thinking of self-publishing?

I have helped many authors at different points in their journey, from writing (editing at various levels), through design and typesetting, to self-publishing (cover design, ISBN allocation, POD, paper printing). Do have a look at the Editing, Designing and References pages for examples. I also offer Preparing for Publication sessions to help you make informed and professional decisions on your publishing journey.

The world of self-publishing has grown at an exponential rate, whether fact or fiction, fantasy or biography, printed books or ebooks. No matter where you start, or where you end up, there are definite steps that every author has to take between the having the idea and reaching the reader.

Step 1 is the magic, creative bit and all yours. It is hard work and you need to be dedicated, persistent and keep working at it. It could take years. Just don’t plagiarise or use copyright material.

As Orla Ross, novelist and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, says to indie authors: “Skipping editorial is bad manners to the reader.” At this stage you need to begin seeing yourself as part of a team (can be tough, I know) in order to get your baby out and growing.

What do you want: an edit or a proofread?

  • Development editing is a general assessment of whether your hard work is ready for editing. You get a report on: whether the structure works; if the characters and plot are believable; what it might be worth taking out or making stronger; and, above all, whether a reader would enjoy the experience of your book.
  • Copy editing comes when the text is in a good enough shape for a thorough going over. The nitty-gritty of the language is assessed and amended; the structure is checked for sense and accuracy. Once the words are right, so that the reader will understand your story, then the document can move on towards formatting, design and publication.
  • Proofreading is the final check, after the design stage and pre-publication. This makes sure that odd spellings haven’t slipped through, that the punctuation is correct, that all styles, formatting and layout are in the right place.

Step 3 is up to you and your computing skills, but a professional designer will know what special things need doing – and what you need to avoid doing (especially if you are going the ebook route). This is when you do a proofread to catch anything that has been missed or gone astray during layout.

Step 4 is a minefield of options that keep expanding at the rate the WWW is expanding – plenty of advice will be freely given!

ISBNs, POD, ebook, print, KDP, Ingrams, Gardners – what/who are these and which should you engage with?

Step 5 – reaching out to the reader (or marketing) – doesn’t really belong at the end, it ought to be a sub-part of all the previous steps since you want to be announcing your work in advance, not flogging a horse that’s been a long time out to grass. If you are a social media fan then you’ll already be running those fingers over the keyboard.
How much?

There is no straightforward answer, I’m afraid. You need to be prepared to spend a minimum of £100 for a reader’s report; and a minimum of £500 for a basic proofread or copy edit; and then £30 an hour for designing.

I’ll happily do a sample edit of a page or two to: a) show you how I can help; b) to give me a better idea of what might need doing to give you an accurate quote.

Invest in three sessions on Preparing for Publication and be aware of what pitfalls to avoid.

Hope that helps!

PS ALLi members get a 10% discount

Partner Member of ALLi

ISBNs: why bother?

As ALLi say in their very helpful book Choosing the Best Self-Publishing Companies and Services:

“A good service will always offer you the option of using your own ISBNs and publishing imprint name. Do not let the provider insist you use its assigned ISBN. By doing this, you give up the right to be identified as the publisher of your book. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with using an assigned ISBN from a provider so long as you understand that you, the author, will not be the “publisher of record” and cannot take the edition of your book “as is” to another service, without first changing the book files and logos and reregistering the new edition with your own ISBN and publishing imprint. 

There may also be additional issues with copyright on the cover images used. And you can’t use a CreateSpace ISBN to distribute on Ingram, for example. 

Contact the ISBN issuing agency in your country (Bowker in the US; Nielsen in the UK) to request and purchase a block of ISBNs yourself, before contracting a service.”

Happy to sell you a Shakspeare Editorial ISBN at cost; happy to advise you on purchasing your own.


Shakspeare Editorial does NOT take royalties from your sales; after all, you have paid for the services you need.

“Read over your compositions and, wherever you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.”

