Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book News!

Big News Today! I hope you will join me in my excitement ...

"Bits and Pieces of a Writer's Soul" and "Me Too! Preschool Poetry" are now in print and available at 

 If you wish to buy, just click on the links. 

Also now in print, Robert Cosmar's new book:

Congratulations, Robert!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Monday, September 26, 2011

More on Self-Publishing: Robert S. Cosmar

I thought maybe today, I would add a few of my own thoughts on self-publishing. ~Robert S. Cosmar

I think self-publishing is for those who feel that they have something to say and share with the world.

It would be nice to be picked up by a publisher, using their money and resources to produce, advertise, market, and sell your thoughts to the masses, but very few writers have this opportunity presented to them, especially when you get to be my age.

The publishing industry is going through massive changes and publishers are becoming tight with their purses and very frugal when it comes to publishing a book by an unknown.

There is also the ridiculous game of major publishers wanting you to first have an agent to submit your manuscript to them, and then agents who require you to have a contract with a publisher, before they will represent you.  It's a Catch 22, to say the least.

With the growth of eBooks and publishing services that allow anyone to publish a hardback or paperback book, it's only a matter of time before you'll see a decline in the major industry of those who control who and what goes into print and then when it's published.  I suppose this is both good and bad -- and for many reasons.

There is a lot of worthless material being published by those who seek to satisfy an ego urge to stroke their vanity; however, there is also excellent, brilliant material that touches the heart and makes the spirit soar on wings of imagination.

It is the writer who has to decide if what they've written is important, needs to be said, and should be published. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn what it takes to produce a book, or eBook.

In conclusion, there is a joy that comes with sharing your heart's creations and seeing them released to others through self publishing.  It feels like a kiss of satisfaction on the cheek of your heart and soul.


"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I have been published, and I have self-published.  It's been interesting, difficult, grueling, and yet even a little exhilarating.

There are pluses and minuses to either way, but the end result is the same -- you have a book "out there" and, in a [very small] way, you are immortal -- well, at least your words are.  Your words will live on, long after you're gone.

When you have a publisher, a lot of the work is done by them -- formatting, editing, cover design, interior set up, distribution, ISBN numbers, copyrights, advertising, marketing, and in the case of a children's book, they have staff artists who do your book illustrations.

None of this is so, when you self-publish.

When you make the decision to self-publish, you will ultimately have to decide how much of the burden you want to, or can, carry on your own.

There are self-publishing companies online that will gladly sell you  publishing packages, some costing thousands of dollars.

They will do most of the work I'm told, however, you have to ask yourself how long it will take to recoup the money you've spent -- not to mention, your cost per book is about $20.

To make any money -- this is a business, remember -- you would have to set your selling price in excess of $25-35!  Robert and I quickly decided this was not for us.

A further search into self-publishing brought us to P.O.D., which means "print on demand".  There are several of these online, notably and Createspace, which is owned by

With each, you do most of the work and upload your formatted pdf or ePub book to them for printing, or publishing.  You should also do your homework here -- research, study, check out complaints on the Better Business Bureau's website for each, and then decide which company you will ultimately entrust with the birth of your book.

You have to also decide if you want the P.O.D. publisher to assign an ISBN number to your book -- understand, this technically makes them the publisher -- or whether you will obtain your own ISBN number for your book.  This is daunting, trust me.  There is only one place to get ISBN numbers, Bowker, and they're expensive.

With our first self-published book, Robert and I decided this was the way to go -- we're decided we were doing all the work, so we are the publishers.  Since we each have several books we want to self-publish, we went to Bowker and jointly bought a small block of ISBN numbers. It was far less expensive than buying one ISBN number at a time, which was $125 per ISBN.

Keep in mind, in most cases, you also need to purchase a separate bar code for each ISBN number.  That's for the back of your book.  The bar code carries the price you're charging per book, and has the ISBN number, as well.  Each bar code costs $25.

As you can see, when you self-publish, you've made a concrete decision to BE the publisher of your book.   You take on the whole exhausting process, beginning with  learning everything you have to do to publish a book, and then learning how to do each step.

Believe me when I say, it's a mind-boggling, tedious and frustrating process.  I don't know how many times Robert and I felt we had a handle on something, only to find out we had done it wrong and had to start over.  There are even times when you wonder if your book is even worth all the trouble.

In our case, we felt our books were worth the work of self-publishing, daunting as it was going to be. Deciding who to go with was relatively easy at first glance.  Since we both belonged to, we initially went with a P.O.D. company that AuthorsDen had a working affiliation with:

That was a wrong decision and we backed out of almost immediately.  We would not recommend them, but whether you choose to is up to you.

Whoever you ultimately go with, please never, ever assume anything ... trust me.  All I'm going to say is, if you go with, just be sure when you get to the end point -- that of ordering a proof of your book to check whether it's the way you ultimately want it to look -- that you do just that.

You will also be offered the chance to order bulk copies of your book.  Make sure you do not order personal copies at the same time you order your proof and then make the mistake of assuming your proof will be sent first -- it won't.  Enough said. is not clear on that point, as well as other points, so be very careful.

Robert and I were extremely happy with CreateSpace [Amazon].  They make payments on time and keep excellent records.  You can see at a glance on your Dashboard on their website, how many of your books were sold, your royalty per book, which countries your sales were from and whether they were Kindle or print sales.  They handle all sales and shipping, too, freeing you up for writing even more books.

We liked Createspace so well that we went ahead and allowed them to be the publisher on several more books -- it made things so much more simple for us. We highly recommend CreateSpace.

I wish you success!

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ebooks or Books?

Which would you rather read, books or ebooks?  Interesting question, isn't it?.

For the past month, Robert and I have been self-publishing.  It's grueling, re-writing, editing, re-editing, researching P.O.D. (print on demand -- no upfront costs) companies, applying for and buying ISBN numbers (so the P.O.D. company isn't the "publisher" of your work, you are), working with bar codes and learning new programs to create pdf, and modify jpg image files, learning how to correctly paginate, designing and creating back and front covers, yada, yada, yada.

The Dream:  Our Books Published
In Robert's case, he wrote the three stories in his first book nearly twenty years ago, so they first had to be brought into the light and dusted off before doing anything else.

In my case, I worked on the sequel for eleven years.  The preschool book was actually an afterthought, because I felt some of the poems were too young for Barking Spiders 2.

Drawing my own illustrations was also an afterthought, but after making the decision to self-publish, it was something I wanted to do.

Once the books were ready to go, we uploaded them to the P.O.D. company and got in the queue, waiting our turn to have them printed.  In the meantime, we decided to go ahead and publish them in ebook format while we waited ... holy crap ... no one tells you how crazy it is to do that.

Each ebookstore has their own requirements for uploading a book and covers to them -- oh, and each way you publish it, you need a separate ISBN number and bar code, too.  Some require uploading in a pdf format, some, ePub, some in Microsoft Word.doc., and all have different royalties and ways they pay, direct deposit or paypal.

Readers are the Rage
Okay, that brings me back to the original question ... which would you rather read, books or ebooks?

Robert and I were talking about it last night, cuddling on the couch with a cup of decaf.  The ebooks on a PC, Kindle or Nook device are certainly the new rage ... but we both agree, nothing is better than reading a physical book.

I don't know, there's just something special and unique about a book ... the weight of it in your hands, the anticipation of what will happen in the story when you turn the next page, the smell of the paper and the ink, and the most important thing of all ... having a book in your hands creates a feeling, a real and caring relationship with the book, the words, the characters, and even the author ... and no batteries are required.

What's your opinion?

"Writers soon learn that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck