Self Pubs and Trad Pubs: Couldn’t You At Least Talk To Each Other?

Venn diagramby Carla Douglas @CarlaJDouglas

Three things:

1. A conversation about self-publishing I had a year ago with a traditionally published author and poet who spoke of a colleague—an accomplished trad pub novelist.

Me: If she has rights to her backlist, she could self-publish.
Author: [Congenial but resolute. This goes without saying. It’s not a possibility. The very idea is absurd.] I don’t think she would ever consider self-publishing.

Takeaway: For some traditionally published authors, the self-pub door is shut tight. They don’t show even a glimmer of curiosity about the self-publishing process, which aspects of it might be worth learning, or what its rewards might be.

2. A second conversation about self-publishing a month ago, with the same author who is now, via a formal writing program, completing a novel under the guidance and mentorship of the same trad pubbed novelist.

Me: Is this work happening online?
Author: [tone is wry] No. I’d describe it more like “doorknob-to-doorknob.”
Me: Really?
Author: Yes. I leave a chapter hanging on her doorknob. She marks it up and comments, and leaves it at my house.
Me: [barely masked disbelief] On paper?
Author: [amused] Yes. A bit unconventional, maybe. But the work is getting done. I’m happy with the progress we’re making.
Me: Do you realize how funny that is?

Takeaway: Digital publishing and self-publishing naturally have a common trajectory. It’s easy sometimes to tie them too closely together, so that indie authors are associated with digital and traditionally published authors with print.

My experience demonstrates why this stereotype might persist. Doorknob-to-doorknob file transfer is maybe only a step or two ahead of carrier pigeon. Or owl. I’m curious about what kinds of digital writing and editing tools traditionally published authors are using, but there’s a dearth of available info on this. At the same time, digital production can’t guarantee quality writing.

3. Jane Friedman and Harry Bingham’s #AuthorSay survey for traditionally published authors. Its goal is “to see how traditionally published authors are feeling about the choices now available.” Some enlightening comments have already been published at The Bookseller in response, among them that just 25 percent are open to the possibility of self-publishing, and that “authors are more committed to their agent than to their publisher.”

Takeaway: Ah. So it’s not just local. Yes, my sample is minuscule, but look! It points to a wider trend. In a Venn diagram of traditional and self-publishing, there’s only a small region of overlap. I thought things might be farther along by now.

Conclusions

I live in a bubble. I’ve assumed all writers are exploring digital tools for writing, editing, collaboration and production. I’ve been wrong about this, but to what extent, I’m not sure. Because it looks like others are living in bubbles, too.

Trad pubs and self-pubs need to talk to each other. If they did, they’d realize they could benefit from knowledge the other side is hanging onto.

Just because you’re traditionally published doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from self-pubs. Marketing and promotion, for example. Social media. Digital tools like Scrivener for organizing a WIP.

Just because you’re digital doesn’t mean you’re efficient. Keying or dictating a book into a smartphone isn’t efficient. Neither is running spellcheck instead of hiring a copyeditor.

Just because you’re indie doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from traditionally published authors. The care they’ll take to produce a meticulous manuscript, for example. This may be because they have more years of writing behind them, or they’ve taken the time to internalize (and observe) the conventions of writing, or that their manuscripts have been through more drafts and are therefore more polished. Probably a combination of all three.

Self-publishing isn’t a dirty word. Just because you’re traditionally published doesn’t mean you can’t learn all there is to know about self-publishing, just in case. Being informed can be its own reward—doesn’t mean you have to do it.

What do you think? Is there any common ground between traditionally published and self-publishing authors? And what might they learn from each other?

Image by daveconrey

How to Write a Quality Book Fast

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by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

There has been a bit of buzz recently about authors who can write a book collaboratively in six weeks or by themselves in nine weeks. How do they do it? 

Getting a book from idea to ebook can happen fairly quickly, particularly if you know how to create an efficient writing and publishing workflow (I wrote the first draft of the book on the left in about 10 hours and completed the rest of the process in nine weeks).

1. Have a System 

To get a book to publication quickly, it helps to know the essential steps in the idea-to-ebook process. As both an author and editor, I’ve discovered a few efficiencies that can save you time in the writing and publishing process.

