What is the difference between being “indie published” and “self-published?”

A “self-published’ book is just that: a book that someone creates on their own, and then throws it up on Amazon. There are hundreds of thousands of them. Often, they have typos, incorrect margins, and the interior formatting (the way the text looks inside the book) is off. The book’s cover is often poorly designed (aka a simple photograph, clipart and/or inappropriate fonts), and is typically created by someone without book design experience (such as the author, a friend or a relative). At best, self-published books don’t look as high quality as professionally published books. At worst, they look amateurish and unappealing to read–which in turn makes them very difficult to promote.

An “indie-published” book, on the other hand, is produced by publishing professionals so that it looks, feels and reads exactly like the high-quality books published by a traditional publishing house, but the author maintains full control of the process, timeline and product. That is what we do here at Books Fluent.

Our team has worked for major publishing houses, and we provide professional publishing services that cut above the competition. This includes book editors who ensure your text reads seamlessly, book cover designers who create eye-catching and on-trend visuals, and distribution specialists who ensure your book gets the highest visibility possible. By working with Books Fluent, you have access to your own team of book industry experts who produce and distribute your book to the highest quality, while ensuring you understand the whole process and have final approval over each step.

Why should I work with an indie publishing specialist?

Some writers believe they do not need to work with an indie publishing specialist. However, authors can get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that needs to be done to take their book from manuscript to final published book. The learning curve is tremendous, and it’s tough to have your “baby” become your crash course in learning how to publish books.

Books Fluent is here to help streamline the process for you. We take the weight off your shoulders so that you can focus on what you do best: writing and being a storyteller! We will partner you with an editor and cover designer who is right for you, ensure the book is properly formatted, file for your ISBNs and copyrights, and go through the nitty-gritty process of setting up your title on IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

All that being said, this is a collaborative effort, and we will be communicating with and guiding you every step of the way. We are here to help expand your knowledge of the publishing process and book industry, and to produce a book you’re proud to call your own!

How is Books Fluent different from a hybrid or vanity press?

Vanity presses have garnered a deservedly bad reputation in the industry because they tend to have low (or no) selection criteria for the books they represent–and once an author signs on the dotted line, vanity presses maintain total control over the rights to the book, and offers the author little to no say in the editorial, design or distribution process.

Hybrid presses, on the other hand, are a cross between traditional and self-publishing (as the name implies). Hybrid presses have a more rigorous selection process and higher standard of quality for the books they publish. They tend to be more collaborative with the author, and they publish the books they select under their own company imprint name, like a small press.

We differ from both of these models: We are selective about the authors and books we represent; if we don’t think your book will succeed in the marketplace, we’ll tell you! We offer a range of publishing services and maintain a strict standard of quality so that your book is published to the highest industry standards. We are not an imprint, so we don’t publish books under the “Books Fluent” name; the author is the publisher, and selects their own imprint name. Our authors maintain the rights to their work and full creative control over the publishing process. We collaborate closely with the author so the book feels wholly “theirs”; at the same time, we advise on best practices each step of the way, so authors are empowered with the knowledge on how to publish in a way that maximizes their opportunities to succeed.

What does it mean to publish books so that they meet “industry standards?”

Simply put, “industry standards” refers to specific benchmarks of quality within the publishing industry, aka great cover design, pristine content and formatting, and seamless distribution to retailers so that a book has its best chance of making it into the hands of readers. Essentially, we want to ensure that your book looks and reads in a way that equals or exceeds what the major publishers are doing.

Why is this important? Because publishing is highly competitive. If your book looks cheap, unprofessional, and if it’s hard to read or access, it can dramatically restrict your success within (and even access to) readers, media, bookstores, libraries, events and sales. Why write and publish a book without giving it its best chance to succeed? Don’t settle for an “OK” book — let’s make a great one!

Why do I need to work with a book editor? / I don’t need editing. / My friend who is an English teacher, librarian or fellow writer edited the book for me.

We require that authors we represent work with a credentialed book editor, preferably one who has award-winning published books in their portfolio, or who has edited for traditional publishing houses. We will examine your manuscript closely and determine whether the text requires further edits, and which stage of editing to start with (such as a developmental edit, which edits for “big picture” content, plot and flow; a copyedit, which examines grammar, punctuation and spelling; or proofreading, which is a final technical polish so your book is smooth as butter to read).

We understand this may feel frustrating to some authors, as you have been hard at work on your book for several years now and don’t want to lengthen the process. We promise: it’s worth it. With millions of books published in the U.S. alone every year, this is a competitive and overcrowded industry. Readers have literally millions of books to choose from; if you want yours to stand out, you’ll want it to be as professionally-rendered and seamless to read as any other books on the shelf.

How does a developmental edit differ from a copyedit or proofread?

The first phase of editing begins with a developmental edit, which focuses on story structure, character development, continuity and “flow.” During this process, one of our experienced book editors, who has worked professionally in the genre of your book, will read carefully through your manuscript (more than once), and provide you with a letter of comprehensive editorial suggestions. The editor asks you to make changes that will improve the manuscript using your own words. This is a collaborative effort between author and editor. Many of our authors mention that they feel like they have gone through a graduate writing program after this process.

