My name is Heather Adkins. I am an author and interior book designer. I’ve owned and operated CyberWitch Press, LLC since 2011. In that time, I’ve formatted over four hundred books in various formats. I work for New York Times Bestsellers, small publishing companies, and for brand new indies just starting out in publishing.
This is a quick run-down of what I offer and what has changed for 2015.
*Please do not send me anything but the absolute final file for your book. I will NO LONGER make typo changes for free during the formatting process for new or existing clients. Authors seem to be getting lax in their proofreading. When your book reaches the formatter – whether it’s me or someone else – it should be the FINAL file. Every typo change requested during formatting will cost $1. Each.
I understand that sometimes it is easier to catch typos in ebook form rather than in a word processor, which is why I offer a quick and dirty conversion to mobi or epub strictly for your proofreading benefit.
* I do not format for nonfiction. Period. No exceptions. Please visit 52novels.com for your nonfiction needs.
* I have a standard two week quote time from the day I receive the file. I do not schedule files; it is first-come, first-served. If you need your book done faster, I may be able to do it, just ask — but I do charge a rush fee for anything less than two weeks.
*I format for Kindle, epub (Nook, iTunes, Kobo), Smashwords, and print (Createspace) — I also offer what I call “fancy formatting” which uses chapter glyphs, images, and drop caps for an extra fee. My mobi and epub files are formatted in XHTML NOT in a word processor.
*I will not code fonts into your ebooks. I am strongly against it due to the limitations of ereaders and what it means for the person who owns the ereader. There are other formatters out there who will.
* I offer PROOFREADING on a very, very limited basis — find rates here
Now, below, a quick glance at my rates for STANDARD length novels — further information, and rates for books under 30k and over 75k, can be found on each of the separate rate pages.
If you need a formatter and you can’t afford these rates, just email me! I am very much willing to work with people who want a professionally formatted book, but can’t pay standard rates.
For novels under 75 thousand words:
- mobi AND epub — $120
- ONLY mobi — $65
- ONLY epub — $65
For novels under 75 thou words: $75
Createspace for UNDER 70 thou — $75
Kindle, epub, Smashwords, Createspace, PDF
The Full Package for books UNDER 75 thou words:
- Mobi/Epub = $120
- Smashwords = $75
- Createspace = $75
- Free PDF
- + 10% discount
- TOTAL = $245
- If you don’t need a Createspace, it’s a total of $195
* If your book is over 140k words, it is an extra $40 for substantial length (no matter what formats I’m doing–one, or all four.)
* I reserve the right to charge extra if formatting change requests get out of hand during the formatting process. I also reserve the right to step away from any job for any reason before payment has been received.
When I format a print book, I feel like I have absolute control over the end product, and I’m damn proud of it. I’d love to see more print format requests come in, specifically more requesting the fun stuff I can do with images and fonts!
So along with this post chronicling some of the print books I’ve done in the past, I’m running a special on pricing. Createspace pricing is as follows:
- Createspace for UNDER 30 thou — $50
- Createspace for UNDER 70 thou — $75
- Createspace for OVER 70 thou — $100
For the images and special formatting seen below, I usually charge an extra $50. But I am offering this kind of formatting for no extra charge for the next three months! This way I can build my portfolio, and hopefully grab some new clients.
(These are scans of books I have on hand that I formatted, whether mine or a client’s. Some of the shadows are pretty wonky ‘cuz scanning a book on a flatbed scanner is pretty weird, but you can see the basic format.)
“Abigail” by Me
I was going for whimsical and girly because the book is a fantasy/romance.
Julia picked out the roots because it was “earthy.” I loved the way this book turned out.
I’d seen this look in a traditionally published book, and I wanted to emulate it. I actually do that quite a bit. If a client came to me and said “Look at such-and-such’s book. That’s how I want mine,” I could make it happen.
I love this look. It’s simple but striking.
“Eternal Youth” by Me & Julia Crane
This was one of those books I did based off a trad novel by Susan Wittig Albert. The text page (below) isn’t a very good scan, but I loved adding the line to the page heading. It made it look so crisp. The final product was pretty damn close to Susan’s.
