Category Archives: Writing

Eight Christmas Romances for Your Reading Pleasure — Post by Mary C. Findley

under the mistletoe 25

Thanksgiving is just a sweet memory. Black Friday has slid past also. But before you panic about shopping unfinished and garlands not hung, settle down with this anthology of eight romances and so much more. Meet real couples with real lives, not just smarmy smooches, and especially not steamy bed-hopping. Enjoy some sweet, clean, and meaningful reading time. Forget the heat meter. Crank up the faith, hope, and love meters in these stories without sacrificing real romance.

Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you eight wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this holiday season.

Enjoy two historical and six contemporary romance stories sure to warm your heart.

The Christmas Bride by Jenna Brandt

Once Upon a Star by Lorana Hoopes

The Gift of Peace by Judith Robl

Fall on Your Knees by Mary C. Findley

Christmas Conundrum by Carol E. Keen

Holly’s Noel by Elle E. Kay

Love’s Sacrifice by Evangeline Kelly

Christmas in Trace Hallow by C.J. Samuels

For just a taste, come see our YouTube video trailer

And find the book here on Amazon

You can get the book in print or ebook (still only 99 cents!) at all major online retailers.

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Isaiah Chapter 3: Culture of Youth and Beauty — Post by Mary C. Findley

430px-August_Riedel_Judith_1840
Sounds like Jerusalem and Judah had it pretty good, right? Look over that list of material provision (support system, food, water) and leadership (military, judiciary, teachers, advisers, craftsmen, and someone who may have been a charismatic speaker or influencer). The use of the phrase skillful enchanter gives us a hint that they weren’t sourcing any of their things or their leaders from the right place.

We worship a culture of youth and have for a long time, and here God gives people what they want, youngsters in charge, with disastrous results. People begin to take advantage of each other and the honorable suffer at the hands of these childish rulers. One guy with an intact coat will be grabbed and thrust into leadership, if anybody can make him do it. Apparently nobody will have much more than a coat in those days. Certainly not a will to give proper leadership.

Verses 8 and 9 make it clear that the people oppose God and flaunt their rebellion. When disaster comes, they can’t pretend it wasn’t their own fault. Public sins have public consequences.

Time to reassure the righteous in verse 10. No matter how bad things seem to get, it will go well with them. And in verse 11 another reassurance we often need when, as the Scriptures say in other places, this question hangs in the air: “Why do the wicked prosper?” God says things will turn bad for the wicked. “Let the punishment fit the crime,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado says. God says the wicked will get what they deserve.

Once again God restates in verse 12 that His people are oppressed because they wanted unsuitable rulers – immature, inexperienced, leading the people down twisting paths.
God will judge these rulers. Make no mistake. I’m pretty sure those crushing and grinding references refer at least in part to taxes. People tend to think that government takes care of the poor with welfare and social services. But it doesn’t work that way when corruption takes hold. God is outraged at the twisted mentality that steals from people who already have too little.

Verses 16-24 detail a culture that should be very recognizable to us today. Is it a sin to want to be beautiful and have pretty things? Look at the words used: proud, seductive. Women can bring down a whole culture by worshiping self, sexuality, beauty. Dressing little girls in revealing outfits is starting them down the road to sensuality without reserve. Females scream about their rights and their freedoms Modesty has become kind of an obsolete term but God hates that mentality.

God will send scabs into that beautiful hair. He will make it fall out, or pluck it out. All that long list of pretty things will disappear and be replaced by stench, coarseness, and disfigurement.

The men they have gotten themselves dressed up for will be dying in battle, trying to save their women, but failing. All that emphasis on self, on attracting attention, will change to mourning and loneliness.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. What clues indicate that God’s people were prosperous but not by depending on Him?
2. Briefly explain what kinds of oppression take place when the wrong kind of rulers get into power.
3. What are some proofs that these people deserve what they get when destruction overtakes them?
4. Give examples in modern culture of women lacking understanding of modesty.
5. Do you think women have in some cases made it more difficult for men to protect them? Explain your answer.

