To see a list of our clients, please click here.
Contact Leonore via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact David via email: email@example.com
To see a sample of our editing contract, click here. This is a PDF file.
Some clients' books don't require editing. For example, many authors want to reissue (i.e., self–publish) books that were previously published by traditional publishers. (Make sure you have the rights back for your book before you do this!) I format those books for publication as e–books and print books and create covers for both formats. You can see the covers I've designed here. I set up accounts for the clients on Smashwords and Amazon (for e–books) and CreateSpace (for print books) and then upload the formatted books to those sites. My charge is $25/hour.
I also design covers for authors who need only that service. You can provide an image for the cover (e.g., a photograph to which you own the rights or a professionally produced graphic you have paid for) or you can have me find an appropriate image for you. Stock photos sometimes have prices set by the photographers. Naturally, the client is expected to pay the cost of any such desired image. Whenever possible, I use images that are in the public domain (in other words, free).
Contact David via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You are the author of the book. You own all rights to the book, and you receive all the royalties from copies sold.
Ideally, you send the book to us in the form of a Microsoft Word file attached to an email. We can discuss other methods of delivery.
If you have engaged our editing services, then we edit what you have written.
Together, you and we come up with a very short summary of the book. This summary is displayed on the websites where the book is sold. If we're also doing a printed version of the book, this summary, possibly expanded somewhat, also goes on the book's back cover.
We create the book's cover. You may already have a cover design in mind, or you may have an image — e.g., a photograph or a drawing — that will be the basis for a cover. If that's not the case, we will look for an appropriate public–domain image to use for the cover.
We use two sites to publish the e–book version of your book: Amazon and Smashwords. We upload a specially formatted version of your book to Amazon, and Amazon then converts that to a Kindle e–book for sale on Amazon's websites in various countries (currently, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Japan, India, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia). Similarly, we upload a differently formatted file to Smashwords, and Smashwords converts it to a number of e–book formats, which they then distribute for sale on a number of sites, such as Apple's iBookstore and Barnes & Noble's online site. (Smashwords has been negotiating with Amazon for some time about distributing books to Amazon as well, but those negotiations seem to be making little progress.) Smashwords assigns an ISBN to the e–book, whereas Amazon assigns the book an ASIN, their version of an ISBN. Neither company charges for any of this. They make their profit by taking a small percentage of the sale price of each copy sold.
For all of this to be done, you need an account on Smashwords and one on Amazon. We can create these accounts for you. If you already have an Amazon account, we use that account.
With an e–book, the emphasis is on content, not formatting. That's because e–readers, such as the Nook and Kindle, allow the user to control the formatting — e.g., font, font size, line spacing. In addition, Smashwords imposes its own limitations on how much formatting one can do. This isn't normally a problem for fiction, but it can be for non–fiction.
We have done e–books containing photographs and drawings, but the way the images show up inside an e–book may not always be the way the author wanted. Another thing to bear in mind is that older Kindles (i.e., the ones that predate the new Kindle Fire) only display black and white, so color illustrations show up as shades of gray.
These formatting limitations don't apply to print editions.
For print editions, we use a company called CreateSpace, which is a subsidiary of Amazon. As is the case with Smashwords and Amazon, you will need a CreateSpace account. The book will be a paperback. In most cases, the dimensions will be 6 inches by 9 inches, although we can discuss other possible sizes for special cases, such as children's books.
We create a formatted PDF file for the book's interior and another one for the cover and upload both of those to the CreateSpace website. CreateSpace assigns an ISBN to the book; there is no charge for this. CreateSpace makes the book available for sale on Amazon's websites in various countries, the Barnes & Noble website, and a number of other online bookselling sites. It is also available for purchase by libraries and independent bookstores.
If your book contains illustrations, you should provide us with high–quality versions of them — i.e., high resolution, high definition, 300 dpi or higher. It's best if you send the illustrations separately as email attachments, as .jpg or .tiff or .gif files. When you include an illustration in a Word file, Word normally reduces the resolution of the image unless you take special steps to prevent that. Low–quality images print badly. If you only have a poor quality version of an illustration, we can manipulate it to produce a high–resolution version that will meet CreateSpace's requirements. However, in that case it may look a bit blurry in the print edition. (This is not an issue for the e–book, only the print version.) You can also send us a sharp, clear printed version of an image; we can scan that.
