Hello Book Lovers, Authors, dreamers, and those of you interested in taking the next step to learn about getting a book published.
I live on a sustainable farm with my husband and four children for those of you who don’t know me. I’m an established author of inspiration, fiction, children’s books, a journalist, a stay-at-home mother, and an advocate for healthy living. I publish a weekly blog and podcast (Herb’ N Wisdom™) and am a Print Specialist for Pufferprint.
If you’re like me and want to know everything I can about someone and their upcoming projects, here is an interview I did with the Veteran Crowd Spotlight.
Since you now know who I am, we can dive right into our topic: Heather’s book writing tips and how you can use these tips to make your dreams and book writing goals come to life. In short, Preparing Your Book/Files/Manuscript Part One.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a children’s book, the book printing process to include how to print your own book, or novel writing. Or simple things like what information you need before heading to a publisher to include ISBNs and author bios.
We are going to cover it all and, in the end, ease your mind and frustration so you can take that next step or create a more fluid process of getting your book published the next time around.
Ready to start? Let’s do it!
To begin, I want to clarify a few things. I will be talking about different types of publishing. For instance, traditional publishing is where the author turns in their work to a literary agent who finds them a traditional publisher. That publisher then uses their resources to edit, advertise, etc.
Self-publishing is another platform where you go through a company such as WestBow Press, turn in your manuscript or files, and then they charge you a certain amount to edit, create the cover, advertise, and take you from the beginning of the process to the printing of your book.
Indie publishing is where you do all of the work, cover, layout, bio, acquire your own ISBN, and then take it to a printing company to have it printed or use an online platform like Smashwords, Amazon, or Barns&Noble.
And lastly, we have a mixture where you are like an Indie publisher but companies like Pufferprint offer ISBN’s, barcodes, and formatting help. These have an additional cost but are calculated for each project, so you are aware upfront of what those will be before you begin.
So to recap, we will discuss:
- Traditional publishing
- Indie Publishing
- And a mixture of Indie and Self-Publishing
With those in mind, let’s start with preparing your files.
Preparing your book/files/Manuscript Part One
Since we are talking about different books, like children’s books versus fiction or biographies, there are different processes. Not only in what you need to complete before submitting your work but because some of you are going straight to a literary agent and some of you are going through a print company, like Pufferprint or the self-publishing route.
For traditional publishing, where you are trying to catch the eye of a literary agent, it is best and most of the time required to have your manuscript finished/fully completed.
In cases where you already have a literary agent, you may have a partial idea or manuscript for your next book since you have an established relationship.
Now, if you have multiple books, say a series, it is wise to have your first book completed and then a snippet or one-page synopsis of EACH additional book in the series. This way, a literary agent/publisher is not only aware that your book is a series but that you as the author know the storyline and direction of your project.
For self-publishing, you can sign on with a company before completing your manuscript, but nothing happens until you turn your finished project in, so I would recommend, no matter what, complete your manuscript.
Your Manuscript is Finished. Now what?
The next step is choosing how you want to publish. Given the list talked about earlier, you need to choose. Once you have that question answered, you are ready to move on to the next step.
The next step being, making a checklist.
Making a Checklist
For traditional, self-publishing, Indie, or any other kind, there are a few things that you will have to do yourself. For instance:
- An author page. You are responsible for writing your bio and providing a picture for your author page.
- For traditional publishing, they will provide an ISBN. But, for any other kind, you either need to acquire one or ask the self-publishing company or another company like Pufferprint if they provide them. They almost always do, but you will pay a little higher price than if you purchase one yourself. For instance, Pufferprint provides them and places them anywhere on your book you wish for $49.99.
- You need to write your teaser, the back cover, or the inside of your jacket. Since no one knows your book better than you, be prepared and have ready the teaser as I call it. For a children’s book, I would also recommend one. Even if it’s short, it is always better to be prepared!
- Your dedication page and thank you/credit page. You know who you want the book dedicated to and the list of people who have helped that you would like to mention. You will not usually see a thank you page for children’s books, but it does happen.
- Reference page. When writing a biography, business, or quoting someone in your book, keep a record of where you obtained your information. This way, you can include that list at the end.
