The following are the words of Christine R. Andola, Archway Publishing author of “Who Knew?” Learn more about Christine on her author Facebook page. Download the Archway Publishing free publishing guide for more information on our supported self-publishing services.
My first book is finally out on the virtual shelves and I’m exhausted! As a skilled writer, teacher, and observer of human behavior (especially my own), I thought it a good idea to write a book about the things I’ve learned in life on my way to becoming forty. Now, I am well on my way to becoming fifty and the adventure continues.
In the spirit of Who Knew? Lessons From My First 40 Years, let me share with you some book writing and self-publishing lessons I’ve learned.
1. Good writing is a given but doesn’t mean a thing.
There are millions of ghostwriters out there making functionally illiterate people look smart. For the same as the price of a good pair of shoes, you can hire an editor to clean up your work. If you have something to say, write a book. The actual writing is the least of it.
2. Clean copy matters.
While it is not important that you take a stance on the Oxford comma, it is extremely important that it is used correctly in your manuscript. Errors make it difficult for people to read your book . Most of us take the easy way out, therefor your book will not be read if it is full of commas splices and fragmented sentences. Typos are extremely distracting to a reader.
3. What happens after the writing is crucial.
To many, writing a book is an enormous undertaking. Actually, writing a book is the easiest part of the self-publishing process. Getting through the tasks between writing and seeing your book on the shelf is the hard part. Regardless, these are the necessary steps in order to call yourself a published author.
4. Creative control is a lot harder than it looks.
One of the benefits of self-publishing, or assisted publishing, is that you maintain control of your creative work. You get to make all the decisions about how your book is produced and what it looks like. Rather, I should say, you HAVE to make all the decisions. Before going through this process, I had no idea that interior book design was a thing – it is. There are many design elements you will be asked to decide on: color scheme, cover graphics, key words, and a bunch of other things you are probably not familiar with.
When it is time to get into the publishing part of the project, survey the market and choose your favorite books. Pick as examples books and authors you would like to emulate who sell well in your genre. These books are examples of what people are buying. Use them as references for everything from interior layout to front matter. Every time I had to make a decision, I pulled a book off my shelf to see how someone else did it. Sometimes I compared three examples and created my own hybrid, but at least I had some concrete reference.
6. Ask the experts.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Archway Publishing has a whole staff ready to help you move through the publishing process. They can explain ISBN, page trim, and everything else that comes up. Reach out to other authors in their network who have already been through this process at least once. I found that when you reach out, people are more than happy to help a beginner down the bumpy publishing road.
The post-release adventure is just beginning for me. Marketing my book, planning and starring in book signing events is my new challenge. It is frightening and exhilarating to be a published author, Who Knew?
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