My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Back Covers, Conversions and Timeframe

The final cover by Brina Williamson,

The final cover by Brina Williamson,

An author is always more than an author.

An author creates worlds, gives birth, administers death; in some works many, many times over. They are the judge, the jury, and the attorneys arguing both sides in a case. They are the royalty deciding mercy and the peasants pleading for it. They can be everything for their characters (making all their dreams come true), or more harshly nothing at all. They are the beginning and the end.

But beyond these awesome “god-like” powers, for me, I am also an actor.

An actor?

Well, no not really. I can’t really act at all, but whenever I am in the wonderful position of “locking down” a novel I read the entire work out loud. It’s my secret “hat” I like to wear. Scott the one-man show, and in the performance I “ feel” each character, each line, and each description. For if the voice is right throughout, I know it will feel that way for the reader as well. It is a practice I highly recommend to all writers.

That is where I am right now with the book I am self-publishing, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

Watch out Sir Laurence Olivier!

Back Covers

In the last few posts I discussed the importance of the cover as one of the first important marketing steps in getting someone to pick up (or click on) your book, but the second step of that is the back cover.

The all-mighty description.

There is a science to writing these back covers/descriptions since you want to say just enough to whet their appetite, but never so much that you give away all of the farm. The closest thing I can describe it to is a movie trailer, but even that description doesn’t fully capture the skill in doing this. A trailer can just throw a bunch of random moments at you (and they all do) assuming you, as the watcher, will put this disjointed collection together into something in your mind.

I mean if your description was like a movie trailer it would be a collection of words, incomplete sentences, and exclamation points.

Nah, that doesn’t work.

No, your description has to be more, you aren’t throwing it at the audience (like a trailer) you are taking the reader’s hand and leading them to something then letting go…. How about this? It’s like being a guide at an art museum describing a work, but if they want to stay and look and hear more, well, that is their decision.

So for the last week, I’ve been debating with myself how I want to describe this novel. Well, I finally came up with something that I sent to my bold editor (Rebecca T. Dickson, you can learn more about her services here, or try one of these links: “Fear I want to write but” and “Who the hell is Rebecca T. Dickson?”) and my extremely talented cover artist for their opinion on. Both gave the thumbs up.

My cover artist Brina Williamson (who did the amazing final cover above. Do yourself a favor fellow writers and visit her website here. The variety of her work is amazing.) though had a surprise for me, taking it one step further….

It is the back cover for my book with my new description!

Check it out:

Maximilian Standforth, back cover

I am just floored by this, and I can’t believe how lucky this collaboration has been for my work. We are planning other artistic surprises in the book, but I won’t ruin those here (I showed what we are planning to my editor and she said she loved it in all caps! Ha!). “Surprising” is a good word to use around this book and I look forward to sharing it with you.


It’s fascinating to me how many businesses out there are making money off self-published authors. When this enterprise took off in the 1990’s, thanks to amazon and the internet (remember when Iuniverse was everything?), I never would have expected this. Is there really that many writers out there that so many companies can survive like this?

Clearly, the answer is yes.

Kind of makes you wonder if us authors should get tax breaks like big oil,eh?

Anyway, my big focus right now is on what’s next.

As I wrote in my last update I am thinking of using CreateSpace for the print (of course if someone else, or even a company, has something to recommend, I would gladly listen). From what I can see they have made this pretty user-friendly with videos walking you through how to make a book (like this one). Setting margins? I can do that! Okay, there might be other issues later, but I am enjoying the innocence of what seems easy now.

BobFor me it gets weird when I think of turning my book into a format that can be sold for the different eBook readers. I want there to be nothing in this book, or its presentation, that takes the reader out of the world I am making (that Bob to the left is writing). So I plan to look into a conversion company to handle it. One I found was eBook Adaptations.

So my fellow writers, what did you do around this? What company did you use to convert your book? Or, better yet, if you are a company that does this, please feel free to comment below or e-mail at as well. (And if I use your service I will definitely discuss the experience in a post like this.)

I am still looking into all of my options here, from publishers to conversions.


On April 30, my novel A Jane Austen Daydream will be released by Madison Street Publishing. Everything is moving forward quickly around the book. I’ve seen the proofs of the interior of the book and the full covers, and there is even a GoodReads page for it now with a contest. (Awesome! Sign up now!)

The last thing I want to do is have two books released at the same time, in the same month, creating a weird form of literary competition. They are both my kids, can’t we all just get along?

So my plan at this point is to push Maximilian’s release back until May 28 or around then (I’ll do a post later when I feel that I have a schedule firmly in place). A lot around this date is the issues of getting the book ready (see above) and deciding the steps to take.

I don’t mind this being a late May release since it gives me more time to “perform” the book, be as happy with it as I can be. So excuse me as I approach the stage…

What do you mean Olivier is dead??? 

If you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had three novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen Daydream (to be released on April 30), My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!…

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard

A Jane Austen Daydream

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends April 29, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


17 thoughts on “My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Back Covers, Conversions and Timeframe

  1. I did all my conversions (.mobi, .epub, .pdf) on Calibre, which is free. I downloaded the different reader apps (also free) so I could see how the files would actually be displayed on the screen. I did my trade paperback on Create Space–likewise free. I really don’t get what a “conversion company” is supposed to do for you–you can do it all yourself for a little sweat equity.

    • I’ll look into Calibre. Thanks for the info!

      Well, the site I listed creates a version of the book for each of the different eBook formats, lines up your table of contents and then verifies the look with you for them. I can get pretty “experimental” in my work so I get nervous, even with working with professional companies, that some of my more “creative” formatting can get lost in the shuffle.


  2. First off, the cover looks great! What a talented designer. I think your back cover description is compelling. I’d buy the book based on these two elements. As a newbie to the indie game, I relied on CreateSpace for the print & e-book versions. I don’t know about next time. We’ll see.

  3. Pingback: Cover Art for Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare | Scribblings of Brina Williamson

  4. I’ve always thought that writers had to be, or just naturally were, actors. As well as directors, and possibly set decorators, and costume designers, and lighting directors, and fog machine technicians, and… well, you get the idea. But yes, being an actor is possibly one of the most important parts to it. I find myself acting out the dialogue in my head as I write it, and dialogue is definitely one of my favorite things to write.
    I’m so happy you are happy with the cover art for Max, and if anyone is interested, I’ve done a post describing my process in creating it.

  5. Great blurb for Maximilian Standforth! They can be tricky to write, but it sounds like you’ve got something that sets the tone pretty well.

    And I know what you mean about the actor angle – I often find myself alone in front of my computer, auditioning my characters’ lines in (as close as I can get to) their voices and inflections to get a feel for how they work. (>^-‘)>

    CreateSpace seems to be the best independent printer around at current, so using them is certainly not a bad bet. And if you feel comfortable typesetting your own print copy (with leading and kerning metrics and all that fun stuff), formatting an eBook should be a breeze. You’ve mentioned contemplating Smashwords as your non-Amazon eBook distributor, and I’d concur that it seems like the best way to go. If you know your way around Word and pay attention to their guidelines, you can get a great looking ePUB (they’ll auto-convert it to other formats too, but they’re mostly throw-away and not what will be delivered to retailers).

    At the risk of shameless promotion, you can take a look at my own indie-book experiment on iBooks / Nook / direct download (it’s free on all) to get an idea of what kind of end results to expect.

    That said, if you’d still feel more comfortable with a typesetter, and you like what you see there (I could also show you my print set), then I’d be happy to offer my own services.

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