If your manuscript draft is complete, then you’re most likely celebrating getting each and every word down on paper. 2018 is your year and your book is coming out! With IngramSpark’s print-on-demand and global distribution, you’re ready to print your book and sell it to the masses! . . . Or are you?
So many writers get caught up in the writing process that they completely forget that there are many steps between finishing the writing and putting a final book on a shelf or online. Being able to independently publish has changed book publishing for many talented writers—overstepping the traditional process of finding an agent and publisher means that for IngramSpark authors, getting to your book’s birthday can be expedited greatly.
However, there are some steps that you as a writer should never skip over, no matter how you choose to publish your book. At a publishing house, the editorial and proofing process can take a year, so having patience with your own book’s journey through this portion of the production process is vital to creating a wonderful book. The process that traditionally published writers go through has many valuable steps that are vital to putting a modern and polished product on the shelf, and IngramSpark authors have access to all of these same tools!
Here are some tips for how to make sure your book is going to compete in the marketplace.
- Use Beta Readers. When you’re “done” writing, make sure you have beta readers. These are friends or writing group members that will read your first draft and provide you with feedback. Take their suggestions to heart! It can be really hard to take criticism (hopefully your beta readers give the constructive kind), so give yourself enough time to hear them, consider the suggestions, and then implement appropriate changes. Don’t rush.
- Be Your Own Book Editor. No one ever wants to hear this, but taking some time away from your book in between editorial rounds is really helpful to many authors. That may mean one month or even more of not re-reading or tweaking anything at all on your manuscript. Giving yourself time to get out of a headspace of thinking about it all the time will mean that returning to the book with fresh eyes is possible. This enables you to edit yourself. But you can’t do this without a bit of space first, and a period of time in which you don’t look at the book at all.
- Get A Professional Book Editor. You may want to go through a few rounds of beta readings. Once you’ve gotten as far as you can off of these kind editorial volunteers, it’s time to hire a professional editor. There are several types of editing a book goes through, and these are the three types of editorial that are most common for a book on its journey toward publication. Not every book needs every type, and a professional book editor can help you determine which types of editing your manuscript needs. They are:
- Developmental Book Editing looks at the “big picture” of your message and makes sure things are best organized to flow logically and express your ideas and themes, and if it is fiction, plot and characters. Developmental edits also hone in on general issues with the language (would that character talk that way?) and compare your book to others in its genre to make sure things seem consistent with what readers will expect.
- Substantive Book Editing really focuses on readability. After you’ve done a developmental edit and you know your basic ideas are being expressed properly, are there any specific ways in which individual sentences or paragraphs can be reworded to stay in line with that ultimate vision?
- Line or Copy Editing checks for grammatical issues, proper punctuation, and making sure that in general the book is consistent with itself (spellings of the names of characters don't change halfway through, for example).
- Proof the book. After you are done editing, give yourself enough time after you upload your book to IngramSpark to proof a single printed copy. Make sure that your page layouts look right, there aren’t errors from the design layout, etc. This can be a tedious process with several rounds depending on how complex your book design may be, so be patient.
Once you are satisfied that this book looks like what you want on bookstore shelves and other readers are used to seeing . . . go ahead and pick your book’s birthday (also known as a publication date) and celebrate. Remember, you will want to start working toward your publicity goals for several months before that birthdate, so don’t forget to keep that in mind as part of your planning process as well!