Category Archives: self-publishing

Still Learning Book Covers and G.I.M.P.

A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.
A print book cover is much more difficult than an e-book cover. You have to consider the quality of the graphics, and having things in exactly the right place is extremely important.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, I hate dealing with book covers. I should just hire this done, to someone with more artistic talents who is also learned in graphic arts programs. Alas, I don’t want to have my writing activities indebted to the family budget, so I’m on a pay-as-you-go basis. Right now, that means that, with a few exceptions, I make my own covers.

Here's the print book cover for "In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People". I want the "Headshots" to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.
Here’s the print book cover for “In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People”. I want the “Headshots” to be as good as this, which was a cover I did based on the e-book cover my son did.

But I hate it. That also means I have to use a free graphics arts program, rather than expensive programs such as Photoshop or Illustrator. That means G.I.M.P. I believe I’ve also written about hating G.I.M.P. I hate it because it is difficult to use. That’s partly because I don’t understand some of the graphic arts terms, but also because the documentation is poor. I’ve found some third-party help with G.I.M.P., such as article, or videos on YouTube. But, to be honest, they all do their thing by assuming the reader/watcher know more than I do. They’ll say “after you’ve selected the layer” or some such thing, assuming I know how to select a layer, when I don’t. It’s maddening.

Here's the e-book cover for "Headshots". I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.
Here’s the e-book cover for “Headshots”. I wanted to improve the font some, and, of course, add the spine and back cover, making it all the right size in the right place at a good quality.

In terms of creating the cover for a print book, however, I’m starting to get more comfortable with the whole process. I didn’t say I was proficient, or that I enjoyed it, or was good at it; just that I was more comfortable. I have come to learn the basic steps needed: figure the exact size of the cover wrap; create a canvas that size; create a “size overall” layer; create a front cover layer; create a back cover layer; create a spine box layer; position these where they need to go; add words and graphics to each. Piece of cake, right?

Several times I’ve gotten something to work, but didn’t really know how I did it, and thus couldn’t replicate it for the next cover, or even for another part of the cover I was working on. For the last cover I asked one of our landscape architects at work to help me to understand what I had to do to move layers into the right place: centered, left, right, whatever. We got it to work, but didn’t really know why—or at least I didn’t.

Here's what I've got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I'm not unhappy.
Here’s what I’ve got so far. I still need to improve the font on the front. But, overall, not bad. I’m not unhappy.

Last Friday, I was working on the cover for the print edition of Headshots. I want to have it out for the end of baseball season, which is fast approaching. I had begun this cover about three weeks ago, but got bogged down and left it. I started on the noon hour, but had little luck, so was continuing into the afternoon (guess I’ll charge that time to vacation). I went to the break room for coffee, and ran into our corporate CADD trainer, who I supervise. He asked how it was going, and I said “Great if I could figure out how to use G.I.M.P.” He said that was something he could help me with.

Back to my office we went, and I said I was having trouble 1) placing layers where I want them, which G.I.M.P. calls “Align” or “Distribute”; and 2) filling a layer with color. He showed me how to do the latter, though I don’t think I remember it today; I’ll see at noon. But he couldn’t figure out the G.I.M.P. commands for alignment. He’s a wiz at graphic arts, so I didn’t feel too bad.

But while he was there, I tried something. I wanted to center the “spine box” layer on the “overall size” layer. That assures that the spine will be in the right place. I tried something. I made the Align command active. Then I chose “Active Layer” as the target. Now, the program doesn’t say that drop down menu is to select the target, but when you hover the mouse over it, the words “Select target” appear. Then I went to the list of layers on a side panel and chose “Overall size”. Then I moved the mouse over the spine box on the canvas and clicked it. At that point the arrows in Alignment command box went from grayed-out to active. Aha! I clicked center, and poof! the spine box moved to the center of the overall size, just like magic.

I quickly wrote those steps out, so I wouldn’t forget them. Then I did “undo” several times, until the spine box was back out of position (I saved the file first). I looked at the list of instructions I’d written, and followed them. Again, the spine box moved to the right place. It didn’t seem like magic that time. It seemed almost logical, and replicatable.

