Most of the people visiting this site will either have a book ready for publishing - or very close.
Some of these tips and points might still be a useful aide memoire however for people fairly new to the art of electronic publishing - or those who have been in so long they feel like a memory jog.
Keep a Goal-sheet. Nothing to do with football - everything to do with success. Properly written goals regularly visited, checked off and added too are almost essential to being successful in any business. Before you think it doesn't apply to you - or "you can do just fine without it", please read the following: In the book What They Don't Teach You in the Harvard Business School <link>, Mark McCormack tells a study conducted on students in the 1979 Harvard MBA program. In that year, the students were asked, "Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?" Only three percent of the graduates had written goals and plans; 13 percent had goals, but they were not in writing; and a whopping 84 percent had no specific goals at all.
Ten years later, the members of the class were interviewed again, and the findings, while somewhat predictable, were nonetheless astonishing. The 13 percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all. As for the three percent who had clear, written goals - they were earning more than the other 97 percent put together.
Now in the interests of integrity, it has to be said that even though it has appeared in the book mentioned above, I cannot find a specific reference to the study done at Harvard. That said however, even if there is an element of "urban myth" to this, it is certainly true to say that each of the people I know personally who are "substantially affluent", all keep written goals. It may not be money that is your driver - but whatever it is that you are striving for - written goals should be regarded as an essential tool in getting you there.
If you are not already a Goal-Sheet keeper, please click here for more information. If you are then please read on below.
Backups. Make them. Not just on the same drive - if the disk crashes (and they ALL do sooner or later), your work will evaporate into nothing if you do not have a copy elsewhere. Many authors ignore this until they lose a few hundred hours work - they never make the same mistake twice. If you can learn from THEIR mistake first. It will save a HUGE amount of tears. Also please bear in mind that sometimes horrible things happen (flat burgled, laptop AND backup dongles in same bag) so the odd copy every now and again emailed to a trusted friend (or burned to CD and bunged in the back of the car) can be worth doing.
It is a REALLY good plan to save major updates and then update the filename and save again - so you always have multiple copies of older work. Eg; you open booktitle-23sep11.doc do a couple of hours work, saving as you go - and then before you close the file, rename it with the CURRENT date - eg: booktitle25sep11.doc - and save it again. Then next time you work, pick the latest version and away you go. It also means if you have a power cut or crash HALFWAY through saving, you may well corrupt the latest save - but the previous version from yesterday will still be openable - with just a couple of hours of work to re-do. Take a minute to imagine completing your first work and then having your drive crash. Your manuscript has just vanished. Could you face doing a re-write from scratch? Backups are boring - until they are needed - then they are the most wonderful thing in the world.
Credits, Contributors and Acknowledgements: Not compulsory but certainly if other people have provided essential - or even simply "useful" - service, then it is often considered good form to make a brief acknowledgement - for example a trusted friend who has proof read 5 copies of your work so far might get a buzz out of seeing their name in print - and may even want to proof read your NEXT book for you. Like most things, this is not essential but tends to be seen in all the professionally produced publications. If you have used copyrighted work or artwork with permission, it would be here - or directly beneath - where such acknowledgements to other authors / rights holder would be given - along with the pages where the material appears. For example:-
Poem Chapter 7, "When I gargle toffee" reproduced with kind permission from ConfectionaryPressLtd
Table of contents / summary: This is for YOUR benefit, an external editor (if used) and the publisher. It is highly important especially if the title of the book doesn't make it abundantly clear what it contains. This can be simply a list of notes for the publisher / editor and yourself to keep track of what is included - and where.
Warnings: If you book is about a potentially hazardous activity, this is where you disclaim all responsibility and tell people to consult a doctor before doing something. The warning is about covering your back firstly - and secondly, providing your reader with a useful caution.
Appendices, Glossary and "Further Resources: are all parts of a book which can add to the quality, usefulness and professional appearance of the publication. None are essential - but all can be beneficial.
