You’ve imagined holding your book in your hands so many times. Since typing “The End” on the last page, you’ve thought of nothing else. But is your manuscript ready? What follows is my self-publishing checklist before your book sees the light of day.
Have I gotten feedback from my peers?
Writing in isolation doesn’t work for most writers. Some type of peer review, whether it be a critique group, beta readers, or your child’s English teacher, is needed to gain perspective. As writers it’s difficult to see the problems in our pages, whether it be a sluggish plot or a nonfiction book that isn’t structured properly. Find that reliable reader–preferably several–to give you feedback.
Have I made revisions based on that feedback?
Hopefully your readers have marked up your manuscript pages with comments and suggestions. Now it’s your turn to wade through the red ink with an objective eye and make those changes that make sense to the story. If need be, let the manuscript sit for a couple of weeks while you give some thought time to the comments your peers made.
Is my manuscript free from typos and other errors?
Nothing says amateur like a manuscript full of typos and misspelled words. This is not the time to be lazy. Read over your work carefully, making sure you fix simple errors. And if grammar isn’t your strong suit, find someone who knows her way around a grammar stylebook such as The Chicago Manual of Style.
Is my story the absolute best I can make it?
If you’ve done everything you can think of to correct mistakes, improve the writing, and make your book not just readable but compelling, go over it again. And maybe once more after that. The point is to give your best effort and produce a quality product, one you feel good about standing by.
Do I need a fresh pair of eyes to proofread or edit my manuscript?
If you’ve found the right people to serve as your beta readers and proofreaders, then chances are you don’t need a professional line edit. But if you have doubts, hire an editor. It never ceases to amaze me when writers spend hundreds of dollars on their book’s cover (as well they should) but completely ignore the editing (which they shouldn’t). Would you buy a house from a builder who focused on the landscaping and exterior of the home and skimped on the inside? Readers feel the same way about the books they purchase.
Bottom line, failing to get feedback before self-publishing won’t help you avoid the process. Inevitably you will get feedback at some point–in the form of reader reviews of your book. By then your reputation as a writer has already been formed.
Are you ready to publish? Tell us about it in the comments.
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