Mar 09

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

Self-publishing tips.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been writing about my process of self-publishing a book. This is the third and final article in the series.

While I’ve ghostwritten a lot of children’s books, I haven’t follow the process after that.

I have done some illustration reviews, but usually I just hand the polished manuscript to my client with a list of illustrators and formatters and that’s it.

But I realize that figuring out what to do after that can be a bit overwhelming. I wanted to be able to provide more information to my clients to help them with the next step, so decided to revise a book I had published a few years ago.

When I first wrote the book, I paid someone on Fiverr to take my Word doc manuscript, format it, design a cover, and actually upload it to Kindle and CreateSpace. I had no involvement whatsoever aside from writing the manuscript.

What I learned from that experience is that you should really hire someone or a service who knows what they’re doing. While sometimes going the cheap route can work out, sometimes it doesn’t. So, buyer beware.

Okay, back on track.

In the first article of this series, I talked about getting the cover and back cover designed by 100 Covers. They did an amazing job.

Once the cover was ready to go, I sent my fully edited manuscript along with the cover image to the book formatter. I used Book Formatters.

The book I’m publishing is nonfiction, so all I needed to do was send the manuscript in a Word doc along with the cover. They’ll design the interior and create a PDF of the book (a print-ready file) which they’ll send to me for review.

Once I okay the PDF, the formatter will move on to building the ebook which are ePub and MOBI files. They’ll also create print version files if I want, which I do.

You will need to let the formatter know which selling platform or aggregator you’ll upload your book to, like KDP (Retailer) or Smashwords (Aggregator) or Ingram Spark (Aggregator) or other. I’m guessing there are different formats for different publishing platforms.

Most of Book Formatters clients use KDP and IngramSpark. That’s what I’ll be using.

So, right now I’m waiting for the PDF to review.

In case you’re not sure what an aggregator does, this service distributes your book. In other words, they make it available for sale in a number of places, like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and so on.

Not all aggregators have the same distribution network. IngramSpark has an extensive network with over 39,000 retailers including libraries.

An overview of how it works:

After your manuscript is complete and fully edited:

  1. You hire an illustrator or book cover service to create the front cover, the back cover, and the spine for your book.
  2. The manuscript and cover go to the book formatter.
  3. The formatting is done and you get print-ready files to upload to retailers and aggregators (like KDP and IngramSpark)

With 100 Covers, you’re also given a 3D/social image and print cover. I’m not sure if other designers do this also.

What Is The Process For A Picture Book?

I asked Book Formatters what their process is and it’s pretty straight forward:

The steps to get your picture book formatted:

  1. You submit your finalized cover.
  2. You submit your fully edited manuscript in MS Word format.
  3. You submit your images in a separate file. The images must be a minimum of 300 DPI. Your illustrator should know this, but just in case, you can change the DPI of images at https://convert.town/image-dpi
  4. Provide clear instructions on where the images are to go. Also provide a description or illustration of the image and text layout.

Let’s backtrack just a bit.

You will need a quality and fully edited manuscript no matter what type of book you’re publishing.

If it’s a picture book or chapter book with illustrations, you’ll need to hire a ‘good’ illustrator.

Try to find a children’s illustrator who does the text layout in the illustrations and does book covers. Some of them will provide you with a PDF of the book that you can hand over to the book formatter.

It’s important to work with an illustrator who knows what she’s doing.

Things you might add to your manuscript before getting it formatted:

  1. The dedication page. You could ask the formatter where to put it or send it to them to add it in for you.

(The book formatter will add the title page and copyright page.)

  1. The author page. This is a brief ‘about you.’ It lets the reader know who you are. This goes at the end of your story. You can simply include it at the end of the manuscript.

One thing I didn’t mention is the backcover copy.

This copy is an enticing description of the book. It should motivate the reader to actually BUY your book. Just be sure not to give the ending away.

You’ll give the backcover copy to the illustrator who is doing your book cover.

All in all, it’s not a crazy troublesome process.

Once you have a fully edited manuscript and book cover, you give it to a book formatter to turn into the print-ready files you’ll need for an ebook and a print book.

That’s it.

Then you create an account at Amazon, IngramSpark, or any other retailer or aggregator service you want.

Next, take the print-ready files and upload them to the services you chose.

Making Your Book Searchable and Findable

The retailers and aggregators will need information about your book, like a powerful description, keywords, category, price, and so on.

Read the questions and information they ask for carefully and complete everything carefully. It’s this information that will help sell your books. It allows the distribution service to categorize your book and make it available for relevant search queries.

Once you upload your book, it can take 24-72 hours before your ebook and print book will be available for sale.

Like anything else, take it one step at a time. Knowing what to do makes is so much easier!

One Final Note

If you really, really don’t think you can handle this process, there are self-publishing services that will put it together and publish it for you. You do need to be careful though. There are a lot of unscrupulous services out there.

