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Book Review

I’ve been slacking again on blogging. My b. But I’m hoping my explanation will make it all worth it.

As some of you may know, I published my first novel last November, and ever since, people have been asking me what my next one will be. Well, the idea struck me a few months back, to write a short story compilation. This is for several reasons. One is that I personally love short stories and love writing them, and studies have shown that readers are trending that way, so I’m not alone. Another reason was that I honestly can’t pump myself up to sit down and write another novel right now. I know everyone’s life is busy, but mine is at a point where mentally I don’t even know if I can write something longform that’s worth someone’s time.

So, I decided to have fun, and hope other people can have fun too!

My next book is a collection of short stories, entitled I’m Terrified of Everything, It will be a compilation of stories that I’ll release individually and digitally every week. When they’re all completed, I’ll put them together into Volume 1 of book, which will have both physical and digital copies.

So, without further adieu, here is the first book in the series, The Woods Are Calling: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011Q27BMA?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I hope you have as much fun with it as I did with writing it.

 

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In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a BIG James Allen fan. While his diction is, shall we say ‘classic,’ what he has to say is right on.

Over the last year, I’ve grappled with my anxiety a lot, but this meditation guide has without a doubt helped me become mentally stronger and overall more loving, understanding, kind, and patient.

You can buy the book for 99 cents on Kindle, James Allen’s Book of Meditations. Or, I also found this link for you too http://james-allen.in1woord.nl/daily.php

Either way, if you are trying to be the best version of yourself, it’s worth the 2 minutes a day!

Okay, here it is. Everything I learned from self-publishing my first book, Stalker.

 

First of all, I read online about tons of other people’s experiences, and while I’m hoping to put all of my learnings here, I highly recommend you look around for the sake of thoroughness. That said, I hope you feel more informed about how to make your own decision going forward.

 

To start things off, I decided early on to work with Amazon. Yes, I know, they’re big and corporate and that makes them semi-evil. But to be honest, as an unknown writer on a budget, I need all of the tools they can give me. So, if you’re looking at LuLu (who doesn’t let you retain the rights to your work), then this probably won’t be much use.

 

The first tip is regarding the ISBN number. Fact: You need a different number for both your physical copy and your ebook, and these run $125 each, or $250 for 5 (something like that). So, Amazon makes it easy. Through their publishing subsidiary CreateSpace.com, you can use a number from them for free for the physical copy. The catch is that they’ll remain the publisher, etc. Also, by going through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, they’ll distribute your ebook for free, by using a distinctive KDP number, which saves you $125.

 

You retain the rights to your book in both circumstances, which was very important to me.

 

There’s another $99 ISBN number where the number is registered to you, but Create Space is still registered as the publisher. I chose to spend the money, and quickly set up my only little company, Natalie Saar Publishing. Honestly, it’s just a matter of filing paperwork, and is fairly simple. Also, you keep more of the royalties this way too.

 

Another benefit of going through Amazon is that they print the books for people as they order them. So, you never have to deal with printing or shipping EVER. Also, by using KDP, they give you two types of promos every 90 days. One allows your book to be free for five days, and the other allows your price to “countdown” which offers it at a discount for people as well. Both of these options allow the book to be featured in their respective sections on Amazon.

 

Now, the tricky part: uploading your book and designing your cover. I was given a very valuable piece of information about the cover by a friend of mine who is an agent: it’s going to be a thumbnail, so there’s no need for it to be elaborate. That said, it’s much harder than I thought it would be to make the cover you probably have in your head. You’ll need some kind of program that can not only make it look the way you want, but also save it as a PDF (do most programs do that? I don’t know. Apologies if they do and this sounds ridiculous!). Don’t forget to make the back cover as well. I made that mistake, and your book has to be taken down for 24 hours to approve the revised one. (If you are one of the 12-15 people who got the blank white cover, then lets just hope this book becomes famous and you’re all millionaires!)

 

You’ll also need to resize your document to fit the page size you want. To me, these are tedious, horrible things that I seriously hate doing… but I didn’t have the $250 to spend on Amazon’s design services. Since I didn’t go that route, I can’t tell you personally how helpful they are. What I CAN tell you is that even if you don’t pay for their services, the customer/publisher support is fantastic! They literally walked me through re-uploading the cover, step-by-step, for as long as it took. You can choose to look at your proofs online or have a physical one shipped to you as well.

 

As far as pricing goes, you just need to be realistic. Of course, I think my book is worth the $25 that other books in Barnes and Noble get, but that’s not how things work. I’m a new author, and my book comes in at around 70,000 words (it still comes in at over 300 pages). Normally, a new author needs 90,000-120,000 to get a deal because people want to feel like they got their money’s worth (or at least this is what I’ve read and been told). So, I chose to price my physical copy at between $11 and $12 (depending on if you get it off CreateSpace or Amazon). My ebook is priced at $2.99 because — and this is where you get your hopes up — if a publishing company sees really good sales numbers at $2.99 and higher, they’re likely to be more intrigued.

 

And CreateSpace has great prices for publishers to buy their own books for distribution!

 

So, the things you need to consider are:

Do you want to buy your own ISBN?

Is it important to you that you’re the publisher as well as the author?

Do you need help with your cover, and can you afford it design services?

What do you think is a fair and intriguing price for potential readers?

