Updated: Dec 12, 2021
We often see readers and aspiring authors ask the seemingly simple question, “How do I write a book?” which inevitably leads to, “How do I get started? How do I build a storyline? How do I keep track of all the details? What is the process for editing and proofreading? Do I need to use beta readers? How do I get cover art? Is cover art important?” and so many more! This rabbit hole runs deep and long, friends. Well, we’ve decided to put it all out there, from an indie perspective. We are not published through a traditional publishing house, so all of our experiences will be from the experience of being self-published authors of three books to date, with several more in the planning. We’ve learned a lot along the way so far, and there is so much more to learn. This journey is nowhere near over for us, and we do not claim to be experts. But if we can share some things we have learned so far, maybe others might benefit, so here we go!
Disclaimer: We are epic/high fantasy authors, so if you’re looking for advice on how to put together that cookbook, or a historical non-fiction, not everything we talk about will directly translate! In general, here is the nutshell (outline) version of our process for writing our books, from start to finish, concept to publication.
1. Decide on the main theme of the novel, the ‘big idea’ This might be the hardest part. There you are, staring at a blank page, whether on your screen or your desk, wondering what to write. Perhaps you have a concept already, perhaps you are in the unenviable position of just knowing you want to write a thing, but not much more than that. Whatever your starting point is, the key is this: start writing and don’t believe the voices that tell you “This sucks, just give up.” Of course it sucks! It’s been said there are only a handful or two of original plotlines, so don’t look for originality in your story concept. It isn’t original, but with some work, you will soon dress it up into a wonderful tale with characters and scenes and dialogue and tension your readers will eagerly devour! You’ll get there. Just write. Brainstorming is a great way to get started. Start with your main character, or your main bad guy, and start figuring out what makes them tick. What’s their background? What’s their motivation? People love to love a bad guy, but they will readily turn their noses up at an antagonist without a motivation. Some of the best villains think they’re doing the right thing!
Decide where you want your story to go. What’s the primary source of tension, the problem that has to be overcome? Decide the mechanics of how your characters will overcome it. Then figure out how they become introduced to the problem, how they become aware of it. To do this, you have to figure out how and when the problem began, and what the symptoms of it are. Then your characters begin to experience some of those effects and put pieces together. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. More on this in steps 3 and 4. If you find yourself struggling, blanking out completely on this step, skip to step 2 and then come back. You’ll see why.
2. Be crystal clear on the setting for the story! For those of us in the fantasy or sci-fi genres, it’s all about the world-building. Unless of course you’re doing a contemporary fantasy, set in our world of Earth, then your world is already built. All you have to do in that case is research the specific setting your story takes place in, and make it feel real to anyone who has ever been there, or knows what it should feel like to be there. But for a fantasy world, you have to create that from the ground up. From dirt. What is the environment like? The weather and climate? The local flora and fauna? The people and their cultures? The politics? What challenges do the locals have to deal with living in that area? What is the history of that region, and the outlying regions? Who are the rulers and other powerful figures? What are their agendas and motivations? If there is a government, a military presence, etc., what do they look like? What do they wear? How do they talk? Is it a different language? Do they have their own terminology, or sayings that drive their actions and values? What kinds of food do they prefer? What is their currency? How do they interact with common folk? What do their cities look like? The list goes on and on, and by now you get the idea: you have to become at the very least the chief anthropologist of this world you’re creating and take impeccable notes. At the very most, you become much like a god, because this world is your creation. You are breathing it to life, giving it inhabitants, deciding everything that happens in it. It’s an awesome responsibility, so take it seriously. Because of this aspect of fantasy writing, we have chosen to keep a constantly growing file we call our world-building notes. It’s basically an encyclopedia of everything we ‘discover’ as we travel the lands of this world we’ve created. Important places, things, events, artifacts, creatures, races, people, histories, poems, stories, all recorded faithfully and added to this record. To date, it is nearly as extensive as just one of our novels! We add to it and refer to it to draw upon previous ‘discoveries’ on a near daily basis. It is—hands down—our best resource. So start building yours right away, perhaps even devoting a significant period of time purely to building your world before you even start on step 1! In the process, your big idea might just be unearthed for you to hold up to the sun and gaze at in wonder, setting you on a path you never even thought possible! It could happen. Whether you are a fantasy/sci-fi writer, romance, historical fiction, whatever, setting the scene and putting your characters in it will help the story write itself.
