New Book! For Free!

So I’m trying something new.

Wattpad!

Well, actually I’ve used Wattpad before, but not in awhile. Anyway, I decided to post the entire draft of one of my novels up there before/if I publish it. Just for fun.

If you’re not familiar with what Wattpad is, it’s basically just a site where you can read free books/stories that people have written, or post your own. Really cool, really easy to use.

So if you’ve liked my previous books, especially my fairytale retellings, you should definitely check it out. This particular novel is called Heartless and is a gender bent retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Very fun and creepy and full of retelling craziness. Below is the synopsis and the link to the entire book on Wattpad.

wattpad heartless cover.jpg

Everyone knows about the monsters.  The ones who lurk beneath the surface of the Earth, in the darkest corners and the darkest crevices, leaking into the daylight to snatch the hearts of their victims.

These are the monsters eighteen-year-old Crew has signed up to kill.  By joining the Heartless, the most vicious military sect in the nation, he’s agreed to go underground, into the miles-long tunnels and caves, to hunt the monsters that few people have truly ever seen.

Monsters like seventeen-year-old Britta.  Roaming the caves below ground, hiding from the Heartless and doing what she can to survive.  Because if she can’t find a way to steal a human heart by her eighteenth birthday, her life will end.

But when Crew and Britta cross paths their lives are suddenly thrown upside down as they unwittingly stumble right into the arms of their enemies.  Each with their own secret that could break their worlds; a secret that could kill Crew’s career, and a secret that could snap their fragile trust.  That Crew, a member of the Heartless, has never had the guts to kill.  And that Britta, slowly winning the heart of the only human she’s ever known, has taken more lives than he could possibly imagine.

Check it out!

https://www.wattpad.com/story/40334115-heartless-a-retelling-of-beauty-and-the-beast

COVER LOVER: October

There were so many new YA releases this month and it was so incredibly hard to choose my five favorite covers!  Like seriously, this took me a long time…

But here they are!

5. Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

I like how there’s just so much going on in this cover, but in a good way!

dreamstrider

4. Weird Girl and What’s His Name by Meagan Brothers

I really like watercolors.  And silhouettes.  And funky titles.

weird girl and whats his name

3. The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

It’s just pretty.  That’s it.  I just want to stare at it.

the immortal heights

2. A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnson

So prettyyyyy.  I’m obsessed with typography and this is probably the prettiest typography I’ve ever seen.  Also the purple and the castle…

a thousand nights

  1. A Madness so Discreet by Mindy MicGinnis

I just love it a lot.  Her dress is so pretty, her hair is so pretty, and she looks pretty darn distressed.

a madness so discreet

So there you go!  Let me know if you’ve read any of these or what you think of the covers. 🙂

HOURGLASS! 99 cents for October!

It’s October! And as we all know, October is the absolute best month of the year. The pretty weather, the colors, the pumpkins, the coffees…

Some reasons I’m looking forward to this October:

  1. I turn 20! OH MY GOSH I HAVE TO BE AN ADULT.
  2. Pumpkins!
  3. Sweater weather!
  4. Christmas is coming (yes, I know Christmas isn’t until December but it’s coming)!
  5. My scifi retelling of Peter Pan, HOURGLASS, is on sale for 99 cents for the month of October!

Yeah, the actual point of this post.  If you haven’t read Hourglass yet, it’s a science fiction retelling of Peter Pan told from the point of view of a female Caption Hook.  Lots of fun. It also has a lot of creepiness involved and since October is home to creepy things like Halloween, I thought it was a nice fit.

I have the synopsis, cover, and link to Amazon below, so you might as well check it out. 😉

Jude Sprocket has been a pirate her whole life. Taken in by a man who found her alone on a distant planet at the age of seven, all she has to remember of her past life is the loss her hand – the vague memory of a race through the woods and a bloody aftermath.

