The process isn’t over with the sigh of relief that accompanies typing “The End.” I know, I know. It’s hard to believe after you spent so much time writing your heart out to produce this great work that needs to get into the public eye.
You certainly need to get your words out there, but you also wanted to be calculated in your next steps. A rush job of what follows will not benefit you or your reader. Below, I’ve listed a few suggestions (in order) for the process. This is just a guide I’m hoping will prepare you for your journey in publishing your book to the best of your ability.
Start your Book Budget
The various fees that arise in this process can feel shocking. Some writers are not aware of the investment it takes to publish a book. Do your research here. You’ll have an endless array of places to put your funds, but again, think carefully and critically about what your book needs. The areas you’ll want to consider budgeting for include editing and marketing. If you are self-publishing, you’ll also want to budget for cover, formatting, ISBN, and publishing sites, to name a few. Spend time on Google and join Facebook groups that can help you determine average prices. Word of mouth is your best tool.
This goes without saying. You have finished a manuscript and you should be proud of yourself! Pull out all the stops and get your family involved. Whatever you’d like to do, do it. Then set that baby to the side and do not look at one word of your manuscript for a few weeks. You’ll be tempted to go right into self-editing, but I suggest waiting. My recommendation is to escape your novel for three weeks. The key is to come back to it with fresh eyes.
Your fresh eyes start here. Revisions will come in several doses. Everyone differs on this, but I recommend giving your manuscript three or four solid revisions. Then consider reading your manuscript aloud. This is particularly helpful to find problems in sentence structure. Look for words you’ve used too frequently. (Scrivener offers a way to check this under Text Statistics). Use spell check for Word and consider Grammarly or other built-in editors. This does not replace the keen, experienced eye of a professional editor, but it can help improve your manuscript before you turn it in to an editor. Side note—check your spacing. Remove those double spaces at the end of sentences!
Beta readers are a great next step, but certainly not mandatory. The benefit is that beta readers provide another set of eyes on your work before moving into the publishing step. You can often find these readers in a writing group or communities where you’ll swap this favor for one another.
Yet, it’s still another area where you’ll want to do your homework. Be clear about your genre when searching for beta readers. Ideally, you hope to find readers that are in your target audience, but that’s not always possible. Forge ahead anyway.
Beta readers are often unaware of the commitment level involved. It’s important to be upfront and clear about this. I recommend developing a list of specific questions and a deadline for your beta readers to return their advice back to you. Create a professional document that will help get the feedback you need. Otherwise, you may get a lot of opinions.
In that same vein, also recognize that beta readers are offering subjective advice from their reader experience. It won’t be the same as everyone, and everyone will not be your ideal reader. Let your questions do the guiding, and you will find that beta readers can offer valuable insight to your work.
Hiring An Editor
The editing process can be lengthy, and this often surprises writers. You’ll want to plan this step carefully. If you are self-publishing and have a deadline, I highly suggest not skipping this step. Remember that you have poured your heart into words that you believe people need to hear. Those words need every ounce of professional polishing your readers deserve. Read more about why hiring an editor is beneficial to your book.
If you are publishing traditionally, publishers want to see that you are already marketing yourself. This is a large portion of your book proposal and will go with you throughout the process. Are you self-publishing? This step is for you, too. The key? Start now. Go ahead and implement the elements you are adding to your book proposal. You can start with lead magnets or social media—a free/low cost option for you. Learn Canva and develop a few graphics you can use to highlight sections or quotes from your manuscript. My suggestion is to invest in a marketing specialist who can help you launch your book well and bring visibility to your work. Check around for a good package that will fit your book needs. Keep in mind that this type of investing is for the long-term. Your book isn’t just selling this year. It lives on.
So there you have it, friends: my list of next steps and potential expenses for the book publishing process. You can modify to fit your needs, and sure, there are things you can add or take away, but I hope you glean some wisdom here. You’ve put in the hard task of writing and now is not the time to settle for less. Your book will be published with your name on that cover. Make it the best work it can possibly be. You owe it to your readers—and yourself.