View Full Version : Final tweaks to manuscript - self publishing questions

03-05-2006, 05:55 PM
Alright, two years ago I wrote a non-fiction book consisting of 60 separate stories regarding my ten years as a Vegas casino cocktail server.

It's about co-workers & customers I met along the way.

So, almost immediately, I signed with a bogus agent who charged me $50 and wasted 6 months of my life.

I sent out about 100 queries to other agents, and received about 10% asking for more. I had a few ask for the entire manuscript, some even overseas, and the costs were fairly significant.

I had one agent in Atlanta ask for 3 copies of my 300 page manuscript. I sent those and then heard nothing back from her, save the fact that she had received the box I sent. (Oh, she said "it's good, but needs work.)

6 months later, she emailed me and asked if I could send her another copy. I emailed her a copy, because it was right after Katrina, and things were in an uproar here.

I haven't heard back from her.

I tried submitting to publishers directly, and received some terrific interest. Harper Collins did a "meeting," about my book, but only the presenting editor was interested, the others wouldn't go for it.

I have let this book die a slow death, and can't see wasting anymore time pursuing agents or publishers.

So, I'm going to self publish. I know it's going to be hard, but hey...........at least I am willing to do it.

I have re-written the manuscript twice, and I am going over it one more time.

My question, I guess I have to format this manuscript myself now. So, since this is 60 different short stories, ranging in size from 1 page to 10 pages each, do I just finish one story and leave the rest of the page blank......starting the next story on the next page?

How the heck to you do the chapter pages?

Also, I do have some money to spend on this. I want some support. I'd like an editor to look it over and some help getting on the library list, at online bookstores and if possible, on the buyers list for B&M bookstores.

I"ve looked at LULU..............Wheatmark, and others and it seems apples and oranges to me.

Any last minute tips before I make the plunge?

03-05-2006, 06:58 PM
Eldragon--I remember the book, your experiences, because I was in Vegas about the time you were, and it sounded interesting. I don't have any tech advice for you, but just wanted to say good luck and spot on with whatever you try to do with it. I'll bet it's a damn funny read, and I would buy it from any source. Just thought I'd let you know.


03-05-2006, 07:03 PM

That's right .........."The Pioneer Club."

03-05-2006, 07:13 PM
Eldragon, I can't wait to read your book!

As for hints, I did a POD book, and I have to say that iUniverse's formatting requirements led to a nice-looking finished product. If you're going to self-publish, you might as well make the book as attractive as possible.

Mine, too, was a series of relatively disconnected essays of varying lengths rather than chapters. We ended each essay wherever it fell on the page and started the next one always on the next right-hand page. Sometimes that left blank or partially-blank left-hand pages, but it definitely looks better that way than my original format where each chapter began wherever the last one left off on the page. It would have been cheaper my way, but less effective. You can always fill unwanted blank space with clipart or a logo of some sort if you so desire. When people leaf through a book (and most people are right-handed, after all), it's the right-hand page they see first, so there's an actual logic to doing it this way.

Beyond that, I suggest you look at anthologies for helpful hints. That's the style you'd want to follow.

Good luck!

03-05-2006, 08:11 PM
Thanks Joanne!

I went to IUniverse to look it over. I ended up buying a book!

03-06-2006, 04:38 AM
Personally, I wouldn't go with iUniverse, Xlibris or any of the others who charge several hundred dollars upfront - but that's just me :p I did a comparison of prices, final product cost etc. when I was looking for a POD publisher to go with and as far as I was concerned, the most important factors were cost to produce the book and the final cover price. I wanted a book that wouldn't cost too much and one which I could distribute through Amazon.com etc. In this regards, Diggory Press (http://diggorypress.com) or Lightning Source (https://www.lightningsource.com/index.htm) are probably the best. However, with Lightning Source, you would have to do a bit more in the way of work since *you* are considered to be the publisher and you have to do all the work. Besides, Lightning Source costs a bit more up-front because you have to buy your own ISBNs - it doesn't make too much sense if you are publishing one book but if you do publish several, then Lightning Source would give you the best value for your money. (They do pretty good work too - I've seen samples :p)

