How to Write a Book (4 of 4) – Manuscript Stages 7 – 8 Preparing to Publish

Issue #109
Blog #22-2019
Section: Writing Tips
Blogger: Joseph Clay

Welcome back. Congratulations on completing Stages 1- 6.

Before moving to the last two stages let us make sure the manuscript is ready for Stages 7 and 8 Preparing to Publish.

  1. Was the manuscript edited and proofread by a professional?
  2. Have all the edits been made?
  3. Has the writer proofed the version of the manuscript that will be published?
  4. Does the author feel the book is as close to perfect as it can be? Remember the authors name is on front of the book stating they approve the work between the covers.

If the answer to any of the above questions was no or any doubt surfaced DON’T PROCEED, the author must publish their best work.

Continuing will only hurt the writers chance of making a good first impression. Not only is the writer hurting himself they are giving the naysayers more ammo to back up the stigma surrounding Independent Authors. To understand the stigma we speak of read The Stigma Surrounding the Independent Artist.

ThunderHorse publishing recommends going back and review the blogs in this series and see what steps were missed and/or skimped on.

Blogs in This Series:

If the answer to the above questions were a definite Yes, lets get to formatting the manuscript so it can be published as an eBook and/or a paperback.

WARNINGS: Expect shit to go wrong – Be prepared

  • DO NOT EDIT or MODIFY the Manuscript in any way, the only exception is adding the ISBN to the front matter.
  • RENAME the almost most perfect manuscript. Keep it short and simple. (Ex: Witch’s Dilemma Final Draft would be Saved As WDFD or WDRFP. RFP = Ready For Publishing
  • SAVE A COPY of the renamed file to an external drive and some type of cloud storage. The writer should have a minim of 3 identical files.
  • DOUBLE CHECK to make sure the renamed file is the only file that is sent to those who need it.

Take a deep breath as the last two stages can seem overwhelming. We admit they can be if the writer tries to accomplish them all at the same time.

Stages 7 and 8 can be completed in as little as fifteen (15) days. That is barring no interior issues and no illustrations are being used. Fifteen (15) days is also figuring the Graphic Designer (Book Cover), Formatter, and Publisher, if releasing a print version can get to the manuscript in a timely fashion.

ThunderHorse Publishing recommends the new writer allow at least thirty (30) days for their first release.

Manuscript Stages 7 and 8

Stage 7Exterior/Interior

Warning: All of the below can be done by the writer if they have the computer knowledge and correct programs. However this process is time consuming and can get complicated. ThunderHorse Publishing recommends reading Smashwords Style Guide, a free download that covers formatting to gather some idea of what is involved. We also recommend that if this is the writers first published book let a professional handle it.

This is the stage where the book cover is designed and laid out. An eBook cover only has a front. The printed cover will have a spine and back along with the front.

Before the design starts the writer will need to decide on the outside dimensions of the printed book. The most common size and the one that is most cost effective is a 6″ X 9″ paperback.

The writer will furnish the graphic designer a short blurb of the story along with communicating their thoughts on what the cover should look like.

Not using a graphic Designer for the cover, no problem. There are websites that offer generic book covers for free or at little cost. Since the cover is the first thing a potential reader sees ThunderHorse Publishing recommends hiring a professional to handle this step.

Interior: Before starting this step makes sure the illustrations or complete and the almost perfect manuscript has been backed up and there is a another copy available.

This is the step where the manuscript is laid out in a book format. The writer will need to supply the formatting person with the illustrations if any. The writer will also need to tell the formatter where the illustrations will be inserted.

Some of the things the formatter will do;

  • Number the pages of the front matter in roman numeral format.
  • Make sure all chapters start on an odd page.
  • The authors name is on the top of all even pages.
  • The book title on top of all odd pages.
  • All pages are numbered.
  • Sizing and inserting any illustrations that are required within the book.
  • Constructing a link-able Table of Contents, all eBooks must have one.
  • Removing all unnecessary spaces from the manuscript.
  • And More

The writer can help with the formatting by doing simple things during the writing process. When using a line break insert symbols “***” or dashes “—-“, if not the formatter will remove the blank spaces, that is part of their job.

Once the formatting is done the manuscript will be saved with the proper extension, .epup, .PDF, or other. This will allow the book to be downloaded and published.

Stage 8Publish

This is the final stage. The writer has taken the story from their imagination through the necessary stages and is now ready to release it to the world.

But in what format will the world get to read the book. The writer must decide what to publish. Will they release an eBook only or an eBook and paperback version?

An eBook has no minimum length, you can publish an eBook with one word as long as it has the correct front and back mater.

The below guidelines are for a printed book, paper/hardback.

The publisher charges the same amount for 18 to 100 pages. That translates to a 40 page book costing as much to print as 100 page book. Hard to sell a 40 page book for $6.99. A word count of 25,000 is about 100 pages.

To be cost effective to the author the rule of thumb, don’t print a book under 25,000 words.

The breakdown by story type.

