Gold! Foreword Reviews Announces 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Winners

June 26 was a good day at Hop On Publishing and its parent company POP Editorial Services. That’s when we learned that Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro had taken the gold in the Writing category in the 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards

Four excellent guides had made it to the final round, and Perfect Bound won top honors. In addition to the silver award from the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, this recognition from librarians and booksellers across the country has been astounding.

I have to admit, I never thought we would win. Chris Pickett was the force behind selecting and entering the competitions. “I always knew we would win,” Chris said. “I had complete confidence in the book and I thought it stacked up well against the competition.”

With each success for Perfect Bound, we are reminded that we did not do this alone. Heartfelt thanks go to the 11 publishing professionals featured in the book for their generosity in sharing valuable insights. And a warm thank you to Susan Moore (copyeditor), Sue Hartmann (designer), and Sharon Honaker (proofreader) for their work to make ours an award-winning book.

Perfect BoundLike this blog? Find more advice and insights in the award-winning book Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers


IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Silver Award Winner!

Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro has been named a Silver award winner in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards!

April 10, 2015, I traveled to Austin, TX, to attend the awards ceremony, and it was a terrific experience. My friend, colleague, and contributor to Perfect Bound, Kathy Clayton, was my guest for the evening.

Katherine Pickett and Kathy Clayton at the IBPA awards ceremony
Katherine Pickett and Kathy Clayton at the IBPA awards ceremony

Our table of ten was filled with finalists and industry notables. Having chosen our table at random, we were thrilled to be seated with three other finalists. Also at the table were Sonia Marsh, who heads the popular Facebook group Gutsy Indie Publishers, and Brian Jud, executive director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS; formerly SPAN).

Two of the finalists at the table won Gold Awards. Rita Gardner won for her memoir, The Coconut Latitudes, and Shea Henderson won in the crafts and hobbies category for her book School of Sewing. We all joined the fun.

Rita Gardner wins Gold
Rita Gardner wins Gold

Perfect Bound took Silver in the reference category. Although it would have been nice to win the Gold, the book has done well. Over the past two days both the print edition and the ebook have landed on Amazon bestseller lists, and for several hours yesterday the print edition was on two bestseller lists concurrently.

Perfect Bound hit two bestseller lists April 14, 2015
Perfect Bound hit two bestseller lists April 14, 2015
The ebook hit the bestseller list April 15
The ebook hit the bestseller list April 15, 2015

It is constant conversation among writers as to whether these awards competitions are a good investment. Some can be quite expensive. The strategy at Hop On was to choose two awards where we valued the opinion of the awarding body and where we thought our book would fit — and possibly win.  For us, it has been a terrific experience and a whole lot of fun. Besides being recognized by an industry-leading organization, we are also reaching more readers, and that is what the publishing adventure is all about!


PerfectBound by Katherine PickettLike this blog? Find more insights and advice in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers

The Votes Are In! Perfect Bound Is a Finalist in Two Awards Competitions!

Great news, everyone! Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro has been named a finalist in not one but TWO contests!

Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year AwardsThursday, March 12, at 4 p.m., Foreword Reviews announced the finalists for its 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards and Perfect Bound made the list. We are one of four finalists in the Writing category. You can see our listing and read more about the contest here:

Not two hours later, the Independent Book Publishers Association announced the finalists for its competition, the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards. Once again, Perfect Bound made the cut, this time in the Reference category. Read more about this contest and view our competition here:

To add to the fun, a book I copyedited last year is also a finalist in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, is one of three finalists in the Regional category (

We will have to wait until the end of June to learn our final standing in the INDIEFAB Awards. However, I will be in Austin, Texas, for the IBPA awards ceremony April 10 to learn whether Perfect Bound was awarded a Silver or Gold Medal.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the book, whether with interviews or reviewing early drafts of the manuscript or editing and design.

As you can imagine, we are absolutely thrilled at this good fortune. We have always been proud of Perfect Bound, but with so many other books published each year, it is an honor and a joy to be recognized. Now let’s hope we can turn that “Finalist” status into Gold Medal Winner!

Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers

Defining Success: My Interview on Today’s Leading Women

In October I was interviewed by Marie Grace Berg of Today’s Leading Women. The interview went live last week, and you can listen to it here:

In preparing for the interview, I was thankful I received advance notice of what we would discuss, as it gave me a chance to consider (1) what my top three tips are for those looking to start a business, (2) what new resources I would recommend, and (3) how I balance work, family, friends, and health,* among other questions.