But that wasn't what you were asking about - sorry about going off on a tangent :) Schoolmarm is right when she says it's better to start each new story on the next right-hand page. It just looks better and also is easier to use since most people look at the right-hand page when trying to find the next story etc. Of course, being the parsimonious type, I'd hate to leave two blank pages. One blank page? Yes. But two? Oh no!! :p One suggestion I might have is to add some sort of commentary where you need to fill up some space - you would have to do the complete layout of POD anyway and if you go with something like Lulu (http://lulu.com) or Diggory, they print exactly what you send them. So lay it out the way you want, if you have any blank pages, add commentary or images to fill it up and then send it in. Of course, if you go with iUniverse, Xlibris or some of the others who charge a tidy sum up front, they do do the layout for you and so on :)

03-06-2006, 06:17 AM
"Of course, if you go with iUniverse, Xlibris or some of the others who charge a tidy sum up front, they do do the layout for you and so on"

And not necessarily very well. I'd suggest before going with any of these outfits, spend the few dollars or pounds required to purchase a good-looking typical book from them. Benefit a poor starving author a wee bit, and get an in-hand look at the product they put out.


03-06-2006, 07:06 AM
I already did that, Blacbird! I'll see a finished product soon enough.

Thanks Fahim! Since I'm in the US., I am worried about a company that charges so much for shipping to US customers.

I'll look into all of them further, though.

I'm going through my book a third time, and still making changes, still finding errors, etc.

Is a manuscript ever finished?

03-06-2006, 08:54 AM
Thanks Fahim! Since I'm in the US., I am worried about a company that charges so much for shipping to US customers.

Yeah, blacbird expressed concerns about this in another thread as well. I am not certain what each place charges for shipping exactly since in my case, I wasn't looking at getting books down - at least not in large quantities. I was looking at selling online mostly and using a POD publisher to be my fulfillment agent. So it would work differently for you again depending on your approach as well. As always, the best thing is to look at all alternatives and make your own decision. If you want, I'll post a few links which compare different POD outfits - of course, some of the info might be outdated ...

Is a manuscript ever finished?

LOL. Yeah, it never seems to be done till you force yourself to put it down and move on :p A year ago, I put my first novel aside and said I wasn't doing any further edits. Then took it up recently and found that there was a lot more that could be done with it ... I guess the trick is not to get stuck on the eternal tweaking loop :p

03-06-2006, 05:23 PM
Thanks Joanne!

I went to IUniverse to look it over. I ended up buying a book!

Cool beans! :D

I know POD has a bad name, and I can vouch for just how impossible it is to get a POD book into a brick-and-mortar store. Specialty catalogs won't touch them at all. Still, I have nothing bad to say about iUniverse other than their sneaky little way of avoiding putting writers on the star list on publication. There's an editorial point system, and a bottom limit for entering the program. They're not, however, entirely up front about their formatting requirements, and the points they deducted for my failure to comply kept me out of the program by such a small margin it was startling. Nice little catch-22. I complained, but nothing was done about putting the formatting info on the site.

I should also share here the plight of a dear, dear friend and good, previously-published writer who decided to self-pub her two most recent efforts. She's trying to start her own publishing company (Darker Intentions Press) and thought that would be a good way to launch. She just received the shipment from the printer and was horrified to discover that, while the books looked great, when she opened them, the bindings cracked and chunks of pages fell out. Not good. She had to send them all back, which delayed her launch considerably. At least I can compliment iUniverse for their quality production of my book. If it were in stores, folks would love it. :cry:

The writing biz certainly has its disheartening moments.

03-06-2006, 05:48 PM
So much to do, and so so much to think about.

The formatting thing makes me crazy.

I sold something on ebay to somebody who works at Harper Collins in New York - she wants me to send her Kate Spade China to her office. I'm also sending a writing sample.

Call me tacky.....................worse things have been said about me!

03-06-2006, 05:53 PM
I LOVE that you did that! It sounds like something I would do.

You're okay, Pam.

What is it about the formatting that's making you nuts? Maybe I can help.

03-06-2006, 06:01 PM
Well, for starters, everyone keeps talking about left and right pages. How the heck do you know which pages will be left and right?

03-06-2006, 06:48 PM
Well, for starters, everyone keeps talking about left and right pages. How the heck do you know which pages will be left and right?

Okay, are you ready? ;)

The book's page one is a right-hand page, making all right-hand pages odd numbers. Start your first essay on page one and let Word auto-number the pages for you in a footer. You'll need that later anyway, so start now.

When you get to the end of the essay, look at the page number. If it's even, it's a left-hand page. If it's odd, it's a right-hand page. Scroll down to the next odd-numbered page and start your next essay there. Viola!