Note: Including interior color greatly increases the price of the printed book, making it unattractive to most potential customers. Therefore, for the printed book, we convert all interior images to grayscale. The color versions are still used in the e–books, however. Also, the cover of the printed book is in full color.
Once the files have been uploaded, there's a delay of a day or two while CreateSpace checks the files to make sure that they adhere to specifications. Once that has been done, an email is sent to the account holder (you) saying that the files are okay and it's time to check the proof. We order a printed proof and have it delivered to our house so that we can do a final check for typos or other problems. We have found that it's always best to do this because it's easier to see some problems in the physical, printed book than when the Word file is displayed on the screen. We correct any such errors and upload the PDF file for the book again. There's a delay of another day or so while CreateSpace checks the new file. Once that checking is complete, CreateSpace emails you again to say that the proof is ready for examination. At this point, we check the proof online, on the CreateSpace site, using a viewer program that CreateSpace provides. If the proof looks all right (in practice, it always does by this point), we approve the book for sale. At this point, you can order copies for yourself from CreateSpace at the low author price. We will send you the URL for ordering the book. You can take those copies with you to sell at full price when you speak to audiences.
It takes up to a day for the printed book to be available on Amazon.com for the general public to buy. It takes a few more days before it's available on other Amazon sites, and generally a week or two before it shows up on Barnes & Noble and other non–Amazon sites.
The books are produced by means of Print on Demand technology, or POD. This means that a single copy of the book is printed at high speed when a customer orders it. There are many advantages to POD, but one drawback is that the cover price of POD books is higher than that of books printed in the traditional way. See below for more information about the price you'll be charging for your book.
You choose the cover price for your books. You have a great deal of leeway in this, but there are some restrictions.
On Smashwords, you can set the price of your e–book at zero — i.e., you can give it away. However, statistics compiled by Smashwords indicate that e–books sell the most copies at a price range of $2.99 to $4.99. You can make the price much higher, but consumers tend to be leery of paying a lot for e–books. If you're not a famous person with a large fan following, it's probably best to stay in the $2.99 to $4.99 range.
For e–books sold directly from the Smashwords website, you'll earn 85% of the cover price. When a book is sold elsewhere, such as the Barnes & Noble website, the money still comes to you via Smashwords, but your royalty is a bit smaller because Barnes & Noble takes their cut on top of the Smashwords cut; Smashwords then pays you 85% of whatever they receive from Barnes & Noble. Your royalty will still generally be over 70%, however.
Smashwords pays royalties every month. The payment usually arrives about a month later. You can receive payment via PayPal; that's the option we use for our own books. If the amount owed to you is less than $10, it is held in your account instead of being paid to you. You can choose to receive payment via check instead. In that case, you'll only receive payment if the amount owed to you is $100 or more; otherwise, the money is held in your account.
On Amazon, the royalty picture is a bit more complicated.
The minimum price you can set for your e–book is 99 cents. At that price, you earn 35% in royalties. If you set the price from $2.99 up to $9.99, you can choose the 70% royalty option. Above $9.99, the royalty rate drops back to 35%. In addition, to qualify for the 70% royalty rate, the price of the e–book must be at least 20% below the price of any physical version of the book (i.e., print edition) currently on sale.
The royalty is paid on the price you set for the book minus the VAT (Value Added Tax) that is charged for e–book sales in some countries, and also minus a small "delivery charge," the size of which depends on the size of your e–book file. It generally seems to be a few cents per book, or even zero for very short books — i.e., small files.
The 70% royalty rate is not available for books sold on the Amazon sites in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India, unless your book is enrolled in Amazon's KDP Select Program. However, enrolling your book in KDP Select means that you cannot sell it on other sites, such as the Apple store, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, all of which are potential sources of lucrative sales. Since most e–books are sold in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany, countries that do qualify for the 70% royalty rate, it's not worth worrying about the lower royalty rate in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India.
