This can fill a few volumes, so to be as helpful as I can in the time and space we have here, I’m going to list and briefly explain the steps in the journey I undertake with the authors who contract with me.
Preliminary conversations will establish the projected niche and intended reader as well as the preferred version of English (USA or UK/NZ/AU) in order to better direct the editing and wind up with a finished product that successfully hits the target market.
At the outset, it’s useful to understand that the first thing I do is something I love to do — and that’s read. I read the online Word document file of the submitted manuscript to test its readability – and its page-turner quotient (does it engage the reader and keep them turning the pages?). During this initial copyediting stage, the Track Changes tool is active to allow me to suggest initial adjustments to punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, and spacing. If there is awkwardness or misuse of tense in the text, this is also noted with adjustments suggested. Excessive use of adjectives or OTT (over the top) expression is also noted here. Additional descriptors or background data may also be suggested to fill in gaps in the reader’s experience.
I am careful to preserve the author’s style and voice, and also watch for the consistent use of the selected version of English (USA or UK/NZ/AU) with their varied spelling, punctuation, and idiomatic expressions and references . . . there are lots of possible pitfalls here.
By the way, in making suggestions regarding your submissions, I check with the appropriate points of reference including:
- Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
- Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition
- The Reed Dictionary of New Zealand English, Third Revised Edition
- Oxford English Dictionary — online
- Associate Press Stylebook — online
- APA Style — online
- The Elements of Style, 4th edition William Strunk and E.B. White — online
- Google — online
- Wikipedia — online
With a work of fiction, the next things I watch for are the story arc(s), the character development, and the story breaks and/or chapters. All of these may be discussed with the author. An especially good resource for this has recently been made available by one of the writers I work with. Do check it out.
If it’s non-fiction, I carefully check the organization, structure, form, and flow to make certain it is consistent and understandable to the reader.
Depending on the level of change required, this stage of the process may include several passes back and forth with the author until we agree the manuscript is in its finest form for now. This stage can take many months depending on availability of time and budget constraints. If further changes are to be made, they can be handled later as digital publishing is very forgiving and can be adjusted at any time.
The next stages include
- creation of the interior book design,
- choice of the best title,
- obtaining the ISBN number(s)
- creation of the book cover which requires image, font and colour choices as well as layout
Not to be overlooked is the author’s bio and the back cover “blurb” which is the most vital selling piece for your book. (It will also serve as the Description for your book’s page on Amazon or any other platform.)
It is also suggested that a headshot of the author be included on the back cover along with a QR code that links to the website of the author or publisher.
We then move on to format the manuscript for the desired method of publishing. For e-books, there are several platforms: Kindle, Apple iBooks, Nook books, and a few others; for Print on Demand (POD) paperback publishing, there is Amazon’s CreateSpace and a number of others that are available online; there is also the choice to have a local print shop print your book. Once we know our production costs, which is dictated by the size of the book, the initial pricing of the various editions and their distribution are determined here as well.
With all of that accomplished, it’s time to upload to the platform(s) of choice and complete all the forms for submitting a new title. This will include choosing the categories and keywords (an art form in itself that I’ve worked with successfully) that will give your book the best shot at quickly reaching Amazon BestSeller status.
Once the upload is accomplished and your book accepted, it will be live on Amazon within 24 to 48 hours.
If you also want to make your book available as a POD paperback, we will request a proof copy from CreateSpace to be certain the finished product (both cover and interior) meets our expectations. There is usually a two-week turnaround time for the proof copy to reach New Zealand. Once the proof is received, if all is well — and it usually is — it’s just the click of a computer key and the book is available for sale worldwide via Amazon.
At this point, the focus turns to marketing and promotion, which really should have been underway for the preceding three to six months. A recent client, Andrew Wilson, has covered much of that incredibly well in his blogposts. It would be well worth the time to take a look at this. The website, blog, articles, and reviews that he talks about venturing into are a beautiful demonstration of what is involved in launching your work into the marketplace.
If you decide not to self-publish, but anticipate presenting your manuscript to a standard publisher, it will still need to be in the finest form you can produce, and be converted to the specifications given in the submission requirements of the publisher’s website. Here is where a good copyeditor can make a vital difference in your chances for success.
In real life, as acquisition editors open new submissions, the first thing they look for is the level of professional editing: correct format, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax. All of this can be determined in the first few paragraphs, and if it doesn’t meet the standard, the manuscript is discarded without being read.
Even Amazon has raised their bar in the past few months. They are deleting existing published books and e-books that don’t meet the mark, and are increasingly fussy about what they accept for both Kindle and CreateSpace publication. Those who are accepted and manage to achieve the status of Amazon BestSeller will find their titles are included for promotion within the Amazon marketing machine. This is something not to be underestimated.
As a final point: be aware of and keep in mind the differences between writing, editing, producing, publishing, printing, marketing, and selling your books. They are all essential stages in the process, and successfully finding a publisher or agent — even if you are among the incredibly fortunate 1% to be picked up by either — does not remove you from the responsibility for marketing, promoting, and selling your books.
As Santel ePublishing, I have walked the track with my own Amazon BestSeller Introducing the QR Code: The Reality & the Magic, and helped many others to do the same.
Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, or a special book to promote you and your business, project, or passion, I’d be happy to work with you to share your words with the world. You can contact me via the Reply form below. It will come directly to me as an e-mail and I will reply.