Whether you’re self publishing or looking for an agent or publisher, there is a lot of work to do before you can start approaching people. Rejections come thick and fast. Readers and publishers give up on a book quickly, and for a multitude of reasons. It’s in your best interest to make sure that you’re putting forward the best work you possibly can. So how do you prepare?
1. Edit, edit and then edit some more
It is very near impossible for an author to properly edit their own work. You’re too attached. You know what’s in the background, so you miss the gaps. It is incredibly important to make sure that someone else has had some input before you start sending your manuscript around.
Get yourself a Beta reader – someone you trust, who will be honest with their feedback and who knows what they’re talking about. If you’re writing an Afrikaans novel, don’t give it to someone that passed the language with 30% on SG just because they happen to be your closest friend. Give it to someone who knows and loves the language, and has some story-telling savvy.
A Beta reader is a good start, but it’s not enough. Work through their changes and suggestions. Take everything on board. Edit. And then hire an editor. One with experience. There is a huge difference between someone with an opinion and some skill with the language, and someone who is active in the publishing industry. Editing may seem like a big expense, but you’re paying for quality. It’s the one thing you really need to just grit your teeth and pay for.
These steps are important, whether you’re approaching a publisher or going straight to your readers. Both publishers and readers will reject your work quickly if it’s filled with plot holes and bad grammar.
If you’re approaching a publisher or agent, you need a well-written, thorough synopsis. You need to tell the publisher exactly what your book brings to the table. You need to check each publisher’s guidelines when you submit – some need more detail than others. A proper synopsis will help you write a good book blurb. This is especially important if you’re self-publishing. You need to sell your book, but not give the game away. Why bother to read a book if you know how it ends?
3. The approach letter
This one’s for those publisher-seekers. You need to properly formulate a pitch if you’re going to be sending a manuscript out. You need to tell the publisher who your audience is, what your book is about and what makes it unique and marketable. You need to think it through, and gran their attention. If you send an email along the lines of “I want to publish my book” and attach your entire manuscript, don’t be surprised if you don’t get any responses.
4. Cover design, layout and conversion
If you’re serious about self publishing, you need to enlist the help of professionals. Books are judged by their covers, no matter what people say against the practice. No one’s picking up your terrible PowerPoint design. Stop fooling yourself. Layout is just as important. Your cover could be brilliant, but bad formatting can put a reader right off. Sales are great, but word of mouth recommendations are better. You want to make sure your readers are engaged and happy all the way through your book, so that they will encourage others to read it, or give you a good review.
Conversion can also be tricky. There are plenty of free tools available that can help you convert, which is a great help to the tech savvy. But make sure that the end result has a good flow to it, and doesn’t incorporate odd characters. Don’t irritate your reader with shoddy conversions.
Ack! Don’t kid yourself. Marketing is hard. And is starts long before your book is even published. You need to build a social media presence, a mailing list, a following. You need to approach reviewers and book shops if you plan to print. You need to contact publications, attend book fairs, meet other writers. Put together a plan. The more you put into marketing, the more you get out of it. It is hard work, the results are never guaranteed and you have to be shameless. The only guarantee in marketing is this: If you don’t market, you won’t sell.
If you’ve done all of this, then guess what? You’re ready to publish! If not, we can help you every step of the way. To check out our services click here. To submit your book for consideration, click here.