Book Launch Basics: Part 2

In this 8-part book launch basics series, I’ll demystify the process of proficiently releasing a new book into the world with flair. The information I’m providing is focused on those who will independently publish their book, but many of these components/strategies are equally usable for those publishing traditionally. (If you’re lucky to go that route, you may even have a publisher doing some or most of these things for you—but it is still important to understand the elements that go into successfully launching a new title.) Part 1 covered your online author image and overall branding.

In part 2, we are covering manuscript readiness and book presentation.

If your book is being traditionally published with a small, mid-sized, or large press/publisher, you will (or you should) have editorial assistance from that company, along with their cover and interior design services. However, if you’re publishing independently, it is your responsibility to make sure your manuscript has been thoroughly edited and the book cover and interior formatting are professionally done.

(In between these two exist hybrid publishers—these companies are selective in which clients they take on like traditional publishers, however they share the cost of producing the book with the author and that production process including editing and book interior/cover design.)

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MANUSCRIPT EDITING

Book editing is a multi-layered journey. Each writer I know has their own process. Many of us do cursory editing as we go; others do deeper editing throughout the writing process.

When you’re finished with your manuscript, utilize the help your computer provides to check for misspelled words/typos, poor grammar, passive language, and more. Read through on your own on the hunt for any plotting or continuity issues. You should plan for multiple passes through your manuscript, particularly if you find sections that need to be rewritten or heavily edited. I always advise authors to read their manuscript out loud as part of the editing process. You won’t believe the errors you’ll catch!

I always advise hiring a professional editor as well—you really owe it to yourself (and to your future readers) to invest in this step even though it can be costly. It can, however, be even more costly if you skip this step and end up with bad reviews that could have been avoided with better editing. Reedsy provides a look at the different types of editing, along with how to find the editor who is right for your book.

Do not rush this step—you’ll regret it later. I promise!

A NOTE ON BETA READERS

You may have a group of trusted advisors who serve as beta readers. These are your manuscript’s first readers. Often the Beta Reader step happens after finishing your own edits and before you hire a professional editor. Why? Because if your beta readers find plot holes or suggest more than basic edits to your work, you’ll want those rewritten scenes to be in the manuscript before you spend money on a professional edit.

INTERIOR DESIGN

I feel a book’s interior design or formatting is often overlooked—with many independently publishing authors using very basic formatting. It’s not hard to create a beautiful interior with decorative fleurons between scene breaks and chapter headings and more. Programs like Vellum or Atticus or, if you’re more advanced, InDesign, make this possible for an author to do themself. However, there are many reasonably priced book formatters available. Ask other authors who they use. Check out Fiverr, Upwork, or Reedsy for options. Hire what you cannot do well yourself.

Be sure to page through books in your genre to know what the interiors typically look like. Do they use drop caps at the beginning of chapters or capitalize the first three words? Do they always start the new chapter on the right-hand page. What do their page headers look like? What is the size of most books in that category or genre?

COVER DESIGN

Just like with interior design, you will need to be familiar with the expectations of book covers for the genre or category of your book. A good cover design is essential. You’ll want your cover to stand out—but FOR THE RIGHT REASONS! The tricky part is making it just different enough to be intriguing, but not so different that it confuses the reader in any way as to what the book might be about.

Here research is again important—check out the Amazon bestseller pages for the category(ies) of your book. Every genre has different cover expectations. Make sure any design you’re considering looks good as a thumbnail. Online shoppers will see that size image as they compare titles.

Most of the time authors are better off hiring a good cover designer rather than attempting to design their own. There are exceptions of course—but most of us do not have this skill set. Again, you can find many pre-made covers out there that might work great, or you can hire a designer for a completely custom design. Indie publishing guru Joanna Penn has an excellent list of cover designers along with more tips on her website HERE. You can also search sites like Reedsy or Fiverr for well-recommended designers. Ask authors of books with covers you admire who they used.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER????     

Like I noted in the beginning . . . if you ignore these steps, it won’t matter if you plan and execute a perfect book launch. A poorly edited book or one with a bad cover will be hard to sell. No amount of social media posts or well-placed ads or podcast guest spots will matter—your book will be overlooked or worse, it will garner bad reviews that tank your momentum.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments!

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