Finishing your own book is a definite accomplishment. It is the end product of long hours spent planning, outlining, fleshing out ideas, creating characters and putting the actual words into a document. Publishing is the next step, and you have the option to go the traditional route or to self-publish your work.
The process will take some planning and key decision-making, but it will equip you with valuable knowledge for publishing more of your written work in the future. To increase your chances of success with publishing your book, the following will describe how to get your book 100% ready for publication, how to approach book publishers and how to get started with digital self-publishing.
Editing and Proofreading
Thorough proofreading is essential for your book’s future success and profitability. It ensures your entire manuscript is free from grammatical and spelling errors. Proofreading also entails testing your sentences, paragraphs and chapters for readability, which translates into concise and engaging wording. Lengthy sentence structure and confusing phrases will not suffice because they usually cause your audience to stop reading.
Editing your text is the next part, and it is more in depth than proofreading. It frequently involves rewriting and rearranging parts of the narrative so they flow logically from one main part to the next. Detailed edits may also require you to expand on parts of the story or narrative that would otherwise leave the readers with too little information.
Proofreading is a vital skill for you to develop as a writer, so doing an initial proofread of your own work is recommended. Some ideas for catching grammar errors and awkward wording include:
- Reading your writing out loud or using text-to-audio software to play it back. Set aside an hour each day to proofread one section of your book at a time with this method.
- When reading parts of your book at loud, have another person listen to them. Ask him or her for honest feedback about the sound of your wording.
- Print out a hard copy of the chapter or section you are proofreading and write abbreviated corrections in the margins.
An objective look at your written work is the function of a good editor, and one of these professionals can catch inconsistencies in your story that you would have likely overlooked. Hiring a freelance editor online is now a simple and relatively inexpensive option. Major freelance job boards connect these editors with writers, and a number of them also rate their editors based on past client feedback.
If you want to have your book printed, manufactured and marketed in the traditional sense, the next step is to contact publishing houses that may be interested in your work. Not every publisher accepts every genre, so you should first do some research about which of these companies accepts books in your genre.
Once you have a list of publishers to contact, you will need to prepare a query letter and sometimes an outline of your book that summarizes each chapter. Your query letter needs to explain to the publisher what makes your book compelling and why the company would benefit from publishing it. If a publishing house determines that your book will be profitable for them, they will send you an acceptance letter or e-mail.
Some book publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, so in these cases you will need to contact these publishers only by query letter and often through an agent. Many authors decide to hire a literary agent to help them with shopping around an unpublished manuscript. A good agent can take much of the time and guesswork out of approaching publishers with your book. Some literary agents focus exclusively on first-time authors as their clientele and can be invaluable in helping you secure a publishing contract.
The Option to Self-Publish
Self-publishing your book is the second option, and you now have a range of choices thanks to digital publishing technology. Downloadable electronic versions of books have become popular with the general public, and authors can now self-publish eBooks at little upfront cost. If you prefer to self-publish print versions of your book, you can sign up for a print-on-demand service and create copies based on customer demand. Self-publishing does carry some more legwork than using a traditional publisher, such as:
- Formatting the book layout and fonts
- Creating the front and back cover art
- Converting your book to the right file formats for digital publishing
- Promoting your book to generate enough buyer interest
Publishing your first book is an exciting prospect, although it does not happen overnight. Be prepared for several rejections and remember not to take them personally. A rejection simply means that a publisher has determined your book is not the right fit, and it never indicates that you should stop trying to become a published author.