Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indie Publishing Your Book

By Clare Davidson, CFH UK Operations Lead

Indie publishing isn’t a fast process

You’ve just typed ‘The End’ on your manuscript. You’ve done your research and decided that indie publishing is for you. It’s faster than traditional publishing; you have full creative control of your work and better royalties. It’s time to upload it and hit the publish button.

Wait. Slow down. As the Grolsch adverts said: “Stop, this [book] is not ready yet.”

Whilst it might be faster to go the indie route, that doesn’t mean it’s fast. It certainly doesn’t mean you should throw your manuscript out into the wild the moment you’ve finished the first draft (or even the second). Check out Jason’s earlier blog post on why editing is important.

There are lots of things you need to do before your book will be ready to release and, whether you decide to do as much as possible on your own or hire professionals, they all take time. Here’s a brief overview:


Before you look for an editor, you’ll need to do at least a second pass of your book. Only you know how long it will take, because only you know what your process is. I do a full read through and take notes on inconsistencies and things I’m not happy with, and then I go back through line by line, scene by scene, polishing. It’s a two-step process that takes me at least a month.

Next up is getting more eyes on it to make sure there’s no remaining plot holes or inconsistencies. There are two options here: send it out to beta readers, or hire a content editor. In my experience, beta readers are the slower (but cheaper) option. Allow at least a month, but this route may take months. A content editor might be able to get a report back to you in as little as two weeks, depending on the length of your novel. Of course, once you’ve got your manuscript back, you’re going to need time to act on the feedback you’ve been given.

Once the story elements are perfect, you’ll need to work with a line/copy editor. It’s their job to make your words shine. This process can take up to a month as it’s very involved. The chances are you’ll want this editor to do two passes of your manuscript and, between each pass, you’ll need time to go through their suggestions.

Proofreading is the final stage in the editing process. It’s a last check, so can generally be done in around two weeks.


eBook formatting is faster than paperback formatting. Typically, you will have results within a week of making arrangements.

Paperback formatting is a different beast. You’ll need to work with your formatter to decide on an internal layout and then your formatter will lovingly make your words look beautiful. If you don’t know what leading, kerning, widows, orphans and flush space are, you definitely want to hire this stage out to a professional. Likewise if you think Microsoft Word is suitable for paperback formatting (it really isn’t).

Allow two weeks, which allows time for the backwards and forwards dialogue of agreeing the layout and time for you to proofread the PDF file your designer sends you. Yes, proofreading again. Trust me when I tell you that any remaining mistakes will pop out at you when you see your book in this different format.

Cover Design

How long your cover design takes will depend on whether or not you want a stock photo cover, or a fully illustrated cover. I work with an illustrator and the whole process of conceptualizing, creating and revising a full wrap paperback cover takes a month.

If you’re releasing a paperback, you’ll need to allow time to order a physical proof copy.

Professionals get booked up

Professionals get booked up, sometimes several months in advance. My advice to first time authors is to start with the first person you need to work with (e.g. a content editor), agree to a start date and a timescale that they’ll work towards, and then find the next person on your list (e.g. a copy editor). [Seeking out a full-service firm, such as CFH, is helpful in this regard, as all aspects are coordinated in-house. -- Jason]. If contracting with multiple freelancers, always make sure to allow a little bit of padding time, just in case.

Once you’ve published a few books, you’ll be far more aware of how long the whole process takes you. At this point, you might feel confident enough to set a release date and work backwards.

It’s a fun journey, honestly!

Whilst it might seem like a lot of work to get your manuscript ready for publication, it’s a fun journey. You’ll work with some amazing professionals and, hopefully, you’ll build up a rapport and choose to work with them again and again.

Your manuscript is your baby. It’s worth taking the time to make sure it’s ready for its introduction to the world.

Good luck and have fun!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The second raffle is over. Thanks to everyone who participated! Congratulations to:

Samantha H. - CHAUCER Light editing package Grand Prize winner

Maxson M. - $500 editing credit First Prize winner

Olivia R. - $100 art and design services Second Prize winner

Runners Up (Tee-shirt winners) will be notified via e-mail.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ask Our Editors!

Do you have grammar- or writing-related questions?

Check out our new feature: Ask Our Editors! at the bottom of our Welcome page.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Must Have Missed That Sight

By Chip Putnam, CFH Ghost Writing and Content Services Lead (and teacher)

A few years ago, I took a trip to the Great Plains with my family. Trips like this should be taken by car, for only then do you get to experience ecosystems changing as you leave the comfortable world of the deciduous forest and enter into the realms where grass rules supreme. Although, in an effort to provide a truthful disclaimer, most of the ground east of the Missouri River has been plowed and sown with corn. It was on these lands that Lewis and Clark journeyed and Ma and Pa Ingalls laid claim to their homestead. And it was on these lands that the mighty buffalo once held court in a rolling palace of verdant splendor. Now, where majestic herds of buffalo once thundered across the horizon-spanning vista, domestic cattle and stalks of corn play the role of usurper. Years of slaughter have left the once-dominant megafauna of a large portion of this country exiled to a few enclaves such as Custer State Park in South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It was in both of these parks that we encountered buffalo, and I can say from personal experience that the adjectives of massive and majestic are not overused clich├ęs.

