The most important / most profitable reason to self-publish

I enjoy and learn a lot from Bob Bly’s frequent missives. (See We sort of walk and work the same side of the street regarding professional writing and publishing, and we both agree on the importance of strategizing first, then following up with processes that work.

So the other day when Bob offered five reasons or situations where self-publishing should seriously be considered, I found myself nodding and uttered an aging “yep” at every point.

Alas, I had an extra “yep” unuttered, so I thought it fair in this blog to add number six to the list. We agree that self-publishing (1) can be a means of getting your words in print, (2) it will let you can control your tome’s contents and design, (3) if you can market well, by self-publishing you can sidestep the big-house foot-dragging, (4) when your book is complementary to your greater purpose of displaying your expertise (as, for example, using your book to secure related speaking engagements), or (5) when self-publishing is the best (and perhaps only) way to get your words and ideas past the older, established houses so potential readers and buyers have a chance to see and decide about the merits of your independent offering.

The missing reason–the unuttered “yep”–for me trumps the other five. I think that self-publishing and niche publishing are potentially the two halves of a golden egg.

In fact, they have walked hand in hand long before “open” publishing made it possible for any writer to ignore the major houses and see their work in print. Many did  profitably self-publish long ago, like Dickens, Twain, and General Roberts (of Roberts’ Rules of Order). But when the focus swung from books for general markets (risky indeed) to tightly targeted or niche markets, and pre-testing (usually through direct mail testing) allowed the publisher to define the specific buyer demand, then self-publishing let the niche publisher create publications with finely honed titles tailored to pin-point targets. It became a potentially risk-free investment since the publisher would then be able to print the number of books needed to satisfy that predetermined need.

We’re not in disagreement here since Bob sells solid products about niche publishing and my Niche Publishing–Publish Profitably Every Time also extols (and explains) the “how’s” of niching and pre-testing. I simply wanted to remind my readers that niche publishing continues to be a lucrative path (I think the most lucrative) in the grove of self-publishing.

Incidentally, blogs being structured as they are, I probably have 40 or 50 related blogs about “niche publishing” hiding right behind these words for further perusal, if interested. Just type “niche” or “niche publishing” (no quote marks) in the SEARCH box above and Word Press will kindly stack them up for you to read. (Since in my mind niche publishing and empire building can be almost synonymous, you are invited to check “empire building” too!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

The new Nook Press isn’t an “open” publisher

Nook Press just announced its new paperback and hardback print service. Its features look similar to those of “open” publishers, like Create Space, Kindle, Smashwords, and others (including Nook ebooks). But here you simply build your book, prep the files, and upload the print-ready PDFs for the interior and cover. They print the book and can have it in your hands in a week. (Maximum order is 125 copies, but you can get many orders simultaneously.) A 200-page paperback (black/white interior, 6×9, on white paper) will cost $4 apiece, plus tax and shipping. But that’s it. They don’t sell it to others. What you do with the printed book is up to you. (Nor is there a discount for larger orders. “We hope to offer it in the future.”)

Just don’t confuse this with the “open” publishing full services where the book is produced, then sold by the publisher and/or through other distributors, as Nook itself does for ebooks. This new Nook Press service ends with the printing, period. According to Amanda at NOOK Press, “The NOOK Press print platform creates print books for personal use. The eBook platform creates digital books to put on sale through NOOK and The NOOK Press print platform program is for you to print books for your personal use, and does not include selling those books through Barnes & Noble stores or You may sell the books you print on your own, however.”

If interested, check the details. Looks straightforward enough. I’m eager to see the end product.

But I am also a bit bewildered why I would have my book just printed if I could get it printed by the “open” publishers at (about) the same cost and put on the market for sale, and then they would send me royalties (even if they are modest and arrive slowly). Maybe the print-only folks don’t want others to see or have their book. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, though it seems a hard way to share your genius or be rewarded for the sharing.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I explain the “open” publishing process, mostly the prep and submission procedures, in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.

5 kinds of consulting (and mentoring) for nonfiction writers and publishers

I’ve been an editor and nonfiction consultant for writers and publishers for at least 20 years, so I was grateful when an association client asked me to break down in greater detail the kinds of consulting I do. I guess it was much clearer in my head than on my services data!

