Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who owns the rights to my manuscript?

A: You. There are some shops that ask for a piece of your royalties, or serve as your publisher. We have zero interest in doing either of those things. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information on rights.

Q: How long does the process take?

A: It depends. Many ebook projects, from the time we deliver a first pass until the time an author signs off, are wrapped up between 5 and 10 business days. Your mileage may vary, especially if your project requires scanning or other significant work, includes print interior design, or is part of a premium package order.

Q: Can I pay you extra to jump the queue?

A: On a case-by-case basis, we will execute a rush project. In those cases, we charge a premium at 1.5-times our hourly consulting rate ($125 per hour x 1.5 = $187.50 per hour; if it takes us three hours to make your ebook, plus another hour to make corrections after your review, that’s $750). A rush project is any project that jumps the queue ahead of previously scheduled work.

Chances are good that we’re not going to take on the job: they’re simply too disruptive to our schedule and it’s a delicate task to go back to an author who has been on our schedule for six weeks or more to tell them their ebook will be delayed. Some exceptions may exist, but if you need us to get something done within the next 4- to 6-weeks, plan on paying the rush rate and plan on us saying “no.”

Q: Will you upload to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and/or Smashwords for me?

A: No. Not even for a fee. There are several reasons for this, among them:

  1. The registration process requires authors and publishers to enter banking and other personal/business information. We believe, as a matter of best practice, that our access to that information—even temporarily—is none of our beeswax.
  2. The publishing process requires expertise about your book—product descriptions, rights territories, categorization, key words, pricing—that we simply don’t possess.
  3. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords have made it ridiculously easy to self-publish. If you can fill out our query form, you can self-publish your ebook.

Please see our Publishing Your Ebooks page for an overview of the publishing process at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Apple.

There is one notable exception to this: uploading to Apple. Because of Apple’s strict publishing requirements (Mac-only software, the author’s acceptance to the iTunes Connect program) we will handle uploading to the iBookstore at our regular hourly rate of $85 per hour (with a one-hour minimum charge), assuming you’ve handled the other requirements. Most of our authors, however, distribute to the iBookstore through Smashwords.

Q: Can I use Calibre, Sigil or some other ebook editing tool to edit the files you make for me?

A: Yes, but we don’t recommend it, as these tools can break your ebook files if you’re not careful or if you don’t have a working familiarity of XHTML, CSS and XML code. Also, by altering the ebooks, you void our guarantee to you that our work produces ePubcheck-valid files.

Q: Do you edit copy/proofread?

A: No, but we can point you in the direction of a few experienced proofreaders and copy editors. We will do light editing on things we find as we’re working with your ebook (adding in missing close/open quotes; fixing obvious spelling mistakes; etc.). We do not, however, go looking for these sorts of things. In other words, you should come to us with your manuscript in publishable shape: proofread, copy edited, line edited, re-written and polished. After all, you’re the publisher.

We highly encourage you to hire a copyeditor/proofreader. Here’s why: if Amazon or Barnes & Noble receives a sufficient number of complaints about your ebook because of typos, they’ll pull it until the issues are corrected. If you come back to us to make corrections to ebooks and/or paper books that have been insufficiently reviewed by you prior to publishing, we will consider it a rush job and invoice the work at the rush rate of $187.50 per hour.

The editing services we work with and recommend most often are listed on the 52 Novels Resources page.

Q: Do you do covers?

A: No, but we can point you in the direction of several talented designers. We can do some general stuff, but you really don’t want us to be in charge of designing your cover. The designers we work with and recommend most often are listed on the 52 Novels Resources page.

Q: What size do my covers need to be?

A: There’s a lot of confusion about cover sizes and the answer to this question depends on how the cover is used. For our purposes, the cover should be at least 1400px on the shorter side. We’ll optimize it for use in your ebooks. In most cases, your cover designer will provide you with at least one version that satisfies our requirements.

Q: Do I need an ISBN? Do you sell ISBN‌s?

