Once the author has completed the writing of the book, the next challenge is to determine how best to get that book out to the reader. This is called the publishing process.
The author can either find an established commercial publisher or decide to self or independently publish the book. Until about fifteen years ago, self-publishing was almost impossible. There was no inexpensive way to get the book typeset and since it was virtually impossible to get these books into bookstores, selling them was even a bigger problem.
This has all changed due to the personal computer and the Internet. Over three-quarters of the books published now are published by the author and that number grows each year. The virtual author’s assistant can play a vital role in coordinating all the activities that go into publishing a book and in doing many of the specific tasks as well.
One thing that has not changed is that there is still a professional standard of what a book should look like and you can see thousands of examples in any bookstore. It is important not only to get the book published, but to publish it meeting all the professional standards so that it can compete effectively with all the other books out in the market.
The Role of the Author in Publishing a Book
The author who wants to successfully publish a book has many important decisions to make that will determine whether this book sells well or not.
Now that the book is written, the author must shift his or her focus to how to package the book so it will appeal to the target audience. Both the cover and the text inside must entice the reader to buy the book. It is not easy for someone who has not done this before to make the right decisions, so it is critical that the author find professionals who have had success in creating book covers and book interiors that sell.
The author can use his or her own bookshelves or the local bookstore to do research and find out what kind of book covers and interiors appeal to the target audience. The way the book is presented must also fit the tone of how the book is written. As a result of focus panels done by the major publishers, we know that the average potential buyer in a bookstore will spend about 5 seconds looking at the front cover of the book. The front cover is intended to create a positive emotional reaction to the book with the use of type, color and graphics. If the potential buyer feels emotionally pulled in, he or she will probably turn the book over and read the back cover for about 15 seconds. The back cover is intended to give the reader a logical reason to buy the book with compelling testimonials from important people, a clear and short message about the importance of the book and a short bio highlighting the credentials of the author.
In addition to these book-selling considerations, when an author becomes a publisher, the author is creating a new business around a new product, the book, with new legal and other requirements. And although the author probably will not be hiring employees for the new business, he or she will probably be hiring a number of freelance professionals. One of the hardest parts of the process for the author is knowing who to select and whether the work these professionals are doing is what is best for the book.
When the author is in the writing part of the process, the costs are minimal. If the author chooses to self publish, the author starts spending significant money and it is hard to determine for an author who has never been through this if what he or she is getting is worth the money spent, and if the book will eventually sell enough to make it all worthwhile. The author must also determine an appropriate price for the book that will cover these costs but will also not be more than what a potential buyer will expect to pay.
Publishing a book is a big job. Luckily for the author, there is one person who can help him or her coordinate all the activities involved, find others to help as well and do some of the specific tasks involved. That person is you – the virtual author’s assistant.
The Role of the Author’s Assistant in the Publishing Process
The author’s assistant has some very specific tasks in the publishing part of the process to assist the author.
When the author finishes writing and is ready to start the publishing process, the first task facing him or her is to learn all the steps involved, decide who to turn to for expert help, and determine how much time and money the process should reasonably take. The author’s assistant can answer many of these questions for the author and help coordinate the publishing process from beginning to end. The author may need the professional services of a book cover designer, a book interior designer, a copywriter to write marketing copy for the back of the book, a photographer for the author photo on the back cover, an indexer, a proofreader and the right printer.
An important part of the process of creating a compelling package for the book is creating an exciting book cover. One component of the back cover is testimonials from important endorsers. The author’s assistant can coordinate the testimonial process, sending the book to VIPs and following up until the necessary testimonials are received. The author will be receiving and putting endorsements up on the web site for the life of the book.
After starting the process to get testimonials, it is time to turn your attention to the rest of the items the cover designer will need to complete the book cover. These include getting an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), making sure the author knows how to price the book and getting a bar code that will appear on the back cover of the book. Especially for the back cover, it is essential that there is great sales language, a compelling author bio and photo and that bookstore categories are listed. The most important part of the cover process is to help the author select an experienced professional book cover designer.
After the book cover is designed, the interior of the book must be designed and typeset. As with the cover, the most important part of the process is the selection of an experienced professional interior book designer who will then help the author decide on the best type style and page layout. The author’s assistant can help provide information for the copyright page, such as the national library cataloging information. There are many parts to a book other than the chapters, such as the dedication, acknowledgments, foreword and preface and the author’s assistant can help the author to make sure everything is completed and sent to the designer. Once everything is to the designer, the book will be typeset.
The author’s assistant can help coordinate the final pieces including working with professionals to create an index for the book and making sure all possible errors have been caught by a proofreader. Besides a printed book, the author may also want assistance in creating an ebook.
Once the book is completely ready, the author’s assistant can establish a relationship and create an account with a printer. Most book printers and publishing services firms help with the distribution process, which means getting the books from the printer out to the buying public, usually through web sites such as Amazon.com or bookstores. Helping the author select the right publishing services firm or printer is an invaluable service provided by author’s assistants.
One of the final tasks in the publishing process is to look at a proof copy, one copy printed by the printer so the author can check and make sure it looks exactly like the author expected. This reviewing the proof copy is the last chance to make corrections before a number of copies are printed and ready to sell.
The final, but critical task in most countries is to get the copyright registered, a process that legally protects the author’s work against someone else claiming ownership of it.
As you can see, an author’s assistant is a tremendous help to the author. After you have completed the reading, watching and listening to sessions nine through sixteen on the publishing process, we encourage you to practice what you have learned by trying out the author services practice exercises available on the VAA Online Headquarters.
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