FAQ: How does a writer know when the manuscript of their novel, memoir or collection of short stories is ready to show publishers or readers?
This is a tough question to answer precisely, but new and emerging writers should not make the classic mistake of submitting unedited work to publishers. Too many new writers think a spellcheck is sufficient because a publisher will want to edit their manuscript anyway. But publishers want to spend as little money as possible on editing. Even though publishers know that a good edit can be the best way to add value to a book, editing takes time and editors typically work for an hourly rate. If you are self-publishing, then you don’t want your readers deriding your editorial efforts as substandard all over social media. There is a world of vocal armchair pedants out there!

Cartoon of Publishing in Ancient Rome

Publishing in Ancient Rome (Cartoon by Robert Stephenson)

Over the two decades I have been helping new and emerging writers to edit or rewrite their work to a publishable standard, I have found that a free sample edit of about 1,500 words from an extended manuscript is a good way to gauge how much editorial work is needed in total. Writers can then make an informed decision about whether or not to engage my services. Writers are usually pleased when I point out specifics that can be improved. This will typically include fixing some spelling, grammar and punctuation; however, often the sample edit will reveal other aspects to address, such as: lack of clarity, awkward transitions, ‘head-hopping’ points of view, weak dialogue, tautologies, clichés, and too much use of summary or stock character descriptions. The good news is that all these problems can be fixed. A careful edit or rewrite will ensure your ideas have the best chance of connecting successfully with publishers and readers.

If you would like to discuss your writing or publishing project with Euan, then please email him via the Contact page on this website, to see if he can help you with editing, rewriting, mentoring, typesetting or other publishing assistance services. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about turning your manuscript into a published book, then the free videos listed below may help.

FAQ: How do you create a great book cover?
Too many indie writers spend too little time, money and energy on their book’s cover. This is false economy. Very false economy. A poor or mediocre cover can undo years of writing work. Not fair? Yes, you’re right – people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But they do. At least initially. That’s the why the world has a proverb to tell people not to judge a book by its cover.

Over the years I’ve listened to too many indie writers justify why they don’t want to spend much money on a cover. One of the more popular ploys is to put their cover design on and pay $5 for a cover. Even if the writer has to do this ten times, they will still get a cover for no more than $50, right? Well, good luck with that approach!

One example from several years ago stands out for me. After I had sounded my warnings at a workshop about trying to get away with doing covers on the cheap, one participant later emailed me a cover he had made for $5. He thought it was great. But he was thinking of the price. For the price, I agreed, it was okay. But it was not great. And you need ‘great’ to compete effectively in a crowded marketplace. He didn’t like hearing my assessment, and only finally understood it about two years later when a publishing company signed him up and re-packaged his book. At the launch, he confided in me that he finally appreciated the difference between the mediocre $5 cover and the wow! factor of his new publisher’s cover.

Writers might have a good concept for a cover, which is a good place to start. But unless you have training and/or experience as a graphic designer of book covers, I suggest you spend time tracking down an expert. Even though my training videos show you the mechanics of how to put a book cover together, I rarely create my own book covers. I go to an expert. Someone who designs book covers every day for a living. They can make PhotoShop dance and sing. For me, the difference between a cover that is ‘okay’ and ‘great’ is worth at least a few hundred dollars, often more.

Luke Harris of WorkingType Design Studios

Luke Harris of WorkingType Design

In Australia, a book cover designer I highly recommend is Luke Harris of WorkingType Design Studios in Melbourne. You can browse examples of Luke’s work by clicking here. Let me know what you think.

Indie Book Publishing with Euan Mitchell” is a YouTube channel with more than 30 FREE tutorials designed to help you package your creativity and deliver it to the world via ebooks and print books. Currently 160,000 views and counting.

MOST POPULAR VIDEO, with over 75,000 views:
Lay Out a Print Book’s Pages with InDesign CC 2017

InDesign CC 2017 tutorial

Ebook Publishing

How to Publish an Ebook with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (9:22)

Make Ebook Pages that Work for Kindle AND Smashwords (Apple, Kobo, B&N, etc) (18:45)

How to Make an Ebook Cover with for Windows  (8:29)

Print Book Preparation with Adobe InDesign and PhotoShop
CC18 (Creative Cloud 2018)

Lay Out a Print Book’s Pages with InDesign CC 2018 (16:14)

The 3-in-1 Book Cover Trick with Adobe InDesign CC 2018 (14:31)

InDesign Basics – Adobe CC 2018 free tutorial for beginners (11:17)

PhotoShop Basics – Adobe CC 2018 free tutorial for beginners (6:53)

Adobe InDesign CC 2018 – How to Export a Press Quality PDF File (1:23)

Print Book Preparation with Adobe InDesign and PhotoShop
CC17 (Creative Cloud 2017)

PhotoShop Basics (3:38)

InDesign Basics (5:25)

Lay Out a Print Book’s Pages with InDesign CC 2017 (14:18)

InDesign CC 2017 Book Cover Layout Part 1 (1:57)

InDesign CC 2017 Book Cover Layout Part 2 (8:53)

How to Make a Press-Quality PDF with Adobe Acrobat DC  (1:07)

Intros to Adobe InDesign and PhotoShop CS6 (Creative Suite 6)

PhotoShop Basics (7:56)

InDesign Basics (10:40)

Press Quality PDF Basics (3:28)

Assemble a Print Book Cover (Step by Step using InDesign CS6)

1. File Set-up (5:41)

2. The Front Cover (9:16)

3. The Back Cover (8:32)

4. The Book’s Spine (4:34)

5. Make a Press Quality PDF (2:31)

Lay Out a Print Book’s Pages (Step by Step using InDesign CS6)

1. File Set-up (3:32)

2. Autoflow Text, Insert and Delete Pages (4:46)

3. Paragraph Styles (8:39)

4. Page Numbers and Master Pages (6:09)

5. Page Headers and Applying Master Pages (7:05)

6. Hyphenation and Tracking (2:40)

7. Prelims, Images, Text Wraps, Page Breaks (10:28)

8. Make a Press Quality PDF of the Pages (3:56)

To download the photo of the Bondi lifeguard used in the Photoshop Basics video, click here. The image will open in a new window. To copy it to your computer:

1. For Windows users: right-click anywhere on the image. From the options that appear, left-click Save picture as… then select a suitable storage place on your computer, then left-click Save.

2. For Mac users: right-click* anywhere on the image. From the options that appear, left-click Save Image As… then select a suitable storage place on your computer, then left-click Save. * If you have a single-button mouse, hold down the Control key while clicking to simulate a right-click.


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