Picture Book Planning: IngramSpark or CreateSpace

tercules-ebook-cover

I recently released my debut picture book, Tercules! My baby has already brought in some really great reviews. I’m one happy mama! I have an AMAZING illustrator and couldn’t be more proud of first published book for children.

Having worked in the traditional market for MANY years, and having so often received great feedback on this story from agents and editors (even though they didn’t pick it up), I finally decided to try out publishing Tercules on my own.

This is the first of a series of posts that will be dedicated to my experience so that hopefully, others can get their stories into the hands of kiddos without some of the learning curves I’ve taken.

One of the major decisions when it comes to publishing a book is choosing a printer. For Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children, I chose to use CreateSpace. This was a pretty easy decision because so many of my publishing friends in Self Publishing School use CreateSpace and have had a great experience. This was a natural fit when it came to my non-fiction book.

However, as I approached the decision to publish a picture book, I found an array of differing opinion, with a majority leaning toward IngramSpark, because of their additional sizing and color options. And it’s true, Ingram offers a Standard and Premium option for color printing. They also offer paperback and hardback (CreateSpace only offers paperback). I really want hardback copies of my picture books, so this was a huge draw for me in the direction of Ingram.

But here’s where my experience brings me all the way back to CreateSpace, and with hardly a look back.

IngramSpark has all kinds of fees. I also find that it’s not nearly as user-friendly as CreateSpace. For example, I ordered a proof of my book. A few days later, I realized I needed to correct an issue on the interior and updated the file, expecting that my proof would be sent with the previous version.

But my proof never arrived. In fact, it said “printing” forever. I finally contacted IngramSpark via their live chat and was informed that I needed to go and approve the newest version I’d updated in order for the printing to continue. However, this wasn’t stated anywhere and, without having asked, I would have waited for the book to print and ship into eternity.

It costs $49 to load a title. What I didn’t know, is that if you approve the digital version of that title (even if you haven’t approved the proof), then any revision to said title will cost you another $25. CreateSpace, on the other hand, doesn’t charge any set up fee or revision fee. I’d love to think that I’ll never need to load a revision file… however, my experience has been that I do.

I’ve also found that everything is just harder in Ingram’s website. It took my illustrator a few tries to get a file that Ingram would accept for the cover. But a simple PDF worked fantastically with CreateSpace, with the first try. It also takes Ingram about 3-5 days to review a new title, but CreateSpace usually has it back to you the next day. There are some distribution issues with CreateSpace… like, if you don’t use their free ISBN, you don’t get the full distribution option. I prefer using my own ISBN but haven’t noticed any major impact on not having the full option (I’m on Amazon, and that’s mostly where I want to be).

Now, let’s look at print and ship times. Because my print proof still has not arrived from Ingram, I decided to load and print one of my books with CreateSpace, just to compare. This is what I’ve found so far.

IngramSpark:

Book: Castle Quest: An Adventure Journal
Submitted: November 22, 2016
Proof Ordered: November 29, 2016
Arrival Date: (Has not arrived as of January 10)
Shipped from the United Kingdom to my home in Germany
*Update- the proof arrived January 13, 2017*

Book: Tercules (paperback and hardback)
Submitted: December 5, 2016
Proof Ordered: December 6, 2016
Arrival Date: (Has not arrived as of January 10)
Shipped from the United Kingdom to my home in Germany
*Update- the paperback proof arrived January 12, 2017*
**Updated- the hardback proof has STILL NOT arrived as of February 4, 2017**

CreateSpace:

Book: Tercules (paperback)
Submitted December 26, 2016
Proof Ordered: December 27, 2016
Arrival Date: December 29, 2016
Shipped from the United States to my home in Germany

This has been a highly frustrating aspect of attempting to use IngramSpark. I have live-chatted with them repeatedly. They’ve told me it can take 5-20 business days to ship internationally. However, I’m seriously close to the UK and have ordered things from the UK without such a delay. CreateSpace, on the other hand, got my proof from the US to Germany in two days. (Ingram assured me that people who order my book will have a much faster shipping time. We’ll see).

I can’t compare the quality differences yet because, well, the proofs haven’t arrived. And since Ingram doesn’t track the shipment like CreateSpace does, they can’t even tell you where in the world it is at any given moment. CreateSpace, on the other hand, gives you a tracking number and you can follow your book.

The end result, so far, is this: CreateSpace, hands down. The proof of my books is GREAT! I LOVE it. It’s so much fun to see my baby Tercules in print! After all these years! (I wrote it about 7 years ago, waiting for someone to fall in love with it enough to sell it for me). This is way more valuable to me, that kids can find themselves in my story, than all of the “perks” that might have come with publishing traditionally.

Fourteen people have already left reviews on how much they’ve enjoyed Tercules (and I haven’t even officially launched it yet, with all my crazy marketing). One person even wrote to say that their son told them that Tercules is their favorite book on kindle right now! What a gift and joy! THIS is why I’m playing with publishing… to get the book out there. And with all of my years in the traditional market, I have a great professional background on how to write a good story and find an excellent illustrator.

I’ll probably, begrudgingly, stick with Ingram, only for their hardback copy option. Also, I hear that one has a better chance of getting into libraries and traditional bookstores through Ingram than CreateSpace, and this will be my goal as well. Until CreateSpace launches a hardback option, I’ll have to use both to some degree.

