Publishing my books has become more difficult recently. I thought I might as well tell you about it, since I’ve been praising for years, and now it seems things are changing.

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This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and cohosting this month are:

Kate Larkinsdale, Diane Burton, Janet Alcorn, and Shannon Lawrence!

The Cavies of Flexford Common – the publishing part

You may remember last month, I decided to strike while the iron was hot, and put effort into finishing the illustrations for Cavies of Flexford Common, my junior book. If I was going to have it ready to sell at the craft fairs, I needed to get it done, and published.

Well, I got on with it. With the difficulties I’m having with my hands and general energy levels, this left no time for anything else, which is why I haven’t been doing flash fiction, and hardly any comments. Exhaustion takes over. And now my knees have joined the arthritis party and I have difficult moving from sitting to standing, and vice versa. I’ve even resorted to using disabled toilet facilities in order to have the assistance of the hand rails. It’s not much fun, suddenly becoming an old lady.

But I finished the layout for Cavies FC (as I call it for short!), and uploaded it to Blurb, confident that it would soon come back with the proof printed in Eastbourne, and delivered in about a week.

ah… but

The first clue was when the shipping cost was listed at £22. For one £3 proof copy.

You can imagine the sort of things I said! But hey, these things happen… better add some of those books I’m running short of to make up the order. Yeah right. Ten books in total set me back £44 in shipping costs. What was going on?

When I got the ‘track your order’ email things became clear. Instead of printing and shipped from Eastbourne, about fifty miles along the coast from me, the first pick up point listed was Philadelphia PA. Not printed in the UK, then. Shipping from the States. I emailed customer service. No real solution other than to grin and bear it. They have not got a printer in the UK/Europe at present.

This puts us back ten years into the horrible days of Createspace. I started looking for alternatives. I didn’t find any; Lightning Source (who at least had been printing in the UK) directed me to IngramSpark, which clearly was sending stuff from US only, and there was a comment on one of Just Publishing Advice’s articles that pasted IngramSpark. What about Draft2Digital, which is merging with Smashwords, and one of the benefits we’ve been told is that we’ll be able to use D2D’s paperback service. So I went on their website to find out how. I paraphrase the statement where you get down to Publishing Paperbacks: we send you the file for you to take to Createspace or the printer of your choice.

(a) that’s not providing a paperback printing service

(b) Createspace has been gone for about five years now.

I now have zero confidence in Draft2Digital.


Eventually the proof copy of Cavies FC arrived.

Nearly all the illustrations had grey backing around them. It was disastrous. Worse, some of the books that came with them had grey backgrounds to their chapter illustrations – but not all. This must be fixable.

After several email exchanges with the same customer service person I’d talked to about the printing location, it turned out I had to lighten the background of the 45 pictures and reinsert them. It was exhausting having to redo pictures of the pages, scans of the layouts… those took another couple of days just to satisfy Blurb.

So that’s where another couple of weeks of my time and energy has gone. I’m not sure the problem is solved. I know on one I found it impossible to get the background light enough without ruining the illustration. I made the illustration cover the entire page so it looked like it was supposed to be like that. Another one I cropped close to the shading and gave the double page a background colour.

And now I wait to see if it’s good enough. I wanted perfect. Maybe I’ll have to compromise.


Blurb offered me a 35% discount on the book (not the shipping). Gee. £1 off. But they have obviously had a storm because they are now showing economy shipping at £7, which is what I’ve asked for with the new proof. And I’m sending one to my proofreader in Seattle since that was one way of saving on shipping.

I’m just hoping it comes quickly, looks good and I can order a stack in time for the holiday weekend at the end of August. But I have the first proof to show at the fairs coming up, and I’ll be willing to take orders, and even mail them – second class stamp, of course!

About Turn

And then…. it’s arriving so quickly (due today) I can’t believe it. It looks like they’ve got a new printer in Newhaven, which is even closer than Eastbourne.

Three weeks of stress, for nothing… or maybe making a fuss proved the point to them.

Question of the Month

Have you ever written something that afterwards you felt conflicted about? If so, did you let it stay how it was, take it out, or rewrite it?

IWSG Aug 23

I think any time you write something you feel conflicted about, you have to take a long hard look at it. Why do you feel conflicted? Subject matter? Out of context? Stating something that is totally not your point of view as if it is?

I’ve certainly done all of those, and I don’t think I’d have very good characters if I let them all have similar ethics to my own. And the out of context thing just had to be scrapped. ‘Kill your darlings’ as they say.

The key thing is to examine it, in the context of what you’re writing, and decide whether it belongs or not.

