Ebook & Editing Services

I, Robert Nagle,  have been running Personville Press, a small ebook publishing company which I do as a side business.  Personville Press has published about 10 ebooks so far. With Createspace/Amazon I produced two print books (one I authored).

I have a master’s degree in creative writing and a  strong background in editing and book production.  I understand the ebook market and  have experience formatting fairly complex ebooks. For two years I was the  top-rated  contributor on the Ebook Stack Exchange. Many people who produce ebooks work mainly on the editorial side or the technical side or the marketing side, but I do all three (with a heavy emphasis on the first two).  Here are some testimonials about my competency as an editor and publisher by author clients:  Testimonial #1 and  Testimonial #2.

From time to time, I do contract services to help authors to produce ebooks.  That includes:

  • editing the manuscript. This includes copyediting,  tightening prose and improving sentence flow.
  • converting and formatting a manuscript. This includes cleaning text,   formatting images and testing templates on different mobile platforms.
  • rewriting.  Sometimes the author has the content, but feels it needs to be completely rewritten or reorganized.   In some cases, I have rewritten certain passages as needed.
  • help with submitting to online bookstores and formatting.  I am very comfortable setting up a KDP Account (plus Author Central, etc) and Smashwords account.
  • writing press releases and book announcements. Sample 1, Sample 2 and here’s two sample press releases: example 1 and Example 2.
  • (Starting October 2019). Digitalizing previously published material like books and magazines. Recently I bought a professional grade book scanner (CZUR ET18 Pro Professional), so I now have the ability to convert printed books easily and can do so for a fee.
  • (Starting November 2020). Making professional-looking author websites using WordPress.  This website could be hosted on any third-party WordPress friendly site (WordPress.com, etc).  In addition, for an extra fee,  I can also self-host this website and be the webmaster (handling security updates and domain management).

Ebook Production

I price each project differently, but here’s some ballpark numbers for producing and  formatting an ebook. I assume that you have your source in MS Word/LibreOffice  or even an HTML file.  Generally you shouldn’t need to format the word processed document very much (less is better), but ideally the source file should contain bolds and indents;   smartquotes should be turned on.

Here are  prices for producing epub and mobi files. (I deliver both). These are general ballpark estimates; keep in mind that my estimate may be somewhat higher after I look at your specific  project (Current as of May 2020).

  • Base price: Under 20,000 words — $120, Under 50,000 words — $140, Under 75,000 words  — $160, Under 100,000 words — $175, Under 150,000 words — $200, Over 150,000 words — To be determined.
  • Clean up (if needed): 35$ per hour. The base price already includes about an hour of clean up; this extra cost applies if the cleanup is significant or unusual.
  • Images (up to 10): 25-50$. This assumes that you have high quality source files and hopefully the ability to make smaller images if necessary.
  • Other formatting (tables, lists, blockquotes): 20-75$
  • Poetry/Verse: 10-100$ depending on the complexity.
  • Open Source Fonts: $20. I might be able to recommend two or three font combinations, but you can choose your own.
  • Smart Quotes: If they are in the source, I typically can do them without extra cost. Sometimes if they did not convert cleanly (and I need to proof them manually), that may entail a small extra fee.
  • Rush Service: $25-100 extra.
  • Indexes and Footnotes.  I’ve done both, but I would have to look at the book content to give an estimate. (Probably 40-150$). Important note:  although indices look fine on EPUBs, apparently they don’t render as well on Kindle. (It  can render primary index entries ok, but secondary entries don’t render properly). Some of this is related to my production method, but it also relates to a Kindle bug.
  • Digitalizing from print:  In September 2020 I bought a high speed book scanner, so I have the equipment to do this fairly quickly.
  • Cleaning Up PDF Source. If you’re making an epub or Kindle file from a PDF,  often pasting the text is messy; you lose bold and italics and centering. Sometimes it adds extra spaces and line breaks. There is an additional fee of 20-100$ for that (possibly more). It usually is more cost-effective for you to do the pasting from PDF to MS Word/Libre and then re-add the italics, bold and those things.
  • Graphics Preparation. Generally I don’t create graphics or ebook covers (you need to find someone for that), but I can do simple edits and transformations of graphics  to optimize for ebooks. If it’s extensive, or if I need to create custom  graphics, I may charge you extra or refer you to someone more qualified.
  • Platform-specific optimizations. Some features only exist on certain display sizes or platforms. I could price these things separately.
  • PDF output. My production method doesn’t produce great PDFs, but I certainly can produce an adequate PDF for advance review copies.
  • Fixed Layout/Adobe Indesign: I don’t work with Adobe Indesign projects.
  • Method:  Primarily I do MS Word (or LibreOffice) –> Docbook –> HTML –> epub. I use my own css with several media queries. My CSS is well-documented, and you could easily edit the HTML files later if you wish.
  • Production/Review Process. I describe this in detail under the Book Editing section (see below)

