So, you’ve finished your novel. It’s edited, perfected, and ready to go - except that you’ve spent the last hour staring in horror at the long list of requirements to get it up on Amazon, and you can just feel your eyes glazing over.
Don’t worry, I'm here to help. I've already gone through that learning curve, so I can save you a whole lot of time and stress. Typesetting and publishing your books isn't actually hard, nor particularly time-consuming, but the learning curve is. I’m sure you’d much rather be working on the next book, wouldn’t you? Yeah, you would. Let me do the hard stuff for you.
What Services Do You Offer?
The short version is that we can do everything necessary to get your book out to the public. The long version is as follows:
- I can typeset your eBook ready for distribution via Amazon’s Kindle Store.
- I can typeset your eBook ready for distribution via Draft2Digital
- I can typeset your paperback for distribution via Amazon.
- I can upload your eBooks and print books to your accounts on your behalf.
- I can provide basic cropping and trimming services for your cover art, or add a back cover and spine if you only have a front cover.
- I can manually convert your eBook to .pdf, .mobi (Kindle), and .epub (everyone else) so that you can distribute it through your website.
- I can make small updates to a previously-formatted eBook and re-upload it.
- I can set up an Amazon Author Central page for you.
- I can help you set up a basic website.
- I can help you get in touch with other freelancers, including editors, cover designers, and more.
How Much Will It Cost?
I charge a base rate of $30 USD per hour, with a minimum charge of one hour.
The exact amount will vary depending on the complexity of your book, and what you want done. For example, a standard fiction novel can usually be formatted and uploaded in less than 5 hours, so you'd be looking at a fee of approximately $100.00.
But, if you're publishing a non-fiction book that's full of pictures or has lots of complicated headers and subheaders, then you're going to be looking at a higher fee, as it will take me longer to typeset.
I run a timer while working, so you only pay for the time it actually takes me to complete the tasks you've requested, unless you've negotiated a flat-rate fee with me before hand.
What Do I Need To Get Started?
This part can be a little overwhelming, so let me break it down for you and give you a literal checklist to work your way through. I love a good list! I'll even break the list down into a couple of segments to help you keep track of what you're up to. So, let's get to it!
Before You Start Publishing
Decide On Your Author Name
This one sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how often we get to the publishing stage and I ask, "So, what name would you like this published under?" and my client just stares at me like a deer in the headlights.
Writing is as much about setting up a brand as it is about telling a story. Pick a solid name that's easy to remember and easy to spell. It doesn't need to be your real name, using a pen name is just fine. You can even use multiple names if you want - I use different pen names for different projects, so that people can easily tell them apart.
Settling on an author name is almost as important as the book itself, so put some thought into it and don't be afraid to get creative. It's also a good idea to check if there's another author by that name out there, because it can cause confusion or even legal issues if your pen names are too similar. No, I am not related to Eileen Dreyer. I wish I was, though! She's so smart.
Buy Your Domain
This is non-negotiable. From a branding perspective, if you don't own your domain then you are nobody. You need your domain. When you're deciding on an author pen name, check if the domain is available. If it is, buy it immediately. Don't wait. If you wait, domain squatters can get it and hold it to ransom. Better to spend $20.00 on a domain you don't end up using than to end up having to pay $5,000.00 to get your domain back from domain squatters!
Set Up A Website
It doesn't have to be fancy, but you need a website. Even if it's just a landing page that directs people to where they can buy your book and maybe has an author bio on it, you need something to establish your internet presence and start building your brand.
Set Up An Author Email Address
Even if it's just a Gmail account with your author name, you need something to put in your marketing so readers can contact you, and so that you can set up your mailing list.
If you want to look super professional, consider getting a branded domain email instead. These have a monthly fee attached, but they look great! You can do this through a service like Gmail For Business and connect it to the domain you bought earlier.
Make A Mailing List
Mailing lists are the single biggest marketing took for a young author, second only to social media. Make sure you have a mailing list set up. There are lots of different providers available.
What you want to do is include a link to your mailing list at the back of your book, so you can capture the details of readers who just finished your book and might be interested in your next book. That way, when your next book comes out, you just flick them an email and it's a relatively easy sale if they enjoyed your last book.
Set Up Social Media
I know, I know, we authors aren't always the most social creatures. You do need at least one social media channel, though. Just choose one to start with, preferably one you already use and are comfortable with. Say, if you use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, then make a Facebook page for your author profile as well.
The important thing is that you update it regularly, and that you see and reply to any messages from your readers in a prompt fashion. Social media is an extremely powerful tool, but only if you use it!
