If you’ve ever had the thought: “I have a book idea in me,” you’ve likely paid some attention to the whole book publishing process. And depending on what kind of book you want to write (a business book, a memoir, a compilation of expert interviews), the process could vary. Publishing a book is only as difficult as anyone wants to make it. But it is a complicated process, at least on the surface. Fear not, though, I’ll break it all down for you.
Here’s the deal: if you publish through a major publishing company, it’s almost a guarantee that your hard work will not be valued as you value it, and you might make a buck a book, if you’re lucky. I don’t recommend this route unless you’re the next Danielle Steel with your own Ari Gold-type, big-time agent.
On the other hand, if you go with a “little guy” publishing company (there are some great ones right in our backyard too), you’ll get more personal attention during the book publishing process, but you’ll likely have to do much of the book marketing yourself.
And, on the third hand, if you self-publish, not only will you be doing all the tedious publishing work (e.g., finding cover art and formatting), but also major book buyers will not have easy access to your book to be able to put it on their shelves. That could be fine for you, though, if your intention is to sell your book on your website, via social media, or using a platform like Amazon’s CreateSpace. So what’s a wanna-be author to do?
I can tell you this: YOU can do it! Because I know you. And, it is possible to make money (though probably not enough to retire—sorry) writing and publishing a book. And, one of the best ways to make this happen for yourself is to find a one-stop-shop for the completion of your manuscript, advice about the right book publishing process for your book, and all the promotional materials to make your book the success you have been dreaming about (in fact, this is my newest service offering. How exciting!).
Sound good? Let’s explore…
1. First, whatever book publishing process you choose, you’ve got to get yourself some quality content. There are tons and tons of books that are never published simply because it’s quite a process to write good content! What counts as a book can have anywhere from 15,000 to over 100,000 words and that’s a lot of words for even the most talented of writers to bust out. Most would be shocked to know how many authors (especially in the business sections of bookstores) aren’t actually writing the majority of their content. Enter ghostwriters for books, ladies and gentlemen!
Many authors start out on a quest to write every line of their own material and give up halfway through chapter 1. Why’s it so hard to write a book when you know you have a good idea? Sure, you start out feeling motivated to write your (WO-)MANIFESTO…then life, writer’s block, lack of focus, your VA quits on you, you name it—basically, shit—happens!
But the good news is that ghostwriters are ready to jump in to instill a little or a lot of inspiration to finish any author’s dream project. Many ghostwriters also provide services, such as copyediting and line editing as well, which often turns into a lot of ghostwriting and editing work (yeah, the lines are blurry, so make sure you understand who you’re hiring to do what). Believe it or not, the editors who are credited on the copyright page of any given book are often the major technical writers and get the least amount of public credit.
So upon embarking upon a book writing quest, first thing you’ve gotta do: hire yourself a ghostwriting copy and line editor that can help to keep you on track, writing intermittently for you as you go along, and potentially taking over at any given point. It’s still your material, your creativity, your ideas. It’s your name on the royalties page, but every great master of anything has had support and aid on any fabulous project.
2. Once the bulk of the content creation is done, macro-scale organization should be considered. Your copy editor/ghostwriter is going to be your best friend and the biggest pain in your ass for a while as you work on completing your book publishing process. Assume that your chapter 3 could end up being chapter 28, your photos could be completely switched around for the purpose of organization, and the technical aspects of creating the finished product is likely best handled by your ghostwriting partner.
It can be difficult for a lot of perfectionist authors, who have particular ideas about their very personal material and creativity, to have their content switched up and changed around. But in the best of cases, projects take a major shift toward amazingness based upon the fact that your editing ghostwriter isn’t nearly as married to your ideas as you are.
A great editor can shine a light on something that you may not have even considered while writing the content of the book. Just as reorganizing the parts of a personal bio can give audiences a completely different impression of someone, on a grand scale, reorganizing can turn a good book into a great book.
3. Once the material is relatively organized, you’ll move into the copy and line editing phase of your book publishing process. Yes, you probably want to hire several different types of editors. Even the most talented editor can’t do every one of these specific tasks expertly. That being said, the point of copyediting is to ensure a harmonious receipt of the material from your target audience, as well as looking at word choice, organization of content, etc. This is a phase where a lot of your content might actually get thrown out. And that’s okay (really!).
4. Next, grammar, spelling, and all the nitty-gritty stuff come into consideration on a more micro scale with line editing. And this part takes a while to happen. The best part here is, as the author, generally, you don’t want to do this kind of thing on your own. The author’s best energy is spent building insights, developing the narrative, digging into the information, doing the research, and creating the structure of it all. The editor’s and ghostwriter’s jobs are to fill in the details, offer precision, and bring function to art.
5. Then, publishing begins. The cover—size, shape, texture, colors, art, quotes, blurbs—is usually the publisher’s biggest job (if you choose self-publishing, well you can guess who’s job this is). Publishers want the outside of the book to sell the inside of the book (often they don’t even look at what’s inside!), and generally, rigorous standards are in place for this type of thing if you go with a small-time publisher who has access to distribution channels such as Amazon and other major booksellers. If you go with a big-time publisher, well…we don’t want to talk about how much is lost for the sake of selling the outside of the book, rather than emphasizing what’s in it. The stuff in the inside doesn’t matter, and many big publishing companies are just fine with making all sorts of money on the cover of the book while not worrying about paying authors for the inside. Steer clear unless you’re independently wealthy. ‘Nuff said.
6. Next is the proofing. Once the book is put together, a proof (or two, or maybe three) comes out, so you can view the finished product and make changes. A printing company will provide proofs, partnering with the publisher to make it happen. Once the proof is approved, printing takes place, and most books take a turnaround time of about 10 days to 3 weeks, depending on the length and size and stuff like that. From there, the printer ships them off to their specified locations, and it’s ready to sell on the shelves.
7. Once it’s approved, your book is ready to market and sell.
Wait—what? You have to market and sell your book? Bookstores have to be sold on buying your book to sell? You can’t just sit around and collect royalties? Most cannot, unfortunately…which is when having a one-stop-shop for editing, ghostwriting, publisher coordination, and marketing comes together nicely.
Think of your book ghostwriting/editing/marketing guru as your best bud now. Ideally, if you hire her in the beginning, she will do some marketing to increase buzz around your book before launch. Then after the book comes out, she will take charge of writing and buying ads, she’ll write press releases and guest blog posts to get your influencers to sing your praises to their audiences, and she’ll get local bookstores to let you do readings and special events.
No doubt if you’ve never looked into the steps of writing a book before, this book publishing process may seem daunting, but that’s why no writer or author ever writes a book on his own—all great authors have a team of people, small or large, to help get the art to the public. Wouldn’t you like to have a savvy PhD on your team?
If you’ve got a half hour, I’ve got a plan for your next book. Let’s nail down that big book idea, the right book publishing process for you, and a marketing plan for before and after. Then I’ll design and implement your personal book strategy. A successful book project can actually come from a grassroots effort and good old fashioned elbow grease. Give me a call! We’ll make a great team.
Photo credit: monticello / 123RF Stock Photo