Author Book Publishing Guidelines; Need to Know


As an author, probably one of the last things you want to even think about are publishing guidelines. Am I right? As a published writer and textual content editor I know only too well just how overwhelming the publishing requirements can be, especially when your highest priority is the quality of your book manuscript content.

I have used the Amazon.com logo to accompany this article not out of any bias, rather, to share many of the content and formatting ‘guidelines’ that Amazon stipulates in their overall terms of use which are common to most publishers. Again, remember that publisher guidelines do vary to a degree, thus the critical advance review necessary by all authors. Always keep in mind that even with the same publisher platform used repeatedly, over time the publishers make changes to their guidelines and publishing software so you need to be acutely aware of current guidelines in advance of writing and publishing a new book.

Disregard the foregoing at your own peril, frustration and stressful experience finding out that, after writing your book or novel, you now have to backtrack to make time-consuming and costly changes to modify those issues that arise during the submission process where content formatting conflicts with publisher requirements. Having a clear, advance understanding of all content and formatting guidelines will save you, the author, a lot of time, anxiety and expense to resolve issues that become evident during the submission and online preview stages and thereby also mitigating extra cost to hire someone to fix the problems.

Even if you have a regular proofreader/editor, hand over a manuscript that is as clean and guideline compliant as possible to minimize the cost for that editor to resolve conflicting issues, especially those on the formatting side which can translate into hours of work undoing evident format problems.

Be aware that publishing houses will most often reject your manuscript because of  conflicting content and formatting issues and request that you have all issues resolved and then resubmit your manuscript for their further scrutiny before allowing it to be published live to the retail level. The publisher is indeed a stake holder who wants to ensure that quality products are published under their name and were they to ignore content quality issues, they too would be losing revenue on lost current and future sales potential.

Let’s get down to some basics that every author must consider and make decisions on in advance of manuscript submission. My comments are based on my own knowledge and experience and not those of Amazon or any other publisher/distributor. As Amazon is the largest book publication distributor globally today with a half-dozen publishing platforms and counting, I will base most of my observations on their content and formatting guidelines which really should be the compass for any author planning to publish today. The majority of my client publishing services have involved Amazon and each client’s chosen publishing platform. See Amazon Content Guidelines and Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines for more information.

Priority 1; Select Your Publisher

Before you put ‘pen to paper’, even before deciding on a title and mapping out your storyline and key elements of your characters, settings, geographical locations, genre and more, chose your publishing platform first! Why start with the publishing platform decision? Read on. Continue reading “Author Book Publishing Guidelines; Need to Know”

Authors; The Editorial Services Decision


Are you an author struggling with who you will hire to edit your book manuscript? You’re not alone! In this article I will explore this critical decision process and how best to come to that critical decision. There have been countless resources published on and offline regarding this difficult author decision process.

Perhaps this is your first time engaging a proofreading or editorial professional and there is that element of unknown. Is this person competent, experienced and efficient with their work? Do they have the right perspective and work approach for your publishing needs? Is he or she a good fit overall for you to work with and will the results be as you had expected, better or worse?

The proofreading and editing processes are, to a degree, a consultative process, especially in the early stages. Periodic questions arise that require the client’s clarification and as such the author needs to be prepared for some interaction to that end. That consultative approach helps the editorial professional to establish a clear understanding of their client’s intentions and expectations from the beginning and helps to stream line the process to a more efficient conclusion.

How does all this relate to a decision on who the author should hire for their manuscript services? Quite plain and simply put, the more inclined the editor is to taking the consultative approach, the better the results upon completion of the review and revision process and the happier the client (author) will obviously be. The book editing process is not just a drop and run process and “I’ll see you when you’re finished.”

I have had clients who have had terrible experiences with editors they have previously hired and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps there was insufficient fact finding and discovery up front. Perhaps either party was in too big a hurry to get the job started and completed before taking adequate time to get a sense of whether they were right for each other to begin with. In the case of those bad experiences, my clients have on occasion approached me initially out of sheer frustration and anxiety because valuable time had been wasted and their targeted publishing date was drawing near.

The Editor Search Criteria

Authors may be unsure what criteria to use when selecting a suitable editor for their book manuscript analysis and revision. Quite often the author has undertaken to self-edit his or her own manuscript content and is unsure whether they even need a proofreader or editor in the first place despite colleagues’ urging to get that objective second look.

