The Telemachus Press Blog

08

Professionally Publish Your Book…NOW!

The End, those two words that give every author a sense of relief, accomplishment and an opportunity to relax—not so fast.

There are at least three universal truths about becoming a successful author:

·      Writing a book is hard.

·      Getting the book published is harder.

·      Telling the world about your book is the hardest.

Fortunately you can do much of the work yourself and if you don’t have the time or skills required, there is professional help available for every step of the way.

As a partner in a successful publishing/author services company, I speak with authors every day. Most authors tell me that their story had been rattling around in their head for many years before they actually found the time to write it down. Once their story was out, they felt a sense of relief. The pain and agony of “giving birth” to their book was over and they were ready to sit back and review offers from all of the agents and publishers they contacted. But for most authors, those offers never came and the harsh reality of how difficult it is to break into the world of traditional publishing began to set in.

“It’s not your book that’s the problem…it's the system.”

Book agents receive numerous manuscripts every month and must sort through them based on several filters they have established for themselves. The rejection of your book isn’t necessarily a personal comment from their perspective. It is simply a business decision. They can only process so many books and they must select those that best meet their “formula for success.” Unfortunately based on their initial review, your book apparently didn’t meet those criteria. The problem is not necessarily your book. It may be ready for publishing. The problem is that the system is letting you down. Your thoughts now turn to self-publishing.

While some (usually those within the traditional publishing industry) continue to feel self-publishing is a less than desirable way to publish, nothing could be farther from the truth. Self-publishing has many advantages:

·      Make more money per book.

·      Opportunity to establish a track record of sales.

·      Better control over your book (pre- and post-publishing).

But like anything that is worth doing, it takes hard work…lots of it.

“Reader’s expect a professional presentation of your work.”

I doubt that the book-consuming public cares or knows who published your book. Quality of the writing, reviews/recommendations, book synopsis, cover (yes, I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but it happens), price/value and familiarity with the author are factors that I consider when purchasing a book. The publisher’s name is not really on my list.

Readers do, however, expect to see a professional presentation of your work. That's where following these best practices come into focus.

1.     Have your manuscript edited by a professional.

2.     Arm yourselves with the right tools to do the complete job.

3.     Choose your publishing partners wisely.

 “If you start with a better manuscript,

you will end with a better book.”

1. Professional editing is critical.

If you start the publishing process with a better manuscript, you will end with a better book. But it is difficult (or impossible) to edit your own work. Editing is hard work, takes time and requires specialized skills.  If you are not paying editors for their services, they may not be as diligent as necessary in their review of your manuscript as you need them to be. Hire a professional editor, verify their credentials and ask for samples of their work. They should welcome your participation and interaction in the process. It is your book; make sure it is edited according to your wishes along with commonly accepted standards for grammar, punctuation and clarity. Remember to specify if you are looking for content editing (story line, character development overall accuracy/consistency of events) or copy editing (grammar, punctuation and spelling).

“Acquire the tools and skills to do it right.”

2. Arm yourself with the proper tools.

Just like any project your undertake, if you want to do a professional job you must acquire the tools and skills to do it right. Fortunately the tools for publishing a book are not as extensive as the tools necessary for many other endeavors. Basically, you need a word processing software such as MS Word for simple documents or Adobe InDesign for more complicated manuscripts, a cover development tool such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator and for a truly professional look to your books, tools/ability to convert your finished manuscript into the popular eReader formats. With these tools, you can begin to format your book, design the cover and convert it into the formats for publishing.

Proper book interior formatting is critical. For eBooks, it is best to keep the formatting somewhat simple so that it converts properly and looks good on the maximum number of eReader devices. Stick to one font (like Times New Roman) and use Bolding, Italics and indentation (although it is best to limit indentation to a maximum .5) to show emphasis. Keep the font sizes between 10 pts. to 16 pts. and use MS Word’s Normal Style. Automatic bulleting and other styles can also cause problems with eBook conversions. If you want a special font or graphic element, convert those to images and insert them in the MS Word document.

