Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo is similar to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November), except it happens in April and July. Its purpose is to encourage writers to simply get words on paper (or word processor). According to the Camp NaNoWriMo About page:

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and creativity. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo before, which has a set goal of 50,000 words written in a month. Since Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set your own goal, I chose to aim for 30,000 words in a month, or 1,000 words per day.

The project I’ll be working on is the sequel to Grigory’s Gadget, currently with the working title Serafima’s Stone. If you get my newsletter, you already know that Serafima’s Stone will actually run concurrent with Grigory’s Gadget. It will tell the story of Princess Rozaliya, Heir Apparent of the Empire of Starzapad, whose disappearance sparks a war between Starzapad and Morozhia.

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo: my wonderful editors over at Writership recently came out with an excellent book for anyone struggling to form a good writing habit and/or hone your craft. It’s called Anchor One – Dreamtime, and it’s full of writing exercises and prompts to get those creative juices flowing!

Want to learn more about Grigory’s Gadget? Click here, here, and here to read reviews of it, or click here for the Goodreads page. Grigory’s Gadget is available in paperback at my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and as an eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iTunes, and Kobo.

Grigory’s Gadget Book Launch in Review

Last Saturday (March 12) was the Launch for Grigory’s Gadget – Book 1 of the Gaslight Frontier Series! It was held at Mermaid & Weasel in Buffalo, NY, and it was a great success! I actually sold out of my books (oops!), but more on that below.

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Along with my book, I also sold my homemade Grigory’s Gadget candles (in the scent Mulled Cider and Chestnuts…mmmmm…) and my custom-blended Grigory’s Gadget teas from Adagio.
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I wound up doing two readings: one of the opening scene of the book, and one of the scene where my characters are first abducted by pirates!

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And, yes, I sold out of books. On the one hand, that’s great! On the other hand, I wouldn’t have sold out so quickly if 12% of the books I had ordered from IngramSpark didn’t have cover defects. 5 of the 50 books I had ordered were not cut properly, and so had a white line along the edge. A 6th book looked like it had been run over by a car: there were large black streaks across the cover!

I filed a claims with IngramSpark about these books, but did not hear back from them until after my Launch event. They will be replacing those 6 books, and I don’t have to return the defects (I’ll be selling those at a discount). It would have been nice to know that before Launch day…

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If you’re interested in grabbing a copy of Grigory’s Gadget, it’s available in paperback form from my eStore, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and in eBook form on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes.

Check out these reviews of Grigory’s Gadget:

I also did an interview with the Steampunk Cavaliers HERE.

Grigory’s Gadget Launch Day!

Tomorrow (March 12) is Launch Day for Grigory’s Gadget – Book 1 of the Gaslight Frontier Series! You’ll be able to find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords, and Kobo! You can also get the paperback through my CreateSpace eStore. It’s also on Goodreads!

If you’re in Western New York, stop by Mermaid & Weasel on Main Street in Buffalo for my book launch event (along with their store anniversary party!). I’ll have copies of Grigory’s Gadget to sign and sell, along with Grigory’s Gadget-themed tea, candles, and t-shirts!

Here are a couple reviews of Grigory’s Gadget:

I also did an interview with the Steampunk Cavaliers HERE!

CreateSpace vs. IngramSpark – My Experience

CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing platform) and IngramSpark (Ingram’s/Lightning Source’s self-publishing platform) are probably the most popular sites to self-publish print-on-demand (POD) books, and they both have their pros and cons. I decided to utilize both sites for my novel, Grigory’s Gadget, for several reasons:

  • Publishing through CreateSpace:
    • Title set up is free, unlike through IngramSpark
    • Your royalties will be higher per book sold on Amazon
    • The cost to order copies of your own book is less than through IngramSpark
    • It’s very user friendly
  • Publishing through IngramSpark:
    • Books are distributed through Ingram, which is what brick-and-mortar stores use to order books
    • Books are returnable, which means brick-and-mortar stores are much more likely to stock your book

Those are the pros of each website that I knew going in. Now that I’ve submitted my book through both sites, received physical proofs, and am preparing to officially publish (Grigory’s Gadget will be on sale in just over a week – on March 12!), here is my experience:

  • Title Set Up
    • CreateSpace
      • As I said above, title set up is free
      • The process is very straightforward and user-friendly
    • IngramSpark
      • Title set up is $49, but this fee is waived if you order 50+ copies of your book within 60 days of set up
      • The process is still very straightforward; basically, it just doesn’t look as flashy as CreateSpace
  • Proofing my book
    • CreateSpace
      • Once I uploaded my files, I was able to digitally review them almost immediately, via a very cool online proof page that even shows my book in a 3D view
      • I was able to order my proof less than 24 hours after submitting my files, and the book was printed and shipped only a few hours later (impressive!)
      • I received my proof 5 days (which included a weekend) after ordering
      • LESSON I LEARNED: Do NOT OK your proof until you’re ready for your book to be officially on-sale. I had my book on pre-sale with a set publishing date. CreateSpace doesn’t care what you say your publishing date is – if you finish submitting your book, it will put it on sale. If you have a set publication date, just let the book sit there until a couple days prior to that date.
    • IngramSpark
      • Once I uploaded my files, it took less than 24 hours for them to be approved and for a PDF proof file to be generated
      • At that time, I was also able to order my physical proof
      • I received my proof 7 days (including a weekend) after ordering.

