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.

pic-1pic-2pic-3pic-4pic-5

 

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.  

Look Who Is Talking! Meet the instructor for our Substantive Editing seminar

jlatham-2016-1Jennifer Latham started her editing business in 1998. The same year she volunteered as the Public Relations Chair for the NCR Branch. She led volunteers in organizing an EAC conference in Ottawa and later went on to be the Chair of the NCR Branch and the National President of EAC.

“I was very fortunate to have been mentored by senior editors, who taught me the ins and outs of the editing business. From the very beginning, I was constantly asking questions about editing standards, how to estimate jobs, and other practicalities of the work,” says Jennifer.

For the past 11 years, Jennifer has managed editing and production services at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. For her upcoming seminar, Jennifer will present in her area of expertise —substantive editing. She looks forward to sharing tips and strategies for dealing with the inherent dangers of substantive editing, such as asserting your editorial authority and knowing when to suggest improvements for the author to make and when to rewrite yourself.

Don’t miss this great seminar on October 14! Register at http://www.editors.ca/branches/ottawa-gatineau/seminars

How to Self-Publish a Book (Part 1 of 4) By Stacey D. Atkinson

Have you written a book and are now ready to take the next step toward publishing? Or perhaps you are a freelance editor who works with self-published authors, and you want to build up your knowledge of the steps needed to turn an MS Word manuscript into a printed book for sale on a bookstore shelf. How does that happen?

Well, overall there are ten steps to self-publishing a book. In Part I of this blog, we’ll review the first five steps, which are to first determine if self-publishing is right for you, and then move on to writing a book, editing a book, designing a book interior, and designing a book cover.

1. Self-publishing—Is it for you?

Stop. Before you go any further, you need to ask yourself three questions:

  • Why am I writing a book? (e.g., for family and friends; for sale at speaking events)
  • Do I have an entrepreneurial drive? (e.g., I enjoy promoting what I do on social media; I’d rather just write and have someone else sell my book)
  • What kind of book am I writing? (e.g., a popular genre such as a thriller; a niche topic with a small audience)

Your answers to these questions will determine if you are a good candidate for self-publishing—that is, being your own project manager and running the business of selling your book—or if you should be spending time seeking out a traditional publishing deal with a publisher (spoiler alert: publishing deals are hard to get, which is why so many new authors turn to self-publishing).

Tip: According to the 2015 Smashwords survey, the top fiction genre is romance, and the top nonfiction genre is biography.

2. Writing your book

Write the best book you can possibly write, and be original. That means taking the time needed to fully work out the plot/thesis, character development, and style and tone. Keep writing and rewriting, and look for inspiration wherever you can, for example, by taking a creative writing class, watching YouTube tutorial videos, and buying yourself some inspirational writing books, such as On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

Is your book complete? You’ll want to spend time planning out the front matter and end matter. The front matter is a section of pages found at the beginning of the book that could include a half title page, a copyright page, a dedication, a foreword (not written by the author), a preface (written by the author), an epigraph (quote), and endorsements or blurbs from notable people.

The end matter content is placed at the back of the book and could include an author bio, an epilogue or afterword, a glossary, end notes and footnotes, an acknowledgement page, an appendix, an index, and a bibliography.

 Tip: If you’re having trouble finishing writing your book, remember that we all have a creative voice and a critic voice inside our heads, and any negativity you might be feeling is coming from the critic voice. So find ways to quiet it, such as writing for ten minutes straight, without stopping to rework anything. 