One of the hardest questions for me to answer was, Who is your hero? I don’t follow superheros nor am I enamored with Oprah or other television personalities, so I had to turn elsewhere for a role model. I finally settled on one of the leaders in the publishing industry, someone who has helped me personally and who models the mentor spirit that I strive for. (Listen to the podcast to find out which one.)

Today's Leading Women

One of my favorite questions was, How do you define success? That one really got me thinking. I consider myself successful, but by what standards?

Success in business generally implies financial success, and that is definitely part of it. It took six months for POP to become solvent back in 2007, meaning I lived off the proceeds of my company exclusively at that time. That was a huge achievement, and I reached it faster than many new companies. It’s definitely a point of pride.

But that’s just one hurdle. The next level of success meant being able to work on projects of my choosing. I built a client base over the first several years of the company, and now I have enough job offers that I do not have to accept every project that comes along.

But again, that is not the pinnacle of success for me. As of 2015, I have consistent work that enables me to take much more control of my schedule, and that, to me, is the true sign of a success.

What does control of my schedule mean? It means more time for family, friends, and health. It means being able to even consider training for a century ride (100 miles on a bike in one day). It means being able to read more books for pleasure, promote my own book, and spend time with my husband and daughter on weekends. It means so much more than just paying bills and meeting financial goals.

Now, I suppose the day I am able to say I have complete control of my schedule will be the day I really know I have made it, but I do suspect that will only come when I retire. There will always be a deadline to meet and a client to please. But being able to choose those clients, and being able to work within standard business hours, has meant a significant increase in my happiness quotient.

* For the record, I can’t rightly claim to balance work, family, friends, and health. I work a disproportionate amount, and my health suffers because of it. But I try. Boundaries, I have learned, are the key. With a toddler under foot, that lesson becomes more obvious every day.


Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in  Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.


Is Money the New Gatekeeper?

In publishing, the gatekeeper is the person who keeps your book idea from becoming a reality. Traditionally that has been the publishing houses and the agents who say “No, thank you” to your proposal. But self-publishing has eliminated those forces. Authors can circumvent the whole agent-publishing house system and put out their own book, in a matter of hours if they so choose, and no one can stop them.

To create a book that people will actually purchase, however, you need to do more than just publish your first draft. You need a professional editor and a professional designer (the designer so people will open your book, the editor so they will continue to read it). And those things cost money. So I ask you, Is money the new gatekeeper?

I posed this question to some colleagues online and the response from some was that quality is and always has been the only gatekeeper. Having read some of the awful books that have been published, both traditionally and independently, and having read some of the terrific books that may never be published, I can’t say I agree. Quality, while not irrelevant, is only part of the issue. How will you achieve quality? All on your own? Not so for most of us.

Curiously, money has become a barrier for those looking for a traditional publisher as well. Particularly with fiction writers, who are expected to approach agents with a completed manuscript, the new expectation is that authors will turn in manuscripts that are publication ready. In fact, one agent I know said while she used to accept a manuscript if it was 99% ready, she now only accepts those that are 100% ready. That was demoralizing to me, and I don’t even write fiction. And for nonfiction writers? Even these authors, who often have their book ideas accepted before the writing is complete, may be asked to pay for editing before submitting the final manuscript to the publisher. If they don’t, the house is fully prepared to end the deal.

I have explained before why editing costs so much, and I would not argue that editors or designers should charge less than they are worth. But if you believe as I believe that everyone needs an editor (that is my company motto, by the way), you have to admit that money plays a significant role in whose books get read and whose don’t, whose books get published and whose don’t. In the past that investment came from the publishing house. Now more often than not it is laid at the foot of the author.

Like this blog? Look for Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, coming Fall 2014.

Self-Publishing: How Much Will It Cost?

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, you need a budget. Without one, your project will stall as you realize this great, easy thing everyone keeps talking about actually takes some money. How much could it possibly cost? Well, $5,000-$7,500, in fact. For some, it could be much more.

You will soon discover the biggest expense you incur is the time you spend writing and marketing your book. Don’t discount the value of your time. You may be spending a couple hundred hours just on marketing, and that’s time you could be spending with family, friends, or a paying gig.

But what about monetary expenses? When self-publishing, the money you spend will largely be through the professionals you hire to assist you. From manuscript to book, you will require a variety of services to achieve a professional-looking, marketable product.

Here is a breakdown of some of the more common vendors you will use (fees based on Editorial Freelancers Association guidelines and my own research):

Book coach: $100 to $300 per 1.5-hour session

Developmental editor: $10 to $15 per manuscript page, or $45 to $65 an hour

Copyeditor: $4 to $10 per manuscript page, or $18 to $40 an hour

Proofreader: $2 to $5 per typeset page, or $15 to $35 an hour


            Interior: $6 to $10 per page, plus setup fee of $100 to $200

            Cover: $800 to $1,200; more for complex designs or original artwork

Printer/Binder: These prices assume a black-and-white interior with a full-color cover. You’ll pay more for longer books, color interiors, and/or larger trim sizes.