Here are the steps as I follow them:

  • Collaborate (optional)
  • Brainstorm
  • Research
  • Organize
  • Draft
  • Revise
  • Edit
  • Add Images (optional)
  • Clean Up
  • Format
  • Proofread
  • Create a Cover
  • Publish

You don’t always have to follow these steps in order, but if your steps are orderly and logical, it’ll help you to be more efficient.

2. Use Efficiency Tools

You’ll be more efficient at writing books if you use the right tools for the job. Scrivener, for example, is a wonderful drafting tool that can help you organize a potentially unwieldy book. Trust me, it’s never good news to discover at the editing stage that your book’s structure isn’t working. If you use an organization tool like Scrivener early in the process, you can sort out any structural issues at the beginning, long before the editing stage (where they can become costly). Scrivener can benefit writers in other ways, too. (See Idea to Ebook: How to Write a Quality Book Fast for more details).

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft Word is currently the best tool for the editing stage of your publishing process (I’m hoping that the creators of Scrivener will remedy that). You may not agree with me, but in Idea to Ebook: How to Write a Quality Book Fast, I think I make a pretty good case for why you might want to have Word in your writer’s toolkit. I also recommend over 30 free and inexpensive tools that writers can use to create quality books efficiently.

A Caveat

It’s one thing to publish quickly, and quite another to publish well. Quality matters, and it’s important that you don’t sacrifice quality for speed. Your readers won’t care how long it took you to produce your book—but they will care whether your book is good. I believe that creating a quality book fast is within every author’s reach. Your “fast” might not be my “fast,” but there are ways to create better books faster.

Want to know more about how to create a quality book efficiently? Curious about how Scrivener and other tools can help you do that? Idea to Ebook: How to Write a Quality Book Fast is a quick read, and you’ll find it on Amazon and  Kobo for $0.99 during NaNoWriMo. 



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Scrivener Cheat Sheet: Start Using Scrivener Now

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by Corina Koch MacLeod

Scrivener is a wonderful tool for the drafting and revising stages of a book. It allows you to move chunks of text around with ease, organize everything, including research notes, in the same project file, and convert your book to ebook, web, and print formats.
When you first open the program, though, it can seem a little confusing. It doesn’t operate quite like the word processor you might be familiar with — mostly because things aren’t where you’d expect them to be. Don’t despair. Scrivener is a powerful tool with many features you’ll learn to locate and come to appreciate.
With a cheat sheet, though, you can begin using Scrivener right now. 
Open Scrivener, Select “New Project,” choose a template (the Blank template is least confusing) and click on the Green Plus icon at the top. This will create a new “file.” Park your cursor in the “Editor” pane in the middle and begin writing.
Begin typing in the middle panel

Downloadable Cheat Sheet

If there’s something you’d like to do, but you don’t know where to find the command, consult this downloadable cheat sheet at the Tech Tools for Writers site. 
Enjoy!
* This list favours Scrivener for Windows, but I’ve included some Mac features, too.
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How We Use the Kindle for Publishing

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by Corina Koch MacLeod & Carla Douglas

@CKmacleodwriter
@CarlaJDouglas

If you’ve been following some of our earlier posts, you’ll know that at Beyond Paper we are fans of the Kindle — not just for reading ebooks, but for a host of publishing-related tasks.

Below is a list of what we use our Kindles for with links to posts that will tell you more about how we use them.

Note: Carla and I each have a Kindle Touch — Amazon’s e-ink device that was the precursor to the Paperwhite. Len Edgerly of the Kindle Chronicles podcast (an excellent podcast about publishing industry news and tips for using the Kindle) demonstrates the Paperwhite’s additional features. For our purposes, it would appear that the Touch is similar enough to the Paperwhite with one notable exception: the Touch has a text-speech read-aloud feature, the advantages of which I’ll discuss below. If you have a Paperwhite and there are additional features you think we should know about, feel free to leave a comment.

While a Kindle e-ink device makes the most sense for the kind of work we do, we do read on and consult the Kindle iOS, Android, and PC apps for specific purposes.

Research and Productivity

Editing and writing is focused work, and it’s all too easy to get distracted or lost in a research vortex on the Internet when we should be writing (or working with someone else’s writing). We have a Send-to-Kindle plug-in in our Google chrome browsers so that we can capture self-publishing articles that we encounter in our Internet travels. We then read these articles on our Kindles later, so we can stay abreast of changes in the publishing field.

