If you plan to work with a self-publishing company, start the production process early on. Make a connection with the company who will produce your book and allay the uncertainty you feel as you ponder the unknowns of the self-publishing process.
This article is featured in ProWritingAid’s new guide, How To Go From First Draft To Published Author. Reprinted with permission.
The hard part’s over; you’ve finished your manuscript. Time to send it off to production, sit back, and wait for the reviews to pour in and the morning shows to book you for your interviews.
Now that you’ve wrapped up the writing phase, book production begins. So, where to start?
Well, you should start the process way before you finish your manuscript. There are plenty of decisions to make when it comes to self-publishing, and some of them will affect your book’s content. Maybe not the story, but certainly your book’s cover, your metadata, the descriptions you’ll include on the book and in your promotions, the format of the book(s) you’ll produce… there’s a whole world ahead of you as you transition from “writer” to “publisher.”
Yes, it can feel overwhelming, but the more you know, the less intimidating it will be. Call self-publishing companies (start with BookBaby: 877-961-6878) and do some research. Figure out what questions you need to answer and what decisions you need to make and you’ll soon be on your way to publication.
If this is your first time self-publishing, you may find yourself thinking about the elements of a book in ways you never considered. Making decisions about cover design and interior design, for instance. Do you know the difference between the two?
Cover design is pretty straightforward: it’s the cover of your book. Of course, if you’re creating a physical (print) book, there’s also the back cover to consider.
Designing a book cover isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are a lot of elements that require consideration: some are driven by genre and your intended audience, some are industry standard elements, and some relate to marketing your book.
One thing is for certain: you don’t want to skimp on your book cover. Your book cover needs to grab attention, give your potential reader some major clues about what’s inside your book, and stack up against every other published book — traditionally published and self-published — on the market. And your cover has to achieve all these things at full-size as well as in tiny, thumbnail form. Better make sure you get a professional on the case.
Interior design, or interior formatting, relates to everything you see on the inside of your book, including the title page, the table of contents, chapter headers, fonts, running headers, footers, page numbers, line spacing, the number of columns per page, etc. It is important that your final manuscript documents (Word or InDesign for eBooks and PDF for a printed book) are free of errors and formatted correctly to result in a smooth production process and a professional-looking finished product.
Are you making an eBook, printed book, or both? What type of binding do you plan to have? Softcover or hardcover? With or without a dust jacket? What about paper stock?
Some of these decisions are purely about your preference as a reader, some may be based on economics, and others may be a matter of market expectations. Either way, having a clear idea of what you want will ease the process of book production.
Knowing your intended audience is another key, not only in marketing your book, but in deciding on things like trim size and the design elements of your cover art.
You can’t rush a masterpiece
One definite requirement for a writer on the verge of publication is patience. The process will take time and trying to rush it will only result in frustration (at best) or an inferior or flawed finished product — which is the LAST thing you want after pouring so much of yourself into writing your book.
First, make absolutely sure your manuscript is free of errors (at least as certain as you can be). Have your manuscript professionally edited. It’s not a luxury or an add-on, it’s what every serious author does. Editing software is a great first (and second) pass (ProWritingAid scoured this chapter!), but do you think a single traditionally published book hasn’t been professionally edited and proofread at least once before publication? Why should a self-published book be any different?
And yes, you should give your manuscript a final read after it comes back from an editor or proofreader before submitting for production. It adds time to the process, no doubt, but the expense and additional time it will take to make corrections later in the production process are much more costly and inconvenient.
Develop a relationship
In some ways, sure, a book is a product, like anything else. The conversion, printing, binding, boxing, and shipping are akin to so many other products that flow to market. But, of course, your book is NOT just a product. Your book has the capacity to change lives, tell stories, move people to tears, and have a significant impact on another human being. And more than that, it’s your life’s work (at least it’s one chapter of it). It means a lot to you, the author, and you want to be certain the people producing your book are invested in making sure the finished product is everything you imagine it will be.
Start your book production process early on in the writing process. Try to imagine your finished book as you write. Let it inspire you. Make a connection with the company who will produce your book and figure out what you need to know. It will allay much of the uncertainty you feel as you ponder the unknowns of the self-publishing process and it’s one giant step toward declaring that, “I am a published author!”
Get your free copy of ProWritingAid’s new guide, How To Go From First Draft To Published Author. Readers of the BookBaby Blog can also get 20% off the Premium version of ProWritingAid by using voucher code BB2017.
The Most Important Part Of Writing And Publishing A Book
You Can’t Skip Hiring A Cover Designer
Tell your book’s story with metadata
Six Myths (and a Few Facts) About Traditional Publishing
Focus On Your Book’s Back Cover