Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

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
Posted on

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.

Posted on

Book Writing for Non-fiction – How To Complete Your Manuscript – Part 3

Concept stage

Part 3 – Complete your manuscript

If you have already read Part 2, you will want to complete your draft manuscript. Having developed a skeleton manuscript in Part 1 including detailed writing of the first 4 sections, and prepping your manuscript to a more readable format you now need to finish it off ready for our editing service, or move onto our Base module.

Padding

Now you have a skeleton manuscript, your next step is to flesh out your content to complete your book ready for the next stage. The important thing here is to NOT waffle, but to use your padding to deepen the understanding of your concept, utilise your expert knowledge to its fullest while maintaining readability. Readers will quickly lose interest if the book becomes stalled by waffle. Add content where it enhances or eases the readers understanding of your message. There are a few ways we can do this…

Ways of drawing attention to key content

If you have an interesting side point to make, consider using a breakout box. This is a small box that stands out due to its graphical treatment – great for links, videos, further reading and side points for further consideration. They can also be used to refer to other sections and phrases within your book.

Even WordPress has a way of doing this by using block quotes, and here on Kissed Off we use these either for key reviews, authors comments and more.

A picture speaks a hundred words. This is especially true with training titles, as they can often communicate How To content more effectively than paragraphs of text. Consider a step-by-step series of images on how to do your instructions. Images are also a much more engaging way to express data, as well as letting the reader draw their own conclusions to the data you provide through charts, graphs and infographics. Images could be an inherent part of your entire book, or just used in a key section to underline part of your content. They can also be used as background imagery to signify changes in content between chapters – like visual chapter headings.

If a picture speaks a hundred words, video can speak thousands! Especially true with tutorials with particularly detailed, complex or critical instructions, videos can often be a quicker and easier way to express educational content. They can feature either recorded or animated content and will be hosted online and/or embedded into your book (depending on format/platform). These can either be placed in a breakout box (for more information watch… ) or as a key part of your content within your main text stream (this is as important as the rest of the book…).

Over the next few years, we will also see an increasing use of audio within eBook titles – either to add engagement with content, aid accessibility to key sections as well as being used for audio centred content.

With the use of interactivity increasing with eBooks, it is important to consider this fully as part of your complete manuscript.

Other ways of adding padding to your content

One of the first ways to add more to your content is to use quantifiable data from third parties to strengthen your content. You can do this either by external linking, or by using their content with permission (as the Author, you must seek this and prove you have done this to Kissed Off prior to publication). If using their content, we can restyle their data to suit your book’s design, or we can use their styling if you prefer and either use the original interpretation of data, or adapt it to your own interpretation. You could either use the data in its complete or abbreviated form.

Another way of adding weight to your content is to utilise expert opinion. Again, you will need to ensure you have the relevant permission and accredit them correctly within your content (this may include any external link they request). By using expert opinion to back up your content, the reader understands the point is credible and will look more seriously at how to implement it.

Likewise, you could use a third-party opinion which is opposite to your content to add a method of debate to your book and to show why your opinion is the more correct, or best practice, interpretation.

You could also utilise your internet based research as a method of providing further reading, as well as backing your viewpoint.

If your content is particularly complex or uses specialised terminology consider adding a Glossary to aid your reader. Likewise, instead of using complex terminology, consider how you can write in simpler terms. This can often, by its inherent nature, pad your content through more in-depth explanation of individual concepts. What seems simple to you, may not seem so simple to your reader.

Consider including your personal opinion as well as your professional opinion. This may not be appropriate for all titles, but it does allow your reader to connect with you as an Author and as an individual.

Re-read your content

Once you’ve completed the first draft of your content, go back through and read it from start to finish with fresh eyes. This will highlight to you any content you may have missed that you need to include. Make sure you have covered all the points in How To Do sections, any references are listed and that your content flows in a natural manner. Next, you will need to check your fundamental basics – spelling (don’t rely on spellcheck-especially for advanced terminology) and grammar, styling hierarchy and links (make sure any external links are still current and are linking to the correct content).

Once you are happy with your manuscript, ask a friend, family member or respected colleague to read your book. This will highlight readability, missing content, understanding and potentially errors you may have missed due to the familiarity with your content. If possible, get 2-3 people to view your manuscript from different backgrounds as we all read books differently and have varying degrees of knowledge.

Contact Kissed Off

At this stage we would look at drawing up (or amending) your Advanced Information Sheet. We would also be able to give you an idea on page counts, print run costs and more. You may also want to consider our Edit module, where we will also run through your manuscript for you and suggest any areas for improvement, additional content you may wish to consider or fundamental areas for improvement. Our edit module can affordably cut down any additional time that would be required in later stages of the book due to major amends and so forth, and we would strongly recommend this module for first time writers. For those that choose to advance directly to our Base module, we will carry out a basic spell check and grammar check only.

Publishing doesn't have to be difficult with Kissed Off Creations Ltd

If you want help with getting to this stage, consider either our write module or our curate module.

Posted on

Publish Your Book with Kissed Off

Portfolio-Mockup

Publish your book with Kissed Off easily. Here is a quick overview of our process of publishing your manuscript to book and/or eBook format. We will be releasing more detailed videos for each section of this video – from our manuscript template to publication and beyond.

To find out more how we can help you publish your book, visit our Design & Publishing Packages, or for more information on our service and our portfolio visit our main website. Your dream of being published is only a couple of clicks away – whether in print or in a digital format… or even both! Some of our books have made it on to the market as quickly as two weeks, and our latest book debut launched at #2 in its respective category!

Start your own publishing journey today by purchasing our Publishing Base Module and we can guide you on your publishing journey. We can publish to all major formats – paperback, eBook (on all major platforms) and audiobook.