I have a long way to go on creating covers. The graphic arts program is the mechanics. I’m slowly but surely getting to know that. The whole artistic thing—what looks good, what looks professional, what will attract a buyer to a book—is something I have to still work on. But I’m getting there. I’m almost at the point of knowing enough to be dangerous.

Publishing Tasks Wear Me Out

After a four day weekend trip to Meade, Kansas, for the funeral of my wife’s aunt, we returned home Monday evening, around 6:15 p.m. That’s what I call getting in in good time. After unpacking and relaxing a little, I went to The Dungeon, with the intent of resuming my writing career.

The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I'm just now working on the print book.
The e-book has been available for two weeks, but I’m just now working on the print book.

However, I saw that I had two directions to go in, and that one was necessary and one was optional. On the weekend I had spent some time reading for research into my next church history novel. I could continue with that, as well as re-read what I’ve written in my workplace humor novel, and decide which I would do next. Those two, together, form one direction: a writing path.

The other direction was publishing tasks. I need to get the print version of Documenting America: Civil War Edition finished and published. I need to get the print version of Headshots finished and published. On Monday evening, as I sat trying to make the decision, the former needed only a little work, while the latter had the interior done (I think; it’s been a while since I did it), and the cover needs to be done. I also need to get recent books listed on Goodreads, and a couple of short stories added to Smashwords.

I could see right away that the publishing tasks were more important right now. Yet, I couldn’t do them. Just something about them made me want to not start them. The same was true Tuesday and Wednesday. I couldn’t make myself do them. The DA:CWE cover it on my computer at work, and the interior on my computer at home. I guess it’s also on OneDrive, but I don’t really know how to use that or access it from work. But at work, in my personal time, I couldn’t make myself work on the cover. At home, I couldn’t make myself finish the interior. Consequently, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday I got nothing done on my writing/publishing.

Yesterday was different. Thursday morning, before work started, I pulled up the cover in G.I.M.P. Just using that program makes me want to vomit. But, I didn’t really have much to do. I had one block of text I needed to change the font on, move an image a little, and I was done. I couldn’t figure out how to make the text changes. I looked in the manual, in some on-line tutorials, all with no help. Finally, I looked closer at my cover, and could see that the text, which was placed in the cover by someone else for the last book in the series, wasn’t a text layer at all; it was an image that couldn’t be changed. I quickly deleted that layer, created a text layer and put the text in with the correct font. I had the cover done and saved at 8:05 a.m.

Then, last night I took a look at the interior. I had finished it a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to give it one more look-through, just to make sure. I did that, and judged it “done”. I e-mailed it to my office (because I don’t know how to use OneDrive) to make the PDF today. I’ll do that shortly. At that point, I’ll have the cover and the interior files done, and on the same computer, and so will do the upload. I hope to have the finished on the noon hour today.

It won't be long before I'll be working on the print version of this.
It won’t be long before I’ll be working on the print version of this.

That brings me to Headshots. I think this weekend I’ll see what I can do with that. If the interior is really done, all that will be left is the print cover. That will have to wait until next week, unless I wake up my old computer (which had G.I.M. P.) and try to do it there. They say it’s to rain much of the weekend. How I would love to get Headshots done.

Adding books to Goodreads is easy; there’s just a few steps to go through. Adding the short stores to Smashwords will take a little formatting, but that should be only 30 minutes for each. Who know? Maybe by Sunday I can have all my publishing tasks behind me, and Monday I’ll be ready to get back to writing tasks. I’ll give you a report then.

I Was Talking About the Gray Cells

The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.
The temporary cover is almost exactly like the one I ended up using.

In a recent post, I mentioned how my mind was starting to focus on things I might be writing next. Documenting America: Civil War Edition is finished. All except the print version, that is, but I think I’m not more than two days away from having that done and submitting it for checking by CreateSpace.  I have a few publishing tasks awaiting me that don’t involve writing, such as getting the Headshots print version done. And making corrections to the Smashwords edition of Preserve The Revelation so that it can be pushed out to other vendors via Smashword’s premium catalog. Yes, I have much publishing to do.