Then when I shared the result with some other writing consultant friends, they suggested that I share it as a blog. (I’m being blown by outside forces!) So here it is:


With the author, I help identify the book’s purpose; create a full-range plan to guide its realization; decide the means of publishing; define the book’s benefits; design, construct, and help name the book, and let specific others (and the public) know that it exists, what it says differently, and why they must have it.


With the author, I help guide the creation of a clear and logical book-building plan; find exceptional models; mold the facts, stories, and graphics to meet the book’s intentions and needs; stay on schedule; advise about the organization, style, layout, and cover, and oversee its legality, proofreading, and printing.


After the last proof, just before the book is ready to print, I conduct a full-book review to see if or where specific attention (and modification) may be needed in the book’s design, layout, content, accuracy, adherence to its original purpose and plan, salability, integrity, clarity, reasoning, legal permissions, artwork, or other components vital to a professional publication.

4. POST-PRINT EXPANSION (From Book to Empire)

With the author, I help create a comprehensive plan to expand the content and related values of the book and its unique message and/or process(es) through other information dissemination means such as other books, booklets, white papers, audio and video formats, speaking, teaching, and consulting. Also, I help guide the creation and use of integrated marketing means now possible for fast, far-reaching transmission of the book’s contents.


I assist the writers or producers of niche books and products at any phase of their niche publishing (including those above)–or through the entire project, from inception and pre-testing to completion. The niche process is fully explained in Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!

For more details, call (800) 563-1454, check my website , or email me at

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

How to share the heart of your book 35 ways in Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin each!

Sometimes you write a book or some copy that lends itself to being edited into <140-character snippets that could (and should) be widely shared and used. So that's what I did, prodded by an article about social media. It worked great, despite the fact that I'm not very social and I know even less about its media. On the other hand, when I write something, I love to extract a mile of yardage out of its 50 inches of prose. If somebody else benefits, that's a grand way to start 2014. So let me share a process that I put to the test yesterday afternoon, one day into this New Year. If the process interests you too, try it. It begins with my book How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days, and a go-ahead from a short query, to write a brief blog for BookBaby. That first appeared on December 13, and it was just rerun as the featured blog in the current BookBaby blog. It’s titled “How to Write Your Book’s First Draft Like a Professional.” But I think of it as seven steps to use to write a first draft by using the professional tricks and shortcuts that zip veterans and newcomers through the three-draft writing process in about a third of the time. It explains how to put the needed steps in the right order and forget the rest, like spelling, punctuation, and hot research until you have a mound of prose in draft #1 from which you can then edit and craft a dandy novel or nonfiction winner. (See a copy of that blog here.)

I had read an article (I have no idea where) that said you should carve out the best ideas and fit them into 140-character gems to use simultaneously in Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and others, with a link back to the starter book or your website so the curious will be drawn into your devious web. I’m an old newspaper guy, very old, and that sounded like fun.

So let me explain the process so you can do the same. I should add that I use to send the same cuttings to many social networks simultaneously. HootSuite is almost free and a huge timesaver once you figure out its workings.

I combed the front half of How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days where I explain in simple terms how to write a book like a professional. That’s where I drew the seven steps for BookBaby. Then I took those steps and extracted 35 key elements that a book writer would benefit from knowing (and doing).

The mystery article I mentioned suggested setting up a schedule for each snippet to appear about three times (maybe I invented three as the limit so I don’t drive both of my friends mad) in the chosen social web outlets. I decided to separate the three postings of each Tweet about 20 days apart, one in the US morning, one in the afternoon, and one while we sleep but the farthest world cavorts, like 3 a.m. here. And I figured that I would keep this going until I expired or the snippets did. (You can see these Tweets at their respective magic dates and times below.)

First I looked at the seven steps and pulled out the main points that each suggested, trying to keep them under 200 or so characters. Then I took each and I rewrote it so the message and the coded link (see HootSuite for a link shrinker) would fit in the 140-character limit. Finally, I called up the scheduler and told it which was to go on what day (only one a day) and at what time. So it works, I hope, while I play, I hope.