I bring up fond memories of this trip to highlight a problem that I encountered in my classroom this past week. It is the beginning of the school year—the time when students get the feel of their classes, learn the expectations of their teachers, and generally realize that their summer vacation is, indeed, over. Once again, in an effort to provide truthful disclosure, most teachers— myself included—must also come to grips with this realization. One of the first tasks that I always assign to my Advanced Placement Environmental Science students is to analyze a short essay summarizing the plight of the buffalo. As we were all struggling to get back into school, I decided to go easy upon the poor souls who had so recently been pulled from the virtual Nirvana of summer vacation, and I supplied them with a set of questions to help them purge the fluff that had accumulated between their ears.

“How did the native tribes of the plains use the buffalo?” was the first question the students had to tackle. This is where I discovered that there is quite a bit of difference between the words did and do. Did implies that the native tribes hunted the buffalo and used all parts of the animals for food, clothing, and tools. Did implies things that had occurred in the past. Do implies, so my students would have you believe, that I had missed an incredible photo opportunity on my vacation.

Imagine my surprise when their insight helped me to realize that I could have stood upon a hill and surveyed a vista covered with buffalo. I expect that, if I had maintained my vigil for a long enough period of time, I would also have seen Sioux hunters rushing in for the kill to provide a bounty of food and resources for their families. It would have made a marvelous photo opportunity, possibly winning my photograph a prestigious spot on the cover of National Geographic.

Of course, none of this could have come to pass. While the American Bison—the real name of the buffalo—has been brought back from the brink of extinction, the species is still considered vulnerable in the wild. My students’ understanding of verb tense appears to be equally endangered. The moral of this story is that even though people may take the summer off, grammar never rests.   

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why Is Editing Important?

By Jason Graves, CFH Editing Services Lead

As an aspiring indie author or as someone looking to shop their manuscript to a literary agent or a publisher's submissions editor, you must do at least one of two things. Either you need to be disciplined in your re-writing and develop impressive chops at self-editing, or you need to hire a competent editor. Even if you achieve the former, it is still incredibly helpful to have the latter, because you cannot catch every mistake and beyond that a competent editor can offer suggestions on how to make your manuscript even better. I stress competence because many people allow their friends to ‘beta’ read their manuscript and then declare that all is well and good when the friends reply with a thumbs up and a few typo catches. Honestly, there is so much more to making a book from a manuscript.

A competent editor, depending on the services you engage them for, will look at not only spelling, but word use, punctuation, grammar, syntax, flow, pacing, plot development and holes, consistency, character development, world building, description, and dialogue. They will assure that not only will your characters keep the same name throughout the story, but also the same personality and mannerisms. They will catch inconsistencies and errors of omission, and remark on what you are doing well and what you should drop or rewrite. They will save you time and embarrassment, and might just be the polish that gets your manuscript accepted.

Speaking of accepted, I can tell you from my experience, as a reader and an editor and a published author, that small and even mid-sized publishers lack the financial wherewithal to edit your manuscript as closely as a large or a major publisher would accomplish. These smaller publishers are generally running on tight margins and often cannot dedicate the resources to shepherd a problem-filled manuscript, no matter how promising, into a polished book. I admire them for everything that they do accomplish in this climate of corporate domination, but if you have ever wondered why even small presses turn down your manuscript, it is possibly because of this very issue: they cannot spend the money and time to properly edit your work. So that becomes your job, or the job of a freelance editor or a service like ours, to clean up your manuscript into something that a publisher will keep in their hand (and not toss within seconds) and a reader will eagerly read and want to recommend to friends.

Some people believe that editing is not important. They’re wrong. But don’t take my word for it—go read book reviews. Read what people have to say about the sloppy writing that pervades modern indie and even small press publishing, and then seek out a competent editor to assure that the reviews of your books will never say such things.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bang one down! Ready for number two?

First, congratulations are in order to the winners of our first raffle...

Stephen L. won the MARLOWE Light Editing Package

Meri S. won a $500 credit toward Editing Services

Evelyn J. won a $500 credit toward Editing Services

Cynthia H. won a $100 credit toward Art & Design Services

Thanks to everyone who joined the first raffle!

Second, the new raffle...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Transitions and changes

Two and a half years ago, I sat down before my computer and formally announced that I was adopting my avocation as a vocation--turning my hobby into a job.

A Writer.

There it sat, all shiny, staring back at me from my imagination. But...how to tell the world? I pondered. A blog! And, it's been a fun blog. I've written some funny things and some serious things. I've boosted fellow writers and written about musicians I admire. But, times move on.

The blog stays, but the focus changes.

Last week saw the advent of Clever Foil Hat, LLC, the re-imagining of my existing editing and design practice, now expanded into a real company. Naming the business was an easy one (after a friend pointed it out to me) as I've been building the brand for the past quarter decade and it encapsulates my approach to life and writing and interacting with people--fun, but with serious intent. Hence, our new tagline for Clever Foil Hat:  FUNNY NAME. SERIOUS RESULTS.

The current content on Cleverfoilhat will likely be here for at least a few more days while I archive it and move it over to my personal website, but, hopefully, by next week, there will be an entirely new focus for the CFH blog, as I and other members of the team begin writing on topics that directly impact the lives and practices of writers, artists, and designers in the indie and traditional publishing fields.

For long-time readers...thanks for being here! I hope you like the new format.