Now that you’ve got your manuscript written (cause you learned my trick for how to bypass writer’s block)… maybe you’ve given it to a couple friends to read, or maybe you’re still scared to show it to anyone. But you’re wondering:
a) Is it any good?
b) How do I now get from manuscript to printed, published book?
Well, the first thing you need to do is get that book of yours as GOOD as you can possibly get it. You might be able to cheap out on a cover (or even get one for free, as I’ll show you below), but you must NOT cut corners on your editing.
If you’re self-publishing, it’s most likely that the bulk of your sales won’t come from physical bookstores; where your book is going to sit on a shelf and have it’s cover displayed next to a bunch of books with $3,000 cover designs. You will most likely sell your book through your website, or live events, client sessions, Amazon, Kindle, etc. where a simple cover is not going to handicap you.
Note I didn’t say, “A crappy cover is not going to handicap you.” SIMPLE is very different from ugly/unappealing/unprofessional.
Also, if you do want your book to appeal to libraries and bookstore owners/buyers, then you should invest a bit more in a professional cover. And I’ll give you some pointers on how to do this, yet still be thrifty, in a little bit.
For now, let’s keep talking about the interior of your book…
Because once someone starts reading your book – even if it’s just a ‘Look Inside’ excerpt on your Amazon listing – that’s where they’re going to judge the quality of your offering.
Now, I read crappy self-published books all the time, BUT I won’t read a second one by that author! And if you already have a business, or consultancy or audience, then that book is going to be your calling card. It’s going to be one of the things that goes out into the world and tells people what they can expect with you.
So do you want it to be an excellent example of your work? Or do you want it to be full of errors, or have an amateur layout with annoying line breaks that keep jolting the reader? I thought not. It’s a rare book where the content itself is good, or valuable enough, to make up for awkward language, spelling errors, grammatical errors and a jarring or ugly text layout. So here we go…
Get Your Book Edited
Once you have your ideas down and you’ve put them all together. Your first edit is just to organize those ideas into one Word document. Come up with a working title, chapter names, sub-headings, charts, checklists, illustrations and anything else you might want to add to make it a book that YOU would like to read.
Then let that Word .doc sit for 2-4 weeks. You need to leave it sit between edits so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Your second edit is to fix disjointed ideas, missing transitions, dialogue that doesn’t sound real, confusing descriptions or timelines, reduce verbosity or catch redundancies, etc. The reason you’ll be able to see what needs to be fixed, is because you’ve let it sit (without peeking) so you are now coming back to it with a clearer brain.
Then let your manuscript (your Word .doc) sit for another two weeks.
Your third edit is to get feedback and see if you missed anything in your first line edit. It’s time to let your baby leave the nest and have some new fresh eyes look it over. Send it to at least 2 people who LOVE the topic and get their feedback on your ideas, your narrative, what they wish you had included, what would make it better, what they love about it.
Tip: make note of what they love and use this for the back of your book and book promotion copy. If you have them email you their feedback, you will already have it in written form (hello, copy/paste!).
After you’ve made the changes or additions suggested by your idea editors (changes that made sense and felt good to you), it’s time for proofreading or copy editing!
This is the type of editing also known as proofreading. It differs from line editing in that you are not looking to change any ideas, flow, concepts etc. Rather, copy editing or proofing is just about catching and fixing mistakes; grammar, spelling errors, punctuation, word usage, etc. So for the first copy edit of your book, send the manuscript to the most anal retentive, nit-picky, clean freak person you know, and ask them to look for errors. Fix whatever they find.
Now give it to your 2nd most nit-picky friend who is also an English major, or language teacher, or similarly qualified person, and have them to do the final proofread for spelling, grammar, etc. OR pay a copy editor to do the final proof – Upwork has good copy editors for hire.
You can also get complete professional book editing for a reasonable price from BookBaby – and they claim to use the same editors the larger publishing houses use. At the very least, go check them out to learn exactly what a good editor does and more about the difference between line editing and copy editing.
Publishing, Printing & Selling Your Book
Okay, so your now your book is edited and it reads like a book on your English class reading list. Now you need to either format the interior layout yourself – and you may have already set up the style guide for this through the editing process – or hire a graphic designer to do it.
Make sure all your titles, subtitles and line spacings throughout your book are consistent. It helps to print off your style guide and have it next to you as you check through the book. Also – and this a big one: Do NOT put a line space between paragraphs! This is usually the first signal that you’ve self-published. Go ahead, pull any book or novel from a traditional publisher off your bookshelf and open it up. You will not see a blank line space between each paragraph – like you see on this blog.