What follows are the first 10 and the days they will appear, each followed by the same link taking the curious to the BookBaby blog site. (I will use my own landing page for my book on about half of the items in this series.)

The first release appeared yesterday at 1:30 on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. The item following number 1. was my original prose and, by chance, it was only 108 characters long (including white spaces). I had to clean up the punctuation a bit, and I saw an opportunity to add a very important point, that you can almost never have too much dialog in a book, particularly in a novel. What I actually posted follows the word “used.” Below that I listed the date and time when it will be posted. (It goes to all three services simultaneously.) The OK means that they were in fact scheduled as listed.

If you look through the ten samples, you will see that each is at least tightened up, and that most are slightly (some remarkably) rewritten to say the most in the least amount of space.


1. When editing your book be ruthless. Get rid of most adjectives, ly words, dribble, most clichés.

Used. When editing your book, be ruthless. Get rid of most adjectives, ly words, dribble, most clichés. Add dialog.

POSTED: 1/3, 1:30 pm; 1/23, 12:25 am; 2/13, 10:15 am OK

2. The most important of seven tips for getting your book in print (while you breathe) is to write your first draft as quickly as possible.

Used. The most important tip of 7 to get your book in print (while you breathe), write your first draft as quickly as possible.

POSTED: 1/4, 11:15 am; 1/24, 4:25 pm; 2/14, 1:15 am OK

3. Writers in print know that many, maybe most, of their first words will never see light—nor should they. The first draft must be patched together, mercilessly edited, then lovingly shined.

Used: Veteran book writers know that lots of their words in draft #1 won’t see print. So they write fast first, then edit later.

POSTED: 1/5, 12:10 pm; 1/25, 4:30 pm; 2/15, 2:20 am OK

4. If it takes you more than about 10 words to tell what your book is about, something has to go.

Used. If it takes you more than about 10 words to tell what your new book is about, prune something before you start.

POSTED: 1/6, 1:10 pm; 1/26, 6:30 pm; 2/16, 3:20 am OK

5. Published veteran writers gather pounds of first draft words so there will be enough gold in the final edit to deserve publication.

Used. Published writers use pounds of first draft words so there will be enough gold in the final edit to deserve publication.

POSTED: 1/7, 2:15 pm; 1/27, 7: pm; 2/17, 4:20 am OK

6. Tape your book’s purpose statement to your monitor, find the current chapter title and info, and just start typing where you quit yesterday.

Used. Read your book’s purpose statement, reread the chapter title and notes, and just start typing where you quit yesterday.

POSTED: 1/8, 2:30 pm; 1/28, 7:30 pm; 2/18, 5:20 am OK

7. New book writers are offended that anybody, even themselves, would dare change a word of what they have created—or chiseled—in their first draft.

Used. New book writers are profoundly offended that they, preferably, should rewrite most of their sweat-dripping first draft.

POSTED: 1/9, 2:30 pm; 1/29, 7:30 pm; 2/19, 5:20 am OK

8. “The dawn sun crept up Mount Tall and peaked at Inhambupe.” Or is it Wee Mountain? Or the palm oasis? Write “over {what?]” and research it later, if it’s still important.

Used. “The dawn sun crept up and over Mount ___ “ Who cares in draft #1? Fill the blank in draft #2, if it’s still important.

POSTED: 1/10, 2:30 pm; 1/30, 7:30 pm; 2/20, 5:20 am OK

9. Don’t edit anything in your book’s first draft. Just get stuff down and keep going. You’ll rewrite 50% of the first draft or throw it away. Edit the third draft.

Used. Edit nothing in your first draft except ain’t. You’ll rewrite most of the book later. Write in draft 1, add in 2, edit in 3.

POSTED: 1/11, 2:30 pm; 1/31, 7:30 pm; 2/20, 5:20 am OK

10. What makes most book writers boring is that their best friends and ideas are living in the first draft. You are a distraction when they are writing.

Used. Most book writers at work have their best friends and ideas still alive in the first draft. Just feed them and go away.

