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A quibble. Do I really need a cover?

Books have covers; it could be all print, no art. And, yes, it's highly likely that a publisher will commission a new cover to satisfy their marketing department (the cover is a book's best advertisement). But this is your opportunity to showcase your theme or story your way. And if, as I discuss later, you opt for self-publishing, then your cover will be entirely your choice.

Now, send these pre-published ARCs (advance reading copies) out to discerning readers and reviewers. Get their advice and opinions and take them to heart; they too want your book to be as good as it can be. Oh, and save their quotes.

That's it? I'm done?

Done with the "beta" phase. You've shown initiative, and you've arrived at your first major decision point. IF your previewers were unanimous in praise, saw no flaws, felt it was a worthy contribution— then go ahead as is. Skip any revisions. Just remember to send along a few of their glowing quotes. Hit the agents, the publishers.

On the other hand, if you hear back from your previewers about areas that need more work, or to "punch it up," or "where's the payoff," or to give more examples, dialogue, description— that's when you need to buckle down.

Now's the time to take off the writer's hat, and pick up the editor's scalpel. No one's going to write your book for you. The Beta Books team is available, if you need us, but the rewrite is up to you. What had you missed? Be honest in the kind of help you need, and don't be afraid to get expert assistance.

Will I need another round of pre-pub ARCs?

That's entirely up to you. We're still here, if you need us.

So, remind me again, how does Beta Books work?

You, the writer, make your own arrangements with any of these freelancers. Or not. The book designer generally coordinates the print order— or you could take the trouble to learn how to do it yourself. Here are lists of experts in various facets of the process. Use them before or after creating review copies, as needed. We're all on the same side: to build a better book.

What about the total cost?

Editors, illustrators, designers set their own fees. The cost of book production, after initial setup, depends primarily on the number of finished pages and the number of copies. These figures provide rough estimates for 20 or 40 books, in US dollars.

The good news for some: if your book is a family history keepsake free for the grandkids, or a one-off for a special class or conference— you're already done. You don't even need the reviewers.

So, what would I be getting into? Is it legal?

The First Amendment of the Constitution mandates freedom of speech and the press. In other words, you don't need a license, or anybody's permission. If you do make money, you will probably need a business license, and you must report income, and pay taxes.

What are the various elements that go into the process of publishing a book?

This list shows you, one by one.

Just as a reminder, the illustrators and editors listed here are independent contractors; they are not employed by Beta Books. If you like the work of any individual, throw some business their way; build a relationship.

Beta Books is an imprint of Bandanna Books

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