This is a guest post by Brian Laslow.
So, you have a great idea for a book. Maybe you think it’s such a great idea that you’ll just write it, spend a little money to get it self-published, and people are sure to buy it. That was me a year or so ago, talk about naïve. I learned what really had to be done to properly publish a book as I went along and got lucky by connecting with an editor that wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth. Hopefully, this little bit of what I learned will help others bring their great idea to fruition.
One of the first things I learned was to just write it and worry about it being perfect later. This is actually advice that I’ve read a few times recently, but I figured it out with my wife’s help early on in the process. If you wait until every word is perfect, you’ll never actually finish writing the book. That’s not to say someone shouldn’t read it along the way to make sure your idea is actually something that others also think is great. In my case, I also needed to know that my writing was worthy of a published work having never done it before, at least for a fictional story.
The next recommendation is that unless you’re just an amazing wordsmith who already knows about novel formatting, hire a professional editor. My manuscript didn’t look like a professional writer’s work when it went into the editorial process, but it sure did when it came out. Copy editing will be needed almost for sure, and maybe some degree of line editing as well as in my case. The same can be said for the cover and interior designs, hire a professional, it makes a big difference in quality.
If you’re thinking that the cost is adding up, you’re right. The reality is that you have to spend money to make money. If you’re writing just for self-edification then this doesn’t apply, but if you actually want to sell some books then everything should be done to make it the best it can be. The good news is anyone can get competitive pricing from very good editors and designers familiar with your genre of book by searching through Facebook groups or doing a simple Google search. I was amazed at how easy it was to find excellent professionals.
There’s one thing I did wrong that is important to be done right. A social media campaign needs to be started and maintained months before the book is published. This includes Facebook, Twitter, a website, and whatever other social media can be kept up with. Do the research to see which are best for your application. I didn’t start until just before my book was published and I’m playing catch up. If you’re already social media savvy, you’re ahead of the game. I was not.
Research should also be done to determine how you will publish and distribute your book. Options include Amazon, hybrid publishers who will design, print and distribute for a fee, or printing only services where you’re responsible for distribution. There are pros and cons to all of these options and what is best for you may depend on how much time you have to spend, your target market, and your own personality. No matter what is chosen, please remember what may be the most important thing thatI learned: You are responsible for marketing your book, always!
Hopefully, I can have the knowledge to write another article in the near future with helpful tips on marketing. My journey has just begun on that front. My wish is that at least one small nugget of what I’ve written here will help someone understand what it takes and goes for it.
Brian Laslow is the author of The Marijuana Project: a novel about medicine and morality. He has over 25 years of experience in the security field and holds multiple certifications. Since 2001, he has been an independent security consultant providing risk assessment, system design, project management, and ongoing security management services for a wide range of commercial, industrial, and government clients. The Marijuana Project is his debut novel.