POSTED: 1/12, 2:30 pm; 2/1, 7:30 pm; 2/21, 5:20 am OK

That’s it. The extracting and writing, for me, is the fun. But the posting and the rest is tedious. I will post all 35 this way as a test to see if anything happens from the additional exposure. In the meantime I will use a lot of the extractions in other promotional means. It’s good to have a trove of measured copy when you try to sell ideas and a book.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

Your book needs final, professional proofreading…

What will kill a reader’s fervor fastest? Misspellings, punctuation errors, endless paragraphs, no flow, and nonsense.

If somebody asks another, “How was ____ (your) book?” and they respond, “I couldn’t get into it. He can’t spell.” Or they say, “It didn’t make any sense…,” you probably lost that potential reader forever.

So you need a no-nonsense professional with the eyes and mindset to carefully go through your final second draft and check every word, every phrase, every section, and every chapter of the whole book to make certain that those fatal shortcomings don’t sap the worth out of otherwise good ideas, valuable life-changing suggestions, and your ticket to acknowledged expertise.

Where do you find this literary angel? Not in your family or among your friends. They usually have too much vested interest in agreeing with you or at least keeping you happy. You need a person who simply tells you like it is (maybe with compassion).

How do you locate them? Ask other publishers or professional writers. Check Google. Ask local newspapers, businessfolk, or ad agencies who they recommend and why. Look at or; then check every “proofreader’s” credentials very closely. (Be certain that American English is their native tongue.) Expect to pay from $150 to many hundreds.

Also ask how they work best: do they want to write on printed paper or will they make corrections (in markup; see View in Word) directly on your digital copy? If the latter, do you understand the markup process? (Word’s Help section will decipher it, sort of.) And do you want them to make the actual change or suggest it to you, for you to do?

Mind you, you needn’t correct or modify your book text as they say. For years I gladly used a woman who was superb with context and commas but was very uncomfortable with humor (despite the fact that she was personally quite humorous). So my paper copy returned with giant question marks next to anything that even suggested mirth—and all the punch lines had another, dour alternative written above! Granted, a few times she saved me from printing something sophomoric, but I refused to throw out the fun just for form. It’s always your choice.

It usually takes several weeks to get the proofreading done and the draft adjusted. You must double-check every correction later. Where I’ve printed errors, about 90% of them were corrections I didn’t see or corrected incorrectly. But the reader doesn’t know: you look as stupid or inattentive whatever the cause.

A final set of related steps and it’s time to get your five magic files ready for the open publishers.

Once all of the corrections are made in your file and the artwork is firmly in place, you must decide if you will use running pagination (chapters simply begin where the previous chapter ends, on the right or left side—fine for fiction) or the chapters start only on the right side (odd pages), which is common for most nonfiction.

If the latter, will you use any artwork or quotations on the empty left-side (even) pages? If so, now is the time to place any text or images in the file. Then you will know your final pagination, and you can insert the correct numbers into the table of contents.

At last, you can finally produce your index, if your book uses an index (fiction doesn’t).

Of course, there are professional indexers that are used by the big houses, but that’s an expense for a small book that you needn’t bear. Take your final printed text copy, circle the key words you would expect to find in an index of your book, add to those words the most important words in the chapter headings, and make a combined list. Open the edit/find box and subject each word in your list to its own hunt, then write down each page number found next to the word in your list.

For example, if yours is a law-related book, you might include the word “lawsuit.” Then go to your Edit key, open the “find” box, and type in lawsuit. If you find useful references at, say, pages 12, 56, 59, 98, and 201, then those are the numbers you would put after “lawsuit” in the index. (But beware if you type in “laws” that you don’t include the references to lawsuit since what you are seeking is also part of the longer word.)

When you have your list completed, alphabetize it, and tell the computer to put the numbers in order. (You can do this in your sort file, in Word’s Table section.) What’s left is for you to combine consecutive numbers, so if the list says, 7, 8, 9, 12 you will alter it to read 7-9, 12.

Write INDEX on the top, probably reduce the type size, modify the spacing, put it in two columns, check closely, and you’re ready to go!