As a starting point, the author should assess a personal budget level for the editing services before even picking up the phone to contact potential editing candidates. How much can you afford comfortably? The basis for budget considerations should always be twofold; the affordability of the services for you alone and the value you place on that service to begin with.

Consider what importance you place on having error-free manuscript content, grammatically sound with an objective eye assessing the quality of the content and whether its storyline is consistent throughout. Has the content been structured effectively and with fluid continuity from one paragraph to the next and one page to the next and so on?

Is the editing services cost your sole factor rounding out your final decision on who to hire? Have you researched to determine what competitor fees are and why the differences in fee structure in the editorial industry? Each editorial professional, as independent business persons, will set their own fee structure.

Another important factor to consider is testimonial reviews published on the editor’s website such as those testimonials found here on the home and testimonial page and any other relevant information that might be found through internet searches. Art the website testimonials strictly quoted statements or are those statements qualified by the client’s name and photograph, perhaps even contact information?

Information for discovery:

  • Schedule a date and time to either meet in person over coffee, at the editor’s office or if they are more distant arrange for a telephone conversation/interview.
  • Has former/current client information been shared such as whether clients are primarily one-time arrangements or are there ongoing, longer term associations?
  • Seek referrals from other offers for suitable candidates to consider.
  • Review websites and professional editing/author communities online to see the kind of interaction that occurs between the parties and how they respond to each others’ perspective. What kind of impression are you sensing about the individual?
  • Refer to professional editors directories and association listings.
  • Scrutinize the editor’s website for client testimonials, a client portfolio and samples of editing project documents. Reading the editor’s blog articles will provide a good indication of their level of authority/expertise in various aspects of editing and proofreading services.
  • Does the editor’s services extend beyond proofreading or editing? Do they provide other publishing services i.e. manuscript formatting for print and digital media publishing? Do they provide manuscript interior and cover submission services to conclude the publication process?
  • What assurances does the editor offer regarding the maintaining of the stylistic integrity of your work including your own distinctive voice and style? Most authors develop those distinct writing characteristics that clearly define their ‘signature’ and ‘brand’ that their readers identify with strongly and favor as preferred reading.
  • As the author, be clear on the editor’s role and the scope and depth of services agreed upon in advance.
  • Many editors request a representative sample of the manuscript i.e. several pages in advance for them to provide a trial review and revision which serves to give the editor a comfortable sense of what level of editing to expect for the remainder of the manuscript and on completion a sample suggested change markup copy for the author’s perusal to gain a sense of what they can expect from the editor moving forward.
  • Query the editor on how they would address unexpected issues that might arise during the editing process. Might there be additional services in those instances and how the overall cost would be affected?
  • Does the editor provide a written services agreement which clearly stipulates what services are included, cost itemization for each separate service and other relevant terms and addendums. Service agreements are an important part of the author/editor relationship because it clearly defines services mutually agreed to and protects both parties as a formalized and binding document.

The Hiring Decision

Be careful not to be hasty with your hiring decision. Take as many advance steps in the discovery phase as you feel you need to be sure in your own mind which editorial candidate feels right for you. Don’t prejudge an editor or proofreader solely on the basis of what others have stated in reviews whether good, bad or indifferent. There are many dynamics at play between both parties to the service. Decide objectively what is best for you based on your own project needs.

Don’t forget to get acquainted and get comfortable with each other. Consider the following:

  • Have your questions been addressed fully and openly or were the responses superficial, vague or evasive?
  • Is there a genuine friendliness or artificial over/undertones to the conversation?
  • Does the editor appear engaged and interested in your project or seemingly in a hurry to disengage and end the conversation quickly?
  • Compare several candidates and in doing so be consistent with your line of questioning, topics covered and not bringing everything down to the cost factor alone. Consider very carefully what your objectives are for your publishing project including the potential results once the publication is released and goes live at the retail level.
  • Consider what merit and experience the editor will bring to the table as the project moves forward. Are you both receptive to the process as you understand it?
  • Remember that strict budget constraints can impose limitations not only on how much the editor can do for you but also that ultimately those limitations can affect the final product quality and overall results/performance of your publication upon its release. There is potential for disappointment if results are not as anticipated and the possible desire/need for further editing services at additional cost and the process of publishing a second edition of the book.

