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Book Finished, what now?

pmmg

Vala
So, I finished the one that had been on hold for forever, and I went back and polished the first. Told myself I would not publish the first till the second was written, and now it is.

So what now?

Beta readers? Editors? cover art? Blurbs?

I've been educating up. And am now looking at Reedsy. Queried an editor, and trying, finally, to learn the other half of the craft.

How should I approach getting a book 1 out there.
 
Step 1: determine what you want to get out of it.
Step 2: determine your budget

Of course, 1 and 2 are partially linked. So perhaps keep that in mind.

The reason to start here is this: the steps required are very different if you simply want to have a book published which you can point friends and family at and give away as a silly gift, or if you want to create a professional product with the hope of selling lots and creating a (part time perhaps) carreer out of it.

If you simply want to have published a book so you can cross it off your bucketlist, then grab a cheap cover from somewhere, put it on Amazon and you're done. (note, there's nothing wrong with that. Finishing a novel is already quite the achievement). If you want a more professional product, then move to step 2.

Budget: think of what you want to spend. Here the sky is the limit, and you often get what you pay for. You have pre-made covers for $25 - $250, and you can get custom art covers for $2500+. You can swap beta-reading with other authors and spend nothing other than your time, or you can get a proofread for a few $100, or you can get each editing step done and again spend a few $1000. You get what you pay for. So, pick a rough number and work from that.

Once you've done step 2, then in my opinion you need 2 things at minimum to put out a decent quality product: a professional cover and an edit. Note that I didn't say you needed an expensive cover. But unless you're a professional cover designer, or willing to put in a lot of time to learn cover designing, then buy a professional cover.

The best way to go about it is to go through the bestsellers in the sub-genre of your novel on Amazon (as close to your book as possible), and look at the covers. What do they have in common? Once you have that, come up with what you want on your cover and find a cover designer. As I said, you can get pre-made covers for relatively cheap. Depending on your genre and novel you can get lucky and find the perfect cover. Otherwise, contact a cover designer (I started with the list here: Need a Book Cover Designer? List of professionals to help you | The Creative Penn), and give your brief. They'll give you a price and when they expect to be done.

As for editing, same thing more or less. Look at what the different types of editing are and determine what you need. I get a copyedit and developmental edit from my editor, for 2ct per word, and that's good enough to get my book in shape. Some people want more, some less. In my opinion, it's worth it, since it makes the book a whole lot better. But, it depends on your writing. I've heard good things about Reedsy, though they can be a bit on the expensive side. You can also find your editor in other places. Look around.

Once you know the type of edit you want, contact a few editors, and ask for a price quote and either a sample edit, or an example of their work. If they're not willing to do either, then be very warry. They should at a minimum be able to tell you of other books they've worked on. A sample edit is usually just a few 100 words, and it's most often free, though especially with more popular editors you can pay for it. Once you've found your editor, sign a contract, send you manuscipt and pay some money (common is half up front, half at the end).

Next you need 2 more things: a blurb, and interior formatting.

For the blurb, again check the top books in your subgenre and see what they do. If you want some more help, I like Robert Ryan's book "Book blurb's unleashed". For interior formatting, go make an account on Draft2Digital (yes, even if you go Amazon exclusive). Upload your finished manuscript there, and they will convert it to an ebook format for you. Download that, and use that to publish your book. Yes, you can either do it yourself or pay for someone to do it. But the automatic conversion by D2D is good enough, so it's not worth the time or money in my opinion. Not for a first book at least.

2 final remarks:
1. don't worry if you screw something up (you will at some point...). You can always go back and fix it. You can create a second edition. You can change the cover or the interior formatting, or even the complete text of the novel. You can change the price and where it's available. That's the advantage of indie publishing. You can change everything at any time.