(Yes, this can also be done through software. If you know how, go to it. My way takes about three hours. And yes, it may not be quite as good as a professional indexer would do it. Your choice. I won’t tell.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

You might want to read How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days. The first half explains all of the steps needed to compose a marketable book (like much of the blog material you just read), while the second half walks you through the step-by-step process of submitting and publishing the book through open publishers, Like Kindle, Nook, etc.

What’s so special about your book’s second draft?

This is what I consider the final-write draft, with (almost) all of the last changes inserted in the file so it can get its final proofreading. Be generous with changes, improvements, double-checked research, interviews, and so on. Last chance to make your book hum. (But don’t dally forever either.)

I recall reading Dick Perry (in One Way to Write Your Novel, one of my favorite writing books) suggesting that you set your manuscript aside for two weeks before you write the final draft, to get some perspective after a long, almost-daily courtship putting it together. Makes sense for fiction or non-fiction.

Mostly, I’ve done that—to great benefit. What seemed obvious while I was feverishly composing just seemed dimwitted a couple of weeks later. I found myself deleting and restructuring and adding a chapter or combining two. And that was before I looked at others’ suggestions!

Perry also recommended boiling out most of the adjectives—how many do you need to get into a pristine forest?—and pruning anything ending with an “ly,” along with most of the other adverbs. I took that to heart, too, and it made my prose cleaner and clearer.

Since you have likely sent parts of the book to experts in that particular topic, now you check what the others have said about the sections you asked them to read. Your first question, “Will that better serve your book’s purpose?” If so, is it an improvement?

Sometimes one suggestion will give you a completely different perspective on how to better explain your context. Or it will indicate steps you left out or perhaps erroneously deleted. The comments more often contain wee changes that require a yea or nay and ten minutes of repair.

When the body of the book is as good as you can make it, look again to see if your editing requires related changes in the table of contents. Also look at the final layout to see if, in the bound edition, you are going to have blank pages on the left side of the text, between chapters. (In nonfiction, all chapters start with an odd number (like 3 or 5, not XC%5 or the like) that you may want to fill. To fill those pages with interesting text, I use quotations from others related to my theme. This will tell me if I must comb the quote books and get 6-10 solid quotations, plus the birth-death dates of each person quoted. I put those in a file and guard them until the next step.

Is the book ready to be read by a professional proofreader? If so, about the only things left for you to do is to paginate the pages and prep an index. After, of course, you make the alterations and corrections suggested by your final proofreader. Finally, you must proofread this after-correction text very carefully. It’s your eyes only! (Most of the very few errors I’ve had in my 46 books came from inattention to what I tacked on last.)

Can fame and fortune, and real printed authorship, be far behind?

(I explain the entire writing and editing process in How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days. Plus how to publish it free!)

Best wishes. And keep at it…

Gordon Burgett

Which sells best: major houses, ebook, or self-publishing?

“What kind of book do you want to sell?” has to be the first question.

I’m interested here in nonfiction.

That’s because self-publishers don’t publish fiction. It’s almost impossible for them to sell, and I want to compare all three since we can now dip into all three ponds, two directly and the third by accepting or rejecting a big-house invitation.

My gut reaction is that the big houses win by a sizable margin because the writers invited to their dance have survived rigid screening by agents and editors, all of whom are thinking selling when evaluating and choosing. So the chances are far higher that they would pick a book that would attract buyers, keep it hatching until it reads like a winner, dress it up in a classier bonnet, and then slide it down their oiled nonfiction marketing chutes. (Alas, the losing side of that process, for the writer, is that the major houses pay dismally every four or six months, it takes them about a year or two to get the book out, and they are dismal in the niche publishing field.)

Then self-publishing. One, self-publishers have much more invested in the final book than ebookers so I think they’d expand that investment into better marketing planning. Two, often they start with a go-ahead market that wants their book and provides a fast and steady buyer. Three, they can use most of the same selling techniques that the big houses do, but quicker, with more immediate attention and more flexibility in modifying a second or follow-up edition. POD helps them keep the first (in fact, all) runs modest and in budget. They have good guides too, like Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and John Kremer’s 1,001 Ways to Market Your Book.