All final ebooks have been tested in  Kindle Touch, Kindle Paperwhite (2nd edition and beyond), Kindle for Android, Google Play Books for Android, Adobe Digital Editions for Windows & Android, and   iBooks 4.7 (on iPad and iPhones). Generally, later versions of these reading systems are supported as well. I test on apps for both mobile devices and tablets.

I can suggest ways to adapt your content into ebook form. Sometimes you can’t replicate the exact  characteristics of the printed page.  For example, if you’re reading on a phone, an illustrated ebook is likely to look sub-optimal.

Book Editing

It’s hard to price editing in a way that is fair and yet not exorbitantly priced  for indie authors.  For book manuscripts of a creative sort,  I typically determine pay rate by the appropriate editing level. (Note: Technical writing pay rates are somewhat higher).

For fiction writers looking to keep costs down, I often recommend that they hire me as a Beta Reader instead. (Scroll down to another section near the bottom to learn what this service entails and how much it costs).

Level One editing. This involves basic copyrighting, fixing obvious grammar issues and standardizing. Very little tightening of prose. I only offer this rate to experienced professional authors who have previously published a book.  Rate: Approximately 10$ per 1000 words.

Level Two editing. This involves making occasional suggestions for phrasing and tightening the prose.  (only 1 or 2 per page on average). This assumes that the manuscript is already polished and edited by the author himself. Includes a 2nd round of editing after author has approved or edited the edits.   Rate: Approximately 14$ per 1000 words.

Level Three editing. This involves tightening prose, improving sentence flow and word choice. It assumes that I’m working with material  not already previously polished.  Includes a 2nd round of editing after author has approved or edited the initial edits.  Rate: Approximately 18$ per 1000 words.

Here are some things to keep in mind when hiring me to edit your book:

  1. Most authors assume that the cheapest kind of editing is all  they need.
  2. For L2 or L3 editing, the author needs to approve the changes.   The rate quoted assumes that the author has approved the edits, looked it over and wants the editor to double check that all edits have been made correctly.
  3. It can be hard for the editor to decide what level of editing  is required.   I realize that authors don’t have deep pockets, but  if you hire me, you need to give me discretion about what  level of editing  to charge for. I will do  my best to keep costs down. If necessary, I may use a rate between Level Two and Level Three.
  4. Production/Review Process. I describe this in detail  in the next section  (see below).

Experience has taught me that it is better to overestimate than to lowball (and have to ask for more money later on).

If you are worried or unsure about the quality of my work, one idea is to pay me to edit a portion of the manuscript (say 1 or 2 chapters) and then decide later if you wish to continue.

Here are three reference guides which I use as benchmarks for editing/writing prices: thewritelifeEditorial Freelancer’s Association and the Balance Freelance Rates.

Production and Review Process

Here is an efficient process which I use for editing and ebook production.


  1.  I do it in one or two ways:  1)Edit the actual source files or 2) keep a “log” of suggested edits  in a separate file.  Sometimes I do both.
  2. After I present the changes to you (using either method), I expect you to review them once and then have me verify that all edits have been successful. Editing any document always runs the risk of accidentally causing another error. It almost always happens! Verifying corrections is thus an important step.
  3. The verifying corrections stage isn’t usually the time to make new edits (because that will trigger another round of reviews). Occasionally, though, you or I may notice something new which needs to be addressed. This is not really the stage to do further rewrites unless you have agreed to pay for it.

Ebook Production

  1. During production or conversion, I may ask for your input about formatting and design. After I format and produce the ebook, I will present the ebook files for you to review. I will usually give you an epub and mobi file.
  2. Review the ebook carefully. I recommend that you view it in a device or reading system that you are targetting.
  3. It can be difficult to do quality control for every reading platform out there. Therefore I have defined specific (but representative) devices that are supported. Often, a feature may work fine on one device and screen size, but look not-so-fine  on another device. I can and do use CSS Media Queries to target specific reading systems — but support for media queries is limited on Kindle, and my current thinking is  use non-sucky fallbacks on Kindles rather than creating separate files for Kindles and non-Kindles. . It’s not always possible to have a consistent look and feel without considerable testing and workarounds. Sometimes I may be willing to investigate this issue at no charge (if the problem interests or irritates me), but I have to set reasonable limits on what I can do for fixed-price contracts.
  4. After you have reviewed the ebook and given feedback, I will do a final quality check and present the final files to you.

