Continuing the journey of trying to get my ebook published– including consultation with Skeeter Buck of Night River Press and Inkstacks

I launched my ebook on Amazon ~6 months ago called Everything I Learned About Sales I Learned From My Dog (click here to see the book). It was the start of my journey to see if I could actually write and publish an ebook.  

After getting positive feedback from friends and family, I decided to embark on turning my ebook into a paperback. Recently, I wrote about how I was beginning the journey of trying to get my ebook published at I am in the middle of this process now so I thought I’d write an update on what I have done in the last ~2 months. I meant to publish a blog last month but I only have ~2 hours a week to dedicate towards this. Also, add that the Coronavirus epidemic has accelerated at alarming rates so we’ve been sheltering at home in California for seven weeks and life has turned upside down.

When I last blogged, I had put in the recommendations that my amazing friend, Skeeter Buck of Night River Press, had given me. Skeeter started a publishing company, Night River Press, a few years ago. She’s also starting another company, Instacks, to help writers take their ideas from inspiration to realization).  

Here were her recommendations for me:

  • Have someone professionally edit it
  • Think about how I want to use it.  Some examples are:
  • Change the cover
  • Get a bundle of 10 ISBNs from Bowker.

The first thing I did was buy 10 ISBNs for $295 from Bowker.

After that, I took Skeeter’s advice and went to Reedsy to find a copy editor and book designer. What is Reedsy? Reedsy allows authors to find and work with the best publishing professionals: from developmental editors to book cover designers, publicists and translators.  I created a free account on Reedsy and searched for both #38220 – Design and #38219 – Editing. My criteria was I wanted a female (ideally). Reedsy suggests that you get quotes from more than one professional so I selected 3 book designers and 3 editors that I like their bios. I went back and forth with each and then settled on one of each that I liked, Susan Malikowski as the book designer and Bess Maher as the book editor. I agreed to pay Susan $525 for the cover design and production of my book including front cover, spine and back cover* (print-ready pdf and e-pub format). I agreed to pay Bess $600 to edit my book. FYI- Reedsy adds 10% on top of your negotiated fee. I gave them each 5 weeks to complete their work.

I think Skeeter was pleased that I was acting upon her recommendations and offered to be my publisher for this book. HUGE NEWS. I now have a publisher, Night River Press.

There were lots of questions that came up from both the copy editor and the book designer. I’ll start with the questions from the book editor as that was more straight forward than the book cover design. Skeeter Buck helped me with all of the answers so when I said , “I said”, it’s the royal we of Skeeter and myself. Just a disclaimer, I’m not claiming that I did everything correctly, I’m just sharing what I did in hopes that it may help someone else save time and money.

Questions and answers from the book edit, Bess Maher:

  • She had me send her a Microsoft Word version of my ebook.
  • She asked if I was planning on sending this manuscript to a book designer to lay out the book after she copy edits it. Yes, I said I want her to send the design as if I’m sending it to a book designer. 
  • Do I want a serial comma? That’s a comma in a list of 3 or more items i.e. “France, Italy, and Spain”. I said yes.
  • I clarified that I wanted the pdf, epub, and mobi files when she is done.
  • I told her my published asked her to use the file creation guide from Ingram Sparks for standard spine width dimensions (I attached it and sent it to her)
  • Also, I added a subtitle called Butt Sniffing is not a Virtue. Again, Skeeter’s idea and I loved it. 
  • When she sent the edited manuscript, Skeeter and I both read it and loved it. I told her I accept all changes “as is” and I just had her add a few things to the preface about thanking certain folks etc.
  • I’m waiting for the final edits but I’m thrilled so far with what I have seen and would definitely recommend Bess Maher from

Questions and answers from the book cover designer, Susan Malikowski:

