Nov 14

Self-Publishing: Scams, Scams, and More Scams

Writing and Scams

Scams are all over the place and touch on almost every facet of life.

From paying off you student loans, to your car maintenance insurance is about to lapse, to calls that your Amazon account has been hacked.

Well, authors aren’t exempt.

There are a number of scams going around for self-publishing authors.

These scams range from online services that will publish your book, edit and proof your manuscript, create your illustrations (if you’re a children’s author), market your book, and even create a website for you.

Dealing with so many ghostwriting clients (around 350), I’ve heard and even seen some of the horror stories.

One client hired a self-publishing company, a subsidiary of a major publishing company, to do the illustrations for a book I wrote for him.

The client thought that because there was a major publisher somewhere in the background would ensure quality work, so he went with them.

The illustrations were poorly done and it cost him upwards of $10,000.

Another client decided to use one of these self-publishing services to market his book and create an author website.

He gave me the link to the website and again, another unprofessional job. The web copy was weak and full of errors.

Yet another client hired a marketing firm to handle her children’s book marketing. They subbed the work to ‘who knows who’ to create the website.

The subbed service had no idea how to write copy for a children’s site. They didn’t even know what webpages to create. The client hired me to oversee the website project.

Most of these services use ineffective marketing strategies. So basically, the author is paying for nothing. Probably eight out of ten of the services don’t’ know what they’re doing. And, they don’t care.

The scam stories go on and on and on. It’s horrible. Authors spend thousands and thousands for noticeably unprofessional work.

In regard to editing, proofing, and even ghostwriting, these services hire non-English speaking writers and most often they’re not professional writers. And, they charge top dollar for the work. I’ve even seen manuscripts where it’s evident that the writers didn’t know how to write for children.

I’ve had a couple of clients who decided to allow the self-publishing service they hired to publish the book edit the manuscript also.


The reason I know this happened is because they came back to me to revise what the service had done.

This is a main reason I’d never allow a client to use my name in their book. I have no idea what they do with the story once I hand it over.

A New Scam

Now, there’s a new scam in town. At least it’s one I haven’t heard of before.

This one aims at a book that’s already self-published.

According to Writer Beware, “scores of publishing/marketing/fake literary agency scams that are super-aggressively soliciting self-published and small press writers these days with an offer to re-publish or “re-brand” your book.” (1)

You should read this article as these services are worse than the self-publishing companies.

You can read it here:
(1) Say NO to That Offer to Re-Publish Your Self-Pubbed Book 

Another article to check out is:
3 Ways to Identify a Publishing Scam

If these articles can stop one author from jumping in blindly, they’re worth their weight in gold.

As someone who has been in this business for a while, it’s so sad to see authors taken advantage of by unscrupulous scammers… thieves.

So, please beware, and remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Need help with your story?

Whether you need help with ghostwriting, rewriting, or coaching, let me take a look at your children’s story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700.

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable and marketable story today!

Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, HOW TO WRITE A CHILDREN’S FICTION BOOK.


Children’s Books and Back Matter

The Secret of Getting Ahead

Creating Story Characters – Avoid These Common Mistakes

Please Share

Apr 13

Self-Publishing a Book – Steps to Upload Your Book for Publishing

Self-publishing and distribution.

I have an in-depth four-part article series on self-publishing from the point of having a polished and edited manuscript that’s ready to go.

I went over hiring a book formatter, getting a book cover, getting an ISBN, a barcode, and an LCCN. You can check out the first three articles at the end of this one.

I didn’t however get beyond the point of getting your book formatted and getting print-ready-files that you’ll use to upload to distributors and retailers.

You have your print-ready files in hand.

Okay, let me backtrack just a bit.

Pricing Your Book

When you register for the ISBN and the LCCN, you’ll be asked the price of your book, so figure that out beforehand if you can. If you can’t figure it out, you’ll definitely need to figure out what you’ll be charging at this point.

First know that different retailers may have different pricing rules. Check the retailers you’ll be focusing on.

