Speed mentoring sessions available—deadline extended

Editors Ottawa–Gatineau will close out its season May 17 with its annual general meeting, followed by a couple of rounds of speed mentoring.

Get expert advice and fresh perspectives from our Seven Sages on your editing business or career. Whether you’re just starting out, changing the focus of your career or wanting to discuss specific editing challenges with a peer who’s been there, the Sages will have…advice.

You’ll need to make a reservation, though, by emailing Tom Vradenburg by Tuesday, May 16. State your preference for up to three Sages—we’ll do what we can to match you up, according to demand. Each session will last 15 minutes.

The Seven Sages and their specialties are:

Laura Byrne Paquet: freelancing, copy editing, proofreading, government work, journalism, travel writing, genre fiction writing and editing, social history writing, blogging, teaching

Moira White: teaching editing and writing, building a diversified business, substantive editing, copy editing, plain language editing and writing, government reports

Elizabeth Macfie: copy editing, stylistic editing, proofreading, comparative reading of translations, training (groups and one-on-one coaching), style guide development, business networking, indexing, conference session delivery

Christine LeBlanc (Dossier Communications): marketing (for your clients and yourself), social media, event promotion, integrated communication strategies, project management (ranging from textbooks to journals), freelancing, editing and writing

Marion Soublière: winning Government of Canada contracts, writing and editing for the federal government (web writing, and plain language writing and editing), social media, copy editing, proofreading

Beverly Ensom: copy editing, proofreading, freelancing, prep for certification, transition from in-house to freelance, government work, House of Commons work

Carolyn Brown: scientific and medical editing and writing, managerial positions in editing, making the move to freelancing, money management, teaching and public speaking, stylistic editing, certification

Annual General Meeting

We will start the evening with our annual general meeting, which will include a recap of this year’s highlights, as well as elections for next year’s Executive.

Wednesday, May 17, 6:30 pm

Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Queen St., Lackey Room, 6:30 p.m.

Free for members; $10 for non-members

March Speakers Night—Stacey Atkinson on Self-Publishing

Speaker Nights March 15How to self-publish a book

Stacey Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. In 2012, she began Mirror Image Publishing as a way to self-publish her first novel, Stuck. She learned so much along the way, especially when it came to publishing and marketing a book, that she began offering advice and services to other independent authors. In 2016, she self-published her second novel, Letters from Labrador.

After self-publishing two books and working primarily as an editor of self-published fiction and nonfiction, Stacey took what she had learned and developed an online course on how to publish a book.

At this event, Stacey will explain her ten-step process and answer your questions about self-publishing. She’ll also be asking people to share their own self-publishing stories.

Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Queen St., Lackey Room, 6:30 p.m.
Free for members; $10 for non-members

 

Meet the Instructor: Electronic Editing for Editors by Cécile Dubois

Cecile Dubois

Are your Electronic Editing skills up to par?

Microsoft Word is ubiquitous. Whether or not it is the primary word processing tool for your work, as a writer and editor, your co-workers and clients generally expect you to be highly proficient. Are you?  We asked Cécile Dubois, who will be leading the Electronic Editing seminar on Friday, March 24th 2017, to tell us a little bit about what to expect.

Q. Who would benefit from taking this seminar?

A. This seminar is targeted for intermediate users who wish to become more efficient with Word, or as a refresher for those who haven’t used Word for a while and want to become familiar with changes and new features in different versions. This session takes you out of the work environment and gives you an opportunity to sharpen your skills.

Q. Is it possible to get though the seminar without a laptop?

A. It would be best to have a laptop to be able to do the exercises along with me. People learn much better by doing than by watching, but a laptop is not absolutely obligatory. I strongly recommend bringing one with MS Word 2010, 2013, or 2016.

Q. How will what I learn be relevant to my work?

A. When we work, we usually use the same familiar set of features that we know well, but we do not always have the time (or the need) to discover what other toolsets are available. We will cover many tips and tricks to make you more efficient and a power user!

Q. What if I have some specific questions or needs?

A. I try to make sure that everyone leaves the seminar feeling more competent and confident about using Word. The seminar is interactive, and I will try to make sure your questions and needs are answered.

