From the Archives: “How Much Do Illustrations Cost?”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: April 16th, 2012 ]

Like ghost writing or copyediting, illustrations take time and require a great deal of skill and talent. It is important to remember that illustrators must be paid fairly for their time and expertise. The price for illustrations can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It depends on the size and complexity of your project. When considering illustrations, it is important to do some research, figure out your goals, and create a budget. Once you know your expectations, you’ll want to find an illustrator who meshes with your style. To do this, find out if your self publishing company offers illustration services and get a quote. You can also look at sites such as guru.com or elance.com to find a freelance illustrator. Be sure to always look at sample work before choosing an illustrator. There are many different styles, and you want to find an artist who matches your vision.

For more information on illustrations, check out these articles.

The Importance of Illustrations

What You Need to Know About Custom Covers

Illustrations Affect the Success of You Children’s Book

– by Cheri Breeding

I love Cheri’s post from 2012 in part because she has such a legacy on this blog of creating a space for illustration and fine art in the context of self-publishing.  Her attitude is not all that common!  Like many contractors with carefully curated skill sets, illustrators often struggle to make ends meet as well as earn the respect they deserve for a lifetime of work.  Why is this?  In part, it’s because illustrators often do not own the rights to the work that others commission, or pay for.  This depends on what contract they sign with the commissioner, of course, but self-publishing authors know all about what it’s like to sign away rights to something, and thereby lose access to future profits.  Illustrators also often struggle because making art for someone else just doesn’t have the social cachet or respect as making art for the sake of art.

The world can be an very unfair place.  But you don’t have to be!

To expand a little upon what Cheri rightfully included in her original post, I thought I’d provide a couple of resources to get you started calculating hard numbers–actual figures to pay any illustrator you hire.  And I won’t lie: good art doesn’t come cheap.  In fact, if you’re hiring someone and they’re not asking for much, you should always go back and re-read the fine print.  They may just be young illustrators starting out and looking to build their portfolios, or otherwise inexperienced in the market, or something more sinister.  It’s worth checking.

The first step is finding the illustrator whose art you like, right?  Between the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (very respectable, high-end) and DeviantArt (a real mix of experienced and inexperienced illustrators) it’s fairly easy to find what you need.  If you’re still feeling a bit lost, this article from The Creative Penn provides a handy launchpad for further illustrator-sleuthing.

The second step is negotiating a commission fee and contract.  I find it’s most helpful to start from the same materials that illustrators are using to determine their requested charges, and this article from the Business of Illustration blog is one that my illustrator friends keep pointing me to.  It is thorough, and allows for multiple different scenarios.  Illustrators Online provides a handy chart to start your rough calculations–another excellent resource.  And Elizabeth O. Dulemba provides a list of questions to ask before hiring an illustrator, specifically geared towards authors.

Last but not least, it’s worth keeping bundles in mind.  I mean the service bundles provided by hybrid or self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press, which provides options for a custom-designed book cover as well as full-color illustrations.  If you’re already looking for an avenue to self-publish your book, keep an eye out for deals and price specials amongst these bundles–it’s a great way to save money and let someone else manage the fiddly bits.

No matter which option you choose, do your own calculations.  Price check your illustrators!  And most importantly of all, get in direct contact with every contractor who is going to design material for your book.  The more an illustrator knows your mind, the more quickly and easily he or she will be able to create artwork that meets or even exceeds your expectations!

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

 


 

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “Espresso Book Machine”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: January 31st, 2012 ]

The Espresso Book Machine® (the “EBM”), which Time Magazine named an “Invention of the Year,” provides a revolutionary direct-to-consumer distribution model for books. Put simply, the EBM is an automated book-making machine. The operator selects a title to print, and within a few minutes a book emerges, with a full-color cover, trimmed to an exact size, and indistinguishable from the publisher’s version. As we say, “Hot off the press!”

