6 Important Things Every Author Should Know Before Publishing Their Work

Publishing a book is an exciting and often overwhelming journey, especially for first-time authors. It’s not just about writing a compelling story; it involves understanding the intricacies of the publishing world to ensure your work reaches the right audience and achieves its full potential. Here are six essential things every author should know before taking the plunge into publishing their work.

1. Understand Your Publishing Options

Before you publish, it's crucial to understand the different routes available. The two primary paths are traditional publishing and self-publishing. However, each of these routes has multiple facets, offering diverse opportunities and challenges that authors must navigate carefully.

Traditional Publishing

In traditional publishing, an author submits their manuscript to literary agents or directly to publishing houses, hoping for a contract. This submission process can be meticulous and often requires a polished query letter, a strong synopsis, and sometimes a detailed book proposal. If a literary agent expresses interest, they will typically help refine the manuscript and represent the author in negotiations with publishers.

One of the significant advantages of traditional publishing is the backing of an established publishing house, which often comes with comprehensive support—editing, design, distribution, and marketing are all handled by the publisher. An accepted manuscript often leads to the author receiving an advance against future royalties, providing financial relief during the book's production phase. However, this route is highly competitive; receiving numerous rejections before an acceptance is common. The process can also be lengthy, involving multiple rounds of revisions and negotiations which could span several months or even years.

Traditional publishers have extensive distribution networks, ensuring that books reach bookstores, libraries, and online retailers. This can significantly enhance an author's visibility and credibility. Furthermore, traditional publishing can open doors for literary awards and reviews in prestigious publications, adding further value to the author's career.


Self-publishing offers more control and faster turnaround times. Authors can publish their work through various platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), IngramSpark, or Kobo. This route requires authors to manage or outsource multiple components of the publishing process, from editing and cover design to formatting and marketing.

One of the primary attractions of self-publishing is the higher royalty rates compared to traditional publishing. Authors can earn up to 70% of the book's sale price, significantly more than the typical 10-15% offered by traditional publishers. However, this higher earning potential comes with its challenges. The author upfront handles all costs related to production, requiring a solid financial investment in professional editing, design, and marketing services.

The self-publishing market has grown exponentially, providing authors with various tools and resources to publish their books. This growth has democratized the publishing process, allowing authors to quickly bring their vision to life without gatekeepers. However, the ease of access means a crowded market, making it essential for authors to create high-quality work and develop effective marketing strategies to stand out.

Additionally, self-published authors must be adept at using digital marketing tools and social media platforms to build their audience. This requires a comprehensive understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media marketing, and email campaigns. While this may seem daunting, numerous online courses and communities offer support and guidance for self-publishing authors.

Hybrid Publishing

An emerging option is hybrid publishing, which combines elements of both traditional and self-publishing. Hybrid publishers typically offer a more collaborative approach, often providing services like editing, design, and distribution in exchange for a fee or a share in the book's royalties. This allows authors to retain more control and potentially higher earnings while benefiting from professional publishing services.

Choosing the right path involves evaluating your goals, resources, and readiness to engage with the publishing process's multifaceted nature. Understanding your publishing options equips you with the knowledge to make informed decisions and strategically plan your journey from manuscript to market.

2. Invest in Professional Editing

No matter how skilled you are at writing, professional editing is non-negotiable. A well-edited book stands out significantly in terms of quality and readability, which are critical for gaining positive reviews and building a loyal readership. Professional editing involves different stages, each addressing unique aspects of the manuscript. 

Types of Editing

Developmental Editing: This is the most intensive form of editing, focusing on the overall structure, plot, characters, and pacing. The editor will provide feedback on the core elements of your story, helping you refine your manuscript to create a compelling narrative arc and well-defined characters. Developmental editing often involves big-picture changes and can lead to substantial revisions.

Line Editing: Once the manuscript’s structure is solid, line editing addresses the style, tone, and clarity at the sentence and paragraph level. It ensures consistency in the flow of the narrative, making the prose more polished and engaging. This stage improves the overall readability, making sure your voice as an author is effectively conveyed.