If you want an ebook and you’re going with Amazon and want a 70% royalty rate, you’ll need to price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. For a full list of Amazon’s list price requirements, click the link.

If you’re publishing a paperback, the pricing works a bit different. Amazon or any other retailer or distributor will need to factor in the cost of printing.

Keep in mind that printing a children’s picture book will cost more than a non-picture book. You can check out KDP Amazon printing costs with the link.

I’m in the process of finalizing the formatting of my nonfiction book on writing for children. While it’s 250+ pages, there are no colored pictures or text, so I’ll be going with $9.99 for paperback and probably $4.99 for the ebook.

I’ll also sell the ebook directly from my website using PayPal.

Now you’re up to speed and ready for uploading to an aggregator or retailer. Which will it be?

First thing is to decide what service you’ll be using to distribute your book.

I’m going with Amazon (retailer) and IngramSpark (aggregator). Yes, you can list your book with both.

The reason for IngramSpark is because I want to be able to sell from other retailers than just Amazon.

When you upload with Amazon, they do not distribute to other retailers. This limits your selling reach. For those who want to go with just Amazon, you certainly can.

Using an aggregator for distribution allows your book to be listed in places like Barnes and Noble, WalMart, Target, schools, libraries, and thousands of other venues.

Other aggregators include Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Ebookit, Publish Drive, and Streetlib.

FYI: An aggregator is a service that publishes and distributes your book to multiple venues.

Time to create an account.

Go to the retailer and/or aggregator you’re going to use.

I already have an Amazon account for two other books, so I’ll work on creating an IngramSpark account.

Note here: Amazon is free to upload an ebook or print book. Other services may not be. As of the time I’m writing this, IngramSpark is $49 to upload both an ebook and print book.

Keep in mind, you can just publish an ebook, but with POD (print on demand) there is NO extra cost for publishing a print book or a nominal cost.

Since there are still those who like to hold a book, I recommend offering both.

On IngramSpark’s How it Works page, this is what you’ll see:

Simply click on the option you want and you’ll be asked to fill in some information to create an account: your name, email address, and password.

They’ll send a verification email for you to click on to activate your account.

Next, it’s on to accept their agreement then fill out your personal or business information. Then you’ll need to accept more agreements.

After this, you’ll be brought to a page to fill out your book’s information which will include:

  1. Title
  2. Subtitle
  3. Description
  4. Keywords

Think about the description carefully as well as the keywords. These marketing tools are what will help readers find your book and motivate them to buy. This is not a step to rush through.

You’ll also need to provide your banking information to receive book sales payments. They also want a credit card on file to pay to upload and distribute your book/s and any other services you purchase from them.

Word of advice: Create your “Add new book” when you’re ready to upload your print-ready file. I filled out all the information before I had the file to upload and lost it all. Now, I’ll have to redo it.

Now onto uploading the book.

Follow Instructions

IngramSpark’s new interface does have a couple of glitches, so you’ll have to be patient if you’re uploading now.

Follow their instructions and if you still need help, they have a community that should be able to answer your question. IngramSpark also has a number of articles on self-publishing. Or, you can do an online search.

I priced my ebook at $6.99 and the print book at $14.99. At $14.99, my royalty is about $5.

If I priced it at $9.99, my royalty would be $2-$3.

You’ll also be able to include other markets: United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, Australia, and Global Connect.

I chose them all.

You can check out what your royalty will be for different prices at:

Discounting Your Book

When you fill in your pricing, you’ll be asked about Wholesale Discount for book stores and other retailers of print books.

You can read more about discounting your books at:

I chose to go with the highest discount. While you’ll receive a much lower royalty on your sales to wholesalers, at least you’ll have the opportunity to sell more.


This is a tricky one. If you intend to sell to book stores and other retailers who buy in bulk, know that most will not purchase your book, even at a discount, IF they can’t return the books.

The catch with returns is if a book is returned, you will be charged for the wholesale price of that book. So, if you allow returns, save the money from discounted purchases for a while, to make sure you have the money to reimburse for returns.

