Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Can you believe Far Below Human Eyes has gone from THIS to this?
I have a hard time believing it myself.
Recently, I had to write an informative speech for a class that I’m taking. The last couple of days, I’ve gotten a ton questions about what the publishing process is like, so I figured summing it up in a short article could be helpful!
I only covered three main points, but maybe this can shed light on the work it takes to get a published book into your hands. Here it is!
“Have you published your book yet?”
“I just saw you yesterday—”
I hear this question too often. Not that interest in my novel is bad, but when people assume publishing is a one-step process, it can be frustrating. Imagine your daily homework load doubled or tripled, and you’ll get an accurate picture of the amount of work it takes to publish a book. Yet most people just don’t know what it’s like simply because they don’t have the experience—it’s not their fault.
As an author myself, I can assure you that publishing is not as glamorous as it looks. Every step in the process, from submission and editing, to formatting is a challenge and often takes months. But it’s useful to understand the publishing world—81% of Americans claim they want to write a book eventually, and understanding that world can give you a serious advantage if you ever want to get published. And even though publishing a book is thrilling, the work behind the scenes looks much different than you would expect. How? Let’s dive in.
First, submission. Submitting my book for publication is one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.
Imagine: you’ve written a story that isn’t as terrific as you’d like, and you’re sending it to a panel of professionals in New York, a mystical place you’ve never been.
When I sent my novel into Morgan James Publishing, I had to follow a list of requirements like this. This was actually pulled directly off their website.
Not only this, but the publishing firm will often ask you a series of personal questions alongside your submission. Questions like, What is your goal for this novel? I don’t know, to get it published?? What are your credentials? I don’t even have a high school diploma yet, what should I say?? Or, how would you summarize your book? How I am supposed to take 70,000 words and turn them into 20??
Then, following submission, you wait. And wait. And wait. Countless nerve-wracking weeks will pass as you await rejection after rejection after rejection. You start counting your “no’s.”
And suddenly, you’re on your way to having your book in your hands, in print, with your name on the cover. But the work has only just begun.
Next, editing. Published novels can go through 3 to 30 drafts, and each one takes months to complete. Personally, I went through seven different drafts for Far Below Human Eyes. Each draft is better than the one before. After I was accepted into Morgan James Publishing, I had to revise my novel three more times. The first revision was organized by a professional editor.
Depending on the extent of the revision, an editor can charge $25 to $80 an hour. My editor charged a little less, but I still had to save up. Her work transformed my novel completely, though.
After my editor finished, I went through the novel on my own and revised it a second time. I responded to my editor’s comments and followed her suggestions. Let me tell you, having a professional criticize your best work isn’t the most fun. There were several times my editor would just plainly admit that a sentence was weird. That is their job—to be frank and straightforward. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary. A common phrase in the writing world is “kill your darlings.” In order to have a good book, you need to chop off parts you cherish in order to appeal to your audience in the right way.
Lastly, I had my dad read through Far Below Human Eyes as a final revision. This stage took the longest, mostly because my dad edited only in his free time. But finally—finally—I finished editing.
Making your novel sound good is only part of the process. It’s almost equally important that you make it look good, too—thus leading us to the third step in the publishing process: formatting.
I’m going to be honest: formatting is exhausting. But understanding this step can give you the upper hand in the publishing world. Making the text look good includes indentation, bold and italics, table of contents, and so much more.
Formatting also applies to the images you include in your novel. My author photo had to be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch, used in printing), and adjusting that is tricky when you don’t have access to Photoshop. Thankfully, my art teacher, Mr. H, helped me out with that one:-) I also had to adjust the dimensions and dpi on the map image at the front of the book.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. I would have covered Marketing as well, a whole other sphere of the publishing process, if I had the time. There is so much that goes into bringing a book into your hands, but it’s often behind the scenes.
I don’t detail this process for you to boast about my own efforts. Publishing has been a learning process, and I’ve made too many mistakes to count. No, I detail this process so you can understand and eventually use the information I’ve presented. Even though publishing is so, so exciting, the work behind the scenes is so much different than you would expect. And if you ever want to tell a story of your own, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into.
The world of publishing is exhilarating and challenging. But it’s worth the effort when your book finally makes it to your own hands. When people read your story and talk about it with their families at dinner. When you see the gift God has given you manifested in 300 printed pages. And that is why publishing is an endeavor worth pursuing.
Hopefully now you know much more than you did about the publishing world! It’s a crazy, awesome, thrilling, stressful, challenging, and amazing process and I am so blessed to have the opportunity.
Thanks for reading!