The Twelve Days of Author Goodies

The Twelve Days of Author Goodies

Using all your precious free time making the holiday season wonderful for your friends and family and not spending any on writing?

I completely understand! The middle days of December are the toughest for me…regular schedules thrown out the window, too late getting to bed each night, too early getting up each morning, and not enough time in the day to get everything done!

I’m going to be giving a daily gift of curated resources and knowledge related to writing, marketing, the writing business or book design, starting December 26th and ending January 6th. There will be 12 posts in all to help you start 2015 with more tools and knowledge to help you succeed.

Welcome to The Twelve Days of Author Goodies, starting December 26th!

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Top Dog

Top Dog ebook cover
Launched today! Jerry Jay Carroll has reissued Top Dog in a new Kindle format, and I was fortunate to work with him on a new cover, as well as formatting the manuscript for e-book conversion.

Jerry originally had an illustrated cover in mind for this satire. I provided a second option, developed as part of the design process, which Jerry selected with almost no revisions.

Congratulations on the launch Jerry!

Top Dog is available now in Kindle format at amazon.

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Family Magic

Family Magic cover
For those familiar with World’s Best Story, this cover may look a little familiar. I am thrilled that Patti Larsen and Family Magic won for 2014!

Family Magic is currently being re-edited and re-designed as part of the publication deal Patti won through the competition. So, now I can tell the story about how this cover came about.

In November 2013, Patti Larsen approached me to refresh the cover for her widely popular Family Magic, originally designed in 2011 by another designer. Out of the 60+ titles that Patti has published, Family Magic is by far the most popular. Patti wanted the cover artwork to be recreated for a 2014 reissue of the book as well as for use in swag, both promotional and for sale. We were planning a photoshoot in January for titles Patti plans to write in 2015 and beyond, so we agreed to grab a shot of an eye at the photoshoot.

Here’s the original eye photo I took while we were setting up for the ‘real’ photoshoot:
original eye for Family Magic cover

Yup, that’s Patti. She has stunning eyes! I think it’s perfect that Patti ended up as the model for this cover.

Here’s the full print cover…we made major changes to the back covers to make the product feel more cohesive.
Family Magic print cover

I’m going to miss working on the Hayle Coven Universe (even designers get attached to characters after working with them for so long), but so excited to see the series evolve, get the resources it deserves, and take the world by storm.

Onwards and upwards Sydlynn Hayle and Patti Larsen!

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A Bold Vision

A Bold Vision Anthology cover

This summer, I was thrilled to play a small role in the creation of this piece of Canadiana! In September 2014, Prince Edward Island hosted A Bold Vision Women’s Leadership Conference, where 23 female visionaries shared their visions for Canada’s future. As a legacy piece, the conference committee decided to publish an anthology of essays written by the visionaries.

I worked with the anthology committee to select e-book distributor, short run book printer and print-on-demand partners, consulted on printing and publishing issues, designed the e-book and print covers, designed the custom print interior, and created formatted ebook versions.

Title Page

A Bold Vision title page

Contents Page

Contents page

Biography Page

Biography Page

Essay Introduction

Essay introduction

Interview-style Essay Page

Interview-style essay page

Essay Page with photography

Essay text with photography

E-book Cover

A Bold Vision ebook cover

E-book Interior Pages


A Bold Vision: Women Imagining Canada’s Future is available now. Here’s links to where it’s available for purchase. It’s also available for purchase in paperback and hardback at

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Plan a book launch schedule you can actually meet (part 2)

sample timeline
Last week we looked at how to build a schedule.

In last week’s post, we looked at how to break down a book launch into major phases first, then take a phase and break it down into steps.

Major phases for a book launch could be: Pre-production, Book Production, Book Marketing, Launch event(s). Next, you pick a phase and break it down further into steps and figure out how long each step will take (either by yourself or with advice).

Let’s look at some of the steps that could be a part of your book launch schedule, as we break down a phase together.

Example of breaking down a Phase

As a breakdown example, let’s break down Book Production further. Here’s some steps to consider when building your schedule. Each book will have a unique set of steps, so don’t feel you need to do everything listed here, and this isn’t a complete list of steps.

A good rule of thumb for steps: see if you can describe steps as tangible things, like cover design, developmental edit, sample copy, with each having some kind of finished product at the end. Or, see if you can describe steps as action words, like design cover, edit manuscript, get ISBN.

Edit – functional/developmental

Timing: This step is the most difficult to put a time frame on. Freelance editing goddess Annetta Ribken tells me there’s many factors involved in estimating how long a developmental edit will take and that each project will be significantly different. “Developmental edits go in rounds, and typically an edit will go one to three rounds, with the first round as the most intense.” Annetta provides this great advice: “The best thing to do is book with your editor ASAP and set your publishing date when you know the edits will be done.” She also recommends a healthy buffer…a woman after my own heart!
Dependencies: a completed draft.

