Vanity Press

I have recently published my first book… and it was a lot of work.  I self published, which is much different than going the traditional route of submitting to a publisher and having them sell and market your book.  How I would have loved to have been accepted to do that!  However it is very difficult to find a publisher and it is sometimes a long wait as well.  So I decided to go the non traditional route and self publish.

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There are a ton of companies out there dying to publish your book!  And some of them are basically thieves.  These thieves are also known as “Vanity Publishing” .  I had never heard of such a thing until I joined a facebook group about book publishing.  Thank goodness for them!  If you are thinking about publishing a book, I suggest you look for an authors group on facebook immediately!  If you join the right group, they are a priceless source of information.  I am so thankful for the groups I have found.

But back to Vanity Publishers.  A vanity publisher will a lot of times have a beautiful website with all types of “packages” for you to buy.  I am an artist, and both wrote and illustrated my book.  I naively contacted a company associated with a well known publishing house.  Within minutes of applying I had received an email, and a phone call!!  I was told that the best package for me was one that basically did what I already had done, for a few thousand dollars.  What I would get out of it is my book “finished” and a hard cover copy.  If I wanted to purchase additional copies, they would be around $30 a piece.  How would I ever make a profit from this?  The woman cheerfully told me all this info and I was actually quite angry.   This is downright thievery.

I have since then done what I can to inform other budding authors, because sadly many fall for this trap.

How do you spot a Vanity Publisher?watering can-image

The first rule of thumb is that if you have to pay to publish your book, it is a vanity publisher.  I do not mean to pay for actual books.  I mean to pay for services, such as marketing, creating, and distributing for thousands of dollars.  I have heard horror stories of people paying over $5,000 dollars with nothing to show for their investment.

Of course you may have just an idea, or the words for a book and need help finishing.  In this case you need to do things a la carte.  So go online, and do your research and find an illustrator.  A lot of them can even format your book for you.  Once you have your book, then look for someone to print it.  This is another tough decision.   I chose to print within the USA.  But that is usually twice as much as China.  I was lucky to find two different printers within the USA that were reasonable in their costs and had terrific quality when printing.  But that is another blog for another time….

The point of this blog is to tell you to do your research.  Skip the vanity press and learn to publish yourself.  There are plenty of people willing to answer questions, like myself, and online articles to educate you.  Go by that old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

If you like to give your money away I am sure there are plenty of charities more worthy than these companies.

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Vanity Publishing

If you are working on publishing a book, stay away from Vanity Publishers.

I have always wanted to write a children’s book and I finally did!  But how to get it published?  You can go the traditional route and submit a manuscript to established publishers and wait months or years for a refusal.    Or you can self publish.

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I learned how to create files to publish from a wonderful group on Facebook.  They were so informative providing so much guidance on creating the files.  If you are looking for such information, please click here to see group.

Once your book is ready, there are a ton of publishing companies.  Just like everything else in this world, you must do your homework because there are many companies out there that are waiting to take your money.  These companies are called “Vanity” publishers and they are honestly shameful.  And just because you find a publisher associated with an established, well known publisher does not mean they are not vanity.

                                 Basically if you have to buy a “package” or pay to publish,                                   you are dealing with a Vanity Publisher.  evs alone-sk4

That was what I recently found out when looking to publish my hardcover book.  I visited a website and found different “packages” for authors like me.  I had created my book from my own illustrations, and had a finished file ready to be uploaded.  Thinking this was a legitimate company, I filled out all the necessary information and was contacted within minutes, by phone and email.  I realized that their most reasonable package, which was over $1,000 dollars would be the one for me, although I had already done 80% of the work.  This package would give me about 10 hardcover books, and that was all.  I would have to purchase more books at an estimated $15 a piece.  Now I ask you how an author is supposed to make any money at that price?   This is what vanity publishing is, and honestly I find it disgraceful.  That is why I am writing this blog, hopefully to save others from their thievery.

What I ended up doing is publishing through KDP, which is Amazon, and Barnes and Noble Press.    There is another print on demand company called Ingram Spark, but I had gone to them first and had some issues.  Customer service was not very good, and I could not figure my book out.  So I could not use them.  If you are experienced at book writing, then you may have no issue whatsoever and they are very good at distribution.

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To get a physical book, and not use print on demand, I used a printer in Michigan named McNaughton and Gunn.  They were wonderful to work with and reasonably priced.  In fact their book was only 10 cents more each than Ingram Spark, and there were no charges for setup like Ingram Spark charges. The paperback book I received was very colorful and of wonderful quality.

Please click here to visit McNaughton and Gunn.                                                                            (I get nothing from this recommendation)

I am currently publishing a second book, a hardcover, and am trying a new publisher.  I have not received my book yet so I cannot vouch for quality.  But so far they have been easy to work with and I am looking forward to seeing my book!  A hardcover proof was $35, and if I do not like it, I am not contracted to purchase more.

