How does a book become a book? – part one

Books become books in different ways, but they usually take the same general path. But how does that work? Here’s a general sense from a manuscript to a book in hand.

#1 – Decide trade vs self-publishing

If you want to go into trade publishing, your next step is to get a literary agent.

Once you get an agent interested in your work, make sure the agent is as excited about your manuscript as you are. Make sure they also have a vision for your work. Interview them. There are tons of agents out there, but not every agent is the best for you. Make sure you get one that will represent you well; you deserve it.

If you’re even thinking about trade publishing, I’d start writing query letters now. The challenge of describing your manuscript’s plot in about 300 words is one that opens your eyes. I learned a lot about my story from writing different queries. It helps point out issues with plot and characters’ goals if you have them.

Writing a synopsis for the agent is also good to start early. They’re one of the hardest things to write well. Get as much practice as you can.

If you’re not going into trade publishing, you have many more options, including self-publishing and university presses.

For this, I’d look at how much money you can put into the manuscript. For example, with self-publishing, you do everything yourself. You pay for the rounds of edits, cover design, marketing, and more. However, for university presses and indie presses, you don’t have to pay much if at all. There is less pressure on you.

#2 – Getting PROFESSIONAL editors

If you’re going for the trade publishing route, your agent will reach out to editors. They should know (or be researching) the best editors and publishing houses for your book. The agent will work on your novel with you a bit beforehand to polish it up as much as possible.

You get an editor and publisher at the same time usually. Each publishing house will have their own editors that they work with. Even though you’ll have an editor, you will still work with your agent. Your agent represents you until the end.

If you’re going with a small publishing house, the publisher will have an editor for your manuscript. You don’t have to find anyone.

If you’re not going with a publishing house, you will be responsible for finding editors. At the least, manuscripts usually get a copy editor and a proofreader. Developmental editors can also be useful if your manuscript needs one.

This can get pricey, so be careful. Most professional editors charge at least two cents per word (which equals to about twenty dollars an hour). If it’s anything below that, the editor is not charging their worth.

You should also get a sample edit from any editor beforehand to see if they work well with your manuscript. Just cause they’re a good editor doesn’t mean they’re the editor for you.


Hopefully this helps! My next two posts will be the next two parts! Follow along to learn more about the process.

Click here for part two.

10 thoughts on “How does a book become a book? – part one

  1. Hey Robin, I have a work of fiction, a fully ready manuscript with 83K words. I want to go the small publishing house route. Any suggestions – I have written many query letters but it is like with zero relationship, throwing cold communication.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this informative post. I’ve been invited to speak for 10 minutes at my work’s creative writing group this evening concerning my experiences of self-publishing, so I was interested to read your thoughts on the subject of publishing and related matters. I always pay to have my manuscripts proof read. It avoids negative comments by reviewers concerning typos and other errors, and I’d agree with you about the importance of having one’s work edited. Best wishes, Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s