If you do allow returns, be sure to choose “Returns – Destroy.” With this option you’ll only pay for the wholesale purchase amount, not shipping and handling fees.

I don’t know if there’s a time limit on returns from discounted sales. I’ve researched and haven’t been able to find an answer. If I do, I’ll add it to this article.

You can read more about Book Returns below:

Making Your Book Returnable
Returns 101 – What Authors Need to Know


Once you upload your book and they approve it, the distributor (IngramSpark) or retailer (Amazon) will make it available for sale.

Hope this eases the process of self-publishing your books.

You can check out the first three articles in the series here:

Self-Publishing a Book (1) – Formatting

Self-Publishing a Book (2) – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN

Self-Publishing a Book (3) – You’re at the Finish Line

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Simply email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

Oct 13

Three Critical Components for Publishing Ebooks

Ebook Publishing

Contributed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

A website owner was asked what the “three most important components are for publishing a professionally produced e-book” and he referred the question to me. As long as I was figuring out the answer to this all-important question, I figured I’d pass it along to you but publishing an e-book is harder than reading one so I thought it better to simplify a bit. I took the liberty of qualifying it with an introductory clause and here it is.

A self-publisher must be a jack-of-all publishing trades and many readers are still not comfortable with e-books I want to tackle the question with those considerations in mind. I also believe in frugal publishing and e-books are ideal for that.

So, the three most important components of publishing an e-book are:

  1. The cover. Visuals are powerful tools. A great book cover may be even more important for an e-book (even though it’s virtual) than for a paper book. It will probably be the only visual a reader will have to connect the reader to the author’s (and publisher’s) credibility. Self-published authors can do a pretty good job of producing a decent cover using the free app provided by Createspace/KDP on the website.
  2. Great editing. Too many authors and e-book publishers think that great editing is merely the process of eradicating typos, but it’s a lot more. It’s grammar. It’s the conventions of writing (like punctuating dialogue correctly). It’s even the formatting. And it’s knowing about the things that your English teacher may have considered correct, but they’re things that tick publishing professionals like agents and publishers off! If an author can’t afford (or won’t!) spend the money for a full-service editor, read The Frugal Editor, make corrections as you go and then get a few extra pairs of eyes to give you additional input.
  3. Formatting. I list this last because most e-book services like Amazon, Createspace, BookBaby, etc. make it clear that formatting is essential and provide guidelines for getting it right. I included expanded step-by-step instructions for formatting your book for Kindle in the Appendix of my multi award-winning book on editing, The Frugal Editor.

Note: You should know that when a reader buys your e-book on Amazon, he or she gets to choose what reader format they prefer for his or her preferred device after clicking the buy button. When you use Createspace/KDP, you reach most everyone short of those who refuse to buy from Amazon and you save accounting time tracking different online e-book distributors. You will also saves time reformatting from a print version to an e-book and get distribution and marketing benefits when you use them exclusively.

PS: The fourth most important component of e-books is marketing. No e-book—no book!—is truly published if it hasn’t been marketed. It’s part of the publisher’s job no matter how it is published or who the publisher is. And if it is self-published, marketing is as much the author’s job as the writing of the book. Everything you need to know to market your book the way a professional would if you had the money to hire her is in The Frugal Book Promoter


Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more about her and her books on her Amazon profile page, Visit Carolyn at

This article was republished from Writers on the Move

Children's ghostwriter

Let me take a look at your notes, outline, or draft. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter/editor. I can turn your story into a book that you’ll be proud to be author of.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Ghostwriter in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700

Let’s get your story in publishable shape today!

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Mar 17

Your Self-Published Book and the ISBN

Selling to libraries and book sellersBeing a children’s ghostwriter, I get a lot of clients who self-publish. Many of them use companies that will do the work for them, actually format and publish and distribute the book, like Amazon does.

If you self-publish a physical book or ebook and intend to sell it online, in bookstores, or pretty much anywhere else, you will need an ISBN.

What Does ISBN Stand for?

It stands for International Standard Book Number and every book must have one to be sold.

According to,

The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover, paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is required for a revised edition. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be reused. An ISBN is printed on the lower portion of the back cover of a book above the bar code and on the copyright page.

