Friday, May 1, 2020


Self-publishing is the publication of any book or eBook by the author of that work without the involvement of a third-party publisher. The author is responsible for, and in control of the design, formatting, pricing, distribution, and marketing. As a self-publisher, an author may choose to take on all the aforementioned tasks or outsource all or some of the process to companies which offer these services.

Self Publishing is nothing new.  The concept of self-publishing has actually been around for hundreds of years.  But recent technological advancements have had an incredible impact on publishing, and self-publishing in particular.  In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76% of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses actually reduced the number of books they produced

Some authors choose to publish because they can gain more control over their published work.  Others self publish because they feel there is greater financial opportunity when cutting out the middle-man.  Still, others self-publish because their work was rejected by traditional publishers (the late, great Dr. Seuss was rejected twenty-four times before finding a publisher willing to publish his work).  Regardless of the reason, it appears self-publishing is gaining momentum and garnering some amount of respect in the publishing world. A growing number of well known and highly respected authors are even beginning to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon.

This blog has been created to explore the options of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.  We’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly where both sides are concerned.  - If you have a story you’d like to share about your publishing experience, we’d love to hear from you.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish . . . that is the question

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or eBook by the author of that work without the involvement of a third-party publisher. The author is responsible for, and in control of, the design, formatting, pricing, distribution, and marketing. As a self-publisher, an author may choose to take on all the aforementioned tasks, or outsource all or some of the process to companies which offer these services.

Self Publishing is nothing new.  The concept of self-publishing has actually been around for hundreds of years.  But recent technological advancements have had an incredible impact on publishing, and self-publishing in particular.  In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76% of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses actually reduced the number of books they produced

Some authors choose to publish because they can gain more control over their published work.  Others self-publish because they feel there is a greater financial opportunity when cutting out the middleman.  Still, others self-publish because their work was rejected by traditional publishers (the late, great Dr. Seuss was rejected twenty-four times before finding a publisher willing to publish his work).  Regardless the reason, it appears self-publishing is gaining momentum and garnering some amount of respect in the publishing world. A growing number of well known and highly respected authors are even beginning to jump on the self-publishing bandwagon. 

This blog has been created to explore the options of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing.  We'll share the good, the bad and the ugly where both sides are concerned.  - If you have a story you'd like to share about your publishing experience, we'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Land a Traditional Publisher for Your Book

by Nihar Suthar

I often receive questions from friends, family, and fans about how I approach the book publishing process. Honestly, I can admit that there is no clear-cut method on how to traditionally publish your work; every author has his or her own "secret sauce." Today, I would like to share the recipe for my secret sauce with you. It has worked 100% of the time in helping me get my books traditionally published. I want to pass this success onwards. This article provides specific tried-and-tested tips on how to land a traditional publishing deal.

Before going any further, however, I think it is important to point out that there are two main strategies around how authors can traditionally publish books. The first strategy, which is the most selective and hardest to execute, is working with an agent. Agents receive 10,000 to 15,000 manuscript submissions every year--and on average, they only choose to represent four or five new authors from all those submissions. This translates into an acceptance rate of approximately .04%, which is 135x lower than the acceptance rate for Harvard University. An agent is quite valuable, though, because he or she will leverage existing connections to pitch your manuscript to some of the largest and most prestigious publishing houses in the world. 

The second strategy for publishing a book is to cut out the agent altogether. Contrary to what most authors believe, agents are not required in the process. There may even be some value in avoiding them, as they usually expect at least 15% royalties from all book sales. This strategy is the road that I have taken with all my books to date. 

So, what is my secret recipe on traditionally publishing a book without an agent? Simple. Instead of having an agent represent you and reach out to publishing houses on your behalf, you reach out yourself (once you have a completed manuscript). It is true that some of the larger publishing houses will only accept manuscript submissions from agents. But, many of the smaller to mid-size publishing houses will in fact accept queries directly from authors. 

My advice to uncover these publishers is to do a search on Amazon by the same genre of book as you have written. Go through at least the first 20 pages of results, and make a list of which publishing house each book is published by. For example, if you are aiming to publish a nonfiction cookbook, search for cookbooks on Amazon and make a list of which publishers have published each cookbook. Doing this will allow you to target only the most relevant publishers for your future book. 

