How Do I Turn This Manuscript into an Actual Book? by Janice L. Dick

Your book is complete, the final lines written. Your website is artistically designed with up-to-date, easy-to-read, marketable information. What’s next?

Please remember we each have to find our own path. There is no right way, but there are many helpful tips and suggestions.

As a flexible checklist, I suggest setting up a publication schedule. You may find a template online, or you can create a simple three-column chart (Category/Details/Target Date) with the following tasks and suggested timelines. Tweak this list to your specifications:

  • Release Date
  • Complete Final Draft (at least three months before release date)
  • Cover Information (back cover, ISBN, design; three months before release)
  • Proof Manuscript (two months before release)
  • Send out ARCs (seven weeks before release)
  • Format (Do this yourself or find a professional formatter; 2-4 weeks before release)
  • Set up Pre-order on KDP (six weeks before release)
  • Final Cover (five weeks before release)
  • Send out posts about your book to start the awareness of its release (social media)
  • Set up on KDP (one month before release)
  • Proof ALL formats (three weeks before release)
  • Upload to KDP (one week before release)
  • Paperback on Sale (four days before e-book release)
  • Launch (week of release)
  • Claim your book on Amazon Author Central (any time after release)

It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the publishing lingo. If you don’t know what a term means, look it up or ask a friend. Keep notes.

Setting up a few accounts is advisable. If you’re publishing through Amazon, create an account there, as well as the Amazon Author Central page. Then go to Library & Archives Canada and request your free ISBNs. You will need one for print and another for e-book. There’s also a free barcode generator site online, which you’ll need for your book cover.

As you look toward publication, you’ll also want to prepare to use several social media sites that suit you best. If you’re feeling especially creative, use the free version of Canva to create some great visuals. Another option is diy bookcovers, which creates 3-D mockups you can use in getting the word out. It’s always good to start the hype before publication.

If you wish to create your own publishing entity, that takes some time. Check your provincial small business registration guidelines to set up a sole proprietorship. Reserve a business name and register it. You’ll need this step completed before you upload your book.

Have you chosen/booked a professional cover designer, or are you competent to do this yourself? Same thing with a formatter. Remember, it must look professional. I have not, to this date, figured out audiobook production, but this is also becoming more user-friendly. A less expensive option is to choose a narrator and share revenue instead of putting out thousands of dollars to get it done.

Meanwhile, play around with the front and back matter, placing the various parts strategically as you see fit. Use published books as guidelines for the look you like.

It’s a good idea to keep notes or screenshots as you set up your book on KDP (Amazon’s publishing arm), so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel every time you publish a book—one document for print uploads, one for e-book. Study keywords and categories to you know what you’re doing. You may wish to take an online course to help with this. Decide on book size, type of paper, type of cover paper, check and recheck to make sure there are no mistakes.

When you feel you’ve checked all the right boxes—don’t hesitate to ask published friends for help; others have helped us too—click the PUBLISH button and your published book will be released on the date you have chosen. Job done! Well, no. There’s one more part to consider in the next blog…marketing.

Janice L. Dick is an award-winning author of six historical novels and three contemporary cozy mysteries. A member of WritersInk in Humboldt SK, InScribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship and Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild, she is also an Advanced Toastmaster Silver. Janice lives and writes from rural Saskatchewan where she lives with her husband.

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