3. Identify the major source of tension, and how it will ultimately be resolved Although this is part of the big idea you came up with in step 1, it is worth mentioning that your big idea should have an arc of its own. How does it develop and change? Of course no plan survives first contact with the enemy (Sun Tzu, The Art of War), so even the bad guys will have to adjust as they encounter resistance. How will your antagonists shift fire when your main characters start throwing monkey wrenches? Tension! Build the tension! Once you decide on this, write out a synopsis of it in a paragraph or two, no more. This synopsis should be complete and utter spoilers! No flavor details, no creative writing, no innuendo, hints, or suggestions. Just the facts! Think ‘everything I don’t want to tell the reader up front’! You’re not telling your story here, you’re breaking down the mechanics of the important stuff that happens, and how it all gets resolved.
4. Identify the major characters in the novel, including protagonists and antagonists, and their arcs As mentioned above, you need to know your main characters, who they are, what drives them, what their lives are like before your story begins, and what draws them into the story. Once you decide on the big idea for your book in step 1, figure out what each character’s involvement will be in the story. How will they get hooked in? What will compel them to be part of solving the problem? What will they struggle with along the way? This is important because it shows character development, depth, and growth. It makes your characters more personable, more memorable, and more relatable to your readers. Then figure out where their arcs end in your story. How do they contribute, what is their final scene, and how do they get there? Later on, you’ll break each arc out into scenes, many of which will involve more than one character, but this step is critically important. Once you see the path each character takes through the story, your storyline becomes more clear and easier to organize in your mind. This flow will give you momentum as you write your story! Again, write each of these arcs out individually in paragraph form, spoilers only! 5. Identify minor characters for the novel, and how they will support the storyline
Throughout any story, there are minor characters, mainly there for flavor and interesting dialogue to put your story in the middle of a world swirling with other people’s lives, some of which we get glimpses of. But a few of these at least should add substance to your plot. I always love it when something I think is in the story just for flavor in the beginning turns out to have meaning, sometimes even pivotal turning-of-the-tides meaning, at the end. That’s what you’re looking for here. These are the pumpkin seeds and cranberries in your salad. It’s still a darned good salad without them, and you almost don’t notice them at first, but at the end that last bite or two seems to be all pumpkin seeds and cranberries and dressing, and it’s amazingly satisfying; like dessert, but salad! As before, write out a paragraph for each minor arc. Don’t get sidetracked! This is just for your use, and you’ll see why in the next step. 6. Organize all the individual arcs into one timeline This is called storyboarding. We like to use a big roll of paper and a couple hundred post-it notes. The left edge of your paper represents the beginning of your novel. The right edge represents the end. Figure out how long in time the events in your book will take, and then make some marks along the bottom edge to keep track of the passage of time on your storyboard. Along the left edge, make marks for each major arc, including your main story arc, your main characters and bad guys, and any minor arcs you’ve developed that are critical to your story. Then go through each of the synopses you’ve written out and break them into scenes. This is why we said to use only spoilers. You’re not trying to invent the clever way you’re going to present these scenes to the reader right now; you’re just identifying the critical thing(s) that are accomplished in each scene. Write each scene on a post-it note and put it in its right place on the paper. There’s no risk here, if you need to move something, move it. If you need to change something, write out a new note and replace the old one. When you choose to combine arcs into one scene, you can do that too! Spend some time on this, and when you think you have everything melded into a seamless vision of the story, walk through it out loud with someone else. Go from note to note, from left to right, explaining what happens in your story. You’ll find holes, gaps, inconsistencies, and that’s ok! That’s how you shape and mold this into a story worth telling: the story you dreamed up and created that readers will love! Change your storyboard around as often as you need to until you are satisfied, and before you start writing. But even after you do begin writing, remember that anything can be changed, so don’t feel any remorse about reorganizing your story flow at any point in the process. It’s ok. This is the way story writing happens. It’s an organic experience.
