Let me start by saying congratulations. If you hold a manuscript in your hands then you are closer to publishing your book than most people will ever get. It takes good work ethic and courage, so take a moment to pat yourself on the back and say I. Am. Awesome.
In one of my other Dear Aspiring Author guest blogs titled, ‘On writing your Debut Book’, I took you through the bare bones needed to get your manuscript ready. Now, I’m looking forward to showing you end of the process in finer detail.
I published my debut book, Fantasy of Frost, in January 2015, so this advice comes from someone who has just been throughtwhat you are going through right now and I really hope it helps you to achieve publication!
Your manuscript has gone through a content editor and/or beta readers and you have done as much as you can to improve it. But what now?
– Decide on Type of Publication
– Decide on an Ebook or Paperback.
– Ensure your writing is quality
– Ensure your product looks good
There are two ways to publish a book. The tried and true way of sending your manuscript to a traditional publisher or the new and still developing way of independently publishing.
Sending your manuscript to a publisher, online or otherwise, has its pros and cons. On one hand, you won’t have to front any of the cost, your book will be marketed for you and you can be assured the publishers have a wide network of resources to help you sell your book. This avenue also means you could be waiting up to two years to publish if you are contracted and you will have no say on the cover or anything other part of the book, apart from the actual writing. Quality writing is nearly always assured, and writers receive a small royalty (average 6%) of all copies sold, with a bulk payment in advance.
I am self-published, which I chose to do because of higher royalties, control over every facet of the publishing process, and a faster turnover. Amazon will pay you a 70% royalty for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. You make all the marketing decisions regarding covers, marketing and timing, though this does have a potential disadvantage of taking up valuable writing time. Unfortunately, the main draw back here is the poor quality self-published Ebooks which are flooding the market. But! You can set yourself apart, I promise.
Here’s how I did it.
My debut book, Fantasy of Frost, currently has a 4.8 star rating, with more than 60 reviews across Amazon and a shelf life of just six weeks. I controlled every part of the process.
“Turning a manuscript into a book is easy; getting the manuscript ready to become a book is hard.” ― A.P. Fuchs
Firstly, get a copy editor. You might have already had your work content edited to help with the flow and story arc, but the copy editor is the person who goes through and gets rid of the typos (hopefully) and fixes punctuation. I located mine on Fiverr and sent her a piece of writing which she returned with a sample copy edit. I would recommend doing this, especially if you are paying them for a full lenth novel. You don’t want a shoddy job!
Even with a copy editor you will continue to find the occassional typo. I sure did! In my next novel, Fantasy of Flight, which comes out in June, I am planning to release ARCs (Advanced reader copies) to selected readers to help eliminate the typos before the release date. I’ll let you know how it goes!
While the book is with the copy editor, you can source a book cover. I read several marketing books before releasing Fantasy of Frost and every, single one of them emphasised the need for a good cover. This is where I learnt that you need to spend money or the cover will look baaaad. I spend ten dollars on the first cover. Sometimes I look at it for a laugh. Just trust me and spend a little more on yours. Try about fifteen to eighteen times this and you will have yourself a great cover. Here is mine below.
Now a good cover can win you promotions (as mine did). But most importantly, it’s what people click on. Think about it. When do you ever click on the title of a book? Probably, never. I located a cover designer on Fiverr. There are tonnes of them, each with their best covers on display. You send through a description of what you’re wanting and if you have some pictures you can send them, too. Just watch the copyright on photos you don’t own. One of the big benefits of the more expensive covers are that they source their own photos.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover but you can sure sell a bunch of books if you have a good one.” ― Jayce O’Neal
Next. Are you going to publish a paperback or an Ebook?
I honestly don’t know why, in this day and age, you would start by independently publishing a paperback. You’ll probably just end up with a garage full of books. Start with an Ebook. You don’t lose any money (apart from funds used to ensure quality) and it saves trees. Yay for unintentionally saving the environment! Later on you can create a print copy on createspace and link it to your amazon ebook.
There are even more choices if you decide to go the Ebook route. To Amazon it? Or to Smashwords it? To Lulu it? Or to Barnes and Noble it? These are all publishing platforms.
Head spinning? Mine was too.
I chose Amazon because of their KDP (Kindle direct publishing) offers. You can get up to 70% royalties through this scheme. The catch? You must not publish anywhere else for 90 days. Not so bad, I thought. And, your book can be offered on Kindle Unlimited for free. My goal with my debut book was to get my work in front of as many readers as possible, to ‘get my name out there’, which is why I didn’t mind this. I figured, the larger my audience, the more people who would return to buy my next book, creating a long-term income. And then after your 90 days you can publish on other platforms. Win-win?
Now for the final touches
– Prepare front matter (Title page, acknowledgements, dedication and a copy right message.)
– Prepare back matter (Info for next release, sample chapter, author biography, review request, adverts for other authors and a thank you to the readers)
– Prepare your blurb for the publishing platform description.
For all of the above, I went through a few of my favourite books and decided what setup I liked the best.
Lastly, you need to have your book formatted. This is different for each platform you submit your book to. You can get file converters online, but judging from other books I’ve read, this produces formatting of low quality. Spend 20 dollars and you will get a professionally formatted book with a clickable table of contents, pictures, links and a good layout, all as you want it.
All that’s left after checking off the above is to upload your file and click ‘publish’. Such a great feeling. Who needs the Olympics when you can just write a book?
This blog is simply about what choices you need to make to get your book from A to B. Whether it is successful or not depends on the quality of your story and your ability to market your book and get reivews!
“Content is King. Promotion is Queen” ― Bob Mayer
I’m learning more about writing, publishing and marketing every day and you can join me on this journey (and learn some tips and tricks in the process) by following my Dear Aspiring Author guest blog series on my website www.kellystclare.com.
In the meantime, here are some other useful resources I have come across:
Should I self-publish or traditionally publish? A questionnaire
Find a content and copy editor, formatter and cover designer here
An in depth blog on the various self-publishing platforms by David Carnoy
You might also be interested in another of my blogs titled ‘On Writing Your Debut Book’.
I wish you all the best with your writing endeavours!
A massive thanks to Saloni at My Fantabulous Bookshelf for having me,
Kelly St Clare