I finally—finally!—finished the revisions for Ride to the Altar. This is the first time I’ve ever had to revise so extensively after writing “the end.” But I’m glad I did. I really love the results.
But even now, I’m not finished. From here, it goes to my critique partner. And if history proves itself as repetitive as everyone claims, I’ll have a few more revisions/corrections to make once she is done. And, after that, it’ll go to my copy editor, and I’ll have even more corrections to make.
Meanwhile, though, I can’t touch it, but I also can’t sit on my hands. While Katie works her magic with the content edit, I need to be working on other things.
Jane Friedman, one of the gurus for the indie-publishing industry, has a terrific checklist of things that need to be done before a book can be released. I found my copy of it the other day, which is a true blessing. Since I printed the list, I’ve helped release a couple of collections without it because I kept forgetting about it. So finding it now was perfect timing, because it’ll make things so much easier.
At this point, following Jane’s list (or my version of it—of course I amended some things), I need to write the book description for distribution sites and the back cover copy. I also want a few quick one-liners that I can whip out of my memory and spout out to potential customers at sales events.
You’d think these would be easy, but they’re not always. They have to be concise and enticing, while conveying enough of the story to pique the interest of a potential reader. I approach this the same way I do all my writing: get it down, let it rest, read and revise it—repeat until it sparkles.
This is also when I need to review and update my bio, and write my dedication and acknowledgments and any other extraneous matter I want to include. One of the things I’m learning to include in my publications is my “also-by” list. All these books, also by—Me! I include cover images and brief story descriptions, along with the links for each book. For the print version, I simply list where the books are available (someday, I hope to say, “Available everywhere books are sold,” but I’m not at that point yet. Sigh).
I’ve learned my lesson about previewing or advertising upcoming books, though it took me two tries before it finally sunk in. In 2016, I announced the release of Ride to the Altar in 2017, not realizing what a booger-bear it was going to be to write. In 2017, I released the prequel to my Southern Challenge series in our Coming Home collection and got blasted because the first in that series doesn’t release until 2019. Announcing the year may have been a mistake also because I sincerely doubt I’ll have it done by then. So, from now on, unless the novel is already in production, or at least content edit, I’ll never advertise a future book that way again.
Back to Jane’s list.
This is the time to think about the cover design. My cover designer has a form she sends to me to guide me through what she needs, and she likes for me to have images for her to work from. While I search for these images, I also look for other pics that I can use for:
- memes and ads for cyberspace (another place to use those quick one-liners)
- a Pinterest board
- banners for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites, my website, blog, and newsletter
- full- and table-sized posters for events
- mail-out ads
Jane recommends that we finalize the cover after the edit, but she also lists only a copy edit (her list may be geared toward nonfiction writers, but I’m not sure). Since I have content and copy edits, I can’t finalize anything yet. The cover designer needs a page count so she’ll know how wide to make the spine for the print version, and I won’t know that. So, after Katie finishes her edit and I revise according to her recommendations, I’ll send the manuscript off to my copy editor and continue with my image hunt.
While my copy editor has the manuscript, there’s something else I need to consider that isn’t on Jane’s list: pre-release promotion. By the time Janet takes over, I hope to have a solid date when my novel will release, so I need to solicit opportunities to promote it. Friends’ blogs, for instance. Magazine articles. And I need to organize my street team and marketing pals. I even need a few pre-release teases to start cranking up interest.
And, since the bulk of the hard edits are done, I can send out some not-quite-error-free ARCs for readers, so when the novel goes live, I can have a few reviews. Advance reader copies come in handy, because some of my advanced readers are beta readers, and they catch things the others don’t. But aside from the betas, another reason to use ARCs is to gain endorsements and a few praise-laden comments from other authors in my genre that, with their permission, I could also turn into ads.
This doesn’t cover everything that will happen between now and the time the novel releases, but it’s enough to make me feel overwhelmed right now, so I think I’ll quit listing them. Later, I may fill you in on other things on the to-do list: purchasing the ISBN, applying for the copyright and listing with the Library of Congress, formatting the print and digital versions, deciding between Kindle exclusivity vs. broad distribution, determining pre- and post-release pricing, etc. etc. etc.
Let the fun begin.