Posts Tagged ‘Illegally Innocent’

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/.

What inspired me to write The Anorexic Experiment?

The Anorexic Experiment, like Illegally Innocent, was a book I started writing in college. I may or may not have had a tendency over the years to get a strong start on writing a book and then get a different idea and start working on that one. 🙂 When I was in college, xangas were all the rage. In case you’ve never heard of a xanga (pronounced “zanga”), a xanga is just a blog. I don’t know if WordPress even existed back then, but if you wanted a blog, xanga was considered to be the way to go. Anyway, several of my friends had one, and I finally joined it and wrote mostly short, ridiculous posts that contained inside jokes that only my dormmates would understand. Xanga had these things called “blog rings” where you could join groups of other xanga members who wrote on similar topics as you.

One day I was browsing random xangas (as one does when procrastinating on research papers and such), and I stumbled across a blog ring full of people who wrote about eating disorders. I was alarmed to discover that these people (primarily females) were posting about their weight, their food intake for the day (many times drastically low), and all sorts of “inspiration” to give readers ideas on how to be anorexic and bulimic. I read posts from several of these blogs and was so bothered by one that I commented on one of her posts. She responded on one of my posts. It was so long ago that I don’t remember what I said or what she said, and I can’t find it now. The whole situation affected me so much, though, that it stuck with me and I decided to write about it. I wrote just two or three chapters of it while in college and set it aside until a few years ago when I decided to work on it some more.

My new YA novel, The Anorexic Experiment, releases on Tuesday, June 27! It will be available in paperback and eBook, and I will post a new blog entry with links to buy it once it is out. You can also visit my events page to find out where you can buy a signed copy (more events coming soon): http://angelabaconbooks.com/events/. Here is a quick description of the book:

Although the Jones family may look happy from the outside, secrets are slowly tearing them apart. What starts as a harmless assignment for journalism class morphs into an obsessive nightmare for fifteen-year-old Aimee Jones. A new friend, Josh, complicates matters even more. Will Aimee give in to temptation or find her own voice in the middle of chaos?
Aimee’s mom, Sara, fills her time with cooking and cleaning to avoid focusing on herself. Her attempts to make life healthy for her husband and kids do not equal good health for herself, though, and sometimes the pressure becomes too much. Will Sara take some time to focus on her own needs or keep pushing her problems away until it’s too late?

 

You will notice something a little different about my name on this book. I have decided to change my author name over to my married name, which is Angela Bacon Grimm. For now, my first book, Illegally Innocent, will continue to list “Angela Bacon” as my author name, but that may change once I release the sequel to Illegally Innocent. If you’d like to read the first couple of chapters of either of my books, you can find them under the “Books” page of my website, www.angelabaconbooks.com.

Thank you to everyone for your support of my writing over the past few years!  🙂

I am excited to share that I have been distributing copies of my current work-in-progress, a YA novel called The Anorexic Experiment, to a dozen-ish beta readers over the past couple of weeks and have already started hearing back from them! While I am waiting on feedback, I am working on the manuscript for a different book (title still undecided). This month marks four years since I released Illegally Innocent, so it is definitely time to publish another book. I have two author events scheduled before the end of the year, and I will keep you updated on whether I will have a new book available at one or both of these events. I am going to try a different self-publishing company this time, so it remains to be seen whether that choice will make the publishing process easier or harder than last time. If you’d like to visit me at an author event, mark your calendar now. 🙂 Here is where I will be:

Saturday, November 12, 2016–Santa’s Bag Arts & Crafts Show at Marshall High School in Marshall, MI, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday, December 3, and Sunday, December 4, 2016–Christmas at Wings Art & Craft Show at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, MI, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday

Christmas just ended a couple of weeks ago, but now we’ve started a whole new year of birthdays and (in case you’re planning waaaaayyyyy ahead) Christmas will be here again in less than twelve months. Do you need a gift idea for the writer friend/spouse/other relative in your life? Here are some ideas for you:

1. Paper and ink–It may seem simple, but writers go through a LOT of paper and ink for their printers. Many times I use Christmas money to stock up on a few ink cartridges–ink is expensive, and you go through it quickly if you’re printing off multiple copies of a manuscript for editing purposes. Copy paper is not expensive, but it makes a nice pairing with an ink cartridge for a gift. Looking for a deal? Check for copy paper sales in late summer when parents are buying school supplies for their kids. Depending on which brand of ink you need, it may not go on sale often. However, a store near you may sometimes give a percentage off on general merchandise items; ink is considered to be a general merchandise item, so you could get it cheaper in that situation. Or, if your store offers a few dollars off your bill if you spend a certain amount (like $5 off of $50), wait to buy ink until the week of one of those sales.

