and making that quality visible
A PiPS™ publication in association with
“Be confident in your work, but be careful not to put a book out into the world until you are sure that it is your very best work and professional in all respects (writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc.). You get only one chance to make a first impression, and every reader deserves a quality product.”
“People buy traditionally published books because experts have said: ‘This is a quality book – you can safely buy it’. Now there is PiPSTM to say exactly the same thing about good independently published books.”
THIS Shakespir edition eBook first published for free worldwide distribution in 2017 by Professional Independent Publishing Standards (PiPSTM) and The Writers Trust. Copyright © 2017 Brian Morgan and The Writers Trust.
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention. All rights reserved world-wide. The right of Brian Morgan to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.
The author and publishers authorise readers to forward this Shakespir eBook (or the link to it) in its entirety to other authors and writers without charge. It is the author’s wish that this book be read by every author who would like to do so.
This book is associated with the PiPSTM website located at https://pipsverified.com. PiPSTM is a global organisation and can be contacted by email at [email protected]
What is PiPS™ Verified?
You no doubt want your book to be seen as stunning and professional, and you want your hard work as a writer to be rewarded. It would be very nice have an award-winning author’s credibility, would it not?
But we believe it’s even more important for readers to see, instantly, that your book is a verified quality production and worth buying – that it’s up to the standard they have come to expect in professional publishing.
Every independent author now has an opportunity to receive the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award simply by publishing to professional standards.
This is a new concept in indie publishing and is already drawing wide interest. There has never been an authentic independent assessment of a book’s quality specifically to help readers chose a book.
PiPS™ – Professional Independent Publishing Standards
Here’s what the PiPS™ System will do to make your dreams come true:
Our master assessors will thoroughly examine all aspects of your book for less than the fees you have come to expect for a standard assessment, editing or advice.
When the PiPS™ process is finished, your work will be verified as a quality book in a way that all potential readers can see.
Your book may well qualify immediately, in which case we can all jump for joy. But your book must achieve the standard readers expect from a professional publication. If it does not, that is not the end of the world – it can be the start of something wonderful for you. How? PiPS™ assessors give you a full written report on all aspects of your book to show you, in detail, exactly what you need to do to gain the recognition you and your book deserve.
This helps you, not only with this book, but with all others you write or have written.
Should the assessors report that work should be done or adjustments made, and you accept this advice and do what is required, your reworked project will be reassessed without charge. If the standard is then what readers expect in a professional publication, your book will be verified by PiPS™.
And the award, the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award, will be yours. Readers, other authors and you will know, instantly, that this is a professional quality book.
(If your book has been professionally edited, we will still check it. It would be nice to skip that bit, but not all editors are first class. We want you to win an award, but you do have to earn it. You will pay less, however, if you have already paid for editing.)
You do not compete with others for this award, you earn it by achieving best practice as an independent author and publisher. Now, almost any serious writer can do this. These are exciting times. And there’s more. This free eBook explains it all.
This eBook is in two parts. Part 1 is all about PiPS™ and what we can do for you. Part 2 explains the standards we expect you to reach to achieve a PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award.
Part 1 is for every author. Part 2 is mainly for fledgling authors or those with less experience than others. Experienced authors will not really need Part 2, especially if they either have professional publishing experience or hire it.
Part 2 is a guide only. It’s not meant to be definitive, I don’t think anyone could do that. And only sections of it will apply to your project. But it won’t hurt to read it, and, if we sprout about publishing standards, we ought to explain what we’re talking about.
Table of Contents
Professional Independent Publishing Standards (PiPS™) offers a Unique Value Promise to authors around the world who chose the independent publishing route. Our promise is to help raise your independent publishing standards and those of the industry generally to the level of traditional publishing, or better.
And to make that standard visible to all prospective readers.
How? By showing you, the author, how to reach best practice standard and, when that standard is reached, to bestow on your book our award: the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award, which can be displayed on book covers and elsewhere, so that both readers and other authors will see it.
(We hasten to point out that, if you are not a novice, you might well have achieved professional standard already. Our award will simply show readers what you already know.)
We assess your book for less that what you’d usually pay for publishing help, but that’s just the start of what we do. This is value not seen before in publishing and it’s here for you now.
Our promise is that all books achieving the expected standard will receive a highly valued award in recognition. And this, over time, will raise the standard and the reputation of independent publishing by being seen on more and more independently published books.
This free eBook aims to show authors around the world how to publish their books independently to the highest possible standards and thereby attract greater respect and bigger sales volumes. It will let you see the standard we expect when we consider your book for an award.
It’s for authors who decide to avoid the old school traditional publishing in favor of the newer independent publishing models offered by people like CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle, Lulu, IngramSpark and Shakespir.
Of course, many independent authors are already first class and we do not presume to suggest that we are the fount of all wisdom. We mean no offence, but, if we talk about standards, we ought to have the decency to tell you what those standards are.
PiPS™ has big plans for indie publishing, and we want authors everywhere to be part of it. And, you, of course, have an opportunity, right now, to be seen as the author of a verified quality book.
Browse this eBook and the website – . See what you think. Tell us what you think. Then hop on board.
PiPS™ and the Verified Award
If you don’t know me, how can you trust what I say? That’s plain, isn’t it?
I’m a former newspaper and magazine journalist, editor and publisher, and before that I was a successful business manager and founder. I’ve been in publishing, one way or another, since 1975. People have called me a thought leader and an integrity advocate (and probably other things I should not go into). My website has more blurb about that. I gained a stack of national awards along the way and my writing has been translated for Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese readers. I was also a part-time writing and publishing teacher for some years. It’s all history, but it all shaped who I am.
After retiring early, I began to write books (I had been researching one of them for years in my spare time). I tell part of my story of traditional publishing a bit later, but, after years in newspaper and magazine publishing, I have been involved full-time in traditional book publishing since 1997, and independent book publishing since 2004, publishing eight of my own print books, more eBooks, plus books for others. One of mine won a prestigious national literary award. I’ve also been pretty much involved, for many years, in mentoring writers at all stages of their development.
You don’t become this ancient without learning a bit along the way.
Why am I here? For years now I have been watching, with growing excitement, as the publishing world changed for the better. I was delighted and jumped on the independent publishing bandwagon.
But there was, and is, a problem. And I think you know it.
I said that publishing was changing for the better, but anyone who has purchased self-published books or eBooks know that many of them are absolutely dreadful. Was that delicate enough for you? You know what I mean, don’t you? They are a disgrace to the publishing industry and they drag genuine authors down.
A tarnished reputation
Experienced independent publishing professional Philip Catshill says self-publishing has a tarnished reputation. And you know he’s right.
“Other than typing in a title and a description,” he says, “once an account is opened, any document can be uploaded and self-published using only a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. There is no quality control; thus, inexperienced writers are uploading first drafts, setting a price and, in some cases, getting their family or friends to write rave reviews.
“Traditional publishing implies the work has been accepted by a third person and a publishing company as being suitable for publication, thus there is a kudos with traditional publishing. I’ve seen comments on LinkedIn from readers who never read self-published books because they consider them inferior.”
Of course, many traditionally published books are hardly any better, but I know that, until more independently published books manage to achieve commercial best practice, they will always be looked upon with disdain by the big publishers and the industry, and avoided by many avid book readers.
Obviously, something had to change. And I began to sprout the concept of independent authors, editors and publishers banding together to create a vision of something better and to find a way to achieve that vision. Clearly, if the new independent publishing system was to work as it should, the people involved in it had to do the heavy lifting.
And the beautiful thing is that there have been more than enough very experienced people willing to put in the time and effort to achieve lift-off and ensure a successful flight.