The second phase, a copyedit, narrows the focus. Copyediting is also known as a “line edit” because your editor will go through the text line by line to improve readability and consistency, and omit repetition or other errors.

A final proofread will catch any grammar mistakes or typos that may have been missed in prior edits. This is an important final step to ensure that the book looks as polished as possible.

Does my cover need work?

As with your manuscript, we will review your cover carefully and determine if it meets industry benchmarks for design, and we’ll have an open conversation with you about whether or not your cover best represents your manuscript and the genre. We want your indie-published book to look its very best, and be right at home next to any traditionally published book!

The reality is that books are judged by their covers. This is more true than ever in the visual age of the internet, where readers buy books online based on the cover image and description alone, and where book bloggers and “bookstagrammers” raise exposure for books by sharing attractive cover photos. Your book cover is immortalized on the internet for all to see. In an industry that is oversaturated by competition (both online and off), it’s crucial that your cover stands out in order to attract eyeballs and, hopefully, clicks to your sales listing!

If you have not started on the cover design process, that’s perfectly fine, and probably best. Books Fluent will be sure to have the best professionals for your book working with you.

What does a typical timeline look like for editing, design and indie publishing?

Timelines vary based on publishing method, editing needs, manuscript word count and an author’s availability to meet deadlines. An estimated timeline looks like this:

  • Editing: 1-4 months – This will depend on the manuscript, and if we’re doing a developmental edit, copyedit and/or proofread.
  • Cover design and interior layout: 2 months – Professional design is crucial, from rough comps to proofing to final approval.
  • Production: 1-3 months – There are many, many stages of production (you may view a sample book production timeline here). We must complete all the steps on the list, and it can take up to three months from opening the ISBN account to setting up the title on Kindle Direct Publishing.
  • Promotion: 5-6 months – If you want to give your book its best chance at success, you will also need to plan for full-scale marketing and promotion. Our sister company Books Forward can help.

Some of this work can occur simultaneously, and things can be rushed to an extent. But, remember that “fast” does not equal “better” by any means.

If your book has already been professionally edited and your cover professionally designed, you will naturally see the end result faster, as the first two steps are already completed.

Should I publish my book solely as an ebook, or should I print physical copies?

It is your choice whether you publish your book solely as a digital ebook, or also as a physical book. There are pros and cons to both. 

On the one hand, ebooks are relatively inexpensive to format and produce. By creating an ebook, you launch your work into an online retail space filled with millions of potential buyers who use one click on their e-readers to buy books. (Plus, readers often rely on online review systems, like Goodreads’ and Amazon’s star ratings, when determining whether or not to purchase a book). However, the online market is also crowded with millions of books; it takes savvy distribution and promotional plans to get your work seen.

Printed books are once again on the rise; in fact, physical book sales are increasing, while ebook sales have not over the past few years. It is true that printing physical copies of your book will be more expensive than remaining digital-only. But, many book reviewers still prefer (and some even require) physical copies. Having physical copies of books on hand can be an important aspect of your publicist’s promotional efforts, whether for submission to review outlets or media, or for giveaways and mailings. 

Most authors publish both an ebook and paperback copies, and many authors also publish hardcover editions. We will help you determine which format works best for your publishing goals, promotional plans and budget. 

I want to produce an audiobook. Can Books Fluent manage my audiobook production only (without producing my ebook or print versions)?

Yes! In addition to our ebook and print services, we can also create and distribute your audiobook.

And if you’ve already handled your ebook and print versions – or perhaps you only want to produce an audio version – Books Fluent can manage your audiobook recording, production and distribution on its own!

Books Fluent offers professionally narrated, expertly engineered and mastered audiobook production. We offer distribution options to make your audiobook available on iTunes, Audible, Amazon and more.

Our audiobook service includes:

  • Preparation of final manuscript for recording
  • Casting professional narrator(s)
  • Recording with Audible approved studio setups
  • Delivery of professionally mastered and engineered audio
  • Audio files ready for distribution
  • Distribution through ACX and Findaway, which ensures your audiobook is available for sale through major retailers like Audible, Amazon and more.

Ok, I’ve started working with Books Fluent to indie-publish my book. What else do I need to do? When do I need to start planning for promotion or marketing?

You should begin querying publicists as soon as you have started the indie publishing process, if not before. It is very important that you start planning early. A traditional marketing campaign will begin about four months prior to your book’s release, and continue for a month or two after (although digital advertising efforts may continue months beyond that).

Reputable book publicity firms schedule campaigns several months in advance. And although some firms with “cookie-cutter” marketing plans may be able to get started with you right away, a quality campaign that is specifically tailored to you and your unique book will require substantial research, planning and communication with you to put together.

Our sister company, Books Forward, has been in the industry for over 20 years and can help you with publicity, digital marketing, social media management and more. We are also happy to make recommendations on other experienced publicists who are trusted in the industry, depending on your goals and needs.

Are you ready to turn your manuscript into a book?