2. the above applies to indie publishing. If you want to traditionally publish there are very different hoops to jump through. About the only thing in common is that you probably want to get a developmental edit. Won't the publisher do that? Yes, but they only sign books that are good enough. And you are competing with people who have gotten a professional developmental edit, so not getting one puts you behind. Fair? No. But it's the harsh reality of today's publishing. Other than that, I can't tell you much.
 

Mad Swede

Maester
Well, presumably you want to publish it. So the first thing you need to decide is how you want to publish, either independently or through a publisher. I write that because it determines how much editing you need to do. Your book will need an edit, in fact it will need both a developmental edit and then a copy edit. And then it will need proof reading.

If you decide to publish independently then you have to arrange all the editing yourself. That takes time, and it costs money. Don't stint on the developmental edit. You may want to run the book past some beta-readers before you get the editing done, but you can also do it after the developmental edit. Once the book is edited you need to sort out a cover, a blurb and then get it out on the web. And then market it. The effort you put in determines how many books you sell.

The other alternative is to find a publisher. That means finding an agent first, at least in the English speaking parts of the world. Before you submit to an agent, get the book read by beta-readers and consider a developmental edit. The latter isn't strictly needed, as the publisher will run the book through the full editing process for you, but it may help you find an agent. There are some publishers who accept submissions direct from authors, and in that case you probably do need a developmental edit before you submit. If you go with a small publisher, check their terms and conditions, because some of them expect you to do a lot of the editing and marketing work yourself.

Finally, check out the SFWA Writer Beware pages, they'll help you avoid those agents and publishers who don't have your interests at heart.
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
Good advice above. Follow whatever makes sense for you.

I have a suggestion on shopping for cover artists. Joel Friedlander runs a monthly column (has done for several years now) in which he evalautes a current crop of covers, often before they've even appeared.

What I did was to read through a bunch of these entries, looking specifically at covers that both he and I looked good. In each, the person submitting the cover says who did the art. I noticed one name recurred regularly so I went with them. You might try something similar. It's a little more efficient and focused than just browsing covers on Amazon. Plus, you get the benefit of Friedlander's comments.

WRT beta readers and editors, I do think it's worth investing. Much will depend on the length of your book. My first book was long enough, I didn't feel I could afford the investment, but I hired an editor on the next two. Spent close to a thousand dollars each time. Note that this was for copyedit. Developmental edits are more expensive; proofreading is less but is also necessary (regardless of who does it).

Note that editors, beta readers, cover artists, and proofreaders all have their own schedules. Don't expect to get through all this quickly. Also note that promos and advertizers have their own schedules, that run weeks to months out.

Another step not to overlook is formatting the book. You'll need to look at ebook (epub and mobi) and print (pdf). This will mean including your front and back matter, which you've likely not yet thought about much.

Blurb. Hah! I once that that noun was singular. The only thing singular about it is that it's singularly difficult and cantankerous. Call it copy, a more generalized term. You'll be writing copy for the back cover of the paperback, for the description on Amazon, for any advertising you run, for submissions to contests, for interviews, and even for your elevator pitch. Every one of these will have different length requirements. I've wound up collecting all for a given book into a single document, sorted by length. Even after a couple of years, I was still finding occasion to write a new one. Oh, and then you go and write another book and you have to update the old copy. Yeesh, sez I.

The short version is this: this book will be with you for some time. Just accept that. I "write" five days a week, but one of those days is nothing but marketing and research. I'm managing four published books. The oldest of these doesn't need attention more than about once a quarter, but should receive more if I were following some of the advice about advertizing and promotion.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
Beta Readers are good - if you can find any decent ones.

I - perhaps foolishly - skipped hiring an editor (tight budget), though my first book turned out fairly well. Very much a 'devil in the details' thing.
 
SPFBO 8 had a "cover contest" and the SPFBO page on FB has a post with a bunch of cover artists. I'm tempted to check out a couple of them. But, covers have a major budget variable in them. For instance, I have a connection to David Mack but I'm scared to death of using said connection because Mack might so "no" AND he might say "Yes, and here's the price tag" LMAO. The latter is more frightening.

