Monthly Archives: May 2013
Book Editing. Book Covers, and Research
So many writers keep asking me how to self-publish books that I wanted to share Four Steps that will helping new writers out there. I had interest in my book from a great literary agent. I decided to self-publish when I thought about the things I could on my own since I had a background in marketing.
These are the Four Detailed Steps I did, including the costs, to self-publish my book:
Step 1 Hire a Book Editor
After writing my book the first thing I spent money on was hiring a professional book editor. Ann Kempner Fisher was my editor. She is absolutely the best! She’s located in the U.S. It cost $1,300 and was well worth the money. Most good and experienced editors charge $4.00- $6.00 per page. If you’re located in the U.K. join a well-known writers group and get referrals from writers in the group. Spending money on editing is a necessity and not an option. Some self-published writers havn’t done this and say publicly that paying for a book editor is too expensive. They post on blogs that they wanted to publish books quickly on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Then I read complaints on Amazon reader forums and Good Reads forums, readers having to struggle to read books with bad grammar, misspellings, etc. You only have one time to impress readers and won’t get another chance. Stephen King, James Patterson, and other professional writers always use editors. Self-published writers have to do the same thing to compete.
Step 2 Format Book for Publication
I formatted my book for Kindle. This was difficult to do myself so I went on Fiverr.com to find someone to format my book per KDP requirements: set up the margins, table of contents, etc. This cost around $25. The people that do book formatting charge by the number of pages. Fiverr is a wonderful marketplace to find all sorts of inexpensive services for your book project including: website updates, social media marketing, book promotions, logo/ad design, graphics, etc. Just look for the highest rated vendor in the appropriate category and place your order via Paypal.
Step 3 Design Book Cover
I used 99 Designs to get a distinctive and low cost book cover illustration and design (for $299). This was a very good price since good illustration can cost around $500-$1,000. I heard about 99 designs from fellow writer Tim Ferriss. He’s written several best sellers: The Four Hour Work Week, The Four Hour Body, The Four Hour Chef. He really knows how to market books! 99 Designs is a crowd sourced marketplace where several designers and illustrators submit work based on your specifications. You set the price and choose the winner.
A book cover is an important tool in attracting and selling your book to readers, especially for my genre which is paranormal mystery. I have seen some outstanding book cover artwork for established paranormal writers. Then I have seen some poorly designed book covers in the market place from self-published authors. If you want to compete with mainstream published authors you can’t look like an amateur!
Please note: Illustration is different than design. (My cover is an illustration).I have many artists friends and know a lot about different mediums of art. Without getting too technical, an illustrator typically does art by hand. A designer typically assembles pre-existing graphics, photos, vectors, etc. An illustrator can design, but not all designers can illustrate. For new writers, you probably should illustrate your book if it is: children’s, horror, paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi.
Step 4 Research the Book Marketplace
I researched my genre to see what types of books were in the market place. I checked Amazon bestsellers lists, Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists, and went to Barnes and Noble bookstore. This helped me prepare my market campaign for when I started promoting my book. I will discuss this in another post about book marketing. Questions to ask yourself are: How many books out there are like your book? Are you writing a niche topic?
When I think back to the time I started on The Wizard’s Sword – actually Nine Worlds of Mirrortac in its initial incarnation – I was literally writing the story with a pen and paper. I had a portable typewriter back then so once I had written a draft, it was typed up. Then I bought a wordprocessor, which is like a cross between a typewriter and a computer. It was electric and could type/print onto paper as well as store a limited amount of material. It also had a small screen that displayed the words a small amount at a time. You could scroll through it and get it to print it out.
My first computer was an Apple 2c, which had no hard drive but what was termed a boot disk drive. You had to ‘boot’ it with a program disk and store the documents on another disk. These floppy disks were about the size of a CD but were encased in a paper square. You could only use one at a time, so it was a process of putting in a disk, taking it out, putting in another disk … and so on. The screen background was black while the print was green. And my wordprocessing program was in a package called Appleworks. I produced a lot of material on that Apple before finally acquiring my first PC – a 40MB hard drive with 1MB RAM running on basic DOS. That meant typing onto a black screen again to access programs.
Things were looking up. I now used a dot-matrix printer with the computer, and 3.5in floppy disks. I think there was also a large floppy drive as well. Windows 95 came along and the whole process stepped up several degrees. PCs gradually needed more capacity, and what earlier took a whole room at a newspaper to store 600MB, now needed only a rectangular hard drive within a PC. The Wizard’s Sword had gone through a number of rewrites and tweaks by this stage, as well as having to rewrite from hard copy after losing access to old floppy disk documents. The book also had been published in various forms: initially as an ebook in a PDF format on a 3.5in disk to being in print in Australia, then America, and finally as an ebook on Smashwords and Amazon. CDs and DVDs have replaced the more fragile floppies.
I graduated to a laptop for ease of travel, which was a little like going back to a typewriter but one with a big screen instead of a tiny one, and using a separate printer connected by cord to the laptop. The age of internet was in full swing by this stage, and it was a relief finally to go from dial-up using the telephone line, to ADSL broadband, still using the phone line but on a splitter and using a WiFi modem, thus eliminating the need for a cord connection. Book 2 of what is collectively called The Nine Worlds of Mirrortac series – Three Stones of Destiny – was written mostly on a collection of laptops, and each stage stored both on my PC, a back-up Terabyte drive, and on the internet – the Cloud as they called it now.
It’s been an incredible journey through technology from a mere pen and paper to computers. With my last laptop threatening to crash on me forever, I made one more graduation back to a PC, but an All-in-One. The rather large screen suits my work from home as a sub-editor for a newspaper group, as well as serving the purpose of continuing my journey into book 3 – The Gold Sarcophagus. I’ve had to back off from the constant sitting in front of a computer and late nights distracted by PC games to trying to balance my life more, but ultimately my energies will return to work on this last of the Nine Worlds series. I own an iPod that I use to ‘write’ notes for my book (among other things), and an ereader as well as ereader programs to read on screen. Who knows what will be next …