Preparing Your Book for Self-Publishing

In the previous post, we mentioned why you might choose to self-publish your work. You may have backlist titles to reissue or have a nonfiction project you want to publish or prefer to go indie to take control of your writing career. Depending on whether these are older titles or new ones, your approach to indie publishing may be different.

Preparing your book for self-publishing

Older Titles

If you wrote your books back in the day when we mailed our works in, you might have to hire a scanning company such as Blue Leaf to scan in your published works. You’ll need a print copy to send in, and it won’t be returned. Send the version that’s the most up to date, i.e. later paperback instead of original hardcover.

After receiving your digital copy, review the story to correct formatting errors. Turn on the paragraph symbol in Word and look for weird symbols in between letters, missing or wrong punctuation, misinterpreted words, and misspellings. Search for ^- or an optional hyphen. Look for “die” instead of “the” or the number 1 instead of “I.” Italics might be missing or bolded instead. Look for “rn” coming out as “m”, such as “comer” instead of “corner.” In other cases “tly” might come as “dy”, as in “slighdy instead of “slightly.” Quote marks might be reversed, or there could be section breaks instead of page breaks.

If your publisher has provided you with a final pdf file, or you’ve downloaded an ebook file, you can use Calibre Ebook Management or Zamzar to convert it into Word.

However, the formatting may be messed up. In this case, copy the entire document onto a blank sheet and save it as a text file. Click on Clear Formatting symbol. You will lose italics but any weird justifications will be gone. You’ll have to read through the story adding in italics and space breaks as needed.

Determine if you will re-edit the work or make major revisions. You might find your writing has changed greatly in the interim, and what you’d published before, although professionally edited at your publishing house, isn’t up to your current standards. So go through and make corrections. Don’t forget to update technology and remove any dated references.

Original Works

Use a program such as Smart Edit (https://www.smart-edit.com/) to look for redundancies and repetitions. Revise your work as many times as necessary to give it professional polish. Ask beta readers to critique your story. Make it the best it can be and don’t be impatient, or your lack of care will show in customer reviews.

For a full-length original novel, I strongly recommend that you hire a developmental editor and possibly a copy editor. Join author groups online and ask for names of editors who have experience in your fiction genre. You don’t want the local newspaper editor or English teacher who’s your friend. Fiction is about structure and pacing along with many other elements. You need an editor familiar with genre conventions. Experience at a publishing house is a plus.

The next step will be to solicit Beta Readers. These are fans who are familiar with your prior work or who volunteer if you send out a request via your newsletter or Facebook page. Write down what type of feedback you want and set a deadline for a response. It’s amazing what these diligent readers will find. They’ll also tell you what works and what doesn’t from a reader’s viewpoint.

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The main point of this article is to make sure you have a polished, edited work that you’ll be proud to publish. Once you have the manuscript ready to go, you’ll need to add front and back material. Look for my next blog on this topic.

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Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 2

Step 5 Production—Cover Design, Formatting, Uploads

Cover Design
Decide if you’re going to use stock cover art or hire a designer. I recommend hiring a professional cover artist. You’ll have many things to consider, such as:

· Placement, size, and font for your book title and author name
· Series logo
· Text color
· Type of illustrations—photographic or cartoonish? Pastels or bold colors?
· Mood and story genre
· Endorsements or Awards

See my previous posts on this topic:
Book Cover Design Process
Book Cover Design

Hair Raiser 3D

Formatting and Uploads
Prepare an author bio, book description, and keywords. For a print edition, you’ll also need the back cover copy. Determine the price of your book.

If you need help with the book blurb, go to:
Book Blurbs: http://blurbcopy.wordpress.com/
Blurb Queen: www.theblurbqueen.com
Blurb Bitch: http://www.blurbbitch.com

Book Description Tips: http://insights.bookbub.com/how-to-improve-your-description-copy-to-sell-more-ebooks/

Set up a publisher account at the various vendors.

Amazon: https://kdp.amazon.com
Barnes & Noble: https://www.nookpress.com/
Kobo: http://writinglife.kobobooks.com
Apple/iTunes Connect: https://itunesconnect.apple.com
Createspace: http://www.Createspace.com
Google Play: http://googleplay.com

For upload to iBooks, you must own an Apple device. An option is to go through Smashwords or Draft2Digital. These sites are also useful for access to vendors beyond the big six above. You can choose selective distributor channels. Or you can hire a formatter to do the iBooks upload for you. A professional formatter can customize your document and buy links for each vendor. Here are some popular companies but there are many more. This is not an endorsement of any one in particular.

Author E.M.S. with Amy Atwell
Ebook Formatting Fairies with Marie Force
eBook Prep
Formatting4u with Judi Fennell

The Killion Group, Inc.

If you prefer to do the formatting and uploads yourself, check out Terry Odell’s blog for an instructional series on formatting for various vendors. Also join the Self-Publish listserve that is invaluable for the indie author. Send an email to selfpublish-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. If this link doesn’t work, sign into your Yahoo account and look for the selfpublish group.

You’ll want to upload to Createspace for a print edition. I advise using your own ISBN so you will be listed as publisher. Select as many extended channels as you’re allowed. Order a proof copy. Be aware this process takes a couple of weeks so allow for plenty of time when setting a pub date.

These production steps are similar if you are indie publishing a new and original title. In that case, file for copyright after your work has been published. Then proceed to market your new release.

If you missed previous installments in this series, go here:

Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Revisions
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Updating the Work
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Manuscript Preparation
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Legalities
Reviving Your Backlist Titles – Production, Part 1

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