Tag Archives: self-publishing

The Things I’m Learning – The World Doesn’t Stop

In this series of posts, I’ll be sharing a few of the things that surprised me about publishing a book, as well as a few things I wish I’d known before I started. This is all personal experience and personal opinion, shared in case it helps someone. Your mileage may vary.

For a few weeks, my life revolved around getting a book out into the world.

There were formatting issues. Proof copies. Corrections. Panic. Excitement over “Your book is now live at ____” announcements. Tears over the first glimpse of a paperback. Party planning.

Party execution.*

Continuing struggles with my decision to not do any big promotion until I have more books out.

Trying to keep track of who wanted a signed paperback, who didn’t want one after I found out how much shipping a book costs when you live in Canada. Who had questions about how to get it elsewhere.

It’s been both fun and insane.

For me.

For the rest of the world, not so much. My family is happy for me and supportive, but I’m going to tell you a secret: Those dishes? They didn’t start doing themselves when I was e-mailing last-minute changes to my formatter.

That chicken thawing in the sink stubbornly refused to shake and/or bake itself when I was busy notifying people who won e-books at the Facebook party.

The kids still needed someone to remind them to put pants on before they answered the door, to make snacks for them, and to make sure they bathed at least twice over the course of those few weeks.

Even my headaches refused to take a vacation. They continue to insist on cutting in on my work time, whether it’s getting-a-book-out time or writing-the-next-one time.

I know. It’s crazy.

I consider myself fortunate to have a few friends who will patiently listen to my freak-outs, rants, and squeals of delight that I’m too shy to share with the wider world.

But for the most part, life really does just go on.

In a way, that’s good. It reminds me that this really isn’t the most important thing, even when it’s the most urgent. As much as I love this project, and as opposed as I am to taking a day off once in a while, there really is more to life.

I guess.  😉

Bound is now available in e-book and paperback

*But seriously, SO FUN.


Spotlight on Kate Sparkes

Joanne Guidoccio hosted me on her blog this morning, where I shared a few thoughts on my journey as I wrote and published “Bound.” Also, she spelled my name right, so she gets bonus points!

Thanks for having me, Joanne!

Joanne Guidoccio

For over a year, I have followed Kate’s blog and enjoyed her delightful take on the long and winding road to publication. Today, Kate is sharing more of that journey and celebrating the release of her debut novel, Bound.

Here’s Kate!

sparkes profile (2)It’s quiet here tonight. The kids are yelling outside, but in here… silence. The book is published. No more scurrying around, making last-minute changes. No more worrying about whether it’s going to be ready in time. Just me, a cat, a cup of tea, and room to breathe.

It feels very different from my life when I started writing this book. That was three and a half years ago– November 2010. Back then the kids were smaller, and always under-foot (or on lap, if I wanted to write). We lived in another province. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but had never actually finished a book. My…

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Hey, Look! It’s a book.

Like, a real book.

It came on Wednesday, delivered by a very nice man with a floofy mustache and a white van. I was crying before I even opened the box, because that’s how I roll when I’ve been waiting years for something.

No, not waiting. Fighting.

This has never been easy. I’ve never taken shortcuts, though there have been detours and unexpected destinations.

I have never worked this hard for anything, and it is totally, completely, mind-blowingly worth it.



Six days to launch.


ROW80 Update: I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Edition






*pulls spider webs out of hair*

Please pardon my appearance. I’m in the depths of uploading a book to various thingies, and I’m afraid I haven’t had time to clean up.

*shakes off rat that’s gnawing on boot*

It’s been an interesting day, but it looks like things are working out. Yes, I broke down and paid someone to format for me. I know, time investment, yadda yadda. But the truth is that the book looks better than I ever could have managed on my own with my current skill set, and considering the troubleshooting my guy had to do today, I think my sanity is worth what I paid.

Actually, it was kind of amusing. I’m Canadian and he’s a Brit, so the e-mail replies read like a merry-go-round of apologies and thank-yous.