For print book formats, you can use a variety of fonts, font sizes and images to achieve the desired look and feel. Be sure to leave sufficient space in the gutter so that all of the text can be easily read when the book is opened.

When designing the cover, be sure to use materials that you own or have been properly licensed for use in commercial ventures such as book publishing. Items taken from the Internet are not necessarily properly licensed for use in book publishing even if the are listed as “Royalty Free.” When in doubt, contact the site owner and get permission specifically for book publishing in all formats. It is best to stick to the established sites for images such as iStock Photo, ShutterStock or similar sites. While the licenses for images from these sites are not exclusive, often you can combine several images into a unique cover. Lastly, be sure to list these images on the copyright page according to the owner’s license agreement requirements.

3. Choose your publishing partner wisely.

There are many good options for publishing the print and eBook versions of your book. Creating publishing accounts on these sites is relatively easy and straightforward. And the best news is that they will pay you the full amount of the royalty due, directly to you. Here are the most popular but by no means the only options. Each site has features that may be a better fit with your particular needs so I encourage you to visit each site and conduct your own assessment.

CreateSpace – This is the Amazon-owned option for publishing your print book. They can publish your soft cover print books in all popular sizes, with a B&W or color interior and distribute them through Amazon.com and/or other retailers. CreateSpace does not currently offer hard cover books.

Lightning Source Inc. – This is the digital print division of Ingram Content Group. It has options for both soft and hard cover print books and eBooks, includes all popular book sizes and can print in B&W or has three options for color printing. Most authors will qualify for their Ingram Spark program that is specifically designed for smaller publishers.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – As its name says, this is the place to publish the Kindle version of your eBook for sale on Amazon. You can upload a formatted MS Word document or create your own mobi file for uploading (recommended).

Nook Press – The eBook publishing site for Barnes and Noble. You can upload a formatted MS Word document or an ePub file.

Apple iTunes Connect – The special site to publish eBooks directly on Apple iBooks through iTunes Producer and iTunes Connect. You can upload an ePub document to this site.

Smashwords – Not only a retailer of eBooks in a variety of formats, but Smashwords will also wholesale your eBook to other retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBook, Kobo, Baker and Taylor and several other retailers. This is a very simple way to get your eBooks on all sites without having to create accounts on each site.

“The cheapest option may not always be the best.”

If you elect to hire a professional to create the formatted interior files, create the interior and convert the eBook files, selection of the right partner is critical. A poor decision can significantly impact your ability to control your own destiny and may result in a less than acceptable look for your book. There are many options available for formatting, converting and publishing your book. And the cheapest option may not always be the best.

Here are my thoughts about selecting a qualified partner to perform these services:

·      Check credentials of the prospective partner looking not only at their relevant experience, reviewing their website and asking for samples of their work but also by calling references.

·      Have any agreements reviewed by a professional. Be sure the agreement specifies the exact type of services that will be performed and the fees for those services. Also ensure that you understand if the partner is performing “work for hire services” or if they will be retaining some portion of the rights and royalties to your manuscript—or possibly future works. Work for hire services mean that they are being paid to do work for you and that after completion, you own all the rights to the work.

·      Always ask the prospective partner one question, “Who pays the royalty to me?” If the publishing partner collects the royalties and then pays you, investigate further to determine the portion of your rights or royalties that they will be keeping. While there may be value in this type of relationship, be sure that the value is commensurate with the portion of your rights and royalties retained.

·      Choose a partner who allows you to actively participate in the process. This is your book and you should be actively involved in its creation. If you hire an editor (recommended), talk to the editor and help them understand your original intent. This will allow your editor to “get inside your head” and will assist them in making suggested changes. Work with the formatter to ensure the book interior has your desired look and feel.  And stay close to your cover designer so that the most important advertising piece for your book is created the way you envisioned it.

·      Be sure to let your partners do their work and listen to their advice.  If you have selected the right partners, they have done this before and will help you avoid some common mistakes.

Respectively submitted,

Steven Himes

Steven Himes is a principal in the innovative independent publishing and author services company, Telemachus Press. www.telemachuspress.com


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