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Why a second opinion is important for self-publishers

Your Book Designed

So you’ve decided to go it alone and self-publish – but a second opinion is still crucial to your success and not to be underestimated! As a hybrid publisher, I’ve been astounded at the number of seminars touting that self-publishing for free is the RIGHT if not ONLY way to get your book out into the public domain. Sadly, this approach has not only impacted on individual authors, but also on the view of self-publishing as a whole. It has only served to undermine what was already a route that was considered in negative terms.

When a second opinion is critical

As an author, you are too closely related to your content to review your work objectively. A second opinion can help your work to be viewed better from a reader’s point of view, and this will help you improve your title and your reader’s experience. This second opinion can come in many forms; a friend, a family member or colleague could help you gauge your reader’s understanding of your content. However, a second opinion can give you so much more information and aid when it is given by a publishing professional.

The following questions are the ones you need to consider when going through a second opinion process.

Content value

  • Is your book of value to your reader?
  • Can your reader easily understand and implement your content?
  • Have you removed all of the jargon that your reader may not understand?

Content accuracy

  • Has your book been checked for spelling, grammar and use of terminology?
  • Have your sources been correctly identified and credited?
  • Have any tutorials been thoroughly tested by someone with few skills in the topic you are covering?
  • Have you included references to research to support your points?

Reader impressions

  • Is your cover easily legible at thumbnail size?
  • Is your book’s design relevant to your content and audience?
  • Could your book be better designed and help your user access your content easier?

Ways that Kissed Off can help you

We offer a number of services that help authors with all manner of second opinions. From design services through to editing and review services we can help your book be a high quality self-published title.

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Why Hire an Editor?

Editor blog title image

There has been a lot of chatter online recently about the growing number of poor quality titles being released through self-publishing. Amazon has been tightening up on compliance with its own guidelines, however there is little governance over content.

Currently, when you publish directly through Kindle, CreateSpace or other online publishing options, the content check merely covers a basic spell-check and a copyright check for unique content. This is why you should, at least, consider hiring an editor or independent proofer.

When a computer can’t see the error

We all use text shorthand frequently; when we are in the throes of creative inspiration, we want to get our ideas down as quickly as possible. However, certain words would not be spotted by a computer spell-checker. As an example, if we were to use “no” for “know”, “u” for “you”, and so forth, a computer would be unable to spot an error. I’m sure we’ve all done it by accident at some point and then had a “Doh!” moment.

Another type of error the computer definitely can’t see is when it auto-corrects our typing. This feature, while on occasion useful, more often than not drives me bonkers when trying to type anything that contains technical terminology. Medical terminology is the obvious culprit in this case, but you would be amazed at the other sectors that are affected by this.

Back to human error, computers can’t always see when we use the wrong word but it has been spelled correctly. There, Their and They’re are the obvious culprits – but there are numerous less obvious examples. This is particularly true if your book has been created using dictation (soundex) or using character recognition from our handwriting (optical errors).

In these examples above, you will always be better to have a human proof-reader, even if not necessarily an editor.

A fresh pair of eyes

While a human touch is essential for high-quality proof reading, there is another element that is, I believe, essential; independence. When we create anything, we are too close to it to judge it with an objective eye. When we have written content, we see what we are intending to say, rather than focussing on what our written text may convey to its reader. In the early stages of creation, this view is perfectly adequate; however, as we move towards publishing, a fresh set of eyes may be just what the Doctor ordered.

I have been this set of eyes for a wide variety of authors and genres, and from experience I can say that ALL books need this in some form. From accessibility of content through to simple terminology errors; when we are removed from the content, they all become much more obvious.

Pitching to your audience

Many manuscripts that cross my desk have a very strong author voice. For some genres this is great (fiction, biography and inspirational), however some manuscripts are not focussing on their target audience. For example, if you are trying to encourage trust and respect from your reader there are several do’s and don’ts.

