Showing posts from 2008

Self-Published Books and Christmas Bazaars

The bazaars are over, the remaining books stored in boxes in the furnace room, and the table-cloths need washing.

Meanwhile we’ve sold or given away just over a quarter of our stock. And we’ve put just under a quarter of the cost back into the bank.

D’you want to know about the other book? It’ll be on my Lulu site in a few days. It’s not got pictures, so it’s cheaper to print. And it’s taken hours and computer crashes and agonized discussions to design the cover. (I never knew how hard it was to fix colors, pixel by pixel.)

Self-Published Books and Christmas Bazaars

Wish me luck. This is my fourth and final bazaar—our own neighborhood, running all day Friday and Saturday. I’m sharing the stall again, begging all my friends to visit, and hoping for more sales.


Lulu’s offering a deal on my other book—the one I’ve not published yet. Should I buy some, to sell after Christmas when I’ll need something non-seasonal to attract customers, or should I just hide away and wait till the Holidays next year?

Ah, so many dreams. Well, at least I’m down to three boxes now, and there’s plenty of room in the closet.

Self-Published Books and Christmas Bazaars

The third bazaar: This time I made bigger, more vertical signs and shared the stall with a friend. I sold six books, ten Christmas cards and twelve bookmarks, drank three cups of coffee, enjoyed a free salad for lunch, and ate almonds to keep myself awake.

Of course, one of my customers was my friend, but it felt good—especially when the man who said “I’ll be back” returned!

Meanwhile, the cathedral bookstore agreed to take some books on consignment—I’ll have to go down there and see if they’re selling.

So, no profits yet, but things are looking up.

Self-Published Books and Christmas Bazaars

I made signs with pretty pictures and too many words, added bookmarks and Christmas cards to the attractions, and attacked my second bazaar.

It was November still, pre-Thanksgiving. And we’re in a financial crisis. The window-shoppers were out in force, and many good wishes traded but not much else. I learned that “I’ll be back,” means “I probably won’t be,” “Do you have a business card,” means “I want you to pay for a table at my bazaar,” and “Good luck” means just that.

And I sold two books, two Christmas cards and one bookmark—good fun, but no profit.

Self-published books and Christmas bazaars

I tracked four parcels across the country. They seemed to get split up somewhere in Kansas—disturbing. But more so was the fact that there were seven parcels when they arrived: Lots (and lots) of packaging. Still, it did its job; the books look great.

Then I took my two little bookstands to the first of four bazaars. The sale was beautifully run, with tons of amazing gifts. My little Christmas books disappeared into the background and a whole three were sold!

On the bright side, that means there’s three books out there being read by people I’ve never met…

Book Sales

Here’s what I (think I) understood about Lulu “distribution.”

Authors purchase books at the Lulu print price, with a small discount for bulk.

Customers buy at the Lulu selling price. Author sets and gets 80% of the profit.

Wholesalers can’t buy without “distribution.” Then they pay the wholesale price—$3 less than print price, plus profit.

Wholesale and retail prices are linked. Lulu sets the wholesale “discount” at 50%, so retail must be twice wholesale.

And a book costing $12 to print can sell at $12.50, or $19.00 with distribution, while the author gets 40 cents.

So I’m not distributed.

Book Sales

There are lots of self-publishing firms out there. Most of them want money upfront, and I wasn’t sure I really dared invest. What I neglected to note was that even publishing for free requires real capital: proofs, postage, copyrights—it all adds up. And if you want to sell at Christmas Bazaars, there’s money for your first bulk order too.

Looking back, I suspect the more expensive firms might have ended up cheaper: Free advertising copies; better author discounts; invaluable help with set-up; and distribution that doesn’t send the book price soaring into the stratosphere.

Lessons learned: More to come.

Book Sales

I used to teach children to play chess. One of the most important lessons is to think before you move. Most especially, “Think about the move you’re going to play.”

For myself, I’ve been thinking about being published since I was seven. I didn’t want to be self-published because I didn’t want to be a salesperson. But the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized even “properly” published authors have to do sales.

I'd imagined self-publishing would be far too expensive too, till I saw Lulu’s ad. Then with sparkling dreams of Amazon, and without thinking, I made my move.

Book Sales

The books look beautiful. I almost believe I’m published. But there’s still that awkward little detail that I need to make some sales.

Lulu gave me a storefront: You click on the books for previews, check Lulu’s rating, even download or buy in print. But first I have to get you to visit there. Please…

I chose Lulu for two reasons: no setup fees; and the offer of free distribution. My imagination soared—my book on Amazon, in Borders, in Santa’s sack… But no, it’s still only on Lulu.

I skipped distribution, and I’ll tell you why next time.

I'm a Guest Blogger!

A few days ago I didn't even know what a guest blogger was. Today I'm guest blogging at Pat Bertram's blog, So, why don't you wander over there, read my first ever dribble, and find out about Pat's new books, coming soon from Second Wind Publishing LLC.

