Ask the Book Doctor: Self-Publishing and Editing?

Question: I plan to self publish my book. My book was written and designed and ready to go to a printer, but somebody warned me that it needed editing.  I sent it to an editor, but he said he can’t edit it when it’s already designed. Why not?

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Answer: A manuscript should always be edited before it is designed into book format, and the reasons are simple. If you plan to have the editor work on the hard-copy (i.e., printed-out version) of your manuscript, it has to be in standard manuscript format; that is, twelve-point Courier or Times New Roman type, double-spaced, with margins of at least an inch on all sides. This format is standard in the industry and gives the editor room to make the edits and suggestions. If the book is already designed, it won’t be in standard manuscript format; it will be in book format.

If you plan to have your editor work on your electronic file, the format won’t matter, but it must be in a word-processing document, not a design program or a PDF. Most editors are not designers and won’t possess the prowess to redesign your book after they’ve edited it. (What if they end up removing an entire paragraph, or an entire page? There goes your editing).  If it is in a PDF file, most editors cannot change those files electronically. Worst of all, even if the editor has the capability of opening the design program or manipulating a PDF (which some do), editing a book after it is designed will surely interfere with the design. After the file is edited you’ll have to return it to your designer to get it redesigned, anyway, and there will certainly be an additional charge for that service.

As you can see, it’s cheaper and easier to follow convention. After you have made all the revisions to your manuscript that you can make, get it professionally edited. After it is edited, reread the manuscript for a final proof before submitting it for publication.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com. This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor archives.

Self-Publishing News: 12.3.2019

December banner with fir branches.

Welcome to December!

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

While December is usually a slow news month in the world of publishing (both traditional and indie) as attention shifts to yearly book lists and awards nominations–as well as to busy personal lives as the holiday season reaches its frantic peak–we bring you this excellent article by way of ArtsHub, an Australia-based website dedicated to boosting the stories and voices of those in the arts, including the literary arts. The article, originally written for New Zealand’s The Big Idea by bestselling self-published author Steff Green under the title “Doing it for yourself,” might just be the most compelling rallying cry or self-publishing manifesto we’ve read this year. “In the beginning …” Green begins, “If you were an author who’d exhausted the options for having your book traditionally published, you only really had a few options left.” There were always a few small-scale operations that managed to just scrape by, but self-publishing only really took off as something attainable and sustainable with the rise of ebooks and dedicated e-readers (although we’ve largely moved beyond those, now, to reading on smartphones and regular tablets). And Green herself has benefited from those new opportunities. She writes:

I’ve been self-publishing my fiction since 2014. My first few fantasy books sold only a handful of copies every month, mainly because I didn’t know what I was doing. It wasn’t until I switched genres to paranormal romance and learned how to write for my readers that I started moving serious units. Now, I’m a bestselling author who gets to make up stories for a living, and it’s an amazing and humbling career.

With numerous books in her personal backlist and a more refined sense of what she wants to do next, Green’s experience serves as both a demonstration of what’s possible and an encouragement to keep choosing self-publishing over the traditional model; she crunches some of the numbers in this article, reminding readers that the royalties really are significantly better in the indie model. She also reminds readers that the world has changed, and for the better. “Self-publishing is no longer a dirty term,” she notes. “It’s a viable career option that’s giving back creative control to authors. To be successful, you have to know who your readers are, and give them more of what they want.” If you can do that more effectively through self-publishing, why not give it a try?

Green’s final words are also an invitation, and we can’t think of a better way to sign off today’s post than to repeat her words:

“Are you ready to join the self-publishing revolution?”


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 11.26.2019

november

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

We kick off this week’s news post with an article from Matia Madrona Query of Publisher’s Weekly, who covers the story of Adam Pelzman, an author whose first book was published traditionally but who has recently made the choice to go indie and self-publish his second. He felt comfortable self-publishing The Papaya King, his latest book, in large part because he’d already developed a healthy relationship with his local indie booksellers. As Query puts it, “Little is more validating for indie authors than seeing their books displayed prominently on bookstore shelves—but not too many bricks-and-mortar stores are willing to take a chance on unvetted authors.” The Wellington Square Bookshop may just show other bookstores a path forward towards better supporting their local indie authors; says Query, “The Exton, Pa., bookstore has a section devoted solely to indie authors, runs writing workshops for aspiring writers, and even selects indie books for the store’s book clubs.” Owner Sam Hankin makes real space in his own life to support the project as well, by reading their books and organizing events for the authors at his store. As Query puts it, “Hankin focuses on a work’s exceptional qualities and merit rather than its publishing platform, and he frequently carries promising indie books to other area bookstores—as he has done with The Papaya King. ‘If I think this should belong to the world, it’s worth sending it into the world,’ Hankin says.” Pelzman’s success, and Hankin’s passion, make Query’s story an inspiring read and well worth your time.

