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A couple of days ago, I got an email from an Amazon representative, asking questions in order to "help me to better assess your publishing needs". Here are the questions, and my thoughts on them:

1. Is your manuscript complete? If not, about how far along are you in the writing process?

Okay, pretty obvious here, the gentleman wants to know how likely it is he can market Amazon's services to me, and what kind of sales tact to take. My own novel is complete, so I'm gathering I will be given a higher priority than someone who says, "Expect to finish my novel around Christmas or thereabouts".

2. What is the name of the software you used to type your manuscript into your computer (i.e. Microsoft Word, In Design, etc.)?

I am assuming here that there are a limited number of file types Amazon is set up to easily convert into their Kindle format, and if I were to say, "Still trudging along with Wordperfect", I might be told I will need to convert my manuscript into something a bit more ubiquitous, like Word or Pages, before they could accept it.

3. Will your book include photos, images, or graphs? If so, how many total?

Assessing technical needs, how much labor is going to be involved in turning this project into a book, or such is my best guess.

4. Do you plan for your book's interior to be black and white or full-color?

See above.

5. Are you interested in having a professional editor review your work? If so, what is the word count of the manuscript?

What can we sell you, and how much can we charge?

6. What, if any, ideas do you have for your cover?

Again, see above. I've glanced at some of their packages, and Amazon can get quite elaborate with the kinds of cover art they can offer. Prices scale, of course. I've picked out a nice vertical photo I want to use, rights to which are available at Shutterstock, and I sent him a copy of the copyright-marked image. An aside, you definitely want to include a copyright attrition up front in your work. My wife is listed in my collaboration with Holly Lisle as owning the copyright to my bio pic.

7. What kind of budget have you set aside to invest in the publishing of your book?
a) $499-$1,000
b) $1,000-$2,000
c) $2,000-$3,000
d) $3,000+

Um, that would be (a).

Not really sure what you get for which price, but based on what I've seen thus far, the expensive stuff is likely to be the cover art (particularly for a trade paperback version of one's work) and editorial fees if one feels the need for an editor.

8. Are you at least 18 years of age or older?

So many reaaons I can think of they would want to know this, I would not know where to start. No doubt most folks could name half a dozen wihtout even trying. I'm 54, so no concerns there.

9. What is a good time for us to reach you for a phone consultation to discuss your project (please note that we operate from 9-5 eastern time, Monday-Friday)?

Pretty self-explanatory.

I was encouraged to check out their Interactive Design Center, which I'd already taken a bit of a look at. I plan to keep prices as low as possible, but am willing to pay a bit if I feel I'm struggling with the learning curve.

Also, I wanted to put in a quick plug for a nice outfit for those folks who are looking to have their work critiqued. It's called Critters Workshop, and it can be found at Getting useful feedback is an important part of developing one's craft, and these folks do it by swapping critiques; you get so much credit for critiquing the work of others, which you can then apply to having your own work reviewed. Hope someone finds this useful.
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