Your Turn in the Microcosm
Can you see any way in which Isaiah 3 resembles Leviticus? God spelled out laws, described beautiful garments, and even gave proper age ranges for his different kinds of servants. The story of Nadab and Abihu might help provide an example that parallels how people sometimes respond to God’s expectations. There are rewards and punishments in Leviticus. Step into the microcosm and share your observations on how we should really be seeking God’s blessing or avoiding His wrath.

Image Credit: Artist August Riedel Title: Judith Current location: Neue Pinakothek Source/Photographer: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen Wikimedia Commons

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Isaiah Chapter One: The Price of Doing What You Want

Isaiah_(Bible_Card)

Isaiah was a prophet to four kings in Judah. His book is, in our modern version, 66 chapters long, the same as the number of the books in our Bible. Some have called it a microcosm of the whole Bible. Indeed, we can find many of the elements throughout the Bible in this one book, so studying it gives a chance to hit many of the highlights God wants us to discover throughout His Word.

Heavens and earth are called to witness the declaration. Creation has been an innocent witness to and victim of man’s rebellion from the time of the fall. Romans 8:18-25 details the correct attitude of believers, that of understanding that suffering is part of true service to God, because sin is not good and pleasant and enjoyable, but produces misery and anguish. Creation has longed for purging from the effects of sin ever since it entered the natural world.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8:18-25, NASB)

This should have been the attitude of the Children of Israel in Isaiah’s time, but the truth was that they, instead of acting like sons raised up to love and serve their father, God, they revolted. They weren’t just indifferent or apathetic, they actively rebelled.
Trained domestic animals know better than these people about who to serve and obey. How can these people be ignorant? Sinful as a whole nation, burdened by all of that wickedness, generational guilt and corruption. Abandoning, despising, and turning away from God.

This has to be true because if the traditions were maintained, Jewish children were educated in the Law from an early age. They knew better, from the three methods God has always used:
1. the witness of creation,
2. the witness of His Word, and the message of the prophets. By this time they had numerous books of the Bible
3. plus teachers and prophets like Isaiah.

“There is no room for another mark.” Tars Tarkas said in the John Carter movie, speaking to his daughter Sola. Sola was punished for disobedience against her green Martian tribe by being branded each time she was caught. She had been punished so many times there was no space left on her body for the signs of her rebellion.

Whether this punishment in this movie was just or not isn’t the point. It illustrates the condition of the people of God. He had disciplined them for their true and unquestionable rebellion until there was no space that did not bear “bruises, welts, and raw wounds.” (Isaiah 1:6, NASB)

Put aside your socially-conditioned shock over corporal punishment, please. Even in our permissive society we reach a point where we have laws to try to correct wrongdoing. These were God’s attempts to lawfully correct His people’s wrongdoings. He just didn’t have any place left to administer correction.

From head to toe these people bore the marks of stubbornness and rebellion. The fact that they were untreated (raw) and “not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil” means that they were like sheep who wouldn’t even let a shepherd take care of the injuries sustained as part of the sheep’s natural tendency to wander and get itself injured or corrected with the rod. They’ve run from the tender aftermath where the father who had to discipline would love to take the rebel into His arms and administer comfort and display love.

The man-curated portion of creation also bears witness to rebellion. His structures created from God-supplied building materials are burned. His crops are stolen by invaders, as happened often throughout the book of Judges. These marauders devoured this food right in front of the Israelites. Desolation by strangers. A terrible fate.
This makes it clear that it wasn’t God who wanted to rob them of safety and sustenance. Enemies took the opportunity to swarm in because the people had trampled on God’s walls of protection. They smashed through those loving arms reaching out to defend them and embraced instead false gods and practices. In doing so they also invited in pain, misery, and loss.

All that was left was a little shack in an empty field, the place where someone was supposed to look after the crops as they grew. But there was nothing left to tend or protect. A besieged city will eventually run out of supplies and come to the end of its food and water. Israel had allowed itself to be surrounded and cut off from God’s help. Only a few survivors would remain because of God’s enduring mercy. They could have been wiped out, as Sodom and Gomorrah were, but God did not desire that.

How do we know that they were probably still following the traditions of teaching their children? Because they were following others, the sacrifices, the attendance at the Temple. We know this because God said they were sacrificing, but instead of enjoying the “sweet aroma,” as He has described it elsewhere, God said “I take no pleasure” calls them “worthless” and says “incense is an abomination.” He says “I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.” It’s as if you invited and important guest to dinner and served the garbage disposal scraps along with the real food. What were the Israelites thinking?