Editors are you get what you pay for. Eve of Snows' editor was awesome, but my money dried up for a time and I wanted to save it for promos, so I went cheap the next two books, and... Not so great. So, I am back to higher dollar editing for future books, and with this, I am referring to copy edit, more than a story edit. SPFBO also has a post where authors get to recommend editors, so you can check that out.

I could point you to my preferred editor, but she is picky and not too cheap, so that's a crapshoot.

How do you approach it? First and foremost, if you want a wide audience, perfect it. Beta readers... that's okay, but a good editor you're paying to brutalize your story is probably a better bet, heh heh.

In the end, there are a lot of okay books that get a lot of readers and better books that don't, so, all you can do is put your best foot forward, and then stick it out there over and over and over again.
 

pmmg

Vala
Hey all, thanks for the comments.

I have some beta readers, so I am waiting on those.

I went to Reedsy and put up a post for editors. I was unaware I would be limited. I targeted one, and then found I could only send one request per week. I was supposed to spam five. I could have done that more wisely. Live and learn. I got the spamming down now.

I started to edit book 2 while I am waiting, and am working out book 3 in my head.
 

pmmg

Vala
My inclination is, that if it is going to cost me, better to have it cost me on the first effort, cause the benefits can bleed into all the others. I have spammed a few. I will see what I get for the range.

First was $1800 for 100K words. That's a bit higher than I was expecting, but its easy to sticker shock ppl who dont have a frame of reference. We'll see.
 
Not unusual and not the highest you'll find to say the least. What level of editing is that, would be the first question.

My inclination is, that if it is going to cost me, better to have it cost me on the first effort, cause the benefits can bleed into all the others. I have spammed a few. I will see what I get for the range.

First was $1800 for 100K words. That's a bit higher than I was expecting, but its easy to sticker shock ppl who dont have a frame of reference. We'll see.
 
One thing I did when pruning editors was to leave in some things I knew I wanted corrected, those who called it out made the cut, those who kissed my ass were cut.
 
That and a cover artist. To be honest, I've gone over a whole helluva lot of indie books recently, even if not always more than a few pages, and I half-jokingly say to myself that the self-publishing boom has been the biggest boom for editors and cover artists because so much writing out there has almost no shot of making the writer's money back without catching some sort of zeitgeist. And of course, this leads to cheap covers and cheap editing which leads to greater chances of not making any money...
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
That and a cover artist. To be honest, I've gone over a whole helluva lot of indie books recently, even if not always more than a few pages, and I half-jokingly say to myself that the self-publishing boom has been the biggest boom for editors and cover artists because so much writing out there has almost no shot of making the writer's money back without catching some sort of zeitgeist. And of course, this leads to cheap covers and cheap editing which leads to greater chances of not making any money...

I read a great deal - book a day or close to it, mostly indie stuff.

I see quite a few books with double or even triple digit reviews, mostly positive (three stars or better) that have all sorts of issues, ranging from basic grammar mistakes to plot holes to world building problems.

Most recent one insisted on using exclamation points for about every tenth or twelfth sentence and a plot implausibility.

Another, first of a series that I picked up for free, reads like an unedited rough draft - interesting plot and characters, horrible execution - and it has a good couple hundred mostly positive reviews. (though many of them detracted a point or more because of the editing issues)
 
Reviews are a peculiar metric, and there are some very generous reviewers out there, no doubt about it. If an author does a really good job of getting in with a niche reading group they can do quite well, or in many cases, build an audience of fans who aren't picky about perfect editing so long as they are entertained. Many heavy KU readers I've chatted with are more forgiving of goofs than others.

I read a great deal - book a day or close to it, mostly indie stuff.

I see quite a few books with double or even triple digit reviews, mostly positive (three stars or better) that have all sorts of issues, ranging from basic grammar mistakes to plot holes to world building problems.

Most recent one insisted on using exclamation points for about every tenth or twelfth sentence and a plot implausibility.