Currently, Espresso Book Machines have been set-up in select universities and libraries including:

  • New York Public Library
  • University of Michigan Library
  • World Bank InfoShop, Washington
  • New Orleans Public Library
  • San Francisco Internet Archive
  • Manchester Center Northshire Bookstore
  • University of Alberta
  • McMaster University Bookstore
  • London Newsstand UK
  • Library of Alexandria, Egypt
  • Melbourne, Australia Angus & Robertson Bookstore

New locations are constantly being added. The EBM is a great opportunity for self-published authors. Some self-publishing companies, such as Outskirts Press, offer this marketing option. By purchasing this option, your book will be available to be ordered, printed, and sold at every current and future Espresso Book Machine location. To learn more about this option, contact your self-publishing company.

– by Cheri Breeding

It’s been rather a long time since we’ve touched on the subject of the Espresso Book Machine here at Self Publishing Advisor, despite the fact that the above post from 2012 remains one of our most popular posts of all time.  What is it about this machine––what’s the big deal?  And more importantly, is it delivering upon its promise as a revolution for the self-publishing print-on-demand (POD) business?

espresso book machine
photo by Chuck Zovko of Columbia College Today

There’s a long and a short answer to both of these questions, of course.  The EBM is not just a pretty gadget that happens to churn out new books as quickly as the average human takes to brew an espresso; it’s a gadget that has the potential to close the last leg of the loop and put full creative (and financial) rights into the hands of those who have historically been excluded from the publishing process.  I’m speaking of the author.  While its many bells and whistles are nice features––like the database of rare or out-of-print books you can resurrect in all their original glory––the real appeal of the EBM is that it literally as well as physically puts a high-quality printed book in your hand in around seven minutes.  For the average self-publishing author, the experience of holding and experiencing the weight of all those sleepless nights and odd hours writing is simply unattainable––that is, without a service like the EBM making a limited run financially manageable.  Holding a clean and professional copy of your baby is a reward in and of itself, and the expediency for which the EBM is renowned makes it easy to share the joy of your book.  That’s the magic of the Espresso Book Machine!

espresso book machine
photo by the University of Arizona

As for the EBM’s outlook and longevity, the news seems to be good.  The machines aren’t available “just anywhere” yet, but they’re becoming less of a trial to find.  I recently had the pleasure of witnessing an EBM at work in the University of Arizona’s library, where undergraduates printed out copies of research-related texts, graduates printed out beautiful bound editions of their thesis projects, and professors printed out volumes of their own masterworks-in-progress.

Members of the public, too, have made the UofA’s EBM a popular destination––and it’s not just an Arizonan phenomenon!  According to Canada’s The Windsor Starthe Windsor Public Library’s EBM alone produced “10,699 books” between 2012 and July 2015, when the article was published.  Says librarian Sue Perry, the EBM’s installation “led to the birth of a writer’s group and gave people a way to publish their work even if they only want one book.” Now that’s quite a testimonial.

According to WorldCrunch, the EBM and its competitors are on track to “save” the print publishing industry.  At the Paris Book Fair, the CEO of the EBM’s main shareholder (reinsurance company SCOR) went on the record to say that the Espresso Book Machine and those who use it “will be the invisible hand that will adjust the market,” eliminating what he called “economies of scale” by making it possible to print either 1 copy of a book or 1000 without the gymnastics of traditional publishing arrangements.  WordCrunch goes on to note that, a decade after stealing the limelight of both tech and print-on-demand industries, the Espresso Book Machine is still “experimental but game-changing.”  And that’s about as good of news as one might hope for!

We look forward to seeing what 2016 holds for the Espresso Book Machine.

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

From the Archives: “There’s a Problem with Your Book”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: March 1st, 2011 ]

Your book published. Your family and friends have bought it. You’re excited…until they call you to tell you there were so many grammatical errors in the book that it was difficult to finish reading. “Oh no, I should have paid for copyediting”. Now you run the risk of “looking” unprofessional in the author community.

