Get your project from “planned” to “published”.
Before you’re ready to hire anyone’s services for a project, you must know the answer to a specific question:
Who’s your target audience or ideal client?
If you’re writing fiction (or some forms of nonfiction), the answer can be yourself. That’s fine. Just know it’s your answer.
But if you’re trying to write for a particular purpose that is not “This is what I want to read,” you need to answer this question—ideally before you get too far in writing or producing the project, because the answer will affect the end result.
“Everyone who likes X” is a nice start of an answer, but it’s still too broad. You need to go narrower, so you can have a better idea of how to organize everything, what device(s) it should be optimized for, which words will “click”, if you should be avoiding shit like the word “shit”, etc.
When answering “Who is my ideal client?”, a narrow stereotype is actually good.
The reason is that this stereotype will help you double-check that you’re targeting a group who will have the interest and funds to buy what you’re offering—and it’ll help you design everything so it suits them. Unless you’re willing to risk spending more time and effort (and money) than you’ll be able to recoup, you need to have a specific, precise answer to this question.
You can have more than one target market, but you need to define one as primary for the purpose of design and marketing. You can always repackage and relaunch for another target audience, later.
This very page is a case in point, designed to catch the eye of folks who aren’t all that interested in doing the same thing everyone else is.
Need the answer? You need to answer it in order to pursue the best publishing options to meet those goals. If you aren’t even sure what your potential options are, I can help with that, too.
If you don’t actually need one of my various-but-related services but just need some personalized advice on how to handle your publishing project, you can hire me as a consultant for project advice and planning, instead. My knowledge of so much of the process means I can gear my recommendations to you specifically, rather than just suggesting you do what I would do (or am doing), myself.
A Word of Unsolicited Advice
Are you struggling with:
- understanding which writing rules you should be following?
- Figuring out who you're writing it for??
I’ve been where you are, struggling to figure out what I need to know and to learn it. I know how confusing it can be.
Now, I could help you with all that (finding the methods you need to use to get things done, helping you see which writing rules apply to you and how, enabling you to get your writing out into the world).
But sometimes, all you need is a bit of reassurance: It’s perfectly normal to be overwhelmed by all the little things involved with getting projects written and published. It’s also normal for different people to have different approaches, tactics, and even order in which they do things. Normal.
So if you’ve figured out what works for you, and it isn’t what Joe Somebody insists you “should” be doing? F* Joe. What works for you? Works for you.
*As in “forget”, of course. What else could I have meant?
Even if another method is often more effective, that doesn’t mean it’ll be more effective for you. It’s okay to be different.
Following everyone else’s “What you should do” makes it hard for you to stand out, to be remembered. If you want to hide or follow fit into a specific model or market, that’s fine.
But if you don’t want to fit a specific mold…
Why are you hanging out in the pack with everyone else?
- Why am I making this?
- Who will it help most?
- What will they do with it?
- How will they find it?
- What price can they afford?
Answer those questions, and you’ll be off to a fantastic start at figuring out your target audience (and what types of editing, cover, and formatting you need) on your own.
Front-End Web Work
Need help structuring your site and making them look nice—or figuring out what kind of website suits your needs to begin with?
I build custom pages, page templates, or themes to suit your desired appearance, all focused on the HTML5/CSS3 side of things. (So if you ask me for a wireframe, I’ll probably build it in HTML and CSS, not Photoshop or GIMP. Way more efficient for me that way.)
Already have the wireframe or design? I can build a responsive site or page to match it, either as straight code for upload or as a WordPress theme.
Aren’t sure what kind of website you need? Find out more about your options here.
*See descriptions of the types of editing here.
No matter the action step you’re on in your project, I might be who you’re looking for to fill in the gaps.
What I don’t work with:
Academic writing. Those have specific styles and paces (and guidelines for construction) that actually are required, with reason, and you want someone who specializes in whichever your project is.
What clients say:
I have hired Misti to edit four of my books, and she has done a wonderful job. She is thorough, professional, and returns my manuscripts in a timely manner. Apart from making necessary technical corrections, she has offered valuable creative suggestions on many occasions. She is a skilled editor, and I highly recommend her.
Misti Wolanski edited two books for me—one young adult and one “hen” lit. Both times she made brilliant recommendations that vastly improved the manuscripts. I love the way she packs in little “mini-lessons” along with her edits, so I’m not only getting great editing, but I’m also acquiring a higher skill level from working with her. With both books she was clear about the timeline and stuck to it. Moreover, she went above and beyond by reviewing my website and offering suggestions for improving it. Without reservation, I highly recommend Misti’s editing services! I look forward to working with her on my next project.
