After the Manuscript is Written…

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Photo by Michele Venne Sheep's Crossing Cave Creek, Arizona

Photo by Michele Venne
Sheep’s Crossing
Cave Creek, Arizona

The longer I’m at this game of writing, the more I see that every creative has their own way of going about the process. Some are organized, planning out their novel or nonfiction book, scheduling their writing sessions each day, and methodically bring the project to completion. And that’s important! Then there are those more like me, where we write by the seat of our pants, squeezing in writing time whenever it’s there, wherever we happen to be. Somehow we finish, then publish and share our stories. I’ve gone through this process 8 times now, and the funny thing is, even after the first 5 novels, plus the 2 books of poetry, this last time was completely different.

Just deciding that there’s a story in us that we need to record is an amazing thing. Committing to that is an uphill road. There are many times when quitting would be easy. But that feeling of accomplishment when we write the final word is indescribable. Maybe. But what do we do after that? It depends on the purpose of you writing the story. If you want to share it with others, perhaps sell it in a bookstore, then there are steps to be completed before that can happen.

What to do after a celebration that you’ve completed this great, wonderful thing called a manuscript?

1) Take a brief time out. Let the story and characters and chapters sit. Give yourself a little space.

2) Then begin rewriting and editing. If you’ve taken good notes about the details, it’ll be easier to verify that the character’s names are the same from beginning to end, they’re in the right place, and that a gun hasn’t magically appeared just when they need it.

3) Get your words read by others. This can be a beta reader, someone who reads your story and verifies that it makes sense, or mostly. They may also make suggestions for tweaking parts of the manuscript. Maybe they’ll make notes on some basic editing issues, typos, that kind of thing.

4) Two most important thing any writer can do, besides finishing, is to seek the assistance of professionals. If you’re going the traditional route in your publishing, then begin with writing a query letter, a synopsis, and making a list of agents that deal in the content of your manuscript. If you’ve decided to be an indie publisher, then you’ll need help with your cover (search for a graphic artist/designer), and with your interior (an editor).

5) There are several ways to format a Word doc for printing. In fact, there’s more than one way to print your book. If you’re working with a trad pub, then they’ll take care of a lot of this for you. If you’re going the indie route, then you’ll want to decide if digital printing or sheet fed is for you. POD used to get a bad rap, but has gained acceptance in recent years. If you think you’ll sell thousands of copies, go with sheet fed. It’s cheaper per copy. If you decide that you only want your words available in bytes, that, too, requires a decision.

6) For ebooks, there’s 2 platforms: Kindle (instructions on Amazon and a few ebooks that can be ordered on Amazon will walk you through how to prep your Word doc for conversion), and ePub, which is needed for upload to iTunes, Kobo, and B&N Nook. Smashwords is a place to visit for help in that area.

7) Along with all this formatting and conversion stuff, are decisions to be made regarding ISBN, bar codes, distribution, how much cost you’re willing to put into the production of your work, and of course, marketing.

Before my latest novel, I had a pretty good system: I would handwrite my story, I paid someone who could read my scratch to type it (and do the first edit), had someone who was a beta reader (and also made editing suggestions), a formatter (who again did some edits), a graphic designer who took care of my cover, someone who would convert Word to both ebook platforms, and a printing company. This last time, though, things changed. I still wrote the story by hand, still had it typed, still had a beta reader, still worked with the same graphic designer, the same formatter that did my last book, but that’s where things changed. Instead of working with the usual printer, I decided to try CreateSpace. I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few technological glitches, but those were sorted out. Since I decided to print using Amazon, it asked if I want to do Kindle, since I was already there. A small amount of work on my Word doc, and the upload was complete. I can’t, at the moment, calculate the amount of money saved by going this route, but I see no reason to return to “the old ways”.

If you’ve an interest in what I’ve published in the last 7 years, visit my website: www.myjoyenterprises.com

Have you published? If so, which route did you choose? Are you pleased with the results? If not, which path seems to be the best fit for you?

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