Another, first of a series that I picked up for free, reads like an unedited rough draft - interesting plot and characters, horrible execution - and it has a good couple hundred mostly positive reviews. (though many of them detracted a point or more because of the editing issues)
 

pmmg

Vala
I read a great deal - book a day or close to it, mostly indie stuff.

I see quite a few books with double or even triple digit reviews, mostly positive (three stars or better) that have all sorts of issues, ranging from basic grammar mistakes to plot holes to world building problems.

Most recent one insisted on using exclamation points for about every tenth or twelfth sentence and a plot implausibility.

Another, first of a series that I picked up for free, reads like an unedited rough draft - interesting plot and characters, horrible execution - and it has a good couple hundred mostly positive reviews. (though many of them detracted a point or more because of the editing issues)

is the point of this to say dont bother with the editor? Im willing to see what they have to offer but 2k is a bit pricey. Id have to sell a lot of indi copies to make that back, or believe in the long game.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
is the point of this to say dont bother with the editor? Im willing to see what they have to offer but 2k is a bit pricey. Id have to sell a lot of indi copies to make that back, or believe in the long game.

How to put this...

sometimes the story is good enough to override the bad editing and to an extent, even the bad writing. I saw variations of the same comments over and over with the series I mentioned earlier - each with literally hundreds of reviews. 'The story was good, I liked the characters, but I have to mark it down because of the grammar mistakes.'

Link to the first book in one of these series - note the stars, then read the first eight or ten reviews. From what I've read thus far, I have to concur with those comments.

Daughter of Havenglade (Daughter of Havenglade Fantasy Book 1) - Kindle edition by Harrington, H.C.. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

That said, being pressed for cash myself these days, I didn't go with an editor on my first book (and I managed to snag cover art for a ridiculously low price to boot. What I did do was click on of all the editing options in MS word and go over the manuscript repeatedly. There are almost certainly some grammar issues, but not near as many as what I have seen in other indie works.

(For what it is worth, I spotted editing issues even in book III of Rice's series - as did others going from the reviews. It seems that errors slip into even professionally edited works)

Now, if you are confident in the power of your tale, or if you don't intend to become a best selling author - and if you understand the do's and don'ts of grammar...then you might get away without hiring an editor.
 
Ah! Whispers of Ghosts was a shit show release, and I was strapped for cash (no way I could afford a high-end editor on 240k words) so it was basically self-edited. As you say, going over it multiple times. That said, I also launched with a totally screwed wrong copy of the book... Hence! I am going back to pro work because it also helps keep my versions straight so I don't release a clusterflubber! LMAO.

Preorders for Whispers were atrocious copies, and I updated as fast as I could, BUT not with the final because everything was so screwed up... It was insane. Never, ever again. Wow, it was a horror.

That said, small errors get through pretty much every book.

How to put this...

sometimes the story is good enough to override the bad editing and to an extent, even the bad writing. I saw variations of the same comments over and over with the series I mentioned earlier - each with literally hundreds of reviews. 'The story was good, I liked the characters, but I have to mark it down because of the grammar mistakes.'

Link to the first book in one of these series - note the stars, then read the first eight or ten reviews. From what I've read thus far, I have to concur with those comments.

Daughter of Havenglade (Daughter of Havenglade Fantasy Book 1) - Kindle edition by Harrington, H.C.. Children Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

That said, being pressed for cash myself these days, I didn't go with an editor on my first book (and I managed to snag cover art for a ridiculously low price to boot. What I did do was click on of all the editing options in MS word and go over the manuscript repeatedly. There are almost certainly some grammar issues, but not near as many as what I have seen in other indie works.

(For what it is worth, I spotted editing issues even in book III of Rice's series - as did others going from the reviews. It seems that errors slip into even professionally edited works)

Now, if you are confident in the power of your tale, or if you don't intend to become a best selling author - and if you understand the do's and don'ts of grammar...then you might get away without hiring an editor.
 
