When I wrote Illegally Innocent (my first self-published novel), I did not have a set process for how I completed it or a certain number of drafts I planned to do before publishing. Honestly, I have no idea how many different drafts I wrote for that novel. When I wrote The Anorexic Experiment, I decided I wanted to try something different–basically a formula. Below you’ll see my novel-writing process for The Anorexic Experiment, and it worked so well that I am using the same formula for my current project, the sequel to Illegally Innocent. You can watch the companion video for this post on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/HLEgLyc3wmU. If you have a certain plan you follow for your writing projects, let me know in the comments below!

First Draft—I am not an outliner. I have a general idea of where the book is starting and where it is going to end up, and I have some plot points in mind that I want to touch on along the way. I try not to edit myself much at all in this first draft and mostly write whatever comes to mind. This is sort of a “junk draft.” I do not let anyone read it. Much of it may not even make sense to someone else or be in the order it is going to be in when all is said and done. I will have a word count target in mind and will try to write until I have both reached my target word count and have managed to form some semblance of an ending to the novel.

Second Draft—I start revising. I don’t spend a lot of time on descriptions or fine-tune the plot yet, but I rearrange the plot points into something that makes more sense, fix obvious errors, and in general turn it into something that I am okay with someone close to me reading. My husband, Mike, reads it to give me big-picture feedback.

Third Draft—I use Mike’s feedback to make more edits and now I will spend time on descriptions, fixing dialogue, and doing what needs to be done to make me comfortable with other people reading it. I fix everything I can identify as needing to be fixed. I ask for beta readers and send the manuscript to several people for feedback on things like what parts are confusing, what parts are boring, and any other general edits that they notice.

Fourth Draft—I take the feedback from my beta readers and incorporate much of it into my editing process. The book is basically finished by the time the fourth draft is done.

Fifth Draft—This is where I go over the book with a fine-tooth comb, checking for any grammar errors I may have missed; checking that I have called all of my characters by the correct names (and spelled their names correctly); and if I have used any brand names, I look them up to make sure that I spelled those brand names accurately. I also check for words that I may have repeated too often. One of those words that I tend to use too much is the word “actually.”

Done! Ready to start the formatting and publishing process!

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I have not been posting much this year, so I figured it was time for an update!

In writing news…

I have one more event planned for 2018–the Christmas at Wings Arts & Crafts Show in Kalamazoo, MI, on December 1 and 2. Another author, the lovely Sally Mahieu, and I will be sharing Booth 722, and we would love it if you stopped by!

I started a new YouTube channel in July. It currently has a few videos posted on it. If you’d like to see videos about writing-related topics as well as other things I do in my life, check out my channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8FscDzxIxC7Ab8P5AOicKQ/videos. If you enjoy watching it, I would love it if you would subscribe!

In the next few weeks I will be sending out an October/November 2018 e-newsletter. If you haven’t signed up already and would like to, please visit my website here: http://angelabaconbooks.com/newsletter-sign-up/. I only send out e-newsletters a few times per year, so don’t worry–I won’t fill your inbox with tons of emails each week! My e-newsletter is a good way for you to keep up with my author events; find out about special deals like Kindle sales, copyediting coupons, and contests; and become a beta reader for my upcoming projects.

My current writing project is the sequel to Illegally Innocent, and it still needs A TON OF WORK. I do not have a release date for it yet. This month marks SIX YEARS already since Illegally Innocent was released, and I know you have been waiting a long time for the sequel! I hope to bring it to you in 2019.

In personal news…

The store where I worked for over a decade shut down in March, and I am currently working in a job where I dabble in Accounts Payable, HR, and random administrative assistant types of tasks. Since this job spans quite the range of duties, I am still training even though I’ve worked there for over six months. I am enjoying having nights, weekends, and holidays off, since I regularly worked many of those shifts at my previous job.

