Frequently asked Questions about Self-Publishing

General Info

FAQ BCB-Icon-LightbulbI am often asked many questions about the different aspects of Self-Publishing, and some of them appear below. Addressing them in one location means anybody can benefit from the answers. Do you have a question not answered below?

To minimise scrolling, the answers are presented collapsed. Click on any individual question to expand and view the answer, or expand the entire section using the links below each section header.

 

General FAQ

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Are your Fees flexible? ... Show

No! Yes! Maybe! No, not unless I agree upon consultation. I always charge according to the amount of work and time required. If you would like a discount, please let me know the desired percentage beforehand, and I’ll adjust the final price accordingly.

On a serious note, I do not ‘pad’ or ‘mark-up’ my fees. I charge you what my time is worth. I also have bills to pay and my time is at a premium. The value I put on my time is constant. Send me a message with your requirements and I’ll give you a quote. I’ll understand if we disagree.

What Self-Publishing services do you offer? ... Show

All the services I provide are listed in separate categories on the site. The umbrella sections are: Cover Design, Formatting, Editing, and Book Staging. I do not offer any sort of publishing service because I am not a publisher. My job is to assist clients to Self-Publish — themselves!

What is the difference between an ePub and a Kindle KDP e-Book? ... Show

Amazon’s Kindle is their own electronic book format, and the ePub version is what all other outlets and publishers utilise. It is an industry standard, but not everyone follows it properly. For additional information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB.

 

Self-Publishing FAQ

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Why should you Self-Publish your book? ... Show

There are many reasons to self-publish, and probably as many to pursue the traditional route. Often, securing a publisher or an agent has less to do with the quality of your work, but rather sheer luck and determination. Some authors have had bad experiences with the traditional route, and have struck out on their own with their next book.

Whatever reason you have for Self-Publishing, it makes sense to ignore naysayers, and publishing snobs. A Self-Published novel can — and should — be every page as good as its counterpart. Just as a traditionally published book is no guaranty of quality, the same is true of Self-Published books.

What are the advantages of Self-Publishing? ... Show

  1. Your book can be published as soon as you have completed the various steps needed to produce a handsome publication that has been properly edited and typeset. This can mean as short a period as a few weeks, to a month or two. Traditional publishing often takes over a year (often two) for your book to be published.
  2. If you are publishing in a niche market, you might actually achieve success sooner and greater profits by Self-Publishing. Books that have a short shelf life, or are topical, can reach their readers quickly while the demand is high.
  3. You have no one to answer to, or to shoot down your ideas. The only people you need to ‘sell’ your book to are, in fact, your readers.
  4. You will decide if your book is published, and not because someone else deems it worthy.

What are the disadvantages of Self-Publishing? ... Show

  1. You will need to take responsibility for your own success. There is no one to blame or rely on.
  2. There is no sidestepping the learning curve required to Self-Publish. You should learn about publishing regardless, but with the traditional route, there is a sense of security (sometimes misguided and false) in being in a publisher’s ‘hands’.
  3. Promotion is something you must begin early on, and maintain. Many people are under the ill-conceived idea that publishers will market their book until it reaches the top ten. Realistically, marketing is something you need to do no matter which path you choose. Success is always in your own hands, but many people don’t understand this factor.
  4. If you expect people to invest in you as an author, you will similarly need to invest in the production of your own book. Publishers may pay for these costs upfront, but it will ultimately come out of your future royalties, which is why they are generally poor. If a publisher takes a risk on your novel, you will pay for it — in future royalties.

What is the cost of Self-Publishing? ... Show

There is no actual cost to Self-Publish, as the e-stores take royalties from your sales. The various services required to produce a professional looking book will vary wildly in cost. As the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Be careful of selecting an artist based on his or her fees.

There is no avoidance of either investing your time in learning the ropes, or paying someone, such as myself, to produce the various elements of your book. Wouldn’t you rather spend this time writing your next novel?

What are the steps required to Self-Publish? ... Show

Assuming you have written the book, first you need to self-edit the manuscript. The more errors you correct on the outset, the cheaper the editing fee is going to be. Once that is done, send it off to a competent editor. For additional information, please read the question, What is the difference between an Editor and a Proofreader?

While your book is being edited, start the discussion with the cover artist, and begin the process of cover design. Bear in mind that a Print Cover can only be finalised once you get to the next step, which is the formatting and typesetting of the book.

Once your manuscript is finalised, ensure you get some proofreaders to perform the final read-through to pick up any last minute errors. As soon as you are content with the editing side of the project, it is time to prepare your book for print, and provide the cover designer with the book size, and the spine width.

How do I Self-Publish a Picture or Photography book? ... Show

The process is essentially the same for any book. Picture books are more complicated in layout. You must provide the person doing the formatting with all the artwork that will go into the finished product.

Ensure that each image is properly numbered and named in a logical sequence. If the various files are in a jumble, this increases the likelihood of error, and consequently, additional charges.

How do I Self-Publish an e-Book on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play? ... Show

The process is very similar on all the various platforms. Some will allow an author to upload and publish directly, and others will only accept submissions through an approved distributor. You must have two separate elements in order to Self-Publish: a cover, and what is referred to as the ‘interior’ of the book.

To publish an e-book, you need a high quality Jpeg or PNG Cover Image, and a final Manuscript, often in a MS Word format. Ideally, you want to format everything properly, and create a proper e-Book before uploading. For additional information, please read the question, Why should I have my e-Book professionally Formatted?

How do I Self-Publish a Printed Book? ... Show

You will need two separate PDF documents in order to Self-Publish a book in print: a cover, and the ‘interior’ of the book.

One PDF document contains a full print cover including the spine and back cover, and the other PDF, the interior content. This is the final typeset and formatted version of the book, complete with front and back matter pages. It is printed exactly as it appears in the PDF.

Should I register a legal Copyright for my Novel? ... Show

The simple answer is that it is copyrighted by the sheer virtue that you have written it. Once you state your copyright — for example, ©BC.B — your rights have been affirmed. The laws that govern most countries acknowledge that the originator of the work is the copyright holder.

You can choose to register your work with agencies that specialise in this legal procedure, but there is a cost involved for the process. It varies depending on country and product.

Do you need to register your copyright? In most cases, it is my opinion that this is unnecessary for several reasons. Registering the copyright will not prevent someone from infringing on your rights. You may have secured legal rights, but you still have to enforce them in a court of law, should the worst occur.

As long as you keep all of your original notes, manuscripts, emails and letters that you have sent out, you have proof of copyright. Only the originator will be in possession of the initial, unedited files. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

What is an ISBN, or an ASIN, and do I need one? ... Show

ISBN stands for ‘International Standard Book Number’. It’s a unique 13-digit number (first introduced in 1970), and it’s used to identify each published book. The ISBN is an internationally standard.

If you want to publish and distribute a book, you will need an ISBN. You either purchase your own numbers, or make use of an ISBN offered by a book distributor. When you purchase your own numbers, they are listed in your own name, and the same is true for the distributor.

Even though a distributor or publisher might tell you that they will assign or even sell you an ISBN, there is no way to do so. The ISBN is acquired, and registered under the name of the applicant, and it is not transferable. They grant you the use of their numbers, but they retain the ownership of the ISBN. When the ISBN is scanned, their details will come up and not yours.

The only exception to the rule is an e-Book published on http://www.amazon.com/ because the company uses its own internal ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). This is their version of the ISBN for any products offered for sale on their official website. It’s not recognised outside of the Amazon’s website listing. Essentially, an ASIN is an automatically issued number by Amazon’s database upon application.

An ISBN can only be used for one product. Many people are confused when each new variation of their novel requires an additional number. Every translation, format, or new edition will need its own unique identifier so it can be catalogued. No variant can share a common number. Think of an ISBN as an index card. For more information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISBN.

What are the Bar Codes on the Cover? ... Show

A Bar Code is a graphical representation of the ISBN, easily scanned by a dedicated point of sale machine, and it provides the information for the published book. All distributors and publishers require that you have an ISBN Bar Code on the back cover.

It must not be styled or modified in any manner, as it will fail when read by the point of sale scanner. If you wish to distribute your novel through regular channels, it’s a necessary ‘eyesore’ on your cover.

An ISBN is just a number, but a bar code can present any number, for any purpose. The vertical lines in varying widths encode information for scanning. A Bar Code can also hold the price of the book.

For more information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EAN.

 

Book Cover Design FAQ

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What is a Mock-up? ... Show

A mock-up is a crude ‘mockery’ of the final product to be produced. It’s a quickly put-together presentation to show to the client. The Mock-up is used to discuss ideas, and receive a reaction to the proposed artwork.

This is a great timesaving tool for the service provider, and it ultimately reduces costs to the client. The alternative is full payment for producing final artworks for each variation, which run the risk of rejection.

