Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Santelepublishing explains the process.....

Not being the most patient person on the planet (I may of mentioned that), once I'd sent my slice of manuscript across to Judi I would give her a few day's before I started to pester. If only she'd sat me down and explained the process below I would of been a lot more understanding: or a least a 'little'! - well, maybe.

Anyway, to give you a better understanding than you may already have, I asked Judi to scribe her process for this blog. I almost shed a tear of guilt, I never realised......

Andy has asked me to provide an inside view of the processes I use to take an author’s raw manuscript and turn it into an Amazon Best Seller.

This can fill a few volumes, so to be as helpful as I can in the time and space we have here tonight, I’m only going to list and briefly explain the steps in the journey I undertake with the authors who contract with me.

I bring to the task 70 years of experience as an avid reader – I was ALWAYS reading – from comic strips every morning and evening (we got 2 newspapers a day – The Washington Post and The Evening Star) to the copy on cereal boxes at the breakfast table (like sport stars’ stories on Wheaties, the Breakfast of Champions; we weren’t allowed to bring a newspaper to the table J )
By the time I was 8, I’d read all the books in the children’s rooms of the library, and was then given a special pass and a grown-up’s library card, but I had to enter the REAL library by a back door. I didn’t really care, because I felt I’d been given a pass to heaven.

The first thing I do is something I love; I read the online Word document file of the submitted manuscript to test its readability – and its page-turner quotient (does it engage the reader and keep them turning the pages?). As I do this, the Track Changes tool is active to allow me to suggest initial adjustments to punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, and spacing. If there is awkwardness or misuse of tense in the text, this is also noted with adjustments suggested. Excessive use of adjectives or OTT (over the top) expression is also noted here. Additional descriptors or background data may also be suggested to fill in gaps in the reader’s experience. I am careful to preserve the author’s style and voice, and also watch for the consistent use of the selected version of English (British/NZ/AU), its spellings and idiomatic expressions and references . . . there are lots of possible pitfalls here J.

The next things I watch for are the story arc(s), the character development, and the story breaks and/or chapters. All of these may be discussed with the author. An especially good resource for this has recently been made available by one of the authors I work with. Do check it out.

Depending on the level of change required, this stage of the process may include several passes back and forth with the author until we agree the manuscript is in its finest form for now all digital publishing is very forgiving and can be adjusted at any time. This stage can take many months depending on availability of time and budget.

          The next stages are to create the interior book design, choose the best title, and create the cover which requires image, font and colour choices as well as layout . . .  and not to be overlooked is the author’s bio and the back cover “blurb” which is the most vital selling piece for your book. (It will also serve as the Description for your book’s page on Amazon or any other platform.) It is also suggested that a headshot of the author be included on the back cover along with a QR code that links to the website of the author or publisher.

We need to obtain the ISBN number and then format the manuscript for the desired method of publishing — for e-books there are several platforms: Kindle, Apple iBooks, Nook books, and a few others; for Print on Demand (POD) paperback publishing there is Amazon’s CreateSpace and a number of others that are available online; there is also the choice to have a local print shop print your book.

With all of that accomplished, it’s time to upload to the platform(s) of choice and complete all of the forms for submitting a new title. This will include choosing the Categories and keywords (an art form in itself that I’ve worked with successfully J) that will give your book the best shot at quickly reaching Amazon BestSeller status.

Once the upload(s) is accomplished and your book accepted, you will be live on Amazon within 24 to 48 hours.

At this point, the focus turns to marketing and promotion, which really should have been underway for the preceding 3 to 6 months. Andy has covered much of that incredibly well in his earlier posts. It would be well worth the time to go back and have another read – the website, blog, articles, and reviews that he talks about are a beautiful demonstration of what is involved in launching your work into the marketplace.

If you anticipate presenting your manuscript to a standard publisher, it will need to be in the finest form you can produce, and be converted to the publisher’s requirements given in the submission requirements of their website. Here is where a good copyeditor can be vital.

As an acquisition editor opens a new submission, the first thing they look for is the level of professional editing – correct format, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax. All of this can be determined in the first few paragraphs, and if it doesn’t meet the standard, the manuscript is discarded without being read.

Even Amazon has raised the bar in the past few months. They are deleting existing published books and e-books that don’t meet the mark, and are increasingly fussy about what they accept for both Kindle and CreateSpace publication which for those who achieve the status of Amazon BestSeller does include listing within their marketing machine. This is something not to be underestimated.

As a final point tonight: be aware of and keep in mind the differences between writing, editing, producing, publishing, marketing, and selling your books. They are all essential stages in the process, and finding a publisher or agent if one is among the incredibly fortunate 1% to be picked up by either does not remove you from the responsibility for marketing and selling your books.

Keep tracking on Andy’s blog; here you will find some of the best and most relevant strategies for the indie author today.

Thanks for the invite, Andy, and the opportunity to share some of this information. I hope it will prove useful to your readers.

Warm regards,
Judith Sansweet


  1. There speaks a true professional! Great post, Judith and Andrew! I also think the onus is on the author to make the text as good as he or she can possibly make it before subjecting it to the patience of the editor/proofreader. As a teacher of writing, I know how cross I get if students just send me a first draft without making any attempt to do even a simple read through to correct obvious errors!

    1. Thanks Val - absolutely the responsibility lies with the Author. Judi has been, and continues to be, a great teacher and a good friend (but she takes no crap!)