What I don’t do:
Assume that something on the page is necessarily a typo or necessarily what you meant. When something could be read either way, I actually ask, to double-check.
E-Book Design & Development
There are multiple ways to create the various forms of e-book, but I focus on the ones that tend to start with a Microsoft Word document (or Open Office or RTF). From there, I create a well-formatted Microsoft Word document and/or convert to HTML and build the e-book format(s) based on the options you’ve selected.
MS Word files are the most universally usable, able to be converted to other electronic file types via Calibre, but the tradeoff is that you have less control over appearance and a necessarily larger file size—but honestly, a well-formatted DOC file can produce good e-book files for most standard prose.
The EPUB/HTML format gives the most control over the structure, layout, file size, and appearance; but it takes more time and is harder for a non-professional to update. To make changes, you have to open the EPUB and edit the source files, which are mostly (but not all) HTML and CSS that has some specific foibles due to e-readers. If you have the well-formatted DOC, you can use Track Changes when you tweak your content, so whoever edits the EPUB can more easily compare files and make them both both as consistent as possible. (Some formatting things don’t transfer for all devices.)
If your source file is a PDF, your options for conversion are limited. PDF is an end display format, so conversion from PDF will necessarily have some difficulties if not limitations on your data.
See more about this service here
What I don’t use, with reason:
Both Scrivener and iWork’s pages have some notable quirks that have negative side effects in the e-books. InDesign just irks me in general—it’s too difficult to export content, so it can cause a lot of problems in the long term.
P-Book Design & Development
A p-book being a print book, of course!
When used properly, Microsoft Word is a fantastic base format for accessing and revising content even years into the future, so I use that to create template files or to format documents themselves for export to PDF, to send to CreateSpace, Lulu, or whatever printer you use.
But Microsoft Word also has some…issues. A tendency to spontaneously reset your page dimensions, for one. And some difficulty when dealing with widows and orphans…
Find out more about how to get me to fight with it for you here
What I don’t make:
InDesign or Adobe Acrobat files. They can be beautiful, but they’re horrible time sinks when you later have to adjust or revise something, or if you later have to get your content out of that format.
Custom formatting, from the code up.
What if you want something beyond the basic, simple format that works across devices? What if you want to include special custom details that work on some devices and not others—without losing compatibility on those other devices?
Maybe you want your book to be designed to fit your text, rather than your text plugged into a design used by every other self-publishing author. Maybe your book’s too complicated or involved to fit the average formatter’s experience or expertise. Maybe you exported using Scrivener and want the extra fleurons removed (since, last time I checked, Scrivener outright duplicates images every time the image appears in the file, which can dramatically increase your file size).
Whatever your reason for wanting custom formatting, that’s what I specialize in: customized EPUB, MOBI, PDF, DOC files, and DOC templates.
(I recommend against using iWork’s Pages for formatting. Short version of why: feature options are’t great, and the program isn’t future-proofed.)
My focus on custom work means that everything is set up to suit your particular situation, not just plugged into a paint-by-numbers template that has to get mangled to suit what you want. So if you’re wanting a formatter who just dumps your stuff into premade templates, I may not be the best the formatter for you.
Why My Formatting Is Different:
Templates are a dime a dozen.
If that’s all you want, you can easily go buy a template, do it yourself, or hire someone to do it over on Fiverr. You probably even have a friend or relative or coworker who already has the computer skills to stuff content in a template. You don’t need me. (Though I can help out if you need it.)
Unique Projects Need Unique Formatting
Whether it’s a standalone project or part of a series, some projects are just different from most, whether due to special features or due to special branding. Templates by definition aren’t really meant for that. Custom formatting is, and for that you want a special design for your EPUB, MOBI, or DOC.
Useless/junk code sucks.
My EPUB and MOBI files are built from scratch using HTML and CSS, to keep the file size as small as possible. My DOC(X) files use paragraph styles. My PDF files are built from either EPUB or DOC (depending on the situation and your needs). I also set things up so it’ll be as easy as possible for you to use the format for all your files.
Custom EPUBs work best for upload to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program.
Clean documents work fine if you’ve written regular prose, but if you want special features or have images that you need to keep from losing quality, you want a nicely optimized EPUB to upload to Amazon. Don’t ask me why, but it even works better than Kindlegen, which is supposed to be what KDP uses.
Sometimes e-books need updates.
