Five steps to reduce your editing costs

As an indie writer, chances are you’re on a tight budget, and editing can be a major expense, in some cases the biggest expense you will incur as a self-publisher. Luckily, there are ways for you to lower that bill without compromising on quality. Editors charge either by the word or the hour, but either way the more work they have to do, the more you pay. I charge by the word, but I will adjust my fee based on a sample edit of your manuscript; the worse shape it Read More …

How to avoid embarrassing errors in your manuscript

As both a writer and an editor, I often find manuscript errors created by inconsistency in mechanical conventions. Some common errors are: Chapter headings that use numbers (Chapter 1) at the start of a manuscript but then are inexplicably spelled out later on (Chapter Ten). All caps are used to illustrate a raised voice (“GET OUT!” she screamed.) in parts of the manuscript, but italics (“Get out!” she screamed.) are used elsewhere for the same effect. The author uses an en dash surrounded by spaces (“I wish you wouldn’t” – Read More …

Styles are the foundation of best book practices

Most authors who use a word processor do not use custom styles; instead, authors are in the habit of using the default Normal style and using the tab key and the formatting toolbar to customize headings and paragraphs. Unfortunately, this is a bad habit that will come to bite you later if you want to turn your manuscript into a print or ebook. It is much better practice to control the formatting of your manuscript through styles. Styles are the foundation of best book practices, in particular ebooks: when your Read More …

Creating a custom lexicon in Word for PC

We all have certain words that we continually misspell but which are nevertheless proper words in themselves, such as typing in form instead of from. Then there are the words where multiple spellings are correct — judgement versus judgment, for example — and which thus make consistency of use difficult. One way to circumvent this problem is to build a custom lexicon that will ignore Word’s default dictionaries and treat any word you add to the lexicon as misspelled. Unfortunately for Mac users this only works in PC. The first Read More …

Kobo join the print-on-demand game — but should you play?

Many Kobo Writing Life authors recently received an invitation to take part in a beta print-on-demand program at Kobo. Not all Kobo authors received this invitation, myself included, because the program is a subcontract to the POD manufacturer Lightning Source International (LSI): if you already have print books distributed by Ingram, the print distributor and parent company of LSI/Ingram Spark, and if your print books’ ISBNs are in Kobo’s system, then there is no point in them contacting you. For this new POD service, Kobo is charging authors USD $25.00 Read More …

The Perils of Using Song Lyrics in Your Book (and how to do so anyway)

Many indie authors ask me if they can use song lyrics in their books, and if doing so constitutes fair use or if permission is required. The short answer is this: yes, you can use lyrics, doing so might or might not fall under fair use, but in the end that is irrelevant because copyright of most lyrics is aggressively defended by powerful licensing agencies who can make your life miserable if you fail to pay for permission. So forget fair use: you can’t afford it. Permission to use song Read More …

How digital printers are misleading indie authors

Print on demand (“POD”) is the buzzword of the day, and many commercial printers are losing a chunk of their business to print on demand manufacturers such as CreateSpace and Ingram Spark (Lightning Source International). The result is a plethora of short-run digital printers doing their best to masquerade as true POD printers. A short-run digital printer will often advertise themselves as print on demand, claiming that their system is such because they can print one book or a thousand “on demand,” that is, without having to set up the Read More …

The charitable way to create a bestseller

Recently, as part of my endeavour to read all the unread books on my shelf, I tackled the soporific Three Cups of Tea (2006, paperback 2007) by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. While leaving my review on Goodreads I stumbled across the scandal that plagued the book and its authors in 2011, complete with a 60 Minutes investigation that triggered another investigation by Montana’s Attorney General. That investigation would ultimately see Mortenson ordered to pay restitution to the charity he founded, the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Despite not having Read More …

What is the copyright date of my book?

One of the most common questions I am asked by new authors is this: What date do I put on my book’s copyright page? For many authors this is confusing because they may have started the book in 2014, finished it in 2015, and intend to self-publish it in 2016. So what year do you put on the copyright page? The answer is 2016. To understand why that is, it is necessary to explain the difference between a work or title and a book. The term title or work refers to the content created Read More …