One of the problems stemmed from the high-ish page count of the book, which requires a deeper gutter (space between the spine and the text). Not a big deal once we identified the problem, but it took a few tries to get it. And then this came in the mail this afternoon…


button by beanforest (etsy)


I thought it was kind of funny. 🙂

Bottom line is: I have delicious, beautiful, formatted files that I’m sending to ARC readers tonight. Everyone on my list as it stands, that is. Remember that thing where the basement flooded and I lost information on who was helping with the cover reveal? There’s a small chance that a name or two could have been lost from this list, as well. If you signed up and did’t get an e-mail today, just send me a message at kate.sparkes (at) live.ca and we’ll get you fixed up. It’s not personal, I promise!

And yes, I’m getting excited again. The cover art for the paperback nearly blew my mind. If all goes well I should have a copy of the book in my hands next week.

This frustrating, infuriating, beautiful book. I may cry.

If you haven’t added it to Goodreads yet, here’s the link. One ARC reader has rated, and is going to put a review up soon.

I think I should take a screenshot while this rating lasts.

So looking back on my goals for this round of ROW80…

  • editing FINISHED
  • proofreading FINISHED
  • formatting FINISHED
  • send out ARCs FINISHED
  • set up Facebook page (here) FINISHED
  • submit to KDP, D2D READY TO ROLL
  • submit to Createspace FINISHED
  • order proof copy PENDING
  • Revise Book 2 for JuNoWriMo… NOT GOING SO WELL

…but I’m letting myself off the hook as far as word count goes. I’m reading and making notes right now.

Side note: Holy crap, tax stuff is complicated and intimidating and annoying. I still have to call for my EIN and get that off to Amazon. Anyone who knows me knows that this is NOT my idea of a good time. Phone calls make me anxious.

But I have to do it if I don’t want them to withhold 30% of my money.

So I’ll do it.


So, how are things in your neck of the woods?


Cover Reveal: Bound

Friends. Darlings. Beloved peoples and kinda-creepy lurkers.

Today is the day.

You’ve all been so supportive and patient. I’m not going to make this all wordy. Here you go. Please feel free to share.

(Cover art by Ravven)




Welcome to Darmid, where magic is a sin, fairy tales are contraband, and the people live in fear of the Sorcerers on the other side of the mountains.

Rowan Greenwood has everything she’s supposed to want from life—a good family, a bright future, and a proposal from a handsome and wealthy magic hunter. She knows she should be content with what she has. If only she could banish the idea that there’s more to life than marriage and children, or let go of the fascination with magic she’s been forced to suppress since childhood.

When Rowan unknowingly saves the life of one of her people’s most feared enemies, that simple act of compassion rips her from her sheltered life and throws her into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever could have imagined.

Rowan might get everything she ever dreamed of—that is, if the one thing she’s always wanted doesn’t kill her first.


Available in e-book June 26, 2014 — like my Facebook author page to join the celebration!

(paperback availability TBA)

Chapter One available here

Add to Goodreads here

Links to fantastic bloggers who are participating in this reveal (thank you, all of you! More to come as posts go up):

 El Space

Celine Jeanjean’s Blog

A Keyboard And An Open Mind

Giraffes on Trampolines

The Raven’s Quill

My Random Muse

Jessica Minyard

CK Rich

ROW80 Update: Getting There Edition

This morning I told someone my brain was like a flock of birds, and that is the absolute truth. Sort of a murmuration at times, little starling thoughts all flying together in formation, working together and mostly heading in the same direction. Other times it’s just chaos, a thousand different species all pecking at each other and going off in different directions.

I suppose this is to be expected a month before one’s first book release.

Business. Promotion. Publishing. Formatting. Waiting on reader responses. Organizing.

Exhiliration. Self-doubt. Questions. Distractions. Perfectionism.

For the record, I’m not complaining. I chose this path, and though I think it’s perfectly valid to complain about the things we’ve chosen (hello, parenting!), I’m really not. As crazy and sometimes overwhelming as this all is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the first time, I’m attempting something big. Something that’s so challenging that I might fall flat on my face. Or maybe I’ll soar like this:

…or more likely, I’ll survive the business bits, get this book out, and move on to the next one. Because though I’ve put myself in the role of publisher, that’s just a thing that I’m doing. It’s not what I am. I’m a writer. I’m going to write.

