make a decision regarding which self publishing company I’d actually use. There are about a million out there and most have at least one benefit. I was still in the process of writing the first draft of my book, but I’d decided that CreateSpace was the way to go for me.

August 26, 2013 – First draft complete

On this lovely day down here in Texas when most college students were returning to school I’d managed to finally finish my first book. It was a remarkable feeling because there could be no more thoughts coursing through my head questioning whether or not I could do it, I’d done it!

September 15, 2013 – Beta readers offer feedback

My beta readers actually received the second draft of my book. I’d already read through it once and made some necessary changes. The feedback was mostly positive and each reader sent me pages of notes to look over.

September 17, 2013 – Initial contact made with CreateSpace

This was when I first logged onto my CreateSpace account and began the publishing process. At this point in time I notified them that I would be purchasing a custom cover, interior design, Kindle conversion service, Library of Congress Control Number, and 500 bookmarks. The prices for these items is as follows: cover – $399, interior – $349, Kindle conversion – $79, LCCN – $49, bookmarks – $139. The grand total came to $1026 with tax. I didn’t pay this on this date. I’m sure some of you are wondering why in the world would I pay a thousand dollars to publish my book. Well, these services are not required to use CreateSpace. An author can do everything his or her self and pay nothing. At this point in time I wanted my book to be as professional as possible.

September 19, 2013 – Initial consultation with CreateSpace representative to discuss services I’d shown interest in

The woman I spoke with was both friendly and knowledgeable. I had a list of questions that she was able to answer without hesitation. We discussed all of the above services I’ve mentioned and this was the first time I learned that I’d be receiving twenty complimentary copies of my book with my order. I was surprised and happy that I’d get to give the people who helped my book make it this far a free copy. I was unprepared at this point to pay and we settled for my paying the next business day. I paid the full $1026 at that time.

October 2, 2013 – Design team consultation

This first consultation with my design team was meant to give me the opportunity to discuss exactly what I wanted done with my book. The major topics would include the cover design and the interior formatting. But by this point I’d decided to use their free cover generator instead of having them design the cover for me. I told this to the person I spoke with and she told me that based on my responses to the cover questionnaire that she thought it was a good decision made by me. The covers that I’d mentioned were not highly complex and I felt I could easily come up with something using the free cover creator that I would be proud of. She immediately issued the refund for the cover service of $399. I’d prepared for the other services and we quickly decided the interior formatting and the bookmarks. The entire call took about fifteen minutes when they’re typically well over an hour according to the person I spoke with.

October 7, 2013 – Full interior complete

This was remarkably fast. They had given me a two week window in which they would be working on my interior formatting and had it ready only five days after the consultation with the design team. I was greatly impressed. I took this opportunity to read all the way through my book for the third and final time. In doing so I found somewhere around 35 errors that needed fixing. CreateSpace allows for up to 200 textual changes after the initial interior is complete, so I was well within that threshold. I made the necessary corrections within a Word document they provide and sent the manuscript back.

October 18, 2013 – Full interior complete with my changes

This is where it gets a little rocky. Just a little. I received what I hoped would be my final proof of the book, but there was a problem. Not a single one of my changes was actually made. This leads me to believe that no one ever actually looked at it before sending it back to me. I was upset, but let me be clear, by no means do I think this was done on purpose or in negligence. I know that CreateSpace publishes a great many books each year and mine was not the only one being worked on at the time. I called the support number and she expressed concern as to how this happened and agreed to have my changes made within three business days because I’d already had to wait for it.

October 23, 2013 – Final proof received and approved

True to her word, I received my final digital proof on that third business day and every mistake I’d corrected was in fact corrected. I jumped for joy. I was incredibly excited because I thought my book was all set to be released at the click of a button. But no, I’d also be receiving a physical proof. The celebration had to wait just a little while longer.

October 29, 2013 – Physical proof received and book released

I received my author proof and almost cried when I had it in my hands. I’d read countless forum discussions and posts discussing the quality of the books printed. In some cases as much as half the order was said to be damaged. But my book was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I logged onto my CreateSpace account and my book was officially released.

October 30, 2013 – Amazon product page online

The CreateSpace website told me that the Amazon product page would be online within 5-7 business days of my book’s release. Well, like every other timeline they gave me this one was very generous in its time frame. I woke the next morning to the sound of thunder outside my window and found my Amazon product page to be up and running. I was ecstatic. The world finally had the opportunity to read MY book!

November 7, 2013 – Kindle edition published and first book signing

The Kindle edition was said to be released within fifteen business days of the release of the print edition of my book. Well, again CreateSpace outdid itself and got it online within eight total days.

My first book signing took place on the campus of the University of Houston Downtown, where I graduated from in May. They were holding a criminal justice majors day, which was my degree, and invited me back. I’d only been given a two day notice and had to scramble to make a display, but I did and the signing was overwhelmingly successful. I was able to sell 21 of the 25 books I took with me with a number of students and professors expressing great pride in the fact that a UHD alum had written a book so soon after graduation.