You might look into Lulu.com and BookBaby.com.

Keep in mind that these services will offer you all kinds of services, like editing, illustrations, covers, marketing, and so on.

The last I looked, Lulu was $1200 for this and BookBaby was $1800 just for book formatting, publishing, and distribution.

Please be careful if you are thinking about using their services for editing, illustrations, and marketing. I’ve seen very poor-quality work from some self-publishing services.

I don’t know about Lulu or BookBaby, but do be careful.

I now take care of this process for clients who are interested. If you’d like me to give you a quote, send me an email.

I know this is a lot of information and I’ve tried to make it as clear and understandable as possible. If you have any questions, or I’ve missed the mark, please let me know.

You might find the first two articles in this series helpful also:

Self-Publishing a Book – Formatting (Part 1)
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2020/02/24/self-publishing-a-book-formatting/

Self-Publishing a Book – The ISBN, the Barcode, and the LCCN (Part 2)
https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2020/03/01/self-publishing-isbn-barcode-lccn/
Self-publishing a book may seem overwhelming, but if you get it done in steps, it won’t feel daunting. This article discusses the ISBN, the barcode, and the LCCN. All things you’ll need for your book.

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.

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (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!

Jan 29

3 Steps to Querying Publishers and Agents

The manuscript querying phase.

You’ve been slaving for months, maybe years, on your manuscript. You’ve read about belonging to a critique group to help you hone your work and took the advice to heart. You have also listened to the advice about submitting your manuscript to an editor after your critique group is done with it, and after you’ve meticulously self-edited it. Now, you’re ready to begin submissions.

While some authors choose to send queries to a publisher or an agent, there is no reason to choose, send queries off to both. But, there are a few steps you need to be aware of before you actually start submitting:

1. First Impressions

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. Yes, be professional. As with any business correspondence, do not use colored stationary, colored text, elaborate font, scented paper or envelope, or any other unprofessional features. You get one shot at making a first impression; don’t blow it on silly additions. And, don’t try to be cute or send a gift. Again, be professional.

2. Research

So, you understand you need to appear professional, but you also need to send your query to the right recipients. You can have the most professional looking query letter, but if you send a query to a romance publisher and you have written a children’s picture book, guess what? You’ll be out of luck.

Research for publishers and agents who work within the genre you write. There are services, such as WritersMarket (http://www.writersmarket.com/) that provide information on where and how to sell your articles or manuscripts. While these services may charge for the service, it is a worthwhile investment.

There are also books that offer the same information, such as Writer’s Market, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market. If you choose this option, you will need to get the new versions each year. Agents and publishers are changing staff all the time, new companies are popping up and others are closing down, you will need up-to-date information for your query submissions.

3. Content

In the February 2011 issue of the Writer, agent Betsy Lerner explained, “Editors and agents alike enjoy nothing more than being startled awake by a witty or moving letter.” They want to see something special and unique; this is where your pitch comes in.

While you may have taken heed and had your manuscript critiqued and looked at by an editor, you can do the same with your query letter.

You want to give the impression that you are intelligent, so your query letter must reflect that. Get it in the best shape possible, with a great hook, and then send it off to be critiqued.

Publishers and agents receive more queries than they can comfortably handle, so don’t give them a reason to simply reject yours because of unprofessionalism. Give your query and manuscript every possible opportunity for success.

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 email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. 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.

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Book Marketing – The Foundation
How to Write a Story
Traditional Publishing and the Author Platform – Be Realistic

Jul 24

Writing a Book – To Publish Traditionally or Self-Publish

Traditional or Self Publishing - The Author Dilemma

Whether to publish traditionally or self-publish is the question I get most from my ghosting clients. Most new to the writing arena don’t understand what’s involved with either path. This article will hopefully shed some light on the topic.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing, you submit your EDITED manuscript to publishing houses and/or literary agents.

To submit to publishers means finding ones that accept submissions in your genre. To do this, you’ll need to write a query letter. It’s the query letter that you first submit. And, until you find a publisher who’s interested in your manuscript, you have to keep submitting.

It’s the same process for both publishers and literary agents.

There’s no way to determine how long it can take to find a publisher or agent who will offer you a contract. It could happen quickly (not the norm) or it can take a year, two years, or more. There are no guarantees it will happen.

As an example, it took Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 rejections before finally getting a publishing contract. And, they put a lot of time and effort into their publishing quest.

And, there are lots of other famous authors who had their share of rejections. Check out this LitHub article: The Most Rejected Books of All Time

The traditional process takes perseverance and commitment. You need to research publishers and agents. For this process, I recommend getting “Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Marketing [current year].” It has hundreds of listings.

If you’re not a children’s author, you can use “Writer’s Market [current year].”

Assuming you do get a contract, it usually takes about two years before your book will actually be available for sale.