So, PiPS™ is here
PiPS™ is the result, and, because I introduced the concept, I have the task of overseeing the PiPS™ formation and the initial management. The concept needed a leader. The vision might be big, but it is worthy of every effort. Traditional publishers invested a lot of money to achieve their success. We’re out to achieve the same standards for indie authors.
PiPS™ will grow beyond my involvement, and I will welcome that when the time is right, and if the continued future of PiPS™ and its values and vision are assured. I’d be happy for an established publishing organisation to accept the challenge. The rewards will be great, probably greater than can be imagined by the industry just now, but that organisation must be steeped in integrity and ethical business practices.
For legal and administrative purposes, ownership of PiPS™ is vested in The Writers Trust, and I am one of the trustees of the Trust. The Trust also owns the various PiPS™ intellectual properties, as well as those of a small number of authors, including me. The Trust is also a boutique book publisher, but does not serve as a publisher for PiPSTM.
PiPS™ is a global online organisation and most of our work is online. Our assessors, editors and designers can work from any location around the world. I’m in Australia, and distance is not the devil it once was. I tip-toe around time zones, but I can communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Welcome to the 21st century and a new way of working.
We envision a time when PiPS™ will evolve to include a wide range of vital services, all aimed at lifting independent publishing standards. It’s all in our business plan and it’s a very exciting plan. What you see now is Stage 1 of the development. We did consider starting with a full range of services, in a range of languages, but cooler heads prevailed. The start is key in all start-ups.
Testing, done and dusted
PiPS™ Stage 1 is here now, and beta testing is done and dusted. We’ve already assessed a sizeable stack of books to prove our systems and to verify for ourselves that the concept is valid. We first submitted our own books for scrutiny, then others were invited.
The first awards have been issued, to the delight of early-bird authors.
Disclosure: The PiPS™ people decided that, because some editors and designers would be working below their pay-scale for the sake of improving the independent publishing industry, and because we wanted the PiPS™ awards to be widely noticed, they should be allowed to submit to the PiPS™ awards process, although the assessment, obviously, had to be at arm’s length. As an example, my first book assessed has been accepted for an award, but only after a few typos had to be corrected, and some layout improvements made, and a better cover designed. The assessing and editing was fair and sensible, and correct, and I have a better book because of it. Authors who are helping improve standards should not be penalised. We also needed to examine the work of all PiPS™ editors and designers to be really sure that they were good enough to achieve the standard we envisaged.
Our awards process is now open to all authors publishing in English, and we hope to expand to other languages in time. For now, though, you are invited to submit your work for an award. You’ll see that we work hard to help you achieve the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award.
This free eBook aims to show authors around the world how to publish their books independently to best practice standards. PiPS™ wants to raise the standard of independent publishing to at least that achieved by traditional publishers, and we want to make that best practice visible.
I think that is what you want, also.
And that is exactly what readers want. They want to see at a glance whether the book is as good as they have come to expect. The PiPS™ verification program does precisely that.
PiPS™ supports authors who decide to avoid the old school traditional publishing in favor of independent publishing.
A crack at personal success
Hundreds of thousands of authors have had enough of the traditional publishing frustration, headaches and meagre share of publishing profits, and want a crack at personal success with the major share of income that independent publishing can bring. Above all, they want to be published.
But readers must be able to trust an author to deliver a genuinely good reading experience.
PiPS™ Stage 1 can deliver that trust with a service that is unique in publishing. First, we explain what we believe to be best practice in publishing books. If authors don’t know the standards expected of them, they are unlikely to achieve those goals.
Once we explain what we expect (in this eBook), we invite authors to submit their books for a PiPS™ assessment.
The system includes a full assessment of your manuscript or book, plus a separate assessment of the design and production, with either an instant verified award or a clear path to get there.
A thorough assessment
The assessment is thorough and you’ll understand that we must charge a reasonable fee for that, enough to ensure the continued success of PiPS™. The fee is usually less that what you would normally be charged for an assessment or edit, and we do much more. We also give cut rates, depending on the professional help you have already paid for (if we have less work to do on your book, why should you pay full price?).
A cursory glance at a book at a lower fee would do nothing to raise standards and would defeat our purpose. It would cheat you and the reading public – and we would fail. Someone in Dublin has, in fact, now offered a cut-price service ($25), for which you get your manuscript passed through Aurocrit, an editing software program which anyone can purchase. If that program throws up a sufficient number of points, you get a “quality mark” logo to stick on your book. Maybe it will appeal to those self-publishers who are churning out the dreadful books we talk about. Genuine authors would not touch it. Such schemes will come and go and cannot possibly help raise indie publishing standards. They will simply drive readers away. They make my blood boil.
The PiPS™ Whole Book Assessment determines whether the book is of a high enough standard to receive the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award – an authentic reward for professional publishing.
Books that achieve the award will also receive comments by one of our assessors, to be used by the author as he or she sees fit. There is a section of the assessment report specifically for that purpose. It may be used as a PiPS™ quote for publicity purposes, for example, and, in some cases, may be quoted as a book review.
All independent authors, for the first time, now have an opportunity to achieve an authentic award for their efforts. Authors do not compete against each other, but strive to achieve best practice. This little book shows how.
What happens if a book is not considered worthy of an award?
The author receives a full report of the assessment, including strengths and weaknesses. If our assessment considers the book publisher-ready, that’s great, and we expect many books would fall into this category. If, however, line or developmental editing, involving restructure or rewriting, is required, or if the design or production standard, for one reason or another, needs improvement, the report will offer specific suggestions to the author on how to achieve the expected standard.
If the author rejects those suggestions, that’s the end of the matter as far as PiPS™ is concerned. If, however, the author either makes the suggested changes or submits a compelling case for not making some or all of them, then the book can be resubmitted again without charge for an award. We want you to succeed, because, if you succeed, we succeed. So, while we genuinely assess the project, we only reject it if necessary (Most PiPS™ people are also authors and hate rejections).
Let’s look at the two major parts of the expected standards, the editorial and the production assessments.
We are looking for books that achieve a high standard in content. This standard covers the author’s writing skills, plus the editing process, which may have been initially done by the author, if he or she has skills in editing, but is usually done by experienced editors.
We will thoroughly check to ensure that the expected standard is reached. Some editors, as you are no doubt aware, are not as good as others.
Note: Although this is an editorial assessment and a report will be prepared for you, our assessors do not edit your work. They may use the Word change tracking tool to show suggested changes in your file, and you can decide whether to accept the suggestions, but their objective is not to edit your work. The other thing you should keep in mind is that, in common with many ordinary assessment services, our assessors remain anonymous and you deal with a supervisor. The assessors also must declare that they do not know you personally.
A professionally produced book may require multiple editing rounds by people experienced in proofreading, copyediting, line editing and, sometimes, substantive editing (also known as developmental editing or structural editing).
PiPS™ assessors will check grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style. They will check for consistency of mechanics and, if possible, for internal consistency of facts.
Their report could include things like plot, character, point-of-view, pace, writing style, narrative, dialogue, length, and effective use of research. It could talk about flow, consistency and continuity to avoid jarring the reader experience.
Our assessors do not edit, but, where possible, they will examine a manuscript for construction and structure, and for suitability for the intended purpose. They will comment on such things as the clarity of the piece and the use of jargon and other non-mechanical aspects of editing, and give specific advice and suggestions on ways to improve the book.
They will suggest where rewriting or restructure would help a manuscript, but they will leave research, writing and reworking a MS to the author, who may need to engage a developmental editor.
PiPS™ might also suggest possible corrections to the project’s reading levels to ensure the intended readers can understand what is written.