Just as the people were burdened with their sins in verse 4, God was burdened by their hypocritical sacrifices and growing weary of having patience, seeking true repentance in verse 14. That’s what sacrifices were supposed to be for, to show evidence of being sorry, turning away, and seeking forgiveness.

That’s not what these sacrifices were, though. When the Israelites prayed, they couldn’t even see that they were raising up bloody hands, stained by the innocent blood God says elsewhere that people were guilty of shedding. From evil kings all the way down to mothers who killed their own children, God recounts over and over again the horrors His own people were capable of committing. God will not, cannot, listen to the prayers of polluted people when they never give a thought to confessing and forsaking their sin but just feel like they have to carry out a ritual.

“Tradition!” shouts the cast of Fiddler on the Roof in the famous production number of the same name, but these traditions were empty of truth and meaning to those people in Isaiah’s time.

God begged and pleaded that they would see their sin, acknowledge it, and be cleansed from it. They needed to learn what the traditional education was supposed to be impressing on them, the basics of right human behavior.

These were such simple precepts. Stop doing evil. Learn how to do right. You don’t have to have superpowers to become a champion of justice. Tell bad people they are wrong. Stand up for children with no parents. Defend women left without husbands.
Did you think God was only interested in emotion, in mysticism? Then why does He invite us in verse 18 to reason together with Him? Because true belief isn’t weird. It isn’t mysterious and impossible to think through and understand.

God gives an object lesson. If you spill blood on something, it will stain. Just so, the people had stained themselves by killing the innocent. But blood can be washed out, even out of something pure white, like wool, and then it will be bright, clean, and shining pure again.

But of course He isn’t talking about literal blood or wool here. He’s talking about sin and its remedy. Sin is the destruction of innocence. People do murder innocents when they abort babies or leave newborns in a toilet or leave children in a cardboard box someplace because they didn’t want to protect them. The same goes for women who are attacked, molested, raped, or murdered because they are deemed easy prey.

In the days of Isaiah there were human sacrifices, usually children, but women were also victimized, used and discarded as temple prostitutes or subject to other monstrous mistreatment. Anytime we fail to value and protect life we are guilty of innocent blood.
Again, God appeals to simple reason in verse 19. Consent to obey, and you will have the best. Refuse and rebel, and the sword is coming to kill you. You have been warned, just as you are warned about the consequences of misbehavior when you accept a job.
If you keep abusing your position, stealing from your employer (so many ways to do that and no one can pretend they don’t know many ways to betray an employer’s trust) vandalizing his property, mistreating fellow employees, you could end up worse than fired. You could go to prison, at least. This is what the people were doing to God.

How does a person go from faithful to unfaithful? Just to unjust? Righteous to murderer? How does this happen in the heart of a man or woman today? A bride and groom do still sometimes exchange vows, including a pledge of fidelity. Believe it or not, this is still a thing in many marriage ceremonies, even nowadays.

Yet married couples betray each other by adultery, mistreat each other by hiding or misspending income, abuse each other with physical violence, and even murder a spouse, sometimes with the added horror of committing suicide afterwards. This can happen in other areas of life as well, following a pattern of initial faithfulness devolving into downward steps that end in some kind of terribly unnatural death.

Instead of maintaining valuable currency we have, like ancient Sparta, become satisfied with coinage worthless outside our own tiny circle. We can’t get anything but watered-down beverages because we don’t protect the value of things. We are led by the rebellious and form friendships with people who think stealing is just getting what you’re owed or the only way to get ahead. You can pay people to make you falsely successful. Nobody listens to the cries of the real needy, the orphans and the widows. They’re too busy chasing false success for themselves.

These people are adversaries of God. They oppose Him, and He will treat them like enemies in battle. He won’t put up with impurities like the dross in silver. Get ready for the lye soap, you dirty sinner. You will become pure by God’s washing and it won’t be comfortable or make you feel loved, since you didn’t want to be loved when you had the chance.

