Beware of publishing companies that require thousands of dollars upfront. Self-publishing does require some financial investment. Over the next few weeks, I will deal with the essential costs to self-publishing your book.
You want your book to be the best it can be. We all start with a raw manuscript. Creating that manuscript is fun. I love the feeling of flying on God’s Spirit that comes as my fingers fly around my computer keyboard, and I see the words appear on the screen. Even the times when I stop and stare and wonder what comes next, are part of the amazing creative process. For sure, without that first manuscript, there is no book.
Never forget that first draft is truly raw. It needs time and a great deal of work to mature and become the professional book you will hold in your hands at the end of the writing and publishing process.
Once that first draft is complete, stop and take a rest. Leave it for a few days, a week or whatever time you need to return to your work with a fresh eye and mind. At that point, you begin your own editing. You read your story or poem through carefully, marking any gaps in thoughts, inconsistencies, sentence problems and more. This is the time of the nitty-gritty work. You will read it through and make changes many times. One more comma here, one more spelling correction there, one more sentence change here, one more detail added or removed.
Sometimes we take out whole sections as we realize that they add next to nothing to the movement of the story. I’ll go into this editing step more deeply in the coming months. Suffice it to say, your creation is not perfect in the beginning. Writing is fun and work.
When you have polished your baby to the best of your ability, it’s time to move on to someone else. I am blessed with two good friends who are happy to receive my manuscripts and do the second round of editing. One friend tends to concentrate on the manuscript as a whole. She checks the flow, consistency, gaps etc. The other is more into detailed work – copy editing - individual words, typos, sentence structure, etc. These two friends are invaluable. When they have finished my book has made it to the teenage stage. We know that teenagers are wonderful, but still have rough edges.
From there, I send my book to what in the publishing industry is called “Beta readers”. Again, these are two or three or five people who are reading your book for gaps and overall impressions. When your Beta readers are finished and you have incorporated or discarded their thoughts, you are ready to invest money.
This is the point that some of us think we are finished. NO! NO! NO! Now you are ready for the really hard work. It's the professional editor's turn. A good editor is expensive. You are paying for their skills and experience. Next time, I’ll talk more about the joy and courage required when working with your professional editor. Remember writing and publishing is a learning process. Approach it with humility. Your professional editor is a most important cog in the writing process. She/he will help you bring your manuscript to its full maturity and you will learn as much in the process as you are willing to receive.