But that’s not writing. With one book finished, it’s time to work on the next. But what to work on? I have two obvious choices:

  • Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it's only five years.
    Seems like a long time since I wrote this, but it’s only five years.

    The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume of what I hope will become a series, of workplace humor about the engineering business, has been out since 2012. It’s one of my five highest selling items, mostly to people who work where I do. A couple of years ago I started the next volume, and got into chapter 4 (of a planned 15 chapter book), when I set it aside to do other things. I have the book mostly planned out, the humorous stories pulled from my past or manufactured. All that remains it to decide to write it and get it finished. Hopefully, I can find my scattered notes.

  • This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and "Preserve The Revelation" will be the fourth.
    This was my first novel; but, if plans work out, it will actually be the second in the series, and “Preserve The Revelation” will be the fourth.

    Adam of Jerusalem. This will be a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It’s been on my list of things to write for some time. A few plot elements came to mind early, but not how I’m going to get it done. How do you squeeze a prequel ahead of a book when you never planned on it when you wrote the first book? You can’t go back and unwrite, or rewrite the second in the series. But ways of doing this have been coming to me. I’ve figured out how I want to open the book, and what the inciting incident will be. A few other scenes have come to mind.

What to do? The Gutter Chronicles makes the most sense, and I suspect I’ll at least give it a try. However, the gray cells have been giving me more ideas for Adam of Jerusalem. What to do? I could wrap up TGC Vol 2 in 30,000 words; AoJ will take about 80,000.

As an example of what I mean by the gray cells activating, until recently I have having a hard time figuring out how to show Adam’s slide from Judaism to adopting Roman ways. As mentioned above, I had decided what would be the inciting incident for this, but how to make it work in the story without violating anything I’ve already written in Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Well, the way to do this came to me recently. I don’t have every scene worked out, but it’s clear how I can accomplish this. I’m not receiving similar clarity on The Gutter Chronicles—although I’m further along with that book. Perhaps that will be less of gray cells stimulation and more of in-the-seat perspiration.

While these two books are prime on my to-write-next list, they aren’t the only candidates. The next short story in my Sharon Williams Fonseca series has been coming to mind. It will be set in Paris. Also on my mind is a book about the Stephen and Elizabeth (Cheney) Cross family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the 1600s. Last year I spent a month of intense work on this couple. It is intended to be a chapter in a book about Elizabeth’s father, John Cheney of Newbury. When I finished the Crosses, I saw I had between 60 and 80 pages (formatted as 5.5×8.5 pages), and was shocked. John Cheney had ten children who grew to adulthood. The work before me seemed to massive to continue with, so I set the project aside. However, I have the Cross portion done, and, I figure, why not publish it as a small, stand-alone family history? It would take perhaps another month of tidying up, expanding the narrative a little, and doing all the publishing tasks. I may do that, but not as the next book. Maybe after I finish whichever one I choose to do next.

So, while the gray cells are active, and I can sense writing in the near future (such as in August, if not some in July), I don’t know which book is next. Today will be a day of publishing activities. Tomorrow, who knows? I may take some time at work to read what I’ve already written on TGC. If I like what I read, perhaps that will be next.

Book Sales – 2nd Quarter 2017

Here’s the quarterly table:

………1Q…..2Q…..3Q…..4Q….Year
2011….2…….7……11…..15…..35
2012…16…..73……45…..22…156
2013…14…..22……16…..13….65
2014…..7…..48……25……2…..82
2015…11…..25……38……9…..83
2016…. 9……6…….10….17…..42
2017…17…..22
Total sales to date—502

So, the 2nd quarter was a little better than that 1st, and certainly better than the 2nd quarter last year. It’s a little deceiving, however. My sales by month were: April 13, May 5, June 3. So sales were trailing off. The April peak was due to my personally selling some print books to acquaintances at work and church. Once those were done, sales trailed off.

Once again, I did no advertising this quarter. My only promotions were a few Facebook posts, and talking my books up in person when the opportunity seemed right.

