This week my author, Michael Lyding, Gratitude a Verb, will be featured here as we talk about the self-publishing process. The process is the 10 Steps we are going through to take his book to fruition and get him on time to the spiritual retreat he is attending in California in January! He will be using his book at the retreat and with future speaking engagements.
STEP ONE: Write the manuscript with fierce abandon and revise it over and over again. In the case of the author mentioned, he tags on to his book entitled Grateful not Smug. If you are writing from a new starting point, you just jump in and get it all out. Do not go back and look at anything the first year – yes year! You keep writing – yes, write ’till you drop. Now you are ready to revise and revise and revise. This is critical because that is not the proofreader’s job and certainly not the editor’s job. The peer reviewer is not going to want to do that either, but will do some parts of it if that is what you ask of the reviewer.
STEP TWO: Allow a peer review to bounce your ideas and information off a trusted professional friend before venturing to the editing stage. I have done several this year and believe a work should be given out for peer review after several revisions. I did one this year at the first writing stage and it took me 23 hours to review it when it should have taken about 10 hours! Yes, I did it on a flat fee that was promised and learned something valuable. The peer review is to be done after several edits to give it a chance to be of greatest value to all involved. The author Mike noted above writes on a topic I am interested in so I am a great choice for peer review as well.
STEP THREE: Say yes to editing and/or proofreading as it is paramount to your success and should never, I mean never be skipped or taken lightly. This is the heart of the finished product, this is what will make your writing work for you and your readers. This is the area that will be your professionalism shining through loud and clear. You absolutely cannot afford to avoid this and think that you or your Aunt Madge can do this for you.
According to my friend and special proofreader/editor, DJ Burroughs, the proof is making sure the sentences make a visual for the author and the words are correct, and correctly spelled, and that the punctuation works. The editing is all of the above plus knowing the sentences and paragraphs are clear and the reader is getting what the writer wants and intended. DJ is always asking himself when reviewing a work if he has questions, if he is confused over paragraphs, is there continuity. The edit takes two times as long as the proofread.
STEP FOUR: Value your cover design because it is the smile on the book, the sparkle in the book’s eyes and the mystery in that smile. It is everything and the critical step. According to our designer Heather Kirk it must be seen quickly by the author and the audience in a sea of book covers or it will not be successful. No amount of quality and compelling writing will jump through a book without an outstanding cover that excites the reader. Your cover’s unique appearance should not let the reader put it back on the shelf. The back cover must be ready too to keep that reader holding on to the book with excitement and wonder. Yes, this is a big job, but it is the dressing, the frosting and surely the sparkle with a hint of mint!.
STEP FIVE: Honor the book design and graphics on the interior for they are paramount to the overall readability of the book. According to Heather Kirk, who did our interior too, the cover is the gloves and the interior is the shoes that match the purse that make the complete outfit stunning. You can do a little or you can do much in this area, but whatever you do it should match the book, the title and the personality of the author. These parts carry the reader to the next chapter; sometimes without their knowing it.
STEP SIX: Seek out an illustrator who is the flower or the lace, the life and the heart for the book. Some books need an illustrator and in the case of our current work, Heather our designer used several in the separation of quotes from the verbiage. The illustrator may need to do more if it is a children’s book and heavy with characters, animals and scenes or a self-help book that has a lot of expression to go along with main points. This is a valuable tool to “say in pictures” what you are trying to say in words that needs another level.
STEP SEVEN: Respect the compliance required to meet the market standards. Getting your book to market has a business side too and you need to be aware that every book has an ID, an ISBN number and a bar code so yours is a one-of-a-kind book in the marketplace and easily dealt with in bookstores and libraries. This is handled by the publishing group and is critical at the early stages. You should also investigate the copyright of the book and the Library of Congress, but these are not absolutely needed. The copyright is automatic at an immediate level, but copyright is recommended by me.
STEP EIGHT: Cherish the printing of the manuscript and all its beautiful parts for it is the glitz before the ball. Selecting a printer who will work with you at a fair price for a quality product, honor commitments and be communicative and respectful of your work is what you need at the last turn. Customer Care is crucial to your success at the end. I look for a company I can depend on to take us to the ball on time.
For this project, and others, I selected again Color House Graphics. They are located in Michigan and have proven to me in the past that they can do the job. At this time, we have electronically sent all files and have forwarded hard copy of the manuscript, an instruction letter and 50% payment to the printer – we are on our way home! We anticipate a turn-around of 3-4 weeks even with the holiday week.
STEP NINE: Jump on the distribution bandwagon of Internet and on ground opportunities. Today more than ever before, distribution is endless. The possibilities would take pages, but let me say here that the Internet is becoming the Queen of distribution! Yes, I am still proposing bookstores and inventory in warehouse, and distributing outlets, and book fairs and speaking engagements. Always having books in your car is essential, but having Internet sales off your own website and a blog and links to other sites is a must. It is the business card of the ’60’s, it is the pager of the ’70’s, it is the cell phone of the 80’s, it is the website of the ’90’s – OK you get it! Yes, I was 12 when I had my first business!
STEP TEN: Make Marketing Magical and work for you. Marketing is about 40% of your costs and it is about 80% of your energy and what you will do at all times once you launch your book. If you have never been a lover of marketing you need to start reading everything you can on the subject. I can supply many more things to consider and books to read. Ask me for a copy of my marketing plan to market you and your book. Yes, you are a product too in this new book business. You are now in the marketplace and need to be asking yourself a lot of compelling questions.
Marketing is the wheel and you do not need to reinvent the wheel. You just need to repair it and oil it and keep it running well so you can participate in the fast paced book industry race. Marketing is creativity and fun and all of us can tap in to ours with the help of a marketing consultant.
More blogs to come. Ask me anything about marketing and I am sure I can answer it or find an answer for you. Having read a 100 plus marketing books, taught it at the university level for 15 years and consulted in it for about 20 years – especially to small businesses – I am your girl for answers.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you launching a book in 2009 like my author Mike Lyding. I wish you all the best of luck and am available for any and all questions. This is an exciting time for all of us. Remember, the artists are starving not the authors. Reading is an inexpensive way to entertain, books are a low priced item for a gift, a gift that keeps on giving. I love to “re-gift” books. A book gift is one that is cherished for a long time. Economic hard times for books and authors – bah humbug!