I am writing this post to accompany a video on my new YouTube channel, Angela Bacon Books! This way you can have a list to print out if you would like to do so. 🙂 Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68IaxAe-Z10

Here is a list of what (and who) you should consider bringing to your first book signing:

1. Copies of your books (obviously)

2. Multiple black pens

3. A helper

4. Tablecloth(s)

5. Price sign

6. Display materials to hold your books

7. Business cards

8. Flyers/other papers if you have them (sometimes I will bring copies of my copyediting contract)

9. Sign-up sheet for your e-newsletter if you have one

10. Paperweight(s) to hold down loose papers at an outdoor event

11. Change & change box/money pouch

12. Square or other product to enable you to accept debit & credit cards

13. Back-up battery for your phone or other electronic devices

14. Foam core board & easel

15. Sales tax license

16. Blank notebook

17. Table & chair(s)

18. Large garbage bags to protect your items if it is raining or snowing

19. Bags to put your customers’ purchased books in

The president of the store where I have worked for nearly thirteen years announced to us in an emotional meeting yesterday that our store will be closing in three to four weeks. I know this was an extremely hard decision, and I appreciate that they have gone to great lengths to keep us open as long as they have. I am currently a full-time employee, and I have told them I will stay the remaining weeks that we are open. It has been a great store to work for, and they are doing their best to find positions for as many of us as possible at their other stores. As we all consider what our next steps will be (not just the next steps for us, but for anyone who is going through job loss, whether you are with this company or another), here are some questions I’m thinking about, and maybe they will help you, too:

  1. What is my passion? What do I not only enjoy doing but also feel that I am skilled in?
  2. What are my career goals not only for right now, but also for the next five or ten years?
  3. What do I need to do to make those career goals happen? How can I take at least one step each week toward making those career goals happen?
  4. If what I want to do is not going to make enough money to pay my bills for a while, what can I do in the meantime to pay those bills? What steps can I take so that my passion gradually does start paying more and more of my bills (and paying for fun things, too, like vacations)?

“Hitting bottom and hitting it hard was the worst thing that ever happened to me and the best thing that ever happened to me.” –Dave Ramsey

 

 

If you follow me on social media or subscribe to my e-newsletter, you may already know this information, but I would like to update my blog followers on what life has been like the past few months. At the end of June 2017, my second book, The Anorexic Experiment, released and I had big plans to spend the next several months on book promotion. I wanted to participate in as many events as possible and spend a lot of time doing online marketing of my new book. The first week of August, my husband Mike and I were excited to find out that we were expecting our first child. Along with the pregnancy came a lot of exhaustion, and many days I didn’t have the energy to do much beyond working at my full-time day job. I only participated in a handful of events and did not end up dedicating nearly as much time to marketing as I had originally thought I would.

At our first prenatal appointment on October 2, we found out that I had experienced a missed miscarriage. A missed miscarriage means that the baby has died, but the mother does not have any symptoms of a miscarriage. The baby did not have a heartbeat, and an ultrasound revealed that the baby was only measuring 10.5 weeks when it should have been measuring 13.5 weeks. We were devastated, and I ended up having surgery on October 13 since my body was not naturally miscarrying on its own. I wanted to take the rest of 2017 to recover both physically and emotionally, and so I decided not to do much of anything with my writing for the remainder of the year. Other than a few social media posts, I did not do anything to promote my books or do any writing on a future project for those last several weeks of 2017.

By the time the first day of 2018 arrived a few weeks ago, I was ready and eager to return to writing. I have been working on the sequel to my first book, Illegally Innocent, and am currently about 25% of the way through writing the first draft. I have slowly eased back into making social media posts and returned to sending out my e-newsletter in January. I am hoping to have some events scheduled soon and will share with you when I do.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who have experienced miscarriage.

My new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, is part of a Kindle Countdown Deal right now, and you can buy it for just $0.99! This weekend it will go up to $1.99, and then Sunday night it will go back up to its normal price of $2.99. Grab it at the discounted price while you can! Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Anorexic-Experiment-Angela-Bacon-Grimm-ebook/dp/B073C59BSX/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1501794191&sr=8-1.

Now that I have completed the CreateSpace process for my new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, and have received my first few shipments of books from them, I want to provide a review to help those who may be considering CreateSpace to self-publish their own book(s). This blog post is going to be significantly longer than many of my other posts, so settle in. 🙂

Overall, my experience with CreateSpace has been a positive one. The most exciting part of the self-publishing experience this time has been the price–I only spent about $135 for the whole process. Technically, you can use CreateSpace to publish for free, but I wanted to buy an ISBN for the paperback version ($99), and I purchased two proof copies (with rush shipping), so the total came to approximately $135. This cost includes both paperback and eBook versions. In contrast, my self-publishing experience with Mill City Press for my first novel, Illegally Innocent, cost almost $2500 for both paperback and eBook formats. Plus, I pay nearly $260 per year to keep Illegally Innocent listed for sale on Amazon, the iBookstore, and Barnes & Noble’s website. It appears there won’t be any yearly renewal fee with CreateSpace, but I don’t know for sure yet.

