Article Published in Central Michigan Life Regarding Author Whose Book I Edited

Alumnus Zev Lawson Edwards writes debut novel, ‘The New Punk’

By Jacquelyn Zeman | Published 08/26/15 4:54pm

Zev Lawson Edwards said when he decided to write his debut novel, “The New Punk,” he wanted to base it on the idea that there are youth with great talent, but poverty “keeps that hidden, so sometimes they go to crime rather than using their talent.”

“I wanted to create a world in Detroit where all these orphans are abandoned by society,” Edwards said. “They kind of make their own world and they use their talents in their own way, and they take care of themselves.”

The Johannesburg native studied secondary education with a double major in history and social studies at Central Michigan University. Edwards said he had the idea for his novel in his head and came up with the characters while “the story just kind of wrote itself.”

Following his 2006 graduation from CMU, Edwards spent time traveling and teaching English abroad in South Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia.

“It is the first time I did not write about myself or my experiences,” Edwards said. “This is the first book where I kind of wanted to create a new world.”

Edwards said his advice for anyone who wants to eventually write a book is to surround yourself with good people through networking with peers and mentors, and ultimately to just “stick with it.”

“If you are going to be a writer, just write everyday and read as much as possible,” Edwards said. “Getting the editor is probably the most important thing. You need someone who is not a friend or family member to look at your book objectively as a reader.”

Edwards had one editor on his book, Helena Mariposa. Although she edited his book with him, Edwards has yet to meet her in person. He originally reached out to several editors, but he felt like he had a very good connection with specifically Mariposa.

“She did a really awesome job,” Edwards said. “We spent probably six to seven months doing rewrites and the editing process together over emails.”

Mariposa, based out of Denver, Colorado, enjoyed working with Edwards. He worked independently to incorporate feedback she sent him, accomplishing what is difficult for many authors, she said.

“He has written a story riddled with humor while creating iconic characters,” Mariposa said. “His characters will remain with readers long after they have finished ‘The New Punk.’”

Mariposa was impressed by Edwards’ writing versatility and believes he has a future in writing.

“His range as a writer is impressive,” Mariposa said. “The distance from “The New Punk” to an earlier work is startling.”

Edwards said the reactions from his book have been positive so far. Some readers told him they can easily picture it as a movie.

“It has mostly been adults that have read the book so far,” Edwards said. “I am curious as to how middle school and high school students will relate to it.”

Edwards is selling “The New Punk” through Amazon, as well as in person to schools, libraries and other businesses.

“Ideally I would like to get picked up by a big publisher and then have them promote it,” Edwards said. “The big plan is to be a full time writer, but it is just kind of getting there.”

“The New Punk,” is 414 pages and can be purchased for $14 through Edwards’ website,

“I just hope it puts a smile on (a reader’s) face,” Edwards said. “I had a lot of fun writing it, so I just want people to enjoy it.”

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Helena Mariposa Receiving EVVY Award

Helena Mariposa Receiving E-book EVVY Award

Helena at EVVY Award

Helena at EVVY Award holding awards for the e-book of Revolutionary Agreements

Helena Mariposa at EVVY Award

Helena Mariposa at EVVY Award receiving e-book award.

I went to my first EVVY Award Ceremony and was honored to receive the only award in the e-book category for my work on I’ll Be There to Write the Story. Above are some pictures from the event. It was a great evening! Below are photos taken at the EVVY Award dinner of me with my fellow team members from MacGraphics Services: Karen Saunders and Kerrie Lian.

members of MacGraphics Team: Karen Saunders, Kerrie Lian, Helena Mariposa

MacGraphic Services Team Members: (from left to right) Karen Saunders, Kerrie Lian, & Helena Mariposa

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My Journey Converting my Printed Book to an eBook: Lessons Learned © 2011 by Karen Saunders, MacGraphics Services

As an author and independent publisher I’m always looking for ways to leverage my work. Turning my intellectual property into various products is a pretty obvious solution. The emerging popularity of Kindle, ipads and Nooks convinced me now was the time to convert my printed book, Turn Eye Appeal into Buy Appeal into an ebook.

Many Ways to Sell and Distribute eBooks

I discovered there are several routes I could take to sell and distribute my ebooks, depending on how much time and effort I wanted to put into the distribution process. I initially learned that I could use a 3rd party aggregator to get my books listed on popular ebook sales sites such as’s Kindle department, Apple iBookstore and Barnes & Noble’s Nook’s department.

All About Aggregators

Third party aggregators (such as Smashwords, BiblioCore, LuLu, Book Baby, LibreDigital, DarkFire, InGrooves, and many more) help self-publishers convert their books into ebooks and set up distribution with the popular retailers I’ve already mentioned. But the aggregators also take a cut (sometimes a significant cut) of each sale. Some aggregators also use contracts that are digital rights management (DRM)-free. DRM protects the copyrights of electronic media. DRM as applied to ebooks is a proprietary file encryption that helps publishers limit the illegal sale of copyrighted books. This is very important to me, so it was another reason not to use aggregators.

Direct Portals to Retail Sites

Next, I discovered there are direct portals to each of these retail sites. I set up my own publisher’s account with Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Google. This allowed me to keep a bigger portion of my sales by selecting a discount rate of my choice, (the discount rate is an amount I agree to give to the retailer to sell my book) and keep the middleman (aggregator) out of it.

I filled out an application and contract online with each of the retailers and provided information on how they could make payments to my bank account, as well as metadata (information about the book such as copyright date, book categories, ISBN number, keywords, etc). Then I had to convert my book to the proper format they requested, and upload the ebook file and cover image.