Now, her father recently dead, seventeen-year old Jude has inherited his spaceship – Hourglass. Determined to get off Earth and continue her father’s legacy of piracy, she assembles a crew and takes to the stars.

But more than abandoned ships and hidden treasure await Jude in the vast void of space. She’s haunted by dreams of a distant land, children hiding in the shadows, and a little girl she somehow feels the need to find.

When Jude and her crew stumble across an uncharted planet, curiosity gets the better of them and they land, unaware of the dangers that wait. Suddenly, Jude’s worst nightmares are coming true. The monsters she feared in the dark, the children that haunt her mind, the little girl from her dreams – and the planet she was never meant to leave.

Hourglass

Sound interesting? Go get it! 😀

http://www.amazon.com/Hourglass-Pauline-C-Harris-ebook/dp/B00TTFBUW4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1443813723&sr=8-3&keywords=pauline+c+harris

 

COVER LOVER: September

More covers! And fall is when all the books come out so there were a ton to pick from.  But I narrowed down my top 5 favorite covers in YA releases and here they are!

5. Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales.

This is just so cute.  I love the font and the colors and the happy little people skipping down the road or whatever.  It’s just adorable.

tonight the streets are ours

4. Anne and Henry by Dawn Ius.

I love pink. Also, this book sounds absolutely amazing! It’s a retelling of the famous King Henry and Anne Boleyn love story.  Aaahh! I really want to read it…

anne and henry

3. The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

I love beautifully illustrated and designed covers and this is just so pretty.  The colors are amazing, the silhouetted branches and people…it’s so simple and gorgeous!

the weight of feathers

2. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This is just so cool! I can’t stop staring at…whatever that jumble of stuff is! The illustration is so interesting and really grabs your attention.

everything everything

  1. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Everything about this is amazing! I love, love, love the gold and the person and her gold fringed dress and the sunset and I’m dying staring at this cover.

walk on earth a stranger

Anyway, as per usual, you should go ahead and check out these books because from reading their descriptions they all sound pretty amazing.

Have a great day!

Which Print on Demand Service is Right For You?

Photo provided by iosphere at freedigitalphotos.net.

Photo provided by iosphere at freedigitalphotos.net.

Okay this might be a little biased of an article.  I’m going to admit upfront that I use and prefer Createspace for my print on demand needs, but I have experience with both Createspace and Lulu, and have done my fair share of research on Lightning Source.

So to start out, what are these companies I just mentioned and what do they do?  If you’re completely new to the self-publishing game, I’ll give you a little explanation.  In order to self-publish, you must find a print on demand service through which to print and sell your books.  These services print your book every time it’s ordered so you don’t have to have thousands of printed books stored somewhere waiting to be purchased.  These print on demand services are also linked with major online book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  So basically if you’re wanting to self-publish you’re going to need a print on demand service.

The top three print on demand services in the business are Createspace, Lulu, and Lightning Source, so I’ll be going over the pros and cons of each.  But please remember, this is just my opinion on these three services based on my experiences with them.

Createspace

Now this is my top choice.  It was the first service I ever used when starting out in self-publishing, I continue to use it today, and I’ll always have good things to say about it.

Pros

  1. Super user friendly layout – meaning just about anyone can figure out how to publish their novel very easily. (Just a side note: I was thirteen when I self-published my first novel – that should tell you just how easy Createspace is to figure out)
  2. Great prices. Createspace consistently has the best prices out of the three.  I believe I’m paying about $4.00 per copy of my 250 page book (and selling it for $10.00).   They also have no setup fee, offer a free ISBN if you don’t already have one, and offer free setup and availability on sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (all sites you definitely want to be on).  So basically I drop a few bucks every time I want a copy of my book.  And that’s it.
  3. Formats and sizes. I really like the formats and sizes that Createspace offers.  They have a lot of varying sizes for novels – from really tiny to quite large.  They also don’t have a standard size or charge you much extra depending on what size/format you choose (unlike Lulu, which I’ll explain below).

