Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two self publishing options for memoir authors

Today we welcome back Dwight Clough as our guest blogger. 
(If you missed his post last week, 
He’s a Christian editor, publishing consultant, ghostwriter, 
Dwight custom designs services to meet 
his clients’ needs, budget, and schedule.

Two self publishing options for memoir authors

Unless you have a platform of more than 10,000 people, the likelihood that your memoir will be picked up by a traditional publishing company—Christian or otherwise—is close to zero. At one time, that was a problem. No longer. A multitude of self publishing or indie publishing options provide the perfect alternative for memoir authors.

First a caution. Many of these self publishing options are traps. They are extraordinarily expensive. They take away important rights that you should retain as an author. They promise much, deliver little. Tread carefully, and go into indie publishing with your eyes wide open.

Having said that, here are two options I’ve worked with that I absolutely love.

(1) For paperback publishing, I recommend It’s free. (Yes, they do have paid services, but you don’t need to use them—and I never do.) The only thing you pay for is author’s copies that you order, and you are under no obligation to order any number of copies or any copies at all. You can send your readers to CreateSpace’s e-store to purchase your book and/or you can make your book available on Amazon. (They take care of fulfillment, you collect a royalty.) You can also set up your book so readers can order a copy from their favorite bookstore. And, of course, you can purchase author’s copies at a discount which you can sell or give away. You determine the retail price of your book. CreateSpace provides ISBN and bar code for free, so you don’t need to worry about that.

You will need to provide CreateSpace with your financial information so they can pay you a royalty. I’ve never had any trouble with this. CreateSpace works great for authors in the USA and Canada. It may or may not be a good choice in other countries. CreateSpace uses print-on-demand technology. Books are created when they are ordered, so you don’t need to store an expensive inventory (translation: boxes and boxes in your basement or garage).

You will need to provide CreateSpace with print-ready files for both your interior and your cover. This is where most new authors come across as rank amateurs. Take the time to study interior design, or get someone to prepare this file for you. Most self published books are almost unreadable because they are so poorly designed (not to mention poorly edited). And don’t underestimate the importance of your book cover. All of this can be created for free with free software if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, get help.

(2) For e-book publishing, I recommend Amazon’s Kindle publishing service. Again, it’s free. Kindle is wonderful because your memoir becomes instantly available to readers throughout the world. Your readers can download free software to read your Kindle e-book on almost any device. At you’ll need to set up a free account, and again, they will ask for financial information so they can pay you. At certain price points you can be eligible for 70% royalty; otherwise you’ll receive 35%. 

CreateSpace does offer a link in their title set up process to convert your book to Kindle. However, that process is not smooth and seamless. Or you can convert your word processing file to HTML and upload that to Kindle. In either case, you’ll need to edit the files to make your book Kindle ready. Here a basic knowledge of HTML is very helpful, because at minimum, you’ll want to include a Kindle-ready, clickable Table of Contents. Again help is available, if you need it.

I hope these suggestions help you bring your memoir to life. I would love to look at what you’re writing.

Dwight co-authored and published a memoir 
by my friend and former coworker, Forrest Zander, 

For more information on the many services 
Dwight offers memoir authors, 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Tidbit - The benefits and blessings of looking back

This is one of the blessed benefits
of writing your stories:

What brave new things have you done
you looked back and recognized
what God did for you in the past?

Your stories can encourage others to do the same.

Write your stories!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Seven questions to answer as you write your memoir

Today we welcome Dwight Clough as our guest blogger. 
He’s a Christian editor, publishing consultant, ghostwriter, 
Dwight custom designs his services 
to meet his clients’ needs, budget, and schedule.

Seven questions you must answer as you write your memoir

(1) How do you define success for this project?
Do you simply want a beautiful book you can share with family and friends? Or do you want to inspire a new generation to embrace your faith? Or do you want to use your book to gain clients or ministry partners? Or do you need to sell a certain number of copies and make a certain amount of money? These are radically different goals and they require different strategies.

(2) Who is your reader?
If you’re writing your memoir for yourself, then you can write it almost any way you want. But if you’re writing it for someone else, then you need to get inside that person’s head and figure out how they think. What do they know? What don’t they know? What interests them? What bores them? How do you need to explain your message in way that will resonate with them?

(3) What is your message?
What exactly do you want to get across? The more focused you can be on this, the easier it will be to determine what fits, what doesn’t, and whether or not your book is complete.

(4) Why will your reader want to own and read your book?
What does your memoir do for your reader, and why does your reader care? Your story matters. Your message will make a difference in the lives of other people. But your message will have a greater impact if you prayerfully ponder this question. What are the benefits of your book? Be clear on that as you write, so you can add value to every chapter.

(5) How do you want your reader to respond?
Do you want your reader to embrace a certain set of practices? To support a ministry? To respond with awe and worship of God, the Maker of your story?

(6) How will you get your book into the hands of your reader?
How will you reach the readers you want to reach? How will you package and distribute your book so it gets into the hands of the people you want to reach?

(7) How will you achieve your goals?
How will you organize your time so this moves from fantasy to reality? What strengths and weaknesses do you bring into this project? What kind of help do you need, and where will you get that help?

I hope these questions will help you bring focus to your writing and add value to the memoir you are creating. I would love to look at what you’re writing.

Dwight co-authored and published a memoir 
by my friend and former coworker, Forrest Zander, 

For more information on the many services 
Dwight offers memoir authors, visit 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

“The great gift of memoir”

You know from experience: A story can point a person in a new direction, can lead to a much-needed turning point for a man or woman, boy or girl. Someone else’s story can bring healing and hope. Sometimes a story makes a life-and-death difference for the one hearing it.

