We are often asked why we insist that a manuscript submitted to us for self-publishing should be edited. Many authors believe, and some rightly so, that they have put in a lot of effort to make sure that the loose ends are tied and therefore the need to spend time, and money, on a round of editing is unnecessary. But we still insist on a round of editing, sometimes to our own detriment because many authors desert us when we ask them to have their manuscripts edited. We however believe that a round of editing is good for the book. Here’s why:editing

a. An editor will read your book with a different perspective: While most readers read the content of the book, and may thus oversee some errors in the text, a good editor will read every word to ensure that the text is as error-free as possible. Moreover, writers are so familiar with their own work, they usually miss many errors that a different set of eyes will see.

b. An editor will ensure consistency: Such consistency could be with respect to spellings, or the way dates are numbered or the way punctuation marks are used.

c. An editor will ensure accuracy: An editor will ensure that all facts are checked, the numbers add up, and, as it happened in one case with one of our books, that a person who died on page 77 does not reappear on page 132.

d. An editor will ensure clarity: An editor, who is unfamiliar with the text, and is reading it for the first time, will want to ensure that the narrative is clear to the reader. What might be obvious to the author might not be to the reader. The editor might therefore ask the writer to clarify the text so that it is communicated as clearly as possible. Similarly an editor will ensure that the narrative is not verbose and long wound, or bogged down with complex words when a simple word will be as effective.

e. An editor will iron out all issues with the grammar of the text: A writer need not know about split infinitives or dangling modifiers. That’s the editor’s job to know, identify and correct.

f. An editor underlines your commitment towards excellence: Every author wants to ensure that his/her book out there is the best. A round of editing can ensure that.

It is often argued that self-publishing authors should not be asked to cut and chop text, that it is their choice of what to keep and what to remove. A round of editing does not impinge on that choice, rather it only shows what the author could consider modifying so that the book reads better. A good editor will suggest modifications that do not impinge upon the author’s style of communicating. Editing is not a censorship tool, rather an approach towards perfecting the book. With the book on the shelf, the author has but one opportunity to make an impression on the reader. An edited book can ensure that that impression is a memorable one. At the same time, an editor cannot guarantee commercial success for the book, just that the book will read well.

So what are the types of editing available and what type does your book need?

Proofreading: During this process, the proofreader reads the proof (usually an already-edited manuscript) and acts only as a quality check for spelling and grammar, making sure that the copy editor has not missed something. The proofreader is not responsible for the overall consistency and accuracy of the text.

Copy Editing: Copy editing makes sure that the author’s raw text is corrected in aspects of spelling and grammar. Copy editing also involves, among other things, ensuring that the text flows properly, that nothing is missing or redundant, that sentences and paragraphs are uncomplicated and of adequate length and that the consistency of characters and plots is maintained. A copy editor also ensures that illustrations support the text and have appropriate captions.

In addition, editors will eliminate redundant words, replace repetitive words with appropriate synonyms, and will substitute weak words, phrases, and sentences with alternatives that deliver more impact or are more relevant to your subject matter. During all this, our editors will make sure your original tone remains intact. After a round of editing, we insist that the author reads and reviews these changes.

Substantive (or Developmental) Editing: Substantive editing, sometimes called structural editing, focuses on the content, organization, and presentation of the entire text, viewed wholly, from the title through to the ending.

Which editing you choose actually depends on the book you have written. At the very least, we suggest you have your book copyedited. This is necessary because it removes the scruff from the grain. A good copyeditor will see what you are blind to because you are too invested in the words you have toiled to write, and will help you make your book even better to read. If you are unconvinced, remember that in the traditional publishing process, it is the editing phase that takes the longest. Publishers who have invested in the book make sure that the book is properly edited. You are doing the same thing with your self-published book when you invest in a round of editing.

I recently came across an interesting article that explained how all-you-can-eat (AYCE) buffets use principles of psychology to great benefit. The manager of an AYCE restaurant has a single mandate: that to fill the customer’s belly quickly and cheaply, while creating the perception of providing ample variety and high quality food items. At the same they must ensure that food wastage is minimal to ensure that profit margins remain high.