  • Flash Fiction (53 – 1,000 Words) eBook only
  • Short Story (3,500 – 7,500 Words) eBook only
  • Novelette (7,500 – 17,000 Words) eBook only
  • Novella (17,000 – 40,000 Words). A mid range Novella is where the length becomes long enough to released in an eBook and Print Format.
  • Novel (40,000 – Plus Words) eBook and Print format.

Unless the writer has a collection of Flash Fiction, Short Stories or Novelettes with a total word count of 25,000 or more, release the book in eBook format only.

To learn more about word counts read Writing Tips – Word Count; Flash Fiction versus Short Story versus Novel.

Whether publishing an eBook only or both formats the next question is. When is the best time of year to launch the book?

Yes there is certain times of the year for certain genres. Don’t have a clue what genre the book is? That is not a problem, contact the editor they will know.

Using the chart provided by Self-Publishing School find the genre of the book. Plan on launching the book in the month specified or close, a month on either side, for the best results.

Note the chart has December listed as a month to avoid launching a release in.

Now that writer knows what format(s) they are releasing and when they are launching those version(s) of the book to the world its time to find a publisher. The publisher will require two items from the writer.

  1. A near perfect correctly formatted manuscript with the proper file extension.
  2. An ISBN

All book publishers require an ISBN. The writer can obtain one free of charge or purchase one.

The free ISBN will be furnished by the publishing site, CreateSpace, KDP and/or Smashwords along with IngramSpark to name a few. These sites become the publisher of record for the book.

The advantages to obtaining a free ISBN is just that, it’s free and easy to obtain. The disadvantages: The writer can pretty much give up on getting their printed works in bookstores unless the writer cuts the deal themselves. Most bookstores this includes Barns and Noble along with Books a Million and others can order printed books from CreateSpace but are reluctant to. Why? Amazon is most likely taking business away from them.

Another disadvantage is most free ISBN’s are not searchable on the web, unless the searcher is on the site that issued the ISBN. This means the libraries will not be able to find the book. To counter this CreateSpace offers a service, for a fee, that will market your book to bookstores and libraries .

The recommended site to purchase an ISBN is Bowker. A purchased ISBN from Bowker has the following advantages. The author is listed as the publisher. The ISBN will show up in searches; the book can be found, purchased and/or disturbed to bookstores and libraries more easily. Disadvantage. Price, each different format is required to have a separate ISBN. That is $250.00 if the writer releases the book in eBook and print format.

Once the ISBN is obtained its time to publish.

There is no reason for the writer to pay a fee to have their eBook book published. For a printed version some publishers will charge a one time set up fee. All charge to print the book.

No matter what publisher the writer chooses check the splits that the writer retains for each book sale.

eBook: For ease and lack of aggravation to the writer ThunderHorse Publishing recommends that if this is the authors first published work they release the book through SmashWords.

The reason why? Free ISBN, no fee for publishing and their Smashwords Style Guide will walk the writer through the process step by step. Plus if the book meets certain standards, which is easy to do, they will distribute the book to several outlets including Kindle, iBooks and Nook.

The second choice is KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing. There site is also free to publish on and they offer a variety of up grades, for a fee. Uploading an eBook on KDP is not as easy as Smashwords but is not that difficult either.

Once the publishing site is chosen upload the correct document and book cover. The publisher should require the writer to proof and review the book. Do not skip this step. It is the writers responsibility to make sure the book is correct.

Once the the layout and book are approved… BOOM the writer is now a Published Author!

Printed Formatted:

When it comes to offering a printed version to the public the writers choices are wide open. Be caution as most publishers, not all, are nothing more than middle man. They will use either CreateSpace or IngramSpark to print the book. The writer can do the same.

With that said ThunderHorse Publishing recommends a new author stick with the top two publishing companies when releasing their first printed book.

CreateSpace like KDP is a part of Amazon and is great palace to have the paperback versions of the book printed. Plus if the Author’s eBook was published through KDP it makes sense to let CreateSpace handle the paperback version as well. Both versions will show under the book title on Amazon. CreateSpace does not charge a set up fee.

IngramSpark is another great fit for the independent author. At last check they do charge a one time set up fee. The neat thing about IngramSpark they not only print paperbacks but hardbacks as well.

Both places will allow the author to purchase their books at a discount. These books can be used to fulfill orders from the author’s website, sell at book signings and/or distribute to local bookstores. Some authors have been known to leave a book at their doctors office, on a park bench or other random places.

Once the publishing site is chosen upload the correct document and book cover. The publisher should require the writer to proof and review the book. Do not skip this step. It is the writers responsibility to make sure the book is correct.

Note: The publishers listed are only recommendations. Feel free to shop around, check on splits, bulk discounts for printed books and services offered. The writer needs to be comfortable with the publisher and trust that if they need support they will get it. †††

That will do it for this series of blogs. Got questions on how to get the story that keeps you up at night from your head to a published book. Use the contact form, consultations are always free.

The ThunderHorse Publishing Team


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