You've written a book, now what


You’ve now officially done the hard part. Or have you?

Many writers believe that writing a book is the challenge, and to a certain degree, it is. You spend hours sat at the computing agonising over every scene, each bit of dialogue and the way your character rolls their eyes.

So when you finally get to the end, there’s that satisfying feeling of accomplishment.

And I don’t want to rain on your parade or anything, but this is really only the beginning.

After the first draft is written, what comes next is;

The second draft.

For those newbies out there, you haven’t experienced the true agony of a second draft. This is when you spend even more hours going through what you’ve already written. When you dissemble your dialogue, rebuild your characters and move the plot structure about so much you no longer know what’s happening when.

After a lot of hair pulling and key tapping, you can finally finish your second draft. What you’re left with is an almost polished manuscript that’s so close to resembling a book.

The third draft

Now don’t be fooled into thinking that’s the end of it. Chances are, you may feel another read-through will be highly beneficial, and you’d be right. But it’s when you read through and notice that your protagonist does something in the wrong order, or they forget to talk another character about something that’s paramount to the story.

We’ve all been there. In fact, I regularly find my characters have done something they shouldn’t have at the wrong time…

So once you’ve fixed these minor issues, and you’ve corrected them, you finally feel like it’s finished.

The fourth, fifth, sixth draft….

But it’s not. Now don’t be disheartened. Not all manuscripts require a fourth, fifth or sixth draft. I know some people who have done as many as twelve drafts of their books. My current WIP is in its third or fourth revision – I lose count. But I also know it’s not the final draft, at least not yet.

Professional editing

Now comes the bit where you find professional help.

No matter how many times you’ve read through a manuscript, you just can’t see all the errors. In fact, I edit several manuscripts where there are easy typos; ‘he’ instead of ‘the’ and ‘form’ instead of ‘from’.

There’s only one way you’re going to catch all of those pesky typos.

But there’s more to an editor than simply proofreading. It’s a way to determine how well your story works, how realistic your characters are, and how bulletproof your plot is. All that hard work you’ve done….this is its’ time to shine.

This is also the ideal time to iron out the creases like why your character decides to go to London but actually ends up in Edinburgh. Or why your plot starts with a conversation that’s irrelevant to the rest of the story.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…I’m an editor and therefore bias. Of course I’m going to recommend editing, it’s my profession. But what you’re forgetting is; I’m also a writer.

But in my capacity as an editor, there is often a big difference between the manuscripts that come to me and the manuscripts that end up being published.

The final run-through

Unfortunately, you’re not quite done yet. Even after a professional edit, the manuscript is going to need a final run-through to double check the edits make sense, the plot restructure works and the characters are where they’re supposed to be.

For some of my authors, there’s another round of edits in between the professional edit and the run-through, so this could take a while.

The designing

Ah, so now you’ve finally finished the story, you can move on to the other creative elements involved in bringing the book together.

Now, I’ve listed the designing before the formatting only because this process can often take time – especially if you’re hiring a designer to do the work for you. If you have the creative skill then bravo but be very careful on how you judge this.

There are many authors out there who decide to either design the cover themselves or use a cheap designer, and unfortunately it can often show. If I lined up a collection of books listed on Amazon, how confident are you that you could tell the self-published from the traditional published?

In some cases the difference can be almost embarrassing. Now don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to spend £1,000s on a good design, just be sure to be a bit savvy about it and to evaluate the quality of the work being done. Take a look at some other covers you like and provide them as examples.

The formatting

So whilst your designer is off designing, it’s time to get your book into shape. Formatting can be a headache for many indie authors, and it’s often easy enough to hire someone to do it for you. But all it takes is a little bit of patience and a detailed how-to for you to do it yourself.

I found two guides that I think are pretty useful in terms of formatting your manuscript correctly:

Now I’ve included a how-to guide for CreateSpace, but please make note of the fact that each on-demand publisher is likely to have their own style of formatting so it’s always worth googling or browsing their website for a how-to guide. If you’re ever unsure, ask!

The publishing

Technically I’m skipping a few steps, but this is down to the route you decide to take. For paperback on-demand publishing, you’re going to need to receive and review a proof copy of your book to determine the layout and quality etc. is okay.

For those of you who are going down the eBook only route, this is your moment of truth, the moment when you final hit the ‘publish’ button* after all those gruelling months.

Yes, well done. You’ve officially made it out the other side.

*The button will vary depending on the platform you’re using

The marketing

That means you now need to think about marketing. I’m not going to go into too much detail about that here because, essentially, we’ll be here forever.

Unfortunately, though, just because your book is live in the big, wide world, that doesn’t mean people are going to automatically start buying it. Sure there’ll be a small trickle of readers, but if you want to make a living from your writing – this is an assumption more than anything – then you need to tell the world that your book is available.

To get you started, here are a couple of marketing posts to help you out:

You can browse the rest of my marketing articles here.

The next one…

Congratulations on making it this far. You might feel exhausted, worn out and worn down, but you’re currently the author of a published book that (fingers crossed) takes the world by storm. So once you have your marketing in place and the sales start coming in, what do you do next?

That’s right.

Write your next book…

Happy writing!

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