Once you have compiled a list of 30 to 40 publishers, research each one and look on their websites to see if the publishing house editors accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from authors. If so, then send a pitch email (I will write an upcoming blog post on the perfect pitch email) with the first three chapters of your manuscript attached. It is extremely important that your manuscript is edited and in final-draft form. The publishing house editors will decide whether they want to read your entire manuscript based on just those three chapters. If they are interested, they will reach out to you within a month (or a little longer) asking you for your entire manuscript. Finally, if they like your entire manuscript, they will offer you a publishing deal! 

Negotiating the publishing deal is another tricky part of the process, on which I will also write a future blog post. For now, if you are looking to break into the world of traditional book publishing, start by finishing your manuscript and compiling a list of publishing houses that have published books in a similar genre to the one you hope to release. I can promise you that with some perseverance, this strategy is guaranteed to land you a traditional book publishing deal. If you have any comments or questions on my process, feel free to post them below! 

Nihar Suthar is an award-winning writer covering inspirational stories around the world. He stumbled upon writing completely by accident after moving to New York City for the very first time. While in the Big Apple, Nihar noticed there were thousands of people missing out on the greatness of everyday life due to the very fast paced lifestyles they lived. He had a big idea to inspire people around the globe by writing a book. He Debuted his first international book, Win No Matter What, with Balboa Press in May 2013. Since then, Nihar’s work has taken him to both distant parts of the globe and down strange alleyways. He currently calls Boston home, and is constantly on the prowl for fresh, inspiring stories to document.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My 10 + 1 Self-Publishing Winning Writer Tips

-Dr. Nicole

Before self-publishing my three children’s books, traditional Canadian publishers bought and produced 14 of my books. I sold more than 135,000 copies in the North American French market. I first thought such huge success could help me find an American book agent to sell my manuscripts to well-known publishers. I was totally wrong.

Canadian and American book markets are totally different. Being rejected many times, I started my self-published author journey. From reading a lot of books, blogs and articles on self-publishing, I learned the do’s and don’ts of award-winning books. I self-published my children’s books Parents for Sale, Are You Eating My Lunch and Strike at Charles’ Farm. In the last two years these three children’s books won more than 15 international awards.

Here are my top 10 winning tips for self-published authors.

1. Think as businessmen.
A book is a commercial product. It has to be well written, well produced and marketed.  Imagine a shoe store. If you want to sell lots of shoes, you must sell a perfect shoe, give flawless customer service and offer unique goods. Success is a team business. Work with the best professionals in the business to help you maintain control of production.

2. Hire a professional writing coach.
At first, I was collecting publisher rejection letters. Then, I took lessons with a successful writer. We worked on my manuscripts for a year. In 2012, I was invited to sign my three newly released books at the Quebec International Book Fair. Talent is not enough to seduce traditional publishers. Learning and following market rules is mandatory in order to be successful.

3. Read many books.
Before writing a book in any style for any audience, read a lot of books. Read old classics as well as recently released books. Read about how to write a book. Study reader’s needs and get prepared to answer questions in non-fiction books, or tell a great story with fiction. Public libraries, book stores, and electronic markets offer more books than you can read. On the web, I clicked on many book previews before self-publishing my own books. I visited book award websites to learn the types of books the award programs were honoring.

4. Select the right self-publishing company.
To produce a well written, and well-designed book, self-publishing can cost a lot. There are many rules to follow.  Based upon your previous experiences, many well-established companies will offer self-publishing packages, where you have several options to choose from. Or you can do everything on your own. Since these were my first books in an untamed new market self-publishing packages were best suited to me. I really appreciated the relationship I was able to develop with my self-publishing book consultant.

5. Design your author’s website.
As I had written several books, my marketing consultant advised me to design one website about me as an author instead of a website for each of my books individually. This strategy serves me well as I can add any newly released books to my existing website. I also have a separate French author website for my 14 books which are written in French.

6. Hire a professional editor.
If you want to ruin your book, publish it with mistakes. Readers will easily detect them and close the book. In the children’s book market, teachers will reject books with spelling mistakes. Don’t hesitate to hire professional editor before publishing the book.

7. Hire a professional publicist.
Your book is on the market. Your journey starts. Selling books in a highly competitive market is not easy. My book publicist helped me design my author’s website, publish press releases and find the best keywords for the SEO (search engine optimization) to help readers searching for children’s book in my case on the web. Because of the multiple books I published, I decided to focus on branding a meaningful author’s name and not in book titles. I picked “Dr. Nicole” as a name with an appealing logo as the trademark. I wanted to be a children’s book writer associated with a professional pediatric medical background as support to the educational profile of my books.

