Newbies: All Good Questions Do Fine

I tell every writer I meet they can ask me all the questions they want. A handful ask a couple questions, and I always learn something new from the answers I have to come up with.

Cheryl Campbell
Cheryl Campbell

Once in a while I meet someone with the childlike sponge of curiosity, and it makes my day. Er, week. Perhaps month, depending on how long Cheryl Campbell keeps coming up with these questions.

Cheryl introduced herself on Linked In a few weeks ago, and we’ve chatted so often that I have over 10,000 words of Q&A stored up. And the questions are so universal to neophytes in modern publishing that I’ll be spending all week sharing her questions and my answers with you. And in an uncharacteristic twist, rather than burning hours reformatting everything, I’m going to just paste the emails in her, raw and essentially unedited.

Say hello to Cheryl.

On 07/10/13 6:45 AM, Cheryl Campbell wrote:
——————–Hi Joel,

A fellow writer sent me info on the Books and Writers group and I was reviewing discussions there. You stood out to me with your frequent replies and willingness to share knowledge. In one of the posts about e-books, you mentioned that you and your clients used Amazon and Smashwords for e-book distribution. Do you also work as a publisher?

Thank you for your time,


On 07/10/13 6:59 AM, Joel D Canfield wrote:

Hulloo, Cheryl !

I call myself a book shepherd: I help folks get their book written and self-published. Author coaching (mostly accountability, so they’ll actually WRITE) along with developmental editing along the way; then publishing services (formatting, line editing, proofreading, cover design, all the help with CreateSpace, Kindle, etc.)

I’m not a traditional publisher in any sense of the word. Traditional publishers use “will it sell?” as their selection criteria. Because making money with a book is a real challenge right now, I only work with folks whose books I believe in. A few years from now, authors who’ve stuck it out, written multiple books, learned (and done) basic marketing will begin to make money at it. But today, it has to be about the art first.

Did I even come close to answering your question?

On 07/10/13 7:24 AM, Cheryl Campbell wrote:
——————–Answer it you did, thank you! A few more questions for you, if I may be a pest.. 🙂

Will sites like KDP and Smashwords have info on proper formatting? I am pretty certain that’s an area I need to work on. I have been using Word 2010, but the auto formatting there makes me crazy with only single spacing as lines wrap and auto double spacing when hitting the enter key. In one of your LinkedIn posts, you mentioned using Papyrus or Brush Script font for headers. Do you recommend a certain font for the body of the text? I have been using Calibri for text and chapter numbers.

Another area where I have zero clue is marketing. Any suggestions there?

I would love to find a publisher to partner with me to get this first book off the ground where I am feeling a bit lost…but at the same time I am not a bottomless pit of cash. I found a local publisher willing to work with me, but the cost was a bit brutal. Suggestions?

I do want to do some softback printing and planned to purchase my own ISBNs. I know I will need the ISBNs for the e-books anyway. Any advice there on me purchasing them myself or getting them through a publisher?

I am currently working with an artist on the cover design, so I’m very excited about that.

I have the sequel about 90% complete at this point. I have had it set aside for a few months now before picking it back up for a final run through of fine tuning…so that’s why I consider it 90%.

Another piece I am struggling with is the synopsis. I’m just baffled at this point on how to take a 93k word book and effectively crunch it into a paragraph that will be enough to entice a reader. Any advice here is appreciated!

Did I say a few questions…? Perhaps I should have said a few dozen.

Thank you so much for your time!


On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 10:48 AM, Joel D Canfield wrote:
Date: 7/10/2013
Subject: RE: Publishing question

What marvelous questions! I LOVE curiosity.

Smashwords’ formatting guide is excellent. Go to their site and you can’t escape links to it everywhere. Follow it and you’ll get your book in their Premium catalog, which means iBooks, Kobo, Nook, everywhere (except Kindle; they only do Kindle for authors who sell more than 1,000 copies.)

Kindle’s formatting is very basic. Are you looking for *book* formatting guidelines, or how to get it ready for Kindle? Very different questions. I’ll answer either or both, just let me know.

Marketing? I’ve written entire books on it, and I’m working on one just for authors.

Join this group and read about it here:

But I’ll be glad to point out some specifics. I’m writing something up for another chap later today. I’ll send it to you as well.

Pricing is all over the map. Look hard, and there are folks who’ll help you free. Spend some time on Google, and you can sort it all out. But it takes time and energy.

Here’s some information on my pricing. It’s not a sales pitch, it’s just information for you to compare with whatever else is out there.

My full publishing package is $3,000. That includes developmental editing, line editing, proofreading, cover design, interior formatting, digital conversion for Kindle etc. and getting it ready for print. I also do ongoing coaching for anywhere from $50 to $1,000 a month. The least expensive is an “all the questions you can email” service, and the most expensive is a weekly phone call and daily emails with homework and stuff. And there are infinite gradations between.

My wife does social media stuff for authors for $150/month. Posts and tweets and barks and howls on all your social media outlets about the book. It’s all stuff you can do yourself, of course, so all she’s selling is the actual effort, not any special knowledge.

If you’re on a budget, use free ISBNs everywhere. (Everyone offers them.) All that happens is when a brick and mortar bookstore goes to order your book, they’ll see CreateSpace as the publisher of record. It has zero effect on your rights or intellectual property, and frankly, brick and mortar bookstores don’t order self-published books, and I wouldn’t care if they did because brick and mortar stores are a great way to store your books while they’re not selling.

Synopsis: you need to read Larry Brooks’ stuff on concept: That’s a writing tool, though, not a marketing tool.

For loglines, taglines, etc. visit Writers in the Storm and read everything:

Can you tell I love this stuff?

Hey, if direct email is okay with you (I’m not a fan of these Linked In tools) email me at

From: Cheryl Campbell <>
Date: Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Subject: Re: Publishing question
To: joel@somedaybox.comHi Joel,

If you love questions, then you will love me!

Thank you for the info on Smashwords and Kindle formatting.

I’m interested in formatting for both print and ebook. Sounds like the ebook sites will handle formatting when I convert documents (I saw your post to convert a word file to filtered html for Kindle for upload). It’s the print version formatting I’m looking for predominantly.

I have requested membership to the group you indicated in the link on marketing. Looking forward to reading that. Also looking forward to the piece you’re putting together today. Thank you!

Thank you for the info on publishing costs. I am working with a coach currently for all aspects of life, not just the books, and I have found it tremendously helpful. I have a whole new respect for those in the coaching role!

I’m not on a super tight budget, so I can afford to purchase my own ISBNs, but if that’s not required, I’ll gladly hang onto that cash. For ISBNs, I had read somewhere (understanding that not everything I have read is going to all be true) that someone suggested purchasing your own ISBNs in case you published a book through company A and things weren’t working out so well, and you opted to publish through company B, that you would have to buy a new ISBN to make the switch. By owning your own ISBN, if you had to change companies, you wouldn’t need a new ISBN and as ISBN owner you are listed as the publisher. Perhaps that’s a load of hooey…. I welcome your opinion on this matter and potential straw man! 🙂

I read the concept article, that helped tremendously!

I haven’t read the stuff from the other link… trying to work and do a little personal research/reading in between.

I CAN tell that you love this, and it’s fantastic! Thank you so much for knowledge sharing with me!


Continued tomorrow.

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