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Questions to be answered in this post:
*What service did you use to print the paperback version of your book?
*Who did you use as your editor? Where do you find a good editor?
*What did you do for your cover? Did you use a service? A friend? Software?
*Formatting your paperback. Did you do it yourself? How? Any helpful sites you looked at?
*Did you find someone else to help you? Who? How much did it cost? Helpful sites?

So, shall we begin?
What service did you use for the paperback version of your book?

JEWEL ADAMS: I print all my books through Createspace. They do an excellent job and their publishing diversity is great.

HEATHER HORROCKS: I haven’t ventured into print-on-demand (POD) yet (that starts later this year) but the two top choices are CreateSpace and Lightning Source. (Lulu is not a viable choice as they charge too much.)

JOLENE PERRY: I used Createspace. I know a lot of people use Lightning Source – there are a TON of blog posts on the pros and cons of these two services. I’m on the fence as to which I’ll use for my next book. The downside of Createspace is that since it’s print on demand, bookstores won’t carry it, b/c Amazon won’t take returns on paperbacks.

HEATHER JUSTESEN: I really liked working with CreateSpace because it’s very simple to use, you can do your own thing, pay someone else, or have Createspace do it (if you have cash to burn, which I sure don’t!) You order proof copies so you can be sure it looks right, and make whatever tweaks you want. And, I love that it will post up on Amazon.com, so you can post purchase links there and you don’t have to mail anything! Obviously, if you want to print a whole lot of copies to put into stores, using a regular printing company like Alexanders is less money per copy, but if you’re buying it only a case at a time like me, this is really the easiest way to go. I’ve broken even on my expenses so far, and everything else is gravy at this point. Createspace does print on demand, so if someone goes to Amazon and wants to buy a copy of your book, they print just the one copy and ship it to the buyer. You set the price for the hard copy. In fact, when you go into the program, you say how many pages the book is going to be, the book size (6×9 is the size of your other books) and it tells you how much the copies cost you, then it tells you how much you make if someone buys a copy from Amazon based on your price.

CHERI SCHMIDT: Createspace. However, for my cookbook, I’ll need to use Lulu so I can make it spiral bound so it lays flat. Createspace doesn’t have that option. I have heard the cover print quality isn’t as good with Lulu, though.

STACY J COLES: I went Indie for my book, “Enjoy Today, Before It Slips Away.” CreateSpace was my publisher and I was really happy with the end product. My book sales exceeded my expectations in the first couple of months. I am now getting it converted to an eBook to further the sales.

ME: Well, Createspace seems like the clear winner here. Lightning Source is a good second, and Lulu got one mention. If anyone knows anything more Lightning Source and Lulu, let us know in your comments below (or above because my comment box is above my blog—which is weird).

A VERY QUICK TUTORIAL on How-to-Use Createspace:
It was super easy to use. I think almost as easy as Facebook. So, if you’re interested, simply go to the Createspace link HERE and join. It costs nothing unless you use their services (cover designs, book trailers, book formatting, etc.—that’s where they make their money AND off the royalties of the books you sell through them). Once you join, go to your account and add the title of your book. You don’t have to add and upload everything on your book at once (so there is no need to wait until you have EVERYTHING completed before starting). You can get your project started and work on the technical/ legal side of things while you’re working on your book.
Once you’ve created your project in Createspace, you will see five tabs above your project:
1–Create tab (where you can order services if you don’t feel comfortable doing things on your own. I didn’t buy any of their services, but hey, it’s nice to know they’re available)
2–Set-up tab (where you will spend most of your time uploading Title info, ISBN, interior, cover, complete set-up.)
3–Review tab where you review your files and order proofs of your book
4–Distribution tab where you can choose where you want to distribute, the pricing, the description, and publishing on kindle (Hey kindle? That’s a new one from before—I’ll have to look that up; I wonder if they format your ebook copy for you?!!)
5–Sales and Marketing tab where you can track sales, marketing services, etc…
So ONCE AGAIN, the set-up tab is where you can upload your covers or your formatted book copies as soon as you’re ready. You don’t have to do it all at once.
Now, when everything is uploaded, go to the review tab and review your order and get proofs (about 5 to 6 dollars depending on how long your book is, but that’s about average).
We’ll talk more on the distribution tab in later posts (not that it’s hard, but we have to have something to talk about…).

So, what happens after that? How long does it take to get your proof?

JOLENE PERRY: Createspace has always cleared my book within a day. When I order proofs it takes about a week for them to get to me. Once I put up two books, I stopped ordering proof copies and approved them online. Now that I know how to format my covers and interiors and all that. I check it with their online service, but that’s all. ALSO – If you want to order a chunk of your OWN books, order them in fours, and don’t order from createspace (*Steph’s note: I think she means going through Alexander’s printing service. CLICK HERE. They are a VERY nice company and answered all of my emails—you can go through them if you’re willing to pay the $40 set up fee). When you order from createspace you have to pay for shipping. When you order four books, you get one free, and if you’re spending more than 25 bucks, you get free shipping. So many sure you weigh the costs before ordering personal copies through createspace.

