Just What Do We Do?

If you’re new to the book game, you may be wondering just what in the heck we do. As an author, you know that books just don’t write themselves. You must write, rewrite and perfect your story.

Well, once you’ve got your story as good as you can get it, that’s where we come in. In editing, we read the book to get the overall theme and thrust of the story. Then we can take it chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, and line by line to really make it shine. Do you use unnecessary words? Like a particular phrase so much that it is overused? Have problems with spelling, colorful metaphors or anything else? We fix it. I’ll send it to you chapter by chapter if you like, and we can discuss any portions you are having issues with or that you disagree with my suggestions. Yes, you can disagree with me. It’s your book. I am merely putting that shine on. Depending on the level of editing you have chosen, this may be just a light spit and polish for grammar, spelling and proper usage, or it could be an indepth substantive edit with reorganization, rewriting, and coaching along the way. Editing can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the amount of work that is needed, what is happening in your life, and the occasional upsets in mine.

For instance, this week, my oldest daughter, our book cover artist, got appendicitis and had to have surgery. While she is recuperating, we won’t be able to do any book covers. Once she feels good enough to sit at her computer again (probably a week or two), she’ll be back to work. She designs covers for both electronic and print books. She can easily put together a nice looking cover from stock photos or with original art. Of course, anything original takes a lot more time than using a photo and manipulating it to fit your book. Plan accordingly if that is what you want for your book. If you are really organized, you can request a book cover while I’m editing, so both phases are being done at the same time. It is imperative for her to have a good understanding of your story and if you have any ideas in mind for the cover.

Formatting. What would a book be without formatting? It would just be a sheaf of pages. We can convert your book for both electronic and print formats. Each version requires its own set up and has its own rules. When we convert a manuscript file to an ebook, for instance, we make a copy of it and then remove all existing formatting. From there, we replace any italics, headings and so forth as necessary, using the guidelines necessary for ereaders to process it. With ebooks, pages are not the same as in print books. Ereaders must be able to reconfigure a “page” according to the standards it is made for. Print conversion from a Word file is done according to the specifications of the size of book you have in mind. All forms of conversion take into account readability, spacing, paragraphs and special text like italics and so on.

Proofreading can be done after the formatting has taken place. We go through your book painstakingly, marking down the errors we may have missed the first time (or second, or third…). No single person is perfect. Luckily, we have several sets of eyes we can put to work for proofing. All errors are corrected before the files are returned to you for publishing or submission.

Of course, we will continue to add services as we improve our tools and skills. We are always learning about better ways to help authors with their books. We do work with several authors at a time, in order to keep our prices low. In this economy, we know many of us are doing the best we can, and here at Unbridled Editor, we want to make it as easy for you as possible to polish and prepare your book.

If you’re still not sure, we are happy to do a sample edit for you. Send us about four or five pages from a section of your book that you feel may still need a little work. We’ll do the sample for you at no cost. It is our goal to be a one stop shop where you can get your book finished off in a professional manner. After all, no matter how good your story is, it still pays to have your book look as good as possible.

Formatting Your Book

Okay. You’ve written your book. You’ve had it edited and polished, now what? If you have decided to self-publish, you need to format your book. Ebooks come in many different formats. Kindles use .mobi files, Nook, Kobo, Apple and Sony use .epub files, and then some people prefer .pdf files or like to read online. How do you approach all those different formats?

Smashwords.com has a manual that helps you prepare your manuscript to go through their meatgrinder. When it is done, if everything is perfect, your book comes out in multiple formats that are then sent on to Barnes and Noble, the Apple ibook store, and can be read on the Kindle. Sometimes, no matter how perfectly you follow the manual, you’ll get a glitch. Then you need to go back, figure it out, and reload it into the meatgrinder.

Amazon lets you upload your own file for the Kindle if you prefer, and Barnes and Noble will let you upload a file for the Nook, but you must have it in the proper format. Ebooks must be set up so the words continue to flow properly, no matter how the ereader is set up.

Then, if you want to make a print copy, formatting begins all over again from scratch. CreateSpace at Amazon offers templates to use for your book. Lightning Source and Lulu.com have guidelines to follow. At each of these places, you must choose what size your book will be, and be prepared to have a cover ready that fits their requirements.

Formatting doesn’t have to be difficult, unless you have a lot of charts, graphs and such in your book. Then it can be a bit of a headache. But if you are overly familiar with your book, you may find yourself daydreaming and miss something. Formatting isn’t necessarily hard, but it is very detailed. You can’t use too may fonts, too many sizes, or use tabs and carriage returns. (Do they still call them carriage returns? If you don’t know what they are, that is when you hit the Return key.)

Word is the best program to use for formatting. If the file is set up correctly, most of formatting is just making sure every paragraph and italicized word has been included properly. Sometimes a paragraph may indent further than you want, or Word may just play with you for a bit. It can be frustrating.

However, there are plenty of people who will format for you. Costs are usually not too extreme for this service. We do formatting, and so do many other people online. The best way to find someone to do it for you is to get recommendations from other authors. Are the formatters willing to make corrections if needed? Will they make sure there are no background codes stuck in the file? Word puts them in sometimes. Do you want a linked table of contents for your ebook? Do you have your front and back matter ready? Keep all this in mind when you begin formatting or when you want to hire someone to do it for you.

Remember… you want your book to look as professional as possible and contain few to no errors. Formatting is all part of how you package your book.