Cécile Dubois has six years of experience as a software instructor. She is a creative professional who conveys a high level of preparation and enthusiasm to the classroom and to her relationships with her students. This is her first time delivering  Electronic Editing for Editors Ottawa-Gatineau.

Register at www.editors.ca/local-groups/ottawa-gatineau/electronic-editing 

 

 

February Speakers Night – Beverly Ensom

The spoken word becomes a written report

Hansard is the written record of what is said in the House of Commons. Most people think it’s verbatim—and it is, except when it’s not.

Beverly Ensom is a member of the House of Commons team that gently edits Hansard and the similar record of parliamentary committees. She will describe the process of producing these records and the editing decisions that have to be made; and she’ll give some examples of wording that had to be handled with care (although “fuddle-duddle” was before her time).

Christ Church Cathedral, Lackey Room, 414 Queen St., 6:30 p.m.
Free for members, $10 for non-members

January Speakers Night – Author Denise Chong

Ottawa-Gatineau Editors Speakers Night is very excited to begin the new year with a presentation by the author Denise Chong.

Denise lives in Ottawa and has written four books of literary non-fiction; the bestselling The Concubines Children (now a Penguin Classic), The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phuc Story (Viking Press), Egg on Mao: The Story of an Ordinary Man Who Defaced an Icon and Unmasked a Dictatorship (Random House), and Lives of the Family: Stories of Fate and Circumstance (Random House).

She has become “renowned as a writer and commentator on Canadian history and on the family,” (The Canadian Encyclopedia) because of her in-depth research and focus on the multiculturalism of Canadian identity. In 2013 she was awarded the Order of Canada for her “books that help to raise our social consciousness.” (Order of Canada)

Denise will be speaking about the process of interviewing people and gathering personal information when writing memoirs, and the author’s relationship with an editor when working together on the often tragic, personal and intimate stories of people’s lives.

Ottawa-Gatineau Editors Speakers Nights are open to everyone. Admission for non-members of Editors Canada is $10.

When: Wednesday 18 January 2017 6.30 – 8.00pm

Where: Lackey Room, Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks St, Ottawa, ON K1R 0B3. Free onsite parking.

 

Holiday Reading List

By Sara Caverley

Just for fun, we asked local authors, editors, publishers, and constant readers what books they plan to savour this holiday. As someone who knows the joys and compulsions of the written word, we hope you’ll relish the opportunity to get a peak into the personal bookshelves of our extended community.

Katherine Barber, former Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Oxford Dictionary

  • Gordon, Alan. The Moneylender of Toulouse: A Fools’ Guild Mystery. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.
  • Mahoux, Bernard. La malédiction des Trencavel. 1, Adélaïs, comtesse de Toulouse. Paris: Pocket, 2005.
  • Turner, Ralph. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada

  • Backman, Fredrik . A man called Ove. New York: Atria Books, 2014.
  • Camilleri, Andrea. A voice in the night. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.
  • Gray, Charlotte. The Promise of Canada: 150 Years—People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2016.

Sue Carter, Editor, Quill & Quire

  • Donlon, Denise. Fearless as Possible (under the Circumstances). Toronto: Anansi, 2016.
  • Ferrante, Elena. The Story of the Lost Child. New York: Europa Editions, 2015.
  • Gay, Roxane. Difficult Women. New York: Grove Press, 2017.
  • Kraus, Chris. I Love Dick. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2006.
  • Levy, Deborah. Hot Milk. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Denise Chong, best-selling author

  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.
  • Kingsolver, Barbara. Flight Behavior. Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2012.
  • Vance, J.D. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis. New York: Harper, 2016.

George Elliott Clarke, Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate

  • Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Memories of My Melancholy Whores. New York: Knopf, 2005.
  • Smith, Joseph. The Book of Mormon..

Elizabeth Hay, Giller Prize-winning author

  • Knausgård, Karl Ove. My Struggle. Brooklyn, New York: Archipelago Books, 2012.