Here’s my sales table for the year. Note that I had one sale at Kobo. Kobo has reported that I had a sale, but not of which book. So that the table would be right, I applied the sale to “Growing Up Too Fast”. They should report for June in about two weeks. When they do, I’ll correct the table, if needed and edit the post. Click on the table to see it in readable size. Note: I did come back and edit this post to show one additional sale, but it’s not the Kobo sale. In June I sold a an e-book copy of Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents – Homeschool Edition, to a library through Baker & Taylor Blio. First sale through that bookstore, and, so far as I know, first sale to a library.

At the end of June, I have almost as many sales as I had for all of 2016. With luck, I'll pass 2016 in July.
At the end of June, I have almost as many sales as I had for all of 2016. With luck, I’ll pass 2016 in July.

So, I still haven’t given you the post about the gray cells awakening. I plan on doing that on Monday. This last week I was working on getting Documenting America: Civil War Edition published. That took all my gray cells for a few days.

 

Almost There With My Newest Book

At the Pea Ridge National Military Park, canon are placed strategically, near where actual fighting took place.
At the Pea Ridge National Military Park, canon are placed strategically, near where actual fighting took place.

Yes, I’m almost there.

On Friday, I went to The Dungeon after supper and worked on formatting Documenting America: Civil War Edition for print. I finished it in an hour and a half. That is, I think I finished it. I still will proofread it. And I haven’t created the PDF file yet. But it’s there, on the computer, ready to go. In less time than I expected.

On Saturday, in the afternoon after a busy day of yard work, house work, and grocery shopping, I again went to The Dungeon, to see if I had enough energy to tackle the two e-book versions. Following the procedures I outlined in my previous blog post, I got started, one step at a time. I stripped out the headers and footers. I already had bookmarks at each chapter, so only had to put hyperlinks in the Table Of Contents. Got that done. Then put a link at the end of each chapter back to the TOC. That’s probably not necessary, but I did it. Then I saved it as both Kindle and Smashwords files, and did the final couple of touches each of these need.

That brought me to about 6:30 p.m. I had a meatloaf on, due to come out, so I left my documents. I think, however, they are done. All except for the covers, and the acknowledgement about who did the covers and took the cover photos.

The Elkhorn Tavern was a strategic objective during the two day battle, which involved close to 30,000 combatants.
The Elkhorn Tavern was a strategic objective during the two day battle, which involved close to 30,000 combatants.

Sunday afternoon, my wife and I took a drive to the Pea Ridge National Military Park, about 25 miles from us. We’ve driven by it many times over the years as we head to Ozark destinations east of us, but haven’t actually been in the park since around 1995. I won’t go into a lot of detail on the park, or on the battle. I don’t cover this battle in my book, but this is the closest Civil War site to us, and, based on my vague memory of past visits there, knew I would have places to take photos.

We spent an hour or so there, in the visitors center, then driving the loop through the park. I got a lot of photos, the best of which, and the ones I’ll likely use on the cover, are here in this post. I will likely begin working on the covers tonight: the e-book cover for sure, and the print book cover once that’s done. One problem I have is I may not have an editable file of the original print cover. I’ll have to look around on my old computer. My son did the e-book cover for me, and a woman at our church, who does graphic design, took that and made the print cover from it. If I find it, it will either be a PDF or, possibly, a Photoshop file. If the first, I might be able to load it into G.I.M.P. and do the necessary edits. If the latter, I’m not sure G.I.M. P. can use it.

The Elkhorn Tavern has been restored to the condition it was in in 1862. The inside can't be accessed at present.
The Elkhorn Tavern has been restored to the condition it was in in 1862. The inside can’t be accessed at present.

And, of course, I’m not even sure I have the necessary skills to get this done. I’m going to try, but we’ll see. I may need outside help on the print cover. So, it’s down to the covers, and the acknowledgement of the cover on the copyright page. Get those done, and uploaded to the three sites, and it’s published. Oh, yeah, still have back cover copy to write, along with the description to put on the websites. So, a couple of days, most likely, to first publication.

