So You Want to Publish a Book (Post 1): Is Your Book Ready to be Published?

Over the last two months, a couple people have asked me the same thing:  “I wrote a book.  Now what do I do?”  To answer each person separately would take a lot of time, and given that I was in the process of moving, I didn’t have time to sit down and write a series of blog posts to address this question.

Today, I’ll start the series.  That way when I get this question again, I can provide people with a series of links to help address the issue.  This is intended for people who have never published a book.

ID 37475863 © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com
ID 37475863 © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.com

The first thing you need to consider is this: is your book ready to be published?

Self-publishing and even traditional publishing isn’t what it once was.  Regardless of the way you choose to  publish, you need to have a product that is worth publishing.  The bar has been raised on what you can publish.  With writers fine tuning their skills and taking editing seriously, you need to make sure your book is on par with theirs.

If you want to land a book deal with a publishing house, you will need a polished version to hand in to the acquisitions editor.  If you want to publish it yourself, the savvy self-published authors are seeking to have their books compete with the publishers, meaning they want their books to look like it came from a publishing house.  This is about putting a professional step forward.

So before you decide to publish, you need to consider two main things: editing and the storytelling craft.

So don’t skimp on the edits.

This doesn’t mean you spend years editing.  That’s too long.  But I would say a month or two of working through edits is minimum.  You don’t want to make the process so long you never get anything published, but you also don’t want to rush through it.  The best technique is to pace yourself.  I edit 1-2 chapters a day.  That way my mind is fresh when I get to it, and I don’t have time to get exhausted.  I also use a system of checks and balances where I have two to three others go over my book.  After taking in all the edits and making all the changes, I recommend a final read through.

I know in this instant gratification world we live in where things are usually given to us as soon as we want it, it’s easy to get impatient and want the book up today.  But taking the extra time to edit will be worth it.

Do you have a compelling story?

This is a harder one to pin down and explain since the definition of what makes for a compelling read varies from person to person.  But let’s just put it this way: are you so engrossed in your own book you get lost in it?  Or do you find yourself skimming?  If you’re skimming, chances are those parts are slowing your book down.  A compelling story is one in which you want to read everything.  It doesn’t have fillers that get glossed over.

The average reader will forgive an occasional typo, but they won’t forgive a story that bores them.

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Until you have the two things above settled, you can’t move forward.  But for the sake of this blog, we’ll say you have a compelling and properly edited story.   That would bring me to my next post which I’ll put up next week.  In it, I’ll discuss whether finding a publisher or self-publishing is the best fit for you because there is no one-size-fits-all approach in this business.

 

12 Comments

  1. Ron Fritsch says:

    I fully agree with this: “don’t skimp on the edits.”

    I agree also with the necessity for a compelling story, and your test is a good one. If the author herself is skimming the book, I’d say the story needs revision or abandonment. I think the point needs to be made, though, that not all compelling stories become best-sellers. It might be compelling but only for a niche market. If the author is aware of that and willing to accept it, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    1. It’s true that no matter how compelling a story doesn’t necessarily sell well. Some genres attract a wider audience than others. I’ll need to do a post on being realistic about sales because not everyone is going to make a living at this. I think too many people go into this thinking they’ll be able to quit their day job and write all day.

  2. I never find myself skimming my stories, so I guess that’s a good sign. I just have to hope I’m not too biased and the READERS aren’t skimming my stories. LOL

    1. I don’t skim your books. I’ve done a lot of skimming over the years, but never on yours. Every scene has something that connects up with something important later on. 🙂

      1. Now that just made my day!

  3. I am not sure it is easy to edit your own book. You sound like you can and that is a rare skill. I found that I became over familiar with my book and so editing became quite difficult. I paid to have it edited and that is a major pitfall for self-published authors as it’s (a) expensive and (b) hit and miss whether you will find someone that is good (at a reasonable cost). There’s a huge number of people claiming to be editors and there is a wide range of editing types and most only offer a copy edit due to cost and for many books — that’s not enough. You need to find plot holes and inconsistencies as well as grammar faults.

    1. I can’t edit my own stuff. I’ll miss too much. It is very hard to find a good editor, but there are good ones who aren’t expensive. It’s a matter of trial and error to find one. A detailed editor is more crucial as a beginning writer, which, of course, is what this post is about. 🙂 I agree beginning writers need someone who can give a thorough look at their book. For something like that, it takes a lot of time, and I would expect that to be expensive because of how much works goes into it. There are critique groups and beta readers, but each reads from different perspectives. An option always available is to swap books, but when you swap, you have to make sure the other person is as qualified to edit as you are, and that can get tricky.

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