So you’ve decided you have a great idea for a book, but you’re not sure where to start. Perhaps you’re considering self-publishing, and want to have a thorough understanding of each part of the process. Ten simple steps can ensure you make the right decisions when it comes to writing, editing, designing, publishing, and promoting your book!
1. Do Your Research
Even before completing a rough draft of your manuscript, research and understand the market for your book. First, take a close look at your idea. What genre is your book, fiction or non-fiction? Gain an understanding of the market for your genre, and for your subgenre (mystery, self-help, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) Look into current trends in these subgenres, so you can avoid flooding a saturated market, trying instead to fill a need that is underserved yet in demand. Figure out what existing books are similar to yours, and what makes your book different.
2. Complete a Rough Draft
Next, you will need to complete a rough draft or your manuscript, a process that can take months or even years for some authors. This calls for hard work and discipline; this part of the process weeds out many would-be authors. Even if it’s only a few hours a week, try to create a writing schedule and stick to it.
This is also a good opportunity to seek out advice from experienced readers. Ask questions, and make sure you’re living up to your own goals for your book. You may find advice online about how to write for a particular genre. Try not to get hung up on details, though – finish your manuscript, even if it’s not perfect. It will be much easier to figure out what to fix from here.
3. Find an Editor
Find an experienced, professional copy and content editor with whom you have good working chemistry. This is essential to making sure you receive useful criticism you can take into account. A good editor will ensure your book is free of grammatical errors and plot holes, and in the case of non-fiction, that your content is factual. Remember, though – even the best editor can’t make fundamentally poor writing good. This is your job as an author.
4. Complete a Final Draft
This is your chance to aim for perfection. Take into account your feedback from readers, fact checkers, content reviewers, and your editor, to create the best possible final draft from your rough manuscript. This may take several passes of reviews and corrections.
5. Assemble a Team
Don’t expect yourself to do everything when it comes to publishing your book. We don’t expect cooks to also be farmers, servers, and managers, and the same principle applies here. No single person can be expected to excel at specialized fields like editing, design and layout, illustrations, rights management for images and text, and marketing, in addition to being an author. You will want to find experienced professionals in each of these areas as you move toward publishing your book.
6. Gather Professional Reviews
Strong reviews are a key to selling your book. They will appear on your back cover, and on retailer’s websites. Find relevant reviewers through organizations that match the genre of your book, and through your own professional and personal connections.
Remember, asking someone to review your book benefits them too. It provides an opportunity for publicity, and to establish themselves as an authority on the genre.
7. Design a Compelling Cover
This goes a long way towards getting readers to pick up your book. Find a professional designer with experience. This how your book will be introduced to potential readers, so it’s best not to skimp on the quality here. On average, potential readers will give your book seven seconds to capture their attention. A dynamic cover that communicates what kind of content your book offers is the best way to win over these readers quickly.
8. Going to Retail
This means actually publishing a finalized product for customers to buy. This where you will decide between using a traditional publisher and self-publishing your book. Where major publishers were once the only option, 35 percent of authors today choose to self-publish. While this means more control, and often better royalties, it is easy to overlook aspect such as design and distribution. A quality self-publishing service can make sure these aspects get the attention they need and deserve.
Choose the right files for the output – high resolution print files, or properly formatted ePub for electronic publishing. Consider publishing in audiobook format.
9. Promotion, Marketing and Distribution
Once your book is on the market, you will need to make sure it sells. When it comes to distribution, you want your book available from as many retailers as possible. Many booksellers will not sell a book unless it can be ordered from a major distributor. Today this includes players such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, in addition to traditional retailers.
With your book in the distribution network, it is still up to you to market and promote your book. Consider hiring a public relations firm to promote you as an author, and not just your book. Create a compelling “book blurb” - a product description for retailer’s product pages. Look into print advertising for your target market. Consider hiring an online marketing specialist.
10. Don’t Give Up!
Publishing a book the right way can be a long and in-depth process. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t give up!
Just like any long and multifaceted process, the key is to take it one step at a time. Don’t be afraid to ask others, both professionals and friends and family, for help with certain steps. And when you run into trouble, try to remember why you wanted to publish your book in the first place!
Tim McConnehey is the author of 10 Secrets to a Bestseller: An Authors Guide to Self-Publishing. Follow Tim on Twitter at @izzardink or visit Izzard Ink Publishing