Have Your Book Professionally Edited
Before we even think about publishing, your manuscript needs to be completely finished. If you start typesetting and then make changes, you'll end up paying extra since I'll have to redo your typesetting, and that's a bummer. So, edit and proofread first!
It can be tempting to skimp on the editing costs, especially if you think you're good at spelling and grammar, or if you have a relevant degree. But, if there's one piece of advice I can give to every author: Don't skimp on the editing! Your editor is your best friend.
If you need to know more about the different types of editing, head on over to the Publishing Questions page. I personally recommend working with a Developmental Editor for at least your first book, but it's up to you.
In terms of budget, you should expect to pay between $500 USD and $5000 USD for a good editor, depending on their experience, qualification(s), the state of your book, and the type of editor you're hiring.
Start Planning Your Release Schedule & Timeline
As a general rule, I recommend that you start planning your timeline once your book is edited, because otherwise you run the risk of rushing yourself too much and producing a poor quality product.
The first time you publish a book, nothing is going to go as you plan it, so make sure you keep your plans loose and breezy to start with. Don't book any events that are going to cost you a lot of money (like a book release party) until you have the physical books in your hand and ready to go.
Don't panic, though! It's totally normal. You'll get better at estimating your timelines as you produce more books and you start getting a better feel for how long each part of the process takes.
I recommend that you allow at least one week for the typesetting and publishing. It's better if you allow closer to two months, because that gives you time to make mistakes, fix them, make more mistakes, fix them again, order books, plan a book release party, book your marketing, and all the other little things that go into making a book release successful.
It can be tempting to just say, "I want it now!" and rush the book out to the audience, but your book will be more successful in the long run if you plan further in advance and do lots of marketing before it's released, and the best way to plan marketing is if the book is already done.
Think of it like a movie release. The movie is done months before they release it in theatres, right? And they spend that time cranking out awesome trailers, samples, doing early release viewings, and getting reviews. If they just dump it into the theatre without that marketing, then it doesn't do as well, right? Successful books work exactly the same way. Some of them even have movie-style trailers to advertise them!
Do Your Final Read Through
Make sure you do this before we start typesetting, because if you want to make any changes after typesetting begins then it's going to end up costing you a lot of money. I know it's tempting to wait until your book actually looks like a book, but the later you leave it the more difficult it'll be to make changes.
Decide Where You Want To Publish
There are a lot of different places to consider, and it can be kind of overwhelming to start with. Head over to the Publishing Questions guide for the most common ones.
I personally recommend starting with Amazon for a Kindle eBook and a paperback, and maybe Draft2Digital if you want to distribute to other places.
Once you've settled on your platforms of choice, head over to their websites and start setting up your accounts. This is usually pretty self-explanatory, but it can take a little bit of time to get all the information you need together, so start early and be prepared.
Start Thinking About Fonts
While you can just leave choosing the fonts up to me and your cover artist, it's helpful if you go into it with a clear vision of what you want your book to look like. What kind of style are you imagining? Do you want it to look fresh and modern? Classy and elegant? Simple? Complicated?
If you're not sure, take a look at some of the books on your bookshelf. What kind of style do you like to read? What suits your characters? Photographs and screenshots can help us to get a better feel for what you're aiming for, and that can help us produce a book that you like more at the end.
Decide On Your Paperback's Trim Size
This one is pretty simple, but also crucially important before you move on to any of the publishing steps or getting the cover art made. Quite literally, what size do you want your paperback to be?
The available trim sizes depend on the publishing platform you're using, but the most common one is 6" x 9". Your chosen print manufacturer will have a list of the available trim sizes on their website, so I recommend taking a look. You can view Amazon KDP's choices here:
Hire A Cover Designer / Buy A Cover
Now that you've decided what size you want your paperback to be, it's time to hire a cover artist. There are many available in different styles, so sit down and have a think about what style suits your cover best.
Do you want a photographic cover or an illustrated cover? Would you prefer something that has people on it, or something more stylised, like the classic Game Of Thrones covers?
It's a good idea at this point to settle down and take a look at what other people in your industry are doing. Like it or not, readers absolutely do judge a book by its cover, and your cover needs to both blend in with and stand out from the other books in your genre.
That sounds like an impossible conundrum, but it's possible with careful thought and lots of research. Jump on Amazon and browse the books in the top 100 of your genre. Examine the covers and note what they're doing or not doing. Are they all using a similar colour palette? A similar theme? What style are they?
From that research, start to think about what you could do to fit in with those covers, while also stand out. Maybe use a similar style but a different colour palette, or something like that.