How do we get back to righteousness? Let God restore it. Stop rebelling. Give in to His wisdom in the choice of judges and counselors. He chose them in the time of the Judges, just to name one example. Wow! Would we have chosen Samson or Jephtha? God’s ways are not our ways, but He asks us to trust Him and to be obedient, not understand or know everything. “Trust and Obey” is far more than a song for children in Sunday school. It’s a life principle.

Only in that way can faithfulness be restored. God does it. We don’t do it. Our efforts fail and so do our sinful hearts. “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it.” But how do we get redeemed? By sacrifices? By struggling with our own version of righteousness? Nope. Once again, God does it. Verse 27 doesn’t say Zion redeems herself. It says she “will be redeemed.” How? By repentance.

What’s repentance? Simple. It’s when I’m walking that way, the way of sin, doing that thing that is opposed to God, and suddenly I say, “No. I’m going to walk the opposite way, and do the opposite thing!” You say and think the same thing about sin that God says. “No more! I oppose it! I turn my back on it.”

After all, transgressors, that is, people who turn off God’s path, ignore His signs so they can do things ‘way worse than walking on the grass, end up in the trash compactor. Hear that awful din when the garbage man comes with his big truck and those claws grab your can and hoist it into the air, emptying it into the maw of the crusher? Hear the roar and squeal and the grinding of the compactor mashing your trash into … yeah. That’s the fate of the sinner. You don’t want to be in God’s compactor. You don’t want to know what it means when God says these people will “come to an end.” (v. 28)

Why would you be ashamed of trees? Embarrassed by gardens? (v. 29) Maybe you don’t understand the Bible because you don’t see how the cultural applications are relevant today. Ever hear of a Zen Garden? Japanese and other Buddhists create these as a place where they can meditate. It’s a form of worship. False worship.

These trees, these gardens, mentioned in Isaiah, are places to worship false gods. You should be embarrassed if you are worshiping idols. Oh, you don’t worship any false gods? People throw around terms from other religions today, like feng shui, yoga, even mindfulness, claiming they are ways to get healthy, get focused, be more successful. They don’t see the idolatry. Or they don’t want to. These are obsessions with physical things that cross over into supposed spiritual benefits.

God uses parallels to visualize the fate of idolaters. Love to worship at that sacred tree? Watch the leaves wither and fall. Sitting and meditating in that mystical garden? It dries up without water. Who puts life into a tree or gives water to a garden? Look to the Source of life, God, and stop worshiping the mere life itself.

Not only are the tree and the garden temporary, not only do they die off, they dry up and so do the people who worship them. A man might seem strong and successful as he practices techniques of eastern mysticism, but if the focus is on the mere physical, something so temporary, when it dries up it could become just something to spark a fire. It could burn up. In fact, God says the idolater will burn up, no matter how strong he appears. No one can put out a fire that God starts, and He will start one, to do away with the idol and the idolater.

Questions for Further Study, Discussion, or Thought
1. Why is Creation a good witness for God to call upon?
2. How do we know that Israel should have known better than to rebel?
3. How should children respond to their father’s discipline? Why would they not respond correctly?
4. Why did God hate their sacrifices? What is the real purpose of sacrifice?
5. List some ways married couples can be unfaithful, and how this is a picture of man’s relationship to God.
6. Explain the meaning of repentance.
7. Share some cultural examples of idolatry that people may not realize they practice. What is their justification for doing these things?

Image Credit: Isaiah Bible Card from the Providence Lithograph Company, 1904. thebiblerevival.com Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

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Pronoun, Smashwords, and Draft 2 Digital — The “Other” ebook sales sites

where to sell your ebooks

Many authors have uploaded their ebooks onto Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site to reach readers. Amazon is a great place, and some authors even choose to be exclusive there, in the Kindle Unlimited program, through KDP Select. However, if you choose to distribute your books widely, here are three options for getting them into many sales avenues at once. Each one has a slightly different distribution range, and the requirements and procedures vary somewhat too, so here we go.

Pronoun is the site I most recently began to work with. It is one of few (or maybe no others do yet) that distributes to Amazon. It also gets you into Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and Google Play, as well as library distributors Overdrive and Bibliotheca. It does not allow you to use their distribution for sites your books already appears on (unlike Smashwords and D2D) so I am just using it for Google Play, Overdrive, and Bibliotheca. The last two are means of getting your books into libraries, so that is a good thing. I was a little conflicted about Google Play, since I have heard Google doesn’t always respect author copyrights, but since I just began putting our books there in June and already have three sales, I am hoping it is worth the risk.

