The (Slightly Ugly) Reality About Publishing a Book
There’s a certain hush-hush undertone in dialogue when people converse about chasing their dreams. It’s something like, “Oh, honey. Just do what you love and happiness will follow.”
Insert sassy head tilt and pursed lips here.
Wrong. Well… sort of.
While that sentiment is sweet, and sometimes exactly what us fickle creative writers need to get our butts into gear, it’s not always true. As a matter of fact, more often times than not, it’s just the opposite.
It’s hard work. Simply writing isn’t enough. Not in a world where anyone and everyone can publish a book. It takes so much more than just hoping for the best.
Here are just a few things to remember as you journey along this bumpy and incredible road to publishing.
Firstly, you need an editor. Wait, wait. Let me rephrase. You’ll need a good editor. One you connect with and trust. Your voice is the best weapon in your bag of tricks. Staying true to who you are and trusting another soul with your work is half the battle.
Seriously. If you take one thing from this column, please let it be this. Editors are a writer’s right hand—heck, they’re both hands. You should mesh just as well with your editor as you do your best friend. They’ll know things about you that are embarrassing and uncomfortable, sure, but they’ll understand you on a deeper level. Editing is meticulous and infuriating, and sometimes you’ll want to gauge your eyes out. But mostly, you’ll laugh, feel like an ass for making silly mistakes, and learn so much.
Don’t forget a proofreader. They’re the second best investment besides your editor. I promise you, there’ll come a time when both you and your editor have read your book so many times, the words begin to bleed together and things are missed. There’s nothing to be done after that point. You’ll need a fresh set of eyes and a proofreader will help.
Side note: remember we’re all humans. We’re all flawed and make mistakes. This rule also applies to your characters. Make your hero and heroine work for their happiness. No one likes an easy and predictable story.
When all is said and done and your book is polished to perfection, you’ll need to find someone to format your book. Now, you can do it yourself. It’s a bunch of codes and nonsense that I personally don’t understand, but you can do it. I know many authors who do. But for me? Finding someone I can trust to bring my book to life is incredibly important. Don’t be afraid to ask your author friends for advice, either. Most of us have a go-to formatter that we’re more than happy to share.
We all love kick ass covers, right? When creating yours or getting it made, make sure and think about what emotions you want to bring out in your readers when they first pick up your book or see it while perusing Amazon. Stick to your theme and make sure you have a designer who understands what you truly want to put out there for the world to see. The saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover,’ is crap. Let’s be honest, everyone judges a book by its cover. It’s the way of the business. Take your time and make sure you get the cover you love.
The most important thing I can offer you is to blow up social media and brand yourself. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to be who you are and allow your readers to see the real you. Trust me, it’ll scream from your pages anyway, so you might as well let them know what they are getting before they buy your book. Give yourself a slogan or tagline and LIVE BY IT. Find a network of people who you trust to help support and promote the hell out of you—fellow authors, bloggers, and readers are essential to the release of a book. And if you can, find a promo team. They’ll be your bread and butter, essentially. They can send out ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copies), set up up HTML’s—and let me tell you—they are a pain in the keester. A great promo team with even better work ethic will help you immensely.
The last word of advice I have for you is to be original. Originality is key. It’s not one of the keys in an arsenal of countless keys. It’s THE KEY. If you have a good foundation and you have the ability to make a great book happen, things will fall into place. But you have to stay true to you and what you believe in.
Finding your passion and pursuing it—it can be ugly and maddening, self-loathing and lonely, even. But it’s also magical and rewarding, insanely beautiful and self-fulfilling. It’s the most perfect feeling in the world. And you know what? We’re lucky. Most people chase this feeling and we get to live it everyday.
Keep on writing, friends. Don’t give up. And fall in love with your story. If you don’t, neither will the readers.
Challenge yourself. Make sure you push your own boundaries. No one exceled doing something too easy. Well, maybe they did, but where’s the satisfaction in that?
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