  • I had a graphic of my dog, Oliver, that I had paid someone on Fiverr to create (see this post to find out how to do that– I wanted her to ideally use that on the cover so I sent that to her up front with that request. 
  • I asked if she could create a paw print to put at the beginning of every chapter. She said yes for an additional charge (we haven’t discussed the charge yet). 
  • She asked what my style was and she suggested playfulness or whimsy but with a professional approach. I said that was exactly what I am looking for. 
  • She asked about what type style I wanted. I told her I trusted her as the expert to try to type styles and colors she thinks would work.
  • I had sent her one ISBN but she said since I am creating a physical paperback book as well, I’ll need another ISBN, the e-pub and printed version numbers need to be different. I had bought 10 so I just gave her another one. 
  • She said I  also needed a barcode file. Skeeter suggested I buy that from as well so I bought one barcode for $25.
  • I told Susan that Bowker asked me to put a book price to redeem the barcode. Skeeter and I discussed and I set the price as $4.99 for the ebook and $11.95 for the paperback.  Skeeter said I could always discount the prices. I didn’t want to set the price too high as my goal was for people to read it. 
  • She suggested I create a subtitle. I took Skeeter’s suggestion that she came up with and we added a subtitle of Butt Sniffing is not a Virtue. I love it. 
  • She needed the dimension for the paperback. I went with her recommendation of the standard dimensions of 5.5 x 8.5 inches.
  • She needed a publisher logo for the back spine. Skeeter sent me the logo for Night River Press.
  • She needed a headshot of me. I sent it to her. 
  • She needed copy for the back cover about me. I sent her this:

Julie Hickey is a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, dog owner, career salesperson, book lover, traveler, entrepreneur, writer and blogger on and She lives in Northern California with her wife, 3 kids, and her dog, Oliver.

  • As per Skeeter’s recommendation, I asked if she could send the cover in .jpg, .pdf & .png. She said yes. 
  • She sent the first round of mock ups with 6 options.
  • I had my family review them and we narrowed them down to two. Skeeter suggested we look at them with Oliver as a puppy (who doesn’t love puppies?) so I sent a photo of Oliver as a puppy and Susan redid them with that photo. I took them back to my focus group (my family and Skeeter) and we all decided we liked one of the original covers with the cartoon of Oliver. 
  • Susan asked if I just need the printed version? I said that I would be redoing the the ebook so I need both. I need the epub and Mobi file for the ebook and the pdf for the print version? Attached are specs from IngramSparks. 
  • She needs the copyright page items:  Library of Congress Control Number, and the Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication Number. (You can ask your publisher if they will provide these). I said my publisher is going to provide these.
  • Front matter – besides title page and copyright page – introduction, preface, etc. Here is my front matter: 

This is not another boring business book that will put you to sleep. This book will teach you important things such as what butt sniffing and sales have a lot in common…as all dogs know, you have to take time to get to know your customers and what they need before doing business.  We should all subscribe to the philosophy that you should not take yourself too seriously and you should laugh a lot. Enjoy the insights and feel free to chuckle out loud, especially if you are in church or on an airplane.

  • For the Table of Contents, Susan asked for the number of chapters. I have 17 Chapters.
  • Susan asked if I had any Footnotes. I didn’t quote anyone or add stats so I don’t need this.
  • Susan asked if I have any images, graphs, illustrations, tables, figures, and how many of each. I said I don’t have any of those.  
  • Susan asked if I need any special formatting of text other than regular paragraph format. I told her I want a paw print either at the beginning or the end of each chapter. The typesetting should resemble my writing; light hearted and true, and not look like a law book or medical book.
  • Susan asked about Back matter – bibliography, appendix, index, author notes, etc.— I don’t have anything that I know of for the back matter, no bibliography, appendix or author notes
  • I asked her to add ,MBA to the end of my name.
  • I told her my publisher asked if she could do a few tweaks to the tagline “Butt Sniffing Is Not A Virtue”. Skeeter thinks it is such a great line (it is and she came up with it), but it doesn’t seem to stand out on the cover. 
  • I am waiting for the final proofs and we are on track with timing. 
  • I’m thrilled so far with what I have seen and would definitely recommend Susan Malikowski from

I have yet to see the final copy editing or book cover but I’m very happy with this process so far and could not have done it without Skeeter Buck’s help. Stay tuned for the next phase of this.

If you found this helpful and want to have your own (paid) consultation session with Skeeter, you can email her at Check her out at and watch for her new business in the next few months at

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