Elaine Gold, Director, Canadian Language Museum

  • Awad, Mona. 13 ways of looking at a Fat Girl. Toronto: Penguin, 2016.
  • Leroux, Catherine. The Party Wall. Windsor, Ontario: Biblioasis, 2016.

Lara Mainville, Director, University of Ottawa Press

  • Barbeau-Lavalette, Anaïs. La femme qui fuit. Montréal: Éditions Marchand de feuilles, 2015.
  • Kerouac, Jack. On the road. New York: Penguin Books, 1955.
  • Thien, Madeleine. Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2016.

Kate Malloy, Editor, The Hill Times 

  • Boyden, Joseph. Wenjack. Toronto: Hamish Hamilton, 2016.
  • Gray, Charlotte. The Promise of Canada: 150 Years—People and Ideas That Have Shaped Our Country. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2016.
  • Nguyen, Viet Thanh. The Sympathizer. New York: Grove Press, 2015.
  • Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. Toronto : HarperCollins, 2004.

Danielle McDonald, CEO, Ottawa Public Library

  • Balducci, David. No Man’s Land: John Puller Series. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.
  • Brown, Sandra. Unspeakable. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.
  • Coben, Harlen. Home. New York: Dutton, 2016.
  • Cook, Tim. Fight to the Finish: Canadians in the Second World War, 1944-1945. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2016.

Yasmin Nissim, Editor, Apt613

  • Krampus: The Yule Lord. New York: Harper Voyager, 2012.
  • Weeks, Brent. The Way of Shadows. New York: Orbit, 2008.

Hon. André Pratte, Canadian Senator, former editor-in-chief, La Presse

  • Songs Upon the Rivers: The Buried History of the French-Speaking Canadiens and Métis from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi across to the Pacific. Montreal, Baraka Books, 2016.

 

 

HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK (PART 4 OF 4) BY STACEY ATKINSON

 

In parts one, two, and three of this blog series, we looked at the first eight steps to self-publishing a book. This included discussing the differences between being a traditionally published author and a self-published author, as well as offering tips for writing, editing, designing, printing, and marketing a book. In this final blog, we’ll look at the last two steps to self-publishing a book—setting your book price and figuring out ways to keep up the momentum after the book launch.

9. Setting the Book Price

When setting your book price, you should consider three things:

  1. What do similar books sell for?
  2. What are your costs per book?
  3. How much profit do you want to make per book?

Let’s say you’ve written a 300-page nonfiction business book with black and white interior, and now you want to set the price for it. So you research similar books, and you’re pretty confident that your book would sell for $19.99. To test if this price will earn a profit for you, let’s start with a few simple calculations.

Distributor and Retailer Fees

You can expect a typical distributor fee to be from 55 to 65 percent, with 40 percent going to the bookseller.

  • Distributor fee (15 percent of $19.99) = $3.00
  • Retailer (bookseller) fee (40 percent of $19.99) = $8.00
  • Total = $11.00

Costs of Goods Sold

The cost of goods sold are the costs you incur to produce your print book, including materials and labour. For example, you would factor in the costs of printing and shipping the book, as well as factor in a small amount to go toward recouping expenses incurred for writing, editing, and designing the book. Here’s a sample breakdown of costs:

  • Writing, editing, and design expenses per book = $1.00
  • Printing cost per book = $4.00
  • Shipping cost per book = $1.25
  • Total = $6.25

Now, when all the above expenses and fees are added up, you get $17.25. So setting a book price of $19.99 would give you the following profits in the following scenarios:

  • Book sold in a bookstore via a distributor: $2.74 profit
  • Book sold online as print on demand (e.g., on Amazon.com): $6.10 profit
  • Book sold directly by the author (e.g., at a speaking event): $13.74 profit

E-Book Pricing

Some say $2.99 to $5.99 is a great range to price an e-book. Others sell at $9.99 and higher. It really depends on the type of book you’ve written. For example, according to the 2015 Smashwords Survey, $3.99 remains the sweet spot for a full-length self-published fiction e-book, and $1.99 should be avoided because the survey findings revealed that books priced at $1.99 earned 73 percent less than the average of all other price points.

