It’s taken blood, sweat, tears, and more caffeine than a human should legally be allowed to consume, but you did it. You completed the final draft of your novel.
Now it’s time to upload it to Kindle Direct Publishing and let the dollars and fame roll in, right?
Not so fast. Gaze upon all of the books that have ended up at the same destination in the last month. Gaze, scroll, and gaze some more. Think about the months or years of effort each entry represents. This is the endless stream of publication that your novel will soon be joining.
After staring into the abyss and contemplating an easier hobby for awhile, let’s move on to the things you can do to make your book stand out and be the best it can be.
Hire an Editor
Writing a novel is hard work. It requires a lot of creativity, time, and endless revisions. At this point, the one thing you can’t give to your book anymore is the one thing it so desperately needs: a fresh perspective.
Fortunately there is an entire profession dedicated to doing exactly this, and will even help you fix the problems they come across in your work! These magical beings are called editors, and finding the right one for you is similar to cultivating a working relationship with any professional. That is to say, search around a lot and reach out to ones that you feel would be a good match for what you are doing.
Many editors work freelance, meaning the terminology from editor to editor may be different in terms of types of edit offered. It’s worth reading their websites or profiles in full to understand their specific philosophy, and whether the kinds of edit they offer match up with what you would like.
In general, however, your draft should already be the best that you can possibly make it before involving another professional. Editors will not weave an unfinished or first draft into gold and will likely be irritated to be expected to do such a thing.
So where does one find editors? Search! Red Adept Editing is spoken highly of in writing forums, but many other organizations and individuals are out there.
Here are some editor directories to help you get started.
You can also look for editors on freelancing sites, such as Reedsy, Upwork, and Fiverr.
A properly edited draft will help you stand out among a crowd of messes with typos, run-ons, and dearths of punctuation. Not to mention it will make your novel a more pleasant reading experience for your audience!
Even if you are already confident in your grammatical chops, an editor will give you the external perspective that your potential readers will be coming from. Unlike your potential readers, however, editors will not quietly click away without giving you the information you need to learn how to make your book all the more lovable.
Format Your eBook
Have you ever opened a book on your favorite screen and it turned into an unreadable mess?
Do you want your readers to have that experience?
Hopefully not. And, unfortunately, you also don’t have access to the near-infinite number of devices and device combinations that someone could possibly read your book on.
Fortunately, there are professionals who have a handle on this dark magic, and they are known as eBook formatting services. Not quite as catchy as editor, sure, but maybe we can work together to bring “digital typesetter” or “word artist” into common nomenclature.
You may have discovered during your editing adventure that many editors also offer eBook formatting services. If so, take the upgrade! Otherwise, plenty of other services are a search away.
And of course you can find freelancers on Fiverr and Upwork.
Hire a Cover Artist
Now that your words are in order, it’s time to make sure the package is enticing.
In spite of conventional wisdom, many of us do judge a book by its cover — or at least, judge whether it’s worth giving a second look.
Aside from being a pretty face, covers convey important information to potential readers. For example, if you look at the covers of popular books, you’ll find that you can often discern what kind of genre the book is from the cover alone. Sci-fi and fantasy covers look different to literary fiction books, which in turn look different to self-help books, which look different to autobiographies and non-fiction.
Covers don’t just help you stand out, they help you reach out to your target audience.
Fortunately, there are once again professionals to help, and they are known as book cover designers.
At this point you’re probably familiar and comfortable with finding said professionals. In fact, you might have found editing or formatting packages that also offer cover design! Or perhaps you’ve been recommended one from one of your other professionals. This is known as networking. Do not fear it.
If you haven’t happened across one by now, though, that’s fine! Fiverr and Upwork are still there for you.
Bonus: Create a Website
So, you’ve uploaded your edited and formatted eBook with a professional cover and polished blurb and are obsessively refreshing your stats to see how it does.
Why not distract yourself — and help future you — by creating a website? A web presence is important to help people find you, and it can serve as a hub for everything about you, your book, and anything else you might write in the future.
Squarespace is a popular website builder that doesn’t require you to have a degree in web design to get started.
Some ideas for information to put on your author website:
- Your bio
- Your email
- Links to your social media
- Excerpts of your current or future books
- Links to buy your book! (of course)
- Short stories
- Your own book recommendations
Registering your own domain and creating even a basic author website will give you and your book more legitimacy. It also offers readers additional content and provides a way for people to get in touch... hopefully, to tell you how much they loved your book!