Here is the link to the Pronoun site https://books.pronoun.com. Take a look at the author agreement, which seems very simple and straightforward. If you allow Pronoun to post your titles that are already for sale on Amazon, it will send you rankings and other information that you may find useful. It will email you when you get sales or let you know about any distribution problems you may encounter. When you are choosing the categories and keywords it makes suggestions and gives rankings for past use in searches, so you know better, perhaps, if you have chosen good ones.

An image inside a file can’t be over a certain total pixel count, so don’t put your full size cover into the file, and you must have a TOC in the front, linked or not, and a working ebook NCX (the digital table of contents that automatically displays in an ebook reader), even if your chapters aren’t named, and even if it’s a short story. Yes, if you have just Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc., you still have to list them in the front. I make my own epubs to upload, and if you do that, be sure the title in that metadata file matches your book title.

It is my understanding that they take less revenue than some other sites. They take you through everything step by step and the process is pretty easy. If you are just starting to publish this may be a good site, since it does get you on Amazon along with other well-known retailers, and potentially into libraries.

Draft 2 Digital is a very easy site to upload to, and distributes to

  • iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo (including Kobo Plus)
  • Inktera (formally Page Foundry)
  • Scribd
  • 24Symbols
  • Tolino
  • Playster

There is no style guide or special requirements. You can just upload a Word document and they say it will become a beautifully formatted ebook. I have not done it this way, but may authors are happy with their results and love how easy it is. You can also get a book formatted for print in PDF format from this site. Here is the link to the site: https://www.draft2digital.com. It does not matter if you already have your books on sites they distribute to. They don’t demand exclusivity.

Smashwords is a more difficult site to upload books to. You can give them Word docs but they have strict requirements for formatting and if you don’t follow them the book will be rejected. Many authors have given up trying to submit to them. I persevered and got our books on there. They do have file size limits — 10 megs for a Word doc and 20 for an epub. Here is a post I wrote simplifying formatting requirements for your book.

https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/smashwords-formatting-its-not-no-sweat-but-its-also-can-do/

It’s a little harder to pin down where your books are actually distributed by Smashwords, since they list sites they don’t yet distribute to, even on the author dashboard for tracking sales. Some I am fairly sure about are Baker & Taylor’s Blio.com, Library Direct, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Kobo, /Inkterra, and txtr. Tracking your sales is much more difficult, also.

Both D2D and Smashwords recently changed their policies so they now pay each month instead of quarterly, no matter the balance owed. Pronoun also pays through Paypal. That goes into the Paypal account you set up with them.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Make a Print Cover for Your Book — Post by Mary C. Findley

7 31 2015 chasing print cover

I recently helped an author friend make a print version of an ebook cover at CreateSpace.  He asked me to give some instructions for the next time. This post assumes you have an image manipulation program and know how to use it fairly well. I won’t be explaining details about tools and techniques. I assume you know them, or else, not to be unkind, you can’t do this.

I also post this caution. I am a cover designer and people pay me to do this for them because it is not easy.  Print covers are especially difficult. I am not saying I don’t like to help do-it-yourselfers, but I am giving you fair warning that it is hard.

So here it is, as simple as I can make it. Anyone who has any questions, please feel free to email me mjmcfindley@gmail.com This post is only about making a print cover, and from a finished ebook cover, and nothing about the book’s interior. If anyone would like to know my process for that, please let me know at the email address above.

When making a print cover, CreateSpace  gives three options. Most of us choose not to take the professional design services option because of cost. That leaves two more choices: 1. use the cover designer or 2. upload your own print-ready pdf.

The first option is one that many of my author friends have used with success. CreateSpace offers different background designs and layouts. Authors can use their own images if they fit correctly into the spaces. This is where some authors have not been so successful. This was the case with the friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

I made his ebook cover so I took a personal interest in trying to help him make it work. He relayed to me the error messages he got as his cover was rejected by the cover designer program. I changed the size of the front cover, created a back cover panel — nothing seemed to work, including re-making the size to their specifications.