The ISBN’s purpose is to create a unique identity for your book so you can sell it. This is essential for book dealers, libraries, and other sources to be able to find and identify specific books.

Where Do You Get an ISBN?

If you’re using a self-publishing service, like CreateSpace,,,, Smashwords, Lulu, or similar entities, you don’t need to get your own ISBN, the service will give you one for FREE.

This may seem like a great deal. Who doesn’t like free?


If you use a free ISBN from a self-publishing service, they’ll be listed as the Publisher of your book.

In addition to this, according to Self-Publishing School, there’s another problem, “Most of the time, you can only use those free ISBNs with the channels those companies distribute through.” (1)

Because of these reasons, I strongly advice my clients to get their own ISBN.

Where Can You Get Your Own ISBN?

If you’ve thought about it and decided you don’t want the self-publishing company to be listed as the publisher of your book, you can get an ISBN through Bowker at

One number costs $125, but you can get 10 for $295 (these fees are as of the last time I researched them).

Unless you intend to be a one-book-wonder with only one version of your book, you might want to go for the 10 pack.

Sometimes you can buy an ISBN from the publishing company you’re using. At the time this article was written, you could get one from CreateSpace for $99.

What Name Should You Choose for Your Publishing Company

You can choose whatever publishing name you want to use. I made mine Writers on The Move.

You might use your name or a family member’s name. It can literally be anything.

For a lot more on the ISBN, check out:


Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

Articles on writing for children

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Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

Children’s Writing and Information Dump


Mar 11

A Writer’s Number One Job

Most important thing a writer must do.

Writers have to do a lot to create a good story, but the number one thing is to create a connection. You must make the reader care.

Although it’s the most important element of your job, lots of writers just don’t get it right.

According to Mary Kole of KidLit, “Whether they name emotions outright, or engage in a lot of telling, or sink into melodrama, a lot of writers aren’t very good at crafting genuine emotion.” (1)

Suppose you’re a children’s writer and want to show ‘hurt.’

It was a month since Tommy’s dad left. He ached deep down inside, in a place he never knew existed. He’s not coming back, weaved its way into all his thoughts.

If you notice, I didn’t say Tommy felt bad or he felt hurt. But, you definitely get the message. This boy is heartbroken.

Now suppose you want to show suspense or fear.

Lucas grabbed his little brother’s hand and pulled him close. “Shhh. Don’t make any noise. It might hear us.” They crept along the wall, barely breathing. Then suddenly . . .

There you go again. There’s no telling, no stating the obvious. Through actions and dialogue, you know there’s suspense and the older brother is fearful. Can you hear Lucas whispering to his little brother and see him holding him close?

Now what about showing anger.

Julia tightened her lips and narrowed her eyes. That’s it, she thought. She’s not going to call me another name. Julia drew her fist back, ready to let it launch like a torpedo out of its tube. But, before she let it make its way to Sarah, she stopped.

Here you have a couple of things going on. You can see that Julia is really mad. Mad enough to strike out. But you also see that she stopped. Even though she was angry, she had self-control and was able to stop herself.

So, along with showing anger, the brief passage is also showing the reader another facet to Julia’s character.

Okay, last one. Suppose you want to show happiness. This is an excerpt from Walking Through Walls:

Wang stared at the wall and repeated the formula. He took several steps toward the wall. He closed his eyes and quickened his step. In a matter of seconds he felt a thickness surround him, like walking through water or sand. Then it vanished. Wang opened his eyes.

“I did it. I did it. I DID IT!” His arms flew up as he danced and jumped around the yard.

I added the beginning of this passage so you could understand his accomplishment – walking through a wall. Once on the other side, he couldn’t contain his excitement. Again, no telling. Just dialogue and action.

Obviously, emotions look and feel different to everyone. So, use your own experiences or what you’ve seen in the movies or on TV. You can also see how other authors show emotions.

In addition to this, you can look around you. Watch how children or adults act out their emotions. Then write what you see.

What Do Feelings Feel Like?