“Freak of Nature” by Julia Crane
Julia’s main character is a half-human/half-robot hybrid, so she wanted this patch of coding on her chapters. It’s so cool to see when you open the book.
“The House” by Me
I wanted to go “creepy” because it’s a ghost story. The cover has branches on it superimposed over the image of the girl/guy and house, so that’s how I got the idea to use creepy branches.
“Lauren” by Julia Crane
Another example of a simple yet striking chapter heading.
If you’re on a search for a print book formatter, consider giving me a try!
The follow up to LET’S GET DIGITAL, the book I recommend to every new writer who asks me “Hey, I wanna self-publish. Where do I start?” I was updating my site and realized I never posted about this back when he released it. Copied and pasted from his blog:
Here’s the blurb:
Take your sales to the next level! The author of the award-winning, bestselling Let’s Get Digital is back with an advanced guide for more experienced self-publishers.
There are over 1.5 million books in the Kindle Store, with thousands more added every day. How do you get yours noticed? Visibility isn’t a challenge that can be bested once – it requires continual work. But there are tools and strategies to do much of the heavy lifting for you.
In Let’s Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books, you’ll discover how to:
- Leverage Amazon’s famous recommendation engine to take advantage of the various opportunities it provides for exposure
- Position your books for discoverability on other sales venues
- Minimize the time you spend promoting so you have more time to spend writing
- Promote in a cost-effective way that actually works
By using these tips, you will get your book noticed. And getting noticed is the key to growing your sales.
But hey, that’s marketing copy. Here’s what the first reviewers had to say:
“Let’s Get Visible is the best tool I have discovered for a writer to push sales and visibility to the next level, and an indispensable addition to the library of any indie writer. If you’re an indie writer and you’re not buying this book, you simply aren’t playing this game to win.” – Michael Wallace, bestselling author of The Righteous.
“Gaughran distills complex subject matter and explains it in a way that anybody can easily understand, and takes the guesswork out of promotion at Amazon. He removes the mysticism and gets you as close as anyone outside of Amazon will probably be to understanding how stuff works behind the curtain.” – David Wright, bestselling author of Yesterday’s Gone.
“If you are a self-publisher looking to improve your ability to get eyeballs on your books, I can’t recommend this title highly enough. The book contains many ideas I’ve used successfully and several I’m now excited to try.” — Cidney Swanson, bestselling author of Saving Mars.
ME: Word on the street is Dave’s about to publish a Second Edition to LET’S GET DIGITAL. I’m stoked to see the boatload of info I’m sure he’s added after three years in the publishing biz.
Yep, that’s right – CyberWitch is taking new clients again.
It’s funny, because I was recently denied a job I REALLY FREAKING WANTED working tech support for a software company. But the process of interviews and emails got me so excited about the job, that when they turned me down, I realized how much I love technical stuff. Like formatting.
I started formatting for clients in 2011, only a few months after publishing my first book. I kinda fell into it with a bang, since I never really do anything halfway, and six months later started a year’s worth of workload – more than I could handle on top of my day job. I got some great mentions in the writing community from David Gaughran and The Bookshelf Muse (now called Writers Helping Writers), and so clients poured in.
By the start of last year, I had to tone it back. I was literally losing sleep so I could finish formatting jobs because through it all, I’ve had a full-time day job. But I’ve realized how much I enjoy helping people, whether it’s doing the work for them or writing up posts on formatting tips.
So hopefully I’ll use this blog more. I’ve got some ideas of stuff I’d really like to cover here. And if anyone finds me in a Google search and drops by needing a formatter, just shoot me an email.
The CyberWitch Business Plan for 2013.
I will be taking existing clients on a case-by-case basis and with plenty of notice. Right now, I’m planning on capping my monthly work load of existing clients at FIVE jobs and will be scheduling them for exact dates. This is a biiiig jump down from 2012, when I was booked for 20-30 jobs a month and just quoting a month wait time. I *MAY* accept another job or two with an extra fee. So book me early if you want me!