7. Evaluate scene sequencing You did a little of this in the last step, but here what we’re really talking about is keeping the reading experience fresh. Imagine a story where, as you flip from chapter to chapter, nothing changes. One chapter ends and a new one begins, and the story picks up right where it left off. What’s the point of the chapter break? Arguably, there is none. Would you be bored? I would. And the risk is other readers would be as well. Not a good thing, since much of your success depends on word-of-mouth advertising!
Now, have you ever read a book where every time a chapter ends there’s a bit of a cliff-hanger, and then you eagerly turn the page and realize the author has shifted to another set of characters, when all you really wanted was to find out what happened to the last characters? And then you read the second chapter, and it ends the same way, provoking the same feeling? It’s awesome and frustrating at the same time, right? Perhaps the third chapter revisits the characters from the first, or maybe it goes on to yet another scene and prolongs the reader’s suspense. Regardless, what is happening here is selective chapter sequencing, and it can be a powerful page turner. John Flanagan is a master at this. We all desire a resolution to tension. It is the basis of good music, to build tension (traveling away from the root key) and then resolve it. Good stories are no different. Readers will eagerly gobble up chapter after chapter, clambering to get back to that first scene and see how the situation turns out, all the while more chapters have built up with other scenes to tease them onward. It’s delightfully cruel, and it is a tactic we tend to favor in our reading as well as our writing. Take a look at your timeline with this in mind. Try to organize your scenes into chapters, with a mind toward creating that tension, and breaking up the topics for the reader. Give them a multi-course meal, where their palate is delighted by a variety of flavors, rather than a single heaping bowl of the same thing. This may take some adjustments to your scenes, as the timing of the events in your book can be easily upset by swapping scenes and chapters around, but later editorial steps will help smooth these out. And remember, your post-its can be repositioned almost indefinitely, so take advantage of it!
8. Begin drafting scenes and chapters It’s time! You’ve established the setting, the characters, the story arc, the timeline, and even the scenes and chapters of your book from beginning to end. Now it’s time to let the magic out! Put that timeline on the wall above your writing station, start at the beginning, and write your scenes! And as you write, save, save, save. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made great progress on a scene or chapter and lost it due to some minor misfortune. Safeguard your writing with regular saves, and routinely copying your work to another destination. Emailing your chapters to a partner, or even to yourself, is a good tool. If you lose something, your hard drive fries, you accidentally delete the wrong file, whatever, you can always go back to your email history and grab the attachment. It might not be exactly the same, but at least you won’t be starting from scratch again. Another great resource worth mentioning here is a ‘deleted scenes’ file. Inevitably you’ll come across scenes you put a lot of work into, and later realize don’t add to the story, or just aren’t working for whatever reason. Don’t delete them! Copy them into a separate file and save them up. You might never use them again, but if you discard them you’ll never have the chance to see them come to life! Personal experience, I’ve pulled scenes out that didn’t work in one book, only to remember them for a later book where they worked out wonderfully. Some I’m saving for books that won’t be written until after the next two or three we have planned. You just never know! Another idea is to keep those deleted scenes as part of your world-building notes. Call them historical context if appropriate. However you save them, I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
9. Get your beta readers to work Beta readers are one of your most powerful resources. Don’t skip this step! I admit, it is tempting to think by this point you’ve gone through the storyline numerous times, worked out so many wrinkles, written so many magical scenes, how could it possibly benefit you to have others who don’t know your story read it and offer their input? They don’t know the story like you do, so what could their input be worth? In short, it’s invaluable. Here’s the key: you’re not marketing your book to yourself. You’re marketing it to people who don’t know your book. All they know is what you tell them, in the order you tell it to them. So things you skim over that seem like obvious connections to you, often are not nearly so obvious to the casual reader, especially one who isn’t as comfortable with the genre you’re writing in. This is where the beta reader is worth their weight in gold. We currently use around five or six beta readers (our resources are somewhat limited), but professional authors use anywhere from 50 up to 300, based on some articles and interviews I’ve read. That’s a bunch of beta reading! You don’t have to shoot that high, but I think the more the better to a point. The important thing is to get some distance