Once I’m happy with the manuscript, it’s time to tackle the publishing details.
Everyone says not to judge a book by its cover, but then everyone does it. Covers are critical! I purchase my cover art from a website called SelfPubBookCovers.com, and I’ve been thrilled with their selection and prices. I am fussy about my covers, but am not yet at the stage where I can order them custom-made, so I spend a lot of time surfing the premade cover choices and playing with text and layout on various pieces of art. I will not buy a cover unless it speaks to me; it has to fit perfectly with the story I want it to represent, and it has to look like it was designed to go with the other books in the series.
My husband, Cameron, who is a computer engineer, then takes the covers and designs the layout of them, arranging the fonts and the text to look just right.
I am far too fond of cover shopping; I have already purchased the cover for Book Six, and I’m only writing chapter four. I have vowed to myself that I will not buy covers for books that currently exist solely in my head. We’ll see how I do with that resolution.
Cameron designs the maps for the books since I do not have the patience. He has done a marvelous job of bringing Caledon to life with all its different cities and locales. I use a hand-drawn map on graph paper while I write, to keep the times and distances for travel consistent, but it didn’t transfer well to print, as I am in no way an artist, so I’m very grateful for Cam’s skill at everything he does!
Cam also does all my manuscript formatting. I write in Google Drive, and we download it as a Word document, which Cam then arranges to fit the parameters Amazon dictates for the book size and margins. At this point, we do our last editing pass, since we are analyzing every letter and punctuation mark and its location on the page, and we will often notice overused words that slipped past us in earlier read-throughs. Cam is impressive at spotting if my indents are uneven or if I have put two spaces between words instead of one. He formats all the “documents” within the text—letters and treaties and so on—as well as the chapter headings and the page numbers. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’d probably cry a lot.
Once the words are all in place, and the headings and footers and page breaks are correct, and we’ve gone through every page looking for words that need to be split to make the justified lines look right (Cam’s patience is essential for that task, too!), it’s time to upload. We usually upload the manuscript for the ebooks and paperbacks several times to get everything just right, because Amazon’s previewer shows up missing page breaks or bad margins. Amazon also usually finds spelling mistakes, which all get meticulously checked before we change or ignore them—Amazon is not a big fan of Caledonian. If we need to change anything, we have to do another upload. We are getting better at polishing the manuscript before uploading: Dragon’s Fire had to be uploaded more than fifty times before we got it right, but Myrhiadh’s War was finished in about seven uploads, for both formats!
Once the uploading is done, the book goes to Amazon for final approval, and within seventy-two hours, (usually less,) it goes live in the bookstore and is available for purchase.
And that’s what goes into every story I put out for you to read—hundreds of hours for each book from typing the first word of the plot outline to the final click of the “publish” button. I love sharing the Dragon’s Fire Series with you, and I hope you’re enjoying reading the books as much as I’m loving writing them!