Samuel Johnson

  • Like a bridegroom, an editor carries a first-time author across the threshold from school-taught theory to book-form execution. First-time authors, until then, have read as consumers, oblivious of the conventions of publishing. Who had noticed that the first paragraph of a chapter is not indented, or that ’20th century’ is not capitalised? Who knew the flexibilities of convention? What first-time author comes with a clear idea of their own style-sheet?
  • Thereafter, like a chaplain, the editor provides sympathy and confidence, a listening ear and a reassuring word, neither criticising nor preaching. Seeing the half-formed body, the naked face, they must be the soul of discretion.
  • The author must strum the tune, while the editor hums passively, like a sounding board, bringing out the notes.
  • The author is the psychiatric patient, and the editor is the friendly janitor, with bucket and mop, cracking apt jokes as he swabs the padded cell.
  • The author is the marathon man, making all the running, only aware of the editor when an arm pops out of the gathering gloom near the finish.
  • Unlike a coach, an editor does not say how things should be done. The editor does not pick the author for the first eleven, or tell the author which strong points to emphasise, or decide the formation of play, or design the training sessions.
  • Unlike a teacher, an editor does not pretend to be perfect. Editors know that their own work needs checking. Rather than put lines through text, they ask the author’s intention. They stand ready, even delighted, to drop their own ideas, in the face of creative conviction.
  • Editors know what makes an author tick, but authors do not fathom editors. Since the author pays the editor, he can never be sure what the editor thinks. Flattery is always around the corner.
  • Likewise, because authors come and go, and one editor may look after many authors, the editor resists involvement in the author’s little crises.
  • But if they are lucky, editor and author will grow to trust each other, and even achieve a mutual admiration.
Fergus Dunlop

Borderline Pass: proofreading, design and production as print and ebook

Thank you, Alison for your dedicated, skilful, professional work and for the confidence I felt throughout that my treasures were in safe hands.

The book was for family and friends who said:

it is brilliantly set out and printed! So good to have the letters typed up too cause I can never understand them!

They look AMAZING !!!!

Laura Conyngham

Editing, design and production, Chronicles 1950–2020

…  I like your copy editing style.  Thank you for making those edits.

… I am excited about wrapping this up and moving on to the next book.

Christopher Irons

Editing and production, Reclaiming Our Own

I love it you have made an excellent job of it thank you.

… this book looks really good thanks for all your help

Tracey Bryant

The Dog Poo Fairy and The Wildlife Fairy: proofreading, design and production as print and ebook, See her Facebook page

Absolutely OK, brilliantly OK, and fantastically OK (the covers)

Hot out of the box! Perfect! You’re a genius! And in less than a month! (on receipt of books)

Peter Hunt

Covers, layout and production, The Perdita Series

Thank you for all you have done for me.
I am very happy
Michael Ellis

Editing, layout and production, The Ascension of the Human Being

Thanks for all your help. You’ve been really professional and I’d happily ask you to work for me again.

Richard Grainger

Losing The Plot, Buy it on Amazon

‘you HAVE TO USE Alison Shakspeare, she is amazing, … my book … would have been impossible without Alison’s skill and professionalism, … her attention to detail is phenomenal.’

Deborah Aloba

Edit, book design, ebook formatting, publication, Teaching Dyslexics How to Read and Write Music

Thank you also very much for the great work, Alison!

Gill Prates

Edit, book design, ebook formatting, The Girl Who Made Me Dance

‘Dear Alison, It has been for me a pleasure working with you, I am overwhelmed by the book, so a big Scottish thank you and I will keep in touch.’

Richard Glass

Autobiography, The Long Journey

‘What a wonderful piece of work – I love the cover (so evocative) and it’s beautifully laid out.’ Comment received by author about her collection of short stories

Pam Barnard

Proofreading, book design and publication, And Some of Them Are True

A big thanks for pulling the mass of information together and making a dream a reality!

Martyn Bate

Editing, book design and publication, C'mon the Ferry: A History of Briton Ferry RFC 1888–2014

Alison has professionally and patiently guided me through the process of getting my childrens’ book from developmental edit to publication. Her calm manner and knowledge were an invaluable guide and motivation.

Jane Snookes

Editing, book design and publication, The Unexpected Quantor

‘The book is great thank you for all your hard work.’

Keith Brown

Mere Kaffir, Available on Amazon

Needless to say, I’d love to help you achieve your publication dream (do get in touch) with as few or as many stages as you need (and am happy to handhold/train the less technologically comfortable).

If you are new to this writing lark then it might be worth reading some/all of these books: The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley; Show, Don’t Tell is the title of several books on the very important trick of entertaining not lecturing; Structuring Your Novel by KM Weiland; and How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Kittelmark.

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