Copy Editing: Copy editing focuses on the technical aspects of writing, addressing grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistency. This step is crucial for maintaining a professional standard. Copy editors also check for factual accuracy and ensure that the manuscript adheres to industry standards and style guidelines.

Proofreading: This is the final polish, catching any remaining errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting. Proofreading is essential for producing a clean, professional final product that meets the reader's expectations and avoids distractions that could detract from the reading experience.

Investing in professional editing ensures your manuscript is polished and ready for publication. It significantly impacts your book’s success, enhancing your credibility as an author and ensuring your work stands out in a competitive market. A well-edited book not only enhances the reader's experience but also increases its chances of becoming a critical and commercial success.

3. Create a Compelling Book Cover

Your book cover is the first impression potential readers will have of your work. It needs to be eye-catching, professional, and reflective of your genre. A poorly designed cover can deter readers, no matter how great the content is inside.

Key Elements of a Great Book Cover

  • Title and Author Name: Should be clear and readable.
  • Imagery: Relevant to the book’s theme and genre.
  • Typography: Consistent with the tone of the book.
  • Color Scheme: This should evoke the right emotions and stand out in thumbnails.

Consider hiring a professional cover designer who understands the market and can create a cover that sells.

4. Use Incoming Earnings Calculator

Understanding your potential earnings is crucial for setting realistic expectations and planning your budget. Most self-publishing platforms offer royalty calculators to help you estimate your income based on different pricing and distribution scenarios. If you sell on Amazon, Amazon handles all aspects of printing and then pays you a net royalty per sale, as explained on the https://www.publishing.com/kdp-royalty-calculator website. This tool allows you to input variables such as the list price, delivery costs, and printing expenses to see what your take-home earnings would be per book sold.

Using these calculators helps you:

  • Set competitive pricing while understanding your profit margins.

  • Evaluate the impact of different distribution options.

  • Plan marketing budgets based on projected income.

By having a clear picture of potential earnings, you can make informed decisions about your book's pricing and marketing strategies.

5. Craft a Solid Marketing Plan

Marketing is crucial to your book’s success, especially in the crowded marketplace of self-publishing. A robust marketing plan can help you reach your target audience, build anticipation, and drive sales.

Essential Components of a Marketing Plan

  • Author Platform: Build an online presence through a website, blog, and social media profiles.
  • Email List: Collect email addresses from potential readers and keep them engaged with updates, teasers, and exclusive content.
  • Book Launch: Plan a launch strategy that includes pre-orders, launch events, and promotions.
  • Advertising: Utilize platforms like Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads, and BookBub to reach a broader audience.
  • Reviews: Send Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to book bloggers, influencers, and reviewers to generate buzz and collect early reviews.
  • Consistent and strategic marketing efforts are key to building momentum and sustaining long-term sales.

6. Protect Your Intellectual Property

As an author, your work is your intellectual property, and it’s vital to protect it. Copyrighting your book ensures that you have legal ownership and can take action against unauthorized use.

Steps to Protect Your Work

  • Copyright Registration: Officially register your book with the copyright office in your country. In the U.S., this can be done through the U.S. Copyright Office.
  • ISBN: Obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) for your book, which is essential for distribution and sales tracking.
  • Contracts: Ensure any contracts with editors, designers, and publishers clearly outline terms, rights, and compensation.

Taking these steps protects your work and ensures you retain control over how it’s used and distributed.

Publishing a book is a rewarding endeavor, but it requires careful planning and execution. By understanding your publishing options, investing in professional editing, creating a compelling cover, using earnings calculators, crafting a solid marketing plan, and protecting your intellectual property, you can navigate the publishing landscape with confidence and set your book up for success. Remember, every successful author started where you are now. With dedication, research, and the right strategies, you can turn your manuscript into a published work that resonates with readers and achieves your publishing goals. Happy writing and publishing!

6 Important Things Every Author Should Know Before Publishing Their Work 6 Important Things Every Author Should Know Before Publishing Their Work Reviewed by Opus Web Design on May 21, 2024 Rating: 5

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