Author Archives: bill

Layout and Formatting – Step 6 or the Next Step

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This is a topic with varying opinions and I’m not going to cover them all. Instead I’ll just describe the tools I use to prepare my books for publication as print books or ebooks.

My favorite software for print books is Serif PagePlus. At present I’m using version X9 but I have used versions dating back to X4 with success and you can save a lot by purchasing one of the older versions from Amazon. When using PagePlus I create a file for all the front pages and then a separate file for each chapter. Then I create a book file for the entire book. Each chapter is then listed in the book file and a pdf can be completed from the book file.

I have used PagePlus since 2008 and it’s always delivered great pdf documents ready to upload to my printer which is Createspace. There are many other companies that work with self publishers but the service from Createspace has been consistently first rate. Createspace makes it easy to get your book published and distributed worldwide without any fees. You just pay for each book you order as proofs, for book signings, submission to the Library of Congress, etc. Once your book is published it automatically goes into Amazon and they create a fulfillment estore for you. It’s a good, solid system.

To format ebooks I used Microsoft Word because it’s what I have but I’m sure you can use other software programs. It’s easy to format a book even with photos or drawings and there are many instruction books and tutorials to help. I normally upload my ebooks to Kindle because it’s such a large market, however there are other options. One that I like a lot is Smashwords. You can upload your formatted book to them and they will distribute it to many other resellers including iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.

For more information about publishing your own books check out http://booksfor.publishingsimplified.com/ or contact me at bill@positive-imaging.com or 512-217-4803

ISBN – International Standard Book Number

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ISBN is a critical part of publishing a book. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric book identifier that is assigned to every book to be sold commercially. And, it’s assigned to every edition or variation of a book. For example, if you will be publishing an ebook and paperback version, each one would have a different ISBN.

ISBNs are normally 10 digits or 13 digits. The 10 and 13 digit ISBN are the same except for a 3 digit prefix normally 978 or 979. ISBNs are critical because no commercial reseller will handle a book without it. ISBNs are country specific and in the United States they are issues by R. R. Bowker.

ISBNs can be costly if purchased individually but much less costly if purchased in quantity. Purchasing a single ISBN from R. R. Bowker can cost $125. You can purchase 10 for $250. I purchased 100 for $575, only $5.75 each. They are even less expensive in larger quantities.

For more information about ISBN go to https://www.myidentifiers.com/. Contact me with any questions. Thanks.

Print or eBook?

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Another step in publishing a book is to determine if it will be an ebook or a print book. I believe the best decision is to do both. Today most self published authors publish ebooks because it seems simpler and much less costly. If you know the steps involved it’s not really simpler and the cost is only more after the book is published.

Some still believe that print books are dead, replaced by digital ebooks in various versions but that’s untrue. Print books are alive and well and experiencing somewhat of a resurgence. I always publish both ebooks and print versions of my books and those of other authors. Usually I create the manuscript for the ebook version because the Word document is perfect for either Kindle or Smashwords. Then I use the manuscript to copy and paste into my publishing software.

While there are many options for publishing software, and you can use Word for this purpose, I prefer to use Serif PagePlus. I started using version X4 and am now on X9 and it’s still my favorite.

For those interested in self publishing or as I call it, independent publishing, I’ve written two books and you can check them out at http://booksfor.publishingsimplified.com/. Contact me at bill@positive-imaging.com with any questions. Thanks.

Step Three – Designing the Book

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There are many ways to design a book and many opinions on what looks best and what’s right and wrong. I always try to keep things as simple as possible and work to make the interior of the book look good while still being easy to read.

When I published my first book I had little experience in design so I decided the best way to learn was to go to a local bookstore and study books on the shelf. I looked at many genres and learned that it was difficult to find two book alike. Design seemed to be a matter of choice and opinion. I advanced my research to finding the designs that I really liked and then I studied how I could improve them and make them mine.

One of the things I noticed and found troubling was that many books had quite narrow margins next to the spine of the book. This made the book difficult to read plus you almost had to damage the spine to read comfortably. The second thing I noticed was that some fonts were much too small. The only reason I see for the tiny font is reducing the number of pages. Within reason this may work but if the font gets too small to read comfortably it’s not a good idea.

I even saw several books where the design involved a very narrow margin at the spine but a large and generous margin at the outside edge. This may be considered an attractive design but I didn’t care for it and have never used it on any of my books.

My method is to allow adequate white space, a large enough font, and sufficient room at the spine to make the book comfortable to read.

As to fonts, there are plenty of design articles to provide information for a good choice. If in doubt I would format several pages with different fonts and then print them and select the one that seems best.

There is much more to learn about design and you might even consider hiring a book designer if you are unsure how to proceed.

Is Anything Really Free?

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We’ve all heard, “There’s no free lunch!” To a large extent that true, but not always. For example, there’s some great software applications that are free with no catches. A great example of that is Open Office, an excellent office productivity software and GIMP, a great graphic software to name just two that don’t attempt to sell you anything. And, I’ve attended some valuable webinars and tutorials that were free even though they did try to sell me something at the end. I made good use of the information and purchased nothing. I’m sharing this because I’m encountering something interesting.

For the past two weeks I have been placing posts on Facebook, Linkin, Twitter, and my blogs for a free self publishing workshop that’s coming up on January 28th in Austin. I placed one on this blog also. The workshop is in a small room so I can only accommodate ten attendees. At first, I thought because it was free my problem would be selecting ten from many. As it turned out, only six attended but all of them learned a lot and received the two free books.