I didn’t deal directly with CreateSpace so I’m not sure of everything that happened. I just know my author friend’s  frustration level was rising.  I wanted to help.

  1. I told him I would download a CreateSpace template of my own. This is step one, by the way, of my how-to instructions. Go to this link:   https://www.createspace.com/Help/Book/Artwork.do Choose your color (black & white is most common. If you have a color interior, chose that. Plug in the trim size (his was 6 x 9) and the page count.  They create a zipped file containing two items: a pdf and a png file. You download that file, open it, and upload the png file into your image program. Photoshop, Corel, or whatever one you use. You will see a blank template marked with some of the instructions needed to create the cover with trim edges and spine marked.
  2. Unfortunately, in my program, PhotoImpact, it doesn’t handle that file as a png. For those with the same problem, this is an extra step if the template doesn’t have that layer with the pink lines separate from the white background. All you need to do is create a blank image the same size as (or slightly larger than) the template, copy and paste the template into it, center it, and use the magic erase tool or whatever it is called in your program to wipe out the white areas inside and around the pink template.
  3. Create a background that complements your ebook cover. That could be a simple solid color, but I like to use at least a textured background, like stone or fabric. You can get free textures at this link: http://webtreats.mysitemyway.com/ These are tileable, meaning you can fill the background with a smooth, even image. Choose a photo background instead if you wish. Make sure, again, that the background complements and doesn’t distract from your main front cover image.
  4. Lay out your ebook cover centered in the front cover area of the template. Getting an exact fit may require resizing. Don’t expect a perfect fit against the spine. When the book is completed it’s rare that the printers make an exact fold in the same place every time. I soften and fade the edges so that there’s no need to worry about an exact fit. The alternative is to try to exactly match whatever your ebook background is. That’s difficult if you didn’t make it yourself. If you did, that makes it easier.
  5. The hardest part for me is the back cover text. I suggest you lay it out a paragraph at a time. Small amounts of text are easier to manage. Pick an easily-readable contrasting text color and font. If necessary, use a screen behind the text to add contrast, and/or a thin outline, and/or a drop shadow.  Choose whether you will center it, block it, or just make normal paragraphs. This text, by the way, is your book blurb. It can be exactly what you made for your ebook upload page, or different. Up to you. Just make sure it is a comfortable fit. You can also have an author bio and image if you like. Just be aware of the space you must leave open for the barcode CreateSpace will add. It’s part of the template.
  6. The spine text is pretty simple. Type or copy and paste it in — I put the author (last name only) first and then the title and any publisher name if you use it. Then just rotate the  text 90 degrees so the head of the test faces toward the front cover. Make as sure as you can that the text fits within the pink borders. CreateSpace often says this is where you have a problem but often they just fix it and it works out fine. Make sure you delete the template, flatten or merge all parts, and save as a pdf.
  7. Remember, all images are required to be 300 DPI. Everything has to fit well within the pink lines.  Err on the side of caution. CreateSpace may still say the dimensions are off, but in every case I have let them adjust and had good results.
  8. Go through the review process, make adjustments if it doesn’t pass, and just keep at it until it does pass. “Your files are printable” is the message you are looking for.
  9. Please, please, please order a proof. Look for text too close to the spine or edge, readability, and good image quality.  Different printers produce different quality. If you can’t live with what you get, CreateSpace is good about fixing what they can. Contact them, but remember that they have what they call, paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact wording, “acceptable variations” and there’s only so much you can do.

I wish you all the best. And I’m ready to help anyone who needs it.

Image Credit: Print cover for one of my books, made using the ebook version as described in this post. Design by Mary C. Findley. Texture from Webtreats, Images from Depositphotos.com

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Step by Step and — Published!

send a white rose 9 6 2015 ebook 25

I recently made a list of the steps involved for publishing on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing site. This was for a new author whose cover I designed and whose book I edited. I thought it might be helpful to others who don’t know it’s actually not that hard to publish your own book.

Pictured above is Send a White Rose, the one I think is my first book published. (It’s a tossup between this and Benny and the Bank Robber.) Helping this new author made me think back to my first time setting up our KDP account. If we can do it, you can too!

