Sunday, March 11, 2012

ePub Countdown: A How-to for All

I admit. I am stumbling through this first independent publishing venture. Despite hours of research and picking the brains of other indie authors, I still find myself feeling overwhelmed by the entire process. I am sure I am not alone. That being the case, my next few blogs will detail my publishing experience with the hope that others will find it useful.
Presently, I am in the thick of editing. Rather, I am in the thick of being edited. This is a critical step (and a good editor will kindly suggest that crucial works better than critical) and you need to be prepared to shell out a few coins for a professional job. I started my search for an editor at This website has lots of great information for writers. More importantly, you can submit a portion of your work for a quote as well as a recommended level of editing.
Editing costs vary and may be calculated per word, per page (industry standard for words-per-page is a firm 250), or by the hour. The per word range is anywhere from ¢.01 to ¢.20. Hourly rates range from $20 per hour to about $80. For the lower rates you can expect basic copyediting and proofreading; the higher rates will include varying levels of developmental input. Rewrites and ghost-writing will cost you significantly more. My advice is to have your manuscript in the best shape possible before seeking editorial help.
My manuscript is roughly 95,000 words. I knew that I wanted line-editing and some light developmental input. When I ran the numbers, I was looking at spending more than a few thousand dollars, which was not in my budget. So I took a chance and put a free ad on Craigslist. I was surprised at the numerous responses I got from freelance editors willing to work for less. I corresponded with about a half dozen respondents, asked them to provide a sample edit of the first 10 pages of my manuscript, and based my decision on their credentials and their proven ability. It's also a good idea to make sure the editor you select is familiar with your genre.
I chose a MFA grad student who edits a literary journal and reads fantasy and sci-fi for pleasure as my editor. I have not been disappointed. For a third of what I would have spent had I gone through an agency, I feel like I landed a great editor with a keen eye for detail and consistency, grammar, syntax, POV, dialogue and style. She even throws in the occasional compliment to keep my frail writer's ego from collapsing under the weight of all the other editorial notes.
Be sure to enter into a written contract with your editor. The contract will outline specifics such as type of editing, delivery dates, payment terms and number of readings. For the latter you want to at least negotiate two readings--the initial reading where editorial comments are input and a second reading after you respond to your editor's comments. Feel free to download and copy the contract that I used. You can find it at under Resources.
Depending on the length of your work and the speed of your editor, the editing process can take a few weeks or a few months. Factor that into your production schedule. Also, be mentally prepared to do more rewriting. Yes, more rewriting.
Coming up: Pre-pub marketing, formatting for ePublishing and book covers.

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