Pat Pattison, an executive coach and author working on a book about creative re-invention, brings us this lovely article by way of Next Avenue. He profiles self-publishing senior Patricia Jacobson, who first started her novel Fern in 1986, and uses her story to lay out five steps to successfully self-publishing—and redefining what success means. His suggestions include seeking out editorial insight, doing one’s due diligence on researching self-publishing companies (that may or may not offer editorial services), and ensuring that one’s book is properly formatted before being distributed for sale in print or digital formats. He also tackles the thorny issue of pricing, and sorting out pricing outside of the traditional publishing standards. More than anything, he suggests looking beyond the money for one’s incentive to self-publish. As he puts it, turning a profit isn’t always the ultimate goal. Jacobson herself is a great example of someone who found the process its own kind of reward; she says “‘At eighty-seven, I really wanted to see Fern in book form, so I could share it with family and friends. When I first saw the final product with its classy cover and perfect size, I burst into tears!'” And if that’s not the heart-warming story you needed this holiday season, we don’t know what is!

If you need a little encouragement, Montclair Local contributor Melissa Sullivan has just the thing. While attending the annual Bucks County Book Festival this year, she found herself inspired by the story of Judith Leyster, a Seventeenth-Century Dutch artist who became something of an icon of successful self-promotion to Sullivan as a result of the fearless face she showed the world. As an author who needed a bit of encouragement herself to distribute promotional materials (specifically, bookmarks), Sullivan knew she needed to put herself out there as well. As Sullivan puts it, “often self-promotion can be the hardest part of our job as an artist.” This is because, she goes on to note,

We are used to working by ourselves, doubting if what we are doing is any good. And then, when we are finally successful and have our work out there in the world, we have to start telling people about it, in the hopes that maybe they might want to read it.
This can all be excruciatingly painful if you are bent towards introversion, as many artists are. But even if you are an extrovert, as I am under normal non-writer circumstances, this need to self-promote can still feel like you are swimming through molasses, dragging yourself to the ultimate point of pushing your work on some stranger.

It’s hard work, but it’s necessary too. And if Leyster could do it, and if Sullivan could do it, you too can find a way. We believe in you!


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Publishing News: 11.19.2019

november

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

The news we first covered last week about the continued rise of self-publishing is still making waves around the Internet. This week, the science fiction and fantasy site Locus uploaded their own coverage of Bowker’s exciting report, an exciting development since science fiction and fantasy make up one of the top genres in respect to both publishing and reading. We look forward to seeing what current and future authors of SFF do with this information!

This week, Jonathan Giammaria of the McGill Tribune covered the happenings at Expozine 2019 in Montreal, Canada–an event which drew over 15,000 visitors this year. Writes Giammaria, “Zines have often been associated with fringe issues, speaking for and about marginalized people and providing a platform for countercultural ideas and movements. Since zines have often had small circulations due to their DIY nature, their distribution has generally remained within the communities that produced them.” There, are, understandably, many connections between zine culture and the world of independent and self-publishing industries. And at Expozine, “In contrast to mainstream conventions like the upcoming Salon du livre de Montréal, […] value comes from showcasing a variety of artists whose eclectic niches might otherwise be overlooked.” This is a sentiment most self-published authors know very well indeed, and we’ll be keeping our eye(s) on Expozine in the future as another place to showcase our niche stories.

Are we, or are we not, living in the end times of traditionally published media? Dave Winterlich, chief strategy officer with Dentsu Aegis Ireland, thinks we just might be … at least, we might be if traditional media doesn’t take a long and hard look at its underlying principles. This week, Winterlich wrote for the Irish Times website that the combination of free content and the migration of advertising revenue into a digital space dovetailed with a loss of purpose within the industry itself to create a kind of crisis. (At least, it’s a crisis if you don’t buy into self-publishing.) But it doesn’t have to end there, writes Winterlich: “Traditional publishers can continue to run quality paid newsrooms while still providing a platform extension for self-publishing.” We’ve already seen how fluid the boundary between traditional media and independent publishing can be, with authors creating their own individualized approaches based on services available and their personal needs. Radio and the gaming industry have begun to experiment with self-publishing, and comics have been working in this liminal space for decades. We hope that Winterlich revisits the idea in future articles, and delves a bit deeper into what this new both/and modality might look like.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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In Your Corner: At the #NaNoWriMo Midway Point!