ROW80 Update

I guess it’s time to look back at my goals from the start of this round to see what’s done and what’s not.

  • Edit Bound  DONE
  • Write back-cover copy  STILL WORKING ON IT. This is is harder than writing the book, I swear.
  • set up Facebook author page, change personal account name for consistency DONE and NOT DONE. If you’d like to give my page a like, it’s here.
  • hire proof-reader  FRIENDS/READERS WORKING ON IT (God love them)
  • find reviewers who might be interested in YA Fantasy (again, if you know anyone, or are someone and want an ARC, see below)  HAVE PEOPLE SIGNED UP FOR ARCS. STILL A FEW SPOTS AVAILABLE FOR E-BOOK ONLY.
  • put together front-matter and back-matter for the book, metadata, keywords, etc  WORKING ON IT. Dedication, acknowledgements, legal notice, etc. done. Need to research keywords, etc.
  • send out newsletter  DONE, and revealed a piece of the cover. Next one goes out in June, with release date, cover, sale information, etc.
  • Formatting (kill me now) HIRED SOMEONE. I have enough going on without this, and the guy I got does gorgeous work.
  • cover reveal here and on other blogs  SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 2
  • apply for ISBNs DONE. Easy peasy. I’m an official publisher!
  • submit to CreateSpace, order proof copy, correct all the things Waiting on proofreads and formatting
  • Prepare for awesome-yet-smallish Facebook release party TBA (looking at June 26)
  • Add to Goodreads, set up give-away Not yet– need finished blurb first. Will add on cover reveal day.
  • revisions on book 2 (we’ll call this a stretch goal) HAHAHAHA! Just starting today


Wow. So really, we’re looking good as far as goals go.  Coming up: revising book 2 for JuNoWriMo, which I hope will take my mind off of everything else. The story is there, but I need to add to it. There’s a love story that needs more attention, and I think the rest could do with some punching up.

So there we go.

I’m getting excited.


Setting the Date: Last Call! (ROW80 Update)

Voice in my head: Gooooing to the chap-PULL and we’re… GONNA get…

Me: Not that kind of date-setting.

Nope, just the cover reveal for Bound.

We’re going to do the full cover and blurb* reveal Monday, June 2, 2014, God willing and fates co-operating. We’ll also have the release date by then. And the option of adding it to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

VIMH: Oh, that old book thing? People are going to get sick of hearing about that. You never shut up about it.

Me: I know, I don’t want to pester people. I just have a little… issue. Thing.

VIMH: Just the one issue? Really?

Me: Ugh. YES. You see, my master list of Awesome Helping Type Peoples disappeared in the Great Basement Floodening, when I had to evacuate my office. I’ve been looking through e-mails people sent me and comments on blog posts, but I know I’m missing a few people, and I don’t have an e-mail address for others**. If you want to help a gal out, please please pretty please comment or send me an e-mail (kate.sparkes (at) live.ca). If I haven’t heard from you yet but you’d like to join in on June 2, let me know. The more the merrier!  I’ll link back to your blog from here and also the facebook place.

For anyone who missed it, we had a wee cover preview on my Facebook author page. You know you want to look. Go on… I’ll wait.

Oh, and I have a few spots left for free ARCs (advance review copies) if anyone’s willing to read and leave an honest review on Goodreads, Amazon, wherever. And of course, if anyone wants to host ANYTHING around release day or any time after, I’m open. Interviews, character interviews, guest posts. I’m not doing a blog tour, not doing big promotion when I only have one book out, so anything that helps get the word out will earn my VERY MUCH OF GRATITUDE.

So that’s it. No more pestering, no more OMG IT’S ALMOST TIME, no more freak-outs until June 2. I promise. You’re welcome.


Finished read-through on Bound.

