Last Friday I posted the first part of my interview with Lisa Cottrell-Bentley, the owner of Do Life Right, Inc. which publishes fiction for home-schooled children. Here’s the second part:
Tell us about your process of preparing a manuscript for publication.
For my own work:
(1) I write the very best manuscript that I am able.
(2) I set it aside for at least a month, ideally much longer.
(3) I self-edit heavily, multiple times.
(4) I have my family (husband and two children who are really good editors)
read it and edit it.
(5) I self-edit again (and/or put it through a critique group).
(6) I have a team of teen and tween readers read the manuscript and give
their comments and suggestions.
(7) I hire a professional editor to fully professionally edit it.
(8) I decide on an illustrator, cover designer, and interior formatter. I
work with them individually as needed in order to make the vision for the
book come true. I actually start this process as soon as the professional
editing begins, as it usually takes longer than editing.
(9) When all the editing and formatting is complete, I put the final
digital version through a rigorous copy editing process with at least four
people (editors and readers) looking over it for minor and major mistakes.
I then fix everything that is found, or have one of my copy editors do this.
(10) I assign the book an ISBN from the ones I already own, I purchase an
LCCN, and I hire the printing done.
(11) I write up the back cover copy, and 25 word description for various
marketing avenues and distributors. This is then professionally edited.
(11) I thoroughly look over the printed version for errors, then either
reject or accept the book.
(12) I make the book available for sale, inform my distribution channels
that it is available, and order a large stock for myself to have for
in-person sales and author signed copies for sale on my personal websites.
(13) I make a Kindle version available. [This will include other formats
(14) I accept the money as it flows to me monthly (although I’m currently
pouring all of it straight back into the company to help Do Life Right,
(15) Marketing, interviews, speaking engagements, etc. are done at every
step of this list as well. In addition, review copies are sent out as soon
as the books are available.
When I receive a submission, the process is very similar except that I am
able to do much of the editing myself since it’s not my own writing. I like
having several books going at once so this process can be streamlined, and
it allows me to move back and forth between projects with pure excitement.
Do you think there are projects that aren’t well suited to independent publishing?
Yes and no. It’s more like I believe there are certain people who aren’t
suited to self or independent publishing. If an author doesn’t want to have
input into covers, illustrations, overall cover design, marketing, cover
copy, etc., then s/he probably isn’t well suited for anything except
traditional publishing. With the amount of promotion all authors need to do
to become noticed these days, I don’t quite understand this thinking.
How do you define success for yourself?
Am I happy? Am I fed? Is my family with me (and happy and fed)?
Then, I am successful.
I do, however, set both large and small goals to accomplish based on my
dreams and aspirations. Continually reaching these and striving for more,
is an important part of my “keep moving forward” philosophy. Doing this is
very joyful for me.
What three qualities or behaviors do you think an author needs to have to achieve success in publishing today?
(2) Forward-thinking (ability to go with the flow as well as change things
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Yes! I wish I had started my own publishing company sooner. I do a lot of
things “against the grain” with my life, but for some reason this one was a
tough one for me to embrace. I’d heard too many naysayers, and they swayed
me against it for years. Doing what I knew I could do, and succeeding at
it, inspires me to do more and to inspire others to live their dreams.
What advice do you have for authors considering independent publishing?
Don’t make this decision lightly. If you only have one book in you, and
it’s not a book that will appeal to more than your family, then a quick
non-professionally-edited book may be your answer. If you want to make a
business of your writing, then you need to approach every step of
publishing in a professional manner.
Beware of vanity publishers who will publish your manuscript unedited and
unpolished (and charge you a bundle). These are who give self-publishers a
poor reputation and they can sometimes be scams. Ask for advice from
others, but ultimately do what is best for you–only you know what that is!
Keep your dreams!
Thanks again, Lisa, for taking the time to share your experience with us! To learn more about Lisa’s many projects, you can visit:
Lisa’s KickStarter campaign for homeschool fiction
Lisa’s publishing company
Lisa’s children’s chapter book series
Lisa’s Rich Author page to help you make your publishing dreams come true