3. Editing your book

A writer simply can’t edit his or her own material—even if that writer is a professional editor! It’s just too hard to find your own mistakes. Plus, it’s always good to have fresh eyes on your work. For those who are not familiar with the different ways to edit a book, here’s a rundown of the four types of editing that an editor(s) can do for you to polish your book for publishing:

  1. Structural editing focusses on assessing and shaping material to improve its organization and content. This is the type of editing you would need if your manuscript was incomplete and you wanted advice on how to close the gaps in the story line, reorder the chapters, and resolve the plot.
  2. Stylistic editing clarifies meaning in the sentences, improves flow, and smooths out the language. This is the type of editing you would need if your manuscript was complete but you wanted to improve your wording and vocabulary, and you wanted advice on the plot and characters.
  3. Copy editing ensures correctness, consistency, and completeness. This is the type of editing you would need if your manuscript was complete and well written, and you wanted a review of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and consistency of style.
  4. Proofreading examines material after layout to correct errors in textual and visual elements. This is the type of editing you would need as a final review of your fully designed book after a copy edit and before going to print.

Tip: Use Editors Canada’s Online Directory of Editors with keywords to help find an editor experienced in editing books in your genre (e.g., historical fiction, memoir).

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

For a more in-depth learning experience on the ten steps to self-publishing, check out the online course How to Publish a Book, offered by Stacey D. Atkinson. Contact the author at info@mirrorimagepublishing.ca or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Watch out for Part 2 of this article soon!

Seminar Overview for Fall 2016 by Elaine Vininsky

The goal for the 2016-2017 seminar season is to look at all the levels of the editing process, from the big picture down to the proof stage: Substantive Editing, Stylistic Editing, Copy Editing and Proofreading. Substantive editing, (also referred to as Structural Editing), involves big-picture changes such as cutting chapters or sections, adding in chunks of new material, moving things around and perhaps inserting facts of cross-reference.  The stylistic editor makes the tone of the document appropriate to the audience and applies syntax for maximum effect. Copy editing is concerned with spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, house style and facts. The proofreader checks the designer’s work, to make sure that the manuscript content appears correctly in the final version, and also aims to catch all the errors that slipped through the previous stages of editing.

This fall, Frances Peck is again leaving her home in British Columbia and teaching Grammar Boot Camp and Punctuation and Mechanics on September 28 and 29, respectively. Grammar Boot Camp focuses on high-level grammar errors, the ones that make it past editors and proofreaders and into print.  Frances always invites participants to bring along any difficult examples they’ve encountered in their work.

Jennifer Latham returns after a two-year-break to teach Substantive Editing on October 14, 2016. Ten days later on October 24, Moira White will offer Copy Editing I. Elizabeth Macfie, whose notes described the above-mentioned levels of the editing process, will offer Practical Proofreading on November 9, 2016. To conclude the fall session, Moira White will return on November 24 to teach Writing and Editing for the Web.

Also note that the Editors Canada Structural Editing and Proofreading certification exams are taking place in Ottawa on November 19, 2016. Although the Structural Editing and Proofreading seminars are not directly related to the more challenging exams, they could serve as a review or perhaps an introduction to those looking at future certification exams.

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

Now, get to it!

September Speaker Night – Speed Networking by Peter Perryman

Wednesday September 21 sees the new season of Ottawa-Gatineau Editors Canada monthly meetings after the summer hiatus. These are your opportunities to socialize, network, hear from invited speakers, and contribute to your local association.

For our first meeting we are holding a speed networking event. These are commonly-used formats for people to meet each other in a friendly group environment that allows everyone to contribute and benefit from each other’s experience.

Elizabeth Macfie, who hosted a very popular speed-networking event at last year’s conference, will introduce the session and explain the format. In short summary, participants meet one-on-one at a table and spend just a few minutes introducing themselves and highlighting aspects of their professional lives, before moving on at the sound of a given signal to meet someone else.

It may be helpful to think in advance what information you would like to share in the two or three minutes you have with those you meet. For example,

  • Your name;
  • How long a member of Editors Canada and the local branch;
  • Any past, present or future roles within the association;
  • Any previous career or job experience;
  • Do you work in-house, freelance, or some other related career;
  • Do you have a preferred genre (fiction, scientific, legal, etc);
  • What’s the biggest challenge for you in editing (or aspect of your job);
  • What’s the favourite part of editing (or aspect of your job);
  • What would you like to get out of the branch meetings;
  • What questions you want to ask of your colleague;
  • Share an interest outside of your professional life;

These are only suggestions of course, but if you have business cards don’t forget to bring them, or other contact details you want to share.