The psychology of AYCE meals is rather interesting. It’s been found that most people eat the same amount they do in other restaurants which do not offer AYCE (where, instead, customers are asked to choose from a menu). One study reduced the price of an AYCE menu by half while keeping untouched the food on offer. The customers expressed dissatisfaction with the food, equating the low price to low quality. Clearly, getting a good deal wasn’t of primary importance. It is also true that most customers do not over-eat and even fewer waste food in an AYCE restaurant. More importantly, most customers are not price-sensitive, so higher prices (which give a perception of higher quality) actually yield higher margins.

Okay, so what does that have to do with self-publishing? Lots actually because most self-publishing companies provide the equivalent of an AYCE menu by offering packages. At CinnamonTeal Publishing, we have resisted the urge to provide package-based services because we are certain that choosing off a menu is not only cheaper for customers, they actually get to choose varying levels of quality based on their budget. That means, for instance, while a package will offer editing, a menu-based service will allow customers to choose between proofreading, copy editing and substantive editing, based on what the manuscript actually needs and on the budget of the customer. A package, on the other hand, will rarely specify the type of editing that is being offered (and very often, quite surprisingly, editing isn’t offered at all).

Agreed, the AYCE approach, and packages, do have some benefits. It makes comparison easier and it saves the customer the hassle of looking into the details. There are many self-publishing providers like Notionpress and Pothi who provide packages, and we do not believe they would have done it without giving it enough thought. But this blog is based on our belief on the flip side of self-publishing packages. And while we have lost many customers because they prefer the hands-off approach to the publishing process and opt for packages, we also have had many more authors who take the self-publishing exercise very seriously, and who wish to know how the process works, and engage with us to develop a better book.

So what is the flip side we are taking about? Here are some factors we think may apply:

a. Authors lose the ability to choose among levels within the same service: We already provided the example of editing. The same goes for cover design. By simply saying “basic design” or “premium design”, the details of complexity within the (cover design) process are deliberately obfuscated. Moreover, the customer has no say in the process. So if the author wishes to have a cover that has a personal touch to it, the package-based system simply does not work for him or her. In the package-based way of doing things, nuance is lost and every service is homogenized. One must remember that cover design is not cover design. There are many ways each cover can be uniquely fashioned. And authors can and must be given the option to play a vital role in that process.

b. The “meat” is avoided: Just like AYCE meals skimp on the protein and feed the starch, so also many packages are designed to seem “full” while providing little substance. One extremely high-priced package available in the market does not include copy editing but includes several marketing gimmicks, all of which are available for free on the Internet. In the hurry to seek a rationale for the money that is asked, the hapless customer overlooks the fact that no matter how good the marketing, the buyer will return the book to the shelf if he encounters a spelling or grammatical mistake. Good editing and presentation make a good book. A good marketing effort can only work with a strong product. Yet, the long list of “benefits” on offer prompts the customer to overlook that starch has been substituted for protein.

c. Unnecessary costs are justified: A quick look at most packages will show that most of the “features” on offer are simply not necessary to develop a book and get it out in front of the eyes of readers. Much of these bells and whistles are, like explained above, post-publishing i.e. after the core product, the book, is already produced. It is also true that many of these features on offer make sense to the author only when it is part of a larger plan. Like the website, for instance. Unless the website is part of a larger marketing plan, a poorly designed website, in the design of which the author has had no part to play, might actually harm the author’s credibility. It makes more sense for the author to put together a comprehensive marketing plan, then individually purchase the components that fit the plan, with the desired level of complexity of each component. Speaking of marketing plans, does the one your package provider is offering you allow you to prioritize visuals over text, or text over visuals? Do they provide analytics to determine the efficacy of the plan?

d. Books are homogenized: If the same set of packages can be applied to all books, it follows that package providers consider all books equal. That is very rarely the case. Even within a genre, a certain book might require a certain way of presentation and handling that another book in the same genre does not. The package provider treats all books as equal and goes through the same process for all books. This can only be harmful for the book. If generic marketing services are being employed, such services may actually end up doing the book more harm than good.

e. There is no clarity if services are homogenized: If, to take the previous example, website design is a service offered as part of a package, is there a change in the design offered each time to customers choosing that package? And if different designs are being offered to customers, are they costing the package provider the same? And if they do not all cost the same, why are the changes in cost not being passed on to the customer? Or are these services being outsourced to the lowest bidder?