As a side note, Booklife reviews rate the editing: Eve of Snows got an A even after I made changes post editor, while Trail of Pyres got a B with an editor who cost less than a third the price of EoS for a bigger book. Whispers was a nightmare, in part because riots screwed up one editor's schedule, and I couldn't afford my preferred editor. So! I winged it and paid an early price, but have since gotten it at least "presentable".

The weird thing is that some people just didn't give a crap about all the errors. I was apologizing to one reader and he was like, "Eh! Yeah I noticed the errors but who cares."
 

skip.knox

toujours gai, archie
Moderator
I'm aware I'll likely be in a minority, but here's the report: don't skimp on the cover art. If you pay for any sort of feedback, pay for someone to help you with your marketing copy. If you know you have good editing skills (competence, not brilliance), then take that money and spend it on covers and marketing.

Because, as others have noted, the buying public doesn't care so much. And, if your book never gets noticed, then how it's edited isn't going to matter one tiny whit.

I'm not saying editing isn't important. I am saying that getting noticed has to come first, and getting noticed these days costs a goodly chunk of dough.

Bad editing does matter. Don't get sloppy, kid. If you don't hire an editor--heck, even if you do hire one--be sure to run your manuscript through every wringer you can manage. We're not just talking proofreading here, we're talking copy editing, which means consistency of voice, continuity errors, all the sorts of things that are so easy to miss even after multiple readings. Print it out. Read it aloud. Have the computer read it aloud. Run it through as many different kinds of editing software you can find. Run frequency lists, look for duplicated words, even spaces at the end of a paragraph. IOW, do the very best editing you can.

If you can't afford to get good cover art *and* hire an editor, I'd go for the cover. And the marketing copy. Very important, that.

I cordially invite disagreements (note, I'm speaking only of self-pub here).
 

pmmg

Vala
So...I am just trying to learn the other half of the process. Watched a lot of youtube videos on what to do and what to expect, and done some reading on it as well. Some of the arguments I buy, and some I don't.

I've been around in the community for a long time, have edited a lot of stuff, and if I was to rate myself, I think better than many published books I've read ( some of which are by the people who made some of those youtube videos...). I would be very surprised if a professional editor was able to show me that the story needed any type of coarse adjustment, or that it had something that if changed would greatly improve the stories in areas I tend to look for...such as plot holes, bad characterization, unclear prose and such. But...maybe.... Having never used one before, I'd not really know what to expect.

My biggest flaw, IMO, is likely something a copy editor might find. Many people jump on my use of comma's, but many people jump on many people about that. I am not sure that rearranging all my comma's again will do much to improve the experience of the reader. I am also aware that my brain is just poor at spotting missing words. So if I type a sentence and a word is missing, I may never notice it, even if I read it 4000 times.

I am trying to decide on the cover. For many years I pretty much had a cover in my head, but I am not sure it is the best cover. It would be a little on the 'reader to infer' side of scale, and not straight forward. Movie companies pretty much know that its hard to go wrong with some type of collage of main characters and stuff in the background, and if you have a pretty buxom woman as well...well....put her on the cover. I do have such a woman, and she would be good for the cover, but....its not the cover in my head. I may have to mock up several covers and see which people like.

IMO, I would get little benefit from the Developmental or assessment edit, and more likely would get benefit from a line edit, but...I am also sure I don't have the experience of any from which to have a more informed opinion.

If I was to lay out the money, I would prefer to do it earlier, than later. Cause if there is something to learn, best to learn it at book one and not book three. But....truly, I have little expectation of making any $$$ on the story, and to lay out $2000 is to start off pretty far in the hole. If I sold the book at $5.00 a shot, it would take 400 sales to get back to zero. Thats a lot to imagine when you sit currently at zero, and friends and family are not going to count for much ;)

ATM, i'll just keep gathering quotes and see what develops. I might go for one if its cheap enough to see what they have to say. (Though, if they share today trends...they wont be a fit for me.)
 
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