Several weeks ago while visiting with a friend, I shared my progress about my two new books. She wanted to know how close I was toward getting them published. She expressed surprise of all I had to do just to prepare it myself. As she said, “I didn’t realize there was so much involved in writing a book. I just thought you wrote the story and that was it!”
Based on her reaction, I thought I’d share with you what all authors do besides just writing the story. First, most authors revise and edit many times before submitting the finished product to a publisher, or intermediary organization like I use – West Bow Press. I also read it out loud to a student for whom the readership age applies to get their reaction and comments. Then I read it to my husband, and then I ask another person to read it. Advice from others is crucial to me.
After I make suggested changes, I read it out loud to myself again. Many times this leads to more changes. I take a break from reading it for a week or more. When I return to the manuscript, I read it at least one last time before I send it to West Bow Press.
When I send the story, I complete their submission forms. As part of their requirements, I must create excerpts for Amazon.com for their “Look Inside” feature, and give a brief synopsis of what the story is about. I also compose information for the back of the book, and for the inside flaps telling more information about the story line. Next, I write about myself in a short biography of 150 words and upload a photo of myself for this biography.
After this, it’s time to create page extensions, or extra pages for my story. Usually this consists of an introduction, and listing the credits for books or organizations where I gathered research of the lighthouse I use for my setting, and the area where it’s located. I include an afterword where I use this research to tell the reader more about the real lighthouse. Then I move on to compose a table of contents, a glossary (if needed), resource page, and a Readers Guide for teachers, or readers to use for literature circles or book clubs. Since I write Christian fiction books, I include a Bible verse in the front of my book.
Next, I move to the external and internal design of the book. That’s where I am now. While I do this work, West Bow Press reads the book, checks for legalities (no plagiarism, copyright violations, etc.), and they apply to the Library of Congress for a control number and copyright information. West Bow’s editorial staff reads my book and makes a report over the content, and they offer recommendations about editing needs. If I decide to use their services for editing, it is a separate charge . This editing takes weeks and even months.
At the same time, I research photos I have access to through the package I purchased from West Bow Press. I know that the cover is a promise to my readers about what they will read about inside, so I am very particular about what I want for my cover design. Sometimes I can’t find what I want for my cover designs, so I hire an artist. This requires time to meet with and discuss what I want, and then waiting a month or more to see the designs. If the cover needs modified, that takes even more time. Hiring an artist is an extra charge. All of this takes days and weeks – even months. Once I have the inside (page setup, page positioning, and editing corrections) done, and the outside all chosen and completed, I send these to West Bow Press to finish the design and print the copies I order. I buy copies and sell them myself.
This leads me to the marketing part of writing. Marketing of the book occurs throughout this entire process and beyond. I self-promote my books through social media – Face Book, this website, LinkedIn, writing groups and organizations. I arrange for newspaper and radio interviews as well as book signings. I hire professionals to help create promotional materials such as my sell-sheet, posters, fliers, and business cards. I create author packets for visits to schools, church groups, and various organizations. I research book sales sites where my books might be offered, and send correspondence seeking their interest in selling my books on their sites. These last three years, classes on marketing ideas and strategies are a regular part of my life, and this takes time, money and application.
As you can see, an author does more than write a story. Each book requires all the above steps, and I am working on my second and third books simultaneously! It’s a lot of work, time, and effort, but this is true for any business. I enjoy writing for middle-grade students, so I focus on my goal – seeing their faces as they read the pages I carefully wrote, and hearing their remarks as they share about the book with others. For me, it truly is a “labor of love,” and my personal ministry that connects to the age group of students I enjoy! It is exhilarating to see my name on the finished book cover, and I love hearing from anyone who reads my books!
What about you? What questions do you want to ask about the writing business? Are you interested in writing for a living? Share with me your thoughts and/or experiences with reading and writing. Thanks for coming to my website and interacting with me!