I hope you found this info helpful in your journey to self-publish. I’ve found it immensely rewarding, and am happy to help anyone who has questions. You can either comment, send me an email (natsaar at gmail dot com), or find me on Twitter (@nataliesaar).


Marketing my book will be the next phase, and I look forward to sharing my learnings with you then as well.

It’s been awhile since my last book review, because it’s been awhile since I was able to finish a book. But I finally finished my first book of the year. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do if I want to reach my goal, but I’ll get there.

Before Christmas, I was walking through a store when I saw a book that caught my eye, “The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters” by Lorraine Lopez. If intrigued me because my Spanish family, from Spain are Gabaldons. I thought it might be a fun gift for my Nana based on the name alone. Then it got weird when I read the back of the book. It was about four sisters growing up in East Los Angeles and their mother had died at a young age. I froze, was I reading my Nana’s story she’d published under a penname or something? Granted, she had more siblings than this… many more, but the similarities were uncanny. I scooped it up into my basket and gave it to my Nana as a “just because” present.

She’s a voracious reader, constantly giving me books she knows I’ll love, and I always do once I get around to reading them. So, six months later, I’m able to give it back to her, having finished this wonderfully delightful tale of these sisters. It’s a coming of age story, which I’m typically not a fan of because they’re all essentially the same. This one was different though.

Without giving away a lot of the story, I can tell you this:
1. You will fall in love with these girls. They are all so flawed, and real with themselves. It’s refreshing to find people who aren’t overly flawed or a bit too perfect, and these girls are as real as characters can get.

2. You’ll relate with them, even if you didn’t grow up in East LA. It’s impossible not to see some of you in these girls.

3. It’s an easy read. It’s not as shallow as cheeky romance novel, and it’s not as simple as a lot of adolescent literature, but it’s somewhere in between. Not quite for adolescents, because there’s a lot of “life lessons” in here. You’ll go on a journey with these girls and love every disappointment and triumph.

As you may, or may not know, I have about as unhealthy an obsession over Hunter S. Thompson as he had with drugs and alcohol. I’ve often said, if there was no god, I’d believe in HST. So, you’ll imagine my sheer rapture at finding the book “Ancient Gonzo Wisdom; Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson

On page 183 of the book, I ran across the Proust Questionnaire that he did for Vanity Fair back in September 1994 (yes, he’s that amazing that he landed the September issue, which is incidentally the name of an excellent documentary, but that’s another story).

I’ve pasted the interview below for your enjoyment.

Vanity Fair—September 1994
Proust Questionnaire
Gonzo journalism’s granddad (and sole survivor), Hunter S. This month he
casts a bleary eye on V.F.’s Proust Questionnaire.

Vanity Fair: Which historical figure do you most identify with?
HST: Marquis de Sade.

Vanity Fair: Which living person do you most admire?
HST: Richard Nixon—despite r umors of his death.

Vanity Fair: What is the t rait you most deplore in others?
HST: Greed and dumbness.

Vanity Fair: What is your greatest extravagance?
HST: The money I spend on the physical love of animals.

Vanity Fair: What is your favorite journey?
HST: Racing the stoplights on Park Avenue in a fast car at four o’clock in the morning.

Vanity Fair: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
HST: Moderation.

Vanity Fair: On what occasion do you lie?
HST: To the police.

Vanity Fair: What is your greatest regret?
HST: The destruction by greedheads of the once honorable Woody Creek Tavern.

Vanity Fair: If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
HST: To get rid of my evil son.

Vanity Fair: If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
HST: I have no choice (and neither do you). I have been here many times for many reasons and I will be here after you leave. I am Lono.

Vanity Fair: Where would you like to live?
HST: In the Place of Refuge on the south Kona coast.

Vanity Fair: What is your most marked characteristic?
HST: A tortured, honky-tonk smile.

Vanity Fair: Who if your favorite hero of fiction?
HST: Dracula

Vanity Fair: Who are your heroes in real life?
HST: Hal Haddon [lawyer, Gary Hart’s campaign manager], Morris Dees [civil rights activist], Nina Hartley [pron star], Jacques Cousteau [undersea explorer].

Vanity Fair: How would you like to die?
HST: Explode.

Vanity Fair: What is your motto?
HST: “Res Ipsa Loquitur.”

Today I came across this amazing site where you can not only read books for free, but give them to various foundations as well. As many of you know, or maybe you don’t, I’m making a foray into children’s literature so you can imagine how happy I was to find this.

Check it out, and since we’re in the holiday season and all, make sure to donate a book to some kids who really need it. Be a hero 🙂

Click HERE to go to the site.

I pride myself in being somewhat of a historian in every area, including sports history. The other day I learned about a man who quickly jumped into the top 10 most interesting people I’ve ever heard about: Rosey Grier.

Grier was one of the “fearsome foursome” of the Los Angeles Rams, which means he was one of the biggest guys on the team. Grier was the great-grandson of slaves in the south, and was named after the president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. His presidential connection would prove to be ironic later in life. He would be the one who wrestled the gun out of Sirhan Sirhan’s hand, the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy.

While playing football, the 6’5 300lb Grier was known to be a beast, but once he got off the gridiron, it was a different story.

To curb his fear of flying, Grier picked up a hobby that would keep him preoccupied: needlepoint. On January 1, 1973 he released “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men” thereby making it okay for the hypermasculine to sit down and needlepoint a picture of themselves on a pillow case.

Today Grier happily resides in San Diego, CA.