Instead, you will see paragraphs, or lines of dialogue, that are simply indented 3-4 spaces to denote that a new paragraph has started, or, that a new person is speaking. Just a hard return to a new line and then indent 3-4 spaces – with no horizontal blank line space in between. Like this:
Here’s a good rule of thumb to remember: When thoughts, concepts or dialogue flow one to the other, do NOT insert any blank horizontal line spaces. When you want to make a clear break between concepts or ideas, then you insert a line break – often with a sub-title, as in the example above.
If you’re going to be printing your book at a traditional printer – and there are many now that will let you print as few as 100 copies – then it’s a good idea to hire a designer to do your layout as a PDF document in your desired size. For example, 6″ x 9″ is a standard size for a novel. There are a number of experienced book designers in India who can do a great job and you can find and hire them easily using Upwork. Often you can hire the same designer to do the cover and the interior layout at once and that’s usually cheaper than doing them separately – we’re talking as low as $200 for a quality job. Here’s an example of a book done that way:
However, if you’re really on a shoestring (or no budget) then here’s the freebie way to still publish and print a fairly nice book:
1. Upload your nicely formatted word .doc manuscript to CreateSpace. Follow their guidelines for formatting.
2. Use one of their free template covers, and upload a picture or two of your choice.
3. Begin selling your book on Amazon at ZERO cost.
4. Order books from CreateSpace to sell at your own classes, sessions, events etc. at 30-40% off the retail cover price.
I’m serious, it costs nothing to sign up for a CreateSpace account. They have a variety of free template covers you can select and then you just drop in your title, name and a photo. CreateSpace can provide an ISBN number for you, and then you choose the size of your book, the type of paper you want, and the price of the book.
Since CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, when your book is ready to go, you can list it for sale on Amazon. There are no printing costs, because CreateSpace only prints one copy at a time, and only after someone has purchased the book on Amazon (print-on-demand). How easy is that?!
Make Sure You Self-Publish
Here’s the low-down on why you want to make sure you publish your own book or eBook: If you get a mainstream/traditional publisher for your book (a book deal) it may feel great for your ego, but it will seriously limit your income from the book. Whatever your reasons for considering this route, I encourage you to do a deeper analysis of self-publishing and run your numbers for both scenarios. Of course, I cover this in-depth in Listen To Your Freedom, but for now, let’s just look at the big picture…
The typical beginning author royalty is 12% – not of the cover price – but of whatever the publisher sells the book for. Discount sales, bulk/volume sales, give-aways etc. all result in a lower net for the author.
When I launched my first book (I have 17 now) if I had given it to a mainstream publisher and received 12% royalties, I would have received about $400/month in royalties for the first year. By publishing it myself, I netted $2790/month in profit. For real.
PLUS – and here’s the key – I also had the names and email addresses of every single person who bought my book. So that when my next book came out, I was able to offer it directly to my tribe. Many of my readers own 3-5 of my books. Do the math!
Whether you’re ready to print your book, or just get it out there as an eBook, come on over to Listen To Your Freedom and I’ll show you the best ways to design and publish your book, along with insider tips like the style guide I use for my own books.
Then I’ll show you how to turn that one book into an automated money-generating machine for your business or blog. My first book spawned a million dollar+ business and I’ll show you step-by-step how I did it. I’ll even show you step-by-step how to get your book out there for free (i.e. no printing, graphic design or sales costs)!
Alternatively, if you don’t want to think big picture and you just want to get this one book out there as quickly as possible, then check out BookBaby and let them do everything for you. The majority of the hassle or learning curve is removed, since they can handle editing, layout, cover design, printing and publishing to eBook platforms, etc. but you will still get to keep the bulk of your money, rather than giving it away to a traditional publisher. Of course, the trade-off is that you have to pay them up-front to do all that – although they do charge a pretty reasonable fee.
What About Full-Color Books?
If your book is a children’s book, or some other book that requires mostly full-color pages, then self-publishing, or print-on-demand (CreateSpace) is going to result in a pretty high cost per book.
So then you might want to take a super small profit margin until you have tested the market for the book and can determine whether there is enough demand to print/sell 3,000 – 10,000 copies.
