Book Quality & My Guarantee

The Alliance of Independent Authors — Author MemberIn addition to my commitment to author ethics, I hold my stories to a higher standard. That’s why I’ve put together this page for you.

You know the sad truth as well as I do.

Nowadays, too many books suck and are poorly produced.

Below is my quality guarantee to you for every book I publish, as well as the 15-step process I use to make sure that my books are worthy of your time, attention, and money.

My quality guarantee

Did you find a mistake in one of my books?

If you find a mistake in my books, I will make it right. I will—and have—pulled books in order to fix a typo, preferring to have the book unavailable temporarily in order to have a more perfect edition be available to readers long-term. If need be, I will take out my wallet or checkbook and personally refund you.

Corrections are welcome and often rewarded. Contact me

Publishing quality and my books

There are always big discussions about the quality of books, especially when it comes to indie books like mine. Quality of story. Quality of grammar and spelling. Quality of paper. Quality of the cover.

And there should be rigorous, ongoing discussions about quality, because this stuff matters. Unfortunately, nowadays many authors and publishers do not make their books as high a quality as readers deserve.

As both an author and a book lover, quality is everything to me.

As an author and publisher, every time I bring a book to you, I expect that book to be…

  • High quality, both in terms of story and in terms of the digital or physical product
  • Free of editorial, story, and production errors
  • More polished than the finest diamond
  • Worthy of your time, attention, and money

My 15-step process for story & publishing quality

I had never considered talking about how important quality is to me or what I do to make sure my books rock your personal casbah. To me, talking about quality was like talking about how we breathe air: it’s a simple fact of life.

But with so much self-published and trad-published crap on the market, I realized that I needed to be more transparent. You deserve to know how much attention I pay to every detail in every book at every step of the way.

So here is the 15-step process my titles go through before they come to you

  1. All Rucksack Universe stories are developed with a pre-writing process of intense planning and outlining. This includes confirming story, character, and plot continuity with my Rucksack Universe Core Story document, lovingly known as RUCS. In its current form, RUCS is over 400 pages long and is always growing. Once a year, I review the current edition of RUCS and use that to determine and plan my next books.
  2. During the book drafting process, I write and rewrite, improving the story and fixing errors as I go.
  3. Once a section of the manuscript is ready, a chief reader reads it and provides critical feedback on all elements of the writing and story. I then review that feedback, make changes, and fix problems.
  4. Once the entire manuscript has gone through the chief reader and been revised, a team of beta readers reads the manuscript and provides critical feedback on all elements of the writing and story. I then review that feedback, make changes, and fix problems.
  5. From there, the manuscript goes through an out-loud read and 1-2 more full revisions, until I’ve fixed everything I can possibly fix or improve.
  6. From there, the manuscript goes to my copy editor, who won my business over half a dozen others. (I will work with him as long as he’ll have me.) He revises the manuscript for grammar and spelling errors, style issues, any remaining story/plot/character errors, and adherence to The Chicago Manual of Style, a common standard for novels.
  7. Once the editor’s feedback has been worked into the manuscript, I print out the manuscript, read the entire book out loud, and mark any needed changes or fixes with my trusty red pen.
  8. Last but not least, I take this corrected version, save e-book versions, and do a final read-through on my Kindle Paperwhite and other e-reader apps and devices. At this point, I’m not only checking the digital format and doing a final proofread, I’m also reading the book more as a reader instead of as an author. (I call it “putting on my reader hat”.) I then make changes and fix problems. This is my final review of the manuscript’s content.
  9. At this point, I consider the manuscript done. I usually say I’ve “locked” the story, and will not touch it unless some overlooked error smacks me in the face. From here, the final content is worked in with other publication elements, such as…
  10. A professional graphic designer designs the e-book and paperback covers to meet or exceed the requirements of various printers and retailers. (I can barely crop a photo, make a meme, or match colors. You sure as heck don’t want me designing stuff.)
  11. I work with print-on-demand printers who use high-quality technologies and materials.
  12. I test e-book editions across various devices and apps.
  13. Proofs of paperback and digital editions are reviewed for production errors or other final problems.
  14. Then, and only then—well, okay, after some soul-searching, a cuppa coffee for more reflection, and a pep talk from my wife—do I finally press “Publish.”
  15. But even that isn’t the end. Starting with Forever the Road, the copyright page of my books includes an email address where readers can send corrections, should they find an error. (I’m adding this to all books going forward, and to the first two books as part of a future update.)

If you have find an error in one of my books, please contact me and I will make it right.

Why do I do all this?

I will stop the presses and forgo sales to pull a book, make fixes, and return a corrected edition to the world. Why do I do this?

Because I am a professional.

Being an author and publisher is my career and my passion. I love what I do, so to do less than my best is simply outside my personal realm of possibility.

Because in a world flooded with books, quality is one way an author stands out.

I believe the intense, rigorous processes I use ensure that all Rucksack Universe books come to you with a high quality that respects you as a reader.

Because I want you to read only the best in today’s fiction.

And I believe the Rucksack Universe is.

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