Remember that your title page is a right-hand,unnumbered page. The overpage is sometimes blank, sometimes it's the publication information. The contents page is a right-hand, unnumbered page. The overpage is blank and page one is the next right-hand page.

This is the second time I typed all this--the site ate the first message. If you need clarification, PM me and I'll walk you through it.

03-06-2006, 06:50 PM
Thanks! I'm saving this one!

03-07-2006, 12:12 AM
You're more than welcome!

I just noticed that I left out that you should set Word to display page breaks and be viewed in print format. That was in the post that disappeared into cyberspace.

03-15-2006, 03:47 AM
I received the book I ordered from IUniverse, to check it out.

It's smaller than I thought it would be, but well written and the book looks great.

Still .........I'm gunshy.

03-15-2006, 05:16 PM
I received the book I ordered from IUniverse, to check it out.

It's smaller than I thought it would be, but well written and the book looks great.

Still .........I'm gunshy.

Thanks for the compliment.

I still am not recommending that you go POD, though. While iUniverse does a very nice job, I still can't get my book into brick-and-mortar stores.

I'd planned on having the book illustrated, which accounts for the fact that it's only 100 pages. There should have been a line drawing for each of the 30 chapters, which would have added at least 30 pages. Unfortunatley, my artist disappeared after only three drawings, and the cost of doing an illustrated book through iUniverse was prohibitive. Since this was a "run it up the flagpole" effort, I just gritted my teeth and went with it.

There's another caution for you: beware the cost of extras!

03-17-2006, 09:04 PM
I'm from India and engged in providing printing and publishing services to authors worldwide. We provide quality service. If you send us your ms via email to us then we will deliver copies after completing printing at your door in 2-3 months. If you are opting to self publish please consider me for best compettive rates.

03-17-2006, 09:05 PM
Contact me for your book at

03-18-2006, 10:05 AM
"Alright, two years ago I wrote a non-fiction book consisting of 60 separate stories regarding my ten years as a Vegas casino cocktail server. It's about co-workers & customers I met along the way."

I live in Vegas and have for quite some time. I'm also an entertainment publicist who owns a publishing house called Signing Stars. I'm interested in learning a bit more about your book and perhaps talking about taking you on as another of my authors. If you're interested please send me an e-mail at judithmoose@signingstars.net. Thanks and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

03-21-2006, 12:16 AM
Eldragon: I did a self-publish a few years ago using Trafford.com as the publisher. They messed up the first 50 books in a very minor way, but immediately printed 50 more at no charge and literally gave me the first batch free. I found them most helpful and informative at all stages and the cost was affordable. While not making the 'top ten list' in sales (tongue-in-cheek here) I nevertheless managed to recoup the cost and still sell a few here and there. My wife sells my works in her bookstore and so does numerous other sites/stores in the area. It is also available with all of the onlines; Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. Even Ebay has a few listed for more money because they are signed (gifts to fans from my earlier days who want to make some extra money). A librarian friend of ours pushed successfully to have it placed in the libraries and it proved extremely popular (which also helped). Would I use Trafford again and would I consider self-publish again? In a heartbeat I would.

The novel was "Object Eve" and is also offered on my site as a free download (which has caused a few more books to be purchased). I follow the same strictures in POD/self-publish as I used to follow in mainstream - this is important. You will hear both sides of the coin insofar as pros and cons of POD/Self-publish, but I stand before you to say "Go For It". Plan on being your own prime marketing energy.

Check out Cory Doctorow for his strategy, which paid off handsomely for him - "Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom" By the same token I use the concept on my webpages for my own works - and it is a feasible concept. Basically you become a publisher/marketer in your own right. My situation is probably much different than what you are desirous of , but every plan has a beginning. Apparently most of the other questions have already been answered for you, so I will not repeat.

In explanation for the above: Numerous writers/authors have joined together in a collective effort to eventually bring the acceptance of using the Internet as a recognizable form of publishing for marketing our works. Already there are 'awards' for writings published online and it is gaining acceptance daily. This will take time, of which we are aware, and cause a loss of some monetary factors (hopefully only temporary). The goal is to create a public awareness of the availability of said works and resultant ease of access. The future is upon us and we embrace it with fervor. Like any other market this will probably end up with only a few major 'distributors' handling the majority of the online works and paying scale royalties. It shall happen - you can depend on it! With the advent of the Ipods and other 'readers' it has sped up the process quite handily.

03-21-2006, 01:03 AM
Thanks! I'll look into everything you said.