There are quite a few things that should be done between finishing the first draft of your manuscript and preparing it to be published in a print book or ebook format. I created a checklist for NaNoWriMo writers on what to do after writing 50,000 words for the November writing challenge. (To learn more about that challenge, visit http://nanowrimo.org/.) If you’d like the checklist, please send me a message; I would be happy to send you a copy.)
I feel there are three important steps that a writer needs to put their manuscript through before publishing, regardless if you are self-publishing or going down a more traditional route. First, you need to flex your creative muscles by reading a book you love, to see if your story includes the key points that excite you as a reader. Second, you need to have avid book readers sit down with your manuscript, and third, you need to craft an exciting book description.
Yes, I am serious. Go back and reread one or two of your favorite books. While you are reading, think about what makes this book intriguing to you. What draws you in? What do you love most about the dialogue or characters? Then reread your manuscript to see if you’ve evoked similar emotions through your own writing. This isn’t about shadowing another author’s writing style. This step is for you to focus on your own writer’s voice while including a solid structure for readers. It’s a good way to decide if you need another run through on your story.
Have other people, aside from your friends and family, read your polished manuscript. I do believe that you can receive some insightful and honest feedback from friends and family, but it is wise to locate some dedicated and impartial readers to read and critique your manuscript. You can find beta readers online by doing a simple Google search, but hopefully you are already forming relationships with book bloggers that you can reach out to. Get in touch with fellow indie writers, and ask them if they have any recommendations. Word of mouth has always proven to be the most effective way to connect with qualified people.
Craft Your Book Description
Book descriptions are not just blurbs about your story, they are the perfect map for identifying your audience. You have to know who your audience is in order to market your book. The book description also reflects your book genre, which is a critical factor in book promotion. You should put the same effort into your book description as you did into your novel. You don’t want to give away too much, yet you want there to be enough info that readers are enticed to pick up your book.