Synopsis: The writing of the final synopsis can be done by the publisher - but at the very least you should aim to provide one for them to work from - even after reading your book, no-one is likely to know what you are wanting to convey or allude to, better than you. If you do not write a synopsis, you force the publisher to do more work - and deprive them of the chance to even get a "quick overview". Sometimes a decision to read a manuscript comes down to "Does the synopsis make me want to read it?". If you have spent hundred of thousands of hours on your manuscript, spend a final hour and sell yourself with the synopsis. Make the publisher want to read you - and a buyer keen to part with their money.
Check your rights remain yours. Unless you are getting an amazing deal that your solicitor has recommended you accept, then ensure you retain your copyright and intellectual property rights. You can then licence under contract a publisher to produce the book for you - but after a given period of time (fixed or extendable under mutual consent), the licence expires and you are then free to re-negotiate terms, cease publication or proceed in any other way which you choose. Do NOT transfer your rights unless it is CLEARLY in your interests to do so. At the very least, speak with a competent solicitor who understands the industry. Your publisher will usually insist on the right to arrange formatting unless you have been able to prepare a "ready-to-publish" document in EXACTLY the right format - for electronic publishing this is very unlikely unless you know the industry extremely well - variable page width, variable page height, text-to-speech enabled etc.
Last but not least, try hunting for an online forum where you can share thoughts and ideas with other writers.
Formatting notes & submission tips
Formatting requirements for submitting to us
Unlike most publishing houses, we will consider a manuscript directly from the author (with no agent involved). We still require the same quality of submission though - so please read these notes. They are here purely to increase your chances of making a successful submission.
You might want to work on a copy of your manuscript so that the formatting changes
needed to publish you electronically do not alter your MS for other print formats.
If you have already queried and have been asked to submit two or three
chapters for an initial appraisal, then the rest of this page is not critical - just
send a PDF / Word.doc / WordPerfect file or plain txt to us. If you have had
your manuscript provisionally accepted, then please follow this carefully.
Please be aware that a writer who ignores this and has a SUPERB manuscript
might still be accepted - but someone with a borderline manuscript who expects
us to do work that they should have done, does not improve their chances.
We can read any version of Word document, PDF or Word Perfect document. PDF files are acceptable providing ALL formatting is off and we can simply copy and paste from Adobe into our own applications. Please do NOT send files in .pages format. You can choose to simply export a .pages file as a PDF if you use Save-As.
Page numbering: Please do not use them for e-publishing - with most formats - eg: standard Kindle, there ARE no page numbers because the size of the screen (different models have different sizes) will govern how many words will fit on a typical page - and thus how many pages per chapter / book.
Index Generated automatically - please do not supply one.
Please set your font to Calibri if at all possible and use 12 point - if you do not have this font, use courier - it will not be printed like this but it makes format manipulation easier if EVERYTHING is set to Calibri or courier 12 point.
Please set line spacing to 1
Smart quotes (or curly quotes) do not work well with most electronic readers, please only use straight quotes. Single quotes and double quotes are fine - but they need to be straight and not smart/curly.
Margins are academic for us - use whatever setting you wish.
Please note that images and other "non-text" sections are NOT handled well by all electronic readers - we therefore ask authors to please avoid them where possible.
Do not use the spacebar or tab to centralise or right justify anything - either highlight the text and use the centralise function in Word or WordPerfect or leave things left justified. NO space "padding".
An electronic reader has a VERY different screen size to your word processor - if you use the spacebar or tab to "make things look nice on the word processor screen", they will look dreadful when viewed on a screen about 1/10th of the size. What was nicely centered for your eyes is now split over two lines for the reader - or perhaps "an inch right of centre". There is no way to tell. Avoid.
Do not use headers or footers.
Use a standard hard return between paragraphs.
When numbering chapters, use numbers or letters but please do NOT mix them. Even professional authors have a curious knack of flitting from "Chapter 17" to Chapter Eighteen". Please don't, it wastes the proofreaders time. If you do not have time to present your MS properly, use an agent and they will do it for you - for a fee or royalty share.
