9 steps to have your own book out there
Ever wonder what it takes to have your own book out there? If you want to be a book writer and are curious about it, you came to the right place. Because, today, I’m going to share with you the 9 steps I’ve passed trough to have my own book (in Portuguese) out there.
9 steps to have your own book out there
1. Define the content. — Take time to think about your book before even starting it. And don’t go straight to step 2 because you believe this one may be pointless — just because you’re an emotional writer or your writing comes naturally. Who’s your target? What message do you want to share? Why is your story unique? Think about the chapters, the storyboard. Who are the main characters? What happens to them along the story? What will be the triggers and motivations? How would you like it to end? If you’re going to write short stories, do you want each story to pass a different message? In this step, you may feel the need of taking notes to organize your ideas and visualize your book. Do it. Take the time you need to think about it before moving to the next step because this one will make the next one a lot easier.
2. Write your book. — Now that you have thought about your book, and have cleared out your ideas, you can start writing and focus only on the process of writing itself. Do it as if nothing else matters — because at this point it really doesn’t. Let inspiration drives you, but don’t forget to take notes of details that needs to stay coherent: for example, a specific hour that an event takes place, a particular characteristic, the disposal of the furniture, the differences between the characters. Write regularly. Schedule an hour every day to write — even if you’re not inspired. You will be surprised at the number of times you will start writing with no inspiration at all, and suddenly the miracle of “getting things done” happens and you’re writing fluently.
3. Clean your writing. — This step could be in steps 2 or 4, but I’ve intentionally created a separate one because my experience says this one is truly valuable. It can make a huge difference in the final result. After writing your book, and before sending it to a proofreader, read it yourself carefully. Every author tends to use the same expressions and words often. When you’re writing a blog this doesn’t matter because your readers read you in different days, the writing is casual and you’re not actually trying to make a piece of art. But a book lasts forever. It’s your piece of art. Besides that, think about your readers: some people read an entire book in three hours, so every word matters to make this experience remarkable. Replace frequent expressions. Find different synonyms. Eliminate phrases and paragraphs or rewrite them if they’re not clear enough. Do it yourself instead of addressing all of this control to someone else. After all, it’s your book. Not theirs.
4. Proofread. — If you are a grammar (and punctuation) freak as I am, your writing is almost spotless. But, still, you should have your book proofread by someone else. Maybe by someone you hire. Or maybe by your editor if you are publishing your book trough a national publisher, as I did. Whatever is your case, it’s important to have someone (besides you) reading your book carefully to ensure that everything makes sense and that your story is coherent. The ability to look at our own book with the distance that it needs takes experience. If you are a language teacher or a professional proofreader as I am, you already have some of this kind of ability. But, even then, there are always a lot of details that can escape to your meticulous attention just because you are too involved in your own story. Please, hire a proofreader. Don’t do it all by yourself. You are not superman.
5. Illustrate. — Forget the idea that only children’s books can have illustrations. That’s not real anymore. I’ve published a book for grown people and I’ve illustrated it myself with some sexy and appealing illustrations. It works. So, if you are not an illustrator, you will need to hire one.* It’s important that, when you do so, you already have an idea of how many and what illustrations you want. It’s also important to check with your publisher how many colors can be used in those illustrations. The number of colors influences the costs. Using grays is cheaper and maybe your publisher (or even you) wants to spend less money on that. I’ve used a grayscale in my illustrations, but I have added the color red to make them more vibrant. Red is also the color of my brand. Work with your branding style and color to make it more attractive. If you prefer to use photos instead of illustrations, you can find some awesome photos for free in several stock banks, like Shutterstock, Stocksnap and Gratisography.
* You can hire me.
6. Design. — The design of your book is very important. I’m not talking about getting someone to paginate your book. That’s important too because, without it, you won’t have a book. So if you’re not a graphic designer, you will need to hire one.** Think carefully about the design because what I wrote in the previous step applies here. If you have a page or website, or if you have a brand, you should consider adapting the design of your book to your brand. Branding is everything and those little details will help you keeping your brand consistent, credible and effective. Your book should resonate with the presence you have built online over time. Keep this in mind: that’s what your audience is expecting and, if you want to sell, you should meet their expectations.
** Again, you can hire me.
7. Copyright. — Now it’s time to copyright your work. If you hired someone to illustrate your book, you may believe that this step could have been placed as step number 5 — because, once you have the writing done, it’s all done. But no. Whatever is the case — you have hired an illustrator, or you have illustrated it yourself —, now it’s time to copyright everything. To do so, you will have to fill out a form with some important information, like: who’s the author (or co-authors), who’s the illustrator, who’s the photographer. Copyrighting your book takes time and money. The time and the money it takes depends on the country you live in and the service you are hiring. I didn’t have to worry about this step when I published my latest book. The publisher had. But, before publishing this one, I’ve written two digital books to sell on App Store that I’ve copyrighted myself. It took me two days — between sending all the information by email and getting the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) by email too. Once you have the number, you can add it to your book.
8. Print. — If you are publishing your book trough a publisher, you don’t need to worry about this. They probably have their own printing service. If not, you will need to hire one.*** The one thing I would surely advice is: before going crazy and have one thousand unities printed at once, print a sample first. This is important to have a realistic idea of what it feels like to have your book in hands, adjust it to your expectations and make any further changes, if needed. Have in mind that the color you see on your monitor may look different from the printed one. These are arguments enough for having your sample first. Or two. Or whatever is the number you need to be happy with the final result. Don’t be caught by surprise on that.
*** No, now you can’t hire me.
9. Distribute. — All set. You have written your book, someone proofread it, the book is already printed, and everything is perfect. Now, you need to distribute your product. The difference between having a great publisher selling your book and a minor one is huge in what concerns to distribution. The first one has partnerships with a lot of national sellers (like supermarkets, stores, bookstores) and the second one doesn’t. You can’t do anything about it unless you sell your own book yourself. In that case, create a landing page for that, find partnerships, build a brand and consider selling your book at Amazon, App Store, and even on your own website. If that’s your case, the hardest work has just started. Focus, and good luck! You will need both.
Let’s talk: I would love to know about you. Do you have your own book out there already? How did you do it? Are you happy with the final result? On the other hand, if you don’t have one, but want to, what is stopping you?