2. Signs with quotes relating to a writer’s life–You could get a sign, mug, T-shirt, or something else with a “writerly” quote on it. I have a small yellow sign from Kohl’s in my office that says “I am silently correcting your grammar.” I couldn’t find the same yellow sign on Amazon, but here is the same saying on a black sign if you are interested in picking it up: http://www.amazon.com/Teeburon-silently-correcting-grammar-Horizontal/dp/B00JPI94EQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452104463&sr=8-1&keywords=i+am+silently+correcting+your+grammar+sign.

3. Colored pens–Personally, I use pens with green ink when I’m editing other people’s work (Looking for a freelance copyeditor? Send me an email at angela@angelabaconbooks.com with the subject line “copyediting.”), but I use all sorts of different colors when I’m editing my own work. Corrections made with black ink definitely do not stand out on the page. Bonus points to you if you buy your writer friend some sort of fancy, unusual pen with colored ink. Please don’t buy those pens that have 3+ colors inside a single pen. Many times the ink in those types of pens is of poor quality and does not come out of the pen well after a few uses. You do not have to spend a ton of money on colored pens–I’ve purchased a bag of green pens from an office supply store for around $1 before, and the ink in those came out smoothly and worked well! These pens look fun if you’re looking for a whole set with varying colors: http://www.amazon.com/Staedtler-Assorted-Colors-Triplus-Fineliner/dp/B00VY9U9W0/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1452105495&sr=8-17&keywords=colored+pens. I have not tried this particular set of pens, but they have high ratings on Amazon.

4. Gift card to an office supply store–If you want to let your writer friend pick out his/her own office supplies, just get a gift card. Honestly, office supplies are fun for writers to buy (when they have money to actually buy them).

5. Unique notepads–Writers constantly scribble down story ideas. Find unique notepads for them to use for recording those ideas. I have some notepads that look like sandwiches. You can find a sandwich notepad here: http://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Gifts-Sandwichnotes-Sandwich-Notepad/dp/B008R8RCKS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452105974&sr=8-1&keywords=sandwich+notepad.

6. Shirts/bumper stickers/etc. with the writer’s book title on them–My husband bought me a sweatshirt and bumper stickers for Christmas a couple of years ago with my book, Illegally Innocent, on them. If your writer friend has at least one book published, you could do the same for him/her. Various websites will allow you to design your own shirt or other product.

7. Business cards–If your writer friend is just getting started with his/her writing and doesn’t have any business cards yet, you could offer to design business cards for your friend and pay for them. Business cards are a gift that I recommend you mention to the person ahead of time so that he/she can have some input on the appearance of the cards. You can buy beautiful business cards for low prices on vistaprint.com.

8. Small filing cabinet–Writers have an abundance of papers to keep track of–printed copies of manuscripts, business receipts, marketing materials, story notes/ideas, etc. Help make the writer’s family happy by giving your writer friend a place to store all of that stuff. I know my family enjoys when my papers are not spread out all over my office floor.

9. Change box–If your writer friend is about to publish a book, he/she will need a change box to use for author events. Perhaps you could meet that need before your writer friend has even realized that he/she should pick one up.

10. Offer to help at author events–If you are out of money but really want to give your writer friend something for a gift, don’t stress. Offer to help your writer friend at an author event–you can help set up tables and books, collect money, and watch the book table if your writer friend needs a bathroom break. This offer will be big-time appreciated and only takes your time rather than your money!

What are your other gift ideas for writers? I’d love to hear them! Please take my poll below if you are a writer. 🙂

This summer I was part of a community group through my church, and the curriculum we used was called Life As We Know It. I had worked on some long and short versions of my Christian testimony for various purposes in the past, but this curriculum brought up some different questions regarding topics that I hadn’t thought of including in my testimony previously. At first it was kind of overwhelming. I felt as though, upon answering the questions, I had far too much irrelevant information to attempt to include in my testimony. But then, after studying my answers over more and praying and hearing how some other people in my community group tackled their own testimonies, I was able to pull out some information that might be important that I had not previously included in earlier versions of my testimony. Anyway, I still can’t say for sure whether I recommend the curriculum or not; a lot of people in my group seemed to feel overwhelmed the way I did. At the same time, the prompting questions were kind of helpful. Anyway, the following is a version of my testimony:

I grew up in a Christian home and started going to church as a baby with my family. In addition to the spiritual influences of my family and church, my grandparents paid for me to attend a Christian school. One of my school friends, Nola, played a part in my coming to Christ. When the kindergarten teacher asked what we had done over the summer, Nola shared that she had asked Jesus into her heart. The teacher was really excited for her, but I was confused about what Nola meant. A few weeks down the road, I asked my mom about it, and she led me to the Lord in October of 1991 at the age of five.

Besides receiving such godly influence as a child, I also was hugely influenced by books. My mom and grandma would frequently write stories with me from the time I was three. Theirs were “real” stories with both words and pictures, while I would draw pictures and make up a verbal story to go with those pictures–until I was old enough to write words. I first declared that I wanted to be a writer someday at the age of six.

