Two weeks ago I shared how I write a novel. Today I want to talk about how I publish a novel.
So now I have a finished manuscript, written and rewritten until the story is exactly how I pictured it in my mind. Now it is time to get some feedback. Some people use critique groups, some people use beta readers. I like to use beta readers. A beta reader is someone who may or may not be a writer, but is definitely a reader, particularly of my own genre.
At this point, I want to know if my story is working, if there are any boring parts, or is there a place where I can make it better. I don’t care about a missing “the” or the finer parts of the writing craft (by now I have most of them down pat). What I want to know is how a reader feels about my story. After all, that is who I am writing for.
I currently have two beta readers with the possibility of adding a third. These are people who I trust to give me their honest opinion, who enjoy fantasy, are avid readers, and who want to see my story succeed.
It usually takes a week or two to hear back from them. In the meantime, I either take a break or start working on my next novel. When I get their feedback, I sit down and read through all their comments and figure out if I agree with them, if they fit in with my story, and should I change anything.
After my beta read, it is time for my manuscript to head off to my editor (duh, duh, dum). I know some people get nervous about this. I don’t. I know that I have written the best book I can and poured my soul into it. I’m pretty sure my editor isn’t going to write back and tell me to throw this story out and try again. What he (or she) will do is tell me how I can improve.
This is where trust comes in. I know my editor is for me and wants me to do even better. So when I get my manuscript back a couple weeks later dripping in red ink, it’s not because my editor hates me, it is because he or she loves the story and sees how to make it even better.
This edit, by the way, is called the content edit where the story is scrutinized down to the last scene (this is not the copy edit where the grammar and punctuation is checked).
Now I sit down with my newly “decorated” manuscript and go through every track change my editor put in. This takes couple of weeks of 8-10 hour days. It is the most grueling part of publishing in my opinion. My husband had no idea what this was like until the edits came back on Son of Truth and I disappeared every day into our bedroom with my laptop, only to emerge for coffee and food for three weeks. I did not clean, I did not go out for lunch with friends, I barely did laundry (naked is not an option at our house lol). I worked and edited until my brain felt like mush.
Once I am done (I can’t tell you how good that feels!), I send in the new and improved manuscript. Now comes the copyedit, which thankfully is done by someone else. This is when I catch up on my housework and family. A week later and the manuscript comes back. I double check the copyeditor’s work. Hit send. A couple days later I receive the galleys. The galley is the official book (how it will appear in print and on ereaders). This is where I have one last chance to catch any last minute stuff (minor things, no changing scenes or names, just catching the occasional missing “a”).
I am awful at catching stuff. I blame it on how fast I read. My mind will automatically put in the missing word. I have a friend who is amazing at catching these kinds of details. Because of that, both of us read the galleys and catch whatever little things we can. Every time she gives me her list of errors, I find myself so thankful for her work. She is amazing!
I now put my seal of approval on the galleys. The manuscript is sent off to the print, the ebook is uploaded into Amazon, B&N, etc… And then release day arrives (*cue heavenly music*).
A book is not published in a lonely corner by one person. It is done by a group of people who love and care for the story. Will there be mistakes after the print? Yes, after all, it is humans who are producing it. But it will be the best book we could produce at this given moment in time. I will continue to grow as a writer and the publishing process will change. Even now, with the recent sale of Marcher Lord Press, I know there are changes in store for me and my books.
But for now, this is how I publish a novel.