This year, I’m pleased to announce I’m going to be publishing my fifth work of fiction, Whizzers. Hard to believe, because it seems like just yesterday when I launched my first novel, Brothers’ Hand, into an unsuspecting world.
I still remember some of the reactions from folks who didn’t know that I’d started this book all the way back in the 1990s. “Wait, Mike, you mean this guy gets dosed with LSD at a party and then his hand gets chopped off by a speeding locomotive? Jeez!” Ah, those were the days.
Well, some of my blog readers are writers, and some aren’t, but I know you’re all curious about today’s topic – whether you’re just interested as a reader or you’ve got a first book coming out. It takes a village, as they say. So here are 7 things to check one last time before you pull the trigger and publish.
- Editing – Editing seems like a no-brainer, but I can tell you from my own experience: it ain’t easy. I edited my work over and over before I sent it to my editor, and then I had to reckon with all my editor’s suggested changes. Some were great – I really had to get better about breaking up larger paragraphs into smaller ones – but some were, uh, just not a good fit for me. Once I made the changes I could get on board with, I still had more work to do. And that work was…
- Proofreading – Yes, proofreading. Of course, I’d already proofread my work before editing. But now that I’d edited my editor, I had an entirely new book! It almost didn’t feel like my book (almost – I took about 70% of my editor’s suggestions, but one more change and it would have felt like my style was obliterated). Did you know that the average book gets published with at least 6-7 errors? I did my best to get that number closer to zero, and I probably still missed a couple.
- All the interior elements – Once your book has been converted to layout format, it’s going to look a lot different. Unfortunately, you can’t just transfer that Publishing Layout in MS-Word to a real publishing layout. So that means you have to do another round of proofing. For one, you need to make sure word breaks are correct. You also want to eyeball the book like a reader and check the top and bottom of each page for consistent spacing. A great interior designer will have all this fixed for you. But it’s best to make sure they’re great by checking every page. You also may have a dedication page, and most importantly, double or triple check everything on your copyright page – year, ISBN number, CIP data, and so on.
- All the exterior elements – Again, sounds like a no-brainer, but you want to feel comfortable that your final copies will look final. An ebook version and a paper version are very different. Check all the basic exterior elements. That means the design, title, your name, and any other elements that will be on both front covers. On the print version, recheck the entire back cover, the spine elements, any blurbs, the bar code…everything.
- Links – So of course you’re selling your book online, right? Right? If you have a variety of distribution channels – mine include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart & Indiebound – you need to make sure those links are up and running. If you’re doing pre-orders (always a good option), see if you can find out whether the preorder buttons are working correctly. Which brings me to…
- Buy/preorder buttons – Again, sounds like a no-brainer, but stuff happens. Remember, you don’t have to actually go through the entire buying process on Amazon to get to the checkout lane. If you’re planning to buy copies of your own book to juice the numbers, forget it. You can only buy one ebook copy of your own book, and it’s not going to make your sales number go from 297,986 to, say, 11. You did the work. Let others do the buying. If you can check with folks you know who buy your book, find out whether their experience was seamless. It should be, but you never know.
- Self-care measures in place – Finally, a point that has nothing to do with scrutinizing your book and everything to do with checking in with yourself. The whole process of publishing a book is exciting and a bit scary for anyone, so you need to make sure it doesn’t make you sick! There’s a reason a lot of us say things like, “My books are my babies.” Once they’re launched into the world to be judged, dissected, or ignored, we have to let them go. Part of that process is taking extra good care of yourself before, during, and after launch time.
And that’s it for now. If you’d like to get on the mailing list to preorder Whizzers when it becomes available later this year, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll get updates, cool exclusive content, and you might even end up on the launch team!