Author’s Friend and Bookmaker

Books dumped in greater heapOn two different occasions recently, I have received emails asking if I could recommend someone for a specific aspect of indie (self) publishing that the requester thought I didn’t do. In both cases, the requests were for services I provide. It seems I need to make information about my services a little more prominent.

I call myself an editor, because that is the primary service I offered authors in the beginning. Then clients started asking me to do more.

“Can you get the book ready for the printer?”
“Please help me get the cover designed.”
“How do I get an ISBN for my book?”
“I want to sell my books online. Will you create a website for me?”
“Formatting and uploading the files for Kindle and Smashwords is driving me crazy. Can you help?”

So one by one, I added additional services. I’ve tried to come up with a title that encompasses everything I do. Some people who offer similar services call themselves book shepherds. While that’s an intriguing title, it doesn’t necessarily convey all the services I offer. I’ve said I’m a book midwife, helping to birth bouncing baby books for my clients. Yet that still doesn’t explain the specific functions I perform. My client David Bowles inscribed his most recent book to me as follows:

To Lillie, author’s friend and bookmaker.

That made me smile. I am selective about the clients I take. Being friendly, having a good working relationship, and being comfortable with one another are critical for me to help the writer successfully publish a book. And bookmaker, though it conjures up images of betting on horse races, also describes the process of turning a manuscript into a book. The following list of publishing services comes from the description of my publishing services:

  • Perform a complete content edit of the manuscript.
  • Assist with obtaining ISBNs and registering copyright.
  • Format the manuscript for publication.
  • Negotiate and contract with a cover artist and book designer on your behalf or perform these services.
  • Proof the cover and completed layout.
  • Negotiate and contract with a printer on your behalf or set up account with a POD printer.
  • Create e-book formats and upload to sales sites.
  • Advise on promotion, create a website, and assist with distribution.
  • Serve as a liaison among all parties involved in the publication, distribution, and promotion of the book to ensure production of a quality product within an established timeframe.

Normally, I, along with my associate Jan McClintock, provide most or all of these services for each of our clients. The first step is actually determining whether indie publishing is the best option for the client, and if so, whether Jan and I are the best option for the client to reach that goal. Part of that decision is how we feel about the project. We won’t take a project unless we feel comfortable working with the client and are excited about the manuscript. There are some genres we aren’t knowledgeable about or interested in, and we decline those projects. The author deserves to work with someone who believes in her book as much as she does. Of course, the potential client has a chance to determine whether she likes our work or not through a sample edit.

Once we’ve agreed that we will make a good team, we hold the author’s hand throughout the entire process. We encourage him when he needs a little motivation or a little help believing that he can do this.

We edit the manuscript, not only correcting grammar and spelling, but also suggesting revisions that will make the story and/or the characters stronger. Every manuscript goes through three rounds of edits. Usually I do the first edit; when I finish a pre-determined section (a chapter or several chapters), I send it to Jan. She does an edit and returns it to me. I review her edits and perhaps add comments or make additional suggestions. Then the edits go to the client to be sure we’re on track and that all our changes meet with the writer’s approval. After we have gone through the entire manuscript and made all the changes, I proofread the complete manuscript before it goes to Jan for layout.

We ensure that the client understands about ISBNs and obtains the needed identifiers. Jan designs the interior in the design program InDesign, then she sends it to me for review. In the meantime, we and/or the client have been working with a cover designer. Both Jan and I have created covers, but we generally work with a graphics designer for a beautiful cover that draws attention and inspires readers’ interest. When the interior and cover are ready, the writer has another chance to review and approve both.

Then one of us (or sometimes the client) creates an account with the printer, usually CreateSpace, uploads the files, and goes through the review process. If the review turns up something that needs attention, we make whatever changes are needed until the printer accepts the file and everything looks good to us. Even so, we always order a proof copy to ensure that the book looks as good in print as it does on the computer screen.

In most cases, we also create ebook formats, typically Kindle edition at and several formats at Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to a number of ebook retailers, so these two places cover most of the major ebook sellers. Again, we format the books, review to be sure all looks right, create the accounts and upload to Amazon and Smashwords, monitor the review process, and make changes, if needed, until the ebooks are available for sale.

We also create websites for clients to promote and/or sell their books. Some clients ask us to create pages for them on various social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Nothing Binding, Goodreads, and more. In some cases, we search out reviewers appropriate for the genre and send out review copies. Throughout the entire process, we help the author understand what needs to be done. We coordinate with the client and other service providers (such as cover designer, POD printer, and ebook distributors) to make the indie publishing process as smooth and easy as possible for the client.

While Jan and I have different strengths and specialties, we can each perform every step of the publishing process. So if one of us gets sick (or when I was caring for my husband near the end of his life), the other can step in to make certain the client has a friend and bookmaker at his side. We love working with writers to take their story or nonfiction from manuscript to print and digital books.

However, not every author needs all of our services. Perhaps a writer has had his manuscript edited, but he needs the interior and cover designed. Or maybe the print book has already been published, but the writer wants to add ebooks. Whatever piece of indie publishing an author needs help with, we can almost certainly help.

So if you’re an indie author who needs a “friend and bookmaker,” email me at, and we can determine if I can help you in your publishing journey.

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