Identifying problem areas
PiPS™ will seek to identify problem areas in the book and to suggest solutions. The aim of PiPS™ assessors is to see that the work is properly edited up to the stage where either best practice is recognised as is, or extra work is required to bring the MS up to commercial standard.
We want authors to express themselves in the best possible way and for their finished book to be at least up to traditional publishing standards and to carry an award logo to demonstrate that.
Even if a manuscript assessment is successful, the assessors will sometimes offer suggestions that they believe will improve the book, and the author may or may not accept those suggestions.
We expect that, with our assessment, most books submitted will receive an award, though some may have to accept that structural or other work is needed before that award is granted.
Our search is for books that achieve a high standard in production. This covers various aspects of production, including good layout and design, suitable font choices, use of illustrations (if any), cover design and appearance.
We will look for books that have been formatted properly for the desired publication, whether for printed book or eBook.
The objective should be for the designer to become invisible and for the book to become a flawless, easy read. Reading should be a seamless process that does not distract in any way from the content of the book. The designer should draw the reader into the storyline or the drama or emotion or the desired information or whatever it was that caused the book to be purchased in the first place, but then the designer should step quietly aside.
We want to see font selections to suit the format and the book type and purpose. We accept that this can be a bit subjective, but we are looking especially for design problems that will distract a reader. We want to see a simple layout style that suits the purpose and falls into line with the reader’s expectations of a professional book of this type.
Book design has changed. Page numbering for Amazon, for example, is not the same as in old-style traditional publishing (though we will not penalise an author for such things). We think it’s better to number POD books from page one, rather than from the end of the front matter, because the page count will then agree with the page count published by, say, Amazon.
Being professional in the digital age does not mean slavishly following the old rules of traditional publishing. The differences are subtle, because the objective is to still use traditionally published books as the benchmark, and to improve on that wherever possible.
Looking for professional production
When our designers assess a book for an award, they look for all the aspects necessary for a professional production, whether print book or eBook. They are not the same, particularly when it comes to content sequence – and that is why an automated conversion of print book format by CreateSpace to Kindle format, for example, is not recommended. Conversion is not the same as reformatting. (The same will apply to the expected Amazon conversion from eBook to POD book.)
PiPS™ recommends the Shakespir Style Guide for formatting eBooks. It can be found free on the Shakespir site and on Amazon. It’s time-consuming at first, but you will finish up with a well-designed eBook and a book that can be readily reformatted for different needs. It’s not mandatory, but it’s a good guide.
Many eBooks have too much front matter and some have an opening that is too abrupt. Both are jarring for readers. Some are so abrupt that the reader is left wondering whether he or she has opened the right book.
PiPS™ assessment looks at formatting, and at headers and footers, front and back matter, pagination, proper font choice and size, chapters starting on right-hand pages, suitable white space around headings, the proper use of illustrations where appropriate, and all other design aspects, both technical and aesthetic.
Professional designers and layout people know what is required. If authors are doing their own design and formatting work, they should learn what is required. One of the ways to do this is to study professionally produced books in your genre, particularly for those things we mentioned.
When an appropriate level of professionalism is reached, this part of the submission is successful. If the standard is not good enough, PiPS™ reports in detail what needs to be done so that the standard is reached.
This process will normally result in an award, but, in some cases, the formatting or design might need serious work. In this case, the author will be given a complete and specific guide to reach that level and to resubmit, at no additional cost, for an award.
This covers the whole publishing experience, both editorial standard and production standard. If both standards are achieved, the book is verified for a book quality award.
The best writing or beautiful design, one without the other, is not acceptable in the publishing industry and is not appreciated by the reading public, who are turned off if one or the other is poor quality.
For the PiPS™ Whole Book Assessment, an editor and a book design professional contribute to the assessment and the assessment is done in two parts.
The editor evaluates the strengths and weakness of the fiction or nonfiction text and the writing style. This includes clean copy, proper structure and suitability for the intended purpose. It’s an in-depth examination of the edit, and the report is quite detailed.
The designer reports on various aspects of production, including cover art and text, layout and design, table of contents, pagination, notes and index, heads and sub-heads, front and back matter, headers and footers, illustrations and book description. Some of these things do not apply to some books, of course. We look for everything we’d expect in a similar traditionally published book, because that’s what the reader will expect.
For an eBook, we also examine the text file for correct eBook presentation (not the same as for the print version), design (including font choices), spacing, and whether any illustrations were used appropriately.
Our assessors will look for excellence of content, whether fiction or non-fiction, and best practice in all aspects of production.
Beyond that, the supervisor will check their reports, and also look at such things as book descriptions and author bios in sites like Amazon and Shakespir, if provided. These will not affect the awards, but we will offer advice to authors if we can see possible improvements, because this affects your marketing.
The report will also include comments by the editors specifically designed for use by the author as, for example, a PiPSTM quote either for publicity purposes or as a book review.
Bad independent publishing reduces the credibility of all independent authors. Genuine authors work too hard, for too long, to have their work denigrated because others are sloppy or careless or just plain ignorant. Most PiPS™ assessors are independently published authors themselves, as well as being experienced editors or designers, and understand the writer’s world.
Our focus on best practice publishing standards is what sets us apart.
PiPS™ specialises in both fiction and non-fiction book-length work. We do handle various genres, but at this early stage we’d rather not accept books containing excessive violence or gratuitous sex. Perhaps that’s a bit old-world, but we think there’s already too much of that in life and in books, so we’d rather not contribute to it. We agree with John Grisham: If his mum could read it, we’ll read it.
And please, pleeese, no 15-page eBooks called How to Churn out a Bestselling Ebook in 15 Minutes and Make Millions. You know what we’re talking about, don’t you? Some of these exceptions might well change in the future, depending on available editors at the time. If so, the latest version of this eBook and the website will advise.
Our editors and designers will not raise false hopes. We will be kind, but we will give honest feedback and expect that we will have the same vision as the author: to publish to an authentic standard. Will we create best-sellers? No, that’s your job. However, we believe we will help, and we’ll certainly help authors find success by honestly offering advice on how make a better book.
When the assessment is complete, PiPS™ may bestow an award, in which case the author receives an email with various attachments. They include a letter advising of the successful application, a very detailed report setting out the book’s perceived strengths and weaknesses, award logos in colour and in black and white, and an award certificate.
Each logo also has a white background and a transparent background. Your designer will understand why. We will also create free custom versions based on RGB colors supplied by designers. We want to be as flexible as possible with the awards and how they are displayed.
The letter might also enclose suggestions for further improvements to the book, even though it was already considered worthy of an award. The certificate is suitable for framing and the logos are suitable for cover and/or internal display or for use on stationery, websites, emails, business cards, author bios etc.
We strongly urge the use of award logos on book covers and elsewhere, so that prospective buyers will know that the book has achieved a high standard (and would presumably be a good buy) – and other authors will see that the award exists.
To achieve higher publishing standards, we must be seen to be doing so. To help this, we are also looking at the possibility of setting up a verified award display website or page on this site, where all award-winners can be promoted and links offered to author sales pages (your feedback on this idea would be appreciated).
The more people who display awards, the more the awards will be seen, and other authors might be encouraged to apply. Raising standards might be a long process, but we anticipate the pace will accelerate and we can all contribute, both by producing better ourselves and by encouraging other authors to do better.
A stronger independent publishing industry will mean better independent sales – and that’s what we all want. No, that’s what we all need.
Putting the Genie in the Bottle
This is your guide to the professional standard we expect before we offer the PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award. This is not meant to be a definitive list of characteristics we expect in any or every book. We are flexible, as we must be if we are to value creativity. It’s simply a guide to what are generally considered professional standards.
