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So How Does One MAKE a Book, anyway?

We're on the threshold of releasing our next title, Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart Is Laid Bare.

Some of you may wonder just what is the process of taking a manuscript and making it into a book. In other words, what do I do all day?

Well, besides accounting, which is cranking up now because the end of the sales period is June 30th and I'll be working on royalty reports and checks, here's what the process for the actual book looks like:


The first step of the process is the submission. Sometimes we receive a query first and then need to respond and ask for the submission if we think we may be interested. Others just send along the manuscript with a query and synopsis. Either is fine but we don't normally respond unless we're interested, and the time-frame, I'm sorry to say, can be excrutiatingly long, depending on how large of a back-log we have going on. Authors we already have under our umbrella get preferential treatment, so it moves along faster for them.

Once we decide we like a submission, we offer a contract. If the author signs, then we start the editing process.


We go through two rounds of edits and a proof. Just the edits can easily take six to nine months, depending on the size of the work and the amount of work needing done. The proof generally goes much more quickly because presumably we've weeded out ninety-nine percent of the problems by that point. 

Text Block:

As we go through the editing process we bring the book more in line with what the text block will look like. Font, dimensions and bleeds. By the time we get to the proof, it will be in final text block format and a pdf file. To get the text block to print ready status, I then save the completed pdf to a ps (postscript) file. Then I run it through Adobe Distiller which embeds fonts and makes it PDF-X1a-2001 compliant, required by all, that I know of, printers. Upon its distillation, it converts back to a pdf and is ready to go the printer. The text block is the 'easy' part.


Usually by the time we're on the second round of edits, I'm beginning to get a cover concept in mind. The first thing I do is research similar subject books that are selling well and see what they used for their covers. If they've found something that works, then it behooves me to see if I can incorporate any of their cover theme into our cover theme. I then go online to to see if they have images I can use. I prefer dreamstime because the quality of their images is usually pretty good and the royalty fees are reasonable. I'll download about ten images for different ideas on how to make the cover work, fiddle with them over the course of days until I've narrowed it down to three or four. Then I download the royalty paid versions of those three or four, which gets rid of the watermarks and gives you a professional dpi for printing.

Then starts the ardorous task of putting the cover together and making it fit within the specs required by the printer. After having the images worked out, placing in the title and author name can take another obscene amount of time. Trying to get an aesthetic balance of colors, placement, font and size can take days in itself. 

Here is Skylar Burris' finished cover:

The back cover can be an added challenge because you need to find harmony between passing along information about the book (readability of back cover description and, of course, the Bar Code) and keeping the image intact and pleasing to the eye.

After, finally, all this is done then I have to crop the image from the template I've been using in Paintshop and save it as a jpeg. Then I have to load the template into Adobe InDesign, open it, and open the cropped jpeg and reapply it to the template there. I then save it as a pdf. The pdf I convert into a PS, run through the distiller which converts it back to a pdf, but now PDF-X1a-2001 compliant.

Now it also is ready to go to the printer.

After all that, I'm ready to start the ebook formats, which is a whole other story....




The Reluctant Daughters

As some of you may have seen on FB, the cover for Veronica Hart's The Reluctant Daughters is now complete:

It's always exciting when we are able to put a 'face' on the work.

In other news: Karen Gonzalez's upcoming book Six Weeks at Ryder has been chosen to be presented at the IBIA in San Francisco in March. I believe (not certain, but believe) that the IBIA is for International Brain Injury Association. I know it is a huge international confrerence on Brain Injury and that they have chosen her book for the unique perspective it will give the attendees, including a myriad of congressman and other high-ranking officials from all over the world. Exciting!

Now we're hustling to finish it up and get a preliminary print run done so that she will have books to present in March at the conference, as the release date isn't until May.

In addition, before the end of the month, we need to also have some books available for Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart is Laid Bare for a promotional giveaway on Good Reads. The to do list also reads: 


  1. Complete and submit Wash Arts Teaching Schedule
  2. Statements for Investors
  3. Complete and submit State Use and Sales Tax
  4. Finish submissions from FWAC and send out responses.


Whew! It's already been a busy month and I'm running out of daylight. 

Everyone have a great week!


January 2014 Wrap Up

January is always a busy month, so it flies by. Taxes, 1099's, royalty statements and checks. As of today, the 31st, I'm able to check off all those items. Except the taxes. I'm as far along with those as I am able to get until a few missing forms come in.

Royalty Statements and checks (for those books still on a six months sales cycle - two years or less from pub date), and 1099's go out to our authors today.

We're on the final brush-ups of both Karen Gonzalez's Six Weeks at Ryder and Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart Is Laid Bare. And we're well on our way with Veronica Hart's next title The Reluctant Daughters. So overall, I'm pleased with our progress.

The only thing I'm behind schedule on is getting out responses to our submitters from the Florida Writers Association Conference back in October. I cited the end of January. It's going to be the end of February. Our policy on submissions, stated on our website, is that we won't respond unless we're interested but applies to those unsolicited manuscripts that come in via email. For conferences, where we sit down face to face with writers and agree to look at their work, we do respond. 

The other new thing going on is that I've been invited to teach an eight week class on writing at our local Washington Community Arts and Cultural Center, aka Wash Arts. This has been on a back burner for some time, since last March, I believe, when I was first approached about it. I'm scheduled for the semester starting April 7th. So, if you're a local writer, come join in on the fun.

