By Helen Hart
What does it feel like to publish your first book? Most authors report a profound sense of accomplishment and relief. But if you’re currently writing a book, you might not know what to expect. Even though the amount of non-fiction being written is increasing every year, the publishing process is shrouded in mystery.
At a recent non-fiction Publishing Workshop by Sophie Bradshaw I had some very interesting conversations. The attendees came from a broad mix of backgrounds and included a business coach, a financial planner, a web designer, an artist and a life coach. During the informal parts of the workshop they talked a lot about the roles they found themselves juggling. During the event, one author said to me, “I’m writing and editing my book while taking this series of workshops, devising a publishing plan, and simultaneously running my business. I hadn’t realised how much there was to do.” This made me think more about what it’s like to start your publishing journey from the perspective of a small business owner.
Whether you’ve chosen to devote your time and energy to boxing or baking, sharing that with others is a wonderfully fulfilling thing to do. If you’re a business owner, you will have a wealth of useful knowledge to impart. But, for some, the publishing journey is intimidating. How do I get my book published? Is my manuscript good enough? Many feel an understandable amount of trepidation about what to do next.
I meet hundreds of non-fiction authors every year. The thing they all have in common isn’t a lack of expertise. It’s simply an understanding of what it takes to publish a book once you’ve finished writing. So, to save you the trouble and worry of knowing what to do next, here are four key things every nonfiction writer ought to know before they hit ‘send’ to a publisher.
The finished manuscript is only the beginning
A lot of authors feel that once they’ve written the manuscript, their work is almost done. Sadly, the truth is that an entirely different journey begins after you finish. We’ve developed seven stages to every publishing journey, from copy-editing, to proofreading, editorial appraisals, typesetting, cover design and distribution.
A lot of authors feel a sense of urgency to publish. It’s important to give yourself the space you will need to work through these stages. We know that it takes patience to publish your work to a high standard, so always bear in mind this when you’re considering timeframes.
Copy-editing and proofreading aren’t the same
Copy-editing is the most important thing an author can invest in. It’s important to present yourself as a professional writer, yet working on your own manuscript can be difficult, because you’re already so familiar with it. Having someone else edit the work before you submit can bring out errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling, consistency or plot. A really good editor will also help you iron out issues with rhythm and phrasing, so your prose flows well.
We distinguish copy-editing from proofreading, because copy-editing identifies and corrects errors, whilst working to a stylesheet that keeps your work consistent. Think of it as a thorough health check for the wellbeing of your book. Proofreading on the other hand, is more of a swift check up. It’s a last pair of eyes on your manuscript before it is printed. There’s every chance that you will need both, and that your book may require plenty of careful edits before it’s as good as it can possibly be.
Don’t rule out a literary agent, but do be realistic
Just because you’re thinking of self publishing, doesn’t mean you should rule out submitting your work to literary agents or mainstream publishers first. One of the new authors I spoke to last week told me, “Most writers would love to have the backing and validation of a literary agent and mainstream publisher. But, for most, this isn’t achievable, is it?”. Most literary agents are inundated with submission offers and rarely take on new authors. However, you might feel that before you decide to self publish, this is a step you want to take.
How can you make the most of your chances to appeal to a literary agent? We’d suggest that hard work, diligence and dedication to perfecting your manuscript are the key ingredients. If you’re successful, it’s a dream come true for many. But if you are unsuccessful, then self publishing is just as viable. In fact, for many established authors, this route is now preferable, with lower overheads and more autonomy.
An eBook can be a handy marketing tool for your business
Despite recent declining sales in eBooks, and rising sales in printed books, there’s still a huge demand for digital editions of non-fiction works. If you’re sharing your business expertise, then we’d certainly recommend you format your book for eReaders.
An eBook can be a brilliant tool for starting new conversations, whatever field you’re in. At Silverwood Books, we’ve had excellent feedback from our authors about how their books created opportunities and developed their businesses. I’ve so enjoyed watching our authors flourish, and would particularly recommend to anyone considering publishing a non-fiction work to considering ePublication.
If you’re about to start your publishing journey, get in touch with us. We can help you create a professional quality book and will be with you every step of the way.