Professional audience

If your target readership already has knowledge in the area you are covering, you should never talk down to them. I have seen this happen in some titles, and it really grates with your reader and you lose their respect very quickly. Likewise, check you use the correct terminology and that your content follows current best practice.

Leisure/hobbyist audience

While this audience is less demanding than that of their professional cousins, you still need to find the right voice. If you are too informal, it cheapens your content and may lead to mistrust in its accuracy. However, if you go too far the other way, the formality may lead your reader to believe your content is above their level of understanding.

There will be a more in depth blog post covering this at a later date.

Go with the flow

A professional editor can help you not only find your voice, but also help your content to flow. Although, your work may not be fiction, your book is still telling a story. Even a reference book should flow from A to Z, even if your reader might dip in to D-G. This is through both the use of flow between chapters and clear segregation of content. Think of your book like a journey, with your topics being destinations along your route. While you can reference a destination briefly in another locale, any major discussion should occur in its relevant location.

Indeed, this is where and how you should consider using an editor – not as a proof-reader, but as a book-reader. Is the voice right? Does my content say what I want it to say? Does it read easily? Does it aid or achieve higher understanding of my subject? Only by considering all of these questions, do you end up with a high quality book.

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Cover image: the Importance of a Great Cover!

Portfolio-Mockup

This month we have seen a number of cover issues arise. I thought this week’s blog post could be a way of covering these frequently asked questions to help you get your book right first time.

Can I use a cover I’ve already had designed?

Our packages all include cover design, however some authors come to us having one “ready to go”. In some cases, we are approached as “I’ve had this designed for me by [my daughter, my neighbour, a uni student, my dog]”, and while we celebrate creativity in all its forms, great cover design is key to good sales. People unfortunately DO judge books by their covers, and when its shown at 2x4cm on Amazon it needs to make an impact!

I’ve even received covers from other graphic designers that don’t meet the basic standards! Artwork not in the correct ratio, let alone the correct size and resolution for print. A few have even come with licensing issues (and therefore fall foul of our terms and conditions).

Cover guidelines for designers

If you are going to use another professional designer and/or illustrator to design your cover, then we recommend the following…

  • Add on extra design for bleeds as well as any formatting issues that may arise through changes in your book. We would recommend a 9th of your cover design size all the way around – too much is a lot better than too little.
  • Make sure artwork is supplied in a vector-based format PDF, with fonts embedded.
  • Any images and fonts used must be supplied with appropriate proof of licences.
  • Do not provide spine artwork with text unless your title is over 130 pages.
  • If your design has an underlying texture, provide this as a separate file.
  • Ensure your cover is legible when viewed at thumbnail size.
  • Mock book covers are unacceptable.

What we do with unacceptable designs

Where we are provided with unacceptable covers, we either ignore the file provided or use it as a base concept (depending on the issue).

A recent example used a strong concept, but all the images used had licensing issues. Instead, we used the basic concept to create a stronger, impactful cover that works much better on the platform.

Where this is not possible, we will ask you about the file you have provided in order to get a brief for your new cover.

Our usual process for cover design

Where we are left to do the cover design as included with your package, we simultaneously design your cover to fit your book’s specification as well as viewing it at thumbnail size. Our vast experience in cover design has been honed across many platforms, so we can deliver cross platform success.

Our cover development stage occurs towards the end of our process. Once, your book inners have been completed, we can ensure the perfect design including any spine that may need to be included. Before the sign off of your inners, this cannot be guaranteed. So by this time, we thoroughly know your book and its intended/likely audience, sales platforms and production methods.

We develop 3 initial concepts for your book outer as well as how the back of the book would work. It’s easy in these times of online book buying to underestimate the importance of your back cover. You can then choose your preferred concept, mix and match or we can create a new concept based on your feedback.