Christmas! and Easter! now available on Lulu

Christmas!Genesis to Revelation in 100 Words a Day

Easter!Creation to Salvation in 100 Words a Day

Coming soon...

For more Thanksgiving drabbles, please go to my Gather page.
Or to order the Christmas and Easter drabble books, please go to my Lulu page.
(Just give me a couple of days to make sure the next proofs look okay.)
Thanks! And thanks for visiting my blog.

Drabbling Thanksgiving - 5

5. Melchisedek

The king looked out over the plains where soldiers too numerous to count were filing by. “Keep watch,” he told his royal guard. “They’ll not climb up to us here.”

Mobs of violent tribesmen followed, hardy and wild. “Keep watch,” said the king. “They’ll not climb up to us here.”

Then sounds of fighting shattered the sky, tribesmen and soldiers, bright swords, screams like eagles, and clattering thunder like hooves. The rag-taggle nomads returned in triumph and the king went out with bread and wine to meet them.

“God has blessed you,” Jerusalem’s king greeted Abraham.
“Always,” was the reply.

Thank you God for food and drink, good fortune and godly blessing.

© 2008, Sheila Deeth


The scariest thing will be asking real people to pay real money for my books. I shall shortly be very, very scared. I’m booking tables at Christmas bazaars and eagerly awaiting the arrival of my first “shipment.”

Still, at least I’ll see my buyers. Even worse is the thought of making books public on Lulu. (Of course, that’s hardly the same as having any of the public look at them...)

But I won’t be getting my books on Amazon. Lulu’s wholesale pricing is way too scary. I might just manage to ask people to pay, but not pay the earth.

Drabbling Thanksgiving - 4

4. Tower of Babel

The children of town and gown, of farmers, traders and fishermen ran round the building site. They pretended to be animals, angels and demons, or fairy folk. And the tower grew taller and higher every day.

“We’re going to climb all the way up to heaven.”
“Then we’ll see God.”
“Maybe angels.”
“Or monsters instead.”

When children argued it always ended in another chasing game. When the grown-ups argued, traders broke agreements with fishermen. Farmers got into fights with the professors. Then they stopped building their tower, and never found out if there was a God in heaven after all.

Thank you God for the gifts of all our different languages and cultures.

© 2008, Sheila Deeth

Drabble - Coming Soon !

Coming soon to

Christmas! and Easter! Two books of illustrated cryptic drabbles telling the seasonal stories in a whole new form.

Christmas! starts on December 1st with creation, runs through flood, volcano and war to the shepherds, angels and kings of the 25th, then continues till the 31st with a story that neither begins nor ends the night the babe was born.

Easter! runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, retelling famous and not so famous forties of the Bible, and following with the life of the Christmas child.

Advent and Lent—Christmas and Easter—drabbles for all seasons.

100 words

Drabbling Thanksgiving - 3

3. Noah’s Ark

“I’m hungry,” cried the boy.
“Soon,” said his mother.
“But I’m hungry now.”

The ship had sailed through rain and flood while their village and all they knew was washed away—nothing left but the clothes they wore and animals crying out in the bowels of the boat.

“I’m hungry.” They landed on a hill-top where Noah’s altar scented the air with the savor of roasting meat.

“Mommy, cook for us too.” But the animals, dead and drowned on the ground were forbidden, and the beasts from the ark had run away.

They shared God’s meal and promised to obey.

Thank you God for the wisdom to learn what’s safe and what will harm us.

© 2008, Sheila Deeth


There’s something exciting about seeing your name in print. Even the misprint on the cover couldn’t get me down, though I did feel foolish. Still, it’s only a proof.

I changed a few words here and there, added references and uploaded a new Word file. But Lulu had somehow discovered it didn’t like my fonts, which meant all my page designs needed to be fixed.

Several hours later, I was finally working on the cover—centering words in a text box with limited space, no formatting, and dot-matrix style characters. Convert; hate it; reconvert; etc.

More proofs in the mail.

Drabbling Thanksgiving - 2

2. End of Eden

The air was warm; the sky was clear; the rain fell softly in due season. Berries ripened on bending trees, scenting the air with the savor and flavor of food. Sweetness and light was Eden’s delight, and the only rule was to obey the Lord.

“But why obey?” whispered the secret, slithering voice. “Why not make your own new laws? Why should somebody else be in charge of you?”

The air was hot; flames poured from the ground; gray ashes rained from the sky.

“You’ve set your rules,” said the voice of the one who knew. “Now live by them.”

Thank you God for freedom and failure and forgiveness.

© 2008, Sheila Deeth


Three tools that help you write a drabble:

First, inspiration—the quick-writing groups on offer plenty of suggestions;
second, a word-processor that looks for synonyms—too much repetition in so few words gets boring;
and third, a word-processor that counts your words, because reading will probably distract you from adding them up.