10. After the Book Launch–What’s Next?

Once you’ve launched your book and told the world about it, it’s time to keep up the momentum. Look for clever ways to continue to put your book front and centre in the minds of readers. But remember, people don’t want to be sold to—so minimize the number of Facebook posts and tweets that say, “Buy my book.” Instead, focus your energy on making it really easy for people to buy your book when they’re ready.

Here are two activities you can do to keep people talking about your book.

Enter Book Competitions

Entering and winning a book competition is great promotion for your book. There are some wonderful book competitions for indie authors, which can really boost your credibility as an author if you win one or even if you come in second or third place. Plus the news of winning the award can give you content for all kinds of social media posts, especially if there is an awards ceremony and lots of photo opportunities.

Here are some credible competitions to consider:

  • Amazon First Novel Awardis for first-time Canadian authors.
  • Benjamin Franklin Book Awards, run by the Independent Book Publishers Association, is for independently published books, and all entrants receive direct feedback on their entries.
  • IndieReader Discover Awards honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world.
  • Kindle Scout Awardsis for unpublished manuscripts voted on by the crowd.
  • Readers’ Favorite book award is for contestants ranging from first-time authors to New York Times bestsellers and celebrities.
  • Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards is for self-published books by professional writers, part-time freelancers, and students.
  • Also, be sure to check for city/state/provincial awards on the arts and culture pages of government websites, to see what kinds of local awards you are eligible for.

Write Your Next Book

One way to keep people interested in your book is to start writing your next book. You’ve learned so much from writing and publishing your first book that you can’t help but improve for your second time around, building on the momentum you’ve already created. Also, you’ll give your fans something to talk about and anticipate so that you’re not leaving them with years in between books.

At the very least, you can use your website, blog, and social media sites to stay connected to your fans by sending out updates. You can even get creative and release a new chapter for your new books or write short stories too.

That concludes this blog series on how to self-publish a book. I hope you’ve found some helpful advice in the ten steps to self-publishing, and I wish you luck in your self-publishing journey!

Stacey Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. The advice offered in this blog series is taken from excerpts from the 10-lesson online course on How to Publish a Book.

HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK (PART 3 OF 4) BY STACEY ATKINSON

 

In parts one and two of this blog, we looked at the first five steps to self-publishing a book. This included discussing the differences between being a traditionally published author and a self-published author, as well as offering tips for writing, editing, and designing a book. In this blog, we’ll look at steps six, seven, and eight—printing, distribution, and marketing.

6. Printing a Book

Deciding on a printing company depends on what your plans are for your book. Do you need inventory or can you print on demand? Do you even need a print book? Or could you focus on selling an e-book instead? When choosing a printer, some authors are motivated by price, others by location.

Let’s explore the different types of printers available to you.

Print on Demand: A print-on-demand (POD) company offers the option of ordering the exact number of books you want printed, whether it’s one copy or several hundred copies, and the books are printed and delivered exactly when you need them. POD is a popular option because you don’t have to worry about inventory. Often POD is used to fulfill a sales order, and the books are usually printed on a digital printing press.

CreateSpace and Ingram Spark are examples of print-on-demand companies catering to self-published authors.

Short-Run Printing: You would use a short-run printer if you wanted to order a small batch of books for printing (e.g., 200 copies). You may not have orders for the books yet, but short-run printing enables you to have some inventory on hand. There may be a setup charge for your print job, but then after that the printing should be fairly low cost. Short-run printing can be a good option for self-published authors because the printers are usually easy to work with, and some even offer interior layout and book-cover templates.

Bookbaby and Friesens are examples of short-run printers.

Four-Colour Offset Printing: You would generally hire an offset printing company if you needed high-quality printing in large volumes. Essentially, offset printing, or offset lithography, uses ink transferred onto rollers and then onto printing plates. This is likely not your first choice as a self-published author, but it’s good to know about it anyways.

Bookmasters is an example of an offset printing company.