Feedback

You can load unpublished or “personal” documents to your Kindle using the Send-to-Kindle plug-in for your computer. This is particularly useful for manuscript evaluations in which we offer suggestions to authors on what might make their books better. Authors can send us a manuscript as a Word document, and we can pop it onto our Kindles to read it — much like a reader eventually will.

Proofreading

If you’re publishing an ebook, it makes good sense to proofread your manuscript in its final environment, ideally after it’s been copyedited and formatted as a mobi file.

We convert a file using Amazon’s converter (or receive a mobi file that has been already converted by a formatter) and then transfer the mobi file to the Kindle. Once it’s there, we can make use of the highlights and notes features on the Kindle to flag any changes the author or formatter needs to make.

There is a way to relay a list of changes to the author and formatter, and Carla will write about that in an upcoming post. If you’ve already published your book, but now realize it needs some proofreading, you can follow the steps in this post.

While proofreading, it’s important to read every word as you see it on the “page.” Our brains are meaning-making organs and have this amazing ability to see “from” when “form” is actually what’s written. To prevent your brain from tricking you into seeing what’s not there, it helps to read every word aloud, or use the Kindle Touch’s text-to-speech feature while proofreading. You can adjust the reading speed so that you’re reading at the right rate to catch errors.

Format Checks

It’s important to know that ebooks display differently on the various Kindle apps. Your book on the Kindle app will look and behave differently than it will on the iOS or PC apps. After we proofread a book on a Kindle, if an author requests it, we can page through the book in the various apps to see if it is displaying properly in each evironment. Of course, you can use the Kindle Previewer for this purpose, and while it’s an excellent option, it’s more accurate to page through the book on some of the devices readers will be using.

This is how we use the Kindle at Beyond Paper. We’re always looking for new ways to use our Kindles. How are you using yours?

*Image by Windell Oskay

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How to Proofread on a Kindle: 8 Steps to Proofreading Your Ebook
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Use Send to Kindle to Read and Review your Personal Documents

S-to-K-Download

by Carla Douglas
@CarlaJDouglas

Do you use Amazon’s Send-to-Kindle feature to transfer personal documents to your Kindle or Kindle app? Yes, you can send your own documents – drafts, stories, reports, the options are endless, really – to your Kindle to read at your leisure. It beats reading from a laptop or having to print and manage a sheaf of papers.

When I first learned a couple of years ago that I could send my own Word documents to my Kindle I thought this was great – but then I sat down to figure out how to do it. It was a laborious process, and not especially user friendly or intuitive. It required a few steps, but eventually I installed a Windows plugin that allowed me to right-click on a Word file and send it directly to my Kindle.


I used this feature for a while, mostly to do manuscript evaluations. When I updated my version of Word, I forgot about it 
– until now.

Amazon has made getting the Send-to-Kindle option much easier, and there are now two ways to navigate it. Before you begin, be certain your Kindle is registered at Amazon, in your name.


1. Amazon assigns your Kindle, and all your registered devices, with a Kindle email address. You simply email your documents to this address, and voilà, they’re ready to read at your convenience. 

Here’s how:


Go to Amazon, sign in, and navigate to Manage Your Kindle.


Under Your Kindle Account select Personal Document Settings.

Under Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings you’ll see all your devices listed, each with its own Kindle email address:


The next step is dead easy. Simply email your document as an attachment to the Kindle address associated with the device you want to read it on. You can send a document to all your devices if you want.


2. Download and install the Send-to-Kindle plugin for your PC or Mac. 

Here’s how:

Go to the Amazon Send-to-Kindle page. This link is for PC, but there’s a Mac option on the same page.

Click the Download Now button, then click Install. Then click Finish, and you’re done. 

This procedure is so much easier than when I first installed this feature a few years ago. Before the installation is finished, you’ll be asked for your Amazon account email and password. Just enter the regular email address and password you use to log into Amazon, and then select Register. 

Finally, when you do go to use the Send-to-Kindle feature, be sure to right-click on a closed document. Here’s as screenshot of what you’ll see:

Select Send to Kindle, and your document will soon appear on your device. You’ll also have options about which devices (I always select all of them) you’d like your document to be sent to.

Why might you want to send your personal documents to your Kindle? Here are a few ways to use this feature. You’ll think of more, I’m sure. 

