What Every Writer Needs To Know Before They Publish Their Book
You're on the write way
Hey there writer, I know what it's like to want to write a book, then go back and forth in a twisted tango dance in the self-debate for the publishing process.
I've been there, I went through it, my feet hurt from the tango dance of confusion and self-doubt.
I'm here to tell you that the publishing part of the book is just one part of your work, the rest of what you need to know is imperative for your journey as an author.
The tasks of figuring out how to write a book is taxing. Go to any writer's blog or Instagram and they'll express in their posts about the turmoil they have been going through to tell their tales.
I know how it feels to scrounge up the courage to be comfortable with sharing that story. To share that hard work with the world and wonder if everything will change or not even change at all.
I know how it feels to be scared if the thoughts and feelings you shared into this book will be taken into severe scrutiny from others you know. To want their approval or if they will act differently around you. To wonder, "Oh man, my family, my friends are going to see this and they are going to think differently about me". Fellow creator, I would know, I wrote a book about scheming tattoo artists that run a sketchy side business of underground crime. I didn't want a majority of people I knew personally to know of that book's existence; to save myself the trouble of the criticism of hearing that the book says f**k about 300 times and has intensely vulgar situations. That was a constant crisis of a scenario in my mind to prepare for the worse people I knew were going to be leery and weary of me. That sent my stress into levels that not even heart medication would help with.
I know how intimidating it feels to see all the trials and tribulations to try and triage how to make this book work and then work this book to be sold. I've had many, many, many moments I've thrown in the towel and given up. I had this preset outcome that it wasn't going to work so I gave up before I got the chance to publish.
I know what it's like to get upset and wonder if the story is going to make it out there, and cry into a hand towel to muffle the hiccupping sobs.
If all of these thoughts and feelings I shared about what my worries are your worries, your in the write place (pun intended).
It's hard to get courage, but it's easy to get discouraged, look at all the points I mentioned about how discouraged and stressed I got. Instead of holding my head up, not caring what others thing, and then being excited and happy that I was pursuing publishing a book!
By all means, there should be some planning on vital parts about being an author. It is fun to share fictional and nonfictional stories. Having a plan to handle situations to talk to editors, be calm in the world of writers your going into and having the information to know what to ask then going in blind. Doesn't that sound like a better plan to go about the author route? To make sense of stuff that have yet to make sense but you handled it like a champ. Yes, that does sound better. After publishing my first book in February 2020, it has been a learning experience and I'm still learning the process, but not many get this information. The information I'm about to bestow upon you for your path as an author/writer/blogger/creator, is a plethora of options, tips, and advice that I've learned myself or learned from others.
I've only been an author for a year and seven months, I still have a lot to learn in my evolution as author as I'm going to be publishing my second book. Often, I think about the writers out there that are trying to figure things out like I had to. I know that there are some writers out there that want to make the transition to be an author and have no idea where to go or what to do. I want to provide some direction to your path as author. I'm write with you there (again, pun all the way intended).
This is more then just a list of what you need to know to publish a book, this is also to keep you calm, cool, and collected during and after that process.
Don't Get Jealous Of Other Authors
I will admit, in the past I did feel a little sour and snub towards people that already got their books done and I was jealous of their progress and success. Then in time, I realized that people work hard for their stories and there is no need to be jealous of someone's accomplishments. Jealousy is unhealthy, it makes the psyche unfocused, and the focus is to work on your own book and enjoy your own story of accomplishment. Success stories are different for everyone, why would you want your success to be like someone else's? Accomplishments on books happen differently for everyone, the perspective needs to be neutral to know that creators work differently then others and have their own problems in writing to face like every other writer.
Then what goes around, comes around, because after I got my book done, a very precious friend of mine actually admitted to me in all honesty and without any resentment, that she was initially jealous that I got my book published. It didn't show in my facial reaction, but on the inside I couldn't believe she told me she was jealous of my published book. I didn't really believe it because I know I'm not someone to be jealous of, I keep it cool and on the down low because I never flaunt what I do since I don't want to be self-centered or center of attention. Without interrupting her, she told me the rest of what she felt. She told me that being jealous was the initial reaction at first, but she thought about how proud she was of me for all my hard work. That made me very happy to hear from this wonderful friend of mine that she was honest with me, and told me how she changed her tune immediately because she thought of our friendship. Of course I gave her a big hug and told her my thanks for all of her support.
The writers you see, whether you know them, or see their name in the media. They are creators just like you, they also went through emotional turmoil and constant rejections for their story. You don't know what they had to do to get their book published, and if they are pumping out books left and right, maybe it's taken them a couple years to find their rhythm and groove. Please don't discourage yourself or feel envy because of others, just be proud that they contributed to the world and use that as inspiration to work hard.
Uncover the Book Cover
Y'know that saying, Don't judge a book by it's cover? WELL TURNS OUT PEOPLE DO. Years ago, when I was in the final chapters of writing Inglorious Ink, I was having a conversation with someone at a coffee shop who took an interest in my publishing process. This is how that conversation went-
Him: So what are you doing for covers?
Me: I'm thinking of doing a portrait of each character, just showing their nose down to their torso to show off their tattoos. (Basically a specific zoomed in part of the body that doesn't show the eyes or lower half of the body).
Him: *shakes his head with sneer* I don't like it
Me: Well it was just an idea-
Him: If you look at book covers like Fifty shades of Grey, it was simple, just a tie and a grey background. You could do something like that too. I don't know what you'll do but you'll figure it out.
