Self-Publishing Made Simple – Part 2

Self-Publishing Made Simple – Manuscript Preparation

Self Publishing Part 2

Reissuing Your Backlist Titles

1. For older works where you don’t have a cohesive master file, you may need to use a scanning company such as Blue Leaf (http://www.blueleaf-book-scanning.com/). 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.

2. 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.

3. If your publisher has provided you with a final pdf file, or you’ve downloaded an ebook file, you can use Calibre Ebook Management (https://calibre-ebook.com/) or Zamzar (https://www.zamzar.com/) 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 Remove Formatting (see symbol on Home page). Then reformat and save it as a Word file. You will lose italics but any weird justifications will be gone. You’ll have to read through the story very carefully adding in italics and looking for spacing errors or other problems as above.

4. Decide if you mean to revise the work and update the technology in the story.

Original Works

For a full-length original novel, hire a developmental editor and a copy editor/proofreader. 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 who’s your friend. Fiction is about structure and pacing along with grammar. You need an editor familiar with genre conventions. Experience at a publishing house is a plus.

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.

General Formatting Notes

I hire a professional formatter, so this section isn’t in my realm of expertise. However, I can share that we use Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins, indent first line 0.33 inches, Widow/Orphan off, single spacing. I put a page break at the end of each chapter. My chapter headings use Heading 1 so they get marked for the table of contents. The line of each chapter is flush left as per my preference. There are lots more choices here, but I’m not going into further details because your formatting source might advise something different. Or you can upload your Word file to one of the aggregators and they’ll do the conversions for you. More on this in a subsequent post.

The main point of this section is to be sure you have a polished, edited work that you’ll be proud to share. You can hire a formatter or learn how to do it yourself, but that’s later down the road after your manuscript is ready.

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Coming Next: Adding Front and Back Material

Are you interested in reissuing backlist titles or publishing new, original works?

 

Self-Publishing Made Simple – Part 1

Self-Publishing Made Simple – Getting Started

Have you been wanting to indie publish your work, but you don’t know where to begin? Or does the prospective task seem so daunting that it paralyzes you into inaction? Is this even something you can do for yourself, or will you need a “village” to help you along the path to publication?

Self Publishing Made Simple

Let’s think a moment about the difference between a self-published and an independently published author. Anyone can self-publish his work. But an indie author is more likely to be a professional career writer who understands what makes a polished book and what the marketing requirements are to go along with it. He’s not a one-book wonder but is looking to make a profit. With this goal in mind, he treats his career as a small business. But whichever term you use, these same steps apply. I will use them interchangeably in this multi-post series.

We’ll discuss setting up your own imprint, buying and assigning ISBNs, preparing your manuscript, creating front and back material, and options for ebook and print formats.

Getting Started as an Indie Publisher

First let’s look at why you’d like to indie publish your novel. Do you want to become a hybrid author by reissuing your backlist titles or by publishing new works in between your traditionally-contracted books? Perhaps you have a novel that doesn’t fit genre guidelines or a personal project you would prefer to self-publish. Or maybe you have an idea for a nonfiction book that lends itself to indie publishing.

Why should you self-publish your work?

PROs:

  • You have a backlist and the rights reverted
  • You want to publish work in between your traditionally-published novels
  • You have a book that doesn’t fit into a particular genre category
  • You have a nonfiction project that you want to publish on your own
  • You want to direct the publishing process, in terms of:
  • Quality control
  • Pricing and discounts
  • Input on cover and interior design
  • Higher royalties
  • Rights ownership
  • Publication schedule

CONs:

  • Learning curve
  • Time-consuming tasks
  • Production costs
  • Back cover copy, book descriptions, metatags are your responsibility
  • Author/Series Branding is essential
  • Loss of prestige
  • Difficulty getting reviews
  • Limited booksigning and speaker opportunities
  • Tougher standards to join professional writers organizations
  • Bookstores and Libraries may not stock your work
  • Pressure to Produce

Coming Next – Manuscript Preparation 

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What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of independent publishing?

Self-Publishing Bookkeeping

In attempting to fill in my tax spreadsheet to bring it up to date, I am muddled in the expenses for self-publishing from back in February. Like, where does the purchase of ISBN numbers fit into the grid? I’ve added line items for my formatter and cover designer, and it took me over an hour to track down those costs and date the invoices for my records. Then there are the bookmarks, postcards, and door hangers I’d ordered. Those go under advertising expenses. But what about the proofs from Createspace that I had printed and mailed? The copies of my book that I bought, and the cost difference compared to the number sold on consignment via bookstores?