Too often authors are faced with the decision to either save their pennies or invest in editing services. They decide to bypass the editing. Fast forward to publication and many authors wish they would have made the extra investment. Even if you have gone through your manuscript with a fine tooth comb and had friends or family look it over, you’re almost guaranteed to find mistakes at publication. As a matter of fact, when you pay for professional copyediting services, the editor normally still has a 5% margin for error. With that margin of error from fresh and professionally trained eyes, imagine the level of error from amateur and familiar eyes.

When asked what they would have done differently when self-publishing their book, most authors agree they would have invested more money into professional copyediting and customizing their book cover.

So, I’m sold on the need for copyediting service, what do I need to know about working with an editor? Here are a few tips/things to keep in mind when you hire an editor:

  • Proofread and spell-check your work before sending it to an editor.
  • Remember that Editors are human and many work with about a 5% margin of error.
  • There are different levels of editing intensity: basic, moderate, and extensive.
  • Basic copyediting typically catches about 70% of errors in a manuscript.
  • As a self-publishing author, don’t focus on what the editor didn’t find, but rather what WAS found.
  • Review your manuscript again after you receive it from the editor to check for errors they may have missed.

If you want to be a successful author, it is important that you take the publishing process very seriously. That includes investing extra money into creating a polished product.

by Cheri Breeding

The topic of copyediting and the professional-grade book is not a new one to us here at Self-Publishing Advisor, but back in 2011 when Cheri first wrote her post it was not yet the standard by which most indie books were judged.  Since then, the industry has evolved, and we’ve written several times to try and sort out what copyediting might mean to the current aspiring self-publishing author.  (You can read those posts here and here.)

copyediting

Because we tackle this topic on a regular basis, it’s less helpful to rehash those posts than it is to do something a little different: I want to show you the difference between a professionally designed and copyedited book and one that hasn’t seen as much love and care put into its production.

Let’s start with covers.  To start, first let me say that it’s no exaggeration that there are two terribly designed self-published book covers out there for every good one.  All you have to do is look at the templates people are choosing from …

… to see why this is so easily and so often the case.  A professionally designed cover makes all the difference to your book’s impact on potential readers, and all the difference as to whether they actually choose to pay to purchase it.  Here are two neat examples of self-published books I’ve seen recently that I felt immediately drawn to for no other reason than the fact they are beautifully designed:

What I love most about these two examples is that they put the lie to any claim that genre fiction leans easily toward poor design.  Cazanav’s book is billed as paranormal fantasy, and Taylor’s as literary fiction––but if anything, Cazanav’s is sharper, more specific, and more revealing of the book’s content and tone.  That’s a good move!

So, let’s assume you’re sold on a professionally-designed cover.  What happens when you crack the spine and turn to the first page?  Does anything change?  Yes and no.  As Kyle Beshears writes on his blog, there’s real value to investing time and money into getting the exact design you want inside of your book as well as out.  Beshears chronicles his entire journey to self-publication, and points out that his choices––which always involved taking the cheapest option, even if it meant sacrificing untold hours of time and labor for his entire family––is not, in the end, a path worth following for many indie authors.

cover_comparison

Just getting the title page of his book to look the way he wanted (above, on the right) was a lengthy struggle.  Paying a little money up front doesn’t just ensure you get the design you want––it ensures you have an active advocate or team of advocates working for you and on your behalf to make sure your book is as beautiful as you’ve always hoped.

On a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, copyediting does for your sentences what a graphic designer does for your cover––which is to say, a copyeditor will whip your lines into shape and help you revise your book into something even stronger, and more compelling, than you could do on your own.  Relying on friends and family to be early readers is a good move, but relying on them to bring the same expertise and incisive vision as a career copyeditor who has been in the publishing industry for years and years is not such a good move.  Copyediting isn’t about changing what you do––it’s about making sure you create the best book possible and shifting some of the burden of perfection and hyperspecific industry insight off of your shoulders so that you can spend more time doing what you love: writing new books!