  • To read a manuscript for evaluation. Maybe you’re used to writing in the margins, but with the Kindle you can highlight key sections and make notes. Notes are saved and compiled, ready to retrieve later when you do a write-up.
  • If you’re in a writers’ group, people will frequently be emailing you drafts and iterations of their current work. The Kindle is a good place to collect these. Again, you can highlight them and make notes for retrieval later.
  • Someone has asked you to be a beta reader for their novel or other lengthy work. Or, you have asked others to beta read for you. You have the option to send your manuscript to their Kindle.
  • You’ve finished your own manuscript and want to do a read-through. Sending it to a new “environment” will help you to see your work with fresh eyes.
  • To check how your cover and other images will look before you finalize and publish them.

You can send the following file types: 
Microsoft Word (.DOC, .DOCX)
HTML (.HTML, .HTM)
RTF (.RTF)
JPEG (.JPEG, .JPG)
Kindle Format (.MOBI, .AZW)
GIF (.GIF)
PNG (.PNG)
BMP (.BMP)
PDF (.PDF)
 

I have used Send to Kindle to transfer both MS Word documents and PDFs to all of my devices. The PDFs read just fine, given the fixed format. But the Word docs transfer beautifully — they’re reflowable and without any obvious formatting glitches. 

Finally, you can highlight and make notes on these documents, just as you would on a Kindle book, and using this feature makes for a satisfying reading experience. A number of readers have asked about how to retrieve these highlights and notes – is the process the same as reading a Kindle book you’ve purchased or in Kindle Preview? The answer is no – at least not yet. Watch for a post soon about how to highlight and where to find your notes. Amazon is working all the time to improve the user experience.


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Free R&D for Authors

microscope

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

In an interview with Len Edgerly, creator of the Kindle Chronicles podcast, author Scott Stratten suggests that authors who publish on Amazon are not making use of the “free R&D” available through the Kindle platform.

Free R&D? Where do I sign up?

Authors know that in order to succeed in self-publishing, they need to create connections with their readers. The point of creating these connections is to understand your readership. If you know who your readers are, you’ll know better how and what to write for them.

And that’s where that bit of free R&D comes in.

Do you ever use the highlights feature while reading an ebook on a Kindle or with a Kindle app? It’s great, isn’t it? You can highlight a passage, a beautiful turn of phrase, or even a part you’d like to remember or go back to, and the Kindle universe will store those highlights for you. You can then access them from your e-reader with one tap if you want to see them all in one place.

Highlight feature on Kindle for PC

You will also find these highlights in your kindle.amazon.com account.

Amazon highlights aren’t just for readers. Authors can also access them,too. Did you get that? As an author, you can see what parts of your book your readers are highlighting. Amazon only displays “popular highlights”— highlights created by three or more readers. You can see an example here. You won’t always know who highlighted the passage, though.

If readers have made their notes public (readers need to turn on this setting in the Your Books section of their Kindle accounts), authors can have access to that information, too.

Does this make you nervous as a reader? A discussion for another time, perhaps. For now, you can see Amazon’s FAQs to see how they handle reader notes and highlights.

If you take the time to analyze your readers’ notes and highlights, you’ll have a view into what resonates with them. And the cost? A bit of your time.

Are you making use of Amazon’s notes and highlights features for R&D? If you are, tell us about it.

And now you have two uses for Amazon’s note and highlights features. Remember, you can also use notes and highlights to help you proofread your book before you hit Publish.

Image by ardlefin.

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10 Last-Minute Publishing Tasks Every Author Should Know About

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by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter
Updated February 2014

PB069693
Image by cumi&ciki (CC BY 2.0)

You’ve finished your book. Congratulations! Perhaps you’ve even had the foresight to hire or acquire a copyeditor to check your book for accuracy (grammatical and otherwise), consistency, clarity and typos. It’s time to hit Publish and uncork that bottle of champagne, right?

Um… maybe not yet. (Sorry).

If your manuscript still lives in Microsoft Word, there’s a lot you need to do to your manuscript and outside of your manuscript before you hit Publish. I know, right? No one ever tells you this. And like a really punishing fitness class with a sadistic instructor, when you think you have one more set to grunt your way through, you discover you actually have ten. (Kill me now.)

