After deciding that I wanted to self- publish my own book, it was time to get down to brass tacks. I was very excited to start on my new journey but I had a lot of decisions to make!
Ebook or Print or Both?
After some debate, I decided to do both. On one hand, I am still a tradtionalist who loves to hold a book in my hands. But on the other hand, I love having my Nook with me at work or the car dealership or the doctor’s office. I wanted to give my readers options. If they wanted to hold a book in their hands, they could. If they wanted to read on the run, they could do that too. I did not want to limit anyone.
Which E-book platform to publish with?
For me, Smashwords was the best option. For one, it was the platform recommended on the national segment which validated it for me. Two, I liked the various outlets they distribute your book to. (Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, etc.) Three, I liked that you could get a free ISBN through them. I also liked that I could set up a profile and that each of my books would have it’s own page on the site.
Which Print platform to publish with?
There are various print-on-demand platforms out there-Lulu, Bookbaby, Vook Books, etc.I decided to go with Createspace. I had read about it in a magazine article also. I liked that they were hooked up with Amazon, one of the largest online stores on the planet. They lined out, step-by-step, the process of putting your book together. You could obtain a free ISBN from them also. (Print and e-books have separate ISBN’s.) But most of all, I was intrigued by their distribution channels. You could opt to have your book distributed not only to Amazon in the US but also in other countries and also to libraries and schools.
Smashwords has a formatting guide for those who want to go it alone. For those of us who are too terrified of this process, I found my formatter on a list compiled by Smashwords founder, Mark Coker. We have worked on three books together so far. I am currently writing my first novel and am looking forward to working with her again. She is prompt, courteous and has a quick turnaround. Formatting is taking your written content and preparing different files to upload to different platforms. (For example, Smashwords accepts .epub files while Createspace accepts .pdf files.) She handles all of this. Her name is Maureen Cutajar and her web site is https://gopublished.blogspot.com.
I recently hired illustrator Jeanine Henning (http://jhillustrations.com) to draw the scenes for my first children’s book and I am very, very pleased with how they came out.
You can find various cover artists on Smashwords.com/Mark’sList. I chose to go with SelfPubBookCovers.com. They have an amazing selection of book covers to choose from in several different categories. The prices are fantastic, average low end pricing is $69 all the way up to $100 plus. But the quality you get is amazing. Once you buy a cover, it is removed from the web site and will never be sold again. And they have awesome customer service, Rob is very helpful and friendly. I have bought four covers from them so far. They are a fabulous resource.
As you can see, there are many things to think about to get the process done. It may seem daunting at first, but the end result is amazing. I can still remember the surreal feeling I had when I uploaded my first e-book to Smashwords. Within a few minutes, I was officially a published author. It was the best feeling in the world. I encourage you to join me on this journey and happy publishing.
Carrie Lowrance is a freelance writer for hire and author. Since childhood she has dreamed of becoming a published writer. This year she finally made it happen by self-publishing two books of poetry, Lithium Dreams And Melancholy Sunrise and The Safety Of Objects. She will also publish her first children’s book, Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green) this year. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, baking, and reading. She shares her life with her husband, a one-eyed cat named Colin and a rabbit named Abbey who thinks she is a diva. You can contact Carrie via her author site www.carrielowrance.com or her freelance site,www.freelancebylowrance.com. She is also on Facebook.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg
You’ve heard about this book probably a million times, and there’s a reason for it: the book is a revolution. Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook, has been through the corporate ranks, and because of this, she offers an insightful look at what it takes to get there. And, according to her, it is grit and determination. In a world dominated by men, Sandberg encourages women to keep pushing, asking for more, and speaking up. Lean in to the challenge and fight.
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert is back for more with her new book Big Magic. Though it is quite different than her first, Eat Pray Love, it is the most natural next step. After writing the book, she struggled finding purpose again and often fought off fear and insecurity so that she could regain focus. Big Magic is as much of a reminder to herself as it is to her readers. In contrast to most advice today, Gilbert pushes her reader to abandon the notion to ‘follow your passion’; instead, she encourages the pursuit of curiosity, to stay creative and treat your fear as your friend. This is the book you will want to turn to if you’re in a rut and need to hear something new.