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

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Jan 29

Barnes and Noble Press – Another Self-Publishing Option

I usually only post here once a week, but this is interesting news.

There’s now a Barnes & Noble Press (a self-publishing suite).

I guess it’s their take on Amazon’s KDP.

When I first heard about it, I was thrilled, especially since Createspace is getting rid of their author services. But, I’m not quite sure if it will be similar.

With B&N, you can upload your manuscript in a Word doc format, fill out the vendor information forms, and they will publish it into an e-book.

They say that within 72 hours or less, your e-book will be available for sale at and “all Nook reading devices and apps.”

It is a little more involved if you want a POD book in that you, as far as I can make out, will need to “prep your manuscript files, upload your interior page” as well as upload the front and back covers.

This is what a lot of authors need help with – formatting the manuscript and the rest of the book in order to upload it for printing. If you don’t get it right, the book won’t print right. It won’t look professional.

I wish they were more explicit in their promo as to whether they offer author services. They do mention a suite of tools rather than a suite of services, so I’m not sure. But, it’s probably a DIY thing.

If you’d like more information on the topic, go to:

It seems they’re just getting in on the game, but if you want an e-book, it’s another self-publishing option.

I’m beginning to believe that if you’re a writer of picture books and want to self-publish a quality book, you need an illustrator, a service or individual to format the book for publishing, and a publishing company, like Createspace or IngramSpark to turn it into a physical book or e-book.

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

Dec 23

Publishing Your Book the Hybrid Way

Book publishing with the hybrid publisherAs with everything, the publishing industry has changed. With the difficulty in getting a traditional contract through queries and proposals and the hands-on learning and doing of ‘real’ self-publishing, there is a third option: Hybrid publishing.

So, what exactly is hybrid publishing?

According to Ingram Spark, “Hybrid publishing combines some elements of traditional publishing with those of independent publishing.” (1)

But, that definition is kind of vague as there are different formats within hybrid publishing.

The partnerships

There are some hybrid companies that offer publishing assistance. These companies have expertise in the arena, whether it be editorial, design, marketing, or all aspects. This type of publishing has a form of gatekeeping to ensure quality. They will NOT print just anything.

While an upfront fee is required, it’s more of a partnership. These companies work with you. They’re vested in your book’s success. They make money from sales just like you do.

The pay to play companies

Then there are the hybrid companies that will publish anything as long as the author pays for it. There is no quality control. Back when, vanity presses were noted for this. These companies don’t care if you sell a single book, they already got their money.

And, there are variations in between. So, pretty much, any company that helps you get your manuscript published and turned into an ebook or paper book for a fee is a hybrid company.

It really is confusing.

In fact, a while after I published this article, I received a query to ghostwrite for a hybrid company. Looking into the company, I found that the author paid 100% of the publishing fees and the service took a percentage of each copy sold besides that. My first thought was how could they call themselves a hybrid – they’re a full fledged vanity press.

It really is confusing.

Even if you’re offed 100% royalties, be suspicious.

Publisher’s Weekly has an excellent in-depth article on hybrid publishing. It’s definitely worth the read if you’re think of paying to help get your book published: The Indie Author’s Guide to Hybrid Publishing

And, publishing expert Jane Friedman offers great advice on How to Evaluate a Hybrid Publisher

What they all have in common

Before you can think about self-publishing a book, no matter what route, you need to write a story. And, since your name will be on that story as author, you should write a quality story, one that you’ll be proud of.

I can help with that. I’m a children’s ghostwriter and can turn your idea into a publishable story. Or, if you have a story, but it needs a lot of work, I can rewrite it for you.

If you’d like to discuss a project, shoot me an email at

You can also check the Contact Page for my phone number if you’d prefer discussing it over the phone.

(1) Publishing Options: Traditional, Hybrid, Self-Publishing


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4 Writing Tips on Using Descriptions

Nov 05

Self-Publishing – 3 Perks and 4 Warnings


It seems the majority of people are self-publishing. With the limited traditional publishing opportunities, it only makes sense.