You can do everything yourself in independent publishing if you have the skills, but it will test you. It takes a wide range of skills and a lot of determination. It is only your genuine passion for getting the book out to the marketplace that might help you survive the frustrations and anxiety often suffered on the journey. Many of us have been there.
On the other hand, independent publishing can be exciting and very rewarding in more ways than one. If your book is good, and you promote it well, you can make a lot of money. Many do. Many don’t. But self-publishing can also bring such things as recognition of your authority by peers and industry leaders. Sometimes, all you really want is for your thoughts, your ideas, or your beliefs to be published. And I can tell you it is immensely satisfying to see your efforts completed and to feel the book in your hands or see it on the screen.
After many years in publishing, I’m delighted that the technology has arrived to allow all authors to see their book in print or an eBook on their screen. But it can be daunting, even for those with multiple skills. And it must be as good as people have come to expect from book publishing.
The traditional publishing route is long and frustrating, and the author has virtually no control in the whole process. Most publishers won’t accept a manuscript unless it is submitted by a literary agent, and finding an agent willing to handle you or your project can be very, very difficult.
Let me tell you a story. My story. I’ll make it brief.
After considerable publishing success in Australia, I sent countless submissions to U.S. agents for five long years. Finally, an agent in Chicago took me on. She submitted one manuscript to publishers and the book was published. It became a sell-out best-seller in the US and the UK, and was translated into Japanese, where it also sold out.
But sadly, this beautiful person passed away before she could handle my other books, and, despite my success with the agency, the new head agent was not interested in me or my projects, even one that went on to become an award-winner.
Then a publisher, in numerous breaches of contract, diddled me out of a lot of money. At that time, I could not afford big legal fees, and the publisher knew it.
Fed up with traditional publishing
By this time, I was fed up with traditional publishing, so, when independent publishing opportunities opened up, I jumped at the chance.
Only you can decide if self-publishing is right for you. Check out and participate in LinkedIn groups. Talk to other authors. Consider the opinions of others who have walked your path. Compare costs and consider benefits.
Why do you want to self-publish? Make a list of the reasons and check out the costs for you. The costs vary depending on each author’s skills and they vary significantly from service provider to service provider. Things like cover art, editing and formatting can be expensive if you need to pay for them. I can’t be definitive about costs because they are constantly changing. Check them out for yourself. Professor Google will make it easy.
If the need to see your book in print is strong enough to outweigh the obstacles, go for it. It takes courage, but you must be courageous just to be an author and get your thoughts out in the open.
CreateSpace, Lulu and IngramSpark, among others, make it easy for authors to bypass the traditional publishing route. Many authors choose to abandon the traditional and opt for the independent way. I did so, even after success in traditional publishing.
Many like to stay in control, and you can’t do that in traditional publishing.
The tools are all here
Now we all have the tools to make digital books and sell paperback books on demand, without the need to buy large quantities from the printer.
A word of warning though. Please do not get sucked in by “Vanity Publishers”. These are the people who want you to pay for publishing your book and their services are never what they are cracked up to be. Again, here’s where your membership of LinkedIn and your relationship with other authors can help and save you from disaster. I’m a hermit by nature, but it’s easy to network with other writers on LI or Facebook.
If you decide self-publishing is the right choice for you after examining your options, you will be joining many, many other authors (probably even the majority). You will need to consider your skills, and work out how much it will cost to hire experts. Cover art, editing and formatting can all be quite expensive, depending where you go. If the reason you’re going to publish outweighs the cost, go for it. I did.
I recommend that you thoroughly check out CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Lulu and Shakespir, as well as others in the independent publishing industry. I have never used, but don’t think I could trust, the editing services offered by these companies. I might be wrong – I’m just trying to let you know how and what I feel and what I have experienced.
CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand service for independent authors. Your paperback is available for purchase on your CreateSpace page, from Amazon and through extended distribution. All the information you need is on the CS site.
A better share of profits
You don’t pay for book printing at CS or other print-on-demand companies – you simply collect a commission whenever a book sells, and your share is much better than in traditional publishing. You’re in control of the price and the commission. The downside is that your book is sold online and some other markets, but not in bookstores (the PiPS™ business plan will eventually lead to changes to this, but that’s some time away).
Amazon also has an e-reader called Kindle and your book can be formatted as an eBook for Kindle. However, we do not recommend Amazon’s automated conversion of a paperback to eBook. They are very different animals. Conversion is not the same as reformatting.
And we do not recommend Kindle’s KDP service because you must give up your rights to other eBook services, like Shakespir, at least for a time. But it’s a personal choice.
Shakespir is a recommended service which can convert your properly (and meticulously) prepared file into a range of eBook formats. These formats are then available on the Shakespir site and in virtually every other online eBook store, plus libraries. Shakespir then handles your account, collecting sales information and money from all those stores and sends you the proceeds regularly, after deduction a small handling fee. It’s way better than trying to handle all those accounts yourself.
I use mostly CreateSpace for paperback sales on Amazon and on my own website (for Australian buyers), plus Kindle and Shakespir for eBooks.
By the way, PiPS™ is not biased, and does not receive commission on anything we recommend. Our sole income is the fee we charge authors for our service. All clear and above-board.
This is not a book about writing. We expect authors to have learnt the writing craft before wanting to publish. However, there are simple things that can make your writing better if you are a fledgling author.
Unless you are an academic writer out to impress your professor, simple is better than complex. This is even more important now than it was ten years ago. People have a shorter attention span than they did, thanks to Professors Gates and Google, among many others.
Make it easy to read first time. Whatever it is. That also means shorter sentences and paragraphs.
On Amazon and Shakespir, potential buyers can read a sample of the book to decide if they want to buy. If you don’t grab them with very interesting content or if you let complex sentence structure get in the way, you’ve lost the sale. If people have to go back and read again to see what you mean, they rapidly lose interest and look elsewhere. Journalists have known this for many years.
So, active sentence structure is wanted, please, not passive. And no “purple prose”. Most adverbs and adjectives should go the way of complexity – out. Especially adverbs. Use specific nouns and let the verbs do the work – that’s their job.
In another lifetime, I read a book by a man called Flesch, called, I think, The Art of Plain Talk. I lent it to someone and it disappeared long ago, but, if you find a copy around anywhere, grab it. I don’t blame the person for stealing it. It set me on the path to simple writing. Simple can be beautiful. Hemingway thought so.
Want to write a page-turner? Read page-turners. Read the writers who turn out best-seller after best-seller. Work out how they think; how they write. The more you read, the better you will write.
First drafts are… what?
So read, then write, write, write. Practice is the only way to become good at anything and to develop your own style, your own voice. And remember what Hemingway said: “First drafts are always woopsidoo.” I substituted “woopsidoo” for the sake of delicate ears.
How do you keep readers reading? With story, of course. You grab ‘em with drama and make them ask themselves, “What will happen next?”
And there are many things you can do to keep them asking that question, to keep them absorbed in the story.
You can give them cliff hangers, or story hangers. Never leave a scene or a chapter without leaving readers in suspense. Try to be a bit subtle about it, but leave questions unanswered. Many years ago, I listened to serials on the wireless, like Biggles or Search for the Golden Boomerang. I couldn’t wait to get down on the floor next evening, ear to the wireless, to see what happened. That’s what you’ve got to do with your book.
Tease ‘em to please ‘em. There are various ways to do this.
You can delay the resolution of a scene or chapter. Stop writing at a point of high tension, so that readers must wait, sometimes for a longish period, to find out what happened. Maybe it won’t happen next chapter. Don’t make it too long, however. You don’t want them to forget it.
Leave important details or questions hanging. A well written single line can be very effective at the end of a chapter. It can be ominous sometimes.
You can have a character take an action or ask a question that begs an answer. But don’t give it. The question can be the character asking himself a question that hints at his anxiety and fear for tomorrow. Whether the question is rhetorical or not, don’t answer it straight away.
Keep the reader hooked
Tom looked over his shoulder into the haze of the distance. He pulled his hat down over his eyes and flayed at the horse’s flanks. The time had come.
Maybe give that last sentence its own line.
What did he see? Why was he afraid? Why was time up? We have no choice but to read on.
One technique is to leave the chapter with the introduction of a strange, mysterious object or happening. Something seemingly unrelated to what went before. Why? We’d better keep reading to find out.
Readers can’t stand uncertainty, doubt. The suspense drags them into your story. Find ways to create it.
Tom knew he had outrun the horsemen. It had been three days of dust and heat, but he could breathe easy at last, give his horse a break. Grab a short sleep.
But he was wrong. Put it down to exhaustion, but he was so very wrong.
You might as well hold a whip to the readers. They’ll just have to find out what happens. Nothing keeps the story going more than suspense and intrigue.
Can you hint of a life-changing or fateful event about to happen? Do it, but make the readers wait to see what the fateful event is, and whether it happens. Readers love to see disaster ahead, sometimes especially if the character doesn’t appear to see it coming.
Don’t give ‘em what they expect
When the life-changing event finally arrives, make it not what the character expects, and therefor not what the reader expects. If he expects happy, give him tragedy. If she expects family for Halloween, give her a nightmare. If they expect the best day of their life, make it the worst.
Are you getting the drift? You could bring in a threatening or provocative character. You could have a character make an ambiguous statement or give him a smile that doesn’t reach the eyes. You could make something a race against time. You could run through all the disasters that the character had endured so far and have him, and readers, wondering: “What next?”.
There are many, many ways to keep readers turning pages. Read the popular writers. Make notes of how they do it. You can’t pinch their words, but you can pinch their techniques.
There is no definitive list, nor should there be. Create your own and practice using them. Practice until they come naturally in your work.
That’s how the masters became masters.
Genre fiction refers to books that are crafted in a particular style on a particular subject for a particular audience. Books like romance or crime. Genre books are often published in the smaller, mass-market book size, though publishers often look to trade size for greater impact.
Want to write in a particular genre? Read everything in that genre you can get your hands on. Do your research and learn what is expected from your genre. Work out what lengths are being published and what are not. You don’t have to exactly follow what you find, but you must know the rules before you can break them.
Want to write mainstream or literary fiction?
Literary fiction has been called the fiction of ideas. While the story should be good, the idea is more important than the action. Literary fiction is not afraid of difficult or complex issues, but the emphasis is on the prose style.
Genre writers want you to get the story. Literary writers want you to notice the beautiful writing. Of course, if you’re really good, you can have the beautiful writing and the story.
Mainstream fiction, also called general fiction, must have a strong “hook” or premise. The story must be easily read, with a traditional plot line and be driven by plot and character. Controversy is good, as is conflict, tension, delayed resolution, insight and emotion.
General fiction comes in a variety of voices and a variety of styles, but all are easily read. Simplicity, remember?
When I was young, my parents wouldn’t let me read because, they said, it would send me blind. Really. But boys will be boys and I had older cousins who managed to sneak books to me, and I read. So, read the kind of books you want to write. Even if your mum gets cranky.
Some of the mechanics
Show, don’t tell. Picture your scenes as movie scenes. Don’t tell or describe, show through a character’s actions or behavior.
What is the character doing? We need to know what is happening before a character talks (there are exceptions, of course), so say what the person is doing before she talks. It also helps us know who is talking.
Short is better than long. We need variety for pace and other reasons, but short sentences and paragraphs are needed for today’s reader. Attention spans are shorter. And that’s how people speak anyhow. Simplicity beats complexity in word choice, as well. And contractions, like I’m, she’ll, they’re, help make text natural.
Active, not passive. Active voice is shorter, more direct and therefor easier to understand quickly. If people need to go back and reread because a sentence is clumsy and in passive voice, they’ll lose interest.
That omniscient narrator. Make sure, in each section or chapter of the book, that you know whose head you are in. Speak from that person’s viewpoint and your book will have immediacy and directness, and the narrator will not know what other people are thinking. For most of the book, remain in one head and the reader will easily follow you. Simplicity is the name of the game – more so now than ever.
Make it natural. Never send text to an editor or printer without having read it out loud to yourself. This is important for the whole book, but especially necessary for the dialogue. This makes your writing natural and more real for readers.
Draw the reader in. To do this, you need to appeal to the emotions and senses. One easy way to do this is to involve all the senses – touch, smell, sight, hearing and smell. If we don’t draw on the reader’s emotions, we’ll lose them. They won’t care about our characters or about what they do. They won’t care about the book and toss it aside.
Just do it. Nike’s motto is OK for authors, too. So often we write, “Friends begin to…” or “They try to…”. Just let them do it. Wherever else you find extraneous words, cut them out. And cut out words like extraneous. Simplicity.
Journalists use “said”. They don’t try to avoid it by using words to replace it, like remarked, ordered, uttered and so on. They do that for a reason. These other words, unless skilfully chosen and used, distract the reader. So, don’t be afraid to use “said” most of the time, especially in dialogue. Let the dialog convey the feeling or meaning.
So what about non-fiction? How do you become a non-fiction master?
Well, for a start, you read what was said above about fiction and apply what is appropriate. And read what you can of the kind of book you want to write. Look for the formulas. Look for the techniques. Good writers have heaps of them. Observe. Learn.
Become as good as the best writers in your field. No-one has a monopoly on brilliance. It’s there for everyone to share. Even for you and me.
And fiction writers do not own the copyright on creativity. Non-fiction writers can use as much as they can drum up or borrow or steal.
Many of our best-selling books are non-fiction, often creative non-fiction. Look at them all. Get to know your local bookstore owner and librarian, and prowl the isles. See what they have in common or what similarities they share.
Learn about books in your field: the length, the style and the techniques used to get the message across. Sometimes, non-fiction calls for the old advice: “Tell ‘em what you’re about to tell ‘em, then tell ’em, then tell ’em what you just told ‘em.”
Many of the best can be described as creative non-fiction. This term was originally applied to books that were produced by writers who delved very deeply into their subject and into the people involved with that subject. Then those writers used fiction techniques, including dialogue, conflict, drama, emotion and the rest to tell a story that, in turn, imparted the information they were trying to get across.
Readers are drawn into such books as they are into John Grisham stories. They follow the action, the characters, the dialogue as the story unravels, and presto, job done.
My best book could be considered fiction by many readers, except that I showed that it was based on historical fact, dressed up in fiction clothes. Creative non-fiction.
In fact, all of my non-fiction books are dressed up with story to make sometimes complex stuff accessible and simple. There’s that word simple again.
Check out the big sellers in non-fiction, and I’m willing to bet that most of them use fiction techniques to tell a story and get their message across. Simply put, there is no better way of getting information across, and having it remembered, than through stories. Tell them a story and they’ll remember you and remember what you told them.
That’s what the masters do.
Remember Hemingway’s advice: “First drafts are always woopsidoo” (or words to that effect)? Papa read and reread his own work over and over until he no longer knew whether it was good or bad. Then he sent it off to his editor.
If it’s good enough for a Nobel prize-winner, it’s good enough for me. And you?