Espresso Book Machines: If you want to print a single copy of your book, the Espresso Book Machine might be the answer for you. You’ll find these printing kiosks in select bookstores and cafes, where you can print your book while you wait and sip a cappuccino. You can find locations for these Espresso Book Machines through the website OnDemandBooks.

7. Distributing a Book

Book distribution is the delivery system for placing your books into the hands of bookstores and customers. The Association of Canadian Publishers offers up a list of book distributors on its website, as well as this advice:

Once a book has been published it will need a distributor. If your book has been published by an established publishing house, they will already have distribution contacts. If you self-publish or publish with a very small house that does not have distribution set up, you will need to make this contact on your own. Remember that distributors will generally take 55–65 percent of the cover price (40 percent of which is going to the bookseller). Make sure your pricing formula has taken this into account

Distribution for Print Books

To further break down book distribution, let’s look at the role of a wholesaler versus a distributor.

Wholesaler: This is a company that fulfills bookstore orders. For example, you provide the book to the wholesaler at a 55 percent discount, and then the wholesaler sells it to the retailer at a 40 percent discount. So you (author/publisher) make 45 percent, the wholesaler makes 15 percent, and the bookstore makes 40 percent.

Distributor: This is also a company that fulfills bookstore orders (sometimes through a wholesaler). However, one of the main differences between a distributor and a wholesaler is that the distributor usually has a sales team to promote your book to bookstores and wholesalers.

Remember, just because you have book distribution doesn’t mean that a bookstore will actually place an order for your book. You need to promote your book in order for it to sell. A self-published author may also choose to sell directly to local bookstores (usually on consignment) and niche markets such as gift shops.

Distribution for E-books

Given that an e-book is a digital file, it is sold exclusively online. You need to deliver your files—mobi for Kindle and epub for all other e-readers—to the online stores that sell e-books, such as Kindle.

There are two main approaches to getting your e-book into these online stores:

  1. You can open a seller (author) account with each of the online e-book stores, such as Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and iBook. You would upload your e-book file to each store, and each store would interact directly with you and pay you directly for your e-book sales.
  2. You can open one account with an e-book distribution aggregator, which is a company that will act as a distributor between you and the online stores. The aggregator company will take care of ensuring your e-book files are properly formatted for different e-reader devices, will collect your sales proceeds, and will distribute your files to as many as 60 online e-book sellers. The aggregator company will charge you a percentage fee for this services, but in the end they are saving you lots of administration time. Smashwords and Bookbaby are two main e-book aggregators.

8. Marketing a Book

No matter how great your book is, you have to remember the following: people can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists. You need to promote it. In order to effectively promote your book and achieve book sales, you’ll need to make a basic marketing plan and carry out the activities in that plan. To begin, you’ll need to

  • Know your audience. What is your book genre? Who are your target readers? Where do these readers buy books? Where do they shop in general? What would make them buy your book?
  • Make a plan. Create a list of marketing activities and then implement them one by one and watch the results. If you start to see sales attributed to one particular action (e.g., a Facebook ad, an email list, a radio interview), then you know you’ve hit upon something that is reaching your target audience, and you can repeat it.
  • Try different marketing activities, and then narrow them down. Test several marketing activities, but don’t try to sustain them all; you’ll be spreading yourself too thin. Instead, test out ideas and social media sites, and then focus in on a few and work at them as hard as you can to reach your target audience.
  • Set a budget. You’ll want to recover your publishing investment plus make money from selling your book. The only way to do that is to set a budget and stick to it.

Marketing Communications

Marketing communications is the act of influencing or affecting behavior of an audience. In other words, you want to influence the people in your target market to buy your book. Marketing is a set of activities that creates exchanges between you (the author/publisher) and your customers (the reader). Here are six marketing approaches to selling your self-published book:

  1. Personal selling: an in-store book launch
  2. Advertising: a Facebook ad
  3. Sales promotion: a price discount offered
  4. Sponsorship marketing: associating your book with another company’s brand
  5. Publicity: free advertising such as an editorial write-up in the newspaper
  6. Social media marketing: using Facebook and Twitter to promote yourself

What Are the Top Social Media Sites for Authors?