Cons

  1. No hardcover.  Now, technically Createspace does offer a hardcover edition of your novel, but it’s hard to get. First off, you have to pay a roughly $100 setup fee (ouch).  They also don’t offer that hardcover for sale on online retail sites, meaning only YOU can order your hardcover copies and sell them by hand.  This one totally bums me out because I’d LOVE to hold a hardcover copy of my novel.

Lulu

Now, I’ve worked indirectly with Lulu, so I do technically have less experience with them.  One of my publishers uses Lulu as their print on demand service and therefore I’ve seen what Lulu offers and how they work.

Pros

  1. Yay! Lulu does offer a hardcover version of your novel. You do have to format another version of your book and cover and pay about $30.00 per copy, but that’s much better than what Createspace offers.
  2. Like Createspace, Lulu is pretty easy to figure out. I poked around on there by myself for a few hours trying to get the feel of it and they seem pretty easy to manage.  Everythins is laid out for you and you basically pick and choose what you want and they set it up for you.
  3. They also hook you up with the major online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble with no fee.

Cons

  1. Now, Lulu’s prices aren’t astronomically high, but they’re higher than Createspace’s.  I pay about $7.00 per every copy of my 200 page book.  They also don’t provide free ISBNs which is a little sad (ISBNs can run about $100).
  2. This one bugs me to no end.  I hate the standard format that Lulu provides.  I hate it with a burning passion.  It’s incredibly awkward and unprofessional looking, in my opinion (9 by 6 inches).  Now, you can choose from a large variety of pretty awesome formats, but all those other ones cost more than the standard one.

Lighning Source

To be honest, I’ve never used Lighning Source so I don’t want to talk too much on something I know very little of, but I’ll tell you what I do know.  I believe Lightning Source does have a setup fee and from what I’ve read on many other comparative articles, Createspace seems to come out in front.  But I’d encourage you to go do your own research on Lightning Source and see if you like it.  I’ve done a lot of my own and I think the things that drove me away from Lightning Source are the setup fees and the supposedly not-so-user friendly interface.  In Lightning Source’s defense, though, I’ve heard they’re great for self-publishers who are serious about selling their novels on a large professional scale.

COVER LOVER: AUGUST

More covers guys! Yes! So August had a lot of cool covers to pick from…but here are my top five favorite new release covers in YA.

5. Never Always Sometimes by Ali Alsaid

I love the young, contemporary, school-like feel of this cover. Super cute.

never always sometimes

4. What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

I’m a big fan of cool typography. Like a HUGE fan. I also love silhouettes, so this cover is basically just the best.

what you left behind

3. How to Say I Love You Out Loud by Karole Cozzo

I don’t even know where to start with this cover. The colors, the typography, the hair…it’s all pretty darn lovely.

how to say I love you out loud

2. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by…a lot of people…Leigh Bardugo, A. G. Howard, Kami Garcia to name a few…

This is just a really cool cover.  I like simple covers that say a lot and I think this one totally does that.

slasher girls and monster boys

  1. Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

This cover!! I’ve seen this around for a while, but it’s just so, so beautiful. Everything about it is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t stop staring at it.

mechanica

So there you have it!  Let me know if you’ve read or plan to read any of these.  I know there are definitely a few I plan on picking up at some point

COVER LOVER: July

Yay! More covers! Here are my top picks of the new release YA covers in July.

