--By Patty Pacelli and Karen Lynn Maher
Whether your manuscript is self-published, traditionally published, or independently published, you need to know that it's ready for the next phase before it can be published and offered for sale. Along with our colleague, Karen Lynn Maher of LegacyOne Authors, we have defined the three phases of manuscript readiness and what you need to do to move ahead to get your book published.
Phase 1 - Content Ready
Karen works with authors as a coach to help them with much of this phase. We work with Six-Word Lessons authors to help them through this phase as well. Here are the main steps you need to have your content ready:
- Clear message - Know what you want to say and make sure it's very easy for your target readers to understand.
- Purposeful - Know your specific audience and write only to them with the purpose in mind.
- Compelling - Set your book apart by evoking interest and attention. Make your message irresistible and fascinating to your readers.
- Well-researched - Avoid mistakes and inconsistencies by doing thorough research for all aspects of your book.
- Copyright diligence - Make sure everything is your own original idea, and get necessary permissions for any outside information, including appropriate citations and attributions.
In this phase, you will work with peers and professionals to contribute to preparing the book for publication.
- Peer/audience review - Ask 3 to 5 colleagues or experts in the field to read a PDF copy of the book. Listen to their suggestions, but make changes as you see fit. They are not looking for typos, or doing copy editing, but giving overall advice about content, based on their knowledge of the subject. Friends and family are not recommended as they will tell you what you want to hear.
- Professional editing - This can be done before or after the peer review. It may involve developmental (big picture) editing, or only copy/line editing for grammar, punctuation and clarity.
- Title choice - This important part of your book must be finalized before going into the next phase of production.
- Front and back matter written - Don't forget the extra parts of your book, such as acknowledgements, dedication, introduction, foreword, testimonials, or anything else you would like to put before and after the main body of the book.
- Jacket copy written - This is the text that will go on the back of the book, and can be used for the book description on Amazon.
- Author certainty - Make sure the book is exactly how you want it and has no mistakes before proceeding to the next phase.
In this final phase, your publisher will work with you to make decisions about the final physical book product and help produce it and get it up for sale. Whether you do it yourself or use various teams of publishers or vendors, the goal is to make the book look like a traditionally-published book. The Independent Book Publishers Association has an Industry Standards Checklist for a Professional Published Book that will help in this phase.
- Trim size - Decide what size and shape you want your book, considering number of pages, cover design, number of pages and more.
- Cover design - This includes the front, back and spine and must be coordinated with the interior book design and follow specifications of your printer.
- Interior design - Decide on typography fronts throughout book, paper color and other design features. There are templates available on createspace.com and other websites.
- ISBNs assigned - Your publisher will have access to an International Standard Book Number, which must be assigned to any published book. If you publish with createspace.com, you can have them assign one for free.
- Professional proofreading - You should have someone outside of the author, publisher or editor proofread the final version, both cover and interior, for any last-minute errors. This is not a time to make major content changes.
- Author approval to print - You are responsible for giving final approval that you are ready to print and publish your book.
- Key words - If publishing on Amazon or any e-book platform, you will be asked for 5 to 7 key words. Do some research to find the best key words someone would use to find your book.
- Establish accounts - You will set up author accounts with whatever online Print-on-Demand or e-book publisher you use, such as IngramSpark, Createspace, Kindle Direct Publishing or Smashwords. Your publisher may help with this.
- Author and book marketing plan - Make a plan for how you will market and sell your book, starting with an Amazon Author Page if your book is on Amazon.
Patty and Karen