It is our firm belief that a customer who is paying must have the ability to choose between the wide array of options available. For this reason we have not offered packages. And we think that the serious author shouldn’t opt for packages either.

Before finishing, let me reiterate that this post is not to ridicule the service providers who offer packages and the authors who purchase them. Both have been successful. This is to explain our point of view so authors who are still looking for a self-publishing service can make an informed decision. We hope we have been able to successfully communicate why we do not offer packages and we insist on a menu-based system.

picture credit: https://stocksnap.io/

book_review_guy_on_the_sidewalk_by_bharath_krishna

  1. This book takes you on a splendid joyride across countries. The protagonist; Jay’s anxieties and apprehensions on coming to a new city in the States has been described with such tender details that you can’t help but live the moment with him. For those who have not visited these places, this book is a good start to experience the west for the first time.
  2. Every aspiring IT professional wanting to make it big abroad must read this book once. Whether it is the ups and down in the corporate world or the little perks of working in a structured, organized enterprise, Jay goes through a roller coaster of emotions and so will you.
  3. An incomplete love story of love found, lost and found again. Jay falls in love for the first time and goes through the clichéd first love experiences much to the annoyance of his friends. This aspect of the book will relate to many heartbroken lovers; who should definitely read this book to find out a unique way in which Jay overcomes himself and moves ahead.
  4. This book above everything else portrays the love every Indian has for his beloved country. You might be cribbing and complaining about the state of affairs and current scenario in India but once away from your motherland, your heart craves to belong to it again. The juxtaposition of the two countries; America and India have been brought out in an amicable manner.
  5. More than anything else this book stands for itself. If you are an ardent reader and are looking for a pleasant read flip through the chapters of this book and you will end up with an enjoyable experience across countries.

self-publishing services a la carte

We have often wondered if we really provide value to our customers. With so many other firms offering services similar to ours, it would be foolish to still stay around if we did not make a difference. We have therefore asked ourselves: Why should people do business with us? What should be their rationale for choosing us over the others? What is it we provide differently and why should that matter? These questions are best answered by those who have shopped at CinnamonTeal and returned satisfied. However, based on their testimonials, we have gathered some insights into their reasons for doing business with us. We hope we are right.

  • Your book is important to us. It is not another statistic we can trumpet out loud or a milestone we have to cross. We have never approached two books in the same way – you would be hard pressed to find two identical book designs. And the more you tell us about your vision for your book, the harder we strive to fulfill that vision. At the end of the day, the services we provide should ensure that your book comes out trumps.
  • You know what you are paying for and there are no hidden costs. And you get what you pay for. We endeavour to be always transparent in our dealings.
  • You will choose your course of action. We will not force you to do things you do not wish to do or go down an uncomfortable path. You will be informed on what is needed to arrive at a beautifully published book and be given the freedom to decide how to proceed. This is why we have chosen not to offer packages, because we believe that there are many components in the packages our competitors offer that are either of no use to the author or should simply not be charged for.
  • You have a vision for you book and we strive hard to manage your expectations. We will tell you, for instance, that books do not sell unless the author is involved in promoting them. If you ask us, we will also tell you not to depend too much on just a store presence (rather, to try all available channels) simply because there are too many books out there and books that are not promoted will not sell. You will know, going in, what to expect at the end of the process.
  • You will not end up with a shabby book. We are die-hard traditionalists who are not willing to tamper with the idea of the book. We believe that a customer buying your book should get value for her money and therefore a book should be well edited and properly presented. CinnamonTeal Publishing has been in the business since 2007, having introduced self-publishing in India, and we know what aspects of the book need particular attention. Having worked with almost all genres, we bring that experience to bear while designing your book.
  • Your satisfaction is important to us. For that reason, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our services, both in range and in depth. This is because we would like to be a one-stop shop for our customers, many of who have unique needs. For the same reason, we do not have constraints – like that on the dimensions of the book or on the number of images you can insert into your book. On that note, expect to see us improve our services even more. Owing to the Publishing Next conference we organize each year, we are attuned to the changes happening in the publishing world and bring that knowledge to the table while working on your book.
  • You can always communicate with us. We are easily accessible. While we prefer that you first email us describing your book and your vision for it, we are open to talking to you after that email so we know what it is you wish to discuss. In addition, many of our authors have come and met us at our office in Goa, simply because it assures them to know that there are people at the end of the line.

