Identifying Your Source Files

Are you considering republishing your book with Emerald Lake Books? Perhaps it’s time for a second (third or fourth) edition? Or you haven’t received the results or support from your current publisher and it’s time for a change?

Whatever your reason, Emerald Lake Books does periodically take on titles for republication if they’re a good fit for our catalog.

If this is a move you’re considering, here are a few things you should know.

  1. Before republishing your title, check your existing contract to make sure that you have retained non-exclusive rights to your work.
  2. Carefully read through the agreement to discern whether there are any potential issues with your intended move, and what the procedures are to obtain the source files for your book. Oftentimes, a nominal fee is charged because the publisher will have to update the source files to remove all references to their ISBN and publishing house.
  3. Be prepared to wait as long as a month to get your source files, sometimes longer if the publishing house you’re leaving is in a state of turmoil or upheaval.

Understanding Source Files

So what exactly is a source file and why do you need it?

HTML Source FileThe source files for the interior of your book are often maintained in Word, InDesign or some less common publishing-related software. The cover may be designed in InDesign or Photoshop or other image-related software, and that’s a separate file (or set of files) from the interior.

A simple text-based book may consist of only two source files, one for the interior and another for the cover.

However, more complicated titles that involve more design work or have a larger number of images may consist of dozens, even hundreds, of files that work together as a package. When books are designed using InDesign, there are often content files, link files, document fonts, style sheets and more that combine together to create the finished result.

Whether there are 2 files or 200, these are the files that the publisher used to create the interior layout for your book as well as the cover.

From the source files, the publisher often will create a PDF to present to the printer and to you. PDFs ensure that there are no unintended shifts in font or design as the file moves from one computer to another.

So, the latest copy you have of your book is often the PDF that you were given as a proof or galley for review. Or possibly you received a subsequent updated, final version after your approval. However, this PDF is not a source file and cannot easily be used to republish your work. (It’s not impossible. It’s just limiting and far from ideal.)

Source Files at Emerald Lake Books

At Emerald Lake Books, the interiors of our titles are designed either in Word or InDesign, depending on the complexity of the project. For us to republish your work at minimal cost to you, we would need the original source files in Word or InDesign. That way, we can make the necessary changes to update the publisher references and assign a new ISBN to your book.

That’s not to say that we can’t create new source files from the PDF that you have. But the costs associated with republishing your book will be higher since we have to effectively redesign the layout.

Therefore, whenever it’s possible, it’s in your best interest to obtain the source files from your previous publisher if you can. All you need to do is request the source files from them, comply with their procedures for obtaining them, and then provide the source files to us using DropBox or HighTail‘s free file transfer service, whichever is easier for you.

It should be noted that having the source files is not the only factor in the costs associated with republishing your work. We do have a set of design and content standards that must be met as well. Assuming your book meets our criteria, the process should be a simple and fairly straightforward one. However, if our evaluation reveals that the design or content are not up to our standards, we will provide you with an estimate that clearly outlines the costs involved to meet those standards.

Second Chances

Once the stress of having to choose a new publisher has passed, many authors start getting excited about the prospect of republishing their work. They often take advantage of the transition to a new publisher to add new content, fix errors that got passed them the first time, improve their cover design, or to change or revise outdated content. They also view it as a second chance at the book launch and all that they wished they’d done differently the first time.

So while no one ever wants to be put in the position of having to find a new publisher, if you embrace the experience, it can be a fun and rewarding one with the right publishing partner.

Everything You Need to Know About Editing

Types of Editing

There are four levels of editing.

Proofreading is the lightest, where someone essentially is reading for glaring errors. Oftentimes, you can use beta readers for this purpose. Essentially, you’re asking early readers to read your book before publication to point out any missed typos or errors.

Next is line editing, where grammar and punctuation are specifically checked to ensure they are accurate and meet style guide standards.

After that is content or copy editing, where grammar and punctuation are reviewed in addition to clarity. In other words, you’re asking the editor to tell you whether “this makes sense.”

Lastly is development editing. It includes all of the above but also assesses whether your book as a whole flows in a way that achieves your objectives for the reader and doesn’t contradict itself or make too broad a jump.

