The Future of Editing: Beta Readers and Agile Publishing

As discussed in a previous post, the single greatest barrier to producing a quality Indie book may be Editing. Unless it’s Marketing or Writing the Damn Book in the first place. This is a very good piece on the topic.



How and Where Should You Publish?

A Porter Hall Novel

The first question you will have to answer is are you going to publish in ebook, print, or both? The definitive answer is: It depends. First it depends on what type of book you are publishing, mainstream fiction, genre fiction, a cookbook, a guidebook, a how-to book, a self-help book. The first question you must answer is, Who is your audience? How will they use your book? For example, someone buying a cookbook may care more about a hard copy than someone reading genre fiction.

If you want a print edition, you have one big decision. Print-on-demand or a print run and inventory? That question turns into a choice between Amazon’s CreateSpace, or Bookbaby or similar? The answer (again): It depends. Will your readers primarily be buying online, or will you be going around to clubs and events selling and signing. If it’s the latter, you should may want to go with Bookbaby, or Outskirts, or Blurb, or anyone of a number of similar sites that let you do a print run of anywhere from twenty-five to several thousand. You can also order in bulk through Amazon POD. If you do a print run, however, you have to pay for it in advance, manage the inventory and take care of sales and distribution.

I chose CreateSpace for my initial publication for one simple reason: Print On Demand. That means readers who want a print version of my book can order it from Amazon. Right now it’s selling for about $8. I make less than a dollar per copy, but I priced it that way to (hopefully) stimulate sales. The Kindle version is .99, right now. I can reset the price at any time. It takes about five minutes. Amazon prints and ships in whatever quantity is ordered, and the POD is available for delivery within 24 hours, generally.  I don’t have to purchase inventory, maintain it, or ship it. If I want to send sign copies to friends, reviewers, or a reader who requests one, I buy it, have it sent to me, then reship it. Media mail, the least expensive way to ship, costs about $3.

Kindle, Cobo, Nook, etc.? Which format should you chose? All of them, probably. I believe within the year we will see a slow eradication of formats and eventually there will be either one standard ebook format, or all devices will accept all formats. The reason is that tablets, computers and smartphones already do, and the dedicated devices, primarily Kindle, Nook and Cobo, become superfluous in the face of something like an Android tablet or iPad, which can read everything, and do more than either, at the same price or less. I had my car broken into in April and one of the things stolen was my Kindle. I replaced it with a 7-inch Samsung tablet, which is far more useful. Right now my book, ONE MINUTE GONE, is available only on Kindle because of some promotional tools Amazon offers if it is exclusive to them. Within a week I’m going to open it up to all formats. I’ll let you know how that goes.

NEXT: Pricing strategy.

Please visit my website at


Self-publishing is not hard, but there is more to it than you might think unless you’ve actually done it. This series is not about telling you how to do it, but telling you how I did it, what I went through. In most cases, what you will go through will be similar to my experience in getting my first novel, ONE MINUTE GONE, live on Amazon in both ebook and trade paperback forms.

There are a lot service providers, platforms and sites that will help you self-publish. Below is the list of my providers. It doesn’t matter who you use, or which platforms you choose, but these are the essential pieces of self-publishing.

INTERNAL FORMATTING, TYPESET & COVER DESIGN: This is the process of converting your Word file, or whatever word processor your finished manuscript is in, to a form, generally a PDF, that will become your book between the covers. In addition to your novel, or whatever the content is, you will probably want to add a copyright page, acknowledgements, dedication, and author bio. Keith Snyder at did all of this for me. Because Keith is a talented graphic designer I had him do my cover, though generally the internal setup and cover design come from separate sources. Keith is a mystery author himself, but does a wide range of designs for children, YA, sports, poetry, etc. His prices are reasonable, he’s professional, prompt, and easy to work with. In addition to the formatting for print, as part of the package, Keith also formatted mine for Kindle and other ebook vendors.

COVER ART: I purchased the rights to a photo of Lower Manhattan from I first found it on another photo bank, which was selling it for more than I wanted to pay. After half an hour of scanning, I finally found the same photo in iStock for a third of what the other site was asking. Keith modified it and turned it into—what I think—is a terrific cover. Of course, you can do your cover yourself, but, unless you are a talented designer, it will look amateurish. When you are selling online, your cover is one of your most important promotional tools.

WEBSITE DESIGN AND MAINTENANCE: You really need a website, and you can do it yourself. Generally (see COVER ART), that’s a bad idea. I used Maddee James at Maddee is unbelievably good, which is why she has a waiting list. She was a dream to work with. She used to do only crime fiction, but has recently expanded to romance and YA. Check out my website,, and then go to and look at some of Maddee’s other client sites.

NEXT: CHOOSING A PLATFORM: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookbaby, etc. And how do you PRICE YOUR BOOK, the ebook and the hardcopy?

Self-publishing made easy

My first novel, ONE MINUTE GONE, is live on Amazon after many years and countless (literally) rewrites and edits. I had an agent who tried to sell it, didn’t, so I decided to publish it myself using CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publshing format. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I guess. Follow these steps exactly:

  1. Write the book, several times.
  2. Drink some, smoke something illegal, take pills.
  3. Rewrite the book, several times.
  4. Repeat 2, and continue to Repeat 2 after each step.
  5. Edit it several times.
  6. Send it out for a professional edit.
  7. Reedit following the professional edit, several times.
  8. Get a cover design.
  9. Get the internal files formatted.
  10. Reread entire manuscript, which will cause your head to explode. Fortunately, mine was mostly empty.
  11. Get a website created.
  12. Publish on CreateSpace.
  13. Publish for Kindle.
  14. Find out your brilliant cover has turned black under Amazon’s algorithms.
  15. Reload a new cover.
  16. Wait.
  17. Return to step #2.