The niche self-publishers, done right, have the highest nonfiction selling ratio (better than major houses), with almost no risk (if they pre-test), very fast turn-over, and few if any remainders. My book explains how that’s done: Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.

Last in likely non-fiction sales are ebooks. From what I read and friends confirm, nonfiction ebook sales from Kindle, Nook, the Smashwords buyers, Scribd, and others are by far the lowest of the three. It’s easy to convert a Word document into mobi or epub but nearly impossible to include charts, graphs, tables, and most other images. And beyond the front cover, the books themselves are anything but fetching. That ebook selling ratio may change but the engine seems to be slowing down right now.

Now, thanks to the Speaker Net News, we have some solid, current facts about which of the formats is the best seller. Their just-released $4.95 “Book Marketing Report—What Really Works” confirms my suspicions.

A bit about the polling structure, from the SNN text:

“We asked (SNN subscribers) who’ve published a book (e-book, self-published, or printed with a publisher [I presume that means a major publisher]) within the last 5 years:

* What are the top three techniques that sell the most books in our profession [speaking]?
* Which approaches waste the most time and money?
* What are the three most powerful ways to use your book to catapult your overall business?
* What key resources (books, audios, presentations) increase book sales the most?

“We received over 280 qualified responses. This brief e-report shares proven tools instead of mere opinion…”

Rebecca Morgan, well known speaker and editor of Speaker Net News, told me that she believes this is the only such study of its type in the past five years.

Here, I’m focusing on the respective sales by each kind of publisher. The SNN results were broken into four categories (major publishing house, ebook publishing, and self-publishing). They responded whether they sold (1) less than 1,000 books, (2) 1,000-5,000, (3) 5,000-10,000, and (4) 10,000+. (Giveaway books were excluded from all totals.)

Because blog charts are unreliable, here are the respective totals in linear form.

Major publishing houses: (1) 17%, (2) 34%, (3) 23%, and (4) 26%

Ebook publishing: (1) 78%, (2) 15%, (3) 3%, and (4) 1.5%

Self-publishing: (1) 61%, (2) 25%, (3) 6.5%, and (4) 8.5%

Those whose books were published by the major publishing houses sold the most books.

Self-publishing was in the middle, and ebook publishing was the lowest in all four selling ratios. The only (mild) surprise was that the self-publishers sold 6.5% of 5,000-10,000 copies of their books, but a higher percentage (8.5%) of 10,000+ books.

If this interests you, the rest of this short, inexpensive report is well worth your attention.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

Do you need or want artwork or illustrations in your book?

Artwork is a general term that includes the whole range of illustrations, like photos, line drawing, images, graphs, charts, diagrams—those things you add to make the text more interesting, less dull, or more clearly understood. Or to add beauty or visual clarification to the pages.

There’s an issue with some forms of open publishing and most artwork: unless it’s preserved in PDF format, it’s usually impossible to sensibly include in the ebook versions. If it’s limited to one page, you can usually “lock” it into that page, but if you plan to use text around it, it will float like a balloon and reconfigure, collapse, fall out of line, or whatever. You simply can’t nail it down.

But let’s say that none of that is a problem. Then your first issue is finding and getting the artwork you want on your pages.

Since I don’t use much artwork in my books, my suggestions here may be too general. Still, I have published others’ books with artwork, so here are some starter thoughts.

* Unless artwork is imperative to creating the kind of book you want, keep it to a minimum because it takes up paper space, it is often hard to place precisely where it works best, it usually costs money to buy or create, and it may not work well at the digital level however it is saved. (In the paperback version, though, it will stay put by using .pdf. Just recheck carefully that the page breaks don’t mess up your layout designs.)

* Unless your book uses color throughout or in a specifically designated all-color section (usually the center insert 4-8 pages long), the artwork will be in black and white. That center insert section is complex to do, usually costs you a bundle, and may put the book’s price out of a comfortable buying range.

* Unless you create the artwork, you will usually need to purchase it and get a copyright release. If it is created for you, use a work-for-hire contract so the rights are always yours. If you buy it, make sure you have full rights to use it forever as you wish.