Keep bold, underscore and italics to a minimum. Chapter titles will be bolded for you. If you do need emphasis, italics are the preferred way to do this.
For effective marketing of e-books, titles may need to change depending on the market - this is especially important if you wish to have your publication sold in more than one country. "Give up the fags!" might be a title for a self-help guide in the UK, in the US it would mean something very different. Unless agreed otherwise (see contract), we would normally want to promote a publication globally - and as such require the right to amend the title for some markets as we see fit.
As mentioned above, please do not forget the synopsis / overview. Tell us why we are going to find your book worth reading - and why a buyer is going to hand over their hard earned cash.
When you have your manuscript ready and your synopsis completed, query us and we will respond.
As several new authors have asked what a "query" is, what a "synopsis" is - and what the difference is - here's a quickie for those who might not know - but didn't want to ask.
Query This should include you contact details, the title of your manuscript, word-count and genre of the book you are wanting to interest the publisher (us) with. It should include a brief pitch of the primary plot. It should be succinct (< 500 words) and usually doesn't outline the entire plot.
Synopsis This is a guide to your book - and should provide a good general coverage of all the main aspects of the book (erotica and similar can be an exception). You do need to include the ending - do not hope to tempt a publisher into "finding out more". Many publishers will want around one page of synopsis per 20-40 pages of manuscript. We prefer a shorter form at least to begin with.
If this is your first time pitching to us, we suggest you send us a synopsis of 1000 words or less. If we want more information we will be sure to ask you for it - but if you can distill the essence of your manuscript into a 600-1000 word summary we will take you more seriously than a 100 word token gesture - or a rambling letter that runs into several pages.
Overview This is the "buyers synopsis", around 200-500 words and may contain a brief Bio of the author if you wish. Please use keywords here if you can - for example, list the genres, the main gist of the story but obviously do not reveal too much. We will edit / amend the overview to help the search engines find your page but please provide a starting point.
Proofreading Proofreading by the author (or peer) is a critically important step of submitting your manuscript to use (or any other publishing house). Although we do a brief proofreading for our authors before publishing them, we do not have the time to make multiple corrections per page.
Poor proofreading and formatting is the main cause of rejection.
Nothing is (quite) set in stone - but first impressions
do make a difference.
If we have asked someone to correct formatting and they STILL do not comply, we will usually reject the manuscript. We know this seems unfair but we do not have the time to correct badly formatted manuscripts. You can if you wish, seek an agent to help you.
Rough & Ready Summary
(We know many authors are fully aware of this, some newer writers however may appreciate the reminder)
* No formatting with "multiple spaces / tabs" - it will fail when viewed on non-standard screens
* No headers, footers or page numbering. This isn't a request, it is a condition.
* Use a single, simple font ideally Calibri (OR courier - this is NOT how it will be published)
* Set line spacing to 1
* Please avoid "smart quotes" - they cause huge problems with electronic readers. Sse straight only
* Send the entire manuscript in ONE document - not one document per chapter please
* Word, WordPerfect, PDF and plain txt are all ideal. Please avoid .pages files (export as PDF)
* Avoid excessive bold / italic / underline unless essential
* Mark chapters clearly and consistently eg: "Chapter 1" or "Part 1" or "Name of chapter" - not (1)
* You need to have made a reasonable attempt at proofreading - and have used a spell checker
* Use a grammar checker - it helps find typos as much as poor grammar
* Please make sure you have a synopsis and sample chapters ready if we ask for them
* If you can do an Overview (Buyers synopsis / Book description), it is always appreciated.
* Make the first move - contact us with a query - let's see if we can get you published.
Please re-read the above. A clean manuscript which conforms to the above massively improves your chance of acceptance.
If you haven't already done so, please "like us" on Facebook. From time to time there will be special offers, incentives and rewards for our Facebook friends who publish with us.
(kindlepress is a sister site and is essentially almost identical to this)
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, NEVER send original artwork or manuscripts - only copies you can afford to lose.