Next round of questions;
EDITORS…Yes, they are your friends
Who did you use as your editor? Where did you find a good editor?

CHRISTINE BRYANT:  There are a lot of great editors out there. Tristi Pinkston is fantastic. Click HERE.  So is Danyelle Ferguson. Click HERE.  I used Danyelle. Danyelle charges $1.00 a page, Tristi a little more. I think one of the Storymakers has an editing agency, but I can’t remember if it’s Annette Lyon or Josi Kilpack (Steph’s note: I believe both of them have a service with Heather Moore. Click HERE. Annette makes sense because she is the editing queen. Not sure what they charge. A great editor is a MUST, even if you have to fork out the bucks

ANDREA PEARSON: Mine is amazing. 🙂 Her name is Tristi Pinkston (*see link above). I’ve loved working with her, mainly because she puts everything into the edits, making sure to help me maintain my voice, whereas other editors I’ve hired haven’t been so good at that. She charges $1.50 per page. This is quite a steal for her experience and talent. If anyone is worrying about the cost behind self-publishing, read my blog post that addresses this topic HERE. And remember this: there are always really, really cheap ways to get things done, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a good product to sell. Going the cheap (or free) route rarely pays in the end. I’ve seen authors who uploaded books that weren’t edited, or that were edited poorly. They made a bunch of money, but then discovered that their sales went downhill really fast, even after they hired editors. So yes, they got initial money. But they burned their readers by presenting unprofessional material, and now they’re needing to work extra hard to earn back the respect they lost.

JOLENE PERRY: I have two crit partners who are professional editors, so that’s kind of cheating… Leigh T Moore is AH-mazing, so she’s one I’d recommend w/o hesitation. Click HERE.  She just finished Elle Strauss’ new book.

JEWEL ADAMS: I have a couple of readers I run my stories through before publishing. I also post my stories as free reads on Wattpad.com. I get a lot of feedback from readers who eventually become fans.

STACY J COLES: The story, itself had been critiqued by several reading groups and by a professional editor.

CHERI SCHMIDT: I started out just using qualified friends and family for editing. This worked well for the most part, but I’ve found that 12 different people will all catch different things without much overlap. I’ve also paid for editing, but one of my best editors was my visiting teacher, and she was free. She was well qualified because she studied it in collage, and was trained to be quite thorough. I’ve found editors on Goodreads in groups just for authors, and on Kindleboards in the Writer’s Cafe. I’ve found that one editor is never enough, paid or not paid. Every editor who has worked on my books has missed something. That’s why I don’t think you should ever rely on just one person. This is one editor for indies that I’ve found: CLICK HERE.

ME: I agree with all of these editors. They are fantastic! I would also add Angela Eschler to the list. CLICK HERE.  And Kirk Shaw: CLICK HERE.  Nancy Wakefield was my editor for Prank Wars. And she was FABULOUS. She’s also taking new clients: CLICK HERE. Lucinda Fowers Lahn also worked as my editor, but no, Louie has no link—that means she is mine, ALL mine!!!
Another tip for editing is to put your books past MANY beta readers (your friends who like to read the genre you write). I do this before giving any of my manuscripts to editors because even though my friends just read for fun…that’s what my readers will be doing too. When my friends are done reading my manuscript, I’ll ask them dozens of questions like; what was confusing, boring, stupid, fun (hey, I need ego strokes in there too). One beta reader (Sandra) is assigned to be a thug–she’s supposed to threaten to break my thumbs if I don’t deliver so many chapters by certain dates. Works for me.

Oh, now let’s talk about one of my favorite things about books:
Of course, we judge the book by it…

And now for the moment, we’ve all been waiting to for;
What did you do for your cover? Did you use a service? Friend? Software?

HEATHER HORROCKS: I spend a gazillion hours searching for cover pics on istockphoto.com until I find 3-8 possibles. I save those but don’t buy them until I choose my favorite. Then I head over to FotoFlexer.com and spend another gazillion hours mocking up covers. When I find one I love, I purchase the rights to use the photo and create the cover. (Because FotoFlexer just changed so I can’t resize the pic to the right size, now I’m in the midst of a Photoshop Elements 10 learning curve.)  *Steph’s note: her covers are fabulous, such amazing artwork.

STACY J COLES: I designed my own cover, using a photo of my kids at the beach. I also did the artwork throughout the book. I took pictures and Photoshopped them to look like pencil sketches.

JOLENE PERRY: I use iWeb for my covers. I LOVE designing covers, and spend good chunks of my time on my stationary bike looking at stock photos. Getty Images and Shutterstock are my favs. Istock has gorgeous photos, but they’re pricey and picky. I’ve found a few amazing images on Deposit photo, but it takes a lot more weeding out.

CHRISTINE BRYANT: I’m also going through Amazon.com’s CREATESPACE for a soft cover version of my book. The upload is also free. I LOVED doing my own cover.