8. Start your marketing as soon as possible.
Marketing starts very soon. Publish blogs; write on your social media about your book. On my website, I announce future books and I offer coloring pages of my books which kids can print. These freebies are well appreciated by fans.

9. Design an awesome book cover.
As a self-published and newcomer author, I knew that my book covers were my only chance to seduce readers looking for a children’s book on the web. Professionally designed book covers helped me win awards and sell many books. My book designer applied my nice-looking Dr. Nicole logo on the right corner of each book.

10. Use your new book to market all your books.
I used my self-published books to market all my books and awards. I listed them on the first page of my books instead of the last one. This first contact tells my readers that I published many books and received many awards.When buyers open the book preview on the web, they first read this list. Taking advantage of this free publicity increases your credibility. I also thank readers for choosing my book and invite them to write an honest review.

11. Produce an audiobook of your successful book.
Audiobook market is exploding. Don’t miss this opportunity to be part of the game with your book. Select your audiobook producer carefully . For my audiobook Parents for Sale, I hired two professional actors to read the book over a background of music and sound effects. The result is much more appealing than an audiobook read by a single actor without background.

Dr. Nicole is a Quebec family medicine doctor writing children’s books by passion. In the traditions of Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss, this multi-award-winning and bestselling author breathes life into inanimate objects and wildly entertaining characters that engage children in powerful ways. Through the parent/child interaction, her works develop a love for reading while helping children develop the most important skill of all - critical thinking.
Dr. Nicole’s books are available on: 
Parents for Sale (book and audio book), 
Are You Eating My Lunch?/Manges-tu mon lunch ? and 
Strike at Charles’ Farm/Grève à la ferme de Charles
My French books are available on
Félix and Boubou his magical doctor suitcase (8 titles)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Experiences from a Hybrid Author

- Lincoln Cole

When I finally bit the bullet and decided I was going to self-publish, it was after years of sending my books out and building stacks of rejection notices. By that point, I just wanted to get my books out in the world and turn my attention to new projects.

Luckily, I found a friend who was a graphic designer who made covers for me and I knew quite a bit about formatting and interior design to make the books look pretty good. I loaded them up, hit the publish button, and let them out into the world.

They basically sank, but that was okay. I tried a lot of different things, set up a lot of long-term projects to go along with the books, and then just wrote more books. I published four books during those first six months, and then I was forced to start writing again.

But now I had a better sense of how everything worked. I'd done a fair bit of marketing, tried out a lot of different outreach methods, and built up a community of people who could help me. I wrote my newest book with the intention of trying out the Amazon Kindle Scout program, and I had every intention of winning a contract and seeing how well it would go.

And win I did. I had incredibly good feedback about the novel from Amazon's editors and from the audience that was allowed to read the first chapters. Amazon paid for editing and released the book, and it's been out for a little more than a week now. It's had a bigger response in that week than some of my books have had during their entire existence after launching months ago.

Using Kindle Scout has taught me a lot about what can be accomplished with a lot of effort. I feel like I've been continually improving as an author and learning new tricks and tips that always help. The one thing I've learned is that publishing is like gambling: you can't gamble without being willing to put money on the table (professional reviews, awards, editing, covers, marketing) and you aren't guaranteed to win or even make your money back. But, sometimes you'll hit a jackpot. If you aren't willing to gamble, then it might not be the right career.

Now I have a book traditionally published (as traditional as Amazon could ever be considered to be) and several books self-published. I've won multiple awards, and the one that's paid off the most for me was CLC Awards for my two literary novels. I stumbled onto their service toward the beginning of my career and now it's one of the staple services I use for enhancing my career.


Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Authors Need to Know about Book Production

by Cecile Kaufman

The success of your book design and production depends to some extent on the materials that you deliver to the designer. These are some general guidelines.

Start with the Trim Size
The first thing your book designer needs to know, before beginning the design, is what the size of your book will be. Just as you would not buy the materials to build a shed without first deciding how big it should be, so does your designer need to know what page size she will be working with before beginning the design. There are standard book sizes; for instance, a typical trade paperback book would be 6 inches × 9 inches or 5.5 inches × 8.5 inches. Because some book printers can print more efficiently at one of these sizes than at the other, you will also want to choose your printer right at the beginning of the process. Also, if you want to get a quote from a printer, have your designer do so before you create your book, because you will need to know the trim size.