Once you are happy with your book design, we also develop a mock up book for social media and other marketing strategies. That way, you can market your book before its even out on Amazon. We encourage our authors to build their following throughout the book publishing process. If you want to ask your followers about your book concepts that is fine, and we can even help you by supplying social sized images.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… #CookerySOS

#CookerySOS Xmas Book

Following on from the success of #CookerySOS, we’ve created a special limited edition to help you get through the Christmas cooking easily and affordably!

We travelled up very early only a couple of Sunday’s ago to catch up with John, drop off some more books (as he had sold out) and to photograph “a couple of dishes” for the download. What followed was a feast for the senses! We started with the Orange Carrots and Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese. In between shots we were trying to convince Stanley the Santa hat was a good look – he didn’t really buy it! The Cranberry Sausages are also another of my favourites from when we went up to Blackpool to photograph these great dishes in the #CookerySOS Christmas kitchen. The cover shot with Stanley the Ice Cold Pooch was just the icing on the Christmas Cake! What you can’t tell from the cover pic is how quickly Stanley could use his paw to get his Santa hat back off! Then it was onwards to an afternoon of sweet delights!

The #CookerySOS Christmas download takes you from defrosting a turkey through to party nibbles and all points in-between. My personal favourite are the Marzipan Snowballs that are so easy and yet so amazing fresh and christmassy I fell in love with them at first bite! It also has really helpful conversion tables and tips for each recipe to take the stress out of Christmas cooking!

We’ve included lots of help for those who may not have cooked a Christmas dinner before – making this book ideal for students, new carers and even new parents! I can’t wait to be curled up with my mug of Festive Latte (or as some would say a bucket)… and now with a Marzipan Snowball with raspberries! A real treat for Santa this Christmas!

My kitchen will certainly be smelling festive this Christmas!

Download your copy today for a £5 donation!

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Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel! A look at designing for a mobile audience.

Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image

Following a seminar event I attended yesterday, I did some blogging on the fly with Adobe Slate .

Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image
Why you SHOULD reinvent the wheel blog post image

When technology advances the temptation is to make it imitate that which went before. With advances in mobile technology, an example for our industry is eBooks that “flip” pages and essentially imitate its traditional equivalent. However, by seeking to emulate the traditional equivalents, we are missing opportunities to create new immersive experiences that make the most of the platforms we are viewing the content upon. Those who have read my blog posts will recognise my synergy with this view as well as seeing how our approach to projects differ to those who seek to create digital literature simply by turning it into a PDF (either with or without page flip) rather than making the most of its capabilities.

I found the event stimulating and challenging, and following having attended we will now make our site responsive but not focus as strongly on mobile content and instead focus on creating an app that will blend the best bits of this blog along with some unique content such as covering the events we attend and industry news. To view the original post click on the image to the left to find out why an app really is the way to go for your mobile audience.

I hope you find this blog post as interesting as I found the event, while challenging your preconceptions about tablet and smartphone use.

Coincidentally, the blog post was written on the move using my mobile device. I could have logged in to WordPress to do this, but I found using the Adobe Slate app more convenient and easier to use with the intermittent signal you get while out and about travelling. This proving many of the points we discussed at the event, and I can’t wait to discuss the available options with both existing and new clients soon!

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Are you struggling to finish writing THAT book?

StartAudio On-hold Messaging Service

One of our authors, Andrew Pain, has written a brilliant blog piece on book writing for the hybrid published author – in which he makes many valid points. Here is my response as a publisher (and thus sees things from the other side of the fence).

1  Sacrifice

We have to allow ourselves the time to be creative as well as both physical and mental space to experiment. That sometimes meaning ignoring those feelings of guilt that can hold us back from true creativity. However, there is another kind of sacrifice that Andrew doesn’t mention – the sacrifice of perfection. Sometimes, we become so obsessed with having it perfect before considering our work to be finished, that we never get there. At Kissed Off, we encourage handing us a draft at our first conversations about your book – not only so we can quote more accurately, but also that you get used to “handing over the baby”. We offer full editing services, and can tell quickly what you need to focus on while fine-tuning your book. This brings you one step closer to the finish line of perfection.