I tell my grandchildren the story of the chicken who went to the library to pick up a book. She took it under her wing down to the pond and gave it to the frog. Then she raced back to the library and said to the librarian: “Book book, book book.” The librarian tucked another book under the chicken’s wing and off she went to the pond again and gave it to the frog. After this was repeated several times the librarian became intrigued and followed the chicken. Down the road they went, across a field and down to the pond. The chicken gave the book to the frog and said: “Book book, book book.” The frog grabbed it and said to the chicken: “Read it, read it.”
OK, so it sounds better when you make chicken and frog noises, and you draw it out a bit for the kids, but you get the drift. The message is: Read it!
Make sure that your book is as complete as you can make it and edited to within an inch of its life. Perhaps you could give it to trusted friends for an honest opinion and valuable feedback.
If you’re in a writing group, consider seeking advice from members. Writers might be hermits, like me, but many do like to help other writers and take pride in it.
Unless you are an editor, you should then pay an editor (the best you can afford) to put the finishing touches to your masterpiece. You’ll find that even professional editors consider three rounds of editing should be a minimum. Check out what editors offer very thoroughly. There are huge differences in what is offered. You should know what editors do, exactly, before you part with the do-re-me.
Then, when the editing is finished, you will have decisions to make. Most editors these days use the Microsoft Word Change Tracking function to edit. This means that you can choose to approve the corrections, or not.
But, even then, don’t really expect it to be flawless. It’s amazing the little things that slip through such a process. Always, always, proofread or have it proofed. It’s your book.
I’m afraid your mum was wrong when she said you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can. Or, at least, browsing readers do so. If your cover does not immediately grab their attention, you’ve lost them. They’ve gone and will not be back. You’ve blown your first and last chance.
The first thing you must do is create a title that grabs people. You do that first for several reasons.
First, your title can cause you to rethink what you have written. Perhaps you might need a slightly different perspective, a different viewpoint. The changes might be slight, just a nuance here and there, but, if your words, however good they are, do not live up to the title, readers will feel cheated. So, make sure the title and the words are lockstep together.
Needless to say, this should be decided before you go down the editing path.
Secondly, the rest of the cover will be built around the title. Illustration, fonts and all aspects of design should be married to the title. Your PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award logo will go there as well, of course. Before the main design is done, or after, your designer (or you) can work out how to place it.
Titles have changed in the digital era. Many traditionally published books had weird, even esoteric titles (Did I mention that you shouldn’t use words that your readers might not understand?). That was in the days when you picked up interesting or intriguing or even weird books in the bookstore to inspect them.
Now, bookstores are in decline and online stores on the rise. So, we must do everything to suit the online buyer, knowing that decisions made for online buyers will also work for bookshops. But old ways will not suit new browsing.
The two-part title
What does this mean? It means that most titles have to be in two parts. Your main title must grab readers’ attention, instantly. Your subtitle must tell people what the book is about, instantly. Grab ‘em or lose ‘em.
Dr Phil McGraw’s book is called Real Life: Preparing for the 7 Most Challenging Days of Your Life. Two parts: one to grab attention, the other to say what readers can expect.
Shakti Gawain wrote Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life. The title says what the book is. Instantly.
Jonah Berger wrote one called Contagious: Why Things Catch On. The cover designers were not sure if this explained things enough, so they had another author’s quote prominent on the front: “Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information go viral than anyone in the world.” A bit long-winded, but now you know in seconds what the book is about.
And seconds is all you have. Use the title to make people want to see more. They can’t pick up a book as in the bookstore, but they can, usually, check out the cover and some pages online, and you have to use them to give people an immediate idea of what the book holds for them.
The cover should preferably make your book irresistible. How you do that is subjective – designers have different opinions.
However, your headline should grab their attention with the prime benefit or motivation for reading more. And remember, when they do read more, they are not the least bit interested in you or your book. Sad, but true. They just want to know what the book will do for them. Be sure to tell them.
Weird is, well, weird
Some make covers so busy that the message can be lost. Complex illustrations and unusual typography can turn browsers away to other covers they can understand instantly. A weird cover could indicate a weird reading experience. Poof! They’re gone.
There must be a balance. If the cover does not tell readers what the book is about and doesn’t give an idea of the flavor of the book, and do it instantly, it’s a waste.
I prefer simple covers (are you starting to realise that I’m simple-minded?). Sometimes that can be achieved with big and even complex illustrations, sometimes not so much. I want readers to find my book interesting. Cover designers should be invisible. They might be very, very clever, but who cares if the message is not clear and nobody buys the book?
Is there a dominant image or symbol in your story that could be used to illustrate the cover? If you thought it was important to the story, you’ll probably find a creative way to make your cover good and relevant.
You need only one image, except in rare circumstances. Covers can be clever, but they should be simple, in the sense that you want them readily readable and understood.
By all means, find imagery to illustrate the theme of your book, but don’t try to tell the whole story. If you could do that, why did you write 80,000 words?
Most times, less is more. Above all, don’t confuse the browsing reader or she’ll move on and you will have lost a sale.
Is there a color that is just right for your story or your non-fiction book? Use it. Cover designs should not distract the reader and one way to keep the reader focussed is to make the cover fit the story.
Science meets art
There is a science to the art of color selection, and your designer is no doubt familiar with it. If you are doing your own cover, it would be worth your while to read at least the basics. Professor Google has a great deal of knowledge to share and there are good books available.
Contrast is something else to consider in your design. This is particularly important in the era of thumbnail-sized covers displayed on the internet.
Choose fonts that suit your story and your audience. And, if you can’t read your title in thumbnail, scrap it and start again. Annoyance now is better than heartbreak later.
If possible, find an author or publishing professional, preferably someone well-known, who can give you a line or two that you can use on your cover. This gives you credibility, especially if you’re a first-time or relatively unknown author.
Designers have many elements to work with: shapes, white space, fonts, color, borders and more. The illustration is just one piece of the jigsaw. Sometimes an illustration is not needed at all. It’s the job of the creative designer to weld what is needed into an accessible, recognisable whole.
Very often type is lost in a color background and simple messages lost in complexity.
Don’t strive for clever, strive for impact
This is much more important than it used to be. Why? Because now the book cover is first seen in thumbnail size online. If it’s just a confused mess and the title is not recognisable, whoops, you’ve lost that reader again. Make sure your main title is plain and clear at thumbnail size.
One thing you have almost no control over is how the cover displays on different devices. Readers might see your cover in black and white or grayscale, color, high-resolution, low-resolution, and either full size or thumbnail size. It needs to be readable on all devices
Your back cover is considered prized real estate, and you should use it to best advantage. This where you show readers why they must read this book above all others. This is where you inspire them to read your book. Readers have one question: What’s in it for me? Don’t just describe the book; tell them what it will do for them, how they will feel reading it.
As an independent publisher, your book probably won’t be in bookstores where browsers pick up books, check the front cover, then flip it to read the back. But sometimes readers can see both sides of the cover online, so do it right, then repeat the back page message in your online book description.
Experts at online selling of any product know you must make it as easy as possible for people to buy. Don’t frustrate them. Make reasons for buying very visible and simple.
Learn the skills and practice them. Learn copywriting skills and practice them. If it’s fiction, go for the heart, the emotions, the feelings. If they don’t feel something, they won’t buy. If it’s non-fiction, use snappy key points showing how this book will solve a problem or ease pain or somehow make the reader’s life better.
Your best endorsement will usually go on the front cover, but think about using a few words from experts on the back cover to tell your message.
The eye of the beholder
But design is subjective. I’m not against beauty, I’m not against anything, really, but I think you should strive for clear messages, clarity in thumbnail size and, if you can find it, the WOW factor.