Depending on your own speed and skill with using CreateSpace’s process, you can crank out a book and have it up for sale on Amazon in a few days. With Mill City Press, it can take a few months before your book is available to buy. I also feel like I have more control over The Anorexic Experiment than Illegally Innocent as far as changing the price and updating files in an efficient manner if I want to do so.

CreateSpace has been pleasantly speedy with shipping books to me. All three of the shipments I have purchased so far have arrived in eight days or less (one of those times was even over the Fourth of July, and the books still arrived within six days from the date of order).

With CreateSpace, you publish the paperback version of your book in CreateSpace, but you publish the Kindle version through Kindle Direct Publishing (both owned by Amazon). Mill City Press turned my eBook not only into files for Kindle, but also for iBooks and Nook. With CreateSpace/Kindle Direct Publishing, if I want to make my eBook available in formats other than Kindle, I have to do that work myself. I chose to go with the KDP Select program, which allows you to earn higher royalties and means that I am making my eBook exclusive to Kindle for 90 days at a time. In a few months I might opt out of the program and develop a Nook version–I am still deciding.

Both CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing provide access to helpful sales reports that get updated every day. I particularly enjoy this feature, as Mill City Press provides just monthly sales reports for paperbacks and quarterly reports for eBooks.

Now for a few cons…formatting the interior pages of your manuscript and creating the cover can be a nightmare on CreateSpace. Mill City Press took care of both of those things for me with Illegally Innocent, and I didn’t realize just how many little details you have to watch to make sure your book turns out the way you want it to be. I formatted in Microsoft Word, and even though I have a ton of experience using Word and would have previously considered myself “proficient” in it, I learned even more about it while formatting this book. Even though I tried to do the best I could with the interior formatting of The Anorexic Experiment, I know Illegally Innocent looks better. If it is your first time using CreateSpace, DO NOT attempt to format your book without using their suggested template. I tried to do it on my own at first, thinking it seemed like a pain to copy and paste all of my manuscript into their template. Big mistake. I wasted many hours trying to format it and kept running into problems. Once I started using CreateSpace’s template, the process became much easier. It still took a decent amount of time, but I did not get nearly as frustrated as I had when I tried to do it without the template.

My husband, Mike, designed the cover of The Anorexic Experiment for me and did a great job. Unfortunately, though, we found out that CreateSpace’s print quality is not quite what we were hoping for. The cover image looked fantastic on Mike’s computer, and we thought it was within CreateSpace’s guidelines, but we ran into problems with pixelation and images that were slightly blurry. Overall, the print quality of both the cover and the interior is just not quite up to par with what Mill City Press produced for me. Both of my books use black as the main color on the back cover, and if you compare the two, the black on Illegally Innocent is much more vibrant and seems to be more of a “true” shade of black than that on The Anorexic Experiment. CreateSpace also seems not to be as careful when cutting pages–in one of the copies I received, the pages were incredibly crooked. Although all of the text was present and readable, if you flipped through and compared placement of headings, the book was definitely put together at an odd angle.

Overall, the problems I have experienced with CreateSpace have not been serious enough to prevent me from using their services again. I do think Mill City Press produces a slightly more professional-looking book, but it took a long time to earn back my money on that first book. I am glad I chose Mill City Press for Illegally Innocent and still recommend them if you do not feel comfortable trying to format your manuscript and create a cover on your own. Self-publishing a book for the first time can be overwhelming with figuring out how to market it, let alone trying to learn how to format, create your cover, and navigate other publishing issues. If you do not feel you are particularly computer-savvy, or do not have someone in your household who is, then I would recommend picking Mill City Press or a similar company in which they do most of the work for you. Honestly, if Mike had not taken on the responsibility of creating my cover, I don’t know if I would have chosen to use CreateSpace because I feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of making a cover. You can hire people through CreateSpace or freelancers to help you with the tasks that you don’t want to do yourself, but if you’re picking CreateSpace to save money, any tasks that you hire out to other people can really start to rack up your costs.

Whoa! You made it to the bottom of this post. 🙂 If you have any questions about my CreateSpace experience, please post them in the comments. If you’d like to read my review of Mill City Press from a few years ago, click here: https://thehealthybacon.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/illegally-innocent-ebook-and-a-review-of-mill-city-press/.

If you’d like to read the first two chapters of either of my novels, click here for Illegally Innocent: http://angelabaconbooks.com/illegally-innocent/ and here for The Anorexic Experiment: http://angelabaconbooks.com/anorexic-experiment/.