Remember, this author had her book professionally edited and formatted, and a professionally-designed cover. So don’t skip the outsourcing to make your baby the best, if you’re not a very good do-it-yourselfer. But to keep track of your sales and make updates to your book, you need your own Amazon KDP account. So here’s how to do that.

List of steps to upload your book to Kindle Direct Publishing

1. Copy and paste this link into your internet browser window and hit enter to go to the site:
https://kdp.amazon.com/
2. If you already have an account at Amazon, you use the same user name and password to set up your author account. If not, set up an account by choosing a user name and a password. Be sure to write them down somewhere so you don’t lose access.
3. Once you are in the KDP account, you will see your “dashboard.” This is a screenshot of what the top looks like. Yours may be slightly different, since it will be a first-time publishing, and we have over 50 titles.
kdp dashboard screenshot 1
4. Click on the box that says, “Create New Title.”
5. Look at the screenshot below to see the beginning steps for uploading your book.

kdp select screenshot 2
The blue shaded box describes the KDP Select program. There are also lots of helps every step of the way and answers to most questions. If you wish, click the little box that says, “Enroll this Book in KDP Select.” There’s lots of information to be found about using KDP select during the 90 days a book is in the program so take advantage of as many of the features as you can!

6. Now you can start entering your book information and getting ready to upload it.
The first section tells you how to enter your title, author, and so on. If something does not apply, just skip it. (like the “series” part). If the publisher is the same as the author – just put in your name. The description is just that – about 300 words that will make people want to read your book, sort of a sales pitch that doesn’t give away too much but helps “sell” the book. If your book is a short work or novella, be sure to include that fact. People are sometimes disappointed by shorter works and you want to make it as clear as you can if it is not a full-length novel.

 

7. It’s okay if you have no ISBN for a Kindle book. You don’t really need one. Just skip that.
8. Here’s a screenshot of the next part of the form:
screenshot 3 kindle publish options
9. Click “this is not a public domain work” – because you wrote it.
10. “Add categories” will give you choices about how to tell people what kind of story it is. You’ll want to choose “fiction,” or “nonfiction” and then you will see a menu of sub-choices. Then you can add a second category.  You can skip the age range and grade range parts unless it applies.
11. “Search keywords” are words that computers read and store about your book, and that people can use to look up books by subject. Separate each search keyword with a comma. These can be more than one word, and there is a limit on total number of characters, but be as detailed as you can to help your book get found.
12. Next you’ll select “I am ready to release my book now.” Pre-order is something where people can buy the book before publication, usually at a discount. If you had other books that might be a good idea but since this is your first, I’d say wait for the future to do a pre-order.
13. Upload your full-sized cover. I give quarter-sized samples for approval before the final purchase, and some new authors get confused and try the small version. Amazon won’t take anything under 1000 pixels on the smallest side. Click “browse for image” find the cover file, click “open” and the cover will appear in the box that currently says “No Cover Available.”
14. Upload the book file – it can be word doc, mobi version, or even epub.
15. I suggest you choose “Do not enable digital rights management” because DRM can make it hard for some people to open or read your book, and they can’t move it from computer to kindle to phone – they can only have it on one device.
kdp screenshot next
16. Click “Save and continue” at the bottom of the first page to go on to the second page.
17. On page 2, select “Worldwide rights.”
18. I suggest you price very short works at 99 cents. That’s the lowest price KDP allows. As a first-time author, it can help you get noticed to price low. You may also get Amazon promotion in short stories and hot new release categories. Enter the price as 0.99. If it’s full-length, $2.99 or $3.99 still seem to be the best prices. You might even entroduce it at a sale price and raise it later.
19. The royalty for 99 cents is 35%. A book has to be at least $2.99 to qualify for 70% royalties. Check the little boxes beside each country in the blue shaded box area to be sure your book goes to all countries Amazon publishes in.

screenshot KDP publishing page 2
20. “Kindle Match Book” refers to having both a print and ebook version. You only have the kindle version, so ignore that one.
21. Allow lending means once people buy your book, they can let a friend “borrow” it for free. You want to check the box to allow it. Word of mouth is good publicity and letting people share your book means more people will read it. The borrow only lasts for 2 weeks and then the person who got it for free no longer has it on his/her kindle and the owner gets it back.
22. Click the little checkbox in the “save and publish” section first, so they know you understand all the KDP info, and then click the yellow “Save and publish” box to the right, also.