But perhaps, most importantly, you should work with us before we give it straight to you. We do not shy away from letting you know where your book needs improvement, we enumerate all costs and do not have any hidden charges and we do not promise to deliver a book overnight. There are certain things that are simply not possible and it is always good that the author knows what to expect while working with us. We can confidently say that we work in your interest, in order to put a book out there that’s the best we can produce.

These are still our thoughts. If you feel differently, we’d like to hear from you.

Image: epsos.de

Those familiar with the way4772680734_3ab815e07a_z CinnamonTeal Publishing operates know that it is loathe to offer self-publishing packages. We have always believed that packages skew the transaction in favour of the seller often leaving the buyer with products or services that he or she has no need for. With menu-based services, there is more transparency as the buyer knows what he or she is paying for.

We therefore offer services a la carte, or off the menu. And we believe that we are still cheaper.

Let me illustrate this with a true example. We recently received a manuscript of 74 pages (of text with no images or graphical elements such as tables) in the A4 format.

a. Since we insist on a round of copy-editing, for which we charge Rs. 120 per page, the cost of editing to the customer = 120 x 74 = Rs. 8,880/-

b. The cover for the book is then designed at a cost of Rs. 6500/-

c. The text in a 5.83 x 8.27″ (A5) format filled in 160 pages. Page design at the rate of Rs. 35 per page cost = 160 x 35 = Rs. 5,600/-

d. Printing one copy cost Rs. 147.10. Five copies for submission to the National Libraries (as required by ISBN allocation guidelines) cost Rs. 735.50.

For these specifications, the cost of printing 100 copies will be 101.90 x 100 = 10190/-

The total cost of publishing and printing 100 copies will therefore be 31,170/-. We charge for shipping the printed books too, so assume a final cost of Rs. 32,000/-

At this point, your book is published. In addition, if the service is requested, we charge Rs. 3000/- for pan-India online distribution and Rs. 9000/- for international distribution. That would total to Rs. 12,000/- for both. Add it to the earlier costs and the total cost adds up to Rs. 44,000/-

To see how these costs compared with the competition, almost all of who offer packages, we compared it to the prices of various packages on offer. Because many self-publishing service providers in India offer packages that offer some services and do not offer some others, we compared this final cost to packages that provided the following features (our goal here was to compare the package-based model with the a la carte model we offer:

a. Copy-editing
b. Cover design
c. Page design
d. ISBN allocation
e. Free copies (at least 5 so the author can submit the copies mandated by the ISBN guidelines if the service provider didn’t)
f. Pan-India online distribution
g. International online-distribution

Since these services were alone enough to get the book out the door and in the hands of people, we ignored the packages that did not include these services, even if they were cheaper and included other bells and whistles.

