Monthly Archives: February 2013

Editing Your Self Published Book

Why You Need an Editor for Your Self Published Book


By Rick Helley, Guest Blogger and Senior Editor at Bookstand Publishing

I came across this rather amusing item on page 12 of the May 7, 2010, issue of The Week magazine:

An Australian publisher has destroyed 7,000 copies of a cookbook after a recipe called for “salt and freshly ground black people.” The recipe, for spelt tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto, was meant to call for black pepper, but a typo led a computer spell-checker program to insert the erroneous word.

During my years as a copy editor in the corporate world, some gaffes approaching that one crossed my desk, such as the following:

  •  A report discussing diesel emissions from ferryboats in San Francisco Bay included the line, “emissions from the San Francisco fairies.”
  • A report on boiler emissions noted, “After eating lunch, the boiler exploded.”
  • A company abstract about pollution control touted the firm’s “Population Abatement Systems” — to which I responded, via a note to the author, “Project Manager, Josef Mengele?”

 In addition, about twenty years ago, a newspaper in my city included a recipe for seafood salad calling for shrimp and, among other ingredients, “Crap.”

And, in 2002, the City of Lauderhill, Florida, decided to honor actor James Earl Jones with a commemorative plaque. Someone, however, failed to proofread the plaque, which ended up with the inscription:

Thank You
James Earl Ray
for Keeping the Dream Alive
City of Lauderhill
January 19, 2002

 The lesson here is that grammar checkers and spell checkers, as convenient as they may be at times, are no replacement for human editors and proofreaders.

Finding a Good Self Publishing Company

Avoid a bad self publishing experience.  Follow these rules!

Avoid a bad self publishing experience. Follow these rules!

Here are 7 rules for any author shopping for a good self publishing company:

1.  You want to keep 100% of your rights

Any self publishing company that does not allow you to keep 100% of your author rights is not a legitimate company, in my opinion, and you should avoid them at all costs

2.  You want a non-exclusive contract

You don’t want to work with a company that restricts your rights and who you can work with.  You want someone who is trying to help you, not restrict you.

3.  You want a company with a good reputation

Only deal with self publishing companies with a good rating with the Better Business Bureau.  In addition, do an online search of complaints regarding the company.  A lot of big self publishing companies have gotten themselves a bad reputation because they use very aggressive sales techniques, they don’t or won’t resolve problems when they arise and their staff is not well trained to answer questions about sales and distribution.  Avoid them.

4.  You must have these essential services

Your self publishing company must provide you with:

  • ISBN number
  • Bowkers Books in Print Registration
  • Distribution on Amazon and
  • Distribution through the wholesaler Ingram and/or Baker & Taylor
  • Print on Demand order fulfillment

If you are looking at a company that doesn’t offer these basic services, then they are not a publishing company, they are a printing company.  They are going to print books for you, but no online or offline bookstore will make them available for sale

5.  Decide if you need Full Service or Self Service

There are two types of Self Publishing companies, Full Service and Self Service.  Full Service self publishing companies will help you lay out your manuscript, help you with your cover, give you advice, provide you with electronic proofs of your book before it goes to press and much more.  Self Service companies, on the other hand,  expect you to come to them with everything formatted and complete and if there are problems they are your problems.  Most authors new to publishing should use a Full Service self publishing company to start

6.  Compare publishing packages

Publishing packages come with a variety of services.  When comparing publishing packages between companies be sure you are comparing apples to apples.  In particular compare:

  • The number of books that come with each package
  • The price to purchase additional books
  • EBook services such as Kindle, Nook and iPad editions
  • Any additional fees such as shipping costs

7.  Consider other services you may need

In evaluating self publishing companies, you need to consider what other services you may need beside the basic publishing services.  You may want to consider:

  • Editing services
  • Cover design services
  • Illustration services
  • Marketing services

For example, if you want to aggressively market your book you will need to be sure that the publishing company you choose offers a variety of marketing services for your book.

Guidelines on Using Photos in Your Self Published Book

Photos in a self-published book

Photographs and images in your book can help you tell your story and add interest, clarity and excitement to your book. A powerful image on the cover of your book, can do a lot to help sell your book.

However, the laws and regulations for when you can and can’t use a photograph in your book can be confusing and, if you aren’t careful, can get you in trouble.   Here are some simple guidelines to help end the confusion and keep you out of trouble.


