Dawn Brookes provides us with an insight into what it takes to write and publish a book. Here, she shares the process she goes through when creating a book for her cosy mystery series.
When I published my first memoir, I didn’t use any planning or processing. I wrote when I could, and stuttered and stumbled my way to market! Since taking the steps necessary to reinvent myself as an author, I have learned to treat my work with the respect it deserves, and as I now need to earn a living from my writing, I also treat it as a business.
All authors are different, and what works for me may not work for someone else.
This post provides a brief outline of how I currently move from book idea to publication and launch.
I set myself deadlines because I have always worked better that way. By nature I’m a last minute Jack so adhering to deadlines keeps me productive.
I am presently writing a series which makes the writing process a little bit easier as I already have the main characters and the primary location (a cruise ship). However, new characters and locations are introduced into each book.
I can’t go into detail about my writing process in this post, but I find I’m most productive in the mornings so I work better if I do most of my writing then. I tend to write from 9am-midday and aim for 2,000-3,000 words by lunchtime. I may continue writing in the afternoon if I’m in the flow or trying to meet a deadline, otherwise I move on to other aspects of my author business e.g. marketing.
I try to take two days off a week, but I probably work harder now than I have ever worked! That said, I love what I’m doing so it’s no hardship.
I start off with an initial idea and usually a book title. Next, I just write and allow the creative process to take over. I usually have a murder victim and perpetrator loosely formed, but these can change as the book progresses. For my first two novels, the murderer changed as the plot developed and wasn’t finally decided until near the end. My reasoning being, if I can’t guess who the murderer is, neither can the reader!
Once I have the first few chapters down, and have introduced and started to develop new and established characters, I map out the chapters more formally. I use tables and drawings with flowcharts to assist with this stage. I list my characters and their descriptions, adding information about where they fit into the overall story on a spreadsheet.
The first draft is finished at around 63,000. Standard book lengths is a topic for another day.
At this stage, I contact my cover designer, explain the plot, characters and ideas and request an eBook cover. We discuss the concept and design at this stage. These covers follow a branding that has been developed for the current series, making them recognisable.
After an initial spellcheck, I do the first round edit of the draft using an editing software programme that helps sort out grammatical errors, word over-usage and other cool things.
I then print off a paper copy and do a read-through, correcting any plot inconsistencies, flow problems and radically delete verbiage.
Beta readers are a vital part of the author’s toolkit as they are dedicated to helping the author produce the best book possible.
The draft wings its way to my beta readers who kindly read it and check for readability, plot errors, and any other errors or inconsistencies they can spot. Their suggestions and corrections lead on to my own third edit.
After this, the manuscript goes to my paid editor who does a line edit and returns the manuscript for correction and checking. I then go through it again, approving corrections where required and clarifying the text where errors have been pointed out.
Having an editor go through my work is vital because the manuscript is critically examined objectively.
Whilst this process is taking place, I make the eBook available on preorder so that pre-launch orders can be purchased. The initial marketing blurb has to accompany the preorder.
Not all authors use preorders, some choose to go for a big launch, particularly if they have a large list of fans waiting for their next book. As a relatively new author, I find pre-orders invaluable.
The manuscript is sent back to my editor for a final proofread and sometimes to a separate proofreader. In addition to this Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are sent to readers who will offer comments and volunteer to review the book during the launch period.
On receipt of the final manuscript, the book is formatted for print and eBook (Kindle in my case). Print files are different from Mobi (kindle) files and therefore have to be formatted differently with some similarities.
As the final page numbers are now known, I get back to my cover designer who will produce a ‘print ready’ PDF file for a paperback version of the book. I provide the blurb, the barcode and the ISBN number that goes on the rear.
Final Read Through
I do one final read through myself, and try to read it out loud as minor errors come to light by reading it in this way. I also get to see if it will stand up to audiobook scrutiny as all my books are also produced as audiobooks.
NB. I had to make some serious changes to the first novel to make it right for audio!
The final Mobi file is uploaded to Amazon ready for launch day. Other authors may also upload to other sellers e.g. Kobo, Apple.
The print version is created and uploaded onto Amazon. Print copies are ordered from my printer after viewing a proof copy. These books are what I sell at book fairs etc.
I could have the best book in the world but if no-one sees it, it’s all for nothing! The majority of traditionally published authors sell around 3,000 books during its lifetime! For self-published authors, print book sales are around 250 it its lifetime. The eBook market is different, though, and the majority of self-published authors make their sales in this market.
Marketing starts early on in the writing process and is the area that most authors find difficult initially. It’s a vital part of an author’s business, though so it has to be mastered. If marketing fails, the book fails.
This is a brief outline of what it takes to write and self-publish a book. Remember that within each step there is a huge amount of detail and work, the contents of which would be a book in itself.
Over to You
Dawn Brookes is author of the bestselling Hurry up Nurse series of memoirs and she also writes children’s books. This article describes Dawn’s workflow to publishing a book in her Rachel Prince cosy mystery series.
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