A further note for existing clients: I will NO LONGER be formatting for Smashwords. Period. They keep making changes to their Meatgrinder system, and over the past few weeks have caused me nothing but problems when I’ve used the same methods for over a year. I’ve wasted too much time fighting with them, when the simple solution of allowing a fully formatted epub would solve all problems. Hopefully Mark Coker will come through with his promise to begin allowing fully formatted epubs and this will be a moot point. Until then, I will not be formatting Smashwords docs.
I will be taking Createspace formatting jobs at any time from anybody. Rates will be $100 for books under 100k words, and $150 for books over 100k, regardless of whether you want images/fonts/etc (so nothing extra to do the fancy stuff). The fancy stuff that I can do is something Createspace charges upwards of $250 dollars for, so I think that’s a pretty good deal. Plus I really enjoy formatting for Createspace. Print books are pretty :)
As always, if you have any questions for me, shoot them email@example.com. Thanks for reading!
I have been putting this post off because I love formatting books so much. BUT life happens. And a girl just has to adapt as it changes, regardless of what she wants.
I’m shutting down CyberWitch for the indefinite future.
I still have a full-time day job as a police dispatcher. I had planned on leaving to do formatting/writing full time, but then my husband and I decided we needed a new house before we murdered each other (900 sq feet in a semi-bad part of town is NOT good for two people and four dogs). I’ve been approved for a loan, and we’re going for it. What this means is I can’t give up the steady paycheck. Sacrifices must be made.
On top of remaining in the day job, my position has been given much more responsibility. I used to have a lot of downtime at work to format (third shift, very boring), which would leave me writing time at home. Well. No more. Now, I work all eight hours earning my actual paycheck like a good little girl, and I’m spending five and six hours a night at home formatting. This leaves A.) No writing time. and B.) No free time for seeing my husband/family/mental health.
As much as I’ve loved doing the formatting, I have to recognize that I can’t keep going at this rate. It was tough before, now it’s become even more difficult. If you are ALREADY MY ACTIVE CLIENT, please feel free to email me about this. I may take jobs from ACTIVE CLIENTS on a first-come/first-serve basis with plenty of notice, depending on my schedule.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past year. I have met and worked with some pretty damn amazing people.
I will still always be available for advice/questions about formatting or self-publishing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fonts are not all created equal.
Before you get into an uproar about why your formatter can’t use your pretty calligraphic font in your ebook, let me explain something.
HTML is meant to be universal, meaning no matter who creates the HTML document or on what machine, that document can be viewable across all web browsers. This same concept applies to ereaders and HTML – what I create in web language can be viewable exactly as it is supposed to be across ALL ereaders (Sony, Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. etc.). This is the beauty of HTML – TRUE CONSISTENCY.
But, there are limitations, as well. Font face is one of them.
Most ereaders on the market currently only support the fonts that come standard. My Kindle has three fonts, all generic (sans-serif, serif), while my Nook supports five nameable fonts like Constantia and Arial Bold. And my Kindle Fire has a couple of different fonts that aren’t listed on the Nook. That’s a wide and varied selection, right? And believe it or not, none of the fonts supported on my Nook or Kindle Fire are Times New Roman, Courier New, or Calibri, some of the most popular fonts.
Have you ever opened a friend’s PDF or Word doc before to find that the headings are some really ugly courier type font? Something generic and bland? Unless it actually says “Courier New” in your font box on your word processor when you put your cursor in the heading, I betcha money that those headings are supposed to be a fancy font – something calligraphic or artsy. So, where is it? NOT installed on your computer, that’s where. If the font isn’t installed on your system’s hard drive, then it doesn’t exist to your word processor, and so the word processor defaults to something else. This concept is the same for ereaders. They only support the fonts at their disposal – saved on their hard drive, so to speak.
Again, before you say “But I uploaded a Word doc just fine with a non-standard font”, let me ask you – did you download a sample of your book and check it out? If you’re arguing your font uploaded just fine, I bet you didn’t, because you’ll find that your “special” font has magically disappeared, to be replaced by your standard ereader font.
There is an exception, I’ve found. I use the Firefox Epub Reader for quick checks on my files as I’m formatting. The cool thing about the Firefox ereader is it will support any font that is installed on your computer – but that doesn’t mean you should try to code fonts into your ebooks. Very few people read on their computers; ereader ownership is growing by the day.
