Like any business, it costs money to be a self publisher. Regardless to the fact that we are in the age of Kindle, Nook, E-Reading where uploading a book for you to these services are free, you still need money to self publish. Book covers are still needed, editing services are a must and you will need to purchase sample copies of your books to make sure everything is done right. If you plan to print books, either traditional printing or print on demand, you need to buy copies of your books to sell. You should research how much it will cost to do all of this. If you choose to skimp on quality, you will get what you pay for. Here are some essential steps.
Drafts: Before anything you will end up writing several drafts of your book. Take your time. A book does not need to be rushed. Since we are talking self publishing here and you are not on a publisher’s deadline, you have time to get things together. When you are done with your draft, re-read it and make corrections. Look for as many mistakes that you can find. Give it to someone else to read and let a fresh set of eyes look for mistakes. Do this and make as many rewrites as you can before you send it to an editor. The fewer mistakes you have in the manuscript, the easier you make it for the editor to concentrate on editing the structure of the story.
Editing takes place after writing the final draft of your book. You need to find someone to do a good copy edit which means they will not only work on grammar and spelling but story structure as well. A really good editor will give you some great tips on how to make you work stronger and more appealing to your readers.
Do your homework and make sure you get a reputable editor. Although we live in a time where going online to look for our needs in the norm, you will want to do more than surf the web for an editor. Talk with other writers who have success with them. Get recommendations. Do not just trust testimonials on editor websites, be proactive and try and reach out to the clients they serviced. There are some good editors out there but there are a lot of shams out there as well.
Editors are not cheap. The most disheartening thing for a writer is to pay a lot of money for a service and it turns out to be terribly done. I fell victim to this. I had two books that I paid a lot of money to be edited by professional editors I found online. Six months after they were on the market, readers and former editors informed me that my books were filled with mistakes. Keep in mind that even top selling authors books from major publishing houses sometimes have mistakes in them. But there were so many mistakes in mine that the books had to be recalled. I had to suspend working on new work and spend months fixing them.
When that editor is done, you give it to someone else to proof read and make corrections. Then you get a proof reader to proofread that. Regardless to the fact that I proofread it before giving the final payment, I missed things. If you are a writer and do not have editing experience or know what to look for, you will not pick up on these; as is my case. I am not a former English teacher or editor and I can find the basic errors. But a really good editor will find the mistakes. But even they miss things so it’s always better to get another set of knowledgeable eyes to look over your work. I will have another blog just on this situation coming soon.
Copyright your work and make sure you copyright your work through Washington DC copyright office. Although you are considered the sole owner of a piece the second you put pen to paper, for legal reasons, you want to be on file with them. www.copyright.gov There are several different stories out there about poor man’s copyright, the most notable is mailing the documents to yourself and not opening it. Whether this is a myth or not, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. The fee to copyright is a small price to pay to ensure ownership. It will take a few weeks to get the official; document back for your work but you can continue to move forward on the rest of your duties.
Book Covers are very important and would be the next thing you want to do. Prices on these will vary and depending on the quality of what you want, can be worth the price. You will often hear people say go to a book store and look at the books and see how your genre covers are done. I will add one more to that; go and look at movie posters too. Ever notice that after a book becomes a movie, that movie poster will appear as the new cover? Movie posters can provide further in inspiration for your covers. Can you do a book cover yourself? Sure, if you have a friend who does great work who can do it for little or nothing. If you are an artist yourself and can do it, by all means take that route. But remember the cover catches the eye like a movie poster. Poor or very generic looking covers will shun potential readers. No matter how well the story is inside, the cover is important. When I published my first book, A Gamble of Faith, I used the cover art from the playbill of the stage play. It was a very wonderful drawing and I thought that it would go over well with readers. I took the book to a writer’s conference and a book reviewer took one look at it and said “You need to get rid of that cover.” I asked why and he told me that because it was a drawing, it looked more like a book for teens than a book for my target audience which was adults. He told me that it looked childish (this was not a knock against the artist in anyway) and that no adult would buy it. I did explain that I kept it because people were familiar with the art and he said “That’s understandable if you were just selling the book at the play, but this is the book business. No one will buy it.” I took his advice and found a professional book cover artist to do a fresh cover based on the story.
The professional book cover artist took time to create something that matched the book. He talked with me and ran off ideas. With the new cover, I did see a change in sales. More people came to my table at the book fairs to get a closer look than they did before.
Book Layout will be the next thing you have to do. That’s the inside of the book. Font size, spacing, page numbering all have to be clean and straight. Next to editing, this too needs to be proof read so that you don’t send a book to print with. When you are done with your manuscript, apply for an LCCN number from the Library of Congress. You can file for one at www.pcn.loc.gov . The number is free and takes a few days to get. Once you have the number place it on the interior of the book where you put your copyright and ISBN number. You will have to send them a copy of the book for their records. I will address those in a minute.
So once you have done these things, it means you’re ready to print and sell right? Not just yet. Remember, it’s a business. You have a few more things to do that will add to your costs.
- Marc L Abbott
- I am a self published author from Brooklyn, New York. I have been publishing my work since 2004 and currently have four titles on the market in print and ebook format. I write horror and fantasy fiction as well as books for young adult. I am also a playwright with stage productions in and around New York City. Visit my website at www.hobbcatpublishing.com