According to the 2015 Smashwords Survey, best-selling authors are more likely to be on Facebook and Twitter and to have a blog. Similarly, a panel discussion at a past Digital Book World conference revealed that Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and author blogs were most widely used by authors. So, if you’re looking for where to start building your audience online, theses are excellent places to begin.

So there you have it—choosing the right printer and distributor, as well as having well-planned marketing communications, are key steps to successfully self-publishing a book. In the next and final blog in this series, we’ll review the last two steps to self-publishing a book—setting your book price and planning activities for after the book launch.

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Ottawa. The advice offered in this blog series is taken from excerpts from the 10-lesson online course on How to Publish a Book.

Winter 2017 Seminar Season by Elaine Vininsky

We are in the second half of the seminar season and first up this winter is Stylistic Editing on Monday, January 23, 2017. It is interesting to note that Editors Canada will be having a Stylistic Editing certification exam in the fall of 2017. Accordingly, Instructor Carolyn Brown will provide those who want to do the exam with a rundown of the Professional Editorial Standards to orient them. She emphasizes that her course will also be useful for those who do stylistic editing as part of their day-to-day work, whether or not they wish to try the exam.

Graham Young gets to celebrate Valentine’s Day when he teaches Plain Language. “The most powerful language is also the simplest, he says.  “When each word has a clear meaning and purpose, readers can move easily through a text and focus on its message. Unfortunately, much writing today is needlessly bureaucratic and difficult to read…This seminar will help you overcome these pitfalls and create documents that say what they mean—efficiently.”

Moira White and Beth Macfie will team teach Copy Editing II on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. They have subtitled this seminar Judgement Calls and Added Value, and they aim to help registrants gain the expertise and experience necessary to make more complicated decisions about and contribute more value to each project.

We have a new instructor this year for Electronic Editing, offered on Friday, March 24.       Cecile Dubois has six years of experience as a software trainer and has worked as a corporate trainer and manager. “She is a creative professional with an outgoing, passionate and natural ability for management/motivating/instructing different personalities and building relationships”. You’ll hear more about her in a future Capital Letters blog.

We’ll be enjoying the third week of spring when Laurel Hyatt steps up to teach Editing Government Reports on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Her seminar will aim to demystify the process of breaking into this large market—from the legislative requirements that start the ball rolling, to the sign-off before publication.

Speaking of signing-off, Eight-Step Editing will close the seminar season on Tuesday,         April 25, 2017. I often refer to this seminar as the “workhorse” of all the courses in our inventory because of its inherent practicality. When I first took the course, I well remember Jim Taylor, who originated the seminar saying that if you were severely pressed for time, using the eight simple steps to go over a document would clean it up nicely. Since then, Moira White has taken over the course and updated the material.

You can register for any of these full-day seminars at the following website: http://www.editors.ca/branches/ottawa-gatineau/seminars

how to self-publish a book (part 2 of 4) by Stacey Atkinson

Here’s part 2 of Stacey’s advice:

4. Designing your book interior

It’s common for self-published authors to take interior book design for granted, thinking they can send their polished, edited MS Word files directly to the printer. Actually, there are a few steps to go before we get to the printer.

Print books

As you begin the design process, you will have to start making decisions on how you want your book to look. The trim is the width by height of your printed book (e.g., 5.25” x 8” is a common size for a fiction novel). The running heads are the short titles that appear at the top of each page inside your book, so you might want your book title on the top of the left page and your author name on the right. The gutter margins are the inside margins by the book’s binding, and the outside margins are the margins at the outside edge of the paper and at the top and bottom of the page.

You’ll also want to avoid any bad breaks on the pages, which refer to awkward breaks in a sentence, title, or paragraph. These can include a widow—when a word or short sentence appears at the top of a page, and an orphan—when a single word appears at the bottom of a paragraph or page.