from your work and read it cold, and you can’t do that yourself. Not unless you’re willing to set your story aside for a year or two, and then pick it up and read it. Not many of us have that kind of patience. Enter the beta reader. They are cold right now, and willing to pick up your book and read it. That’s awesome! Take advantage of it. Now what to look for in a beta reader. Some will volunteer just for the sake of getting to read the story first. You may not get much feedback from these but let them read it anyhow. You never know what a reader will get hung up on and give you a chance to correct before you publish. We like to have a conversation with our beta readers up front, to let them know what we are asking of them. Specifically, we want honesty; brutal honesty. If they love something, we want to know. If they hate something, we want to know. If something makes no sense or seems to conflict with another part of the story, we definitely want to know that. If they have suggestions, edits, find misspellings or sentence fragments, if they pick up on character behavior that isn’t consistent with their personalities, all these things are good to know! It’s also helpful to have an expectation of a timeline. A month, two months, whatever it is, they need to know you have a schedule, and you’re setting your goal back by that agreed-upon time because you value their input. What do we do with the beta reader feedback? Take each one a piece at a time, and give it our complete consideration, and then decide whether it indicates a needed change, or is possibly just a ‘one-off’ with that reader. Don’t make the mistake of going with the ‘one-off’ option too frequently. That road leads to very ineffective results from your beta readers. In our experience, going over each chapter with the reader as they complete it, and discussing each edit one at a time, gives us the opportunity to ask questions, be clear about how they were affected by the reading, and what they felt was worthy of mention. It also gives us the chance to ask about scenes, sections, ideas, etc., that we had questions about but they might not have mentioned. Your relationship with the beta reader should be intimate, safe, and organic. One last word about beta readers. You are under no obligation to make any change suggested by a beta reader. After all, it is your story. Just smile and nod, thank them, ask for their suggestions, and commit to giving their feedback some genuine consideration. But never…ever…take it personally when they give you critical feedback. It only takes one instance of you getting frustrated and saying something careless, and the fountain of honest feedback is shut off for good.
10. Edit your first draft You’ve completed your first draft! You now have a scene written for every post-it on your storyboard! Feels awesome, doesn’t it? And your beta readers have completed it and you have some great input from them. Now what? Well, now starts the process I’ve heard some call the “Editorial Death March.” I prefer to take a little less dramatic look at the editing process, but I admit it can be tedious. Nonetheless, it is critically necessary, so don’t skip this step. Don’t assume if you’ve made it this far it’s good enough. It’s close, but it’s not there yet. It will be, though, I promise. Now is the time to turn back to page one, and do a complete read-through of your manuscript, word by word. Look for the big stuff and the little stuff. Try to turn off that little ‘fast-forward’ button in your head, and read it at a normal reading pace, like you’re the beta reader and you’ve never seen this before. Look for inconsistencies, problems with word flow, places where dialogue is not clear (many readers are turned off when they lose track of who is speaking in a conversation), plot holes, scenes that could be made more clear, scenes that seem disconnected from the rest of the story (consider revising or deleting these). Of course, as you go you will assuredly come across formatting, spelling, grammatical, punctuation and capitalization issues. Fix these as you go, but the main focus in this edit is story flow. If there is a fatal flaw in your plotline, this is your chance to uncover it and correct it. If you’re doing this process correctly, you’ll take a week or so to get through it, and you’ll be glad you did. What if you’re not an English major? I admit, this isn’t a problem we’ve had much struggle with. My wife and I, who are co-writing our series, are both very good writers professionally, having several years each of editorial experience in our day jobs. So when it comes to document presentation, formatting, sentence structure, capitalization, spelling, grammar, punctuation, we don’t see a need for a professional editor. You may decide a professional editor is the way to go for you. If you do, just do your homework. There are many disreputable folks out there who will take your money and give you very little in return other than heartache and drama. In this world of con artists and swindlers, you are well advised to do some genuine sleuth work into anyone you choose to do business with to ensure reputability first, and then invest some significant capital into to get your book properly edited. Should you choose to go this route, do your level best to edit your book yourself at this phase, and submit it for professional editing probably right after step 14.
11. Do a complete out-loud reading Yes. Out loud. And in front of an audience, if possible. You may not have anyone you can read to, and that’s fine. But regardless don’t skip this step. Anyone you do read to will become a de-facto beta reader, able to give you instant feedback when things strike them oddly. Be sure to give them credit in your acknowledgements! Make good notes as you go and be diligent and faithful to address these issues. So obviously the more listeners the better. But even if you have to go solo, this step will help smooth out rough spots in your writing. Many readers ‘hear’ the words they read; I know I do at times. So just because something looks good in print doesn’t mean it would sound good or roll off the tongue smoothly if read aloud. We actually do this step twice. Once after each chapter’s first draft is written, and again after all the chapters have been written, edited, and beta read. Not once has this second reading been a waste of time.
12. Re-evaluate your scenes for value and impact You’ve done this a few times already in previous steps, but it hurts you nothing to spend a day or so just looking at each scene and asking yourself if it adds to the story. Ask the question, “If this scene were deleted, would the story still be complete?” That’s a high standard but let me tell you why this is important. As a reader goes through a story, whether actively or passively, they build a mental storehouse of elements that have come up in the story. Sort of like a grocery list. Then as they get to the end of the story, they check off the elements that get resolved. Your job is to make sure they check off every box on their list. You may have heard the story of the piano instructor’s teenaged child who comes home late in the evening, and as her father is laying in bed, she goes to the piano and plays the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B…and then goes to bed. Her father is laying upstairs, hearing only that tantalizing 7th note, dying to hear the resolving final C! Cruel, right? The hazard you’re trying to avoid is causing your reader to put something on their list that they don’t check off by the final page. Don’t do this to your readers! Unless you are writing a series and this isn’t the last book, this would be bad.
13. Quality check your story and character arcs for completion Did each character truly accomplish what you set out to have them accomplish? Did the major theme of the story reach the conclusion you designed? Did the minor characters contribute meaningfully in the way you had intended? Is anything left unwritten? These are big questions, so it’s time to go back to the storyboard. Brew a pot of coffee, put that timeline back up on the wall or spread it out on the table, and walk through your post-it notes again. Look at all those scenes and spoilers. Did you make good on them all? Make sure. It might feel like too much, but why would you turn away just one more bit of insurance you aren’t leaving something critical out of the story?
14. Do a second round of beta reading (optional) Definitely worth considering. Is it required? No. None of these steps are required. But you chose to write a book. Do you want it to be a good one or a great one? I think I know the answer. Will it delay you? Yes. It will set your publication timeline back another month or two. Maybe longer. But in the process of all the above edits, you made some significant changes, didn’t you? Of course, you did. The editorial process is intense and complex. Is it worth it? That’s a question you must answer for yourself. The purpose of the second round of beta reading is to weed out the rough spots we tend to create when we take something good and Frankenstein something else into the middle of it. Time to look for all the stitches and smooth them out. Unlike Mary Shelley’s monster, we have the ability to make all those parts look like they belonged together, and not be forced to accept all those ugly scars. If you have the luxury of using a completely different set of beta readers, this would be advisable. The original ones may not have the drive to read your manuscript through again with the same energy as the first time. If you aren’t blessed with tons of folks willing to early-read your book, just one or two stalwart soldiers will do.