Tip: good editors book up quickly. Book your editor(s) as far in advance as possible. Don’t assume they will be available when you want them, and book your editor(s) before attempting to set a book launch date.

Edit – Line/copy

Timing: Ballpark 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the length of your manuscript. Of course, this will vary depending your editor’s availability, and how quickly you turn around the suggested edits. Some authors use the same editor for line or copy edits as for developmental/functional edits. Other prefer two different editors.
Dependencies: your completed functional/developmental edits, including making recommended changes.


Timing: Ballpark for 1 – 2 weeks, depending on the length of you manuscript, and to allow time to address questions, etc.
Dependencies: all edits completed and all changes made.

Design cover

Timing: Allow 2 – 4 weeks for custom cover design. If you are commissioning artwork (like physical or digital painting, custom photography or illustration from scratch), you may need extra time, so plan for it with your artist.
Dependencies: Selection of a printer (for a cover template or specifications), marketing copy for the back of your print cover, and an ISBN if you need a bar code on the back of your print cover)

Format and test e-book

Timing: For simple formatting (say a fiction e-book with no ‘bells and whistles’, formatting and testing can usually be completed in 1 week. If you are working on a fixed-format book, or a book with enhanced content make sure you confirm timing with your designer or developer, and don’t forget about time to create enhanced content, if required.
Dependencies: A final manuscript with all edits and proofreading complete, ISBN(s), any images you want included, final front and back matter…basically, your formatter will need everything that goes inside your e-book. For more complicated e-book projects (fixed-format or enhanced), confirm all requirements with your provider.

Tip: If planning both e-book and print versions, in most cases I recommend finishing the print title first, so you can have the e-book formatting done while ordering and reviewing a sample copy of the print title. If you plan to do pre-sales through Amazon or other online retailers, keep your minimum timeframes in mind (For Kindle pre-orders, your final version must be uploaded at least 10 days before the release date you set.)

Design and lay out printed book interior

Timing: For a custom interior design, allow 2 – 3 weeks to complete design, revisions and prep. For layout and final revisions, allow 1 – 2 weeks, maybe a little longer for non-fiction titles that need lots of formatting, tables and graphs, or illustrations or photos. Here’s an example: I recently completed design and layout of a history of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet. That project included 375 images with captions, extensive tables and indices. Each image was hand-placed. It took me 2.5 weeks to lay out the book, and we took another 3 weeks for review and final revisions (in this case, the authors did not use a proofreader on the project, so they got off schedule fixing typos and inconsistencies).
Dependencies: For custom book interiors, I prefer to work with draft content for the design process, so I can get to work while you’re still editing. Other designers may feel differently. For layout, a final manuscript with all edits and proofreading complete, ISBNs, and front matter and back matter required. Basically, your book designer needs everything that goes inside your book.

Order a sample copy of your print title for review

Timing: Allow 1 – 4 weeks to have a sample book printed and delivered to you, depending on where you are, which printer you are working with and what services levels you choose for printing and/or shipping. Double check timing with your printer.
Dependencies: Final print files for the cover and interior completed and saved to specification.

Order printed books for your launch event

Timing: If working with a Print-on-demand service, allow 2 – 6 weeks to get books printed and shipped to you (depending on who you’re working with and where you’re located). If you are working with a short-run printer you may need more time, especially if you are printing hard back books.
Dependencies: Final print files for the cover and interior completed and saved to specification. I also recommend that the sample copy be ordered and reviewed before ordering bulk orders, so you know exactly what you are getting.

Hope this help you planning your book launch. Got a tip to share? Leave a comment below.

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The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 – 2012

The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012 cover

This book was a labor of love for all involved. Charles Maginley (who happens to be my father-in-law) is a marine historian and author. This is his third book, developed over a four-year period with two other contributors. I got involved when the contributor that was to do the print design could not longer work on the project.

All that was available was 10 x 10 formatted Microsoft Word document with all the photos embedded. We started by ripping the contents apart, properly formatting them and then putting them back together…all 375 images with captions, extensive tables and an index. Each image was digitally enhanced in Photoshop, caption and copyright information added and hand placed in Indesign.

Half Title Page

half title page from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012

Part Introduction Page

Part introduction page from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012

Color Plates

Color plates from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012


Tables from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012


Index from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012

We had a lot of fun working on this book, in spite of the challenges. We even went on a ‘location scout’ together, to determine the best angles to shoot the CGS Acadia in Halifax Harbour. See the bottom right image for the result.

CGS Acadia spread, including photo of ship taken specifically for this book

text from The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 - 2012

Charles is thrilled with the results, is getting great feedback, and is already talking about the next book.

The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet 1962 – 2012 is available for purchase directly from Long Hill Publishing

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