Category Archives: e-books

Doing It Yourself (with other people)

A little while back, I wrote about self-publishers needing to put in the time and effort to match the excellent work that traditional publishers do in getting a novel ready for publication. That work includes editing, proofreading, cover art and design. (Not to mention expertise, PR contacts and simply taking on all that hard slog so that the author doesn’t have to do it.)

It’s all well and good, you say, to declare that e-book authors need editors and cover designers and whatnot. But where are these persons of skill and virtue?

Good question, I reply to my imagined interrogators, where are they indeed?

So I asked some fabulous and talented people I know for some clues.

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services says “The absolute best place to start for all this information is the Australian Writers’ Marketplace.  It’s a book and an online database, and invaluable if you’re looking for an editor.” Alex herself provides publishing advice, including contract and rights advice, to all writers.

Clandestine Books, headed by crime writer Lindy Cameron, provides editorial and PR services, including manuscript assessment, too.

Individuals offer editing services as well. Gillian Pollack (author of Life Through Cellophane) is a teacher-editor based in Canberra. Her approach is to work with writers to increase their editing skills. “Editing is part of the writer’s longer journey when they work with me.” You can find her contact details at

Laura Goodin, who Gillian also recommended, has specialised in business and academic writing and may be a good choice if you’re writing a non-fiction book.  Another of Gillian’s recommendations is Elizabeth Fitzgerald. Elizabeth’s website,  Earl Grey Editing, will be active in a week or so. In the meantime, you can email her on for information and her rates.

The divine Davina MacLeod is the freelancer who copyedited The Opposite of Life. She charges by the double-spaced 12-point page and can be contacted on for a quote. Davina also does illustration and can be hired for cover designs.

Twelfth Planet Press publisher, Alisa Krasnostein, says “I hear Sarah Endacott is one of the best editors there are.” Endacott also provides manuscript assessment.

In terms of cover art and design, Lucy Sussex—researcher, reviewer and writer of crime and science fiction—says: “I find my own artists–go to galleries, collect photos, fight like hell with the publisher to get a decent image on the front of the book. It’s worked well so far.”

The previously-mentioned Gillian Pollack recommends Andrew McKiernan of Kephra Design, who designs for Aurealis and designed the cover of Life through Cellophane. Gillian also spoke highly of illustrator Kathleen Jennings in Brisbane.

For printing your book, Paul Collins, writer and publisher at Ford Street Publishing, says “One of the cheapest printers I’ve come across is a print broker called Alfred Hornung of Tingleman Pty Ltd.”   Paul also recommended Ekonvurs for the conversion of print to e-books.

So if you want to get a new cover and do a final polish on the out-of-print book you want to e-publish, or if you’re thinking about self-publishing an original manuscript, visit the websites or get in touch with these persons of skill (and, one assumes, virtue) for some quotes. Work out a budget to make sure your e-book is whipped into the best possible shape, with all of its apostrophes and commas in the right place. Banish those typos and continuity errors to the nether reaches of hell with some expert help and make your book the best it can be.

E is for Exciting!

Today I spoke at the Australian Society of Author’s E-Exchange seminar, an introduction to digital publishing in books and apps. I had a great time talking to everyone, listening to the other guest speakers and meeting writers, artists, agents and other publishing professionals.

Vincenzo Pignatelli of Blue Quoll showed what his company is doing with apps for children’s picture books. Their first book, Mr Wolf and the Ginger Cupcakes, looks gorgeous.  The colours are vibrant and the interactive features are pretty cool. The fact that the book can be translated into seven languages is pretty neat too. Blue Quoll are looking for authors and illustrators to work with, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the technology.

Splitting Image Colour Studios has been working with traditional publishers for decades, and now they’ve been working on e-publishing for picture books for a few years. These are the guys responsible for the charming adaptations of Graeme Base’s Animalia and Jungle Drums as well as the Four Ingredients cookbook in app form. Director Warren Smith talked about the other projects, including apps, digital books and print on demand books.

Virginia Murdock spoke about, the web-based online e-book seller, associated with Readings Bookstores. For some reason I’d been having trouble getting my head around how worked, as I’d got used to the model where you buy a book and download it to a reader or device., being web-based, simply allows you to buy your books in your browser and download your current book into the cache for reading anywhere. It’s actually very straightforward. And because it’s web-based, you can tweet links to chapter samples, which is a cool function. Just remember to search for book titles through the Readings ebook link.

Another innovative approach is being taken by Jeannette Rowe, writer of extremely popular books for preschoolers. She’s working with partners to develop a whole website with online books, book-related games and other ventures. It’s terrific to see a writer really taking charge of the ditigal aspects of her career and working with others to find the best way to do that. Rowe herself is passionate and firm about standing up for your (digital) rights.

I was on a great group panel that fielded some great questions from the audience, and then illustrator Ann James of Books Illustrated got us all into separate groups to brainstorm aspects of epublishing and promotion, which generated some great ideas for the convenor, the lovely Marie Alafaci to run by the ASA when she gets back to the office on Monday!

The attendees were all pretty neat too. For all the things that book people have to consider with the new technology—especially considering that we have no idea where it’s all going to go—the future of publishing is wide a slightly scary page for us to write a new history onto. Whatever we’re doing with digital publishing in ten years’ time, this is where we are shaping how that decade ahead may look.

My thanks to the Hazel Edwards and the ASA for asking me to speak, to the other speakers for coming along and all the really cool things they are doing, and to those who came along to dip their toes into the digital waters.