A: No and no. None of the major self-publishing marketplaces—Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo—require one. While there is some debate in the indie publishing community about whether you need ISBNs to look professional, we don’t recommend purchasing them—they’re $125 a pop if you buy them one at a time—until you have a backlist of at least 6 books. Bowker—the company that issues and administers the numbers and ebook database—offers bulk pricing, but it only makes financial sense if you have, or will soon have, at least 10 ebooks. We are at present contemplating offering ISBNs as a reseller (you pay what we pay) and as a value-added offering for authors purchasing the premium package.

Q: Do I need to register my copyright?

A: We’re not qualified to give legal advice, but the answer is “it depends.” United States law is such that copyright automatically attaches itself to an author’s original works. In other words, authors own the rights to their manuscripts… until, that is, they assign the rights to someone else. Registering your copyright, however, gives you some advantages should you need to go after someone who’s swiped your work and passed it off as theirs. Either way, this doesn’t affect our relationship: as mentioned above, you do not assign your rights to us at any time. You do not assign your rights to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Apple—these are marketplaces that sell your work for a fee.

If do you wish to register your copyright in the U.S., use the Federal government’s eCO Online System and avoid Web sites that charge you as much $150 to register on your behalf. The fee through the eCO Online System is just $35, so beware if a Web site tries to charge more than this. Click here for a step-by-step tutorial on using eCO.

In any case, there’s no substitute for contacting an attorney specializing in copyright law should you have remaining concerns.

Q: When can I schedule my marketing campaign to begin?

A: You may schedule this to begin any time you like, but please understand that, while we make every effort to avoid it, delivery dates can and do slip from time-to-time. Because we are usually the final step in the production process for your book, please be sure you keep us informed of your marketing plans as soon as possible and preferably before they’re finalized. As a rule of thumb, it’s best if your campaign’s kick off is at least 30 business days after your scheduled first pass delivery from us.

Q: I write a lot of books. Do you offer discounts for multiple books?

A: Yes. Mention it in your query. We’ll talk more.

Q: I know a lot of authors. Do you have a referral program?

A: Yes. Mention it in your query. We’ll talk more.

Q: My ebook is for charity. Do you offer reduced rates for these types of projects?

A: Yes. Mention it in your query. We’ll talk more.

Q: Do I need to have my cover art ready before you can start work?

A: Yes, but we understand that coordinating schedules and delivery dates with several vendors can be difficult. We recommend that authors get on our schedule as early as possible. If we need to adjust the schedule because your cover’s not ready or you got stuck in a re-write, then we do the best we can to accommodate.

Q: Can I request a specific designer to work on my ebook?

A: Yes. But not every request can be accommodated. Each of the 52 Novels designers has a queue and sometimes it’s just not possible slide you in without some concessions on timelines. In other words, if you’re requesting a designer, your slot may not be the first available among all open dates. We do give preference, if desired, to designer-author parings with a previous working relationship.

Q: Do I need to have a Kindle or other ereader to do my review of the work?

A: No. In fact, the majority of the authors we’ve worked with did not have an ereading device. Instead, they used a desktop ereading application (Kindle Previewer, Kindle for PC/Mac, Adobe Digital Editions, an online ereader, etc.) to conduct their reviews.

Our “no,” however, comes with a reservation. As a writer, you probably have a computer with writing software of some kind installed. If you write in longhand, you have notepads, pens and pencils. These are the tools of the trade. Now that you’re a publisher, you need to have the tools of that trade, too. With the price of basic eink devices dropping to under $80, we’re finding that more and more authors now have one. We highly recommend it if you’re going to self-publish. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble often sell reconditioned ereaders at significant savings. You can also find excellent deals on pre-owned ereaders at eBay and on Craigslist.

Q: What are your hours of operation?

A: While many on our staff work on Internet time, none of them work all the time. As such, communication sent to us outside of regular business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) may not receive a response until the following business day. Members of the design staff set their own business hours, so please confirm availability with your designer once you’re assigned and in our queue.