Author Services FAQ frequently asked questions

We provide you the same level of service/attention to detail as we do for authors we publish through our traditional imprints. Our goal is to help you publish the best possible book, not sell you services you don't need.

You decide how you want to publish. Instead of requiring you to pick a “package” deal, we charge an hourly rate and an estimate of hours needed for your particular project. You can be your own publisher or we can provide the ISBN and be the publisher of record. We provide free consultation and advice along the way.

Send us an email about your book and we'll see if we are a good fit.

Our rate for author services is $60 per hour. Projects may be completed in 5 hours or less, or take 25 hours or more, depending on what kind of assistance is needed. We'll do our best to estimate the scope of the project ahead of time, work within your budget, and meet your manuscript's needs at the same time.

If we need to purchase images, fonts, or permissions, we will bill you at cost + 10% or give you the option of purchasing directly from the source and providing us with the files. We will work with you to stay within your budget and still provide the best possible final book.

Editing is available at various rates depending on level needed (e.g., proofreading vs. copyediting vs. developmental editing). A general range is $25 per hour to $60 per hour.

Our services are very flexible, so what you want dictates what we will do to help get your book on the market. We will always provide our opinion on your best course of action while leaving the decision in your hands.

We will generally:

  • Review your manuscript, ideas, and any graphics you choose to provide, and then share our ideas for your consideration.
  • Have a professional graphic artist and book compositor create the cover design and interior formatting for print and/or e-book
  • Send the PDF proofs for you to provide revisions and corrections until you say it is ready. (Note: POD and e-book versions can have changes made after publication at a reasonable cost.)
  • Make corrections in both pre-press prep and during PDF proofing. During pre-artist review, we will notify you if we find any typos or obvious errors. Full editing, including proofreading, copyediting, or line editing, is only done if you request it. We will always advise you if further editing (e.g., developmental or content editing) is in your best interest before proceeding.

Once you feel your book is ready and all final changes have been made to the interior and cover, we handle the technical publishing details (assuming we are the publisher of record), including:

  • ISBN and bar code
  • sending your book to the printer (when POD, 5 USA print locations, the UK, Europe, Russia, Australia, Asia, and more)
  • listing your title with Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the United States and around the world, and R.R. Bowker's Books-in-Print registration
  • e-book formatting, listing, and distribution

We will also provide reasonable promotional and other assistance at our discretion as the publisher of record. This can include:

  • contacting applicable organizations to propose and negotiate mutually beneficial agreements
  • direct communication with the press/media
  • online promotion
  • creating a page dedicated to your book on our site (if the book's content does not detract from our family-friendly website)
  • advising author as requested
  • Note that if more dedicated promotional assistance is required, we will generally recommend partnering with a publicity or marketing firm.

Since we provide our services “À la carte,” we welcome custom and partial projects. We pride ourselves on not selling you anything your book doesn't need. If you have your book completely edited and just need assistance with design, formatting, and/or a knowledgeable mediator to handle printing and other publishing details, we're here for you.

Please note that any third-party publishing professionals or graphic artists must match the provided print or digital specifications.

Of course! But we don't sell marketing packages/services. We provide advice and assistance when appropriate to help you make the most of marketing your book. This can include advising you to hire an outside book marketing specialist if you need dedicated marketing assistance to help you make the most of your money. (Excessive consulting and project management hours are billable.)

Print-on-Demand (POD) publishing is a way to print small book quantities while maintaining quality and affordability. Books are printed on an as-needed basis, so there's no need to buy and store thousands of copies.

Grayscale and full-color options are available.

POD requires 3–4 days initial setup and 5 days to print, plus shipping time. A generally rule-of-thumb for direct (author) orders is that books will be delivered 3 weeks after files are first submitted to the printer, and thereafter within about 2 weeks.

When a bookstore, online or in-store, orders a book, it is printed and shipped much faster. For example, if a customer orders a book from or Amazon, (assuming books aren't already in stock), it'll be printed and shipped within 1–2 business days.

When needed, we can provide a traditional print run for your book. This is where a set number of your books are printed at one time, rather than on an as-needed basis like with POD.

Larger volume and specialty printing or binding needs make traditional print runs a viable option. In most cases, books are shipped directly to the author, and the author will ship to distributors, sell books locally, or online via their website or others.

Payment terms vary, but full payment is required before books ship. The proofing process varies by printer. Offset runs typically require 4–6 weeks for US printers and up to 3 months for overseas companies. There are also printers that may print as few as 25 copies, though it tends to be more economical when looking at 100, 250, or 500 copies. They may also offer faster printing speeds, sometimes as little as 5–10 business days, depending on current projects.

You may choose to be the publisher of record for your book or use our ISBN and us as the publisher of record. We can help you set up your own imprint, which is especially useful if you have multiple books you want to publish (such as a series).