Now for the side-by-side comparison of my proofs! For both CreateSpace and IngramSpark I used a 5×8 trim size, matte cover, and cream paper. In the following images, CreateSpace is on the left and IngramSpark is on the right.

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Front Cover: The covers are almost indistinguishable (in the photo above, the CreateSpace book looks a bit darker only because of the way the light hit it; the darkness levels on both are actually about identical). The main difference I noticed is that the CreateSpace cover feels a bit smoother, while the IngramSpark cover feels slightly more rubbery. The CreateSpace cover also shows fingerprints more prominently, as can be seen in the next photo:

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Back Cover: I will admit I leave fingerprints pretty readily on everything, but they definitely don’t hide on the CreateSpace cover! Another obvious difference for the back cover is that CreateSpace reserves that specific bottom-right corner for its bar code, while IngramSpark lets you float the bar code pretty much wherever you want. It’s also smaller. Not a big deal, but something a cover artist would obviously have to consider.

Another note: the IngramSpark back cover doesn’t appear to have been trimmed properly – you can see the thin white line at the bottom. I called IngramSpark’s customer service to request a new proof to confirm it was just a printing error (and one that wouldn’t repeat). I was on hold for an hour (!) but once I got ahold of a representative, she was very helpful and ordered a second proof for me (I didn’t have to pay for the second proof). The second proof looked fine. I’ve since ordered 50 copies of my book from IngramSpark, and have found one other copy (so far) with a similar printing error. I’ll be contacting them again once I take a complete tally of the quality of all 50 books. I’m a little disappointed here: IngramSpark is supposed to be the higher-quality and more professional POD site.

Map Image: I have a map image for my book, as shown above. There’s a pretty clear difference between CreateSpace and IngramSpark here: IngramSpark’s image has a much crisper, higher-contrast image. That said, it’s not like the CreateSpace image is awful. It’s just not as good 😉

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Interior: The first thing I noticed was actually something I did NOT notice: a notable difference in the paper colors. I’ve read a lot of complaints that CreateSpace’s paper is super yellow, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Maybe they’ve changed paper recently? A big difference between the two books is the text. The IngramSpark text is sharper and darker, but it’s also a little glossy (you can actually see that in the photo). So I guess, it’s easier to read unless you’re reading under harsh light? The other difference I noticed is that the IngramSpark paper is very smooth vs. the CreateSpace paper which has more texture to it.

Overall: The IngramSpark book is definitely the higher-quality book, with the exception of the cover printing issues. That being said, the CreateSpace book is definitely not bad. You really can’t tell the difference between them unless you’re doing a side-by-side comparison like this.

  • Preorder Process
    • CreateSpace
      • Short answer: there isn’t a preorder option. And DO NOT approve the proof of your book until you’re ready for it to be on sale!
      • Long answer: there’s KIND OF a preorder option. I’m not sure why Amazon hasn’t consolidated this convoluted process, but here’s the gist of it: When you’re ready to start a preorder for your book, you need to make an account with Amazon Advantage. This is one of their vendor sites (different than Amazon Marketplace; I don’t know what the exact differences are because I’ve only used Advantage). Then you set up your book there with all of its information, set the publication date, and put it on preorder. Once your order is processed, Amazon will request copies to stock in its warehouse(s) (the amount varies, presumably based on some algorithm or other). You don’t need to send them anything – for every order, you just say the product isn’t ready yet. Once the publication date draws near, you need to contact Advantage and let them know that CreateSpace will be fulfilling all of the orders. It’s convoluted and dumb, and I would think a company like Amazon would have streamlined it by now. Oh well.
    • IngramSpark
      • During the title set up, you enter the publication date. Once you approve your files, IngramSpark puts your book on preorder until that publication date. Easy peasy.
    • Note on publishing through both CreateSpace and IngramSpark
      • First off, DO NOT enable Expanded Distribution on CreateSpace if you’re using both. For the Expanded Distribution, CreateSpace sources through Lightning Source anyway, so just let IngramSpark take care of that side of distribution
      • Second, make sure to watch your book listings on Amazon when you start your preorder and/or publish your book, since both CreateSpace and IngramSpark distribute to Amazon. If the books have the same ISBN, they should play nice and not create redundant pages. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, though, but all you need to do is contact Amazon and they will fix it for you 🙂

Moving forward, I think I will definitely use CreateSpace again in the future. I’m not quite as sold on IngramSpark, due to the increase costs and the cover issues. To be fair, though, I haven’t yet ordered 50 copies from CreateSpace – they may have the same inconsistency issues.