The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz
Unlike any other book, The Four Agreements provides a practical guide for achieving the level personal freedom for which we have always longed. Ruiz specifies the various limitations we set for ourselves, and how they bar us from certain marvels of life and love. His recommendations based on these agreements are perfect for small, incremental changes to achieve a more conscious, engaging life. It will leave you feeling fulfilled and enlightened, ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
‘I Am Malala’, Malala Yousafzai
There was nothing that could stop her. Routine threats, societal pressure, even the fear of death itself, could not silence Malala. She was just barely a teenager when she began writing on the BBC Urdu about the Taliban’s refusal for girls to attend school. At that period, most teenagers are begging not to go to school, but not Malala. She knew how vital education was and was determined to fight for it. However, the Taliban had other plans; because of her public rebuttal and detest for their presence, they tried to assassinate her, a small, 15 year old girl. Though her survival was not expected, Malala today is alive and well, championing education for girls all over the world. Her life and her story are a reminder to all women to never stop fighting for what you believe in.
The beginning of every year is a natural time to start thinking about the hopes and dreams you have for your future. This is not about resolutions, which are often tossed out before the last of the holiday cookies, but planning and achieving goals that will help you move forward in the direction of your dreams. One of the best ways I’ve found to be inspired and informed is through books. Here is my round-up of the most thoughtful, helpful, motivational and inspiring books I’ve read or reread recently. If you are or want to be a high achiever, these books can help set you on a positive path forward.
This book is a great guide for women, who often hide their brilliance behind self-doubt, perfectionism, fear, and other habits that hold them back. Mohr empowers women to use their inner wisdom and be confident in their knowledge and experience. If you want to live a larger, more confident life and move forward with your aspirations, this book will be your mentor. Mohr will encourage you to own your brilliance and let your life shine.
If you are caught in the trap of working harder and harder, trying to get everything done and craving balance in your world, this book will speak to you. McKeown makes a case for getting off the hamster wheel and filtering life’s options to select only the best. Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, and choose only the best and most important things, you can make your highest contribution towards things that really matter. McKeon reminds us that if we don’t prioritize our lives someone else will. Changing our frame of reference towards only the essential will guide us to a life of impact and fulfillment.
We all want to know that our time on earth means something. We want to enjoy our lives, feel peaceful about our actions and choices and contribute something of value to the world. Goins will help you identify and understand your calling so you can avoid going through the motions- working to earn a paycheck and living for the day we can retire. He contends that your life, when well-lived becomes your calling, and ultimately, your magnum opus.
If you have always wanted to have a personal life coach, but couldn’t afford to spend the money, here is your answer. Miedaner offers many suggestions for ways to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be. Some suggestions are common sense (Stop Shuffling and Start Organizing, Pay Off Your Debts) but others are less obvious and more empowering (Design Your Ideal Life, Raise Your Standards). If you are just starting down the path to self-improvement, this is a good choice.
What are you doing well, and not so well? What excites you and what doesn’t? What reflects your genius, calling, and expertise and what doesn’t? What makes you different? The answer to these questions is the key to your success. If you learn to identify and focus your one big thing, you can standout, communicate your ideas and find success. This is a short, easy to read book with many inspirational quotes and stories.
This is a classic self-help book and one of my favorites. Imagine yourself a year from now, feeling that you are on top of your game. What would that look like? What qualities would you need to develop in order to achieve this vision? Ford focuses on behaviors, habits and choices that help you to become the person you hope to be. I love Ford’s question, ” At the end of the day our life is in our hands. What will you do with yours?”
This is an older book, but it is still wise and relevant today. Berman helps you discover what you really want in life and then offers practical, exercises, check-lists, and concrete actions to help you give yourself what you want. Fortgang operates from the premise that deep down, you already know what needs to change in your life, this book helps you to do the work.
Parker Palmer is among the wisest people I have ever met. This is not a loud or flashy book filled with actionable to-do items for how to lead a better life. Instead, it is a quiet, reflective conversation as Palmer shares his own stories as examples of how examining your life can to lead you to follow your natural talents and limitations. If you are willing to do some soul-searching, Palmer can guide you to find meaning and understand your own life.
I hope you find this list useful and helpful in inspiring you to meet your goals this year.
What other books have you found to be helpful as you create your ideal life? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Michele Meier Vosberg
Michele Meier Vosberg, Ph.D. is an educator, freelance writer and speaker. She is redesigning her life to live more simply, happily and well, and working to help others do the same. She lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin and blogs at http://liferedesign101.com.
Find Michele on Twitter @liferedesign101 | Facebook | Instagram
I’ve dreamed of becoming an author my whole life. As a child, I would sit in my room and write for hours at a time.
Growing up, life took me down different paths and I sampled a variety of working positions. Finally, on January 1, 2014, I knew the time had come to get serious with my writing.
That morning is ingrained permanently in my mind. I was watching the CBS Morning Show with my Mom. A young family was featured-within a short time, both parents had lost their jobs.
The wife decided to write a book and publish it. After studying all the books on the New York Times best-seller list, she sat down to write her book.
Once she was finished with edits, cover artwork, and the full manuscript, she uploaded it to a platform called Smashwords. Her book sold 500 copies in the first day!
