My mom, Jane, published her first book for her 18th birthday and you can publish a book too!
Born on February 29th, my mother is a Leap Year baby, so technically she just turned 18 this year. As Leap Year 2020 approached, she decided it was time to make one of her dreams come true and publish a book. You see, my mother has talked about writing a book for years. She even participates in a local writing class to hone the skills needed and connect with other writing enthusiasts in her hometown. While many book ideas have come and gone over the years, a book about Leap Year has stood the test of time. So, as February 29th grew near, and with little time to spare, she crafted “LEAP,” a Leap Year tale for children and adults to enjoy. Her printed books arrived just in time for her birthday celebration. A long-time dream came true and her book has been a huge success with friends and family.
As Jane’s daughter and helper, I helped transform her manuscript into the final product. Do you have a story that is bigger than a family memory that you want to share with the world? Let me review the process with you.
Publish a Book Step One – Write the Book
Not to simplify the process, but in order to publish a book, you have to first write the content! I recommend writing every day. Engaging in daily writing exercises will help improve your writing skills and keep the creativity flowing. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary event. My mother joined a class in her hometown. Many libraries and community centers offer classes and ways to connect with other aspiring authors. The internet provides endless opportunities as well. For example, NaNoWriMo is an online “nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds – on and off the page.”
Once you have a topic, take some time to think about what you want to cover and create an outline to help keep you on track. An outline helps to break the writing into smaller sections. Next, determine what type of art or images will go along with your content. My mother featured drawings from her grandchildren. Photographs from the past compliment historical pieces, biographies and autobiographies. HOPE Organizing can help you organize your photo collection, so you will be able to find the perfect photo with ease.
- Determine your completion date – be sure to allow enough time for proofreading, editing and shipping. Plan a full month to be safe. If you want the book completed and ready to sell by July 1st, you will want to have writing done by June 1st for example.
- Secure an accountability partner to help set goals and keep you on track.
- Find someone to help you with your book design. They will help you think of things to keep in mind while writing. HOPE Organizing is here to assist with your design needs.
- Use Word or Google Docs to write your content. (this allows for content to easily be copied into a design program)
Publish a Book Step Two – Proofread and Edit
While there are many different writing styles and approaches, correct spelling and clear, concise content are imperative to your book’s success. Once you complete the writing, take a break and then return with fresh eyes to proofread. Our brain knows what we intended to say and sometimes auto corrects while we read, especially when we are the author. So it is a good idea to ask others to proofread with you. After you have thoroughly checked and corrected any spelling, grammatical or context issues, you are ready for Step Three.
- When proofreading, read out loud. If can take it a step further by recording yourself and then listening to it again later.
- Share to others via Google Docs, so that comments can be seen by everyone in one place. Sometimes suggestions are based on preference, so having it all in one place will help you determine if it is a necessary change, popular suggestion or individual preference.
- If you didn’t reach out to someone with design knowledge in the beginning, it is time. HOPE Organizing is here to assist with your design needs.
- Check out grammar checking resources available like Grammarly.
Publish a Book Step Three – Design and Prototype
HOPE Organizing recommends Blurb. Blurb makes it easy to create the perfect number of books to meet your goals. You can create Photo Books, Trade Books, Magazines or eBooks. My mother chose the Trade Book option. All trade books come with a free ISBN and barcode, are available for eBook conversion and can be sold directly through Blurb. It is during this stage that you will need to determine how your book will look. Softcover, Hardcover, print quality, and more will determine finished product and cost. You can order a swatch kit to see (and feel) the different options for $7.95 (able to be applied to your book purchase). Once you have created the book of your dreams, order a copy to be sent to you. This finished product preview will take you to Step Four.
- Order the swatch kit in advance to have preliminary decisions made in advance. You don’t have to wait to have your content completed.
- Allow two weeks from upload to receive a preview copy. Expedited shipping may be available, but at an extra expense.