Posted on

Book Writing for Non-fiction – Setting up your manuscript hierarchy – Part 2

A drop of ink can make a million think

Part 2 – Setting up your manuscript

If you have already read Part 1, you will want to start to prepare a draft manuscript.

Having developed a skeleton manuscript in Part 1 including detailed writing of the first 4 sections, now we need to start to prep your manuscript to a more readable format.

Hierarchy

You need to consider your content in forms of an hierarchy. I’m going to use web terminology here as it is the easiest to refer to between software programs.

Heading 1

This will be used for your Chapter headings. Your chapters could be numbered or simply word based but in terms of your hierarchy you would keep this all as one style. If you can name this style, call it “Chapter Heading”.

If numbers feature in any of your Chapter headers, we would advise not numbering your chapters. For example, if your chapters go Intro-How to-Part 1 etc then labelling them Chapter 1 Intro-Chapter 3 Part 1 would become confusing. On the other hand, if your book is a linear format then we would recommend numbering the chapters to help maintain the readers connection with the content.

Heading 2

Dividing your chapters into manageable chunks for the reader is a great way of maintaining the reader’s engagement with your content. You could do this by using a Q&A format if it suits your subject, or use it to divide your chapter’s subject into its composite parts. It could be for an instruction book you form it out of “What do I do to get here”, “How do I do it” and “What have I done”, or it could be “Technique A”, “Technique B” and “When to use each technique”.

Heading 3

You would use Heading 3 as a title for a breakout box or a workbook section or similar – this can be a good way of re-iterating the content to the reader as well as bringing in deeper engagement. You could also use this header for captions for images and charts also, or to create steps in a How To.

Paragraph

This is your main text style for your content, and at this stage you will want to create a basic draft of your content. Moving forward you will want to create several character styles including bold and italics that will be used either for highlighting key phrases, or for emphasising words within a sentence.

In Part 3 – continuing your writing

In the next part we will be focussing on developing your manuscript for your remaining chapters.

Posted on

Book Writing for Non-fiction – Part 1

Write

This is our first post in our “How To” series, and focuses on the first stages of writing your non-fiction title.

Once you’ve decided to write your book, and after the initial brain storm phase, you will want to start focusing on how to structure your book. For a longer title, you will want to break your content down into chapters, but this tutorial will cover the initial stages of your book writing journey. Dividing your book’s content this way will help, not only with breaking down your writing into manageable chunks, but also will help when your book is transferred to electronic formats. For a shorter eBook or leaflet, it could be you break your book down into individual pages of content.

Planning and writing your first four sections

Preface

  • What is your experience in this field? – If you are writing in an area of new expertise, or if you feel the subject may impact negatively on your profession, you may choose to leave this section out.
  • What led to you writing this book?

Introduction

  • What is your book about? – summarise what you are going to say.
  • Who will find you book interesting and useful? – set out your audience and tone of writing.
  • What is your book going to say that no other title does? – why would someone buy THIS book?

Chapter 1: Getting Started

  • What is the starting position of your most basic reader?
  • Where do they need to get to to start using the book? – it could be your book is aimed at an advanced level, but you need to establish a common starting ground. Are there particular skills they need, additional material to cover a subject more in depth?
  • Step by step guide how to get there.

Chapter 2: First steps

  • What journey are you going to take the reader on?
  • How do they start implementing the first part of your “arc”?
  • What benefits will they see?
  • What help will they need to achieve this first step?

These questions will help you to form the content for your first four sections as well as establishing a “voice” for the book. Next you will need to consider additional content you may wish to include – images, charts, links to web content are all best considered at this early stage. Another key point for consideration is if you will be including snippets of information, highlighting key points or having some sort of interactive layout/worksheets.

Now you have a framework for your content, time to start fleshing it out into the book it will be. Consider bulleted and numbered lists – especially in the “Getting Started” section. It could be equipment lists or a brief overview of the points you are going to cover in the section. Could an image express an idea better than words alone? If you need prior knowledge to understand a point, where would you go to? And later on in the book, if you wanted to find out more on a discussed topic where would you go to?

In Part 2 – Setting up your manuscript

In developing the points above, you will want to start to prepare a draft manuscript. This will include chapter headings, key points, image references and at this stage you may have quotes and other relevant references you may wish to include. This will still be a long way before you are ready to hand us your manuscript. In our next How To, we discuss how your manuscript will develop from a skeleton script through to a workable manuscript. This will setup good habits ready for the next chapters of your book in Part 3.

Posted on

Backwards by Design

VIP brochure
If you’ve read our post Why you should contact us BEFORE your book is finished, you’ll be aware of why it pays to contact us before finalising your book.

Now we have a new reason – design inspiring writing.

Following our initial concepts for a client, they decided not to use the concepts provided for their original book. Instead, they will be producing a new title informed by our concept. This will lead to a new way of writing for this genre, as well as a title which will carry its design ethics through into it’s content and filling a gap in it’s market.
I’m excited to see where this will lead, as already the book is sure to be visually stimulating as well as intellectually inspiring.

Working Backwards

By starting with the design first, a project could arrive at a new outcome. Although this route could be perceived as backwards, I’m sure this could help many other potential authors over the “blank page syndrome”. By setting up a template onto which to hang your content, writing your book can become faster and more streamlined.
So if you know what genre of book you want to publish, we can help you by providing you with a framework for writing through design. This route is particularly useful for those looking to develop workbooks and other interactive formats as well as being ideal for creating stunning eBooks for iPad and similar platforms.

Watch this space for some stunning designs that are sure to inspire!

bagmag sample inner