Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Seven Steps of Publishing

Writing and Publishing, the words go hand and hand - but in reality the bridge between the creative process of writing your story to getting it published and subsequently sold takes a long time to cross.  It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of completing the manuscript and feel urgency to share your story and find it in print.  However finishing your first draft of your manuscript is only the first step in a long, but hopefully rewarding process.

In this Publishing Basic Entry I will briefly address the steps of the creative and business process of publishing.  I will subsequently follow this entry with more detailed posts on each aspect of the Publishing process.

The Steps:

Step 1: The Idea: Before you start composing words into a story you must first have that light switch moment that ignites an idea.  An idea may come quick and you instantly recognize how you want the plot to play out or it may be a bit vague.  If it's the latter I recommend journaling any sparks of literary ideas you have and anytime you think of an addition to the plot add it to your brainstorming.  Don't get frustrated when you have half an idea.  Often times you should plunge into a spark and you must bank on it to ignite the full flame.  It's okay to let your mind and creative senses flow.  Whether your idea is a full-fledged plot line or just a spark, your pen or keyboard and imagination will propel you into the next step: Igniting the writing flame.

Step 2: Writing your novel.  This is when you put words together to form the story.  This is a time consuming process, but often a rewarding one as it is a chance to further your ideas and construct an enjoyable story.  

Step 3: The hardest part of the process for me is the rewrite and editing stage.  You put so much passion and emotion into completing the manuscript that it's easy to be creatively drained when it comes to the editing process.  However I have found that editing your novel is possibly the most important stage in the process as a polished book is the best way to make your work shine.  You don't want people to wind up being disappointed with your writing because of needless typos, grammatical errors or poorly constructed sentences.  In editing NEVER assume your book is ready for print, instead like a shark looking for blood in the water - keep your head clear and your eyes sharp for how you may improve upon your work.  Re-read and Rewrite.  On average it takes at least 5 edits to get your book in quality form and sometimes as many as twenty reads.  This can be tedious and sour your creative impulse as frustration sets in, but don't let it - patience and fortitude in editing will make the end result all the more rewarding!

Step 4 - Post-Edit: So your work is perfectly polished and edited to a tee. The question now is 'how do you get it to readers?'  This is the stage you examine what your end goals are for your book, how you plan to publish it, and how to make your distribution hopes a reality.  This is the time to possibly query Literary Agents (which is excruciating and time consuming - but if you want to be traditionally published a necessary evil) or Small Presses.  It might be at this juncture you opt to focus on publishing your work Independently.  If that's the case you need to thoroughly examine all your self-publishing options.

Whether going with a Vanity Press, which really is more pay-to-publish than true self-publishing, or doing Self-Publishing in a more traditional sense (You are responsible for every aspects of the publishing process) it's important to think about distribution and whether or not investing in publishing is worth your money.  Frankly I published too soon with my former book as I was lured into AuthorHouse's promises of writing glory.  I was so excited about seeing the book in print I neglected key aspects of the pre-press process (editing).  If you do self-publish you need to realize that you won't sell copies if you neglected Step 3.  

Frankly I'm not a huge fan of Vanity Presses, although I do feel they have their place and I will say the book's cover and typesetting was done well, however they overcharge you and because they are listed in Bookstore's ordering computers as Vanity Press - you will get hardly any in store sales.  I'll go into this in a subsequent entry and go over pros and cons of Author Solutions type companies.

Step 5: Pre-Press: This is the stage where your manuscript goes through a final proof, is typeset for the printer and all the specifications of how you want the physical book product to look in print or in e-Book form.  This can be a fun, albeit daunting task.  Once again creativity can drive your decisions for how you want your cover to look, or your chapters laid out.  Many people do judge a book by it's cover and layout - so this is not something to just gloss over.

Step 6: Distribution/Book Release: Figure out how to get your book distributed via Ingram, Baker and Taylor, online, etc...Also work on a spec marketing plan for when the book will be released.

Step 7: Your book has been released - Now how to get it sold?  Promotion and a good Marketing plan will lead the way to sales for your book.  This will take a lot of time and patience, but the more you plug your novel - the more likely for it to become a success

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