15. Decide on a title and a cover art concept I’ve seen a lot of aspiring authors struggling with this question way too early in the process. Sometimes, the title is obvious, and it never changes from the moment you come up with your big idea. That’s totally ok! But if you’re struggling with a title, my recommendation would be to wait to the end. In the final edit process of our books, my co-author wife and I wait until after the final round of edits to come up with chapter names. We like to name our chapters creatively, based on what happens in the chapters with a little flair added for fun. This is a very enjoyable step for us. We read through each chapter out loud, make any final adjustments, and then haggle and argue over what to call it. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and we will not name a chapter until one of us suggests a chapter name that evokes a “Yeah! Exactly!” usually from both of us. I suggest using the same approach with the book title itself could be quite effective. Cover art is the same. Wait until you’ve written your novel, and you have a real relationship with the story and all of its elements. How does it feel to you? What images are provoked when you take a few steps back and think of your story as a whole? What do you want your readers to see when your book comes up on an ad or an Amazon search? Now is the time to have some long discussions, do some research, look at other book covers in the same genre with similar storylines and get inspired. Important! Your cover and title are the first things that have a chance to hook a reader! Don’t skimp on this step! More on this later, but I cannot overemphasize the importance of a powerful first impression. When you do decide on a concept, do yourself this favor and hire a professional! You will get what you pay for with cover art. And do your research before you reach out to them. They will want to know as much as possible about your desired result. Make a Pinterest board, or similar, and add elements to it that capture what you’re going for, then share that board with your chosen studio when it comes time. Decide how you want your title to look and feel, the colors you like and colors you don’t want to see, font size and style, what you want shown on the spine, what you want on the back. Decide what assumptions you want readers to make when they glance at your cover (because that’s all most will do), and make sure your chosen studio understands your goals. Look for a studio or artist who will give you a package deal with support. The package we purchase for each of our books costs around $600, and includes paperback and e-book covers (formatted for whatever your page count is and whoever you intend to publish with), Facebook Instagram and Twitter banners, 3D images of the book in numerous positions (lying, standing, etc.), and images on e-readers. All images come with black backgrounds and transparent backgrounds so you can use them in any ads you create. It also includes your usage license. All in all, about 14 graphics come with the final product. Not only that, unlimited edits. No matter what you want changed, or how many times you want a revision, the price never changes. Not kidding, one time we got through the concept phase of a book cover and decided to can it entirely and start with a whole new concept. The price stayed the same! That’s customer service you won’t likely get with some of these discount studios, and many artists flying solo. So while you might be considering shelling out $50 or $100 to an artist on Fiverr, we’ve been burned there before, and consider our current artist a much better investment.
16. Write your back-cover blurb This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Really. It’s the opposite of your big idea. You want all tease and no spoilers. The hardest thing for me has been making it sound interesting and catchy without sounding too cliché. My wife often reminds me some readers love the cliché, and there really aren’t any new ideas out there under the sun. Nonetheless, if you want your book to be read, you have to consider the mentality of a book buyer. Your book has to pass several tests with each and every reader in order to result in a sale. You’ve already put your heart and soul into what’s between the covers, so make sure what they see on the covers doesn’t turn them away! First, they will see your book on a shelf or in a search result. So the first thing that has a chance of catching a potential reader’s eye is the cover. If your book passes this test, they may pick it up and read the blurb on the back. If the blurb catches their interest, they might thumb through the first few pages, perhaps sit in a corner of the bookstore for a few minutes or read through the “free preview” pages on Amazon or other bookseller website. Then, if you’ve done your work well, they will buy it. What should you put in your blurb? Sorry, I can’t tell you. There is no right or wrong formula. But there are millions of examples of what works and what doesn’t out there for you to check out. Go online or walk into a book store and pick up books in your genre. Read their blurbs. Pay attention to the mechanics of how they try to hook readers. Try to envision how you might do the same with your story. Then spend some serious time at your computer agonizing over every…single…word. Really. You only have about two paragraph’s space to convince a potential reader that they want to read your book. And in reality, you really only have the first sentence or two of your blurb. Yes, the human race really is that squirrelly, so use your words wisely. Final word on this, your beta readers can be a great resource for this as well, and any authors’ groups or online forums you are a part of. Send your blurb out there and ask for critical feedback. Ask if they would be interested in a book of such-and-such genre if they read your blurb. Many of them will give you sound responses. Go back to the drawing board, recraft your blurb, and go at it again. The benefit is you end up with a better hook for your book, and at the same time you’re getting other potential readers interested in your book! It’s a win-win, so go ahead and fling your blurb out far and wide. A great story deserves a powerful blurb.