The XHTML commands I give my formatted manuscripts pencil in the instructions for how that book is to be displayed when it opens on the reader’s Kindle/Nook/etc. When it comes to fonts, I don’t USE a specific font (for all of these reasons stated above). Your book is coded with NO font and in such a way that when your reader opens it, your book will display in their already pre-chosen font style. If you own an ereader, you already know that you can pick your own font size and face – my coding allows that reader’s specifications to automatically work in your book.
To quote Guido Henkel (from whom I learned ebook formatting): eBook readers allow users to use their preferred settings. Font size, justification and font type are very personal things and who are we to mess with what people like? By not setting our own values, the eBook device will automatically fall back onto the user preferences and immediately display our book in the user’s preferred way. It may be a small thing, but trust me, it goes over really well with your readers. Usability is key! ALL of his posts on ebook formatting are well worth a read. The man knows his stuff.
Plus, one thing I have found (specifically with my Nook) – when you purchase Smashwords books through Barnes & Noble, and that book was formatted in a font that isn’t TNR, the reader loses all ability to change not only the font face but also the font size. I’ve returned books because of this – I have really bad eyes and need that big font, not to mention I can’t stand reading in a sans-serif font. I know I can’t be the only ereader owner out there with this problem. As mentioned in the Smashwords Style Guide, every manuscript formatted to their guidelines should be formatted using Times New Roman – this is the SW answer to HTML coding to allow for the ereader to display using the reader’s preferences.
All of this is a major reason why you should use HTML for ebook formatting, though it’s only part of the big picture. One of these days, I’ll finish my blog post on why HTML is the way to format.
There is an alternative if you MUST have your pretty font – images. You can create tiny images with transparent backgrounds that display your headings in the proper font. This works wonderfully as an alternative, and you can’t tell a difference.
There is one downside to this image plan – Kindles don’t support transparency. On a white screen, this isn’t a problem. But when your reader chooses to read off a sepia or black screen, they’re gonna see a white square around your heading.
So, in any of these situations, it’s a win some-lose some problem. Almost all of my own books use images as headings; the little white box on the Kindle app doesn’t scare me. One day, my hope is Amazon will get with the program and fix their format and ereaders to support that transparency. I like pretty stuff too much to give up.
But as we move further into our digital revolution, we will see the formats grow and strengthen; that’s the best thing about technology :)
Amended to add: With the new wave of HD ereaders, we’re seeing images supported less and less in ebooks. An image formatted specifically for a regular ereader screen will be entirely too small on an HD screen. I’m looking further into this.
If you’re formatting for Smashwords, READ THIS POST HERE.
Let me reiterate–READ THE SMASHWORDS STYLE GUIDE.
Now, we’ll discuss that often elusive Smashwords NCX/TOC.
Ever received an error about NCX? Have you ever opened your final mobi file and wondered why on earth you have no pagebreaks in the file, even though you used that handy-dandy pagebreak function in Microsoft Word?
YOU NEED A PROPER NCX/TOC FOR ANY SMASHWORDS BOOK. ANY.
So now you know you need a table of contents. If you’ve got the Chapters and the heading styles goin’ on, you’re all set (as mentioned in that first post I told you to read). However, if your chapters don’t meet the specifications, you’ll have to do the back door method of showing the Meatgrinder what to do.
Here is our make-believe file.
This file is already formatted per Smashwords’s guidelines. Now I’m going to show you how to create that snazzy TOC.
Highlight the first chapter heading. Move your cursor to the toolbar where it says INSERT. One of the options is “Bookmark”. Choose it. A new little dialogue box pops up, as shown below:
In the name line, make the bookmark something that will be easy to refer to later. It’s best to make it one long name using every word of the chapter heading because there is no room for error when you’re linking to each bookmark later. So, as you can see in the image, I’ve titled my bookmark elsienewfriend. (Note: You can’t use characters or spaces in the bookmarks, only text.)
Click add. You’ve put in your first bookmark. Rinse and repeat for every single chapter heading in your document.
Return to the table of contents. Highlight the first chapter heading in the list–in this instance, Elsie’s New Friend. Right-click to bring up that fancy little box. Click “Hyperlink”.