Click here to visit Lakeside Publishing.                                                                                            (I get nothing from this recommendation)

Now there may be a time that a vanity publisher is not a bad thing. Such as you need an illustrator, need files created and marketing.  But nowadays with the internet there is so much knowledge to do things yourself, you just need to research it to learn!

So I hope this blog was helpful to you, and if you are looking to publish, please avoid a vanity publisher.

Good luck!

 

If you are interested in my books,  The Watering Can can be purchased by visiting my website, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.  It is a story about the circle of life, with flowers.  I am close to having an empty nest, but my Granddaughter showed me that life goes on.  Its a touching story that exposes children to flowers and love.

My second book, Cousins, is about family and dear friends.  This book explores the bonds of cousins, has a map of USA to talk with your children about where family lives, and a family tree to fill out.   Not available just yet, but hopefully within the next few weeks.

Click here to visit my website to purchase The Watering Can.

 

My first book!

An empty nester finds comfort in her new Granddaughter

I finally published my first book!   I was inspired to write my book when my new Granddaughter walked into my garage and picked up my Daughter’s small watering can.  Which reminded me of when my own little girl helped me water my flowers… and got me thinking…..

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My Daughter is a senior in high school, and I am on the verge of empty nest syndrome.  Something I never even gave a thought about.  When your kids are little, you are so busy that you never give a second thought that someday they will leave and be on their own.  I took each day for granted, never thinking that one day it would end.  So here I am, helping my Daughter pick a college and feeling bad for myself.  One day my new Granddaughter visits and while we are enjoying a warm day, she goes into my garage and grabs my Daughter’s abandoned watering can.  At that moment I realized that my life had just circled around. Although my kids were grown, I still had a new little one to love and be there for.  So I started working on a book.  Thinking about the flowers we would water, and looking at pics to inspire me.

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It is my hope that my book helps other older Mom’s to realize that life goes on.  And I also hope it inspires the younger generation to enjoy flowers.  As an added bonus, maybe it will remind the younger Mother that the busy, hectic days are temporary.  And to savor them.  I wish I had such a reminder back then.  But I have learned not to be sad at my mistakes, but to learn from them.  So I hope that my book is enjoyed by many generations!  If you purchase one, please let me know what you think… I would love to hear from you!

If you are interested in purchasing my book, you can purchase it on my website.

Please click here to purchase.

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Sunflower fields and Plein Air Painting

creating beautiful, personalized centerpieces for any celebration.

I am not a fan of plein air painting…. there I said it.  It is very hard to do for me.  I typically get a rough painting on the canvas, let it dry overnight, then work on the painting till its done.  Unfortunately if you keep mixing paint, you end up with what artists refer to as “mud”.  So moving wet paint around a canvas can be pretty difficult for me.  So Plein air has always been daunting.  Nevermind lugging all your equipment, dealing with the elements, and being on display while you paint.  All tough for me!

But it looks like the universe was giving me a push this year! My daughter is starting an AP art class for her senior year, and on her list of things to do this summer is paint plein air. Plein Air painting would be a much different experience with my daughter. So we packed up our art supplies and headed to a local farm that has stunning sunflower fields.

If you have not painted plein air, one tip I have always found helpful was to cut the canvas shape out on a piece of paper, and use it to frame your painting.  So helpful!

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After picking her view, my daughter sat down at her easel to paint, and I immediately was inspired.  Why not paint my daughter?

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I did what I could at the site, and will add a few more details once it dries.  Overall it was a great painting day, with only a few casualties of bugs flying into my painting.  So if you are an artist, and thinking about painting Plein Air, I encourage you to try!  It is always great to step out of your comfort zone, and I certainly did today!

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If you would like to see these sunflower fields, there is a festival this weekend, July 20-21st.  It is located at Buttonwoods Farm, off of Rte 165 in Griswold.  They sell bouquets of sunflowers, and the proceeds go to the Make a wish foundation.  As an added bonus they also sell delicious ice cream!  So if you are local to Griswold, Ct, you should make the trip!

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Easy Peasy Photo Centerpieces

creating beautiful, personalized centerpieces for any celebration.

I am at the age where aldone-5ot of my family and dearest friends are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversaries.  I am one that has celebrated this milestone too!  My cousin and her hubby are the latest lovebirds celebrating, and a surprise 25th was planned for them, and I volunteered to create the centerpieces.  Shortly after I volunteered this, I got nervous, wondering what the heck was I thinking?  I always do this to myself, volunteer, then worry about if I can do it…. well I am happy to report I did it, and I am very happy with the result!

I wanted something with their photo, to make it more personalized.  Plus some of the guests had not been at original wedding, and I thought it would be cool to see photos from actual wedding.  So I contacted the Moms of the lovebirds, and got lots of wedding photos.  I scanned these wedding photos in, and then looked for something to put them on.

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I luckily found some lovely glass jars at Christmas Tree shops.  They were perfect!  They had that country look, but also had a large flat side which would be perfect for a photo!

