Now that you have your manuscript edited and proofread, you are almost ready for the next step – publication.
Before you can begin formatting your manuscript for print, though, there are some decisions you’ll need to make.
Decide on the Size of Your Book
One of the biggest decisions you’ll make about your book is its size. Trade paperbacks measure 4.625 x 6.75″. You won’t find a template of that size in most print-on-demand book production companies; however, you can come close with 5 x 8″. Other popular sizes include 5.5 x 8.5″ and 6 x 9″ (popular for non-fiction). Choose the 5 x 8″ for the best fit to market.
Choose a Paper Stock
Paper stock should be cream or white créme – you don’t want to blind your readers by choosing a bright white paper. The cremé white stock is 441 pp/in, which means it takes 221.5 sheets of it to equal an inch in depth. That will determine the spine size of your book. Most companies will provide a cover template based on your page count, but you’ll need to know what paper stock you want them to use when printing so your cover artist can make your spine the right width.
Choose a Paper Stock for your Cover
Cover stock should be 12 pt C1S or matte cover. Whether you choose glossy or matte finish is up to you. Visit a bookstore and look at covers to help you decide which finish will work the best for yours.
Choose a Font
Most e-book offerings will take your file and convert it using fonts that work for their e-readers. There are only a few that work, so they’ll automagically convert your fonts when making the .mobi file (for Kindle) or .epub (for Nook, iTunes and a variety of other readers). Most will not allow embeddable fonts, so you’ll just have to allow the reader to convert your favorite to whatever it can display. The readers will also allow a human reader to set the font to a size larger or smaller. Your downloadable PDFs will use the same font as your print book.
At this point, you need to choose a font that works for the print version of your book. The following list is made up of the fonts most often recommended for print. Take a look at them and decide which one you’d like for your book.
Minion, with Poppi Laudatio for chapter titles
Garamond, with Helvetica Neue Bold Condensed or Chaparral for chapter titles
Caslon, with Myrial Pro for chapter titles
Janson, with Lithos or Neuva for chapter titles
In my next post, I’ll go over how to set up your book template and all the files you’ll need to create a professional book.
How do you become a published romance author? First, you write a romance novel. Then …
And it’s the “then” that stops most writers from becoming a published author. What’s the next step? Where do you go if you’ve queried every romance agent you could find with a Google search and received few or no replies? If you submitted your manuscript to Harlequin and discovered it’s too long (or too short) for their various imprints? If you exhausted every avenue of finding a traditional publisher?
If you truly believe you have written a book worthy of publication, it’s time to consider one other publishing option – the option where you are the publisher.
Years ago, the term “self-publishing” gained a poor reputation when vanity presses offered authors the opportunity to publish their books at sometimes extreme prices with the requirement to purchase hundreds of copies or more. The author ended up with a garage full of unsold books and an empty wallet. Even today, there are several publishing houses that sell overpriced services – editing, formatting, cover design, printing, reviews, and marketing – that make it next to impossible for an author to ever make enough in royalties to cover their production costs. (I know, because I used one of them. If it hadn’t been for the sales of the e-books I produced and published myself, I never would have recovered the expenses of having the paperback version produced. More on that later.)
In just the past five years, self-publishing has given the literary world independent authors. Indies publish their books directly to readers using self-serve publishing and distribution platforms such as KDP, Smashwords, Nook Press, All Romance e-books, and others. Their books represent nearly half the titles on the bestseller lists. And as time goes on, more and more traditionally published authors are giving up their publishing deals in favor of becoming independent authors.
So, are you ready to become an indie? If so, you’ll need help in the form of the following:
Beta readers. Line up a group of people willing to read your novel and provide honest feedback (and hopefully a marked up manuscript showing where they might have found errors). Reward them with a dinner and movie and a copy of your final book so they’ll be willing to do it again for your next book.
Editor. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to pay for this service. Find one by doing a search based on the sub-genre of your romance and ask for recommendations from published authors. A good editor will read your entire manuscript not just for typographical errors, but for organization, sentence structure, grammar, tense, point-of-view, transition troubles and more. Editing takes time, so be sure you allow your editor the time necessary to do the best job on your manuscript.
Proofreader. After you’ve input all your editor’s suggestions, you’ll want a proofreader to go through your manuscript one more time. You can’t trust yourself to do this – you’ve read your book so many times, your mind will fill in the missing words or overlook the duplicates.
Once you have a solid manuscript, you’ll be ready for the next step. I’ll cover formatting for print in my next post.
If someone had told me exactly a year ago that I would have six books available for sale by the end of 2013, I probably would have responded with last year’s least favorite word – whatever.
After spending several years writing some of those books and most weekends trying to find an agent (without success), I had about given up on ever seeing them published. But I was motivated. I wanted to pay off a home improvement loan, and royalties from those books seemed like the best way to do it.
Now, that home improvement loan isn’t quite paid off, but it will be by this time next year. To do it, I’ve had to spend nearly as much time to prepare those books for publication and market them as I did writing them in the first place!
How did I go about it? Probably not the best way, nor the least expensive way, but I know better now. I’ll share the steps (and mis-steps) in occasional posts over the next few months in the hopes that someone can benefit from my experience. And save some money, too.