* Cover artwork–front cover only for ebooks and front, spine, and back for paperbacks–must also be bought specifically for cover use. We usually find what we want at, paying with enough credits to get the .jpg artwork in dimensions big enough to meet our publishers’ needs. The publishers will tell you those needs in their artwork and cover requirement stipulations. But once bought from fotolia, its ours forever for the cover, promo fliers, or any use we night have.

* Illustrators are often the least reliable of the book-creation contributors when it comes to sending samples to choose from and meeting specific deadlines. It’s best to request everything weeks early, then keep the pressure applied until it arrives. You must do your part too: pay them on time and give proper acknowledgement (or credit) in the text.

* How do you find the illustrator(s) you want? No mystery here. Mostly by asking friends or other publishers. You can check the search engines, too. If you see something particularly well done that could be adapted (even in concept) to your pages, ask the publisher who created it, then contact that person for a bid. You aren’t limited to using U.S. artists either. One of our best is from Pakistan.

* Can you use your mate, kid, or cousin to do your illustrations? If the end result is what your book needs, why not? But they still must meet the deadlines and sign a work-for-hire contract. If you do it yourself, you needn’t sign the contract but it’s hard to fire yourself if you dally or your artwork looks amateurish.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. There’s a lot more book prep help in my How to Get Your Book Published in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.

7 solutions for submission snarls for ebooks and CreateSpace

For the past couple of years I’ve been trying to eliminate all the expenses one encounters when compiling and publishing an “open” book. Those are the books that CreateSpace, Nook, Kindle, Smashwords, and Scribd will accept from you, prepare, and market. Their part is free ($25 or so for CreateSpace).

As I’ve found free-arounds I have shared them with you on this blog. To find the earlier such posts, just put the key word(s) in the search box to the right and they should pop up.

What prompted this particular share is that lately I’ve been having a problem taking various sections of my CreateSpace texts, saving them in .pdf, and blending them into one .pdf file, which C/S requires to publish the book.

This for me this is a new problem. I used to use a Nuance file to do it, but my computer got blitzed, the file disappeared, and I was no longer able to get it replaced from Nuance. (Thanks, fellows.) The alternative was getting some gilded Adobe system. (No thanks, guys.)

My usual route is to go to Google and ask if there is a free program that does so-and-so. I did it again yesterday to convert a new book, so I picked Google’s mind. And there it was, my old friend (that I have been using for Adobe-like needs already). They have a new program that does just what I need.

Let me explain that need quickly, then send you to a landing page to see the book I’m describing.

Most books composed in Word are in three parts. The first five pages or so have no page numbers and are often slightly wider than the parts that follow. That’s Part One. The second part, Two, is the book’s text, from Introduction to the end of the Index. In The Art of School Boarding (like most of my K-12 niche series books), Part Three, I have several pages of book covers with some related text, numberless and mostly artwork. You can see in the table of contents on the landing page that these are ultimately one seamless unit. To do that for CreateSpace I must create one .pdf file by listing each part in order and saving it as a single file. If I just try to save the three together, the pagination flies apart (all pages get paginated or none) and the layout gets unhinged.

So that’s my latest contribution to help you create your own free (or almost free) books for “open” publication.

To remind you of the earlier free-arounds:

* Just follow the instructions at each publishing house’s website about how to submit the main body of text. That’s free. Or use my book How to Get Your Book Pubished in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days to help writing, prepping, and submitting your book. That’s $10 as an ebook (immediately downloaded). $15 in paperback.

* You need a cover (a front only for an ebook, a front-spine-and-back for CreateSpace) for submission. If you want good artwork, check for all-use rights-free art you can get for $12-25. Then lay out the cover and you may be ready to go.

* The publishers have cover size submission dimensions that you must match. If you already have a file of another book that has been accepted by them, pluck out that artwork and insert your own artwork and new text. Or if you have an art program with your software, you can play with it until you get the cover the right dimensions.

* If you are creating a full cover—front, spine, and back—you probably don’t have space big enough to get it all into one file. I went to and asked an artkid to put the three panels (front, back, spine) on one submissible file page, like a full book cover, for $5. It was done that day. You can ask him/her to save it in .jpg too, since you’ll need that for submission.

