Jan-Feb Issue of Self-Publisher’s Monthly

SPM_coverIt’s that time again! Don’t forget to go to your favorite ebook outlet and pick up this month’s copy of Self-Publisher’s Monthly. This month is full of all sorts of great information writers can use, all for the low, low price of 99 cents! It’s a bargain you can’t afford to be without!

This month’s issue includes:

Using Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” Feature as an Editing Tool by yours truly

What is “Do-It-Yourself Publishing” by Danny O. Snow

Connect with “Influencers” and Sell More Books by Rachel Thompson

Six Steps to Generating a Powerful Marketing Message for your Book by Scott Flora

Seven Common Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing Your Manuscript for POD Publication by Joel Friedlander

Institutional Buyers and How They Can Benefit Your Book by Shel Horowitz

Book Awards Increase Sales by Dan Poynter

Live Links to Freebies and Useful Resources

Don’t miss this and all the other issues of this terrific publication!

Nov-Dec Issue Self-Publisher’s Monthly!

SPM_coverThe new issue of Self-Publisher’s Monthly is out! Why am I excited? Well, not only am I a contributing editor to this fine publication, but every month, you are treated to a plethora (yes, I said plethora!) of fine articles on the art of publishing your own work.

This month’s issue offers some great advice on promotion, tightening your writing, publishers, learning to sell, how print-on-demand printing and distribution works, how to maximize Amazon’s new Matchbox and Countdown programs, how much indie authors can realistically make from their books, and more! :)

You’re getting off the cuff advice from people in the self-publishing trenches like Rachel Thompson, Scott Flora, Danny Snow, Joel Friedlander, Dan Poynter, and Florrie Kichler, and me.

Aaaaaaand… the publishers of SPM are offering a contest to win an ebook publishing package from Self-Publishers Monthly! All you have to do to enter is email an order confirmation of any issue in 2013 from Amazon, Apple, Nook, Smashwords, or any other bookseller to newsdesk@u-publish.com with the phrase “e-Book Publishing Drawing” in the subject line. How awesome is that?

I’d say you get a lot for a measly 99 cents. If you haven’t checked it out before, you really should.

You can get your latest copy here: http://www.selfpublishersmonthly.com

Selling Yourself Short

The other day, I got into a discussion with someone about why authors might skip the editing process before publishing. Now, I didn’t know this guy, and I’m sure he’s a perfectly great guy. I don’t hold anything against him. We had a lively debate on the topic.

In my own experience, I’ve picked up a few ebooks on free days that I’ve put down just as quickly when I discovered that they were filled with basic errors. I’ll be honest… I edit for a living. That means I spend my life reading unedited writing, so I’m extremely choosy about what I read during my limited time for leisure reading. The occasional editorial flub is no big deal, it happens in every book, even those put out by the Big Six publishers. But I can tell the difference between the occasional editorial flub and an unedited manuscript. Remember Elaine from Seinfeld testing her dates to see if they were sponge-worthy? Well, unedited books are not time-worthy.

Anyway, back to my discussion. My worthy opponent brought up cost. He said editing costs a minimum of $1500. I know writers are notoriously poor. I’m an editor and I’m notoriously poor. I get it. Money can be hard to come by. There’s a reason they say it doesn’t grow on trees, because if it did, we’d all be horticulturalists. As I told him, not all of us editors charge an arm and a leg. Some of us softies even offer payment plans and bend over backwards to work within budgets. Why? Because we all have families to support. You gotta feed your kids, I gotta feed mine (and boy, it seems they eat more every year, doesn’t it?). I can’t speak for every editor out there, but this is why I work with several clients at one time… to keep my prices as low as I can. My rent won’t get any lower, but hey, I can spread my costs out to make it easier on my clients, right? So, authors… you may think we charge a lot at first glance, but we’re also having to use our fees to not only run our business, but to pay all those pesky bills that you have to pay at your house. It seems as soon as one month starts, it’s over and the cycle begins all over again. I’m sure you feel the same way. So, I do what I can to keep it reasonable, including a big discount for payment in full upfront. If you can afford it, you don’t have to worry about making payments, I don’t have to worry about sending reminders, you save money, it’s all good.

He suggested that most people don’t press the quality issue when I suggested that you can’t redo a first impression, and maybe that’s true. But they won’t buy book two, either. Putting out a second poorly done book won’t help you sell more books. While some may ask the seller for a refund, others won’t. When authors are signing petitions to convince Amazon not to refund ebooks after seven days (and part of me doesn’t blame them… you can read any ebook in seven days and return it, quality or not) the issue over quality becomes clouded. Was the book returned because the final quality was not up to par or because the reader knew they could get their money back, no questions asked?

Now, Amazon does have certain standards in place, but many of them don’t kick in unless complaints are made by readers. How many readers know how to make these complaints? How many readers actually write reviews? There’s the rub. Without the extra layer of an editor, how do these errors get expunged from the book?

To take it a step further, how do you know you have a competent editor? If you don’t know other authors who can recommend one for you, how do you know you don’t have one who isn’t an author just like yourself who decided they’d hang out an editorial shingle to earn a few bucks?

These are good questions. First, ask your author friends. They may have worked with an editor they liked. Second, (blatant self-promotion) you could hire me. :) Third, you can go to an editorial association like the Editorial Freelancers Association and peruse their members. If you go that route, make sure and look for editors who work on fiction. Fiction and non-fiction are two different animals, and not every editor is familiar with both. Not every good editor is a member of associations like this (not all of us can afford it yet), but you can bet that you can avoid the bad ones by going there.

If you’re not sure about an editor, look at their client testimonials. Ask them if they’re willing to edit a few pages for free as a sample of their work. When you send a sample, pick a few of your worst pages so you can make a fair assessment. If you’re testing more than one editor, send them the same pages so you can compare. Cheaper isn’t always the best choice, just like the most expensive isn’t always the best choice.

So, don’t sell yourself short. Put out the best book you can. Don’t skimp on the editing. You want a book as close to error-free as you can make it. You want your story as tight as it can be. You want it to be a pleasure to read, not something someone puts down after a few paragraphs.

Prepping Your Manuscript

Before you send your manuscript to an editor, an agent, or a publisher, there are a few things you should do to make it presentable.

If you’re sending it to an agent or publisher, look at their website for submission guidelines. Most will have their formatting preferences posted. Follow them to the letter. If you don’t see any guidelines, here are a few that will help your manuscript look its best.

Assuming you’re submitting a Word document, select all and go to the Page Layout tab. Under Paragraph, choose Indents and Spacing. Under Indentation, set the Left and Right at 0 inches. Under Special, choose First Line. The default of 0.5 inches is fine for a manuscript.

Now look just below Indentation and find Spacing. Set both Before and After at 0 point, then set Line Spacing at 1.5 lines. Any numbers that were in the box under At will disappear. This is fine. When you’re done, click OK.

Of course, don’t forget to run spellcheck and make sure you’ve made all the revision necessary to tighten your story.

Put a title page on your story with your contact information. Include your email, phone number, and address. Some publishers/agents will also require your word count, genre, and so on.

This presents a clean file that looks presentable and is easy to read.

Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission

You’ve written your book and have decided to submit it to an agent or small publisher. Before you just shoot your chapters or full manuscript off into cyberspace, make sure you’ve prepped it. Lack of preparation could mean you’re turned down…even if your story idea is good.

1. EDIT!

Edit your manuscript. I can’t stress this enough. After you finish writing, go through it again. Look for holes in your plotline. Look for wordiness. Are you using 5 words when you could use one? Give your book to beta readers and take their feedback to heart. Work with an author’s group. Make changes.


I admit proofreading your own work can be difficult. Your brain is so familiar with the story that it fills in what should be there. Use your spellcheck; while it is not always correct, it can help you make corrections in those little words that your brain corrects automatically, like teh for the or double words that your brain automatically edits away for for you. Annoying, isn’t it? Get some fresh eyes to go through it and mark problems they see, then double check those places and make corrections as needed.


Formatting your file can be challenging at first, but once you figure it out, it becomes much easier. Make a page break for new chapters, don’t keep hitting the Enter key until your text appears on the next page. Please. I beg of you. This can shift when the file is opened, leaving a lot of blank space in the middle of a page and your chapter may start at the bottom. 😛

Don’t use the tab to make your paragraph indent. Word makes it so simple to set your indents automatically, and most of the other word processing softwares also have easy ways to set this up. If you later decide to self-publish an ebook from your manuscript, you’ll be thankful you did this.

If you want to place a header in the manuscript, do it properly, so you don’t get your name or the book title appearing in the middle of a page. You cannot make headers by using a carriage return and using right justify.

Space your lines so they are easy to read. On a computer screen, 1.5 is a nice width. You can choose this easily with your word processing program. If you don’t know how, look it up in the Help section. Learning how best to use your word processor is an asset every writer should develop.


Choose a simple, easy to read font. DON’T send a manuscript all in italics or in a curly font. It is too hard on the eyes to read these styles for an entire book.

DON’T assume you can have large chunks of text in bold. Chapter titles, headings and subheadings, sure. Not large portions of the story.

DON’T send manuscripts full of typos. Learn your punctuation. If you have dialogue and you want to add a ‘said Todd’ to let the reader know that Todd is speaking, do it right.

“I’m going to the store.” Said Todd, putting on his coat.  THIS IS WRONG. DON’T DO THIS.

“I’m going to the store,” said Todd, putting on his coat. THIS IS CORRECT. DO THIS. You can also replace the comma in this example with a question mark or exclamation point if it is applicable to the dialogue.


Of course, you still need a good, solid story, but making sure you attend to these things before submission will help save your book from ending up in the slush pile due to careless errors.