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.

Top 6 Quick Tips for Creating a “Publish-able” Manuscript

While preparing your manuscript for publication, there are a few things to keep in mind to make your publisher’s/your own life a bit easier when book design time comes. Here are my top 6:

1. Run Spell check
2. Run Grammar check (keep in mind – neither of these checks can substitute for the expertise of a professional copyeditor)
3. Turn on Formatting marks to see odd areas where spacing may be off such as missing spaces causing a word to look misspelled, or too many spaces (2 instead of 1 or 3 instead of 1).
4. Only use Hard Returns at the end of a paragraph, NOT the end of each line like a typewriter.
5. Quick margin and page setting to book trim size, for example if your file is letter size then change settings to book sizes you’re interested in and view how the text shifts and moves. If you have a specific idea of text placement, this will identify any problem areas.
6. Do not use Spaces or Tabs to indicate an indented paragraph; change paragraph settings to first line hanging .25″.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?

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.

My Book is Copyright Protected Upon Publication – Why Do I Need to Register a Copyright?

When your book is published, it is automatically protected under copyright law. That means that no one can pass off your words as their own without your explicit permission. However, we still recommend authors register their copyright with the U.S. Copyright office. Why is this necessary, you ask? That’s a great question.

Think of it like a receipt. It serves as a proof that you purchased the merchandise you own. This entitles you to take advantage of the store’s return policy. If you lose your receipt, there are some stores that MAY allow you to exchange your item or get store credit without a receipt, but that is often at the store owner’s discretion. Copyright registration is very similar. When you need to make a claim against anyone for a copyright violation, you can use your copyright certificate to fight for statutory damages in court. Without a confirmed copyright, it is very unlikely that you have a case. You will have to try to settle with the infringer outside of court. Certainly, you can threaten to speak with an attorney, but if the violator is aware that you didn’t register your copyright, that won’t go over too well…

Finally, if you take your career as an author seriously, purchasing your own copyright is an important step in the publishing process. There is certainly a cost involved, but the protection and professionalism that results will most likely prove invaluable.

Ultimately, choosing to register the copyright for your work is a personal and important decision that only you can make. Consider your audience, how important is to protect your work from infringement, and how serious you take your career as an author before making such a decision.

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.

More About Using an Imprint

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the benefit of using your own self-publishing company under your own ISBN and what’s called an imprint.

Some self-publishing authors prefer to secure their own ISBNs for full control over how their books are identified, discovered, and sourced. Using an imprint means designating your Publisher Name as the publisher-of-record for your book. Many authors who produce textbooks must print under their own imprint and ISBN for those special service wholesalers to do business with them.

This imprint also lets your book stand alone in the sea of books available. For instance, if you are using a self-publishing company that publishes many science fiction books and an author opts to bypass copyediting and has a less than appealing cover, an author may not want to be associated with that book, though they want to utilize the services of the publisher. Publishing under your own self-publishing company is ideal is ideal in cases like this.

If you decide to publish under an imprint, we recommend that you thoroughly research the name of your company to make sure that there aren’t any duplicates on the market.

Many companies, such as Outskirts Press, can assist author with the hassles handling book orders and inventory, sales/accounting, etc. but allow the author use their own imprint (publisher name). This will give it more credibility in the marketplace and can become the name under which the author publishes further 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.

Choosing a Genre for Your Book

With so many genres to choose from, how does an author settle on one? Should you be general in your choice or should you be very specific?

From a marketing perspective, books should be marketed to a more narrow niche group, but this advice doesn’t apply to genre selection. For example, if you select a genre of Religious – Agnostic, you can possibly eliminate yourself from consideration by online retailers/bookstores that accept religious books because they are “turned off” by the “Agnostic”. So, to answer the above question – you should be as general as possible with picking your genre. This the case whether you are self publishing a book or especially if you’re going after representation by a literary agent.

It’s important to also make sure that your genre is reflective of your book. For instance, if you’ve written a murder mystery, your shouldn’t select a genre related to romance, and vice versa.

Have you ever experienced any issues with choosing genres or sub-genres?

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.