First of all, if you’ve made it this far and are still achieving your 2019 NaNoWriMo goals, whether they’re the traditional 1,667 word per day or something else–all projects are valid and celebrated!–congratulations!! It’s an accomplishment simply to get anything done, and you deserve to feel affirmed for the important work that you are doing. Well done!

nanowrimo

Now that you’re halfway through the month, the true doldrums of NaNoWriMo, you’re no doubt facing the universal challenges all writers face, only condensed down into a two-week span: the hard slog of keeping on keeping on even when the finish line isn’t quite in sight yet, tying together plot threads that are doing their absolute best to defy your control, and (depending on whether you draft consecutive chapters consecutively or jump around) writing those final and all-important moments of drama leading to the climax and denouement of the book’s action (if it’s fiction).

If you’re writing poetry or memoir or any number of other genres, you face a slight variation on these problems; just as with fiction, poetry and other genres still need to build toward some sort of emotional beat, and identifying the heart of a book that isn’t fiction can often be a challenge. Memoirists often decide upon what scene from life will serve as their crux in advance, but since many people (pantsers like me) get underway without a lot of preparation, one of the key challenges for Wrimos is developing the book’s structure after the fact (or partially after the fact). This is much easier to do at the midway point than at the end, which is why I mention it now. Unfortunately, it’s not always a lot of fun to do, so doing so can contribute to the general misery of the mid-month doldrums.

Giving you an itemized list of suggestions for what to do runs somewhat against the spirit of NaNoWriMo–remember, you’re not supposed to edit yourself as you write this month, in the interest of generating as much raw material as possible toward your final manuscript–so I’m going to keep my advice simple:

  • Spending the first five minutes of each day’s writing session thinking about the emotional heart of your book–before you set your pen to paper!–may just be the best possible service you can do your manuscript just now. In a separate document or on a scratch piece of paper, consider jotting down whatever comes to mind, whether it’s snatches of dialogue you want to include or descriptive words that evoke the feelings you want to inspire, and tape that up somewhere near your computer (or keep the document open in the background, if it’s digital).
  • Remember to write for yourself first and your ideal audience second. If you’re prone to obsessing over what your readers will think or need, as I am, this can totally paralyze your writing process and keep you from doing the necessary free-flowing writing exercises that are needed to reach your word goal for the month. The time to worry about other people is December, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. Although if it helps you focus to get those thoughts down on paper and out of your head, consider jotting them down the same way you would material in the previous point (see above).
  • Clear your mind of all the things other people have told you makes for good writing or the “right approach” unless you immediately are 100% convinced that it is actively helping you write. We all love Stephen King and Margaret Atwood and all of the other authors who’ve put out “how to write [x]” books, but sometimes we get so caught up thinking about how other people think we should be writing that we freeze. Or at least, I do. The fact of the matter is, you will have your own “right approach” that is specific to you, and you don’t need to worry about anything else right now than what feeds your work and your heart as you write.

That’s it! That’s my advice for the coming weeks of NaNoWriMo! As always, I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your projects!

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 11.12.2019

november

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

The biggest news in self-publishing this week comes from The Good Men Project (again! We’re so excited about their new focus on self-publishing, as evidenced by multiple recent related articles on the subject). Contributor Rose Ernst put together this list of, you guessed it, twenty-nine must-listen podcast episodes on the subject of self-publishing. Writes Ernst, “My life changed when I discovered independent publishing in December 2017. Since then, I’ve published seven mysteries, one non-fiction book, and have two more in the pipeline. I’ve sold over 5,500 copies and given away 40,000. And I owe it all to Joanna Penn. The host of the Creative Penn Podcast.”

Chances are, if you’ve spent much time around both self-publishing and podcasts, you will already have heard of the Creative Penn. But if you haven’t listened to the show before, it can feel incredibly daunting to figure out where to start with Penn’s enormous backlist of episodes. And that’s where Ernst’s list comes in really useful, providing as it does a list of recommendations not just for several must-not-miss Creative Penn episodes but also recommendations for where to start when digging into The Author Biz, Rocking Self-Publishing, the Self-Publishing Roundtable, How Do You Write, and numerous other amazing podcasts. This list is absolutely critical guidance for anyone interested in self-publishing, period! We are so grateful to Ernst for taking the time to put together such a thoughtfully curated selection of episodes (all of which are hyperlinked for easy listening, another bonus!).


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Ask the Book Doctor: Are Book Titles Protected by Copyright?

Q: I’m considering a title for my novel that is already being used on another book. Can titles by copyrighted?

A: Titles are not eligible for protection under current copyright law (a search on Amazon will often reveal many different books all sharing the same title).  However, titles can be trademarked if used to cover more than one item in a series, such as a cluster of seminars based on a book of the same name. Or try self-publishing a book with “Harry Potter” in the title and get ready to hear from some lawyers.

<Image of Harry Potter not shown below, due to copyright…>

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While you can legally use a  book title that has been used by someone else, a better idea is to change the title and make it different, so people who search for your title will find only your book, and not others.  This is your chance to come up with something memorable and unique, and you’d be a muggle if you didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com. This article republished from the Self Publishing Advisor Archives.