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Six Frequently Asked Copyright Questions

Copyright is one of the toughest topics for new authors to understand. Many of you have questions about protecting your work as well as using material from copyrighted sources. Here are six of the most frequently asked copyright questions along with answers to get you started. Feel free to share additional questions in the comments section.

Is my manuscript copyrighted when self publishing?

Yes, the copyright for your material was secured as soon as you created it, or when it became fixed in a manuscript for the first time. No publication, registration, or any other official act is required to secure copyright. However, registering with the U.S. Copyright Office is recommended.

If copyright is automatic, why should I register for a copyright?

Filing with the U.S. Copyright Office creates a public record of the basic information of your book, which gives you the ability to sue for infringement and statutory damages. This creates a legal presumption that your copyright is valid and allows you to recoup up to thousands of dollars, and possibly attorney fees, without having to prove actual monetary harm.

How do I know if something in my book is copyright protected?

In most cases, any picture, material, text, information, quote, map, song, image, or illustration that you personally did not create is copyright protected by the person(s) who created and/or published the material.  Any text or pictures found in a book, magazine or newspaper is copyright protected by the publisher, artist photographer, or some other entity.  And yes, most information found on the internet is copyright protected.  For example, if you pull material from Wikipedia, it’s copyrighted by somebody.  Wikipedia is a non-profit site, and therefore, can provide information without permission; however, as an author using this information in your book, the original source must be contacted to obtain proper authorization to publish it for profit.

What is Fair Use?

Under “Fair Use,” some copyright protected material can be used without permission; however, there are no clear-cut rules, only guidelines and factors to be considered. Fair use is not a right, only a defense. If you are unsure, please consult a legal advisor or copyright researcher.

 The following four factors are used to determine fair use: 1) The purpose and character of the use, including potential gains for commercial 2) The nature of the original copyrighted work 3) The proportion or percentage of the copyrighted material in relation to the work as a whole 4) The potential effect on the value of the copyrighted material.

Will citing the source of the material free you from copyright infringement?

No!  Citing the source will not avoid possible court litigation.  Permission must be obtained, and you must provide the publisher with the appropriate forms indicating authorization.

How can I avoid being accused of libel?

Stating an opinion is not libelous, though it’s best to be careful not to make an accusatory statement about anyone when using real names. Do not make the following statements, as they are clear grounds for a libel case: Falsely accusing someone of a crime, or having been charged, indicted or convicted of a crime; falsely identifying someone with an infectious disease; falsely charging someone or an organization with a claim that discredits a business or office and lowers their profitability; and falsely accusing someone as being impotent.

Seriously consider if you are self-publishing a book that reveals information that could damage someone, and consult with an attorney or copyright research firm.  If you are publishing a true story, I recommend that you change names and use a pen name when publishing.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.

Five Tips for a Great Synopsis

One of your responsibilities as a self-published author will be writing a synopsis for your books. This is the text that will convince book sellers (such as agents and distributors) to purchase and sell your book. It is different from the copy on the back cover of your book, which persuades the reader to purchase your book. To write a winning synopsis, remember these five tips.

1. Reveal everything that happens in the book, including the ending. Heck, revealing the story’s ending is a synopsis’s defining unique characteristic. You shouldn’t find a story’s ending in a query or in-person pitch, but it does leak out in a synopsis.  A synopsis is designed to explain everything that happens, not to tease, so avoid language such as “Krista walks around a corner into a big surprise.” Don’t say “surprise;” instead say exactly what happens.

2. Make your synopsis two pages, double-spaced or one page, single-spaced. There is always some disagreement on length. This stems from the fact that synopses used to trend longer (up to 12 pages!). But over the last five years, agents have requested shorter and shorter synopses — with most agents finally settling on one to two pages. If you write a one page, single-spaced synopsis, it’s the same length as two pages, double-spaced; either are acceptable. There will be the occasional agent who requests something strange, such as a “5-page synopsis on lime green paper that smells of cinnamon!” But for  most agents, a one to two page document is perfect.