We can’t do this if its still on your desk.

2  Great things take time to develop

We couldn’t agree with this more, which is why we work with you to make sure your book is perfect prior to publication – hand in hand with a great post-publication strategy for driving your book forward towards your aims.

We have developed over the last 250 books a process that guides you through to the point where the book is in your hands. From start to finish, we work with you to drive forward a book that is complete and well designed for your target aims. One thing to remember is your book is far from finished once you type that final word into your text document.

3  Space

Sometimes we all need to be in a new space to think clearly. We offer unusual meeting spaces so you can discuss your progress with us in a casual setting so you get the most enjoyment out of the publication journey.

4  Dual purposes for your book

We agree whole-heartedly with Andrew, if you set out only to make money out of your book you will be sadly disappointed. Neither business nor life work that way – you get out what you put in. The dual purpose approach is a great way of encouraging you on the days you make no sales, because money isn’t your primary aim. Books can market your services, introduce a new innovation or simply grow your reputation as an expert in your field. Also, don’t consider your book in isolation – could it be part of a series, or lead to a seminar tour or drive new opportunities for you to explore. Your book’s publication is not necessarily the final finishing post for your writing journey.

With writing, as with any creative endeavour, it is always best to leave your pre-conceptions at the door – for they will only hinder you.

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Ice Cold Chef launches his first book on pre-order

ICC-Spiral-Book-Mockup-1

Ice Cold Chef AKA John Joyce has launched his first book!

You can now pre-order #CookerySOS by The Ice Cold Chef. Through the support and encouragement of his social media followers, John has finally put some of his great recipes into a book we all can learn from – along with some ‘donated’ recipes from his friends, chefs and more that have discovered him on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The book will feature approximately 200 (it is still growing as I write this post!) recipes aimed at the new cook, with simple ingredients that focus on fresh food served on a family budget. This book will be wire bound for ease of use by all in the kitchen, which mirrors how this book came into existence…

John became known as the Ice Cold Chef because of how he learnt to cook – while holding a glass of Ice Cold Beer! Here is the story as told by his wife, Bev.

John is not, nor has he ever professed to be, a qualified chef. He is an ordinary man, who works and also happens to care for me, his wife.

Eight years ago, we were your “average” couple, with one daughter, Louise who were living life as we wanted, going along nicely. John was a brick layer, I worked for the DWP and our daughter had just moved into her first house. John had decided on a career change as he didn’t want to work away from home any longer. He applied for and secured a job with Blackpool Council. It was a big change adapting to the office world, but as with everything he does, John put in one hundred per cent and really took to it.

Unfortunately, at the same time, I began to have strange symptoms and feelings in my legs that resulted in me being referred to a neurologist and eventually being diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

I enjoyed and had always done all the cooking at home. However my progression into MS was  so fast that it soon became apparent that I could no longer continue to do this. We tried various processed foods, but within a couple of weeks knew that this wasn’t for us. John asked me to teach him to cook. I taught him the basics but as ever John took to it and decided to take things a lot further. He started to talk about cooking on social media and was soon receiving encouragement, ideas and recipes from chefs and other amateur cooks from all over the world. This support gave John the idea to put his and their recipes into a book, firstly to show anyone they can cook if they really want to and secondly to raise money for charity.

John has since taken Ice Cold Chef further than he could ever have originally imagined and won Adult Carer of the Year in 2014 and now teaches young carers to cook. He also cooks at events raising awareness of MS and has been invited to the Houses of Parliament to discuss his work.

#cookerysos started out as a dream of mine through the need to cook simply using fresh produce. This book is the fruit of our labours and I hope it will go on to be a great help to many people.

John Joyce
Ice Cold Chef

This book serves as encouragement to all those facing adversity, and teaches us all about how positivity can make even a bad situation something not always so sad.

This book is now available for pre-order from us. Profit from the sale of the book will go back into raising awareness and more for MS sufferers and carers.