Why are Stock Images charged separately? ... Show

Stock Photography is a business and artists often need to purchase additional Stock Images to implement in the design of book covers. The number of images required will vary with each cover. I charge for additional images per project as — and if — required.

Some cover designers re-use many of the Stock Images they purchase so they simply build it into the design fee. The downside of this is that the Book Covers begin to share common elements. Unless the cover is part of a series, this should be avoided when designing Book Covers.

How do I calculate the Spine Width for my book? ... Show

The spine width will vary depending on the amount of pages the manuscript is formatted into, and the thickness of the paper used for the printing. The type of paper will differ with each printer, and this information must be given to the cover designer. All online Print-On-Demand companies have this information available on their websites.

Other factors that affect the spine width are margins, typeface, font size, layout design, and spacing elements, such as the styling of the beginning of chapters. Once all of these components are established, a proper spine width can be ascertained.

Which files do I get with my Book Cover Design? ... Show

All final Book Cover Designs are supplied in a jpeg format. Here is a breakdown of all the different versions of the book cover, and how you can use each one. Check for the appended section of each jpeg file name and consult the key below.

  1. “BookName-HQ” is the highest quality version of the image. You seldom ever use it because it is quite a large file, but some e-book sellers ask for it. If you ever do a print book, this can be used as the front. I always design the e-Book cover as if it is the front of a printed book.
  2. “BookName-Web” is a reduced file to use on the Internet. It’s still quite large, but compressed so it loads easily when viewed.
  3. “BookName-eBook” is to be used inside an e-Book if you need it. I hand-code my own e-Books so they have a proper cover inside. This is a reduced and compressed version so that it doesn’t cost too much on delivery costs when someone buys it on Amazon.
  4. “BookName-Thumb” is a 200 pixel high version of your cover. It is properly reduced and slightly sharpened. It can be used online or in your email signature, for example.

 

Printing & Typesetting FAQ

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What does Print-On-Demand mean? ... Show

When a book is not printed in great quantities, it is often made available to be printed and bound when there is a demand, hence the term, ‘Print-On-Demand’. When someone places an order for one or more books, the printers will only produce the exact amount requested and paid for.

This method of printing is more expensive in the long term, but it is cost efficient in the sense that there are no books gathering dust in your garage until you sell them. The best aspect of Print-On-Demand is that there is no burden of upfront costs. When you start selling books in greater numbers, it is time to print in bulk to save money.

What is the ‘Bleed’ in a Print Layout? ... Show

When a book is typeset for print, there is an allowance made for the ‘Bleed’. After the book is printed and bound, the outer segment of the pages is trimmed off by an industrial guillotine. This is what gives the book a perfectly squared edge.

If you have any content, such as photographic elements that must be flush with the edge of the page, a certain amount must extend well into the ‘Bleed’ section that is chopped off. In short, either your content must fall into the ‘safe’ portion of the page, or it must ‘Bleed’ into the section to be trimmed.

Why are there extra Blank Pages in the front of Printed Novels? ... Show

These pages are not only an aesthetic element, but they serve several purposes. The most obvious one is that they help to typeset the book as per traditional convention.

Another lesser known — or even understood — reason is to allow space for things such as an autograph (you want to sign your own novels, don’t you?) If the book ends up in a library, the librarian will paste an ugly sticker on the front page. You do not want this over your title page. In this light, a blank page has never looked so good, right?

What is the difference between a Print Format for CreateSpace and LuLu? ... Show

There is little to no difference in these, other than perhaps certain margins or tolerances. For additional information, please refer to the question, What is the difference between a Paperback and a Hardcover Print Layout?

What is the difference between a Paperback and a Hardcover Print Layout? ... Show

The typesetting, formatting, and general layout is nearly identical across the board. All the traditional layout conventions are applicable. With a compact mass-market paperback, the margins are less generous, and layout is tighter to save space and reduce costs. There are some differences to the covers if there is a dust cover, though.

The most important aspect to bear in mind is that not all Print-On-Demand services offer certain sizes, or even the option of hardcovers. You may need to select a different printer for your needs.

 

Editing & Proofreading FAQ

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What is the difference between an Editor and a Proofreader? ... Show

An editor will edit a manuscript, rigorously checking it for typographical errors, poor grammar, and incorrect punctuation, In addition, he or she will make editorial suggestions and comments on style, plot, and flow.

The proofreader’s task is to check if there are any errors in the final document, and to report them; that’s it! If you send an unedited manuscript to a proofreader, either the document will be rejected, or you will receive an invoice with an editing fee.