Think back: Whose words, written or spoken, brought you to a major turning point? Gave you courage to do the right thing? Maybe revolutionized your life?

Now think of this: Your story could do the same for others. That’s kind of staggering, isn’t it? And humbling.

Always remember: Someone needs to know your story, told in the unique way only you can tell it.

Sharing our stories is an important part of our faith: “Always remember what you’ve seen God do for you, and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

Jesus, too, told people to tell their families stories of what God has done for them (Luke 8:39).

“Most of us can name one or two books we have read that changed our lives. These books often had their impact because they said something we had never heard said before, or because they treated a subject of great importance to us in a way that helped us think about it…. We all learn from one another’s stories, which is, perhaps, the great gift of memoir.” (Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir)

Sharon Lippincott tells how her great-great grandmother’s story impacted her: In 1894, after twenty years of putting up with a drunken, abusive coal miner who failed to provide for his family, the woman filed for divorce. “Her determination to end the abuse by leaving was especially courageous in that era. She had backbone. I find this account…encouraging, and I’m proud to have such strong determination and persistence in my background. I’ll never encounter the specific conditions she faced, but her example of resourcefulness and finding a way to make the best of a situation is powerful…. If you write stories about overcoming adversity…perhaps they will encourage and inspire your own descendents.” (The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing)

You are the bridge God has placed between your family’s generations past and generations yet to come.

You might think you live an inconspicuous, unremarkable life but, through the generations, God has been writing stories through you and your family’s ordinary events. (Click on Your “Sacred stories of the Ordinary.”) 

Your stories are important. Write them for generations yet to come. You probably can’t imagine how God will use them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Tidbit: We proofreaders need each other!

Lia London left this quote in a comment after Thursday’s post, “The most productive and transformative part of writing a book.” It was too good not to share more widely. Thanks, Lia!

Lia knows a bit about proofreading and editing—she has published a number of books. Currently I’m reading two of them, part of her Little Devotional series. The first book is Parables and Ponderings: When God speaks to us through everyday items and incidents, and the second is Miracles and Musings: Recognizing God’s love in blessings big and small.

Her third book in the series is Knocking and Knowing: When faith is hard to find.

The series includes brief personal anecdotes, reflections on what’s often overlooked yet delightful, all wrapped in ordinary daily events. They will make you smile. Be sure to click on the links above.

Lia is also the founder of Clean Indie Reads, an organization of over 2400 authors, illustrators, and marketing specialists who work in the independent publishing industry.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

“The most productive and transformative part of writing a book”

Have you ever re-read something you’ve published and found a grammatical error, misspelled word, or punctuation error? You feel embarrassed, right? If it makes you feel better, you’re not alone—we’ve all found mistakes in our published pieces.

Why don’t we catch those errors before we hit “publish” and send it out into the world?

“Gestalt psychologists were the first to discover that our minds tend to see things not as they are, but as our minds think they should be,” writes Debra Hart May in Proofreading Plain and Simple. “The implications of this phenomenon for proofreading are enormous. Artist and author Carolyn Bloomer, in her book, Principles of Visual Perception, tells us, …‘Your mental “correcting” tends to tune out the very errors you are looking for….’”

A writer can find lots of help in editing and proofreading—from books, blogs, classes, writing workshops, critique partners. (There’s a difference between editing and proofreading. Learn more at Leah McClellan’s post, What’s the difference between editing and proofreading?)

Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward offers 21 tips in Do-It-Yourself Proofreading and Editing Tips. Each one is important but let me call your attention to her point 16: “Start building a collection of grammar books and writing resources so when you do run into questions (and you will), you have access to reliable and credible answers.” I say Amen! to that.

Related to that is Melissa’s point 21: “Make it your business to develop good grammar skills. Read up on grammar or subscribe to a blog that publishes grammar posts (like this one) to stay up to date on proper grammar.” Amen! to that, too.

Ask other writers which books they recommend for editing, proofreading, and grammar. I have the following on my bookshelf: Proofreading Plain and Simple, Keys for Writers, Correcting Common Errors in Writing, Woe Is I, and others.

Melissa’s is one of the most comprehensive lists I’ve seen recently so click over there to take in this rich resource. I printed it so I’d have it as a handy reference, and perhaps you’ll want do so, too.

But I want to add to Melissa’s list. Here are my tips:

  • Take a break. Don’t think about your manuscript. If possible, wait a week or two before you set eyes on it again.
  • Print your manuscript. Eyes see mistakes on a printed page that they miss on a computer screen.
  • Move away from your writing area to read your document—a different room of your house or office, in the back yard, a coffee shop, the beach, the library, or a park.

Here are more tips from Debra Hart May’s Proofreading Plain and Simple:

  • Print a portrait (…vertically-oriented) document in landscape (or horizontal) mode.
  • Print in a larger or less familiar font. (But choose a serif font… [because] they are easier to read.)
  • Work in small time increments—15-20 minutes at a time.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch, rest your eyes, and mentally engage from the task.

Editing and proofreading can be tedious tasks, but they are an important part of writing and publishing. If you edit and proofread well (and hire experts if necessary), you can publish a quality book.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tuesday Tidbit: Do you want to write powerful stuff?

Mick Silva works with inspirational memoirists and novelists to structure, rewrite and refine their books, present to publishers, and establish themselves as writers. He’s a frequent conference speaker, blogger, and co-author with Emily Wieringa of How to Write Inspirational Memoir.

If you missed Mick’s recent guest blog post, click on Good words from Mick Silva, professional writing coach, editor, and encourager.