I had decided to go a different route this time in self-publishing my latest book, Mad Shadows II - Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, to have more control over this one. But I needed someone to design a great and striking cover, something different and at the same time still in keeping with the design and theme of the first book in the series. I also wanted someone who could take my original map, poorly executed by me, and give it new life, a new look, and add that special touch I can only describe as "artistic." Then I needed help with all the technical aspects of publishing: from designing the interior of the book, assigning ISBN numbers, formatting for paperback and Kindle versions, and getting everything set up for me and ready to launch. In short, I needed someone to hold my hand and guide me through the entire process!
That someone turned out to be Erika M. Szabo.
Erika writes and illustrates her own line of children's books, such as: Metoo, The Annoying Little Sister; Look, I Can Talk with My Fingers; and Who Stole Terry's Music Box?
Erika also writes Young Adult Historical Fantasy, such as her series, The Ancestors' Secrets. And there is more to her writing than just these two genres: Middle-grade novels, romance, and so much more. She is really quite prolific.
While I was doing a final proof, edit and polish job on my "manuscript" before sending it off to Erika, I sent her my ideas for the cover of Mad Shadows II. Before I could say The Order of the Serpent, Erika started designing covers, based on a poor, truly old-school "scissors, cut and paste" mock-up I had sent her. First, she incorporated my ideas -- and that cover was truly a stand-out cover. But then she kept coming up with more and more ideas, faster than I could proof-read my book! It seemed that she was reading my mind every step of the way; she is quite intuitive. I think there were 4 covers in total, before I settled on the last one, which was also her favorite.
However, Erika was just getting warmed up. She started coming up with ideas for the interior of the book, for fonts, chapter headings and scene breaks. She had told me she worked fast -- and she truly meant fast! Not only that, but she was having fun. She was excited about the project, which was clearly evident by the way she approached the project and the way she worked. As I said, she did everything -- which is what her Golden Box Books is all about. All I had to do was proof, approve everything, and copyright my book. But we weren't quite finished. There was the question of what to do about the map of my world of Tanyime, which appears in the first book, Mad Shadows - The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser.
I took the original, black and white, 11 x 17 map to the good people at Office-Max, who scanned it and put it on my flash drive in PDF format. Then I sent it off to Erika. She said it was going to take a few hours of hard work, but she would do her best. Well, before I knew it, she sent me a black and white version, in its original horizontal form, that simply blew my mind. I couldn't believe it was based on the same map I had drawn: the lettering had been greatly improved and made more elegant, landmarks such as mountains became excellent drawings, and then she added her own little touches, like waves in the oceans, artistic representations of forests, brush and scrub, and even images of towns and villages! I loved it!
But wait . . . Erika wasn't quite done yet. She had another idea: for the paperback, she would enlarge the grey-scale map and put it on 2 pages -- left (even numbered page) and right (odd numbered page) -- whereas for the Kindle version of the book, the map would be on one "page" in horizontal form. However . . . she had yet another idea: for the Kindle version, she would "antique" the map, adding some aging color to it. And here is the final version.
As you probably have guessed, I am extremely happy with how Erika saved and improved my map.
Now . . . how long did all this take? Well, from the moment I sent her my Word doc file, until the Kindle version went live on January 5, 2017 . . . the entire process took about 8 days! The paperback version should be available within 3 to 5 days following that date.
Erika's enthusiasm, insight and level of professionalism matches the speed at which she works. She is supportive, kind and extremely easy-going and patient. These are the hallmarks of her Golden Box Books, and the people she has working with her -- editors, proof-readers, etc -- all share her work ethic. Golden Box Books has many publishing packages and services, and I found their prices to be very reasonable and right in line with what I could pay for having so much work done for me. They offer marketing services, promotional videos, and many other services, as well.
This was truly a wonderful, enjoyable and pleasant publishing experience for me. I learned so much, I am certainly planning on working with Erika again in the future, especially when the third volume of Mad Shadows is ready to go.
You can see for yourselves what Golden Box Books has to offer by visiting their website at:
You can also visit their Facebook page, Little Book Corner, at:
You can find Erika M. Szabo's website at:
And just for kicks, check out my page in her online magazine:
If you're interested in self-publishing, at having a professional-looking, artistically designed book, look no further than Golden Box Books.