Understanding the Indie Publishing Process

Understanding the Indie Publishing Process

Over the past decade, I’ve learned some valuable lessons from every project and client, which enabled me to improve my communication and processes.

One of the most important lessons learned?

Give every client an outline of the indie publishing process that includes clear directives, deadlines, and responsibilities. With indie publishing, the author and the publisher must work in collaboration, each holding up their end of the agreement in order to achieve the desired publication date of a high-quality book.

Six Steps to Indie Publishing

  1. Select a Publishing Package– Whatever your goal, I offer a package that meets your needs.
  2. Choose Your Publication Date – I require approval on the FINAL edits a minimum of two months prior.
  3. Commit to Your Project – My collaborative editing process requires a time commitment from both of us.
  4. Approve Final Edits – After a few rounds of editing, you, the author, must approve the final edits before the manuscript moves into formatting. Please read the post formatting versus editing for more.
  5. Approve Formatting – Once you approve the final edits, your manuscript moves into the formatting stage. What is formatting? It pertains the interior style of the book including fonts, headers, chapter templates, and justification. When your manuscript makes it to the formatting part of the process, you can no longer add or remove paragraphs, rewrite sentences, delete content or add new content. When is the time to do that? At any point within Step 4. By the time you approve final edits, you’ve reviewed your document repeatedly. Take as long as you need before signing off because we will not make any further editing changes after it moves into formatting.
  6. Approve Proof Copy – Before your book goes live online, you must approve either a digital version or a paperback proof. If you’re a new author, I recommend the latter.

As your independent publishing consultant, I am just as vested as you in the outcome. Producing good books with original, compelling covers and stylish, readable formatting is my top priority. Making you look good is my goal. That’s why every package I offer includes professional editing and formatting.

Kindle/eBook Formatting

kindle-381242_1280This is such a vital topic, I’m placing under its own heading. I cannot stress this enough, but different formatting rules apply to Kindle/eBooks. We cannot use the same PDF we uploaded for the paperback version for the Kindle version. It simply does not work.

Therefore, once you approve your edits, your manuscript moves into formatting first for paperback, then for Kindle. We release the paperback first, with the teaser that the Kindle version is coming soon (usually within two weeks). Kindle formatting may take longer, depending upon the number of photos, charts, headers, special fonts, and other characteristics of the paperback.

Congratulations, Your Book Published on Your Desired Date – Now What?

You move into the fun marketing phase. If your particular package includes online interviews, social media set-up and training, and a book signing kit I’ll set those up for you. But no matter which package you select, I encourage you to have fun engaging with your audience in cyberspace and in person.

Publication Date

To reiterate the above, the time to make changes to your book is while it is in the editing phase. When you approve final edits, the manuscript goes into the capable hands of a professional formatter whose job is to focus on the appearance of the content, not the content itself. Once you approve the formatting, we hit the “approve” button on the date that matches your desired publication date.

Why?

The date we click the approve button is the publication date. It cannot be changed. If you want your pub date to be March 14, 2017, we must approve it anytime after midnight on that date. From that point, it will go live on Amazon within 24 hours.

Post-Publication Rules

Once your book is for sale on Amazon (and everywhere books are sold online), it’s time to market and promote. It is not the time to pull the book down to make yet another editorial adjustment.

Can it be done? Yes. Do I advise it? Absolutely not. Refer back to Step 4.

Sure, a year or two after your book is out, you may want to update it. I did that myself with Water Signs — years after it was published, because I wanted to make improvements to the cover design and dialogue.

Ready to tell your story? Contact me for your complimentary 30-minute consultation.

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Formatting Versus Editing

Formatting Versus Editing

Why explain formatting versus editing?

Aside from ghostwriting, I offer all-inclusive publishing packages that include (among other services) professional formatting and editing.

What is the difference between the two?

According to Dictionary.com, book formatting is defined as 1. the shape and size of a book as determined by the number of times the original sheet has been folded to form the leave; and 2.the general physical appearance of a book, magazine, or newspaper, such as typeface, paper, margins, etc.

 

An example of paperback formatting.

Professional formatting pertains to the creation of the interior of a book after it has been edited for content, consistency, punctuation, grammar, spelling and typos. Depending on the publishing package you choose, you can count on me to correct any issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. But whether or not your package includes an editorial assessment (focusing on logical flow and progression of content), your manuscript will undergo multiple layers of editing.

From there, I send the manuscript back you with the request to carefully review and inform me of any further editorial changes. This is a critical part of the process and should not be rushed, no matter how excited you, the author, may be to bring your book to the online marketplace. At best, I recommend taking two-to-three days to ensure complete satisfaction with the content. Because I approach editing in a collaborative fashion and involve my author-client every step of the way, typically there are few, if any, changes. However, if the client wishes to alter anything having to do with items including word choices, dialogue, quotes, etc., it must be done before the formatting process begins.

An example of Kindle formatting.

An example of Kindle formatting.

Once in formatting, the only changes to the manuscript should involve things like fonts, justification, consistent chapter title set-up (e.g. does each chapter begin in the middle of a page?), table of content alignment, boldface or regular type, placement of photos and the like.

When a book is in the formatting phase, I can no longer add new content. Yes, if for some reason, a word gets misspelled in the process, I correct it. If a few sentences of a paragraph accidentally get cut out, I’ll re-insert them. But the time to decide you want to write another chapter or paragraph; add more names of people to your dedication or acknowledgements pages; throw in a new quote from another source; or change anything related to the actual content is while that manuscript is still in the editing phase.

Major General Linda L. Singh says she’s learning “to go slow to go fast” in life. With respect to editing, this is sage advice. By tempering your eagerness to publish your book and taking as much time as you need in the editing process, you can expect a smooth, efficient formatting phase, resulting in a professionally produced book you can be proud of.