Two close relatives of drabbles:

The dribble, which is a mere fifty words long;
and the double-drabble, which comes in at two-hundred.

One feeble attempt to describe the attraction of drabbles:

They read like super-sized haikus, with words instead of syllables, and a hundred instead of seventeen.

100 words

Drabbling Thanksgiving - 1

My Christmas and Easter Drabbles will soon be available in book form from I thought I might celebrate by drabbling Thanksgiving this year.
1. Creation
In the beginning, God said “Let there be light.” God’s word created time and space. God’s word made galaxies, stars and planets, watered the ground, planted seeds, and defined the laws that cleared the cloudy skies. God’s word designed the insects, fish and birds, made animals and man. And then God spoke to man and told him how it all began.

In the beginning, God kept it all in balance, all of time and space and nature, every plant and every living thing, every atom, every molecule, every constant, every law.

In the beginning, God saw, and it was good.

Thank you God for science and nature and life and the wonders of creation.

© 2008, Sheila Deeth


The next step was the book cover. I’d been wondering how that would work, but Lulu has several basic covers planned out and ready for use. I chose style, color, fonts and size, added text, changed my mind about pictures, kept Lulu’s label on the back… I’m still not sure what happens if I really publish and need a bar-code; something in the small print says “it” doesn’t apply to one-piece covers, but I’m sure it’ll work it out. Meanwhile, I now had a “cover” file, and my dream was taking shape. Maybe I’d pluck up courage and “Publish” soon.


The real problem is how you keep a drabble from becoming a musing. There’s meant to be a story. There’s meant to be a kick. So editing drabbles mean’s you’re constantly asking the questions—where is this going? Has anything changed? Is the ending clear enough? Obscure enough?

If I’m writing a book, I want to keep the reader turning the pages. With a drabble I want them to carry on churning the thoughts. Something should stick in the reader’s mind, and if I can learn to find that something, maybe my book will stick to their fingers one day.

100 words


I got worried when the Lulu uploader said it wanted Acrobat. But I’d missed the small print. Preferred doesn’t mean essential, and Word would do.

I edited my document—set the page size, learned about margins and gutters, and finally loaded it up. The button said “Convert,” then offered to let me preview the results. Somehow my 32 pages had grown to 54, Word’s formatting not carrying over quite the way I’d planned.

Still, five or six tries later I won. An Acrobat version of my picture book, downloadable to my own machine, and looking just as planned. Incredible!


So, you’ve written a drabble and your word-processor’s counted the words. It’s time to cut. First, check you’ve really written only one detailed scene; if more, turn the extras into telling. Then count words again.

Next look at adjectives and adverbs—everyone always says we use too many. Where there’s two, pick one. Where there’s one, ask if a better noun would work.

And the phrases—“She was walking and stopped when she saw” becomes “She stopped when she saw.” Contractions—“She had counted,” “She’d counted.” It’s amazing the ways you can tighten things up; using less to write more.

100 words


My first step with Lulu was choosing the size and style for my book, which determines cost. Unfortunately I really wanted colored pictures but at least it’s do-able without them charging the earth up-front. My book’s priced close to $10 for now, and $11+ when the prices go up. But that’s just for printing… postage, profit, who knows what other fees will lurk?

Different page sizes, different bindings, different choices if you’re selling through book stores or Lulu or just to you; it wasn’t too hard to navigate though, and the next page said “Upload files.”

Getting scary. Getting fun.


How do you drabble? Remember, your story's going to be seriously small, one scene, one event. If there’s backstory, it’s short and sweet. If there’s a happy (or otherwise) ever after, it has to be written in as few words as you can get away with. But you have to “show” the scene.

Telling—that’s where you say what happened. And you’re short of space; don’t bother with long descriptions. Showing is where you connect with the reader, where you drag them in so the telling can really tell. And that’s the scene.

Drabbled—shown and told in 100 words.

100 words


I swore I’d never do it; said it was cheating – where’s the achievement in seeing my name in print if it’s me that put it there? Besides, if I can’t persuade any agents and editors to read my stuff, how should I expect to persuade anyone else?

Then there’s the money thing. If I’m not earning, what right do I have to spend what I’m not earning on continuing not to earn?

But Lulu said they publish free; they even give you a web-site to sell what you write. So I’m definitely tempted – I’ll let you know how it goes.


I drabble, though technically, since drabble's a noun, I guess I should say I write drabbles.

Wikipedia defines a drabble as “an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length…” So why drabble?

A short work of fiction is still a story, of course, with beginning, middle and end. Every scene’s important, though there’s probably only one, so select it well. Every word has to count and repetitions look bad. Every detail reveals character or forwards plot, or else gets deleted.

There’s no room for waste in a drabble. I drabble daily. And then I write novels.

100 words