I was absolutely floored by the fact that she could publish a book herself. By the way, this author is Jasinda Wilder, and she has become pretty successful since then.
I made a goal that day to publish my own book in a year.
But why become an indie author?
I wanted the freedom and complete control over my work. I wanted to be able to work as long as I needed to put out the best book possible.
I didn’t want to be on a deadline, constantly stressed that I may not get it done. The thought of pitching to an agent was pretty terrifying and I did not like the idea of having to work with a team that may not fully capture my vision.
I wanted to be able to hire buy or hire someone to design my cover, format my book and draw my illustrations. I wanted to be able to search and pick my own team versus having to work with in-house designers and formatters whose work I may not care for.
And as scary as it seemed, I wanted the challenge of building my own platform and promoting my own work.
What I didn’t want was to shell out big bucks to a publishing mill. I had researched these in the past, and the price always scared me away. I also did not want to worry about my book being packed up after two or three weeks on the shelves due to low or no sales-the harsh reality of traditional publishing.
I pretty much wanted to cut out the middleman and fulfill my dream on my own terms.
My book was finished three months after my original deadline. Better late than never.
In March of 2015, I released Lithium Dreams And Melancholy Sunrise.
I was very proud of my poetry book, and went on to release my second book of poems in April, The Safety Of Objects.
I am currently getting ready to release my first children’s book. Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green) will be released in November.
Have my sales been stellar?
No, but poetry is a hard sell-either people like it or they don’t.
Is my platform perfect?
Not yet, but I keep improving.
It has been a learning process, but I’m so glad I’m doing things on my own terms. This indie author wouldn’t have it any other way.
Carrie Lowrance is a freelance writer for hire and author. Since childhood she has dreamed of becoming a published writer. This year she finally made it happen by self-publishing two books of poetry, Lithium Dreams And Melancholy Sunrise and The Safety Of Objects. She will also publish her first children’s book, Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green) this year. When not writing, she enjoys cooking, baking, and reading. She shares her life with her husband, a one-eyed cat named Colin and a rabbit named Abbey who thinks she is a diva. You can contact Carrie via her author site www.carrielowrance.com or her freelance site, www.freelancebylowrance.com. She is also on Facebook.
This summer, Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event, hit bookstore shelves, and not surprisingly, The New York Times best-seller list, as well.
Set in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Blume’s newest tale arises from real-life events experienced by the author herself as a teen – a series of plane crashes in the northern New Jersey town during the period of 1951- 1952. Focusing on Miri Ammerman, a ninth-grader at the time of the crashes, and looking at all of the characters’ journeys over the next 30+ years, Blume’s novel unravels secrets and emotions in a way that will not be unfamiliar to readers who have been fans of Blume for the last 30+ years themselves.
In the Unlikely Event has been called “characteristically accessible, frequently charming and always deeply human” by Publishers Weekly. Reviewing for the New York Times, Caroline Leavitt says: “Blume nails every 1950s detail, from the refinished basements with wet bars and knotty-pine walls to Elizabeth Taylor haircuts and mentions of Bogart and Bacall.”
Some have noted that while In the Unlikely Event is targeted at adults, its central teen character makes it also a book for Blume’s earliest audience: teens, despite its mature themes.
Of course, Blume is well-noted for blending mature themes into her books written specifically for teens, and she has never shied away from the ensuing challenges that resulted. Because of the controversy that surrounded Blume’s early career writing books for teens touching on topics including racism, bullying, masturbation, sex , and birth control in the 1970’s, Blume has become a fierce advocate against book-banning and censorship.
Blume’s writing style has always been bold, rather than gratuitously provocative. Says Blume: “When I began to write … I didn’t know if anyone would publish my books, but I wasn’t afraid to write them.”
Amy Impellizzeri is a reformed corporate litigator, former start-up executive and best-selling author. In 2009, she left her 13-year litigation career to write and advocate for working women, later joining the executive team of the award-winning website, Hybrid Her (named by ForbesWoman as a “Top Website for Women” in 2010 and 2011). Through her work at Hybrid Her, and as Vice President, Community & Content, for its later re-brand, ShopFunder, Amy worked closely with hundreds of creative and inspiring entrepreneurs and fundraisers, writing and marketing their stories to new audiences.
In October 2014, Amy transitioned to full-time writer, with the publication of her first novel,Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenzie 2014) which debuted as an Amazon best-seller (Romance/Fantasy and Romance/Time Travel). Oprah’s very first Book Club Selection author and New York Times #1 Best-Selling Author, Jacquelyn Mitchard, has called Lemongrass Hopea “fine and fresh thing – a truly new story.”Lemongrass Hope was featured by Library Journaland Foreword Reviews Magazine, and has been a favorite with Book Clubs and numerous Book Bloggers (including as the #1 favorite reviewed selection in 2014 by The Literary Connoisseur).