I’m still not sure where this orgy in the spaceship that’s gone by accident into the furthest reachest of space, with no hope of return, came from. But I felt it belonged, in the context of what had gone before, and what came afterwards. I didn’t change much of it, but I did change several other parts of the book, so the reader had a bit less of a surprise when the somewhat graphic bit came. It certainly freed me up for a scene later where Maggie got her revenge. Now, writing that was great fun!

Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate them. I hope to visit more of you this month.

Publishing Progress Problems | #IWSG
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20 thoughts on “Publishing Progress Problems | #IWSG

  • 2 August, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Wordpress not allowing me to Like, but only sporadically .Mysteriously, comments are permitted.
    Thanks for all this – shared this at once with the IT department, though IT will be in a meeting, WFH often, long before pandemic, so did I, for the O.U.
    Conflicted ? Definitely, but returning to work rejected as ‘ too dark’, I want to
    tell my characters’ story.

    • 2 August, 2023 at 11:04 am

      I think WP upgraded Jetpack yesterday. I’ll go through and check the settings it decided to ignore. It lost the portfolio system for a few days, but I doubt you’d notice that!

      • 3 August, 2023 at 7:00 am

        Hi Jemima sorry your still struggling but this getting older is not for the faint hearted is it!
        What a polarver I hope the Newhaven printers have sorted your problems and that you will have some plain sailing now 💜

  • 2 August, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Sorry that you were having so many problems publishing your manuscript. Especially when you’re dealing with arthritis and being tired. It sounds like you put a lot of effort into figuring it out.

    • 2 August, 2023 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks, Natalie. It’s just another aspect of authors never giving up, isnt it? Just one we didn’t expect 🙂

  • 2 August, 2023 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry you had so much trouble finding a decent printer! What a nightmare.

    • 2 August, 2023 at 4:18 pm

      Well, they’ve done well for more than five years for me. It’s when it changes unexpectedly it throws you. I’m not convinced the batch of 20 books I ordered is coming from UK, but we’ll see.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 2:12 pm

    Oh, Jackie, I am so sorry you had such mind-numbing problems until things got resolved. Even though you can send a book digitally, we need one of those Star Trek transporters to get books to their authors. I guess I am lucky to be in the US but the shipping charges here have increased a lot. I also had problems with a brown background on my line drawings, so it must be common.

    • 2 August, 2023 at 4:24 pm

      Oh, yes. ‘Beam me my books’ that would be wonderful indeed! I don’t know why UK printers don’t just run with the same POD idea that is coming from states-based companies. Most seem to want the old school thousands of copies still. My stationery and banner printers are superb.
      I suspect the pics from the iPad get several shades of processing done to them, hence losing their pristine white background in a jpg. There is an option to do a png with a transparent background, but I don’t know how I’d cope with drawing that. My original pics done on paper and scanned came out fine in that mixed book I reordered.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    This is making me wonder if my chapter-title illustrations in the Ninja Librarian books are okay. I don’t need copies right now, but maybe I’ll order one with the proof of my new book. I’m really sorry to see that the D2D “paperback” service really isn’t. I guess I’ll keep doing my paper copies in Kindle Direct. Sometimes being in the US does make things easier.

    • 2 August, 2023 at 4:26 pm

      Well, unless I found the wrong place on the website…
      I think your old books will be fine. I blame it on the iPad technology.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    Just a quickie to Kate Larkinsdale…. thanks for cohosting today – fraid I couldnt comment as it requires login to Google, and Google won’t let me.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 7:03 pm

    Oof. I’m sorry to hear you had such a headache getting proofs. And your lack of energy. I know that feeling all too well from before surgery times. I wish I could offer you some sound solutions, but it’s something you only figure out through trial and error.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 8:01 pm

    It sounds a nightmare! (I don’t know anything about the process but I can certainly tell that!) Hope the arthritis behaves better.

  • 2 August, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    My brother uses Biddles Books, not sure how much they cost as I just do the PDFing part, can find out for you if you want?

    • 3 August, 2023 at 11:24 am

      Thanks for that idea, Bob. Come to think of it, you knew Roscoe and Neville personally! I must send you a copy when it comes. I really should do the London show, too.

      • 3 August, 2023 at 10:13 pm

        The Real London show? It would be lovely to see you

  • 3 August, 2023 at 4:04 pm

    I’m so sorry for your struggles. Health stuff is awful, and then to also have to deal with the printing and technical difficulties? Ugh. I hope you’re able to sort out the issues and get your book out into the world.

  • 4 August, 2023 at 4:42 am

    Sorry about the publishing issues. Glad you’ve sorted them out now, though. I have a similar issue because I live in New Zealand and it’s miles away from anywhere and shipping is always a huge expense!

    • 4 August, 2023 at 7:25 am

      That’s where losing Bookdepository really hurts! Thanks for cohosting this week 🙃

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