Because I’m not a sadistic sort of instructor, I’ll list for you the ten sets you need to complete before you hit Publish. Put that bottle of champagne back in the fridge (it’ll keep), grab some water and remember to breathe. Knowing what in you’re in for will help to alleviate the stress you will feel around those last-minute publishing tasks.

1. Decide how you’d like to publish your book. Do you know your publishing options? Will you produce an ebook? A print book? Both? You’ll need to know something about your potential readership to make this decision. If your readers are not likely to own an e-reader, you may consider using a print-on-demand (POD) service like CreateSpace so that you can make print books available to them.

You’ll also need to consider the kind of book you’ve written. Some kinds of books work better as print books, while others work nicely in print and ebook formats. 
Also, think about what you can do to help book sales. If you’re a healthcare professional who has just written a book on seasonal affective disorder, you might want to have print copies on hand to make available to people you interact with you on a daily basis.
2. Decide where you’d like to sell your book. If you’ve chosen to produce an ebook, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to make it available on one of the many ebook retail sites: Kindle, Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press (Barnes & Noble), Smashwords, Lulu, Bookbaby, and the list goes on. Each ebook distributor has specific ebook file requirements (epub, mobi, PDF), so it makes sense to decide who you’d like go with at the outset. Print options include CreateSpace, Lightning Source, and Lulu, among others.
3. Format your book for your distributor. Each ebook distributor and POD service has specific requirements for submitting files to their service (see our Amazon cheat sheet and the Lulu cheat sheet for details). You’ll need to format your Word file to those specifications. So, for example, if you’re submitting your book to CreateSpace for printing, you’ll need to submit a PDF, and if you’re submitting an ebook file to Kobo, you’ll need to figure out how to get your Word doc into the epub file format that Kobo accepts. 
I’ve written a few tutorials on how to get your book from Word to epup using Sigil, a free epub editor. Jutoh can help you create epubs and mobi files with relative ease. Joel Friedlander and Tracy R. Atkins have created book design templates that can help you create beautiful print and ebook interiors. If that’s too techy for you, you can hire an ebook serviceformatter or book designer to do some or all of the formatting for you.
4. Create a book cover. A good cover looks professional and is legible as a thumbnail. If you can manage to create a professional cover within these parameters on your own, go for it. If you need help, consider following Derek Murphy’s (Microsoft Word) or Aubrey Watt’s (GIMP) cover design tutorials, using cover templates from Creativindie, or hiring a cover designer to help you with this process.

5. Finalize your book title. There is a lot to consider in creating a good book title. In short, readers should be able to tell what your book is about by reading your title (and gleaning clues from your cover design) and your title ideally needs to contain keywords that will make your book discoverable by your readers.
6. Promote your book. That’s right  before you hit Publish, heck, two months before launch day, you need to promote your book. If you have an author platform, like a blog or a website, post your final cover (with your final book title) so your readers can begin to get excited about it. They’ll also know what they’re looking for when they go online to purchase a copy.  
Blog about topics related to your book to build anticipation. For example, if you’ve written a cookbook, blog about special ingredients you like to use in the recipes in your cookbook. Offer a sample recipe for prospective readers to try and comment on. Discuss special cooking techniques. If readers like what they see on your author platform, they will be more likely to buy your book.
7. Build your book page. If you’ve decided which book distributor you’re going to go with, you need to create a book page for each distributor’s website so readers can get a sense of what your book is about. By way of example, here’s our book page on Smashwords, and again on CreateSpace for one of our books. Building a book page requires you to write a book description. There are lots of opinions on how best to do this, but in the end, your goal is to write a book description that will match what your prospective readership is looking for. 
8. Build your author page. Distributors, like Amazon and Smashwords, will sometimes give you an opportunity to build an author page (here’s mine on Smashwords) that links to your book page. Consider putting some time into building your author page. Readers will sometimes buy a book because they like the author.
9. Upload and check your book. You’re nearly there when you upload your book to your chosen distributor. But before you hit Publish, be sure to proofread your book in its final environment (on an e-reader or in print). You can proofread your book using this proofreading checklist, or you can hire a proofreader (yup, that’s us!) to do it for you. Whatever you do, don’t skip the proofreading step. Your readers are worth that last push of effort.