Meanwhile, I promised to post about the awakening of the gray cells. That will have to wait till Friday.

The Gray Cells Are Activating

Mathew Brady did such a good job of capturing the Civil War in photos.
Mathew Brady did such a good job of capturing the Civil War in photos.

I’m in a bit of a slow period right now. Documenting America: Civil War Edition, is done. That is, the writing and editing of the master document are done. Today at noon, I went through my last mark-up of the manuscript, to see if I missed anything. I hadn’t. I thought I made a couple of notations where I wanted to add a couple of sentences, or perhaps paragraphs, but nothing showed on the manuscript. Apparently, such things were on my mind when I last read it, but I didn’t mark them on paper. Now, to re-read the entire work to find them seems too daunting to me. No, it will go to publication just as it is.

So what’s left? I need to create, from the master file, three separate files: one for Kindle, one for Smashwords, and one for CreateSpace (the print edition). I believe I will start to do that tonight. I could have done that anytime in the last week, but I wanted to wait for that one last flip through the marked-up manuscript. That now done, I’m ready to go on.

But, I’m really not ready. For some reason, the shift from writing to publishing tasks always seems to be a roadblock to me. I’d love to be able to turn this over to someone, pay them to do it. Alas, I don’t make enough on sales to afford that, so I won’t.

Cover - Corrected 2011-06What’s involved with publishing, you ask, that’s so daunting? To each of the three publishing files, I have to add a Table Of Contents. I don’t need to do this for fiction, but for a non-fiction work such as this I do. For the print version, that means inserting bookmarks in the text and cross-references to the bookmarks in the TOC. It’s not hard; just feels like busywork. For the e-book files, I have to add hyperlinks in the TOC to the beginning of each chapter, having first inserted bookmarks there, and then add hyperlinks at the end of each chapter back to the TOC, after first having inserted a bookmark there. Again, it’s not all that hard, but feels like busy work.

Next is putting information on the copyright page. It varies slightly for the three different versions. Next is adding a list of my published works to each version. For the print book, this goes in front, on the back of the half-title page (something you don’t use in an e-book). For the e-books it goes in back. And, for each version, it’s different since the list is really links to sales pages: Kindle links for the Kindle version, Smashwords links for that version. I have master files of these links on my computer at home, and can just insert them into the publication files. Normally I have to do a minor update to each file to add whatever my most previous publication was.

That gets me up to the cover. Sometimes I have another person help me with it, or even do the cover for me. This time, however, I’m determined to do make the cover myself. The cover of Documenting America: Lessons From the United States’ Historical Documents, established a series theme, a theme I like. I suppose it could be called a series brand. I’m going to use that theme, changing the text just a little, and superimposing a Civil War era photo over the old document text, leaving some of the text showing around the outside. This, I think, is something I can do, both for the e-books and the print book.

Print book covers are harder, because you have to have dimensions matched to the print size of the book. So, before I do the print cover, I’ll have to re-format the print publication file to the right size page, adjust the margins to a proper size for the smaller page, and check to make sure headers/footers are correct, and there’s no stray blank pages I don’t want. I then will know the thickness of the print book, and can finalize the cover.

Oh, yeah, at this point I also need to strip the headers/footers out of the e-book files. Running headers/footers have no meaning on an e-book, which has free-flowing text.

This isn't the cover—just a temporary mock-up graphic for this post. the final may be close to this, or somewhat different.
This isn’t the cover—just a temporary mock-up graphic for this post. the final may be close to this, or somewhat different.

A final step for the print book cover is to write some back cover copy. I don’t know that I do a very good job on this. How do you condense your 70,000 word book into a couple of paragraphs? Or, rather than condensing, what do you write that will make people take notice and want to read the book? Once I figure that out, I might get more sales.

Then, and only then, do I get to upload the three files to their respective sites. Actually, the e-book steps will most likely come together quicker, and I’ll have them done about a week before I have the print book done. I struggle with graphic arts software so much, that could actually take longer than a week.