JEWEL ADAMS: I have three cover designers: My husband, An Author’s Art, and Jimmy Thomas’ Romance Novel Covers CLICK HERE.

HEATHER JUSTESEN: Make sure you have a good cover and that your interior looks professional. Too often when I pick up a self-published book I can tell just by looking at it because the interior doesn’t look professional, or the cover is chintzy. I got lucky and found a great piece of art for my cover, so I didn’t have to pay someone to do one for me, but I would pay someone if I needed to.

ANDREA PEARSON: My cover artist is James Curwen. He’s really good to work with and enjoys helping Indie authors. James uses stock photos, but his main focus is original art, which works really well to keep your books from looking like some of the other cookie-cutter covers out there. Just like any other cover artist, his style might not suit your needs, but he’s very diverse and able to adapt to what you’re looking for. He charges between $50 and $150, and sometimes more, depending on how much original art is required. Check out his blog HERE.  It includes samples of covers he’s done in the past. And yes, he’s accepting new clients.

CHERI SCHMIDT: I created my own covers because I was a professional photographer and artist before writing. I know that not every writer can do that, but I’ll go into how I did it, and give you names of cover artists who can do it for you instead. If you want your cover to be completely original, you need to use your own models, and either take your own, or have a photographer you know take the pictures for you. Amazing cover art is EXTREMELY important to sales. No, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but first impressions are everything. Especially for indie writers, and especially in this market. I actually found it really easy to find volunteers who want to be on a book cover. You just need to have them sign a simple model release giving you permission to use their face on your book. I wouldn’t recommend using the artwork from a friend. It just doesn’t usually look very professional. You also need to know something about Photoshop, or have a friend who does. Here are a couple of blog posts about how I did my own covers with my resources listed: HERE and HERE.
However, many of the artists doing covers right now will use your photos, or stock photos. So if doing it yourself intimidates you, then please check into these cover-artists: (The first two have what I think are very fair prices. Phatpuppy (CLICK HERE), however, is a bit costly, but she does amazing work. I know authors who have used her and the cost was somewhere around $400-$600 dollars. You’ll see the other two are way below that.) CLICK HERE and HERE.

ME: Yes, I’m one lucky girl. My sister Jacqueline Fowers designs my covers. Our friend Kristi Linton does the photography. They offer a custom service called Cover Your Book for authors who have a definite vision in mind and don’t want to use stock photography (and be able to retain full and exclusive copyrights for their cover), which I ALWAYS do! They specialize in photoshoots. So, if I tell her I want a guy toilet papering a girl or I want an airheaded Rapunzel sitting next to a spinning wheel with a cellphone in her hand, that’s what I get. Here’s their service. CLICK HERE.
Perhaps, some of you will prefer to design your own cover (and not use a service), you can find stock photo on Shutterstock or istockphoto (as Heather Horrocks suggests above) and design your cover on InDesign or other photoshop programs (Ian Anthony has a list of knock off programs he uses on his site: CLICK HERE. Also, if you want some designer tips, this professional cover connoisseur is super good too: CLICK HERE. AND he has Indie book cover contests. Just remember the sad truth is yes, we do judge a book by its cover, so whatever you choose to do, make your cover stand out…in a good way!

A necessary evil…

Did you format your book yourself? How?
Any helpful sites you looked at?
Did you go through someone else or another service to format your book? Who?
How much did it cost?

HEATHER JUSTESEN: When I set up the interior of the book I used my other books as guides to make sure everything was set up the same and you couldn’t tell that it wasn’t done by my publisher. *Steph’s note: She is being way too humble. She wrote a whole book on it: The book is POD Like a Pro: An Author’s Guide to Typesetting and Formatting a Book for Print. It can be purchased in paperback or ebook versions from Amazon HERE! I bought a copy (and had her autograph it) and it is my formatting bible.

JOLENE PERRY: I formatted my paperback by myself using a Createspace template. The first book I did took me all day. Now that I have the hang of it, it takes 3-4 hours. BUT I’m very picky and use fun fonts for the beginnings of chapters, or insert pretty pics for my scene breaks. I like to do SOMETHING interesting. I googled createspace interior templates – I do this for my covers, too. Createspace has templates so you can space everything just right.

JEWEL ADAMS: My husband formats my books for paperback, Kindle and Nook. He is very computer savvy.

ME: Heather Justesen helped me to format my interior. See the link to her book in her comments above. I’ll be using her book to format my Twisted Tales.
Of my contributors, no one talked about hiring out to do formatting. So, I googled it: HERE is just one of the formatters I found, and then I perused through the other the sites to see if anything was cheaper. It seems to be that the price can range from $99 to $400. Soooo, grimace and spend the money or get yourself a friend and trade-work with them, OR best of all learn to do it yourself from one of these fabulous guides above.

Hey, guys! Thanks for joining us for today’s edition of our Indie’s Publishing Guide. Tomorrow, we shall talk about ISBN, LCCN, COPYRIGHT. Oh my! Three things you will need for the paperback edition of your book.

Until then, Go Indie!