As a rule, if you didn’t take the picture yourself, you have to have written permission from the copyright holder to use the image in your book. The two exceptions to this are:

  • Public Domain:   Under United States copyright law, all images published before January 1, 1923 in the United States are now in the public domain.    Just because something is posted on the World Wide Web does NOT mean it is under public domain.  In fact, most images on the World Wide Web are copyright protected and cannot be used without permission.
  • Fair use:  Fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.   You can read more about Fair Use here:   Please keep in mind that if you intend to profit from the sale of your book, the images you use in your book will probably NOT be covered by Fair Use.

Getting Permission

If you have a specific image you want to use, you will need to write a letter or send an email to the person who holds the copyright of the image and ask permission to use the image.  In some cases, the copyright owner of the image will allow you to use the image for free, but in many cases they may request you pay a fee for the right to use it.

There are a number of stock photo sites that will sell you images and the right to use the image in your book for a nominal fee.  My favorite image sites are:

This is a FREE stock photo site with over 350,000 images:

Wikepedia offers a list of image resources for public domain images:

Wikepedia is a good spot to search for images as the copyright restrictions on images are clearly labeled and many have been released into the public domain or are available for restricted use.

Images of People

If you took a picture of a group of individuals you may or may not need to get their permission to use the image in your book.

If you are using the image for editorial purposes, it’s usually okay to use them without permission.

If you are using photos with people in them for advertising, you need their permission.  People have the right to profit from their photograph or likeness and this right continues after death and is given to their heirs

Usually, using an image on the cover of your book would be considered an image for advertising purposes (since your cover is used to promote and sell your book) and using an image inside your book would be considered for editorial purposes.  For example, If you have pictures inside your book showing people white water rafting down a river, you will probably not need their permission. If you put that same picture on the cover of your book, however, you should get their permission.

Logos and Brand Names

Be wary of using logos, symbols, brand names, company names, and trademarks in an image.  Even using very old images of a brand name or trademark still in use, can get you in trouble.

Please note that I am not a lawyer and I am not engaged in rendering legal services.  When working with legal issues, or if you have any questions on using a photo in your book, you should always seek experienced, professional counsel.

How to Use Press Releases to Promote Your Book

Getting Publicity for your Self-Published Book

Here are some key items to keep in mind about using press releases to promote your self-published book:

1. The objective of a press release is to get media attention and coverage, not to sell books. 

You do press releases so the media (i.e., TV, Radio, Magazines, Newspapers, Websites, and Blogs) will potentially review or discuss your book in their publications or on their channels and this coverage will drive sales.

2. The most important line in a Press Release is the one that says “Review Copies and Interviews Upon Request.”  

Your goal from the press release is to send out review copies of your book or get interviews about your book or book topic because a good review in a good magazine and/or an interview on radio or TV will sell books.

3. Yes you need to give away Free Copies of your Book.

Media professionals expect a free copy of your book to consider you for a review.  You want to give away review copies of your book as reviewers will not likely write about your book unless you give them a review copy.

Traditional Media (e.g., magazines and newspapers) typically want a free paperback or hardcover book copy, and New Media (websites and blogs) typically want an electronic galley or electronic PDF version of your book.  Send them what they want.  Don’t be cheap and try to make a potential reviewer buy a book, as it won’t work.

4. The Press Release needs to be sent electronically to a list of professional book reviewers.

For purposes of getting media reviews or interviews with a credible organization, the typical press releases, offered by many online press release companies that are sent to major search engines like Google and Yahoo, wire services, or opt in news subscribers will NOT give you a very good response.  You need to send the press release to professionals who write book reviews or interview authors as a part of their job.

Additionally, press releases nowadays are sent electronically via email.  The days of sending paper press releases with “For Immediate Release” written in the corner are over.

5. Repeated exposure of your book over time is the best way to get media outlets, bloggers and websites to notice your book.

Multiple press releases done from different news angles and sent to targeted professional reviewers comprise what is called a publicity campaign and it is the best way to build exposure and buzz for your book.  Media professionals are always looking for new stories based on what is currently in the news, seasonal topics and assignments from their editor.

A press release about a book sent from one angle may not attract the attention of a specific book reviewer the first week, but another press release, written from another angle, about the same book, might get a response from the same reviewer on the second week.

If you need some help with your press releases, please feel free to visit our marketing services site at or call me at 866-793-9365.