If you have some design skills and a desire to learn more about how to design a book interior, there are some great books, videos, and websites out there to help you along. For example, Book Design Made Simple by Fiona Raven offers a step-by-step guide to designing and typesetting your own book using Adobe InDesign. Adobe TV offers how-to tutorials about basic tasks and new features of InDesign. And finally, Createspace, a leading self-publishing company by Amazon, offers design templates in MS Word and a step-by-step guide to formatting your book’s interior.

However, if the design steps we’ve just discussed seem out of your skillset, then you should hire a designer. Start asking around for a word of mouth recommendation, search online for designers’ websites and social media sites for samples of their work, search LinkedIn, or search the “find a designer” tab on the website GDC, Canada’s National Association for Design Professionals.

E-books

There are two main e-book formats: epub and mobi. The epub is a digital book file that is compatible with most e-readers (e.g., Kobo). The mobi is the proprietary e-book format for Kindle e-readers. These digital book files contain the following elements:

  • Chapters in HTML (HyperText Markup Language), which is a website language for coding or tagging text. HTML is used to mark up the text, such as inserting paragraph breaks, line breaks, font sizes, lists and tables, and images.
  • Style files in CSS (cascading style sheets) that contain files on the metadata (unique identifying information such as author name and book title), table of contents, and images. CSS are also used for style decisions such as paragraph indenting.

Now, unless you have HTML design skills, you probably want to hire an e-book designer to create your epub and mobi files for you. Thankfully, it’s not too expensive, and you should be able to get it done for under $100.

Audiobooks

There’s a growing market for audiobooks, which are created when someone narrates a book in a sound studio while a sound engineer records the narrator’s voice. The recording is then edited and mastered as a digital file that can be distributed similarly to a music file and listened to on an iPod or on CD. You can purchase audiobooks at online stores such as Audible.com.

Tip: People read books in all kinds of formats (print, e-book, audiobook), and on all kinds of devices (computer, tablet, e-readers, phone), so the wise self-publisher will understand the market and make sure the book is available in the formats that the readers want.

5. Designing your book cover

The cover art for your print book—front cover, back cover, spine—will have to fit exactly to your book’s trim size. For e-books, the cover art will be limited to just the front cover image. So that means the book description, which normally features on the back cover of a print book, will now be part of your e-book’s metadata (digital book information), which will appear alongside or underneath the cover art on seller websites.

If you want your book to compete in the big leagues, you’ll likely want to hire an experienced book designer (see tips on how to find a designer in the last section). Book cover designs can range in price from $99 to $1999, or more if illustration is required. Here is an example of book covers designed by a professional designer. The goal for the self-published author is always to choose the best cover based on the reader audience and book genre. In this case, the book Stuck was for a new adult/young adult reader, so the cover with the orange hoodie was the winning design.

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Now that you’ve toiled over the imagery for your book cover, it’s time to sort out the copy—that is, the book summary and quotes appearing on the cover. Your designer will be expecting you to provide this content ready to go and error-free.

The book description is the one to two paragraphs of text that appear on the back of your book, which is going to be an important way to influence people to buy your book. A testimonial is a reference to buy your book—a short, quotable blurb by someone of influence. Alternatively, you can pay for a professional book review from companies such as Kirkus Reviews. For example, scroll back up to the book cover designs, and you’ll see how a Kirkus Reviews quote was added to the cover.

Expect to pay extra for stock images used in your cover design, as this cost is usually not quoted in the design price. You could give your designer a budget and instructions to only use low-cost images, such as many of those found on Shutterstock.

You’ll also need to provide your designer with your book’s ISBN (which you can get for free from Library and Archives Canada) and bar code for the back cover, which wholesalers require to scan for inventory and selling. The Association of Canadian Publishers explains more about bar codes for Canadian authors on its website.

Tip: People do judge a book by its cover, so you have to do everything you can to make the best first impression so that people will pick the book off the shelf and walk to the cash counter with it…or click that “buy” link online.

So there you have it—the first five steps to self-publishing a book. In the next couple of installments, we’ll discuss the last five steps to publishing a book, which are printing, distributing, marketing, budgeting, and what to expect after the book launch.

Stacey is Director of Training and Development, Editors Canada, and has published two books, Stuck and Letters from Labrador.