3. Take more care and time if you’re writing genre fiction. Synopses are especially difficult to compose if you’re writing character-driven (i.e., literary) fiction because there may not be a whole lot of plot in the book. Agents and editors understand this and put little (or no) weight into a synopsis for literary or character-driven stories. However, if you’re writing genre fiction — specifically categories like romance, fantasy, thriller, mystery, horror or science fiction — agents will look over your characters and plot points to make sure your book has a clear beginning, middle, and end as well as some unique aspects they haven’t seen before in a story. So if you’re getting ready to submit a genre story, don’t blow through your synopsis; it’s important.

4. Feel free to be dry, but don’t step out of the narrative. When you write your prose (and even the pitch in your query letter), there is importance in using style and voice in the writing. A synopsis not only can be dry, but probably should be dry. The synopsis has to explain everything that happens in a very small amount of space. So if you find yourself using short, dry sentences like “John shoots Bill and sits down to contemplate suicide,” don’t worry. This is normal. Lean, clean language is great, but do not step out of the narrative. Agents do not want to read things such as “And at the climax of the story,” “In a rousing scene,” or “In a flashback.”

5. Use all caps for  character names the first time they are introduced. Use normal text on other references. Also, avoid naming too many characters because this can get confusing;  try to set a limit of five or six. I know this may sound tough, but it’s doable. It forces you to exclude small characters and subplots from your summary, which actually strengthens your synopsis.

If you follow these tips, you will write a great synopsis.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.

The Benefits of Self-Publishing

Many aspiring authors find themselves debating whether they should self-publish or attempt traditional publishing. While both methods have pros and cons, there are many benefits to self-publishing. Here are the most common benefits of this growing publishing trend.

  • You have freedom of expression — you write your own words. You don’t have to change what you’ve written to please an editor, agent, or commercial audience.
  • You control how your book looks — everything from the cover to the interior formatting is in your hands.
  • You set your own price it can be as low or as high as you would like.
  • You receive 100% of your royalties — there’s no middleman stealing your profits, so you earn more per book than you would with traditional publishing.
  • You can review your  interior and cover proofs before publishing — if you misuse spaces or hard returns in your manuscript, it may mess up the layout of your book. However, you have the opportunity to review your proofs for these issues before they are sent to the printer.

It wouldn’t be fair to share the benefits of self-publishing without also discussing the potential downfalls. Here are some of the cons of this publishing option.

  • No one critiques your manuscript — how can you be sure your book is interesting and complete? If you want someone else’s opinion, you will need to hire a professional.
  • You don’t have to edit your manuscript — a messy manuscript turns into a poorly written book that very few people (if any) will want to read. Too many self-published authors choose not to pay for editing because it isn’t required. However, if you want your book to be taken seriously, a professional editor is worth every penny.
  • You control your book’s design — this is great if you’re a designer but not so great if you have limited graphic skills. Depending on your limitations and the complexity of your book, you may need to hire a designer or illustrator.

If you are a self-published author, I’d love to know what made you choose self-publishing. Feel free to share your stories in the comments section.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.

How to Select a Good Title for Your Self-Published Book

The title of your self-published book can impact your ability to sell it. A good title will catch readers’ attention and encourage them to buy the book, while a bad title can cost you by driving away customers. If you want to choose a good title for your self-published book, keep these tips in mind.

  • Make it memorable. This may mean choosing something humorous, shocking, or intriguing based on the subject of your book.
  • Make it unique. Do some research before choosing your book’s title. Visit bookstores and browse for books online. You don’t want to pick a title that is too similar to the books that have already been published.
  • Use keywords. Many people search online before purchasing a book, so make sure readers will find your book when they search for your topic.

I’d love to know, what are your favorite book titles?

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.