Need help with indie publishing? Contact me to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.

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How to Write a Quality Book Review

How to Write a Quality Book Review

Since authors spend a great deal of time and effort on their books, writing a review is one of the best ways to show your appreciation and offer constructive feedback to help them improve their craft. For potential readers, a thoughtful review can mean the difference between purchasing a book or clicking onto the next title in their search for a good read.

But what comprises a quality book review?

First, let’s talk about what constitutes a bad book review. No, I’m not referring to legitimate criticism of characters, plot, pacing, writing, or any other vital aspect of a compelling story. I’m talking about generic reviews like, “I loved the book!” or “Wow, this is excellent!” or “This book is a must-read!” that omit any substantive descriptions as to why the reviewer is offering such effusive praise.

Conversely, the same principle applies to pithy one-or-two sentence reviews like, “Awful book!” “I can’t believe anyone would write this drivel!” or “Don’t waste your time reading.”

Either way, the reviewer does the author and his or her potential readers a disservice by omitting specifics. Whether you love or hate a book (or fall somewhere in-between), here are some guidelines on how to write an effective, useful review for both authors and readers.

  1. Demonstrate You Have Actually Read the Book– sounds counter-intuitive, but I’m not advocating that reviewers should give away spoilers. However, it is possible to mention a few specifics about what you liked about the main character, themes, narration, dialogue, etc. What did you like or dislike about the protagonist or supporting characters? Why did the plot draw you in? Was the book thought-provoking? Edgy? Enlightening? Why?  Even if you select just one aspect and explain why it had an impact on you (either positively or negatively), it will demonstrate your knowledge of the book.
  2. Offer a Balanced Perspective– as I mentioned, a great deal of time and energy goes into the production of a book. Whether you rate it 5-stars or 3-stars (more on that further down the post), point out specifically what the author does well and the areas in which he or she could improve. Is the dialogue stilted but the prose captivating? Say so. Is the pacing too slow? Too fast? Explain why and give an example. Is a character well defined or one-dimensional? Offer a specific example that supports your opinion.
  3. Limit Your Review to One-to-Three Paragraphs– for maximum impact, keep it pithy. Select a few qualities about the book that stood out to you, whether it involves a secondary character, a particular scene, or the overarching themes. Again, you don’t want to give away spoilers; you want to focus on your most indelible impressions of the book. No one wants to read a lengthy, rambling review, and from a copywriting/marketing perspective, such reviews do more harm that good. The objective is to provide constructive criticism/praise to better inform the author and prospective readers.
  4. Give the Author at Least 3 Stars– here I am taking my cue from my friend and author Daniella Bova, who states at her blog DaniellaBova.com, “Authors put their heart and soul into their writing, so I will never give any book less than 3 stars. I just won’t review it at all.” Words to live by. If you really hate a book for whatever reason (poorly written, plot holes, undeveloped characters, etc.), it’s best to heed our mothers’ advice while growing up, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” In such a case, I recommend contacting the author directly and privately (if they’ve made their email public or have a public FB page where you can message them) and sharing your thoughts. By doing so, you’ll be helping them improve while saving them the embarrassment of a 1-or 2-star public review. Do unto others, as you’d have done to you, after all.

A while back I received positive feedback on a book review I posted for the book Soul Mates & Angels. The person who read it complimented me for following the guidelines I’ve outlined above, instead of posting a generic opinion. She even used it in a promotional email she sent out on behalf of the author, Betty RaeI’m posting it here as an example:

This beautiful story drew me in from the moment I began reading. Written in the first person, its tone is at once hopeful, joyful, inquisitive, and thoughtful. Blessed with a supernatural ability to communicate with angels, the main character Anita Lyn Riley struggles to reconcile the mundane aspects of her life — from high school bullies to adolescent crushes — with the knowledge that evil exists everywhere, not just in some far away places.

On a personal level, she knows what it feels like to be misunderstood and feared for being different. When we first meet Anita, she is adapting to her new public high school, having upset the religious sensibilities of the priests and nuns at her former Catholic institution with her tales of reincarnation and otherworldly visions. As the book unfolds, her journey becomes progressively more difficult as circumstances force her to take courageous stands for justice, spurred on by righteous anger.

Filled with endearing characters and thought-provoking insights, Soul Mates & Angels celebrates the unbreakable bond that exists between all humans as children of God, the power of good to overcome evil, and the unseen realm where angels and loved ones are always there to help us.

Happy reading…and writing (book reviews)!

Do you need help with self-publishing, editing, ghostwriting or copywriting?

Contact me here.

Read the reviews of my book, Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, here, where you can also preview and purchase it in paperback or Kindle.

 

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The Writestream: All About Editing

The Writestream: All About Editing

Join me on Wednesday, June 21 at 11 AM Eastern when I’ll discuss all things related to editing on The Writestream:

What is collaborative editing? An editorial assessment? Basic editing? Why does Writestream Publishing include editing in every package?

Writestream Radio and Publishing co-founder Daria Anne answers these and all questions pertaining to the editing process on The Writestream on Wednesday, June 21 at 11 AM Eastern.

Whether you have a full manuscript sitting in your computer or just a few handwritten notes, this episode will explain the editing process and what you can expect when you hire a professional to help you. During the broadcast, dial in with your questions at (347) 945-7246 and press “1” to let Daria Anne know you would like to get on the air.

Check out the following blog posts on Writestream Publishing for more:

Adventures in Editing: He Said, She Said

Adventures in Editing: Exclamation Points

How to Revise and Edit Your Own Writing

See you on Wednesday, June 21 at 11 AM Eastern!

UPDATE: Missed the live show? Click to listen.

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