* There’s another way to get .doc or .pdf saved in .jpg. One, you can save Word in .pdf at Then you can save the .pdf to jpg at All are free.

* Need a professional layout for your text? Find another book that looks just the way you want yours to look—and steal everything that works. The font, type size, margins, spacing, index, table of contents, and so on. Don’t worry, they probably did the same thing. (Some of the “open” publishers have lay-out templates at their website too.)

That’s it. Many of you already knew the work-arounds or have a much better and faster way to do what I’ve shared. Others are dumber (or never saw a computer until they were 110, like me), so these tips may help.

I also hear that others think my tips are so cheap they don’t merit doing. The fun for me is taking a gift system, like “open” publishing, and seeing how well, quickly, and inexpensively I can convert my books to use it fully while it’s still around. If this advice works for you, great.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

Eight ways you can correct book errors in print!

We’ve just published a book (The Art of School Boarding) that probably reached the printer (McNaughton-Gunn) yesterday. I’ll double check tomorrow to be sure the text we sent and the artwork (from Pakistan) are there. It used to be that once a book reached the paper or hard back printer (here, to Saline, Michigan, from California) you had one chance to correct errors, and that was an expensive and major headache and delay. Other than that, you pretty much had to live with the goofs until the book came out again, if ever.

Admittedly, I started doing this (and using M-G, I think) in 1982, probably before you were born. Printing was slower, the proofs took their time to get back, shipping was a bit faster than mules, and since the type was still set then in either lead (at the very end of that process) or by an electronic teletypsetter (in 1400 dpi, for about $500 a book), if you found errors you had to get the bad parts reset, then repaste and remail to get back in line to reach the presses. (We didn’t have a computer then that set in proportional type; Selectric typewriters and funny type balls were it. But the next year the Eagle computer appeared that changed our world.) We could only make changes when we read the mailed proofs. That was it.

Now there are eight times or eight ways when you can save your publishing hide and the client’s love, none costs much, and they are as fast as a telephone line!

The first is exactly the way it was done before: read the proofs from the printer and send back the corrections, if any. No cut-and-paste. You correct the digital text and send it that day or the next, with explicit instructions where the small changes go. If the changes alter the pagination, you might have to send the whole book again. In fact, you’ll probably do that anyway. It’s not free but it’s not much of a time impediment either.

But now you also have two alternate paperback paths where you can quickly send corrected books to your first recipients while the long-run press gets the text or cover corrected. For example, if we are running a thousand books, or many thousands, from M-G and we find changes that will slow us down from promised deliveries, we can make text or art changes and post the corrected book at CreateSpace in a day, and after checking that proof a few days later, we will have ready-to-go paperbacks in maybe 10 days. Or we can do the same with LSI (Lightning Source) and get the books back even quicker. The prices won’t differ much either.

So that’s two ways to sidestep some major snafu or a misspelled title or an interview full of libel and still have the book at the convention or to an antsy buyer while the full-run errors are being corrected.

The other ways you can get corrected text or covers out in a few hours is to produce secondary ebook copies by open publishing, like Kindle, Nook, Smashwords. and Scribd–plus your own pdf ebook that you can sell directly. (More details from How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days!) Let’s say you release your book through Kindle only to find that an image is missing and you gave the book hero three different names! You just stop its sale (that’s immediate, I’m told), correct your Kindle draft, resubmit the new file, and get it back on sale (within an hour, usually). That’s another five ebook ways you could get modified text in print pronto.

So what? you ask. If you’re new to publishing, what’s new? It’s like writing a blog telling you that your iPad reads stock prices, tells time, takes photos, shows movies, and hums.

Two reasons to share this. One, you may not be aware of the many ways you can get past errors in new book copy or art. (An even better way is to get a dandy proofer and use her/him regularly.)

The other reason is that I am still almost speechless (the proper way to be if you’re a print publisher) by the print miracles that have taken place in the past decade or two, or however long it’s been since they unplugged the linotypes.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett