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You've written a book...Now what?

When you reach that momentous day where you finally finish your book and the manuscript is as polished and ready as you’re going to be able to get it, you’ll find yourself asking the question: Now what do I do?

I faced this quandary many years ago when I finished my first manuscript and wanted to turn it into a real book to share with the universe, but even as a teenager I already knew the likelihood of making that dream a reality was going to be near impossible with the way the publishing world works, or rather, worked, in the 90s. Even at that age I knew I didn’t want to hand over the rights to my books to somebody else, allowing them to call the shots and decide the fate of my baby. I’ve always felt very protective of any of my creative work and was always reluctant to hand it over to somebody else to have control of. I believed that anything I created should always be owned by me, as should be the case for every other writer, singer, photographer, artist, creative-type, etc. We pour our hearts and souls and literal tears into our work and it’s only natural that we’re going to be protective of what happens to it next. So how do you go about putting your writing out there for the world to enjoy along with you?

When I was living in Canada, I discovered this wonderful new concept called self-publishing. It hadn’t reached Australian shores yet, but I quickly did my research and was fascinated by the concept of retaining the rights of my books and being able to have it printed and bound into an actual book to share, and hopefully, become an actual source of income. Thankfully the process of publishing your manuscript yourself has evolved by leaps and bounds these days and there are a few different ways you can go about making your dream a printed reality. The traditional way of publishing through a publishing house is obviously still an option and many writers still go that route when they publish, preferring to have the publishers do all the work, make all the decisions and take care of the marketing and advertising of the book. Unfortunately, with that option, you sign the book over to the big guys, so they’re in charge and naturally, they make all the money while you get a tiny amount for each book. But hey, you’re published still, and that’s amazing!

Next there’s self-publishing, where you retain the rights and after the outlay for the printing costs, all the money goes to you. Much more money coming your way, but with that is the hard work ahead of you as you’re 100% responsible for design, editing, copyediting, proofreading and layout, then after that part is done, you’re also wholly and solely in charge of marketing, networking, promoting and every single step along the way. The downside is that the finished books can sometimes look amateurish and sadly that often makes people overlook the final product, which is heart-breaking for the writer, as the story inside could be phenomenal and the next bestseller to take the world by storm. The old saying about judging a book by it’s cover very much rings true and can make or break you in this option of publishing.

Then, somewhere in the middle of these two publishing options is a third one, called Assisted Independent Publishing. This is the option I went with. My method of publishing sees me paired with who I quite frankly think is the most amazing publishing team in the world (No, I’m not being paid to say this by the way haha). Every step of the way I’ve had Ocean and his kickarse team supporting me, guiding and educating me along each step of the publishing journey and having my back on every decision I have to make, but the outstanding part of all this is that I retain the ownership of my book. That for me was the most important part of becoming a published author. I get the benefit of the expertise of Ocean and his team who put their name on my book, ensuring it’s edited, laid out, printed and presented to industry standards, making my finished book one that is professional and just like the bestsellers sitting on the shelves of every bookstore, just waiting for Hostage to join them on the shelf beside them (once again, manifesting what I want through positive thinking!!).

Since starting my publishing journey at the beginning of 2022 I’ve learnt so much about the process that writers go through. I always knew the hard work didn’t stop when you finished writing the book, but by travelling this road myself now, I’ve learnt just how much work goes in behind the scenes. The amount of skilled professionals at my publishers who have gone over my manuscript to ensure the story is polished to perfection, the designers who create the book covers, the websites, promotional material, videos, eBooks, audiobooks, etc, the marketing expert who is available to mentor me every single step along the way to ensure I’m doing everything I can to have a successful launch, my publishing assistant who is without a doubt the most incredible woman I know, who works so hard taking care of not only me, but the other authors who are under her loving wing, and that’s just the handful of things that have popped into my head as I write this. Everything is done with support and belief in me as the writer and we’re not even done yet! There’s a lot of work that goes into assisted independent publishing, but I’m so pleased I chose this route to publish my first book, and I 100% will be with the same publishers for my next and each subsequent book after that.

My own faith in myself and my abilities has grown exponentially as I’ve worked alongside my A-Team, not only in my ability to market myself and my product and create a brand, which is exactly what you’re doing when you market your product and your skills. But more importantly, my ability as a writer. I’ve always been good at writing, it’s something I’ve known is my talent since I was a kid. I can confidently say that after walking through the four-step editing process with my manuscript, I’ve come out the other side a better writer. This has been an insanely busy and productive year for me! Not only have I finalised and polished Hostage to prepare it for publishing, but while doing that I’ve completed two novellas, wrote the final draft of another of my stories that I wrote years ago and a couple of weeks ago, completed another full novel that I started recently. Don’t ask me where the energy for doing all this has come from, because I couldn’t tell you. I’ve always been a night owl and I often stay up all night, pulling all-nighters when I write. I forget to check the time as I’m in the writing zone and lose all track of what hour it is, then suddenly the sun is peaking around the corner of the blinds in my office and it’s a new day. This year I’ve been doing that more and more as stories have been pouring out of me and I haven’t wanted to waste the creative energy I’ve had coursing through my veins. The work I’ve been producing has all benefited from the feedback and guidance I’ve received from my editors and I’m so grateful to them for everything they’ve taught me. As I’m writing I hear their feedback and consider how it applies to the new stories I’m putting on paper. Funnily enough, I do the exact same thing when I’m editing my photography. I hear my two favourite university lecturers’ voices in my head (“Don’t murder pixels” – Vincent, and “Know your worth” – Leah).

I don’t know if the balloon of support that is surrounding me on my publishing journey is the status quo for traditional publishing, or even for other publishers that offer assisted independent publishing, but if it is the exception rather than the rule, it simply reinforces that I made the very best decision when I chose Ocean Reeve Publishing as my publishers. If you’re a writer who has a manuscript that you’re dying to turn into a book and are asking yourself “what do I do now”, research your options, but if you want my advice, I think you know which way I’m going to tell you to go.

Always believe in yourself,

Carol xx

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