So here is what we found:

Provider Package Name Cost
Notion Press Silver (since no package included editing, we chose the cheapest one) 24,990 + Rs.0.60 per word x 40000 (for editing) + Rs. 6000 (for international distribution)
= Rs. 54,990.00
Partridge Publishing Topaz (since no package included editing, we chose the one that offered 5 free copies) 50,000 + Rs.1.11 per word x 40000 (for editing)
= Rs. 94,400/-
Become Shakespeare Basic (since no package included editing, we chose the cheapest one) 24,990 + Rs.1 per word x 40000 (for editing)
= Rs. 64,990/-

As indicated above, it became rather difficult to compare packages especially since most service providers do not place much emphasis on the need to have an edited book. However, we do and we feel that the buyer deserves value for money and an edited book provides such value. Nonetheless, we remain committed to providing services a la carte and let the customer choose.

Update:

Since we are on the topic of costs, we thought we would provide you with a few more examples. These are based on actual manuscripts that we have published as books. Before comparing with other service providers, please note that the services provided also match.

A) Manuscript Submitted: A4, 160 pages

Costs:

Copy Editing @ Rs. 85 per page = 19,200.00

The text corresponded to 208 pages in the A5 format. Hence:

Typesetting @ Rs. 35 per page: 7,280.00

Cover Design: Rs. 6,500.00

Ebook conversion into 3 formats (@ 25 per page for the 1st format + Rs. 2000 for each subsequent format):  Rs. 9,200.00

Printing of 100 books @ Rs. 127.82 per book: Rs. 12782.00

Online distribution of printed copies (within India): Rs. 3000.00

The total cost of publishing (including copy editing and printing 100 copies), developing Ebooks in the PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats, with distribution of printed copies in India: Rs. 57,962.00

 

B) Manuscript Submitted: A4, 144 pages

Costs:

Substantive Editing @ Rs. 165 per page = 23,760.00

Due to the presence of illustrations in the book, the total page count of the book was 312 pages in the A5 format. Hence:

Typesetting @ Rs. 50 per page (for books with illustrations and other graphic elements): 15,600.00

Cover Design: Rs. 6,500.00

Ebook conversion into 3 formats (@ 50 per page for the 1st format + Rs. 2000 for each subsequent format):  Rs. 19,600.00

11 illustrations @ Rs. 600.00 per illustration (this charge varies with the type of illustration needed): Rs. 6,600.00

Printing of 100 books @ Rs. 183.98 per book: Rs. 18,398.00

Online distribution of printed copies (within India): Rs. 3000.00

The total cost of publishing, printing 100 copies, and developing Ebooks in the PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats (with substantive editing and illustrations), with distribution of printed copies in India: Rs. 86,858.00

 

C) Manuscript Submitted: A4, 50 pages

Costs:

Substantive Editing @ Rs. 165 per page = 8,250.00

Due to the presence of illustrations in the book, the total page count of the book was 118 pages in the A5 format. Hence:

Typesetting @ Rs. 50 per page (for books with illustrations and other graphic elements): 5,900.00

Cover Design: Rs. 6,500.00

Ebook conversion into 3 formats (@ 50 per page for the 1st format + Rs. 2000 for each subsequent format):  Rs. 9,900.00

7 illustrations @ Rs. 1200.00 per illustration (this charge varies with the type of illustration needed): Rs. 8400.00

Printing of 100 books @ Rs. 101.46 per book: Rs. 10,146.00

Online distribution of printed copies (within India): Rs. 3000.00

The total cost of publishing, printing 100 copies, and developing Ebooks in the PDF, MOBI and EPUB formats (with substantive editing and illustrations), with distribution of printed copies in India: Rs. 43,696.00

The low costs aside, when compared to other service providers,

 

 

Image: Marc Falardeau

My home state, of Goa, has a rich history of printing and publishing. The first printing press arrived here in 1556, although unintentionally, when the ship carrying it stopped at Goa en route to Abyssinia but couldn’t move forward because the weather won’t permit it to. So, quite unwittingly, Goa had the distinction of having the first printing press in Asia. It was attached to the Jesuit training centre for aspiring priests, the St Paul’s College.

