(NOTE: Revised on 7/22/14. I forgot to add the part about connecting with my designer!)
I’ve been writing consistently for over five years now. I am just about to release my second book and am currently writing two more books, hoping to release them this year or early next year. And now, with my writing/editing/publishing business, I’ve been publishing clients for almost a year now—which, by publishing, I mean that I provide self-editing services similar to how my own books are published. It’s a lot of work, and it takes a team of people, but it’s fun and I’m passionate about what I do for a living.
Many people, who are interested in the process of bringing a book to life (and to the shelves), have asked me about the process of “raising a book.” To me, my books are like my children, and as the saying goes: “It takes a village.”
Because I get asked about the process so often, I thought it’d be prudent to write a post about it. This doesn’t mean that this is the end all or the “right” way to get a book out there, but it’s what works for me—and for some of my other writer friends. So, if you want to know how it works, pay close attention and take notes if you must. :)
Step 1: Write the story.
This is the “duh” part. Obviously, you need to write a story first to make anything happen. However, the “how” part in this step is different for everyone.
I outline every book I write, but I don’t stick to it religiously. Sometimes, I’m very organic about the flow of my story, and sometimes I need to free write in my journal to help shape the next parts of the story. I’ve read about other writers who LOVE their outline, and about others who are more free-spirited with their writing—like me.
My first book, second edition.
Step 2: Blog some teasers.
The more you grow your readership, the more important it is to keep up with fans and share some previews/snippets of your work. I admit that I’m not always the best at this, especially because I run a business AND have to figure out how to squeeze in my stuff every day. But, I have been sharing more teasers for my soon-to-be-released book, compared to my first book.
Posting teasers, etc., starts building up the hype for your book and (hopefully) gets people excited about the new “baby” you are creating.
Step 3: Design a great cover.
Let’s be real: visuals are everything, especially nowadays. Luckily, I have a great group of designers who help me with my projects–personal and business. For my second book’s cover, I hired an amazing designer, Andrew Beach, who made my ideas come to life. Though I’m an artist and can draw, I could not tell you the first thing about digital graphic design. So, even while the story is still developing, I have my designer begin to build the cover. You can see book two’s cover at the end of this post.
Step 4: Self-edit, revise, rewrite.
When I wrote my first book, it took me longer to write than my second. This is often true of most writers, but for various reasons. Part of what kept adding to my delay was self-editing ALL the time.
After five years, I’ve learned to stop being so meticulous as I’m writing the book, and to save self-editing for AFTER the book is finished. But, again, I want to reiterate that this might not work for everyone. It works for me, and if you’re still figuring out the best methods for yourself, try the editing and rewriting after the fact.
Step 5: Send to MY editor upon completion.
Yes, I’m an editor, and YES—I most definitely need an editor for my books. An editor who is NOT moi. Why? Because we are all biased when it comes to our babies. It is imperative to have another pair of eyes and an objective opinion for your stuff.
Fortunately, I have an incredible editor who does an amazing job with my books. I send her either a full print out of my book OR a Word file (I write everything in Word) so she can make edits.
Notes from my editor for my first book.
Step 6: Print a “preview” proof.
I use CreateSpace as my printer/distributer. Yes, my books are published through a small publishing firm, but we all function as indie authors, and are hands on in the entire process. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve learned so much and am happy with the arrangement between my publisher and I.
For my new book, my publisher suggested I print a preview proof copy—which means that I printed a paperback version of my book while it was being edited by my editor. I was able to make even more notes/edits and catch things that were hard to see in the Word document. Then, when I finished going through the entire book, I added my changes and revisions while waiting to receive the Word document back from my editor.
MY edits in my book proof.
Step 7: Go through editor’s edits.
This is another “duh” step, but it’s the next step in the process. Personally, I have found that a stellar editor will not only catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors, but will also help you develop the store (as needed) and show you where plot holes or big questions exist. My editor does all of the above AND she leaves me encouraging/funny notes as well. It makes the editing process less painful. J
Step 8: Send edited book to publisher.
My publisher also goes through my book—several times, actually. Again, having another set of eyes on my book is crucial. It’s also crucial to have a highly polished manuscript since I represent the publishing firm with my work. I go through my publisher’s notes before printing a second proof.
Step 9: Print second proof.
This is an important step. Even if you think you have caught every mistake in the manuscript, it’s vital to go through another physical proof. Why? Because we’re all human, and we all make mistakes—especially when we think things are perfect.
My book proof (book 2).
Step 10: Team proof.
After I receive the second proof, I hand out copies to my editor, publisher, and other English language savvy peeps. I then share a Google doc between us and we use it to track other errors in the book—including formatting issues. It can be a tedious process, but if you have a wonderful editor like I do, it’s less painful.
During this process, I may also send an electronic ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) to my beta readers and I take their notes/reactions into consideration.
Step 11: Last things before publishing.
If needed, I order another physical proof (you can order up to five proofs at a time through CreateSpace). Otherwise, I review the final electronic proof, provided by CreateSpace. During this time, I add my book and information to Goodreads and other book platforms. I also post about the “coming attraction” on my blog, etc. When everything looks as perfect as can be…
Step 12: Publish!
When you hit the “publish” button, it’s really exciting for a good five minutes, and then you get back to work. The process is never ending when you’re a writer, and that’s the plain truth.
After the paperback is ready, I start on the ebook conversion process. This has taken me a while to learn, and someday, I’ll post THAT process. When the ebook is converted, I check the proof for that as well, and then publish to KDP when it’s ready.
Step 13: Create samples.
When the big things are finished, I then create samples of my work. For example, you can upload a preview of your book to Goodreads and your website, etc. I usually include the first five chapters of my book and convert it to a PDF file. (Click for a sample PDF of Feast Island> Feast Island 2nd Edition SAMPLE) I also make a PDF review copy and put text in the beginning, indicating that it’s a review copy, not to be distributed illegally, etc.
I also make sure I revamp my website a bit at this point, in order to reflect the new release.
Step 14: Copyright.
You can secure a copyright from the United States Copyright Office to protect your work. It’s a fairly “easy” process, and you can probably expect to get your official certificate in 4-6 months.
That’s as easy as I can break things down. I promise to elaborate more on this process later, with future blog posts. And, like I said: it never ends! You are always working when you’re a creative. Always thinking of something new. But the most important thing is that it truly does take a team to make your book happen. Without my trusted editors, readers, and fans, there’d be nothing.
The best thing you can do after you write a book is to find your trusted team members to make your dreams a reality. Be very picky about whom you choose, and if it doesn’t work out with someone, protect your “baby” by finding someone else who is better suited for you and your vision. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something needs to change, but be open to new ideas. As time goes on, you’ll find what does and doesn’t work for you.
If you haven’t seen the cover of my upcoming release, The Wrong Fairy Tale, here it is in all of it’s glory. I’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s on the market and available for purchase. Almost there!