It is said that everyone has a book in them. Some will write one and a few will even publish.
Publishing is changing fast but the constant among the changes is preservation of the magical golden thread that connects the imagination of the writer to the mind of the reader.
“Now I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green.”
Those few words in black and white conjure in your mind a spring day with pink apple blossom, lush green grass and a young boy enjoying play in an orchard.
That is the magic of the golden thread – connecting the brain of a youthful but now long dead Dylan Thomas into your mind and imagination.
Writing those words is one thing, a matter of genius perhaps, but getting them to you is another and it is called publishing.
Traditionally your book was accepted by a publisher and appeared in the bookseller in due course. Publishers are not interested in your book. They are interested in J.K. Rowling’s, Dan Brown’s and Jeffry Archer’s books because they are guaranteed to make money.
So you will have to publish your book yourself.
Independent or self-publishing is growing and 15% of all books are self-published but it is an involved process. A steep learning curve for you but with the advantage that you are in control.
There are many companies out there to help, for a fee. Some are good, some less so.
Preserve the Golden Thread
You must publish your book so that the golden thread you have spun in the text reaches the reader in a pleasing, easily read form. The reader must be able to become ‘lost in your book’.
Editing is the most important part of the process. Spelling mistakes, ambiguous sentences and the use of ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ all interrupt the golden thread.
The reader must hesitate to understand what you really mean, forgive the mistake and look to take up the thread again. Interruptions like these will spoil the enjoyment.
What about the physical book? Is the text large enough, the paper pleasing, not too white and not too glossy?
Is the size and weight right? How about the layout?
Are there odd words at the top of an otherwise empty page at the end of a chapter?
Is the text broken into segments by sentence structure, paragraphs, and chapters and do the margins, white space and chapter headings add to the appearance?
Will the cover catch the eye? Yes, a book is judged by its cover initially.
Many publishers have in-house rules that set out the space between paragraphs, the indentation of a new paragraph and the form of headings.
Are you going to use British English or American English spellings and grammar? Has the boy got an apple from the bough or gotten an apple?
If you publish electronically, and you will, these points still matter. One needs technical help to format your text for all the different electronic publishing platforms; Kobo, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks etc.
Then there is the legal stuff.
Your book is your intellectual property and your copyright unless you sign it away. You sell the rights of publication to the publisher but you can break it down into rights to publish in UK, US, translation rights for other countries.
Then there is the right for audio books, braille printing, radio and TV and film rights. Also merchandising rights; these are the rights to manufacture, for instance, a toy train to be sold alongside ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’.
Then, when all is done and you have spent a few hundred pounds, you have to sell it. But that is another story.
Could you make a living as an author? Unlikely, but it is a great hobby.