Again, there are no guarantees with the traditional publishing route.

But, with all that said, there is still a level of ‘status’ and credibility with books that are traditionally published. And, you never know if you’ll get a contract quicker than expected. An added bonus if you’re writing a children’s picture book, you won’t have to find an illustrator or pay for illustrations and a book cover.

Self-Publishing

With self-publishing you’re in control.

You write your story or hire a ghostwriter to write it for you. Just make sure the story is edited and proofed before moving onto the next step.

Once that’s done, you’re off to find an illustrator – this is if you’re creating a picture book or even a chapter book / middle grade that will include some illustrations, even if just black and white.

You can find children’s book illustrators at:

http://fiverr.com
http://upwork.com
http://www.childrensillustrators.com
http://blueberryillustrations.com (look for children’s book illustrations)

You can also do an online search. I provide my clients with a list of illustrators my clients have worked with.

While you can find some ‘cheap’ illustrators out there, be sure of their skills. Be sure they understand what you’re looking for. And, be sure they proof their own work. You MUST also check the illustrations to the text – make sure the illustrations are relevant to the content on that page. You’ll also need to check for accuracy and consistency within the illustrations.

I’ve coordinated illustrations to text for clients and have found a number of errors from missing parts of feet to inconsistent furnishings from scene to scene.

After you have the illustrations and text combined, you will need to prepare/format and upload the book to publish it. For this, you can use services like Kindle KDP (for ebooks on Amazon, but they are now introducing paperback options) or CreateSpace (for print book to Amazon).

Word is that sometime in 2018 Createspace will discontinue it’s author services, such as editing, book design and formatting.

For non-Amazon distribution, you can go with IngramSpark for print books or Draft2Digital and Smashwords for ebooks.

Just be aware that with these services, you’ll need to do the work yourself (format and upload). If this intimidates you, you can hire someone on http://fiverr.com or http://upwork.com to format and upload your book.

If the thought of having to find someone to format and upload your work is still too intimidating, you can simply use a service like BookBaby.com, GoldenBoxBooks, or DogEarPublishing.net for help in this area. They offer packages.

Warning: Services that offer packages in addition to formatting and uploading your book for publishing will probably offer lots of other services: cover design, editing, illustrations, and so on. They can be expensive and I’m not sure of the quality of, say their editing services. So, have the book already to go. All you should need them for is actual publishing and distribution.

Another thing to look out for is that companies that offer publishing packages may not have the best copywriters, editors, and illustrators. ALWAYS check the work they do for you and if it’s not right, insist they revise it. And, be sure to check out a few of their published books. And, if you hired them to do a website, check some of the websites they’ve designed. This means reading the copy they have on the pages too.

Summing it Up

So, whether to self-publish or go the traditional route depends on your time frame, finances, and commitment to submitting your work. And, if you choose the traditional path, you’ll need to have patience and perseverance.

Reference:
https://janefriedman.com/self-publish-your-book/

MORE WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Children’s Writing and Publishing Process – The Traditional Path
Self-Publishing: 3 Tips to Help You Avoid the ‘I Want It Now Syndrome’
Striving to Be a Better Writer by Writing More

Need Help With Your Story

Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter and rewriter. I can turn you story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.

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

Nov 08

Children’s Writing and Publishing Jargon – 11 of the Basics

Children's writing publishing jargon basics.

The writing and publishing arena have a number of words specific to the industry, its lingo or jargon. Below are some of the most important ones for the children’s author.

1. Manuscript (MS)

This is what your draft is called once it’s complete and ready for submission.

2. Synopsis

This is a short summary of the manuscript. It’s best to try to keep it to one page.

3. Proposal

The proposal is what you’ll send an editor or agent to pitch a nonfiction book. It should be detailed and include:

-A ‘hook’ cover letter
-Table of contents
-A market analysis (why the book will be successful based on marketing aspects)
-Author bio and platform
-Outline (brief summary of each chapter)
-Completed sample chapters (submit the number of chapters the guidelines require)

4. Query

This is a one-page letter to an editor or agent explaining what your manuscript is about. It should also include a bit on who you are and what your qualifications (experiences) are for writing this particular story (if there are any). You should also include a brief paragraph on how you intend to help market the book.

For more on writing and sending queries, check out:
Be Specific and Professional When Submitting Queries
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/2015/07/13/submitting-manuscript-queries/

5. Sample Chapters

These chapters should be completed and used for book proposal. For fiction work, if you an editor of agent and she is interested, she may request sample chapters. These chapters should be first ones in the story.

For nonfiction work, you can choose the chapters you feel best represent the story.

6. Platform

Your author platform is your online presence, your visibility and ability to market and sell your book. Your platform allows you to bring website traffic (visitors) to your site, build your perceived authority / expertise, and develop a relationship with readers. This includes having a social media presence also. A platform is a must for every writer.

