5 Writing Tips on the Road to Self-publishing

1 – Employ an editing service

The most common mistakes are minor, for example incorrect word use (their, they’re, there) and simple misspellings. Check with your publisher regarding about their copy editing services which are designed to catch common errors while identifying mistakes related to tense, consistency, and punctuation. How long does it take, and what is the cost?

2 – Get a second (and third) set of eyes

Even if you don’t want to pay a professional, anyone who reviews your document will find mistakes you invariably miss. The fact is, you’re much more familiar with your manuscript than anyone else, and as a result, apt to miss obvious mistakes simply because your eyes glaze over them.

3 – Read your manuscript backwards

This allows you to become instantly unfamiliar with your story. When you read your manuscript backwards, it’s just a bunch of words, and those mistakes literally jump off the page.

4 – Read your manuscript out loud

When you’re forced to say the words your brain is forced to slow down and concentrate on the material. Bonus – you may discover stumbling blocks like awkward sentence structures and choppy dialogue when hearing your book read aloud.

5 – Use the right kind of publisher

Go on-demand. On-demand publishing offers you easy editing post-publication to fix any mistakes that may have found their way in to your book. What’s more, books aren’t printed until their sold, so you don’t end up with a garage or basement full of books with errors in them.

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Self-publishing Book Review of the Week: Devil Dogs and Banana Slugs

Devil Dogs and Banana Slugs
Devil Dogs & Banana Slugs
by Will Selling
9781432752383, $18.95

At the forefront of a protest usually lies the disciples of academia. “Devil Dogs & Banana Slugs: Cultural Battles Between the University and the Military” is a personal recollection of one Desert Storm Veteran’s own account of his experiences with both sides of the coin. While academia emphasizes individuality, the military pushes unity, and these meet an obvious conflict. “Devil Dogs & Banana Slugs” is a fascinating read, highly recommended.

Michael Dunford

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Show me a book review that’s NOT a paid review

History has proven that reviews can add a powerful contribution, even a cornerstone contribution, to book marketing campaigns – even bad reviews. Some specific titles come to mind. The opposite of love isn’t hate, after all. Be wary of apathy.

But with the astronomical flood of new books on the market in print and digital form, the book review process has been forced to adapt, and the most pronounced – at least talked about – form emerged as what we know as paid review services.

Paid review services have taken on criticism, even labeled unethical. But aren’t all reviews paid reviews? The last time I checked the New York Times wasn’t a 501c3. Someone is getting paid to tell us what we should be reading – a trusted source we’ve looked to for cultural and media role-modeling.

Esquire’s Stephen Marche may be a bit bold in his claim that, “written criticism — literary, music, and movie reviews by trained professionals — has never been less relevant.” But there is something to be said about here. Technology in our new “Attention Age” has changed the way we gain access to valuable information and will never go back.

Regardless of our opinions, it’s unlikely that paid reviews will be going anywhere anytime soon. And like traditional book reviews, the longer they are around the more credible they’ll become as the collective acceptance develops, especially among emerging micro-niche online social networks.

For the publishing author, ask your self-publishing service provider about review submission services for your book – they can often offer prices lower than going directly through the service provider, and handle the leg-work for you.

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A closer look at ebook publishing

We recently discussed the addition of Borders “Get Published” addition to the mix of ebook publishing options available for self-publishing options.

The Borders—Get Published Powered by BookBrewer program offers two basic levels of service: an $89.99 basic package that gives the user an ISBN and makes the e-book available to all major e-book retailers, along with a $199.99 advance package. This package provides the author full e-Pub file access. Authors can set their own prices within the guidelines set by individual retailers, with royalty percentages paid out also according to those parameters, which are relatively similar.

Keeping in line with its hard-line stance on high distribution and retail cuts for self-publishing authors looking to place their physical books even in their virtual stores, one may wonder how Borders plans to compete with platforms like the free PubIt! program currently available through Barnes & Noble.

It turns out that a key factor in the upfront pricing comes in the blog-to-chapter feed publishing tool – targeting bloggers. According to Publishers Weekly, a spokesperson from Borders noted, “There are no royalties associated with this [advanced] package. You can sell via eBook retailers on your own or on your site if you are a blogger. So if you’re a more serious publisher and think you will sell thousands of copies, paying a higher fee up front in exchange for making thousands more will make sense to you.”

It’s true that using a blog to create and to promote your book is a strong marketing tactic, but a blogger is in essence already a publishing. Hold the horses – how are we going to sell thousands of copies of redundant content???

At this price point, take a small step forwawrd and publish comprehensively through a full-service self-publishing option. You’ll get access to publish through these digital platforms, plus full-design, distribution, and marketing assistance to sell bound and digital books both online and off.

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Self-publishing – what about book sizes???

Self-publishing provides many advantages for authors. One of the greatest is complete control over not only the material but most aspects of your book’s production. Even in full-service self-publishing where you find a publishing consultant or representative who helps you every step along the way, you may arrive at certain decision you may not have anticipated.

Choosing book sizing and format is often one of them, especially with all of the options available with advancements in on-demand print technology.

Most books fall within a few major categories, and here are some suggestions to help you prepare for that production decision:

  • Novella, Short stories, Romance: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Trade paperbacks, Non-fiction, How-to: 6 x 9 inches
  • Children’s, Photography, Manual, Textbook: 8.5 x 11 or 8.5 x 8.5

And some additional considerations:

Larger font and/or word count books often print and market better at a 6 x 9 size or larger
Conversely, shorter manuscripts print better at a smaller book size, resulting in a larger, more marketable page count
Larger book sizes will often offer paper types better suited for full-color and photography printing

Take a trip to your local bookstore and see what sizes similar books to yours are publishing at. It’s generally recommended to stick with what works. Or, be very, very different. Remember, your publishing professional will be available to run ideas by.

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