In here and at the Rachol Seminary several works were published, mostly spiritual books that catered to the needs of the newly converted indigenous population. These books also alluded to the circumstances of the times and became a commentary of the socio-political environment present then. Following the expulsion of Jesuits from Goa in 1759, and a general disinterest in protecting cultural documents like these, many of these precious works were lost either to ransacking crowds or to interested bibliophiles who added these books to their collections.

Gradually these books and manuscripts are beginning to resurface, in far away places. Many of them are now available in public or college libraries in Paris, London and Lisbon or among private libraries in India. Many of them are in a dilapidated state, close to ruin. These books represent an important part of the cultural landscape of the state and must be preserved for future research and scholarship.

Credit must be given to the Central Library, Goa and its curator, Carlos Fernandes, who is doing his best to make these texts available once again to readers in Goa. We at CinnamonTeal Publishing have been working closely with him, and have thus been able to develop an expertise in book restoration and printing and thus add another service to our repertoire.

The books we have restored so far include a volume of the Jesuit Miguel de Almeida’s Jardim de pastores, which was printed in Goa in five volumes in 1658-9 and an account of the life of Jivbadada Kerkar, a senapati (commander) in the Maratha army in the Peshwa era. We are currently working on a reprint of “Arte da Lingoa Canarim” (A Grammer of Konkani), published in 1640. The text of this book was available only at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, which graciously allowed us to work on a reprint.

The book was originally in a very bad condition before we painstakingly “restored” it.

With each book, we carefully scan the pages using a specially constructed book scanner, “clean out” the embellishments on each page and carefully layout the book to closely resemble the original. The book is then printed in required quantities. It has usually been just a couple of copies each time so that these copies can be circulated or loaned to members of the library while the original book is carefully preserved.

We are very excited about this new line of business because it allows us the excitement of discovery of new worlds, quite removed from modern times, one we could only imagine without the guidance of these texts.

Each month, starting this November, we will offer discounts on classics penned by authors celebrating their birthdays that month.

        

The classics are offered in 6×9 sizes with textured covers that are specially designed to make your book a sure conversation starter. What’s more, you can gift these and have a dedication page inserted in the book.

The covers shown here are just a sample of what can be ordered. The entire catalogue is listed here.

We have been often asked why we do not offer packages like many other POD publishers do. It has been common practice about POD providers to offer publishing packages that bundle together services for an all-inclusive fee. At CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing, we have consciously chosen to stay away from packages. There are reasons for this:

a. Many of the packages available on offer bundle services that might not be needed by the author. But because no alternative is available, the service has to be bought, and paid for, as part of the package. For example, in package-based offerings, a person may have to pay for cover design even if she could have done it herself

b. Some services ought to be there for free. Like the non-exclusive contract which many publishers offer as part of their basic package but which, we believe, is central to the concept of POD publishing and must be offered without any strings attached. Similarly, in India, ISBN must be issued without any charge.

c. The concept of packages flies in the face of the spirit of POD i.e. helping authors get around budgetary constraints in the process of publishing their book. At CinnamonTeal, we first encourage authors to check and see if their friends or acquaintances can provide services like cover design or editing for free or for a reduced rate.

d. Many times, authors who have bought package-based services are left out of the loop when those services are provided. Consultation is not provided for as part of these services. Hence, during crucial stages like the editing of the book, the author is not allowed to weigh in on the edited draft. Inputs are incorporated but charged as another round of editing.

e. Most of the packages offer marketing services that promise the moon but require the author to be an inherent part of the process. Nothing wrong with that except that the author is led to believe that she can stay out of the process and the marketing package she has paid for will generate sales on its own.

f. Quality isn’t assured. This follows from an earlier point made which illustrates the dangers of leaving the author out of the process. If the author is not allowed to provide her inputs to the edited manuscript, for instance, various nuances of the plot may be altered and the narrative may be lost in translation

CinnamonTeal Print and Publishing Services provides editorial, design and POD services to customers around the globe. It provides services a la carte – you pay only what you ask for.