A Note About Ghostwriting

Beyond these forms of editing, there is ghostwriting. In that instance, you give your ghostwriter all the information they need to write the material for you. This is a highly specialized skill and the fees associated with it reflect that. Some ghostwriters only accept 2 or 3 projects a year because of the level of effort required to accurately capture the author’s voice as well as present their material–to take on any more would mean they couldn’t do any of them exceedingly well. For that reason, you’ll see prices for ghostwriting range dramatically based on the experience and expertise of the writer. I know some ghostwriters who will write a full-length book for $10,000 and one who is at the top of his field who charges $130,000 per book.

Where to Find Editors

Sometimes authors tell us that the book they are considering publishing with us has already been edited, so they won’t need that service when we publish their work.

While we are happy to accept someone else’s editing, the material does have to pass our standards for publication. And that sometimes means we need to re-do the edit.

What we find out in those instances, oftentimes, is that the author found someone on Fiverr or they hired a friend who is an English teacher. While this may cut costs, it’s not always a viable solution.

You want to find a book editor if you’re working on a manuscript or an academic editor if you’re working on articles, academics or essays. They use different style guides (Chicago Manual of Style vs American Psychological Association) to determine what’s acceptable practice. These people keep up with the changes to the style guides and make sure that currently accepted practices are being used.

While we love and adore English teachers, it’s uncommon for them to keep up with the latest changes in the industry.

Editing is one of the services we offer at Emerald Lake Books. But, should you be looking for additional resources to explore, try visiting:

In both of these organizations, you’ll find a mix of editors, so look for those who offer the kind of editing you need for the type of writing you’re doing.

Pricing for Editing

When it comes to pricing for an editor, the standard practice is to charge per word, although some charge per page or per hour. The “per word” rate is a much more concrete number than the others, so it’s softer on the budget.

However, if you are considering working with an editor who charges per page, make sure you know what size they consider a “page.” (Or ask for the average word count of a page.) If the editor you are considering charges per hour, find out how many words per hour they edit on average.

Other Things to Note

Many editors will do a sample edit for you, where you give them an agreed-upon number of words and they return it edited, so that you can determine if you’re a good match for each other.

When you write a book, the two most significant places to spend money are on cover design and editing. One gets people to look more closely at your book, while the other forms an impression of how valuable what you have to say is. You can have the best advice in the world to share, but if it’s poorly written, it won’t be perceived as worthwhile.

This is especially important if you want to sell significant quantities of your book or use it as a business-building tool, because the quality of your book then reflects the quality of your business.

What is a BISAC subject?

When you assign an ISBN to a book, you will need to determine the book’s most suitable categories. These categories should match or be similar to its BISAC subjects.

First, let’s get that acronym out of the way. BISAC stands for “Book Industry Standards and Communications.”

Next, it’s important to understand the purpose and application of BISAC subjects. The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) created this list to standardize the electronic transfer of subject information between businesses within the North American book industry. This includes Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Bookscan, Bowker, Indiebound, Indigo, Ingram and most major publishers. Even some libraries use a book’s BISAC subject to make it easier for patrons to find books.

A committee within BISG is responsible for creating a hierarchy of topics, breaking them down into sub-categories. While they don’t provide a description for what topics belong in every subject, they do create usage notes for the BISAC Subject Headings (the highest level of the hierarchy of codes).

You can access the complete list of BISAC subjects here. The list starts at the top level of the hierarchy. As you drill down into the subjects (the “parent”), you’ll find a variety of related subcategories (the “child”).

Every entry in the hierarchy has both a code and a name. This information does not need to appear anywhere on or in your book (as a matter of fact, we recommend that you don’t include it in your book), but it’s often used when creating an online book listing. Some online retailers will request the BISAC code while others ask for your book category. They represent the same information.

Optimizing Your BISAC Subject

When identifying suitable categories for a book, one of the strategies we use at Emerald Lake Books is to select child categories from different parents. This gives the title more exposure.

For example, when we published The 143rd in Iraq, we selected a BISAC category in History and another in Biography.