10. Choose key words for your book. There is an art and a science to choosing keywords for your book so readers can find it with a Google search or on a distributor’s website. This post by David Woghan explains what you need to consider.

And *now* you can hit Publish  and grab that bottle of champagne. It should be nicely chilled by now.
What else should be on this last-minute task checklist? Feel free to comment.

From Manuscript to Published: 8 Steps to Publishing Your eBook

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The Kindle Reader (A Young Girl Seated), after Renoir
Image by Mike Licht (CC BY 2.0)
by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

Have you noticed? It’s getting easier for authors to publish ebooks on their own. 

In a context where publishing experts continue to insist that you need to hire a professional for everything from formatting to cover design, is DIY even possible? 
Yes it is. Book distributors like Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu are trying their best to make the process of getting a manuscript from a word processing program to an ebook as simple as possible.

In fact, Amazon has most recently attempted to demystify cover design for authors, with their new cover creator. That’s right: distributors are creating free tools with authors in mind and it’s in their best interest to continue to do so.

If you’re self-publishing, you’ll be most successful if you model your steps after the tried-and-true steps used in the book publishing industry. Here’s how the ebook production process generally works:
  1. Write your manuscript in your word processing software. 
  2. Edit your work or hire someone to edit it for you.
  3. Clean up your manuscript in your word processing software by getting rid of any “typewriter formatting.”
  4. Upload your manuscript to your chosen distributor using their online conversion software, ensuring that you’re following their formatting guidelines (Smashwords, Amazon, Lulu). This is important because every distributor’s conversion software has its quirks. Remember, you can take the easy road: if a distributor allows you to upload a doc file, do that, unless you’re a tech wizard and know how to hand code an ebook (then do that).
  5. Proofread the converted ebook file and make any changes in your word processing document. You can also hire a professional proofreader for this step. Upload your corrected manuscript.
  6. Create a cover. Consider checking out Amazon’s new cover creator, so you know what’s involved in designing a cover, or if designing is not your forté, hire someone to do it for you. 
  7. Fill out your metadata so readers can find your book, and write a book description that will compel them to read it.
  8. Click on publish (and throw a party).
Over the next month or two, I’ll unpack these steps for you. For now, click on the links in each step to get a sense of what each step entails. Sure, publishing a book is a learning curvebut you just wrote a book. That’s a huge accomplishment. If you can write a book, you can publish one.

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Publishing Options for Authors

Publishing Options for Authors

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Emerald Cantonese Restaurant (former King George V pub), Bristol Road South, Longbridge - Buffet Entrance
Image by ell brown (CC BY 2.0)

by Corina Koch MacLeod
@CKmacleodwriter

There’s never been a better time to be an authorso say key players in the publishing field. Here is their advice to authors of all stripesindies/selfpubs, traditionally published and hybrids:

1. There are lots of options for getting books to readers:

  • Find an agent who can sell your book to a publisher.
  • Create a PDF of your book and sell it on your website.
  • Self-publish an ebook through online bookstores, like Kindle Publishing, Barnes & Noble PubIt!, Apple iBooks Author and Kobo Writing Life, using the author tools offered at these sites.
  • Submit your book to a distributor like Smashwords, so your book is available in every possible e-reading format.
  • Self-publish a print book using print-on-demand (POD) services like CreateSpace and Lightning Source.
  • Publish your book through book services like Lulu and Bookbaby: they offer packages that can take care of some of the practical aspects of book production, such as cover design. 
  • Crowdsource your book through sites like Wattpad. Crowdsourcing invites audience participation and can help you to determine your book’s readership.
  • Crowdfund your book through sites like Pubslush or the Redhat Project. Producing a book costs money. People who believe in your book idea may invest in it by making a donation. Donations can be used to pay for the productionediting costs, interior design and cover designof your book. Crowdfunding sites can also help you determine if your book is salable.
2. You don’t have to do it all.

Tim Sanders, CEO of Netminds, says that “the word ‘indie’ is a misnomer.” While you certainly can do everything on your own, that might not be the best use of your strengths, or time. What makes a quality bookgood writing, an error-free text, good interior design or formatting, a decent coverhasn’t changed with the ebook revolution. Your readers still expect a professional, quality product.

Can you execute all of the required book elements to professional standards? Perhaps. But it’s okay if you can’t. Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with those authors who have found a way to craft a professional product on their own or with the help of others. Be honest with yourself and consider hiring out for those aspects of book publishing that aren’t your strong suit. 

