I said I was going to start blogging more and one of the topics I’m asked about most is what do after you’ve finished writing a book so I figured I’d start here.
(P.S. I’m not reading through this so if there’s misspellings…well, I’m human.)
I am by no means an expert on publishing and every experience is different—this has just been my personal experience.
My number one piece of advice would be—don’t publish the first book you write.
<gasp> But it’s my baby!
I know. Believe me, I know, because I felt the exact same way. But now, having written nearly 30 books, I look back on my first books and I cringe at how awful they are. At the time I was blinded by my love for the story, characters, and writing in general and I couldn’t separate myself and look at it with an unbiased eye. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those books and characters…I just wish no one would ever read them. I can write a lot better now.
That being said, even though I wish those books weren’t out there, I don’t regret it. If I hadn’t published those I don’t think I would’ve had the guts to publish anything.
Moving on, once you’ve completed your book I suggest converting it to a .mobi file and putting it on a kindle (if you have a kindle) and reading it as a book. You could always print it out the old fashioned way, but I prefer the kindle because I can make the words bigger and it’s easier for me to read (my eyes suck) and then as I’m reading I have the word document up on my computer and I can change things as I go. I’ve formed a very critical eye of my own work over the years and I find that reading it on a kindle as an actual book makes me even more critical vs. reading it straight from the computer. No book is perfect, and you have to be willing to make changes and cuts.
After you’ve read it and made any changes you want you can read it again—but I never do that. By that point my eyes are crossing and my brain has turned to mush and I’m useless and not going to be able to further the story.
This means it’s time for beta readers. I have my betas read it as I write, but that’s only because I now don’t ever have any major plot changes. But when you’re just starting I suggest using betas once you’re done and have read it yourself. When picking a beta reader DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT) use family or your best friend or that person I know that was an English Major. Seriously, DON’T DO IT. I mean it. Betas are there to help guide your story and you want them to be critical but also point out things you do well. Family and friends will tell you it’s great when it’s not and that person I know that was an English Major will think they know everything and screw up your story. So who do I use as a beta reader then? If you’ve already built an online audience (maybe online friends that are also readers) reach out to one or two of them. Your end goal is getting your books out to readers so why not have beta readers that are actually readers? Also, beta readers are supposed to be critical. You don’t want them to say, “I love this!” When it really sucks. Once your book is published readers aren’t going to lie and tell you they love it, they’re going to be brutally honest, so it’s better to hear it sooner rather than later. Oh, and quick note—try not to have too many beta readers limit yourself to no more than three.
Once you’ve gone through the beta reading process it’s time to start looking for an editor. Most editors will offer a sample edit so you can see if you like their style of editing and it also helps to have an editor that you mesh well with. I was lucky enough to accidently end up with my editor because she started out as my formatter and we click very well. We have similar personalities so it works, which is great since I release a book approximately every other month.
One of the biggest questions I’m asked is how?
How do I find an editor?
How do I find a formatter? A cover designer?
It’s easier than you think. Facebook is your best ally. Stalk your favorite authors and see if they mention who their editor or formatter is. See a cover you love? Find out who the designer is. Chances are if you don’t easily find that information then the author will be happy to answer you in a comment or message. I know it can be scary reaching out to your favorite authors but we’re people and most of us are pretty kind. (I’ll post links down below for people I use that you can check out)
Finding a good editor, cover designer, and formatter can be difficult and cost a lot of money. But remember this is your baby and you don’t want to skimp on it. INVEST IN YOUR DREAM. If you don’t believe enough in your book to do it right, then no one is going to believe in you enough to buy it. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. Chances are you’re going to have to save up for months when you’re first starting out in order to get a good cover designer and editor. (Formatting isn’t as expensive) But trust, me it’s worth every penny. A cover is your first impression—it’s the first thing that tells a reader hmm this is something I might like and you want to make them stop and look long enough to read the blurb. Then, you want to make sure you have a good editor because the last thing you want is a jaw-droppingly amazing cover and the inside sucks. Readers will remember if your book is poorly edited. TRUST ME. And readers talk. Word of mouth is your best ally but it can also be your foe. Formatting is one thing I see a lot of people leave off but it’s just as important as editing and having a good cover. If the book isn’t formatted right it can totally be screwed up on someone’s reading device and they might think it’s defective. You want to make sure your book is completely professional all the way around. Every aspect is important.
Once your book is edited, formatted, and has a cover, what do you do?
It’s time to publish! For self-publishing to kindle you will use Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. For everything else I personally use Smashwords—they then publish to Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and more. There are other websites you can use like Draft 2 Digital, but I personally have no experience with that one. Createspace is the big one for paperbacks. I have used Ingram Spark (Lightning Source) and I don’t recommend them. It’s very easy to set up an account and you give them your bank account information so they can deposit your money.
After all that is set up it’s time to pick a publishing date if you haven’t already and start marketing. (I will do another blog post on marketing)
When it’s time to publish you log into your accounts and follow the steps. Most websites now offer preorders too, if that’s something you want to do.
Then you simply press PUBLISH and watch your baby grow up and go out into the world.
Don’t forget to breathe, because while you might be scared, it’s going to be okay.
If you have any questions because I’m sure I’ve forgotten to touch on something, feel free to comment below and I’ll answer. If your comment doesn’t show up immediately it’s because I have to approve it. I get a lot of spam comments so I have to approve most of them.
Cover Designers I recommend:
My go-to is Regina Wamba with Mae I Design. She also does custom photography. She’s amazingly talented and awesome to work with. She has some of the most recognizable covers in the indie world. http://www.maeidesign.com/
Hang Le is also an amazing cover designer. She did my re-do’s for Unraveling and Undeniable. But you probably know my Bring Me Back cover over those and she did that one as well. Hang is incredibly sweet with a distinct style. http://www.byhangle.com/
Emily Wittig is an up and coming young designer. I’m blown away by her talent at such a young age and I know she’s just going to get better and better. She did the new covers for my Fallen Series as well as something else I haven’t revealed yet. 😉 https://www.facebook.com/emilywittigdesignsandphotography/?fref=ts
Editors I recommend:
I can’t recommend Wendi enough. She’s amazing. She’s quick, but thorough. And she’s funny, so bonus.
Formatters I recommend:
Again, Wendi. Yeah, she does formatting too. And I cannot tell you what a big help it is to have your editor also be your formatter. It makes the process go so much faster. Oh, and she does a great job so there’s that too. https://www.facebook.com/getreadygetsetedit/?fref=ts