So you’ve edited, got a cover, decided how you’re going to distribute it, and you have a marketing plan, but there’s still more to do. Let’s tackle it
Formatting is making your book look like a book internally. It’s setting fonts, margins, spacing, design elements, and front and back matter. This is the step where you decide if your map has its own page or is in the front cover. There’s a lot to this step and many levels of service. Some publishers offer this as part of their publishing service (like Amazon) but there is also software to do it yourself and designers who offer this service as well. But this is for once you’re fully done with your edits and getting ready to put your book together.
Now wait, I just said you were done with your edits. And you are…mostly. Proofreading is done after formatting hence the name proofreading. It happens on the proof copies of a book. Or in the digital world in adobe or on an arc reader style copy. This is meant to be your last set of eyes before you hit publish. So there are grammar programs for this but I do recommend against them at this stage because this is a ready-to-print copy. This is where a professional proofreader or another person is helpful. You’ve looked at this for months and having someone else do this is vital to catch the last egregious errors.
ABCDEFGH-ISB who? These important (and kind of expensive) numbers are basically identification numbers for your book. But don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean you only need one. If you plan on having an electronic version, that is one ISBN. If you plan on having a physical book, that is another ISBN. Want an audiobook? You guessed it, it also needs an ISBN.
Advance reader copy readers or ARC readers are readers and influencers who represent your target market and get a free early copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Reviews and referrals are essential to book success. The theory with sending books to willing ARC readers is that they will read the book and review it which boosts engagement on platforms including Goodreads and Amazon. But whether or not to utilize them is, like anything else, a choice with ups and down.
The upside to using ARC readers is low-cost advertising. It costs you the price of the book to give out free copies of your book. Furthermore, some authors put together PR boxes for influencers to encourage them to review it. Yet, the downside is that you can expect that only about half of the readers you send your book to will actually read or review your book. This equates to either giving away many books for free or for nothing. As with other areas of self-publishing, do your research. There are companies and services designed to help you get the most out of this and TONS of tips online to make this step easier and more fruitful.
This seems really obvious to many authors. Duh, of course I want pre-orders. But there’s a downside to even the early sale of books.
If you’re traditionally published, getting pre-orders is essential for the bookstore to know how many of your books to order. However, if you’re an indie published author pre-orders get books into readers hands, which is what matters, but they also don’t count toward release day sales. This is important because release day sales are what affect your rating sites like Amazon. This means even if you have a bunch of pre-orders, you won’t see your rank improve or be pushed up the best-seller list.
On the other hand, if you’re a newer author this may or may not be a big deal for you. Getting sales is just as important as rising in the ranks. It is often better to worry about sales and connecting with your readers than with rising through the ranks. Early on it’s best to focus on reviews and when your readership is established and you can count on some sales you may be able to do away with pre-orders.
My Final Recommendation
The last two weeks I’ve given you a lot to consider when it comes to what to do with your book. My final recommendation is that you address each one of these questions individually. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed (and you will), take a step back and remember it will take more than a day. Some decisions will be easy, and others will be harder. It’s okay to choose one option and then change your mind. It’s okay to choose one option for one book and a different option for your next book. Lastly, it’s okay if one decision worked well for another author and not for you.
But now that you’ve made your decisions, you are likely ready to publish. A quick reminder that publishing is never perfect. Even in traditional publishing, errors occur, and directions change with the market. Perfection is not real, but publishing your book is. Publish your book with confidence, knowing you did the best you could for it.