When you first decide to write a book, the challenge is to finish it. Once you do, you learn that finishing the manuscript is just the beginning.
The idea that someone is going to magically come along, “love” your book, and make you a millionaire is impossible fantasy these days. Traditional publishers simply can’t afford to take a risk on an unknown. So unless you were just involved in something notorious or are already a celebrity, you’re going to have to find a different way to get your work out there.
The good news is that the options for doing that are burgeoning—and the new ways are far more reasonably priced. You can now publish online at virtually no cost. You can have only the paper copies you need created via print-on-demand technology, rather than arranging a 500-book print run and then cursing every time you walk around the boxes as they languish in your living room.
But even more than the cool new ways you now have to get your book out there, there are many more cool ways to make sure people know it’s there once you do publish it. And that, dear writers, is where the real work lies.
Creating your book is Act 1 of your publishing adventure. Getting it where people know about it and can access it is Act 2. Keeping the buzz going after you launch your masterpiece is Act 3. All three acts are part of the play we authors want so desperately to perform.
Act 1 Once you finish that draft, don’t assume you’re done with the writing. Re-writing is every bit as essential to creating a great book. Let your manuscript steep for a few weeks or even months before you pick it up again. That will give you fresh eyes for what needs attention. While your darling is resting, brush up on self editing. (Two of my favorites are Write Tight by William Brohaugh or Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King.)
Once you’ve polished the book as well as you can on your own, have others look at it–people who are not going to tell you it’s wonderful simply because they love you. (The 10 Day Book Club process is great for this.) When you think it’s ready–and kind, knowledgeable others have agreed, do one more thing if you can afford it. Have a professional editor look at it. There’s a very good reason to make sure your work has been polished to a shine. Once you establish yourself as a bad writer, it’s hard to get a second chance to be a good one.
Unless there is a definitely established pent-up demand for your book in paper, seriously consider releasing it as an e-book first. (Many authors are finding ample success doing just this.) You will need to transform the manuscript into e-book format, but you can either do that yourself with online tutorials or pay a reasonable price to have it done. At this point, there are two major formats that you can e-publish in. Amazon’s Kindle uses Mobi. The Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, and others rely on E-Pub.
There is, of course, a lot to figuring out all of this. You can get a good start on learning it by reading David Gaugran’s book Let’s Get Digital.
Once you decide your format, you’re ready for Acts 2 and 3. More about those in my next post.
Mary Lloyd is author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love and the e-book 39 Bites of Wisdom: Little Lessons on Getting Life Right (Kindle). She is owner of Mining Silver LLC and its subsidiary Hankfritz Press. For more, see her website www.mining-silver.com
Note: Mary Lloyd’s Book, “Widow Boy” is archived on http://10daybookclub.com
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