Last week I posted a warning about unscrupulous 'publishers' charging money to help authors self-publish their books. You can read that here. I thought it might be helpful for some of you to know what kinds of things you should be expecting to pay for, in the event you are thinking of self publishing your book, and some places I know that are reputable to get them done.
There are three main things that need to be done to turn your story into a novel after you have edited it to the best of your ability. You can do some of this on your own, but you want to look professional. I recommend hiring these things out and getting professional help, but if you have knowledge you might be able to handle some of this on your own.
The first thing your potential reader sees - can't stress the importance of great cover art enough. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that I endorse hiring out cover art professionally. This can run anywhere from $20-plus for a pre-made cover to several hundred. For Always & Forever, I used LFD Designs for Authors and their covers run $75 for a custom cover or they have premades available. I know currently they have a waiting list, so get in line. Here's their web site if you're interested http://mycoverart.wordpress.com/services/ They only do front art for a digital book, but you can find other cover artists who do wrap-arounds for print books as well.
I recently had artwork done for the book I'll be working on next, Love & Deception, by a new artist, edh Graphics, and I love her work. She does romance covers and also graphic work for your website/FB page. Her prices are very reasonable. Check out her web site http://edhgraphics.blogspot.com/p/custom-covers.html
Also, if you are looking for a wraparound cover for your paperback or an ebook cover or other graphics work, I've heard good things about http://jayceedelorenzo.com/sweetnspicy/services.html though I haven't used this one myself.
I do think you need to hire an editor, though when looking through the quality from various editors, I'm starting to wonder if there is any way to be guaranteed a good editor. They say you get what you pay for, but I had a writer friend pay a significant amount for an editor who didn't seem to get the story and made a lot of suggestions that would have ruined the novel. So I'm feeling a bit dubious about whether you absolutely have to have a content editor. However, I do think you need a proof reader to help with missing words and grammar.
Most editors will offer a 5-page sample or so. I suggest you take advantage of this before shelling out the money. Make sure that editor has ideas you agree with and seems like a good fit before hiring them. Unfortunately, I do not have any editors to recommend at this time, but a search on the internet will give you plenty to check out.
You can actually get fairly decent content editing from critique partners. The place I love to use to get critiques is www.critiquecircle.com. My critique group helps me work out all my content problems and helps brainstorm story ideas for things I'm having issues with. I rely on them a lot to help bring my book from start to finish. Also, critiquing their work helps my improve my own writing skills, so it is a win-win situation.
Quality editors or even proof readers can cost a lot of money, so you definitely have to shop around if you are working on a budget. You might even interest an English Major at your local college who is looking for something to add to their resume if you don't have the resources to pay for an editor.
Finally, I think it is important to hire a formatter. I did Always & Forever myself, but couldn't include a table of contents or the code that allows customers to swipe down and jump from chapter to chapter (apparently this is an NCX file). However, it appears that Amazon is slowly changing their minds about this issue and want to start making a TOC mandatory. So, for my piece of mind, I hired a formatter to fix Always & Forever and will do so for my future books. I just do NOT speak computer code. I used Rachelle Ayala, as I was happy with both her prices and the quality of her work http://www.rachelleayala.com/p/book-formatting.html
As stated last week, unfortunately, it seems there are plenty of companies who want to do you the service of uploading your books and charge you a lot for the privilege of this. However, it is simple to do this yourself. Here are the links to the various publishing places and their guidelines and instructions. It is really a super simple process once you get your account set up, and something simple to do for yourself.
USA links for digital books for self-publishing:
Amazon Kindle: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=support
Romance writer, Maggie Jaimeson, was nice enough to send me a list of the services she uses and recommends so I could share them with you all. Thanks, Maggie! Check out her books and website while you are looking around http://maggiejaimeson.com/
Maggie says: Here are the people I recommend and other resources I use.
Gilded Heart Designs - Christy created my webpage header, bookmarks, and FB timeline (all the same image). She also does book covers. Though she didn't do any of mine I've seen the ones she's done for others and because of that, I will use her in the future.
Red Circle Ink - This is run by Jessa Slade, multi-published paranormal romance writer. I've known her for 8 years and heard her critiques. I've also seen what type of feedback she gives writers. She's reasonably priced and has a variety of packages. The thing I like most about her is that she is what I would call a "developmental" editor. Meaning she doesn't just copy edit, she understands novel structure, character arcs, tension, turning points, etc.
PrintRunner - This is who I used for my bookmarks. I got 500 for about $50. I really great deal and that was for two-sided, full color glossy print. They are absolutely beautiful. And they were delivered within 5 days. I do not use business cards ever. I tried that before I published and a little after I published my first book. What I found is that people lost them or threw them out. But bookmarks are actually useful, and mine have all the information needed for people to contact me (website, email, QR code that goes to my website) and shows all four of my current books as well as my brand) I used to use VistaPrint, but I like the quality of PrintRunner and the pricing better.
Earthly Charms - For my Signed by Author Labels and Local Author labels for print books. They are the best prices I've found and you can get rolls of only 100, instead of having to buy 500 to get a decent price.
Book Tour: GoddessFish Promotions - http://www.goddessfish.com/
E-book formatting faeries who do such a good job with the formatting. Here is their website. http://e-bookformattingfairies.blogspot.com/p/services-offered-by-e-book-formatting.html
I hope some of this is helpful. Make sure you read everything carefully and shop around. You can produce a quality book, even on a budget. Good luck and happy publishing. Have a fantastic week, my friends!