Today, I’m going to talk about publishing your book. Many authors write their first novel but don’t have much knowledge about the publishing process. It takes a long time to write a book, and it can take just as long if not longer than writing it to see it published. The elements remain the same whether you decide to publish your manuscript or send it out to traditional publishers. Below, I’ll give you an overview of what happens for your manuscript to turn into a book and hopefully a best-seller.
Hybrid and Traditional Agreements
If you want to self-publish your book, please go to the next step.
Whether a publisher is traditional or hybrid, it’s up to them whether they’ll decide to take on a new author. Publishers can receive over 1,000 manuscripts a week. They sit in a slush pile for someone to read. If it doesn’t hook them within the first five minutes, it’s rejected.
For a publisher to accept your novel, there are several other things for them to consider:
- Is the genre marketable?
- Is the subject matter trending?
- Is the manuscript of high quality?
If your manuscript meets these requirements, then you will be offered an agreement.
The agreement will outline the terms of the publication of your book.
A hybrid agreement usually requires you to pay for publishing services. If it is a picture book and the publisher doesn’t have a team of illustrators, they may ask you to pay to have the illustrations done elsewhere.
A traditional publisher agrees to take on the financial risk of publication.
However, in both instances, the publisher and you will agree to a certain percentage of royalties paid for future sales.
The Editing Process
It doesn’t matter which of the above options you choose. Your manuscript will need editing.
As an author, you will undertake the first round of edits. If you’re like me, you’ve probably done several drafts of your manuscript and edited it many times before you’ve sent it out.
The editor will break editing down into three steps:
- Copy Editing: looks at syntax, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It also involves looking at whether words need to be hyphenated. Do numbers need to be in numerals or spelled out? Are capital letters and fonts used correctly? Is there a uniform style? Are there errors in language use? All these things are looked at and amended if necessary.
- Line Editing: looks for overuse of long, redundant words or sentences that can be tightened. In this part of the editing process, the editor will fix bad transitioning, tonal shifts, unclear scenes, narratives, and unnatural phrasing.
- Proofreading: when the above stages are completed, an editor will read through the final copy of the manuscript. He will look at grammar, inconsistent spelling, hyphens, page breaks, and awkward words.
Once the editor is happy with the quality of the manuscript, the publisher will set a release date.
A release date is usually six to eighteen months. The reason for this is to allow for the cover design, marketing, and any potential delays. The publisher will also set an on-sale date. That is when the book will become available for retailers and pre-order. The on-sale date can be a few weeks to a few months before the release date. For example, my cover reveal was on 14 May 2021. My book is available for pre-order now, and the release date is 24 August 2021.
Have you ever heard the saying don’t judge a book by its cover? The first thing a consumer will see is your book cover. To me, the book cover is everything because most people will judge a book by its cover.
The designer will ask the publisher to complete a design brief that includes the synopsis, target audience, and a list of comparable titles.
The design process could take a month or so. It depends on the number of revisions the designer must make. The publisher may ask for your input about what picture should be on the cover. The publisher at 5310 Publishing asked me. The picture I suggested is what his design team did and, I think they did a fabulous job because it complements the story.
The designer will then work on the interior page design and layout. Here a font is chosen and a copyright page. Next, paragraphs and chapters are formatted. He will also look at where to place any illustrations and photographs in the manuscript and format them. This process can take several weeks to complete.
Next, the publisher will review and proofread an electronic version of the entire book. The publisher reads the electronic version of the book first. Any errors the publisher finds will be communicated with the designer and, he will incorporate them with any final edits.
Large publishing houses will contract a printing firm first who will then coordinate with a warehouse distributor. For smaller publishing houses and self-published authors, distribution and printing get done through Print-on-Demand or Digital-first publishing. In either case, the digital files of the whole book get emailed to the distributor/printer. He will prepare the files for printing and distribution to numerous online retailers.
A galley is what is known as a proof copy of your book. Once the electronic files get sent to the distributor, a copy should be printed and examined for errors. The publisher will read and evaluate the galley to ensure that the book is ready for wide distribution.
If you’re publishing your book as an eBook, the designer will complete this process. After the print version of your book has been approved, the designer formats the eBook version, making it compatible as a PDF, ePub, MOBI, and other file formats.
Review Copies/Advanced Reader Copies
Reviews for your book are essential to gain sales. When the galley is ready, the publisher will send it to social media and reviewers for consideration. Most reviewers are overwhelmed with requests, so they may not have time to review your book.
Publishers will also send Advanced Reader Copies of your book to influential readers who will post an honest review on their platform of choice. Readers may include social media influencers, well-known/respected authors, and book bloggers.
The publisher has a marketing plan that builds awareness and enthusiasm for the release of your book. The marketing plan usually starts three or four months before the release date. The marketing plan can include:
- Author events/interviews
- Email/direct mail marketing
- Pre-ordering, and
- Content creation via blogging.
All the above creates as much anticipation as possible for the release of your book.
Congratulations, your manuscript is now a book. The publisher has ensured it’s available for purchase through many distribution channels. It’s time to celebrate! If your marketing was successful, you should have interviews and events lined up. If not, you need to continue to reach out and let people know that your book is out there and what a good read it is. If you work hard enough, it could just become a best-seller.
Until next time, I hope this blog is helpful.