Sat here to do part of it. *sigh*

Sat here to do part of it. *sigh*

Not quite the same as reading with fresh eyes, but that was the closest I’ve ever come to reading it just for fun. And it was SO FUN. Hooray! Now it’s off to a few people (kind, brave souls) who are going to slap me silly over typos and such, and then the rest of the advance copies go out.

No big deal. I can do this.

Formatting is coming along… eh. I’m going to have to hire someone for the paperback formatting, but I think with Scrivener’s help I can do the e-books. Whether those play nice with distributors is another issue. If anyone has advice on this, feel free to share with the class!

*”blurb” still sounds wrong to me. Blurb is what other authors write to put on your cover or inside of the book. I prefer “back cover copy,” but whatever. People say blurb. Cool people. PEER PRESSURE.

**If you haven’t heard from me via Facebook or e-mail in the past few days, I don’t have your info.


Some News, A Sample, A Dance Party. Just a Regular Day…

Hey, folks! I don’t have much time to post– there’s this dog here waiting for a walk, and he’s giving me this face AGAIN:



…so I’ll keep this brief.

The sample is here– I’ve updated and posted Chapter One of Bound here on the blog. Some of you saw it in earlier stages, but things have changed a liiiiiitle bit. (Fun fact: this chapter used to be the prologue I was going to cut. I don’t think Aren would have been pleased!)

The news is that I’m done with edits. I’m going to leave it a few days, read through again to catch whatever remaining hiccups I can, and then a few brave volunteers will get their ARCs on Monday. Everyone else, I’ll be in touch.

I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon with cover reveal date/release date news, so if you haven’t signed up yet and want to be the first to know, mosey on over here to sign up.

If you still want to volunteer to read and review in exchange for a free e-book copy, or if you’d be kind enough to help out with the cover reveal/release on your own blog, I’d love to have you on board! Leave a comment or contact me at kate.sparkes (at) live.ca

One more bit of news: It’s still pretty sparse, but my author page is up! Like there for book stuff, random fun, and oh, that’s where the release party thing is going down. Right here.


So then I did like this:

You’re welcome. 🙂

WIPpet Wednesday: The Triumphant and Climactic Return

So, SOMEONE said I needed to get my ass back to WIPpet Wednesdays. And because this SOMEONE commands a fleet of flying monkeys, here I am.

But the thing is, edits are still going really well, so I don’t have time for anything complicated. I was having climax issues (heh), but I think I’ve got it sorted. Things have changed, melodrama has shifted to a lower-burning but still toasty conflict (I hope) that explodes into a lengthier scene than I’d had before.

I still don’t feel entirely comfortable adding words, but hey, I have permission. Yeah, the story’s long, but this is one advantage of independent publishing. I can give readers the whole story without worrying about being rejected because I went over 100,000 words to tell it properly, and I don’t have to charge $12.99 for an e-book to let people enjoy it. VALUE, PEOPLE!*

Oh, and if you offered to read an ARC and would like one a tiny bit early so you can notify me of typos/ minor flubs I may have added in the editing process , let me know. I have this idea where ARC readers who notice mistakes get entered for a chance to win a cameo appearance in the last book of the trilogy. 🙂

Here’s 14+14+5=33 words from the climactic scene itself. No context, because I don’t want to give anything away.


Aren wiped the blood from his chin. “I’m not going to stop fighting until you let her go.”
“I thought so.” Severn  tilted his head to one side. “You know you can’t win.”
“I’ll try.”

Hmm… I feel like that won’t quite satisfy our host KL Schwengel’s thirst for blood.

Oh, well. *evil grin*

For anyone who’s new to the blog (hi there!), WIPpet Wendnesday is the day when a bunch of us post a snippet from a work in progress that somehow relates to the day’s date. In my case, the math was simple (14th day, 5th month, [20]14), but it can get crazy. Page number, holiday references, algebra… you name it, we’ve done it. Feel free to join in by posting on your own blog, then link back here, and be sure to stop by and say hello to everyone else! We’re a friendly bunch, I promise.