If you need help building your platform or bringing it to the next level, check out my e-classes through WOW Women on Writing at: https://thewritingworld.com/your-author-platform/

7. Picture book (PB)

These books range from bedtime stories to ages 7 and 8. They have simple stories with one protagonist (main character). The story is told from the protagonist’s POV (point of view).

8. Easy (early) readers

These are the first ‘chapter stories’ for the beginning reader, aged around 6-8, or younger. These stories are usually between 500 and 1,500 words with illustrations here and there throughout. The story line is still kept simple and should still have only the protagonist’s POV.

9. Chapter books

These books are usually for ages 7-9, but can range from 6-12. The word count is boosted to 5,000 to under 15,000 words. Since the reader is developing her reading skills, the vocabulary, sentence structure, and story line is broadened.

10. Middle grade (MG)

These books usually cover ages 9-12. The can include more than one POV and have more complicated story lines. The word count varies. An average guideline is 20,000 (for younger middle grade) to 35,000 (for upper middle grade).

11. Young adult (YA)

This genre encompasses the twelve to sixteen and up age group. YAs can be edgy; plots and characters can be complex and serious issues addressed.

For a more detailed breakdown of children’s genres, go to:
Writing Children’s Books: Genre Differences

12. Draft

I included this additional term because some beginning writers wonder what the difference is between a draft and a manuscript.

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a draft is “a piece of writing or drawing that is done early in the development of a work to help prepare it in its final form.”

So, a draft is what you initially create and work on until it’s polished into the final manuscript.

References:
October 2014 of Writer’s Digest, “Industry Lingo” on page 22.
http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-8-essential-elements-of-a-nonfiction-book-proposal

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Plot and Your Story – Four Formats
Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused – 3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips
How Do You Make a Good Story Worth of Getting Past the Gatekeeper

Children's ghostwriter

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

Shoot me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line)

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Feb 22

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?

Submitting your manuscript

Writing is a personal experience. Each writer faces his or her own obstacles and processes. But, one common aspect of writing is it always starts with an idea. You may take that idea and turn it into an outline. You then take your outline and sprinkle it with letters and words and watch it grow. Words turn into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into chapters. The journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Then, the day finally arrives. Your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

The writing journey can take months and even years. But, the love of writing, the love of your story, and the hope of publication keep you dedicated.

Time passes, and finally your manuscript is complete. The envelopes are ready. All you have to do is submit, submit, and submit again. But, hold on a minute. Have you gone over all the necessary steps to ensure your manuscript is actually ready to be submitted to a publisher or agent?

There are eight steps that every writer, especially those new to the business of writing, should follow before submitting a manuscript.

1. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Then self-edit your story until it’s the best you can do.

2. Make sure you belong to a critique group in your genre. Submit your ms for critique.

3. Revise your story again taking into account the critiques you received. Here you want to use common sense in regard to which critiques you listen to. If all your critique group members tell you a particular section of your children’s story is age inappropriate, listen. If one member tells you he/she doesn’t like the protagonist’s name, use your own discretion.

4. Resubmit the manuscript to the critique group again. See if you’ve revised or removed all the problem areas.

5. Proofread and self-edit the manuscript until you think it’s perfect.

6. Print the manuscript and check it again. You’ll be surprised at the different types of errors that will be found in this format. You should use a colored pen or pencil for these corrections so they’ll be easy to spot later on.

7. Now, it’s time for the final corrections. Give it another go over.

8. Have your manuscript professionally edited.

If you’re questioning why you need to have your manuscript professionally edited after going to the trouble of having it critiqued and worked on it meticulously and endlessly, the answer is simple: An author and a critique group are not a match for the expert eyes of a professional editor.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
• Did you and your critique group catch all the punctuation errors?
• How about knowing when or if it is permissible to use quotation marks outside of dialogue?
• Do you know about the Find function on your word program to check for over used words, such as was and very.
• What about ellipsis dots, or the over use of adjectives and adverbs – got a grasp on them?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it understandable why it’s important to take that extra step, and yes, expense, to have your manuscript edited. If you’re undecided, ask the professional writers you know if they recommend it. You can also ask if they could recommend a qualified and affordable editor.

The powers that be, editors, agents, reviewers, and publishers, all know the difference between a professionally edited manuscript and one that is not. Every house needs a solid foundation, right? Getting your manuscript professional edited is the same thing – it will provide a solid foundation. The number of authors seeking publishers and/or agents is staggering. Yet, the number of publishers and agents is limited. Give your manuscript every advantage possible. One of those advantages is having it professionally edited. It can be the deciding factor in whether your manuscript makes it to the editor’s ‘to read’ pile or the trash pile.

Like this post? Please share it!

Need Help With Your StoryWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. 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!

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.

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