Steps to getting published
These days there are few steadfast rules when it comes to publishing.  With new technology, it can be far easier to get published (should you choose to go the self-publishing route).  But if you want it done right, there are certain steps which must not be ignored.  Cutting corners might speed up the publishing process, but in the end, it will show in your final product.  Whether you go the traditional route, or opt to self-publish, you'll be glad you took all the necessary steps to ensure a quality book.  Additionally, skipping some of these steps can keep your book from taking off and becoming successful.  Going out of order can also be costly, as in many cases, you may need to return to a previous step in order to fix problems to ensure quality and precision.
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Write Your First Draft
Take your time... get it right...
Walk away from it for a while, then come back  and make sure it's polished! 
Get honest feedback from your
writer's group or other professionals
(Not Grandma- because, let's face it, she most likely won't be objective)
Polish Your Manuscript
This is your final chance to get everything right.  If there are any disconnects, now's the time to fix it.  Is what you intended to say really clear to your audience?  Now's the time to make sure.
Decision Time
Now it's time to get really honest with yourself.  Some authors have had tremendous success self publishing while others have given self publishing a black eye.  Do you have what it takes to self publish?  
Some authors have had success submitting their manuscript directly to a publisher.  Typically, however, you will need to find an agent who will pitch your book to various publishers.
Self Publishing might help you get published faster.  If you are a marketing guru, you'll be able to keep more of your book's revenue.  But in order to have a marketable book, you'll need to work hard to get it done right!
Self Publishing 
Pros & Cons
Self Publishing might help you get published faster.  If you are a marketing guru, you'll be able to keep more of your book's revenue. But in order to have a marketable book, you'll need to work hard to get it done right!

As a self published author, your work is never done; from printing, to distribution, to sales and more, your work has just begun.
Traditional Publishing Pros & Cons
You might as well understand right now that self-publishing takes a lot of time and effort. When you publish with a traditional publisher, you'll have more time to get back to your writing. 

Of course, the hardest part with traditional publishing is finding an agent or publisher so you can get published in the first place.
Pitch Manuscript
Whether you submit your manuscript to an agent, or directly to the publisher, you'll want to make sure you're going about it the right way. Make sure your book is a good fit for the agent/publisher you're pitching and take the time to learn how they expect to receive inquiries.  
Shop Your Options
From DIY editing, design, printing and distribution, to working with full service self publishing agencies, the options are endless.  But be warned, when it comes to self publishing, surprises can be costly.  So do your homework and make sure you know what you're getting yourself into.
Congratulations!  You've found a publisher or you've chosen a self publishing method.   Now it's time to get a professional edit of your book.  This is your last chance to catch all those pesky typographical errors. But be careful.  It's just as easy to make mistakes when correcting errors, so watch those revisions closely!
Some errors can't be caught with spell check.  You may want to get a professional edit before submitting your manuscript.  It's all about putting your best foot forward here!
Traditional Publishing: Want to know what happens next?  
All publishers are different, but the steps which follow will give you an idea of what you can expect (more or less).
But I can edit my own book, right?  
Honestly? No - You're too close to your own work. Chances are you've already read your book dozens of times.  Your eyes will nearly go cross-eyed trying to catch errors.  It's time to pass your book on to a professional who can catch what you never will.  And seriously, after the countless hours you've put into writing your masterpiece, why wouldn't you want to ensure a perfect final product?
This is the part of getting it right that many self publishers often fail to grasp (and even some small presses).  Front matter, acknowledgements, blank pages, margins, etc. There are reasons for doing it a certain way.  Primarily because getting these things wrong will disrupt the flow of your book and make it look and feel cluttered.  Note: Your book will look self published if you don't get this right.  
Interior & 
Cover Design
This is a far more critical and time-consuming step than most people may realize.  We've heard it a million times, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but the truth is we all do.  Design is critical to help with appearance, professionalism and readability.  This step is not to be taken lightly.  Getting it right can make a huge difference!
Layout Tips:
Visit a bookstore or your public library
Have a look at the general formatting of books produced by traditional publishers.  They typically have a nice, clean, organized look to them.  This is important if you don't want your book to look self published.

Refer to the Chicago Manual of Style 
Haven't heard of this yet?  Well you should become familiar with this valuable resource.  If you plan on taking self publishing seriously you might want to buy a copy (it's pricey though).  If it's not within your budget to buy a copy, check with your library.  Most libraries have a book share program, so even if it's not available at your library, they might be able to borrow it from another library for your use. 