I then asked on a wonderful face book group called Image Transfer Artists, for some advice on how to get a photo on these jars.  They had lots of suggestions, but I went with the one that was to use transparent stickers then apply them to the jars.  I ordered them from Amazon, and then used Photoshop to make them to the size of the squares on the jars. I put one on a jar to try it, and it was very transparent.  Like stained glass.  So I decided to paint the rectangle white, so it had a background.  This worked perfectly!  I also recommend printing them out and letting them sit to dry overnight. Or more.  They take a while to dry.  And some still seemed tacky to the touch.  I have to add you have to be very careful, as they do also scratch easily.

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Once applied I decided they needed a spray of sealer. So I took a piece of thick clear plastic, cut out a rectangle the same size as photo,  and taped it to side of jar, and sprayed.

Now came the hardest part!  What to put in them……  I wanted to do fresh flowers, but did not realize you had to order them pretty early. So I had missed the boat on that sadly.  I visited a local grocery store, who told me to come back on Thursday as that’s when they would have a fresh delivery.  In the meantime, I needed some painting supplies at Michaels, so my daughter and I stopped in at our local store.  And there were some pretty bouquets, artificial on sale for 60% off.  Jackpot!!flowers2

My daughter and I picked through and got the exact number of bouquets we would need, with a few extra.  What a deal…. now I would not have to worry about what variety of fresh flowers were at store, or if they would bloom in time, or how they would look.  Instead, I would have a pretty centerpiece that would last forever, not need water and not wilt.  Thank you Michaels.  My daughter and I took each bouquet apart, removed tags and placed them in each jar.  Then we positioned them, cut ends so they fit jar nicely, added an extra flower if needed, then wrapped them with some twine or a ribbon.  Once they were done, we dropped them into jar.  So now no one had to worry about rearranging them.

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Below is the finished product! I am happy to report they weree a big hit with everyone.  On our way home, I told my hubby how I was happy everyone liked them.  And he replied that he was not surprised as everything I create always comes out well.

Isn’t he a keeper?

 

 

Hope this inspires you to create something as well!

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What the interior designers don’t tell you….

reality in decorating your home

We all do it… we watch the beautiful decorating shows on tv, look at the stunning magazines, and walk into furniture stores and see the beautiful way the designers have decorated.  Everything looks so perfect, gorgeous and not realistic at all.  Why do you say that, you ask?  Because the items they decorate with are all generic, and similar.  They don’t take into account that you have lots of items that are sentimental, lovely and not at all stylish.  So how do you incorporate these wonderful items with today’s decorating styles?  I do it as much as I can in my home, and wanted to share my own hutch.

We purchased a lovely hutch a few years ago from Jordan’s furniture.  Oh how lovely it looked in the showroom.  All white dishes, with a few similar items, tied in with yellow flowers throughout.  Just lovely.  And unrealistic!  It sold me anyways, and we purchased the new hutch.  Then I got it home and struggled to make it work.  And struggled.  I finally think I got it, and wanted to share with you.  Instead of getting rid of all my lovely sentimental items, I grouped them together.

Yes I realize it looks a bit cluttered.  And it proved my point how their styling is unrealistic.  How many of us live with items from stores perfectly styled?  Most of us have knick knacs, inherited items, gifts and most importantly, items from our family that we cannot just hide away.  So I kept them arranged this way, but put them on the ends of my hutch, so they are not center stage.  I put a bunch of farmhouse styled items in the middle, to take center stage.  As shown below.

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And I think this worked in my new hutch.  But honestly, even if it does not work, I am fine with that.  Because they are all beloved items, which make me happy to see, rather than generic ones to make my hutch look stylish.  This means much more to me.

So below is my personally styled hutch.  With items from my parents, grandmothers, children, hubby, sister, and friends.  And that means so much more to me.  It may not be featured on a decorating show, but it takes first place in my home.  I hope this gave you some ideas as well!

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The art of embracing Failure

Who determines what failure is? How is it determined? When it is determined? I recently had a conversation with a family member who had packed their family up, moved across the country, following a dream. We were, and are so proud of them for chasing a dream. Even if it seems to have stalled at the moment. Speaking with them, reminded me of my own dream. And how difficult it can be. For every success, there is doubt and frustration that follows. Through these struggles, I find quotes very comforting. After my talk with my cousins, I came across a quote I had saved from an artist that I follow online. She is a southern artist, named Mary Gilkerson. Mary has a wonderful, bold brushstroke style, with tons of color. She makes videos with tips, and has a lovely southern drawl while speaking. I am telling you all about her because she said something that has stuck with me. What she said is “Failure is your First attempt”

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Almost every new discovery, new record holder or great work of art started with failure. And if they gave up, we would not have the medicines we have, cars, phones, art, I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Artists, business owners, musicians, and anyone else that take chances, improve our world. So its not a bad thing to put yourself out there and take a chance. And if you do fail, remember Mary’s words…. It is your first attempt.

To see Mary’s work please click here