November 8, 2013 – Bookmark order refunded

The order of bookmarks that I’d originally placed was refunded because they still had not begun work on them and I didn’t want to wait any longer. Bookmarks are really more of a perk than anything, so I decided to order some business cards instead to give out at signings and events so that people knew how to get in contact with me.

Conclusion

If I had to rate my experience with CreateSpace I would probably give it a 97%. You’re probably thinking about the issues that I described above as lowering the score far more than three percentage points, but I don’t think so. The issue with the interior was quickly resolved and the bookmarks were never a necessity. Every timeline I was given for a service to be completed was easily met and every person I talked to over the phone was able to quickly answer any questions I had. CreateSpace allowed me to price the book fairly, whereas other self publishers force the author to price high in order to make any money. The books printed are no lower quality than what you might find from a traditional publisher. The total cost ended up at $477. And the books are sold to me from CreateSpace at only the cost of printing, which is very low.

I would absolutely recommend CreateSpace to any author looking to self publish. Keep in mind that I only discussed the services I used. They offer editing, marketing materials such as posters, business cards, and postcards. They offer the free cover creator or a cover design service.

I hope any reader of this post feels a bit more knowledgeable about the self publishing process with CreateSpace!

If you’d like to see their work for yourself, then buy my book! It’s available in print and on Kindle! The Amazon page can be accessed here.

Successful First Signing!

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I told you guys that I had my first book signing event scheduled for today at a CJ Majors Day event taking place at my favorite university in the whole world. Well, it is with great pleasure that I tell you all that it was a fantastic success!

Honestly, I went into it thinking that if I sold maybe five books that I’d be pretty happy leaving school. And I really would have been. BUT I was lucky enough to sell 21 of the 25 books I took with me! How amazing is that?! Every person I interacted with, whether it was one of my former professors or current students whom I’d never met before, were REALLY supportive and enthusiastic. The people who put the event together and those who attended were all pretty excited for me. I even had former classmates of mine come up and tell me that they remembered me saying in class that I wanted to write crime novels, but didn’t expect to see it in person so fast, if ever. A few of the students bought one in part because of the story that I wrote, but also because of the fact that I am an alum and they wanted to support me. If that isn’t a great feeling then I don’t know what is.

I had A LOT of interesting conversations today ranging from what I’ve been doing since I graduated to my writing process to whether or not I enjoyed writing a full-length novel. And someone even told me that it was the first time he’d gotten a book signed by its author and he was excited! He was excited to for me to sign his book!

For me, I think the best feeling came when former professors or classmates of mine approached my table knowing that they would buy a copy no matter what kind of story I was telling. I didn’t have to “sell” my book to them because they were buying one more to support me than for the book. Hopefully I make all of you proud!

And finally, this post would not be complete without mentioning a couple of professors who made this day possible. I told all of you that I didn’t know until Tuesday that I’d be appearing today. And it was only because of Drs. Harris and Belbot inviting me and being just as excited about my book as I am. I was lucky enough to take Dr. Harris twice while in school, but I hadn’t met Dr. Belbot until Tuesday. So for them to both be so kind and helpful today makes me happy. They made me feel extraordinary, though all I did was write a book, right?

I don’t know how many of my buyers today will ever see this, but I appreciate every single one of you and look forward to receiving some feedback in the near future!

If you, the WordPress reader, would like to make this day even more exciting, then go get my book! Here’s the link.

 

First Signing Scheduled!

Can you believe that?! My first signing is already scheduled! Honestly, I know how hard it is for any author to have a book signing, so for me to have one within nine days of the release of my first book is pretty awesome. At least I think so.Let’s get into the details as to how this came about.

Today I went to the wonderful university that was nice enough to award me a degree. I actually hadn’t been back since graduating in May and my purpose for this trip was to give a good friend of mine her copy of my book. I also had intentions of meeting with a former professor who has expressed great interest in my writing and asked me to go by her office. Well, as I’m walking up the steps into the building I spot my professor. So we start talking about the book and all kinds of stuff related to really getting the word out about it. Ten minutes passed and my friend was still talking to a professor. So we walk upstairs and my professor discusses my book at length with the top business person of the criminal justice department. For a good five-ten minutes. Then she moves to discuss it with the department chair and she is just running around telling every person who will listen. It was pretty awesome.

We ultimately decided that i should attend the CJ Majors Day that is taking place on Thursday. This event is meant for declared criminal justice majors and also students who have an interest in doing so in the future. There’ll be advising staff and various area police departments recruiting, and me. Who better to pitch my book to than criminal justice students?! I get to make a fancy display and I’ll have a table set up and everything. I’m kind of scared. Really scared.

AND I signed my first book for someone!

Even though I don’t think any of you are in the Houston area, here are the details anyway:

The flyer can be found here.

University of Houston Downtown

Houston, TX 77002

CJ Majors Day

10:00AM-1:00PM Thursday, November 7

C100, Commerce Building