Maybe you need to adjust your back matter or fix that embarrassing typo that made it through the editing process. Since the files are custom, some tech knowledge is needed for updating them, but the file is intentionally designed to be comprehensible for someone with moderate tech knowledge. A person doesn’t have to be entirely fluent in the program(s) involved to be able to make tweaks—and someone who is fluent should be able to quickly and easily make the adjustment(s) needed.
You don’t want to lose access to the file content as file types change.
Computer software changes often, and anybody who’s been using computers for fifteen years or more probably has some files that take creativity to open now—assuming you can even get to the information in the files. Not everything is accessable. To limit that problem, I intentionally build from formats that can be accessed via universal file types: EPUB and MOBI files can be opened as HTML-containing folders, and DOC files can be opened as RTF, if necessary. (HTML and RTF are universal formats that aren’t going anywhere.)
E-books are going to change.
E-books have been around for several decades, with Project Gutenberg being perhaps the earliest distributor. Many e-book formats have already died. Even the EPUB format is in the process of morphing into something more suitable for mixed media, although much of what can be done with EPUB doesn’t work with a lot of e-readers. Both HTML and DOC/RTF have consistently been good foundations for many formats, so chances are good that they’ be suitable foundation for future formats.
My goal as a formatter: to enhance your document without sabotaging it for the future.
That means I assume you’ll need to be able to access your content and update it in the future. That means I consider the method(s) you’ll have to use to do that. (This is why I intentionally don’t use desktop publishing software like Scribus (an open source alternative to InDesign): I’ve seen too many folks struggle with the time and expense when they have to get their content out of that format, years later.)
But I consider reader experience, too.
Obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised by how many formatters are focused on making everything precise and exactly a certain way, which overrides reader preferences. I set things up using relative measurements so that, even though some e-readers will vary, what matters still works.
What Working with Me Looks Like:
I respond within two (2) business days. If you sent me a message and you haven’t heard from me, something has gotten funky in digital land. Maybe the e-mail gremlins were hungry. You can try e-mailing me again or reaching me via tweet.
- You send me information about your project: what it is, whom it’s for (target audience), desired or needed turnaround time (such as if you need it within 2 weeks), and if you want me to design it for you or if you have a design in mind (even if that’s KISS.)
- We discuss your project.
- We come to an agreement about the scope of the project and its fee.
- I submit an invoice and letter of agreement.
- You pay the invoice, accepting the letter of agreement.
- I format your file and deliver the demo, alerting you if there are any small things I’m planning to do or asking about some specific items.
- You examine the demo, answer any questions, and let me know how you like what I’ve come up with for you.
- I update the files and, if warranted, submit a second demo for your review.
- I put the finishing touches on the file, deliver everything, and we wrap everything up and move on to our respective next projects.
Note that if you make significant changes to your project while work is in progress, the added portions may warrant an additional fee, to account for the material that was not part of the original project scope.
- DOC and DOCX files are made using Microsoft Word for Mac. I use both 2011 and 2016, depending on the situation, due to quirks in both programs. Some features work better in one than the other.
- PDF files are made from the previously mentioned DOC or DOCX file.
- EPUB files are made using a code editing program, a folder of my own making that has the parts built in, a spreadsheet I designed to help me construct the root files, and a shell script to perform the two-step compression and file renaming that produces an EPUB file.
- MOBI files are made from the previously mentioned EPUB file, by a shell script that applies Kindlegen.
What This Formatting Costs
There are so many factors involved that I can’t give a specific answer without seeing your source file, but here’s a baseline idea:
|Basic DOC(X) Formatting||clean MS Word file||starts at $50|
|A clean format good for general printing, template use, or for uploading to vendors that accept DOC files (KDP, Draft2Digital, or Smashwords; main issue is that you cannot control page breakage with this method, and the end file will have a larger file size).|
|Basic PDF Formatting||e-book format||+$25 to formatting fee|
|Custom EPUB Formatting||EPUB & MOBI||starts at $125|
|EPUB is the best root format, and building it from scratch keeps the file size minimal.|
|Custom PDF Formatting||for e-book or p-book||starts at $150|
|E-book PDFs are set up as for printing on looseleaf paper, such as for workbooks. P-book (“print book”) PDFs are for places like CreateSpace and Lulu. The fee includes checking for widows and orphans.|
|Vendor-Specific Format||special links, etc.||+$20 each|
|Images||optimized and adjusted||+$5 each||Includes settings that help prevent image warping or page breaks between images and captions, though not all devices heed those settings.|
|Tables||optimized and adjusted||+$5 each|
|* All prices are USD. The starting rate assumes your file does not require formatting cleanup and that your file is not longer than 100k words; additions from there are at my discretion. Rush jobs can often be accommodated for an added fee.|