If we act as the publisher of record (or create an imprint for your book under Pen & Publish), we will handle setting up the book via our publishing accounts (usually Lightning Source, Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and/or Google Play Books), registering the ISBN and LCCN, and paying the author royalties on a quarterly basis.

If the author (or author-created imprint) is the publisher of record, they must create their own account with Bowker (to register the ISBN), the Library of Congress (to register the LCCN), and with the print and/or e-book distribution service (such as Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, or others), and the author would then be paid directly through their account(s). We are happy to walk authors though any or all parts of this process so that they are comfortable maintaining their accounts or publishing future books.

Books are distributed through US-based wholesaler Ingram Book Group a worldwide network—making them available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and a worldwide network of national and local booksellers. POD titles can be printed and made available around the world. E-books can be made available on Amazon and/or distributed via Google Play Books, Smashwords, Kobo, Overdrive, iBooks, Nook, and more.

Books can be made returnable if bookstore stocking is part of your strategy. If Pen & Publish is the publisher of record, we charge a deposit of $200, and returns can be designated as destroy or return. POD titles designated for return are actually printed and the new book charged at $2.00 plus shipping. Either option reverses the original sale and is charged back against royalties.

If authors publish via their own accounts (IngramSpark, Amazon KDP, and/or others), authors are paid directly via these services and keep 100% of the royalties paid.

If we act as the publisher of record, authors receive 80% of net receipts as royalties for the first 1,000 books and 90% thereafter.

Yes, we can help you set up your own imprint, which is especially useful if you have multiple books you want to publish (such as a series). We do recommend consulting with a local attorney and/or tax professional on if you need to create an LLC or other business entity, to handle sales taxes, and more. Some cities and states have free or low-cost attorneys and tax advisors for authors and artists. Email us to discuss your own imprint.

This can depend a lot on A) what is needed for each particular book and B) how quickly the author reviews proofs and provides input as needed. Most projects are completed within 5 to 25 hours and within 2 to 8 weeks. Books needing editing will typically take longer; copyediting for example, often takes 3–4 weeks on its own. Special options, such as advance review copies, can add as much as 4 to 6 months to the process. We make every effort to work with you on your timeframe.

Of course. This is a popular option for first-time authors, smaller books, and anyone working with a minimal budget. Most e-books can be formatted within a few hours. If your book contains graphics, figures, nonstandard text, etc., this process can take longer.

Our printed books are professional trade quality, which is the dominant quality you see in bookstores.

These are the most common types of books we print:

  • Perfect bound soft-cover (paperback) books (or hardcover if needed—casebound or dust jacketed)
  • Environmentally friendly acid-free opaque paper (50lb. white or cream/natural)
  • Full-color covers professionally designed with your input, printed on 80lb. cover stock, with either matte or glossy lamination
  • Grayscale interior text and graphics (full color also available)
  • Each book comes complete with ISBN and bar code, so bookstores can purchase your book through wholesalers or direct from us

Specialty bindings, different paper weights or finishes, and other options are available if needed, most often with a traditional print run. Print-on-demand offerings are more limited, but do offer a variety of sizes, a few types of papers, and two cover finishes.

You can view and download a sample publishing agreement here. If you're interested in editing, cover design, book formatting and/or other work-for-hire services only, you can view a sample Book Design and Formatting Letter of Agreement here. Either of these agreements can be revised to fit your particular book's needs.

We make your print book available for order through most chain, independent, and online booksellers, including and Barnes & Noble, through our affiliation with international book wholesaler Ingram. E-books may be made available via Amazon, Google Play Books, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Overdrive, and/or other e-book retailers. Publisher direct orders from our website can also be arranged.

We can help you determine which publishing route is best for you and your book. Generally, setup for a print book is one of the more time-intensive parts of publishing, but adding an e-book usually only adds 2–3 hours to the process (graphic-heavy or complex book designs may take longer to convert to an e-book).

Some authors may choose to start with an e-book only, based on their marketing goals and budget. A standalone e-book will generally take longer to format from scratch (vs. starting from the print layout), but is still a relatively quick process. Authors can always add on a print book later if they desire.

If your book is heavy in figures and/or images, a print-only book may be the best route to preserve your layout and image quality. While some figures and images may translate well to the screen, others do not, particularly e-ink devices or small screens.

Most often, authors choose to have both a print and e-book created at the same time to release simultaneously.

Absolutely! Before your book is ever submitted to the printer, we go through as many rounds of proofs as is necessary for you to be happy with your cover and book interior. You must give approval of the final proof before your book is published (for print and/or e-books). POD and e-book versions can have changes made after publication at a reasonable cost.

While we will make recommendations based on our expertise, particularly when feedback is requested, all decisions regarding your book are ultimately yours.