Raster and Vector
If you have images in your book each one will  be either a raster image or a vector image. Raster images are made up of tiny squares (pixels), and the resolution of a raster image is measured in pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi). These images are typically photographs or illustrations that have been scanned. Although there may be some leeway, depending on the image and how it will be printed, a general rule of thumb is that  raster images need to be 300 ppi or dpi at the size at which they will be printed or larger. The size is important: larger is always acceptable, but smaller is not. This is because you cannot enlarge a raster image very much before it begins to look pixelated (jagged, broken into small squares).
Vector graphics, on the other hand, are made up of points and paths determined by an algorithm. These images can be enlarged without loss of quality. Usually vector graphics that are used in print publishing will have the extension .eps. Fonts are also vector graphics.
If you are submitting scans of type or line art, for instance, a newspaper article with just type, that scan should be between 600 and 2400 dpi, and saved as “bitmap.” Although the scan is a representation of type, it is still a rasterized image, just as a photo would be, and if it is to look as crisp as real vector type would look, it needs to have additional resolution.

Name Your Files Intentionally
A consistent and understandable convention for naming files is very helpful and is the easiest way to avoid having images placed in the wrong places. A typical naming scheme would be to number the images, using three digits, like this:


In this way, when importing images into the page layout program, the designer will see a list that is in order, and can easily pick the correct number from the list. In the manuscript Word file, there should be a corresponding note to indicate approximately where the image should be placed, such as “insert ‘greatbook_006.tif ’ about here.”

Style Your File
Style your Word document: give each paragraph a paragraph style, or have your copy editor do so. You do not want your designer to be deciding whether an element should be a first-level heading or second-level heading, That decision is one you or your editor should make. If you are using Word, select the text, and choose the style from the drop-down menu to apply it.

Stick to the Stages
Developmental editing comes before copyediting, which always comes before layout. Design also comes before layout, and design changes usually should not be made after layout has begun. Making many copyediting changes after the pages have been laid out will incur extra costs and takes more time; it also increases the risk of mistakes especially in books which have many images (because significant changes will cause reflow of the text). Proofreading comes after the pages are laid out. Making changes after the proofreading stage should be done very carefully and someone should check the surrounding pages to make sure no text has reflowed.

The Cleaner the Manuscript . . .
In general the cleaner the manuscript is at the beginning, the cleaner it will be at each of the following stages, and the smoother the production process will be. If you understand these basics of book production then you  will have a head start on a successfully produced book.

Cecile Kaufman is a graphic designer, editor, project manager, and print buyer with over twenty years experience in publishing and commercial graphic arts. In 1999 she founded X-Height Studio, which specializes in publication design and offers full publishing services from concept to final printed product. The studio has provided print design and production, editorial services, project management, and print buying services for a wide range of clients. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Life is Short, Readers are Waiting

A Case for Self-Publishing

by Christopher Noël

        You hold in your hands a completed manuscript which deserves to connect with its readership. Two divergent paths to this goal lie before you: the path of traditional publishing and the path of independent publishing—also known as self-publishing.
        The first path promises prestige and, potentially, a cash advance…if you can find an agent who loves your book, if she can find an editor who loves your book, and if that editor can convince others at the publishing house—especially the sales force—that your book will make money, or that the company can absorb a loss for the sake of art. This path to publication usually takes years between agent search and first printed copy arriving in the mail. Meanwhile, the clock ticks and you get older and older.
      The second path lying before you offers a quick trip: copies of your book will reach readers in a few weeks and you can move forward with your life. Of course, the trade-off is that in this scenario you are genuinely independent, in ways both good and bad. The downside is that you renounce that heady prestige, as well as the robust distribution and marketing machine of a publishing house, and you must grapple instead with the lingering stigma that comes with self-publishing, with going it alone and sending your work out into the world without the stamp of approval conferred by the legacy publishing industry.
      So let’s look at this stigma, element by element.
1.      It stems in part from the notion that writers are paying to have their own books printed. This reputation is a hold-over from the “vanity press” days of yore, the analog days, whereas we now live in the digital age; therefore—and here I use the example I favor, a platform called CreateSpace—you pay nothing, either up front or down the road, as long as you handle the print-ready formatting of the manuscript yourself and provide your own cover art.
2.      Conservative detractors seem to think that a gate-keeper must stand between artist and audience, ensuring the worthiness of the former. Well, hot news flash: artists and writers have been chipping away at and transcending this middle man for many years now. Think of the music industry, where bands and solo performers have been successfully shunning and sidestepping conventional industry labels for more than a decade, releasing their work directly to their fans by means of “independent labels”—that is, their own labels. Take the example of bloggers, too. What are they but self-publishers? Fifteen years ago, those in the know looked down their noses at these poor creatures who apparently could not get their work accepted within “legitimate” journalistic venues. But don’t look now—bloggers virtually rule the world. Those who release their own books independently are the bloggers of the book-publishing world. And YouTube allows countless artists, entertainers, and journalists to connect directly with their various audiences. Commentator Cenk Uygur, for instance, left the world of corporate news at MSNBC to found his own outlet, The Young Turks, which has now amassed two and a half billion YouTube views, even as MSNBC continues to languish in ratings purgatory.
3.      The stigma against independent publishing suffers from a severe, ahistorical blind spot—or is it a willful forgetting of the past? I recognize that this point will seem to clash with the above image of the current-day reactionaries having “fallen behind the curve of history,” but the truth is that both dynamics are in play: contemporary options are outstripping the corporate modalities of recent years and our new groundswell of authorial autonomy resonates with that of a century ago and more. Before the publishing industry had developed and consolidated power, authors who could afford to (yes, it cost money back then) often had their own works printed up and made available to readers—geniuses including Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Beatrix Potter, and a multitude of other enduring literary figures. That is, we are now circling back to a time when authors felt at liberty to make and distribute books without stigma.

