So, you’ve decided you want to write a book, but you not really sure where to start or what process to follow. Let’s work through it together and break down the steps.
The first step would obviously be to write! A lot of authors want to skip right to formatting and ebooks and paperback books, and they don’t even have a finished manuscript, yet! Before you can publish anything, you have to write first.
Writing should take you about three months or so, unless you have tons of data collection and research to do, then it could take longer. For example, if you’re writing a 50,000-word book, an average person can write about 1,000 words per hour, so you would need to schedule about 50 hours of writing over a three-month time period.
I recommend you plan to write regularly so that you can keep on track because if you don’t, you may go through a lot of regret and anger at yourself and start to feel inadequate for the job. In order to ‘write regularly’ you would need to write about 5 hours a week over a 12 week period. If you do fall behind, don’t hang yourself for this, just play catch up and get back on track.
The goal for this first step is to at least get the first draft done, without editing it yet. Get your storyline down and out of your head. Your first draft just basically needs to have most of your idea’s down. It doesn’t have to be embellished or even in the right order, it just needs to be written down so that you don’t forget anything. When that’s done, you can then move onto editing and revising.
Editing and Revising
In this department, you will definitely want some help. You should definitely plan these revision and editing stages so that you don’t lose track.
Revision #1: You need to do this first revision before you bring in an editor. You will need to go back through your first draft and see if you need to move chapters around to make the flow logical to the reader. Look at every paragraph within the chapters and see if it’s really necessary. You also need to check if you should write any new paragraphs in order to explain a point more fully. This revision for your first draft would be for its logic and structure, and not worrying too much about grammar, at this point.
Developmental editing: It would be a good thing at this point, to bring in a developmental or substantive editor. They will go through your book’s overall structure and make sure that it’s compelling from intro through to conclusion. The structure that it usually follows helps your reader to go on a journey, from the beginning of your book, usually with some sort of problem or pain, and through the chapters of your book, your reader should emerge with a solution, epiphany, hope, or inspiration. The developmental editor will help you make sure the reader’s journey is beautiful and memorable—don’t skip this editing phase!
Revision #2: Go through all of your developmental editor’s comments, there will probably be a lot of comments in the margins, suggestions, and feedback. You need to give yourself several weeks to do this.
Copy editing: You will then need a copy editor, who will go through each sentence of your book and make sure that they flow logically, that they are in your voice, and that it is a smooth reading experience. This is really where the voice and character of your book start to shine.
Revision #3: Look carefully at your copy editor’s suggestions. You need to remember that you just have to “accept all” changes. Most of the time, your copy editor will suggest a better way to word a sentence, but sometimes, when they make a suggestion, it’s really just highlighting an area that has a problem. It’s not their job to find the perfect wording. It’s your job, as the author, to go back to those sentences and decide whether you like what they have suggested, or do you want to word it differently. You will need to give yourself another couple of weeks for this.
Proofreading: You can then bring in a proofreader which can be the same person who did the copy editing and they will check that everything is consistent—capitalization’s, spellings, hyphens, punctuation, all those things. You usually just “accept all” changes to this phase.
Your book needs a cover design and an interior design. You need to find someone that you will be happy with.
Don’t forget about your interior design either. If you’re publishing as an ebook, paperback, and hardback (which is recommended, here’s an article that talks about why [link to http://paperravenbooks.com/publish-first-book-ebook-paperback/%5D). You need a Word Doc for the ebook and a PDF for the paperback and hardback.
I recommend that you work with a formatter because a Word Doc can be finicky and not everyone has the software to create a PDF, but here are some things you should be on the lookout for, whether you’re doing it yourself or outsourcing:
- Pay attention to the heading levels. Your chapter titles will be an H1 level, your main headings within each chapter will be an H2 level, and if you have any sub-headings within a heading, those will be an H3 level. You might make a list of all your H1, H2, and H3 headings, just to make sure they’re formatted consistently.
- Look closely at spacing’s. Look at the spacing between the chapter title and the beginning of the text, between paragraphs, and even between lines. You want the spacing to be consistent and to make the paragraphs easy on the eyes.
- Choose typography that suits your book and brand. Don’t just use Times New Roman 12pt, please, for the love of all things literary.
- Look at other books to decide how you want your page numbers, running headers, and chapter titles to look. Some books put page numbers in the top corner, the bottom corner, top middle, bottom middle. Some books have the title as a running head or the chapter title or the author’s name. Some books say “Chapter 1,” others just show the chapter title. Lots of decisions!
- Don’t forget your Table of Contents! Remember to double-check that your chapters actually start where they say they’re going to start and that the title text matches exactly.
Publish an ebook on Amazon.com, and make it available in all the Amazon global marketplaces.
Publish a paperback through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and check the option to distribute it on Amazon.com
You can also publish a hardback through IngramSpark. If you’re outside the US, publish a hardback and a paperback through IngramSpark. (They have printing locations in the US, UK, and AU.)
There are so many considerations when launching a book, and as you publish books throughout your life, you’ll get better and more detailed in your launch plan. But let me describe a basic 30-day launch plan.
First, a big part of why I recommend a 30-day launch plan is because, for the first 30 days that your book is live on Amazon Kindle, Amazon is watching your downloads and sales closely. If you have a burst of downloads over a short period (5 days), they’ll boost your ranking, and then you have visibility to a huge audience.
Set your book at a promotional price for 5 days, either free or $.99.
Let your family, friends, email list, and social media followers know that your book is coming out a few days before official launch day.
During those 5 days, email your list and post on social media, with these calls to action: Download the book, leave a review, and share with your friends. You can nuance what to email and what to post, but that’s the basic idea.
Some advanced strategies: pay for third-party promotion, plan for podcast interviews and guest blog posts to go live during your launch week, and set up a live book-signing event. But concentrate on the basic 5-day launch, first.
Here are those five phases of the book publishing process:
Writing, 3 months
Editing and Revising, 2-3 months
Design, 2 weeks
Publication, 2 weeks
Launching, 1 month
Totally doable to go from “vague idea” to “book on a shelf” in less than 8 months!
You can see the original post on www.paperravenbooks.com
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