I understand that sometimes errors crop up after you have signed off, and I will do my best to accommodate you. Keep in mind that another round of formatting changes for an ebook will take me a minimum of 1 or 2 hours — even for something minor. For that reason, please do your utmost to include as many edits/changes in as few rounds as possible.

Beta Reading Services

Hiring an editor can be expensive — often prohibitively so. For this reason I recommend to a lot of fiction writers that they hire me to be a beta reader instead.

The beta reader will read the book and provide 2-3 pages of notes — reactions and responses. The beta reader won’t correct for style or suggest ways to rewrite paragraphs. Instead this reader will just give touchy-feely responses and mention parts he did not understand. Here is examples of beta reader feedback which a person might provide:

  • This part can be skipped without ruining the story.
  • I didn’t understand Person X’s motivation here or what he/she meant when he said Y.
  • I lost track of who was saying what during the conversation.
  • This part dragged.
  • This scene or chapter didn’t seem necessary or relevant to the main story.
  • Is there a sentence or paragraph missing here? This word seemed wrong or misplaced.
  • It would be better to spell out earlier that A is B (I didn’t realize it the first time I read it).
  • I wanted to know more about Person G and why he/she would act this way.
  • (Occasionally) Wouldn’t it be nice if J happened or if K did this? (Authors rarely follow suggestions about plot or character, but once in a while a suggestion hits its mark).
  • This part was too predictable. Or this part was a big surprise. (In response, the author should always ask: Was it good or bad that it was predictable or surprising? Why was it good/bad?

Frankly this kind of feedback can be just as helpful as editorial feedback. It also takes a lot less time and costs less. My price quote for being a beta reader depends on the length and complexity of the manuscript. The final costs tend to run in the $150-350 range.

Book Promotions

In contrast to editing and ebook formatting (where I can claim special expertise), I’m still learning about how to promote books. Given that my company has published about 10 books, I would probably describe myself as an “advanced beginner”.  Here are some things I can do for a fee:

  • Write a book description for various ebook stores.  (Long and short)
  • Edit your own description or provide feedback about your own promotional material.
  • Recommend some services for low-budget and no-budget reviews and publicity.
  • Suggest some promotional ideas for your price range.

At the risk of giving away  my hard-earned wisdom for free, I wrote a long blogpost with advice to young writers.

Depending on your needs and the nature of the ebook, I would quote you a single fee for  all of these services.

At this point, I’m not in a position to contact individual publications or reviewers, although I could do so for an additional fee. (This task is very labor-intensive, and I’m still working on a master contact list).

Bundling Services

If you are interested, I might be able to cut you a lower rate if you hire me for more than one service.

In exceptional cases and when  appropriate, I could be persuaded to  publish the ebook as a Personville Press title.  This means that I’ll probably be making a formal contract with you. It would also involve setting percentages and schedules for royalties.

Createspace Publishing

For $350, I  will format and deliver a PDF which can be turned into a print book on Amazon/Createspace.

  • Source needs to be MS Word.  (I don’t do Adobe InDesign).
  • That includes the purchase of a Book template from BookDesigner Templates (generally costing $59). These templates require MS Word.  You can choose which design you want.
  • This price generally doesn’t include copyediting. Often though, the act of formatting can alter the content, so  doing  quality control also  involves verifying that all content has been exported successfully (i.e., no lines or words missing or repeated).
  • You must hire someone to do illustrations such as cover art. But I can provide guidelines and do the importing and assembly.
  • I generally do not  do children’s books or academic books. It’s better to do children’s books in another desktop publishing system like Adobe InDesign.  Academic books are doable in MS Word, but I’d have to look at the book project more closely to give an estimate.

Payment and Terms 

Typically I will not begin work until a client has agreed to the work agreement (sample here) and made an advance payment. Note that ALL of the advance payment must be made before work will begin. In some cases,  the work estimate may need to be revised later, necessitating an additional payment. Read the sample work agreement for details.

If you use paypal, I may ask that you increase the payment slightly to take into account paypal’s fees.