Once you have decided you want to author a book, you’ve only begin making decisions. Choices, choices, choices.
How many words?
Maybe you already have a manuscript.
Hopefully you’ve written it in Word, so it can be shared and distributed. If you use Times New Roman in 12 point type, which we recommend, you’ll average 250-300 words per page. Check the word count. Here’s what’s typical depending on your book’s age range.
Picture Books (Age: 0-5): Less than 300 for babies. Max 500 words for toddlers. Max 1000 words for preschoolers.
Early Readers (Age: 5-7): These usually have a lot of illustrations. Word counts range from 3,000 to absolute max 5,000.
Chapter Books/Young Readers (Age: 6-9): Less than 10,000. Stories are divided into chapters.
Middle Grade (Age: 9-12): 30,000 to 60,000, with the lower word count being a bit safer.
Young Teen (Age 12-15): Fewer than 70,000; for fantasy or sci-fi, can be pushed to 90,000.
Young Adult (Age 14 and up): Fewer than 70,000; for fantasy or sci-fi, can be pushed to 90,000. Y.A books have a teenage protagonist, but be aware that most of your readers are actually adults.
Another set of eyes
Are you open to the idea of an editor who’s job it is to suggest broad changes? If you’re lucky, you have a friend who can be objective and give you helpful feedback – for free. If not, we suggest you find a content editor. Everyone needs an editor.
Or perhaps you’re confident in the overall direction of your book, but the idea of typos or grammatical mistakes is distressing. You’ll want an eagle-eyed copy editor who is concerned mainly with spelling, grammar and clarity.
We can recommend professionals to any author who wants to be confident that their manuscript is ready to go.
One tip: Distribute your manuscript in sequence. It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many writers send out their text simultaneously, and then have to reconcile everyone’s edits into one document again. Once the text is given to a designer, avoid making more changes on your Word document. The designer won’t want to re-flow all the text because you made changes, because then all the styling applied — from em dashes to drop caps — have to be applied again.
Designing your book
The inside of a book can look pretty basic at first. Do you even need a designer? The answer is yes, and beyond that, a designer who specializes in book interiors — what we call the inside pages of the book.
Typography is the great equalizer. Your book should look just as good as the New York Times bestsellers. Ever open a book and feel “turned off” somehow by the look of the inside pages? You might not be able to put your finger on the problem, but chances are the pages were designed by an amateur who hasn’t grasped the aesthetic of a good book.
Readers love to read, and they appreciate the grace of a beautiful book. You owe it to your readers to make the page pleasant to spend time with.
Then there’s the cover. Actually, two covers. The front cover and the back cover. Do you hire an illustrator? Design with simple type? Put your photo and bio on the back? Some blurbs from readers? Get thee to a bookstore, or even browse Amazon, and get an idea of what strike you. The choices are endless. Cover design can cost as much as printing, but you have options. Speaking of printing …
Printing your book
You don’t have to pay anything up front to get your book in front of a readers. That’s because CreateSpace prints your book “on-demand,” when a buyer pushes the “buy now” button. CreateSpace then takes a large chunk of the payment, but you are free of any worries about unsold books crated in your spare room, much less fulfillment — actually shipping your book to a reader.
But if you want to maximize your profit, that’s just what you’d have to do. Set up a mini-warehouse, and head to the UPS store every time you have a sale.
Some of our authors have split the difference. They spring for a short-run printing, and take their copies to book fairs, signings and media outlets. They also have copies to give as gifts or handouts to clients.
Then, CreateSpace sells their on-demand copies on its own distribution channel. Again, you’re paying for their service out of your royalty, but you’re free to price the book anyway you like, as long as CreateSpace’s minimum is covered.
Marketing your book
If you’re serious about marketing, you’ve considered this before writing the book. That is, you’ve considered its sales potential ahead of time. Rather than writing completely out of self-expression, only to later decide that is needs to catch on with the public.
A book publicist is a busy person, but he or she knows the ropes and has connections in all sorts of media. Writers, TV hosts and bloggers are constantly looking for topics, so it’s very possible you can find them yourself and get yourself some exposure, too. It depends on your resources — do you have the budget, time and energy to hustle your book?