1. What is Formatting?
  2. What is Editing?
  3. How long does formatting take?
  4. How long does editing take?
  5. What should I do to prepare my manuscript for editing?
  6. What files do I need?
  7. What self-publishing services should I use?
  8. What eBook file(s) do I need?
  9. What what is an ISBN and do I need one?

1. What is Formatting?

Formatting describes the process where the layout of the the book designed. In other words, this will be the look of the book. This is done after the editing process and will determine how the book looks when people buy the physical book. I also create the eBook version(s) if you want that as well. There are different formats, but most people get the MOBI (i.e., Kindle) version. I would just need to know what service you plan to use so that I can create the correct file format.

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2. What is Editing?

Let’s talk about editing.

I tell authors that your editor is your first critical reader. This is an important idea to understand. An editor is trying to help you, the author, accomplish your goal of publishing the book. That means that I will ask tough questions and even make suggestions that will hopefully strengthen the book. It is a dialogue. I want to put this out there because some people see their books as their “baby”. (Not a good idea by the way.) And, when this happens, the process is not as helpful to the author. This is just from experience.

So, there are basically three levels of editing. I focus on the first two. Most of the authors I have worked with do not need the third, so I have not needed to recommend that level.

First, proofreading sometimes called a copy edit. The phrase “copy edit” is sometimes used synonimously with a line edit, but they are two different kinds of editting approaches. In a copy edit the editor reads the book and looks for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other basic issues. Authors who need this tend to feel really good about where their book is, but want a second set of eyes on it.

Second, there is a line edit. This is what most people request. This goes into more depth than a copy edit. A line edit looks at word choice, sentence structure, and the overall organization of the book. The easiest way of thinking about this is that as the editor reads the book they will make changes (that the author can approve or reject), ask questions about what the author has written (to try and make sure you are saying what you mean to say), and offer suggestions that will improve the argument of the book. The editor will point to areas where something needs to be explained, supported, or even re-worded.

Third, there is a developmental edit. This could also be considered a form of ghost-writing. At this level, the editor will add content that will expand and extend the work of the author. This would all be suggested material. It would be up to the author to approve, reject, or modify what has been added.

What level of editing you need is ultimately your choice to make. However, we can provide an assessment and recommended editing package. Each has a different cost due to the depth of the level of editing and increased time required to complete. As I mentioned earlier, if you have any questions about anything I have written in this email please let me know.

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3. How long does formatting take?

Usually, formatting takes 7-10 days. If only a print edition is being created a little less. If an eBook is included, then a little longer. Also, if there are any special elements in the books (e.g., quotations, images, graphics, blockquotes, etc.). Anything other than paragraphs adds to the time it takes to create.

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4. How long does editing take?

This is tough to answer. It all depends on the length of the book and the editing package you select. Each editing package requires more time because there is greater interaction with the author. Another consideration is how long it takes for you to review, revise, and return the project back to us. Each round takes less time, but it adds to the overall amount of time needed for completion.

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5. What should I do to prepare my manuscript for formatting?

If you are writing your first book or your tenth, simplicity is key. The primary reason to think about preparing the document for formatting is because too much pre-formatting may not lend to a well-formatted final book. You want to allow the designer to create a look at fits the theme and purpose of your book. Try and keep any form of emphasis (bold, italics, underlining, spacing, indentations) to a minimum. People are used to certain formatting conventions these should be maintained in your book.

Also, if you emphasize too much throughout the book, it becomes more of a distraction than you may realize. You should emphasize only what needs it to draw the readers attention to that particular element. Also, avoid doing too much yourself because most of it will have to be changed to fit the specifications of the print service you are using.

One final thought. If there are specific ideas you have about the look of your book. Simply identify these in your document with a note in brackets (such as, [This is a quote and should be indented]). This will let the formatter know of your desired format for that specific text, but will still give the designer some latitude as to how to accomplish that effect.

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6. What files do I need to get published?

In today’s independent publishing market, you will require two files minimum. First, if you are looking to create a physical book, then you will get a “print-ready PDF.” This is the file that you will upload to the service you are using. Second, if you would like a to offer an eBook version to your readers you can get either a MOBI or EPUB ebook file. An explanation of the differences are detailed below in Question 8.

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7. What self-publishing services should I use?

It all depends on what you need. Two of the most popular services1 as of today (Apr 11, 2017) are Createspace (an Amazon company) and Lulu.com (an independent publishing service). They offer a range of services and options for your publishing needs. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. It all depends on your needs. We have served authors who have used both and have been satisfied. There are many more companies coming into the market. With a little research, you can find a service that works for you. If you are not sure after looking around, you can take advantage of our Author Coaching Service and we can help you settle on an option.

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8. What eBook file(s) do I need?

If you are using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), the ebook publishing service from Amazon, then you will need the MOBI file. This is their proprietary file format.

Most other eBook services and distributors use the EPUB file format, a growing standard for eBooks. EPUB stands for electornic publication and “it is a technical standard published by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)”.2

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9. What what is an ISBN and do I need one?

An ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and “is a unique numeric commercial book identifier.”3

The simple answer to the second part of the question is YES. Also, every version of your book should have its own unique number. That means that your paperback, hardcover, dust jacket, MOBI, EPUB, and PDF editions should have a unique ISBN. Not everyone uses or needs these files, but if you do create one of these editionso of your book just keep this is mind.

You can get an ISBN from one one of the national agencies. You can search the list here. If you are a USA-based author you can go here.

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  1. This does not constitute an endorsement. It is merely provided here for illustrative purposes. 
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB 
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Book_Number