The evening begins at 6.30 with coffee and cookies, and the speed networking begins at 6.45 for approximately 1 hour.

When: Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Free for members, $10 for non-members

Parking: Just behind the building, off Empress Avenue.

Hope to see you there!

Money Matters for Editors — Project-Based Pricing Versus Hourly Rates By Kaarina Stiff

 

Money is often a difficult thing to talk about, even when it shouldn’t be. One of the hardest questions for me to answer as a freelancer is, “How much do you charge?” It’s a perfectly reasonable question, but one that always leaves me speechless, at least for a few awkward seconds.

Keeping perspective

“Well, it depends,” is usually how I start. Then I spend a few more seconds reminding myself that it’s actually okay to charge people money for what I do, and I continue with a long-winded explanation that no doubt leaves the impression that I’m afraid to answer the question.

Reality might not be quite that bad, but it is fair to say that money conversations can be challenging, and there is no single right answer to a question about money. However, in most cases, the best response really is, “It depends,” because every job is different.

Breaking it into pieces

The first question I wrestle with is whether to charge on an hourly basis, or to establish a fixed fee per project. Last week, I had a chance to explore the issue with fellow freelancer, Dawn Oosterhoff, by looking at how the concept of project-based pricing can be applied to editors, as an alternative to charging an hourly rate. Here is a snapshot of what we considered:

The project-based approach

Project-based pricing has a number of advantages. It sets a cost ceiling for the client, which many clients appreciate because it’s predictable. It also doesn’t penalize experienced freelancers for being quick at what they do, in the way that an hourly rate does. (Of course, experienced freelancers can command a higher hourly rate, which is explored below.) Project-based pricing is also an excellent way to represent the full spectrum of experience that you, the freelancer, bring to a given project.

However, project-based pricing also has disadvantages. For editing work, it can be hard to accurately assess the level of effort needed for a job based on a preliminary review. And while the same holds true for hourly-rate services, it’s easier to mitigate the risk by providing clients with a range, and communicating with them promptly if you encounter problems. With project-based pricing, the freelancer is at risk of taking a financial hit if the estimate is too far off. On the flip side, if you are too generous to yourself in a project-based estimate, clients might balk at the cost.

Taking it hour-by-hour

Hourly rates, which feel more like the norm in freelance editing circles, also have distinct advantages. For the freelancer, charging on an hourly basis means you get paid for every hour worked, even if you uncover issues that weren’t apparent at the beginning. Hourly rates are also easy for clients to understand, because it’s evident to them exactly what they’re paying for.

On the other hand, hourly rate jobs can also come with pressure to “just work faster” to reduce costs for budget-conscious clients. It also exposes the difficult question about how to set an hourly rate. Less experienced freelancers will take longer to do a high-quality edit than veteran editors. Newer editors can compensate for this by charging a lower hourly rate, but this can present its own challenges by lowering expectations among the client pool, in an industry where we all want to see professional editors fairly compensated. It can also create challenges down the road for the budding freelancer who eventually wants (and deserves) to raise their rates.

Weighing the risks

So what is a freelancer to do? Even after weighing the pros and cons, we agreed on a couple of key points. No matter what the job is, page two deserves as much effort as page 222. An hourly fee felt like the best way to make sure that happens, because it eliminates any temptation, however subliminal it might be, to hurry through the later stages of a job that’s taking longer you bargained for. Of course, most of us would never do that, but it still prevents us from beating ourselves up for underestimating a job.

Project-based pricing seems most advantageous for less mechanical and more creative endeavours, such as in the freelance writing universe or maybe even in the world of substantive or developmental editing. But for folks whose editing work gravitates more towards copyediting, we closed our discussion feeling safer in the hourly rate universe.

Did we miss any big considerations? What do you think? Share your experience in the comments below.