Amy’s first non-fiction book, Lawyer Interrupted (ABA Publishing 2015), is due out this Spring. Her essays and articles have appeared in The Huffington Post, ABA Law Practice Today, The Glass Hammer, Divine Caroline, Skirt! Magazine, among more.
Meet Amy here… amyimpellizzeri.com or on Facebook or Twitter
It’s hard for me to remember a time when my life wasn’t filled with one aspect of my illness or another. But just as mental illness has always been there, so too has a love for the impossible; for fantasy and superheroes and stories set in universes identical to or vastly different from our own. Stories like these have always given me comfort. I can step into other lives, other worlds, and find characters who inspire me to live a life outside books; depression, anxiety, and all. Despite my adoration for these types of stories, it took decades before I began regularly reading graphic novels. Covers featuring women as objects, plotlines featuring sexual assault or death simply for motivation, and a general “boys’ club” attitude kept me away.
There were a few things that made me decide to give the genre another try. My son was getting interested in superhero shows – ones that were absolutely hilarious and featured fierce female heroes. I was going through a depressive episode and found myself re-watching some of these cartoons to improve my plummeting mood. Around the same time I finished reading Malinda Lo’s novel Ash, and was hungry for a compassionate and powerful character like Kaisa. I wanted to read about someone complicated, smart, and inspiring. An evening with Google helped me stumble upon the deluxe edition of Elegy a graphic novel featuring Batwoman – a Jewish, lesbian superhero who became a vigilante after being kicked out of the military in the midst of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for refusing to lie. Kate Kane, as she is known in her civilian identity, was lost and looking for a way to serve the greater good without compromising her morals. As Batwoman she battles supernatural demons but as Kate she struggles with complex family issues and trying to figure out who she is. These issues are universal, and her determination to do what’s right without compromising herself can inspire us all.
Batwoman was my gateway hero. From there I read everything I could get my hands on. A number of these stories stand out for having very relatable situations, even in universes where a ridiculously high number of people can literally fly.
Renee Montoya, a police officer, is one such character. One of the best stories featuring Renee is Gotham Central: Half a Life. In addition to dealing with sexism and racism, from both inside and outside the force, a villain outs her and Renee must endure the emotional, personal, and professional fallout from that revelation while trying to track down said villain.
Ms. Marvel is another example of a character who faces extraordinary challenges but also has to deal with some very down-to-Earth issues. Kamala Khan is a Muslim teenager who struggles with her faith, with her strict parents, and with trying to figure out what she wants for herself. The first three volumes of her series, No Normal, Generation Why, and Crushed have been released and are currently available.
Rocket, Raquel Ervin, was born in a poor neighbourhood, fell in with a bad crowd, and pushed her dreams of being a writer aside. A chance meeting with an alien resulted in her convincing him to become a superhero, and getting her to join him. Raquel became the first single teenaged mother in comics, returning to heroics only after her mentor’s life was at risk. Rocket’s powers are external, but the passion, drive, and ambition behind them are all from within her. Her superhero start is detailed in the graphic novel Icon: A Hero’s Welcome.
You may have heard of the “Carol Corps”, a group of comic fans devoted to the character of Carol Danvers, particularly as Captain Marvel written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol has a long history in comics; not all of it inspirational. The graphic novel Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight depicts Carol’s journey as she redefines herself as Captain Marvel. 2014’s Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More sees Carol take on a mission in space, but also sees her face loneliness, loss, and self-discovery.
If superheroes just aren’t your thing, there are still so many graphic novels featuring inspirational women to choose from. Trillium’s Nika Temsmith faces loss and loneliness while researching a strange plant and trying to save her people. Ellen Forney wrote a humorous yet honest memoir depicting her struggle with bipolar disorder in Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Lumberjanes Volume 1 is an entertaining story about a group of very different girls and their adventures at camp. Each of these women shows her courage in unique yet inspiring ways.
Graphic novels are a visually appealing break from standard novels, and can be just as fun, hilarious, or touching as traditional prose. These works are often quick reads, so you can get lost in a superhero tale one night and go back in time to a fictional paradise the next. I strongly encourage those searching for unread stories starring fierce women to give graphic novels a chance.
Ashley Perna is an administrative professional by day and a writer/consumer of geek culture by night. She’s an archer and an avid reader. Ashley credits comic books for helping her find inspiration, and wants to be Wonder Woman when she grows up. You can read more about her love for all things geek and her struggles with mental illness at her blog, The Idle Archer.