One small, but important thing. Check Professor Google and Amazon to see if there are books in print with the same title as yours. You don’t want to be lost in the jungle. I’m serious about this: I forgot to check for one of my books. The result was that my book was lost, with almost zero sales. Now I have to republish with another title and changes to the interior wording to suit the new title.
There is a lot to think about with covers. Unless you are a skilled designer and can do it yourself, hire a professional. They will be quick, and will help your book have visual appeal.
Here are more pointers on making your book so attractive readers will want to take it home.
Folios or page numbers should appear on most, but not all your pages. You don’t want them on early pages like the copyright page or title page, or on any blank pages. And you don’t want them on special ages, like pages with only an illustration, pages promoting your other books, or a blurb page with quotes.
You don’t need ragged right edges for most books, though there are exceptions. These might include poetry, art books and illustrated works, and some children’s books. But fiction, memoirs, histories and other non-fiction books all require justified text. Ebooks, of course, must be set left and not justified to allow flow in different formats and reading devices.
Print books have headers and footers and eBooks do not. Headers usually include the author name (most often on the left/even side of the page with the book or chapter title on the right/odd side of the page). Look at a variety of books to choose a header style.
TIP: As part of your preparation for publishing, collect all the images and logos you might need in both 300dpi for cover, printing and book interior, and 72dpi for your website. Your cover will need to be in PDF for print and JPG for eBook.
Create a metadata record for your book. With a metadata document, you’ll be able to use it to create consistent metadata everywhere. For example, you’ll want consistency on all your publishing platforms, printers and distributors like CreateSpace, Kindle, Shakespir and IngramSpark. You’ll also want it on your website or blog, on your Amazon author page and similar, and, really, anywhere your book or talk of it appears.
Keywords and key phrases: Search SEO on the internet or read a book on the subject. Understand what keywords or phrases are and how to choose them. You’ll need to imagine what words or phrases people might use if they are searching for your book online. Make a list and decide priorities. Use these keywords everywhere – in book descriptions online, on your site, in author bios, and so on. Use them consistently. It helps Professor Google find your book.
Write both a one-sentence description and a short “pitch” about you and your book, and memorize both. Never be caught short when asked about the book by readers, booksellers, media and others. Use them in social media. Your “elevator” pitch is the short description you’d use in a quick elevator ride. Be prepared. If you have more than one book, this is a must for all of them.
Frontmatter. This is the content that appears up front in your print book. In traditional publishing, lower case Roman numerals are used here for page numbers. However, we also accept standard numerals from page one, because your book numbering will then correspond with the page numbers published by Amazon and others.
The first right hand page is usually a half-title page in independent publishing, showing the book title and the author name. In traditional publishing, advance praise for the book is often used here, but POD companies will often ask for a title page first. For indie books, advance praise can follow the half-title in a left-hand page. The half-title page and the title page are best offered in the same style as the cover.
An illustration or frontispiece is sometimes placed on the first LH page.
The next RH page is the title page, including title, author name, publisher name and logo. An illustration is sometimes used here, perhaps to tie in with the cover.
The next LH page is the copyright page. I often put my epigraph or dedication at the top of this page, but that’s just me. But this page records copyright details, ISBNs, credits or details of production, artwork and design (if desired), and things like a Cataloguing in Publication line. Check out books on your own shelves to see how this page can be used.
The front is now starting to get a bit crowded. If you want to include a dedication or an epigraph (quotation) separately, this becomes worse. We suggest economising somewhere along the line and sticking to what is essential.
The next RH page is the Table of Contents, and you don’t want readers travelling too far into the book to find it.
Other things can also appear in frontmatter, but we recommend moving them to backmatter. These could include photo and other credits, tables and figures, and acknowledgements.
In eBooks, front matter must be kept to a minimum. That’s one reason we do not recommend a straight conversion by, say, CreateSpace, to an eBook version, like Kindle.
Even the copyright page should be kept to a minimum. People don’t like to scroll through page after page on their readers to get to the story.
Some eBook authors (if you can call them authors) go immediately into sales blurb about themselves and the wonders they can do for people if they just click here. No matter how good the sales pitch, such writers have no credibility. On the other hand, it’s also not advisable for readers to open the eBook and find themselves immediately in the story or non-fiction book. Some eBooks open automatically in the body of the book. This is too abrupt and leaves people unsure if they are in the right place. However, because this is becoming standard practice, we will be flexible on this.
The Shakespir Style Guide has good advice on eBook frontmatter, what should go there and how brief it should be.
Backmatter. This can include the following: A bibliography, an appendix, addendum, notes, glossary, chronology, photo and other credits, an index and even errata.
About the author can go here, including a pic and short bio, plus acknowledgements.
Other backmatter might include requests for reviews (in eBooks, this could include a link to your website), an invitation to join a club or email list (often with the promise of a gift), a request to join the author on social media, lists of other author titles or forthcoming titles.
Again, this list is too long, so, if you use a fair number of these, don’t be long-winded as well. You’ll annoy your readers and they won’t come back.
Some people advise stopping headers and footers after the important backmatter and then running the rest. Is that to try to fool readers? If you wouldn’t browbeat people standing in front of you, why do it in your book? You do want to leave them with a good impression, don’t you?
The Golden Rule should apply here: Treat readers as you would like to be treated.
Your words, the editor’s keen eye, the formatter’s skill and the cover designer’s creative flair all contribute to creating the WOW factor for your book.
Here are a few more tips to help make your book stunning – the best it can be.
• Make sure you proofread the book thoroughly after the editing process. No-one is perfect, except perhaps you and me, so look for the flaws than can creep in. It’s your book. (Did you notice the typo in this paragraph?).
• Quadruple check the front cover, the back cover and the table of contents. These are three things that are always checked out by readers. Make them enticing. Make them tell the story of the book. Give them a bit of sizzle. Make them sell your book. Appeal to emotions. Make readers want your book more than the money they have to part with to buy it.
• Make sure you get a printed proof of the book before you approve it for the market. If you’re using CreateSpace, for example, don’t rely on the online proof checking. Feel it in your hands. It’s too easy to miss things if you miss this step. I did once. The gutters were too small and the book too hard to read. Had to start again. Actually, it’s a good argument for the print-on-demand system. Change can be done with a minimum of fuss. But still, if you’re working to a launch deadline, such things can wreck your plans.
• Make sure you keep plugging away until you achieve a PiPS™ award. Then put it on your book, in your book, on your stationery, on your social network pages, everywhere people, especially readers and other writers, can see it. Promote your own skills and promote better independent publishing as well.
• When writing your book’s description, keep in mind two things. First, think SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and use keywords. If you don’t know about such things, Professor Google knows everything and there are plenty of good books on the subject. Secondly, be aware that no-one cares a twig about your book or about you. Sad, but true. They are interested in themselves and what your book might do for them. Make sure you tell them. Don’t describe your book, say what it will do for them, and what they’ll get out of it. Appeal to readers’ needs or emotions.
• Market your book through press releases, blogs, social media and anywhere else you can think of because you want your book to be discovered. Don’t spread yourself too thin, though. There is so much you can do to promote books, including overwhelming social media, that you’ll have no time to write the next one. Stick to a couple of promotional methods, or even just one that works. Use the 80/20 rule for marketing or you will be swamped by it. And watch for another PiPS™ free eBook on the subject of marketing.
• There are many online writers’ groups and independent publishing groups. Join them, and contribute comments. I’m in LinkedIn and recommend it. I’ve joined a number of LI groups and Facebook groups relevant to my work. You will see useful information daily and you might have your own writing or publishing problems solved by helpful fellow members. Why not join me there? Twitter gives me the shudders, but I’m there for one of my books, because I need to be visible to the media and politicians. If social media works for you, use it, because it can be brilliant, but don’t let it rule your life.