Does your cousin or son dabble as an artist?  -Forget about it!
Nothing screams self published like having a friend or family member create your book's cover or interior art. You might believe it will be different with your book. But what happens if you're wrong? How do you tell someone after the fact that their design just isn't good enough? Do yourself a favor. Don't put yourself in that position to begin with.  It's just not worth it. You've put too much time, effort and money into this project to throw away your image on a poorly crafted design. If you're thinking about the money, remember that the money you'll spend to do it right the first time will be reflected in sales.  

By the way, don't forget to factor in space on your cover (front and back) for reviews and award seals 
Hey, it never hurts to think big, right?  
Final Proof
This is where you go over your book with a vengeance. Be merciless!  You'll need to really scour your book for mistakes because those elusive little boogers are really good at hiding until after press time. Now's when you want to share your book with family and friends and ask them to help you find anything that doesn't seem right.
Schedule Your Release Date!
Make a list of everything you need to do before your release.  You'll want to collect some stellar reviews from respected reviewers that get people's attention.  You'll also want to decide which book awards you may wish to enter (most entry deadlines and eligibility requirements hinge on your book's release date).  - Then work backwards to determine when you want your book to come out. 
Hold your horses!
You might think now is the time to pick up speed and really kick things into gear. But don't get too far ahead of yourself.  Think about most every BIG book release. Before that book even came out it may have already received loads of excellent reviews and even some awards!  That's because someone took the time for an ARC 
What's an ARC?
Advance Review Copy

Many highly respected and well known reviewers will not review a book once it's been published.  An ARC (labeled "not for sale, advance review copy" does not include an ISBN and cannot be sold. This early release copy allows for the opportunity to get books out for review so your final print copy can include reviews and awards that will help you sell more copies of your book once it's finally released.
Want Reviews?
Keep in mind that many of the more well known book reviewers will not even consider reviewing a self published book.
Create Sell Sheets
A sell sheet is a sales tool, and should be a professionally designed flier which provides all the basic information about your book in one location. A sell sheet should include: Book Cover Image, Title, Tag Line, Brief Author Bio, Author Name, Category, ISBN, Format (paperback, eBook, etc.), Release Date, Price, Library or Wholesale Discount Pricing, Trim (dimensions), Page Count, Distribution (usually Ingram)
If I'm going with a traditional publisher do I need to worry about all of this?
Small presses are popping up everywhere; many are new to the industry and still learning the ropes.  Still others simply don't have the capital to invest much in their authors.  Many of the oldest and most trusted publishing houses are trying to find new ways to stay competitive. That being said, authors across the board are being asked to step up and do what they can to help promote their books.

It's worth knowing what your publisher plans to do for you, what they expect you to do, and what they are comfortable with letting you do on your own.  So make sure you ask.
Start collecting reviewer's names & contact information
If you haven't started already, now's a good time to start compiling a list of names and addresses where you will send your books off for review. You don't want your books ending up in the garbage because you didn't take the time to research the proper way to submit your book, so take the time now to ensure all your ducks are in a row.
How do I 
find an Agent?
Attending well established writer's conferences is considered by many to be a great way to find an agent. Otherwise, query letters are usually your best option to find an agent.  
Ask Questions Now
If something doesn't seem quite right now - ask.  Don't wait until it's too late, and don't assume that it will be fixed later.  Once you sign off on a proof, that's it. Changes from here on out can be quite costly.  
Make a list of awards 
you wish to enter
Award seals can really help sell books, so make sure you don't miss any entry deadlines.  When you have that shiny award seal on the cover of your book you'll be glad you didn't miss out on the opportunity to help boost your book's sales.  
Print & Ship Your ARC Copies
On a wing and a prayer . . . get those books out there and hope for the best.  But remember, any review is a good review.  If you don't have thick skin yet, you may very well after the review process.   Chances are you'll be able to pull something positive out of any review to use in promoting your book.
One final chance to make any revisions
Now is the time for you to make any final corrections you may feel are needed.  You can also update your book with any reviews or award seals you may wish to add to your cover.
Print & Release Your Book!
Phew, that was a lot of work! And you're not finished yet. Now it's time to promote your book on social media sites, book tours and more.  Hopefully you've already established a following on social media and have been putting out teasers for pre-sales, etc... but we'll save that topic for another time.  

Congratulations - You did it!
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Beta Readers
This is a great time to recruit the services of beta readers.  You don't necessarily need to pay for someone to help with this important step.  Often beta readers can be fellow authors who are willing to offer objective feedback on your manuscript in exchange for your assistance on their future projects.
Click here for a glossary of publishing terms
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