- Not sure about something? It is better to order a copy of each option and see for yourself how it will look on the final product. For my mother’s book we ordered two books. One with Standard and one with Economy printing to determine what worked best for her project.
- Take some time to look over all that Blurb has to offer. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to Blurb or contact HOPE Organizing for help. You have come so far, there is no turning back now!
Publish a Book Step Four – Proofread and Edit (Again)
This isn’t a duplication error. Take the time to review, proofread and edit your content a second time once your preview book(s) arrive. If you recruited friends, family or colleagues during the first round, have them look it over again as well. In addition, if you can, have a new person review it to give a fresh perspective. Hopefully, if you proofread with diligence the first time, there won’t be much that needs to be changed during this stage. If nothing needs to be corrected, you can go into the final stage with peace-of-mind that it is ready to be published.
- The second proofreading sessions shouldn’t take as long as the first, however you will want to schedule the time to really go over the book from cover to cover, so plan to take at least a week.
- Recruit several trusted individuals to review and give them a deadline. Be willing to move ahead if someone is not able to meet the timeline obligation. Unexpected things can happen but you don’t want your project to be delayed because of it.
Publish a Book Step Five – Order Time!
Congratulations! You are ready to order your book! Blurb gives several options to choose from and allows you to buy one or many depending on how you want to sell your book. Once you have placed the order give yourself a pat on the back and start planning your book launch party.
- Make sure to allow enough time for shipping when planning a book signing or launch party. We recommend a minimum of 3 weeks to be safe.
- Be sure to consult with a tax expert regarding how to best go about selling your books.
- You can refer people directly to Blurb for order fulfillment. They will pay you’re your profit via PayPal. If you don’t have an account, you will want to set one up and familiarize yourself with their terms and conditions.
- Decide which Social Media accounts you want to set up to promote your book. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all popular ways to get the word out.
- If you are selling in person, make sure you charge or include sales tax.
- It may be easier (and cheaper) to have an out-of-area order fulfilled by Blurb directly than ship it yourself.
Our three cents:
The book publishing process has never been easier. You no longer need a publisher – with Blurb and HOPE Organizing, you can successfully self-publish your book. Whether the goal is to create a legacy for future generations; tackle a life-long goal; or create income from book sale profits, you can do it! In fact, the potential for profit is real. Tell Blurb the amount you want to profit per book, and they will price it accordingly so that you will meet that goal (even when they run promotions).
We found that time was a big factor. Make sure you set realistic goals to ensure that the books will arrive by your book launch party. Delays happen, so more time is better when it comes to setting up a schedule.
Finally, we strongly recommend collaborating with someone that understands design. Creating your book from the beginning with the end design in mind will produce the best results. My mother dove into the process and created more of a scrapbook style format. In the end, it turned out okay and fine and worked for the book, however, it did produce extra challenges in the final design and editing stages that could have been avoided with some pre-planning.
We are here to help
If you share a dream to write a book like my mother, Jane, now is the time! Get started today and know that HOPE Organizing is here to help with your images and design needs. We can take your content and images and lay it out for you using InDesign and Lightroom. The result will be a professional and polished book that you can be proud to share with others. We also offer scanning and digital photo organizational services to help you have quick access to the images that contribute to the story you have been wanting to tell. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you meet your goals.
What a unique service to help people get their books written and published! Your mom is impressing me!! When I was 18 I was just trying to curl my hair and get it to be big and poofy (I never succeeded, by the way.) I think so many of us dream of writing a book, and this makes it seem within reach. Thanks so much for sharing!
I was just talking about this with my husband the other day. I’ve often thought about publishing a book and it’d be fun to collaborate when I get started!
First of all, kudos to your mom for bringing her dream to fruition. And how wonderful that you helped her with that process. Blurb looks like a fantastic platform and resource! I published my book about a decade ago, and things have changed so much since then. If I ever publish another book (it could happen), I’ll do a deeper dive into Blurb.
Writing and publishing a book is a monumental project. Congratulations to your mom. It’s not in my wheelhouse but you offered great advice.