It's happening . . . it's really happening. You've finished your first book and you're just itching to get it in print and out in the hands of your soon-to-be adoring fans. But first, there are some things you should know about publishing. Creating your first book can be a bit like building your first house. Once you get one under your belt, you'll have a much better idea of how the process works for subsequent projects. The following are pointers from our staff and volunteers who have all learned through trial and error. Learn from their mistakes and save yourself some headache. --Many of the following principles apply whether you go the traditional publishing route or take the self-publishing trek. Just remember . . . you took the time to write your masterpiece, now make sure you take all the necessary steps to ensure the best final product possible.
1) We know you're excited, but don't rush the process. You'd be amazed at how many books are published with typos and grammatical errors. Save yourself the agony and make sure it's done right the first time.
2) Back to point #1, many reviewers will not review your book after it's been published (that is not the case with Literary Classics, but it's worth noting). Make sure you know about deadlines for all the book awards you wish to enter as well as reviewers you would like to have review your book, etc. before you schedule a release date. In some instances, you may be required to submit your book for an award prior to your publish date. --Then, allowing time for all your award entries and review submissions, work backwards to schedule a timeline.
3) Critique first, then edit. --In that order. Have a professional critique your work. If you can't afford a professional critique, consider joining a writer's guild and find someone who is willing to swap critiques with you. A critique will help you find 'disconnects' --those literary moments when what is glaringly obvious to the author doesn't quite translate onto paper. An editor might catch some of these, but frankly, that is not their job. And if you have too many disconnects, you may distract your editor from finding those evil little typos that he/she was hired to find to begin with.
4) Get a professional edit. --We can't stress this enough. And make sure you check references. Is your editor someone you can trust to be completely thorough and accurate? Even the best editors can miss errors, but sadly, there are some "editors" out there who will do an inferior job and still charge you a substantial fee (sometimes less than credible publishers will even do this to you when they provide an in-house editor . . . then charge you for the service). So make sure you've got someone you can depend on.
5) Don't assume your publisher has your back. Sadly, there are a number of publishing companies out there that are looking to make a buck off your enthusiasm to get published. Typically these publishers are looking for money up front from you, the author. If you've done your homework, asked around and are still comfortable working with a fee-based publisher, that's fine. And sometimes this might be a very good option for your literary project. But just remember to ask questions up front. Some of the afore-mentioned publishers will nickel-and-dime you to death. And sometimes it can be too late to say you don't like the direction they're going with something before you get slapped with a healthy bill. So be sure you know exactly what you're getting up front.
6) Go to a library or bookstore and look for books in your genre. Now look closely at the details of these books. What sets them apart? Look for things, like white space, balance, front material, etc. (You might want to also get a few books from the publisher you are thinking about working with to compare their work with that of other reputable publishers). Now when you're talking with your designer, you will be prepared to tell them how you would like your book to look.
7) Remember, if you self publish, you're the BOSS. So don't let someone rush you, or tell you something needs to be done a certain way. Sure there are formatting issues, etc. that will need to be taken into consideration. But overall, if you're paying for it, than you should be in control. Make sure you trust who you are working with before you let them assume carte blanche with your masterpiece.
8) If you've been assigned a graphic designer, or illustrator, ask to see samples of their work. You don't need some college intern with little or no experience and no sense of balance doing the layout for your work. If you're paying for it, you may end up paying for additional editing hours later to get it right, even if they did an inferior job to begin with.
9) Go with your gut instinct. If it doesn't feel right . . . it probably isn't.
Best of luck in all your publishing endeavors!