• Ask for reviews. Reviews sell books. Ask friends and acquaintances, ask your social media contacts, ask anyone you can think of without making a pest of yourself. Tell people you just want an honest opinion of the book to help other people decide whether to buy or not. Put a request at the end of every book you write. And don’t be afraid to ask experts in your field or other writers in your genre. You might be surprised to learn that they are glad to help (and your book can help their own endeavors).
• Put taglines on your correspondence and emails. You know what I mean: Brian Morgan, author of The Life of Jude: Saint of the Impossible. Oops, was that a plug? Or perhaps, M.E. Myself, PiPS™ Verified Book Quality Award winner.
We try to make things as simple as possible for authors. The PiPS™ award will reward your book for overall publishing excellence. If book buyers know your book has been verified as good quality, that’s part of your sales job done.
If the book is not yet published, we ask you to submit copies of the full manuscript, including front and back matter, plus your cover file. Use something like Dropbox if the files are too big. It’s easy and free to download if you don’t have it. Some prefer to use Google Drive for big files. Give us as much detail as you can about your manuscript, your plans for it and what you would especially like from us. We are flexible. One size does not fit all.
Just ask by email to [email protected] for an application and we’ll send everything you need by return email.
Return that completed application and enclose your files (or send them separately).
We’ll calculate the fee (to confirm your own calculation) and advise the process for you to be invoiced by PayPal. You can pay with your PayPal account or by credit card.
When we receive your files and printed books, if you send them, we acknowledge receipt of all we need and give you an estimated time for completion of the assessments. Then, by that appointed hour, we expect to send you either your award or the precise route to get there.
If a book satisfies the author that it is ready for publication at, say, CreateSpace, including internal formatting and cover design, the internal and cover files may be submitted to PiPS™ for the Whole Book Assessment process. The same applies to eBooks that are considered publication-ready.
However, we do accept already independently published books for the Whole Book Assessment process, although we do prefer the digital version to work with if possible. Our assessors can work anywhere in the world, so electronic is our preference. Perhaps you might like to send copies of the original files you used.
We need two copies of print books, please: one for the editorial assessment and one for the production assessment.
If an eBook is already published, access to all formats would help. If you used Shakespir, for example, they have a coupon system that allows for this.
How long will an assessment take? To be honest, it depends on how busy we are. However, we will give an estimated turnaround time for each assessment, and it will be pretty accurate. We do not anticipate any assessment will take more than four weeks. The quicker the better for both of us. If you are working to a deadline, tell us. We’ll do what is possible, and sometimes what is not.
When you think your book is ready for publication, or if it has already been independently published, submit it for a PiPS™ award. Almost everything is done via email. These are the steps:
1. Send an email with “Application” as the subject line and a few details, like your name and the name of your book. We’ll send you everything you need to start the PiPS™ process when you are ready to do so. Email to [email protected]
2. Fill out the application form and send it back with attachments or the links to your files. The application is fairly detailed because we can help you best if we know about you and your plans, but most questions are optional. If you are sending printed books, say so on the email application and send the books to the address on the Application (this is a forwarding address and your books will be given to the appropriate supervisor).
3. On the website you will find our current fees. They should be easy to calculate for you, with deductions for certain things. If you are in doubt, don’t worry. On receipt of your application, we’ll send you the fee and show you how to pay it. If you agree, proceed with payment.
4. At present we only accept payment through PayPal. This could change in the future, but, for now, we think it’s best and safest for our clients and for us. The PayPal process is flexible and you can use your PayPal account or use your credit card.
5. We prefer Word internal files, because, if necessary, we can make suggested corrections, using the Word tracker system, and you can then accept or reject the changes. If you have already published the book, send us access to the digital files as well as two copies of the printed book if you can. If you have published an eBook, send us a copy of your original Word files, if possible, or access to the various formats (If you used Shakespir, they have a coupon system for this purpose).
It’s all pretty simple (I’m simple-minded, remember?). Just start with the email with Application in the subject line and your name and book title. From there, we explain each step of the process.
The PiPS™ System is explained also in the organisation’s website, . You’ll also find current fees there.
For any queries, PiPS™ can be contacted at [email protected]
If you’d like to start the application process, contact PiPSTM at [email protected]
For the free eBook, the best way is to email a request to [email protected] We’ll send you a PDF version, plus the link to other versions at Shakespir.
CreateSpace can be found on . There are extensive details there on POD publishing and on publishing for Amazon.
Amazon in on .
Shakespir is on . Their excellent style guide for eBook formatting can be found here, as well as other recommended publications.
You can find Dropbox on . If you have files that are too big to send by email, Dropbox is free to download.
More information about Brian Morgan or his own books can be found on .
Brian Morgan can be found on and . He can be contacted on the PiPS™ email or, about his own books, on [email protected]
So, here we are at last. I know I repeated myself at times, but I assume some people are like me and need repetition to remember things. I hope you now have a good idea of what PiPS™ is all about and how to grab your *PiPS*TM Verified Book Quality Award.
You now know our purpose is to help raise independent publishing standards, book by book, so that readers can see, instantly, what books are professionally produced and therefore worth considering. In other words, we are doing for indie authors what traditional publishers do for theirs.
We are doing what we can to tell other authors about PiPS™, but the industry is too big for us to reach everyone. Would you be kind enough to help spread the word? You have your own networks, either person-to-person or through social media groups.
If you can reach out to them, you will be helping change independent publishing and doing something really worthwhile for your fellow authors.
If you send them the link to our website, that will also direct them to the free eBook. Our site is at . If you’d like articles to share or graphics, please just ask.
Not everyone will be in a position to use our services, but everyone should be aware of what is being done to help them and their industry.
Let’s make indie books great. Let’s raise independent publishing standards and make that quality visible.
Thank you for your support.
This is a book for every independent author. It launches a new service that ushers in a new era for book buyers by verifying, on the cover, books that are professionally produced and therefore likely to be a good buy. Professional Independent Publishing Standards (PiPS) wants to raise indie quality to that of traditionally published books and to make that quality visible to readers. This is thought to be the first such service specifically designed to benefit readers by spotlighting quality books. To do this, PiPS offers a double assessment of indie books (editorial and production) and when books achieve professional standards in both, it offers a PiPS Verified Book Quality Award, which can be displayed on book covers and elsewhere to help readers choose a good book. The major problem with sales of independently published books is that there is no quality control. This means that many sub-standard (and sometimes disgraceful) books are published every day. As a result, readers shun independently published books in favor of those produced by professional publishers. They chose books that have been vetted by professionals and are therefore more likely to be good books. PiPS want to change all that by providing quality assessments to assure readers that a self-published book is of commercial quality and therefore likely to be a good read. Author Brian Morgan says this is the missing link in self-publishing. "I believe it will disrupt the publishing industry and be a game-changer for both authors and readers," he says. This free eBook does two things: it describes the visionary service offered by PiPS, and it sets out in detail the standards required of authors to achieve the PiPS Verified Book Quality Award. What happens if authors have books assessed, but their books are not up to professional standard? Authors then receive a very detailed report that sets out exactly what has to be done to reach that standard. If authors accept that advice, they can then submit the book again, without charge, for a fresh assessment. Some authors have already accepted the PiPS assessments as authentic during beta testing. They have had their books assessed and books verified as quality productions. The book is quite detailed and sets out fully this new concept that is designed to raise independent publishing standards to new heights, book by book. All authors with publication-ready books and those with books already independently published are invited to read this free book and help make indie books great.