In addition to the difficulty in getting a traditional contract there are at least three perks to going Indie.

1. You are in complete control.
2. Getting your book published and available for sales will take a fraction of the time it will take a traditional publisher to get it out into the world.
3. You’ll make a lot more per book sale than through the traditional route.

All seems good, right?

Well, it can be. But, while self-publishing brings the brass ring within the reach of just about everyone, there are some things to watch out for.

Four things to watch out for when self-publishing:

1. You are in complete control.

While this is also a perk, it can be a pitfall. You don’t have the luxury of a publishing house editors, book designers, and illustrators. This means it’s all up to you.

Do you know what’s involved in producing a quality book?

If not, do your research.

You might want to start out with learning how to write if you’re not already a writer. Read books, take classes, do whatever you need to in order to write right. Keep in mind that this includes learning about revisions, editing, and proofing.

While self-publishing is gaining ground by leaps and bounds, there are still those books that are poorly written and published that weigh the arena down.

While writing a quality book is paramount, the book’s design and cover are also crucial.
Some questions to consider might be:

– Do you know what the front matter is?
– Are you qualified to create your own cover?
– What about the back cover design and copy?
– Do you know about interior layout design?
– Do you know how to properly format your book for publishing?
– Do you know how to upload your book to the service that will print it?
– Do you know you need to write a synopsis and description for your book?
– What about effective keywords and categories for your book?

There are more elements involved, but this will get you started.

If it seems overwhelming or is too time consuming get outside help. I recently hired someone on Fiverr to format and upload my book. I debated between publishing with CreateSpace and IngramSpark and ended up going with CreateSpace.

There are plenty of services and freelancers available to help you get your book published.

2. It’s most often not a slam-dunk.

I’ve had a couple of clients approach me saying they want a book that Disney will want to turn into a movie. I laugh to myself because so do I. After I find the humor in it, I tell those clients that there are no guarantees in books.

You must have realistic expectations when self-publishing. The market is flooded with books. It’s true that some books take off, but this is not the norm. Again, be realistic.

The best thing you can do is create a book you can be proud of and learn how to market it. The first part of book marketing is creating an author platform.

For more on this, read my article: What is an Author Platform?

3. You don’t have a hook.

With so many books available and more and more coming on the market each day, you need to find your hook. Simply writing a good book may not be enough. You need to let the reader know why they should buy your book. What makes your book different.

“Sensational writing, words that jump from a page, a heart stopping plot and real recipes from your grandmother in a village in Sardinia, where many people live to be 100, are all potentially unique aspects of a book, which will help you find readers.” (1)

If you don’t think your book has anything unique, take a closer look. Think of an accident witnessed by 10 people. Each one will have a different account of what happened. Even if only somewhat different, there will be differences.

Find the unique element in your book.

4. You’re not familiar with book marketing.

Even if you’re traditionally published, you MUST promote your books.

Book marketing begins with your author platform and the foundation of this platform is your author website.

Along with this, you’ll need to be on social media and you’ll need to create an email list.

While this may all seem like a lot of effort, if you want to make you and your books visible to potential buyers, if you want to sell books, it’s necessary.

If you need help with the first part of your book writing journey, I’m a children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and coach. Let me take your story for a spin. Contact me today at

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

(1) 5 Horrible Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make

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Oct 08

Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing – The Differences

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

It seems the publishing waters are getting murkier and murkier.

I think the most significant difference between ‘real’ traditional publishers and services that are NOT ‘real’ traditional publishers (vanity presses, self-publishers, and others) is the cost. This is aside from ‘quality’ in many cases.

If you are submitting to a ‘real’ traditional publisher, you will NOT PAY A PENNY.

What the ‘Real’ Traditional Publishing House Will Do

Let’s suppose that the publishing house, after they’ve read your manuscript, decided to give you a contract. They’ll then take your manuscript and request revisions if needed. After that it’s on to editing and proofing. They do it all and use professional writers.

Once the manuscript is polished, or possibly while it’s in the process, the publishing house will have the illustrations, layout, design, and covers done. The publishing house will cover all expenses.

