Okay, so you've finished the first draft of your manuscript. Congrats! That's quite an accomplishment...something most people who dream of writing a book never do.
Step 7 - Edit!
Finishing your first draft is just the beginning. Perhaps the most important step is next: fixing your book.
Now, as you write more and more books, you'll probably find that you need fewer drafts after the rough draft to get your book to a publishable state. But for most of you, this'll be the first time you've ever gone through the process, so your book might just suck. I know my first book did!
But that's okay. You don't need to be a good writer, but you do need a good editor. That editor can be you, someone you hire, or a fellow writer or community of writers that critique your work.
If you choose to hire an editor, keep in mind that they can get pretty expensive. It's probably best to read through your manuscript a few times, fixing as much as you can (and getting it as close to what you consider to be finished as possible) before sending it to a hired editor. There are plenty of available editors online, and if you go to writing conventions, you're likely to meet a few.
If you choose to edit your work yourself, all the power to you. That's what I did, after sending it to a few family members. Be prepared to make a few mistakes along the way, until you gain experience and get better at it. A good editor would never have let me make some of the decisions I made for my first book, Runic Awakening. But mistakes can be very effective (if painful) teachers!
Online writing communities are a great way to get your rough work out there. They can offer valuable feedback, but they're unlikely to get into the nitty-gritty of spellchecking, grammar-checking, and so on. Ultimately, unless you hire someone, you'll be doing these things yourself.
Step 8 - Format
Alright...you've done it. You've finished your final draft! After agonizing over your book for what seems like forever, pouring your heart and soul into it, you're ready to send it to the masses!
But first, you need to make it look pretty.
Now, how you format your book will depend on whether you plan on publishing it yourself, or by hiring an agent and going through a traditional publisher. If you want to go the traditional route, you'll need to have your manuscript in their standard format. Click here for instructions on how to do that.
If, on the other hand, you're like me and want to self-publish, congrats! That's a hell of a lot more work. At first. But don't worry...once you do it the first time, it'll get much easier. It took me the better part of 2 weeks to format Runic Awakening, 2 days to format Runic Revelation, and an hour to format Hunter of Legends.
It would take me a dozen pages to explain how to format a book for print. My wife wants to spend time with me at some point in the next week, so I'll just add a link to a Microsoft Word sample I created using the formatting for my books.
Also, click here to learn more about the different requirements for print versions of your book.
Step 9 - The Ebook
If you're self-publishing your book, you need to format an ebook version as well. Not hard at all, really. Just take the example I gave above, cut out all the redundant title pages and blank pages, and take out the page numbers on your table of contents. And don't forget to change the ISBN numbers, as you'll need different ones for the ebook and paperback versions.
To make it easy, here's a sample!
Step 10 - The Book Cover
There are lots of online businesses that will make a book cover for you. I chose https://www.bookflydesign.com. There’s a 4-6 month waiting period, but if they have a sudden opening, they’ll fit you in.
In general, it is better to make your book cover similar in style to best-selling books in your genre. While the temptation may be to create something no one has ever seen before, readers are more likely to click on something that looks familiar to them…like the last books they liked.
Also, font size and thickness is important. The title needs to be visible and legible when downsized to a thumbnail on Amazon. Thin fonts won’t cut it. Bookfly Design LLC, the company I went with, knows this. If you go with a different company, make sure they give you a thumbnail version of the proofs. It’s the first impression a reader will get when they buy your book on Amazon or any other bookseller’s website.
Prices for Bookfly Design were in the $500-$700 range. I recommend buying the ebook and paperback package. Even though you might not sell many paperbacks at first, they’re great to have in conventions, or to give copies to local libraries and so forth. Also, some paid reviewers prefer paperback copies, and it’s always in your interest to cater to the desires of your reviewers!
Also, if you go with another company, make sure they specify the type of paper you’re going to use. More on this later, but there are two options: cream and white. Cream is a different thickness than white, and that will affect the width of the spine of the book, and therefore the width of the cover image. Since you have images in your book, white paper is generally preferred, as those images may not show up properly on cream paper. White paper is a little harder on the eyes due to the glare, which is why novels with no images tend to have cream paper. Incidentally, that’s why textbooks have white paper, as they generally have images.
Step 11 - Get an ISBN!
ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Bowker is the company that gives them out. You need them for paperbacks and hardcovers, and might want them for your ebooks. Go to:
...to purchase ISBNs. I bought ten to start, which was expensive, but the books more than paid for it. After using up all of those (one for each ebook and one for each paperback), I purchased one hundred ISBNs. It's expensive, but as I'm planning on writing at least another thirty books, it's cost-effective.
You need an ISBN number for every version of your book - paperback, ebook, and hardcover, if you make one. You don't need them for audiobooks. Don't worry...I'll be going over how to make audiobooks later on in this guide!
After buying an ISBN, you need to attribute a book to it. Just click on the ISBN in your ISBN manager page, and fill in all the required fields (labeled with an "*").
To make each subsequent version of your book, use the clone link on the “My ISBN’s” page to copy the information from one version of the book (say the ebook) to another ISBN (like the paperback). Then edit the fields to specify that this is the paperback, and amend the pricing as well.
You don’t have to wait for the ISBN to complete registering…you can use it right away to publish your books if you’re ready to!
Alright, that's enough for this part of the guide. Next up, I'll go over how to publish your book!