23. It can take 12 to 24 hours for your book to appear but usually it’s sooner. They will send you an email to the address you gave them when you set up your KDP account. IT will have a link where you can find your book.

24. To set up your account to get paid when people buy your book, click on the top right of the screen, in the blue band, where it will say, in your case, “Joan’s Account.” You will have to log in again, and it will take you to a page like this:

account screenshot

Yours will be blank, of course. Fill out your information. There are lots of helps along the right side to answer questions all through this process.
25. Next enter your bank account information. KDP pays royalties, no matter how small, about 60 days after the month in which you earned them.

bank account snip
This may seem difficult, but take your time and follow the steps and you’ll figure it out. Wherever you are in the publishing process, you can look for other posts here on our blog for suggestions about writing, editing, formatting, cover design, and promoting to get help making your book sell.

I wish you all the best! — Post by Mary C. Findley

 

 

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The Print Books Are Coming! — Post by Mary C. Findley

nonfic 4 hope

We know some people love the smell and feel of paper books, so we are happy to meet that need. Following is a list of Findley Family Video Publications print titles as of 7/31/2015, in alphabetical order. Some are still filtering through from CreateSpace to Amazon and getting connected to the ebook titles.  As soon as that happens, the only titles not available in print are The Acolyte’s Education and Carrie’s Hired Hand, short stories fewer than 50 pages in length. So, if you want print versions of any of our other books, hang on until they are all in place at your favorite online retailer and then snap them up.

historical row 1

1. A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist

2. Antidisestablishmentarianism

3. Benny and the Bank Robber (BBR 1)

4. BBR 1 student study guide

5. BBR 1 teacher study guide

6. Biblical Studies Student Edition NT

7. Biblical Studies Student Edition OT

8. Biblical Studies Teacher Edition NT

9. Biblical Studies Teacher Edition OT

nonfic 3

10. Chasing the Texas Wind

11. Doctor Dad (BBR2)

12. Empire Saga

13. Ephron Son of Zohar

14. Fifty Shades of Faithful

15. Fifty Shades of Faithful 2: In Living Color

16. Heth, Son of Canaan, son of Ham, Son of Noah

17. Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion

contemp nonfic 1

18. Lines in Pleasant Places (BBR 4)

19. Nehemiah, LLC

20. Send a White Rose

21. Shelometh Daughter of Yovov

22. Tawananna, Daughter of Zohar

23. The Baron’s Ring

24. The Conflict of the Ages Student 1 The Scientific History of Origins

25. The Conflict of the Ages Student 2 The Origin of Evil in the World that Was

26. The Conflict of the Ages Student 3 They Deliberately Forgot: The Flood and the Ice Age

27. The Conflict of the Ages Student 4 Ice Age Civilizations

28. The Conflict of the Ages Teacher 1-3 combined

[ The first 3 are not in print separately but in are 1 combined teacher edition]

benny alone

The Conflict of the Ages Teacher 1 The Scientific History of Origins

The Conflict of the Ages Teacher 2 The Origin of Evil in the World that Was

The Conflict of the Ages Teacher 3 They Deliberately Forgot: The Flood and the Ice Age

29. The Conflict of theAges Teacher 4 Ice Age Civilizations

30. The Good , the Bad, and the Ugly A Readers’ and Writers’ Guide for Believers

31. The Great Thirst 1: Prepared

32. The Great Thirst 2: Purified

33. The Great Thirst 3: Pursued

34. The Most Dangerous Game (Alexander Legacy 3)

35. The Oregon Sentinel (BBR 3)

historical row 2

36. The Pinocchio Factor (Alexander Legacy 4)

37. What Are the Results of the Establishment of Secular Humanism? (Serial Anti 4)

38. What Is an Establishment of Religion? Serial Anti 1)

39. What Is Science? (Serial Anti 3)

40. What Is Secular Humanism? (Serial Anti 2)

41. Write for the King of Glory

42. Zita Son of Ephron and Shelometh

nonfic 2

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