Quickie ROW80 Update

It’s good. Seriously. I’ve gotta go. Still might be done edits by then end of this week. Then another read-through, minor tweaking (not twerking), and then formatting HOLY CARP.

Signing off… back to work.


*The paperback might cost you, though 😉

It’s Not Paranoia If They Really Are Out To Get You

Remember when I posted pictures of my office that I built out of plastic storage bins and blankets?



Well, this is my office as of yesterday around lunch time:


Let’s back up a bit, shall we?

On Sunday, I posted what we’ll call my best-laid plans for getting a certain book ready for publication. I was getting back to my office (which had been too cold to work in since January), I was organized, I had a GAME PLAN.

On Tuesday evening, I went downstairs to work. I was moving the laundry over when I noticed a small pond near the dehumidifier. There was a wee “dangit!” moment when I thought the unit was leaking, but I got to cleaning it up before it could spread.

…and then I noticed a separate pool in the play room.

Half an hour later I was standing in freezing water that covered the toes of my rainboots in low spots, and that was slowly creeping toward MY AREA. It was also encroaching on the space occupied by our brand new, purchased-because-emergency washer and dryer.

What happened in the hours that followed was a frenzy of me following The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘s advice: “DON’T PANIC.” Really. If there was any doubt that my depression is improving, this was proof that I really am feeling better. Sure, I freaked out a little, but I delegated everything involving phone calls to AJ* and took over whatever else I could. When we moved beyond Shop-Vac territory, I got to work moving stuff upstairs and above the ever-rising water line. By midnight we had a neighbour’s sump pump going, and the water level seemed to have at least stopped rising.

By morning we were at six inches of water in spots. I FORMULATED A PLAN (come on, I deserve a few caps here), got AJ to help me implement the parts that involved getting the washer, dryer, and freezer up on to plastic bins, delegated more phone calls (to insurance and the landlord-type-people**), and took more stuff out of my office and hauled it upstairs.

Yadda yadda, contractors came late yesterday afternoon, we found out we’re on a septic system (would’ve been good to know) which is having issues with the insane amount of snow that’s melted in the past few days, there are other problems, and it might be three weeks before we can move back into our house. Oh, and insurance won’t cover contents of the basement that we lost.


So about those best laid plans.

If I were the type who thought in a certain way, I’d say this was a sign I wasn’t meant to get this book out. SOMEONE or SOMETHING in the universe is throwing up roadblocks! It’s not meant to be! I don’t think that way, and I know the timing is coincidental, but it sure feels like that.

If I had another way of thinking, I might decide that if I can just THINK POSITIVELY, all of the problems will go away and the house will be toasty warm and smelling like roses in no time.

I’m taking a slightly different course of thought and action.

I’ve decided that this is the story I’m going to be telling in ten years when people ask about publishing my first book. I’ll be able to laugh about it by then, and I’ll talk about how this was important enough to me that I took my work wherever we went. Right now that’s my in-laws’ house, but in a few days it’ll be on vacation at my parents’ house at the other end of the province, and after that it might be in a hotel 45 minutes away from home. I’ll say that I had to drive the kids back for school every day, but I worked in the school library, the still-kinda-stinky house, wherever (my kingdom for a local coffee shop!).

Stephen King wrote Carrie when he lived in a trailer with two kids and had no money. JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter as a single mother and lost her job somewhere in there. How can I offer my future fans anything less than all of my determination and the hardest work I’ve ever done on anything? Damned if I’m going to say, “Well, things went to shit and I took a few weeks off.”

That’s not to say that I’ll be sticking to my ROW80 goals exactly, because the kids are going to need a lot more hands-on time in the next few weeks, there will be a lot of driving time, and other things are sure to come up (God help us).

The point is, I’m staying thankful (more on that in a later post), and I’m not going to let this stop me.

After all…



Oh, but if I’m slow at responding to comments or e-mails, and if I drop out of the A-Z challenge after my scheduled posts dry up, you’ll know why. 😉



*If I’ve learned anything else from this, it’s the extent of my phobia. RIDICULOUS.

**Our house is owned by the government, who is Andre’s boss. It’s… interesting.


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