5. A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery.  I just really like the typography on this one.  Also I love pink. While I’m not a huge fan of the zoomed in faces, the previous two aspects make up for it.

a million imles away

4. Paperweight by Meg Haston.  I love the simplicity of this one.  And the paper cutouts are adorable!

paperweight

3. The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson.  This cover is just so majestic and adventurous!  It really makes me want to find out what happens to this girl and her creepy surroundings.

the heart of betrayal

2. Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud.  This cover is just so completely original.  I love everything about it.  The illustration, the contrast between the two main colors, and the fact that it’s primarily YELLOW (my favorite color)!

pretending to be erica

1. All We Have is Now by Lisa Shroeder.  It’s just so pretty!  The stars, the silhouette bridge, the purple ombre, the typography…

all we have is now

So yeah, here are my top five favorite covers of July.  And from what I’ve read, the stories that match these covers sound fantastic as well, so you should go check them out. 😉

VANITY PRESSES: What they are and what they do

vanity presses

Vanity presses.  This is an interesting topic I’ve come across many, many times.  I’ve talked with a lot of people about it and have had some experience encountering these types of companies.  Often times aspiring writers don’t know the difference between a real publishing house (or print on demand service) and a vanity press.  So I’m going to break it down for you.

How do I know whether it’s a vanity press? In other words, what is it?

First off, how do you know when you encounter a vanity press?  It’s pretty simple.  If the company is asking for money – and I mean a large sum, not just a few bucks to pay for an ISBN – it’s a vanity press.

A vanity press is, in short, a company that acts as a publisher but charges you (the author) a large amount of money to do this for you.  I’m talking anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.  The packages vary.  To give them credit, they do take care of editing, producing, cover designing, and marketing, but in a very limited way.  Basically they do all these things that you as an author are perfectly capable of doing with a little bit of research.

A vanity press is not a publisher.

A vanity press is not really a publisher.  They do all those things that publishers do (editing, marketing etc.) but in a much more limited way than an actual publisher can do them.  And a real publisher will pay their authors, not the other way around.

A vanity press may seem like a nice and easy way to publish your book, but ultimately it’s not a good moneymaker at all.  Think of it.  How many successful authors have you heard of that have started with vanity presses?  Self-published, sure, but not many successful vanity press authors are out there.

A vanity press is not a print on demand service.

Some writers lump vanity presses and self-publishing in the same category when in reality that’s a little bit too broad of a statement.  Self-publishers do all those things on their own and they don’t spend thousands of dollars upfront on a company to do it for them.  A print on demand service, such as Lulu, Createspace, or LighteningSource charge limited fees that only apply to things that would logically cost money.  For instance, many authors are required to buy their own ISBN number depending on what they want.  Also, if an author wants to buy copies of their books, it’ll cost them a few bucks a piece.  That’s about it, aside from outside marketing costs once the book is published.  A print on demand service is a much cheaper and smarter way to self-publish a novel.

So basically, I personally don’t think that vanity presses are ever a good option.  I can see in some instances where it would make sense – maybe printing a few hundred books for a more limited and personal use without necessarily wanting to make money.

Overall, if you’re a serious writer wanting to make a career, don’t fall into the vanity press trap.  And they do try to trap you. 😉 Early on in my career I had an offer from a vanity press.  The contract and letter sounded so great and wonderful and they praised my book to the end of the earth and back.  But at the end of the day, there was still that two thousand dollar sum that needed to be paid.  So I passed.  And good thing, too.

COVER LOVER: June

So I’m trying out this new monthly segment thing where I highlight my top five favorite new release covers in YA.  Whew.  That was a mouthful.  So anywho, I rifled through the lovely covers of this month’s new releases so go check out the beauty below!  And aside from the lovely covers, they actually look like some pretty stellar reads.

5. Joyride by Anna Banks

I really like the faded font and the people lying in the back of the pickup truck.  It’s simple and small-townsy which I think is super cute.

joyride anna banks

4. Love, Fortunes, and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius.

Just look at the cute little people in love!  I’m also a sucker for really beautifully illustrated covers.  That’s my obsession at the moment.

love fortunes

3. Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca.

Yellow’s my favorite color so it doesn’t hurt that the car is a sunny mustard. 😉  The typography’s great too.

last years mistake

2. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat.

I was just saying how much I LOVE cutesy cover illustrations, and this one’s just gorgeous.  And the colors!  Aah!

between the notes

1. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout.