Everyone have a great weekend! And here's to the passing of a very cold and brutally contrary January. February always has one advantage over January: it's short, although in my experience, never short enough. Every year about this time, perhaps more so this year, I ask myself: why do we live in Pennsylvania again? I saw where the cost of living in Costa Rica is very reasonable. 


Out with the Old; In with the New - 2014

I see that it has been two months since I blogged. Little wonder. I've been swamped and the swamping continues.

Always, there is the ongoing production of books. What's coming out, what needs a cover and by when, edits, formatting, and all of it on a deadline to make the distribution catalog.

The newest title pending to gain a cover is Skylar Hamilton Burris' When the Heart is Laid Bare, which looks like this:

The book was extremely hard to come up with a cover concept for. Everything I tried turned out looking sci-fi, which is way of base. Finally, my daughter came up with this concept and we sat down and went through images with her pulling what I should use. I put it together, and although it is designed to intrigue more than inform, I am happy that because a younger eye came up with it (she's a freshman in college), mayhaps that will result in younger eyes picking it up.

But that is only one item marked off of a very long to-do list this month.

By the end of the month, I need:

  • a cover for Veronica Hart's The Reluctant Daughters
  • 1099's completed and mailed to our authors for their taxes
  • Royalty Statements and checks mailed to our authors (for those titles less than two years old)
  • Reworking our website as we no longer have a store front for customers to purchase directly from us (authors will still be able to order in their usual manner). I will need to redirect our links to online retailers. The short story is our store platform provider was bought out by a bigger platform provider, and the process of setting everything up again was too time-consuming to even mess with. As I had it in place as a convenience for those customers that didn't normally order through Amazon or B&N, I weighed the cost of maintaining it and the time needed to rebuild it and simply came to the conclusion that we could do without it.

By the end of February, I need:

  • two more covers
  • Investment Statements and checks mailed to our investors (Yes, we are now an LLC)
  • Letters of interest or rejection emailed/mailed out to our submitters from 2013 Florida Writers Association Conference

Throughout all this, I have numerous print jobs to set in motion and shipping to our distributor to cover orders that continue to come in, and editing. Always editing.

Everyone have a great weekend!


Newest Release, New Printing Company and What's Next

The March around Jericho was indeed over. I feel good and have sworn off doctor visits (and hospitals and lithotripsy). The insurance paid up, although the amount left owng is still depressing. We finally received the title work for Shelby's car, but the mileage is still wrong. We no longer have a snake in the basement, but neither do we have a new lawn tractor. That, I suppose, can wait until the spring. We do have a new refrigerator, and, as an added bonus, our neighbor came over and finished the wiring in our house. Our 100+ year old farmhouse now has all new electric from top to bottom. A project we had begun over a year ago. But it did make for a week of getting up at 3 a.m. to work on the business before the electric was shut off for the day. Which made posting updates, sporadic as they have been, on the Slushpile a low priority.

In the midst of all this, we have been making progress. The biggest announcement is that we've, finally, settled on a new printing company, which will reduce costs on our production side of things. This is something I had hoped to have in place before shipping any titles to Midpoint, but with the summer being well, what it was, it like everything else was delayed. But it is settled now, and I'm one happy camper about that. And we still have plenty of orders to fill and plenty of books to print (now at a better price) and ship.

Our second big announcement is that, despite everything, James Spurr's newest title An Eagle and its Talons was officially released on November 1st as scheduled. Preorders for it have been good. 


Own it for $12.07 In the summer of 1914 love finds Jeanne DeReadt in the form of a young and handsome Belgian lieutenant. The young lovers go on a clandestine picnic with their friends, and the idyllic day and evening will be forever burned into Jeanne's memory. By date's end, WWI has begun, Belgium is invaded and they are at gunpoint before a German officer.

The mechanizations of a small country desperately trying to remain neutral at the onslaught of the Great World War have far reaching impacts on its citizens. From Jeanne's rash cousin Emiel to her first love Michael, all will be measured with unerring precision by the scales of war. Horrific crimes against humanity during Belgium's rubber and ivory trade are unearthed, and this same contempt of fellow human-beings is revisited on a country as a whole.

In the midst of this, Jeanne is left with struggling to save her father, feed her family by smuggling food and accept the loss of her own youth and innocence. For this one season, no one escapes the Eagle and its Talons as its shadow sweeps ominously over all of Europe.



We turn our eyes now to what is next: new author Karen Gonzalez's work Six Weeks at Ryder:

More info on her book as we get closer to the release date of May 1st, 2014.

We also have some re-releases of second edition books coming on that date: Skylar Hamilton Burris' Conviction: a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, An Unlikely Missionary and also her new work When the Heart is Laid Bare. James Spurr's second editions to be released are his Great Lakes Great Guns Historical Series on the War of 1812 Sworn for Mackinaw, One Sloop and Slow Match and Reflections in the Wake. And my own title In the Brief Eternal Silence will also get a new life as a second edition. These were all good sellers prior to our being into Midpoint distribution, and they certainly deserve to have a wider audience now that we do have access to a greater amount of retailers.

Following shortly thereafter are Veronica Hart's next title The Reluctant Daughters, Chuck Dowling's continuing dual series on Military, To Keep Our Honor Clean, and King Arthur, The Time of the Eagle, respectively.

That will take care of our scheduled works (except for Chuck, he's got books 3 of each series - and possibly more - in the pipeline). I'm also expecting more works from reader favorite, D.L. Havlin. So what happens then? I'm going through submissions now. We have the whole second half of 2014 to fill and I have some great works that I'm reading -- so stay tuned!