You will pay nothing.

The publishing house gets its income from the sales of your book. The publishing house wants to sell your book.

You will get a royalty from the sale of each book. And, unless you’re with a major book publisher, you won’t get an advance on royalties.

The royalties are usually somewhere around 10 percent. It may be higher for ebooks. And, you may get the royalty quarterly or less often.

So, while you don’t have to pay a penny, you likely won’t get rich from your books.

What Does Self-Publishing Services Do?

Self-publishing services will also do everything you need done to publish your book. BUT, you will pay for each service individually or in a package.

You’ll pay to have the book edited, proofed, formatted, layout, illustrations, and so on and so on and so on.

While you get most, if not all, of the money from the sale of your books, there’s no guarantee that you’ll recoup the cost of self-publishing.

These services make their money from you, the author. They have NO vested interest in you selling a single book. Again, they’ve already made their money.

Another important aspect of self-publishing a children’s picture book or chapter book is you will need illustrations. This will be an added cost.

NOTE: Picture book illustrations can be expensive and you’ll need a bare minimum of 12 – 14 interior and a cover. You might also want a back cover illustration.

Interior illustrations can run from $80 per to $500 per. It depends on the illustrator you work with. Book covers are usually double the cost of an interior illustration.

I’ve had clients who have paid upwards of $10,000 for illustrations for one book.

Usual Time Frame of ‘Real’ Publishing Houses

The other thing that’s distinctive about ‘real’ traditional publishers is it can take 16-24 months for your book to get published (available for sale) from the time you sign your contract. This is especially true for picture books.

And, keep in mind that it takes that long after you’ve gotten a contract, if you get a contract; there are no guarantees. Don’t forget to include the time it takes for researching publishers, submissions, rejections, and repeat.

Yes, you have to be patient. But, again, you pay nothing. And, you have the clout of a traditional publisher behind you.

Time Frame for Self-Publishing Services

I think this can be anywhere from a two-weeks to four months, or so, after you have a polished manuscript. The four+ months would be if children’s illustrations were involved.

It can be pretty quick!

Quality of Traditionally Published Books

I’ve self-published and I’ve traditionally published. And, I’ve read many, many, many books in my niche. ‘Real’ traditionally published books are usually of a much higher quality.

This goes from the cover illustration to the interior illustrations, to the editing, to the formatting, and so on.

A big reason for this is the quality control that goes into a book being published with a traditional publisher. The illustrators and editors are professionals and do quality work.

Quality of Self-Publishing Services

While you can have the same services done through self-publishing, you’ll pay for each of the services offered. The down-side is often the writers, editors, and illustrators working for these companies are less than qualified or professional.

This is just the way it goes. The service needs to keep its costs down.

So, be super careful when choosing a self-publishing service.

Which Is Better?

This question is a personal one.

It could be you’ve tried to get a traditional publishing contract, but it just didn’t work out. This may not mean your book isn’t good, it means the publishing industry in overwhelmed with books.

Chicken Soup for the Soul received 144 rejections before getting a contract with a small publisher.

Or, it could be you have the ‘I want it now’ publishing syndrome. The thought of having to wait even six-months or a year to get your book published is more than you can handle.

I personally think if you have the time, try traditional publishing first. Even if you’re impatient, give it six months. You just never know.

If you feel self-publishing is the way to go for you, GO for it.

While there are lots of less-than-professional services out there, there are also some good ones. You’ll have to do your homework. Research services. Review some of their books.

Below are two articles that may be helpful:
- (Sorry, couldn’t get the URL to hyperlink.)

Also, the last link from The Alliance of Independent Authors’ Advice Center links to The Watchdog Desk and Choosing the Best Self-Publishing Services for You.

No matter what publishing path you take, you want a quality published book. You want a marketable and saleable book.

You want a book you’ll be proud to be the author of.

What are your thoughts on traditionally publishing and self-publishing?

Traditional Publishing Royalties
Should You Pay to Publish

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!


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Feb 26

The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins

Your book's front matterI get lots of questions from my clients as to what comes after the story is written.