When we published Stress-Free Chicken Tractor Plans, we selected a parent category of Business & Money because one of the subcategories is Agriculture. We also chose Science & Math because Sustainable Agriculture is a child category there. And, given that it is a set of plans for constructing mobile chicken housing, we included the book in Engineering & Transportation as well.

You can’t afford to be dismissive of this process. An improperly classified title can significantly impact how quickly new readers find your work. We actually spend quite a bit of time understanding a new title’s audience so we can determine its best categories.

The categories can be changed later if you find they aren’t working for you. As a matter of fact, that’s a strategy we employ to give our titles even greater visibility, especially within Amazon.

Since we don’t include the BISAC subject on the physical book anywhere, we can change categories as often as we’d like. Therefore, we can target Amazon categories with very low competition, ranking the title quickly in that category, which impacts Amazon’s algorithm and gives the title more visibility. Once we’ve created that visibility, we can tackle a more competitive category.

In retail stores, shop owners will use the BISAC subject to determine on which shelf your title belongs. So you always want to make sure that whichever categories you choose, you are selecting those that will make sense to the reader. This is just one more reason why knowing your ideal reader for a title is so imperative.

As a result, part of your on-going strategy for marketing your book should include periodically re-evaluating and adjusting the BISAC subject you are using to maximize the exposure of your book.

What is a LCCN or Library of Congress Control Number?

The Library of Congress has a program called the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program. Its purpose is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s collections.

Once the book is published, these preassigned control numbers become “Library of Congress Control Numbers” or LCCNs. Strictly speaking, the LCCN is the control number for the bibliographic record entered into the Library’s database, not for the book itself.

However, libraries use the Library of Congress database, as well as other databases, to stay up-to-date on available titles, and the only way they will find your book is if it has a bibliographic record listed in the Library’s catalog.

When an LCCN is assigned to a title, the publisher adds it to the copyright page of the book. This number is then referenced in the Library of Congress database so that libraries know it exists.

It is important to note that there is no relationship between applying for an LCCN and copyright registration. They are two different programs entirely.

Unfortunately, the LCCN isn’t something that most authors even know to ask for. Yet it’s something that all libraries use. So by not requesting one, authors often miss the opportunity to have their books discovered by libraries.

Unlike ISBNs, which retailers and distributors rely upon, libraries use the LCCN to identify a title, not a format of the book. The version you apply the LCCN to should be your “best version.” Meaning that if you have a hardcover version, apply it to that. If not, apply it to your paperback. If you lack that format as well, then apply it to your eBook. As a result, you only need one LCCN as opposed to ISBNs, where you need one for each format of your title (excluding Kindle versions).

And also unlike ISBNs, LCCNs are free.

It typically takes about a week to get the number assigned, although depending on the time of year and current demand, it can take significantly less time (we’ve received them in as little as 2 days) or much longer if there’s a backlog of current applications for numbers (like around the holidays).

To apply for an LCCN, you start by creating an account at http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/newaccount.html and following the prompts. It can take one to two weeks before your account is issued, so make sure that you account for that in your book launch planning. It’s best to apply early and have it for when you’ll need it than to wait until the last minute and be held up by not having it.

Once your account is issued, you log in to the system and provide all of the relevant information about your book.

While we typically apply our ISBNs very early in the publishing process here at Emerald Lake Books, filing for an LCCN is done much later in the process. The reason is, for the LCCN application, you need to specify things like the approximate page count, trim size and a few other things that we may still be adjusting very late in the design stage.

Therefore, in an effort to be as accurate as possible, we wait until all edits are done and the interior design is fairly complete before filing for it.

However, since it belongs on the copyright page of the book, it’s something we must be sure is completed before we send the book off to the printers.

It’s also very important to note that once you’ve published the best version of your book, you are required to mail a copy of it to the Library of Congress for cataloging and inclusion in the Library.

Submitting your book to the Library does not guarantee it will be cataloged, but if you don’t submit it, you can be certain it won’t be!

Unfortunately, the Library doesn’t respond to status updates, so the only way to tell if your title has been accepted into the catalog is to periodically check the Library of Congress Online Catalog.