I’m trying to figure out what happened. Perhaps no one believed it was free because there’s a catch to everything. That’s often true but the only catch with this workshop was that I can only take ten. The workshop was free, short (three hours), and included two free books that covered everything in case anyone missed something. You can check them out the books at http://booksfor.publishingsimplified.com/

Maybe they believed that I had some motive that would come as a surprise at the workshop. Well, I did have a motive but it was no surprise. As an independent publisher my business depends on authors accepting and trusting my expertise, reliability, and honesty. By conducting this workshop I got to know the attendees and share my expertise with them and they might tell their author friends about me perhaps bringing me some future business. It’s even possible that an attendee may contact me for help in the future but there was nothing to purchase at the workshop nor any sales pitch. It’s the same as this blog and my other blogs and websites, just an opportunity to share my expertise so others get to know and trust me.

I guess it’s also possible that the response was been poor because I didn’t promise that publishing a book will make you rich or even increase your income. I definitely want attendees but not enough to make those statements. No one knows what your book or any book will do once it’s published.

Print Books or Ebooks?

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With the advent of Kindle and other digital books, there were many predicting the end of print books. As creating digital books (ebooks) became easier many authors opted out of print books to publish quickly and inexpensively. As it turns out the popularity of print books has rebounded; and it’s a mistake to ignore that market.

As an independent publisher of both print and digital books, I work with authors every day. It’s been surprising how many still believe that the ebook is the only way to go without making a large financial investment. The truth is that, if you do the work yourself, the initial investment for either a print book or an ebook is quite similar.

For either print or ebook you must start with a good book that is well edited and has a great, attention-grabbing cover. Either books or ebooks require concise formatting for uploading to the printer or distributor. Admittedly, the formatting for print books and the cover creation are much more complex requiring a much longer learning curve and specialized software, but the steps involved are similar.

Often the main concern to authors of print books is the cost of books for order fulfillment. They sometimes envision a large financial investment and a garage full of books. Print-on-demand (POD) eliminates all that. When someone purchases a book, the printer processes the order, prints the book, and ships it to the customer while maintaining an accounting for the publisher.

The author does need to buy copies of their book for readings, signings and bookstore consignment if he or she chooses to do that.

Promotion of books or ebooks can be costly and time-consuming, but the cost is the same for either one. With print books, you do have the cost of sending copies to reviewers, but sending them an ebook version is an option.

I always advise authors to create both versions. Have questions about print or ebooks, email bill@positive-imaging.com.

Publishing – Step Two – The Title

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I like to determine the best possible title for the book as soon as possible. Often the author already has a title in mind. We need to spend time discussing the title to make certain that it peaks the interest of potential readers enough so they open the book or just look inside online.

The length of the title and font size are critical. Too long a title with a small font will be unreadable as an Amazon thumbnail. Even on the small size online the title should be clear and large enough to read and understand.

A good title can sell books so it’s important to take time to develop the best title for the book.

Publishing – Step One

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As an independent publisher my first step when publishing a book for any other author is to conduct a consultation to learn about the book and the author. I especially want to know the author’s expectations for the book. If you are going to publish your book, the same step applies. It won’t be in the form of a consultation but you definitely want to set your expectations. Most of the time the desire may be to have a best selling book, but not always. Sometimes an author just wishes to share memories, skills, or experiences with family and friends and perhaps anyone else who may be interested.

The more you know about your book and your expectations the more likely you are to succeed with your book.

If your goal is just to share, then numbers may not be as important but you still need to identify your readers. If your goal is to sell as many books as possible, you must know your readers if you are to reach them with a message about your book so they can become buyers. This is a critical and time consuming process that is essential to the financial success of any book. There are many good books on the subject of book promotion, marketing, and sales and many methods. Most of them have merit but there are no guarantees. You may have to explore many possibilities before finding one that works for your book.

Publishing or Printing – Part Two

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In the previous post I explained printing. In this post I will outline all the steps involved in publishing a print book and the future posts will explain each step in detail.

Step One – This involves consultation with the author to determine his or her goals for the book and the readiness of the manuscript.

Step Two – Determine the best possible title for the book if the author hasn’t already completed that step.

Step Three – Preparing the design of the book including the size, fonts, and many other things.

Step Four – Deciding if the book will be just a print book or also a digital version.

Step Five – Assigning an ISBN to the book.

Step Six – Format and layout the book in preparation for printing

Step Seven – Decide on the cover design, both front and back.

Step Eight – Create files to upload to the printer.

Step Nine – Upload all the completed files to the printer for review.

Step Ten – Review the online proof and then order a proof copy to check it out in print form.

Step Eleven – Make any corrections and resubmit for a second proof.

Step Twelve – Publish your book for worldwide distribution.

As you can see, printing is just one small part of the publishing process. And, this list doesn’t include one of the most important aspects of publishing a book for sale and that is promotion and marketing. This is a subject on to itself and is critical to the financial success of any book. These posts will only touch on this topic since not everyone publishes for profit.

Check back for more posts covering each step in complete detail.

Publishing or Printing

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After having a long conversation with someone interested in “publishing” a print book I realized that many individuals don’t know or understand the difference between publishing a book and printing a book. I spent time explaining to this individual what’s involved in publishing a print book and I decided to write about it to help others understand what I do when I publish a print book.

Basically, printing a book is what happens when you prepare a manuscript using some kind of word processing software and then take it to a printer and they print it exactly as you’ve prepare it. If you have created a cover design, it will appear either as the first page or on an actual cover page.

Once the book is ready you pick up the copies and do whatever you planned to do with it. Perhaps you will give it to friends and family. Perhaps you will try to sell it.

Printing is an important step in the publishing process but it’s only one step and much preparation and works involved in publishing.

Publishing is the complete process and I will detail all the steps I take in publishing print books for myself and others instead of just printed in my next post.


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