I hope this helps! Feel free to add any additional thoughts in the comments below. Hopefully my next post will be a quality comparison!

*Update- the paperback proof arrived January 12, 2017. You can check out my post on a quality comparison between the two proofs (CS and Ingram).*

It’s My Book’s Birthday!

img_0189 It’s my book’s birthday!

A year ago, “Reclaiming Hope: Overcoming the Challenges of Parenting Foster and Adopted Children” hit the shelves. What dream-come-true that moment was!

I had spent much of a lifetime preparing for that book. Then I lived much of it for about ten years. I never planned on penning that story… but when the time came, this is the book that came out.

The story of the many ways we haven’t figured out how to do this adopting/fostering thing in a mess-free, pain-free, beautiful way… but we keep pursuing hope anyway.

I’ll be honest… while I knew that I wanted each chapter to end with hope, there were many chapters where I just plain didn’t have any. I had to dig deep. Go back to our original “why” for entering this parent-child relationship that has both exhilarated us and, at times, devastated us.

rhHundreds of people have purchased the book, either in print or kindle format. Okay, that’s not a NY Times Best Selling number, but it’s that many hundreds of people who’ve found and recovered and been encouraged by the message of hope in the book.

I’ve also been asked to speak on a number of occasions related to the topics of the book. In fact, on November 19 at 11:30 PST, I will be part of a radio talk show. You can listen in on the Independent Talk 1100 KFNX Radio station, the God and Country Show. I’ll be sharing the air with my editor and his wife (the talk show hosts), an author who recently published a fictional book on these themes, and a woman who works with Foster children in Arizona. What a gift!

God has opened many wonderful doors of opportunity, and in return, has filled my own cup with such encouragement.

Finally, since the publishing of “Reclaiming Hope,” I’ve begun five other projects. My debut picture book is due the end of THIS month (November seems to be a GREAT publishing month for me). A second picture book will be on the tail of the first. In the next week or two, my first journal, “Castle Quest Adventure Journal” will be available. Meanwhile, I’m finishing another non fiction novel while revising a young adult novel. Whew!!! The Lord has filled my heart and time with excitement for these projects.

I suppose I should mention that I’ve also been hired by a handful of people to edit and help publish their own books. Yes, more on that to come! I’m just finishing up a fantastic book by a local missionary, and about to begin editing a work that I know will be a loud voice in an industry that needs some strong voices.

If you want in on helping me choose titles, book covers, and other insider tips for my upcoming books, make sure to sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Facebook.

Happy Birthday, Reclaiming Hope!!!

From Betrayal to Healing- Keep Walking

I have the great pleasure of featuring a guest blogger today! Lynn Cherry and I are both featured authors with published chapters in “Becoming Women of Worth: Stories of Hope and Faith,” so I already know that I love her writing. Her story is powerful. And I’m so grateful that, rather than living in defeat (which, if you read her story, was a completely valid option), she has chosen to be a voice of hope, redemption, and truth. And you know I love hope! Without further ado, welcome Lynn Marie Cherry!

cherry-aI laid in bed staring at the ceiling fan, watching the spinning of the blades punctuated by the rhythm of the shadow they cast above them. Our bedroom felt enormous, vacuous space engulfing a small and shrinking me.

The fan was spinning. My head was spinning. The entire room began to rotate around me. It was hard to breathe. 

My husband and I had been to our first couples’ therapy session that day.  At the conclusion, we were each handed a survey. There was a graduate student observing our class and collecting data for his thesis. My marriage, my life had become a statistic. The form was optional, but encouraged for the sake of science.  It seemed a noble thing to do, like donating your organs.

I only remember one question on the form. In the bottom right-hand corner were the instructions, “Circle One” with two words to choose from  “Betrayed or Betrayer.”

I knew I wasn’t the Betrayer but that other word startled me. It had never occurred to me in all the years I spent coping with my husband’s use of pornography. He didn’t have an affair. He hadn’t cheated on me. He just had this porn problem, this ongoing issue that whittled away at me until I felt like a completely insignificant version of myself.

I had been betrayed.

I had been betrayed.

I had been betrayed.

With that word ringing in my ears, the Holy Spirit sorted through the file folders in my mind and pulled out a familiar phrase, “on the night he was betrayed.”  Those words spoke solidarity.

Jesus had lived this moment. He had suffered this pain. I wasn’t alone in this feeling or this experience. Jesus was right there with me.

This shared suffering sent me running to the Savior I had loved but hadn’t ever before so desperately needed. I read my Bible not because I should, but because I need a promise to carry me through each day. The Word delivered promise after promise that helped me take step after step that brought me through to the other side.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Betrayal cuts deep but God heals deeper. 

img_0172

There is an other side.

There is a way through.

Put one foot in front of the other and Keep Walking.

Lynn, thank you so much for sharing this piece of your journey. This is a topic close to my heart for many reasons (one of which you can read about if our next “Becoming Women of Worth” book on sexual addictions makes it to the printer!)

Check out her newly published book, “Keep Walking: 40 Days to Hope and Freedom after Betrayal.” I know you won’t be disappointed.

cherrysbook