Gone are the days of having your manuscript go from literary agent, writing query letters, and marketing your book with an editor. There is no longer a need for the long process of getting a book published, you can easily do it yourself. With a little help from Amazon.
This is something that a few of my clients have inquired about, and I thought it would be helpful to share that knowledge.
Long before signing up for an account, you need a manuscript. That word makes you feel so important, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s my MANUSCRIPT… because I’m an AUTHOR! Ha!
Whatever your topic, whatever you’re sharing with the world, you need a rough copy. Even if you think it’s perfect, it is still your rough copy. It’s a fantastic idea to have a trusted friend of two, preferably ones that you might consider to be great with the English language (of course, if your book is being published in another language, you’ll want someone who is fluent in that language to read it).
It would be wise to run it through a grammar checker as well. You can use Grammarly, or you can copy and paste your manuscript into the Hemingway Editor (http://www.hemingwayapp.com/). You can never really read through your document too many times.
Some key things to remember when writing or proofreading your manuscript:
- Begin with a plan, an outline. Refer to it to stay on track.
- Spend up to an hour a day writing. Like anything else, if it’s important to you, make the time.
- Two spaces after punctuation is no longer necessary. Stick with a single space.
- Ensure that the font you choose is easy to read.
- For lists of any kind, make sure to use bullet points. It’s easier for your reader to digest.
- Check your facts, if your book, indeed, includes facts.
- Leave formatting until it’s been proofread for the very last time.
- If your book includes characters, develop them. Make sure the settings in your book are clear and descriptive.
- Try to shorten your story wherever possible. As Dr. Suess said, “The writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
- Use fewer adverbs. Show your readers the story, rather than tell them. The Hemingway Editor is great for picking these out.
- Be conscious of using “said”. Find other ways to tell your reader what your characters are saying.
- Include actions that in the everyday. Eating, hopping on a bus, brushing teeth… include these to make your characters come to life. But don’t overdo it… a sentence or two will suffice.
- Describe, but also don’t overdo it. Too much detail will turn your readers off and they’ll be less inclined to finish reading.
- Use shorter sentences and paragraphs. Again, the Hemingway Editor is great with these.
- Avoid the passive voice. You might not even know you’re doing it, but good old Hemingway will find it.
Front and Back Matter
The next step is adding your front matter. Not all of it will be necessary for your book. In fact, less is more with an e-book, because if you give away a free chapter, the reader will only get to see the front matter instead of the actual story. Choose sparingly:
- Half-title – a page only containing the title
- Title page – a page displaying the full title, subtitle, author and publisher. Illustrations can also be on this page
- Copyright page – this page gives excellent examples you can tweak for your book (https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/01/copyright-page-samples-you-can-copy-and-paste-into-your-book/)
- Dedication page – if you choose to include one, it appears after the copyright page
- Epigraph – some authors choose to include a quote, this is where it goes
- Table of Contents – this page is helpful navigation for your reader
- Forward – this is a piece written by someone other than the author, and includes the writer’s name, place and date
- Preface – this gives the reader an idea of how the book came to be
- Acknowledgements – where the author shows gratitude for anyone who helped with the book’s development
- Introduction – this could explain the purpose of the work, the organization or scope of the book
- Prologue – this sets the scene for the story, from the character’s point of view, not the author’s
Once all of this is in place, you can work on your book’s back matter. This includes the following, at the author’s choice:
- Call-to-Action – this could be to opt-in for a mailing list, or for the reader to leave a review
- Advertising – for other published books, or for upcoming books
- Excerpts – from upcoming books
- An author interview
Once you have all of this in place, we’ll move on to the next steps, which I’ll cover in my Part 2.