       The only trouble is that many in the world of traditional publishing (and in the ancillary ranks of bookstores and reviewers) have fallen behind the curve of history and still cling to that outmoded and regressive “gate-keeper” archetype. Why not let art sink or swim thanks to its intrinsic quality rather than to the imprimatur of a company? When you boil the case down, after all, what is an editor? An editor is an English major who got a job. And marketers? They are not even English majors.
     Fortunately, today’s dramatic reboot of Virginia Woolf’s operating system enjoys a fresh digital form, a form far more nimble and writer-friendly than any that has ever existed before. Here are three enormous advantages of the system we now find at our easy disposal:

1.    If one wishes to add or subtract material or to remove typos, one can simply rework and upload the book’s interior file, which will then go “live” within hours. Compare this to the past; who among us has not cringed at glaring mistakes in conventionally published books, glitches that were not and will never be fixed because of the prohibitive expense of doing so within the old regime?  In short, in the new regime, you retain open-ended control over your work. 
2.    Kissing the middle man good-bye gives us royalties that are much more generous; CreateSpace, for instance, pays the writer an average 33% of the list price, as opposed to the typical 7.5%-12% still paid by publishing houses. Over the past two months, my titles have earned me less than a thousand dollars—a modest amount for sure, but these payments will keep accruing year after year after year, as will readership.
3.    That’s because such books will never go out of print. Never. The method used to produce books is called print-on-demand, which means that copies are printed only as orders come in. No more inventories backlogged and moldering in warehouses, only to be shredded once the title falls out of print in order to make room for succeeding crates. Since it costs today’s digital platforms nothing to keep authors’ files active as ebooks and ready to be transformed into shiny paperbacks at a moment’s notice, there exists zero pressure for any book to become unavailable. I remember that when I published books with Knopf and Random House, in the 1980s and 1990s, their “shelf life” seemed to last just about as long as my meager advance money.

      One important caveat, however. This completed manuscript you hold in your hands? It better be “completed” indeed, because before you decide to forge ahead and release it to the world, you are your own excellent gate-keeper—you and your circle of trusted advisors. Yes, the digital revolution allows us to fix errors post-publication, but don’t forget that smart readers will have caught them before you did and will have judged your writing accordingly. Make sure the book is definitely good enough before hitting UPLOAD.
     A friend of mine worked on a novel for ten years, until it was more than good enough; I can attest to that. For the next five years, she endured the endless rounds of agents who “loved the book” and editors who “loved the book” but were not quite able to “raise the passion in-house” to put it over the top. Finally, my friend had to give up on the traditional route.
     That was in 2005. I wish I could report that she then set proudly forth on the route to self-empowerment and that her beautiful novel has lived and breathed in the world for the past decade. Instead, held hostage by convention, she kept it in the dark, where it remains today. Though they will never know it, thousands of readers are much the poorer for her decision.

Christopher Noël’s two most recent books, which he released the instant they were ready, are The Girl who Spoke with Giants (a novel) and The Mind of Sasquatch and the Secret to Their Success (a theory).  He is also a freelance editor:  www.ChristopherNoel.Info