But this post was supposed to be about gray cells starting to be activated. By that, I meant that ideas for specifics in the next book are starting to flow. However, since publishing tasks took me so many words to describe, I’ll have to save more on the gray cells for another time.

The Last 5 percent of this Book Eludes Me

This isn't the cover—just a temporary mock-up graphic for this post.
This isn’t the cover—just a temporary mock-up graphic for this post.

That’s about all that’s left to be done on my current book: 5 percent.

Even less, in fact. I’ve completed three rounds of edits. I heard back from my beta reader. I brainstormed the cover and think I can pull it off on my own. I’ve even set up a mock paperback edition, so I would know how big it would be.

All that’s left is for me to find two or three hours of computer time to type the edits and do some last minute formatting changes. But, since I got home from vacation last Saturday, that time hasn’t materialized. Saturday and Sunday were mostly taken up with the return home and continuing to help with the grandkids. They left Sunday evening. For that evening and until I went back to work Wednesday morning, I completed my reading of the manuscript and marking edits. I did find about an hour of computer time to type some of those edits, but have much more to go.

Wednesday afternoon, I had a wisdom tooth pulled. The reasons why would take too long to explain. I figured I’d be up to some computer time that evening. I was wrong. I really didn’t feel like doing anything, so be watched a bunch of episodes of The West Wing, season five. That’s where we left off three or four years ago, and we wanted to finish the series. That continued Thursday evening, and I suspect it will continue this evening. We have several more discs/episodes to go. Still, it would be nice to get at least an hour of typing done tonight. I’m planning on it.

Just looking at this photo, is it any wonder I left writing for a while? Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children's Museum.
Just looking at this photo, is it any wonder I left writing for a while? Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

That’s one of the beauties of self-publishing. Deadlines are self-imposed. So if Life prevents you from meeting a deadline, no one is waiting for you. Just reschedule and go on. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m sure that, between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I’ll find enough time to type all my edits. I also have three places marked where I think it would be good to add a little more narrative. I don’t know that those places are critical, but, as I read through this last time, I thought more narrative would be beneficial. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find those pages again as I flip through the manuscript.

I was quite pleased with the comments my beta reader made. He’s a fellow writer who has a great interest in history, especially in the Civil War. Like me, he’s a northerner who spent most of his adult life living and working in the South, more years than me, actually. He confirmed to me that my goals for the book had been met, in that I:

  • was informative
  • brought out facts not commonly known
  • had a good mix of documents to be examined
  • struck a good balance between Northern and Southern interests as they were expressed at the time of the war
  • correctly showed slavery was the main reason for the war
  • didn’t gloss over Southern interests other than slavery
  • and did a good job linking the issues then to issues we face today.

That’s exactly what I’m hoping for this book, and for the series, so I’m glad for those comments.

Now, on to typing! On to publishing! I might yet get this done in July.

Book Sales: 1st Quarter 2017

My best 1st quarter so far, one sale better than in 2012
My best 1st quarter so far, one sale better than in 2012

Well, I had my best first quarter ever in terms of book sales. I sold 17, which is one more than the first quarter of 2012. Of course, then I had four items for sale, now I have twenty-four. So it’s a lot fewer sales per title.

Thirteen books came in two batches. An internet friend bought six of my short stories in one shot, and a woman in my office bought seven short stories in one shot. The other four were on-line purchases by people I don’t know. Actually, that’s not true. I’m sure the one person who purchased the newly released Preserve The Revelation is an online writer-friend.

The table below shows how they are distributed among my publications. Note also that this shows a sale in April. So I know the second quarter won’t be a goose egg. You’ll have to click on the chart below to enlarge it enough to read it.

DAT Book Sales 2017 Table on 2017-04-07

 

2017 Writing and Publishing Plans

So, as stated in my last post, 2016 was a dismal year for book sales. And, actually, I had only one new item published in 2016, plus a couple of re-dos, and one print book added to an e-book that was already out. But now it’s 2017. Time to make new plans to feed old hopes. We’re 16 days into 2017, and I’ve already made progress.