As a child, I had a rash that was spread in patches on much of my body, along with some other health problems. When the pediatrician’s advice did not seem to be helpful, my mom took me to a kinesiologist. He diagnosed me as having multiple food allergies and put me on some supplements, along with weekly chiropractic treatments. After following his directions for several months, my rash was gone. Although this was certainly not the first time my parents had chosen to try alternative medicine, I would say this was an important step in my own life in understanding that alternative medicine works. This experience, along with many other helpful run-ins with alternative medicine over the years, impacted my wanting to write a book with a large theme of alternative medicine—Illegally Innocent.

At the age of twelve, I experienced some doubts about whether I was a Christian or not, due to the fact that I had been so young when I came to Christ. I wondered whether I had actually fully understood the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the importance of confessing sin, and I re-committed myself to God at that age. When I was fifteen or sixteen (still at the same Christian school), an alumnus of that school returned to talk to us, and she mentioned that she had specifically asked God for the desire to get to know Him better. She referenced Psalm 42:1 [this is the NASB version]—“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for you, O God,” and said she had recently started praying for God to give her that desire because she felt like it was lacking. It had worked for her! This concept really appealed to me. Although I knew I was a Christian and tried to live a life pleasing to God, I also felt like other people (pastors, chapel speakers, missionaries, etc.) seemed to have a desire for God that was different from mine. At that point, I began praying for God to increase my desire for a deeper relationship with Him. It worked, just like the girl had said it would. I think this type of prayer is important to keep returning to in one’s life.

Also, when I was sixteen, my dad lost his job of nearly thirty years, and this loss had a large impact on my family’s finances. God can turn bad circumstances into blessings, though (just like my health problems helped to inspire the writing of Illegally Innocent), and one of the blessings that came out of my dad’s job loss was the fact that since our income was lower than it had been for much of my life, I was eligible to receive scholarships for college that I otherwise would not have been able to receive. These scholarships played a large part in my being able to attend the Christian university that was my first choice for college, Cedarville. My dad’s job loss also helped me and my parents grow in our relationships with God.

I was scared of getting baptized (because at the church we attended when I was young, you had to give your testimony in front of the whole congregation when you got baptized), but I knew it was the right thing to do. When I was seventeen, and we had been attending a different church for a few years at that point (one that simply required you to answer some questions with “yes” or “no” before going under the water), I finally got baptized and also became an official member of that church. Over the years, I have had several times when I’ve definitely been closer to God and more obedient than other times, but I am grateful that God has protected me from ever fully walking away from Him.

I am currently accepting submissions for my fourth annual “Reader Issue” writing contest! Today through October 31, 2015, I want you to send me something you’ve written, and I—along with two other judges—will pick three winners. Each of the three winners will have his or her winning submission published in my January 2016 e-newsletter (the “Reader Issue”) and will receive a $25 Amazon.com gift card and a paperback copy of a book (the list of books to choose from will be at the end of this post). I look forward to reading your entry and will notify the winners by email on or before January 1, 2016. Check out the rules below:

1. I will accept submissions August 1 through October 31, 2015. If you submit something after that date, it is not a valid submission and will not be considered for the contest. I will accept poems, short stories, creative nonfiction pieces, and articles. Whichever category you choose, your submission must be no longer than 4,000 words.

2. Whether you are five years old or 105, you are welcome to submit a piece for this contest. There are no age limits. Each person may submit up to two pieces (each individual piece can be up to 4,000 words).

3. If you were one of the winners who appeared in the January 2015 newsletter, you must take a year off. However, if you were one of the winners the first two years of the contest (meaning that your winning piece appeared in the January 2013 or 2014 newsletter), you are eligible to enter the contest again this year.

4. When you submit your piece, please send it to angela@angelabaconbooks.com. In the subject of your email, put “Reader Issue.” In the body of the email, list your name; home (or mailing) address; email address; phone number; and the title and category of your work (article, poem, short story, or creative nonfiction) and then provide the work as an attachment. Before you email me your piece, consider the following:

A. Check the overall grammar and sentence structure of your submission.

B. Did you follow directions regarding how to submit your piece—including your name, address, etc. in the body of the email?

C. Is your submission 4,000 words or fewer?

D. Is your submission appropriate? If you would rate it worse than PG, there is a strong possibility that much of my e-newsletter audience (which covers a wide range of ages and belief systems) will be offended, and I most likely will not print it.

E. Is it well-written? Did you spend a significant amount of time on it, or did you just throw it together in a few minutes?

F. Entertainment value—I am looking for something that holds my interest and will make me want to keep reading after the first page; or in the case of a shorter piece, it will make me want to keep reading after the first few lines.

Here is the list of books you can choose from:

1. Illegally Innocent (my book)

2. The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine

3. Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Michael Larsen, and David L. Hancock

4. Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

5. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Have any questions? Ask them in the comments below or email me at angela@angelabaconbooks.com, and I will gladly answer them. If you’d like to subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter, please visit the homepage of www.angelabaconbooks.com to submit your email address and sign up.