THE THIRD ROAD TO PUBLICATION
We’ve told you about vanity publishers – the smooth-talking rogues who take your money and give you little or nothing in return. Keep right away from them, however desperate you are to have your precious work published. They are bad news; really, really bad news.
We’ve told you about the legit, big-name publishers who will give you a contract, provide editorial advice and pay you based on sales of your book. These people are in business; the point of business is to make a profit so they will (very sensibly!) only accept for publication work which they can be pretty sure will help their bottom line – making money. I don’t wish to discourage you, but unknown newbies probably have a better chance of winning the lottery. By all means give it a go. But with eyes wide open.
Which leaves us with the third option: self-publishing. This is a perfectly respectable road to travel which many have, very successfully, done so already. As with most things in life there can be pitfalls however.
There are essentially two alternative ways to go if you choose to embark on a self-publishing venture. The first is the publishing platform route such as Amazon of which I have no experience. In a future blog, Lee-Anne intends to discuss this option as she has practical knowledge.
The other way is to handle the whole business yourself using a local printer. There are a great many steps between completed manuscript and final product. So let’s get down to business.
Editing. You MUST have your work checked by a competent person not closely involved with your work; someone with a dispassionate, clear-eyed view; someone who is able to judge writing critically; someone with a nit-picking eye for detail. Above all someone who is kind.
I’m sure you will have gone over and over your words; changing, omitting, adding, clarifying… The sad fact of the matter is that none of us has a completely discriminating approach to our own work as we are both emotionally involved with those words and phrases and also “see what we expect to see”. This last is a psychological reality we all need to accept.
Editors question factual allusions; check for consistency of names, events, places, relationships… as well as the overall “tone” of the writing. They look at the big pic as well as smaller details.
Many people confuse editing and proofreading. The two are quite different: this last deals with spelling, grammar, typos, layout etc. in short, the general appearance and readability of the finished work. Editing and proofreading could be seen as bookends: editing is the first step after completing your manuscript; proofreading the last before the final print run that yields you a box of books ready for sale.
You should ideally engage the services of a professional editor and be prepared to pay for his/her time, expertise and advice. By and large a friend or relative who is an avid reader or a high school English teacher will not cut the mustard, however keen such a person is to help you out. Use them as a reader/commentator; value their input but do not confuse them with an editor!
Next you have to decide on such details as size and format for your book (portrait or landscape)* font and font size; back cover blurb; ISBN; the “reverse title” page information. We will give you specific details re each of these in future blogs.
Then it is off to your selected printer – again, specific details in a future blog. By rights, you should be given a dummy copy (Proof) to check out and proofread before giving the final O.K. This checking step is critical, (point of no return, as it were!) so do it carefully. Please.
Now you can order the number of copies you think you can sell and know you can pay for.
Finally, finally you pay the printer; receive a box (or boxes!) of books and gloat over them. You have achieved your dream to see your work published; your name (or chosen “nom-de-plume”) adorning the cover. Wow!!
However, there is still one last step; for some of us the most difficult of all: sales. This involves publicity, distribution, record keeping. Again, more in a future blog.
Good luck. Have fun. And get stuck into creating your next book.
“portrait” format means the vertical is longer than the horizontal, taller more than wide. “landscape” format means the reverse (width is more than the height)and is usually reserved for picture books, with or without text.
© Mary McDee 2023
Feature Photo: Road back from Mannum, Pallamana, South Australia © L.M. Kling 2020