And finally, Amazon lowers the price of your e–book to match a lower price on other bookselling sites. So, for example, if you decide to price your book at 99¢ for a week or two on Smashwords, Amazon might notice that and lower the price of the book on Amazon to 99¢—at which point the Amazon royalty rate for the book drops to 35% because the price no longer falls within the $2.99–$9.99 range. Fortunately, once you raise the price back to $2.99 or above on Smashwords, Amazon will raise the price, and therefore the royalty rate, on Amazon.com, as well, but that might not happen for a few days.
Here, too, a good price range is $2.99 to $5.99, unless the book is very short, in which case you should charge less. If you're selling your book on Amazon and also via Smashwords, then you should make it the same price on both. Be sure that you don't make it more expensive on Amazon than on Smashwords. As mentioned above, Amazon's software will discover that it's for sale elsewhere at a lower price and then automatically lower the price on Amazon to match that lower price. If that lower price is zero, there's a chance that Amazon's software will decide that you are a pirate and not the real owner of the book, and it will shut down your account, requiring a lot of time and trouble on your part to convince Amazon that you really are the owner of the rights to the book.
Amazon pays royalties every month, but with a two–month delay. For example, you receive payment at the end of March for books sold during January. Amazon pays via direct deposit to your bank account.
CreateSpace calculates a minimum price for your book based on the size (height and width), the number of pages, the type of paper (white or cream colored), and whether the content is black and white or requires color printing. You can then add as much as you want to that price. The amount you add is your profit — royalties — per book.
If you're using color in your book, then you can only choose white paper. Otherwise, you can choose cream. Cream paper raises the minimum price a bit. Also, in our opinion, the print looks sharper and clearer on white paper.
If your print book is sold on a non–Amazon site, such as Barnes & Noble, your royalty payment is lower because the other site takes a cut before passing the money on to Amazon.
Even in the case of traditional publishing, the typical book gets little or no advertising. Publishers save their advertising money to spend on the very few books that they think have a good chance of selling extremely well. Most of the books they publish are allowed to sink or swim on their own, and as a result, most of them sink. It's up to the authors of those books to advertise them.
Of course, since your book is self–published, all marketing and advertising fall on your shoulders.
Make sure that all of your friends and relatives know about the book. Announce it on every website you can think of — Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, your professional organizations, etc. If you have a personal website, add a page for the book (here's an example). If you don't have a personal website, we can add a page to ours that will serve the same purpose. Here's an example of one that we did for one of our clients. We can also make up a flyer that you can hand out to people.
You can buy ads for your book on various websites, but in our experience, that's a waste of money. The exception might be if your book has niche appeal. For example, if it's a book about surveying techniques, you'd want to advertise it to surveyors. You might also consider doing that if it's a novel about a surveyor.
Contact local writers' organizations to see if they'd like to have you give a talk about your book and your experience with self–publishing. Take copies of the book with you to sell. Take business cards with you that include your website URL (or the URL of the page we've created for you on our website). If you've written a genre novel — i.e., science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery/crime, romance, Western — start attending any local conventions for that genre, if you're not already doing so, and get yourself on panels at the conventions. Always have a copy of your book with you to show the audience at the panel, as well as business cards to hand out.
Several of our clients have had us order 4–inch x 6–inch book–ad cards for them from VistaPrint. One side shows the book's cover in full color, and the other side provides the synopsis and the author's contact information. The cards are very high quality, reasonably priced, handy to carry around and distribute, or to display at a signing event or literary convention. Our clients say that the cards are an effective marketing tool.
Self–published books don't get reviewed in major publications. Your hometown newspaper might be willing to review your book, but if your hometown is a big city, the newspaper will probably ignore you. Fortunately, there are a lot of review websites. Use Google to find them and try to get a review that way. However, don't assume that a good review will result in a lot of sales.
Unfortunately, you shouldn't expect a lot of sales in any case. Your book won't be in bookstores or on the racks in the supermarket, where casual browsers can discover it. Self–publishing no longer has as great a stigma as it used to, but it still doesn't get much respect. You do read about self–published books that become huge successes, and we can hope that this will become more common, but it's still a rare event. Enter into this adventure for the satisfaction of having written and published a good book that you can be proud of. And then get to work on the next book.