            500 copies: $3.65 to $5.25 per unit, plus shipping

            1,000 copies: $2.35 to $3.50 per unit, plus shipping

E-books: Price structures vary. Some are free to start with a cut of the list price going to the company; others charge a setup fee, but you keep 100% of sales.

As you can see, copyediting and design alone could run you $2,000-$3,000. But don’t skimp here. Professional editing, and particularly professional design, are what allow self-published books to compete with the traditionally published. After all your hard work, do you really want to put out an inferior product? Don’t forget, this is your book; you deserve to make it the best it can be!

The P Word: Why Plagiarism Is a Sin

All through high school and college English classes, I heard the P word at least once a semester. It was scandalous, a sin in fact. The one commandment of writing, I learned, is “Thou shalt not plagiarize.” As a teenager I had difficulty grasping the concept, but the more I wrote, the more I understood: if you didn’t write it, then don’t pass it off as your own — and changing a word here or there is not enough. This has grown into a passion of mine as an editor.

One small aspect of a copyeditor’s job is to highlight for the author certain material that may require permission (another scary P word). Generally this comes up when an author has chosen to excerpt some material from another source. Although the appropriate credit has been given, the excerpt is long enough or involved enough to warrant asking permission of the copyright holder to use his or her work. Now, there are a lot of ins and outs to permissions, and it’s understandable that even experienced authors get confused as to what requires permission and what doesn’t. I allow no such excuse for plagiarism.

Why so harsh? Because unlike permissions and copyrights, plagiarism isn’t a fuzzy gray area of law. It is a simple yes or no question: did you write this or not? I have seen plagiarism too many times by grown men and women, and what I have realized is, the sole motivation behind it is laziness. In books and articles, the self-published and those professionally done, I have discovered entire paragraphs — sometimes three or four paragraphs in a row — that were taken directly from another source, with no mention of the other source anywhere in the document. What kills me is, the author doesn’t seem to recognize that he or she has a particular voice or style of writing; when I come across something that a third person has written, it is usually pretty obvious.

Call me cynical, but I have come to believe these authors do it because they think they won’t get caught. I told one perpetrator, who was surprised when I called such a problem to her attention, “All I have to do is copy a sentence from your document into a search engine and I can find where you took it from.” Her response? An incredulous “Really?” Yes, really. Just as easily as you were able to copy and paste the material from Wikipedia into your manuscript, I am able to do a reverse search and find the source you stole from. And how embarrassing it is for all of us when I have to say, I’m sorry, this is plagiarism and you must rewrite it or cut it from your book.

On occasion it is possible this is just a simple mistake. However, more often, I have found multiple sections in a single manuscript that were pulled directly from another source. (Wikipedia is definitely a favorite, but not the only one.) What does this say to me? That the author didn’t actually want to write the book. He or she wanted to have a book published with his or her name emblazoned on the front, yes, but this person did not want to do the work needed to actually accomplish that goal. And that, to me, is sinful.

It all comes down to a question of integrity — the integrity of you, the author, and the integrity of the text you are excerpting. If you don’t know the rules, educate yourself before you begin the great undertaking of writing a book. If you do know the rules, follow them. It’s not that hard. It’s certainly easier to do it right the first time, and then you don’t have to try to explain yourself to your editor when she finds out what you’ve been doing behind closed doors.

Identifying Your Target Audience

“Sell Your Book!” writer’s clinic, Saturday, September 17, 2011, 9 a.m. to noon

One of the major steps in the writing process is identifying the target audience for your book. Many authors want to say their book appeals to everyone, but that’s not realistic and, honestly, not what your book needs. You want to narrow your audience so that you can provide readers with exactly what they are looking for. As they say, you can’t be all things to all people. So choose which group of people you want to “be all things” for. Be as specific as you can. Consider demographics, location, education level. Then find out what it is they really want, align that with what it is you have to offer them, and deliver on it.

An interesting aspect to this process is that it applies not only to authors but to all people looking to market a product or service. Who are you trying to reach? Even as I put this workshop series together, I had to ask myself that same question. For me the answer evolved fairly quickly.