So there is your list. I know you want to get to the part where you send in your manuscript; we all do. However, I promise if you have your manuscript completed and these steps finished, It will save you time and show you are professional and serious about your project.
Writing a Query Letter
Writing a query letter is only necessary if you are seeking a traditional publisher.
That being said, it is probably the most important letter you will ever write. When you send your project to a literary agent, they will look at the query letter and the first, maybe the second paragraph.
They will not read further or open your manuscript if you don’t catch their attention in 3 to 10 seconds. Trust me on this. If you were to spend a lot of time perfecting something, I would perfect your query letter.
Note: Different agencies will tell you how they like a query letter written and even offer a step-by-step. I would use one of these as your base and then adjust it from there. If another agency requires you to write it in a different way, you can adjust it.
Most agencies like 4-5 paragraphs to explain:
- Why you chose them,
- What your story is about,
- A short bio of you
- And what genre or audience you are writing for.
- They also like you to include other books in your chosen genre similar to your project. Then explain why they are similar.
Writing An Author Page
Many writers who have a close friend write the author page for them as it can be hard to talk about yourself or give a proper description. However, it would help if you had one ready along with a professional or clean picture.
Note: Anytime you turn in pictures, you need to have a consent form or release form from the photographer. Do not forget this part, as publishers and self-publishing companies will ask for one. You do not want to backtrack or lose time.
Acquiring an ISBN and Barcode
As stated, there are companies, like Pufferprint, if you decide to publish with them who will provide an ISBN and barcode for you, but if you wish to purchase one yourself, then here is a site, Bowker, where I get mine.
Writing You Teaser for the Back
Here is where your writing can shine. You want to create a teaser for the back or inside dust jacket. Your reader learns what your book is about, but only a taste. Make it so they can’t resist your book. You want them to throw it in their cart, whether they’re online, or in the store.
This teaser should be short, sweet, and irresistible. Kind of like a piece of chocolate or their favorite treat!
Including a Dedication Page
Including or dedicating someone in your book is an extraordinary honor. But, you still should ask permission especially, if this will be a high-profile book. Not everyone likes to be the center of attention or have their name out in the open for any reader to see.
I always ask permission to include a person and ask how they would like their name to appear. For instance, if you include a military officer, he may want his rank written out. Or say it’s a private contractor who only wants his first name.
No matter who it is, be considerate and ask.
Keeping Track of Who You are Referencing
Before you start your project, be sure to write down or have a spreadsheet where you can keep track of who or what you are referencing. Bible verses and their version, someone’s quote, the name of a book to which you remark, all of these types of references need to be included in the back of your book or have ready for a publisher. They will ask for a list and not only that, but for Bible verses they will want to know how many.
If you don’t want to go back page by page, simply be organized and start keeping track at the beginning.
Picking Out Your Literary Agent or Publishing Company
Now please pay attention because this next part is very important. Now that you know how you want to publish your book and have the basic files or information ready, you need to spend time picking out the right literary agent if you choose the traditional route. Or company, if you are going with any other option.
For traditional, every literary agent accepts different types of books. For instance, you may have Donna, a literary agent who only accepts children’s books, or John, who is looking for biographies. For each agency, their literary agents, through their bios, list what they are looking for and in what way they want you to submit your manuscript, query letter, etc.
Please don’t ignore what they are asking and looking for in an author. You will only waste your time and effort. Focus on literary agents who align with you and your project.
As far as publishing, any other way than traditional, you simply need to choose a company. Do your research, ask for quotes and make the best decision based on your budget and time.
Turning In Your Project
Once you have researched your literary agents or companies, start turning in or submitting your project.
I would highly recommend using an Excel spreadsheet or some other form to track who you sent your project out to and when. The organization helps reduce stress and questions about whether or not you sent your project to a certain agent.
I know this may seem like a lot of information, but if you are serious about being a writer, take a deep breath, start at the beginning and visualize your project in completion.
Well, that’s it for preparing your book/files/manuscript part one. We will cover what happens once you turn in your files or hear back from a literary agent in part two.
Cheers for now and remember…
To stay healthy and free!