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The ‘Self-Publishing Push’ Step-By-Step Guide: From Manuscript to Book – The Writer’s Survival Guide

So you’ve written your manuscript – what’s next?  You have the first draft, you’ve had people read it, you have the second draft finished, and now you think you’re ready to push ahead into the publishing world…so what do you do now?  How do you transform it from manuscript to book and to make it available to the public? How do you self-publish?

Sometimes we have a book inside of us that is just bursting to get out and we don’t want to wait for agents to pick it up.  We just want to get it written, edited, and printed – end of story.  That isn’t as cut and dry as you may hope though.  You still need to put in the work and you must do your marketing homework. 

 You ask, “How do I self-publish? Is it a possibility?”  Yes, you can and yes it is!

Step One:  Editing and Proofreadingthe main editing process

Editing encompasses the grammar, punctuation, and the structure of the manuscript; revising involves organization of storyline, the theme and characters are strong, the pages are not poorly crafted, and that it is fact checked and overall balanced as it pertains to the plot and dialogue.

It is essential that if you ever choose the self-publishing route and you do not have the funds to hire a professional editor then you must have it edited and revised numerous times by unbiased friends and family, and even colleagues.  Once it is published you won’t be able to go back and fix it. There can be other editions, but that takes funding, too, and that is another blog post.  Just understand the crucial importance to have your manuscript read by at least a handful of people who will give you unbiased feedback.  Do not have your manuscript read by a reader who won’t offer that unbiased criticism.  When you receive that criticism you must have a thick skin to handle it.  It won’t always be adored and you will see your manuscript laden in red ink.  Consider the red ink a positive.  You must also maintain a positive attitude throughout the editing and proofreading process. 

If you do have the funds available then it is strongly advised to seek out a professional editor.  Professional services are unbiased and thorough.  They won’t sugar-coat anything and they will look at it as a doctor gives us our annual physical exams.  In fact, consider any professional editor like a “book doctor”.  They will diagnose your manuscript and help you treat it so it is publishable and marketable. 

Writer’s conferences and workshops are a good way to read and have your manuscript read by your fellow writer colleagues.  It may not be comfortable to read our words or to have our words read by random people, but isn’t that what we aim for when we ultimately publish it? 

Take advantage of open mic nights where you can read your prose; get out there and try it, don’t be shy about it.  Consider it a dry run for when your manuscript is on the shelf at a book store (Independent or mainstream). 

Hiring out professional services, like Publishing Push, will give you a clear picture as to how to proceed in your revising process.  It is a must-have for the publishing process. 

Step Two:  Copyediting and Proofreading

Once the manuscript is received and if it is in poor condition you really need to check, re-check, and then check it again!  Make sure sentence structure is complete and that the words are appropriate.  Good word choices are key, as well as grammar.  The copy itself has to be read smoothly by several eyes. 

Publisher, Editor, Agent Turn-offs:  Reading and reviewing a poorly crafted, edited, organized manuscript.  When publication companies receive poorly revised manuscripts they are immediately turned off to the whole thing.  It doesn’t excite them and it is a waste of time.  It shows that you didn’t devote a lot of time in your manuscript after you threw together your first draft.  A first draft doesn’t mean it’s book-worthy, or even public-worthy.  Remember, once your manuscript is published and in the public, it is representing both you and the publishing company.  You want put your best foot forward and create the best version each time.

Step Three:  Keep it covered! Find a good cover. 

How do you bait and hook the public with your book?  How does your cover get noticed?     Make it appealing to the eyes are the first to pick it out from the other books.  Authors are fishing for readers and consumers and the book covers are the bait.  A good book cover, in addition to the title, is the deciding factor of whether or not a person will pick it up.  

Yes, we all judge a book by its cover. 

In 2015 we wrote a blog post about a published author while they were at the London Book Fair.  The author was discouraged and they were discussing the dismal sales of his book; he didn’t get many bites at all, despite how much promotion he put into his book.  Finally, he surmised that he needed to revamp his book cover.   Once he changed his book cover, the sales skyrocketed.  This is just one example where a book went from sitting on a dusty shelf to being chosen by consumers.  Just from changing the cover – the results were exponentially increased. 

Alert:  You still have to revise and edit your manuscript! The outside should match its inside.  Just because your cover catches attention doesn’t mean you can lax on the edits. 

Step Four:  Formatting – a crucial step in this process

Not only will the cover require formatting, so it can be placed in various electronic publications and devices; there needs to be the print cover formatted, allow space for the spine and for the ISBN.  Formatting is essential so that the book is well-presented.  The text and images should have a smooth flow and shouldn’t be skewed and scattered in different places.  Formatting is about making it fit harmoniously and be easy on the eye as well as captivating the eye. 

There are so many levels and platforms to get our manuscript out there.  You need someone who is good at marketing.  If you have the money, hiring a professional marketing team will be your best choice.  In formatting there are various angles to contend with such as sizes, platforms, and transferring from online to print copies can be tricky, as well. 

Step Five:  Outlets. 

Where does your book go?  Amazon, Lulu, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Independent brick and mortar bookstores – there are so many outlets to choose from.  Is there a good book description, keywords, the categories to classify the book, and finally really consider which platform your book will make the greatest mark?

Strongly consider:  Online versus Print. 

So your manuscript may be “finished” but once that first draft is completed that’s where your research begins. 

Comb through Amazon books and peruse those book blurbs and ask yourself which online cover made an impact and which you overlooked.  Go to Barnes and Noble as well as those Indie bookshops and observe the consumers.  What are they looking at?  What books are they interested in?  Which covers did they pick up? 

Step Six:  Printing

Where do you want your book available?  Your books become your babies and you will wabt the absolute best for them.  What are your aspirations for your manuscript?  What now?  What are your future goals for your manuscript?  Which distributors to approach?  How is the manuscript pitched?

What stage are you at as an author?  Online books may be a better choice for first-time authors because it is less costly.  The money you save from printing your book you can put into the marketing your book.  You want to make yourself and your book more marketable and visible. 

Step seven:  Distribution

Is this your first or second manuscript?  Examine which outlets to run with.  How many manuscripts to print at first?  Will your manuscript be more downloadable or will it be bought in the print edition?  Distribution of your book may come down to how much money is left.  It may be better to put your investments in the marketing of the book the first time out.  Like with new business owners we need a strong clientele to buy our products.  The online promoting will be cheaper in the long-run. 

Elevator speech?  Can you tell what your manuscript is about in one sentence?  In a back flap of a manuscript?  How do you pitch your book correctly so your book is picked up by bookstores?

Do you want to see your manuscript in the brick and mortar manuscript shops? Or do you want to see it only in digital format?  Pitching to the proper people.

When your book is published and you want to see it on the shelf you will have to push it into the stores so that requires an “elevator speech” and a pitch to speak about it with such brevity that it is instantly captured. 

Now, let’s get to work! Contact us at Publishing Push if you need help with self-publishing.

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