17. Decide on and develop any graphics or artwork to be included For us, this really just has to do with maps. In the fantasy book genre, we consider a book without a map to be incomplete. We love following along the map with characters as they travel through the story. Somehow it makes it so much more real. We know many other readers of this genre in particular who feel the same. Whatever art you include in your novel, be sure they are high quality, professional-looking graphics. For maps there are many artists out there who do this for pretty manageable prices. There are also numerous graphics programs available for you to make your own, with not much technical skill required. The options are pretty wide, and the reader’s expectations from a map aren’t necessarily sky-high. Just something to make your world feel more real to them, and doesn’t contradict the story. Other images are entirely your choice. Again, choose quality, and make sure they support your story.
18. Decide on your dedication and acknowledgements if desired In the SP/indie world, this is a place to give credence to all the people and circumstances you credit with shaping your book. It’s highly personal but will be read by everyone. It’s a chance to show your human side as authors, and to give serious points to the beta reading warriors who battled it out with you. Give them their proper respects.
19. Write an ‘about the authors’ bio Not everyone may read these, but it’s important to make it as professional and personable as possible. It’s not the place to insert agendized statements that could tend to cut off a whole segment of potential readers. Unlike the blurb, there is a pretty standard formula to these, that sounds and looks very natural to the reader. Check out the bios of some authors you admire and model yours after theirs. Include a picture of yourself if you wish. A touch of personality could be the winning piece to a great click conversion rate!
20. Format your book for publication – final edit Okay, final step! Assuming you’re going “full indie” and not using a professional editing service, this will be your final read-through. Not word-for-word, necessarily, but each and every page will get another look. You’ll follow the submission guidelines and suggested template or format for whatever site you’re publishing to and put all your hard work into final form. Exciting! In this round, you’ll focus on page presentation: font, font styles, chapter headings, spacing and margins, consistent appearance from page to page and chapter to chapter, headers and footers, and weeding out those pesky widows and orphans. The trickiest part in our experience has been getting the graphics to translate correctly into the template format required by Kindle Direct Publishing. It takes some time, and some trial-and-error, but keep at it, and it’ll all be worth it. If you get stuck, there are tons of videos out there on “YouTube University” to help you through whatever problem you’re having. And take good notes for reference with future books! No need to pull out your hair more than once.
21. Submit it for publication! Click ‘submit,’ and sit back with a glass of wine and celebrate your accomplishment! Soon, you’ll be unhealthily checking your sales report site and giggling like a grade-schooler every time your book sells! Now you can start working on your marketing, or dive headlong into the next book!
We hope this has taken a little of the mystery out of the process for you, or at the very least given you the assurance that whatever your frustrations might be right now, you’re not alone! Keep driving, keep editing, and keep writing!
Best of luck with all your endeavors!
Jason and Rose
Legends of Cyrradon
 We intentionally don’t discuss advertising and marketing in this blog. That is a completely separate study, in which we are still largely neophytes. This area will require a huge investment of your time, research, dedication, money, and general frustration with the fickleness of the human race.