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Hey, and this doesn’t even include the royalty income. Talk about confusing! Amazon alone sends me five different payments, not including Createspace. And lest you think I am making gobs of money, one of those payments was for thirty-five cents. Barnes and Noble and Smashwords are added to my list. By now, I’ve started a separate sheet just for ebook income, and another sheet that includes all royalty income for the year.

I hope my accountant understands all this when I send it to him. It sure is easier when a traditional publisher sends you a statement and a check. Being an indie publisher means keeping track of all the income streams and expenses yourself.

Do you have any tips to offer? What’s your method?

 

Self-Publishing, Part 1

I am dipping into the scary waters of self-publishing. This difficult decision came about for several reasons. I did a brief survey of readers on my Facebook author page asking if they’d prefer, for an original mystery I’ve written, (a) the expensive hardcover library edition that wouldn’t come out for another year, (b) an ebook version being released as soon as possible for $2.99, or (3) a simultaneous ebook and mass market release with the ebook possibly priced over $5.00. Again, this release date might not be until 2015.

The majority of readers voted for (b), the quick and less expensive ebook edition. This choice corresponds to my self-publishing this work, rather than pursuing small press or traditional NY publisher. For either of those, a wait of over a year before publication would be likely, with no control over the resultant price of the books.

If I were a new author, I’d choose the publisher route to establish credentials. But I already have a fan base for my mysteries. Hopefully these readers will be eager to try an original work and potentially book one in a new series.

self publish

So what are the steps to follow? I’ve put up one backlist title by myself. I formatted it for Kindle and Nook and Smashwords, hired a cover designer, and uploaded Keeper of the Rings to those retail sites. Since this title had already been published, I had the cover copy and quotes handily available. Not so for a totally original work.

I am following the steps so generously described by author Libby Fischer Hellmann at http://www.libbyhellmann.com/six-steps-of-self-publishing/. These steps are similarly described in the resource articles below.

self publish3

Step number one is to Hire an Editor once you’ve finished your work. You may need two editors, a developmental and a copy editor. Or you may employ other writer professionals in a time swap arrangement, beta readers, and critique partners. If you are a new author, it is critically important that you follow this step and work with a professional editor.

Next on the list is preparing the Front and Back Materials. Author Marie Force gives a comprehensive discussion of what these should include at http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/2012/03/front-matter-and-back-matter-why-it.html.

Author Terry Odell recommends putting most of the items in the back so as not to obstruct the “Sample Preview” offered by Amazon. Terry also made another good point in suggesting I leave off listing the Cast of Characters, because e-book readers won’t be able to flip back to the front of the book for reference. So my front material consists merely of the Copyright Page. I am not having a Dedication, but the front is where this page would go, as well as any advance review quotes for your book.

The back end materials take more time to prepare. First come the Acknowledgments, moved from the front as Terry suggested. Next is an author’s note that reads thus:

Thank you for reading [book title]. If you enjoyed this story, please support the author’s efforts by helping other readers find this book. Here are some suggestions for your consideration.

Write an online customer review.
Gift a copy of this book to a booklover friend.
Sign up for Nancy’s quarterly email newsletter on her website.
Follow Nancy on her social media sites.
Spread the word about her work.
Suggest her titles to a local book club.

Following this page is my About the Author section with social media links. Finally, I have a page with More Books by Nancy J. Cohen. If I can get my formatter to link these titles to the appropriate bookstore, that would be great. Otherwise, the list remains as is.

Another section you can add here is a chapter from your upcoming sequel or excerpts from your other published works. My sequel isn’t far enough along for me to add this additional page.

Keep in mind that these bonus materials add to the length of your book. From what I’ve been reading, this becomes important when formatting your work for Createspace, but that’s another topic down the road, However, if you will be having a cover artist do the spine and back cover for a print book, she may need to know the spine width and that might relate to the number of pages.

Now I’ve added my front and back materials. It’s time to move on to the back cover copy.

In my view, that’s harder than writing the book.

As you can see, this venture promises to be incredibly time consuming the first time around. Thereafter, I imagine it is easier because you can just repeat your steps. Will the effort be worth the reward? I hope so, because these publishing duties steal time from writing the next book.

self publish2

It’s exciting to think I’ll have something different to offer my fans, in addition to the Bad Hair Day and Drift Lords series that are on-going. This makes me one of the new breed of hybrid authors. I hope you’ll continue to follow me on this journey of exploration.

Useful Articles on Self-Publishing

http://www.libbyhellmann.com/six-steps-of-self-publishing/

http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/2012/03/front-matter-and-back-matter-why-it.html

http://gigipandian.blogspot.com/2012/03/20-steps-in-self-publishing.html

http://www.authorems.com/self-publishing/