On of my first blogs was about my publishing journey to get my first book published. After Book 3 was released, I posted a new blog about recent challenges and concerns continuing my publishing journey down the same path. Feel free to click the links at the top to read about those stages of my journey.
After doing some research, I was referred to an editing group named Clever Editors. I reached out to the group and received a prompt reply. We exchanged multiple emails regarding the specifics of what I was looking for in terms of editing, how many words were included in the manuscript to be edited, timelines, and more. The entire exchange was very friendly yet still professional. I never felt that I was dealing with a group or individual who would not be able to deliver the services being sold.
We reached a deal where both parties felt secure in understanding what the other expected. I provided a sample of my writing to the editor as part of the process and they returned the sample quickly. The purpose of the sample was for the editor to see my style of writing and for me to see their style of editing so that we could both ensure that we were comfortable moving forward.
I have to say, I really liked that simple touch. I can imagine there are some out there who will take on any manuscript for a price but the willingness to preview my writing and their services as part of a pre-contract process was very unexpected but a nice touch.
Pleased with what we both saw, they agreed to edit my work and I agreed to pay the price quoted, which was a very reasonable rate compared to other editing services I had priced previously. They sent me the written agreement, I signed it, submitted payment, and dates were set. Unlike Newman Springs where the editing process could take 6 weeks or more for the first draft to be sent to me for review, the folks at clevereditors.com assured me a much quicker turn around.
When the dates for editing rolled around, the edits were completed and sent back to me well within the target window and much quicker than what I had experienced with NSP’s editing services for my first 3 books. I reviewed the changes and found them to be accurate and valid. I found the number of back and forth edits to be far less than what I had grown accustomed to which was nice. This meant that Book 4 had been completely edited in less than 4 weeks whereas my other books could take months to complete this process.
To say that I was pleasantly surprised that I had found someone that could provide quality editing services faster and cheaper than NSP would be an understatement.
Satisfied that I had a complete and print-ready manuscript, next I turned my attention to finding cover art. With Book 1, I had provided NSP with concept art that had been designed by a buddy of mine and the final cover art for Book 1 is largely that design with a few tweaks the NSP team managed to make at my request. However, with Books 2 & 3, I relied entirely on NSP’s cover art team to create my visions for those covers. Book 2 went through multiple iterations with the first being a complete joke that I blasted NSP for even submitting to me for consideration. Now that I had opted to move away from NSP and their art team, I had to find my over cover art.
As luck would have it, my friend that did the art for Book 1 was free and willing to do the cover design for Book 4. He and I discussed my ideas, his suggestions, and found a common vision. He created a work of art, as usual, and cover art was in the bag. I know there are places to get cover art generated for as little as $20 online and cover artists can be found on places like Fiverr but prices can vary and range. For me, with the artist being a friend who I have worked with extensively in the past, my price was reasonable but will remain undisclosed.
With cover art and an edited manuscript, the road to publication had almost come to an end. All that was left was some formatting, ISBN registration, and submitting all of that to the printer for distribution and production. But as easy as that sounds, it really isn’t.
With my IT background, I opted to take on the task of formatting the manuscript to meet the interior layout that I wanted the finished product to have and to convert the manuscript into an eBook format. After several hours of trial and error, I was eventually able to get the book’s interior laid out the way I wanted. This is not something I would recommend for everyone though. If you are not comfortable using software like Microsoft Word to do advanced formatting or programs like Calibre to do conversion operations, just find someone to do that work for you. I’m told people can do both relatively cheaply online but I don’t know who those people would be.
When dealing with a book that has your name on it and will be visible to the world, when in doubt, defer to the professionals. Don’t take chances by trying to do everything by yourself when there are those out there who can do it at a reasonable cost. I can understand hesitation when services cost a lot of money but if you can get someone to do your interior layout or eBook conversion for under $50, do it! I was able to do my own but I would encourage anyone who is unsure about their abilities to just hire someone at those rates to do it for them.
Having completed every step but the ISBN registration, I jumped online and registered the ISBNs for my books. The website to do that was easy to use, the fees were reasonable, and the barcodes were provided. I gave the barcodes to my art buddy who slotted them into the cover art where needed and all was set. My book was ready to go to print.
I submitted everything to the printer, corrected any issues their automated validations pinpointed as being an issue, and over the course of a few tries was able to get everything successfully submitted. It was a good learning effort for me given that it was my first time to ever go through this process. There were some ins and outs that I hadn’t anticipated but was able to overcome as they were revealed. I could see how this step might be confusing or frustrating for others who might not be as PC proficient or comfortable with technology though.
I ordered some sample copies, found some issues with my layout, adjusted the layout, and resubmitted. The next sample copy arrived and looked exactly like what I had envisioned. Compared to my first three books that had been prepared by NSP, Book 4 looked almost identical. There were only a few differences in the final products that keen eyed observers might spot to suggest that Book 4 was not published using the same processes. That was a win in my book!
But the biggest surprise to me in this process was the time. When using NSP’s services, going from rough draft to final product could take 12-18 months. With this independent process, I had everything done in less than 3 months. With NSP’s process, each stage was completed before the next stage began. This meant that before cover art would be designed that the editing process had to be fully finished. Doing it on my own, I could have cover art being developed while the editing was underway. With NSP’s process, the eBook conversion was only performed after the print version had been approved for distribution but with the indie path, I could do both at the same time. The time savings alone was significant in going from draft to retail.
But I know more people are probably more concerned with the cost of indie publishing versus vanity publishing. For me, Book 4 cost about HALF of what my other books cost through NSP. Of course part of that cost was due to me having to submit content to the printer multiple times, each with its own fee associated to it. But at the same time, my cover art probably cost less than what most who hire someone will pay. In the end, I think it’ll average out.
So how much did I spend? Let’s just say that my first book at NSP was roughly $3k. Of course, that was in 2019 and as I mentioned as part of my decision to leave NSP, their prices has seen multiple hikes since 2019 and they got rid of their repeat customer discount. But I have proven that I can publish my books quicker and cheaper than going through a vanity service like NSP. I can find people who provide similar services at reasonable rates and I have found that I can do the rest on my own so that it only costs me a little bit of my time which I’m willing to freely spend on this endeavor.
For the foreseeable future, my remaining books will be published 100% independently. If an agent or big publisher is attracted by my work and wants to work out a deal, I’m open to it but I’ll continue to see my work being released using this new method and the fabulous resources I’ve found.