My Workshop Target Audience

  1. I knew I wanted to reach writers who dreamed of publishing a book but who hadn’t gotten so far into the process that they couldn’t make adjustments. Saving time and money is a key goal of my message. That meant people who were still in the writing process and willing to go back for further revisions if needed.
  2. Further, I felt people who are new to the publishing world would benefit most. The information is great for all writers, and even for those simply interested in the publishing field, but that is not may primary audience.
  3. I also knew I wanted to reach those writing for a commercial audience. That meant excluding people who were publishing a volume for their family or other personal use.
  4. My experience is almost entirely with books, so writers in different media are not my target audience.
  5. However, having experience with self-publishers and traditional publishers, and with fiction and nonfiction, I was confident what I had to teach applied to all of those groups, so they are part of my audience.
  6. On the practical side, since this is an in-person workshop, my audience had to be local to St. Louis, MO.
  7. Finally, I narrowed my audience to age 18 and above, a somewhat arbitrary age that implies a certain maturity and experience level, and to a total of 5 attendants per workshop, to cater to those looking for a more personalized experience rather than a large classroom. I wanted to play to my strengths.

After I set those parameters on who exactly I was trying to reach, I used that information to shape the content of the workshop. That may evolve as I get feedback from attendants, but it gave me a solid start.

It was tempting to try to offer something for each and every writer, but because I wanted the best product possible, I had to set limits. It’s a valuable lesson, one I hope to share with more writers and would-be published authors as I continue to hold these workshops. If you want to provide the best experience possible for your audience, you must first decide who that is.

For more on this workshop or to register, visit

Website Launch: SYB Workshop Series

P.O.P. Editorial Services is launching a new website for the Sell Your Book workshop series!

Yep, P.O.P. is now offering two workshops to help authors find success: “Sell Your Book!” and “Produce That Book!”

I know, that’s a lot of exclamation points, but this is exciting stuff. And that’s why I decided the best thing to do is to dedicate a whole website to it.

I’ve written a lot about the original SYB workshop, so I’ll let you read the website or previous posts if you want to know more about that. This new one, however, is sure to be just as great. “Produce That Book!” covers the book production process from manuscript to bound book. For my editor friends, this is old hat. But for new authors, being able to navigate the publishing world and anticipate what will be required of them as they work to publish their books can be invaluable.

The most exciting feature of the workshop is the two-page sample edit from each author’s manuscript. Authors will get a feel for the editing process and learn firsthand what they need to do when they review a manuscript. This is a huge learning experience and will give these authors a leg up as well as added confidence as they navigate the publishing world.

It’s been so much fun putting the website together. It required a number of skills I don’t use on a daily basis, and I enjoyed the challenge. I wrote the text, chose the photos, and laid out the pages. Then I did what authors are told to do every day: revise, revise, revise. Finally, it’s time for the unveiling.

So, follow this link ( and check it out. Tell me what you think. And of course, if you know someone who’s interested, refer them to me. I’m always happy to talk to new and aspiring authors!

Mark your calendar: “Produce That Book!” workshop, Saturday, June 25, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios, St. Louis, MO. Register before June 18, 2011, to reserve your seat! Limit 8 people.

“Sell Your Book!” Workshop — Registration Has Begun!

As promised, P.O.P. Editorial Services is putting on a writers’ workshop, and I’m happy to announce registration is now open!

I’m very excited about this new opportunity to discuss writing, editing, and the publishing process as  a whole. After working with self-publishers for the past year and a half, I have found the information available to writers is extremely limited in scope. While there is a wealth of resources on how to write, the methods of writing, and how to market your book when it’s done, most authors hear very little about the steps they can take while they are writing that will help them market the manuscript when it is complete, as well as how they can save money in the process.

I think one problem is that this information isn’t as sexy as how to design your plot or how to “show, not tell.” Those things are very important, and without solid writing skills, most authors won’t get too far. I would add, however, that knowing the market for which you are writing, defining your audience up front, and considering what kind of packaging you want for your final product are of equal importance — and in some genres, more important than the quality of the writing. Having a polished manuscript is key to saving time and money, and knowing how to work with editors is essential to your success.

I do not suggest sacrificing originality for trends or trading quality writing for gimmicks. I suggest having as much information as you can early on so that you are making the best choices for your book, whether it is fiction or nonfiction. Much of this you can do on your own, and when you’re lost, editors can help you find your way.  In the end, the point is to give your topic its due, to get the most out of the work you have put in, and to find a way to get your ideas into the hearts and minds of your readers. That’s the philosophy behind “Sell Your Book!”

There is room for ten at the workshop, a small enough number to keep the information personalized and the group engaged, yet large enough to offer an honest exchange of ideas. With the passion we all feel for our writing, I know it’s going to be a great time.

If you are interested in learning more about the “Sell Your Book!” workshop or would like to register, please visit

“Sell Your Book!” workshop, Saturday, April 9, 2011, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Stone Spiral in St. Louis, MO.