Um, hello, I love this cover.  The people on the front look adorable and all the little illustrations and the colors and the details…just…oh my gosh!

hello i love you

So yeah, there it is.  My five favorite YA covers for the month of June!  I noticed a lot of contemporaries which isn’t too unusual for June (I mean, summer is the time for all those lovely contempts!)  Maybe I’ll get around to actually reading some of these. 😉

7 Things to Know Before Publishing Your Novel

photo provided by nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.com

photo provided by nuttakit at freedigitalphotos.com

I’ve found that during my author interviews one of the most common questions I get asked is if I have any advice for aspiring authors.  And I do!  A lot, actually.  So I thought I’d put together a list of some things I wish I’d known before taking the leap into the publishing pool.

1. You won’t make a lot of money.

Weirdly, a lot of people assume that being an author is a get-rich-quick kind of job.  Sorry to disappoint you if you’re one of those unfortunately misinformed people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It’s a sad reality but it’s incredibly rare for an author to make enough money to live off of their book sales.  Sure, you hear of authors like J. K. Rowling and James Patterson making millions off their books, but they are some of the few exceptions.  Just don’t be disappointed if your book doesn’t sell and you don’t immediately start raking in the cash.

2. You have to market your own book.

Ugh. I know. Marketing kind of sucks.  Unfortunately, publishers don’t do a whole lot for you unless you’re (gasp!) J. K. Rowling or James Patterson.  Marketing is a task that’s often times left up to the author.  And if you’re self-published, it’s completely and utterly your responsibility.  You have to learn how to do it yourself and do it well.  It can be a daunting task but don’t be discouraged.  Now you know and can start preparing!

3. It’s hard to get noticed

This was a hard one for me.  I assumed (like many first time authors) that my books would immediately get picked up and tons of people would be reading and loving them.  Nope.  It’s hard work.  This is where the marketing comes in.  You have to market your heart out and hope, hope, hope that your book will eventually get noticed.  I’ve had books that sat around for ages before even one single sale.  So again, don’t be discouraged, just keep plugging away.

4. You won’t always get nice reviews.

Oh yes, those nasty little one star reviews.  You’ll get some.  It won’t all be praise and worship from your readers.  There will always be a reader or two who won’t like your book.  In fact, there might be a lot of people who don’t like it.  Just remember to develop a thick skin soon and DO NOT reread those pesky one stars over and over again until you’ve drowned in a puddle of tears.  Believe me, I’ve done it and it got me nowhere.

5. Friends and family will be impressed but also skeptical.

I hate telling friends/family/acquaintances about my books.  I avoid it at all costs.  From my experience, people are either really excited and want some free copies (I WISH I had access to free copies) or hand me patronizing compliments and ask me skeptically how much money I’ve made.  Seriously.  I’ve lost count of how many people have asked me how much money I make.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of family members and friends who are utterly supportive and amazing, but don’t automatically expect everyone you know to run out and buy a copy of your book.  It just doesn’t happen.  And don’t be offended if they don’t.  Not everyone is a reader.

6. Everything in publishing moves at a glacial pace.

This is more for the aspiring traditionally published authors out there.  If you choose to self-publish things can go as quickly or slowly as you want.  When it comes to publishing houses, on the other hand, things are about as fast as a turtle strolling through mud.  I don’t know why this is.  I really don’t.  The average amount of time between the signing of a contract and the actual release of a book is about one year.  An entire year.  So just be ready for that kind of time commitment.  It’s very, very slow, but also very worth it.

7. You’ll have fun!

Please don’t let any of the above tidbits scare you off.  Publishing your book is fun!  It can be scary and daunting and a lot of hard work, but it’s so completely worth it.  My biggest piece of advice to you is to just sit back and have some fun.  Interact with your readers, find marketing strategies that are enjoyable, and absolutely keep on writing.