While a lot of the questions are about illustrations, what’s been coming up more and more is about the pages that come before the story text begins. The pages before the story are called the front matter.

Just this week, someone asked me about a Dedication Page.

So, here is a list (in order of appearance) of the pages that will or may come before the first page of your story. Some examples are included.

1. Half title page – this is a page at the very beginning of the book that has ONLY the title of the book. It’s usually only used if pages are needed to thicken the book.

2. Frontispiece – this is a page that is an informative or decorative illustration that faces the book’s title page. It appears on the opposite page of the title page. This page is optional.

3. Title page – this is the page that lists the title, subtitle, author, and publisher. I may include the publisher’s location, year of publication, a description of the book, and either the cover illustration or other illustration.

4. Copyright page – this is the page that lists the copyright notice and the “All rights reserved” warning. It should also include the publisher’s name and address; printing details; the edition of the book; and the ISBN(s).

It may also include ordering information, your website URL, disclaimers, and the CIP Data Block from the Library of Congress.

In regard to the CIP Data Block, explains:

The Library of Congress issues a CIP data block to you. It is not something you can create for yourself. However, if you’re a self-publisher, you are not even eligible to have a CIP data issued to you by the Library of Congress.

You can, however, pay to have a P-CIP (Publisher’s Catalog-in-Publication) data block generated for you, if you truly desire. Having P-CIP data can make your book look more professional. It costs anywhere from $60-$100, and can be done by Quality Books, Inc. or (1)

5. Dedication – this is a page that explains the author’s source of inspiration and/or who she is dedication the book to. It can be a single name or it can be a paragraph or two. This page is optional.

6. Epigraph – this is a page that includes a quotation, sentence, or poem. It can face the Table of Contents or the first page of the text.

I’m currently working on a 10 book series that will have an epigraph in each book.

Epigraphs can also be used at the beginning of chapters, on the same page the chapter begins or on a separate page opposite the beginning of each chapter.

According to

An epigraph can serve different purposes such as it can be used as a summary, introduction, an example, or an association with some famous literary works, so as to draw comparison or to generate a specific context to be presented in the piece. (2)

This page is optional.

7. Contents Page, also known as the Table of Contents – this page lists each section and/or chapters within the book. It helps the reader navigate the book in longer works, like middle grade and young adult stories.

You would not use a Contents Page in a picture book.

8. Foreword – this page has a short piece written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to introduce the author and the book. It most often includes the writer’s name and signature.

Usually, the writer of the foreword is noteworthy.

This page is optional.

9. Preface – this page is written by the author and usually tells about how and why the book came to be and the process. It may also include what the book is about and why you think it’s important. This page is optional.

10. Acknowledgments – this page lists the people or entities the author is grateful to for help in the creation of the book. This page is optional.

11. Introduction – this page discusses the purpose and goals of the book. This page is optional.

12. Prologue – this page sets the scene for the fiction story. It can include backstory and should be told in the protagonist’s voice. This page is optional.

13. Second half title – this page helps set off or end an extensive front matter. As the name implies, it’s identical to the first half title page and is added before the beginning of the story text. It is used when needed.

Other pages in the front matter that you may find in some books are: List of Figures and List of Tables. But, for the majority of authors self-publishing children’s books they aren’t needed.

I just want to note here that most of the front matter isn’t necessary until after the story is written. And, if you have a picture book, it won’t be needed until after the illustrations are done.

You’ll need it when you’re ready to upload your book to sites like CreateSpace or when you’re ready to hand it over to them to upload it for publication for you.

That’s about it for the front matter of your book. The story itself is considered the ‘body of the book.’ When I get the time, I’ll write about the ‘back matter’ of your book.

Hope this is helpful in your self-publishing journey.



Additional Sources:


10 Tips to Hiring a Children’s Ghostwriter
5 Top Fiction Writing No-Nos
Writing a Book – To Traditionally Publish or To Self-Publish

Need Help With Your StoryLet me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn you story into a publishable and saleable book.

Shoot me an email at: (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700