Here is a chart on the most popular ebook formats:

Retailer/Location     eReader Device/App       File Format      Publisher’s Connection

Amazon                     Kindle                               Mobi                 Digital Text Platform       

Apple                         iPad                                   ePub                  iTunes Connect

Barnes & Noble         Sony Nook                        ePub                  PubIt

Libraries                     Adobe Digital Editions     ePub                  Local Libraries

Many ways to convert a book into an ebook

My printed book was originally formatted in Adobe InDesign, and I also had an identical version available in a PDF file format. (I can easily output an identical version of my printed book in a PDF file through Adobe InDesign or Distiller.) But these sites didn’t want a PDF file. They wanted Mobi or ePub format.

My book was two columns and had over 200 illustrations and graphics throughout the interior, so it was a fairly complicated layout. I discovered that complex interior formats don’t easily translate into ebook pages.

Although InDesign has a feature that allows me to convert a document into epub, and I’ve seen websites (including Amazon’s) that claim it is easy and inexpensive to translate a file, they just didn’t result in a clean format. First of all, eBook readers are built to support one long continuous column, so I had to make some major adjustments to my 2-column layout. A proper layout was particularly important to me since my book was about design, layout and marketing! The websites and automated conversion software do convert very simple word documents with pretty good results though.

So I sought out the experts in this area; individuals and companies who specialize in ebook conversion services. Since my book had such a complex layout, the price was quite high. I also got a price from a company overseas. I quickly learned that you get what you pay for. As in any service field, the price of the service usually matches the quality you receive.

Overseas Service

I paid a very low price for the ebook conversion service, but I had to spend many hours proofing layout and formatting errors and checking all the links. The titles, subtitles, lists, body copy and graphics were not formatted in a consistent manner or in a standard book format. Indents and justified formatting were applied to titles and subtitles when they shouldn’t have been. Links were not active or were going to the wrong places, headline text was clipped off, graphics were missing or in the wrong places, and on and on. Eventually after several months of working with the contractor on both the mobi and epub versions of my ebooks, the files were formatted properly and I was able to upload them to the retail sites.

Some things to watch out for:

  • Make sure you have an active table of contents with live links that go to the correct sections in your book interior
  • Make sure your epub document passes the epub validation test (a free test is available at
  • Be sure your ebook has it’s own ISBN number (you can buy a block of 10 ISBN numbers from Amazon will assign their own unique identifier to your book, but Apple requires an ISBN number.
  • Be sure to have an eye-catching cover design with a title that you can read clearly when it is reduced to postage stamp size.
  • Reformat your front cover to 600 pixels wide by 800 pixels tall at 300 DPI so it maximizes the entire screen on most eReader devices.
  • Check your files on all the ebook software readers and devices. If you don’t own a Kindle, Nook or iPad, find a friend who does. Download Adobe Digital Editions and Kindle for Mac/PC. Look at your book on each one and make sure everything looks and works properly.
  • Put your table of contents first, even before your copyright page.
  • Be careful about your decision on digital rights management and how you answer this question on contracts.
  • Do the numbers on how to price your book according to the discount rate you pay the distributor/retailer. It sometimes works best to lower your price to get a higher profit margin. For example, Amazon and Apple will pay up to 70% royalty on a book if it is priced between $2.99 and $9.99. They only pay 35% if the book is priced at $10.00 or more!


New Technology and the Lack of Established Standards

As with any new technology, standards need to be established, and ebooks are no exception. There is a lot of debate among developers and publishers regarding a number of issues including whether every ebook format needs a separate ISBN number, the standard order of pages, coding that provides consistent results on every version of each device and software, consistent image size and resolution requirements for cover and interior graphics, formatting that resembles books, navigation, whether the devices supports color imagery, etc. This is where a lot of the labor was spent; trying to make my book look the best on every eReader device out there.

I hope this helps you find your path from printed book to ebook with fewer trials and tribulations.


Karen Saunders and her team of award winning designers help authors and small business owners design their books, build their brand, launch their website and market their business. Visit her website to download a free Book Media Checklist and a free eCourse on How to Create a Best-selling Book Design from the Inside Out

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Transforming Your Book into an E-book

Below is a Link to e-zine Graphics Image Builder article by Helena Mariposa:

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E-books: A Betrayal?

As long as I can remember, I have loved books. I love the feel, the smell, the slight resistance of the spine on a new book. In my world there is no such thing as too many books. My collection is now an unwieldy four thousand volumes. I have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on all four walls of two rooms, and more shelves of books in three other rooms of my home.

And, suddenly, after a love affair of a lifetime, I find myself reading books on the Kindle, The Nook, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. It started when a generous friend gifted me with a Kindle. Upon first receiving it I was excited, but dubious about it ever replacing the actual pages of a book. Three years later . . . the ability to read, use the dictionary, and make and share notes without having to close the pages of whatever I happen to be reading has seduced me. And that is not to mention being able to go to Wikipedia or Google to read in-depth about a new idea, term, or phrase—and I cannot say I miss the dust.

Most people do not realize that e-books do more than provide immediate and easy access to reading material. They also allow you to look up the definition of words and related information while reading. There is nothing like being involved in a book, being able to click on an endnote, read it, and jump back to where you were reading with the touch of an icon. And let’s not forget the ability to email notes to a friend that exists in the Nook Color. One can bookmark, highlight, and navigate pages with ease. This has made of me an e-book convert.

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