In closing I’ll leave with you publishing authority Jane Friedman‘s guest article by Stacy Ennis titled ‘5 Ways to Find The Right Freelance Book Editor‘. You will also see the host’s link to her guide for author publishing titled ‘Publishing 101’. I have been following Jane Friedman for years now. Her comprehensive volume of reference and resource material and her own perspective on the publishing industry and authoring process is valuable insight for all authors to engage in and consider in pursuit of a better publishing experience.

© Don MacIver, Editor, Lasting Impressions Editing 2016

Audience Centric & Letter Perfect


A photo by Alejandro Escamilla. unsplash.com/photos/y83Je1OC6WcReader engagement has never had greater focus and it all comes down to audience connection through line by line content and storyline development that resonates powerfully, stimulates appeal and leaves the reader with a highly impressionable and memorable experience.

Whether the written works of an author, poet, writer, business professional, marketing copy or a personal account, the composition must convey a compelling message that invokes reader response. The English language is for many an intricate, complex and confusing tangle of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions and adjectives…the list goes on and on and what it all comes down to is choosing the right words in a clean, concise presentation and in a distinctly characteristic way that bears the unique voice and brand of its author.

When clients come to me they do so because they have specific and varied needs relating to the final presentation of their written project. They want to put their best foot forward and rightly so. For the author, standing out means competing against a rapidly growing authorship community that has vastly greater publication resources and options than ever before. They can opt for traditional print or electronic formats through self-publishing or publishing house services in varied levels of content development, marketing and distribution. Choosing a proofing or editing professional to help ensure accuracy, error-free, polished conveyance of our story has become an integral part of the publication process.

The business or marketing professional can outsource the challenge and tedious, time-consuming process of transitioning a draft copy to an error-free, fluid, polished communication that compels the targeted audience to actionable, measurable response. The very business of audience engagement has evolved tremendously over the past few decades and very few individuals can take on the various elements of developing and fine tuning effective communications and authored works independently…it takes a team effort.

When the product is finally presentation or publication ready the next challenge is getting that product, that compelling story out to the masses, delivering the message to the right audience and marketplace, on or offline..and that takes expertise all of its own. That our written communications have to stand out above the rest is an understatement.

There are vast resources available for understanding best practices of the day in terms of content development, management and conveyance. The dynamics of website content, keyword and meta tagging selection and related applications are perhaps one of the greatest challenges we face in promoting our products and services online. Internet is the medium of choice as reaching a global audience for many is critical to the growth and success of their business or creative endeavors. I have favored numerous reference and resource providers over the years as an author, writer, poet and business person.

Amoung my favoured sources of current and ever-changing dynamics in the world of communications and publication are SiteProNews for breaking technological, social media and search engine news, one of the most-read sources of expertise in their field. As an author I frequent Writer’s Digest for its wealth of information author centric, Writers Market for author publication reference and resources.

For the author who needs a little help with the grammatical side of their storytelling a good reference resource is found in the Grammarly Handbook and whether wearing the hat of an author, writer, poet, editor or business professional I have an open resource such as Dictionary Reference at my fingertips while writing any creative or business composition. Having both dictionary and thesaurus components is critical in not only conveyance of error-free content but also to discover and implement alternative and unique ways of written expression through synonyms and metaphoric phraseology. It all makes for better, more compelling reading and response.

Last and perhaps most importantly of all, as communicators in whatever form of creative or business writing we need to ensure that we not only stimulate thought and response mechanisms in our readers’ experience…we need to connect with them through their emotional response to our message. Our content can be exemplary in its composition, highly informative and engaging but unless we can make a critical, personal connection with our readers in a way that they can relate we will never fully accomplish our publication objectives.

In terms of connection, ask yourself this…why do romance novels sell millions of copies annually, why do bestseller publications of any kind, whether mystery, fantasy, poetic, science fiction, motivational, historical, geographical, autobiographical or other blockbuster book, magazine or other published medium historically sell to the masses year after year, decade after decade in such huge numbers?

When we discover the key to touching the human spirit, mind, heart and soul, only then will we fully understand emotive writing, audience centric and letter perfect, for the ultimate reader and audience response…and that, my friends means powerful human connection.

© Don MacIver, Lasting Impressions Editing 2016

 

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