5 Steps to Getting Your Book Published

Covers of books Ruth has either contributed a chapter towards or published.

Let’s discuss five steps to getting your book published.  Now, as you probably realize, this is a very general overview of the process because publishing is not simple. It takes many steps to get there. We will dive into more specifics in upcoming blog posts.

  1. Market Research Market research is the first step to getting your book published. Why?This is something that I keep “harping” on because it’s something that many people just skip over, and they don’t even think about how they’re going to sell their book until after it’s written. It’s really important to take time to do market research BEFORE YOU WRITE YOUR BOOK, especially if your goal is to sell books and/or hit the bestseller list. Now we have Amazon as a wonderful way to research the market. I believe the percentage of books sold on Amazon is right around 80%. So it’s a great place to do your research and find out what is selling, what’s current, and what’s not selling as well.
    • Bring up an incognito browser (so that previous searches do not skew the results.)
    • Use the Kindle eBook area (there are more statistics available)
    • Search the topic(s) you are planning to write about.
    • Find out what books are already available, and whether they are selling well or not. The lower the number on the Kindle ranking, the better the book is selling.
    • As you do your research, think about what your book will add to what is already available.
  2. Outline Your Book The second step to getting your book published is creating an outline. Your outline will vary, depending on what genre you’re writing in, but an outline is helpful whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction. I get the argument from some people, “Well, I’m a pantser, so I just sit and I write.” That’s fine if it works for you. But I have talked to pantsers who wish they had made an outline before they started writing because they tend to write themselves into a corner. Having an outline is like a roadmap, and you can change the way you get to the destination while you’re on your way. But at least if you have a beginning point and an endpoint in mind. An outline makes it possible for you to sit down knowing, “Today I’m at this point in the outline, and I am going to cover these three topics.” Try an outline and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t, that’s fine. Different strategies work for different people, but I find that an outline is very helpful for my clients.
  3. Your First Draft The third step to getting your book published is writing your first draft. Sometimes it helps to think about one person who will benefit from this specific book. (You can find more tips about reaching your audience in this previous post.) Be forewarned that the first draft is the hardest draft to write. All writing takes discipline, and the only way really to get writing done is to sit down and do it. So once you have your outline, pick one point every day to work on. I find it’s very helpful to have that point in front of me when I start. Then I’m not going to a blank screen and trying to figure out what I’m writing about that day. Another tip that works for some people is stopping in the middle of a sentence. That kind of primes the pump the next day when you sit down and want to write again. Writing the first draft is just a first draft. Don’t worry about making it perfect. You are going to have to edit it. You are also going to need to hire an editor. So, the important thing is to write until the first draft is done.  
  4. Editing The fourth step to getting your book published is editing. Most writers will go through ten or twenty revisions before they publish. You can save yourself some money by self-editing your manuscript before you send it to a professional editor.
    • Self-Editing:
      • If you’re using Word or Google, they will give you suggestions about spelling and grammar. So, make sure that you at least go through those. Grammarly is another tool to try.
      • Sometimes reading out loud helps you see errors that aren’t obvious when you just read silently. 
      • Find people who enjoy reading and are willing to be beta readers for you, because that will save you a lot of money when you hire your editor. You will get better results from your beta readers if you ask them to look for specific things in your manuscript.
    • Three Types of Editors
      • Developmental Editors help with “big picture” ideas, like outlining, structure, and general flow of your story or manuscript.
      • Line Editors go through your manuscript line by line and provide feedback regarding clarity, grammar and spelling, quotations, citations, etc. Line editors make sure the way you express your ideas makes sense.
      • Proofreaders go through your manuscript (usually AFTER it’s formatted) to catch any previously missed mistakes.
  5. Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing The last step to getting your book published is actually uploading the manuscript or submitting it to a publisher for them to publish it for you. In a future post, we are going to talk about the differences between traditional publishers and self-publishing. There are many options available to writers today. A traditional publisher probably won’t publish your manuscript if this is your first book, especially if you don’t have a huge platform already created. So, if you’re not somebody famous you may need to self-publish and demonstrate to a traditional publisher that you are able to make sales because that’s what the publishing game is all about —making sales. If you’re not able to sell copies of your book, a traditional publisher is not going to be interested in working with you. If you’re curious about how much publishing a book costs, check out my guest post.

Which step of the publishing process are you currently working on? (Share in the comments below!)

If you want to save yourself some time and money, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me.

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