John & Bev Joyce
John & Bev Joyce
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Subscribe to support our latest title

St_Johns_Mock_Book

With our latest title due for publication shortly, the author has taken the unusual step of raising funds via subscriptions.

Fairly Mounted on a Hill by Simon Henderson is about the history of St John’s, Bromsgrove and its parishioners. The book has been written to help support the growing need of the Church in terms of restoration and protection for both this generation and those to come. A previous history of this Church was also funded by subscribers, and so the Friends of St John’s thought it would be nice to use this as a way to bring this title to publication. As with the previous title, this book shall feature the names of those who have subscribed as well as continuing to raise funds via the profits of the book after release.

The book is currently in its final stages of editing, however you can download an excerpt of this book now as a preview snippet.

Fairly Mounted on a Hill EXCERPT

If you would like to have your name immortalised in print, as well as supporting a great cause, then subscriptions are still open via Subscribe to “Fairly Mounted on a Hill”.

Are subscriptions a way you could fund your next book? Speak to us today to discuss your options to raise funds prior to publication.

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How we tailor our eBook designs to your needs…

Affiliate eBook Introduction

Tailor your brief

Great design starts with a great brief.

Specification

One of the most important things to consider all the possible uses you will have for your eBook:

  • Will you want your eBook printed at a later stage?
  • Will it be printed on an office inkjet printer and how would you bind it?
  • If it could be professionally printed – how would you like it bound, are there any particular features and links that would need to change between versions?
  • How will your eBook be distributed? Will it be embedded directly into a web page? By email?

The answer to these questions will allow us to tailor the physical specification of your eBook to your needs.

For example, the eBook below has been designed specifically so that it can be printed on an office printer without showing to typical white border that features on so many inkjet prints.

LCT Accounting eBook
This eBook is designed specifically to allow for print borders common in many office printers.

As this could be used at trade events, it has been specifically designed for wire binding as well as allowing for economical and easy printing. This extends, not only to the client, but also to the end user who may not necessarily want to read your eBook on screen and would prefer to read it on paper. By tailoring your specification at an early stage, it allows your eBook to be flexible for alternative uses at a later stage without adding additional costs to your project.


Design

The briefing stage is also the time to specify any design requirements you have: branding, preference and target audience all have a bearing not only on colour scheme, but right through to accessibility options and font choices.

In the eBook below, the client had a very clear idea of how he wanted the eBook to look and gave clear examples. This has resulted in an eBook that was quick to conceptualise and is ready much quicker for publishing.

Affiliate eBook Detail
A clear brief led to an easy conceptualisation and approval stage
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Are you encountering a creative problem?

Kissed Off Seminar Poster

We’ve taken the initiative and put the solutions of many creative problems faced by our authors into one big webinar.

Problem 1: Time

We’ll be covering this issue from several different angles – from lifestyle choices to give us more energy, to learning to free up time for creativity. The focus will be on doing more while working less.

Problem 2: Creative Block

The dreaded blank page syndrome – we’ve all been there no matter what our creative background. However, we have way and means of helping you to get something down on that blank page that will help you to focus on your goal.

Problem 3: Confidence

Our speakers have been selected to give you the best start for your writing journey. Topics will include finding your writing voice through to how to build a happier and healthier approach to life.

Problem 4: Money

This is the big elephant in the corner no-one really wants to mention. Yet we have ways and means to get around the issue, and self-publishing doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Problem 5: Accessibility

A number of our authors suffer from or care for those suffering from all types of disabilities and life altering illnesses. We want to show you how accessible not only is your writing to you, but also how accessible we can help you make it for others.

Problem 6: Marketing

There are two main types of this problem for authors – those who think they have enough of a following already so don’t need to do any additional marketing, and those who think they don’t have enough of a following to get published. We want to show you how both camps are wrong, and how you can use social media and other cost effective platforms to boost not only your sales but also your profile.

Book your space TODAY to take the first steps to solving the problem.