Meet the Instructor: Fact Checking by Laura Byrne Paquet

 

laura byrne-paquet

Laura Byrne Paquet has an extensive portfolio. She edits both fiction and non-fiction and has written for more than 80 magazines and newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, including National Geographic Traveler, Islands, enRoute, Chatelaine and The Ottawa Citizen. She recently co-authored an article on rural life for the spring 2016 issue of Ottawa Magazine. Laura has written or co-authored 12 books and novellas, including Wanderlust: A Social History of Travel (Goose Lane Editions). She is past president of the Travel Media Association of Canada.

“Finding out what makes people, places and processes tick is my specialty,” says Laura, “whether that involves delving into the history of Avon ladies, writing about Canada’s largest coffee pot or flinging myself off a B.C. mountaintop (the latter because a friend dared me to try paragliding”). Visit Laura’s website at http://www.laurabyrnepaquet.com for more information on her professional activities and personal interests.

Fact Checking, or checking the accuracy of names, dates, dollar figures, and other facts, is a half-day seminar offered on Friday, April 29, 2016. Laura will help participants develop this important editing skill that prevents mistakes, avoids loss of money and lawsuits, and establishes client/author credibility. She will share her wealth of knowledge and equip participants with the skills to perform the job effectively. Registration for this morning workshop will close one week before the seminar. Click here to register: https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352

 

 

Meet the Instructor: Eight-Step Editing by Moira White

 

Moira White

 

Moira White entered the work world as a social worker and later moved into social policy. In both professions, she found that her organizational skills, attention to detail, and love of words were pointing her in a new direction—the world of editing. Currently a freelance editor, writer, and trainer with both public and private sector clients, she has decades of experience editing print and electronic publications. Moira is a director of professional standards for, and a past president of, Editors Canada.

Eight-Step Editing is one of the most practical workshops in our canon. It takes the skills that are second nature to many professional editors and breaks them into a sequence of tasks that will improve the readability of the final product. If you’re an editor, whatever your experience level, this seminar will help you develop a systematic approach to editing and identify functions you may have been performing only intuitively. If you’re a writer, the Eight-Step process will give you techniques for improving your manuscript before it goes to an editor. This full-day seminar is offered on Thursday, April 14, 2016 and registration closes one week prior to the event.  To register, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352.

Meet the Instructor – Electronic Editing

Graham Young

Graham Young is an independent writer, trainer and communications consultant with more than 30 years’ experience helping business and government clients communicate at work. It is not an understatement to say that he can compose anything. He writes web content, annual reports, brochures, promotional flyers, data sheets, case studies, white papers, sales letters, advertorials, magazine and newsletter articles, news releases and speeches. Since 2000, he has conducted more than 500 writing and presentation-skills seminars and taught some 6,000 participants from the public, private, and non-profit sectors how to write and speak effectively.

Electronic Editing, offered on February 26, will allow you to take advantage of all the editing “horsepower” that Microsoft Word has to offer. Among other on-line editing topics, participants will become more confident with track-changes and compare-document tools and increase their proficiency at managing and merging changes by several reviewers. To sign up, go to https://www.gifttool.com/registrar/ShowEventDetails?ID=29&EID=20352. Registration closes on February 18. Bring a version of Word 2010, a laptop and an AC cord.

February Speaker Night -Developing and maintaining a house style guide by Tom Vradenburg

House style guides often start from a base of Canadian Style or other relevant, all-purpose style guide, but then exceptions and special terminology are added. In some cases, there’s a formal process for approving additions and tweaks. Getting people outside the publishing/communications departments of an organization to follow it is often an issue.

Get advice and guidance on developing and maintaining a house style guide from Kinneret Globerman, Marcia Fine and Mary Jean McAleer. Each will present for five to seven minutes on their particular experiences. Discussion from the floor follows.

When: Wednesday, February 17, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Good Companions Seniors Centre, 670 Albert Street (at Empress)

Free for members, $10 for non-members

Parking: Just behind the building, off Empress Avenue.