We all dream of the ultimate writerly success – the awards, the sales, the packed readings with devoted fans – but to get anywhere near these kinds of fantasies, there are some very dull, very boring realities you have to attend to. Getting these things right does not guarantee success, but ignoring them could be a costly mistake. A decision on whether to buy a book is usually made in under ten seconds, so make sure your work has not only got the wow factor, but that everything else readers expect is present.
You might think that people have got over spelling mistakes and errors of grammar – language is always changing and so on – but in a book that doesn’t fly. If your script is riddled with errors, especially near the beginning, people will not continue. A comprehensive line edit might be pricey, but it means your book is being sent out into the world in its very best state. You get one chance with readers: don’t blow it because your spelling is wayward and your grammar a bit shaky.
Set a pub date and stick to it. Make sure it’s at least six months in the future. Many bookshops won’t take books that are published in a few weeks’ time, and many reviewing outlets will have the same policy. Ensure you have the right files and an ISBN. Be as professional as you can.
And talking of professionalism, the cover of your book has to look professional. Covers are now so powerful in terms of affecting a buying decision, something that looks like a mate has done it for you will provide a stumbling block to potential readers. Research your chosen area and pick the covers that you like. A good designer should be able to help get you to your ideal image – and their work is worth its weight in gold.