3. Work to your strengths.

In the new publishing climate, authors are responsible for self-promotion and marketing. And there are lots of ways to get the word out: tweeting, blogging, curating, status updates, podcasting, speaking engagements, videocasts, teaching, pinning, and the list goes on. But it’s not possible to do it all if you want time to write your next book. It’s better to be strategic. Who is your audience? How will you reach them? Pick the social media platform that resonates with your audience and energizes you. Finding that sweet spot is time well spent.

4. You owe it to yourself to be an expert in the publishing field.

The publishing field is in flux at the moment. Changes occur from week to week. To stay in the game, keep yourself informed. Below are a few resources that will help you keep a pulse on all things publishing:

Digital Book World
Ebook Ninjas (podcast and links)
Shelf Awareness

Publisher’s Lunch

Publishing Trends
Publish Your Own Ebooks, by Gary McLaren

Perhaps you have a few favourite book publishing sites. Feel free to post them in the Comments section below.

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Free Editing Options for Self-Pubs

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crowd surfer
Image by Photos by Mavis (CC BY 2.0)

by Corina Koch Macleod
@CKmacleodwriter

You want people to buy your book, right? To give your book a fighting chance, you need to ensure that it’s as error-free as possible. To accomplish that, you need to put your professional foot forward and make editing part of your publishing process.

You have many options when it comes to editing your book. I’ve listed them below, from the least expensive to the most expensive:

DIY: Put it on Ice
After you write your book, set it aside for at least week, though a month or two would be better. (If you’re writing a short article to a deadline, set it aside for twenty-four hours.) Then approach it again with fresh eyes. The more time you leave between writing and editing, the more objectively you’ll approach the editing process. Why? If you’re still feeling the muscle aches from that sentence you laboured over yesterday, you’ll be less likely to excise that sentence today. Give some time for the labour pains to subside, and then take Faulkner’s advice and “kill your darlings.”

Cost: Time

Participate in a Writing Group
Some authors swear by writing groups. It’s never a bad idea to put your writing in front of those who understand what writing entails. In writing groups, writers get together to read excerpts from works in progress (WIP), and members of the group offer feedback. Writing groups can work particularly well at the developmental stages of writing — when you’re still working on ideas, plot, characters, and other big picture items. Members of writing groups may also offer to proofread manuscripts that are nearly ready for publication. Don’t have a local writing group? Consider joining a virtual group, like Grub Street.

Cost: Volunteer time – $65

Crowdsource Your Book
Another way to edit your book is to put it front of people. Lots of people. In fact, it’s a great idea to get it front of people while it’s still a WIP. There’s nothing worse than hearing about plot holes when you thought your book was a fait accompli. There are lots of ways to get your book in front of a crowd. You can work your social media networks and send out free copies of your draft for review, or you can post your WIP to a crowdsourcing website like Wattpad:

You can also consider crowdfunding options, like Pubslush or the Redhat Project, which invite donors to fund your writing project. According to Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch, authors of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book, a professionally executed self-published book costs, on average, $4,000 to produce when you factor in cover design and editorial services. That’s right: producing a book  through traditional or self-published means  costs money, and if people believe in your book idea, they may help you offset some of those costs.

Cost: Time

Hire an Editor
You knew I was going to suggest this option, right? Many editors are trained to look for clarity and spot inconsistencies in a piece of writing. They read style guides for fun, and they get giddy about words, grammar, and usage rules in ways that the average author does not. They are experts at removing anything that will distract a reader from enjoying your book.

But that’s not all. Many of my editing colleagues wish that authors would contact them for a book, or manuscript evaluation, at the beginning stage of their book project, so that they can point out big picture issues that will create a lot of rewrites later. As an author, I can’t think of anything more disheartening than hiring an editor for a proofread, only to hear that your book has structural problems that a proofread cannot possibly fix. Besides, a manuscript evaluation is much cheaper than a structural edit  which is the kind of editing you’d need to fix the structural issues in your book.

Cost: $30+/ hour, depending on the kind of editing required. Some copyeditors charge a per-page rate, but at Beyond Paper, we think authors should have more say in the elements we address.

Your options for editing are many, so there’s no excuse to publish a book without polishing it first.

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