Once you have a rough idea what you want, take a look through galleries of pre-made covers to see if anything catches your eye. Pre-made covers can be a great way to save money on your cover while still getting something unique. Sometimes cover artists get inspired to create a cover without a client already booked, and when they do that they can put the cover up for sale like a product. If you buy the cover, you get the rights to the artwork and to add your own title and such.
If you can't find a premade you like or you have something really specific in mind, then you can hire a graphic designer or artist to bring it to life instead. If you want an illustrated cover, then you'll probably need a separate artist and graphic designer, but it really depends on the artist. When in doubt, send them a message and ask.
Remember, your cover is the first thing most potential readers are going to see, so it's vital that it looks good! Art is a valuable commodity, so don't cheap out and don't try to low-ball your artist. Their work will make or break your book's success, so treat them with respect! As a general rule, expect to pay between $200 USD and $750 USD for your cover art. It's not cheap, but it's very much worth it in the end.
If you end up only getting a front cover, no worries. I can create a back cover and spine for you as part of my services.
Write Your Blurb
Oh no, not the dreaded b-word! Sorry, but this is an important one. If your cover catches someone's eye, then you've only got a few seconds to hook them and pull them in, which is what your blurb is for.
Ideally, you want your blurb to be 2-3 paragraphs long and no more than 200 words at the absolute most. You're not trying to summarise the whole book, you're just trying to catch people's interest.
My trick is to imagine that your blurb is being read out loud by a dramatic deep-voiced narrator over an introductory video, and write it to sound like a movie trailer. If you get stuck, read it out loud to a friend or family member and see if it catches their eye (or ear, as the case may be).
Keep it short and sweet, catchy, and interesting. Don't give away too much of the plot, just enough to give the prospective reader a taste and keep them wanting more. This might be your last chance to hook them, so make sure you bait that hook well!
Once you've managed to make your way through that gigantic list, then it's time to start seriously thinking about publishing. This is when you rope me in. Yay! I'm going to need some specific things from you to help you publish your book, so here's another detailed list for you.
What I Need To Publish Your Book
Your Competed & Edited Manuscript
I will need a copy of your manuscript, of course!
Please provide this in a commonly-accessible file format, such as a Microsoft Word .doc or .docx.
If you use a MacBook or any software that saves in a software-specific file format, please convert your manuscript first and give it a thorough checking over before you send it to me. I've noticed that converting file formats can cause some weird corruption issues or small changes to the formatting, and you'll be able to spot anything that's gone askew much more easily than I will.
If you work in Google Docs, please download your document in .docx format and then check it over, for much the same reason. Computers can be funny things like that!
Your Cover Art
I will also need your cover art, of course. Your cover art needs to be 300DPI, and the correct trim size for your manuscript.
If we're doing a paperback, then it's best if you can send me your cover art as an editable .psd file. Once the typesetting is done, I'll need to adjust the width of the spine in your full wrap cover to fit the final width of the actual book, and if I have an editable .psd file then I can do this for you.
If the artist is not willing to part with the file, then we will most likely need to have them do it for you instead. In that situation, please ask them which fonts they used on your cover, because I can then use the same fonts (or visually similar ones) inside your book to create a cohesive branding scheme.
If your artist won’t part with the file, please ask them which fonts were used on the front cover, and to make sure that the resolution of the file they sent you is set to 300DPI. Your artist will know what that means if you don't.
Any Photographs, Illustrations, or Logos You Want To Use
If you want any internal images included (e.g. photographs, illustrations, image logos, or fancy chapter breaks), please send them to me as separate .png or .jpg files, as well as in your manuscript.
The reason for this is because word processors usually compress the images when you add them into a document, and it can cause issues in printing if I just use the ones already embedded in the document. If you send them to me separately, then I can fix them for you without any fussing around.
Please ensure that you have the rights to use any images that you want to add into your book. If you do not, then you can get in a lot of trouble for breaking copyright. Don't just download pictures from Google to make your book look pretty!
Any Fonts You Want To Use
If you want special fonts used, please send them to me as zipped .ttf or .otf files.
Remember, fonts are like stock photos - some require you to pay for a license before you're allowed to use them in your book. If you're using a premium font, please let me know so that I know to delete the font once I've finished typesetting your book. The license you've purchased is owned by you, so I'm allowed to use it on your behalf but I can't use it on any other projects unless I have my own license.
A Completed Copy Of My Publishing Form
My publishing form just gives you an easy way to collect all important information in one place, so you can send it to me easily. It also gives me an easy way to find stuff when I need it, so I'm not bugging you with unnecessary questions.
You can access my publishing form via Google Forms, here.
Now it's time to get started! If you haven't already done so, hit up that contact form down there and say hi. Let's get your book out there!