Originally, that conversation irked me for the natural reaction to hear someone dismiss how they didn't like an idea for something that isn't even their book. I wanted to say, "Hey this is my book, not yours buddy." After I got my feathers all smoothed out from being ruffled from my unnecessary feeling of ignorance and irritation. I had to understand the examples he set and apply that knowledge. He did make a point, most covers are pretty vague to keep the intrigue a mystery. He even went onto mention the Twilight books as an example. Even though it's not the best received vampire book, the covers are iconic and kept the intrigue with an apple on the over with a dark background. It was simple, but effective. So now after studying the book covers, and applying the important variable to stuff away my personal dislike for a series to see how it worked as a whole for presentation to be marketed as a book.
It has to go both ways, it has to be unique, but it also has to make sense from that first visual look of the cover to make someone want to read the back the book.
So here's my tip for book covers: Keep it in mystery, but give a symbol or item to make it simple enough to be effective for a reader's interest.
However, if there IS a specific vision you have in mind, and your like me and don't have the artistic or technical capabilities to create your cover. Here is your saving graces.
1. If you have any artist friends that will price their commissions within your budget, that will be a win-win situation. Your friend gets to a commission for their art business and you get a personally made cover from someone you trust.
2. Etsy sells book covers.
I was told about this gem of information from a wonderful woman named Tempie Wade (Author of the Timely Revolution series) who informed me that if I needed a cover for my book, I could browse through the many templates that are for sale on Etsy. There are numerous pictures made by artists that made the design for anyone that needs a book cover. You would just be paying for the digital file and then it's up to you how you want to put your name on it as well as the designers name. Boom, there you go, happy shopping.
3. If you publish through self-publishing outlets (that will come up later, you won't want to miss that section). They will supply a free workshop with templates of designs to choose for the book cover and the font title. TA DA! Problem solved, all options are there, now it's up to you to uncover what you want your cover to be with all these options out there.
There Is A Difference Between An Editor And A Proofreader
Tempie, the wonderful lady I mentioned in the previous point, had told me that very important line that is the header for this section. She told me that there is a difference and it is vital to know the services an editing company might not do proof reading. IF there is a freelance editor for the book, they might not also do proof reading and just the editing. She told me to not assume that all editors will proofread the book. The request upon editing has to be specific for what or how you want your book edited. If you have chosen to cut costs and not go with proof reading, you will have to go over your plot with a VERY fine tooth comb or ask the editor if there are proofreading services.
A friend of mine did the editing for my book for free and it was up to me to do the process for proofreading. Now that I'm onto my second book, when I went scouring for editors, I made sure to ask what editing services were provided. Because proof reading will take up a CHUNK of your time.
In my conversation with an editor, they will be the ones asking you questions about your book. The questions might differ, but they could ask you ones like-
- What is your book about?
- Can you give another synopsis of the book?
- What is your budget for the book?
- What is your deadline?
- What is your wordcount for the book?
- Do you have an outline for the book?
But don't be intimated, this in a editor that wants to help you or put you through to someone else who will help you. Be honest if you need clarification on a question, make sure to give your name and other contact information, and know that editors are writers too so they'll know what your going through.
Self Publishing or Publishing Company?
A book has to go somewhere and the place to put the book at is very tricky. I went through the process once to go through a publishing company and it was very neutral, that's what I'll sum it up as.
I was told about a publisher that would help me with my process of publishing through an actual publishing team. I called one of the owners, we met at a local library to discuss the publishing of my book through their company. I was told what this company offers for the process of getting the book edited and marketed. The publisher told me in so many words that if I had to cut corners by editing my book some place else or having another cover made without this company, it wouldn't effect the process. I was told to save my money on some of these steps any way that I could if an opportunity came up. In the end, I wanted my book Inglorious Ink to be my own book without someone else owning it and possibly changing it. I had to see this process through for myself, the publisher understood, and respected my choice to go another route.
My choice I made was to do the Amazon route. The wonderful lady named Tempie, that I've been mentioning throughout this article. Well it's time I gave the full story about how this woman is essentially my Miyagi sensei.
In January 2020, I reached out to Tempie if she would meet me for lunch so I could understand the confusing world of self-publishing through Amazon. I would not be here, writing this article and have my book in the Amazon route if it wasn't for her tips, cautionary tales, and advice.
Tempie told me that publishing through Amazon will be an easy process to be able to keep the rights to the book, getting a free ISBN number (because those are expensive). There are price adjusters, paper choices, price match, free templates (as mentioned earlier), and the ability to see how the book will look like on paper. The program that Amazon offers is KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). That program is where you upload your file of the story, see how it looks and edit what you want, and add anything from acknowledgements to specific pages you want created. Then you publish the file, and use that file to upload for the manuscript section.
BUT all good things have a couple draw backs, Tempie told me that Amazon pays yearly. She told me to not quit my day job because Amazon will give me one paycheck for my books a year. She emphasized that my book will be one of millions on Amazon, so the marketing must be adamant. She also told me that the process in the sections for publishing the book must be gone over carefully. To be sure, the first copy that must be published and purchased is an author copy, that is one of the options in the process. She gave me one of her proof reading copy books to show me the numbers were printed differently then what she put in the format information. After having the first book of an author copy ordered to see what a physical copy looks like, then ordering the next batch of books with all the trimmings and fixings will be better then going on a whim and assuming all is well.
The last thing you want is to have someone else own your book, it is yours, they might change something about the plot you molded and made from the clay of your creativity. If you want to take on the route to publish through a team of publishers, be prepared for some financial risk and deadlines, and get your voice ready incase you have to make your stance. If you self-publish, you can pick and choose what editing services you want and control the whole process. Take your pick for your path, this is what both of the options look like to ponder on.
Well fellow writer, does this ease some worry about your path to publishing?
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on my Instagram @parrishpassages. If you would like to immerse more into the world of writing, I have a little podcast show, Parrish Passages Podcast for entertainment and education, if you were intrigued by my writings, you'll like what your hearing just like what your reading.
Take care and continue to create that story that people are waiting for!