From Manuscript to Publication

A manuscript is a prepared piece of literature ready for publication.  It is edited and is the final copy which a writer is now happy to let the public read the work they have produced.

When sending your manuscript to a publisher, it is important to prepare yourself for rejection.  Not every publisher will see your vision for your book or even appreciate the hard work and effort you have put in to get it to where you have.  I tried three publishers and all three rejected my work.  As a Christian I knew that the God who had given me the vision and inspired me to write my book would somehow direct me to have it in print.

For those of you who are lead to seek a traditional publisher you will need to do three things:

1.      A covering letter including why they should be interested in your book, who is your audience and what have you done to market your book.

2.      A synopsis.  This is what your book is about.

3.      Three chapters from your manuscript in one and a half line spacing.

Out of the three traditional publishers, I got one response who wanted to read all of my manuscript.  A lady was assigned by them as a reader of manuscripts and would criticise accordingly.  Although some of her criticism was constructive i.e. too many characters, she brought her own feelings into it.  She did not believe I suffered from racism and became defensive, also she found the darkness of my life overwhelming.  She even said she never read a book like it and that nowhere had she read a testimony where someone had been through Rastafarianism to Christ and that she believed there was a market for my book.  But… it was still rejected.  The editor wanted me to right it again as though it was fiction.  This was not what God wanted.

Feeling disappointed, I went through my book one more time, taking out the characters that were not relevant and lay my book down to rest until one day I remembered someone had mentioned something about self publishing and the Lord began to convict me about doing this.  I felt that God did not want me to sell the rights of my story to another person and to change what He had done.

Scanning the internet for self publishing companies, I first came across Authorhouse and requested a brochure.  When the brochure arrived and I saw the prices I was horrified.  I could never have afforded them.  Later I continued my search and typed in free publishing services in the Google search bar.  I believed since God had given the vision, He would give the provision.  This was when I stumbled across Lulu.com which appeared too good to be true.  I registered with part fear that I may be giving my details to a scam website as I know nothing is free in this world.  I spoke with one of their recommended editors via email and sent her a sample of three chapters.  She recommended that Lulu was very good and that there was no catch.  She also said that my story was very good.  Although she was not a Christian, she was intrigued and wanted to read more.  She advised that I did not need a professional editor and that if I knew an English teacher I should ask them to look at it and correct my grammar.  Having a professional editor say this gave me great inspiration.  Besides I was anxious for someone to be honest in the right way.  I knew my book needed to be polished. 

A preacher once said you can do anything if you gather your information, so that was what I did and whilst reading everything on Lulu about prices, formatting, book covers, isbn numbers and marketing, I came across Bill a previous Sunday school teacher of mine who eventually edited my book with me.  And whilst we edited the final copy I began to format it according to the information I found on Lulu.

Self Publishing with Lulu.com

To self publish takes a lot of time and effort, but with a bit of determination you will get there in the end.  Lulu has a lot of information to enable you to have a completed piece of work ready for book format.

Templates – Your book will need to have the right template for printing.  Margins will need to be adjusted to give room for printing.  You can download a template from Lulu for your manuscript.  For my books I use the US standard trade which is 6 x 9in.  It is recommended as it can be distributing almost anywhere. I note that when you download a word template you also download a template for your book cover, making it easier for those who would like to design their own cover.

Formatting your manuscript – It was advised on lulu for book publishing to have drop caps at the beginning of each chapter.  This means the first letter on the page of every new chapter is in a larger font.  This font can be in a different font from the fonts used in the overall text. This gives your book some character.  Also is recommended to start each chapter a third down the page, again giving character to your book.

Seeing my book become real inspired me more to complete it and after Bill and I edited it, I read it through one more time before publishing my book.  Lulu makes the book into a PDF so that everything that is written cannot change. 

Book Cover

Once you have formatted and uploaded your work the next step is to add your book cover.  On Lulu.com you have the option to either choose a book cover from their cover gallery or upload your own.  I was amazed how easy it was.  The cover that I chose was one that was in the vision when God first showed me I was going to write my book, From Darkness to Light. So I happily uploaded it adding to it what I wanted with Bill writing the blurb on the back.

ISBN Number

The next step was buying an ISBN number which was free if Lulu was publisher and if not you pay a small amount if you are publisher.  I discovered this made no difference as to who was publisher because on Lulu you keep all copyrights and you are in fact still the publisher as you are self publishing.

An ISBN number is the International Standard Book Number.  This number is assigned to your publication so that it can be identified internationally as your book.  Without an ISBN number you will not be able to have your book in the distribution channels as without an identification, not only will you not be paid royalties, there would be no trace of who the publisher is.

This ISBN should be put on the copyright page and at the back of your book.  Lulu will automatically put this on the back with a barcode.  I now note that an ISBN number is assigned immediately once you start publication if you want one from Lulu.  This makes publication easier as you can add it to your work before uploading your file.

In Print

Now that you have published your work, it has to be approved.  With self publishing it is recommended that you order a copy before approving as once you approve it Lulu will have your book distributed on Amazon and many other online book stores once it is in their bibliographic feed.  So it is important to read through your finished production carefully.  The day my first book arrived I was elated.  But on reading through it, the mistakes were more noticeable.  So after re-editing it, I ordered another copy and again I was not happy with it.  After one more go at reading it through in book format, I had to surrender to the fact that it was not ever going to be perfect.  It was to be my first book!  So I approved it.

Seeing my book on Amazon and other online book stores appeared surreal.  But I had achieved my goal.  My book after seven years was in print and available to buy.

 

 

From Darkness to Light

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