Or, you run your numbers. This means you estimate the retail price of your book by looking at similar length, full-color books like yours that are currently selling in the marketplace. Once you have that number – let’s say it’s $10 – then you examine:
- If you publish your book on CreateSpace, what will the production cost per book be? So the how much profit will you make per book? Let’s say each copy via print-on-demand will cost $9.50 So then if you charge your customer $10, you’ll be making 50 cents per book. Keep in mind that doesn’t include the cost of graphic design, layout, or editing costs.
- If you published 3,000 copies of your book – and you would price out a local printer, and also a printer in China ( + shipping), let’s say that would cost you $6 per book. So then your profit per book would be $4.
- If you published 500 copies of your book using a service like 48-hour Books, let’s say that costs $9 per book, so then your profit is $1 per book.
- Now figure out your book royalties if you signed a contract with a mainstream publisher. At 12% you would make $1.20 IF the book sold at full retail price. Many will not, as publishers give discounts to libraries, book-buying clubs, promotional copies, discount book buyers, school book buyers and so on. So let’s say your average commission per book printed works out to be 80 cents per book.
Okay. Now that you’ve done all the math, you need to factor in one more very crucial piece of data. IF you publish that book yourself, you will either have your customer’s contact name/email when they buy directly from your website, OR you can collect it when they follow a link in your book or eBook to a free download. Maybe you offer free coloring pages, or a free audio – something that ties in perfectly with your book content. You have a link to a simple webpage that’s easy to remember and type in. And when the person who bought your book from Amazon (who won’t give you buyer info) comes to your webpage to get their free bonus, you have them enter their name and email.
Because then you have a ready-made list of people who probably love your stuff, to sell your next book to!
It also gives you the flexibility to expand your product line – t-shirts, art items, personal consults, commissioned works, workshops, companion products, etc – and tell your list about each one; along with a special coupon code, of course!
If you are in this for the long-term, if you want to build a brand versus just writing a book, then self-publishing is hands-down the best way to go. Even if your profits are smaller in the beginning, if you’re going to be writing more than one book and perhaps offering workshops, or other products, then your real value lies not in seeing your book on the shelf in your local bookstore, the long-term value lies in your customer list.
But I Want To Reach More People!
Here’s one more thing to consider. Many people say they are willing to give up the money of self-publishing because a big publisher will be able to distribute their books to more people.
However, you can be a best-selling author and not make enough money to write full-time. Yes. I’ve met those authors. I’ve met traditionally-published authors who’ve had multiple books on the Bestseller list and they don’t have enough money to buy their dream home, or take 6 months off to write their next book.
But when YOU make good money from your books, you are financially set up to keep writing more books! So you will be able to reach more and more people, because you have the time and space to write.
Remember, when I launched my first book (I have 17 now) if I had given it to a mainstream publisher and received 12% royalties, I would have received about $400/month in royalties for the first year. By publishing it myself, I netted $2790/month in profit.
I’ve built a million dollar+ business off of that first book. Because I self-published it, I owned my list of customers and the profits went directly to me. So I could use those profits to fund the business and write more books and sell more products that my readers wanted. The bulk of my profits don’t even come from my books – they come from all the other items that my book sales led to (in my case, health products – the readers of that first book begged me to set up an online health store). At this moment, I have over 80,000 readers – and I have the names and emails of each one.
So when one of those readers emails me and asks for a book about X (or I get an idea for a book), if I want to write that book, I say, “Sure.” And I may publish it as an eBook first and just sell it on my site and Kindle – marketing it directly to my list via emails and blog posts.
Then when/if people start asking for a printed book, I can choose to go to print if I see there’s enough demand. This means I can get an eBook into the hands of my people, see if they like it, see if more people want to buy it, for a total cost of about $200! When I publish the print version of that book, many people who have the eBook buy that one too.
In fact, for my books that are available in both eBook and print, many people buy both, so they can start reading the eBook while they’re waiting for the print book to arrive. I sell into 60 different countries worldwide and that person in Singapore doesn’t want to wait 4-5 days for the printed book to arrive!
So think about your long-term plan for your writing, and your long-range goals for your creative life, and your lifestyle. Run your numbers and get a good picture of what your book sales will actually net you (not total book sales, but what you’ll actually receive in your pocket).
And take into account, that whether you’re self-publishing or not, books are a very small ticket item and you have to sell a LOT of books to make decent money. So you may want to think beyond just your books, and think about your brand. Think about the larger suite of products and services that you can offer your tribe. If you have their names and email addresses, you can expand from there. You can communicate directly with your tribe, ask them questions, receive feedback and let them know when your next book, product, or service is ready for them!