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I stand in correction about copyright law (thanks Ray) from the discussion last week. Even though traditional publishers do take some control of your book, they do not take over copyrights. Rather, it is the creation itself. For example, if you post online on your blog, it is considered published. It should not be reproduced (copied) unless given permission by the writer. A similar concept with a published written work or a book. Once published, it is considered copyrights of the writer/author and can not be reproduced. It is the monetary gains in courtrooms that intensify the legal battles of what is considered “copyrights” or not.

I will discuss traditional vs. independent publishing in oncoming weeks. Frankly, I feel there are pros and cons of each one. My personal preference is self-publishing; however, I do not advocate one over the other. For now, I will stick to what I know firsthand: the process of writing and getting your book published.

We have discussed naming your book and creating the plot (storyline) in prior weeks. However, there are certain things to determine before writing the manuscript. There are two parts of writing your manuscript: the initial draft and the final draft. Most publishers will send guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript. If you have questions, please contact the publishing consultant assigned to your book. There are some guidelines I feel may be helpful in preparing your manuscript:

  1. The first thing is to consider what type genre (history, self-help, inspirational, religious, poetry or general, etc) your book is about. Is it fictional (story, novel) or nonfictional (autobiography, true facts or true story)? Who will be your audience and what age range do you want to reach?
  2. Consider the font style and pica format. Some publishers prefer the standard New Times script and 12 pica in Word Document. These should be included in their general guidelines.
  3. Indentations are determined whether you want the standard 5 or 3-tab indentation. Also, if single or double-spaced between lines and paragraphs. You may also do 1.5 spacing. Again, that will depend on the type of book you are writing. Poetry, for example, will have a different format and/or sequence of writing.
  4. I find writing chapters individually before combining chapters is easier to go back to correct and revise. There may be portions of your manuscript you may want to rewrite. Always read through each chapter to check if script sounds smooth and flowing. If not, you may have to revise or rewrite.
  5. Do not number your pages beforehand. The publisher will number as the length of the book will be longer with additional appendages. This includes the Table of Contents Page also – do not number pages before submitting.
  6. The very first page should include the Title Page, which includes the title of the book and the name of the author or pen name. You want to write Acknowledgments to give credit to those who helped in publication of your book. Dedications are optional, but may be included.
  7. Formats may vary with each writer, but I find an Introduction or Prologue useful. The Introduction can be short, but enough detail about the book. The Prologue or Chapter One should be more descriptive and give explicit details.
  8. Forewords usually go along well with proven writers/authors. Yet, someone who is familiar with your written work may write a Foreword or a Blurb for your book. I submit a Blurb on the back cover for this purpose. Adding an author’s photograph is nice too, where readers will recognize you.
  9. Always reference where you are getting information for your book. These can include References, Notes or Bibliography at the back of your book.
  10. End with an Epilogue explaining the conclusion or related to your book. For example, if writing a historical novel, write something concerning that era or the story you have written.
  11. At the very back of the book, you many want to include an About The Author page. This will include your biography, your writing experience and other publications (if applicable).
  12. If nothing else, always go through the initial draft with a fine-tooth comb. Some spell-checkers will not correct all spelling or punctuation errors. This includes grammar errors too. Please note that if you are self-publishing, the publisher is not interested in correcting your manuscript, unless you have paid for professional editing.

Next week, I will finish with submitting your final draft to the publisher. This is an important step, as once you approve and submit your final draft, no more changes can be made without a charge.

Please respond with any comments or feedback. Remember, any opinions or statements posted, are just opinions. I do not feel that any responses are wrong, just different in thought or opinion.