This new little box shown above will pop up. See the blue square? It’s a tab that says “Place in this document”. Click that, and the white dialogue box will change to show you a list of all your bookmarks in the document. Click the bookmark for elsienewfriend, and hit Ok, then voila — hyperlink. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the list.
Your final file should look a little something like this with those nice blue hyperlinks:
Notice how I didn’t even use a pagebreak in the doc. None. It’s all on the same page. Yet… if you want an idea of the separate pages that result from the meatgrinder’s conversion, here’s a montage of images:
1.) PAGEBREAKS ARE DEPENDENT ON THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
Yes, you read that correctly. That cute little “pagebreak” option in Microsoft Word DOES NOT WORK for Smashwords formatting. You can put it in the doc, and it won’t mess with your formatting, but it will not ensure a pagebreak within the resulting ebook. The only way to have pagebreaks before every chapter heading is to have a table of contents that points the way for the Meatgrinder to insert those pesky breaks.
There are two ways to ensure your ebook has the NCX/TOC required by Smashwords for premium distribution.
One—if every chapter of your book begins with “Chapter” i.e. Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, AND if you put a Heading style on every heading, then the Meatgrinder will automatically create you an NCX/TOC. It’s as simple as that.
Two—if your chapters do not begin with “Chapter”, i.e. One, Two, Three, or titles like “The First Day” or “When She Cries” etc. etc. YOU MUST CREATE A HYPERLINKED TABLE OF CONTENTS for the Meatgrinder. I’ve outlined exactly how to do so HERE. Once you’ve hyperlinked your table of contents, the Meatgrinder will put your pagebreaks in before every heading.
NOTE: I love Smashwords. They do us a great service. But this is not always consistent. Sometimes, you do everything right, and your pagebreaks STILL don’t show up. Until SW allows people to upload fully formatted epub files, we’re stuck with what they offer. And the Meatgrinder isn’t infallible.
2.) USE TIMES NEW ROMAN 12PT FOR BODY TEXT
Period. Finito. If you use any other font that isn’t times new roman, you take the ability to change their ereader font away from the reader. I get pretty miffed when I open a Smashwords book I bought for my Nook, and I can’t change the font because the author formatted their book wrong. People are creatures of habit. We LIKE our own chosen fonts on our ereaders. We know what feels good on our eyes. Don’t ruin the reading experience for your readers.
3.) NO MORE THAN FOUR PARAGRAPH RETURNS BETWEEN LINES
Yep, Smashwords will flag your formatting if you use more than four returns. You don’t need that many anyway.
4.) DON’T MAKE YOUR INDENTS MORE THAN .3”
Remember, your file is going to be read on a super small screen. Deep indents are gonna look mighty stupid on an Android Kindle app.
Oh, and you can’t have an indent AND a hanging space (the line of white between paragraphs). It’s one or the other, not both. Use both, and Smashwords will flag you to fix it.
5.) THE ITALICS BUTTON DOES NOT WORK
The style guide explains this, yet most people still don’t understand why they upload their formatted document and alllll those italics disappear. You absolutely cannot use the italics button. Or Ctrl+i. You have to use a STYLE. You can read about how to do that HERE.
6.) FORMAT WITH YOUR PARAGRAPH MARKS ON
I don’t care how thorough you are. Use the paragraph marks. It’s the only way to ensure consistency, and to catch any pesky problems before they happen.
7.) THE NUCLEAR METHOD
You could have OCD and think your file is perfect, but it’s not. Nuke the entire thing. Strip the formatting. And REDO IT ALL using Smashwords guidelines. It isn’t that big of a deal to spend a couple hours making sure your file looks perfect. Your readers will love it, and other indies will thank you for not contributing to the “there’s so much crap out there” theory.
If you want to format your own Smashwords files, do yourself a favor: READ THE STYLE GUIDE. Yes, it’s annoyingly long and verbose, but it has everything you could possibly need to know about formatting for the Meatgrinder. If you don’t have the time nor the inclination to do so, hire someone else to do it. Sometimes you have to put a little effort in for the end result to be pretty.