I’m going to give two lists. The first is the new material I hope to work on this year, without regards to priority. The second is a sort of to-do list for the first few months. I can’t really see beyond that right now. I’ll need to update that to-do list based on what I actually achieve. I might do that quarterly.

Here’s the first list.

  • Finish my novel-in-progress, Preserve The Revelation, and publish both as an e-book and in print. When the year started I was about 80 to 85% done (best guess).
  • Finish my non-fiction book-in-progress, Documenting America: Civil War Edition, and publish both as an e-book and in print. I believe I’m about 40% done with this.
  • Finish my workplace humor novella-in-progress, The Gutter Chronicles: Volume 2, and publish both as an e-book and in print. I think I’m around 30% done with this.
  • Write a new story in the Danny Tompkins short story series. I think this will be the last. But, then, I also thought that about the last one. I’ve put a few words on paper, but haven’t yet typed anything.
  • Write a new story in the Sharon Williams Fonseca series. While this series hasn’t sold, I want to stick with it for a while. I know where in the world the next story will take place, but a plot hasn’t yet come to me.
  • Finish Carlyle’s Chartism Through The Ages, a non-fiction work. It’s close to 80% complete, but the last 20% is going to be a killer.
  • Continue working on Thomas Carlyle Chronological Composition Bibliography. I’m not sure how close I am to finishing. I plan on working on it a little each morning at work. Perhaps I’ll finish it some day, perhaps not. I’m going to plod away at it for a while.

Here’s the second list. Some of these will have target dates, some won’t. The order is approximately first to last, though with plenty of overlap.

  • Jan 1: Begin reading for research for Documenting America: Civil War Edition. I achieved this. I’m reading a little almost every day for this.
  • Jan: Complete the first draft of Preserve The Revelation. I actually did this Saturday, Jan 14, at 8:10 p.m. It’s now with a beta reader while it simmers for a week or two before I tackle the edits on it. However, don’t think I’m ahead of schedule on this. My original goal was to finish it in 2016. I came close, but missed it.
  • Jan 31: Edit Doctor Luke’s Assistant and republish it. I re-read this in 2016 with an eye toward making edits in it. I’m ready to go with typing. This schedule should be doable.
  • Feb 15: Edit Preserve The Revelation once
  • Feb 28: Edit Preserve The Revelation again, which I hope will be the final edit.
  • Mar 15: Publish Preserve The Revelation. Much must be done for this to happen, some of which I’ve already set in motion.
  • Apr 1: Publish Headshots as a print book. I’m unclear of where I stand with this. In 2016 I edited and re-published the e-book version of this. I don’t remember how I did my edits, whether to a master file or to the e-book file. I’ll know more when I get back to this, probably early to mid-March.
  • Apr 2: Resume writing on Documenting America: Civil War Edition. Actually, I hope to write some on this much sooner than that. But I’ll be satisfied with not doing so until early April. My guess is I’ll have two months of writing to do on it.
  • Blog on a regular Monday and Friday schedule. I’ve already missed a couple of those. I’ll be satisfied if I have 40 to 50 blog posts for the year.

So, that’s my first quarter to-do list. How close I’ll come to achieving it the posts of this blog must tell. Stay tuned.

2016 Book Sales

All markets have not reported for December 2016, but it’s time to report sales for 2016. Here’s the table.

2016 Book Sales
2016 Book Sales

So, you can see that sales were dismal in 2016. The fourth quarter picked up a bit, mainly sales of In Front of Fifty Thousand Screaming People. I published the print version in October, and promoted it on Facebook. Sales of it were dismal, but less dismal than my 21 other published items.

25 sales were at Amazon, 11 were through other stores where I sell via Smashwords, and 5 were self-sales. So my sales at Amazon were where the big drop occurred. Ever since they rolled out Kindle Unlimited, my sales there have been dropping.

I also had four or five e-books/stories bought and returned. In other words, fully 10 percent of all the books I sold were returned. That’s really depressing.

But, I shall be carrying on, writing and publishing, in 2017, in the hopes that someday, someway, with someone(s), my books/stories will catch on.